God Still Speaks

Prayer is powerful! God still speaks and He reminded me again today that prayer is a two-way conversation.

While shopping, I encountered a woman incessantly talking on her phone. She was having a non-stop, one-way conversation with someone who could not possibly have gotten a word in edgewise! I’m not even sure when or how she found time to breathe. Her voice could be heard throughout the entire store.

I’m afraid our prayer conversations with God might all too closely resemble this scenario. Do we do all the talking, or do we take time to listen, expecting to hear from God? God designed prayer to be a mutual exchange of dialogue.

Do you ever feel like your prayers hit the ceiling and go no further? From time to time, I think we have all experienced the feeling. Let’s be encouraged. God hears and He answers! In many places throughout the Bible, He encourages, “Anyone with ears, let them hear” (Matthew 11:15). But how does God speak to us? And how do we know that it is God speaking and not just our own thoughts or imagination?

We don’t need any unique gift to hear from God. The only qualification is to have ears. That includes most of us. Contrary to what some people might believe, God still speaks. Let’s explore what the Bible says about the topic.

He spoke to an incredibly wicked king, King Nebuchadnezzar both through dreams and through the prophet Daniel (Daniel 4). He spoke to Moses face to face, like we would speak to our friends (Exodus 33:11).

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

God Speaks Through the Bible

The most common way God speaks to us is through His infallible Word — the Bible. Scriptures form the plumbline for every other way God speaks. He will never say anything that contradicts the Bible. So whatever way He might speak, we measure against the accuracy of His Word.

For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.”
Hebrews 4:12

Your word is a lamp to guide my feet
    and a light for my path.”

Psalm 119:105

All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.”
2 Timothy 3:16

God consistently speaks through the living words recorded in the Bible. His Word remains relevant and undiminished in power.

God Speaks Through the Holy Spirit

God has given us the Holy Spirit to teach, comfort, and direct us. Holy Spirit waters God’s Word within us causing it to grow and become fruitful.

But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.”
John 14:26

The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.”
1 Corinthians 2:14

The Holy Spirit brings the truths we read in Scripture or receive from biblical teachers and leaders, making God’s Word relevant and alive. He affirms God’s words written or spoken to our hearts to our spirit, in a Spirit-to-spirit communication.

God Speaks Through Nature

Like many people, I feel the closest to God while walking in nature. In His creation, my heart seems the most sensitive to hear His sacred echoes. Jesus used many illustrations from nature to reveal God’s character, purposes, and truth. Whether birds, sheep, storms, plants, or so much more, Jesus strung His parables around everyday life and the land people were familiar with.

“The voice of the LORD is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the LORD thunders over the mighty waters. The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is majestic.
Psalm 29:3-4

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.”
Psalm 19:1-2

For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.
Romans 1:20

How God speaks through creation remains one of His many mysteries. Yet we find ourselves filled with awe as we gaze into a starry sky or hold a newborn baby. We can’t help but worship Him as we watch ocean waves crash against the rocky shore or feel the power of a summer storm. God is in it all. He speaks through a gentle breeze as clearly as through the intricacy of a flower. God speaks the language of a listening heart.

God Still Speaks

The limitations we have to hear from God rests within ourselves. God speaks in limitless ways. I love the way Job phrased it:

“For God does speak — now one way, now another — though no one perceives it.”
Job 33:14

Why is perceiving His voice so difficult? Has the overture of busyness dulled our hearing? Oh, may we give God opportunity to speak, and tune our ears to hear what He is saying. May we have a willing heart to receive His words. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, compared us to sheep — His sheep. He said,

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me.”
John 10:27

God speaks through gifted authors, teachers, and speakers. He speaks through circumstances and the difficulties we face. He speaks through dreams and visions, just as He always has. Because of His unending love for us, He invites us to draw close and to listen.

If you would like to learn more about prayer, how to talk to God and hear from Him, I invite you to check out these two books: Unmasking Myths and Unlocking Legacy. To celebrate my upcoming milestone birthday, take advantage of this half-price special! I would be happy to share these resources with you.

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Perfect Knowledge — Divine Omniscience

As much as we may boast in our vast learning, perfect knowledge can be found only in God. He, alone, possesses divine omniscience.

Omniscience simply means to be all knowing. Job said that true wisdom has two sides (Job 11:5-6). But God not only sees and knows two sides, He sees and knows everything completely. To acknowledge the fullness of God’s knowing, we must first come to terms with our own limitations.

“When I was a child, I spoke and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely; just as God now knows me completely.
1 Corinthians 13:11-12

To some, the thought of God’s complete knowledge incites fear. To others, it brings incredible comfort.

Faithful

No one needs to live under the confines of such fear. We all fall short and do things we shouldn’t do, or fail to do those things we know we should do. God is merciful!

“But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.”
1 John 1:9

As a parent, I remember the angst I felt knowing my children had done something inconsiderate or hurtful. I often gave them time, patiently waiting for them to confess what they had done. The longer they waited one of two things happened — either their conscience became harder, or the conviction grew stronger.

How much more does our loving God — in His divine omniscience — see, know, and long for us to come to Him so that He can clear the slate of offense and set us back on our feet.

