Prayer in Relationship – Unmasking Myths: Is This Prayer

Unmasking Myths: Is This Prayer?

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

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

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

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

Unmasking Myths

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

Other chapters explore topics like:

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

Is This Prayer?

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

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

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

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

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Unmasking Myths: Is This Prayer?

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Healing by the Pool: What is Crooked Cannot be Straightened

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

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

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

Bent Eyelet

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

Mercy and Grace

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

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

Bent Nail

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

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

Jesus Sees

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

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

Nothing!

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

Rusty Bend Metal

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

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

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

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

Cannot be Straightened

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

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

Casting Metal

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

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

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

A Matter of Heart

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Melting

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

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

Pure Gold

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

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

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

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

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

Light Shines Brightest in Darkness – Let Light be Seen!

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

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

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

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

Light Wins

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

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

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

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

Lantern

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

When light comes, darkness immediately disappears. No contest!

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

Light shines brighter than darkness, always winning.

Light Shines

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

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

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

Lightbulbs

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

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

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

Light shines undiminished.

Great Light

Matthew quotes the prophet Isaiah,

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

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

One Light

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

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

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

Light shines in the world around us.

Light of Life

With light comes life.

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

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

Lighthouse

One of my mother’s favorite verses was,

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

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

Light shines, bringing life.

Light Comforts

The psalmist wrote,

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

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

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

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

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

Light Match

We look forward to where,

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

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

Walk in Light

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

“More light, Lord! Come Jesus, come!”

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

Child with light

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

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

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

Jesus welcomes us,

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

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

Light shines

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

Walking Together and Learning to Keep in Step

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

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

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

Walking Side-by-Side

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

Which Way?

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

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

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

Walk Sunset

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

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

In Step

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

Walking Together

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

Walking together with God means:

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

But most of all walking together with God requires humility.

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

Walking Together

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

Two people walking

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

Paul said to the Corinthian church,

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

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

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

The Destination

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

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

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

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

Going the distance

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

Enoch agreed!

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

That’s true walking together.

Which Jesus? Release Jesus Barabbas or Jesus the Messiah

People are searching for Jesus. Most don’t know it. Other’s are asking, “Which Jesus should I choose?” Many haven’t come to realize there is a choice.

Only Matthew addresses it like this, but his words sent me to prayer and thinking about the implications,

“So when the crowd had gathered,
Pilate asked them,
Which one do you want me to release to you:
Jesus Barabbas, or
Jesus who is called the Messiah?'”
Matthew 27:17

The first alternative presented was Jesus Barabbas, a murderer charged with insurrection, revolt, rebellion and mutiny. The second, more logical choice, was Jesus the Messiah: the Anointed One, The Savior and prophesied Deliverer of Israel. The wise and obvious choice stood before Pilate and the crowd.

Such choice might seem wise and obvious to some but not to all.

Which Jesus

Which Jesus to choose became polluted by a self-interest vocal minority — the chief priests and elders!

“But the chief priests and the elders
persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas
and to have Jesus executed.”
Matthew 27:20

How can a few zealous power-hungry voices create such influence? Their twisted motivations, not-so-hidden agendas, and power-swaggering movements failed to blind Pilate of their true nature. Yet even he was rendered powerless to stop their influence or curb their plot.

Strong Together

Pilate knew which Jesus to choose. Although convinced of Jesus’ innocence, he compromised his personal beliefs to sway with the populace.

“But the whole crowd shouted,
“Away with this man!
Release Barabbas to us!”
Luke 23:18

Release Jesus Barabbas?

As shocking as it was then, similar voices echo throughout our nation and many others. Though Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the Savior of the world stands before us with arms outstretched, the masses shout, “No! We don’t want the Jesus of truth and righteousness. We don’t want the Jesus that brings life. Give us another Jesus!”

When we ask for another Jesus, another Jesus we get. If we refuse the One and Only God, another god we will find.

I know for a fact that “the whole crowd” wasn’t shouting for His crucifixion.

“From then on,
Pilate tried to set Jesus free . . .”
John 19:12

Mary, the mother of Jesus, and several other women silently witnessed the events of that day. I assure you that they, along with Jesus disciples, were silenced by the masses — their voices muted by the powerful.

Believe in Jesus

When a murdered was released, murder ensued. With the release of the rebellious, rebellion increased. The impact of that day’s decision sifted down through multiple generations.

“All the people answered,
‘His blood is on us and on our children!'”
Matthew 27:25

In the heat of that critical moment, they unwittingly cursed themselves and their offspring.

Which One?

