Intimately Close! In Darkness God Does His Greatest Work

Intimately Close

When I don’t sense God’s Presence, He is intimately close; when I don’t see His face, I am known, found and seen by Him. He directs each of our lives with intricate precision.

In some areas, I can already see beauty and purpose coming from burnt-out ashes. Other places of my life still appear unproductive at best, and honestly desolate at other times. I see woven through the years God-given relationships and opportunities that no human could have orchestrated..

Daniel said,

“Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever;
wisdom and power are his . . .
He reveals deep and hidden things;
he knows what lies in darkness,
and light dwells with him.”
Daniel 2:20-22

When fear attempts to convince me that things have become so dark and desperate, even God can’t see, I’m reminded that He does His greatest work in the deepest darkness. Light lives within Him and originates from Him.

Deep Darkness

The first words of the Bible give a strong clue to the consistent thread of God’s Presence.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.”
Genesis 1:1

Confusion and foreboding drenched the formless, empty darkness of pre-creation. Right there! Amid that darkness, God was. This darkness preceded and surpassed anything humans have experienced. Nothing we could ever know compares to it.

God Created

Here God performs His first work, speaking all of creation into existence and transforming complete chaos into divine order. Elohim, the first Hebrew word to define God, contains within its context “the God of covenant.” Before we existed, God already reveals Himself as One who is intimately close.

The Paradox

We always find within the magnitude of God a paradox. Light and darkness is one.

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

And,

” . . . God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light . . . “
1 Timothy 6:15-16

God possesses light, spoke light into existence, lives in light, and is light. And yet . . .

“The LORD reigns, let the earth be glad;
let the distant shores rejoice.
Clouds and thick darkness surround him;
righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.”
Psalm 97:1-2

When God brings about His divine works, He often chooses the cover of darkness. Here the psalmist proclaims God’s redemptive work under the cover of thick darkness. Here, in darkness, God comes intimately close.

Conceived in Darkness

At night

This morning, I read again how God chose a young woman, Mary, to bring forth His Son through a sovereign work of the Holy Spirit. She humbly surrendered, though the details were scant and personal cost great.

Who saw that move of the Holy Spirit? No witnesses presided over the occasion of God whooshing through the dark night impregnating a virgin with divine life. Under the cloak of darkness, God became man. Under the cover of darkness, He was born. To humble shepherds, “living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night,” angels came, brightening the starry sky with intense light while declaring the good news.

God came to dwell with man — intimately close.

The Darkest Dark

“At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”) . . . With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last. The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.”
Mark 15:33-38

Though it was high noon, suddenly God turned day to night. Once more, in darkness, He moved toward mankind, obliterating all separation between Him and His created ones.

Storm Night

Such intimate closeness is not to be gawked at by ignorant scoffers and mockers.

Conceived in darkness and born in the night, Jesus died alone on a cross in eerie untimely darkness. For me and you! For all! In darkness, Jesus crushed the head of Satan, delivering a mortal wound!

Before Morning Light

For three days He lay breathless surrounded by utter darkness, wrapped in grave clothes, hidden in a cold dank tomb. A handful of women came with spices to pay Him final honor.

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance.”
Luke 20:1

Before dawn

“While it was still dark,” He conquered the last and greatest foe. Jesus did it! He rose from the dead and through His resurrection granted the same life to all who would believe.

Intimately Close

I have no idea what you are facing today. It may very well seem to be the greatest darkness you have ever encountered. Circumstances beyond your control may have snatched all hope from your future.

Take courage. Just as in the past, God is intimately close today, right now, where you are. Nothing and no one can keep Him away.

“We need never shout across the spaces to an absent God. He is nearer than your own soul, closer than our most secret thoughts.”
A.W. Tozer

Above the Darkness

Though I don’t have opportunity to fly often, it amazes me how above the clouds the sun shines every day and the stars light the sky at night. Storms may rage below, but above the clouds visibility seems endless.

May we all learn to view things from above, rather than below. May we develop a sense of God’s deep moving and grand work amid our darkest times. Later, we will see clearly how intimately close He has always been; now we trust.

Worship in Heaven — No Introverts Allowed! Honest!

Have you thought about what worship in heaven might sound and look like? I find no introverts among the throng! Being a true introvert myself, I’m not sure what to do with that realization.

