My Fair Share! A Measure of Faith!

We all possess incredible ingenuity for obtaining our fair share. Preconceived paradigms of what constitutes fair varies greatly from person to person.

Whether a pie, chocolate bar or some other precious portion, our children eyed the division process with intense scrutiny. Nobody wanted the smallest piece; each hoped for the largest slice; all at the very least, desired their fair share. Generosity sometimes prevailed, but not always.

To settle any disputes, we established a simple rule: the person creating the divide received the last piece. The extra care and concentrated effort to ensure fairness often bordered on humorous!

Fruit Food Apple Refreshment Dessert Fresh - Pixabay - OCC Public Domain

Too Little or Too Much

I’m glad God portions to each of us what we need. No one receives too little or too much. I’m reminded of the children of Israel in the desert gathering manna. God supplied. They gathered. Some gathered little, others gathered much, but all received sufficient quantity (Exodus 16).

Whatever the need, we can trust God to supply. There are no shortages in His Kingdom!

“For by the grace given me I say to everyone of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.”
Romans 12:3

The King James Version says, “God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.”

Apple Pastries Cake Puff Pastry Apple Turnover - Pixabay - OCC Public Domain

The Passion Translation says it like this: “God has given me grace to speak a warning about pride. I would ask each of you to be emptied of self-promotion and not create a false image of your importance. Instead, honestly assess your worth by using your God-given faith as the standard of measurement, and then you will see your true value with an appropriate self-esteem.”

Paul hits the target, doesn’t he? Hiding behind the expectation of “more,” whatever the more looks like, pride lingers and demands.

Look Up

As long as we focus on “the piece” we don’t possess, we lose. The Roman church had as much trouble understanding the concept of fair as I sometimes do. Paul encouraged them to look up before they looked around.

“Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor? Who has ever given to God, that God should repay them? For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever? Amen.”
Romans 11:33-36

Muffins Pink Cream Delicious Pastries Eat Tart - Pixabay - OCC Public Domain

Now with a realigned perspective of God’s majesty, Paul gives a grand, “Therefore . . .” (12:1-2). Because of who He is, therefore, worship Him. Therefore, offer yourselves sacrificially and holy unto Him. Therefore, change your mindset and begin thinking like He does.

A Measure of Faith

Just like with my children or the children of Israel, I sometimes attempt to “gather” more than my fair share, stashing it away for another day. God knows exactly what I need — for today and tomorrow. He also knows faith is one of our greatest needs.

So He “has distributed” to each one a measure of faith — our fair share! This word “measure” or “metron” in Greek means “a portion, measure off or allotted” (1). Thayers Greek-English Lexicon says it this way, “a determined extent, portion measured off, measure or limit” (pg 408).

Fruit Dessert Food Drink Snack Smoothie - Pixabay - OCC Public Domain

God knows more than anyone what is necessary. He assures us that the smallest portion, even mustard-seed-sized, will suffice. We humbly receive and draw from His rich resources

“. . . in accordance with the faith God has distributed . . .”
Romans 12:3

I have it! You have it! We all possess a measure of faith — a grace gift. No one claims credit for a gift received. Because He has predetermined exactly what I, or you, or we, need, no gloating or boasting allowed! All the faith I operate under came from Him, to be used by Him, for His glory, and the furthering of His kingdom.

Fair Share

Paul connects our portion of faith to our portion of service to others in the body.

“We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith, if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.”
Romans 12:6-8

What God first gives to us, we willingly and liberally give to others.

Where do I struggle, needing faith the most? In the great faith chapter of Hebrews, I’m reminded that “without faith, it is impossible to please God” (11:6). That means I need faith everywhere, all the time, to live life honoring to God.

 Apple Pie Woman Kitchen Baking Food Delicious - Pixabay - OCC Public Domain

What demands the most faith from me? Right now, I’m assisting in a new church plant. Honestly, my humanity didn’t want to go there! I knew it would require far more than my aging body was comfortable to give. I understood all too clearly how much work establishing a new church would require, and definitely needed increased faith to step into the fray!

In everything I do, faith forms the foundation: in prophesying and speaking boldly into my culture; in serving others; by accurately teaching the Word of truth; in sacrificially offering encouragement to those carrying burdens and weighed down by pressures; in generously giving of my time and resources; or through being God’s hands of mercy.

God gives His fair share of faith to accomplish whatever He asks of me. But, whatever the portion, little or great, God intends it for the good of others. It’s in the activation of our faith that God’s purposes are fulfilled.

The Piece in the Middle

It’s significant that God sandwiches this little passage about faith between a beautiful doxology of worshiping Him and serving others. It illustrates the purpose of faith clearly!

I can’t claim credit for the faith I possess. I daily open the gift of faith, drawing from the measure He distributed, pouring it lavishly out to others. As I do, faith never diminishes. Actually, the flow increases, becoming fresher and sweeter through use.

Cooks Confectioner Children's Sweets Cake Baking - Pixabay - OCC Public Domain

We will never exhaust the measure of faith God has already given to us. Though we spend our entire lives tapping into and drawing from the rich resource, it continues to flow.

In humility we lay ourselves low, worshiping Him and serving others, until the beauty and fragrance of faith reaches and touches countless lives. Faith comes from God and operates through Him for His praise.

Let’s take the measure of faith He has given us and use it today for His intended use, combining it with the gifts He graced upon us. Oh, what God will do. Trust me, we have more than our fair share!

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References:
(1) Spiros Zondhiates, Th.D., Ed., The Complete Word Study Dictionary, For a Deeper Understanding of the Word; New Testament, (AMG, Chattanooga, 1992), 975

Leadership: A Mother’s Love and a Father’s Care

The similarities between parenting and leadership abound. Paul talked about leading with a mother’s love and a father’s care. Stopping to read and reread his analogy several times, I examined my model of leadership.

