Thursday, December 13, 2012

Authentic



Authentic.  It cannot be fabricated or duplicated.  Duplicates’ appearance may seem genuine on the surface but upon further inspection, there is a tell and the true identity is revealed.


Authentic.  You may be able to fool so many others.  The smile looks legitimate.  The words you speak sound accurate.  You may dance the right way.  You may even convince the people closest to you.  However, you know the truth of it.  You can carry it off for quite some time but there are periods that you simply cannot manufacture this experience and the effects and benefits it brings.


Authentic.  The sheer delight of being in the presence of the Holy God we serve.  The awe and wonder of hearing Him speak to our spirits as we humbly go before His throne.  The peace that passes all understanding, as we fully trust Him, falling into His arms as we allow all else to melt into oblivion cannot be duplicated.  No.  You might be able to fool the people around you, but you know. 
 

Authentic.  The freedom of leaving the strife at your feet and dancing into the delight of the favor our Father has for us can’t be invented.  The love He showers over us can’t be constructed externally and you cannot forge the mark He leaves on your heart and life that says “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.”


Authentic.  The fictitious life that has been woven to try to ease people into an inaccurate deduction of where you stand can only be sustained for so long as your fruit begins to grow a very different shape, hue, odor, and taste.  It’s an impersonation.  


That’s okay though because you are the only person you hurt with your substitute relationship.  You work so hard to get the benefits that you miss the relationship altogether.  The replica you have constructed even fools you at times but in the end, you know the hope you think you are holding is empty and as you fight so forcefully to make sure no one shatters it, you miss the true hope that is offered freely!


Authentic!  Looking into the heart of the one who loves you more than anything and seeing your name etched there!  He emphatically calls your name over and over just to reaffirm the love He has for you!  


Authentic!  Laying down all else… the worry, the requests, the yearnings and desires, the distractions, the strife, and anything else that is not important when faced with eternity.  Stepping into freedom that only He can give which allows us to walk on air, because we know He simply wants to hold us!


Authentic!  When we are in His arms, watching all the things we just laid at His feet dissipate as they are resolved through His provision and wisdom!  The joy that washes over us knowing that He did all of it because of His love for us!


Authentic!  The tears shed.  He hurts when we hurt.  He cries when we cry.  And as we ache He longs to heal. 

Authentic!  Knowing He never has and never will leave me or abandon me!


Authentic!  The words He whispers in my ear… Every promise, every encouragement, every romance, every wisdom, and every time He simply says my name… The intimacy we share is genuine!

I know I am not the only one who has experienced Authenticity but for those of you who, deep down, know that the relationship is either fake, assumed, or non-existent, you still have an opportunity to call out to Him for a genuine relationship.  The kind you can feel down deep and every part of your being comes alive in Him!


I challenge you this week to heed His call. 2 Chronicles 7:14,
“If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”


I pray that you find THE AUTHENTIC relationship with Jesus Christ, hearing His voice, and feeling Him in His presence!

God bless you as you continue to seek and serve Him.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Delighting or Striving?



The last few weeks God has had this message on my heart but it’s been simmering in my spirit until now.  I have been praying on it and even discussing it with a few people.  The more I dig into this concept, the more I marvel at how great God is and how He created us to function!

I started with simply asking God to open my understanding to what it meant to “Delight in Him” as Psalms 37:4 says.  When I hear this verse, most pastors or people tend to focus on the second half which talks about the desires of our hearts, but God asked me “Do you really know what it means to delight?” 
 
So my reply was, “No, Father-God, I don’t.”  As I sat still for a moment, God brought an image to mind of a child playing at his father’s feet in a living room.  The father was reading a paper and the boy was playing happily between his feet on the floor.  The child gets up and starts playing with the father’s leg and then climbs up and plays with the father’s buttons.  He then sticks his face in between the newspaper and the father’s face.  “Daddy?!” he says.  The father lays down the paper expecting a request for a toy or candy.  Then the son lays his head on his father’s chest and says “I love you!”  The father then embraces his son for a solid moment.  His hand slides from the child’s back to under his arm where he proceeds to tickle his ribs!  The laughter penetrates the whole house!