This simple little passage sent me to my knees, because the ground-shaking implications continue with destructive force over the nations.

“‘. . . Which one do you want me to release to you:
Jesus Barabbas, or
Jesus who is called the Messiah?'”
Matthew 27:17

There is only One Jesus who delivers all He promises, providing the way out of darkest crisis, the truth in face of the strongest delusion, and life when the clouds of death hang ominous.

Which Jesus we choose impacts us and the generations to follow. Which Jesus we release among us today predicates future outcomes.

Prayer and Faith in Jesus

Many have lowered Jesus to a prophet, a good teacher, or a little “g” god to which we can all somehow attain. They have attempted to strip Him of His deity, power and authority. Yes, their voices form the minority. Yet, at times again the few mute the truth and deny the fullness of Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the Redeemer of all mankind.

Release Jesus

God challenges me today, “Release Jesus! Release Jesus the Messiah around you! Don’t be silent or still!”

His challenge isn’t exclusive to me, however. He urges us all, young and old, male and female, known and unknown, to let others see, the real Jesus among us. In our words, in our conduct, in our attitudes, and in our prayers, release Jesus the Messiah.

Conduct yourselves in a manner
worthy of the Gospel of Christ,
so that whether I come and
see you or remain absent,
I will hear of you that you are
standing firm in one spirit,
and with one mind striving together
for the faith of the Gospel.”
Philippians 1:27

Team Prayer

Standing firm in these days creates an obvious separation from the majority. Many public forums pressed the mute button on the Christian voice decades ago. Yet, our voices can not only be heard, but resonate clearly among the crowds of confusion with eternal impact.

But how? With so many people staggering in uncertainty, how can we release Jesus today, setting free in our culture all He represents.

Strategies

God’s eternal strategies remain relevant for all generations at all times.

The first, and foremost, is to personally choose Jesus as your Messiah, Savior and Redeemer. Welcome Him to come into your life, surrendering yourself completely to Him. We can only give to the world what we have already received. The only way to offer Jesus, and the hope only He brings, to others is to experience Him personally.

Then by consistently taking time in the Bible, we discover more about who He is and the awesome plan God has for each one of us. The Bible offers more than concrete wisdom for daily living, God’s Word is powerful, effective and life giving.

Prayer, the third strategy, remains the chief work of every Christian. It prepares the ground for faith to increase, opens previously locked doors, and releases opportunity for voice and impact. Prayer influences heaven and impacts earth. Never underestimate the power and authority we hold on our knees in prayer.

“The effective prayer of a righteous man
can accomplish much.”
James 5:16

With these steps activated, audacious faith permeates our words, actions and conduct refusing to accept any other Jesus presented to us.

A Turning Tide

Even though we have heard the same chant from groups and influencers throughout the ages, the tide is turning. The once silent voice of Christians rises again, calling wrong wrong and right right.

“From the days of John the Baptist until the present,
the kingdom from heaven has been forcefully advancing,
and violent people have been attacking it.”
Matthew 11:12

Team Battle

As Christ followers, we belong to a mighty army taking back territory once surrendered by the release of the “Barabbas”es — the counterfeits. “No more!” the faith-filled shout. “Just give me Jesus — the true Jesus!”

Joshua, whose name can also accurately be translated Jesus, said,

“. . . choose for yourselves this day
whom you will serve . . .
but as for me and my household,
we will serve the LORD.”
Joshua 24:15

How many times has this not-so-subtle question been asked, “Which Jesus do you want released to you?”

In this hour, the pendulum shifts. Boldness fills God’s people again as many raise their voices. “Give us Jesus, the Messiah! Give us Jesus, the One in Whom is life and hope. We will have no other!”

From nations long closed to the Gospel to those cold from revivals all-but-forgotten, the sound rises like a thunderous wave, “Give us Jesus, the Messiah!”

Benevolence – Serving The Least of These with Compassion

Jesus invites us into action, serving “the least of these.” Ask anyone today about their employment and you’re apt to hear high profile name dropping or executive jargon that will leave your head spinning and your self-worth plummeting. Such chest-puffing exercises dominate human impulses throughout history.

Several years ago at my son’s graduation, a group of a few dozen students proved the benefits of serving the least of these. This class lived out the principle throughout their public education from kindergarten to grade 12. A young boy with terminal illness co-existed with them — always facing limitations, often hospitalized for extended periods. The disease stole his life before he was able to graduate. The impact he had on his classmates and their families continues to be felt.

Unlike other graduation exercises I attended, a golden thread of their prevailing culture firmly translated into serving the least. They loved, cared for, assisted, supported and valued this young man holding him in high esteem.

