Season of HOPE

The waterfall was different from any I had ever seen, whether in person or in a video. It didn’t just flow from a single river which tumbled into the raging waters beneath it. Instead the waters covered all the walls of what appeared to be a complete circular canyon. And it wasn’t water like we are familiar with in this realm. Instead it was as bright as crystals. The shimmer was so intense with light that it was hard to even keep my eyes on it.  I KNEW this waterfall was different because I KNEW it was flowing from the kingdom of heaven itself.

This was the glory of God flowing down from his throne room. This was his blessings of mercy, of grace, of hope, of peace, of healing and provision and so much more. It was all there. It is all here– if we want it. It is all available to those who ask.

And I heard in my heart. “You have not because you ask not. There is so much more.”

This was shared at a prayer meeting and I believe is something the Lord wants to share with us as we are dealing with the darkness, confusion and hopelessness that seem to be covering the whole earth.  People may think all is lost. People may believe that there is no hope. But I want to tell you: there is great HOPE.

Our ways are defiantly not the Lord’s. He has so much more for us than I think we realize or understand.

That is the whole essence of the Bible. It is a message of hope. It was for the people that existed thousands of years ago and it is for us today. There is always hope.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13 (NIV)

This world is shaking. Our nation seems to be toppling and the economy is imploding. Laws and mandates, beyond are control, are being implemented and changing our lives forever. What was once considered to be wrong is now honored and what was once considered as right, is now mocked.

Is this a new concept? Not really. It has been happening for eons. It is just new to us today. It is new to our nation. Destruction is trying to take the throne. It is even gloating as well-meaning people submit to its demands.

This reminds me of a dream I shared several blogs ago. It was the one where I was in a corridor with a couple other people watching others fighting for their rights, with protests and signs. They chanted with fist in the air toward a political figure of power that stood behind a podium. Then suddenly the shouts ceased as the political figure made deals with each person. One by one each person shook this person’s hand and walked away.

But we must stand and not bow.

What is taking place today is like the story of the Hebrew children (Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego) who would not bow to the idol of the day while many others, that may have been good people, bowed because of fear and intimidation. Because of their refusal, the three Hebrews were thrown into a raging fire. But they didn’t burn! Instead the king mentioned: one, like the son of man, is in the flames with them. Although those that threw them into the fire burned to a crisp, they were saved. It seemed impossible. (Daniel 3)

This is what is happening today. It can seem difficult to stand up for what you believe is right. I mean, well-meaning people are bowing to the demands today.  Even in my dream those same well-meaning people compromised.  It is so much easier. There were only a few that held out in the corridors, watching.

The Bible does say that the way to destruction is broad but the gate to life is narrow.

Don’t be discouraged. Don’t give up. Because seriously:

“They who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings as eagles. They shall run and not be weary. They shall walk and not faint.” IS 40:31 (ESV)

This is a day of HOPE. One, as the son of man, (Jesus) is standing with you. He is walking through the fire with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.

Also: There is a waterfall, one unlike anything in this world. It comes from the throne room of the Lord. It is his glory And it is filled with mercy, grace, hope, peace, healing and provision and so much more to anyone who asks.

“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb.” Revelation 22:1

You have not because you ask not. What do you need? God is faithful.

Be of GOOD cheer. This is a good time to be alive and walking on this earth because it is a season of HOPE.

Hope

All I see is darkness. I don’t even see shadows, nothing but cold blackness. Suddenly in front of me is a red cage with its door open wide. Then out of the darkness I see a reddish, disfigured being. I know it is a demon and its presence sends chills up my spine. It reaches for me with its claws to drag me into the prison of the cage.

I wake up screaming. My heart is racing and my breathing is shallow. I sense fear in my bedroom.

I immediately begin to pray.

What was that about, I thought, though I quickly knew.

The enemy of my soul was trying to draw me back into the prison I once was trapped. He thought for a moment he could bring such despair that I would gladly give into his plan. But what he didn’t remember is that the one whom the Lord sets free is free indeed. (John 8:36) I believe he was hoping that I would forget that promise. But I quickly held onto the truth.

I was wondering why everything was red. Doesn’t red represent the blood of Christ? But in a negative context it can represent anger and war.

There are so many reasons to be angry today. So many reasons to be in fear or frustration and apathy if we do not keep our eyes on the author and finisher of our faith.

In this season we, the body of Christ, are being tempted, tested, and tried. There were seasons in the past and in other regions where the same darkness seemed to cover the land. Today the darkness and deception appear to be taking dominion throughout the world. It is taunting the believer as Goliath taunted the children of Israel. Like David, we have authority to declare to any giant we face that our Lord will not be mocked and we can bring it tumbling to its demise.

