My Worst Of The Worst

Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness and who seek the LORD: Look to the rock from which you were cut and to the quarry from which you were hewn.  Isaiah 51:1

When Jesus talked with the woman at the well in Samaria, He took intentional steps to prepare her to receive Truth.  They began by talking of the mundane; water, thirst, and drinking.  He made a segueway to its spiritual counterpart; spiritual water, spiritual thirst, and the possibility of a drink that would forever quench thirst.  Jesus conversed about all of this because it needed to precede the revelation of Himself.  Thirst needed to overtake her and wake up her heart ~ for she had stopped dreaming of a Savior long ago.

She came alive as Jesus talked. She rose to engage Him in animated conversation.  Thirsty, she finally voiced a desire to what He was offering.  “Give me this drink,” she said.  But Jesus didn’t answer…. “I’m speaking of myself and this is how you drink of me.”  He immediately brought up the subject of her husband which unearthed the most painful of any possible admissions she might have to make.  She had been married five times and lived with a sixth man.  I often wondered why Jesus’ strategy was to change the subject. Perhaps it was to put His finger on the most painful place in her life.  By doing so, the message was this ~ If you want the most profound encounter possible with Me, you must drink of Me where you need Me the most.  Because she didn’t shy away, she received new life.

What is the worst part of your story? Have you dared unearth the need associated with the memory?  Where does it feel risky to trust God?  What would Jesus say if He sat on the edge of the well with you.  “I saw you at twenty four when you wanted to give up.”  Or, “When you were little, scared and hiding, thinking no one cared, did you know that I was there?”  In these crises of faith, in the darkest places of unbelief, Jesus calls us to a new awareness that there is such a thing as Living Water.  If we drink of Him, we will never need look again to fickle sources to give us what we think we need to feel whole.  We will find Him to be enough.

The Christian life begins when I learn the truth about God, when I learn the truth about myself, and apply the truth about God to the truth about me.  The Gospel is life changing only when it starts with great spiritual need.

Lord, I want to know the hope to which You have called me and Your incomparably great power for me if I believe in You.  Amen

Unbelief Is A Yoke

So this is what the sovereign Lord says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who trusts will never be shaken. Isaiah 28:16

Unbelief leads to despair but faith leads to hope. If I do not trust Jesus, I will be unwilling to be yoked to Him. I know in my head that God’s Word is true. I can quote this like I was giving a right answer on a test. Yet inwardly, I can still fight severe unbelief. The battle to trust His Word in the face of what appears to disprove it brings me to a crisis of faith.

Peter said that Jesus can be a rock of offense over whom people stumble. What makes each of us stumble is usually different. For many years, I stumbled over the issue of God’s expectations of me. When I go out to teach, I have a group of intercessors who pray for me. They labor in prayer, some even fast. Now, I would feel the pressure of that and think, “You are now fully equipped, Christine, to teach under God’s anointing and powerful things should happen.” When a group failed to respond like I anticipated, I took that as my failure. I believed that the intercessors did their part, gave me everything I needed for a harvest, so I must have failed mine. See the yoke? I forgot that the harvest is not up to me.

I will be shaken if I believe a lie about God. The journey is steep and I must fight for faith. Unbelief assaults me from two places; my own thoughts and the arrows of an enemy who never stops trying to corrupt my trust and connection to God. What will overcome these inner minefields?

“For the weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” 2 Cor. 10:4-5

The weapons? Scripture and the Spirit. The fortresses? Lies that have become entrenched over time and become strongholds. Speculations and every lofty thing? The mindset that I formulate over a lifetime that is ironclad and hard to budge. Only the Word can demolish it and re-write it.

What lie holds you captive? To find the answer, look carefully at the places you consider hopeless. Ask yourself why you believe that? State the lie and form a battle plan with the Word of God. Come at it with sharp arrows of truth ~ asking the Spirit of God to write His Word on your mind and heart. Fight the battle until you begin to know, and feel, the freedom from the yoke of deception.