As much as I enjoy meeting and mingling with people, they drain me. Even my people!

There are twenty-three of us in our immediate family. Our noisy, oft rowdy, and usually action-packed family gatherings fill this Mama’s heart to overflowing. But, I must admit, silence and solitude keep my internal engine running, rejuvenating me for whatever demands may arise.

All you biblical scholars read my heavenly analysis with furrowed brow and deep skepticism. I understand completely! My brows have been doing the same thing! Let me explain, please.

I’ve just finished reading the Book of Revelation. In twenty-two chapters, I find only a half hour of silence. Honest! What’s more, it isn’t even the pleasant, introvert lovers refilling, energizing kind of silence. Rather, it’s more like, “Oh no! This can’t be!” variety.

” After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heart speaking to me like a trumpet said, ‘Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.’ ”
Revelation 4:1

That was my first clue about heaven. A voice like a trumpet! Nothing about a trumpet blast calms my introverted spirit.

Creatures and Elders

The Apostle John witnessed an open vision of Jesus Christ and things yet to come, including spectacles in heaven which my feeble mind can’t imagine. He tries his best to explain the images to us.

John gives us another clue. Around the throne, four heavenly creatures worship God,

“. . . Day and night they never stop saying,
‘ Holy, holy, holy
is the Lord God Almighty,’

who was and is and is to come.”
Revelation 4:8

Trumpet Blast

Their worship provokes twenty-four elders to throw their crowns at the Lord’s feet, breaking into their own chorus of worship. Day and night, continuous active, vocal worship!

Angels

Images of angels singing while softly playing harps may not be entirely biblical. Listen to what John actually hears and sees,

“Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they were saying: ‘Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!’ “
Revelation 5:11-12

But wait! Nothing in my introverted self cringes. Rather than run for seclusion, the magnitude of creatures, elders, and angels all with united “loud voice” giving glory to God stirs me to want to join along. Each spurs the other into extravagant exultation.

No one and nothing remains silent. All of creation bursts into exalted praise of the One on the throne. Every living creature raises its voice in perfect unison.

Can you imagine how noisy, even rowdy, and probably action-packed that gathering became?

Great Multitude

John’s vision continues,

“After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb . . . And they cried out in a loud voice:
‘Salvation belong to our God
who sits on the throne,
and to the Lamb.’
Revelation 7:9-10

Introvert Worship

Some cultures naturally celebrate in robust, exuberant expressions of emotion; others tend to be soft spoken and gentle. Some denominations worship with quiet liturgical style; others worship with drums blasting and guitars blaring.

We introverts may have found crafty ways to escape the bustle of earth, but there’s no escaping the worship of heaven. Can you pick out even one introvert in heaven’s mighty throng? I can’t! Worship in heaven flows with unceasing, uncapped, unanimous rhythm.

No one feels inhibited. No one declares cultural exclusion. Everyone worships in heaven with liberality.

Silence

Then it comes! Silence! An eerie silence that holds heaven in awe-filled suspense. Thirty minutes of spine tingling, nerve-wracking silence. How could it be? Why would worship so suddenly cease?

I find myself asking another question, “If I know beyond a doubt that worship in heaven should continue unstopped, why would I tolerate the silence of worship here on earth?”

I have long considered this present life a temporary blink before eternity — a training ground for the things to come. Perhaps, it’s time for me to toss away my preconceived notion of an introvert’s dream come true — a quaint cabin in forested heaven surrounded by flowers, next to a babbling book, fifty miles from the closest neighbor.

A Lions Roars

If this life is a preparation for heaven, I better shake the dust from my feet and get my shouting voice tuned up.

Let’s face the truth; nothing compares to the worship in heaven. God alone merits glorified praise. Throughout Revelation, group after group falls on their faces, sings, shouts, and declares the greatness and worth-ship of our God.

With silence broken, worship resumes; the sound of high praise resonates through the atmospheres.

“The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign for ever and ever.”
Revelation 11:15

Worship in Heaven

I’m honestly frustrated by my feeble capacity to give Holy God, anywhere close to to the worship He merits. If I could dance like King David danced, bringing the Ark of God’s Presence into my city, it wouldn’t be enough. If I possessed exceptional musical ability to compose songs of pure adoration, it falls far short. Everything feels insignificant on this side of heaven.

My heart yearns to give Him more.

