A Time for War and a Time for Peace

Time for War

Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers,” but is there a right time for war? If so, when, why, and how do we take our stand?

King Solomon wrote,

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens . . . a time for war and a time for peace.”
Ecclesiastes 3:1,8

The older I get, the less things appear worth fighting for — either to fight to win or to risk losing. Battles must be chosen wisely and fought strategically. Whether as willing or reluctant soldiers, God has enlisted Christians into a much larger engagement than we often realize.

Jesus forewarned His followers that satan, who was bent on destroying Him, would also engage in formal military combat against us.

Only two territories exist — the Kingdom of Light and the kingdom of darkness. No neutral ground exists. Though defeated, satan continues guerilla warfare to discourage and sidetrack the children of God.

Paul called his spiritual son, Timothy, onto the battlefield when he said,

Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer.”
2 Timothy 2:4

Faith

It is a fight our Commanding Officer, Jesus Christ, already won for us. Because we win, it is a good fight!

“Fight the good fight of true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you. which you have declared so well before many witnesses.”
I Timothy 6:12

Paul writes this instruction near the end of his long fought battle of true faith. Second Corinthians 11:23-28 vividly describes Paul’s combat: imprisonment, countless beatings, often near death, five times forty lashes minus one, stoned, three times shipwrecked, night and day adrift at sea, frequent journeys, dangers of river, robbers, from Jews, Gentiles, and false brothers, in the city and in the wilderness. Then add toil and hardship, sleepless nights, hunger and thirst, cold and exposure, plus the daily pressure of caring for the churches.

Paul encourages Timothy to fight the same way — not with traditional weapons of war, but with courage, dedication, and standing for true faith.

Believing and trusting in Jesus Christ eternally secures our place in heaven, but few people will fight for a belief! To fight the good fight of faith, we need a deep-seated conviction — a conviction for which we are willing to risk our lives. When faith is threatened, it is time for war.

Marriage and Family

My husband and I recently celebrated our fiftieth wedding anniversary. We have fought many battles to reach that milestone.

Although we both have an aversion to engage issues head on, we have learned that for a relationship to not just survive, but thrive, is to fight for what is most loving, most honorable, and most life-giving in our relationship.

The Bible offers solid advice.

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”
Romans 12:18

Flies hang around garbage. It is a fact of nature. Everyone within relationship must be willing to deal with their own pile of refuse — garbage attitudes, garbage goals, garbage agendas, garbage emotional triggers . . . At times, I am shocked how much garbage I willingly drag around!

But when people lack willingness to tackle their own issues, peaceful co-existence becomes extremely difficult or even impossible. Whatever depends on me, is mine to correct with the help of the Holy Spirit.

The faint of heart shrink back, blame, and avoid. The courageous enter the battle and grapple with issues that threaten the integrity of relationships such as marriage, family, and friendships.

To protect these important relationships, we must discern the time for war.

The Internal Battle

Often, our greatest battles come from within.

Again, Paul defines this battle so well:

“So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me.”
Romans 7:21-23

Every Christian fights this war “within” — the war between our carnal nature and the Spirit of Christ. The battle continues until we enter heaven’s gates in ultimate triumph.

With all our hearts we desire to please and obey our Commanding Officer, Jesus. Yet our selfish nature demands its own way. At times, we boldly hold the winning line. While at other times, we succumb to old patterns!

“What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death! Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
Romans 7:27

Since Christ has already triumphed, He carries us through to victory. No matter how it appears at the moment, He will ultimately deliver us from this conflict between our sinful nature and the holy desire of the Spirit within us.

Every day is a time to war this strategic battle. Just as Jesus’ win became ours, our wins become the encouragement for others within the ranks.

A Time to War

Every campaign narrows down to the fight between good and evil, the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of darkness. Whether the battle openly shows up in our relationships or hides deep within our hearts, we must continue to fight, not in our own strength or through natural means, but through Jesus Christ.

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.”
2 Corinthians 10:3-4

The moment we pick up earthly weapons, we lose our grip on divinely powerful ones. God equips us with something far more than angry words, manipulative tactics, or military might. He gives each of His followers powerful spiritual weapons in our arsenal.

As we fight, staying in tune with the Spirit, both internal and external strongholds must crumble and fall. Ephesians 6:10-18 more clearly defines our weapons. They are worth repeating here:

Entire books have been written on the significance of our spiritual weaponry. When it is time to war, let us confront with truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, and the Word of God — implementing each through fervent prayer.

Victory

Jesus engaged in the bloodiest altercation ever fought. He came forth victorious. Because He overcame, rising triumphant over the horrendous onslaught of satan, death and hell, we, too, face every adversary from victory’s side.

Today, we come to Him not for victory, but from victory!

Rise up, saint of God. You are mighty for the task! It is time for war!

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5 Ways to Overcome Adversity — Part 2

We all face various levels of distress, trouble, and hardship. Today, we look at five ways to overcome adversity, no matter the source.

Yesterday during prayer, I saw a vision of a paved, mountainous road completely covered with huge boulders. Many people attempted to navigate the road, pain-stakingly climbing over boulder after boulder. Fatigued and weary, some had already given up. Their garments hung torn from their frail bodies, exposing scaped arms and legs. Then I saw sand being poured out over the boulders, filling in the crevices between the rocks and making the road smooth. Although the boulders remained, the road became easily passable.

Through the vision God showed me the plight of many people — weary from struggle, battered from their efforts, and on the verge of giving up. Perhaps, you face similar circumstances. The road ahead seems too rough and your strength too little.

From Genesis to Revelation, we read of many people who also faced insurmountable odds. Their examples continue to speak encouragement to us all.

#1 Stand in Battle

As Christians, we fight a real battle against a real enemy who attempts to slow or stop our progress. He comes to steal, kill, and destroy at every level. As Christ followers, we position ourselves with others on the battlefield, not on a relaxing sunny beach.

Paul encouraged young Timothy,

Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer.”
2 Timothy 2:3-4

Matthew 4:1-11, Mark 1:9-13, and Luke 4:1-13, all record Satan’s attack on Jesus to destroy His mission before He even began. Jesus stood His ground. His only weapon was the Word of God.

“Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.”
Matthew 4:11

Luke uses the Greek word apeste for “left him,” meaning “retreat, desert, or remove.” I love that! Jesus stood His ground until the enemy turned tail and ran! Immediately, angels moved in to minister to Jesus. As the devil fled the scene, God figuratively poured sand over the rugged road for Jesus to walk upon.