“. . . ‘Truly I tell you,
whatever you did for one of the least of
these brothers and sisters of mine,
you did for me.'”
Matthew 25:40

Benevolence

The expectation of Jesus goes far beyond the normal standards and expectations of benevolence. In North America those seeking public assistance supply perks to propel the “haves” of society to share with the “have-nots” — tickets, gift baskets, banquets and more.

Jesus observed similar practices in His day — elegant celebrations given exclusively for friends, brothers and sisters, relatives and rich neighbors. All those invited could return the favor, perhaps with a bonus. He calls His followers further,

“When you give a banquet,
invite the poor, the crippled,
the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed . . .”
Luke 14:13,14

Caring for the Poor

Perhaps the repayment would not be returned in kind but rather the status of association or public approval as part of the in-crowd. Who am I anxious to serve? Am I serving those who somehow benefit me or am I serving the least?

I’m asking myself these searching questions. Have I learned these lessons after many decades of living that my son effectively learned through his shared years in a classroom with someone who could never possibly repay or return the favor?

It Was Me!

Jesus makes a profound statement,

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat,
. . . thirsty and you gave me something to drink,
. . . a stranger and you invited me in,
I needed clothes and you clothed me,
. . . was sick and you looked after me,
I was in prison and you came to visit me.”
Matthew 25:35-36

The confused crowd asked, “How? When? What!” Such thinking so contravened their entrenched mindset that they were unable to connect the dots between their actions to others and their relationship with Christ. Jesus wasn’t talking to hooligans and renegades; He spoke such clarity to the righteous!” (vs 37)

Soldier Giving

The parable represented people like me, writing this blog, and you, reading it. Normal, good people living their lives in the best way they knew how. Yet, in their living, they were somehow unable to see Jesus among the throngs of people.

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you,
whatever you did not do for one of the least of these,
you did not do for me.'”
Matthew 25:45

The Least of These

I don’t know about you, but I need a constant reminder to look for Jesus in the eyes of every person I encounter, knowing they belong to God and are made in His image.

“The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it,
the world, and all who live in it.”
Psalm 24:1

Hospital Burundi

Do I see the face of Jesus in the eyes of the oppressed? Or am I looking for hands that will hold me up, voices that increase my value, or credentials that puff my reputation? The subtleties hidden from my own heart lay vibrantly clear and exposed to Christ.

One of the toughest places I choose to work is in the justice system, caring for people at crisis moments, arrested for crimes they’ve committed. Among them are thieves, abusers, addicts. Why? Because I’m especially gracious or caring? Not at all!!! Serving the least continuously stretches me beyond any personal capacity. It’s what Jesus asks of me.

As I write, I weep. Images of humanity, broken and disconnected, flash through my memory; disconnected from God and love. Each person teaches me something about myself that I would rather not see or be reminded of. Serving the least must become so ingrained in me that it flows naturally out of my love for Jesus. I’m not there yet. Honestly, I may never get there.

Sometimes seeing the reflection of Christ in those I would far rather hate, comes with an emotional price tag. I’m constantly reminded that Christ poured Himself out and died for this one — this lost and broken one in front of me. Just as the blood of Jesus covered over all my sins, it covers theirs too. They just don’t know Him yet.

Prison Fence

Serious Business

Jesus ends the parable by speaking to those who refuse to see Him in the face of the needy,

“Then they will go away to eternal punishment,
but the righteous to eternal life.”
Matthew 25:46

He recognizes those who are His by how they treat the least among them. The righteous cast an eternal focus. Temporary elevations of status from the who’s-who-crowd pale. “What’s in it for me?” never enters their mind.

Like my son’s classmates, loving the least became a daily overflow of living life together. They never viewed it as sacrifice to push a wheelchair through the mud instead of playing on the soccer field. They refused self-centered agendas and self-promoting values. Not one of them measured their actions in eternal rewards. They joyously spent their time serving the one among them.

The Challenge

May I challenge you today as God challenges me? Who is the one? Who is the least of these God desires you to feed, give a glass of water to, invite into your home, clothe, visit or care for?

“For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink
because of your name as followers of Christ,
truly I say to you, he will not lose his reward.”
Mark 9:41

 

Brothers serving each other

Many will scamper to provide for a person of high profile; the one who holds power and authority. Jesus confronted the Pharisees for the way they publicized similar actions.

“Be careful not to practice your righteousness
in front of others to be seen by them.
If you do, you will have no reward
from your Father in heaven.”
Matthew 6:1

Few people consistently care for the least of these. Be assured, if you do, no one will notice — no one should. No one will commend you for the unseen grace and mercy you offer.