Fear

That God knows each of us so perfectly can cause fear to run through anyone who has something to hide. My husband often says, “He who hides nothing has nothing to hide.” It’s so true!

King David tried his best to hide his sin of adultery. The more he covered it up the deeper the pile of offenses grew until God, Himself, confronted David. The resulting penalty for his unwarranted actions stretched through the generations causing far too much heartache.

“You spread out our sins before you — our secret sins — and you see them all.”
Psalm 90:8

For those with unrepentant sin against God or another person, such knowledge causes fear. The flimsiness of excuses holds no ground against truth. Many of us today are like Adam long ago, hiding behind self made canopies in gardens of unconfessed wrongs. Whether the infractions are minor or something much more heinous, we fear that someone, anyone, should know.

“”I can never escape from your Spirit: I can never get away from your presence! If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave you are there. If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there your hand will guide me and your strength will support me … even in darkness I cannot hide from you. To you the night shines as bright as day. Darkness and light are the same to you.
Psalm 139:7-12

Divine Omniscience

But to all those who will run to Him, they will find full forgiveness, laying hold of hope in Christ. To them, the knowledge that their Heavenly Father knows completely becomes magnificent.

No accuser can inform on them and no accusation against them can stick to those who stand forgiven. No skeletons hide in closets, waiting for someone to expose them. There is no weakness of character that God doesn’t already see and know. In divine omniscience, He knew us completely long before we knew Him.

Not only does He know us, but He remembers something we often forget.

“The Lord is like a father to his children, tender and compassion to those who fear him. For he knows how weak we are; he remembers we are only dust.”
Psalm 103:14

His divine omniscience of us becomes personal, warm, and compassionate through Christ Jesus. Whatever we have done, God knows and loves us like no one else can or will.

Come

Whether we stand forgiven before Him with a clear conscience or have undealt with issues, God waits with arms open wide. Today, let’s make David’s prayer our own.

Search me, O God, and know my heart: test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you. and lead me along the path of everlasting life.”
Psalm 139:23-24

We all find it easy to point out the faults and failures of others. But we often need the Holy Spirit’s help to pinpoint the things within ourselves that grieve the Father’s heart.

When He does, let’s be quick to come to Him. Confession and repentance mean more than verbally acknowledging what His divine omniscience has shown us. To be fully free, we step away from our deviant ways, coming into alignment with His heart.

Then His “hand will guide (us) and (His) strength will support (us).” The divine omniscience of our loving and gentle Savior waits to liberate us from all fear.

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Know Your Call! Stay in the Right Lane!

Perhaps the most difficult thing to discover is the call of God on our lives. Next most difficult is to stay in the right lane of our calling.

Like many vehicles, my car beeps a warning when I veer out of my lane. Why? Because veering off lane creates a dangerous situation for me and everyone else. Of course, if I use the signal indicator before changing lanes, I provide everyone with adequate warning of my intentions.

I’ve lived several decades and made more than a few lane changes in my life. Some changes occurred abruptly — the sudden swerves to avoid danger or navigate a sharp corner. For the most part, however, I perceive these changes a long time in advance, allowing for minor or consistent corrections in choices or shifts in priorities.

As annoying as the warning beeper is in my car, I appreciate the safety feature. I want to know how to stay in the right lane.

The apostle Paul knew his call. He provides an excellent example of how he faithfully stayed in his lane.

“Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God.”
Romans 1:1

By God’s Grace

Whatever the call on our lives, we remember that it is all by God’s grace!

“God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”
1 Corinthians 1:9

By God’s grace, He has called each of us to Himself — not so that we could do more for Him, but so that we could be united with Him in fellowship.

He honestly doesn’t need us to do anything. He purely loves us and wants us to know and enjoy an intimate relationship with Him.

But part of our calling to Him does include a calling to serve Him. Those He calls He also equips.

“Just think — you don’t need a thing, you’ve got it all. All God’s gifts are right in front of you as you wait expectantly for our Master Jesus to arrive on the scene for the Finale. And not only that but God himself is right alongside to keep you steady and on track until things are all wrapped up by Jesus. God, who got you started in this spiritual adventure, shares with us the life of his Son and our Master Jesus. He will never give up on you. Never forget that.”
1 Corinthians 1:7-9 MSG

Isn’t that amazing! God makes His call known to us and He helps us to stay in the right lane by keeping us steady and on the right track.

Know Your Call

The Corinthian church experienced more than a few problems. They became known for disputes and disruptions. Paul makes his call clear to them.

“For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel — not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.”
1 Corinthians 1:17

Ministry, and life in general, carry many responsibilities of things that could be done, should be done, or ought to be done. It’s a constant battle to focus on the essentials. We may not feel our calling is significant, but it is. Every act of kindness and everything done out of love has immeasurable impact on those around you. Then that love will flow from them to others and to still others more.

Never underestimate or minimize your call. Own it! Walk in it! Foster it!

God called Paul to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Obedience to the Call

Obedience resembles not just getting into our car but driving it. You will have no opportunity to stay in the right lane while parked in the garage. We use vehicles to take us from one place to another. Obedience turns on the engine, pulls our lives into motion, and moves us into our lane of ministry and service.