I wonder how dark it was during the time of Noah? For 100 years Noah was mocked and ridiculed. Yet he continued to do what he knew the Lord told him to do. He heard the Lords voice above the laughter of the world. Despite the taunting, he pressed on to accomplish what he had set out to do: obey the Lord. In that day people continued as they always had, there was eating and drinking and marrying and giving in marriage. Nothing to them had changed. They continued in any sin they were enjoying and ignored the God of creation.

Today it looks as if the darkness is winning in every corner of the world. Do I think it is as dark as it was in the days of Noah? I couldn’t tell you. But the darkness and evil that accompanies it sure is gloating. It did as well in the days of Hitler. But the world has become smaller because of the internet. We now witness the evil giants rising and laughing, as they prepare to subdue.

The only thing I know is that the Lord will return one day and warns us that, like in the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Lord. (Matthew 24)

There is chaos and division in our land. We MUST stay in the Word of God to stay in truth because lies are spreading like a forest fire. We must believe what the Lord says above anything the world declares as truth. We must be careful what our eyes, our ears, and our hearts feast on.

These have been trying times for many. Personally, our family had been hit by the death of my father. I listened to my dad’s words that he wanted to share. He had mentioned over a year prior how much the Lord had impressed on his heart to be careful of compromise. He had taken the steps to hear God’s voice and follow his words. As the days got closer to him passing, he felt like the Lord was doing inventory in his heart and called out to the Lord to clean out any area that was not dedicated to the Lord. He ached for the church as it had fallen into compromising with the world above obeying the Lord. He warned that the church, and many who have called themselves Christians, were confusing love and grace for compromise and alignment with sin. And he is right.

So, when I had that dream of the demon pulling me back into bondage, I knew the enemy was trying to lure me back into compromise, back into laziness, back into the apathy that I once lived in. You think you are free but instead you are a prisoner of your own mind, your own unforgiveness and your own bondage.

Yes, there is darkness on this land, but there is freedom in Christ.

Like I have stated before, the Lord said:

“I’ve told you this so that my peace will be with you. In the world you’ll have trouble. But cheer up! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (GWT)

Today we need to hold on to those words. He has overcome the world! The trials and struggles we face will be the catalyst that will free us from whatever is holding us each in bondage. Those very trials will cause our faith to grow strong as James stated in James 1.

The Lord warns us in Hebrews to be careful that we do not refuse to listen to his words. Because of his great love, He WILL shake what needs to be shaken. Why does he do this? It is because he knows that sin leads to death. It takes us away from his presence. He loves us so much he will allow us to go through storms to get rid of those things that keep us in bondage.

I’ve shared before in my blogs that a storm or wind is coming and that you will need to hold on to him with all your heart, soul, and mind. “Winds of Adversity” September 30, 2018. But I also shared that his glory will visit us. “The Spirit of God is Hovering Over the Earth Today” March 19, 2019.

I believe that God will come in his glory with so much power. But are we prepared?

There is darkness on the land, but God is going to pour out his glory to those who are calling out to him. He will reveal himself to those who are seeking his face. He loves us SO much he is calling us to open our hearts to him and he pleads with us to be careful of compromise. It creates a lukewarm heart and he states in Revelation that he would rather us hot or cold. We should look different than the world.We need to be a light.

Are you ready? As long as you are still on the earth, as long as there is still breath in your lungs you can call out to him. He is not a religion. He is the creator of the universe and more. He loves you so much he does not want anyone to perish.

My dad was an evangelist at heart and he loved the Lord with all his heart. As a tribute to his life, I quote with all my heart John 3:16:

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (NIV)

The Lord is going to return one day. In the meantime, you can be surrounded his light amid any darkness, as he walks through this world WITH you. Be encouraged.

God Bless.

It is well.

I could hear the sound of his heartbeat and the thunder of his voice echoing as I laid my head on his chest. Nothing mattered. I was in good hands. I was safe and secure. And so, I rested in his arms unafraid, without worry; filled with peace.

I must have been 3, 4 or 5 years of age at that specific time. Whatever age I was, that incident stuck with me. There were times that my parents would be visiting friends past my sister’s and my bedtime. I would fall asleep on the couch. Before leaving, my dad would pick me up and continue visiting while I was in his arms. As I lay my head on his chest his heartbeat and voice soothed me.

Today the Lord brought this memory back to my mind. He reminded me that He is my Father. I can rest in him as he wraps his arms around me. I like how the Passion Bible translates Psalm 91:4.

“His massive arms are wrapped around you, protecting you.
You can run under his covering of majesty and hide.
His arms of faithfulness are a shield keeping you from harm” Ps 91: 4.

