Focus is One of the Words for 2013

Nick loved football.  Every season he would watch every game – college and professional.  If he had time, he would go to the high school games in his community.  He focused every spare minutes on the adrenalin-laced games and heaven help his wife and children if they got between him and the television screen.  He would berate them and they would feel invisible and rejected.  He knew the names of all the players.  Soon his fanatic fixation had become the focus of his life while the neglected relationships around him quietly brought him chips and beer.  At dinner, his wife would tip-toe in and leave the hamburger and fries on the coffee table and retreat.

Eventually the marriage fell apart and Mom and Dad went their separate ways.  The children hated the divorce, but when they visited Dad, he still spent most of his time in front of the TV.  They are grown-ups now and while they love their father, they don’t feel they really know him.  He had not only been a spectator of sports that gave nothing back but he had been a spectator in his kids lives as well.  Does he have regrets?  You would have to ask him.

Today’s Lesson:

In our lives the circumstances are somewhat the same.  God is somewhat like the children in this story because He wants our undivided attention.  He promises that if we will draw near to Him, He will draw near to us.  He is waiting for us to turn off the television, the computer, the radio and to shut out all other distractions.  Father wants us to come to our quiet place and seek His face.  In our worship, we can put our focus on Him  As we listen, we will discover that everything we need, He has already provided.   It is ours for the taking just as the love the children wanted to share with their Dad was there if he had chosen to draw near.

We are to come boldly before the Father God’s throne of grace confident that as we seek Him, He will not be lost in a spectator sport or any other distraction.  We are the focus of His plan.  He wants us to be a fully functional family who focus our lives and love on Him.  We find that the Bible tells us that in His Presence is fullness of joy.  As we focus on Him, He will meet us and we will be the beneficiaries of His love and attention.

What are your focusing on?

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Joy Full or Joy Less?

Pastor Joy Full walked through her living room thinking about the paradox of her name.  She had married John Full just before he left to go to Iraq.  He was only there for two months when she got the official visit.  He had been killed by a sniper in the line of duty.  The ‘line of duty’ made it sound okay, but it wasn’t okay.  In point of fact, nothing was okay.

She fell on the big leather chair that John had picked out before he deployed.  She shook her head.  Jesus was supposed to be enough, but right now, today, He was as distant as John’s memory. Once again, she spoke her name.  Joy Full.   Her name did not suggest who she had become.  She should have been married John Less or John Empty, then things would have lined up with who she is today.

Her husband had been so full of life; so like his name.  He loved the Lord with all His heart and he loved her passionately.  It was some comfort to know that He was enjoying life with the Heavenly Father.  It should have pulled her toward Father, but she hadn’t wanted to visit Him in the Throne Room lately.  She held him responsible.  How could He let this happen?

Joy knew that Father God didn’t cause John to die, but the Truth was not setting her free tonight.  She was due at the church in an hour for the Tuesday night prayer meeting.  The group spent more time talking about people than praying.  She chided herself for not being a better leader.  She knew the faithful would show up but she just could not face it.  Sue Ellen had a key.  She wouldn’t be missed.

She rubbed the arm of the brown leather chair.  “I miss you, John.”  She burst into tears!  She picked up her jacket, threw a few things in a suitcase, stopped by the bank and took out $1000 leaving a small balance.  After she had filled the car with gas she started driving.  She didn’t know where she was going, but she was fleeing her home, the church, and the pain.  She turned on the CD  player.  An old friend of the family, a pastor from her hometown, was teaching.  She had always found his voice soothing.  His Scripture was Proverbs 3:5, 6.  It was her life verse.

5Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  6In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

As she drove, tears rolled down her cheeks.  The ache in her heart, that she had ignored for these last two years, spread until she was sobbing uncontrollably.  She pulled off at a rest area and parked a good distance from the other cars.  She put the seat back and gave in.  She screamed at God.  “How could you?  I have lived my life for you!  How could you let this happen?”  Joy gasped for air, “John loved you and he loved me.  We served you!”  The rant went on for some time.  When she stopped, she listened but Father God was silent.

From complete exhaustion laid her head back and slept fitfully for thirty minutes.  She resumed driving.  Once she crossed the state line, she began to look for a place to spend the night and checked into a small roadside inn, paid in cash, and went straight to bed.