Paul placed concentrated effort into extensive learning. Then he walked in the misguided authority of human wisdom and position. The results proved devastating to those whom he imprisoned and murdered for their faith.

After God called and equipped Paul, everything changed. Paul immediately shifted into the right lane.

“My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power. so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.”
1 Corinthians 2:4-5

Paul’s pre-Christian influence came through “wise and persuasive words.” But now in obedience to God’s call and the anointing of the Holy Spirit everything flowed through God’s power.

Stay in the Right Lane

Because Paul obeyed God to stay in the right lane, the impact of his life probably comes second only to Jesus Christ. Through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Paul wrote about twenty-eight percent of the New Testament. He is perhaps the most quoted writer of New Testament scripture.

His in-person preaching reached tens or even hundreds of thousands of people. His writings have turned untold millions to confess their faith in Jesus Christ.

How could one man impact so many people through the centuries?

  • First, Paul received and responded to God’s grace confessing Jesus Christ as Lord.
  • Second, Paul committed himself to full obedience to God’s call.
  • Third, Paul continually demonstrated through his life how to stay in the right lane.

“But we preach Christ crucified … Christ the power of God and wisdom of God.”
1 Corinthians 1:23-24

Prayer

Father God, we receive the grace to know You, the One true God and Savior, Jesus Christ. Thank you for welcoming us into fellowship with You and for calling and equipping us to share the gospel with others.
Whether our sharing takes place in our homes, with friends, in the marketplace, or from behind a pulpit doesn’t matter. We desire to walk out our calling in full obedience. Keep us steady, Lord, and on the right track. Help us to stay in the right lane. May the Holy Spirit “beep” a warning whenever we veer from the path You have called us to walk.
I ask for boldness and faithfulness to love as You have called us to love and to serve as You have called us to serve. Fill us with contentment to stay in the right lane.
And Lord, may our lives become a “demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.”
Amen.

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Procrastination — The Great Destroyer

The effects of procrastination plague like rusting relics — visible and invisible evidence of the presence of the great destroyer. Why does procrastination invade so many of our lives, paralyzing us from making decisive decisions and confident actions.

As many as one quarter of people struggle under the weight of procrastination. Often the issue is linked to depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, or an inability to focus. Perhaps, it results from a combination of many factors. Whatever the reasons, we are all affected by it in some way.

This lack of confidence in making decisions and moving into action impact us all in so many ways. God knows the root lies deep and He says much on the subject. But one of the most sobering is this:

“So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.”
James 4:17

Whatever holds us back from doing the right thing or making the right choice, God counts as sin. That alone should be enough reason to take procrastination seriously and recognize it as a great destroyer of God-given potential.

Mental Health

Just as we seek help to overcome physical health issues, we cannot afford to ignore the crippling impact of poor mental health. I’ve struggled enough in this area to realize change isn’t a simple one-two step and your done. Recovery requires time and often professional assistance. But the first step in any recovery begins with acknowledgment.

Procrastinators habitually put off for later the things that should and could be done now. Later may mean an hour, a day, a year, or a lifetime. The resulting consequences of the delay could prove to be small or devastating. To procrastinators, it all feels overwhelming.

In the wait, life falls apart around them — a fence, a house, a business, a marriage, or an entire life. The pressure of making a decision and acting upon it proves far more risky than any consequence.

“One day I passed by the field of a lazy man, and I noticed the vineyards of a slacker. I observed nothing but thorns, weeds, and broken-down walls. So I considered their lack of wisdom, and I pondered the lessons I could learn from this: Professional work habits prevent poverty from becoming your permanent business partner. And: If you put off until tomorrow the work you could do today, tomorrow never seems to come.”
Proverbs 24:30-34 TPT

Limited

Most often the areas of procrastination show up where a person feels the most vulnerable and insecure. Those times when a person feels at the greatest risk of failure or making a mistake. But it is also a sign of passive aggressive behavior — a deliberate avoidance of what needs to be done.

Little by little the walls begin to crumble. Finally, one more missed project turns into a missed grade. One more failure to step up at work turns into dismissal. One more refusal to be responsible results in a breakdown in relationship.

Several times this past week, I have heard the tell-tale comment of the great destroyer, “May I have an extension. I thought I had more time.”

The procrastinator assumes they will be granted more time, more opportunity, more grace, more tolerance, more of whatever is needed to continue dancing with the great destroyer.

Time is short! Today’s opportunity to do what is right and good will never come again! When the sun sets, today is over — never to return.

“So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do.”
Ephesians 5:15-17

Occupy

Jesus used the parable of the talents to illustrate the importance of fully using opportunities. When He handed His servants their gifts, He commanded them to “work until I come back” (Luke 19:13). Another version says “occupy until I come.” This implies immediate and consistent action.

Those who used their time and resources wisely were delegated greater authority and received a greater reward. The one who was slothful and procrastinated, delaying action and decisions on how to use the talents, ended up losing everything he had been given. How tragic! But how common!

