Solomon wrote; “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” (Proverbs 4:23, NLT) Good words, wise words. Solomon was stinkin wise. 1 Kings 4:31 makes mention, listing those he was wiser than. In this list, among many, we find ‘Ethan the Ezrahite‘. Can you imagine going down in permanent history, basically being said of you, “Ethan, oh he’s the not so wise guy Dude!” – overshadowed by another, someone greater than you? We live in a society where there are comparative views of about EVERYTHING. “This tastes better than that… over there is more spacious than here…he sings better than him… she is prettier-thinner-gifted and smarter than her… they have more than us.” Comparison.
Even though, Solomon was granted wisdom and a discerning heart by God (See conversation in 1 Kings 3) reading this narrative of Ethan, we can’t stop there! Scholars believe Psalm 89 is attributed to this same Ethan the Ezrahite. He is divinely granted parchment space of 52 verses. He writes of God’s steadfast love and faithfulness of covenant, with strong worshipful words, “I will sing of the LORD’s great love forever; with my mouth, I will make Your faithfulness known through all generations.” (v1) He goes on to declare “You have made … established… You rule… crushed… scattered … founded, and created…” THAT is some dandy declaring!
Overshadowed Ethan? I think not. Yes, not as wise by design as Solomon, but he was impacting, he was declaring, worshiping Ethan, “O LORD God Almighty, who is like You? You are mighty…” (v8)
May we be inspired, it is not a matter of comparison, but one of living by design. What will WE do, write or sing?
Stinkin wise? Perhaps not, but making known God’s love and faithfulness.
In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love & good deeds.” – Hebrews 10:24)
The lamp, warm dancing flame seen with silhouetted patterns on the wall. Soothing isn’t it? One could sit for hours in its glow, just admiring the effect it has on us. There is something about a flickering flame.
The Lord revealed Himself many times in the flame, the bush with Moses, where he was commissioned and Yahweh gives His name, “I AM THAT I AM” (Exodus 3) and the pillar of fire at night to the Israelites, extending His guidance (Exodus 13). Solomon dedicating the Temple, fire came down from heaven as God’s glory filled it (2 Chron. 7). One cannot talk fire without mentioning the showdown on Mt. Carmel, Elijah and his God against the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18) – we WIN!
Oh, we may not be calling God down from heaven these days to consume our sacrifice to prove a point, but the use of the flame on a smaller note we can understand. The theme of the candle or lamp in the Bible is strong. In Psalm 18:28 David writes “For thou wilt light my lamp: the LORD my God will enlighten my darkness.” Psalm 119:105 “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” It is God that burns, His presence, His word that lights our way.
I am currently leading our women’s group through the study of the Tabernacle of Moses, amazing story of being set apart and of sacrifice and light. With the joy and privilege of the lamps comes responsibility, requiring tending. The priests DAILY tended to the lamp in the Tabernacle, along with the sacrifice and the water, these needed daily attention. When God gave strict instruction of the articles for the Tabernacle, He included the ‘wick trimmers’ being made of pure gold. (Exodus 25:38)
In my research, I found the need that as we trim the wick short (i.e. of today’s waxed candles) we ‘cut off yesterday’s fire.’ If not, the wick begins to have a small build up causing the flame not to burn pure and burn too fast and this creating soot attaching itself to those things closest to the flame. We trim for a fresh, even, pure, lasting flame! Fresh Fire! Does that stir something in you?
The Lord spoke to me about the need to come DAILY, seeking His presence, His word, that FRESH FIRE, depending not on yesterday, but tending to TODAY. Representing a true pursuit of Him, giving Him priority and signifying value to our relationship. As I trim my wick and prepare for a fresh word from God, His presence comes. As He did with Moses, He will reveal Himself to me, commissioning me for the day. As His child, He will guide me – His temple, He will fill me. And just like Elijah, He will do great things in my midst.
How is our flame burning? Are we tending? Is it yesterdays fire, has it cooled down or gone out completely or perhaps a bit messy due to lack of attention.
In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love & good deeds.” – Hebrews 10:24)
Earless chocolate bunnies and leftover deviled eggs in the frig. Post-Easter. Now what? Do we rummage through the calendar for another holiday or event to look forward to? What excites us about the future or even … daily? May I be so bold in asking, what causes our insides to burn with excitement, what consumes our mind and emotions, what drives our behavior?
Jesus’ resurrection is AMAZING! WONDERFUL! DIVINE! However, let’s not stop there. There is more! Let’s unpack this in a brief summary. Stay with me, this is good! Luke 24, it speaks of the women going to the tomb, once there they find two angels who notify them that Jesus was no longer there, He’s risen from the dead! The gals go back to tell the others. Peter, as energetic as he was, runs to go see and confirms Jesus wasn’t there. Just following that, (v13) it says “Now that same day…” It proceeds to unfold the story of the two walking to Emmaus, who unknown to them at first, encounter Jesus. They are flabbergasted that this Stranger didn’t seem to know what had just transpired in Jerusalem. Sharing their disappointment, “We had hoped that He was the one who was going to redeem Israel.” Going on they explained how Jesus’ body was not found. Verse 27, “Then He (Jesus) started at the beginning, with the Books of Moses, and went on through all the Prophets, pointing out everything in the Scriptures that referred to Him.” WOW, I’d love a one on one instant Bible study from the lips of the Master!
It wasn’t until Jesus was seated at their table, in their home and they accepted the bread He offered, and that their eyes were opened and they knew WHO He was. I love their response, “They said to each other, “Didn’t our hearts burn within us as He talked with us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?” (v32)
Their hearts burning within them. I want spiritual heartburn! I want my soul, mind, thoughts, passions, desires, and appetites to burn with Him and His Word! The word Luke chooses to use for ‘burning’ is very colorful. It doesn’t just mean to strike a match and light the kindling and watch it slowly give off heat. No, it RAVISHES through the wood and consumes it! Luke is emphasizing to be GREATLY moved of heart. Burn Lord!
Yet some would argue that the two didn’t even recognize Jesus when He shared the Word with them. However, Paul writes, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17) To have the very Son of God, His presence and He b-r-e-a-t-h-e these words to them, teaching them, training them, equipping them – THAT would cause their heart to burn. Notice Jesus didn’t lay hands on them, put mud on their eyes. He didn’t even send them to the Priest for verification; He simply… walked with them. Walking and talking, and they were transformed. The narrative says they got up at once and went back to Jerusalem testifying that Jesus has indeed RISEN.
For us? The next time we find our seat at church or open the Bible for devotion time, let’s not daydream off to another place, let’s do some focused walking and talking. Jesus told us, “The Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, will teach you all things…” (John 14:26) We just need to show up for the lesson (And pay attention, take notes, ask questions). THIS is the event, the daily event we will look forward to.
And …burn Lord, BURN within us!
