Devotions

June 26, 2017

A Fortress Like No Other

We recently spent a great deal of time gleaning from the truth and beauty of the “shadow of the Almighty”. When most here these words, their minds will immediately go to Psalm 91: “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High, Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.” What a marvelous and magnificent Scripture to cling to in the midst of the trials and sufferings that we must face as true followers of Jesus Christ. Yet, many find themselves only gleaning from this passage in the midst of seasons where war feels closer than the average battle. The Spirit began to reveal a more complete picture of what He is truly offering and providing as the One who creates the shade!!

Obviously this will serve as an overview, but several men examined hundreds of Scriptures and the Lord impressed upon us how critical it is that His people stand in His shade. Isaiah 25:4-5 “For You have been a defense for the helpless, A defense for the needy in his distress, A refuge from the storm, a shade from the heat; For the breath of the ruthless is like a rain storm against a wall. Like heat in drought, You subdue the uproar of aliens; Like heat by the shadow of a cloud, the song of the ruthless is silence.” If you read no more of this entry I beg of you to at least read this passage from Isaiah a few times and ask the Holy Spirit for revelation. These few verses paint a stunning picture of the shade. The word “tsel” (Hebrew for shade) is found in this passage and really demonstrates protection, help, provision, and guidance.

At this point, you can really begin to grasp the validity of the title to this entry. His shade is a fortress like no other! There are no visible walls, no guns and cannons, no barbed wire: yet all who find refuge in it find rescue!! Why? Exodus 15:3 says it all: “The Lord is a warrior; the Lord is His name”!! Come on- if that doesn’t make you leap, you are missing its significance!!

This covering (chuppah – H2646) will prove to be the mightiest and most satisfying aspect of our lives for one simple reason- it’s the presence of God! His presence in your life brings this shade, covering, protection, etc. Yes, it requires submission, repentance, and diligent obedience to His Word, and is something every lover of Jesus must strive daily to.

One of the more obvious Biblical examples of a cloud is given to us in Exodus as God’s children flee from Egypt. In Exodus 13:21- “The Lord was going before them in a pillar of cloud by day to lead them on the way” In Exodus 14:19-20- “The angel of God, who had been going before the camp of Israel, moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud moved from before them and stood behind them. So it came between the camp of Egypt and the camp of Israel; and there was darkness, yet it gave light at night. Thus the one did not come near the other all night.” It is truly remarkable to grasp the full power of what is taking place here. The cloud, the presence of God, the covering, the shade: provides not just protection. He provides provision, guidance, direction, revelation, hope; the list could go on and on.

In conjunction with this we stumbled upon something very beautiful. Exodus 19:4 “You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings, and brought you to myself.” Initially this may not sound too exciting. Hold on. Remember what the cloud did to guard God’s people- it went between them and the pursing enemy. The cloud was a covering and rear guard and border. In light of this, consider the phrase in Exodus 19, “bore you on eagles’ wings”. As we pondered, prayed, and studied, we came across a rabbinical writing whose thoughts were refreshing to say the least. He writes:

“As an eagle which bears its fledglings upon its wings- Scripture uses this metaphor because all other birds place their young between their feet since they are afraid of another bird that flies above them, but the eagle fears none except man-apprehending that perhaps he may cast an arrow at it- since no bird can fly above it; therefore he places the young ‘upon its wings’ thereby saying :’Better that the arrow should pierce me than my young’.”

Stand in the shade church! Nothing is more refreshing, satisfying, equipping, propelling, cleansing than to know that the presence of Almighty God would cover us and tuck us within the shelter of His wings. Where will you go? Everyone needs a covering. Only the Holy Spirit can provide the fortress that is unbeatable. But you have to go there!

You are in the middle of the desert on a blistering hot day and the sun is literally sucking the life from your body. You lift your head and your eye catches a glimpse of a small patch of shade, and in that moment you know clearly one very simple truth: life and death hinges on you getting to that shade. It will do the Body of Christ a great service to view our everyday walks with this measure of intensity. Life and death are at stake, and there He stands, a fortress like no other!!

 

 

March 13, 2017

We will start this blog with a passage from Proverbs.

 

Proverbs 3:1-6

  1. My son, do not forget my teaching, But let your heart keep my commandments.
  1. For length of days and years of life, And peace they will add to you.

3.Do not let kindness and truth leave you; Bind them around your neck,

Write them on the tablet of your heart.

  1. So you will find favor and good repute in the sight of God and man.
  2. Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding.
  1. In all your ways acknowledge Him,

And He will make your paths straight.