Perhaps, I struggle in leadership for the same reasons I struggled with parenting. With five sons born in just over eight years, I tended to “run” our household like a military general. What regrets! By God’s grace they have all become such wonderful men, husbands and fathers. Parenting isn’t for wimps; neither is spiritual leadership. 

More than once someone has commented, “People assume you to be a gentle grandmother, but you’re fierce and tenacious.” Ouch! Is that a compliment or an insult? A commendation or a warning? Should I laugh or cry?

Leadership

Honestly, as I analyze my leadership patterns, gentle, fierce and tenacious form a consistent path, sometimes leading into deep valleys and at other times upward to the highlands. I press myself and those I lead hard, while loving passionately. We only get one crack at life. Time flies quickly past without hope of retrieval.

A Mother’s Love

Paul understood. He established the church in Thessalonica under significant opposition. When persecution forced Paul to flee for his life, he prematurely left a fledgling group of Christ followers. His concern for their survival was valid.

“. . . we cared for you in the same way a nursing mother cares for her own children. With a mother’s love and affectionate attachment to you, we were very happy to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our lives — because you had become so dear to us.”
1 Thessalonians 2:7-8

Hippopotamus family

Perhaps no other love compares to the way “a nursing mother cares for her children.” Ponder for a moment, the reality of producing milk to the detriment of her own bone structure; continuing the daily responsibilities despite stumbling through diaper changes and sleep deprivation; walking and rocking a sick or frightened infant for hours on end; rising before dawn and staying up well past sunset with spew in her hair, fatigue dragging her steps; constantly tending to the pressing needs of the one so dependent.

Her love only intensifies through the years: singing “Baby beluga in the deep blue sea,” while walking, driving, shopping, or cleaning; freezing her backside on metal bleachers to cheer for her progeny; teaching sons to cook and daughters to change the oil in the car; dropping everything in an instant when her now grown son or daughter calls in distress; interceding in prayer  for God’s grace to impact and direct their lives. How does one define such love?

Do I lead, like Paul, with a mother’s love and a father’s care? If I don’t, I shouldn’t be leading. The source of such “attachment” comes supernaturally from time at the feet of the One who by divine nature is love.

A Father’s Care

Fathers handle children much differently. They toss their littles into the air, bounce them robustly on their knees, play fight on the floor and do many other things that drive mothers a scant bit crazy. Fathers provide a different, but equally intense, care — showing strength, confidence and brevity. Yet, we’ve all watched that two hundred pounds of male hulk melt like butter to the request of “his own children.”

“And you know how affectionately we treated each of you, like a loving father cares for his own children.” We comforted and encouraged you and challenged you to adopt a lifestyle worthy of God, who invites you into his kingdom and glory.”
1 Thessalonians 2:11,12

The leadership shown by a father compliments that of a mother, as he comforts, encourages, challenges and invites. These qualities imply intimacy of relationship and closeness of contact.

Love and care

Paul experienced angst due to separation from his spiritual children — especially knowing they were facing such intense opposition.

A father leads by drawing near, “encouraging, comforting and urging” his children to excel at the most essential thing in life — “to adopt a lifestyle worthy of God.”

The “dad” quality of leadership “cuts to the chase,” “grabs the bull by the horns,” and “calls a spade a spade.” He separates the trite from the significant, without being rude or cruel. Rather, the “dad” leader invites, encourages, and invokes — comforting when needed and urging the young to press on despite setbacks.

Leadership which combines both a mother’s love and father’s care creates a synergetic force, propelling the next generation forward.

Remain Teachable

However, before Paul emphasizes his approach to leadership, he points out a critical piece for all leaders to remember.

“We were not looking for praise from people, not from you or anyone else, even though as apostles of Christ we could have asserted our authority. Instead, we were like young children among you.”
1 Thessalonians 2:6,7

When I was a child, my dad’s edict ruled our home. (We were many too!) Unfortunately, I used that same tone much too often while parenting. Paul gives a better directive.

A mother's love and a father's care

An apostle held the highest authority in the church; his voice carried the unquestionable weight of authority. Yet, he refused to impose or demand from his platform of lofty position. Instead, he insisted his whole team become “like young children” — teachable, gentle, submissive, and responsive servants.

“S-e-r-v-a-n-t” spells leadership most accurately.

I recognize with aging, the less flexible, teachable and submissive I become. To follow Paul’s leadership example, I must remain vigilant at countering natural tendencies to rely on my understanding and depend on seniority or status.

A mother’s love and a father’s care should naturally draw me into a place of low servanthood and tender teachability.

Selfless

Through Paul, I’m reminded of the goal for such an attitude in leadership solely rests on the good of others and the glory of God.

Listen to Paul,

“. . . We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts.”
1 Thessalonians 2:4

Selfless

Or again, 

“We were not looking for praise from people, not from you or anyone else. . .”
1 Thessalonians 2:6

And one more,

“Surely you remember, brothers and sisters, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you.”
1 Thessalonians 2:9

With a mother’s love and a father’s care leaders give, give and give again. They open their homes to those who eat their food and mess what’s just been cleaned. These leaders sacrifice their “free” time, to encourage the downcast, pray for the sick, and fill in the missing gaps of ministry. They turn off TVs, cell phones and computers to seek God, fasting and praying for the spiritual condition and pressing needs of others.

Leadership costs! It costs financially, demands relationally and drains both physically and emotionally. No wonder Paul so aptly uses the analogy of a mother’s love and a father’s care.

Rare is the leader that rises to such heights by bowing low to the selfless call of God. Yet, I’ve watched those rare gems shine brightly among us.

Protective family

May God continue to challenge me, you and us all to live selflessly for the good of others and His glory. Yes, let’s receive encouragement from the lives of past and present godly leaders, while consistently looking to God — the One who demonstrated ultimate love and care through Jesus Christ.



