Friday, February 12, 2021

When Jesus Breaks It

I was thinking about the disciples' perspective when Jesus fed the multitude (Matthew 14).  There were thousands and thousands of people there that day, all hungry, all in need of something to eat, and the disciples were hungry too!  Maybe even more so.  When they came to Jesus he asked them, "What do you have?"  The food they brought him (2 fish and 5 loaves) was all the food they had.  It was supposed to be what would sustain them on their journey.  They knew they needed it, but when Jesus asked for it, they surrendered it. 


I imagine the possible anxiety they might have felt as they watched Jesus take the only food they had, and he broke it.  The despair over seeing what they thought was good for them, instead be broken in front of them.  Then Jesus told them to give it away.  I wonder if they thought to themselves, "What good will this do?  This might feed a small handful of people, but not ALL these people. Then what will we do?  Will we be any better off?  They will eat and we will go hungry?"

Maybe they didn't feel that way.  They had watched Jesus, and all that day he had been healing people from all manner of infirmity: physical, mental, and spiritual.  They had seem him assert authority over sickness and command it to leave.  They had seen his word speak life and renewal into dead and dying bodies.  Maybe they were filled with anticipation and excitement, wondering, "What CAN'T he do?!"

I can identify with these disciples.  Either way they might have been feeling, I have felt both of those.  I have felt the grief of brokenness.  I have also felt the anticipation of faith as I reminded myself of how great and powerful God is and I choose to believe God is going to show up & show off!  

The next thing Jesus asked the disciples to do was to serve.  He took what they had, he broke it, and then he told them to go serve the people.  As the disciples, perhaps grudgingly or perhaps joyfully, surrendered and obeyed and served, the supernatural took hold.  The bread did not run out.  The baskets of fish never became empty.  

That which they thought had been taken from them, that which they thought they needed, when they surrendered it, God was able to bless it and multiply it.  God multiplied back to them what they gave up, and they ended up with more than enough!  They may have thought they were going to have to go without, that they were giving their food to the people and there wouldn't be any left for them, but instead God worked miraculous provision so there was so much more than what they started with!  Each disciple walked away with a basketful of food.

If you feel like God has asked (or is asking) you to give up something, or someone, consider this story and remember what your God is like.  He is not going to leave you without what you need.  He is a good father and he will take care of you.  Don't be afraid to surrender, and to serve.  Don't worry if something that you thought was good has been broken in front of you, or maybe you feel like you have been broken.  Remember that from places of brokenness there is multiplication.  There is blessing.  

Surrender to the plan of God.  His ways really are greater.  The disciples could have kept that food to themselves, but they would have missed out on an amazing miracle and maybe prevented those who were brought to faith in Jesus because of that miracle.  Come to Jesus with open arms.  All I have and all I am is yours Jesus.  Take me, use me.  I will trust your plan and your ways.  I will not fear brokenness.  I trust your miraculous provision in my life.  You are good and you will do good in my life and in the lives of those I love.

God Bless You,

Lisa

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Surprise!

What do you feel when you hear the word "surprise"?  Excitement?  Apprehension? Curiosity?  Experience tells us there can be both "good" surprises, and "bad" surprises.  This morning I was praying at church and I felt the Holy Spirit drop a prayer into my heart: "God I receive all the surprises you have for me this year."  And I giggled.  I prayed that prayer for our church and for my family, and I giggled some more.  You see, as soon as I heard that prayer I knew there were some surprises coming our way, and not all of them were going to seem good at the time.  However, I also knew that God will do some amazing things and He is going to take those things that seem not good, even really bad, and turn them into a huge blessing!  

Every new year, for some time now, I seek God for a word that he wants me to focus on as a theme for the year.  Often it serves as a reminder of what God is doing.  For 2020 my word was hope, and oh, how I needed to cling to hope in 2020!  This year I really feel like the word for the year is receive.  God wants me to receive what he has for me.  Its time to receive answers to prayer (ask, believe, receive) and I need to be open to receive what he allows into my life: both the good and (what seems like) bad.  This felt so similar to something God was speaking to me several years ago, that I had to go back and look at my blog.  The word in 2014 was embrace (more about that in the blog post linked there).  At the end of that year I reflected on how God was teaching me to embrace both the good and the hard things in my life that year.  There were some things that happened that year that hit me so hard, I was devastated.  Yet, several years later, I see the results of those experiences that devastated me at the time, and God has actually turned it into one of the greatest blessings in my life.  I believe that was his plan all along, and its only now that I can see it.

