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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God Walks With Us All the Way!

I am reminded again that God never quits. He stays with us all the way. The good work He began in each of us He will finish. My thoughts are rooted in Deuteronomy 8. Moses reminded Israel, and us, of the faithfulness of God.

“Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands.” Deuteronomy 8:2

The words “all the way” seemed to bounce off the page of my Bible. My journey with God has transitioned through more than forty years. I, too, can say, “He has led me all the way, through the good times and the not so good.”

Any and every success of my Christian walk results from His faithfulness, not from anything special on my part.

In the Wilderness

For some, the wilderness sections of our journey came darker and dryer than for others. But no matter where we start, He promises to go with us.

All the way from broken to whole,
from tormented to delivered,
bound to free,
a nobody to the King’s palace
as His own sons and daughters!

The verse calls us to remember. Though memory grows distant, there is value in remembering the tattered sin-stained cloth He tore us from.

Paul minced no words with the Christians in Ephesus,

Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else.”
Ephesians 2:1-3

No one dare claim ground for immunity. We all were cloaked in sin, “just like everyone else.”

To The Cross

And because of this, Jesus went “all the way” to the cross. He didn’t have to, you know. He could have opted out. But, He made that difficult decision because of His love for us. He wrestled over it, asking God for another way.

We read these famous words,

“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”
Luke 22:42

Even knowing ahead of time the tremendous price of saying “Yes!” to the Father, He loved us too much to say, “No.” Because Jesus surrendered going “all the way” to the cross, we now access the unlimited and unmerited blessings of God.

To an Inheritance

But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus.”
Ephesians 2:4-7

God led Israel “all the way” into the promised land — a land of brooks, streams, deep springs, valleys, hills, wheat, barley, vines, fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil and honey (Deuteronomy 8:7-9). Their inheritance lacked nothing they would ever desire.

So, too, He leads us. This life is only the beginning. He brings rich blessings here and now, but the best waits on the other side. Then He will reveal the full measure of the “incredible wealth of his grace and kindness.”

Oh friends! Just as He has faithfully led us in the past, He will lead us into all He has promised.

Into His Promise

How can we be sure?

Every good and perfect gift comes from God, James 1:17 tells us. God, in His perfection, gave the perfect gift of salvation through His Son, Jesus.

“God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.” Ephesians 2:8-9

The gift has already been given. We only need to receive it. The Father went “all the way,” offering us the best He had, His own Son — the ultimate sacrifice of grace to us all. Then He gave us the Holy Spirit as a deposit of greater things to come (2 Corinthians 1:22).

All the Way

The hard part stands finished. God waits for us to receive His gift of love. He did it all for us. Will we reach out with thankful hearts to accept it?

Whether we still walk in our wilderness, or it is a faint memory. The Father waits for our response.

“Father, thank You for going all the way through the wilderness with me — humbling, uncloaking, and revealing the condition of my heart. Thank You for not giving up or abandoning me. I receive Your gift of salvation, made available through Jesus on the cross. Thank You for reminding me the price Jesus paid for my sin. I believe He was raised again to new life and that He offers that life to me. I accept Your gift. Lead me into the inheritance and promise You have for me. Thank You, Lord Jesus, for going all the way.

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Psalm 91: Promise of Protection

Containing over twenty promises, Psalm 91 declares God’s love and sovereign protection to those who shelter in His Presence.

“He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection.”
Psalm 91:4

As times become increasingly uncertain, may we possess this confidence, resting protected and covered in our Heavenly Father’s care.

The Passion Translation uses more vivid language:

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

Many scholars attribute Psalm 91 to Moses. It was written during the Israelites wondering in the open desert for forty years. Though they were completely exposed to enemy attack, God proved His faithfulness again and again, covering and protecting them from every danger.

Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary (1066 edition) defines “to be covered” this way:

 ” . . . to have done, gotten, or provided whatever is needed,
to take care of everything,
no worry about anything.
We’ve got you covered.”

Psalm 91 assures us of God’s promises. Each comes under the larger banner of being covered by God. Everything is taken care of. We have nothing to worry about. We’re covered!