“His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! …”
Matthew 25:26

God doesn’t take the abuse or misuse of our time lightly! Both are a precious gifts from Him. He holds us accountable for both. If God takes it seriously, we would be wise to do the same.

Healing

We might consider God’s assessment a bit harsh, but the first step toward better emotional health and healing begins with confession and prayer. God knows procrastination is self-protection, an escape from the responsibility whenever possible. But there is good news.

“If we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.”
1 John 1:9

Forgiveness is the beginning step. To overcome the great destroyer, we must redeem the time! God can and will turn things around, when we work with Him through the healing journey. He has not left us to fight any battle alone.

  • Choose to no longer put mental health on hold.
  • Seek Christian counsellors and mentors.
  • In a healing environment, confess faults to one another so we will be healed (James 5:16).
  • Identify the specific areas when we tend to procrastinate and ask others to hold us accountable in that area.
  • Don’t expect a quick rescue! Work through the healing process.

Well Done

Everyone wants to hear Jesus say, “Well done.” God cares far more about who we are than about what we accomplish for Him. He wants us free from the control of the great destroyer.

We dare not expect more time, when we are not fully using the time God has already given to us. He has given us time to receive His grace, time to share our faith, and time to love others.

God is not obligated to guarantee any of us more time or opportunity.

“For God says, ‘At just the right time, I heard you. On the day of salvation, I helped you.’ Indeed, the ‘right time’ is now. Today is the day of salvation.”
2 Corinthians 6:2

“The right time is now.” Let’s make today the day for change. Let’s not let procrastination remain as the great destroyer in our lives.

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Avoid Burnout and Overextending Yourself

Have you experienced the symptoms of burnout from overextending yourself? In a culture that applauds achievement, you aren’t alone. The more accomplished and successful one becomes, the greater the risk of overextending oneself and entering the devastating realm of burnout.

I’m dancing on such a verge right now. A little commitment here added to another, then another, and you guessed it … overextension. As my head begins to ache and stomach muscles tighten, I stare at the ceiling when I should be sleeping. Yep! It’s time to heed the warning signs and make adjustments.

At the end of August, I felt God invite me to write something I have avoided for months and even years. He also welcomed me to paint a picture a day. He knew the first would be difficult, while the later would be therapy. I agreed to a one month commitment to accomplish the tasks. If I didn’t finish by then, I would feel released from my commitment. (Pathetic, I know! But it honestly reflects the way God and I talk!)

Only October is teaching month when I have umpteen assignments to correct. It is also the month when the layout and design must be completed for FellowScript, InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship quarterly magazine.

And just like that I’m looking for a life raft in the ocean of overextension!

The Greats

Don’t worry if you can relate. We are in the school of learning that some of biblical history greats have passed through. Moses also found himself in a place of serious threat of burnout, at a level I cannot comprehend.

Based on the count of fighting men listed in Numbers 11:21, scholars estimate about 2.2 million people made the Exodus from Egypt. I have trouble leading myself let alone such a massive crowd. Moses assumed the position of judge for every dispute and problem among them.

The next day Moses took his seat to serve as judge for the people, and they stood around him from morning till evening.
Exodus 18:13

Moses adopted this “normal” pattern of function. It took someone from the outside to see what devastating results this way of operating would lead to. Someone who cared enough and was bold enough to confront him! Though burnout appears to sneak up slowly, it will suddenly stomp us out of commission.

Accountability

Just in time, Moses’ father-in-law Jethro came to visit. He took one look at what Moses was doing and basically said, “You’re crazy! Stop, before it’s too late!”

Oh, that God would send Jethros into each of our lives. Someone who lives outside our crazy swirls of activity, who says, “Whoa! Wait a second! Why are doing this?”

Moses was convinced he was doing God’s work in God’s way. After all, he was God’s man of the hour — the leader! Right?

Sometimes pride can lead us to overextend. We begin to think we are the best, or only, one suited for a task. Perhaps, we just don’t know any other way.

When his father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he said, ‘What is this you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit as judge, while all these people stand around you from morning till evening?‘”
Exodus 18:14

An accountability partner provides a safe zone to challenge our present conduct and point us to a better future. Jethro did both.

Warning

Jethro saw the warning signs of burnout and overextension. Do you hear the innocence in Moses’ response?

Moses answered him, ‘Because the people come to me to seek God’s will. Whenever they have a dispute, it is brought to me, and I decide between the parties and inform them of God’s decrees and instructions.'” Exodus 18:15-16

Moses spoke to God face-to-face. God instructed Moses. So, who else was equipped to instruct the people?

Moses’ father-in-law replied, “What you are doing is not good. You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone. Listen now to me and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you.'”
Exodus 18:17-19

Wait! There is a better way?

Delegate

When stretched to maximum capacity, the art of delegation allows us to achieve exponentially more together than all of us could accomplish individually.

Jethro wisely instructed Moses to choose a better way — a way avoiding burnout.