May we learn from our Master and stand upon the unchanging Word of God as we, too, overcome adversity.

At the end of his life, the mighty warrior and military leader, Joshua, declared,

“Now I am about to go the way of all the earth. You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the LORD your God gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed.” Joshua 23:14

#2 Persevere

In the vision, some people were sitting on the rocks their heads bent in defeat. Others were standing on the boulders. They appeared to be immobilized — uncertain whether to go back or move forward.

Most of us have heard or seen illustrations of people giving up just before they uncover a treasure, or on the edge of breakthrough. But when we are the ones broken and weary, perseverance seems trite or even cruel.

“Similarly, anyone who competes as an athlete does not receive the victor’s crown except by competing according to the rules.”
2 Timothy 2:5

Every successful athlete undergoes strict training. Few, if any, athletes enjoy the discipline required. They all look to the end goal — “the victor’s crown,” a gold metal, a personal best, public recognition, or reward. And so, they persevere through arduous training, preparing themselves physically and psychologically to excel.

Perseverance perfectly describes both athletes and Christians, who give continued effort to achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition.

As we overcome adversity through perseverance, God pours more sand upon our path, smoothing our way.

#3 Choose Joy

Jesus again becomes our prime example.

“Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of fath. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
Hebrews 12:2-3

No one will ever undergo what Jesus endured. Words fail to define the fullness of what He bore as He carried the weight of every sin committed to set humanity free and declared righteous before Holy God.

How did He do it? With joy! In joy! Through joy!

During times when my boulders, though small by comparison, seemed insurmountable, as I chose joy, God poured sand upon my path, creating a way to press through rough territory and eventually overcome. Joy is a choice — a decision of the will. In Christ, joy becomes a viable option.

Paul wrote to a church under extreme persecution the following words:

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 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 4:4-8

#4 Focus Forward

In the vision, the people near the beginning clawed their way up the rocks inch by inch. While further along, others took giant leaps of faith from one boulder to another. I feared they would miss the mark and become wedged between the boulders. Yet, they moved with a capacity beyond natural ability. More often than not, as they lept forward sand filled the chasms between the boulders. Even their misses weren’t fatal. Solid ground appeared beneath them, enabling them to more easily ascend the boulders.

Along this stretch of road, no one looked back. They all focused forward. They experienced God’s supernatural intervention enough to increase their faith for what was ahead.

No longer focused on the boulders, their gaze fixed on the bigness of God. Rather than the adversity, they looked to the God possibility ahead. Perhaps, these are the ones Jeremiah spoke about,


“I will give them a heart to know Me, for I am the LORD; and they will be My people, and I will be their God, for they will return to Me with their whole heart.”
Jeremiah 24:7

#5 Take Courage

As more and more sand filled the gaps and covered the rocks, the boulders became completely concealed beneath the sand. The road, once cluttered and impassable now became level. Not smooth black pavement but soft pliable sand softened the travellers’ footsteps.

These now walked unhindered with confidence and boldness. They knew, beyond a doubt, God enabled every step. He was with them.

As Joshua assumed leadership, replacing Moses, Moses commanded him,

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you not forsake you.”
Deuteronomy 21:6

To overcome adversity, we must possess an abiding assurance and an unwavering awareness, that God is with us. The same miracle-moving God who parted the Red Sea walks with us. God, who empowered people of old to overcome, works the impossible on our behalf. The same power that raised Jesus from the dead, lives in us.

Overcome Adversity

In the vision, the forerunners, those who were making the most progress, encouraged those who followed as they pressed ahead. The weak drew strength from the strong. The fearful found hope in the courageous. Confused travellers regained direction from the focused leaders.

No matter what “boulders” you are attempting to overcome, may Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians encourage you.

“My heart is always full and overflowing with thanks to God for you as I constantly remember you in my prayers. I pray that the Father of glory, the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, would impart to you the riches of the Spirit of wisdom and the Spirit of revelation to know him through your deepening intimacy with him. I pray that the light of God will illuminate the eyes of your imagination, flooding you with light, until you experience the full revelation of the hope of his calling — that is, the wealth of God’s glorious inheritances that he finds in us, his holy ones! I pray that you will continually experience the immeasurable greatness of God’s power made available to you through faith. Then your lives will be an advertisement of this immense power as it works through you! This is the mighty power that was released when God raised Christ from the dead and exalted him to the place of highest honor and supreme authority in the heavenly realm! And now he is exalted as first above every ruler, authority, government, and realm of power in existence! He is gloriously enthroned over every name that is ever praised, not only in this age, but in the age that is coming!”
Ephesians 1:16-21 TPT

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The Middle of the Camp — What Centers My Life?

What centers my life? What anchors me through different seasons? We all center daily tasks and assignments around priorities. What are mine?

As I read Numbers chapter 2, God reminded me how He specifically ordained the order of how the tribes of Israel were to camp. Whether they stayed for a night or for an entire year, a consistent pattern was established for setting up camp.

“The Israelites are to camp around the tent of meeting some distance from it, each of them under their standard and holding the banners of their family.”
Numbers 2:2

I envision their family tents positioned with their doors opening towards the epicenter of the camp. Every morning when they began a new day, the first thing they saw was the Tabernacle where God’s Presence rested among them.

There God stayed at the core of all activities, social functions, and worship. What a beautiful image!

The Center

The word center often refers to a noun — a person, place, or thing. What person, place or thing occupies the core of my activities? I desire it to be God, but is He?

I understand the mutual struggles we face. The pressures of parenting and providing for our families demands immediate attention and time. Probably, the most tangible way to honor God comes through faithfully caring for the practical needs of those close to us.

But even within the Israelite camp, grouped by families, every face turned towards God’s tabernacle.

“I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me.”
Deuteronomy 5:6-7

When God alone is the center, the Person we worship, the place we look to, and the main component in our lives, everything else will move in synchronized harmony.

Is it God who centers our lives?

The Central Point

Our hearts fill the central position of our physical bodies — protected by skeletal structure and muscles. From this central point the whole body is nourished and sustained. When the heart functions well, the entire body benefits. The same holds true for our spiritual well being.

I find it a constant battle to keep God as my central point. External demands constantly pull and pressure me to relinguish this prime location to lesser things.

