Daughters of Promise

WHERE IS THE FREEDOM HE PROMISED?

Jesus said to the Jews who had believed on him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.”  John 8:31

Abiding in the Word is not to learn a body of biblical knowledge.  There are many who fancy the stories of the Bible, are taken with the semantics and nuances of advanced biblical doctrines, yet they are not free at all.  Their personal lives remain unchanged.  Their family relationships are strained and impersonal.  Their inner world is fraught with deception and they are oblivious to it.  They are self-impressed and blind to their lack of spiritual power.  Because they are interested in spiritual things, they can not see their emptiness.  But just ask their spouses or their children.  They will tell you that they ache to see and experience Jesus even though they hear a lot of Jesus-talk.   Continue reading

HEALING FROM HURTFUL WORDS
 
For thus saith the Lord, “Thy bruise is incurable, and thy wound is grievous.”
Jeremiah 31:12

Truth and love are always paired in the context of the Gospel and that is the reason we are asked to speak to others in this way. It is because God speaks that way.  The only cure for the deep pain of others’ words is to allow God to speak the truth – and in the context of love and tenderness.  I must be willing to disown the hurtful words and no longer have them define me in any way. These injurious words should be dealt with severely at the cross, in prayer.

What do I do with the hurtful attitude of the one who originally spoke it?  I ask God to remove the injury of their heart’s intent.  If their comment came with anger or revenge, Jesus will deal with the spirit that came with the words and cleanse me from all their effects.

“Lord, nullify the effects of these comments under the power of Your shed blood. Take these words from my mind and my heart.  Remove the arrows that wounded my soul so deeply.   Make it as though the words had never been spoken.  I forgive the person who spoke them and give up my right to take revenge.  I put this person in Your hands for You to rule righteously.  Arise on my behalf.  Hear my prayer.  Hold me, breathe over me, kiss my heart with Your living Word and may I live in abundant life.  Because of Jesus, I pray…Amen
 
Lord, I stand today on Your promise.  “The Sun of righteousness will arise with healing in his wings.”  Malachi 4:2

JESUS AND MANNA

Jesus said to them, “The bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven and gives life to the world.”  They said therefore to Him, “Lord, evermore give us this bread.”  Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life.”  John 6:33-35

Jesus revealed Himself as the bread of life which comes down out of heaven.  That can be a confusing metaphor if it weren’t linked to the manna the children Israel ate while in the wilderness.  The latter was an event His crowd knew well.  It was part of their heritage and each generation passed on the miracle story to their children. Continue reading

FAMINE COMES TO YOUR PROMISED LAND

And Abram journeyed on, still going toward the Negeb. Now there was a famine in the land. So Abram went down to Egypt to sojourn there, for the famine was severe in the land.  Genesis 12:9-10

         Abram finally arrives in Canaan.  He is anxious to make it ‘home’ for his people but it turns out they can’t settle there yet because there is severe famine. Talk about disappointment!  But there is no indication that Abram was confused and that famine shook up his faith. His faith sustained him when, at that moment, God’s character could easily have been questioned.

           Famine will drive Abram and his family to Egypt and his faith will be tested there.  Circumstances will present the ‘perfect storm’.  The one who has not wavered yet from an almost perfect obedience to God will falter.  Is this the reason God sent the famine?  Is it important for Abram to face a time of spiritual testing?

         I believe the answer is yes.  God is all about growing me up to a mature kind of faith, the kind Jesus had.  How does faith grow?  By testing what I know in the hard experiences of life.  I can say I trust God but to what extent is that true?  Under what circumstances will my trust erode?  I can easily tell others that God is a faithful Father but will I believe that when God leads me right into the center of a famine?  What would it take for me to malign God’s character?

         My first response to a famine in Canaan can be to second-guess the decision I made to obey God and move there.  That conclusion is spiritually immature.  God can, and has, made promises to His chosen servants that were accompanied by adversity.  He promised favor but led them to pitch their tent with enemies.  He spoke of blessing but led them to the place where giants ruled.  God spoke of a promised land but then afflicted it with famine.  What kind of God is this?

         Up to this point, Abram has been nearly perfect and someone hard to identify with.  That is about to change.  Our patriarchs were great men of faith but they were also human.  The scriptures don’t white wash their sins nor do they hide them.  The lives of our forefathers were as messy as ours and yet we get to see God bless, correct, forgive, and then restore, time after time.  It is a Father/child relationship after all.