 

In reading this passage many times, I see such beauty and power in these simple principals. These principals, although simple, are still yet hard to keep.  Drawing our focus to verse 3 in particular, the Bible says to bind kindness and truth around our necks, and to write it on the tablet of our hearts or on our ‘Leb’ in Hebrew.  A further study on this Hebrew phrase draws emphasis to writing it on our inner man, the center. This is the very conscience of man living out the teaching of the Messiah!  Such a simple thing to read, but putting this to action requires a dying to the flesh that many are not willing to do. Having such a concept bound or yoked to us will cause the world to oppose and persecute you. We already know this because Christ tells in John 15:20 that they will hate and persecute you and it is for the sake of Christ that we will suffer.  This idea has to become real to the Church. The very bride of Christ must be worthy of Him, and we must apply the principals that He taught and wrote out for us in His Word!

If we keep the commands and teaching of Christ as the structure of our lives, it allows us to walk in obedience to our Heavenly Father, thus bringing true fullness.  It allows us to parent our children in a way that they will not depart from the faith. It allows us to be Godly spouse’s and as men to be leaders to our families. It allows us to disciple others and walk in freedom that only Christ can give.  We must keep the teachings of Christ written on our hearts, and we must yoke ourselves to the one who is worthy.  There is a sermon on this very website titled “Yoked”, and it is worth every minute of your time.  Jake clearly teaches and testifies of what it means to be yoked to Christ, and to allow your life to be bound to and guided by the Heavenly father.   We must choose this day what you will be bound to, because each of us will be bound to something!

There is another passage I want to share from Romans 7.  This speaks of dying to the law of flesh and being joined to another way; which is Christ so that we may bear fruit!  Verse 6 tells us that we should be released from the law and serve in newness of the Spirit!  This is what we are called to. As the true bride of Christ, this is what we must run after and give our lives to!

In each and every one of our lives there is a requirement to obey the ways of the Lord.  Each look different in many ways, but all should be surrounded by the truths that we find throughout the Word, the law, the prophets, and the writings.  We must use God’s word as the guide to our lives.  The Word is living and active, and we must walk in it!

December 17, 2016

“This is the way, Walk in it

 

The words “Our God is specific” are constantly flowing through my mind. As believers, we are always faced with questions of “What does the Lord have for my life” and “How do I know what he would have me do, how am I to act.” Everyone, if they were honest, would say they have at one point struggled with really believing that their God would answer them in there most desperate moments or with the simple mundane decisions of everyday. The Lord is more than willing to take us by the hand and lead us, but I am convinced that we are blinded by our own self-seeking ways. We say we want God’s will, we want to please His heart; but we cannot seem to throw off our own flesh to actually hear what the Lord may have to say to us. Let’s dig into the Scriptures to see what the Lord would say to those who know and trust Him.

Our source of guidance comes from God’s Word alone. In 1 Timothy 3:16-17, the word says, “All scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” We have to immerse ourselves in the Word of God if we want to know what he expects out of our lives. If you want to be equipped and trained in Righteousness, dig deep into His Word and let Him teach you His ways. The Lord declares in Psalm 32:8, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you!” Will the Lord not be true to His Word? Can we throw off what we think is right and hold to that promise? He will show you how to behave, act, walk all throughout this life. Jehovah God is supreme above all things and yet He says to us, “This is the way, walk in it.” (Isaiah 30:21)

The Kingdom of God should consume our daily lives. We let the daily pressures of money, jobs, relationships, the thought of persecution swerve us away from surrendering ALL to Jesus. If your hearts desire is to have financial security, you will never know how to walk in His kingdom power when He simply says, “Trust me”. In John 16:13 Jesus says, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.” If we are rooted and established in Jesus, we have the Holy Spirit that leads us into all truth. If we are filled with the very substance of Jesus that means we carry the Kingdom with us everywhere we go. Our lives were not meant to be weighed down with the cares of this world; we were called to walk in the power of Jesus and bring His Kingdom to earth! When this is your mindset, will He not speak with you personally and direct your every step?

Seek the Kingdom that is to come and the Lord will never fail to lead. Isaiah 30:20 says, “And though the LORD give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher.” Drink whatever cup the Lord places in your hand. Our hearts desire should be to know the Lord and for him to be our joy and portion in this life. If he is our joy, then it will not matter if we daily eat the bread of adversity and drink the cup of affliction. Jesus has wonderful things in store for us and He has promised to guide us.