In thirteen years together, I wonder how many unpublicized acts of kindness were demonstrated within my son’s classroom. Countless, I’m sure! They learned well the lessons that I struggle to master, touching the life of the one among them.

“Bravo!” Jesus declares to each of you, now grown and many grey-haired, “Well done! May you always remember the joy of serving the least.”

Prepare for Triplets – Getting Ready for Prayer Expansion

How do you prepare for triplets? Making room for one new addition requires planning, energy and resources, but triplets demand so much more. Before you think this seasoned grandmother, well beyond the childbearing years, has lost all grip on reality, I can explain. No! Cuddling the recent influx of babies being joyfully deposited among the young and thriving families hasn’t given me the desire to turn back the clock and start over.

Nonetheless, God has conceived in me triplets. When I first became pregnant with anticipation, I consented to one birth; but alas one has become three. Such surprising encounters occur to those who wait and listen for God’s promptings.

Habakkuk said,

“I will stand at my watch
and station myself on the ramparts;
I will look to see what he will say to me,
and what answer I am to give to this complaint.”
Habbakuk 2:1

Pregnant

To “station” oneself “on the ramparts” means to take a stand at a place of siege or distress. Though I didn’t realize it at the time, that is exactly what God was calling me to do. About two years ago, I was standing at my prayer watch — well more specifically on my face, weeping in the prayer room. I felt God’s distinctive nudge to write a book on prayer. Though prayer is an active part of my Christian faith, I certainly neither felt equipped nor authoritative on the subject of prayer.

Three eggs

Yet, God persisted.

Then the LORD replied:
Write down the revelation
and make it plain on tablets
so that a herald may run with it.
For the revelation awaits an appointed time;
it speaks of the end and will not prove false.
Though it linger, wait for it;
it will certainly come and will not delay.”
Habakkuk 2:2

Writing and making it plain sounds simple enough for a less weighty subject. However, looking at books written on prayer by Dutch Sheets, Anne Graham Lotz, Stormie Omartian, C. Peter Wagner and many others left me feeling intimidated and inadequate to say the least.

Regardless, I was pregnant! There was no turning back. After several months of hesitation and deliberation, I accepted the reality. “Okay, Lord, we’re having a baby, but this definitely has to be more You than me.”

Testimony

And so, the writing began. About thirty thousand words into the process, God nudged me again to interview people, gathering testimonies about the miraculous interventions they have witnessed as a result of prayer.

Three baby kittens

My excitement was building. Since I love hearing other people’s stories, I looked forward to the process without considering the technical details involved. I began to approach people I respected in my small prayer circle, asking for their assistance.

“. . . ‘declare how much God has done for you.’
And he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city
how much Jesus had done for him.”
Luke 8:39

The voice of this once demonized man exemplifies the power of testimony. As I began to listen to these prayer testimonies, I knew they would inspire faith and increase prayer momentum. Surprisingly, recounting their prayer journeys ignited something deep and fresh within themselves before their words ever hit a page in my files.

Global Voice

Who but God would have known these multiple hours and dozens of voices would accumulate to over 400,000 words of intensely vulnerable and honestly raw prayer testimony. Their experiences reached from Mongolia to Jamaica, Chile to Great Britain, Nigeria to North America. Their ages spanned from nine to ninety years. Each held a piece — a unique story — of a prayer tapestry.

Together their voices impacted my own prayer life and spiritual perception.

“I will tell my people what you have done;
I will praise you in their assembly.”
Psalm 22:22

Three Teddy Bears Reading

Now came the task of honoring God and honoring their testimonies. As I mapped and charted their stories, I discovered distinct patterns within three main themes: the misconceptions that keep people from believing their prayers could be effective, the strategies necessary to defeat the enemy and praying with authority, and the miraculous interventions of God.

Prepare for Triplets

It was then that I realized, I was birthing not just one but three book babies:

  1. Unmasking the Myths; Is This Prayer?
  2. Unlocking the Legacy; Taking Territory
  3. Unstoppable; Moving in the Miraculous

It’s a good thing God didn’t forewarn me of the magnitude of the project. I would have found the fastest way out of town and hid somewhere in the hills. However, these testimonies produced such a powerful impact on my life, I couldn’t wait to share their stories with others like you.

It’s incredible to me that Jesus would say that we are the light of the world. Of course, in and of ourselves, we are the opposite. Because of His Presence within us, we have become light and He desires that light to shine brightly.

