Hope For Today: Nehemiah 4:21-23

Here are my verses for today. What is/are yours and what does it speak to your heart?

So we continued the work with half the men holding spears, from the first light of dawn till the stars came out. At that time I also said to the people, “Have every man and his helper stay inside Jerusalem at night, so they can serve us as guards by night and as workers by day.” Neither I nor my brothers nor my men nor the guards with me took off our clothes; each had his weapon, even when he went for water. Nehemiah 4:21-23.

2499-1013-A2544Nehemiah and the Israelites never put their weapons down not even for a drink of water, they didn’t change their clothes and they worked by day and guarded by night. What work ethic! The Holy Spirit is always reminding me not to put my weapon down and not to take off His protective armor. What does this look like in the earthly realm? Our weapon is the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, simply put, NEVER stop fighting through prayer. What about his protective armor? I’ll let you look that up in Ephesians 6:10-17.

I declare God’s blessing on each of you today, according to His perfect will!

Shalom!

How Are You Doing With ‘Love Thy Neighbor’?

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For years, 12, to be exact, the house next door was home to one of the most wonderful neighbors a person could ever ask for. Trish was always kind, thoughtful and respectful. One year during a particularly wet and windy winter, one of her tree’s fell over onto our side. She immediately was at our door apologizing and letting us know she had already contacted her gardener to come and cut it down. We would leave Christmas goodies on each other’s doorstep and when we saw each other outside we would always stop to talk.

Trish lived by herself and we always told her if she needed anything day or night to call us. She was a hard worker, working as a mail carrier during the day and getting up in the wee hours of the morning to deliver papers. Even though our bedroom is on the other side of the house from where her garage is, I sometimes, in the still of the night, would here her garage door go up and I knew she was getting ready to go out, by herself, and deliver the latest breaking news to part of far East County.

Sadly, Trish had to move about a year and a half ago. Her house was bought by an investor and we have had two sets of neighbors live next door during this time. About a month ago the renters moved out and some new neighbors moved in. It was natural to presume that we would be getting new renting neighbors, families passing through until they could afford their own house or perhaps finding something less expensive to rent. However, by the way our new neighbors fixed up the property it is safe to presume they bought the house. Great! Our little court could continue its quiet existence. Or, so we thought.

Our new neighbors are not loud by any means. In fact, they keep much to themselves. We attempt to make eye contact with them and say a friendly, “hello”, but they aren’t having any of our neighborliness. I even went over to share some community safety information with them, I know they were home because I could hear someone come to the door, but their door remained steadfastly closed.

The issue isn’t that they are loud noise wise, rather, it is the 6+ vehicles they have brought with them, three being work vans, that they try very hard to keep confined to their area, but, quite frankly, it has turned our little court upside down. Especially for our neighbors that live next door to them on the other side. And, I’m guessing they are a little offstandish because of all their vehicles and don’t want to be confronted about this and maybe had some issues elsewhere in the past.

Here is another, practice what you teach, moment for me! Sometimes it is hard to pray for what God asks us to pray about. Especially when we have become comfortable with the way things are and suddenly the Holy Spirit rocks the boat.

My dear friend and neighbor across the street from us and I have said for many years that God has put us in our corner houses as light houses into our court and for our neighborhood. We decided to join together in prayer for our new neighbors, asking God to change our hearts for them and opportunities to simply share His love.

Soon after one of our prayer times together, I was praying for our neighbors again and God showed me a picture of our new neighbors in a boat, sailing into our court, passing the two lighthouses, one on each corner. I could see the water they were coming from was choppy and as soon as they entered into the court the water became calm. The Holy Spirit spoke to my heart, “I have brought them from raging waters into a calm sea.” Wow, I am always overwhelmed when the Holy Spirit gently reminds me that it isn’t about me and my feelings but about Him and what he is asking me to do. And, at the same time teaching my heart to resonate with His. God has chosen my neighbor and I, not to complain about how things have changed and are now uncomfortable, rather to trust Him and look at the bigger picture. To remember His words in 2 Peter 3:9:

The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. 

Precious One;

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  Philippians 4:6.

In Everything!

Shalom.

At The Feet Of Jesus

Not long ago, I had an ‘aha’ moment. Actually, I have many ‘aha’ moments, but this particular moment came while I was reading Luke 10:41-42. I was working on a teaching and the Holy Spirit reminded me of these verses, and He guided me to the version in The Message. I don’t study from The Message but sometimes the Holy Spirit brings me there to further illuminate his word for me. Like the light from a lamp that is switched on; its brilliance fills the space it encompasses.