Teach them his decrees and instructions, and show them the way they are to live and how they are to behave. But select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain—and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. Have them serve as judges for the people at all times, but have them bring every difficult case to you; the simple cases they can decide themselves. That will make your load lighter, because they will share it with you. If you do this and God so commands, you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied.”
Exodus 18:20-23

Jethro presented Moses with a win-win. It would ensure the responsibility was fulfilled through the help of many. Those who could help more, would be given greater authority. But even those who were only able to maintain a light load could assist.

Lessons

We may glean practical application from Jethro’s advice.

  • Seek out a mentor for a place to be vulnerable and accountable. Give them permission to ask us the tough questions and point out places we might stumble. Live transparently and honestly before them.
  • Seek counsel from others. Counselors help us overcome internal hurdles of pride, selfish ambition, perfectionism, or any of the other vises that often lead to burnout.
  • Delegate authority. Allow other the liberty and the growth opportunity to assume responsibility.
  • Train others and assume a team mentality! Harness the power of synergy — working within teams of like-spirited and like-minded people.
  • Focus on areas only we can do. Acknowledge personal points of excellence where we bring the greatest benefit for the good of all. Then, humbly carry that area of responsibility.

God promises us,

“I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.”
Jeremiah 31:25

Hope

No matter what the source, whether we are in the thick of burnout, or heading toward the precipice, Paul writes this sound advice:

Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times, pray all the harder...”
Romans 12:11-12 MSG

God won’t put anything too heavy on us. But He draws close as we cry out to Him for help, giving us a new perspective and creative solutions going forward.

As we seek Him, He will keep us fueled and on fire, so that we can live alert and cheerful as we faithfully to the work.

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The Lord is Peace — Jehovah Shalom

Our King still reigns over all the kingdoms of the Earth. He is the Lord Almighty, the Ancient of Day, Jehovah Shalom, the Lord is Peace. Despite the uncertainty of our time, He welcomes us to seek refuge in His everlasting peace. Throughout the ages, His affirming words have kept the sails of many faltering ships steady as oceans rage.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
John 14:27

Jesus left His followers in the same wicked world we now inhabit. They faced oppression and persecution at levels most of us cannot comprehend. Ripped from their peacefully homes, they were cast into prisons and exposed to atrocities. Yet, they held to the words of Jesus. His promise gave them peace despite anything demonic elements threw at them.

May we find equal courage and strength in the sure Word of our Lord.

Go in Strength

Our God gives us peace out of the essence of His character and name – The Lord is Peace. Israel had walked away from God, facing their self-made destruction at the hands of enemy forces. Deprived of safety, they hid in mountain caves and strongholds while their enemies invaded like swarms of locusts. Impoverished, they finally cried out to the Lord for help (Judges 6).

God raised up the most unlikely candidate as His instrument of deliverance — Gideon. Filled with fear and intimidated by life circumstances, Gideon hid in a winepress threshing out a few grains wheat.

I’ve had plenty of my own hide-out moments — reluctant to take a stand or speak up against injustice. Like Gideon, I have argued with God about assignments He has given to me.

“Who me? I’m the littlest, the least competent, too old, too insignificant, ill equipped, untrained …” My excuses trail endlessly along. Arguing with God never turns out well. Not for Gideon, and certainly not for me.

“The LORD turned to him and said, ‘Go in the strength you have … am I not sending you?”
Judges 6:14

When God is with us, nothing else matters. Despite any personal limitations, God always proves Himself more than enough.

The Lord is Peace

Enough faith in God rises in Gideon to give God his shaky “Yes!” Before he confronts the enemy, Gideon first builds an altar of sacrifice to God. What an example! Every victory begins at the place of worship and thankfulness.

“So Gideon built an altar to the LORD there and called it The Lord is Peace.”
Judges 6:24

Though Israel’s condition remained the same, Gideon’s heart had changed. Instead of focusing on the enemy’s strategies, he knelt before the King of all kings and the Lord of all lords. He declared the Lord is Peace. Peace exists only through Jehovah Shalom, the Lord our Peace.

Jehovah Shalom

Shalom means to be complete, sound, or absent of strife. It represents a peace of mind, heart, and life. We can only experience the peace of God by first experiencing peace with God. Such peace comes as we relinquish control and yield by faith to God’s grace.

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Romans 5:1

God’s peace implies much more than freedom from conflict. It includes prosperity, health, well-being, and faith in the face of conflict. Gideon began to believe more in the invisible God than in the visible danger surrounding him.

The pictographic symbols for shalom would read “to destroy the authority that binds to chaos.” What a powerful image! Let me say that again.

Peace means to destroy the authority that binds us to chaos.

Restoration

Our great redeemer, the Lord is Peace, comes to not only save our souls from eternal destruction but to give us His supernatural peace.

“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 4:7

What is at work to bind us to chaos? What is causing complete disorder and confusion to your life? Are there thought patterns, body habits, or toxic environments?

God didn’t suddenly snatch Gideon out of his situation. Rather, He gave Gideon strategies to overcome in the midst of chaotic circumstances. The Lord is Peace, coming beside us in a similar way. As He spoke to Gideon, He speaks to us, “Peace! Do not be afraid” (Judges 6:23).

Do you feel anxious over present circumstances? Or fear?