I can lay my head on his chest and listen to his heartbeat and his gentle yet thundering voice guiding my steps. But I cannot do that unless I spend time quieting my thoughts so I can listen to his voice with my heart.

During these times, more than ever, we must be able to hear the heartbeat of the Lord. We must be able to hear his voice thundering in our souls, so we can heed his leading.

“These are trying times.”

I have heard that statement and read it in different places on websites or store signs.

There are riots, lies, fear and anger that fill the airwaves, social media, stores, the workplace, and the streets. Hardened criminals are being released, innocent people are being harassed and our economic society is being squashed. This is not the land I remember as a child. This is not the land that people traveled to searching for a better opportunity, looking for refuge and hope. Instead it has become filled with unrighteousness, selfishness, jealousy, and controversy.

I, for one did not see this coming. Thankfully, God knew it in the beginning of time. He is taking this opportunity to teach us to trust him and prepare the hearts of the lost.

Learning to trust him with our personal lives is just as important as learning to trust him for our society at large.

Even our best made plans can take twists that we do not expect. It is there that we could begin to lose hope. Perhaps you lost a loved one, a job or a dream and your hope has begun to fall and wither away like leaves in an autumn wind.

The Lord spoke to my heart recently, “Do you love me even when your plans are not what you expected? Do you love me even when you thought things would be different than what you see? Do you? Do you trust me when the land you are standing on gives way, literally and socially and economically? Do you trust me? Can you rest?”

As I was driving to work the Lord put the song, “It Is Well With My Soul” on my heart. I listened to it everyday on my way to work for quite some time and wept as I began to understand what the Lord was asking. I realized that my circumstances personally and the circumstances of our great land cannot and should not dictate our hope or peace.

I have shared the song, “It is Well with my Soul” before on this blog. But if you are not familiar with the story behind that song let me share a short synopsis. In the 1870s Horatio Spafford and his wife had lost their young son to pneumonia while living in Chicago. He sent his wife and four daughters back to Europe with intentions to follow shortly. The ship he sent them on sunk and their four remaining children perished. Traveling the same route back to Europe and viewing the spot where the waters unforgivingly took his children’s lives, he wrote the lyrics to the song, “It is Well With My Soul”

When peace like a river attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billow roll,
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.”

I don’t even understand that kind of tragedy. But was I willing to surrender my life, my loved ones, my dreams, and my plans to Him and completely trust him? Could I really say, “whatever my lot, it is well with my soul?

I go back to the image of me resting in the arms of my father when I was a little child. I remember that peace and security. Our heavenly Father longs for each of us to trust him, to rest in him, to lay our heads on his chest and to hear his dreams for our lives. He longs to share his heartbeat for this world. He has not lost hope. His heart beats for you. His heart beats for the lost. There are still souls to win.

Can you hear his heartbeat? Can you hear his voice thunder from his chest telling you, “I love you. You are in my arms. Trust ME.”

Listen.

Psalm 91:1-2
Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will REST in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I TRUST.”

God Bless

Will You Dance With Me?

I saw a post the other day about dancing with the one you love. And suddenly I felt like the Lord said to me, “Will you dance with me?”

I thought that was strange and different.

Would I dance with him? What does that even look like?

Would I allow him to take me to a place where my heart does not look at the circumstances? Could I just look into my Lord’s eyes and see nothing else that swirls around my world? Could I spend quiet time with him and relax and enjoy the music that comes from his heart as I follow his lead?

“Will you dance with me?” he asked.

There were many seasons of victory when his children danced. I think of Miriam and the other women who danced victoriously after the children of Israel crossed the Red Sea. The Egyptians, who were in a mad chase close behind them, were determined to kill all of them. Instead they drowned and fell to the bottom of the sea. Afterwards praise and worship before the Lord filled the sojourners hearts as they worshiped the Lord in dance and song.

“Then Miriam, the prophet, Aaron’s sister, took a tambourine and led all the women as they played their tambourines and danced.” Exodus 15:20 (NLV)

What about King David? This man, known for having a heart after the Lord, would often dance before his Lord. His heart was filled with gladness. He couldn’t dance enough before the God who rescued him time after time! God had been faithful to deliver him from a lion, a bear and from Goliath, the arrogant giant of a man. The Lord gave him victory on the battlefield over and over. He worshiped the God who forgave him for making a choice to sin and took him back as his own. He was in love with his Lord and his worship showed it!

Those dances were part of worshiping the Lord. What does it mean though, to dance with the Lord? The key word: “with”.

To dance as a unit takes a lot of time, a lot of practice. It takes getting to know your partner so intimately that you can flow as one, each hearing the rhythm of the music, yet stepping in unison. It takes learning the steps together and already knowing what your partner will do, trusting his every move. Your eyes become connected, as does your heart.

