Chariots of Fire

Can you see them? The eternal, ancient warriors of heaven and their chariots of fire?

Many times we forget about the spiritual realm around us and perhaps we’ve become desensitized. We aren’t talking much about the enemy and how his hatred toward us causes him to wage war against us. It isn’t hocus pokus and not meant to scare us. Talking about spiritual warfare is meant to place us in a strategic mode of defense so when situations arise that seem hopeless we don’t cower and hide but stand and fight!

As a believer in Jesus and a part of the Body of Christ we join the ancient chariots of fire and are THE mightiest force against the deceiver of our soul. Do you believe this?

Worship, praise and prayer become spiritual javelins, tent pegs and mallets, bows and arrows and spears.

Pick your weapons and use them daily. Attack and counter attack. Retreat and strike again and walk in victory earth as in heaven!

What’s your weapon of choice?

Prosperity, Wealth and the Gospel

Like the spokes of a wooden wagon wheel there are many aspects to wealth.

What does wealth mean to you? Do you consider yourself wealthy

  • in love
  • in friendship
  • in kindness
  • in perseverance
  • in patience
  • in finances

In Proverbs 10:4 wealth is wealth. It is monetary wealth. Before you fall off your chair, if you are sitting, or raise your hand and utter, “but, but,” I am NOT preaching a prosperity gospel. I don’t believe in a prosperity gospel.

So what are we to do with Proverbs 10:4? Like the spokes of a wooden wagon wheel there are many aspects to wealth. Certainly God provides all our needs and there are times that He blesses us with considerable financial wealth. In those times what we choose to do with that wealth perhaps is an indication of our understanding of proper stewardship.

What speaks to me the most from this verse is wealth in serving God especially as it pertains to God calling me to speak, teach and write[three spokes of the wooden wheel!]. Many times wealth is truly measured by our heart connected to God’s and the joy of the wealth that is Him. This leads to the condition of our heart and the practice of reflection.

I am very thankful when Holy Spirit highlights verses such as Proverbs 10:4 causing me to take inventory of my heart. Rather than thinking in one direction about God’s ordination for me it opens up my mind and heart to joyfully and simply serving God.

Proverbs 10:4 reminds me I am a wealthy women indeed!

Perfect or Surrender

Some days it’s all about the prayer because if it isn’t then I’ll decide to do things on my own.

I use to be the queen of checklists. Okay, I still make lists. It’s either that or you’ll find me standing in front of the pantry wondering why I am there.

A checklist is how I use to approach my relationship with God.
Read my Bible ✅
Prayed✅
Did my Bible study✅
But this strenuous system soon burned me out and my time with Jesus became more of a chore than a relationship.

Jesus has taught me to live in the gray area where grace resides.

Terese Belme

I still practice the ‘check marks’ daily but I don’t put pressure on myself to spend time with Jesus in a certain way or in a certain amount of time. I suppose I should also add I am a black and white thinker and a rule follower and over the years Jesus has taught me to live in the gray area where grace resides.

These days it is so freeing to sit in His presence and choose to allow Him to show me how our time together will be. Some days I am immersed in His word and only have time to offer up a few prayers. Some days it’s all about the prayer because if it isn’t then I’ll decide to do things on my own and that can turn out disastrous for me and those around me. Some days its simply sitting in His lavish love not uttering a word-this one definitely takes practice! And, yes, some days all the check marks are accomplished but they are no longer check marks rather the ebb and flow of Holy Spirit guiding me.

What fills God’s love tank is that you simply choose to spend time with Him.

Today I bless you with a growing desire to spend more time in His presence.

Words of Blessing and Wholeness

“Hey!,” was the text I sent to my best friend recently. She responded, “Hey, how are you? Do you have a few minutes to chat?” And this started an actual verbal conversation about life and catching up with each other.

Since my best friend and I are, well, best friends, we use a casual form of greeting one another. But, how would you feel if you knew that the way others greet you or you them carried more than simply the words of the greeting?

Paul was in the habit of greeting others with, “The grace of the Lord be with you, or the grace and peace of God be with you.” Whenever I read Paul’s greeting there is a certain amount of joy found in his words. I often wonder did all ancient Israelites greet one another this way? Was it a cultural thing at the time? Or, was this something Paul and a few others practiced?