That's why I giggled when I thought about the surprises coming our way this year (you included, my friend).  There are some surprises coming our way that we are in no way expecting, but don't become concerned.  They do not take God by surprise.  God takes those things that seem like defeat, the ones that seem like death or devastation, and he turns them into victory and blessing!  I keep hearing this song "Graves into Gardens" daily over the last few weeks, and maybe this is why:

You turn mourning to dancing You give beauty for ashes You turn shame into glory You’re the only one who can You turn graves into gardens You turn bones into armies You turn seas into highways You’re the only one who can

What will 2021 hold for us, our families, our business, our ministry, our church, our friends?  God only knows.  What I do know is that we don't need to fear or fret when the unexpected happens.  God is working.  He has plans we can't understand or comprehend.  God has got this.  There are good things on their way to you!  Open yourself up to receive all the surprises He has for you!

Remember he's the one who takes ashes and turns them into something beautiful.  He's the one who takes dead, stinking corpses and breaths life back into them!  There is nothing impossible for God, and don't be surprised if he uses something you never thought possible to bring blessing into your life.  God commands blessing over you and every circumstance must submit to his command!

God Bless You,

Lisa



Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Lifting the Veil

Sunday our pastor was preaching from Matthew's account of Jesus being transfigured on the mountain.  As he showed the comparison between the event with Jesus and when Moses was on the mountain meeting with God, one thing jumped out at me.  When Moses came down from the mountain his face was glowing and they asked him to wear a veil to shield their eyes from the glory of God radiating from his face, but Jesus did not wear a veil.  I think the Israelites were afraid to look at Moses because they knew that no one could see the full glory of God and be able to live, so they were afraid this reflection of God's glory could possibly be deadly as well!  But when Jesus radiates (not just reflects) glory, it is uncovered, and he says to those with him, "Do not fear."


Saturday I was at a wedding.  There is a tradition at some weddings where the bride will cover her face with a veil and it is only at the end of the wedding, after the marriage promises have been made, that her husband lifts the veil to reveal her full beauty.  I feel like this also ties in to what I am about to share with you.


Last night I was watching videos of Sean Feucht and the revivals taking place all across the country as he leads what is called, "Let Us Worship" and thousands of people show up to pray and worship Jesus. Ever since the beginning of the pandemic I've been praying for these hard times to lead into a revival.  The last pandemic that happened was in the late 60's.  At that time there were also protests and riots centering around racism and inequality, and there were divisions and protests over the Vietnam war.  That's also when many people turned to Christ in the "Jesus Movement".  Seeing the similarities to the times we are living in now, I have been believing for a similar movement of God, for a revival to happen in our nation and around the world.

Then I woke up in the middle of the night last night with this verse on my mind, "We, with unveiled faces, reflect the glory of the Lord," (2 Corinthians 3:18) and I had been dreaming about people turning their hearts over to God. I knew the verse was connected to people being saved. It is only when we fully reflect Jesus that people will see God's glory and turn to him with their whole hearts.  As I returned to sleep, I had one question on my mind and I drowsily asked God, "How do we remove the veil?  What are the 'veils' that are keeping us from reflecting Christ to the world?"


I didn't receive an answer yet.  But maybe that's a question each one of us needs to ask ourselves.  How am I veiling the Lord's glory?  How am I hiding the wonder and amazement and goodness of God?  How can I shine the light of God to those around me?  How can I share hope and truth and freedom with others?  I know you've noticed just how desperately our world needs Jesus.  If you are ready to lean into this truth, and ready to embrace the ministry of glory that God has given to every one who has faith in Him, then I encourage you to read the verses below and to really let it sink in.  

2 Corinthians 3 (v. 7 & 8) Even the ministry that was characterized by chiseled letters on stone tablets [the 10 Commandments] came with a dazzling measure of glory, though it produced death. The Israelites couldn’t bear to gaze on the glowing face of Moses because of the radiant splendor shining from his countenance—a glory destined to fade away. Yet how much more radiant is this new and glorious ministry of the Spirit that shines from us!
 
