Daughters of Promise

WHEN I’VE GIVEN UP!

And he believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness.  Genesis 15:6

         Abraham believed God for what he didn’t have (an heir and descendants), for what he could never have without a gift from God himself.  That’s called faith. God was so overjoyed by Abram’s faith that he declared him righteous on the spot.  God made it as though Abram lived on the other side of the death of Christ and was wearing Christ’s righteousness.  No one but Abram in all of history, prior to the cross, was justified and declared righteous.  They rest of God’s followers made continual sacrifices to cover their sins but their sins weren’t removed from them until Christ died.

         This tells me, through story form, how much God prizes faith.  Am I believing God today for something I don’t have, for something I could never have without a gift from God’s hand?  Have I put everything on the line – waiting for God to move?  That is how faith looks.

         When I embraced Jesus as my Savior, I believed that He would forgive me and adopt me as His own.  These were things I couldn’t earn nor accomplish in any way for myself.  I laid everything on the line for what God promised to do for me.  That was my first great act of faith.  But my life is to be marked by daily acts of faith, incredulous acts of faith.  It’s tragic when I enter the kingdom by faith only to live the rest of my life in control of everything.  No faith required.  I miss out on miracles, passion, and amazement!

         God has rigged my life so that I would learn how to live by faith.  He has, through the fallen choices of others, afflicted me in ways that my survival is dependent on Him only.  I have been brought, and am being brought often, to the end of myself.  I must declare things hopeless without the move of God.  If I don’t have faith, I have nothing and will certainly live in despair.

         It was the mid-90’s when I put everything on the line.  I gave up on life and shut down.  It was a pivotal point as things crumbled all around me.  I could take my life, or curl up in a ball and live with a deadened heart, or cast my life upon Jesus and cry out for what I would never have without His intervention.  I’m so glad I made the third choice.

         If you’ve ever been to a Daughters of Promise Event, or a Prayer Mapping Event, you have heard me tell one story after another of God breaking through the fog of resignation and unbelief with one stunning miracle after another.  It’s not because I deserved it.  I didn’t.  It’s just that I serve a God who rewards faith!  I defend the character of a God who loves to do the impossible.

         I look again at my life this morning.  Where do things look hopeless?  Where have I languished for a lifetime thinking that nothing could ever change?  This is where faith is born.  I take my unbelief, speak God’s words over my dark soul, and cast all my hopes on Christ.  God is so pleased over unwavering faith that He greatly rewards it with one breakthrough after another.  Oh, how I wish we could share one-on-one today.

Faith is not rational.  It appears ludicrous to anyone watching.  That’s okay, Jesus.  Faith is a supernatural thing, fed on the diet of Your Word and Your grace.  Amen

A GOD WHO GETS MILEAGE OUT OF GIVING

And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”  Genesis 15:6

         God loves to give.  He is not stingy, but extravagant! Even though I did nothing to deserve His love, His nature is to bless.  And when He gives a gift, it always means more than I can understand at the time.  If God has blessed you recently with something unexpected, be prepared to see many tentacles materialize.  God may appear to be giving one thing but that ‘one thing’ brings ‘many things’.

         God told Abram in Genesis 13:6 that his descendants would be as numerous as grains of dust. Now, He tells him that his offspring will be as numerous as the stars.  Are these descendants one in the same?  Not on your life.  The blessing God speaks over Abram keeps increasing exponentially.  The descendants related to the earth are the Jewish people who will come after him.  The descendants related to the stars are his spiritual seed; those who will embrace Jesus globally over the course of time.  Could Abram understand what all this meant?  No way.  All he could see was a Jewish line of descendants.  Even this taxed his faith since he and Sarah were no longer of childbearing age.

         There are so many personal stories I could share with you of how God gets mileage out of gifts He gives.  Here’s just one example.  In 2008, God spoke to me in prayer and told me to start training twelve women at a time in Prayer Mapping.  I really questioned Him to make sure I heard right.  How would teaching twelve be better than teaching large groups? Wouldn’t I be minimizing impact?  Yet God persisted in His message to me and gave many confirmations, even reminding me that He changed the world with twelve!  So I began to schedule several retreats a year with openings for only twelve to register.  This was done by faith since this also did not appear to be an economically sound decision for the ministry.

         What happened?  This small intimate group was impacted in a way that would not have happened in a large group.  The teaching was interactive and the women shared their lives authentically.  The breakthroughs they experienced, every single one of them, left me on a spiritual mountaintop the likes of which I had rarely experienced.  I left praising God for His blessing, not realizing that I had only just begun to see what the blessing involved.  Over half of that group of twelve went home to sponsor their own Prayer Mapping event.  The ministry of strategic prayer increased exponentially because when God gives a gift, He gets mileage out of it.