“The Master said, “Martha, dear Martha, you’re fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing. One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen it—it’s the main course, and won’t be taken from her.” Luke 10: 41-42 The Message.

2159-1013-A2201I have always felt that as Mary sat at the feet of Jesus it was to learn from Him. To hang on every word he said gaining his knowledge and wisdom, and while this may be true,  during this ‘aha’ moment I sensed the Holy Spirit saying to me, “she sat at My feet to receive from me.” Mary was modeling solitude. Simply being in the presence of God with no agenda, no prayer requests, no thoughts, no words, just quietness. Simply receiving his love. Do you love how Jesus describes himself? As the main course! And, don’t miss his promise to Mary, He won’t be taken from her! This promise is ours also, it is part of our inheritance in Him. For those who believe in Jesus as their Lord and Savior, He will never be taken from us. Hallelujah!

A few days after this ‘aha’ moment a friend asked me to preview a teaching she is giving later this year. Wouldn’t you know, this verse is part of her teaching?! Oh, but it gets better, as we discussed this teaching she commented that her sense was that there wasn’t any knowledge transfer from Jesus to Mary going on. Mary sat and freely received the love of Jesus, which he freely gave! It always amazes me when the Holy Spirit confirms for us what he is speaking to us. He doesn’t have to but chooses to do so. I hope that I am always amazed by this aspect of our relationship!

Here is what I believe the Holy Spirit wants us to feel deep in our soul:

“Solitude is sitting at the feet of Jesus receiving his lavish love. Being refilled and replenished by the Holy Spirit. Being at home with Jesus.” T.B.

Precious One, I bless you with the lavish love of Christ.

Shalom!

Soul Blessing

I am reading a fantastic book, “Soul Keeping”, by John Ortberg. Pastor John maintains that the deepest desire of our soul is to be in constant communion with God.

As the deer pants for the water brooks,
So my soul pants for You, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God;
When shall I come and appear before God? Psalm 42:1-2.

When we sin it is in our soul that sin resides and puts our soul into distress, causing us to be out of alignment with God, until we acknowledge our sin before God and our fellowship with him is restored.

According to Pastor John, another of our souls desire is to bless others and to be blessed. Pastor John suggests that soul blessing shouldn’t be done quickly or haphazardly, rather with deep sincerity and by looking the person we are blessing in the eyes. There is a  saying, “The eyes are the window to a person’s soul.” There seems to be much debate over the origin of this saying. Perhaps it is from these verses:

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Photo Credit: Hang Le

“The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!” Matthew 6:22-23.

While I can’t look each of you in the eye, I do leave you with this blessing from the depth of my soul to yours.

“The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.” Numbers 6:24-26.

Shalom!

 

 

Practice What You Teach

I was awakened this morning by a phone call. It was my husband, he was already at work. He called to tell me that our house had been egged, again. This is the second egging in three weeks. This time the eggers got a bit creative, using kid’s paint daubers to write on the windows of our cars. Apparently, they must have thought we would be hungry in the morning because they left us an empty box of baby cereal on the lawn. Unfortunately, they had sprinkled the cereal on our sidewalk and driveway. I am disappointed. The last time they left half a carton of eggs in the grass, which I promptly made hard-boiled eggs with AND they were organic. Score!

The first egging upset me but it was fleeting, maybe because I had already eaten before I went out to clean up the mess. I also learned how to set up and use my husband’s pressure washer without his assistance. Another score! The pressure washer is one of my new favorite toys, along with the electric garden trimmer. I asked my husband if I could have a Screenshot_2014-07-14-08-41-47-1matching pink pressure washer to sit by his red one in the garage. He offered to buy me a motorized one that I can sit in. I know, I was shocked there is such a thing!

This time, however, as I am outside setting up the pressure washer, realizing it isn’t starting because it is out of gas and that requires a trip to the gas station, I am telling God how ticked off I am, how ridiculous this is and if I was in the habit of swearing, I would probably have a few choice words to utter. All the while, I am doing all the talking, ranting really, and not much listening. Oh, I heard what the Holy Spirit was whispering to me, “It could have been worse.” “They used washable paint.” “They didn’t egg the cars.” In the moment, I chose not to acknowledge what He was saying.