(v. 11 - 13) The fading ministry came with a portion of glory, but now we embrace the unfading ministry of a permanent impartation of glory. So then, with this amazing hope living in us, we step out in freedom and boldness to speak the truth. We are not like Moses, who used a veil to hide the glory to keep the Israelites from staring at him as it faded away.  But the moment one turns to the Lord with an open heart, the veil is lifted and they see. Now, the “Lord” I’m referring to is the Holy Spirit, and wherever he is Lord, there is freedom.

(v.18) We can all draw close to him with the veil removed from our faces. And with no veil we all become like mirrors who brightly reflect the glory of the Lord Jesus. We are being transfigured into his very image as we move from one brighter level of glory to another. And this glorious transfiguration comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

(Ch. 4 v. 1-6) Now, it’s because of God’s mercy that we have been entrusted with the privilege of this new covenant ministry. And we will not quit or faint with weariness. We reject every shameful cover-up and refuse to resort to cunning trickery or distorting the Word of God. Instead, we open up our souls to you by presenting the truth to everyone’s conscience in the sight and presence of God. Even if our gospel message is veiled, it is only veiled to those who are perishing, for their minds have been blinded by the god of this age, leaving them in unbelief. Their blindness keeps them from seeing the dayspring light of the wonderful news of the glory of Jesus Christ, who is the divine image of God. We don’t preach ourselves, but rather the lordship of Jesus Christ, for we are your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said,
Let brilliant light shine out of darkness,” is the one who has cascaded his light into us—the brilliant dawning light of the glorious knowledge of God as we gaze into the face of Jesus Christ 

(The Passion Translation)


I will say, that if we are mirrors, mirrors can only reflect that which is in front of them.  You can only be a reflection of Christ through continually keeping Christ in front of you.  Spend time with Jesus.  Gaze into his face.  Watch the light of Christ dawn brighter and brighter in you and share this glory and goodness with others.  Let the veil be lifted!

God Bless You,
Lisa






Sunday, August 16, 2020

Shut Their Mouths

 You are probably familiar with the account of Daniel in the lion's den.  Daniel was a man who loved God and was determined to be faithful to God, no matter what the consequences were.  When he was set up to be put to death, for remaining faithful and praying to God, things did not look good for him.  Events and onlookers would have never thought there was any way out for him.  This was the end of him.  He was finished.  Those lions were hungry and Daniel was going to be their next meal.  

I can imagine Daniel being led to this hole in the ground, inside of which the lions were kept, and from which there was no escape.  I think the soldiers who were tasked with leading the prisoners to their death sentence didn't even want to get close to the lions, for fear of their own lives being lost.  We're told they "threw" Daniel into the lion's den, and those soldiers are sure that is the last they will see of him.  Those lions are going to tear him into pieces and even fight over the pieces while they're at it.

Are you aware that there are circumstances and situations in your life right now that the enemy of your soul, the devil, has meant to be the end of you.  These things are meant to trip or trap you.  The devil wants to tear you apart, spiritually.  Paul also painted a picture of the devil as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.  The enemy wants to attack and seize your peace. He wants to devour your faith.  He wants to tear into your righteousness.  He wants to slice into you and mutilate you so you think the Word of God can't reach you.

But God.

God had another plan.  

God was not absent.

Before Daniel ever approached the lion's den, God had already placed an angel there.  An angel with the power and authority to completely close the mouths of the lions.  I've seen artistic interpretations of this scene where Daniel snuggles up to the lions and sleeps comfortably like with a tame kitty.  I think maybe this isn't what it looked like at all.  Those lions wanted to eat Daniel.  I think their mouths may have been closed but their eyes were fixed on what they wanted to be their next meal. They may have circled and paced around Daniel all night.  Daniel saw the hunger and desire in their eyes, but sat untouched by them.  

Those circumstances and situations that the enemy has meant for your harm and destruction?  God being with you does not mean those situations will vanish, but it does mean that they cannot devour you!  Your heavenly Father has sent angels to guard and protect you.  It reminds me of what Moses told the people in Exodus 14 (when surrounded by inescapable doom): 

"Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”

Daniel may have slept peacefully, in spite of the lion's hungry eyes and hot breath, knowing that the God who shut the lion's mouth would never leave him. The king who was responsible for the law that committed Daniel to death did not sleep well that night.  Before the soldiers threw Daniel in, the king said what could be considered a prayer, "May your God rescue you!"  So he did know something about God, and at the first light of morning he went to the lion's den, anxious to see if Daniel was alive.  IF he was alive?  How could anyone be alive?  Obviously this king was already familiar with what Daniel's God could do.  And in fact he said, "has your God, the LIVING GOD, been able to rescue you?"  

