Walking A Property Line

The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.       Psalms 16:6

God never meant for me to be passive about my faith.  He has made promises but I must make them mine by walking them out.  There will be times that promises appear to be in threat so I must rise up to fight for faith.  There will be giants in my Canaan.  A life of faith does not mean a life of resting.  I must expect battles and get engaged.

Being an ambassador of God on this earth means ruling on behalf of the kingdom who commissioned me.  Though earth is not my home, I’m sent here to represent my King and bring the laws of His kingdom to earth.  This is a cooperative effort.  As I rule and do my part, God has my back.  As I stand in His promises, He fulfills them.  That’s why Moses was told to raise the rod over the Red Sea.  That’s why Joshua and the Israelites were told to march around the walls of Jericho.  They did their part and God brought the victory.

God gave Abram a blessing.  He promised him land in every direction his eyes can see and offspring greater than the sands of the sea.  But it didn’t come to pass without Abram’s involvement.  He was told to walk the length and breadth of the land – personally staking his claim.

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Walking out God’s promises is to be my way of life.  When my children’s future appears to be tenuous, I get on my knees and stake my claim on God’s promises for them.  When the ministry is under spiritual attack, I go to a day of fasting and re-claim the promises surrounding my calling.  When my home is under attack; when anger, anxiety or depression swirl, when equipment begins to malfunction, when sleep is robbed, when people begin to act out without a cause, I do what Abram did.  I walk the lines of my property and sing.  I also take my “I Am” sheet with me and read it as I walk. The victory is mine as God engages with my faith walk.

Giants in the land were never there to cause me to faint.  They were there to teach me to live and fight for faith.

Too many obstacles?  I used to just abdicate.  Thank you for teaching me how to fight and for giving victory after victory.  As the stakes get higher, give me the grace to walk with more boldness.  In Jesus name, Amen 

The Compliant Person and Regret

Oh, how I love your law!  It is my meditation all the day.  Psalm 119:97

I will value something more if I’ve suffered from the want of it.  If I lived much of my life without the daily revelation that comes through a relationship with God and His Word, then I will embrace it now with intense passion.  The contrast between how desperate I was without the words of Jesus compared to what it’s like to live now with His presence and guidance will be stark.  I’m not speaking hypothetically here.  I’m speaking from experience.

But some who know me say, “Wait!  You’ve been a Christian since you were seven years old.  What do you mean you didn’t know the joy of following God’s ways?” I will tell you that it might have appeared I did.  But I took the paths other Christians prescribed for me.  I was a compliant person and when put me in the company of strong willed visionaries, I caved to fit in.  I wanted acceptance more than I wanted to know the joy of pioneering my way with God.

For the first 40+ years of my life, I lived by other people’s rudder.  When faced with any challenge, I asked those around me, “What would you do?” It seemed there was always a plethora of answers to follow.  Most were given with good intentions and with firm conviction.  Not knowing how to really hear God’s Spirit speak to me, I felt I needed their direction and chose to always trust it.  While some advice was solid, much of it was not.  Over time, I harbored bad feelings toward those whose advice led me astray.  I also punished myself for being so weak as to listen to them.  There was no winning, no peace.  Regrets buried me.  I had to work my way through the mire of disappointments to find the sovereignty of God.  He has more than redeemed it all as I’m writing this.

Do I echo David’s words and proclaim my love for His personalized instruction in scripture?  Oh yes!  Have I turned into a lone ranger who never asks others for counsel?  No.  It’s just that now I have a place to go to weigh their words.  God will confirm the validity of their input or direct me to go a different way.  His law is life and throughout my day, I have the absolute joy of being utterly preoccupied with it.

I am only compliant to Your Spirit, the place where my independence melts away.  Amen

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Riding The Fence

Therefore I consider all your precepts to be right; I hate every false way.  Psalm 119:128

David doesn’t ride the fence.  There is no neutrality.  He loves truth.  He hates every false way.  He reminds me that I should show no ambivalence when it comes to good or evil either because there is no such thing as neutrality.  It’s sin or it’s not sin.  If Jesus wouldn’t do it, think it, or condone it, then it should be intolerable for me as well.

photo-1440502653738-1bcca319323fIs there something I find myself in the middle of today that seems sticky?  Perhaps if I were dealing with a stranger, I’d take a stand but because it’s a friend or family member, the waters muddy.  I know there are repercussions if I think differently from those who know me best.   To give myself a way out, I begin to rationalize.  “I shouldn’t make a big deal out of this.  It’s not like this is the end of the world if I give in.” Those thoughts signal a red flag.  The real issue is this ~ What would Jesus do if he were in my place?