God again speaks, “I AM with you. I AM Jehovah Shalom, the Lord is Peace.”

“(I) will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in (Me).”
Isaiah 26:3

Prayer for Peace

Thank You, Lord! We come before You, laying down our chaotic patterns of thinking and functioning. We receive Your supernatural, divine peace. Fill our hearts and minds with the comfort and knowledge of knowing You alone sit on the throne. All dominions, powers, and authorities must bow before You.
Come, Lord. Give us the faith and confidence to trust in the assurance of Your character and Word. You are Jehovah Shalom, the Lord is Peace. Bind and destroy any and every authority that holds us and those around us to chaos. Surround Your children with Your “perfect peace.” May our minds be steadfast, trusting in You.
There is none like You, O God! We worship You before our situation changes. We set our hearts to thank You, giving glory and honor to Your Name. Be exalted in our day, O God.
Amen.

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Becoming — Reaching for Purpose and Meaning

Whether we acknowledge it or not, each one of us is reaching for some kind of purpose and meaning behind our existence. We all subconsciously ask, “Why am I here? What am I supposed to be doing with my life?” We all want our lives to matter.

Recently, I had the tremendous privilege of talking with a group of young adults. They are living centre in the age of pursuit. Some attended university. Other entrepreneurs had begun new businesses. Yet others pursued relationships they hoped would lead to life-long commitment and fulfillment.

One of the young men asked me, “Who do you want to be like?” He explained that keeping someone we desired to emulate in our focus would help us change our lives for the better.

I surprised him with me answer. “I want to be like me. No one in all the world carries the potential to be me. So, I aim to be fully me — the idea God had in mind when He first thought of me.”

“Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.”
1 John 3:2

At first glance, my answer sounds arrogant. But two things have incited the greatest transformation in my life. The first is coming to know God more fully. As I grow to know Him and His heart better, even in the smallest ways, my desire increases to live a reflection of who He is. The second pursues to discover the unique creation God had in mind when He formed me.

Knowing God

Human minds will never comprehend the immensity of glorious God. He is too awesome, too wonderful, too magnificent, too glorious … for us to understand. Yet, He desires to be known. He looks for those curious enough to seek Him.

“‘Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom. Let not the might man glory in his might. Nor let the rich man glory in his riches. But let him who glories glory in this. That he understands and knows Me. That I am the LORD, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight,’ says the LORD.”
Jeremiah 9:23-23 NKJV

God makes Himself clearly visible to those hungry to know Him.

“For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.”
Romans 1:18-20

As we read the Bible, we find these recurring words, “So you may know that I am your God.” I brought you out of bondage so that you may know. It was Me who healed your bodies so that you may know. I gave you this land and established you so that you may know. I continuously make Myself known to you. He is a mystery. Yet, He reveals Himself to us.

The First Steps

So, the first steps come through an awareness of knowing God’s character through His love, faithfulness, grace, and goodness. God awareness inspires so to reach for genuine purpose and meaning. All true purpose and meaning are found in Christ.

We were created in God’s image for divine purpose and meaning. The wise teacher of Ecclesiastes concluded that all the opulence the world could offer stands meaningless in comparison.

“‘Meaningless! Meaningless!’
says the Teacher.
‘Everything is meaningless!’ …
Now all has been heard;
hear is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
for this is the duty of all mankind.”

Ecclesiastes 12:8,13

Are there powerful and successful men and women worth emulating? Yes, of course. Paul invited others, to “imitate me, as I imitate Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). But the greatest One to emulate and imitate is God Himself. As we do, we will find ultimate purpose and calling.

The Second Steps

To walk out the second steps in fulfilling our purpose and calling requires us to discover God’s personal plan for our lives — our God-given identity. However, we can’t turn to biblical reference points for this.

Of all the billions of people only you can be you. You, and I, owe it to God and to each other to be that one. God had his best idea when He created you. No matter how far off that path you may feel you have wandered, you will forever be God’s good idea.

So, who am I? Who are you? Not the present you or me! But the you and me God had in mind before the creation of the world. And yes, He thought of us even then!

“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
Ephesians 2:10

As we walk in relationship with Christ and in obedience to Holy Spirit, we begin to see ourselves through His eyes. As we live with and through Him, He begins to reveal things about ourselves we previously didn’t understand or even know.

It is in His Presence that we become — that we reach our full purpose and meaning. The divine Architect slowly reveals His plans. With each passing season, He desires us to discover a freedom in being and a fulfillment in living. Giftings and passions slowly rise to the surface.

You Fit

We weren’t created for the world, so we will never “fit” in it. But the skin we live in will begin to fit and form around the image He created us to be the closer we walk with Him. Our full purpose comes with eternal design.

As we begin to live with eternity in mind, we will automatically fulfill our earthly calling. This short life stands as a mere preparation for the eternal one to come. Our lives are too short to waste by imitating even the best people around us.

May we each see God in previously unrealized dimensions. May we also grasp in a fuller way, all He designed us to be. Then may we set our hearts to fully reach our God-given purpose and meaning.