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

Three Candles in the Dark

Dozens of people willingly opened their lives within the pages of these prayer books so that others will clearly see the power of prayer and give God glory. Only a handful are in full-time ministry. The vast majority are farmers, housewives, doctors, teachers, laborers, truckers, students . . . They are normal people we brush shoulders with everyday, people trusting in the grace and goodness of God to hear and answer prayer.

But through them, God is glorified. Prepare for triplets!

Born with Teeth

Even though these soon to be published testimonies remain hidden in files, sifted through by beta readers, polished by editors, and formatted by designers, they already have teeth and speak in full sentences.

Two years ago, I didn’t realize God was setting me on the ramparts of the desperate situation of prayerlessness, not just in our nation, but in our churches and homes. Such a void exists mainly because of the impotence many people feel in the context of prayer. John professes,

“They triumphed . . . by the blood of the Lamb
and by the word of their testimony . . .”
Revelation 12:11

The blood has already been shed, but the words of testimony still speak. Every testimony vibrates with faith in Jesus Christ. Their testimonies expose the reality that God still saves the lost, heals the sick, casts out demons, and raises the dead. Neither God nor prayer has suddenly become powerless.

Three Flowers Bloom

As I prepare to deliver the triplets, these three books on prayer, I no longer sense trepidation and fear. Rather, I anticipate the impact these shared voices, spoken so simply, yet boldly, will have on those ready to listen. With my part of writing and making it plain almost complete, the time to run ticks closer and closer.

“And for what purpose?” you might ask.

“For the earth will be filled
with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD
as the waters cover the sea.”
Habakkuk 2:2

******

Coming Soon:

(Not final cover designs!)

Transparent Love – Love Must be Honest

Only through transparent love does it grow and mature. To love fully and freely, love must be honest. Most of us struggle to overcome our tendency to hide.  We hide our thoughts, our emotions, our failures, our differences, our unacceptable-ness. In hiding we deceive ourselves, robbing us from the blessings love offers.

Paul said,

“What a wretched man I am!
Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?”
Romans 7:24

That’s honesty! Who among us is so bold as to announce to the world for infinity the poverty of our minds and souls? Few. Very few possess such transparent love.

Love is Blind

An old adage says, “Love is blind.” Saul on his way to Damascus to murder and imprison Christians perhaps literally experienced this quote. As he neared Damascus, “a light from heaven flashed around him.” The light was immediately followed by God’s voice questioning his objectives.

“‘Who are you, Lord?’ Saul asked.”
Acts 9:5

In asking the question, he declared the answer. The Lord he thought he knew was not this Lord. Here was love, he had never experienced before. When he picked himself off the ground and “opened his eyes he could see nothing.” Saul once driven by religious passion became blinded by love — unconditional, indisputable, undefinable love. Love so pure that darkness had no place.

For three days Saul fasted and prayed. Everything in his life changed from that moment of encounter forward. Everything except one thing.

Honest Love

By the time that we meet Paul in the Book of Romans, he has undergone a name change, a vision change, a mission change, a radical life change. Years have passed and the implications within Paul’s life since encountering Jesus Christ on the Damascus road stretched broad and wide. His conversion undeniable. His transformation unquestionable. Yet, he testifies to the Roman church, not in self-abasement, but in raw honesty.

“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.
What a wretched man I am!”
Romans 7:21-24

What freed Paul to be so honest? What released him to such transparent love?

Most of us are confronted with our misdemeanors before such confession — our breaches of conduct exposed, our sin and failure made public. Not this man! Paul was different.

Perfect Love

John, the disciple Jesus loved, penned these words,

“There is no fear in love.
But perfect love drives out fear,
because fear has to do with punishment.
The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”
1 John 5:18

Here lies the heart of our issue, our stumbling block to transparent love. We’ve learned early that honesty brings punishment, reprimand, perhaps rejection and shunning, often unforgiveness and broken relationships. So we live among those we are supposed to love, and who are called to love us, with fear. Fear denies love the freedom to thrive and grow.

Yet, Paul’s encounter with Jesus Christ, his relationship with the God who by His very nature is love, so grounded him to boldly and honestly acknowledge his greatest weaknesses even among His enemies.

He laid out his true condition before those who could do him the most harm, the church. Yikes! If ever there is a critical bunch, they can be found sitting in the pews, praying in the prayer rooms, and sharing communion at the altar. Unfortunate, but sadly true. The places where love should most abound at times is lacking. Lacking in me most of all!

Yet, here more than any other place authentic, transparent honesty finds hope, help and healthy relationship.

No Pedestal

Though some would like to climb on the pedestal marked human perfection, there was only One who could hold that rightful place. His sinless life was enough to redeem us all.