"And when Daniel was lifted from the den, no wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God."

If you feel like you are staring at circumstances right now that are going to tear you apart, I want to tell you that the living, almighty, powerful God has already gone before you. You may have to stand and see those hungry eyes and feel that hot, stale lion breath, and you may spend a night in the dark of the lion's den, but you will come out.  You will come out of the lion's den in one piece. If you trust in God.  That's how we get through these situations.  We must trust.

I found this page with several verses about trusting God with our battles.  You may be encouraged to read these verses too:  https://www.openbible.info/topics/the_battle_is_not_yours

God Bless You,

Lisa

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Nothing is Impossible

World Energy Outlook รข€“ Topics - IEA
Sometimes, the emotion that hits me is shock.  Going along, everything is fine, and then I go to do something that seems normal, like telling my son he needs to go to bed, but I am made aware that nothing is normal right now.  My son has no real reason to go to bed, except for the fact that I don't want him to get used to staying up all night.  Even though his school, like so many others, has shut down for 6 weeks, I hope he is going to go back to school sometime!  And none of us have any reason to go to bed, because work is only from home, if at all, as we are under a "stay at home" order.  And I think to myself, "Is this really my life right now?"  I just can't believe it.  How did everything change so much, so quickly?

In case you are reading this sometime in the future, we are dealing with the COVID-19/Coronavirus pandemic.  In a mere one month, I have seen things happen and changes take place that I never would have ever dreamed were possible.  Schools shut down, businesses like restaurants, gyms, theaters and more all forced to close.  Public parks and spaces closed.  People panic buying all the household goods out of every store around.  No gathering of more than 10 people allowed.  Birthday parties, graduations, weddings, funerals, even gathering at church, all illegal.   If you had told me a month ago that this much would change this fast, I wouldn't have believed you.  And yet, here we are.

So, if what seemed impossible a month ago, is not only possible but unfolding right in front of our eyes, what does this mean for our faith?  Faith tells me that God can do the impossible, for nothing is impossible with God!  What are those things you haven't even bothered to pray about, because you think they can never change?  Those people or situations that seem "too far gone" and yet, there is a seed of faith inside of you that wonders...  what if?  What if that person's life could be turned totally around?  What if that sickness could be healed?  What if that relationship could be restored?  What if those tormenting thoughts could be banished forever?  What if that addiction could be totally broken?  What if fear could be completely gone?  What if there was no longer any debt?  What if that business could be amazingly successful?  What if a large portion of our community came to Christ?  What if people didn't "play church" but became radical followers of Christ?  What if [insert dream] really did come true?

I challenge you right now to look at the world around you & realize that God is more powerful than a pandemic!  As we pray for an end to this virus, imagine how much of your life and the lives of those around you could change if we began to pray and ask God for more!  Let shock point you back to the God of all the universe.  Let your eyes remind your faith: nothing is impossible.  Dust off your dreams, fire up your faith, and begin to believe.  Ask God to reignite your heart and give you new dreams to ask him for.  Stop trying to figure out what God can or can't do.  If we only ask God for what is "possible" then we have put him in far too small of a box.  Bring to God everything and everyone on your heart and believe for the miracles you need.  Keep praying, keep believing, and you will be amazed at what God does.

God Bless You,
Lisa

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Worry is Just Fear, Dressed Up

God confronted me with this very thought. Worry is just fear, dressed up.  I think often times we know better than to tolerate fears, but we call our feelings "worry" and make them out to be an accepted part of life.  Time to stop dressing it up and excusing it though- worry is just fear.  

Every fear is based on a lie. Fear comes because we are listening to a lie.  The lie can sound something like, "Did God really say?"  Or, "Will God really provide?"  "Is it really possible for this to work out?"  "Can God really change this circumstance?"  "Will God come through?"  The lie is a shadow that is cast over the character of God.  Maybe he's not going to be good in this situation.  Maybe I need to take control.  Maybe I won't recover from this.  These are lies that Satan wants you to believe.

Satan is the father of lies (John 8:44). So, if every lie is based on a fear, then, in essence, fears are Satan's grandkids.  And he is very fond of them...