Prayer in Relationship – Unmasking Myths: Is This Prayer

Unmasking Myths: Is This Prayer?

I hope you enjoy a sneak peek at the first chapter of Unmasking Myths: Is This Prayer? — the first conceived but second born of a group of books on prayer.

In many ways, I feel like a new mother hoping everyone will think her baby as beautiful as she does, yet knowing that none could or would as much as her. So it’s time to pull back the blanket, hold my breath and wait with excitement and anticipation.

Unmasking Myths looks at prayer on the basis of relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ. Through the testimony of dozens of Christians, Unmasking Myths unanimously declares God’s goodness, mercy and grace in responding to our petitions. It includes many miraculous interventions of God, as a result of people praying.

Even though over half the world’s population acknowledges that they pray, many don’t know who they are praying to, or feel their prayers are effective. Most Christians feel impotent and unsure about their prayers being heard or answered by God.

Unmasking Myths

Unmasking Myths attempts to expose misconceptions about prayer, answering common questions and creating a solid biblical foundation to pray.

Other chapters explore topics like:

  • Childlike Faith
  • Hearing God’s Voice
  • The Discipline of Praying
  • Prayer Journals
  • Praying in the Marketplace
  • Overcoming Hindrances
  • and much more

Is This Prayer?

Unmasking Myths: Is This Prayer? attempts to turn questions into answers, replace hesitancy with confidence, and conquer fear with faith. The real treasure found within the pages comes from the combined wisdom and experience of dozens of people, aged from nine to ninety years old. It is their voices, rather than the author’s, that create a fertile bed from which prayer can take root and rise strong.

“I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I’m helpless and because the need flows out of me all the time, waking and sleeping. It doesn’t change God. It changes me.” 
C.S. Lewis

God bless each of you! May you begin to pray with power as you approach God with confidence and humility.

” . . . tremendous power is released through the passionate,
heartfelt prayer of a godly believer!”
James 5:16 TPT

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Unmasking Myths: Is This Prayer?

Check out reviews here!

Going from Here to There: Take Time for Rest

We are all moving from where we are to where we will someday be — going from here to there. Speed and direction determines the time it will take to reach our destination.

The other day, I watched as children rode their bicycles down the street. A young girl peddled leisurely, enjoying the wind in her hair. She stopped to observe the sights and enjoy the people passing around her while also being aware of other traffic coming and going. With her was a small boy, peddling vigorously, his little feet forming whirling circles of blurred motion. He zig-zagged from one curb to the other, onto the neighbor’s lawn, circling an enormous spruce tree before bouncing recklessly back to the street. Then, racing full speed, he veered off the pavement, hitting another tree head on. Oblivious to the large vehicles sharing the street, he blazed his own irregular path! He, too, was enjoying the ride, though different from his companion’s.

Boy riding bicycle

I’ve thought about these two children many times in the last few days. I must admit, I often go from here to there more like the self-absorbed little chap than his cautious friend.

Alert and Ready

No, I’m usually not on my bicycle. I do it in more sophisticated ways: scurrying from errand to errand without noticing (I mean really noticing) those around me; bustling around my home, here to there, checking off tasks from my “to-do list,” without appreciated those I share space with; or starting a “leisurely” walk that turns into a heart-racing marathon instead.

Why do I hurry? Why do I rush?

“Desire without knowledge is not good —
how much more will hasty feet miss the way!”
Proverbs 19:2

Boy with bike

I can’t count how many times I’ve “missed the way” because of rushing too quickly ahead. By God’s grace, He has given me a husband who is rush-aversive! It has taken many years for us to see what a blessing that is. He slows me up when I’m heading full speed into trouble; I speed him up when hesitation, deliberation, and procrastination would prove detrimental. Between us, we move from here to there with thoughtful, purpose.

We both need the Lord to set the pace in our lives, however.

Be Still

A few years ago, over a period of a few days, three times someone reminded me of one of my least favorite Bible verses — not because the verse is the problem, but because I am.

“He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
Psalm 46:10

The problem with hurry is that I often miss those special God moments. Moments to settle into worship, where I’m turned inside-out by His grace and set right-side up by His holiness. Moments of sweet encounter with the wonder of who He is. These are the sacred times of remembering His enormity! How good and magnificently wonderful He is!

It takes faith to slow down, faith to rest in the journey, faith to trust God in the process of moving from here to there — from where I am to where He is leading and from who I am to who I will one day be.

Don’t Miss Out

The children of God, many generations ago, made it from here to there — from Egypt to the promised land. In their haste, however, they followed the LONG, painful, costly way. They didn’t understand resting in God while moving with Him.

Girl with Bicycle

They had been slaves in Egypt, working day and night for cruel masters, never experiencing rest from labor. Egypt isn’t my master, but work can be. Hurrying and doing often is.

“There remains, then a Sabbath-rest
for the people of God;
for anyone who enters God’s rest
also rests from their works,
just as God did from his.
Let us, therefore, make every effort
to enter that rest . . .”
Hebrews 4:9-11

Though this passage refers to an eternal rest, at peace with God, forever, it also has daily implications.

God is our example. He worked for six days, creating all that is, and then, He rested. He welcomes us to do the same. It is for our good that we learn to work while there is work to do, deliberately setting aside time to rest — rest in faith, rest in Him.

If we don’t, we like His other children, Israel, will miss out. So it’s important to “make every effort.”

What’s the Hurry?

The children riding their bicycles past our home were enjoying their day, going from here to there and back again just for the fun of it. What is my motivation? Why do I pedal my proverbial bicycle so hard, trying to go so fast?

Child on bicycle

Is it an awareness of the fleeting nature of time? Is it failure to appreciate the moment I’m in right now? Perhaps it’s an invisible drivenness to accomplish or achieve. Maybe I desire to “earn” the favor of my Heavenly Father — a favor I already possess! Is it all the above?