For the rest of us, we are in process like Paul — trying our best, longing with all our heart not to sin and let others down, and repenting often.

If there is one verse I take great comfort in, it is this one,

“But by the grace of God I am what I am,
and his grace to me was not without effect.”
1 Corinthians 15:10

I haven’t reached the fullness of God’s intention for my life and fall far short of it most days, but I’m not the person I used to be — the broken one, the despised and rejected one, the unloved one. By God’s grace alone, He has called me by name and chosen me as His daughter. He loves me even though I’m undeserving.

As a matter of fact,

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this:
While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Romans 5:8

Paul wrote both of these passages. He called himself the least of the apostles, unworthy of that designation. In another place, he identifies himself as the worst of sinners. This is the regenerated Paul — the cleaned up, polished-off apostle who is effectively planting churches everywhere he goes.

Yet, he claimed nothing for himself. He desired no pedestal or promotion. In transparent love, he clearly identified with sinners, redeemed only by the pure love of God.

Love Redeeming Hope

So where is our hope and help in the midst of the internal battle we all wage. Paul sums it up in a single sentence.

“Thanks be to God, who delivers me
through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
Romans 7:25

“Who delivers me” is a continuous action! Jesus, our Beloved, continuously draws us into the intimate love and fellowship of the Father, freeing us from the claws of fear, releasing us to transparent love. Risky? Yes. Vulnerable? Beyond question. Worth it? Absolutely.

This morning I awoke weeping and singing, “How deep the Father’s love for us, how vast beyond all measure, that He should give His only Son, to make (this) wretch his treasure.” I’ve spent the morning resting in that love. In His perfect love, repentance flows freely. Not just remorse or guilt, but a repentance that sets the captive free.

“Godly sorrow brings repentance
that leads to salvation and leaves no regret,
but worldly sorrow brings death.”
2 Corinthians 7:10

Transparent love honestly draws us into repentance of anything that marks, distorts or hinders love’s fullness. Repentance starts at the cross and flows to everyone around us. The world’s vain replica brings destruction. But the honesty of Christ’s love in us leads to the sorrow of repentance that embraces even the wretchedness of our present struggle.

Transparent love redeems pulling us up to a higher standard, a wider reach, a deeper flow of loves pure intent. So herein is God’s challenge to each of us — to love with transparency and honesty, to refuse to play it safe hiding in fear, to risk vulnerability before God and others. The pursuit of such love lasts a lifetime, but such is redeeming love.

*****

Another Read:

Adonai Jehovah – The Giver – The One Who Pours Out

Do Clothes Make a Man or Woman? Are You Ready?

How important are the clothes we wear? Do clothes really make a man or woman? Is our dress that closely associated with the success of an individual?

My mother always dressed beautifully. She knew exactly what accessories to put with whatever top to go with whichever shoes. Me, on the other hand, missed the gorgeous-garment-gene completely. There was nothing glamorous about most of my life doing farm work. Carhartts and steel-toed boots hardly qualify as a fashion statement. Jewelry? Any deer, rabbit or coyote I encountered would have been non-appreciative of such accessories.

Not that I haven’t tried on rare occasions to “doll myself up.” One failed attempt at dressing-for-success ended up with arriving at church only to realize I had completely forgotten to wear shoes. Horrified I discovered I had left home with incredibly comfortable, fuzzy, blue slippers! An illustration perhaps of God humiliating the proud.

Seriously though, God has a lot to say about the clothes we wear that have little to do with appealing to the human eye, but rather the heart.

So before I worry about dress codes and fashion statements, the latest trends and hot new looks, let’s check out what is far more critical. God points to quite a different wardrobe for clothes appropriate for any man or woman.

The Old for the New

When we moved off the farm, I happily traded in those muddy boots and work clothes for casual office attire. The transition was easy and inexpensive thanks to second-hand stores and bargain hunting.

Paul compared the new life of a Christian as being similar to a wardrobe change, taking off the old and putting on the new.

“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life,
to put off your old self,
which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires;
to be made new in the attitude of your minds;
and to put on the new self,
created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”
Ephesians 4:22-24

Sounds easy, right? Maybe for some, but it certainly hasn’t been for me! I may not even own those old clothes any more, but I still smell the stench of them from time-to-time. Deceitful desires are deceitful because I’m the last the recognize how deceived I am in them. My attitudes can become downright foul before I catch a whiff of my own disdainful aroma.

Unfortunately, I’m not alone.