When I finished my chore and came in the house I asked God, “What are you going to do about this?” “You go ahead of me in all circumstances, You are my rear guard.” As plainly as I can hear the song birds in our backyard, I heard Him say, “What I did was send them to you.” “I want you to pray for them.” Ah, here is where practice what you teach comes in.

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to teach at our third service at church. Part of the teaching was how it is sometimes hard to pray for what God is asking us to pray about. Sometimes God allows unfortunate circumstances, like one’s house being egged, because he has a job for us to do, and he chooses and trusts us to get the job done and he has already equipped us for what we need to do battle.

God has given each of us the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, which is alive and active and sharper than any double-edged sword. God’s word is sharper than any human sword will ever be, even when that sword is a carton of eggs and a box of baby cereal.

As the Holy Spirit gently brings me to a place of correction and repentance, I can see God’s heart more clearly. It saddens him to think about the many hungry children that could have been fed by the eggs and cereal that were wasted. How many meals could have been purchased with the money spent on the paint daubers? His heart is breaking and I can feel that in my own heart. I feel his sadness and the physical expression of that is my own tears.

There is one small bit of humor in all of this. It is the box of baby cereal. As I sat down to write this blog the Holy Spirit reminded me of 1 Corinthians 3:1-4a

20140714_093330-1 “But for right now, friends, I’m completely frustrated by your unspiritual dealings with each other and with God. You’re acting like infants in relation to Christ, capable of nothing much more than nursing at the breast. Well, then, I’ll nurse you since you don’t seem capable of anything more. As long as you grab for what makes you feel good or makes you look important, are you really much different than a babe at the breast, content only when everything’s going your way?” 1 Corinthians 3:1-4a The Message.

Thank you Holy Spirit for reminding me I was acting like a baby, not content because things weren’t going my way. Indeed, thank you for the blessing of knowing your heart, for choosing our family and giving us your sword.

So, if you’re reading this and you are the culprit(s), you can run but you can’t hide, God knows exactly where you are.  I thank the Holy Spirit for dropping his seed of salvation deep into your heart, where it takes deep root in fertile soil. I thank Jesus that you choose Him!

Shalom!

Identity, Identity, Identity!

 

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Some nuggets of treasure that I hope will encourage you today. This is who you are in Christ.

  • “for you are a people holy to the LORD your God. Out of all the peoples on the face of the earth, the LORD has chosen you to be his treasured possession.” Deuteronomy 14:2.
  • “For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.” Romans 11:36. We are included in the all things!
  • “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” 1 Peter 2:9.
  • “Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.” Psalm 34:5.

Shalom!

 

 

 

 

 

Flowers and God’s Grace

“All human beings face challenge and pain and demands. Jesus, however, lived in a divine rhythm where grace was constantly flowing into him and then flowing out from him.” John Ortberg “Soul Keeping”

I always have identity in Christ on my mind. I love discovering it in God’s word and sharing with others. Encouraging myself and others in how God see’s us, who He says we are, which is completely different from what the world dictates who we should be. (what we ought to wear, who we ought to know, what we ought to do to get ahead, what we ought to own, etc.).

Photo credit: consciouslifestylesradioblog.com
Photo credit: consciouslifestylesradioblog.com

I love to read, and every now and then I’ll come across something that jumps out at me, excitedly waving its hands, like a child on a carousel, happily shouting, “look at me, look at me!”

And, so it is with grace in the above quote. As I read this quote the thought occurred to me that understanding and knowing our identity in Christ is one thing, perhaps the beginning of this journey to know who we are in Christ. Understanding and accepting His grace for our life can be another thing.

Here is what I mean by this. Our identity in Christ is grace, because it is by God’s grace we have been saved through faith in Jesus.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–Ephesians 2:8.

Our identity is in Jesus, Jesus is grace, grace is our identity.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14

Is it possible to extend grace to others, yet struggle with accepting God’s grace for ourselves even when we acknowledge that grace is who we are in Jesus? I believe the answer is yes. I say this because I know in my head that God showers me with his grace, but I struggle to understand this in my heart. I believe there are others who struggle with this as well. Perhaps, that is why some still feel unworthy, shameful or guilty. All of which are complete lies from the pit! There is NO condemnation for those who believe in Jesus as their Lord and Savior, hallelujah!!