What am I letting get by me today because I fear the consequences of speaking up?  If I can answer that question, and if I believe that this particular sellout falls in a harmless category, I am not thinking like Jesus.  To speak up every time I encounter sin is not the aim here.  It is to be willing to – if God nudges.  If there is a situation that causes me to shut my mouth up tight, then I fear man more than I fear God.  Psalm 118:6 comes to mind for me to internalize.  “The LORD is on my side; I will not fear.  What can man do to me?”

You never ask your child to take a stand, suffer the consequences, without Your personal attention afterwards.  Just as angels came to Jesus in the wilderness to strengthen His heart, You come to me when I am isolated.  Amen

God Is Never Passive

My soul, wait thou only upon God. Psalm 62:6

Calvin translates this verse, “My soul, be silent before God.” Rest calm and undisturbed. Your enemies are round about thee, but rest, my soul, in God. Your enemies are mighty, but HE IS Almighty; your troubles are grievous, but he is greater than your troubles, and he shall deliver you from them. Let not your soul be agitated. The wicked are like the troubled sea that cannot rest: don’t be like them. Be calm: let not a wave ruffle your untroubled spirit. Cast thy burden on the Lord, and then sleep on his bosom.”

What are you waiting on God for today? Part of the human spiritual experience is to pray for heaven to come down and wonder why things don’t happen sooner. When we’re in distress, our relationship with God can get battered by questions of His goodness and love.

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After long periods of waiting, I have come to understand that much about my waiting room had little to do with me. It was about God preparing people and situations for what was next, lining up the dominoes to fall in succession.   Think of Joseph’s time in prison.  His final 2-year waiting period in his last prison cell probably didn’t have so much to do with Joseph as it did the ripening of times and seasons in Egypt. It was about Pharaoh entering a time of distress over his dreams.

I’m waiting in prayer today over some big things. So are you. What if I could peel back the invisible curtain between heavenly realms and my personal world? What if I could see God working in the lives of the people I love? I am convinced that I would see a very active Father, not a passive one. As for the ones I am praying for, God is wooing them but they may not discern it. He is speaking but their ears aren’t tuned to it.  He’s arranging divine encounters and He’ll make sure they won’t miss them.  He’s preparing the ground for their deliverance but they live totally unsuspecting.  And, He’s doing all of this eagerly – anticipating my joy when the miracle is unveiled.

There’s nothing more painful as a parent than to be blamed for doing nothing when, in fact, you’ve been very active. You’ve sought advice, you’ve suffered sleepless nights, you’ve problem solved and rehearsed the obstacles until your head hurts. The one who blames you just doesn’t know.  When I blame God, I am a blind, ignorant child. He is all-seeing, wise, and ever pro-active.

Passivity is not in your nature. I’ve been lied to. You are incessant in working all things for my good. Amen

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Is God My Portion Or A Leftover?

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalm 23:76

How many times have I described the Lord as ‘all I had left’ – after something of great value was taken away?   “I lost everything and God was all I had.”  Really?  It’s as if the real things of value were removed, leaving me with some stray object, God.

The truth is that I have God plus whatever else I enjoy.  God is my portion.  Housing, food, relationships, employment are all extras.

Have I been in a position when employment was removed and our family lived not knowing where our next meal would come from?  Yes.  Did I believe at the time that the Lord was my portion?  I don’t think my heart was alive enough to Him to internalize that.  However, our family lived in prayer for provision and God was faithful.

Have I been in a position to lose precious relationships, in death and in life?  Yes.  Did I experience God as my portion?  Thankfully, yes.  Some of the losses were so staggering that I don’t think I would have survived mentally and emotionally if God had not strengthened my soul and been my companion.

For anyone to really say, “All I need is God” and mean it, it must be tested in the wilderness of need.  I don’t wish that on anyone nor am I sadistic enough to crave any more wilderness lessons for myself.  However, should they come (and they probably will), each of us has the opportunity to press in to the One who satisfies our soul.

The psalmist who wrote Psalm 119 is full or promises.  His heart pours itself out like a young person in love, making vows for life.  One thing is clear though, he is not starry eyed and inexperienced.  He has suffered.  His proclamations of love are intense because the pain was intense.  His love language is made up of spiritual grit, a grit carved out of faith that was built in hard times.  So is mine if, when tested, I trust and don’t curse.