“The LORD is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.”
Psalm 28:7

God helps us form practical ways to bring Him to the center.

  • Daily routine of Bible reading and prayer, seeking God’s wisdom and direction. (For me, the best time is first thing in the morning, before the rush hits!)
  • Accountability! When my time is under a lot of pressure, I ask others to pray for and check in on me. They hold me accountable to keep God first when time is stretched thin or when disappointments and discouragements drain me.
  • Mentorship has been one of the key things to help keep me on track. Whether I am mentoring others or being mentored, mutual benefits produce the desired consistency.
  • The example of other more recent giants in the faith also inspire me to pursue a centered lifestyle.

Keeping God as the central point requires intentional effort — an effort that pays spiritual dividends. But I ask again, “What centers my life?”

Centered

Whether used as a noun, adjective, or verb, God fulfills each application of the word center. Even as the camp moved from one place to another, they centered themselves around God.

“Then the tent of meeting and the camp of the Levites will set out in the middle of the camps. They will set out in the same order as they encamp, each in their own place . . . ”
Numbers 2:17

God never sits stagnantly by! He goes with us. Or more accurately, we go with Him.

From the center He directed the camp with a pillar of fire by night and cloud by day.

Are our homes centered around God? Do we pray together. Do we read, watch, and listen to God-honoring entertainment? Are our homes open and available for God to use for the encouraging of His body, the building of His church, and the advancing of His Kingdom?

Is my business or occupation centered around God? Do I ask God for His strategies and ideas to build and expand my business? How well do I live my faith in the marketplace with honesty and integrity? Am I committed to praying for those I work with and for? Do I consistently tithe from the returns?

Do I welcome God as part of recreation and relaxation, or do I confine Him to church and formal worship?

The Question

When I honestly answer these questions and more, I discover what centers my life? Then I can lift God to His rightful place. Adjustments might be necessary. Realignment may be needed in one or more areas.

God speaks to us today as clearly as He spoke to His displaced people wandering through that harsh wilderness environment. He invites us to include Him in every aspect of our lives, repositioning Him to become central to everything we are and do.

God will never abandon us. He fills us with His Presence, instructs us through His Word, and guides us with His loving hand. When we center Him over our lives, boldness and confidence mark our steps. He comes along side, helping us and giving us the capacity to live well in community and to thrive wherever He plants us.

What about you? What effective ways have you discovered to live a God-centered life?

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Jesus Christ, The Source of All Hope

Without hope the human soul withers and dies. The Source of all hope waits with open arms, whispering to the faint and weary, “Come to Me.” The need for hope rivals the basic necessities for food, water, and shelter.

These last few years have drained so many people of aspirations, expections, and ambitions. A loss of confidence in once reliable systems of government, justice, education, and medicine has created a deep void in many people’s lives. Hope has become a rare commodity for a vast segment of our population. The things once believed possible now appear as a cruel mirage.

We have all faced significant losses. Loved ones have gone through the portal of death, businesses have collapsed, and deep divisions have formed within families. The societal cost cannot be overstated.

We have learned again that confidence placed in anything or anyone other than Jesus Christ will produce disappointment and discouragement. He alone is the Source of all hope.

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

I have overcome the crushing feelings of hopelessness and despair. For many years, they were my constant companions of gloom. Not any more!

Lost Hope

Recently, someone commented on a post I had written a few years ago. He felt the suffocating reality of hopelessness. On the verge of ending his life, God led him to read the words within the post that pointed Him to faith in Christ. As a result, he prayed, accepting Jesus as His Lord and Savior, and turned his life over to God. The hopelessness lifted as he found his Source of all hope in Jesus.

This morning, another young man contacted me. A short time ago, he too received Jesus as Savior, but he has gradually turned back to old and harmful ways of living and thinking. The hope he once felt has become distant and illusive. God is shining His light on this young man’s path and calling him to return. Both the choice and the consequences of his choice are his.

A long time ago, I too experienced enough of God’s love and grace to embrace it. Yet, the overwhelming circumstances of life and the nagging voices of shame seemed too strong to endure. I too turned from God, attempting to find another way. The choice of going my way led to decades of depression, suicidal thoughts, and deep spiritual darkness.

“May your unfailing love be with us, LORD, even as we put our hope in you.”
Psalm 33:22

The moment I turned back to God, surrendering completely to Him, His light broke through the fog of despair. He will do the same for you.

Healing Hope

As we turn our lives over to Jesus Christ, the Source of all hope, aspirations, expections, and ambitions become re-centered around and in Him. Renewed hope becomes an unshakable anchor that holds fast through even the most difficult life circumstances.

May Holy Spirit open our eyes wide to know this hope!

“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people.”
Ephesians 1:18

The road to hopelessness turns steeply into an abyss. The path out usually takes time, effort, and grace. While there may be an instantaneous and supernatural lightening of grief and despair, at the same time persevering faith will bring us fully through.

Path of Hope

For me, and many others, strategic steps propel us to solid ground where renewed joy and anticipation reign.

” ‘The LORD is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I hope in Him!’ “
Lamentations 3:24

  1. Consistent prayer, Bible reading, and mediation — There is no substitute for a healthy, vibrant, personal relationship with Jesus Christ, as we talk with Him and He talks with us.
  2. Supportive Christian community — The potential to thrive exists within a body of believers where honest, open relationships develop. Healthy churches produce healthy people, growing in faith through discipleship training and prayer support.
  3. Forgiveness toward others and the relinquishing of judgment — Past wounds heal only through forgiveness. As we forgive we will also be able to abandon any thoughts of judging those who have hurt us.
  4. Practice humility — Pride will continually hold us in shame and guilt. As we humbly acknowledge our needs before God and other believers, we gain freedom. The supportive structures within church community help us overcome.
  5. Serve — Even those new in their faith will reap the benefits of volunteering in the local church. Others need us as much as we need them. Through acts of service we develop strong mutual friendships, grow in areas of gifting, and become a vital part of a faith community.

Each one of these steps may initially appear overwhelming, but one at a time, little-by-little, they empower us, enabling us to believe and hope again.

Always Hope

With Jesus, hope always wins.