Someday, unlimited by earth’s tethers, I will exalt the King of all kings and Lord of all lords to full potential. Today, I practice. I pull my introverted self out of the place of comfort and press to co-operate with the anthems of heaven.

Worship in Heaven

One day, I too will cast any crown at His feet and I fall in reverent awe before the Lord of glory. I will with ease join the worship of heaven. On that day, as I behold the One I long to gaze upon, my little voice will join the great multitude with thunderous applause to the One worthy of it all.

This introvert will be introverted no more. I will find refreshing and renewal in the joyously noisy, the exuberantly rowdy, and forever action-packed gatherings of the worship in heaven.

After this I heard what sounded
like the roar of a great multitude
in heaven shouting:
“Hallelujah!
Salvation and glory and power
belong to our God .”
Revelation 19:1

“Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting:
‘Hallelujah!
For our Lord God Almighty reigns.
Let us rejoice and be glad
and give him glory!”
Revelations 19:6-7

My Fair Share! A Measure of Faith!

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

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

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

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

Too Little or Too Much

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Look Up

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

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

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

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

A Measure of Faith

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fair Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Piece in the Middle

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

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

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

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

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

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

**********

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

Prayer in Relationship – Unmasking Myths: Is This Prayer

Unmasking Myths: Is This Prayer?

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

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

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

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

Unmasking Myths

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

Other chapters explore topics like:

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

Is This Prayer?

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

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

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

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

*****

*****

Unmasking Myths: Is This Prayer?

Check out reviews here!

Going from Here to There: Take Time for Rest

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

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

Boy riding bicycle

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

Alert and Ready

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

Why do I hurry? Why do I rush?

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

Boy with bike

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

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

Be Still

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

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

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

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

Don’t Miss Out

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

Girl with Bicycle

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

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

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

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

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

What’s the Hurry?

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

Child on bicycle

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

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

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

And He welcomes us there.

Rest

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

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

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

Woman on bicycle

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

Take Time for The Brief Moments that Matter Most

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

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

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

Time Piece

Solomon capsulized it in Ecclesiastes,

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

Take Time

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

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

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

Wristwatch Keeping Time

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

Paul encouraged both the Ephesians and Colossians to

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

And

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

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

Three Seconds

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Panoramic View

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

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

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

It does!

Brief Moments of Time

Going back to Ecclesiastes, I read,

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

Brief Moments

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

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

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

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

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

Moment of TIme

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

Those are the brief moments that count!

Walking Together and Learning to Keep in Step

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

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

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

Walking Side-by-Side

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

Which Way?

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

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

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

Walk Sunset

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

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

In Step

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

Walking Together

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

Walking together with God means:

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

But most of all walking together with God requires humility.

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

Walking Together

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

Two people walking

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

Paul said to the Corinthian church,

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

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

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

The Destination

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

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

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

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

Going the distance

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

Enoch agreed!

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

That’s true walking together.

The Voice of Prophecy – Prophets Listening and Speaking Truth

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

Just before Stephen was stoned to death, he asked,

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

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

Gifts of Perfume

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

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

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

Gifts of Love

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

Child's ear

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

For All

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

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

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

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

Eyes to See

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

The Voice of Prophecy

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

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

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

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

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

True Prophecy

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

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

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

Child and Adult

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

Covet Prophecy

Paul commands his listeners to covet and zealously pursues prophecy.

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

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

Microphone

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

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

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

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

Testing Prophecy

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

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

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

Positive and Negative Image

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

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

The Prophetic Office

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

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

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

Sound Studio

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

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

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

LORD Almighty – Blessed is the One Who Trusts

The LORD Almighty promises to bless those who trust in Him. Psalm 84 has brought me encouragement, hope and help in suffering on many occasions. As a result, this psalm ranks among my favorites. The last verse creates a summary.

“LORD Almighty, blessed is the one who trusts in you.”
Psalm 84:12

LORD Almighty, is Yahweh Sabaoth, the LORD of Hosts — the God of armies or powers. This name declares God’s sovereignty over every army, both spiritual and natural. It was the name used when hope for deliverance through any other means vanished.

Each one of us, at one time or another, will have no one or nothing sufficient to hold to, except for God. This short psalm continues to acknowledging the LORD Almighty from beginning to end. The writer declares Him worthy of adoration and praise.