What is the root of this struggle? Is is pride? Perhaps. Is it fear? Maybe. As I ask these questions the Holy Spirit always brings me back the core foundation of my relationship with him, the importance of cultivating and nurturing a deep and intimate relationship with God. It is here, at the core, I believe, we hear the Holy Spirit speaking to our spirit, our heart, our soul, about who we are in Him. How to take knowing our identity in our head to understanding this in our heart.

What would it look like in your life, in my life, if we asked the Holy Spirit to overwhelm us

Photo Credit:  My beuatiful friend Hang Le.
Photo Credit: My beuatiful friend Hang Le.

with his grace, to give us more grace than we could handle? Do you see the layers of lies being plucked, ever so gently, away? Like a young child holding a flower and one by one plucking the petals off and saying, “he loves me, he loves me not, He LOVES me!”

crown3-111413-734Precious one, may your day and everyday be filled with the overwhelming grace of God. May you believe his grace is your identity deep within your soul, which longs to be in the very presence of Grace at all times.

Shalom!

 

I’m Not Beating A Dead Horse Here!

ResearchI am a researcher. I didn’t know this about myself until 4 years ago. I am very passionate about my research. What I research brings me great joy and contentment. I love traipsing through the words of my research, lounging around in them, sunning myself in their brilliance. Allowing the words to fall over me like a cool waterfall on a hot, humid day. Discovering the truths and nuggets of treasure these words offer. The words that I am passionate about are God’s. God’s word is my passion!

Recently I posted, “My Sins Are Forgiven: Do I Still Need to Confess and Repent?” Now, I’m not trying to “beat a dead horse”, but have you ever pondered something that you thought you laid to rest and it keeps waking up inside of you? That is what is happening here for me, as I think about my post and the comments, all of which I throughly enjoyed reading, and discussion has carried over beyond the internet, I sense the Holy Spirit bringing together some pieces of His intricately and beautifully woven tapestry. Some of which came together because of your well thought out comments. So, if I refer to your comment please don’t see it as a challenge, rather celebrate in your hearing from the Holy Spirit and your part in what he wants us to discover as His children.

My anointing is to teach God’s word, hence my passion for researching His word! I take this blessing, this spiritual gift very seriously. Never would I intentionally teach falsely and at the same time I am open to correction and your insight. Isn’t that part of the beauty of community? We can discuss, learn and grow together, in love and grace. I am so blessed by my faith family and I hope you are by yours.

Since my previous post won’t lay down and go to sleep, I decided I needed to spend some time exploring this with the Holy Spirit. The first thing that came up was identity in Christ, one of my favorites! One comment voiced the concern that if we put emphasis on confessing our sins, that might cause one to continue feeling unworthy. While I understand how this could happen, a red flag went up for me. “Why,” I asked the Holy Spirit, “would this cause a lingering feeling of unworthiness?” “The answer” He whispered, “is not knowing or understanding one’s identity in Christ.” This comes back to the core Truth Not Lies Board Showing Honestyfoundation of our relationship with God. The more we choose to nurture and cultivate a deep and intimate relationship with him, he begins to speak to our heart who we are in Him. How he see’s us whenever he looks at us. So many Scriptures come to mind, but I believe this one is what He wants us to know right now:

But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation Colossians 1:22

Precious One, do you understand that when God looks at you, you are holy in his sight? He doesn’t see any blemish on you, anywhere. The enemy can accuse you, slander you and say whatever he wants about you until the cows come home, but you are free from his accusations, hallelujah! God loves you so deeply and so richly that nothing can separate you from his love for you, not even when you stumble and sin.

What about sin? As a believer in Jesus does sin stand in the way of our fellowship with God? According to the truth of God’s word in 1 John 1:6, yes, it does.

If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. 1 John 1:6.

Photo courtesy too_kool_kollectibles.
Photo courtesy too_kool_kollectibles.

The truth is God, who lives in us by the power of His Spirit. If the truth is in us yet we still walk in the darkness because of sin our fellowship with God is broken until we choose to ask the Holy Spirit for help. The help we need is repentance, the turning away from sin. Now, in the research I did, I did not find the need for confession after becoming a believer in Christ. I did find God’s word speaking much about repentance. Which ties into another comment about the renewing and transforming of our mind and I believe Romans 12:2 is the Scripture reference.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will. Roman 12:2.