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.
Philippians 3:12-13

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The Battle is Already Won — A Song in the Night

What struggle are you facing today? God desires us to know, beyond all doubt, He has already secured our victory through the cross. I read it in the pages of His Word. It resonates through the proverbs of the wise and pen of poets. But often, Holy Spirit confirms our victory through songs He brings in the night.

I wasn’t feeling well yesterday, so I crawled into bed a few hours early to sleep off whatever my body was fighting. Though my body ached, peace filled my mind and heart. Several times in the night, I awoke with a song on my heart, affirming my victorious position in Christ.

“You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”
1 John 4:4

Don’t believe, for a moment, that there is a cosmic war in the heavenlies between Jesus and the citizens of darkness. Jesus Christ absolutely defeated the enemy once and for all. At the cross, Jesus crushed the head of our accuser under His heal.

He took back all the authority and power the enemy stole from humanity. Jesus holds it all. The only weapons the enemy has left are fear and lies, which he uses to manipulate and intimidate God’s children.

Songs in the Night

So, if you are facing a battle, I offer these few songs for your night watch.

“You will not have to fight the battle. Take up your positions, stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you … Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the LORD will be with you.”
2 Chronicles 20:17

Shane & Shane: The Lord Is My Salvation

“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
1 Corinthians 15:57

Shane & Shane: Holy, Holy, Holy (We Bow Before Thee)

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Romans 8:37-39

Shane & Shane: His Mercy Is More

Greatest Weapon

Different types of music resonates more with us than other types and speak to us in different ways. Nonetheless, I intentionally pick up instruments of praise in the midst of battle. The attitude within us and the atmosphere around us will shift as we fix our eyes on Jesus, our Great Conqueror and Defender.

Shane & Shane: He Will Hold Me Fast

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

Shane & Shane: Tis So Sweet

The battle has already been won. May God give us His song in the night. Through Him, every battle has already been won.

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You Belong Here! The Essential Need to Belong

We all possess within us the essential need to belong — to know beyond all doubt that we fit and that others deeply care for us.

Perhaps more than ever before people feel alienated and disconnected. Marriage and family breakdown now represents the cultural norm. Homelessness creates huge concerns in many nations. Increasingly, we see people drift toward subcultures of gangs and alternative communities. Why? Because we all need to belong, even if the belonging comes with destructive and damaging lifestyles.

No matter your age or social status, you belong here.

In the Genesis account of creation, we find a beautiful rhythm and flow. God said. It was so. God saw that it was good. Except for one time! One exception stood in stark contrast.

“The LORD God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”
Genesis 2:18

The Hebrew word for “helper” is ‘ê·zer, meaning counterpart or a part opposite. The word also describes God when He comes to our aid as a help and shield. It expresses a sense of caring community and belonging.

Belonging

A few years ago, I was offered a position where I could utilize my gifts and further stretch my abilities. After a year of minimal input, I resigned. Why? I felt no sense of belonging. These were my people, my clan, but they were too busy to allow for the inclusion of others.

Have you been a part of a group but never felt like you belonged? I think we all have. Perhaps it was your family, a business, an organization, or even a church? Loneliness within a group induces more pain and alienation than the loneliness of actually being alone. God still speaks! His Word has not changed. “It is not good for (anyone) to be alone.”

God designed marriage and the family unit as the primary context for belonging. Despite natural family breakdowns, God secures us into His own eternal family.

Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.”
1 John 3:1-2

All who believe may have different mothers, but we all have the same Father. God has adopted us as His own children into His family.

The Price of Belonging

God fulfilled our essential need to belong through His Son, Jesus Christ.

“For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.”
1 Peter 1:18-19

As proof, God deposited the Holy Spirit in each one of us. His Spirit continues to reassure us that we belong to Him forever.

“Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit guaranteeing what is to come.”
2 Corinthians 5:5

Few things seem more incompatible than the Holy Spirit dwelling within corrupted humanity. Why would God — the perfection of holiness — choose to live in us and desire fellowship with us? Why would He go to such extreme measures to adopt us into His own family?

Met Us

God meets us where we are and as we are despite the wretchedness of our condition. With intense love and grace, He welcomes us. He sees in each face a reflection of beauty and worth — someone of value and dignity. Every person, no matter where they have come from or what they have done, was created by God, for fellowship with God, and for community within His family. Everyone! No exceptions!

“This one will say, ‘I am the LORD’s‘ … And another will write on his hand, ‘Belonging to the LORD …”
Isaiah 44:5

He is our Helper, our ‘ê·zer, who comes to our aid, and fulfills that essential need to belong that is rooted in each of us. In Him, we live secure.

“I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”
John 10:28-30

You Belong

As I write, I am reminded of seasons (some very long seasons) in my own life story where the cup of belonging felt empty. I remember well the pain of feeling abandoned and rejected. Many of you understand the disorientation, grief, and loneliness I’m talking about. Today, that can change!

Others may prove fickle, but God will never leave you.