“But those who wait for the LORD [who expect, look for, and hope in Him] will gain new strength and renew their power; they will lift up their wings[and rise up close to God] like eagles [rising toward the sun]. They will run and not become weary (and) walk and not grow tired.”
Isaiah 40:31 AMP

At first, the truth of this verse may sound like a far reach. The more we allow it to seep into our spirit, the more it becomes our practical experience. Today, God extends renewed strength and promise to us. In Him, broken wings are mended, becoming strong enough to soar. Weariness falls away and faint hearts find courage to hope again.

Whether the loss of hope originated through broken relationships, addictive behaviors, financial pressures or any other cause, Jesus is the Source of renewed hope. In every area, He brings us to victory.

I pray that today a fresh wind of hope sweeps into your soul, dissipating every lie of the enemy that speaks contrary to God’s truth. May you hear the whisper of God calling you to Himself. It is not too late. You haven’t roamed to far from Him. His good plans for you haven’t changed.

” ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ ”
Jeremiah 29:11

Jesus Christ, the Source of all hope, holds a future filled with hope for you. May God give you the courage to reach out and receive it.

Blessings, my friend.

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God’s Grace — Surpassing, Superabounding Grace

God’s Grace — His supernatural, surpassing, superabounding grace is available for us all. Today, is a day of grace.

The local news channel told how a venomous snake hitched a ride several hundred miles in the undercarriage of a Ferrari. The Northern Pacific Rattlesnake ranks as the most venomous snake in the regions. After the Ferrari was parked back in the showroom, the snake decided to explore its new surroundings.

Can you imagine the shock of the employees when they returned the next morning? Yikes!

Veterinarians returned the snake to its rightful habitat, employees resumed showroom routines, and all ended without incident. The account started me thinking about what might be riding along unnoticed in the undercarriage of my life. Would people be shocked if they knew?

I know of few “rattlers” like insecurity, pride, unforgiveness, and critical judgment that slither up in unwelcome fashion at unpredictable times. Hopefully other useful attributes like confidence, humility, diligence, graciousness, and mercy slide out from hiding as well.

Without exaggeration, I hate snakes! I also hate the sin and its ugly components which incessantly slither through the undercurrents of life. But God’s grace surpasses and superabounds over it all!

This morning I read this encouraging passage from the Amplified Bible:

“But where sin increased and abounded, grace (God’s unmerited favor) has surpassed it and increased the more and surperabounded.”
Romans 5:20b

However great sin becomes, grace surpasses, increases, and superabounds more. Praise the Lord!

God’s Grace

As Paul writes to the Roman church, he quickly shines the spotlight on what everyone desperately tried to ignore.

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
Romans 3:23

In fact, Paul went into great detail to demonstrate how prolific sin reigns. He clearly states no person, nor any group of people, stands clear of indictment. No one meets God’s standard. Paul doesn’t end the conversation there, however. He immediately offers hope — the single but sturdy thread of hope found in Jesus Christ.

Listen to the whole passage:

“This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. And all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”
Romans 3:24

Righteousness

As we honestly look at ourselves, we recognize we possess no righteousness of our own. Yet for those who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, God declares them righteous because of what He has, not we have, done.

To be righteous simply means to be in right standing with God. Apart from Jesus, it is impossible. In Him, righteousness becomes completely possible!

Someone once explained “justified” as being “just as if I had never sinned.” The definition may not form a complete understanding, but it captures the essence.

God desires us all to experience His righteousness.

“The fruit of that righteousness will be peace: its effect will be quietness and confidence forever.”
Isaiah 32:17

Nobody merits God’s righteousness through a good life filled with good deeds. Matthew encourages us to prioritize seeking God’s righteousness.

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.”
Matthew 6:33

By God’s grace, He extends righteousness to us through Jesus Christ.

God’s Grace

Though God’s grace stands available “to all,” not “all” will receive it. Not everyone will acknowledge their need of God’s grace. Sadly, not everyone seeks it.

The Amplified Bible calls God’s grace “unmerited favor.” Other definitions include God’s life, power, and righteousness given by unmerited favor. Grace is translated from the Hebrew word chanan or the Greek word charis. It means “a state of kindness and favor toward someone, often with a focus on a benefit given.” Even here the definition falls short unless we also consider the inclusion of God’s love and mercy.

We call it God’s grace because grace is not just what He does, but who God is. God is gracious!

“The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. The LORD is good to all: he has compassion on all he has made.”
Psalm 145:8-9

Out of the overlow of God’s goodness, He extends His grace and compassion “to all he has made.”

Through Jesus

Paul explains that God’s grace flows through the channel of faith — faith in Jesus Christ through His death and resurrection.

“If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.”
Romans 10:9-10

We access God’s grace through a verbal declaration of faith in Jesus Christ that honestly professes the belief of our heart. It is a simple but profound transition that I certainly don’t fully understand and cannot fully explain — a supernatural transition of God’s overflowing, superabounding mercy, love, and goodness.

Thank God

Maybe you have received this transition of God’s grace into your life decades ago. Perhaps, you first experienced it only yesterday! It doesn’t matter. Let’s thank Him for doing for, and in, us what we could never do for ourselves. The deadly snakes that once road on our “undercarriage” hide no more. God’s grace has come.

Perhaps this is new to you. If so, simply tell God in your own words what is stirring within your heart. Seek His grace by declaring your faith in Jesus Christ, even right now. We don’t need fancy words or scripted prayer. Just honestly tell God your desire to know His grace personally.

As we appreciate and enjoy God’s grace, it will transform our lives!

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“What if?” — Two Words Can Change A Life

What if something as small as two words could change the trajectory of your life, improve your relationships, bring increased joy and renew purpose. Maybe you think I am exaggerating, but honestly, I’m not.

Twelve years ago, my husband and I refused to retire and chose to repurpose our lives instead. We shifted from business owners to working for paychecks and shedding the load of business responsibilities. Then just five years ago God interrupted our pleasant lives with what seemed like an impossible proposition. There was a sudden urgency to publish a “children’s” book.

Others encouraged me. However, the pressures of full time work, ministry obigations, and family life squeezed the majority of my time and energy. Eventually, I resigned from work to give writing and publishing complete focus. After jumping into the deep waters of unknown outcomes, persevering through disappointments, frustrations, and many tears, Olivia & Me was published in 2017.

What a journey! It was like running a marathon without training. Whether stubbornness, frugality, or simply the quest to learn, determination ultimately pushed me into the diverse and “techy” processes involved in website development, writing, formating, book design for interior copy, graphic design for covers, coordinating with printers, and forming marketing strategies.

