Fully Convinced

Locks. Maybe you’ve seen them. They seem to show up on bridges almost everywhere. In fact, on the Brooklyn Bridge it is against the law to secure them to the bridge, but the posted signs, stating as much, do little to deter people. They appear in assorted sizes and colors quietly proclaiming the promise of the ones who locked them to the bridge of their love for one another. To trust each other with their heart.

Over the past several weeks God has reminded me of His promises in His word. Below I share a few that have resonated with me once again.

In that day– “Sing about a fruitful vineyard: I, the LORD, watch over it; I water it continually. I guard it day and night so that no one may harm it. Isaiah 27:2,3.

I have prayed Isaiah 27:2,3 for my children often throughout the years. It is comforting to picture my children as that fruitful vineyard with God watching over them and watering them continually with His presence and guarding them day and night so no one may harm them.

I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter, my great army, which I sent among you. Joel 2:25.

Several years ago I was in the middle of a health crisis that seemed like it would become and remain chronic. Then…then God. He had given me the word restore for that year and shortly after I heard a sermon on Joel 2:25. THEN I went to a writers conference and saw this.

But this is what the LORD says: “Yes, captives will be taken from warriors, and plunder retrieved from the fierce; I will contend with those who contend with you, and your children I will save. Isaiah 49:25.

The following year God gave me Isaiah 49:25. Not only does God promise to set captives free and return the plunder the enemy stole, He contends with those who contend with me and saves my children. Contention in my childrens lives trickles into my life and I love how I can rest in this promise that God contends on our behalf.

Placing a love lock on a bridge won’t guarantee forever love or trust between the ones who locked them there but when we allow the truth of God’s promises to settle in our heart He teaches us of His love and trustworthiness and we can be fully convinced that God is able to do what he has promised because of His unconditional and lavish love.

Counting Sheep

She stood just outside the make believe perimeter. A part of, yet not. She longed for their companionship, their understanding, their love and their acceptance. She doesn’t remember, really, how she came to be where she currently found herself—on the outside.

She had known this group for years. Her children grew up with their children. They had shared graduations, children getting married, the birth of grandchildren along with close calls and the grief of losing loved ones.

These were her people, her community, her tribe. Yet somehow she felt so disconnected from them. Did anyone notice? Did anyone care? Was anyone praying for her? Would anyone reach out to her?

In this moment she felt like the one lost sheep that unknowingly wandered away from the flock and couldn’t find her way home. She needed help, yearned for it, for someone in her tribe to help her find her way back into the fold.

Then Jesus told them this parable: “What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the pasture and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders, comes home, and calls together his friends and neighbors to tell them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my lost sheep!’ In the same way, I tell you that there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous ones who do not need to repent. Luke 15:3-7.

The Parable of the Lost Sheep is addressing the lost sheep as a sinner that is found and saved. But what about those within the Body of Christ? The ones that aren’t lost physically or spiritually rather emotionally. The ones that once were included but now feel disconnected not sure why nor how to reconnect.

Surely Jesus wants us to go after those within our believing communities that have lost their way, to ‘find’ them and carry them back to the fold.

Jesus wants us to be inclusive not exclusive.

If anyone boasts, “I love God,” and goes right on hating his brother or sister, thinking nothing of it, he is a liar. If he won’t love the person he can see, how can he love the God he can’t see? The command we have from Christ is blunt: Loving God includes loving people. You’ve got to love both. 1 John 4:20.

Who is Jesus asking you to include in your circle of friends/influence? More importantly, what will you do?

Heavenly Appearance

I’m sure you’ve heard of her. She has the figure that has been impossibly unattainable since the day she arrived on the shelves of toy stores. What was most likely meant to bring little girls hours of make believe fun has become the subject of poor taste and irresponsibility to generations of young girls and women striving to look like her. And it doesn’t end there. In the late 70’s early 80’s a plastic bust was made of this doll with hair that could be styled and makeup to be applied teaching little girls how to eventually do this for themselves. Nothing wrong there.

