This morning I woke up way too early (4:30am!) and my mind was bombarded with several failures of my past. I had flashbacks of many moments that I wished could be erased or at least that I could go back and redo. Half asleep, I tried to rally my thoughts and gain proper footing. My heart was saddened with the memories. I think it will always be, for there was nothing good in these moments of selfishness and pride. But, and there is a but, these were not the end of the story!
Each moment of life can be separated out as a snapshot in time, an instagram post with no explanation of the why or the where of the image. Each moment though has another attached to it on either side and each of those do as well. If I were to take a few steps out I would find that the images connected like dominoes, creating a story board of motion and revealing a greater perspective than any one image could have on its own. That is the reality of life.
What I saw in my half comatose state, were up-close, snapshots without any context attached to them. They were flipping by so quickly, reminding me of the dark moments of much larger scenarios... reminding me of things that I could have done better!
Today is Good Friday. This has always been a sobering day for me, largely due to being raised in a home that was very careful to honour its memory of one of the most significant moments in history, the day that Jesus Christ was crucified. As a moment in time, it was beyond sad, it was wrong, it was cruel and, it was a dark stain of injustice on humankind. This innocent man was unjustly tried and murdered.
These moments in time can give the great impression that somehow darkness had won and that the devil had gained prominent status. I suppose, as a snapshot, that is what seemed to be apparent in this case.
What one has to do though, is to stand back and observe the broader picture, the complete story as far as we have told us, viewing the history leading up to the event and the cascade of moments sprouting off of it. From that vantage point, even the darkest day can often find a greater purpose, even a victory. Think of all the sacrifices made over the years by valiant soldiers giving their lives to rid us of a pressing evil...
In this moment of history, Jesus Christ, the son of God, gave his life willingly as a sacrifice for humanity's selfish ways, gaining us eternal freedom. He was a sinless man who took on our sins, our moments of selfishness and pride and paid for them with his life. He was the perfect sacrifice, saving us from ourselves.
Now, I can soberly take my moments of sin (past or present) to this same Jesus and find that I am forgiven and released from the eternal offense of them. I can also find that my mind, though sad at memories of failure, does not feel guilty anymore. Jesus paid the price for them and there is nothing left for me to be condemned about.
Such news is good and brings my heart and head peace! Maybe that's why it wasn't long before I fell back to sleep again :)
This is the kind of life you’ve been invited into, the kind of life Christ lived. He suffered everything that came his way so you would know that it could be done, and also know how to do it, step-by-step.
I cannot begin to tell you how much this means to me. One of the most immense gifts that Jesus gave us that first Christmas was freedom from the guilt of sin. As he lived in Mary, I too can have him live in me. When He moves in, guilt and shame moves out! His Spirit shows me how to do life the way Jesus did, with joy and freedom.
“There is, then, now no condemnation to those in Christ Jesus, who walk not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit; for the law of the Spirit of the life in Christ Jesus did set me free from the law of the sin and of the death;”
“Will you not take what your god Chemosh gives you?
This is an interesting story in the continuing saga that Israel journeyed through during the time in history where judges ruled the nation. Jephthah was in that role for this account and was standing his ground, defending Israel's rights of ownership to a land that the king of the Ammonites was claiming for his own. It was when I was reading this story (read it here) that the 24th verse jumped out at me. I felt God challenging me...
War was imminent. The Ammonite king was challenging Israel on the ownership of the land in question, saying that Israel had stolen it. Jephthah went through details of the Israelite's journey from the time they left Egypt, declaring that they had legally fought for the land and God had given them victory - God had given them ownership of it. Because of that, Israel would stand their ground - they would not give up the inheritance given them by their God. He challenged the foreign king saying that he would've done the same thing if this was a dispute of something that their god (Chemosh) had given them. (interesting dialogue from a judge of Israel ...) Then, Jephthah said; "Likewise, whatever the LORD our God has given us, we will possess."
What does it mean to possess? (see Blue Letter Bible)
What has God given me?
As soon as I asked these questions, I was reminded of verses like these:
I asked myself; do I really possess what God has given me?
And God reminded me of something He allowed in my life several years ago...
I was experiencing intense back spasms, and this went on for about 6 months. The pain was terrible and most of my days ended up in bed. I had been diagnosed medically with scoliosis many years prior to this incident and, for the most part, had functioned normally despite the curvature in my spine. But this season was different.