“Do not be anxious about anything,
but in every situation, by prayer and petition,
with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding,
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 4:6,7

It’s interesting how often the writer’s of Scripture connect prayer to the concept of time. When we tire of our peddling, our zig-zagging through life, we finally come — weary and worn — to sit and rest at His feet.

And He welcomes us there.

Rest

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,
for I am gentle and humble in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls.
For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Matthew 11:28-30

No feverish peddling needed! No futile running into obstacles in our path! Rather, taking time along the journey to “come to” God, abandoning our busyness and the accompanying pressures, finding rest.

God isn’t a cruel slave driver, demanding ever increasing productivity. He is “gentle and humble in heart” — trustworthy and safe. “Come to me!”

Woman on bicycle

So if, or when, you see me peddling like my little neighbor, going fast but getting nowhere, please remind me again to rest along the way as I move from here to there.

Pray with Power – Unlocking Legacy: Taking Your God-Given Territory in Prayer

Do you pray with power? Nicky Gumbel in the Alpha course says over fifty percent of the population prays. “Prayer” is the most searched word in Google today. Yet, few people know “who” they are praying to or understand how effective and powerful prayer can be.

I am excited to announce God not only has the answer — He is the answer!

Call on me and I will answer you and
tell you great and unsearchable things
you do not know.”
Jeremiah 33:3

Pray With Power

Three years ago, I sensed God’s prompt to begin writing “a” book on prayer. Though I tried, I (and God) knew I was incapable of such a task. Through a series of interviews with dozens of people of all ages from around the world, not just a single book but several books have been conceived. They all include a combination of biblical foundation and testimonies.

The first book, Unmasking the Myths: Is This Prayer?, gives an introduction to prayer in relationship with Jesus. The second, Unlocking Legacy: Taking Your God-Given Territory in Prayer, demonstrates further aspects of prayer.

Since the second book goes to the printer before the first, I want to share an opening glimpse of it here. I hope you are encouraged to not just pray, but to pray with power.

Unlocking Legacy – Chapter One

Please enjoy this sneak peek at the entire first chapter of Unlocking Legacy, Humility — Come in Low.  Download the pdf below:

 

Unlocking-Legacy-Chapter-1

 

 

Unlocking Legacy: Taking Your God-Given Territory Through Prayer also covers subjects like: faith, praying God’s Word, prophetic and travailing prayer, fasting and praying with authority, corporate prayer and more.

The last chapter contains multiple miracles experienced by those interviewed.

May you be inspired as you read this first chapter. Unlocking Legacy is available for preorder today.

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Healing by the Pool: What is Crooked Cannot be Straightened

Solomon said, “What is crooked cannot be straightened.” Jesus proved Solomon’s point with the miracle at the Pool of Bethesda. Miracles will always remain mysterious — perhaps none more so than the healing by the pool.

This pool bore no resemblance to pictures in resort promotions. This pool neared the Sheep Gate where sellers brought sheep, washing (probably in this pool), marketing and selling them for sacrifices at the temple. Sheep aren’t clean! Here human and animal smells and sounds mingled, swelling in volume during the Jewish festivals.

This pool, protectively surrounded by five covered colonnades, became a place of hope for many. Why?

Bent Eyelet

“Here a great number of disabled people used to lie
the blind, the lame, the paralyzed —
and they waited for the moving of the waters.
From time to time an angel of the Lord
would come down and stir up the waters.
The first one into the pool after each such disturbance
would be cured of whatever disease they had.”
John 5:3-5

Mercy and Grace

Bethesda means “kindness or mercy.” The number “five” represents “grace.” At the place called mercy and grace, the disabled, blind, lame, and paralyzed came hoping to find mercy and grace, where with mercy and grace God’s angel descended, making mercy and grace visible to all.

How many? How many waited and hoped? I can hardly imagine the sight, the weight of despair pressing against the odds of just maybe being the next one healed. It’s hard to maintain faith when disappointment comes often.

Bent Nail

I, too, am one who is crooked and cannot be straightened, in disabled condition. No, not outwardly, but inwardly. Disabled applies both morally and physically. Like them, I shelter under the colonnade of mercy and kindness, hoping and waiting. I, who am too often spiritually blind, unable to walk the Christian walk with strength, wait — paralyzed by my moral failures, unable to advance further.

They wait — hoping for an angel they can’t see, while missing the Messiah who stands among them.

Jesus Sees

Most people preferred to enter the grand city another way — a cleaner, quieter way. Jesus chooses this way. Here in the midst of the noise, the pain, the struggle, He comes. His eyes focus on one man.

What makes this man special that Jesus notices him above the massive throng? What make this man worthy of receiving?

Nothing!

“When Jesus saw him lying there and
learned that he had been in this condition for a long time,
he asked him, ‘Do you want to get well?’ “
John 5:6

Rusty Bend Metal

Jesus asks questions so we will see and understand; He already knows the answer. The man’s response seems honest enough. But is it?

” ‘Sir,’ the invalid replied,
‘I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred.
While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.’
John 5:7

The answer to Jesus’ question should be, “yes,” or “no.” He, like me, choses to blame other people’s negligence for his present circumstance. For thirty-eight years, he suffered. For thirty-eight years, he depended on others., hoping someone would get him out of his predicament.

It’s all too easy to grow comfortable, even in our dysfunction, our disability, blindness, lameness and paralysis. Too easy to excuse or justify our “crooked and cannot be straightened” condition.

Cannot be Straightened

“What is crooked cannot be straightened,
what is lacking cannot be counted.”
Ecclesiastes 1:15

I’m told that when metal becomes bent, it cannot be straightened. It might look straight, and even function like it has been straightened, but bending causes the molecular structure to change, weakening the metal forever. Only one option remains for restoration — the complete remelting and remolding of the metal.