Now just five years later, the eighth book, Great and Awesome God is in the publishing queue. When we are willing to give God our “Yes, Lord!” anything is possible!

“The LORD makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him: though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with his hand.”
Psalm 37:23

Stumbling

Honestly, stumbles and trips still occur almost daily. Even now, I struggle to overcome many obstacles — some internal and others external. But “what if” my roadblocks became highways to success.

These two little words are capable of changing anyone’s perception, even mine!

We all know the voice of our internal critic.

  • You are not enough!
  • Nobody will buy these.
  • You will make a fool of yourself.
  • This is nothing but a waste of money.
  • You have no training for this.

However loud your harassing voice, we all have the ability to silence it.

  • What if God is enough!
  • And what if people buy them and are encouraged?
  • What if others grow spiritually, even if at times I might look foolish?
  • Or what if the money spent becomes an investment into the eternal futures of people?
  • What if I seek training, engage in writer’s groups for support, and God does fill in the gaps with His wisdom and the help of others?

“Jesus replied, ‘What is impossible with man is possible with God.'”
Luke 18:27

These two little words exceed any positive thinking strategy. They open a heart and mind to trust God for His possibilities worked in and through our lives. The only thing we have to offer Him is a segment of our time and limited resources.

Possibilities

Although creativity infused my life in a multitude of ways and I had once played around with oil paints, my inner critic told me (in no uncertain terms) I could not illustrate a book. After my husband bought $350 worth of watercolor paints and supplies for me, I cried, absolutely convinced it was a waste.

One step at a time, God led me like a little child to create color charts by blending one color with another and to watch numerous online tutorials.

Alone one day, when no one could watch me fail, I sat with a broken HB2 pencil and began to sketch the image of a baby. To my astonishment, a beautiful face began to appear on the paper! What if this was possible, thoughts broke through the inner voice of condemnation. What if God is all I need . . . and more!

These two little words, “what if,” transformed my pessimistic mindset to one of God possibility.

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.”
Ephesians 3:20

There Is More

We all face daily challenges.

As covid restricted personal contact with people, my confidence took a nose dive — especially in the area of markteting. In person meetings gave people opportunity to see me, hear the message, and develop trust. On line, however, seemed cold, detached, and artificial. To propel me through the challenges, God connected me to Christian Book Academy, where I found support, prayer, and strategic tools.

What familiar chant does your critic play through your thoughts, pointing out roadblocks and limitations. It may be saying something like:

  • Your marriage is doomed to fail.
  • Your business is about to collapse.
  • You will never survive that blunder.

And more and more . . .

Last week God encouraged me to make a list of critical and negative thought patterns. Then with a stroke of the pen, He led me to create a different outcome beginning with “What if . . .” What if God works through us to establish a beautiful, healthy marriage? What if this downturn is actually for a longterm benefit? With God, even my greatest mistakes become what if possibilities for character develop and lessons learned.

“Jesus replied, ‘Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will done. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”
Matthew 21:21-22

Faith Rising

This may sound foolish, but by the end of the exercise, I was high-fiving, fist-pumping, and cheering in triumph around my living room. (Fortunately, there were no cameras present!) God strengthened my faith, blowing the lid off perceived limitations.

Everything becomes possible with God on our team!

I would encourage you to make your own list. Then give God room to fill in the “what if” over your situations, relationships, businesses, dreams, and desires.

I pray that by sharing my simple experience you will find courage to transform negative thinking into God thoughts over your life. May you have faith to believe in God possibilities. What if your roadblocks are God’s highways to something great? What if your difficult season propels you something better than you could imagine?

May we al give ourselves permission to believe the “what if” thoughts of God!

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Christianity — The Greatest Movement in History

Christianity - The Greatest Movement in History

Time has proven the greatest movement in history has undeniably been the sustained growth and expansion of Christian faith, despite extreme persecution of its followers by oppressive regimes to eradicate it.

The ministry of Jesus spanned three short years. Yet today, roughly one third of the world’s population profess some form of Christianity — about 2.38 billion people according to the last count. Rather than a diminishing belief, people are coming to faith in Jesus Christ in greater numbers now than ever before.

Shortly after Jesus’ crucifixion, women approached his tomb to mourn and give Him a proper burial. How shocked they must have been at the angel’s announcement,

” . . . Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.”
Matthew 28:5

Many people still believe Jesus to be dead, buried, and gone. Oh, how wrong their perception! Both He and His church are alive and well!

Just As He Said

On multiple occasions, Jesus forewarned His disciples about His death and ressurrection. He prepared them for the future, telling of many things yet to occur. Rather than the church weakening or becoming just-another-religious organization in His absence, He said Christianity would become a powerful, unflinching force that would neither cower nor bow.

“And from the time John the Baptist began preaching until now, the Kingdom of Heaven has been forcefully advancing, and violent people are attacking it.”
Matthew 11:12 NLT

All the original apostles, except for Judas, Jesus’ betrayer, gave their lives for the sake of the Gospel. Faith in Jesus, rather than fear of political or religious leaders, drove them to ferociously defend and advance the Kingdom of God.

“We are certainly not those who are held back by fear and perish; we are among those who have faith and experience true life.”
Hebrews 11:39 TPT

The same attitude embodies Christians around the world today. Christianity remains the greatest movement throughout history.

Greater Works

It is difficult to comprehend Jesus’ promise that His followers would continue and exceed the ministry He began.

“Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.”
John 14:12

Greater works than Jesus? Since Jesus said it, we can confidently believe.

Jesus didn’t leave us powerless. The indwelling Holy Spirit continues to flow through those who follow Him. Holy Spirit working within believers accomplishes the same things Jesus did when He walked among humanity. Now, with Jesus’ followers numbering in the billions, greater works are being done. Billions of Spirit-filled believers actively carry out His mandate around the world.

Much Fruit

The greatest movement in history continues to flourish and dominate social cultures and political landscapes, not apart from Jesus, but through Him, by Him, and for His glory.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
John 15:5

In a recent dream, I saw a large, open field. I knew the land was once rolling terrain, dotted with sandy hills in some areas and wasted swamp in others. Yet, now the flat field produced an extremely thick crop of plump wheat. The ripe heads of wheat were thicker and fuller than any natural wheat heads. It was a supernatural crop. As the legal owner of the land, I knew it was my responsibility to bring in the harvest — an impossible task to accomplish on my own. This supernatural harvest would require a supernatural team, including Jesus and others.

