Lifting Your Head

Lift up your heads, O gates! And be lifted up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Psalm 24:7

God speaks to His people and joyfully commands them to lift their heads. He has gone out to battle on their behalf and has come back victorious.

Have you been shamed? No matter what the context, the experience is gut wrenching. Every part of your being feels it. Your emotions plummet. Your mind runs tapes of the accusations. Your body language turns inward.

I recall when Joseph told the cupbearer, who was falsely accused, that Pharaoh would lift up his head in three days. The Hebrew idiom paints a beautiful picture. It is when the one shrunken in shame is restored to his position of power. It’s used other places in scripture that expand its beauty.

King David, betrayed by his son Absalom, on the run with just the clothes on his back, turns to God for vindication. He climbed the Mount of Olives, covered up his head, wept, and said, “You, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high.” Psalm 3:3 As king, he could have formed an army, or at least a posse, to get back his throne. He abandoned all ideas of conniving, of battling, and of manipulating. He recognized that God was his rescuer.

Who has stripped you of your honor? How long have you been brought low? Have you accepted your fate and given up all hope of restoration? Perhaps you even abandoned prayer.

I hope you’re not a fighter who has vowed to take revenge and battle it out. Perhaps you intend to get back what you’ve lost no matter who has to pay. You’ve turned aside from God as your Redeemer and have taken up your own cause.

The hardest thing for any of us to do when betrayed is to wait on God to move. He always will. We just don’t know when. In the meantime, the waiting is never wasted. God draws near, comforts, teaches us what He suffered under the same circumstances.  He pours out treasure upon treasure that is only found in the darkness. He is, and will be, the lifter of our heads.

Satan offered you a way out of waiting when he offered you the kingdoms of the world in exchange for worship. Thank you for not caving. Everything would have been lost. So teach me to wait! Amen

Save

Stepping Stones

Show me the right path, O Lord; point out the road for me to follow.  Lead me by your truth and teach me,  for you are the God who saves me.  All day long I put my hope in you.  Psalm 25:4-5

A woman who takes the time to listen to and obey the voice of God is never stuck.  Every step she takes is leading somewhere.  No gesture is ever inconsequential.  No task performed is ever hollow.  No pain is ever senseless. Everywhere she places her foot is strategic even though she may be unaware of the significance.  Solomon said so.  “The upright one is on a path that makes up a highway.”

Satan’s urgent agenda for us as God’s children is to cause us to distrust God.  If he can alienate our affections, he knows we will lose heart and abandon the way of faith.  One of his biggest lies is the one that says, “This is a dead end.  You’re trapped.”  Oh, how well I know.  I believed that and was crippled by a severe depression in the early nineties.  Everywhere I looked, I saw traps instead of doorways.  I didn’t know that they were a mirage, a smokescreen.  If only someone had told me to call Satan’s bluff with a well-fashioned arrow of the word of God.

Now, two decades later, I’m still on a soapbox to declare that each ‘trap’ was really a doorway into glory. I was delivered from my wordlessness when I decided to embrace the truth that God is never cornered, and since He lives in me and orders my steps, I’m not trapped either.  Facing the conflict of my core beliefs and then choosing to believe God over my own thoughts, I was freed to move again.  Slowly, I began to see that every pro-active step I took by faith was profitable. It proved that there were indeed invisible doorways I couldn’t see before.  Everywhere I placed my foot led me to another stepping-stone related to my destiny.

It’s still true for each of us today.  The best of life awaits us even in these difficult times if I define the ‘best’ as opportunities to showcase God’s glory. I intend, until Jesus returns, to become an spirited older lady who teaches others how to pray strategically, embrace the scriptures passionately, and love God wholeheartedly.  I don’t know how well I will sing in another decade or two but I will always play the piano, my flute and wooden recorders.  My dream is that God will continue to anoint me to be a ‘pied piper’ who marches on the kingdom’s highway, calling out to others on the sidelines to step onto the path behind me.   My once compromised faith-walk has become a banner-waving parade for the glory of God.

The destiny You write for every daughter is beautiful. Show me today’s stepping stones.  In Jesus’ name, Amen

Immovable

Great peace have those who love your law, nothing can make them stumble.  Psalm 119:165

When the Spirit of God inspired these words, He used the word ‘nothing’ in the last phrase. What a promise that absolutely the worst thing imaginable can not make me stumble if I am grounded in the word.