I experimented with makeup my later years in high school and I have absolutely nothing against wearing makeup. Wearing makeup makes many women feel special. I’m so practical in my ways that applying makeup is more a chore than satisfying. Our two daughters went through the teenage phase of heavy makeup [my husband would always tell them, “don’t ruin the Rembrandt!”] to their beautiful natural look with the occasional application.

Then Daniel asked the guard whom the palace master had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, an Azariah: “Please test your servants for ten days. Let us be given vegetables to eat and water to drink. You can then compare our appearance with the appearance of the young men who eat the royal rations.

Daniel 1:11-13a

Some theorize that Daniel and his friends chose not to eat the meat from Nebuchadnezzar’s table because of the possibility that it had been offered before idols. Others believe that their decision had nothing to do with vegetarianism. Still others theorize that because Daniel and his friends were held against their will they took the opportunity to exercise the few choices they had and preserve their distinct identity. They chose to stand apart from all the other people around them by choosing to eat food that would cause their appearance to look healthier.

There is something deeper in this story. The spiritual appearance of Daniel and his friends. In addition to requesting a veggie only diet to improve their appearance they had a relationship with God. One in which they honored and revered Him resulting in an outward appearance that couldn’t be matched regardless of dietary habits.

Precious Friend. Jesus loves you and when you allow Him to settle in your heart something happens. The power of Holy Spirit begins to transform you from the inside out and your appearance takes on one of heavenly dimensions. Your appearance shines with the joy of Jesus in your heart. No coverup is needed because He infuses you with His confidence and boldness.

Don’t ruin the Rembrandt.

Reading His Word Touching His Robe

She was most likely iron deficient. She probably suffered extreme exhaustion from the daily loss of blood from what had afflicted her for twelve years. And because of the culture she lived in she would have been considered unclean which meant she could not be an active part of the community she called home.

She saw Him crowded by a sea of people that made it look as if it were impossible to reach him. Steadily, without taking her eyes off of him, she made her way through the crowd, who were pushing and shoving to get close to him to. She knew He held the healing she had been seeking for so long.

She said to herself, If I only touch is cloak, I will be healed.

Matthew 9:21

With more boldness that she probably felt she reached out and touch the edge, just the edge of his cloak and instantly she was healed and restored.

How marvelous that must have been to be in the very physical presence of Jesus, The Messiah!

Where does this leave us? We don’t have the ability to actually reach out and touch Jesus but we can touch Him through his word.

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart

Hebrews 4:12.

Whenever we read God’s word we engage with Him in a very alive and active way. Healing is still found in Jesus. We simply need to look to the right source. And keep an open mind and be alert to what Jesus is speaking to you about your healing. I’m a miracle seeker but my own physical healing has come over a period of several years and is still not complete and may not be complete until I see Jesus in eternity. But I can rest in the truth that I can ‘touch’ Him through his word.

Read His word, touch his robe.

*pic is a mural in the Encounter Chapel of the Duc in Altum Spiritual Center, Magdala

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Pumpkin Spice Incense

What is your favorite season? I love the anticipation of the Fall season. The crisp morning air, the changing colors of leaves to yellow, orange and deep red before they lazily fall to the ground, cozy sweaters and fleece lined slippers and everything pumpkin spice!

When the ancient Israelites burned incense the smoke is said to have been symbolic of the prayers of God’s people. Have you ever thought about your prayers having a fragrance? Close your eyes and think about your prayers reaching up to God as a beautiful fragrance of your choice. How would this cause you to view your prayer life differently?

If praying has become monotonous, a chore or another check on your ‘to do’ list ask the Creator of creativity to help you to become creative in your prayer time! Ask Him to help you see that each prayer you utter is a sweet smelling request that is pleasing to Him. You can even burn your favorite incense, candle or oil in a diffuser during your prayer time.

However you choose to freshen your prayer time hold onto the truth that as you set your prayers before the Lord he hears you and each one is an amazing smell to Him.