Wooden Doorway

When we, like the psalmist, put God first, sustain an awareness of Him through thick and thin, ups and downs, good times and bad, it is then that we discover Him to be truly sovereign over all — seeing us through to the finish.

LORD Almighty

Whether the psalm speaks of the exiles returning or the annual pilgrimage of worshipers to the temple is uncertain. No matter the occasion, these God-seekers possess one provoking attribute — a hunger for God alone.

“How lovely is your dwelling place,
LORD Almighty!
My soul yearns, even faints,
for the courts of the LORD;
my heart and my flesh cry out
for the living God.”
Psalm 84:1,2

Every part of their being hungers for one thing, or rather One Person, the LORD. Long before Jesus’ words echoed across the Judean countryside, these pilgrims walked the talk,

“. . . Love the Lord your God
with all your heart
and with all your soul and with all your mind.”
Matthew 22:37

Doorway Grand Entrance

They passionately longed to dwell with God forever, praising Him. Is that my longing? Is that the underlying hunger of my own heart? Does such a passionate desire drive me deeper into a personal relationship with God, not just when everything else fails but constantly declaring Him to be

“. . . my King and my God.”
Psalm 84:3

God my Strength

Along the trek between where they were to where they needed to go loomed a dreaded valley, the Valley of Baka. Baka means “weeping.”

Sound familiar? Smooth pavement may be our expectations, but rocky trails, steep climbs and deep valleys also crisscross our paths from where we are to where we need and want to go — God’s Presence.

Unwelcome but necessary; for them and us.

“As they pass through the Valley of Baka,
they make it a place of springs;
the autumn rains also cover it with pools.”
Psalms 84:6

In the valley, when weeping is all we know, we dig deep. We dig deep into the barren places, the drought-stricken hidden places of our souls, and find God present. The Living Water meets us, sustains us, refreshes us, and moves us closer to Himself.

Palace Entrance

These springs and pools of relief, that we discover in the LORD Almighty, dot our personal pathway. They become significant places of refreshing for all future travelers that follow behind us.

Oh how often God uses someone’s experience of venturing through a dark valley to bring life and light to others following the same path. The victory of one becomes the victory of many. The strength God offers to one becomes strength and hope for multiple others.

Strength to Strength

In the Valley of Weeping, little strength turns to great fortitude, weak strength becomes tenacious and strong. The strength of one creates a life link for others every bit as significant as a fresh pool of water in a wasteland.

“They go from strength to strength,
till each appears before God in Zion.”
Psalm 84:7

The Amplified Bible says, “They go from strength to strength, increasing in victorious power.” Isn’t that what we all desire? I pray that increased victorious power would be the aspiration of us all. Unfortunately, we want it without the weeping, without the valley, without the struggle.

Just like the pilgrims of old, we too must be willing to walk the difficult path. In the midst of the struggle, the LORD God Almighty draws close. The Passion Translation says that in the valley God gives, “them a brook of blessing filled with the rain of outpouring.”

Entrance Fountain

My heart cries out, “God if a valley is what it takes, lead me through the valley. If a valley will reveal your sovereignty, then prepare me for the valley. May I not miss it! May I not choose an easier way, a quick fix!”

I love this next verse in the Passion,

“Your wrap-around presence is our defense.”
Psalm 84:9

Now if only, we can maintain that imagery in the midst of our tears. The LORD Almighty wrapping His Presence around us, protecting, shielding and comforting. Yes, Lord, wrap us in Your Presence.

God’s Presence

Any problems we face and all sacrifices made dims in God’s Presence. Just one moment with Him makes the journey worth it. Everything else fades behind us; the struggle seems all but forgotten.

“Better is one day in your courts
than a thousand elsewhere;
I would rather be a doorkeeper
in the house of my God
than dwell in the tents of the wicked.”
Psalm 84:10

If you could choose anywhere to be, where would you go? What type of escape from work or responsibility floats through your thoughts with the notion?

Ancient Doorway

For those whose souls, hearts and flesh yearn for the living God, only one thought permeates theirs. “One day” with God, even if it is only from a distant “court”, surpasses all other desires. Even assuming the lowest position in God’s Presence, as a doorkeeper, outweighs the highest comforts the world could ever offer.

Why?

Grace and Favor

When one comes to know Him and experience Him in a personal way, He is both all one longs for and all one needs. The pilgrimage becomes worth it; the blessing of His Presence fully satisfying.