Interesting: It was NOT the custom that the guest would serve the bread, but Jesus did – (COULD IT BE) as He pulled up the sleeves of His cloak, they saw the nail prints on His wrists! THERE! Do you see it! NOW! Recognizing Jesus! May we too be aware and see what He puts in front of us! (Point to Ponder)
In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love & good deeds.” – Hebrews 10:24)
Have you ever sat and read the New Testament and read ONLY the words in red, Jesus’ words? For a completely new perspective, I challenge us to do just that. I know context is everything, but let’s step out of the exegesis box (interpreting the scriptures) for a brief moment, to get an amazing snapshot of Jesus, His strength, authority, His love, and compassion.
Without all the narrative, those stand-alone red words pack a powerful punch, knowing they are Jesus. There are dramatic statements, strong commands, and tender words. “Let it be so…” (Matt 3:15) “It is written…” (Matt 4:4) “Get up…” (Matt 9:6) “Take courage it is I…” (Matt 14:27) “Quiet, be still…” (Mk 4:39) “Come forth …” (Jn 11:43) “Don’t be afraid just believe…” (Mk 5:36) “What do you want Me to do for you…” (Mk 10:51) “Who do you say I am…” (Lk 9:20) “Then neither do I condemn you…” (Jn 8:11) “I am…” (Jn 18:6).
These are just a few, but there is one more that stands out among the rest. Here I do want to set the context. Jesus is agonizingly set between two thieves. His feet and hands are nailed to a wooden cross. There at the foot of the cross, many mocked, some cried and I am confident there were those in complete silence. After the vinegar water was given to Jesus, He said, “It is finished…” (John 19:30) He then bowed His head and gave up His spirit.
‘It is finished’. (Hang with me, this is GOOD God stuff!) The word in Greek is amazing! Stand back and take in the whole Technicolor filled screen, I don’t think even Steven Spielberg with all his creative genius could convey the scene that was unfolding upon humanity. ‘It is finished’ (Tetelestai) “To bring to an end, to fulfill. What is done corresponds to what has been said, ordered or commanded.” (“Not My will, but Your will be done.” – Jesus, Lk 22:42) It is accomplishing something not merely to end it, but bring it to perfection for its designed goal.” (Please read that again). It signifies the successful end to a particular course of action. Grammatically in the Greek, it is a crucial word; it is in the ‘perfect tense’. Meaning the action was completed in the past with results continuing in the present. Basically, “This happened and it is still in effect TODAY.” One might say, “The gift that keeps on giving.” This is different from ‘past tense’, which points to an event, declaring ‘This happened – nothing more -the end’.
NOT our Jesus, He is our NOW God!
As Jesus said this, His blood flowing down His forehead, from His hands and His feet, His sacrifice, now eliminating the debt owed by mankind (you and me). May we take careful notice, Jesus didn’t say. “I am finished.” That would imply He a mere man and die defeated. Instead, He declares, “It is finished.” When He died and with His resurrection power, He left no unfinished business behind, He successfully completed the work He came to do. Please note (this is HUGE) – when Jesus rose from the dead and the stone was found ‘rolled away’ it was NOT so He, (the Son of God, Who walked on water, Who spoke to the wind and waves and they obeyed) could get out, it was so mankind could get in! Get in and see “He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as He said would happen. Come, see where His body was lying.” (Matthew 28:6)
As the pages turn from Genesis to this very moment, Jesus rises from the dead triumphantly (Happy Easter) the bridge back to the Father is perfected – He engages and commissions the disciples, returns to heaven to reign forever. Does it end here? No. Now we the church, with the authority given by Jesus Himself, as inspired by Holy Spirit carry on with the red letter commands, statements, and tender words.
Move over Easter Bunny, here comes the risen King! “It is finished!” Relationship offered, relationship restored. May we live each day as a red-letter day!
In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.”- Hebrews 10:24)
* Resources: Complete Word Study Dictionary of the New Testament, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, Vine’s Expository of New Testament Words, Strong’s Greek Dictionary, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Expository Dictionary of Bible Words, NASB Hebrew-Greek Dictionary, Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon. And any other resource I forgot to tag, yet skimmed through. Greek Interlinear Bible words it: “He said, “It has been accomplished.” (Yes, I am a God loving, His daughter, passionate for His Word geek).
We might say we need to remember that Lincoln is the capital of Nebraska for the seven across answer on a crossword puzzle, or that in ‘1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue’ for a rousing game of Trivia – facts, mere facts. However, remembering in the Bible is different. Jewish culture treats remembering as a behavioral response, just as hearing and obeying are synonymous. Some 235+ times remember is mentioned. In the Hebrew, it literally means ‘to properly mark, so as to recognize.’ The first mention is found in the story of Noah. God puts Noah, his family and the animals in a big boat, while outside the rains are in a downpour, the waters rise and the boat stays afloat for many days. “But God remembered Noah and all… and He sent a wind over the earth and the waters receded.” (Genesis 8:1). God marked Noah. His plan was implemented and in process. Genesis 9, the ark now sits on dry ground, Noah and family are out, the animals disperse, God promises not to destroy everything with water again, sealing His promise, He gives a rainbow as a reminder:
“I have set My rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember My covenant between Me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.” (Genesis 9:13-16 NIV, emphasis mine)
The sign of the rainbow is a reminder to GOD – when the bow appears, He remembers, His response would be consistent with His covenant. He remembers, He rescues and He acts. Remember. Isaiah speaks on behalf of God, “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions, for My own sake, and remembers your sins no more.” (Isaiah 43:25, see also Hebrews 10) God’s response is consistent with His character. His plan was implemented and in process.
God often directs His people in the Old Testament to remember their past and all that He had said and done for them: “Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and the LORD your God redeemed you… Remember the Sabbath… Remember the law…” Why? So their behavioral response would reflect revelation, awareness of their God, and of relationship, they are His.
Jesus also speaks of remembering. The Last Supper, He instructs the disciples to take the bread and the cup, representing His body and blood and “Do this in remembrance of Me.”(Luke 22, 1 Corinthians 11) His plan was implemented and in process. We, who are heirs of all the promises (Galatians 3:29) are to remember. The call to remember goes beyond mental facts, beyond partaking of the bread and wine, it is a call for response – of recognition – ALL that He is, all that He did, we remember His covenant, His character… He remembers, He rescues and He acts -invoking a response on our part of worship and of lifestyle.
This world is loud and crazy busy – as we near Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday (Happy Easter!) may we take pause of life, and of heart and properly mark Jesus! His plan was implemented and in process – “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14) Can I get an AMEN!
In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love & good deeds.” – Hebrews 10:24)
Before the hiding of the colored Easter eggs, unwrapping the coma-inducing sugar Peeps, we celebrate Palm Sunday, the Sunday prior to Easter. Often at church, we sit with large smiles on our faces as the children walk down the aisles waving over-size palm branches. The worship leader steps forward as we bust out a hardy rendition of ‘Hosanna.’
Hosanna. What an amazing prophetic word. Looking at Mark chapter 11, it vividly explains the events of the day. Jesus and the disciples are preparing to come into Jerusalem. Jesus sends two of them ahead to get a young donkey, “Go into that village over there.” He told them. “As soon as you enter it, you will see a young donkey tied there that no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here.” (v2) Further in the narrative, “When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, He sat on it.” (v7) Jesus steps up and sits down; I believe the colt knew, knew the King of Majesty now drapes his back.