Teach me to do your will, for you are my God! Let your good Spirit lead me on level ground. (Psalm 143:10)

September 10, 2016

For The Joy

Whenever a new season of life happens, I feel that the Lord is always faithful to reveal Himself. Sometimes it will be a new revelation and others it will be a Truth you already know but He so graciously continues to reveal it so that you will diligently cultivate that truth in your heart. Recently, my family and I have been in that season where change is all around us but His Truth, Character and Love remain the same and He is being faithful to make Himself known to us.

This summer we have been trying to get some outdoor house projects finished. We have a backyard patio but it is completely surrounded by gravel and hard, rocky soil. It looks more like a patio in the middle of a driveway rather than in a luscious, green yard. To help with that problem, my husband came across a deal with some sod so yesterday he went and picked it up. After he returned home with a trailer full, he had to leave quickly to take our oldest rock climbing. While he was gone, I laid the younger kids down for nap and decided I wanted to help with the sod laying process. Our biggest predicament though was our ground needed to have all the gravel removed. One of those electric tillers would have been amazing but of course we do not have one. So I began to rake and dig our yard so that when he returned home it would be all ready for him to get to work. While I was eagerly working, I just kept picturing how excited he would be when he saw how much I accomplished and was hoping he would be thrilled that I had saved him some time. Now this was no easy task that I got myself into but once I started I was determined to finish. As I was raking in the hot sun and as blisters began to form on my hands, I felt the Lord speak to my heart and say, “See, this is what I have been saying to you.”

During the past weeks in church and discipleship class, we have been studying the different Jewish feasts. Each feast is powerful but the Lord keeps highlighting the feast of first fruits to me. There is something so glorious of how the children of Israel would give back to the Lord the first of their harvest with such joy. As I continue to study this common truth, I feel the Lord calling me to a life that gives my first and best to Him and Him only. Of course this mindset rages war with our human reasoning and flesh. How will I pay all my bills if I give the Lord the first of my income? How will I have energy at the end of the day if I wake early to spend time in His presence? What happens if I have nothing left to give to the ones I love dearly if I am continually pouring into others? But though these fears and worries scream at me, the Word of God echoes down deep in my soul. “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangle us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who FOR THE JOY set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:1-3

You see, we all want the beautiful, lush yard without the work of tilling the hard, rocky soil. We all want to hold the beautiful baby in our arms without enduring the labor that brings them into the world. We all want well-behaved and godly children without having to discipline and instruct them and do so consistently. But as Jesus, who FOR THE JOY endured the cross, we are called to live a life that continually and willingly gives our first and best every time. We can rest in His promises because He is faithful who promised and walk out this Truth with joy to our King, the author and perfecter of our faith!

 

September 6, 2016

A Submissive Response to Mercy

Consider the mercies of our God. What is it that we have done to receive mercy from Him? The truth is God’s mercy is not as much a response to something we’ve done, as it is an action on His part in accordance with His very character. Daniel 9:18 says: “For we plead with you (God) not because of our own righteousness, but because of your compassion.” And Titus 3:5 says that God’s salvation is not because of our own acts of righteousness, but because of His mercy. Our God is merciful!

 Every worshipper of another god finds himself hard at work all the days of his life in hopes to, upon his final breath, find his slave-driving deity mercifully disposed toward him because of his efforts. While all other gods (or demonic powers) have appealed to the fears of their subjects, offering false promises of a mercy they cannot give; the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob has won our hearts and purchased our freedom with an earth-shaking display of mercy. While others are hopelessly holding out for it, we have received it!

As worshippers of the great and only God of mercy, what is a fitting response from us? Paul gave a crystal-clear answer to this question in his address to the Church in Rome. But before we look at his answer, we should consider a passage from the Torah in Exodus chapter 34.

In Exodus 32 the people of Israel have been recently freed from their bondage to Egypt and are camped in the wilderness near Mount Sinai. Having become impatient with Moses’ 40-day meeting with God on the mountain, they give themselves over to gross idolatry and sexual immorality in adoration of a golden calf. It is a chapter later in Exodus 33 when, having seen their sin, God is near to wiping out all of Israel. Moses intercedes for Israel’s sake, appealing to the very character of God Himself. Moses finds favor with God, and in verses 5-7 of Exodus 34, God makes an unforgettable proclamation to an awe-stricken Moses. Verse 6 says:

ADONAI passed before him (Moses) and proclaimed: YAHWEH! Yahweh is God, merciful and compassionate, slow to anger, rich in grace and truth

 Acting perfectly in accordance with His character, God chooses to show Israel mercy by sparing them from His righteous wrath and continuing with His age-old plan for them. What is Moses’ response to this mercy? Verses 8-9—

At once, Moses bowed his head to the ground, prostrated himself and said, “If I have now found favor in your view, Adonai, then please let Adonai go with us, even though they are a stiff-necked people; and pardon our offenses and sins; and take us as your possession.”