Many birds are known for the way they protect for their young by holding them safely under their feathers. The image demonstrates both gentleness and strength.

“I Will Say”

The psalmist declares:

” I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
Psalm 91:2

Rulers typically built fortresses from rock on elevated ground, often surrounded by a moat or high wall. This gives us visual imagery to trust God as our ultimate protection — from things seen and unseen, things present and things to come.

Moses confesses a firm belief to rest hidden under God’s “massive arms,” free from all fear.

Will difficulties come? Absolutely! Is evil present all around us? Most assuredly! Yet in the midst of it all, God covers us with His “massive arms” of protection, love, and gentle care.

“If You Say”

The psalmist encourages us to the same acknowledgment of God.

“If you make the LORD your refuge, if you make the Most High your dwelling, no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent.”
Psalm 91:9,10

The little words in the Bible provoke me the most. “If”, God says. We learn who or where our security lies when we face trials. But “if” we place our hope and confident trust in Him, He commands angelic armies to guard us, lifting us up in their hands. He gives us supernatural empowerment to face the fiercest foes.

For a moment, I imagine the scene. Heaven speaks reality — true perspective. May we see beyond the struggle and trial. God’s “massive arms” surround us. His angels lift us up “in their hands.

“For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands . . .”
Psalm 91:11

God Says

God promises us, that in this secure position of trust and rest in Him,

“You will tread on the lion and the cobra, you will trample the great lion and the serpent.”
Psalm 91:13

The “lion” represents all open and violent foes; the “cobra,” all secret and malignant ones. The young lion (kephir, the lion in the height of his strength) and the serpent (tannin, the most dreadful form of serpent) you will trample under your feet.

In any and every generation these two foes represent the most vicious and deadly threats — sure destruction and loss of life! Except for God! God enters our circumstances. He changes everything.

God inspires us to take action. Secure in Him, we move forward without fear. Enemies growls and spits, showing fangs and bared claws. Take courage brave ones! It is time to trample the head of the enemy.

Let’s keep our fixed focus on and unwavering trust in God — our Light in the darkness, our Hope in the storm, our Strength in weakness, our Help always.

“Says The Lord”

We sometimes make declarations. God declares truth!

“Because he loves me,” says the LORD,
“I will rescue him;
I will protect him,
for he acknowledges my name.”
Psalm 91:14

“Acknowledges” means to be known intimately or to have experiential knowledge. God responds to our cries for help. In His intimate and personal love, He declares over each of us:

“He will call on me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”
Psalm 91:14-15

In one sentence, God offers multiple promises! He responds to our frail declaration, “I WILL!” When no one else can, God will! When nothing else will do, God will! Though we each face our own set of difficulties, God declares, “I WILL come to deliver you and honor you.”

Protection

Every promise given in Psalm 91 rests within the intimate relationship of “dwelling” in His Presence. God invites each of us into this place of shelter and protection — circled by His “massive arms,” held in the hands of angelic forces.

God gives perfect rest, while lions roar, cobras rise, and storms rage. Here we say, “His is our refuge and our fortress, our God, in whom we trust!”

“Father, I thank You for Your massive arms of protection and Your angelic covering. May courage and confidence arise in each of us. This is NOT the time to run for cover to lesser things. We put on our stomping boots, ready to trample every attack of the enemy against us and our households. Your love is violent toward us. Your faithfulness guaranteed. Oh, Father, how great is your love. Thank You!”

Unleashed! You are Free!

During prayer, I clearly heard the word, “Unleashed!” I felt a strong sense of God releasing people from things that hold them captive. It wasn’t an audible voice, but a certain knowing in my spirit. God was extending a personal invitation to respond — an invitation open to others. I believe we are entering a season in which God is throwing open gates and pushing open doors that have been closed for a long time.

The image of cattle being released from wintering pens came to my mind as I thought of the word “unleashed.” What joyous imagery!

During the long cold winters, we confined cattle in small paddocks to feed and bed them. All winter they ate baled hay and slept on heaping beds of straw. When the snow melted in spring, the pens became mucky. But then came the day when we opened the gates. The cattle dashed through the open gate, leaping and jumping, jostling and playing. Age didn’t matter! They were delighted to taste fresh grass and romp in open pastures.