In the quiet of the morning, she saw the Gideon Bible on the night stand and she opened it.  It fell to Proverbs 3.  She smiled and breathed a sigh.  Her heavenly Father was letting her know that He hadn’t forgotten her.   “I know you heard me, Father,” she said.

She knelt on the floor by the bed and asked for permission to enter His Presence in the name of her big Brother, Jesus.  She crawled upon her Heavenly Father’s lap and poured out her heart.  She surrendered it all.  She gave Him the pain, the rejection, the loneliness, the emptiness, and her broken heart.  She told Him that she was sorry and that she knew that she would not heal until she gave up her right to this pain and the feeling that she was justified in holding on to it.

As she waited in His Presence, a sense of relief and joy began to fill her heart.  She recognized the grace and mercy of the Father’s love flooding her very being.  How foolish it had been to resist Him.  She knew that she would always miss John but the miracle of God’s love and mercy had pulled the stinger out of the pain.  She could release her hold on John and give him to the One who loves Him even more than she.

Pastor Joy Full felt God’s joy and for the first time in a long time, she was glad that John had blessed her with such a wonderful name.

Today’s Lesson:  In real life, the issues sometimes take longer to resolve, but when we fully release that which holds us to our Abba Father, (Daddy), then He takes the pieces and puts them together and we find ourselves even more complete and whole.  Joy is not the absence of suffering but the Presence of the Lord.

What holds you today?  What is it that you feel justified in nursing and rehearsing over and over again.  What is your private obsession?

Confirming Scriptures:

 

Psalm 77:1 – 6

1I cried unto God with my voice, even unto God with my voice; and he gave ear unto me.

2In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord: my sore ran in the night, and ceased not: my soul refused to be comforted.

3I remembered God, and was troubled: I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed. Selah.

4Thou holdest mine eyes waking: I am so troubled that I cannot speak.

5I have considered the days of old, the years of ancient times.

6I call to remembrance my song in the night: I commune with mine own heart: and my spirit made diligent search.

 

 

Super Santa, Super Heroes and the Supernatural God

Santa Claus has an appeal that incites our imagination to believe the unbelievable.  He promises to fly around the world in a 24 hour period delivering presents to every good little girl and boy.  He is carted about the globe behind magic reindeer one of which has a bulbous nose that can cut through fog with its laser light beam.  Santa’s ponderous figure is said to slip easily down chimneys and past locked doors in houses that are not fortunate enough to have a fireplace.  When he enters each house, he is presented with milk and cookies which he eats and I guess that is why he is overweight.  If a family does not receive a visit from Santa because of financial setbacks, the child assumes he was not good enough and feels rejected.  None-the-less, we delight to believe in the jolly old elf, but when the day comes and we find out that he is just a myth – a fable something in the heart of the child breaks.

All this time, he thought Santa was real and true.  It does something to his imagination.  He will never really be as willing to believe in what he cannot see.  He begins to question the unseen and decides that he can conjure up any imaginary being and pretend they are real.  So, the super heroes enter his life and he develops an alter ego that can jump over buildings and save or destroy whole cities.  It is all phony but he has learned to believe in the fantasy.  Nothing in his imagination is impossible.

At Church, the Sunday School teacher talks about an invisible God who loves him and sent His only Son into the world so that he might be saved.  She tells him that God loves him very much.  She goes on to say that He was born in a manger and He is the reason for Christmas.  “Yeah, right,” he thinks!  “This is just one more fable the adults want me to believe.  I did the Santa Claus thing and this sounds just as farfetched. ”

Today’s Lesson:

Today’s world is filled with stories of Star Wars, Transformers, Indiana Jones, Harry Potter, Twilight, Batman, Green Lantern and many more.  Each of them is endowed with super powers and fight battles of good and evil.  There is something in each heart that longs for power and supernatural ability.  The imagination is used to pretend superhuman strength and abilities.  It is a longing put there by God and we have an enemy who is busy trying to counterfeit it in all ages and seasons.

The good news (Gospel) is that there is a real supernatural power that is given as a free gift to all that will embrace it.  As we accept the complete work Jesus did to forgive our sins, we are put in right standing with the Creator of the Universe – yep!  He is real and not a fable.  He has provided everything that we need.  The Truth is that when you invite Jesus into your heart, you become part of the amazing family of God.