When one of my children was very young, a neighbor dog ripped open his leg with his sharp teeth. We rushed him to the emergency room where they had to stitch up the wound. The doctor told me to look into my son’s eyes and distract him so they could insert a shot into the wound to numb his leg. I got as close to him as I could, eye to eye, speaking gently and confidently to him. He never took his eyes off me and was able to endure the pain.

That is what Jesus wants for us. He wants us to keep our eyes on him, always!

The world around us may seem to be growing darker. But as we keep our eyes on him, all we see is his glory. That is what Peter experienced when he walked on the stormy waters towards his Lord. If he kept his eyes on Jesus, instead of the storm, he could walk on the water. (Matthew 14:22-23)

The Lord wants us to keep our eyes on him. He wants us to focus on him instead of the storms in our lives. He wants us to live in peace and hear the rhythm of his heartbeat.

If I am to be his dance partner, I must know him more deeply. I must learn to instinctively know his moves; keeping my eyes focused on him so I can follow his lead. And when he throws me into the air, I have to trust that he will catch me, as we have done throughout our time practicing together.

It takes dance partners time, practicing over and over, until they have learned to dance in harmony.

Those words came back to me. “Will you dance with me?”

My reply:

“Will I take the time to get to know you? Will I learn to follow your lead and the steps you have already prepared for me? Will I listen intently to the music that vibrates from your heartbeat into mine? Will I learn to keep my eyes on yours, trusting you wherever you lead me?

Will I spend time with you so we can learn to dance as one?”

My answer: “YES!”

What will your answer be?

The Lord asks, “Will you dance with me?”

It is a season of REST

In a world where you see so much violence, in a land where the political realm is almost dangerous, this word keeps entering into my soul: REST.

There are many descriptions of rest but these best explain what is on my heart:

  1. peace of mind or spirit
  2. free from anxieties and disturbance
  3. to remain confident (trust)

How can we discover this rest?

“Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you REST.”  Matthew 11:28 (ESV)

“And he said, ‘My presence will go with you, and I will give you REST.” Exodus 33:14 (ESV)

“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will REST in the shadow of the Almighty.” Psalm 91 (NIV)

It requires God’s presence.

  1. Come to the Lord
  2. Stay in his presence
  3. Dwell in him

It doesn’t matter what news you may hear, whether in the world, in the nation, or in your personal life, you can still rest and experience peace as you stay in his presence.

Yes, we do need to pray earnestly for our government, for those around us and even for ourselves. But ultimately the battle belongs to the Lord. In spite of what we might see, our confidence must rest in his faithfulness.

As believers we should always stay vigilant in prayer and reading the Word, because the enemy seeks to bring destruction. But in the midst of this: REST.

I was thinking about the season of King David. While he remained king it was a season of war and conquering. When his son, King Solomon reigned it was a season of peace.

I feel that this isn’t just a season that the Lord is giving to me personally, but it is a season that the Lord is granting anyone who desires it.

God has heard our prayers. Like he heard the cries of the children of Israel when they were slaves in Egypt, he will bring deliverance to us, as well. Though we see turmoil in this world, God is doing great miracles of deliverance in the realm of the spirit for each of us individually and in our nation.

Remember the story of Martha and Mary? Martha was busy doing what needed to be done, but Mary was sitting at Jesus’ feet. And what was Jesus’ reply when Martha began to grumble about her sister’s apparent laziness?

“Martha, Martha, you are getting worried and upset about too many things. Only one thing is important. Mary has made the right choice and it will never be taken away from her.” Luke 10:41-42

If you have been diligently praying about a situation, he has heard your prayers. Make the choice to sit in his presence, listen to his words and REST in his faithfulness.

It is a season of REST.

God bless.

 

 

When Life Trips You Up

I woke up to a few words that the Lord put on my mind. Well, they are paraphrased because quite frankly I admit that I did not write them down right away. I figured I would remember them. You know how that goes.

(Note to self: Always write down your dreams and/or words from the Lord, ASAP.)

The essence of the words were: “Let go of the things that trip you up. The days are growing evil. You have to remain alert to hear my words.”

The verse that came to my mind is Hebrews 12:1.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set for us.” (NLT)

My first thought: “Seriously, the days are GROWING evil? I cannot imagine them getting worse.”

Then I thought about the things that trip me up and ensnare me, things that bring me down with heaviness.

WEIGHT THAT CAN SLOW US DOWN

Personally, I tend to want to take on all the cares and stress factors that involve my family, my future (their future) the heartaches of the world, the brokenness, the loss, the violence and the lies the world spews. Basically, I have a hard time just letting the cares disappear. I think part of that though, is the compassion of Christ. I pray or intercede often for people and circumstances. That could weigh me down, IF I do not give them to the Lord and leave the tears at the cross.