As Jesus rides through the cobblestones streets, the crowd begins to yell “Hosanna… Hosanna in the Highest” waving palm branches with enthusiasm. It was common practice in the ancient world to welcome home a king or war hero by laying down branches in front of them, liken to our ‘ticker tape’ celebrations today.
Hosanna is the Greek version of the Hebrew saying ‘yasha na’ (yaw-shaw naw) meaning ‘Save now we pray.’ This taken from what is known as the Hallel, (Jewish prayerful readings of Psalms 113-118) specifically here, “O LORD, save us; (HOSANNA!) O LORD , grant us success. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD. From the house of the LORD we bless you.” (Psalm 118:25, 26-emphasis mine)
Can we grasp the impact of what they are saying? Jesus was fulfilling the prophetic words of Zechariah, “Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” (9:9)
However, just 4 chapters later, the crowd was again yelling, but this time; “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” (Mark 15:12-14). Little did they know they were basically yelling the same thing. Both times! For you see beloved, for Jesus to ‘save we pray’ they had to ‘Crucify Him!‘ He allowed it. He laid down His life for YOU, and for me. By this act and He resurrecting from the dead with all Kingly authority and power, He stood in the gap, reaching for your hand and placing it into the hand of the Father. He is the Restorer of relationship, God, and mankind.
This weekend, as we sing our ‘Hosannas’ may we whole-heartedly consider the fulfillment. Jesus riding an untamed colt in a King’s procession, the people crying out “SAVE WE PRAY!” THAT He did!
Hosanna, the gospel in one word, good news for today!
“Six days before the Passover…” Mary took a pint of perfume and poured it on Jesus’ feet, the house filled with the fragrance, (much to Judas’ dislike). This was one day prior to Jesus’ triumphal entry (John 12).
The narrative describes the triumphal entry, “The next day…” it is safe to say, Jesus still smelled quite fragrant from the oil. This being of Jewish telling, in Jewish culture, whilst Jewish people stood on the street as Jesus passed by, they (potentially) smelling the fragrance, resonated the Kingly procession, as they shouted: “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the King of Israel.
Anointing was a priestly and kingly custom: “He (Moses) poured some of the anointing oil on Aaron’s head and anointed him to consecrate him.” (Leviticus 8:12) “Samuel took a flask of oil and poured it on Saul’s head…” (1 Samuel 10:1) “So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him (David) in the presence of his brothers…” (1 Samuel 16:13) “… they acknowledged Solomon son of David…anointing him before the LORD to be ruler…” (1 Chronicles 29:22) Interesting, Mary anoints Jesus’ feet. Could it be, (just an observation) yes, the custom was washing the visitor’s feet from the dusty paths but could the anointing of His feet, (not His head) display the declared Majesty of God on earth, His Kingly walk among man, “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One & Only, who came from the Father, full of grace & truth.” (John 1:14)
The word John uses, as Mary’s perfume is ‘myron’ a form of ‘myrrh.’ Sound familiar? What is the divine significance of myrrh? It was an ingredient used in the anointing oil of the Tabernacle and the priests. (Exodus 30:22-23) The perfumed oil poured over Jesus’ feet. (John 12:3) It was also an ingredient in the spices to prepare Jesus’ body for burial. (John 19:39-40) And we can’t forget the gift given to the toddler Jesus by the Magi (Matthew 2:9-12).
Could the people on the street smell their King coming, perhaps, perhaps not, but what beautiful imagery of the thread of anointing oil through biblical history as it wraps its way around Jesus.
“Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the King of Israel.”
Remember as a child sliding the crayon from one dot to another until getting to the last dot, excited to see a picture form? Often, this is how we come to understand certain things, connecting the dots. Have we considered the ‘dot connection’ (if you will) of the Lamb of God? As we draw near to Easter, let’s pick up our crayon and begin connecting as we see the progression of the Lamb.
Genesis 22: God declares to Abraham to take his son Isaac, his only son to the mountain and offer him as a sacrifice. As Abe and son begin their hike up the mountain, father placing the wood on the shoulders of the son, Isaac says “The fire and wood are here.” Then asks, “But where is the lamb …” Abraham confidently responds, “God Himself will provide the lamb…” As the story progresses, Isaac willingly climbs up on the altar. Abraham obeys to the fullest, God knowing his heart, stops him and provides a ram for the sacrifice. The Lamb … provided.
Exodus 12: (in short) God prepares the Israelites to leave the captivity of Egypt. Instructions were given, as the Angel of Death would soon be unleashed, “… take the lamb…” slay and place the blood of the lamb on the doorpost of the home. The blood now over them, death avoided. The Lamb … protected.
John 1: John the Baptist, known as an eccentric evangelist, sees Jesus approaching; he openly declares, “Look, behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.” John purposely points to Jesus, the shift of attention. The Lamb … proclaimed.
Revelation 5: The angelic choir sings before the throne, “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise.” THAT verse! Read it again as Holy Spirit breathes on you with His Majesty! (Let’s all stand to our feet!) The Lamb … PRAISED!
As we enjoy creamy milk chocolate filled Cadbury eggs, (I SO love Easter candy!) let’s take these next few days building up to Easter, our dots connected and wholeheartedly consider the Lamb of God, the empty cross, the empty tomb – may we see, understand and participate in the celebration of Jesus.
Move over Easter Bunny, it’s not about the bunny – it’s about the LAMB!
Worthy is the LAMB!
In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” – Hebrews 10:24)
Our car has this fantastic ‘heads up display’ feature, where a projector thingy shoots transparent info up from the dashboard onto my windshield directly above the steering wheel. I can adjust the settings and the height just for me; the speed, gear, outside temp, even radio channel, all so I don’t have to look away. BRILLIANT! No one else can see it, it’s kinda (Psst… come closer to the screen) my secret stealth maneuvering gadget, (SSMG – I’m sure 007 had one!) OKAY, okay… maybe not, but I love it!
King David too had such stealthiness, when maneuvering his LIFE, he writes, “I have set the LORD always before me, because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” (Psalm 16:8) He continues, “I have chosen the way of faithfulness; I set Your rules before me.” (Psalm 119:30) Set. The word is shavah (in the Hebrew) its meaning is to level, to equalize, to resemble, the context here, is to focus. David is stating he puts God and God’s word before him, right where he can see – but he doesn’t just see, he balances! Seeing the standard of God and seeing himself, he then faithfully makes adjustments – leveling, a focused endeavor of aligning. David follows with “No wonder my heart is glad and I rejoice…” (Psalm 16:9)
Following David’s example, placing God and God’s word in front of me, (with a boatload of adjusting). THE guide, all I need right there, with no need to look away. BRILLANT! THE ultimate ‘heads up display.’
Y’all try being in my head, driving down the road, seeing the ‘speed’ staring at me and first thought, “OK! Now isnt THIS a shavah of sorts!” (And yes, the speed was adjusted).