 

The nearly petrified Moses, in the presence of God, responds to this mercy with submission–an offering of the people of Israel to be God’s own possession. Those who were once the enslaved property of Egypt are now the possession of YHWH God. What then follows is clear instruction from God to His people, teaching them how to walk in a manner distinct from all other peoples of the earth. He gives them commands to obey and guidelines to follow so that they will not be contaminated by the cultures of the nations around them. Because they are now His own, He is setting them apart from the rest.

With this story of Moses at Sinai fresh on our minds, let us look at Paul’s answer to the question we asked—As worshippers of the great and only God of mercy, what is a fitting response from us? Look at Romans 12:1.

I exhort you, therefore, brothers, in view of God’s mercies, to offer yourselves as a sacrifice, living and set apart for God…

 If we were to continue to read on in Exodus 34 and 35, it would not take us long to notice a connection here. Paul is telling the Church—lovers of Yahweh God and followers of Jesus Messiah—how they should live their lives in response to God’s mercies. And what is he saying other than what was already spoken of the people of Israel by Moses? “You have saved us and shown us mercy; now take us as your possession!”—“In consideration of the mercies of God, set yourself apart, completely for Him!”

The rest of Romans 12:1 goes on to say this:

“…offer yourselves as a sacrifice, living and set apart for God. This will please Him; it is your logical ‘Temple worship’ (or spiritual worship, or reasonable service).”

 That last phrase is to say that it is only fitting that those who have received God’s mercy should fall before Him in worship, and with grateful submission, offering up their lives in response to Him. Paul does not stop there but, much like the LORD God in Exodus, continues with instruction to the Church on how they ought to go about living lives of sacrifice in response to their merciful God. Let’s read Romans 12:2.

In other words, do not let yourselves be conformed to the standards of the present age. Instead, keep letting yourselves be transformed by the renewing of your minds; so that you will know what God wants and will agree that what He wants is good, satisfying and able to succeed.

 It is not my purpose to expound on all of what lies in this particular verse. However, I will say that it is life altering when the follower of Christ cries out in submission to the Spirit, seeking to not only abstain bodily from that which is carnal but to also submit his mind—thought patterns and the busyness of his mind—to know and dwell on what is the very will of God for his life. This is to renew the mind, and so be transformed! To walk in this transformation is to walk with the bold humility of Christ. It is to know what is the will of God and attest to its goodness by carrying it out. Signs and wonders will accompany the gospel life, and the world will know that there is one God—and all because ordinary men and women rightly understood and responded to the mercy of God.

In Exodus 34:10 God says to Moses,

“Here, I am making a covenant; in front of all your people I will do wonders such as have not been created anywhere on earth or in any nation. All the people around you will see the work of ADONAI. What I am going to do through you will be awesome!”

 Remember, this is part of a conversation between God and Moses that started with a display of God’s mercy and a response of submission from Moses. Through a people fully submitted to Him, God wants to display His power to all nations.

God does not change. As He did then, so He does now. He grants mercy. And when we respond with full submission of our lives to Him, He does the unimaginable. When His people set themselves apart for exclusive service to their merciful King, what He does through them is awesome!

At the end Moses’ life in Deuteronomy 30, the people of Israel have set themselves to serve the one true God and have declared, ”All that is written (in God’s Law) we will do!” But, in the light of God’s mercy, Moses wants them not to forget the severity of God. He tells them, “I am setting before you life and death. If you obey your God and walk in the way He has commanded you, you will live long in the land that He has given you to possess. But if you forget your God, and go after the gods of the peoples around you, and neglect what He has commanded you; you will not live long in the land that he has given you.”

As it was for Israel then, so it is for us now. There is a way we can spurn the mercy of God. He shows mercy at great cost to Himself in the sacrifice of Christ Jesus. We stand in a dangerous place should we choose to deny Him the response due the mercy that we have so readily received—should we refuse Him any part of ourselves to take for His own possession! To hold anything back is to give nothing at all; and “it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Heb. 10:31).”

Praise be to God, who is the only merciful God! And we who love Him and are ever giving ourselves to Him have nothing to fear. For we serve not a god with false hopes for mercy. But we serve a God in response to a mercy we have already been promised in Christ Jesus!