The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
Deuteronomy 31:8

Father, I ask that every person reading this blog would find the essential need to belong fulfilled through You. May they personally sense Your ‘ê·zer — that You are present to aid, help, and shield them. Plant each one in communities of love and compassion. Holy Spirit speak gently to everyone, bringing them to health and wholeness. Give them courage to abandon unhealthly communities that will ultimately produce increased pain and loss. Surround them with people who see beyond exterior facades, or roughness, and minister to their deep need to belong. Convince each one of their value in Your eyes. Root them in Your love and goodness.
Amen.

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Possess our Full Potential — Claim our Inheritance

What if we received notification that we possess the rights to a massive estate. Would we claim our inheritance? Whether we realize it or not, we have been given just such an opportunity. What will we do?

After careful investigation, we would probably verify the potential and proceed to stake our claim. But what if taking possession of the inheritance demanded extreme effort or involved high risk? What if it required us to step into situations we’ve never experienced or feel unqualified to do? We might have to fight for it, defend it, or develop new skills to exercise it.

To possess our full potential rarely, if ever, comes easy, served on a silver platter. Consequently, few rarely achieve full potential. The children of Israel give us a perfect example.

“See, the LORD your God has given you the land. Go up and take possession of it as the LORD, the God of your ancestors, told you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
Deuteronomy 1:21

God explicitly defined the inheritance. He unequivocally tells them it is theirs for the taking. Yet history proves they never fully took possession of what God had given to them.

A Gift

We often view boundaries as limitations. But God establishes wide boundaries for us. David sang,

“He brought me out into a spacious place;
he rescued me because he delighted in me.”
Psalm 18:19

In Psalm 31:8, he rephrased it. “You have not given me into the hands of the enemy but have set my feet in a spacious place.” The inheritance God offers us, not just for eternity, but now, spreads farther and wider than we could imagine.

This weekend I attended a prestigious art show, including the best works of the best artists who display in the best galleries across our province. I came away disappointed. Though the artistry within many pieces was clearly visible, something was lacking. As a amateur artist, I sensed a missing ingredient through these skilled and acclaimed artisans— something that training and natural ability cannot provide.

For them and for us, to possess our full potential, we must claim our inheritance in and through Christ. That complete inheritance comes only by cooperating with and through the Holy Spirit’s divine leading and insight. It’s a gift! A divine opportunity grasped by many, even though it is available to all.

This isn’t about art but applies to every aspect of life. Working with God and in obedience to Him will open access to potential no one and nothing else could offer.

Go Up

This may seem obvious, but we only receive our inheritance by reaching for and laying hold of it. Though a gift from God, we must rise to the occasion to accept it.

As long as Israel walked with God and followed His leading, they succeeded. They began well. They achieved much. But they settled for less. Too soon, they forgot to fight and cushioned themselves in comfort.

Several years ago, after an mental breakdown, my counsellor said, “Healing may cost you more than you are willing to pay. It may even cost you your marriage.” But after decades of walking in the desert of depression, I knew I couldn’t turn back. It was all or nothing — life or death. Whatever it took, I headed toward freedom and wholeness.

God beckons us forward — to leave the desert of whatever has held us back. For each of us adversity looks different. But the way the enemy uses it to steal, kill, and destroy our potential will bear similarities. It’s time! Let’s all go up and claim our inheritance.

Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you.”
Isaiah 60:1

Take Possession

The smallest child creates ingenious ways to reach cookies on even the highest shelf. They stretch their limits, pursuing their desire with undistracted focus. Who among us dares to take that cookie out of the hand of a child? Good luck!!! Once they have taken possession, you can expect screaming, kicking, and flailing to maintain their grasp. Adult size and strength fail to intimidate them. Am I right?

We aren’t fighting for cookies! We fight a battle for a much more significant potential — to claim our inheritance. I am grieved over how much potential I have left to pursue so late in life. Whether young or not-so-young, God prompts all who will listen, “Go up and take possession.”

Like a fearless child, let’s reach for and grasp all God has for us and for our children after us. The effect of our efforts reaches far beyond ourselves. Our victory will become the victory of others.

“Do not be afraid. Do not be discouraged.”
Deuteronomy 1:21

Once that little child tastes a cookie, cookies are all they want. Once we taste the goodness and generosity of God, nothing else will satisfy. Fear won’t stop us! Discouragement won’t stand in our way!

May we learn a lesson from those who quit too soon and settled for mediocrity (Joshua 17). May we possess a willingness to do whatever God calls us to do and to go wherever He calls us to go. It’s not too late to claim our inheritance.

Prayer

Father, we come asking, seeking, and knocking. We come, claiming our inheritance. You have promised us more than we presently experience. Strengthen our feeble faith as we press into more of You in every dimension. We break agreement with apathy, refusing to settle for less. We choose to cooperate with Heaven’s agenda and God’s purpose until we reach our full kingdom potential. Because You have made us strong and courageous, we cancel all alignment with fear and discouragement. You have made us strong and courageous. We lift our eyes beyond adversity to You, for You are where our help comes from. May the world be astounded as You unleash Your inheritance to and through us, seeing Your kingdom come on Earth as it is in Heaven. We lay aside excuses and abandon comfort. Picking up the weapons of warfare, we set our sights to take possession of all You have for us. We are here to claim our inheritance. No matter what it takes. We will not turn around or back down now!

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