Paul spoke the truth of God’s word and actually delivered the gift of a blessing through his greeting. The Greek word for grace is Charis and it is God’s favor and kindness brought to us through Jesus. It is God extending Himself and bestowing a blessing on His creation by the nearness of His presence.

Peace is God’s gift of wholeness when all essential parts are joined together. This reminds me of our wholeness in mind, body and spirit joined together in harmony with Holy Spirit as we continue to seek Him, read Him, learn about and from Him.

Could it be God’s gift of wholeness through His peace contains healing? That these two words that are not oft spoken in greeting in our current culture could be the beginning of healing?

What would our world, our spheres of influence, our communities look like if we chose to greet others in peace and grace? Would colors seem a bit brighter? Would traffic seem a bit lighter? Would our days seem a bit less laden because we speak the truth of God’s favor, kindness, blessing and wholeness to each other.

Today I say to you grace and peace in the name of Jesus. May you experience His wholeness in all that you are and all that you do. May the blessing of the nearness of His presence cause you to want to be even closer to Him.

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Doing Right or Living Righteously?

Several years ago I heard a well known Christian influencer say every word of God should be taken literally. While I presume to understand the sentiment behind this statement to be that if we believe the word of God is the inerrant truth we would then apply all of God’s word to our life.

Through the years I have reflected upon this statement and often wondered how this would look with many of God’s commands in the Old Testament. Certainly, we don’t have to offer daily sacrifices because Jesus death and shed blood took the place of this daily requirement. And not many of us have free open range where we raise sheep, rams and bulls for the sacrifices required by the ancient Israelites. Nor do we hold fast to the many festivals they were to celebrate.

So how is it we are to take the word of God, the entire word of God literally and apply it to our life practically? It is an issue of our heart. When we are staying connected to Jesus, especially through reading and studying His word, we are engaging with Him in dialogue. His word, which is literally Jesus Himself, is alive and active and if we allow Him the space He will transform us by the power of His Spirit. He begins to show us that the sacrifice is no longer what His shed blood has already covered [the sacrifices of the Old Testament] rather our sacrifice is offering our will to Him like the sweet fragrance of the perfume offered by Mary as she washed his feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair.

Do you practice righteousness? Do you know how to practice righteousness? Has anyone ever walked alongside you and modeled righteousness to you?

The words of 1 John 3:10 above can seem harsh at first glance but when we dig deeper and learn the original translation we find that anyone not practicing righteousness is not a child of God. Do you practice righteousness? Do you know how to practice righteousness? Has anyone ever walked alongside you and modeled righteousness to you? This is why choosing to be discipled and then discipling others is so important. One aspect of discipleship teaches us how to approach God’s word and begin to understand the marvelous things He wants to show us and how to apply them to our life for righteous living rather than taking His word out of context.

As a believer in Christ you are to be like Jesus [your character matching His]. The only way to be like Jesus is to spend time with Him and as you do your will becomes His will and you learn to love not only your brothers and sisters in Christ but a world population with an inherent desire to simply be known and loved.

Show His love to the world—stay connected to Him.

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The Cost of Yes

my heart was racing with every turn of the page and I couldn’t—NO, I wouldn’t put the book down until I had read the very last word.

My husband was working the midnight shift and the kids had been in bed for hours. I was not sleepy, and as is my habit, I love to read before bed. This night I was reading a page turner that a new friend had given to me. We had moved into our new community a few months before (the same as my new friend) and our girls had become friends in their kindergarten class. My friend loves to share Jesus with whomever God causes her path to cross (she has the gift of evangelism) and when we first met she began to talk with me about Jesus. She encouraged me to read the book she handed me. It was a novel about end times and is the first book in a series that seems to never end! As I think about this now I giggle a bit because it seems a strange choice to encourage one to read but Holy Spirit had prepared my heart and knew exactly what I needed to read. I have read many of the books in the series but this night my heart was racing with every turn of the page and I couldn’t—NO, I wouldn’t put the book down until I had read the very last word. That was 17 years ago.