As for me, well, I can experience Fall all year as I imagine my prayers reaching God smelling like pumpkin spice!

Sirens

We were traveling along a road that had switch backs in the form of bridges crossing from one side to another and back again over the beautiful green and calm water of the Sacramento River in Northern California.

As we approached the last bridge I heard a siren and my heart began to race. Instantly I was a six year old first grader ducking under my desk, chest knees, knees to floor, clasping my hands behind my head as I ducked my head between my knees. It was a drill, it was only a drill.

The siren I heard that day was a relic from many years past when we were taught in school that should our country be under attack by the enemy, who might drop bombs in our area, duck and cover was our best hope of surviving an attack. We were in NorCal… It was the early 70’s…The entire upper half of the state was not thinking about any enemy or bomb dropping. The Vietnam war had ended and it was all about hippies, choppers and free love.

So why, on this recent day, upon hearing this hideous siren, was I momentarily gripped by a memory I haven’t thought of in over 50 years? Fear. It may have been by human doing in an attempt to keep us safe that actually caused many of us to allow the spirit of fear a small advance in our lives but it was the enemy of fear none the less.

There are many fears the enemy uses to try and keep us bound up rather than living a life of freedom in Jesus. Is/are there fear(s) you hold onto creating a stronghold/stumbling block in your life? Keeping you from nurturing a deep and intimate relationship with Jesus? Whispering in your ear keeping you from reading His love letters to you in His word?

Fear is a LIAR.

But there is hope. There is always hope. If you believe in Jesus as your Lord and Savior you have the authority and power of Holy Spirit in you to stomp on the head of fear or any other low life in the mighty, precious, life giving Name of Jesus!

Beautiful Friends, stay tethered to Jesus, asking Him to give you Scripture that you can write down or memorize about His truth about fear. Join or start a prayer text group or join a Bible study. Together we can stomp out fear throughout the Body of Christ and mobilize against the enemy as one.

The next time I hear this siren I will turn it back on the enemy and use this sound as a reminder to squish the head of fear in Jesus Name!

Shalom!

If you need prayer please email me at tbelme@gmail.com

Hurricane Dorian and an Atheists Call to Prayer

Do you pray? Do you believe in the power of prayer? These aren’t judgements whether you do or not, they are simply questions.

Recently we have been having passionate conversation in our home about the effectiveness of prayer [if you’ve been following Hurricane Dorian you may know that a group of believers in Jacksonville, FL gathered together on the beach and began to pray against H. Dorian]. The question has been posed that if God is all knowing and knows the outcome of where Dorian will hit, if it does, is it ineffective to still ask Him in prayer to stop the hurricane. My short answer is, no, prayer to God is never ineffective especially because we don’t know the reasons, aside from the obvious, why God has called us to pray about certain things.

After being informed that a group of Christians got together to rebuke Hurricane Dorian and based on the question that was asked, which is relevant, I dug a bit deeper and came across an article written by The Happy Atheist. You can read Mr. Mehta’s article here. I left the following comment on his article:

Thank you for your article. What you may not realize is that you just put out a call to prayer for everyone who reads and shares your article and believes in prayer to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. 

Thank you for content for my blog today. I will definitely be encouraging my readers to pray and share your article as a tool to encourage others to pray.

Only God knows the reason[s] He led this group of believers to pray. However, through their obedience to show up as a group on the beach and rebuke this hurricane in the Name of Jesus, The Happy Atheist constructed his article. Is it irony that God used someone who proclaims atheism to write an article that I believe will bring attention to believers around the world and unite us in prayer? Perhaps. Maybe this is two-fold, believers uniting in prayer and praying for the salvation of The Happy Atheist.

Dear friends I encourage you to not only read Mr. Mehta’s article and pray but to share, share, share (with grace of course) and encourage your readers to pray and share as well. Or, you can simply repost my article to your website. Either way let’s come together as the Body and use our gifts for the glory of His kingdom and the saving of many lives.

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?