Together

John records Jesus’ prayer — first for Himself, then for His followers, and finally for future believers (like you and me).

” . . . I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one — I in them and you in me — so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”
John 17:20-23

This unity between believers from diverse denominations, complex cultures, and numerable nations creates a synergy, adding momentum to the greatest movement in history and bringing in the supernatural harvest. Christian unity offers people everywhere a visual demonstration that Jesus is alive.

Jesus continues to visit people through dreams and vision, supernatural healings, signs, and wonders. Borders cannot stop His entrance. Governments cannot stop His movement. His is alive! His church is growing exponentially in numbers and maturity. He compared it to yeast working through dough,

” . . . The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough.”
Matthew 13:33

Do Not Be Afraid

Sixty pounds of flour is a whole lot of flour! Once blended in, yeast can never be separated from the dough

The first words the angels spoke continue to resonate, “Do not be afraid!” Jesus continues to lead His church to victory! Rather than standing off in obscurity, He actively moves among us, drawing the prodigals home, opening the ears and eyes of the spiritually deaf and blind, while softening even the hardest of hearts.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
Joshua 1:9

Oh, precious reader, take courage! You are not alone! Wherever you live, God is with you. If you have declared Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you belong to His amazing powerful Church, the greatest movement in history.

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Fresh Air! A Fresh Wind Is Blowing

What memory or image most clearly represents “fresh air” to you? Is it mountains, forests, or laying in a hammock beside a lake? Developers and marketers attempt to package and advertise their latest scent to entice you into buying everything from laundry detergent to shoes. Why? Our nose knows!

When I close my eyes asking God for alert spiritual senses, I “smell” a shifting aroma that excites my spirit. I smell a fresh wind blowing, swooping across the nations of the world. It is starting almost imperceptibly, building strength, riding the prayers of God’s people of all nationalities, disrespecting political boundaries or earthly terrain. Like a powerful stallion sent from heaven, it comes — unbridled and free.

Long ago, in another land, a wind blew.

“Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.”
Acts 2:2-4

“Suddenly” they ALL heard and saw things they had neither seen nor heard before. Perhaps, God again is repositioning us for new things previously unseen and unheard — times of refreshing, times of revival, times of awakening.

Hope

I invite you today to close your eyes for a moment and turn your heart heavenward toward the One upon His eternal throne. May you commune heart to heart with Him who loves you, knows you intimately, and sees your situation.

Neither distant nor distracted, He waits, listening for your voice. Like a loving Father, arms outstretched, welcoming you to come.

You are not abandoned! You are not forsaken! God has not forgotten your name.

“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people.”
Ephesians 1:18

Oh, that we each may “know the hope to which (God) has called” us! Renewed hope breathes fresh air upon us. Do you smell it?

Courage

The fresh breeze blowing rides upon the wings of courage.

“But Jesus immediately said to them, ‘Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
Matthew 14:27

We take courage, grabbing hold of it. We all possess the potential to choose courage. Courage shines strongest in the face of fierce circumstances. Courage disarms fear, exposing its faulty system.

It may be -30 degrees celsius outside, but today I unlocked the door and stepped onto my balcony with slippered feet. I shouted long and loud, laughing (literally) at fear. This simple gesture created a powerful inward move, refusing to entertain fear. The fresh air made me cough, pause, then breathe a glorious deep breath.

I smelled again the scent of newness, of God invading this earthly realm in ways my heart yearned to see.

Faith

Have you ever smelled the humusy aroma of fresh turned earth after a long winter’s rest? It is one of my favorite things, reminding me the old is gone and a new season has come. Faith smells just like that! Faith dares to turn over the moldy remnants of growth long dead, preparing for the planting of new seeds.

We enjoy the fruit of whatever we willingly sow, both in the natural and the spiritual.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-contol. Against such things there is no law.”
Galatians 5:22-23

Sow the seeds! Reap the fruit! Breathe in the aroma of the fresh air of God’s Spirit rising.

In prayer, I saw an eagle, rising, circling upon a fresh wind. It rose higher and higher until I could no longer see it, but I knew it was there — powerful, strong and free. Suddenly, the eagle swooped taking captive what needed to be taken captive. Then flaming arrows came from heaven, lighting fires all over my nation of Canada. Not destroying fire, but fire that lights and warms — inviting fires, needed fires, holy fires.

The fresh air of Holy Spirit ignites flames of passionate worship, surrendered hearts, and yielded wills. I smell it, though I don’t yet see it.

Prayer

Yes, Lord! Bring in the fresh air of Your Presence. Blow across this and all nations with hope, courage and faith. Release over the earth the wind of Your doing. May Your church be ready! May she be waiting and watching — anticipating the newness of this day and hour. Turn over and overturn all that is dead and dying. Prepare the soil for Your harvest.
May Your people unite in perfect unity and harmony, declaring Your unfailing Word, without shame, throughout the streets and roadways, to neighbors, family, friends, and strangers.
May the winds of revival and restoration come! Remove what must be removed. Ignite holy fires. Shoot Your powerful arrows restoring Your purposes and plans. Light the path for those who have wandered far to find their way safely home.
This is a season of renewed hope! A time of great courage! Unwavering faith stirs among Your church — young and old, male and female. She is beautiful and strong. She will not be diminished! Through the burning fire of oppression she comes — radiant and unashamed.
She is learning to love as You love. She carries with her the fruit of Your Spirit, scattering it abroad. Lavishly generous, she freely receives and gives with open hands.
Awaken us, Lord! Awaken our senses to know the tremendous season upon us. It smells like fresh air, turning us toward You.
Amen.”

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God’s Names: God’s Nature: Why Study God’s Names

God’s names reveal God’s nature. When God reveals a new name in the Bible, He uncovers previously hidden attributes of His character. The more we know His Name, the more we know our God.

We understand names carry great significance. Businesses invest time and money in deliberation, strategically choosing and designing catchy names, brands, and logos. Parents mull over baby names for hours, carefully deciding on the perfect name their child will carry.

Recently, a young companion illustrated to me the importance of a name. She chattered non-stop as we headed toward the barnyard. Upon arrival, she proudly held fuzzy balls of purring fluff for me to see. Each meowed and purred at her attention.

“I call this one Calli, because she is a calico kitten.”