You are my portion, God.  I promise to keep your words for the days I have left on this earth.  Amen

Up Against a Wall

The LORD foils the plans of the nations; he thwarts the purposes of His people. Psalm 33:10

Walls keep enemies on the outside but they can also keep someone who wishes to be free on the inside. Walls are their prison.

The Word of God has a lot to say about keeping our boundary lines secure in order to stay spiritually safe. But scriptures also reveal that God builds a wall in order to thwart the freedom and success of a wayward child. Though that is comforting when we want our loved one to be protected, it is also difficult to watch the struggle. We understand what is wrong but they don’t understand what God is trying to tell them.

alone-backgrounds-abyssThe person in captivity lives discouraged because God’s wall obstructs every attempt to move forward. None of their plans come together. What has worked for others just doesn’t work for them. They apply for jobs but never hear back. They save money to fund their dreams but unexpected expenses keep draining their resources. What seems to add up on paper never becomes a reality. Unexpected medical expenses and car repairs (and other flukes) eat into their profits. The result? They are confined inside the wall that Gob built.

And here’s where it affects us. We tell them, “You just need to pray about your future. Only God can fix all of this.” But God is not a cosmic genie – there to facilitate a prosperity that is all about them and not about Him. Telling them to pray and ask for what’s on their wish list doesn’t address the fact that they want everything but God. Until they desire Him and the life He wants for them, the walls won’t come down.

Let’s say for the sake of argument that they did pray, and God in His mercy gave them what they asked for. Would that inspire them to give their lives to Christ? I doubt it. Their new idol would glitter and the joy of success would further shield them from their true spiritual needs.

When we watch someone we love get hemmed in by God, is there anything we can do? Three things.

1.) Bathed with a lot of prayer, there needs to be a conversation with the one who is stuck. They need to know that God is thwarting their path out of love and mercy. He is waiting to bless them, first with Himself, then with spiritual success.

2.) We need to stop trying to help them succeed. We are getting in the way of what God is trying to do.

3.) Ask God to quickly bring them to a place of submission. Ask Him to open their heart to sense His wooing. We are called to fight the fight in prayer by restricting the enemy from deceiving them and releasing them to desire Christ.

Lord, they are in a battle and don’t even know it. I see it so I am putting on my armor to get engaged. I will be Your prophet and your intercessor. In Jesus’ name, Amen

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Commander In Chief of the Angel Armies

The nations made an uproar, the kingdoms tottered; He raised His voice, the earth melted.  The LORD of hosts is with us.  Psalm 46:6-7

God identifies Himself as the “Lord of hosts” time after time in scripture.  The problem with growing up in the church is that one can hear this phrase but because of its familiarity, the power of the title is never appreciated.  Eugene Peterson’s, THE MESSAGE, translates “the God of hosts” as “the Lord of the angel armies.”  Now that grabs my attention and causes me to consider the implications of this God-declaration.

latestThe critical points made are these:

  1. There are angels around even though I may not be aware of them.  I can be so consumed by the material world that I fail to realize the relevance of what is transpiring in the spiritual realm.  Scripture instructs every child of God to be cognizant of the fact that we are spiritual beings, part of a spiritual realm, citizens of a spiritual kingdom.  That reality is to define who I am and what I do.
  2. There are angel armies and there are also demon armies.  The battle between good and evil is being fought twenty-four hours a day.  There is a war being waged against me personally, against my family, against my church, and even against my city or town.  I can train to fight, appropriate the weapons God has provided in order to be victorious, or I can choose to remain passive and become a casualty.  There is no neutral ground, only winners and losers.
  3. God is the Lord, the commander, of the angel armies.  He wants me to know the chain of command and be comforted by the fact that His hosts of angels are carrying out orders within a hierarchy that is extremely well structured.  God loves His children and has not sent me, nor anyone else, to the front lines to be slaughtered.  He has provided angelic hosts to fight on my behalf, their activity fueled by prayer and faith.

God is not an anemic God.  He may be my Father, tender-hearted and full of mercy, but He is also a commander-in-chief, not to be trifled with.  The One who loved me enough to give His Son’s life to win my freedom is also the One to whom all of creation will one day bow.  I endeavor not to lose my head over things and situations that are temporary.

You, the Lord of the armies, the fiercest of warriors, have me in the palm of Your hand.  Now that gives significance to my day.  I engage in the battle with hope and expectations of victory.  With Jesus’ name on my lips, Amen

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