On Sunday, May 7th, the Lord impressed this word on my heart and I shared it with our congregation.
For I the Lord am the God of Resurrection. I took the shame of the cross and I resurrected my Son to glory as the Firstborn from the dead. Is anything too hard for Me?, says the Lord. Is anything too hard for Me? What is impossible for man is possible for Me. I take your shame, I take your regret, and only I can make something beautiful, something lovely, something praiseworthy. I take the vats of tears that you have cried alone in the darkness and I make praise for My glory. You no longer sit alone in shame but you have a two-fold reward, says the Lord. For you have an inheritance that you have not earned. You have a repayment that has been purchased by the blood of my Son. I resurrect those dead things to the newness of life. The years that have seemed wasted are being returned to you in joy, in strength and power and testimony to the goodness of your God, to the faithfulness of Your Lord. You have not been forgotten. You have not been forsaken. These years and these days have never been wasted. Your life belongs to me. And I restore and I create and I bring forth life and beauty and wholeness. You hang on to Me, says the Lord, for the power is in Me, it is not in you. The battle is Mine, says the Lord, and the victory is Mine and the praise is Mine. The people are Mine. You are My children and you will not be defeated. What can overcome you? What can overcome the children of the Most High God? What foe will be able to stand in your presence as I enfold you, as I enfold you with My Presence? Who will be able to defeat the children of the Most High God? For surely the day is coming – surely this season of regret is passing away and you will have the testimony of strength, the testimony of My grace and glory. Walk now in the peace of knowing that your days are in My hands, says the Lord.
Are you in a season that seems like a wasteland? Do you feel dry and discouraged? Are you concerned that you have wasted years that add up to nothing?
Turn your heart to the Lord and receive His word for you today. Begin to declare a new season of fruitfulness and peace over your heart and mind. Begin to exalt the Lord OVER your circumstances and see Him move mountains and bring fulfillment to the parts of your heart that are shut down. Only the Lord can create life out of dead things. He will do it when we turn our hearts completely to Him and give Him the praise that is due Him. As we praise Him, He comes into the places that we can’t fix and He does what only a Creator can do – He restores and revives us.
Heavenly Father, I come to You on my knees and ask You to do in my heart what only You can do. There are parts of my heart that don’t feel alive anymore. I have hoped and been disappointed and now death reigns there. I have seen hardship and it has hardened me. I have gone through the fire and I feel like my heart is scarred as a result. So I ask you to revive the love for You that You planted in me as a seed. I ask that You would resurrect my dead dreams and show me how everything is working for my good as I love You with all my heart. I want to walk in Your ways. Please guide me and re-fire me. I am so grateful that I can run to a Heavenly Father who has seen all of my tears and enfolds me with His Love. Don’t let me be overcome by the enemy of my soul. Hold me close and make me strong again in your love.
Genesis 15:1 After this, the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield,your very great reward. ”
19 years ago, I was a single mom with four children, cleaning houses to provide for the kids and trying to figure out what happened to the perfect life I thought I had. It was during that intensely difficult season where everything I trusted in was stripped away that I learned how to make Jesus my great reward. In that time of rejection, loneliness and fear, I read the scripture in Genesis 15:1 where God told Abram that He would be his great reward. God Himself was the prize that Abram was being given.
That scripture came alive in me during that lonely season because I was living and breathing what it meant to have Jesus as my prize. Everything that I valued, except my children, was gone. But each morning when I woke up and stumbled down to the coffee maker and grabbed my Bible, I found the most awesome comfort and strength in the personal relationship that I had with Jesus.
If I had read that Scripture previous to this season of devastation, I’ll be honest, I don’t think I would have viewed God alone as the greatest reward. My heart wanted many things and I didn’t have the maturity in the Lord to understand the surpassing worth of His Presence over anything I could possess or experience.
But during that season of grief, the Lord poured out a grace on me to seek Him and find Him in deep and profound ways. I couldn’t wait to get up in the morning and be with Jesus. He was the comfort for my rejection, the strength for each new challenge, my wisdom for every decision, and my rock of refuge. There is no way to explain how in the season of my greatest uncertainty and sadness I had the greatest sense of His tangible presence. In that valley I learned that because Jesus is my great reward, I am OK. Everything can be falling to pieces around me, but I am OK because the most important piece can never be stolen from me.
Fruit That Remains: Lessons from my journals. These are excerpts from my journals over the years. Some are more current than others. I love going back into my journals because I always get refreshed and re-learn the lessons that the Lord has taught me and that I have faithfully scribed.
I live to hear the voice of the Lord. There is absolutely nothing more empowering, uplifting and life-changing for me than hearing the Father, our Creator, our Redeemer talk to me personally about what I am going through. I yearn to hear His perspective on the external and internal struggles I’m facing and about the vision of where I’m headed. This is the most incredible part of being in relationship with Jesus, as far as I’m concerned.
Most religions have rules and doctrine and have good works that people are supposed to do. But the Christian faith has a risen, living Savior who still speaks to his disciples and calls us His friends.
My journals are filled with notes I have taken when I have stilled my heart and allowed the Lord to speak to me. Below is one of those journal entries.
Here’s the backstory: My husband and I were encountering a difficult season. For me, much of the challenge was with thoughts and fears inside my head that were overwhelming me. My fears were like virtual reality goggles: everything I saw in my mind’s eye was making me stop dead in my tracks, even though the Lord had promised me that He was working on my behalf in the challenging areas.