You and I may temporarily teeter, wrestle like Jacob, but God’s foundation will hold if we take our mutinous thoughts and override them with His word. As long as we wear a yoke of deception, we render ourselves incapable of ever seeing a kingdom outcome. A glorious plot becomes a tragic and that is never what God had planned for His children.

Lord, you know what tempts me to stumble over you. But I’m choosing to believe that the redemption of this pain must be more beautiful than I can imagine. Break the yoke of unbelief. Amen

Shame Is A Yoke

Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin. Romans 4:7-8

Every person is born with a sense of shame because of Adam and Eve’s sin. We know we are flawed and are therefore shy before a holy God. The more we add sin to our resume, the more shame grows and the heavier the yoke becomes.

I have fought my own internal battle over the years. I have asked myself repeatedly, “How can I get over what I’ve done? Has Jesus totally forgiven me?” The yoke had me by the throat.

Worshippers in the ancient world knew shame well. They would bring their sacrifices; animals, even newborn babies, to kill at the altar; all because they had a sense that they needed to calm angry gods. Their faith was in the wrong god but their conscience was keen in sensing that there was One higher than them who was just and holy.

Are you living out a life sentence of depression as you rehearse your failures? Does your track record haunt you like a ghost? If you have confessed your sin but still feel guilty, realize that when God forgives, he separates your sin from you. One of the words for ‘forgive’ is to ‘send away’. God took that ‘thing’ for which you repented, took it off of you and put it on Jesus. When you can’t hold your head up, you must remember that you are not your sin.

Satan accuses. People name call. But Jesus calls His forgiven children ‘righteous’. The beautiful names He confers on us form an umbrella under which we live and enjoy peace with God. The names are numerous, each one meaning something beautiful, and it is each one of these that I must rehearse when I am weighed down by shame. Whether people-inflicted or Satan-inflicted, shame need not be my yoke. It was Jesus’ yoke when He died in my place. I am to live like Abraham. No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. Romans 4:20-21

How do I take off this yoke? Believe God. See yourself standing in the flow of God’s forgiveness and then walk by faith.  Be sure to have a plan. Satan is the perpetual accuser of the brethren. He will come at you again with old tapes. Be ready with scripture. You will have to quote it out loud and be assured that he will flee. Remember, you are forgiven whether you feel like you are or not. Feelings are unreliable but the Word of God is true and abides forever.

For every one who is deciding to walk in forgiveness, by faith, remove the yoke of shame from their shoulders, Jesus. Amen

Abusing A Gracious God


What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?  Romans 6:1-2

Think of the most gracious person you know.  How easily was it to accept what they offered?  Perhaps you’re the kind of person that squirmed, trying to put a limit on what they wanted to give.  Or, perhaps in the folly of immaturity, you took their gifts for granted and felt entitled to more.

No matter what a man or woman gives, it is nothing compared with the gracious gifts God gives.  Whose offering can exceed the forgiveness of sin, the removal of condemnation, and the start of a new life that begins now but lasts forever?

Paul asks a redundant question.  Should we continue to sin and offend such a gracious God?  May it not be!

The stumbling block for any of us is that Satan has disfigured the face of a gracious God.  When suffering doesn’t cease, when we don’t get the answers we want to the prayers we whisper, we assume God isn’t really on our side.  Gracious?  Hardly.  And yet Isaiah said that ‘God longs to be gracious to us and He waits to have compassion on  us.’ Is.30:18

The Old Testament saints and the New Testament apostles all made the grace of God a recurring theme.  They did this despite their hardships.  On what did they base their experience of grace?  On God’s longsuffering nature, on His willingness to forgive without regard for whether or not they would continue to make the same mistake again, on His many provisions of strength, on His ability to change the lives of people.  They knew that heaven was ‘not now’. They were ambassadors to a dark world.  Ah, but on the inside?  God was gracious to transform the inner landscape of their soul so that they were full of evidences of His grace and glory.  I, too, have tasted and I want so much more.

No matter how big my appetite is for You, You are gracious to exceed what I ask for.  I vow to hate sin more because of who You are.  Amen