LORD: In scripture, we often see Lord in all caps, this tells the reader this is the covenantal name Yahweh (YHWH – “I AM”) the name given to Moses (Ex. 3) when he asks of God, when I go to Egypt demanding Your people set free, WHO am I to say sent me? Tell them, “I AM has sent me to you.” God replied. (v14) LORD.
“O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water. So I have looked for You in the sanctuary, to see Your power and Your glory. Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise You. Thus I will bless You while I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name.” Psalm 63:1-4
Each night before my husband and I go to sleep, he reads a Psalm over us, his loving voice and the rhythmic sound of scripture, especially the Psalms is gently soothing – so poetic, so honest – so declaring, so full of praise! The Psalmist starts as if standing on a hilltop and echoes of majestic relationship, “O God, You are my God!” He then states early I seek You. This early isn’t just a time frame mentioned, but a declaration of discipline. Literally, EARNESTLY I will seek YOU! Painstakingly I will set aside all things and YOU will be my focus. My in the moment – first thing YOU!
This world is so full of me, we, us and I, it really is refreshing to take a step back and see what is BIGGER than us, BETTER and worthy of our focus and pursuit. SO WORTHY – His power and glory, His lovingkindness! Our lips praise HIM, our hands raised in HIS name! Morning or night it’s a YOU focus!
“O God, You are my God!”
We are list people, whether we write it down or attempt to contain it all in our head, we love us some lists. We list what needs to be done, our goals and items to pick up at the store. Paul too loved his lists; the nine Fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22,23) his ‘think on these things’ (Phil. 4:8) and of course ‘Love is…’ (1 Cor. 13). There is yet another list, a list full of practical lifestyle responses, ‘in view of God’s mercy…’ found in Romans chapter 12. We are told to be devoted, joyful, patient, hospitable and faithful, we are to love, cling and honor and in no way are we to lack zeal, curse others, and repay evil. My favorite of this list is verse 18 “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with each other.” ‘If it is possible.’ Hm, interesting, there is no if …it hangs low enough, to where I can reach it and cling to what is good or if …you can muster up some patience or devotion. Nope, you just get those done through the Holy Spirit (in Jesus name).
The fact remains, there are times, peace does not reign in relationships, it takes a ton of work and an abundance of divine intervention. ‘Peace’ (Eirene in the Greek) which literally means ‘set at one’ – the word picture conveys something that was once erected, has either been removed or toppled over. Chaos, frustration, strife and even war can be the result of the deep crevasse left behind. Peace is putting it back in its place – set at one! The ultimate example; the Garden activities in Genesis; All things are good, then man messes up, the God/man relationship is broken [leaving a hole]. Fast forward – Jesus comes [Prince of Peace] the glorious Son puts things back in its place, things made right, He fills the chasm, we now have… Peace. (Ro. 5:1)
When there is strife or any evidence of some toppling over, do we do our very best to identify, pull up and reset what is missing? Do we invest ourselves in seeing peace restored? Paul gives a simuliar list to the Ephesians, yet wraps it up with a divine-like bow: “Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.” (4:32 MSG) I love his direct prodding and not to mention (but I will) hint of admonishing. He plays the holy tag-team card, God forgave – ‘your turn.’ What a challenge! How painful! How risky – but worth it. Putting God and God stuff back in the center, THAT is seeking peace with my brothers and sister. ‘If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with each other.’
Recently I was reminded of a time I spent on a loved one’s cattle farm. This particular visit we were working with the cattle one-on-one, giving them medication and much-needed individual attention. As the day went on, one particular cow impacted me, she was spunky and fought the process the whole way, we got her into the funneled shoot and once she was in the head gate, I put the rump board in behind her to hold her in nice and tight, no backing out. This poor gal – she thrashed so hard, causing the farmer to get a nose clamp, this was a metal clamp with a large rope attached to it, he placed it in the nostrils of the cow and brought her head up and tied her off. This was done for her own safety. She fought so hard that she ended up on her knees, and there she stayed. If she would just calm down! Oh the pain, not for her, but for me! I reached out and patted her, tenderly saying, “Just yield, it would be less painful.” As the words escaped my lips, I stopped and sensed Holy Spirit tap my shoulder with a divine nod. YES! If I too would just yield to my Master, it would be less painful.
How often do we find ourselves in the ‘shoot and headgate’ of God (if you will)? He is wanting to prepare us, heal us, create His character in us, and teach us – but … we fight it. We thrash, bawl, and complain, oh it may be uncomfortable, and perhaps even feel a bit boarded in – the hemming of God. David speaks of this, but in the context of BLESSING; “Before there is a word on my tongue You know it completely, O LORD. You hem me in – behind and before; You have laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.” (Psalm 139:4-6) He goes on to say, “Your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” (v 14b)
I have to admit, I can relate to the sweet bawling cow, I too once required the nose clamp (for my own good) after I thrashed about for a bit, I sensed God’s hand on me, and it was GOOD – I know that full well!
Sometimes we come to God quietly and other times kicking and screaming – either way, thank you, Lord, for the hemming!
* Please know, no cows in the above story were harmed, our spunky bawling cow was only in the head gate just a couple of moments and soon released out into the pasture.
Women. We are used to multi-tasking. Having our minds and lives firing in 5 or more different directions all at the same time. When we find ourselves on overload, what do we tend to do, and do well? We criticize ourselves. I am reminded of a time when I sat amongst a small group of gals in a bible study setting. In that discussion time, we were sharing our goals for the study. There was a mother of ‘4’ (FOUR!) small, YOUNG, needing her attention, children. In her frustration and complete weariness, she shared in depth about not having ‘enough’ time for devotions and her bible study. She was exhausted, felt defeated, and was basically giving up, to where she hadn’t opened her Bible in some time. Those in the group kept trying to help with creative ways to carve out enough time. “Go to bed earlier, get up earlier, use paper plates, when they sleep ….” This young mom was nearly in tears. I just sat and listened. These are all good disciplined goals, yet they were more worried about the quantity of time, rather than the quality.
I finally leaned forward and looked the gal in the eyes, lovingly and tenderly asking, “Could you look at maybe just ONE verse each day or one verse for the whole week?” She stopped talking. So did the others. Silence. Reading their expressions, yet not verbalizing – “This gal is NUTS! One stinkin verse? THAT is NOT enough! I will get behind! I have to get through that one-year reading plan, gotta get my homework done! Gotta write in my journal.” This attitude belongs to many of us. How many of us too, feel defeated and allow our God time to slip, slip away because we can’t keep up with the ‘quota’.
I then shared that it’s not the quantity of time with God and His word that is important, it is the quality. If you have just enough time to read one verse, then the baby cries, or the dog is having a fit at the front door or milk is split (so goes life). Then take that ONE verse, WHILE you are cleaning up the milk – holding the crying baby, ask Holy Spirit to speak to YOU about that verse. You, God, His word … quality time. Listen – listen for HIS application, throughout the day, throughout the week. If need be at the beginning of the week, jot down that verse on a 3×5 card, tape it to the mirror in the bathroom, even though you may have a parade of offspring following you in there, READ it aloud. Again and again.