Good choice, I thought.

“Here comes Greg,” she said, as a dusty grey kitten squirmed into her lap.

“And this one?” I asked as I held up another.

“Oh! I named him Tucker, because of his tortoise shell markings.”

Pretty smart, for one so small, I thought again.

I studied the litter of kittens more carefully. Their names revealed characteristics I previously ignored. As she continued to point out details of each one, I held another soft bundle of fur, gazing closely into its bright green eyes as whiskers twitched and wet paws stretched.

At that moment, I realized again the importance of studying and valuing the things that matter to us. There in the barnyard, I remembered God’s many names and the significance of them. Over time, I have grown to know Him more clearly, love Him more deeply, and appreciate Him more fully by studying His names.

Written below you will find a few benefits from studying the names of God. God’s names really do reveal His nature.

Security and Identity

“So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. ” Genesis 1:27

In the first chapter of the Bible, God introduces Himself as Elohim — Creator God who spoke all things into existence. All except for mankind! Humanity He created in His own image, forming every detail personally with His hands. Then in the ultimate expression of love and intimacy, He bent low, placing His mouth upon clay-formed lips and breathed.

How amazing! God intimately filled mankind with the essence of Himself. I wonder if at the core of our insecurity and at the root of lost identity, we might find a lack of knowledge of the nature of God’s commitment to us and His loving care.

Elohim, the first name we discover, presents God as one who will not rest until He brings confusion into order, darkness into light, and dust into life! In Him we may trust and in the power of His Name we rest. We discover true security and core identity only in the knowledge of His Name.

Salvation

When Peter speaks before the Sanhedrin, he draws from the Psalmist’s words, “Then I called on the name of the LORD: O LORD, save me!” Peter boldly declared,

“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”
Acts 4:12

What Name bears such significance? What Name, unlike any other name, rescues and saves? There is only One! Only one of God’s names reveals such excellence — the Name of Jesus!

The beautiful Name of the Lord Jesus Christ — each portion carrying deep significance — should be the first Name we learn. Lord represents the Father; Jesus identifies the Son; Christ (the Anointed One) signifies the Holy Spirit. In His Name we find salvation and the fullness of the Trinity.

Confidence in Prayer

“Because he loves me,” says the LORD, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, and I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”
Psalm 91:14-16

Whether in desperate situations or the monotony of everyday life, as we acknowledge and declare His Name in prayer, God releases power and authority through our humble words. He hears. He moves and responds. By proclaiming His Name over situations, circumstances shift. Confessing the greatness, the goodness, and the glory of His Name releases His Spirit into unseen realms, transforming the seen ones.

At times uttering His Name takes on a warrior tone, another Name spoken in hushed reverence, still another sung with joy. What assurance comes as we pray, not to a deaf and distant god, but to our Lord — our Healer, Provider, Shepherd, and Peace.

Puts All Things Into Perspective

“I love the LORD, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live. The cords of death entangled me, the anguish of the grave came over me; I was overcome by distress and sorrow. Then I called on the name of the LORD: ‘LORD, save me!'”
Psalm 116:1-4

Just as the small moon, at times, blocks the sun’s light from reaching earth, present reality, at times, eclipses the larger truth of who God is and the greatness of His Name. The more we study God’s names and His attributes, the clearer we see the fleeting nature of this present life and difficulty.

Limits constrain everything earthly. But nothing constrains God! He defines Himself in limitless terms: omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, eternal, without beginning or end.

Deeper Awe and Worship

“Praise the LORD. Praise the LORD, you his servants; praise the name of the LORD. Let the name of the LORD be praised, both now and forevermore. From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the LORD is to be praised.”
Psalm 113:1-3

For some people, finding a reason to praise God may initially appear difficult. Yet as we practice the adoration of His Name, worship bursts forth. God remains forever worthy of exultation. He commands worship, not because He is a self-seeking egotist, but rather because worship strengthens us! As we pour out unrestrained worship to Him, we become complete and fully satisfied.

For me, the abandonment of worship flows easily. When asked why, I give no other reason than He is worthy!

Every morning when I awake, I ask, “Today, is He worthy?”

Every morning, I come to no other conclusion but, “Yes! Yes! Today, and every day, He is worthy! Today, and every day, my God is worthy of ALL praise.”

Strength under Trial

“We have escaped like a bird from the fowler’s snare; the snare has been broken, and we have escaped. Our help is in the name of the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.”
Psalm 124:7-8

Allow these words to comfort, strengthen, and seep over you.

“The name of the LORD is a fortified tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.”
Proverbs 18:10

When everything feels like it is closing in, when there seems no way out or around a difficulty, “our help is in the name of the LORD.” God’s Name is always enough. In sickness, the whisper of that Name brings healing. In defeat, the mention of His Name secures victory. Where depression and anxiety paralyze thoughts and actions, the uttering of His Name enables release.

Power in Spiritual Battle

“The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Those who know your name trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.”
Psalm 9:9,10

To “know” God’s names means to know both intellectually and experientially. It means to personally “know.” As a child, I knew I could run to my earthly father in times of trouble. Why? Because he was strong enough, loving enough, and wise enough to deal with any struggle I faced.

How much more my Heavenly Father!

“The people that know their God shall be strong, and do exploits.”
Daniel 11:32

When we “know” His Name, He gives us authority to release the characteristics and qualities of His Name into situations we are contending for.

David came against Goliath, “in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel” (1 Samuel 17:45). As we face our own battles “in the name of the LORD Almighty,” He fills us with courage, boldness, audacity, tenacity, and anything else we might need to overcome.

Increased Faith

“Who among you fears the LORD and obeys the word of his servant? Let the one who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the LORD and rely on their God.”
Isaiah 50:10

We face our personal faults, fractures, and failures daily. However, the more we gaze into His magnificence and perfection, the more we will realize success and living life well depends not on us, but on God. Every mighty man or woman of God comes to the same conclusion. Though weak, they become strong in Him. Though fearful, they grow bold in Him.

One only needs to turn to Hebrews 11 to read the exploits of faith-filled ones, those who knew God well. The more we know God through His names, the more we too become “fully persuaded that God (has) power to do what he (has) promised” (Romans 4:21) and faith builds, rising to dominate our words and actions.

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The more time my little companion spent with her kittens, the more she knew them, not just by color, but by their character. She knew which ones would play inquisitively and which ones would withdraw to solitary corners and watch.