I have been showered with emails since sharing the news of Ryan’s death yesterday.  Every single note was just right ~ so comforting and void of cliches and sermons.  Our devotional family is just amazing.  I’m so impressed by the depth of your faith and your wisdom.  You reached out in such powerful ways.

Our family, like your family, is being presented with situations every day that, if navigated without the Word and the Spirit, will end badly.  Today, my friends, we can each exhale in relief because nothing can shake loose our tranquility.  Not death, disease, persecution, and tribulation.  The love of God is not a wimpy thing because the One who offers it is the great I AM.  His arms keep us steady and surefooted in the fury of the storm.

Tormenting things happen.  But when I stand in the cement of ‘You’, nothing can make my feet slip.  Amen

What Kind Of Yoke Does Jesus Offer?

Return to your rest, O my soul. The Lord has dealt bountifully with you. Psalm 116:7

The next time you’re part of a group, introduce the topic of ‘the yoke of an oxen’ and there probably won’t be much interest, even among Christians. However, the topic is unavoidable because we’re all yoked to someone. Satan yokes us to him whether we want it or not. “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Isaiah 58:6 Jesus, if we’re willing, breaks the yoke of our oppression and invites us to take on His yoke instead.

He said, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me. My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Who wants to be in a yoke? That’s the opposite of freedom. Jesus’ promise that this way of living is good for me makes me skeptical. Once I’m freed from the enemy’s cords, can’t I just do my own thing?

Let’s consider the context of Jesus’ words. Two oxen are chosen to share a yoke. The first is an older seasoned ox. He is trained and rugged from years of routine. The second is a new young ox. He has potential but is inexperienced. By sharing the same yoke with a seasoned workhorse, the mature trains the young.

Not only that, but the experienced one pulls harder to bear the majority of the load. Since the older one leads, the younger ox does not have to wonder what to do. He leans on his mentor and copies everything his he does.

Sounds like discipleship, doesn’t it? Jesus invites me to ‘learn of Him’ which is another way of saying ‘be my disciple.’ There’s rest in not having to figure life out on my own. There’s security as I follow His lead.

Jesus also reveals that His yoke is easy. The word ‘easy’ doesn’t mean ‘simple’, but ‘good’. If I’m yoked to Jesus, there’s rest in being yoked to someone good, loving, and patient.

The paraphrase? “Get in the yoke with me. Let me disciple You. I’ll bear the weight of your burden. My yoke is good and you will find rest and companionship in our labor together.”

You were yoked to Your Father and that’s how You survived. Your life was the slow dance of the trinity. I want that. Amen

How Zeal Can Repel

The Word became flesh and dwelt among us and we beheld His glory.  John 1:14

We know that passion can fuel dangerous causes but it can also advance the kingdom of God. Take a look at this recent video in which a group of Christians in China receive their first Bible.   http://www.godtube.com/watch/?v=0FECC1NU

Am I surprised?  I shouldn’t be.  Once I embrace Jesus, will I not embrace His Words?  Will they not precious to me?  Will I not be challenged to love what He loves?  Will I not grow a distaste for the things He hates?

If I find myself today to be lukewarm, a condition which God detests, I will also discover that I am void of passion.  I’ve lost it somewhere and must figure out where, and why.  In the meantime, there is little more dangerous to my soul than hanging around others who are also lukewarm. Once the Spirit of God revives me, I’ll begin to second guess myself and feel like a freak for caring so deeply about what they so easily dismiss.

If dispassionate Christians comprise the hub of my fellowship, I will attempt to share the most beautiful and personal things of the Spirit with others who squirm to confirm them.  My zeal makes them uncomfortable and when my stories fall flat, I will be undone. The next time around, I will reign in my emotions because I know that to fit in, my fire needs to be repressed.

I’ve asked myself this question today.  If the Scriptures were taken from me, would I be as upset – on the continuum – as those Chinese Christians are joyful?   Do my friends resemble this particular body of believers?  If so, our fellowship is contagious and combustible.  If not, perhaps it’s time to change spiritual company.