For years, the church has lived far below the privileges that God has provided them because they have embraced tradition and religion.  The Truth is that you have a new home and access to all the cool power tools that God has for you.  As you get to know Him, and He can trust you with His wonderful gifts, He gives you the power to heal the sick, raise the dead and walk on water – and much more.  It is you who gets to walk in the power of God as you yield your life to Him.  It is not just watching fake superheroes do stuff.  You join the Creator of the Universe and do amazing things.  It is a life of wonders beyond imagination.  It is a ‘Blast Life!’

Santa, Superman and the others pale in comparison to the One who creates out of nothing and loves the unlovable giving them the option of loving Him or rejecting Him.

All the pretend ‘super heroes’ have weaknesses and are self-centered or judgmental, but God opens the way to any who will choose Him to join Him and live forever past all natural reasoning and imagination.

It’s up to each one of us.  Do you want to believe the improbable and play games with pretend characters or do you want to reach past the limits of your imagination and embrace your Heavenly Father who loves you and promises you everlasting life?

I Surrender Some . . .

The musicians began to move from praise to worship music and the words went up on the overhead.  “I surrender all, I surrender all.  All to Thee my blessed Savior, I surrender all.”

Travis took a deep breath.  He had surrendered his time by teaching the young people.  He had surrendered his money by giving generously to the church and to rescue children from the sex trade and support children in India.  He had surrendered his talent by singing in the church choir and even occasionally performing a solo.  He had surrendered a lot.  He studied the Scriptures and could quote them with ease.  He had surrendered more than most, he thought.

He was somewhat proud of his ability to argue doctrine.  He disdained those whose opinion was different from his. He judged the preachers on television and even judged his own pastor.   He had given Jesus his whole head, but what he didn’t realize was that what God wanted was his heart.  Something about the song began to disturb him.  He sang out the words with his usual enthusiasm, but the band kept playing the tune over and over and over!

He began to examine his own heart and he found that it was closed and dry.  He changed the words to “I surrender some . . . “  Tears began to slip down his face.  He tried to get control.  He didn’t want anyone to see.  He wanted the song to stop!  He was, after all, the ‘go-to’ guy with all the answers, but it was too late.  The tears were flowing freely now.  Without any volition on his part, he found his feet moving toward the altar and there in front of everyone – all his acquaintances and friends – all that he had judged and disdained, this hard-hearted guy fell to his knees sobbing.  Shockingly, he didn’t respond to an altar call by the pastor, yet he found himself on the floor in broken-ness.  The worship team was still singing, “I surrender all . . .” and this tough, arrogant guy was being changed.

For the first time, Travis, felt the breath of the Holy Spirit flood his soul and he was swept into the arms of His loving Father through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.  Travis had surrendered his heart and his soul.  He was made new.

Today’s Lesson:

Today, there are many people sitting in the pews in churches who have prayed a prayer with their heads and think that they have something.  They go about doing good and thinking they are special.  They don’t know the One they think they are serving and this is a tragedy.   When Travis prayed the first time, it was with his head.  The Scriptures tell us that when we call on the name of the Lord, it must be with our whole heart and not our whole head.  Father doesn’t want just ‘some’ part of us.  He wants ‘all.’

If we have not entered by the Way that Jesus opened by His death on the cross, when the day comes, and we stand before the Lord, will He say, “Depart from me, I never knew you?”  The wheat and the tares – the real and the counterfeit – serve together in any local church.  So, as leaders and pastors, what can we do?  Is there an answer?

First, it is important that we examine our own hearts to see if we are fully surrendered and fully awake.  Have we walked with the Lord so long that we are more into the organization and the management end of things than we are into spending time in His Presence?  Are we lifting Jesus up in every service?  Are we drawing near?

The worship team in our story was fully prayed up and the anointing that rested on them lifted Jesus higher and the convicting power of the Holy Ghost was on hand to convict and to save.  When one of the prayer team knelt beside Travis, he just put a hand on his back and prayed quietly while the man wrestled with his flesh and came to full surrender.

When Travis finally stood up, the stress and arrogance were gone.  He had met the One who created him and he had changed his citizenship.  Somehow now, all of the things that he thought about his ideas and reputation didn’t matter.  He was made brand new.

Related Scriptures:

Romans 10:9,10   

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.

Matthew 7:21-23

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

1 Corinthians 13:3
And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

Psalm 51:10-17

10Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.

 11Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy Holy Spirit from me.

12Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.

13Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.

14Deliver me from blood-guiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness.

15O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise.

16For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering.

17The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.

Father Longing . . .