When I had come to the last word it was late into the night, but I somehow had more energy than when I began reading. However, since it was quite late and the next day was a school day for my children I turned out the light and began my nightly prayers. Only this time I told God I didn’t want to be left behind, I wanted to spend eternity with Him and I asked Jesus to be my Lord and Savior.

In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples

Luke 14:33

I look at these words of Jesus and wonder why we stop short in sharing the gospel message. It has been my experience over the years the message preached is of His love, grace and forgiveness. Please don’t misunderstand me this part of the gospel is an amazing gift! But Luke 14:33 and verses like it seem to be left out of teaching what it truly means to be a follower of Jesus. In Luke 14:33 Jesus says we must give up everything—surrender all to Him.

As Pastors, Elders and leaders; as the Bride of Christ are we afraid to include this part of the gospel because we think it would cause many to not want to follow Jesus? If this is the case then we have forgotten Holy Spirit’s job, Who, as a dear friend reminds me, is very good at His job! He prepares hearts to receive Jesus—to receive all of Jesus, all His words and all His teachings.

I am reminded of the parable of the sower and the farmer who drops seed on rocky places which spring up quickly but wither in the sun because the soil was shallow. This person receives the message but soon falls away. Could it be some of those who receive the message fall away quickly because they are not hearing a complete message? And could this also be a ploy of the enemy, who wanted to be God, whispering in the ear of the Bride, “Did God really say?”

Yes, God really said. We are to disciple and be discipled and as disciples we have to be willing to surrender all to Him.

Will you pay the cost of your yes?

Fear

Fear. It can be so crippling.

As a little girl we spent many summer weekends at Santa Cruz Beach in Northern California. I loved splashing and playing in the water right at the shoreline and in view of the watchful eyes of my parents. “Don’t go too far out,” they would call to me every so often. One weekend, not heeding their instructions, I ventured out a little further than normal. Suddenly, I was caught in a small undertow that began to pull me in. I remember being so afraid. To this day I have a very strong respect for the power of the ocean.

Thankfully, my daddy was watching. He was a strong swimmer and he quickly rescued me.

Many times when we hear Holy Spirit warning us we are like a little child, venturing a little further than normal. Suddenly we can find ourselves in a situation where we feel we are about to drown.

But you have a Heavenly Father who wants to rescue you. Call out to Him for help. I promise He is closer than you think. He reaches His hand out to you. Will you grab it?

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How We Lead

“A friend of mine told me a story from her trip to Israel. As their leader was teaching them on a hillside, he spoke about shepherds and how they lead out front with the sheep following behind. However, as they traveled down a road later, she noticed a man prodding a group of sheep from behind. When she inquired about this, the leader said that that man wasn’t a shepherd but a butcher.”

Melissa Spoelstra “Numbers Learning Contentment in a Culture of More”

The voice of the shepherd leads by example with gentleness; the voice of the butcher prods sheep toward destruction.

Melissa Spoelstra

Many years ago my husband worked for a major airline. He started out in the engineering department but really wanted to be where the aircrafts were and he applied for a job in line maintenance. His dream came true and he was chosen for the position that also came with a manager that ruled with an ‘iron fist’ and through intimidation. My husband recollects the first words out of the managers mouth on his first day to the effect of, “I’m the boss and I can fire you whenever I want.” While the work was done in the department there wasn’t any joy in doing the work it was done with the fear of losing ones job.

We are all leaders; in our home, at work, in our community, at church, in ministry, and how we choose to lead is directly connected to our view of God and our relationship with Jesus.

A skewed perspective of God as mean, unfair, unjust, angry or distant is one reason for a lackluster relationship with Jesus. This spills over into every area of our life including leadership.

A healthy perspective of God as loving, fair, just and always available leads to a deep and intimate relationship with Jesus [there is no right or perfect way to spend time with Jesus]. My strong encouragement is to ask Holy Spirit how He wants to spend time with you on any given day and follow His lead.

As we learn to cultivate this deep and intimate relationship with Jesus He overflows into all areas of our life and we begin to lead like Jesus.

You are an amazing leader. Choose gentleness.

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