I’ll never leave the company of those who are on the move for Your kingdom.  I’ll never settle for less than fellowship with passionate worshipers.  Amen

No Place To Plant My Feet

You are the same, and your years have no end.  The children of your servants shall dwell secure.  Psalm 102:27-28

Everything having to do with the Earth is in transition.  The sun, needed to bring the flowers to full bloom, can also have scorching qualities, causing the blossoms to shrivel and die.  Everything I hold in my hands is tenuous unless it is of the kingdom and will last forever.  Is my trust in God?  Should my wealth fail, will I spiral down into hopelessness or will my faith in God sustain me?  If the favor of others fail, will I be unshakable in my identity?

If my pleasant pastures turn into a desert, will I have stored enough spiritual food to sustain me?  If God should close the door to my place of employment, the place I find so fulfilling, will I languish for purpose?

The only One who offers true stability is God.  He is the Rock upon which my feet stand securely.  He is the Anchor when the waves hit.  He is the Fortress when the arrows are aimed at me.  Though favor, wealth, and pleasant pastures are mine to enjoy from time to time, they are not the source of my well-being.  The challenge is this ~ Each one of them gives a sense of security, but it’s a false one.  Will I be astute enough to trust today’s scripture and not be fooled?  That requires more than just passive belief.  It must be active and hard-working.

While in times of prosperity, it’s easy to spout off a cliche.  “God is my security when bad things happen to me!”  Now, I may mean it but if I’m not storing up enough ‘food’ so that when I am tested, I can be nourished through the times of deprivation, how will I experience it?  I must know the One upon whom I plan to trust.  And, I must be accustomed to depending on God so that I can lean into my experience in the act of trusting.  Today:

  • There are areas where I can experience God as provider.  I lean into that.
  • There are areas where I can listen to God as a counselor.  I still myself to listen.
  • There are areas of darkness where I need to experience the light of His love.  I open myself to that.
  • There are areas of insecurity and fear where I can trust Him to face that which frightens me.  I welcome the challenge.

Life involves far more than just living what I am experiencing.  It requires being pro-active.  Digging into my faith and storing away riches for the future will be my only insurance against transitory times.

I enjoy the peace of today, Lord.  I thank you for it but I am not fooled.  Tomorrow, the winds may blow.  I make knowing you, even in peaceful times, my priority.  In Jesus name, Amen

The Wind and the Ordinary

He walks upon the wings of the wind; He makes the winds His messengers, flaming fire His ministers. Psalm 104:3-4

I’m an over-achiever. I like to work hard and feel that I accomplished something. I enjoy stretching myself to learn new things. While none of these are bad traits, in ministry they can be dangerous. I can begin to believe that my efforts are what yield success. I would do well to remember that humans generate earthbound results. Only God gives rise to true spiritual outcomes.

Several years ago, I had a vivid dream.  I was mixing together three unlikely ingredients in a bowl to make something to eat.  Jesus was standing nearby so I asked Him about it. “What is this going to be, Lord?”  He answered, “It’s going to be manna for the people you’ll be feeding in my name.”  I was surprised because the ingredients were such that you’d never mix them together to create anything appetizing.  So I said, “But how will these three things produce something edible?  I don’t understand.”  He laughed and replied, “The secret is in the wind.”

With that I felt a gentle breeze enter the room.  It blew over the ingredients and stirred them up so that they rose into the air to form a swirl before settling back into the bowl.  The Spirit had touched the common ingredients and transformed them into something supernatural.

Wind has always been a sign of God’s presence.  Wind and breath are often synonymous in scripture.  Jesus breathed on His disciples and filled them with a power beyond themselves.  No longer limited but Spirit filled, the Gospel message would spill out of their mouths with power and passion. Continents would never be the same as these ordinary men were transfigured into agents of heaven. Without impressive credentials, people would say of them, “We can tell they have been with Jesus.” The spiritual wind accompanied them. It disturbed the deep. The vast emptiness of people’s souls was filled with the Bread of Life.

God walks on the wind. He begs to be invited and is anxious to intersect today with the ordinary. He is passionate to alter the common things. He dreams of restoring what the Fall has eaten away. Where are you languishing? Why are you panting from self-effort to repair something in vain? The wind promises to blow across the carnage of our lives. We are meant to smell the aroma of Eden. Wherever the Spirit of God will hover today, the landscape will change. Transformation begins with an awareness of my great need.

Come, Holy Spirit, to my ordinary world.  Amen