The divorce happened when the children were young.  She hoped it wouldn’t be too hard on the kids but she watched as her son begged for them to try once more.  As young as he was, he felt like he had caused the rift between Mom and Dad, but it just wasn’t so.  His tender nature wanted peace and longed for the family to be one.  He ached but he didn’t let Mom see the depth of his pain. Dad moved out and moved on.

I don’t know when she first knew the extent of his pain, but by then there was little she could do about it.  She tried not to talk about her own pain within his hearing, but she was not always successful.  He longed for his father and he loved his mother.  He was a tender spirit and hungry for a family.  When Dad remarried and then later Mom remarried, he made every effort to fit in so that his desire for a family might actually happen.

When he married, he determined to make things work – at any price.  In the beginning, he and his wife got along well.  He indulged her.  They were a two career couple and all went well until they had a child.   As he neared forty, he thought they had developed as a couple and were strong enough to ensure a stable family unit.

 After the baby came, she became depressed.  Worse yet, they were totally unprepared for the difference in their child rearing philosophy.  The change in their relationship hit him like a baseball bat to the gut!  The wall between them got higher and wider.  One day, she announced that she was no longer interested in maintaining the relationship.  His world crashed.

People long to find that one relationship that fulfills and doesn’t wound.  Fear of being hurt keeps us from trusting and we isolate or we just have random encounters.  Once in a while, someone talks to us about Jesus but skepticism believes it is just one more road to disappointment.  No father, mother, or spouse ever proved faithful and by extension God must be the one who was ultimately responsible for the pain.  How can we trust the One who calls Himself Father?

Today’s Lesson:   What we don’t understand is that God is Love.  Really!  The love of God is rich and pure and measureless.  His loving kindness endures forever.  He longs for us more than we long for Him.  But like any relationship, He won’t force Himself on us. He waits for us to draw near.  Then He reciprocates.

Father risked giving us free-will so we could choose to love Him like He loves us.  So the boy who became a man and a father can choose to love Him or not.  He may not understand that it is the only answer that will satisfy,  If he continues on his own, there will still be a longing in his heart and Father God will never quit longing for Him.   He will quicken His servants to pray for the young man, his ex-wife and their child.  He will send some to lift up Jesus in their presence and so draw them to Himself. 

The condemnation this young father feels will keep him focused on himself.  He will lack confidence  and will live from his soul.  He will hunger for the approval of others.  At last, if he runs out of options, falls to his knees and calls on the name of the Lord from his heart and faith enters, the love of Father God will wash over him and he won’t remember why he didn’t call out sooner.

When this happens, it is the beginning of fulfillment of the longing in both this young man’s heart and in Father God’s heart as well.

If you have a loved one who is far away, keep loving them and praying for them.  I have received comfort from the song that says, “The boy is reachable;  the girl is reachable.  To God he’s visible.  All things are possible.  If God can reach His hand of love through time, Touch an old sinner’s heart like mine, The boy is reachable, I know he’s reachable.”

Related Post:

Deep Calls to Deep

Confirming Scriptures:

John 12:32
And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.

Ezekiel 34:16 

I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick . . .

I Sam 2:30 – . . . or those who honor Me I will honor. . .

Deuteronomy 5:29
Oh that they had such a heart in them, that they would fear Me and keep all My commandments always, that it may be well with them and with their sons forever!

Psalm 10:17
O LORD, You have heard the desire of the humble; You will strengthen their heart, You will incline Your ear

Psalm 13:5
But I have trusted in Your loving kindness; My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.

Psalm 14:1
The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.”

Psalm 27:8
When You said, “ Seek My face,” my heart said to You, “Your face, O LORD, I shall seek.

Psalm 37:4
Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart.

Psalm 69:32
The humble have seen it and are glad; You who seek God, let your heart revive.

Psalm 27:8
When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, LORD, will I seek.

A Future and a Hope

Annabelle was so caught in the pain of her divorce that it colored every decision that she made.  It had come as a shock when her husband of eight years had decided she wasn’t what he wanted.  He wanted the pretty blonde neighbor.  She knew that he had been leaving in the night and coming back before morning, but she told herself he was troubled by work and was out walking to work it through.  The lie she told herself had been hard for her to believe but she didn’t want to face the truth. When he packed up and left, she had never felt so alone.