The more we spend time with our God, studying His names, the more we will know Him and His ways. God’s names reveal His nature, attributes, and character.

The intentional study of God’s names results in eternal dividends.

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The Beauty of God’s Fire – A Prophetic Word

The Beauty of God's Fire

Flames, rising and falling, swirling and twirling, perform a mesmerizing dance, but the beauty of God’s fire surpasses all others. Spiritual fire performs divine purpose. Holy fire consumes, leaving no trace of the former content, while in other ways increases, fortifies, strengthens, revives, and restores.

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On a cool evening, one family circled a campfire on a sandy beach overlooking a small lake. They cooked hot dogs and roasted marshmallows over the open flames. With laughter, they sang songs, shared stories, and fortified generational bonds. There they lingered long after the moon rose and stars cloistered against the darkened skies. Before retreating to their warm cabin beds, they carefully covering the fire’s last golden embers with sand.

The next morning, another family arrived on the beach. All four doors simultaneously swung open as a rush of shoeless children raced excitedly toward the water. Their towels flapped cheerfully behind them in the warm summer breeze. Time halted with the ear-piercing screams of the youngest, as we all watched, horrified. She froze mid-stride. Then instinctively, she dropped her hands to the ground while trying to lift her feet. My father knew immediately what had happened. He grabbed her writhing body, dipping her burnt hands and feet in the cool lake before rushing her to the nearest hospital a half-hour away.

Campfire

The same fire that brought delight to one family, meant weeks of torturous burn treatments for ours.

Fire! Both beautiful and painful! Simultaneously taking and giving!

And so it is in the beauty of God’s fire through painful trials — this union of removing what no longer belongs to secure what must eternally remain.

A Prophetic Word

I feel stirring in my heart a prophetic word — an unction of the Holy Spirit. I see with spiritual eyes both a flame burning and a newness rising. For those willing to endure the flame of God’s purging fire, there is coming victorious freedom and release.

The invitation to surrender completely to His flames extends to every one of us. However, I feel it will be men, both young and old, who will respond and rise with strength during this season. There is a generation of flaming ones, unstoppable in the Spirit, who are coming through the flames of adversity and trials. They believed they were being utterly destroyed, but God has been purging and purifying them for greatness and triumph.

These flaming ones will see and do awesome things through the power of God — divinely prepared, ignited with passion, and released into this generation.

“See, I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction. For my own sake, for my own sake, I do this. How can I let myself be defamed? I will not yield my glory to another.”
Isaiah 48:10-11

Former generations have robbed God of the glory due His name. In pride, they set themselves on false pedestals and built crumbling edifices of their own doing.

No more!” God says. “I will not yield my glory to another.”

Torch

Through the beauty of God’s fire, He is shifting leadership from positions of authority. We see faint shadows of it already, but God is bringing forth a divine rearranging. Only those who willingly surrender to the flames of refining will rise, bringing God glory and reflecting His face.

“This third I will put into the fire; I will refine them like silver and test them like gold. They will call on my name and I will answer them; I will say, ‘They are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The LORD is our God.'”
Zechariah 13:9

The Refining

Silver and gold are “tested” in the refiner’s fire.

‘Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
James 1: 2-4

A refiner heats the metal until the impurities, or dross, rise to the surface. Then he skims it off. Over and over, he repeats the process — heating and removing. Each time, he “tests” the purity of the molten metal by looking into the surface. Only when he clearly sees his own reflection in the metal does he know it is pure.

Refine Metal

Throughout Scripture, God uses the illustration of a refiner’s fire to explain His process in removing the contaminates from our lives. He refuses to quit until He clearly sees His own reflection in us.

Everyone goes through trials and adversity. Will we not only allow but welcome them, yielding to the beauty of God’s fire, working out His greater good, bringing us to maturity, and purifying our faith? Or will we resist refusing to suffer pain, while pacifying ourselves with the soothing ointments of pleasure and self-gratification?

” . . . I will thoroughly purge away your dross and remove all your impurities.”
Isaiah 1:25

The Invitation

The prophetic word invites us all to become His flaming ones — those who find a place of rest in the beauty of God’s fire. Not once! Not twice! But continually choosing to live within the flame of His Presence.

May God never speak a similar warning to us as He did to the Laodicean Church.

“I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm — neither hot nor cold — I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”
Revelation 3:15-16

Heart on Fire

Paul encouraged both Gentile and Jewish believers in Rome with these words:

“Never lag in zeal and in earnest endeavor; be aglow and burning with the Spirit, serving the Lord.”
Romans 12:11 AMP

Flaming ones, those aglow and burning with the Spirit, best reflect His image. When tested, those filled with zeal and eagerly serving the Lord prove faithful and pure.

As much as I cringe at the thought of being purged by fire, I long for the flame of His Holy Presence to remove everything that mars Christ from clearly being seen in and through my life.

The Worship

God commanded the priests of the Old Testament to never allow the fire on the altar to go out (Leviticus 6:13). God still commands us, His New Testament priests, to offer ourselves as living sacrifices, in true worship.

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sister, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God — this is your true and proper worship.”
Romans 12:1

The embodiment of worship extends beyond singing congregational songs on Sunday mornings or any other day of the week. Worship means giving ourselves daily to Him, sacrificially for Him, and holy unto Him. In true worship, we step willingly and knowingly into the beauty of God’s fire, becoming living torches of His Presence.

Light Candle

“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our ‘God is a consuming fire.'”
Hebrews 12:28-29

Isaiah referred to Jesus, saying,

“The Light of Israel will become a fire, their Holy One a flame . . .”
Isaiah 10:17

Within this image, God places us!

Us in Christ and He in us — together burning! As a perpetual act of worship, we combine our small flames with THE consuming fire and THE fiery flame. Little flames within His great flame and small fires amidst His glorious fire, creating ever-increasing, globally impacting intensity!

The Baptism

John the Baptist preceded Jesus, baptizing with water — a baptism of repentance. He spoke of another baptism and another Baptizer,

“John answered them all, ‘I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.”
Luke 3:16

This Holy Spirit baptism of fire is available to everyone, of all nationalities and creeds, who desires it. God is faithful! He offers great joy, freedom, and power to those who will abandon themselves to His purposes.

But will I surrender and submit to God’s plan and become a flaming one? Will you?

Flame Candles

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