We were leading a small congregation at the time and the Lord was taking us (and the church) through significant change. It was a revival of sorts in our church community. We were growing, and God's presence was significant among us. We moved to a larger facility and then this pain hit me. I remember feeling like it was a spiritual attack of some sort but didn't know how to verbalize that to people without them thinking I was a bit weird. So, I did what I knew that I could. I got physical attention... went to the doctor, massage therapist, chiropractor, took the med's prescribed, etc. But still did not find relief. I got spiritual attention... asked for prayer for healing, declared promises of healing over myself regularly, confessed anything that I thought might be a cause to this happening to me, submitted myself to deliverance processes (I was desperate to be free from months of chronic pain!), etc. Some of this season is embarrassing for me to think about now, but I do not regret going through it! God taught me a lot (although it was kind of a hard way).
After exhausting all the avenues that I was aware of at the time, I had to wait it out before God. I fell asleep many times (and with much medication) listening to a lot of great teaching (like Joyce Meyer) and worship music. My spirit was fed by those who spoke and sang hope. I made a practice to, as much as possible, speak life over my body. I would declare the promises of God over and over. My back still didn't change.
I don't recall the date or circumstance when the pain stopped, but I suddenly realized that it had. There were a number of people who had been praying for me in this season and I knew instinctively that God had answered mine and their cries for His intervention.
And here's the part that resonated with me as I was reading the story from Judges. Something landed in my spirit the day God took the pain away and caused the spasms to stop. As I read, He reminded me of it. It was an understanding, a confidence that the pain would not happen to me in that way ever again... if I stood my ground, not unlike what Jephthah told the Ammonite king, or what is described in Luke 10:19. I became aware of the gift, the inheritance that God had given when He healed my back and innately understood that it was mine to keep. I felt an authority that I had not felt before. Any time I felt spasms starting up in my back again, I simply (and tenaciously) would say 'NO' and they would stop! The interesting thing to me was that I had done that many times prior to this moment of God releasing healing to me, but nothing changed. I had told the pain to go in Jesus' name and nothing had changed. Somehow this was different.
I was well for several months and then the headaches hit! They would travel up the right side of my neck and knock me off my feet for a few hours. I was getting 2 or 3 of these daily. The doctor said they were like migraines but not textbook as they were just as intense but much shorter. I went through all of the same process of what I described above and then, after about six months, God lifted it. How did I know it was God? I cannot explain that to you but I knew and, like the back spasms, I then had an authority over that kind of headache that I didn't seem to have before. Any time I felt the pain traveling up my neck in the same manner, I would say 'NO' and it would retreat. In fact, even as I was writing this article it happened... I said 'NO'!
I don't understand all of this other than I must stand my ground and walk in what God has given to me. Galatians 5:1 says; "Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage." That is my definition of this verse; I will gratefully possess and occupy the land of my inheritance. I will testify and allow fruit to grow from what He has given me.
What has the Lord given me? Oh my, how can I write that all here? He has given so much - life, salvation, healing, hope, grace, mercy, forgiveness, family, possessions, creative abilities, health, peace, purpose, heaven, His presence...
How great and how vast He is!!! I never lack adventure in Him. He is better than, holier than, greater than I can even imagine. He is always more. He is not a better love, He is love. He is not a brighter light, He is light. He is goodness, kindness, gentleness, and humility. He heals, delivers, and rescues. He is God - the one true God. I can rest in Him. I can trust His ways. He has given all this and more to me in Himself, in Jesus. I will praise Him forever!
"Whatever the Lord has given me, I will possess."
This is going to be a short post. I'm not so interested in giving you a bunch of my words today. I would like to simply encourage you to remember how practical God is. That may sound like an oxymoron (... a combination of words that have opposite or very different meanings) but I believe it is true. If you want success, peace, and favour in your life, follow God. Learn His ways. Emulate Jesus.
I was reading Proverbs 3 when these thoughts struck me. God is smart. He made me and knows how I tick best. I would be wise to follow His advice...
God is smart. He made me and knows how I tick best. I would be wise to follow His advice...
While reading this morning, I knew the Lord was speaking again to a very deep place in my heart...
I've been reading through a chronological version of the Bible and today's chapters were in Deuteronomy where God is giving Moses final instructions & reminders for Israel before they move into the promised land with their new leader, Joshua. So as I come to chapter 18, I glance at the sub-titles: Offerings for Priests and Levites, Occult Practices, The Prophet and dive in. After reading the previous OT books, a lot of this is beginning to look repetitious, but I move on. I resonate with the Levites, agree quickly with the avoidance of occult practices, and want the voice of the prophet. Oh, but I haven't noticed this before... Look at verse 16!