Since that day, Annabelle had been afraid to trust anyone.   She didn’t want anyone to get close.  She had been going to church and liked the idea that God loved her, but really didn’t feel the love.  People were nice, but she didn’t let anyone get close and if anyone tried, she would push them away. A woman named Ruth, kept coming to greet her and talk with her.  She would sit with her in church.  Annabelle tried to ignore her, but Ruth didn’t seem to mind her aloof attitude.  She just kept coming back.

One Sunday, Ruth took Annabelle by the hand and said that they were going to go out to lunch together.  Annabelle was so shocked by the touch of her hand, she just mumbled, “Okay.”  At lunch, she asked Annabelle, “Are you tired of living in the past?”  Surprised that Ruth knew what was going on, a tear slipped down Annabelle’s cheek and she looked at this woman who was making her face things. 

Ruth helped her understand that the God who loved her had provided her a future and a hope. “ Lay aside the fear and quit the past,” she said.  That day, Annabelle prayed with Ruth and she felt her heart melt.  Ruth explained that she was made brand new.  Her old life wasn’t who she was anymore.

Ruth explained, ” The future that God has provided you means that your old life has passed away.”  It would take Annabelle some time before she really began to understand in her heart what she knew in her mind.

As believers, we often don’t realize that  we don’t have a past anymore.  “Old things have passed away, behold, all things have become new.”  We may still had some of the actions and feelings that we had before we were made new.  In I Corinthians 6:9, there is a long list of identities we had before our new lives in Christ.   The list includes idolater, adulterer, thief and drunk – but then it says, “And such WERE some of you.”  We may still act wrong (we might even think wrong ), but inside we have been made righteous and God will take the inside and bring it to the outside if we will just cooperate with Him.  When His Holy Spirit is in our hearts, He is not mad at us for who we were, and He has a future and a hope for each of us.  He wants us to have all the benefits of our new life.

Annabelle is no longer a rejected divorcée’; she is a child of the living God.  She is royalty.  She is a citizen of heaven.  When she realizes that the past is not her prison anymore and she begins to live the present based on the future, she will find that she is changed from glory to glory.  The past has no hold on her that she  doesn’t give it.

Today’s Lesson:  Begin to lay aside your past.  It’s over!  Romans 12:1 asks us ‘be transformed by the renewing of our mind.’  We have a role to play in finding out that the past is dead.  You may have some things to deal with because of it, but it is no longer your identity.  Father God will help you deal with the results of the old life while he teaches you about the benefits he has in store for you in the new life. 

He tells us in Jer. 29:11, “I know the plans I have for you, plans for a future and a hope and not to bring you sorrow.”  It goes on to say, ‘”Then you will call on me and go and pray to Me and I will listen to you.  And you will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.  I will be found by you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back from your captivity.”

So, it’s up to you.  Live in the past and struggle with the pain; continue to live in fear of having feelings for someone and giving them the power to hurt you, and nuture your unforgiveness because it hurt so much, OR renew your mind and live out of the future promises while watching the present come in line.  In truth, if you call on the name of the Lord, He will answer and show you things you know not!

Life in the Spirit is a blast!  Will you give up your rights to the pain, bitterness and un-forgiveness of your life before Christ and determine to no longer identify with the pain of the past and choose victory in Jesus?  If you need help, please feel free to contact us by e-mail.

Related Sites:

Deep Calls to Deep

Confirming Scriptures:

1 Corinthians 6:9-11  Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, 10Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. 11And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

Jeremiah 29:11-14a    11For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.  12Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you.  13And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.  14And I will be found of you, saith the LORD: and I will turn away your captivity . . .

Romans 12:1-2   1I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.  2And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

2 Corinthians 5:17  Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

2 Corinthians 3:18
But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.

Jeremiah 33:3
Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.

Secret Place

When my Daddy was a boy in the 1920’s, he found what he thought was an excellent place to hide.  The old roll top desk in the parlor had a deep dark cavity where he could conceal himself from his parents.  With stealth, he secluded himself under the desk and pulled the large chair in behind securing the secret place.  He was safe from being discovered.

Soon, his parents realized they didn’t know where he was.  They began to holler for him.  “Lee-ee, Lee-ee,” they called.  No answer.  Again they called, “Lee!  Lee!”  No answer.  His Mom rang the dinner bell alarming the others on the farm.  Still no one had seen him.  She went to the old wooden wall phone and did the general ring to let the neighbors know they couldn’t find their son.  The neighbors began to show up as the concern for his welfare grew by the minute.