“For the Lord God is a Sun and Shield;
the Lord bestows [present] grace and favor
and [future] glory
(honor, splendor and heavenly bliss)!
No good thing will He withhold
from those who walk uprightly.
Psalm 84:11

Our relationship with the LORD Almighty isn’t ‘pie in the sky when we die.’ He releases the outpouring of His blessings to us continually, here and now.

The blessings of knowing God and being loved by Him endure beyond time. They can be summed up only one way, “No good thing will He withhold!”

Palace Stairway

What a promise! Now, I look back at my life remembering valleys of tears I feared I’d never escape and the toil of digging deep. Decades later, I continue to hunger for one thing — that moment in His Presence — sensing His voice.

LORD Almighty, blessed is the one
who trusts in you.”
Psalm 84:12

The LORD Almighty remains worthy of our trust. Yes, “blessed is the one who trusts, leaning and believing on You, committing and confidently looking to You and that without fear or misgiving.” (AMP)

An Easter and Passover Prayer For You

Thank you for this opportunity to say a brief Easter and Passover prayer for you. I offer this small but sincere gift to each one of you.

***

“Lord, thank You for each person who is joining me in prayer today. May they feel the comfort of your tender heart and sense your Presence with them.

“You, O God, are gracious and compassionate. You are closer than the breath we breathe. In our weakness, we discover Your strength. In our frailty, we see Your power.

“Today, we remember the price you paid on Calvary and how You humbled Yourself even to the cross. We thank You for bearing the weight of our sin, for redeeming us from our past and purchasing the healing for our bodies. ‘By your stripes (the beating of your body), we have been healed.’

“There is no sin too great;
no dis-ease too powerful;
no scheme of the enemy too cunning
for YOU!

“Today, God, we remember the greatest victory ever won through Your death and resurrection. Arise, O Lord! Arise in our midst and may Your enemies be scattered.

“Shelter each one today under the shadow of Your wing. Circle them with a hedge of protection. Strengthen those with feeble arms and weak knees. Fill us all with Your love, grace and boldness.

“May we re-present You well in this hour. We are not those who shrink back and perish, but because of Your life, we persevere to life. ‘Your divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness.’ Your cross and resurrection created an indisputable plumb line dividing history past from future destiny — the old from the new, the tainted from the pure.

“Again Lord, we look to You. We look to the victory of the cross and the empty tomb. Show Yourself mighty on our behalf. Remove fear and fill us with audacious faith — faith that rests in You alone.

“I ask for wisdom and discernment for each one. Show us what to do and how to do it. Give us Your words to speak and a heart of grace to speak it. I declare health over weary bodies and peace over troubled minds. In Your goodness, sustain us and help us. As a Shepherd lead us, as Warrior King fight on our behalf, and as the All-Sufficient One, I ask that You meet our needs.

“Nothing can isolate us from Your Presence, for You, God, are with us. You are the Light penetrating all darkness and our God of Peace in the midst of every storm.

“May this Passover and Easter season be a transitional point in each one of our lives. We ask You to come and remove the cloud of oppression and depression that hangs over Your people. May the joy of the Lord be our strength and the knowledge of our God bring us courage. We overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony.

“I ask You to show Yourself strong to each one today. Bless them. As a Father, watch over them with tender love. Your mercy is great and Your goodness unfailing.

“‘O God, create in us a pure heart and renew within us a right spirit.’ I ask God for a supernatural move our Holy Spirit upon us . . . upon our homes . . . and in our churches . . . throughout our communities and over our nations.

“Lord, we make room for You today to cut through our busyness and establish Your rightful place among us just like You did at the original Passover. The cross and the empty tomb still speaks to our generation. Capture our attention and bring us into a deeper closeness with You.

“May our ears be open to hear Your nudging, our eyes to see Your blessings and our hearts to respond to Your love. May our lives become acceptable offerings of praise and adoration unto You.

“Lord, we come humbly before You, to give You thanks. We thank You for your great grace and immeasurable love. Thank You that Your ear is turned toward our prayer and Your hand stretches out to help us. Thank You for daily carrying our burdens

“Lord I ask You to bless each listener drawing them every closer to You this Passover and Easter. This is my prayer, Lord, that they may know You are with them.

Amen.”