Don’t get me wrong I am ALL OVER Bible study, BUT there are seasons, seasons when time captures us. Seasons even with discipline … our life, our arms are full. The Pastor wrote; “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Heb. 4:12) Allow the ‘alive word’ to minister to YOU! Remember, God spoke the universe into place with His word, He can decorate your heart with the same. One verse? Enough? Yes, yes it is with the Holy Spirit ‘leading you into all truth.’ (Jn 16:13)
During that moment of silence with the gals, I shared I once spent days just on Thomas’s “… my Lord and my God” (Jn. 20:28). Knowing the context, I thought about it, I said it, I pictured it and I prayed it. Just 5 words -it was amazing. The gals just sat there and stared at me. (I was shocked that they allowed me to sit at their table the following week).
God knows us, knows our heart. For those of us whose season doesn’t allow for hours or minutes of ‘head in the book’ sessions, don’t stress! Don’t feel condemned, if we can give Him just ONE verse, HIS word, He can and will minister to us. It can be amazing.
In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” – Hebrew 10:24)
There are times God takes us around life circumstances to protect us from harm and or protect us from what we may not be ready for. Yet, there ARE times we are to go through. We look at Jesus as our model.
John 4, verse 4 “Now He (Jesus) HAD to go through Samaria.” (Emphasis mine) your Bible may read, ‘He needed…’ or ‘He must…’ go through Samaria. The word used here literally means ‘necessary’ (with a divine twist) not implying geographically, there was another route, a route other devout Jews took, a route out and around, the long way to avoid the Samaritan people. The Samaritan folks were known as half-breeds; (in short) centuries earlier the Israelite territory was overtaken by Assyrians, many left, yet those who remained inter-married, they established their own teaching, establishing their own truth.
Scholars believe the narrative speaks (in context) to Jesus’ itinerary being subject to the sovereign plan of God – going THROUGH Samaria (where others avoided) was a divine necessity! Jesus HAD to meet the woman at the well – she HAD to have an encounter with Jesus (“The way, the truth, and the life.” – Jn 14:6) – it was of divine necessity she took her news of Jesus back to her people, where ‘many… and many more believed in Him.’ (v39 & 41).
This going through was not an inconvenience for Jesus, going through was not geographically necessary, it was God necessary. We see later in Acts, multiple times when mentioning the ‘church’ Samaria is listed – Jesus Himself laid the groundwork – He didn’t opt for the routine route – He went through. We see Jesus use the same need or must; “You MUST be born again…” (Jn 3:7) And John the Baptist said, “He (Jesus) MUST increase, I MUST decrease…” (Jn 3:30) Divine necessity indeed! The principle for us: Following God’s leading, other than a routine route is not a DETOUR – it is a divine necessity of His sovereign plan. The plan may be for us, for someone else, or both.
May we take note: God may NOT have us go through the same way (next time). It would be a shame to tell God, “Been there, done this – I’ve got this!” When He’s left standing, pointing at something different. When escaping the Egyptians, God had Moses reach out his staff and the waters parted at the Red Sea – however, when finally entering the Promised Land, He instructed Joshua to have the priests carry the Ark to the river’s edge, once their feet touched the water, it too parted. Perhaps it may appear the same ‘go through’ but – His method may be different. It is HIS plan, HIS path, HIS how and when. His.
My through and your through may look different, they are of His divine plan, He may take us around – either the around or through is for His glory!
*The above is an excerpt from the teaching I presented the woman at church.
God often takes us around life scenarios and so thankful that He does! The around of God is frequently dismissed or downplayed. We learn from our early flannel graph days the miraculous parting of the Red Sea and God taking the Israelites through on dry ground. Miraculous indeed! However, tucked in two short verses we have the potential of missing a quality of God. In Exodus 13, we see God take the Israelites around, around a potentially icky outcome. He had just delivered them from bondage in Egypt – Pharaoh finally releases the people. Once out and about, the narrative states: “God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, “If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea.” (v 17,18 NIV – emphasis mine)
God took them around so they wouldn’t encounter the Philistines (yet). They weren’t ready. This was their first road-trip with God; He didn’t want to freak them out, didn’t want them to bolt and run. Once deep in the wilderness, what is one of their main complaints, “WHY did you take us out of Egypt…” When things got tough, they reached for what was familiar, what seemed safe. It is also said of the Philistines that IF they had encountered the Hebrews at THAT time, they would see them as escaping from their masters and would not hesitate to attack them and make them slaves AGAIN. We can liken it to suddenly encountering a dangerous animal, we are NOT to take off running; the running stimulates their instinct to chase and conquer. The Philistines would have chased and conquered.
God took them around. The principle for us, just like the Israelites, we may never know the around of God. What He protects us from and what we may not be ready for. God knows! It is HIS path, HIS when and where. He leads – He protects.
When we see God pointing in one particular direction, in our freedom, may we not stop and look for the short-cut! What is ahead on that path, we may not be ready for and there may – just may be another wanting to take us captive.
The around of God.
Have you ever felt compelled to get all spiffed up, put on your best clothes or perhaps slide into a nice warm jacket, then realize you have no destination in mind, ‘all dressed up and nowhere to go?’
Our relationship with God is like that at times, we read our Bible, write in our journal, say our prayers, be in attendance at church, (Check, check, check and CHECK!) yet that is as far as we get – as deep as it goes, possibly only snorkel-surfacy stuff. I am guilty of this, floating on top as if I am waiting for God to make the first move, not that I am waiting for a burning bush experience or the blinding light of the road to Damascus. But yes, I think I am waiting for God to shower me with lavishing love and blessings (said with arms thrown wide and head tilted back). Don’t get me wrong He does! But. Come on, be honest, in this day and age we expect things to always come our way effortlessly – we treat our approach to God like a divine-vending machine, push the button and expect blessings to tumble our way.
James clearly says, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” (4:8) One of God’s attributes that I strongly appreciate is that of His patience. Oh, His patience! He longs for us to come to Him, He is waiting. The principle is the same in all relationships, if you want it to be strong and deep, you have to cultivate it, put in the time, the energy – PARTICIPATE in it.
We look to Jesus, (Matthew chapter 26) He leaves the crowds – leaves the disciples. Now with the beloved trio; Peter, James, and John, He tells them to stay and keep watch. Continuing on, the narrative says “Going a little farther, He fell to the ground and prayed, “My Father...” (v 39) Yes, His circumstance was exorbitantly different, “But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” (Luke 5:16) Further still!
Do we simply wear the snorkel and mask for an expected shallow depth or do we prepare – position for a depth of divine proportions? Don’t merely dip a toe or two, SUIT UP! YOU define the depth! Go deeper – may the narrative of our life say we too went further still.
In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds.” – Hebrews 10:24)
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God is incredibly GOOD!