The young lad, Lee, was under the desk, safe and secure in his hiding place.  He was very pleased with himself.  Finally, having enjoyed his prank fully and chuckling at his own joke, he pushed the chair out and revealed himself.  His Mom grabbed him and hugged him with tears flowing down her face.  After the reunion, she realized that he had tricked her and after a severe scolding, he got a spanking that I think he never forgot the rest of his life!

As a born-from-above child of God, we have a Secret Place available to us because we belong to the One who shelters us there.   He is our refuge and our fortress and we can fully trust Him.  It is a place where we are invited to live and abide.

But when we decide that we can face the world on our own and step out from under the protection of the Most High, we face consequences that make my Daddy’s spanking seem like a wonderful reward.  It is at our own peril that we confront the enemy in our own strength.

When we are lured into temptation by doubting in God’s great love, we are greeted for a brief moment with what seems like a good deal.  Our enemy always starts with a pleasant temptation – like the fruit in the Garden of Eden.  Our enemy doesn’t show us beyond the pleasure.

For instance, the enemy may start us out with a pretty green, very tasty alcoholic drink called a Grasshopper;  there are few concoctions that can match it for taste and style.  There is a social aspect to having a drink along with a desire to fit in.  This simple beverage may lead to addiction and a devastating end.

I understand that it doesn’t happen all at once.  It is a slow and steady process that lures us in deeper and deeper until we have lost everyone and everything we held dear.  It feels like there is no way to return.  The user is hooked!

Today’s Lesson:  Regardless of the temptation, run to the Secret Place where you find safety, peace, joy, welcome, comfort, ease, guidance, and love.  It is home.  It is the biggest perk that we have as children of the Most High.

As we abide in His Presence, we trust in His timing.  When He chooses to lead us to confront the enemy, it is on His terms and we rest in His provision.  We delight in His Presence and as we participate with Him, He takes care of the problems as they arise.  What privilege we have when we dwell with Him.  No evil can befall us.  His angel guards take our part.  Thousands are no issue for Him.

Why do we doubt Him?  Why do we get too busy to settle in and find Him in the Secret Place?  Are we playing church and trying to impress others with our abilities?  Our ability is inability when we face of our enemy alone.  We are lots of noise with no victory in our life, while we are deceived into thinking we are really special.

The escape is to get into the Secret Place and rest in Him.  When we advance under His directive and act on our God-given authority, we are an unstoppable force.  The Gates of Hell cannot prevail against us!!!

Related sites:

Abide

Deep Calls to Deep

Happily Ever After

Confirming Scripture:

Psalm 91

1He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.

2I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.

3Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.

4He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.

5Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day;

6Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.

7A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.

8Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.

9Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation;

10There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.

11For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.

12They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.

13Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet.

14Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name.

15He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him.

16With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation.

Are You a Player?

The padded seats in the stadium behind home place were excellent.  We ordered sandwiches and soft drinks and settled in to enjoy the ambiance of Busch Stadium.   The Arch rose majestically in the background.  The air crackled with anticipation.

The Cardinals and the Diamond Backs came onto the field.  We watched as the players took  their positions and began.  They were vigilant and ready for whatever play they would need to make.  The pitcher worked very hard.  His job was pivotal on both teams.  Everything revolved around him but without the team, he was just tossing a ball.

Notice that we were at the ballgame and in the stadium but we were not in the game.  No matter how expensive the seats or sky box we occupied, we were spectators.  As fans, we could enthusiastically support our team of choice or we could just observe.  But no matter how worked up we might get, we were still on the side lines.  I repeat, we are not in the game.

When Jesus called the disciples, he didn’t call them to sit on the sidelines and watch Him do the work.  He was teaching them and inviting them to participate.  They got to take part in some pretty amazing things.  Peter walked on the water.  Andrew found five loaves and two fish and gave them to the Master.  He blessed the food and then the twelve fed the multitude of 5000 men and their families.  Peter, James and John got to go the Mount of Transfiguration and meet Moses and Elijah and see Jesus transformed in His glory.   They were followers and participants with Him.  He sent them out and they healed people and got them delivered from demonic realm.  Jesus was the pivotal figure, and He was training and using the people around Him to take over when He left them.

So what are we doing?  Our mega churches are a great place to go and hide.  We can sit on the back row and never feel any pressure to get involved.  Even in small fellowships, we can shake our head and say that we are too busy with work and family.  We come on Sunday, listen to the sermon, go to lunch with a few friends, and go home, where we resume life as if we didn’t belong to Jesus.  We are bought and paid for but we have  disengaged.  We have a job to do, but the team is missing our part.