Also, my mind tends to want to relive past moments where I made an incorrect choice. IF I would let that play over and over in my mind it would drive me mad. But I have to take every thought captive and put it under the blood of Christ and remember that none of us are perfect. In fact, it is our very mistakes that create a testimony of the Lord’s faithfulness and grace. God somehow uses those very things to draw us closer to him.

What kind of things weigh YOU down? Is it fear, anxiety, anger, unforgiveness, frustration, hopelessness, despair? We have all gone down these roads. BUT remember these are just things that the enemy would love to put on us so that we CANNOT walk in triumph; so that we CANNOT walk in victory.

They slow us down.

“But those who trust in the Lord for help will find their strength renewed. They will rise on wings like eagles; they will run and not get weary; they will walk and not grow weak.” Isaiah 40:31 (GNT)

The answer to the things that slow us down is to wait quietly on the Lord and trust him. Let him renew us. How? By getting to know him through the Word of the Lord and prayer and hanging out with those that know him. We have to cast our cares on him because it is not the Lord that is giving us these thoughts of despair. We need to take authority of our thoughts and verbally put them under the blood of Christ so that we can have peace.

Basically think on things that are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and worthy of praise. (Phil.4:8) How important it is to have our mind and heart in the right place and practice them. That is how we will discover peace. (Phil 4:9)

There are simple “good” things that slow us down, as well.

Too much entertainment can become distracting, so that our minds are filled with other things constantly. That includes sports, TV, gaming, movies, books etc…Don’t get me wrong, these things are okay, BUT if our lives are not balanced they can take up too much time. Maybe you are a workaholic, or fill your time with so much ministry or volunteering that you don’t have time with Jesus. Maybe it is gluttony. That is a big one for the people in America. It’s just easy and the church doesn’t necessarily consider it bad. But it can bring on health issues that can distract you from your calling. And the list continues…

PLEASE UNDERSTAND: There are occasions that life consumes us with family issues or even emergencies. BUT take a few moments a day to seek the Lord, even in your car.

Think about it, what is weighing YOU down so that you are slowing down in the faith?

THE SIN THAT SO EASILY TRIPS US UP

We are not perfect. Each of us have weak areas that are not totally surrendered in our lives. It is these areas where the enemy will try desperately to get into our lives and wreak havoc. Do you tend to lose your temper or hold onto anger? Do you hold grudges and don’t easily forgive? Do you gossip. complain, are given to substance abuse? Are you easily tripped up by sexual immorality or are you lazy or even complacent?  Yes, even complacency will trip you up because the Lord said that he would rather that you were hot or cold. (Revelation 3:16). Perhaps it’s dabbling in dark magic or lying constantly or lusting things or stealing. Again, the list can go on and on.

We all have to deal with the things (or sins) that easily trip us up and become even MORE cautious in those areas of our lives. That sin will knock at your door, so to speak.  Ephesians 4:27 says “do not give the devil a foothold”.

“Be ALERT and of sober mind. Your enemy, the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8 (NIV)

Whatever it is that may cause you to stumble, put a stop sign up to the enemy of darkness. And by all means DO NOT hang out with those that dabble in those areas. Be wise who you choose as friends.

“Do not be misled. “Bad company corrupts good character.” 1 Corinthians 15:33 (NIV)

The Lord reminds us to be sober and vigilant. We need to make time to listen if we want to hear the voice of the Lord. And how much more important it is as the days are growing evil and confusion is consuming the land.

These words were definitely for me. But I know that they are for someone else today, as well.

Finally, I pray that each of us can run the race with endurance so that we can be found faithful when we meet our Lord, and so that we have the energy and wisdom to encourage those around us.

God bless.

THIS IS JUST A PRETEST

Do you like to take tests?

Many moons ago when I attended school our teachers would often give us pretests. Their purpose was to embed the knowledge needed for the final exam. When we sat down to take the final, the answers came quickly to our minds because we had been prepared.

I had a friend who was going through intense trials in her life. She was sharing about the difficult events that seem to be taking place in her life, one right after another. While she was speaking a thought penetrated into my mind or maybe it was my heart. Anyway it was so loud that I knew it was something the Lord wanted me to share with her.

These were the words: “THIS IS JUST A PRETEST.”

She half-heartedly laughed and responded with, “You mean it is going to get harder? I thought this was the test — not the pretest!”

I understood her reasoning because what she was going through wasn’t easy. Yet it was conditioning and equipping her with the knowledge and wisdom she would need to pass a test in her future. It was preparing her to be able to take the next step. One day she will be able to fight giants that are bigger than her pretesting days. She will have the tools she needs to live victoriously. But it won’t stop there. She will become strong enough in her faith to help those around her.