Casting Metal

In spite of the man’s moral and physical inadequacies, Jesus still comes with mercy and grace.

“Then Jesus said to him,
Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.’ “
John 5:8

Miraculously, the man does! In taking responsibility for himself, he obeys Jesus and walks away almost whole. Almost? Yes, almost!

A Matter of Heart

“Later Jesus found him
at the temple and said to him,
‘See, you are made well again.
Stop sinning or something
worse may happen to you.’ “
John 5:14

Jesus sought this man out again, and “found him.” More critical than a physical healing, Jesus desired a heart change for this man.

What was the sin he committed “at the temple,” in church? We aren’t told details; perhaps, because God wants us to see our own reflection here.

How great has Jesus extended mercy and grace to us, at the Sheep Gate, in our messiest condition? How often has He sought us, challenging our wayward thoughts and actions? Or offered warning or reprimand? How often has He asked for our devotion? How often have we refused?

“The man went away and told the Jewish leaders
that it was Jesus who had made him well.”
John 5:15

With body whole and heart hardened, the healed man turns traitor and reports Jesus to those who wish Him dead. We all either turn toward or away. There’s no in between!

We would hope for a better response — perhaps gratitude, worship or reverence.

The Melting

Without the melting of hearts toward Jesus, we, too, will be forever bent, left in a weakened, volatile state. Without the melting of my heart, I cannot be straightened. No one can!

Oh, how imperative the constant cry of my heart, “Melt me, Lord! Make me new! Remove the “churchy” appearance of looking good, surface healings and half-hearted walking. Lord, I desire the full deal, the real deal, the melting, remaking, painful, messy, recreating. Don’t let me settle for second best, almost complete, when the greatest miracle stands before me — a pure and upright heart.”

Pure Gold

The healing at the pool comes as a tragic reminder of humanities failure to recognize Christ Jesus in the face of His great mercy and grace. He comes to find us, to seek us out, again and again, welcoming all to come to Him wholly and fully.

How many more worthy were among the disabled throng that day? How many little children needed a miracle? Was there none at the pool deserving of mercy? No! No one is worthy; none deserve His blessing.

The essence of mercy reaches to the unworthy and undeserving. Jesus chose the least worthy to display His love and grace, then and now.

Oh, the hope for us all! The hope in knowing God hears our pathetic cry and changes hearts. It’s Who He is! It’s what He does — how He loves.

Only in Him will that which cannot be straightened be made completely new and whole.

Take Time for The Brief Moments that Matter Most

I’m musing today about the value of brief moments — taking time for the things that perhaps make the greatest difference in our lives and in the lives of others. Too often, I miss them, scurry past them, minimize their significance, or ignore the prompting in my spirit to slow up, listen and respond.

Rarely does God allow us grand chunks of time to move from where we are to where we need to go, to progress from who we are to who we are becoming. It’s those brief moments, those seemingly insignificant choices, that determine the outcomes, not just of our day, but of our lives.

Moments with God; with others; moments to rest; to work; moments to uproot; to build; moments; miniscule segments, fleeting swiftly away.

Time Piece

Solomon capsulized it in Ecclesiastes,

“There is a time for everything and a season
for every activity under the heavens.”
Ecclesiastes 3:1

Take Time

Often, shifting times and changing seasons floating in and out of lives imperceptively. Other times, we know, we sense the significance.

Time is the most precious of commodities. If I lose my health, I know a God who restores. If I lose wealth, I trust God who returns. If relationships break and tear, God reunites. Time remains the only asset never regained. How will I use it? What will I do with the gift of today — of this moment?

“Serve God by doing common actions in a heavenly spirit, and then, if your daily calling only leaves you cracks and crevices of time, fill them up with holy service.” – Charles Spurgeon

Wristwatch Keeping Time

I don’t know about you, but it feels like I’m entrusted with minute cracks and tiny crevices of time — brief moments to function and thrive. Yet, we are all given twenty-four hours in a day, seven days a week. Those days, weeks and years that contain brief moments that matter.

Paul encouraged both the Ephesians and Colossians to

Behave wisely . . . making the best of your time,”
Colossians 4:5

And

“Be very careful, then how you live . . .
making the most of every opportunity.”
Ephesians 5:15,16

Okay! I know I should make brief moments count, but how?

Three Seconds

Awhile ago, I read a book by Les Parrott, called 3 Seconds. He wrote an entire book on the difference taking a few seconds to reshape our thinking can make. Brief moments to rethink has the potential to change destiny.

  • “There’s nothing I can do!” can become, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13)
  • “It’s too difficult!” trusts, “All things are possible to him who believes.” (Mark 9:23)
  • “Whatever happens, happens!” changes to, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare, not for evil, to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
Hourglass

How many harsh words would remain unspoken, if we would only take a few seconds to rethink a response? Or needs met, if only we would slow our pace to help another?

When we look for those brief moments, God will use them to bring a change in surprising ways. The only moment God has given us is this moment — right here, right now.

“Let us not grow weary in doing good,
for in due season we will reap,
if we do not give up.”
Galatians 6:9

A farmer knows the time to seed is brief. So is harvest! How important to use wisely whatever time we’re given.

The Panoramic View

If we spent all our time focusing on the milliseconds, we would miss seeing the panoramic view — the God view — eternal perspective.

“Teach us to number our days,
that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”
Psalm 90:12

I read once that wisdom teaches us to live each moment like it’s our last, but plan for the future like we will live forever. Sound advice! Living in such a way that every moment, even the smallest moment, holds value and is deeply appreciated. Yet, at the same time, plan and live like eternity stretches endlessly before us.

It does!

Brief Moments of Time

Going back to Ecclesiastes, I read,

He has made everything beautiful in its time.
He has also set eternity in the human heart;
yet no one can fathom what God has done
from beginning to end.”
Ecclesiastes 3:11

Brief Moments

Here stands the challenge. How do I make brief moments count for eternity? How do I seize minute opportunities for optimum good? Is there a way to live holding both a microscopic view and a macro-image of time?