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My best friend, Deanna (from grade school, Jr High, High School, coming to Jesus, marriages, and babies and now empty nesters) and I, LOVE what we call our ‘Playdates’. Yes, we are 55 years old, (it’s true) but never too old to enjoy a good giggle perusing the aisles of Goodwill, it is fun and not to mention therapeutic in nature. It is our goal to find the silliest of things, from woven baskets to face sucking ski masks and offering an impromptu guitar duet. And OF COURSE, these have to be posted on social media. Friends and family shake their head with a muttered: “Well, they’ve been to Goodwill again.” Yes, yes we have.
But most importantly, when folks see me (outside of silly 2nd hand store laughter) I want them to see that I have been with Jesus. Not just when I am up front teaching the women, but when I greet them at the store, sit next to them at church or chatting when I am picking my granddaughter up from school. WHAT do folks see, is it evident that I have spent time with God, in His word, His Spirit strong in my words and seen in my countenance?
We see this in the book of Acts (chapter 4) with Peter and John, they were brought before rulers and religious leaders, it is said of Peter (being filled with the Holy Spirit) he spoke boldly and clearly about Jesus. The leaders, although critical and skeptical were amazed, knowing these were ordinary men, with no special training, but they were full of confidence and courage, “they took note that these men had been with Jesus.” (v13) Yes, it was noted these men were associated with Jesus of Nazareth, but their demeanor radiantly, righteously spoke of Him.
Can you imagine that being said of us? May we too get to know Jesus so intimately that we know His words, we know His purpose, we speak clearly and although we also are ordinary, we confidently and filled with the Holy Spirit present our God to others and their response being, “They’ve been with Jesus.” (Yes, yes we have).
At church, we sing a great song, I love it! Of recent, I am humming it, singing the chorus; “All my life You have been faithful – All my life You have been so so good – With every breath that I am able – I will sing of the goodness of God.”(Jenn Johnson)
Most often when we think of our worship, it is contained within the four walls at church. Singing and exalting God corporately with one voice is GOOD and right, but we are also to ‘sing of the goodness of God’ out in our world. Our expression of worship to God, service to Him, is service to others.
When Moses humbly asked God, ‘Show me Your glory’ (See Exodus 33 & 34) he was, in essence, asking, ‘Who are you God, show me.’ God answers by tucking Moses in the cleft of the rocks and passes by – He proclaims of Himself, “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness…” (34:6) some translations, ‘Abounding in goodness, mercy, and truth.’ THAT is our God! God is not what we think He is – He is what He says He is.
God is compassionate, full of goodness and mercy. Throughout history God has been answering Moses, He has been showing mankind who and what He is. Compassion is ‘coming alongside-ness’, differing from sympathy – sympathy we feel for another, our heart hurts for them, compassion feels what the other feels, our heart hurts with them, alongsideness, (Spell-check is having a FIT!) it is being with them in action, coming to their side, “Let me help.”
Throughout history, Israel would take off in its own direction, mess things up and God was continually coming alongside. Fast forward to Jesus, there is NO better way to express compassion, the goodness of God to a messed up people than sending His very best – Jesus. Jesus was compassionate; He healed and fed the people. Because of His compassion, He authorizes the disciples for deliverance and healing and sends them out (Matthew 9:36-10:5). Paul, numerous times, tells us to ‘put on…’ we are to put on Jesus; put on compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, forgiving one another…” (Col. 3; Gal. 3; Eph 4; Phil 2; Ro. 13:14). Folks, God is continuing to answer – we are His continued answer. Through us, the world sees God, sees His goodness, graciousness, His mercy. Remember the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant (Matt 18:21-35) the one who received huge (HUGE) compassion, mercy, and forgiveness, turns around and denies the same to another, Jesus closes the parables message with “Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?” How we treat others is our response to how WE have been treated.
Withholding the goodness of God is lazy, (OUCH!) it is selfish, (OK! THAT hurt!) selfishness is rooted in the thief’s tactic of ‘stealing – killing and destroying’ (John 10:10) Let’s not play into his hand, let’s not withhold the goodness of God, HIS mercy extended through us, HIS love and kindness – let the world see God answer!
“All my life You have been faithful – All my life You have been so so good – With every breath that I am able – I will sing (unselfishly) of the goodness of God.”
*This is an excerpt from last night’s teaching at my local women’s bible study.
Have a listen: [ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n0FBb6hnwTo ] listen to the end, close your eyes, throw your head back, raise your hands!
Have you ever felt a shrug of heart, you know that ‘Blah’ feeling, perhaps leading to anxiety or even agitation? The only way to put it into words is ‘I’m off, just… off.’ May I offer – something may have shifted – shifted from the sidelines to the seat; something/someone is now sitting on the throne of our heart, pretty weighty isn’t it! This, my dear friend, is found deep in the factory setting in the design of man, a component known as the Peace Barometer. (Ok, maybe not – but that is what I call it). Peace.
In the Old Testament, (Hebrew) the word for peace is shalom, (in short) meaning tranquility, harmony, wholeness. It has been referred to as evidence of the absence of strife or war. I would define peace not necessarily in what you do not have, but what you do have. In the New Testament, the word for peace (in Greek) is eirene, which literally means ‘to set at one.’ The picture is something that was once set in place has either been removed or toppled over – (think of the game Jenga, remove foundational pieces & over it goes) chaos, strife, irritation even war are the results. Once it is set back in place, PEACE reigns.
Here’s a brief (VERY brief) explanation: Remember God and man (and Eve) in the Garden, their relationship was good and whole (peace-filled). Then there was a sin outbreak, the relationship was broken, toppled over. For generations (begetting) generations there was a missing element – what was, is no longer. Later Isaiah speaks of the coming of the Prince of Peace and the government resting on His shoulders (9:6). Fast forward to Luke chapter 2, the angels announce, “Glory to God in the Highest and on earth peace…” (v14). Peace was back on earth among man. Jesus is the missing piece, He came bridging the gap (which was big & ugly) between man and his God – He set it all back in place, God the Father planned it, God the Son accomplished it, God the Holy Spirit applied it, the God package delivered – PEACE REIGNS.
Paul writes, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts…” (Col. 3:15) Here’s where the peace barometer comes in: If God is not ruling on the throne of our heart, be assured another will occupy it! We will know peace to the degree that we YIELD to Christ, the Prince of Peace, if NOT – chaos, strife, irritation. Paul again, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, PRESENT YOUR REQUESTS TO GOD, and the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts & minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:6-7, emphasis mine) ‘Present your requests to God’ (KEY!) We are NOT to go looking for solutions elsewhere, if we do, we can potentially be placing things on the throne that shouldn’t be there, (thus the ‘off’ feeling). Our peace barometer will TILT if Jesus is not the center of our life, the One residing and reigning on the throne of our heart. Peace is not about peaceful circumstances, it’s about the applied authority of Christ. Let’s cut to the chase: God doesn’t come to take sides (help sort our stuff) He comes to TAKE OVER. It is His design, His throne.
“May God Himself, the God (of Peace) who makes everything holy and whole, make YOU holy and whole, put you together – spirit, soul, and body.” (1 Thess. 5:23 The Message) God the Maker – God at the center – God on the throne.