My question is this: If we are allowing the Holy Spirit to transform us by the renewing of our mind, is He going to gloss over the sin in our life because all our sins have already been forgiven, past, present and future? Or, is he going to gently point out those area’s of our life that are causing broken fellowship with him so we can acknowledge these to him and ask him for his help in turning away? Precious One, with God there is never, ever any shame, unworthiness, guilt or condemnation. If the Holy Spirit is addressing sin in your life it is because He loves you and you need his help in being set free.

This brings us to living under grace. It is because of God’s grace that we are forgiven of all our sins. As we teach the truth about God’s forgiveness I believe we ought to also be addressing our identity in Christ, the truth that there is no condemnation in Christ, as well as, encouraging others to remember that God’s grace does not equal the liberty to sin. And, knowing that when we do sin, there is always a way out.

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13.

Shalom!
 

My Sins Are Forgiven: Do I Still Need To Confess and Repent?

Many times I blog about revelations from the Holy Spirit from his word and love to share with others to encourage and offer hope. Tonight I am pondering this question; “If I am forgiven for all my sins do I still need to confess and repent?”

I believe that Christ died once and for all.

“For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, crossso that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit;” 1 Peter 3:18.

I also believe all our sins, past, present and future have been forgiven. Our position in Christ is forgiven, past tense.

“to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us.” Ephesians 1:6-8.

Indeed, God casts our sins as far as the east is from the west.

IMAG0775And as far as sunrise is from sunset,
he has separated us from our sins. Psalm 103:12 The Message.

Beloved, the hour you first believed all your sins were forgiven. There is no need to continually confess your past sins. However, and I believe there is a distinction to be made here, when present sin is brought to our attention it stands in the way or our fellowship with God and we ought to have the posture of confessing and repenting. Confessing; acknowledging to God we have sinned and repenting; turning away from that sin by the power of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.

Isn’t it an awesome wonder to be forgiven of all our sins while at the same time God offers the gift of confession and repentance, which brings us back into beautiful fellowship with him, that deep and intimate relationship?

Hand drawing heart in sand on the beach “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

Shalom!

 

 

 

Don’t Wait Until Your In The Belly!

Conversation Between 3d Characters Showing Communication And DiscussionHow many conversations do you have throughout the day? Who are you conversing with? Is it your spouse, your children, co-workers? Or maybe you enjoy talking on the phone with friends. Does your day include talking with God?

Prayer is talking with God, having a conversation with him, bringing to him your cares and concerns, your needs and desires, asking Him his guidance for your life, lifting the needs of others up to Him.

What causes you to pray? Is it part of nurturing your deep and intimate relationship with God, the love language you share with him? Or, do you pray when things are not going so well?

Thoughtful Girl Praying For HappinessI began a life of prayer with God when I was about 7 or 8 years old. I grew up in a religion knowing God and Jesus but not knowing that I had a choice to accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior. I have prayed every day since I was 7 or 8, except for one night. It was 12 years ago and just before I gave my life to Jesus. I was laying in bed saying my nightly prayers and I asked God, “Do I really need to pray to you every night?” “What would happen if I stopped?” Immediately, I saw a picture of an open shutter of a camera and it snapped closed and I saw total darkness. Needless to say, I have continued in prayer! As I reflect back I wonder why God used the shutter of a camera to make his point? I am not much of a picture taker, oh, I like to take pictures, but I don’t have the gift of taking amazingly good pictures like some of you! The thought occurs to me that perhaps that is precisely why God used this picture, because it wasn’t something like “an old familiar coat”. He used something slightly obscure so that it would stand out.

The inspiration for today’s blog came after studying Jonah 2, particularly Jonah 2:1-3.

Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the stomach of the fish, and he said,

“I called out of my distress to the Lord,             NX_ship_galleon_whale
And He answered me.
I cried for help from the depth of Sheol;
You heard my voice.
“For You had cast me into the deep,
Into the heart of the seas,
And the current engulfed me.
All Your breakers and billows passed over me. Jonah 2: 1-3

Jonah was a prophet, someone whose life, I would think, was steeped in constant prayer. God had asked him to do something and, being the human that he was and exercising his free will, he chose disobedience over God’s will and ended up in the belly of a very large fish. After three, mostly likely, terrifying days, Jonah admits his disobedience, finally calls out to God in prayer, and God causes the fish to deposit Jonah back onto dry land.

Beloved, please don’t wait until you are “in the belly of a fish” to spend time talking with God. Start or continue today to nourish your relationship with God through prayer. Ask Him what he wants to talk about, I am confident he will share his heart with you.

Shalom!