“We have all become like one who is unclean,
and all our unrighteous deeds are like polluted garments.”
Isaiah 64:6

Humility

If you think I might be exaggerating, I’ll be specific. I’ll begin with the truly gritty and tough.

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people,
holy and dearly loved,
clothe yourselves with compassion,
kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”
Colossians 3:12

Taking off the old man, or garments, may appear like an instantaneous magic act for some, but for me, it has been more like peeling layer by layer slowly and painstakingly off my entire being. Oh don’t get me wrong, I would love to be clothed with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. These are the real attributes making any woman or man great.

The selfishness, inconsideration, pride, harshness and impatience of my old man sticks like crazy-glue, showing itself in the most unexpected ways. I fear I grieve the Holy Spirit far too often, in my failure to rid myself of these old offensive garments. As a matter of fact, the more I try to rid myself of them, the more hopeless the process appears to become. If these godly qualities make the man or woman, without divine help, I’m in big trouble!

I, like everyone else who acknowledges the Name of the Lord Jesus, have been robed in His righteousness. But the message has taken longer than I hoped to seep into the essence of my whole being.

Salvation

I love Isaiah’s declaration:

“I delight greatly in the LORD;
my soul rejoices in my God.
For he has clothed me with garments of salvation
and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness,
as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.”
Isaiah 61:10

“He has clothed me with garments of salvation!” Don’t you love it? Do you hear the past tense? It’s a done deal, an irreversible act, an undeniable fact. These garments truly make us women and men of God.

Unlike my personal wardrobe transition, this garment change cost the highest price, the life of Jesus Christ. But God looked at each of us and said, “That one is worth it! Look at her. See how valuable she is. Look at him all you heavenly host, watch how I clean him up and transform him into someone that turns heads, capturing attention. Everyone will know it is My doing when they see these children of mine in their new clothes.”

Garments of salvation . . . robes of righteousness . . . fit only for the bride of Christ. Yes, Lord, bring it on!

My meager wardrobe change is nothing in comparison with the magnificent exchange that God has orchestrated. God’s clothes do make the man or woman.

Magnificent Exchange

In Matthew 22, Jesus tells a parable about a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. He sent out invitations far and wide to the elite and the chosen — the list was long and impressive. Few responded; most vainly excused themselves. Quickly the invitation list was changed.

“Go into the street corners and invite . . . anyone you find.”
Matthew 22:9

The anyones and the everyones gladly came.

“But when the king came in to see the guests,
he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes.
He asked, ‘How did you get in here
without wedding clothes, friend?’
The man was speechless.
Matthew 22:11

Don’t miss the compassion and intimacy with which the king called him “friend.” The king knew him and loved him. The king had both extended the invitation and provided the necessary apparel for the occasion. The man was without excuse.

Obviously, when our Heavenly Father throws a wedding for His Son, He fully expects us to come dressed in the righteousness that He has already provided.

Fit for a King

Jesus spoke in parables while John witnessed the grand occasion through a vision.

“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!
For the wedding of the Lamb has come,
and his bride has made herself ready.
Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.”
(Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God’s holy people.)”
Revelation 19: 6-8

God has given us everything we need, but it is up to each of us as the bride of Christ to make ourselves ready. I, for one, don’t want to have the King ask how I got into the wedding, still wearing the old garments of my past.

So, here I am kneeling in prayer, peeling away the old, receiving the new, and doing whatever it takes to be ready. Won’t you join me? If you are an anyone, the invitation still stands.

Adonai Jehovah – The Giver – The One Who Pours Out

As we approach the season of giving, I’m reminded of the ultimate Giver who continues to out-give us all. His very name means “The One who pours out.”

During our first years of marriage my husband and I often tried to out-give each other. Our giving started out with loving intentions, but it didn’t take long for our practice to become foolishly insane. Eventually, we realized that it was the simple day to day giving of ourselves that reaped the greatest relational dividends. Over the years, we developed an ever deepening appreciation for each other as we increasingly valued the moments we shared.

These lessons came with much struggle. Yet, the joy of daily serving each other in a thousand little ways out measured the futile task of finding the perfect gift to demonstrate inexpressible gratitude.

The Inspiration

Around $10 billion flows into charitable donations annually in Canada alone. Thirty percent of those donations occur during the Christmas season. Why? It’s recognition of the Giver, the One who poured out His very best to us all through the Gift of Jesus Christ.

“For God so loved the world
that he gave his one and only Son,
that whoever believes in him shall not perish
but have eternal life.”
John 3:16

That most precious of gifts, generously given by a loving Father to us, His needy children, continues to inspire giving globally. Of course, no monetary giving compares to God’s ultimate gift of salvation through Jesus. Yet, out of gratitude, humanity imitates God’s example becoming givers and thereby meeting the needs of others. Even in this small way, we reflect His compassionate heart.