But for you who fear my name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings. And you will go free, leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture.”
Malachi 4:2

Unleashing contains a sense of sudden even violent action that cannot be controlled — even to throw, shoot, or set in motion forcefully.

Once those cattle were unleashed from the pen, they would not easily return. They experienced open spaces and tasted fresh pasture. Limited confines no longer contained them. Dead grass no longer satisfied them.

This represents a frail example of how God unleashes His people.

Remember

As a result, God commands us to remember on a weekly basis His unleashing power. Enslaved by Egypt for over 400 years, Israel knew nothing of rest or freedom. Until God came. Suddenly, with violent force, God set in motion, with irreversible power, a taking of one nation out of another.

“You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the LORD your God commands you to keep the Sabbath day.”
Deuteronomy 5:15

Lois Tverberg writes,

“All of life’s rhythms were to revolve around celebrating the indescribable joy of the day when the whips ceased cracking, the shackles fell off, and the cell doors swung open toward freedom. Week after week, season after season, year after year God commanded Israel to remember his extravagant, rescuing love . . .”
Reading the Bible with Rabbi Jesus

God called them to remember, and never forget, His powerful act of grace and redemptive love.

Unleashed

Yet, this was only a foreshadowing of what would one day take place. In the most violent act in history, God sent his Son, Jesus, to die the cruelest of deaths to unleash His greatest act of rescuing love. With one mighty blow, He crushed the enemy’s hand forever. Through Jesus, God redeemed not just a nation, but people from all nations freeing them forever from the slavery of sin and death.

Who but God could do such a thing? No one!

When God spoke the word “unleashed” to me, He wanted me to remember, too. My shackles are off! I now have the ability to walk free — a slave no more. I often find this truth more viable for others, struggling to fully identify with what He has done.

Yes, we contend from what is ours. Yes, standing in freedom takes grit and perseverance. But freedom is ours! We must not forget.

And from the days of John the Baptist until now, the Kingdom of Heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.” Matthew 11:12 KJV

Live Free

God directs our gaze toward open gates. He leads us through open doors. But it is up to us to walk (or even run), taking our freedom. Perhaps it will take a violent or forceful act on our part to solidify that freedom.

So, I ask, where do I still feel the crack of the whip of other slave masters? Where am I living more bound than free? We all have areas awaiting God’s redemptive grace to move in. What is mine? What is yours?

He speaks His word, “unleashed,” over each of us. May we sense the freshness of what stands open before us. Today, may we drink the fresh water of His Spirit and eat from His open meadow of provision. May we hunger and thirst for His Presence like never before.

Now unleashed, He grants us freedom to either run to Him or away from Him. Only in Him will we taste true freedom, however.

Faithfulness And Kindness

God heard the cries of His people under the yoke of slavery in Egypt. He responded, unleashing them and setting them free. While His strong arm held back their enemies, His gentle compassion guided His people toward safety.

Centuries later, out of His faithfulness and kindness, God sent Jesus to again delivery, unleashing us from sin’s cruel bondage. I’m not sure we could ever comprehend such love and mercy.

“I don’t keep it a secret or hide the truth. I preach of your faithfulness and kindness, proclaiming your extravagant love to the largest crowd I can find!”
Psalm 40:10 TPT

May we tell of God’s great unleashing everywhere we go, to anyone who will listen. May we not hold such good news to ourselves. Like calves released from their pen, may we romp in the goodness of God’s vast pasture, never looking back.

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Spring is Here Signalling a New Generation of Growth

Spring is Here!

Everyone from the far north announces when spring is here. Snow melts; puddles appear. Even the muddy messiness is a welcome reprieve. Preparation by gardeners and farmers began months ago. Proud growers splatter social media with images of seedlings flourishing under grow lights and in greenhouses.

Most people look forward to spring. Maybe not the muddy part, but certainly the clean, fresh, green part! We watch and listen for the return of waterfowl and songbirds, building nests and laying eggs. We google over sprigs of green bravely emerging from the cold, once barren, earth. Spring brings promise.