There lives within me a constant tension between where I’ve come from and where I’m heading — between the decades past and the ever-shortening time ahead. Tension unresolved, tugging between hope and frustration.

Solomon struggled; we all do. Nearing the end of his allotted time on earth, he surmised,

“Now all has been heard;
here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
for this is the duty of all mankind.”
Ecclesiastes 12:13

Fix your eyes ever on God; He will lead us to honor wisely the time He’s given us. Those brief moments of setting our eyes first on Him, reap eternal rewards. Those brief moments of blessing and meeting the needs of others, pay unending dividends in His Kingdom.

Moment of TIme

Choosing to love well the one in front of us and to serve God with whatever gift or ability He has blessed us with, then trusting Him with the results.

Those are the brief moments that count!

Light Shines Brightest in Darkness – Let Light be Seen!

Light shines brightest in darkness. Light, even the smallest flicker of light, draws our attention in the midst of thick darkness. Whatever we focus on, we will ultimately see; will our focus be on evil and darkness or on goodness and light?

My husband and I have almost completed a total house renovation. Yes, it has taken almost ten years, but the end is in sight. The basement presented the last project challenge to check off our list. Divided into many compact rooms and a long hallway, light from three small windows had a negligible effect on the dark, clamminess of the space. Even the grandchildren were afraid to enter without the comforting hand of an adult.

Not any more! With walls reconfigured, windows exposed, bright colors and an abundance of light, we tease, “Sunglasses needed below!”

What a difference light makes! Light shines brightest in darkness.

Light Wins

“The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness has not overcome it.”
John 1:5

I stand in full agreement with the Apostle John. Whenever light and darkness battle, light always wins. As a matter of fact, we need never worry about darkness, just turn on a light.

“Shines” honestly means to “show.” Sometimes in prayer, I ask, “Let Your light show up here, Lord!”

Do you ever feel like that? Like it’s time for light to shine and be seen?

Lantern

It’s always a magnificent time to lighten up a spot, but there are those times when you know it’s time, if ever there was a time, now is it! It’s time for light to shine!

When light comes, darkness immediately disappears. No contest!

I’m no Greek scholar, but even I catch the drift of the power of light in this verse. καταλαμβάνω (katalambanó), translated “overcome,” violently declares, “Not today satan! You’re done!” The word means to seize so completely that the adversary doesn’t even comprehend what happened, to take captive so firmly there is no escape, and to overtake so decisively there is no opportunity for rebound.

Light shines brighter than darkness, always winning.

Light Shines

Not only does light always win, but light glorifies God.

You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
Matthew 5:14-16

Matthew uses simple logic. Who turns on a light and then purposely hides it? I do; we do. I don’t mean to offend, but it’s the truth. How often do I have an opportunity to allow Christ, in me, to be seen, but don’t? Honestly, too often!

Lightbulbs

Matthew points to us and says, “You’re it. You are the light the world desperately seeks. Without you, the light won’t shine.”

We, in false humility, stammer, justify and excuse our lack of light shining. Matthew’s words are anything but critical — only encouraging. “Heh people, remember that God is in you; He is with you; The Light occupies every part of you. Lift the bowl of disguise off your heads and shine. Shine where you are, so that other’s will naturally glorify God.”

In a darkened space, one never focuses on the candle, only the flame. Same for you and I. Others might be pleasantly surprised how much light flickers from these bent, dented, scarred pieces of wax.

Light shines undiminished.

Great Light

Matthew quotes the prophet Isaiah,

“the people living in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow
of death a light has dawned.”
Matthew 4:16

Both Isaiah and Matthew point to Jesus. One Great Light shines; His Name is Jesus. Those who live in the deepest darkness, under the oppressive “shadow of death” recognize Him, knowing His light is what they need. This Light came for all; He is Who we all need.

One Light

As I write, I sense that oppressive darkness hanging over many. I hear in the Spirit their heart weeping unseen tears, their voices long-silenced in squelched screams of agony.

“Come, Lord. Shine Your light! Expose the schemes and devises of the enemy. Rescue those bound in prisons of darkness. May You, the Great Light, shine brightly now — here, there, everywhere.”

“When Jesus spoke again to the people,
he said, ‘I am the light of the world.
Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness,
but will have the light of life.”
John 8:12

Light shines in the world around us.

Light of Life

With light comes life.

James calls God, “the Father of heavenly lights” (1:17). Timothy tells us that God lives “in unapproachable light” (1 Tim:6:16).

“This is the message we have heard from him
and declare to you;
God is light;
in him there is no darkness at all.”
1 John 1:5

Lighthouse

One of my mother’s favorite verses was,

The LORD is my light and my salvation —
whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life —
of whom shall I be afraid?”
Psalms 27:1

Darkness conceives fear and produces death. Not here! Not where the Lord is! All the writers of Scripture knew beyond a doubt and declared through the ages, “The LORD is light! Don’t fear!”

Light shines, bringing life.

Light Comforts

The psalmist wrote,

“Your word is a lamp for my feet,
a light on my path.”
Psalm 119:105

This “word” was also “The Word” John said “shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome.” In Him resides no darkness!

Today, we contend against darkness. It taunts, lurking in shadows of evil; even disguised as an “angel of light.” Darkness produces confusion, discouragement, fear and death. Only for a season! Our contending will triumph through Christ.

God has prepared a place void of even the slightest shadow. Can you imagine it? I try. A place where light, the Light, lives and rules.