This happened with David, as well. While he tended sheep he killed a bear and a lion. This was the pretest for the next stage of his life. He took time during these events to write songs to his Lord in his quiet hours and to grow in his relationship with God. It prepared him to have the faith to defeat the giant, Goliath. That prepared him for his next steps God had opened for him as he became more victorious in battle after battle. Those battles together with those quiet moments kept him humble, yet unafraid, as King Saul sought to kill him. This prepared him to take the next step –eventually being King of a united Israel.  He was ready for the tests that followed each pretest. He had learned the answers.

A trial or pretest is not easy. Sometimes it feels like we are suffering unnecessarily. But  I have heard it said that we should embrace suffering. When a woman is going through child-birth, she has two choices. Either embrace the pain and flow with it or fight it with all she has. Either way the baby is going to be born. The first way, though still difficult, brings joy in the process of pain. The second way, causes the pain to become unbearable. You see fighting the process of birthing new life is incredibly hard. ( I can say these things from experience. Of course women have more options today.)

But I am talking about fighting life in the spiritual sense. If we learn through suffering, Jesus can birth new life in us. Otherwise our suffering is just that, suffering without a reward.

Paul learned the art of embracing pain and suffering. He writes about his trials in Corinthians Chapter 11. The things he suffered seemed almost impossible to bear –being beaten, flogged, whipped, imprisoned, shipwrecked, deserted and misunderstood among other things. It was incredible what he went through to spread the gospel of Christ. And I am sure there were times he may have felt discouraged.

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair;  persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.  We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.   2 Corinthians 4:8-12 (NIV)

He went on to say:

“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:11-13 (NIV)

He learned something that we often do not learn. He learned the art of contentment because he overcame in the pretest. He completed the more difficult tests of life because he knew the answer from his pretesting days. The answer was and is Jesus. He spread the gospel of Jesus Christ throughout many regions and wrote most of the New Testament. Apparently he did it in spite of strenuous circumstances because he discovered a greater purpose and chose to fulfill it.

If we learn through an open book pretest prior to the test, we will have an advantage. Why? Because we will know the answers.  That book is the Word of God. Learning the scriptures and reading them over and over will prepare us when any trial comes our way. I have used the Word of God many times in my life through personal trials as I am sure you each have, as well.

Preparation is the key.

*The winning team of the Super Bowel didn’t win without practice and winning several previous games.

*Many tiresome hours are taken in preparation for any onstage performance, and rehearsal night proceeds opening night.

*First responders do not respond to epic events if they first do not go through hours of training. Then they practice a crisis, learning how to respond in case of a real emergency.

*The military trains in boot camp to become prepared physically and mentally before actually going onto the battle field.

The pretest may seem grueling; but it makes it so much easier for the finals.

How much more should we be prepared as we fight the battles that face our lives. Satan is not sleeping. He is like a roaring lion seeking whom he can devour. (1 Peter 5:8) He and his forces take any opportunity to conquer and divide, even the best of friends.

The pretests or trials that we face in life, about life — whether it is emotional heartache, anxiety, relationship problems, forgiveness issues, attack on our health, financial woes, or deep loss of any kind can be used for our benefit. I know that sounds odd and but if we learn through these situations they can be the very thing that will catapult us into the ultimate calling in our lives. Perhaps your heartache is what can help someone else overcome.

Think about what Queen Esther had been prepared to do in her lifetime. She was the one person who was able to save her people. Mordecai states, “And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such as time as this?” Esther 4:14 (NIV)

Even Jesus had many trials in his life. Being tempted by the enemy of darkness in the desert after a 40 day fast was one such experience. (Mark 4:1-11) But he also learned the answers while taking  pretests in life. He would face the greatest final exam known to all mankind when he went to the cross. And he would pass with flying colors, not because he was the son of God, but because he surrendered to his heavenly Father.

“Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” Luke 22:42 (NLT)

If you have not faced a hardship, a trial or a test that seems to have no answer, you will. It is a guarantee! But there is more in store for you than just passing a fiery trial. You can can have peace in the midst of it because you know the answers to the final exam.

“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (NLT)

The answers are in the Word of God.
The answer is the Word of God. 
Jesus is the Word of God.
Jesus is the answer.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  John 1:1 (NIV)

Amen and God bless.

 

 

 

This is a new day.

I haven’t been blogging for some time. So much change is happening in my life that I have not had a moment to sit down and write. Our family has made a major move and we are still in the realm of this transition — and might be for a while.

I have often written about trust, about faith, about remembering the hand of God in our lives, to bring encouragement. We all need hope.