I hope we have all experienced moments like these, either as a child or a parent!  Why?  Because at that moment we know the true meaning of delighting!   He has told us that He wants us to be full of joy, have pleasure, or be thrilled in His presence!  The sheer rapture of being in His arms, or knowing that you have gotten His attention and His focus is to love and be loved by you, intimately is overwhelmingly amazing!
As the week went on, I believe God was allowing me to digest that huge concept before he took me deeper.  I practiced it too, through praise and worship and simply being in His presence.  Then, last week God showed me that there are different uses of the word delight for different circumstances!  WOW, it gets better!

In Psalms 37:11, David goes on to say “But the meek shall inherit the earth, and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.”  The simple, humble people will delight in peace!  I looked up the Hebrew translation and found that it was indeed different from the original verse in 37:4!  This “delight” meant soft, delicate, and pliable and it refers to humility!  So we can also see that delighting in the Lord requires humility as well because we know that in Isaiah, Jesus is the Prince of Peace!  Being moldable, and delicate before God requires trust but He is ever so gentle with us as He interacts with us in love!

At that point I wanted to know how many meanings there were to the word “delight” and found one more significant meaning in most of Psalms and Proverbs!  Psalms 1:1-3 sums it up best where it says, “1 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night.3 He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper.”  [Emphasis added]

I started to wonder, “How could ANYONE delight in laws, rules, precepts, statutes, and every other term used in Psalms and Proverbs that says to delight in them?!  Maybe a lawyer could, but not an average person!”  The definition was the key; To amuse oneself, tickle oneself, please oneself, or for self enjoyment!  God brought me back to the boy sitting at his father’s feet.  He was happy being in his father’s presence just amusing himself with the toys that were given to him by his father!  God’s laws are not slavery but gifts.  His principles are there to be used as tools to feel joy and fulfillment!  We were given vocation and tasks so that we would be amused and full of pleasure in doing our Father’s business!  Psalms 40:8 says “I delight to do Your will, O my God, and Your law is within my heart.”  His law is His word!  His will is my task or pleasure!

Delighting in Him is such an intimate act of love and an powerful gift that God has given us!  However, there is a flip side to this which has also been covered by the Bible!

Delighting in God and in His presence takes no effort at all.  There is nothing we can do but come to God simply and humbly, allowing Him to bring us into His arms!  Yet, there are those of us who strive to do so of our own accord.  This striving is what begins to separate us from God.

God started showing me the meaning of striving in Proverbs 13:10.  “By pride comes nothing but strife, but with the well-advised is wisdom.”  When we begin to do things our way, we start spinning our wheels.  We work and work and toil and fight.  God showed me in Philippians 1:15-17, that there are people trying to “out work” God and are seeking the desires of their heart ahead of God’s presence!  Philippians says “15Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from goodwill: 16The former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains; 17but the latter out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel.” [Emphasis added]

Are we seeking His miracles, His signs and wonders, His financial blessings, the notoriety that comes with being a “spiritual leader”?  This is striving because God will not honor our pride and so we have to work that much more to make things happen!  I have been stuck in the mud trying to spin wildly out of the predicament I was in.  I went to God but only for Him to approve my plan and make them happen!  I ended up exhausted with nothing to show for all the work!  I had wasted time, resources, and even hurt some of my relationships trying to gain what I would have seen as harmful, if I had simply done what Matthew 6:33 says and “Seek first His kingdom and righteousness.”  The definition to the word strife in Philippians 1 is to wrestle, debate, or fight.  We cannot enter God’s presence and in turn His favor, our way.  There is only ONE way to the father and that is through Jesus!  2 Chronicles 7:14 says “if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

We can’t go to God without being pliable and willing to submit to Him, seeking a right-standing relationship with Him and not His benefits, and repenting for trying to do things our way! 
At this point, I challenge you to make the choice I made.  I choose to not STRIVE to get the things that God wants to give me freely as I focus on and take joy in the relationship I have with Him!  I choose to DELIGHT in every moment spent in His presence, hanging on every word that He whispers in my ear and loving Him even more for the little things He does to make my day!