Jesus wanted His followers to participate with Him when he was on earth and He never changes, so why would we think He would be content for us to sit on the sidelines today?

Today’s Lesson:   First of all, remember what it was like when you first met and fell in love with the Lord Jesus?  You wanted everyone to know Him and you told everyone about Him.  You didn’t really know what you were doing, but your were in the game.  It was just a farm team, but you were playing.  It was exciting and you felt alive!

Next, ask Father to help you get back to your first love and begin to support the team again?  It begins with you repenting of having been a spectator and doing your own thing.  Tell Him you are sorry and cry out for help.  He will lift the heaviness that you have been carrying.

It is important for you to know that He is not mad at you.  He loves you!  He wants you to know Him up close and personal.  He wants you to hear the plays that He calls.  Listen and watch for His leading.  Go where He says and He will bring you to a person who will be further down the path to help train you.  Then use your own will and make the decision to move forward into a love relationship with Jesus.

So come on!  Get in the game!  This life is a blast!

Related Sites:

http://pliableheart.wordpress.com

http://joyousbells.wordpress.com

http://www.notafan.com

https://swimlifelessons.wordpress.com/deepcallstodeep

Confirming Scriptures:

Matthew 14:28 Peter said to Him, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.”

Luke 9:28-30 Some eight days after these sayings, He took along Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. 29 And while He was praying, the appearance of His face became different, and His clothing became white and [a]gleaming. 30 And behold, two men were talking with Him; and they were Moses and Elijah,

John 6:8-10 One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, *said to Him, 9 “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are these for so many people?” 10 Jesus said, “Have the people [a]sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men [b]sat down, in number aboutfive thousand. NASB

Psalm 31:23 O love the LORD, all ye his saints: for the LORD preserves the faithful, and plentifully rewards the proud doer.

Matthew 22:37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

Mark 12:30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.

Romans 8:39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Jude 1:21 Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.

Abide

The lights in the house were on and the warmth exuded from that home with a welcoming glow.  Late at night, the young woman arrived home with her date.  Since the lights were bright, the young man didn’t linger in the car.  He graciously walked her to the front door and thanked her for their time together.

This young gentleman recognized that this young woman had one who watched over her and therefore he respected her and had a healthy fear of her protector.  In the light, there was no thought of taking advantage of her or making suggestions he would not have made in  the presence of her guardian.

The light beckoned the girl to come inside and abide in the safety it provided.  It seemed to say, “Come in.  You are safe.  You are loved.”  Her big brother opened the door to her and when she stepped across the threshold, she was at home in the presence of her Father’s love.  He greeted her with a hug and then sat down.  He was her own daddy.  She sat at his feet and told him of the young man and where they had gone that evening.

She rests her head on his knee.  She is at home and has no worries.  She knows that her champion will take care of her and she is totally secure.

When we have receive the finished work of our big brother, Jesus, we meet the Person of the Holy Spirit, who invites us into the family home in the Kingdom.  Our Father God dwells there in unapproachable light.  As His child,  we belong to Him and freely  step into the light with Him where He listens to us and talks with us.  He beckons us to come home through the door He has provided in His Son Jesus.  He is waiting.

This is what abiding is – it is being at home.  So, open the door and come in.

Today’s Lesson:  In the beginning, God said, “Let there be light and there was light.”   And God saw the light and it was good.  God divided the light from the darkness and he called the light ‘boker’ or day.  .  . (‘Boker’ means orderly and discernible – or order from disorder.) . . . and the darkness he called ‘erev’ which is translated eve or night. (‘Erev’ means chaotic.)

The Scripture also intimates that Adam and Eve were clothed with light when they were in the Garden and walked with Father in the cool of the day.  They weren’t just nude when they fell in the Garden of Eden.  The light went out and in their shame they scrambled to cover themselves.  This was the beginning of religion.  Religion is always man’s attempt to cover his actions to try to be acceptable to God, but the central message of the Bible is that God Himself will cover us (with light) – if we can but accept it.

Father never wanted to establish a religion when He sent Jesus to be our Redeemer.   He wants a family that comes to Him of their own free will and gets back into the light.  Choose to live and abide with Him – to be at home with Him.  When we do, He is our shelter, refuge and loving Papa.  We can rest in His light and love.