Recently I have had that trust and faith tested as I walk out my hope of the promises of God. We cannot always see with our eyes all the promises that he has made to each of us. It seems the enemy is always trying to distract us with something else, whether it is poor health, poor decisions or just simple daily chaos.

Do you remember the movie, “Patriot“? In one of the clips it appears that the regiment of Carolina patriots are being defeated by the British military. The regiment feels defeated and is about to retreat when Benjamin Martin, played by Mel Gibson, picks up the flag and screams, “Do not retreat.”  He carries the flag as he runs with the last bit of energy he has left. Instead of retreat, the regiment is revived with hope and strength.

When a person feels defeated sometimes they want to retreat. That is when it is important to remember our position in Christ and that we are ALREADY the victor. When Jesus said, it is finished, he meant it. He defeated the enemy. Like a flag flying in the sky, he was lifted on a cross. How much greater of an encouragement is it to serve our Lord who died for our sins and rose from the dead with the keys of death and hell in his hands. We aren’t suppose to retreat- but run as a victor with trust and faith as our guides.

We are soldiers cloaked in the armor of God with the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation and the sword of the word of God.(Ephesians 6:14-17) We are marching in victory with the captain of the hosts by our side. And he isn’t a weak defeated captain.

This warrior that fights with us and for us is found in Revelation:

“He was wearing a robe that reached his feet. He wore a gold belt around his waist. His head and his hair were white as wool — like snow. His eyes were like flames of fire. His feet were like glowing bronze refined in a furnace. His voice was like the sound of raging water. In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp, two-edged sword. His face was like the sun when it shines in all its brightness.

When I saw him, I feel down like a dead man!  Then he laid his right hand on me and said, ‘Don’t be afraid! I am the first and the last, the living one. I was dead, but now I am alive forever. I have the keys of death and hell’.” Revelation 1: 13b-17 (GWT)

Sometimes I think we forget who our Lord is. Instead we look at circumstances or the way we use to do things or the way the world would expect us to react and we plan our future with that knowledge, instead of with his wisdom.

I heard an interesting testimony from someone lately which stuck with me. Apparently this individual had a vision. They saw themselves riding on a horse, but instead of facing forward they were sitting on their horse backward. And the Lord asked them why they were riding their horse backward and looking so intently on things in the past?

God does not encourage us to look at our past. He wants us to remember HIS faithfulness in our past but to let go of OUR past, whether it was past mistakes or simply the way things use to be done. Instead he encourages us to look into our future. Though he is the same, yesterday, today and forever, we should not remain the same since he has been working in our lives and taking us from glory to glory.

“No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it (perfection in the Lord) but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God , through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” Philippians 3:13-14 (NLT)

So though I have some great memories and it is fun to reminisce about them and share stories of victory, I do not want to dwell in my yesterdays — good or bad. This is a new day. Instead I want to be as Paul and press on to what lies ahead. I trust that my God will walk me through transition. As a caterpillar is hidden in a cocoon before it has changed into a butterfly that soars in beauty and freedom, so I rest in his goodness and grace as He opens these doors of transition.

Then I will fly a bit higher in HIM. Amen

This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24 (NKJV)

The Warrior

The battle blazes and the fight continues. The warrior looks up and sees another flaming arrow flying towards her and her comrades. Without hesitation she maneuvers her shield high into the air, stopping the arrow from piercing her or those she has grown to love and admire. It almost knocks her off her feet. She is not wounded, but exhausted.

This particular battle has been raging for some time. She has been using all her training techniques but lately she has been distracted by other cares. Her mind is on things that take her thoughts to places that her commanding officer has warned is a distraction. Lately it seems she cannot focus.

She knows she has to learn to think about things that bring hope and not allow thoughts of despair to paralyze her. The commander has warned her to think about things that bring peace, especially while in battle. She must stay sharp.

Whoosh…another burning arrow flies right towards her. Suddenly a shield swoops in front of her and she hears the thud of the arrow bouncing off of it. This time the shield belongs to her friend. She turns towards her friend. They lock eyes. A smile crosses her friend’s face.

“Don’t worry,” she says. “I got this one.”  They nod at each other as they turn to continue the fight.

The warrior thinks to herself, “My commander is right, my thoughts are distracting me. That arrow could have hit me.”

“Charge!” demands the commander.

The orders produce a power that shakes her from within. With no more distracting thoughts filling her mind, the warrior and those with her charge the enemy with all of their strength. The battle turns from defense to offense. The warrior does what is second nature to her and begins the hand to hand combat with her sword. Strength infuses her weary body.