Taking inventory of my heart. Peace.
*This is an excerpt from my teaching at our local women’s Bible Study.
In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love & good deeds.” – Hebrews 10:24)
When I was in college, there was a book on the required reading list. It impacted me. It wasn’t so much the content of the book, but the title – ‘The Kingdom of Self’ (by Earl Jabay). The summary of the message was; by divine design within the heart of every man & woman is a throne – and WE are not to be on it. That is all I remember (it has been 35+ years). The throne of our heart.
God spoke to the children of Israel through Moses, telling them (I paraphrase) you were once captive and I took you out (of Egypt) we are family and within our family, we are not like other nations, we have family standards. (Queue conversation in your head “But Mom, everyone’s doing it!”) May we take note; God does not give suggestions – He gives commands, family commands. He opens with “You must not have any other gods before me.” (Ex. 20:3) Continuing: “You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind… you must not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the LORD your God am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods.” (vv 4-5 NLT)
Oh, we may not erect a stone statue in our back yard these days and bow to it – but we do create, buy and harbor gods of the heart. When we think of an ‘idol’ we tend to think of controlling stuff, stuff in the ‘bad bucket’ – you know abusive things like drugs, alcohol, pornography, adulterous affairs… (The list is long, these have to be addressed!) BUT, what about ‘GOOD’ stuff? An idol is anything that takes the place of God in our heart.
While teaching this to the women at church, I pulled out a tie, representing my husband. He is a good man, our marriage is good, and it is God ordained GOOD. HOWEVER, I can elevate him to such high status that he takes the prominent place on the throne of my heart and God is moved aside. It is the same with all relationships, with our children, friends, even our leaders. The same with position, dreams, endeavors and yes, our ministry or vocational careers.
I pulled out a calendar (we are busy-bustling people) does our calendar reflect the PURPOSE God has for us? The central motivating plan of our life as designed by God or does it center around MY stuff. (OUCH! The throne of my heart – cluttered to overflowing). The same is true with (as the women groan aloud) when I pulled out my cell phone. THIS technological gadget is the leader among all distractions. It distracts us, making us pay with our time, attention and yes affection, elements we are potentially allowing our phone to be stealing from God. We can tell of its importance when we panic when just one block from the house and we realize we forgot it and screech on the brakes. Remember how Jesus describes the enemy of our soul, ‘the thief whose ONLY aim is to steal – kill – destroy’ (John 10:10) folks one of his tactics is to distract. (Enough said)
I then pulled out a miniature whirly metal windmill, it was created with an erector set. Using a screwdriver twisting a bolt, a gal asked me what I was doing – “I’m building.” I said, “Building my expectations.” Our creation is never complete; we are continually tweaking and adding to it. It seems to always be with us, we take it to church, work, family gatherings and when visiting with others we force them to ‘hold it’ – putting in their hands all the bells and whistles to make us happy. THIS too can be a ruling attitude of the heart factor.
God is either taken off the throne or He is added to. Numerous times, it is said of the Israelites ‘they worshipped God AND they served others gods…’ TOTALLY getting them in trouble. It is not God and… It is God ONLY. Jesus tells us to ‘seek FIRST His kingdom, His righteousness…’ (Matthew 6:33) AND (the only ‘and’ in God’s economy) we get all the stuff we need. To be very frank, all the ‘other’ has to be at the feet of Jesus, at the feet of the throne, NOT on it.
Move over throne cluttered mess – God is coming for more of our heart!
*This teaching is from our current local women’s Bible Study, titled ‘No Other Gods.’
I want to come and sit next to you and share something on my heart. My passion is Jesus, which spills all over His written word. I would like to offer something that I have been drawn to. When I walk into a Christian bookstore, it is there. On the shelves at Wal-Mart, Target and other department stores, it is there. I have heard so many ladies claim of its inspiration, full of guidance, considering it strong enough for the day’s journey. Over the years every time I pick it up I get a HUGE check in my spirit. I do a quick ‘thumb through’ and still …red flags and put it down. It is the book ‘God Calling’ and the newer rendition, ‘Jesus Calling’ by Sarah Young.
Many use this book for their morning devotions rather than the Bible itself or alongside the scriptures. I decided to take a closer look. As I researched the origin of this book, (sorry this article is quite lengthy) I was shocked. ‘God Calling’ was written by two women known as ‘The Listeners.’ They wanted to remain ‘anonymous.’ This is NOT a book full of ‘allegory’ the intent is ‘Thus saith the Lord.’ It is written (as is ‘Jesus Calling’) in the First-person perspective. Meaning a personal story, or a running commentary of thoughts. We the reader are not watching this from the outside but through their eyes. We see what they see and hear what they hear. So, in essence, the authors are claiming these are Jesus’ words. With a strong declaration, they state they would sit down with pen & paper, empty their minds and then begin to write. Write messages, messages they claim were from Jesus Himself. The messages are peppered with bible verses or a slight glimpse that is referenced at the bottom of the page. The content is primarily the ladies poetic sway. They eventually took the whole collection of these messages and sent them to the Oxford Group, where the book was soon published via the Oxford Group (In England) and came out in 1935.
Who and what is the Oxford Group? The group is now called Moral Re-Armament (MRA). Members of the Oxford Group primarily find their guidance from within rather than the Bible. Even though a follower of MRA attempts to follow moral standards from the Bible or of any religion, his primary light is that inner voice and his primary goal is self-improvement. No cross is necessary; no shed blood is required. Each member is encouraged to sit with their journal, pen in hand, empty their minds and write whatever ‘God’ tells them, then act on it. This ‘method’ of listening/writing is known as “automatic writing.” An alleged psychic ability allowing a person to produce written words without consciously writing. The words are claimed to arise from a subconscious, spiritual or supernatural source. (Sounds New Age does it not? This is a very dangerous thing!)
Sarah Young, author of ‘Jesus Calling’ states that her inspiration first came from reading the book ‘God Calling.’ She was so enamored by the idea, that she began the pursuit of ‘listening’ as well. She states: (quote) “This practice of listening to God has increased my intimacy with Him more than any other spiritual discipline, so I want to share some of the messages I have received. In many parts of the world, Christians seem to be searching for a deeper experience of Jesus’ Presence and Peace. The messages that follow address that felt need.” Notice that her solution to addressing the desire for Jesus’ Presence and Peace is not Scripture or any other means of grace, but what appears to be the very messages she provides in her book. In her writings, she speaks seldom of sin and repentance and even less of Christ’s work on the cross.