         What may God be asking you to do that makes no sense to you?  It looks like you will lose instead of gain?  Take this advice from a spiritual sister.  I have gone on to sponsor many events for twelve and each of them has had exponential results.  So, run and do what God asks.  Trust His nature.  He longs to be gracious and His arms are full of gifts just waiting to be released into your future.

Lord, the stories I am telling today aren’t even the end of all You still plan to give me.  I know You.  Each act of obedience brings an open ended blessing.  There is no King like you.  Amen

PRAYING FOR WHAT I’VE STOPPED PRAYING FOR!

But Abram said, “O Lord God, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?”  Genesis 15:2

         Abandoning prayer about anything is a mistake but abandoning prayer for what I’m most in need of is a grave error.  Prayerlessness is the result of unbelief.  I have concluded that God can’t, or won’t, do anything good for me.

       God’s blessings come in the form of natural impossibilities.  When I hear the promise, I can laugh, because it is so far out of my reach.  God promises Abram an heir – and then descendants as numerous as the sands of the sea.  The thought of an heir was ludicrous enough.  His only heir was a slave of his household.  When God spoke, Abram and Sarah were too old to bear children.  Was God serious?  But Abram believed and his faith that God could do the impossible was credited to him as righteousness.

       I travel and teach a prayer model called Personal Prayer Mapping.  It gives people the skills to create a customized written prayer for themselves or another person.  I’m amazed at most every conference how people will answer a question I love to ask during breaks.  “What are you going to prayer map when you leave here?”  Most give me an answer like this.  “What I really need from God is _____________, but I’ve prayed for so long and nothing has happened.  I’m going to create a prayer map for something less, something safer.”  I launch into my very animated response that encourages them to prayer map their deepest needs.

       I should be asking myself, “Where have you lost faith in God?”  When captivity spans 15 years, when infertility enters the second decade of a marriage, when a wayward child hasn’t called home in many years,when depression has become a way of life, when financial struggle feels normal, when a family experiences a seemingly irreparable breech, these are the things that cause us to lose faith.  What we really need to prayer for, we don’t pray for.

       I need to hear the voice of the God of Abraham.  He lives in Spirit form, right in my own heart.  He’s speaking constantly, wooing me to believe, wooing me to hope in Him again.  He is the One who does the impossible as He rewards the one who perseveres in prayer.

       At this moment, the embers of faith are stirring in someone reading this.  Is it you?  Tears of relief are in your eyes as you realize that the deep discouragement that comes from resignation no longer needs to be your friend.  You can be fully alive to God, fully alive to faith, once again!  As you and I look at the sad themes of our lives, are we numbed out to the point of feeling nothing?  That is probably the very area where prayers of faith need to live.

I infuse my unbelief with your hope-giving Word.  Give me the grit to dig in and pray expectantly.  Amen

SO MUCH FOR PARADISE

So the enemy took all the possessions of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their provisions, and went their way. They also took Lot, the son of Abram’s brother, who was dwelling in Sodom, and his possessions, and went their way.  Genesis 14:11-12

            What looks good to me may not be good for me.  When I choose something based on eye appeal, without the wisdom God offers, I will be a casualty of my ignorance.

            Abram had been generous.  He and Lot had stood overlooking the vistas of new land and a new future and Abram gave Lot first choice of where he’d like to settle.  Lot was not prayerful, did not seek God, and did not seek Abram’s advice either.  He grabbed the greenest and most promising land to the East (Sodom) and settled there.  He did not know the folly of making such a critical decision without prayer.  In just thirteen years, enemies would come in, conquer the land, and then take Lot and his family captive.

            Seeing how this story turned out, I can over-correct in the flesh and do the opposite thing.  I vow to pick the lesser of two choices, as a rule, to self-protect.  That is equally foolish.  The problem was not the lush land of Sodom.  The problem was Lot’s heart and his casual disregard of God.

            The take-away is this.  I must not let anything temporal control me. I can enjoy beautiful things but should hold them loosely.  Enjoy the things but worship God.   When presented with a job offer, one lucrative and one modest, I know that I will naturally be drawn to the one that promises wealth.  That being true, I also know that I can’t trust myself.  Only God knows if that option is good for me.  What I really want is His choice lest I become the likes of Lot whose perceived good fortune led him into slavery.

            What choices are you weighing today?  Who to marry, where to move, what job to take, where to move a parent with special needs, what church to attend…  The choice that seems obvious may be the wrong one.  The one without the glitter may turn out to be a blessing in disguise.  God is all too willing to reveal His secrets to any child who comes acknowledging that he is void of wisdom.

            One final thought.  Lot knew God had spoken to Abram and promised him a blessed future.  Leaving Abram at all, preferring to live anywhere else, was his greatest mistake.  I continue to make my company with those who walk closely with God and are under His blessing and favor.