I challenge you to ask God to show you any area in which you are striving!  Maybe it’s for a promotion at work or to find that perfect mate.  Maybe it’s for building a church or even building a family!  If it’s not a step ordered by God, it’s striving in our own ability and Galatians 5:20 says that it is a work of the flesh.  Follow the example given in 2 Chronicles 7:14, humbly go before God, and pray.  Stop the strife in your life so that He can bring you in to the delight of His presence.

God bless you as you continue to seek and serve Him!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Distracted By The Storm?



The past couple of weeks I have seen a lot of people going through difficult, even tragic, times.  From loss of loved ones to financial crises, medical challenges leading to hospitalization, and family problems.  I have seen threats made against homes, and jobs.  I even had someone recently tell me that a relative was the victim of a shooting.

Through all this chaos, confusion and struggle, I have also seen God!  I saw Him provide as a friend needed rent money and in just a few short hours, He poured about $1300 into her!  I saw my husband being admitted into the hospital on the 13th with a blood sugar level of 457 and an infected abscess on his leg, giving him a fever and aches.  They told him he should have been in a diabetic coma!  BUT GOD had other plans!  He is healing and his sugar is normal.  God is healing him and protecting us.  He provided all the finances necessary and allowed us financing for his medical leave from work.  Did I mention we don’t have insurance?

I have seen God comfort those mourning the death of loved ones.  I have seen His healing power among the torn and broken, giving them peace and a sound mind in the midst of uncertainty and chaos!  I have seen resources appear seemingly out of nowhere, by God's grace and mercy.

What is my point? 

First, even though horrible things happen, God is still in control.  Even though the earth quakes, He is still in charge and will help us when we cry out to Him (Ps. 46:1-7).  He promises to NEVER leave us or forsake (abandon) us (Heb. 13:5).  NO, God did not cause the problems (1 Cor. 14:33) but He promises that He will be with us through them (James 1:2-3) perfecting us as pure gold (Daniel 12:10).

Distracted by the storm?

Second… DON’T GET DISTRACTED! 
Joshua 1:7 says, “Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left that you may prosper wherever you go.”God was telling Joshua that He will be with His people as long as they stay with Him!  God has a plan for each and every one of you.  He wants to move in the situation you are in RIGHT NOW!  I know too well how focused we can get on the things swirling around us or even on the finish line, the goals we have set.  BUT if we are not focused on what God has for us RIGHT NOW, we leave ourselves open to attacks from the devil who is looking for any way to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). 
 
I hear the message from the Lord ever so clearly. 
“The enemy sees there is something stirring in the atmosphere.  It is expectation.  It is anticipation.  It is the groaning of a spiritual womb about to deliver!  It is My Spirit about to pour out!  He sees the clouds moving in to pour out upon you!  He knows.  BUT, I know the anointing I am about to release to you.  I know the gifts that will be poured out of you!  I see the provision I want to lavish upon my children as they do what I have called them to do.    The enemy seeks to stop you.  He wants nothing more than to bring you into the misery he is wallowing in and keep you immobilized in the quicksand of distraction!  I tell you, DO NOT BE DISTRACTED.  I am covering you until you reach your destination.  I am protecting you as you travail through to the next place I have appointed for you!  Keep strong.  DON'T GIVE UP!  Get here!  I am here!”

Don’t give up.  Don’t stray away from what God has for you right now, right in front of you.  You’re so close.  Don’t miss it!  Please don’t miss it.

This week, I challenge you… PLEASE cling to Him.  Don’t let circumstances, chaos, fear, or anything else come between you and God.  Let Him speak to you.  One word can change your circumstances.  One word from Him can infuse life into your situation.  Stay focused on Him!  Hear Him and let Him guide you!

I love you and I am praying for each of you!
God bless you as you seek and serve Him!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Sound Investments: E-Day




Evaluation day is never an easy day.  The day you have set in your mind to go over everything you’re involved in, everything you want to do, and all the resources you have in order to make decisions to increase or decrease your time, or money, spent.  Some people call it budget day or balancing the checkbook.  I call it E-Day.