“The city does not need the sun
or the moon to shine on it,
for the glory of God gives it light,
and the Lamb is its lamp.”
Revelation 21:23

Light Match

We look forward to where,

God’s dwelling place is now among the people,
and he will dwell with them.
They will be his people,
and God himself will be with them
and be their God.
He will wipe every tear from their eyes.
There will be no more death
or mourning or crying or pain,
for the old order of things has passed away.”
Revelation 21:3-4

The longing of every heart fulfilled! Light shining with unending comfort and fulfilled hope.

Walk in Light

Do you long for more light to shine? I do. The Light within me, promises light to permeate my world, invade the strongholds of the enemy, and take territory back from darkness. Expect the unexpected when The Light shines.

“More light, Lord! Come Jesus, come!”

One candle affects darkness; a thousand even more; ten thousand light a city; thousands upon thousands our world.

Child with light

I join my prayer with others who have gone before me, “May Your light shine indisputably within us, Lord. Set our feet on the path of light.”

“If we walk in the light,
as he is in the light,
we have fellowship with one another,
and the blood of Jesus, his Son,
purifies us from all sin.”
I John 1:7

Candles, my insignificant one and your larger one, joining together, purified from every darkened stain, shining “with one another,” making a difference in our communities.

Jesus welcomes us,

Believe in the light while you have the light,
so that you may become children of light.”
John 12:36

Through faith in Jesus Christ, we become “children of light.” Children, not just renovated, but completely remade in His image as His children — children of light.

Light shines

“Yes, Lord! Your light shines brightest in darkness, through your kids, your children of light.”

Walking Together and Learning to Keep in Step

Whether walking together with my husband through life or walking with a friend on a short hike, I’m learning how to keep in step with others.

Recently, one friend said, “Hey! Let’s slow down and enjoy our time together.” Just a couple days, later, on a walk with a different friend, she encouraged, “I only have about an hour, how far can we go?”

Whether in life, business or ministry, we are constantly adjusting our pace to keep in step with others — or allow others to keep in step with us. When walking with a child, the stride changes, the pace slows. When walking with the, athletic and fit I tighten my boot straps and struggle to keep up.

Walking Side-by-Side

“Can two people walk together
without agreeing on the direction?”
Amos 3:3

Which Way?

We constantly make choices and readjust our direction as we walk. The long road or the short path? The difficult climb or the gentle descent? Turn left or swing to the right?

A more important question to ask perhaps is, “Am I walking with God or am I anticipating that He will walk with me?” Quite often, I believe I’m walking with God, but in reality, I’m expecting Him to walk with me — allowing me to set the pace, design the course, and determine the destination.

“In their hearts humans plan their course,
but the Lord establishes their steps.”
Proverbs 16:9

Walk Sunset

We all desire God to establish our steps, but if I want my steps established, I must allow God to also change my heart enough to give Him full permission to also set the course.

This has honestly been a struggle for me. By nature or by gifting, I’m not sure which, I’m a leader — a visionary, planner, organizer and sight-setter. Following and keeping in step, even with Omniscient God, goes against the false confidence I have in my own ability to know where I’m heading and exactly how to get there.

In Step

A mature couple walks past my window almost daily. They walk in perfect unity; they lead with the same foot; their strides match precisely; they’re in constant communion as they walk. Like a pre-choreographed dance or military precision, they move with ease. As they turn the corner their unison so flawless, they appear as one.

Walking Together

My heart whispers, “Lord, may I walk with You like that. May my steps so match Yours that people often notice only You.”

Walking together with God means:

  • “we too might walk in newness of life.” Romans 6:4
  • our steps are directed by God, ” ‘This is the way walk in it,’ when (we) turn to the right or when (we) turn to the left.” Isaiah 30:21
  • walking according to the gifting God has given us. Ephesians 2:10
  • walking by faith. (2 Corinthians 5:7

But most of all walking together with God requires humility.

“He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does God require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?”
Micah 6:8

Walking Together

As I’m walking together with others, I need to be sensitive to the unspoken cues within their steps. Are they limping from pain or fatigued from overwork? Are they trail-blazers and go-getters, who perhaps need re-direction for their own protection? Have they walked this course on numerous occasions, knowing both the highlights and the snake-pits? In any particular moment is it best for me to follow or lead?

Two people walking

A excellent leader develops by first learning to follow — to step in pace with other more powerful, mature leaders.

Paul said to the Corinthian church,

” . . . follow my example,
as I follow the example of Christ.”
1 Corinthians 11:1

Do you notice all the number “1’s” in that Bible reference? Our One reference point is Christ. The number one thing to remember is that we follow His lead, stepping in time with the prompts of His Spirit.

Anybody who attempts to lead without first following Jesus will ultimate cause us to get out of sync with the One who knows the best way to take and the perfect time and pace. The same applies for those following my lead. Walking together in true unity requires following Christ first and always.

The Destination

Adam and Eve walked with God before sin and disobedience separated them from Him (Gen 3:8). Noah “was a righteous man” who also “walked with God” (Gen 6:9). God invited Abraham, a man of faith, to “walk before me, and be blameless” (Gen 17:1). It’s good for me to notice that to walk with God requires a constant cleansing of our hearts, realigning them with him

God actually wants to walk with us, enjoying our company and adjusting His ginormous steps to match our childlike ones. He wants to hear about our day and share His thoughts with us.

The Bible records little about Enoch, other than he demonstrated what walking together with God looks like.

“Enoch . . . walked in close fellowship with God.
Then one day he disappeared,
because God took him.”
Genesis 5:24

Going the distance

I’m sure this might scare any child, but I love it! I can almost imagine Enoch and God walked along, their steps so in unison and fellowship together so wonderful, that they ended up closer to God’s “house” than Enoch’s. Perhaps God invited, “Hey Enoch, why don’t you just come home with Me? You’re already much closer to My house than to yours. No sense turning back now.”

Enoch agreed!

May our walk together in fellowship with God lead us closer and closer not only to His heart, but to His home, our true destination. May every step we take in obedience to Him, every mile along our destiny’s path, lead nearer to His glorious throne. And may we be sure to invite others to come along with us.