Many who have found the door in Jesus but have never stepped into the Light.  There is a fear of what He will say, but He is not mad.  He knew you couldn’t do it on your own.  He risked it all by giving you the choice of choosing Him or trying to work it all out through reasoning and religion.

Whether you are just inviting Jesus in today or you have had Him in your heart for years, here is the question, “Have you found your way to the Father?”

Related post:  https://swimlifelessons.wordpress.com/2012/02/02/diving-deeper/

http://joyousbells.wordpress.com/2012/02/10/love-story/

http://pliableheart.wordpress.com/2012/02/06/the-answer/#more-58

http://www.notafan.com/

Confirming Scripture:

Genesis 1, 2 and 3 

All of Psalm 91 which starts out: 

1 Those who live in the shelter of the Most High
will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 This I declare about the LORD:
He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;
he is my God, and I trust him.

John 15:5
I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.

John 15:7
If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.

John 15:9
Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love.

Deep Calls to Deep

If you love to swim, you know the exhilaration of diving into a deep pool and the freedom of swimming under the surrounding water and the cool, refreshment of the deep.  The limitation is how long you can hold your breath while longing to be able to breathe under water and continue to go deeper.  But for many, there is the fear of the water smothering them and keeping them in its arms and never letting go.

But there is a Deep that is safe and where you are free.  It is the deeper life that God has promised to those of us who draw near.  It is an exhilarating place to be.  It surrounds you with love and refuge.  It holds you and gives you the freedom to go.  But the deeps are so enticing that when we finally get there, we never want to leave.

The depths of the Lord are the ‘everlasting arms’ and the ‘secret place of the Most High.’  It is the place where we abide in Him and He in us.  We are lost in Him.

I once heard an illustration of a bottle in the ocean.  The vessel, if it is tightly capped, will float and bob on the top of the water.  It is in the ocean but it is not filled with the ocean.  A bottle, that is uncapped and open to all the ocean has for it, takes on water.  The more it takes on, the deeper it goes until it is completely filled up and lying in the deep.

And so it is when we go to the ‘Secret Place’ with open spirits, we get lost in Him and in that place, our will comes into line with His will and our way is established and our plans succeed.  Of course, by then, our plans will be His plans and our life will be His life.  His plans are perfect and He gives us a future and a hope.

Just as a person who dives into the deep and takes a deep breath, dies to this life, so it is with those of us who move into the embrace of the everlasting arms breathing in the sweet aroma of His Presence.  We die to all that seems important in this life and become one with the Father.  It is a place of romance, refreshment and direction.  It is the sacred romance.

If you haven’t taken the risk and moved to the deep, I can highly recommend it.  There is no thrill on earth, no peace in the natural realm, no relationship, and no drug that can compare.  It is the ultimate addiction.

Todays Lesson:  The way into the throne room that we have found is to lay aside all pride and agenda; put on worship music that points you to the Father, turn it up loud enough that you can’t hear what you are saying, and get alone in your prayer closet,  in your favorite chair, or on the floor.  Focus all of your attention on our great God, who He is, and His great gifts to us.  He is our Father.  He gave us His Son and His Holy Spirit.  He gave us wisdom.  They are ours if we will  but receive them.  As we come into His arms in the throne room, we enter into His Presence and we find true joy.

I invite you to risk diving into the deep right now.  Give up all that you have held on to.  All excuses, fear, guilt, shame and whatever else has kept you separated.  He isn’t mad at you and doesn’t want to punish you.  He is a Lover. He is wants you.  Enter in and share His great Love.  He who owns the deep and it’s depths is are calling for you personally!  He calls out of His great desire for fellowship and romance with you.  He’s waiting.

Confirming Scriptures:

Revelation 22:1 And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb

Psalm 42:7 Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts: all thy waves and thy billows are gone over me.

Proverbs 18:4 The words of a man’s mouth are as deep waters, and the wellspring of wisdom as a flowing brook.

1 Corinthians 2:10 But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.

Deuteronomy 33:27 The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms: and he shall thrust out the enemy from before thee; and shall say, Destroy them.

Psalm 91:1 He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.

John 15:5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

John 15:7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.

John 15:10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.

Proverbs 16:3 (AMP)  3Roll your works upon the Lord [commit and trust them wholly to Him; He will cause your thoughts to become agreeable to His will, and so shall your plans be established and succeed.

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