Spring comes slowly only to leave quickly, followed by the steady rhythm of other seasons.

See! The winter is past;
the rains are over and gone.
Flowers appear on the earth;
the season of singing has come,
the cooing of doves is heard in our land.
The fig tree forms its early fruit;
the blossoming vines spread their fragrance.”
Song of Songs 2:11-13

Solomon never endured the lengthy, frigid winters we do. Yet, he welcomed spring with a song, “Winter is over! Spring is here!” He relished the sights, sounds, and aromas of the season of awakening and fresh starts.

Fresh Start

God often refers to autumn and spring rains as refreshing and rejuvenating the earth. The spring rain carried a promise of future harvest.

Be glad, people of Zion, rejoice in the LORD your God, for he has given you the autumn rains because he is faithful. He sends you abundant showers, both autumn and spring rains, as before. The threshing floors will be filled with grain; the vats will overflow with new wine and oil.”
Joel 2:23-24

Spring symbolizes new beginnings. Those fresh sprouts of green will eventually produce a harvest. In the Bible, an overflow of grain, new wine, and oil speaks of abundance flowing from fresh starts and new beginnings. Each symbolic, not just of earth and soil, but people with soul coming into spiritual overflow.

So if you faithfully obey the commands I am giving you today — to love the LORD your God and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul — then I will send rain on your land in its season, both autumn and spring rains, so that you may gather in your grain, new wine and olive oil.”
Deuteronomy 11:13-14

Can you feel it? God’s promise of abundance and blessing?

The Patience of Spring

All us dirt-between-the-fingers gardeners know that to plant a seed or see a fresh sprout rising from the dust doesn’t mean harvest has arrived. Spring may be here, but harvest follows much later.

The sower plants with patient expectation. The patience of spring represents another more important waiting.

“Let us acknowledge the LORD; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.”
Hosea 6:3

Just as the spring rains cause the dead sprigs to burst into life, spring announces the promised return of Jesus Christ. When He comes, death will forever be cast aside as He breathes fullness of life into His own.

Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.”
James 5:7

Farmers know we need more than just a few spring showers to produce a harvest. Timely summer rains bring the crops through to completion. But no rain carries as much significance and promise as the early spring rain.

Ask for Rain

The patience of waiting partners with fully trusting in the Lord’s provision. The sower plants, waits, and seeks God for the increase. Within patience flows asking — asking God to provide His rain at strategic times.

Ask the LORD for rain in the springtime; it is the LORD who sends the thunderstorms. He gives showers of rain to all people, and plants of the field to everyone.”
Zechariah 10:1

Spring follows winter as surely as day follows night. But God encourages us to ask for His showers of blessings. Zechariah reminds us to be bold in our asking God for the full provision of spring.

“For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants. They will spring up like grass in a meadow, like poplar trees by flowing streams.”
Isaiah 44:3-4

God remembers we are made from dust. We forget what a dry thirsty people we become apart from the constant “showers” of the Spirit. The spring rain points us to Holy Spirit being poured out on humanity — on us and our children — saturating and reviving all that has grown cold and barren.

Faithfulness

More than anything else, spring reminds us of God’s faithfulness. We might easily forget in the cold, dark night of winter, but as the sun rises higher and higher warming the land and restoring life, we remember again that God is faithful.

“Faithfulness springs forth from the earth, and righteousness looks down from heaven. The LORD will indeed give what is good and our land will yield its harvest. Righteousness goes before him and prepares the way for his steps.”
Psalm 85:11-13

As wars and corruption flood the earth, throwing nations and peoples into uproar, God’s reminder that spring is here brings hope. As we lift our gaze to Him, we remember His faithfulness, seeking a greater outpouring of His Spirit. Even when justice and righteousness seem distant, God is faithful!

The muck and mud always give way to beauty. God’s righteousness will always prevail, preparing the way for intervention in our lives and in our world, until His ultimate return to gather the real harvest.

Spring signals a new generation of growth. Look down enough to avoid the muck and mud, but keep looking up to God who is forever faithful!

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