That’s true walking together.

The Voice of Prophecy – Prophets Listening and Speaking Truth

How clearly does the voice of prophecy resound today? Are prophets still listening to God and speaking His prophetic truth in our generation? Has their voice diminished or is it strong? Prophets throughout the ages have been mocked, ridiculed, crucified and burned. Few people, if any, stand in line saying, “Pick me, Lord! Pick me to prophesy!”

Just before Stephen was stoned to death, he asked,

“Was there ever a prophet your ancestors did not persecute? . . .”
Acts 7:52

Of all the spiritual gifts, why does prophecy get such a bad wrap? Undoubtedly, there is a lethargy toward spiritual gifts, an absence of mature mentors and misguided notions of prophecy. All, perhaps, put this beautiful and important gift in dim light.

Gifts of Perfume

Yet, prophecy remains among the gifts God gives to the church.

“There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them . . . To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.”
1 Corinthians 12:4-11

Six times Paul states that the gifts are given by the Spirit “as he determines,” including the voice of prophecy.

Gifts of Love

‘Charisma’ (singular) or ‘charismata’ (plural), commonly translated as gifts, means ‘gift of God’s love.‘ God beautifully lavishes His church with gifts of His love. Another word, ‘phanerosis,’ we also find translated as gift, means manifestation.

Child's ear

For the church to experience God’s love, His gifts must be seen and known. Without the gifts, His love remains hidden, not just from the church, but from the entire world.

For All

The gift of prophecy encourages believers while convicting those who neither know nor acknowledge God.

“. . . prophecy, however, is not for unbelievers but for believers . . . But if an unbeliever or an inquirer comes in while everyone is prophesying, they are convicted . . .”
1 Corinthians 14:22-25

The voice of prophecy bridges the gap between those inside and outside the church. Both declare, “God is really among you!”

“. . . they are convicted of sin and are brought under judgment by all, as the secrets of their hearts are laid bare. So they will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, ‘God is really among you!'”
1 Corinthians 14:24-25

Eyes to See

Honestly, I’ve approached the prophetic praying the secrets of my heart would forever remain hidden. Nonetheless, the unveiling of the heart draws one closer to our loving Father. Whatever God exposes, He redeems!

The Voice of Prophecy

When Jesus, the perfect Prophet, met the woman at the well and told her everything she ever did, worship was her predictable response.

. . . You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”
John 4:17-18

Jesus spoke to her privately, honoring and elevating her to a place of dignity while exposing the real pain and giving her the hope of an intimate relationship with God.

“God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” John 4:24

One prophetic word brought a woman out of a hopeless situation and an entire town into knowing Jesus the Messiah.

True Prophecy

The honest voice of prophecy encourages those who hear and points them not to the prophet but to God. Prophets precisely tune their ears to hear God’s voice and focus their sight to heavenly realms to accurately relay what they hear and see to others.

“But the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouraging and comfort.”
1 Corinthians 14:3

Although most prophecy adheres to this principle, not all. One doesn’t have to read the Bible long before realizing that the voice of prophecy often brought necessary correction from their loving Father.

Child and Adult

Earthly fathers who refuse to correct when necessary, harm those entrusted to them. Every loving father, including our Heavenly Father, loves enough to speak correction. He invites the listener to strength, courage and comfort.

Covet Prophecy

Paul commands his listeners to covet and zealously pursues prophecy.

“Therefore, my brothers and sisters, be eager to prophesy . . .”
1 Corinthians 14:39

Why such a strong admonishment? Why does he encourage everyone to prophesy?

Microphone

“Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy.”
1 Corinthians 14:1

What is it about the voice of prophecy that brings substantial “strengthening, encouragement and comfort?”

Whenever I have prophesied over others or God has spoken to me through a prophet, the awareness that God knows, sees and loves, even in the midst of personal messiness, inspires greater faith and trust, motivating to godly purpose and calling. Why?

“. . . the one who prophesies edifies the church.”
1 Corinthians 14:4

Testing Prophecy

For this reason, the voice of prophecy must be tested to ensure it agrees with the heart of God and the Word of Scripture, the Bible.

Do not quench the Spirit. Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil.”
1 Thessalonians 5:19-20

The scrutinizing of the voice of prophecy ensures the purity of the word spoken. When God gives His gifts, it is the recipient’s responsibility to exercise and develop those gifts to reach their fullest potential and greatest benefit to His Kingdom.

Positive and Negative Image

The prophet requires a safe and loving atmosphere to hone the prophetic gift. Godly prophetic mentors, solid in the faith and established in the Word guide the maturing process.

We often see groups of prophets hanging out together in the Old Testament. For good reason! Here they developed, became accountable and grew in their gift (2 Kgs 6:1). Elisha followed Elijah, learning and growing in his gift. The disciples followed Jesus, watching and training as prophets.

The Prophetic Office

Testing the voice of prophecy is especially essential in regard to the office of the prophet. Few prophets mature to a recognized place of holding the position, or ministry, of a prophet, which is different than operating in the prophetic gift.

“So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”
Ephesians 4:11-13

Many people today create business cards identifying themselves as apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor or teacher. How God labels a ministry matters far more.

Sound Studio

Though many operate in the gifting found within the five-fold ministry, few hold the true spiritual office of that position. One of the frustrating aspects of any ministry is being pigeon-holed under a title, not God-given — frustrating for the individual and for the people under his or her ministry.

Avoiding man-made labels and maintaining a humble, godly attitude ensures the free-flow of the gifts God gives. He calls each of us to pursue spiritual gifts, test and hone them, then use them for His Kingdom purposes.

Prophets and prophetesses boldly arise! May your senses be open to perceive the currents of heaven releasing the prophetic voice once again for the strengthening, encouraging and comfort” of all.