On this E-Day, I was looking at some relationships I have been (and in some cases, still am) involved in.  Friendships, partnerships, and even family involvement, have all been evaluated.  I have prayed over them, allowing God to show me where I need to spend more time and energy and where I need to withdraw.  I wanted to be sure because whenever you evaluate relationships, inevitably there will be feelings hurt and emotions flaring up.  Conflict is, sometimes, unavoidable.

I think about how my heart aches for some friends who have been estranged for quite a while now.  The connections we shared were like a sibling relationship at times.  At time, I even want to call them or spend time with them.  

Then I remember what God was calling me to do to begin with.  Evaluation.  The message I received today was quite clear.  Are you focused or are you distracted?   

Today, God showed me a bit more about where I should be sowing in the Kingdom.  A lot of us, including me, have broadcasted our investments and scattered them to the wind, not knowing where they would land and if they would bring an investment.  What happens when a seed is planted after being blown around for a while?  The first person who happens upon the fruit will benefit from the harvest.
 We sow abundantly but then fail to sow intentionally.  We sow generously but without checking the ground that we sow into.  

I want people to understand that the Kingdom of God is a very intentional Kingdom.  We know this because God’s word says that He is a God of order (1 Cor. 14:40, Col. 2:5) and because God doesn’t do anything haphazardly.  

It works for finances, time, emotions, and intelligence.  If you study, you will learn.  If you study subjects that are beneficial, such as grammar, math, or more specific, nursing, business, or teaching, you will receive a return of a career, knowledge, and understanding of the field you studied, and eventually an income.

Financially, if you invest in the right areas, such as money marketing accounts, CD’s, or even an IRA or 401k, you will receive, dividends, interest, and retirement income!  However, investing poorly or not at all, can cost you everything.  

So, today I have been looking at my time and relationships that I am invested in.  Most of them are healthy and balanced.  Some of them need prayer and work, on my part or God’s (and the other person’s too).  However, there are some investments that are going nowhere.  These people are the ones who want to dispute or argue everything we discuss.  They complain about their circumstances at all times and when I am around them, I feel so heavy and weighed down.  When I leave their presence, I feel I have to drink 2 energy drinks, pray for an hour, and find some kind of relief for the sorrow.  Serously!  No matter what kind of encouragement I give, no matter how long I pray with these people, they always have excuses why my suggestions won’t work, why they won’t get any better, and why they are simply doomed to misery!  So, I ask myself, why am I investing my time, creativity, energy, and emotions in these people?  They distract from the mandate of what I have been given to do.

There are also those who would eat up my time, pulling on my skills.  You know… the ones who always need a favor?  Teaching them to do things on their own would be great because then they could be self sufficient.  However, these people don’t want to learn, they want me to do it for them, to volunteer my time and skills to benefit them.  These people must be given an opportunity to learn, however, if they refuse the opportunity, they only hurt themselves.  I cannot be responsible for their success or failure.  I have given what I was given… knowledge.

Finally, there are those who would cling for my affection and emotions.  This area is especially delicate because these are the ones we would love to cling back to.  These people want your support, companionship, and love.  However, the fine line between healthy attachment and obsession is often blurred in the sand when everyone is shuffling their feet.  Be careful of the ones who cling for your affection.  Too much of a good thing, can suffocate you!   

The bottom line is this… God will direct your path if you follow Him (Prov. 3:6).  If you seek Him first, then everything else (including relationships and direction) will be given to you (Matt. 6:33).  

In Matthew 25, Jesus talks about the business man who invested in three of his servants.  Two brought back an increase, whereas one brought back only what was given.  His was taken away and given to the servant who brought back the biggest increase.  Why?  Because the man knew that the productive servant would continue to increase the investment.  So, he ceased business with the stagnant servant and moved his investment elsewhere.

My hope is that, if there are any other people out there, wondering about some of their relationships or evaluating their investments, that this will help you begin seeking God through your E-day.  

What is His vision for your life?  Will the relationships I am currently involved with help me accomplish this goal?  Am I investing in the areas that God wants me to invest in?  (Not necessarily JUST to benefit me, but that which will bring the best investments for my Master’s Kingdom!)

God bless you as you seek and serve Him!