A common denominator of all mysticism, (just cutting to the chase) acclaimed Christian or not, is the journey inward. The idea is to quiet the mind (soul) so that the result is space where one supposedly meets God within. According to Young’s citation of Jesus from her journal, this is what He wants as well, remember the “I” or “Me” is supposedly Jesus speaking: “I meet you in the stillness of your soul. It is there that I seek to commune with you. . . . Stillness of soul is increasingly rare in this world addicted to speed and noise. I am pleased with your desire to create a quiet space where you and I can meet.” (April 4)
Her main focus is ‘awareness.’ Awareness of Presence. Excerpt: “Let Me infuse My Presence into your thoughts. As your mind stops racing, your body relaxes and you regain awareness of Me. . . . There are actually more than four dimensions in this world where you live. In addition to the three dimensions of space and the one of time, there is the dimension of openness to My presence.” (May 24) Awareness, consciousness, and openness as described by Young are substitutes for faith in the promise of God of the Bible. “When My Presence is the focal point of your consciousness, all the pieces of your life fall into place.” (January 28th) One more, BAD theology: “Most of mankind’s misery stems from feeling unloved.” (August 1)
Oh please do not get me wrong, I am fully persuaded that the prophetic is true and Holy Spirit DOES speak to us, through us, guides us and worthy of writing it down in our journals. HOWEVER, to apparently set aside the Holy written word and make the main focus on our ‘personal revelation’ is a very dangerous and wrong place to be, let alone someone taking that word, publishing it and others potentially reading THAT in place of God speaking from His holy scripture. One thing rings so true, the Holy Spirit NEVER contradicts the ‘Word’ nor does He contradict Jesus or the Father. The Holy Spirit points to Jesus and Jesus points to the Father.
I find nowhere in the Bible we are to ’empty’ our minds, rather we are to ‘think on these things’ (Paul lists in Phil. 4:8) We are exhorted over and over to “Mediate…” which in God’s economy, (in short) is the filling of our minds with His word and chewing on it! Paul exhorts “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Cor 10:5) Also… “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Ro. 2:2) The Pastor of Hebrews, “The word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (4:12) Paul to Timothy, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Tim. 3:16) If God’s word is inspired and useful for equipping for every good work – what more do we need, outside of instruction of the Bible to lead our personal revelation of our God? If we keep seeking the ‘other’ we become like Eve in the garden, distorting what God has said and listening to what sounds pleasing to us. If not kept in check, this new revelation would soon replace the authority of scripture, creating new standards that we live by.
Paul said to Timothy, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.” (2 Tim. 4:3-4) This is rampant today, we want to tickle our ears, massage our heart and soften our pain. In doing so we reach beyond Jesus. Reach beyond His words grabbing for something else. As a dear friend shared, “This happens when we know other books better than we know the word of God, we are easily deceived.” How many folks are underlining, circling and highlighting Sarah’s words rather than opening their Bible and reading His words?
I would offer balance of course. And if you do read these books and any others similar, to please prayerfully take this information to Jesus. Align it with scripture and ask the Holy Spirit to show you what is next. When choosing a devotional, make it come-along side (not in place of) the bible, may it be based on scripture, with sound theology. I LOVE devotional books, my favorites are Our Daily Bread, My Utmost for His Highest and Praying the Names of God, Praying the Attributes of God, by Ann Spangler.
Devotion is defined as, “The fact or state of being ardently dedicated, relating to, or characterized by.” What is it we want to be dedicated to, or characterized by? The word of God or someone else’s empty-minded personal revelation. I don’t want someone putting words in God’s mouth when He speaks to me. Thank you for reading this monstrous article, it is only written with a heart of love and desirous of the very best for you. You are loved dearly.
In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another one towards love & good deeds.” – Hebrews 10:24)
I am remembering a time my husband and I were visiting a church when the pastor, full of Pentecostal energy shared vigorously from Psalm 136. Twenty-six times the Psalmist declares, “His mercy endures forever.” Oh, it does! God’s mercy is unending. Matchless in every way, it can be seen from the beginning of mankind’s existence and has no vanishing point in the future. Within the 15 minutes of sharing, the pastor repeated the blessing of God’s mercy, then “In closing…” He said, “His mercy endures forever.” As the folks stood to leave, preparing for the trek home to the roast in the Crockpot, I wanted so BADLY to stand to my feet and yell, “Tell them!” (All eyes on the crazy visitor lady in the back.) There’s more! Pastor! Don’t stop here!
Tell them that the Hebrew language is full of imagery, YES mercy! But there is more. Just like there is ‘sunrise’ with just a glimpse of light peeking over the horizon, then there is SUNRISE with colors so vibrant you stare in unbelief at the magnitude of the brilliance of His creation. Colors spilling over each other as it dances across the sky in tones that if we are still enough, quiet… it could be heard. Today, with the Pastors’ sharing, we were just …peeking.
His mercy endures forever. Mercy is ‘hesed’ (in the Hebrew) Scholars find it extremely difficult to translate into English because there really is not an equivalent word. The King James Version alone uses 15 different words in an attempt to express its meaning in each context. Words such as lovingkindness, steadfast love, loyal love, kindness, faithful love, mercy and yes, grace. Grace. God’s mercy is withholding what we do deserve, where His grace is giving us what we do not. One hand pushes forward in giving, while the other holds back in restraint. Divine coordination -THAT is our God! Because of His love for us, His commitment to covenant, His value of relationship, our God interacts with hesed. It is deep, wide and continuing.
Jonah knew God’s hesed, saying to the Lord, “O LORD, is this not what I said when I was still at home? That is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish. I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love (hesed), a God who relents from sending calamity.” (Jonah 4:2) Ok, maybe Jonah needed an attitude adjustment, (Thus the large fish story) but he knew, he understood, experienced and observed how God operates.
Yes indeed, it is worthy of repeating in twenty-six verses, “His mercy endures forever.” His lovingkindness, faithfulness, love and His grace. It is enough to make us bow our head, eyes closed with groanings that cannot be uttered!
Stand in the glow of His brilliant sunrise!
Happy New Year! As the calendar rolls to a new year, we flip through the photos, whether it be of puppies, sunset images or as I just hung mine, photos of tropical islands. The empty squares indicating days yet to be lived, those 12 pages can either propel us or paralyze us.
The change of the New Year has traditionally become a re-setting if you will of our life compass. We evaluate the past and plan for the future. For some of us, this means sitting down and writing out our Resolutions. Money to be made, exercise routines, diet plans, buy that new house, get that promotion, clean out those closets, get organized and the list goes on, don’t get me wrong, these are all a good plan of attack, (yet there is more). A New Year’s Resolution can be defined as ‘a firm decision to do or not do something, a course of action designed with the intent to keep a vow.’ Statistics claim, one in three Americans makes a New Year’s resolution of some sort, yet only about 75% of these folks stick to their goal for at least … a week.
Have we considered that instead of a resolution to do better, get more, and perhaps try to be something other than we are, that we seek … revelation? As we stand at the door of 2019, may we take pause and truly position ourselves to seek a fresh revelation of our God – as we read through our Bibles we see new qualities of His character that cause us to be in awe of Him. That is my plan, that is my goal. Making a firm decision to take action to learn and accept more of His love, trust His hand and bow more in gratitude of His mercy and grace.
I pray over us as Paul did, “I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” (Amen) – Ephesians 3:14-21 (NIV)
From our home to yours, a hardy blessed Happy New Year.
In Him, DeDe & Mark (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love & good deeds.” – Hebrews 10:24)