Suddenly the enemy runs in terror. The hooves of horses can be heard pounding away from the battle ground. The warriors holler in unison as they chase the enemy away. The slaughtered enemy that lay at their feet begin to disintegrate into black smoke, then disappear. They are not of human form but come from devilish soil. At that moment a shout of victory echoes throughout the camp. Another battle has been won. 

Joy fills the air where despair once resided.

Tonight there will be a celebration, a celebration of victory and hope. The tired soldiers can rest for a time. The grateful warrior turns to thank the commanding officer for the training and the tenacity he has taught her. As she reaches out her hand, he pulls her close for a huge papa bear style hug.

“Well, done my child,” he says patting her on the back. “Well done. You didn’t give up when you wanted to. You didn’t quit.”

“But I was distracted by despair. An arrow could have hit me when I lowered my shield,” the warrior says embarrassed by her actions.  The commander simply laughs a hearty laugh as if it isn’t a big deal. “But you weren’t hit. Your friend shielded you. That is why you need one another. Besides, I already won this battle. Did you notice how fast the enemy ran?” he said in triumph between deep chuckles.

She did.

“They always run when they see me pull out my sword. They know that I will only allow my children to go through just so many trials. Once I pull out my sword they screech in their tracks, abruptly turn around and run in fear.”

She knows that his sword is extremely sharp and destructive. As he swings it  in demonstration a brilliant light radiates off the metal causing the entire land to flood with the light.

No wonder the enemy runs away with such speed. There is nowhere to hide. They understand they can be annihilated by the commander at any time so they cower at his greatness. 

A thought rushes through the warriors mind. “If  the commander is for me, then who can stand against me?”

As she lets that sink in, peace floods her mind and her heart.

The battle was his all along.

_________________________________________________

That is a synopsis of a moment in the spiritual realm of a warring believer in prayer.

As believers we will always be in some sort of battle. Here are a few things we must remember as we fight in the battle of prayer.

  1. Ultimately every battle belongs to the Lord.
    Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.” 2 Chronicles 20:15 (NIV)
  2. We do not fight people.
    “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the power of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:12 (NIV)
  3. We need one another.
    “As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you’; nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.”
    I Corinthians 12: 20-21 (ESV)
    “Help carry one another’s burdens, and in this way you will obey the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2 (GNT)
  4. There is a time for rest.
    “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28 (NIV)

God is merciful but also fierce. He will defend his own. We have to trust him. We may be warriors but we are also his children.  Be strong, fight diligently and rest in his grace.
God bless

What then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31  (NIV)

 

“The Warrior is a Child”
Twila Paris

Lately I’ve been winning
Battles left and right 
But even winners can get
Wounded in the fight
People say that I’m amazing
Strong beyond my years
But they don’t see inside of me
I’m hiding all the tears

They don’t know that
I go running home when I fall down
They don’t know Who picks me
Up when no one is around
I drop my sword and cry for just a while
“Cause deep inside this armor
The warrior is a child

Unafraid because his armor is the best
But even soldiers need a quiet place to rest
People say that I’m amazing
Never face retreat
But they don’t see the enemies
That lay me at his feet.

They don’t know that I go
Running home when I fall down
They don’t know Who picks me
Up when no one is around
I drop my sword and cry for just a while
‘Cause deep inside this armor
The warrior is a child.

 

 

 

 

The Light

As the holidays approach I am reminded of so many people who have faced tragedy this year. There are several people I know personally who lost loved ones — not to mention the national tragedies that plagued our land.

This poem is for them:

The Christmas season is upon us.
There are gifts tucked safe under a tree.
Little hearts anxiously wait
For what seems like eternity.

People are rushing; excitement is bustling
All is merry and bright.
But someone is mourning this season
Because everything is not cheery or right.

Perhaps you lost a child this year.
Perhaps you lost your dad.
Perhaps you lost your home
Or everything you had.

The world didn’t stop
Because tragedy struck.
It spun in its cycle without care.

And Christmas arrived
Though you are broken inside
With hurt that’s incredibly hard to bear.

It is for you that the Christ child
Came from heaven above.
It is for you that He still opens
His arms with mercy and with love.

It’s okay to weep over heartache.
It’s okay to weep over loss.
That is why God sent his son-
To take your pain upon the cross.

He longs to give you hope
In a world full of fear and despair.
To give you peace unlike the world
That doesn’t remember or care.

And in the midst of your chaos
I pray that God holds your hand.
That you find the comfort you long for.
That you know HE still has a plan.

The merriment of the holidays are blaring
You may want to ignore it all.
But I pray that you feel God’s presence instead.
And He answers your heart when you call.

The Christmas season is upon us
All may not be merry or bright
But He can shine in the midst of your mourning.
Follow the star, He’ll be your LIGHT.

Amen and God bless.