I think fear is one of the favorite tools of Satan.  It robs us of many experiences, and can stop us from living in the fullness of God's destiny for us.  Allowing fear into our lives can even rob us of our peace and joy.  We are afraid of what the future may or may not hold.  We are afraid for those we love, for the choices they may or may not make.  We are afraid of having enough today, and tomorrow.  We are afraid of choices we have made in the past, or choices we have to make in the future.  We are afraid that we don't measure up.  We are afraid that we are failing.  So many fears, so little time...

For many of us the fear is also partnered with a desire to control.  Circumstances that are out of our control make us very nervous.  Control has almost become like an idol: its our "go to" when things go crazy, instead of going to Jesus first.  Things start acting up in our life and we think, "Let me just get in here and take care of this."  We go to control, instead of going to Jesus, because not having control makes us feel vulnerable and unsafe, but Jesus wants us to let him have control and trust that he will work it out.



When Jesus was asleep in the boat with his disciples during a storm, the disciples were in a complete panic.  They woke him up, saying, "Don't you care that we drown?!"  In my mind I picture Jesus looking at their fear struck faces, and saying to himself, "Oh no.  We are not giving in to fear today.  Not today Satan!"  He asked them, "Why are you afraid?"  I think he was thinking, don't you know that you're safe with me?  I'm with you, so there is nothing to fear.  Beloved of God, the very presence of Christ in your boat makes it unsinkable. It doesn't matter how fierce the storm may be, if you're with Him, you're going to be OK.  Jesus turned to the storm and silenced it immediately.  I almost think that maybe he silenced the storm not for their own safety, but because he could see that fear had taken hold of the disciples, and he was not having it.  There is no room for fear in our hearts.

The opposite of love is not hate, it is fear. Perfect love casts out all fear (I John 4:18). "Fear not" is one of (if not the) most repeated command in the Bible.  When we allow the love of God to fully permeate every area of our heart, there should be no more room for fear.  You do not have to tolerate fear.  Fear is not a companion on your journey.  Fear is an enemy to your soul.  "If you do not look at fear as your enemy, it will defeat you one day."  (From the book I happen to be reading right now, Stronger than the Struggle, by Havilah Cunnington.)  Do not coddle, excuse, or explain away fear.  Look it straight in the eye, and say, "I will not fear for God is with me!"

When God confronted me with my worry, I prayed like this:  I confess and repent today from the worry (fear) I have felt over my circumstances in my life. I confess it because fear is really me saying, "I don't trust you God." I choose to trust you God with everything and everyone. It is all yours, and always has been. I release my cares to you. I will not try to manipulate you or my circumstances in order to have control. I will trust you. I know I have found favor with you and I will rest in you. I will stop trying to fix other people and allow you to work on ME. That is who I am responsible for, and I submit myself to you.

See the worry for what it is & do not tolerate it.  Take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ.  Replace lies with the truth.  Meditate on the truth and force the lies out!


God bless you,
Lisa

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Prayer of Relinquishment

There is a prayer that I believe is very powerful.  It was written by Catherine Marshall and is called the Prayer of Relinquishment.  There are many times in life in which we must surrender, and this act of the will can many times open the door for God to be able to work in a situation.   Worry and attempts in the flesh can actually interfere with what God wants to do in a situation!  I imagine it like a doorway, and we are standing in the doorway, saying, "Let me help you God.  Let me show you which way you should go."  All the while, we are standing in the doorway, preventing God from entering our circumstance! 

The prayer of relinquishment, by Catherine Marshall:

Father, for such a long time I have pleaded before You this, the deep desire of my heart:_______. Yet, the more I have clamored for Your help with this, the more remote You have seemed. I confess my demanding spirit in this matter. I've tried suggesting to You ways my prayer could be answered. To my shame, I have even bargained with You. Yet I know that trying to manipulate the Lord of the Universe is utter foolishness. I want to trust You, Father. My spirit knows that these verities are forever trustworthy even when I feel nothing. That You are there... That You love me...That You alone know what is best for me... Perhaps all along, You have been waiting for me to give up self-effort.
At last, I want You in my life even more than I want ________. So now, by an act of my will, I relinquish this to You. I will accept Your will, whatever that may be. Thank You for counting this act of my will as a decision of the real person even when my emotions protest. I ask You to hold me true to this decision. To You, Lord God, who alone are worthy of worship, I bend the knee with thanksgiving that this too will work together for my good. I relinquish this to You. Amen.

God Bless You,
Lisa