My husband and I were also facing financial and relational issues with family members that were making us stressed and sad. John and I have found that it’s hard to encourage your spouse when you’re down yourself!
A few night’s ago, I made a really killer chicken soup – if I do say so myself. I love to make and eat every kind of soup. It’s the most effective comfort food for me. However, I don’t follow recipes so no two soups that I have ever made are the same. I may follow the basic steps for making chicken soup, but one of my habits is to use whatever is in the refrigerator so that it doesn’t go to waste. This may not sound appealing to you at all, but I have found that leftovers of vegetables or grains that I have cooked to go with other meals are fantastic in chicken soup. It really becomes the “everything but the kitchen sink” soup filled with unique flavors. So the most recent chicken soup incorporated leftover yellow squash from our Easter dinner, and extra green beans that I had waiting to be prepared for another meal. I had half of a lemon leftover from Easter’s hollandaise sauce so I squeezed that in to give the broth some zing. Then I added the perfunctory carrots, celery, onion and garlic and threw in some spices. After simmering on and off for a day, these flavors have melded together to make a really amazing broth filled with nutritious veggies and chicken.
So you may me wondering if I have started a food blog all of a sudden. No…not exactly. But I find that the most common experiences in my life are usually the things that the Lord uses to show me deeper truths. And so my soup became today’s object lesson.
There is a church within the church.
The Song of Solomon talks about the Bride that was called out from Daughters of Jerusalem (Song of Solomon 6:1). David was called out from among his brothers (1 Samuel 16:11). Jehu was called out from among his companions (1 Kings 9:4-7). When David went to Ziklag to rescue the wives and children of his army that had been captured, he took only 200 of his men. The others stayed behind. When Gideon was called to fight, he was only allowed to choose 300 men of the 32,000 he started out with (Judges 7:1-7). Joseph was called out from the sons of Jacob.
The church within the church wins victories and gets spoils for all. They share their victories so others can be spiritually prosperous and better off. Not everyone is going to pay the price to fight and win and come back from the enemy’s camp with the spoils of war. Not everyone is going to pray the price to maintain intimacy with Jesus in order to hear what He is doing in the earth and lead out in that way. But relationship is built in shared experiences with Jesus on the battlefield and in the prayer closet and it’s that relationship that can’t be shared. I can share the benefits of my time with the Lord but I can never share the intimacy that I have pressed in for. I can give away what I have seen and heard, but I can never give away the knowledge I have of His presence that I took hold of for myself.
Look at Elisha, the pupil and servant of Elijah. On Elijah’s last day on earth, the school of the prophets knew that it was Elijah’s last day. (Weird but true!) They kept telling Elisha, “This is your master’s last day.” He said, “I know, I know!” Elijah also acted strangely. Instead of asking Elisha to stay close to him, he tried to send him away back to the group of the prophets. But Elisha wouldn’t go. Why? I believe that he knew that what Elijah carried needed to be passed on to someone and he wanted to be that man. He knew that for his ministry to be what he had experienced while walking with Elijah, he was going to need that anointing. So Elisha stayed away from the group and pressed in closer to Elijah. He got so close that when the chariots of God came to take Elijah from this earth, Elisha was right there to catch Elijah’s mantle. Now that must have been a cool moment. Many of us have watched someone die, but we’ve never seen angels take them away – in a chariot of fire, no less! So Elisha represents the zeal of the church within the church. When trials, inconvenience, and the cares of this world tell us that we need to back away from the intense presence of the Lord and rejoin the group – the status quo of religion – we say, “No! Jesus, I will not leave your side! I want all that you have for me.”
Fruits That Remains: Lessons from my journals. These are excerpts from journals over the years. Some are more current than others. I love going back into my journals because I always get refreshed and re-learn the lessons that the Lord has taught me and that I have faithfully scribed.
Strategies for spiritual warfare and for staying refreshed under pressure:
I must sing worship songs and make melodies in my heart to the Lord in the midst of spiritual warfare. The Lord will speak to me and peace will come over my soul. Worrying won’t change my situation so I might as well feel God’s peace while I’m going through it – and He may speak to me solutions and strategies.
Forgiveness is another weapon; no matter how feeble my prayers start out, God won’t turn me away.
My body, mind, and spirit must be united. If my mind is worrying, my body wants to sleep, and my spirit is not leading, I will be divided, my prayers won’t be fervent and I won’t get results. During spiritual attacks chaos hits. I must be led by my spirit and bring myself back in line. Wounds left unattended attract evil spirits.
- Speak the Word to keep my faith level up. Keep doing it until there is light in the darkness.
- Pray until I hear from God. God can raise dead things to life, but we cannot consider the deadness but put our focus on the One who can resurrect the dead to life.
- The person who will consistently get alone with God will never go under. Trials will come, but this person will never be overcome! I will continue to be faithful to my time with Lord even when I’m so tired that I want to stay in bed.
In our Christian faith, we also have a basic recipe. We have some foundational premises that make up the tried and true building blocks of what we believe and how we execute our faith. Or at least we are supposed to…
Years ago, I wrote down 6 Basic Premises of Christian Living. They are the 6 basic “standards” that we can use to measure whether we are winning at this walk with the Lord or if somehow we have started playing games and calling it “Christianity”. I haven’t referred back to these in a while, so it was really good for me to stumble upon them again in one of my old journals. I needed the refresher, and thought I’d share them in case you do, too!