         If I have heard God’s call, followed at great personal cost, and found myself in times of hardship, I know to hold on.  This is not the end of the story.  God is in the process of transforming my faith while still being good to His promise.

And I should know better than to expect perfection in Canaan.  Canaan is not heaven, after all.   Help me adjust my expectations, rise above blaming, and call You good.  Amen

MAKING A HOME IN HOSTILE PLACES

Abram passed through the land to the place at Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. At that time the Canaanites were in the land.  Genesis 12:6

         Many have prayed for the will of God, followed His voice, and experienced complete disillusionment when they found themselves in hostile surroundings.  They blame God for being unloving or they blame themselves for being poor listeners.  Hostility within the will of God is common and should not surprise God’s children.

         When Abram encountered the Canaanites, hostile company epitomized, he didn’t pick up and move on.  He settled there.  Though the only Yahweh worshipper, He built an altar.  With far less revelation of God than I have, he was strong enough in his faith to stand out and be different from everyone else.

         Some years back, our family lived in a hostile environment.  We begged, daily, for release.  We were willing to move anywhere and do anything to escape our surroundings.  Surely, we reasoned, God wouldn’t want for us to endure such a place.  Yet, every request for a move away was met by the silence of God.  One morning in prayer, the Spirit of God spoke to me through a verse in Psalms.  “Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.”  Psalm 37:3    We were to learn how to make our little home a place where the glory of God rested.  We were to understand how to eat the sumptuous spiritual meal God provided daily in the midst of our enemies.  We stayed three more years before God moved us out and that time proved to be one of the most formational times, spiritually, in our family’s history.

         Many live in the midst of hostility.  Unfortunately, it can be with a husband, wife, child, or aging parent.  It can even be in a place of ministry.  Scorn and ridicule are the backdrops of daily life.  Instinct says to escape.  Do anything to run from such discomfort.  But God’s way is for His child to learn how to make Him their home.  The glory of Christ can descend on the darkest environment.

Give your child today spiritual grit, a willingness to stay in a tormenting place, and peace in submission.  Amen

PROSPERITY AND DOMINION

And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.  Genesis 12:2

         Nothing in our Christian language is misunderstood more than the word ‘blessing.’  Because I am so prone to want earth to be my heaven, I assume it means something it really doesn’t.  When my expectations are shattered, I’m angry with God for supposedly breaking His promises.  What does ‘the blessing’ really mean?

         Blessing equals spiritual prosperity and dominion over what God has entrusted.  God blessed Adam and Eve, Noah, and now – Abram.  They were told to be fruitful and to reign.       I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies.   Genesis 22:17 

         To be fruitful is to apply the laws of heaven and see results.  That can mean as much internal as external.  To reign and have dominion is to enjoy the freedom Jesus won for me at Calvary and to enforce the victory He acquired on my behalf.  What does this ‘the blessing’ mean for every one who struggles today with their health, or finances, or broken relationships?  Is God not faithful to keep His promises?   Here is what two examples look like – and I’m asking God to drive these truths home to my own heart.

         1. I can live in a crippled relationship and still be fruitful, and still reign.  How?  My inner peace is not determined by anything external.  I plant the promises of God in my heart and they are fruitful because they produce peace, hope, and confidence that God is ruling well.  I can reign because, in prayer, I ask for divine healing for what is broken.  I use my spiritual authority to thwart all the schemes of the enemy to wreak more havoc in this relationship.  I speak scripture over every diseased part of the relationship.

         2. I can lie in bed with cancer and still be fruitful, and still reign.  How?  Though in pain, I remember that God is faithful to give me momentary grace.  I am blessed with a relationship that offers me access to an all-powerful God who promises spiritual stamina.  My relationship with Him is fruitful in suffering.  I reign when I take all my fears and doubts and subdue them with the power of the Word.  I preach to my own soul and defer to the hope Jesus offers.

         If I’m experiencing hardship, it’s easy to believe I’m not blessed.  I’m quick to compare myself to others and quote the promises made to our spiritual forefathers.  I forget that they, and the prophets, and the disciples, entered the kingdom through much tribulation – but held onto the promises of God with their faith in tact – throughout their journey.  Freedom from pain does not equal blessed.  In each place today where I groan under weight of living on a cursed planet, I choose to live in the hope that God will one day redeem it all.  In the meantime, my internal world can know blessing as I bear the fruit of living in the Word and reign over my flesh.

Reigning over my own despair is as much a miracle as reigning over people.  Your Word is a magnificent catalyst for all that afflicts my heart.  Empower me and bless me to rule over all You have entrusted to me.  Amen