For this is what you asked of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly when you said, “Let us not hear the voice of the Lord our God nor see this great fire anymore, or we will die.”
I want His voice & presence to be near. I trust Him. I honour & fear only Him. I want Him to speak & move through me.
This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children...
"In that day the remnant left in Israel, the survivors in the house of Jacob, will no longer depend on allies who seek to destroy them. But they will faithfully trust the LORD, the Holy One of Israel. A remnant will return... "
Isaiah 10:20, 21a
I hear this call just about everyday, "Return". What? Is Wanda backsliding? Isn't Isaiah talking about the 'remnant' of Israel who survived God's punishment toward them because of their unfaithfulness toward Him? In less words... they were a remnant of disobedient people.
Every day I make choices to either stay close to innocence (God) or not. I see, smell and hear things that want to challenge my desires and appetites - that require some type of response. These parade as allies - fulfilling my imminent needs while sabotaging my future. Often, the best reply I can give is what may look like indifference - to walk away without response. You know; not taking the 2nd look, closing the fridge door, turning the pity off, etc. Otherwise the pity starts to party and the treat turns into bondage.
Sound trivial? Maybe, but these are the things that spoil my connection with the Holy Spirit. I am human. I decided to follow Jesus a long time ago. And I tend to get distracted. When I do, He calls me back.
Maybe one day I'll be so perfect in my desires and pursuits that I will not need to have this reminder. But until that day comes, this remnant will return as often as is necessary!
Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:22-23 (NKJV)
Freedom is not the absence of rules;
it is the release to actually follow them with great joy and satisfaction.
I am concerned that many of us who claim to follow Jesus are mistaken, having watered down the truth of the gospel to fit personal desires. In our desperate search for love and meaning, have we forgotten truth? Has the tyranny of legalism caused us to swing so far that we have forgotten that surrender and obedience are part of God's equation?
I know this seems abrupt, but as I sat reading the Psalms this morning my spirit was stirred. I appeal to you to search the word of God. He does give us guidelines to follow, not because He is a dictator or control freak, but because He knows how we operate best. God's laws come out of His unfailing love. They are liberty for each of us. In them, we find who He is. In them, we find blessing. Freedom is not the absence of rules; it is the release to actually follow them with great joy and satisfaction. When I am free in Christ, I no longer want what I had.
I will walk in freedom, for I have devoted myself to your commandments.
Joyful are people of integrity, who follow the instructions of the Lord. Joyful are those who obey his laws and search for him with all their hearts. They do not compromise with evil, and they walk only in his paths. You have charged us to keep your commandments carefully. Oh, that my actions would consistently reflect your decrees! Then I will not be ashamed when I compare my life with your commands. As I learn your righteous regulations, I will thank you by living as I should! I will obey your decrees. Please don’t give up on me! (Psalm 119:1-8)
Did you know that if you read four chapters a day
in your Bible that you will get through it in one year?
And when Peter had come to himself, he said, “Now I know for certain that the Lord has sent His angel, and has delivered me from the hand of Herod and from all the expectation of the Jewish people. Acts 12:11 NKJV
There's an old song that says, "He touched me ... something happened and now I know, He touched me ..."
We've all been touched by God. We just might not realize it. We all got touched (so to speak) when we were created. God was hands on in the designing and creating of each of us. (Read Psalm 119:73) I just don't remember that one!
But, sometimes in life, God gives us a special moment, where we actually have a sense that He has come down and touched us.
Peter had that. He was in prison (again) and an angel jolted him out of his sleep. The image I have in my head as I read this is actually comical, for the angel was not passive. The Bible says that the angel 'struck' Peter on the side and pulled him up! Ha! So here's what my brain sees ... Peter sound asleep. An angel shows up with tons of light happening. Peter stays asleep. The angel gives him a boot in the side and yanks him up. He tells him to get dressed, put his shoes on and follow. Peter thinks he is dreaming. They go by the 1st and 2nd guard posts and when they come to the exit, which happens to be a large, iron gate, it opens all by itself! They walk out, go down the street a bit and the angel ... vanishes! Peter wakes up. (Read the whole story here)
Have you ever been touched by God? Has He delivered you from something that held you in a prison of sorts? I have. He has touched me. He has delivered me and led me past the 1st and 2nd guard posts. He opened the massive iron gates without me even lifting a finger. He touched me and healed me. And I wasn't dreaming.
So, I ask you again, has God touched you? If He has, tell someone about it. If He hasn't, ask Him to.
Please inquire for the word of the LORD today. 1 Kings 22:5