I make such a mess when I live by my senses.  I can’t tell what I’m looking at, even though it’s pretty.  Oh God, protect me and lead me.  Amen

PLEADING THEIR CASE

I will go down to see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry that has come to me. [About Sodom and Gomorrah] And if not, I will know.” Abraham still stood before the Lord. Then Abraham drew near and said, “Will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked?  Genesis 18:21,23

            To be the father of many nations in whom many will be blessed is surely a wonderful thing.  Who wouldn’t want the favor that comes with the calling!  But what it has required of Abraham has been far reaching.  The responsibility of becoming a well-rounded leader will take him, over and over again, out of his comfort zone.  He is about to become a mediator, like Jesus, for the righteous living in Sodom.

            To be a spiritual leader means, among many other things, to live a life of prayer.  It is to see another’s suffering and intercede.  The Holy Spirit will enable me to know how to pray for others.  Sometimes, I will sense that they need to be delivered altogether from pain.  Other times, there will be prayers asking God to make the pain productive.  And as in Abraham’s case, there will also be prayers for mercy, asking God to withhold deserved judgment.  Can God’s mind be changed?  Apparently yes.  Scriptures proves that in many cases, God’s hand was about to strike and inflict punishment because of sin and rebellion but He ended up withholding it because of a righteous man’s intercession.  A man or woman of God knew their place as a mediator.  They stood between the sinner and God and pleaded their case.  They repented for the sins of others and asked God to have mercy.

            Prayers take on profound overtones when I realize that I can pray for my family, my church, and even my nation in this way.  “Lord, stay your hand of judgment.  Give us more time.  There are more than ten righteous in our land.  Purify us.  Give us boldness so that we will draw the line of truth in the sand and bring others into the kingdom.  Please don’t judge.  Not yet.”

            Is this subversive praying against the will of God?  I don’t believe so.  Psalm 106 recounts an act of mediation made by Moses.  “They forgot God, their Savior, who had done great things in Egypt, and awesome deeds by the Red Sea. Therefore he said he would destroy them— had not Moses, his chosen one, stood in the breach before him, to turn away his wrath from destroying them.” 

            My prayers matter.  Your prayers matter.  Perhaps someone you love is about to enter a time of disciplinary action by God.  Consider today that we are all priests, able to mediate on their behalf.  We can be the catalyst to stay God’s hand, restore the breech, and prevent catastrophic consequences.

You set things up to need my prayers to intervene in the world.  Help me see the weight of my intercessory role today.  Amen

THE FEAR OF PEOPLE

But how he now sees we do not know, nor do we know who opened his eyes.  Ask him; he is of age.  He will speak for himself.  (His parents said these things because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone should confess Jesus to be Christ, he was to be put ouf of the synagogue.)  John 9:21-22

The man whom Jesus healed of his blindness was brought to the synagogue to be interrogated by the religious leaders.  Their answers were critical to their future as traditional Jews.  They validated their son’s identity, an admission that was non-threatening to them.  It was the Pharisees second question that was problematic.  “Who healed your son?” The parents do what all of us have done when looking into the faces of those who pose a potential threat.  They diluted their answer and passed the buck.  “Ask him.  He will tell you.” Continue reading

WHAT WILL WE DO WHEN IT HAPPENS?

Unless the Lord watches over the city [or nation], the watchmen stand guard in vain.” Psalm 127:1

         Many things have transpired that have caused me to write this today.  I’ve been dreaming all week about God’s judgment.  I’m weary and shaken.  I’ve also been reading headlines and watching the news.  I’m heartsick over the state of things and though I’m a Bible Teacher and have refrained from getting into anything that smells of politics, there is a line where the moral degeneration of society, propelled by the policies of government, reach a height that will bring nothing short of God’s judgment. Is it imminent?  Or will it be in one hundred years?  No one knows but God.   It sure ‘feels’ imminent enough that I’m asking myself, “What will I do when it happens?”  Here are a few things that are haunting me from just this week.

  • Cindy Gallop is crusading to show sex in a softer light through her movement called Make Love Not Porn.  Her goal is to provide a website where children and teens can see real people, in relationship, making love. Children can ‘see it all’ and her crusade is seen by many as morally lifesaving.  (Watch the clip on ABC News)
  • Thousands took to the streets in San Francisco after the U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for gay marriages to resume.  To see who was celebrating was sobering.
  • We have a president who, as an Illinois State Senator, was passionate about the legality of killing babies born alive after botched abortions. He fought for it tirelessly.  (This is the procedure that led to Dr. Gosnell’s recent conviction of first-degree murder.)
  • A recent poll showed that 80% of children between the ages of 8-12 have seen a significant amount of hard-core pornography.

         Such a short list but isn’t that enough to make one grieve?

         I can tell you that there is a growing number of people, Christian leaders included, who are hand-copying scriptures, preparing for the time when we may have Bibles confiscated.  Continue reading