Adonai, one of the names for God, means “Giver or “One who pours Himself out.” Giving is who He is, not just what He does. It is an attribute of His nature.

“Every good and perfect gift is from above,
coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights,
who does not change like shifting shadows.”
James 1:17

Out-Giving the Giver

David also captured a bit of God’s heart wanting to give something back to Him. David wondered how he could live content in “a house of cedars” (1 Chronicles 17:1) while God inhabited a tent. He wanted to build a house for God to dwell in, giving God the best he could.

Just like in our marriage, the desire to give backfired for David. As soon as he disclosed his aspiration, God turned the tables out-giving David’s greatest intentions. First though, God reminded David of his humble beginnings.

“…I took you from the pasture, from tending the flock,
and appointed you ruler over my people Israel.
I have been with you wherever you have gone,
and I have cut off all your enemies from before you.”
2 Samuel 7:8-9

David’s desire to give reflected God’s own gracious favor. His capacity and opportunity to give originated from the heart of The Giver. In response to David’s intention, God opened His treasure trove of promises offering even more gifts of grace, to not just David but to all his descendants.

“...I will make your name great,
like the names of the greatest men on earth.
And I will provide a place for my people Israel
and will plant them so that they can have
a home of their own and no longer be disturbed…
I will also give you rest from all your enemies…
the LORD himself will establish a house for you…
I will raise up your offspring to succeed you…
And I will establish his kingdom…
I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever…
But my love will never be taken away from him…”
2 Samuel 7:9-16

Relationship

Can you imagine how David felt in that moment? His intended gift to God held no comparison to what God now presented back to him. Immediately, David sensed an even greater awe and reverence for the God he thought he knew.

“Then King David went in and sat before the LORD…”
2 Samuel 7:18

Something became more intimate about their relationship. Deeper revelation of the Giver above all givers permeated that moment. Seven times in the next ten verses David refers to God as “Sovereign LORD” — Adonai Jehovah, the One who continually pours Himself out to the unworthy and undeserving.

I’ve experienced brief encounters with God, coming into His presence for no purpose other than to offer my little in worship to Him. Consistently, He turns the tables and lavishes upon me such a sense of His favor and grace it has left me in a weeping heap — speechless and helpless.

Though undefinable, something supernatural triggers a divine flow through even our limited imitation of the heart of The Giver. He sweeps in with love that will never be taken away.” He plants us secure in Him “no longer disturbed” as He welcomes us to come and sit close. Over and over again, God gives us the gift of His Presence!

Adonai Jehovah

Adonai Jehovah speaks first of relationship, either as Master and servant, or as Husband and wife. Both a slave and a wife in biblical times were “not their own,” but rather bought with a price. Whether voluntarily or involuntarily they became the property of their lord, fully dependent upon His faithfulness. But the Master made the first move through covenant willingly pledging Himself to sustain, keep and provide.

Paul and the other apostles considered it the highest honor to be known as a servant of the Lord, their beloved. In the Old Testament, Adonai Jehovah, signified a person’s hope in every weakness and encouragement in times of great struggle. God’s covenant presence guaranteed security and favor.

When everything around Isaiah seemed to have reached its darkest most desperate level, he says,

“In the year that King Uzziah died,
I saw the LORD (Adonai),
high and exalted, seated on a throne;
and the train of his robe filled the temple.”
Isaiah 6:1

In times of despair, Adonai comes giving Himself in the most intimate of communion with His people.

“For your Maker is your husband
the LORD Almighty is his name —
the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer;
he is called the God of all the earth.”
Isaiah 54:5

The images of God’s loving care to his bride abound throughout the Bible, lavishly providing for her, extending all He is and has for her benefit.

The Giver

Just as the Lord loved us and gave Himself to us, He desires that we now give ourselves to Him. This personal relationship between the Giver and His people flows with intimate and mutual confidence.

“They that know His name will put their trust in HIm.
And they that trust in Him shall never be confounded.”
– Andrew Jukes

Adonai came to humanity over two thousand years ago, pouring Himself out in complete servanthood — through life and death — that we might give ourselves back to Him. The best and greatest Gift has already been given. In receiving Him, we, like David, enter into a new sense of reverence and ever deepening fellowship with Him.

Adonai, the Giver, pours Himself out to a world in need of The Gift that all earth’s riches could never purchase. In both the giving and receiving resides great joy.