REFLECTIONS ON WATER

The Brook…
A babbling that never stops as it ripples and rushes over rocks
It creates a cheery chatter filled with laughter
Like children being tickled by their father
The brook – a pure and simple joy

The Spring…
Welling up from within like maturity with wisdom
It pours forth with a deep and hidden force
When streams run dry it is a faithful source
The spring – a sure and steady supply

The Lake…
Its lazy lapping along the beach brings a feeling of peace
Cottage lights serenely beam through the night
Like mirrored glass illumined twice
The lake – a calm and quiet reservoir

The Sea…
Crashing thunderously on the shore in the fury of a storm
It awes us with its relentless roar
Wild waves surging, foaming and frothing
The sea – an unbroken, unharnessed power

Joy, faithfulness, peace and power manifested in forms of water
From the canvas of creation each is fashioned
With no need to feel threatened; there’s no jealous competition
Simply being what they are – God’s living art

Though completely different, contrasting and divergent, herein their priceless value lies
And they whisper words of wisdom to the wise:
Your individual story radiates His glory
So be genuine and true – be you

Whether calm or strong or kind, you’re designed to shine
His multifaceted nature, showing forth His grandeur
As a one-of-a-kind treasure, touching the heart of The Father
Bringing Him pleasure”

“For we are God’s masterpiece…” Eph.2:10

“God has carefully designed each member and placed it in the body to function as He desires.” 1 Cor.12:18

DEALING WITH OFFENSE

Once we take the bait of Satan and bite into offense, we become his victim and are subject to all forms of unrighteousness: anger, criticism, resentment, slander, bitterness, hatred, etc.  This brings about the desired division and rebellion Satan intends, while robbing us of spiritual usefulness.  After all, when offended, how many of us are overflowing with righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit?

Offense = the part of a trap where bait is attached;  when the prey takes the bait, the taker becomes the victim; once entrapped, the victim becomes subject to the trapper’s intention.

Jesus said that in the end times many will be offended and turn away from the faith, hating and betraying one another, making them susceptible to false prophets.  Worse yet, many will fall away because they are offended with God!   Offense will either destroy or refine our character.   

Absalom’s response to offense cost him everything.  Although it may have begun as a righteous anger (because of the sin of his brother, Amnon, against his sister), when his father, King David, neglected to administer justice, Absalom took vengeance into his own hands, which led to conspiracy, murder, and ultimately, his own death.

Joseph’s response to offense gained him everything.  His brothers, Potiphar’s wife, Potiphar and his cupbearer, all treated him unjustly.  Yet he overcame offense, gaining a position of authority that brought about a much great blessing not only for him, but also for others, including his offenders!   “You intended to harm me but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”  Gen.50:20

Many were offended by what Jesus taught and modeled because they didn’t understand He was taking them somewhere spiritually that was beyond anything they had ever known.  So when they hurled insults at Him, He didn’t take up an offense or retaliate but entrusted Himself to The One who judges justly.  “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they are doing.”

Offense brings to the surface any untransformed aspects of our inner being.  It reveals what is still in us that is not of Him.  How else will we know how much anger, self-centeredness or pride is still in us?  The exposure is meant to bring cleansing through the washing that comes from repentance.  If we take ownership of it, let go of our pride and allow our flesh be crucified, offense is rooted out of our hearts by Holy Spirit.  The result is purification, refinement, a greater love for The Forgiver and a greater mercy towards our offenders. 

Let’s ask God to work in our hearts until we are fully released and free from offense.  We will know we are free when we have no more desire to nurse or revive it and when seeing our offender evokes no feelings of strain or animosity.  If the wound is still hurting or festering, the infection remains! We must deal with our side of the problem by forgiving from the heart.  This is a continual and lifelong practice.

“Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love each other deeply, from the heart.”  (1 Pt.1:22) 

THE GIFT OF SACRIFICE

God values sacrifice! We see it all through scripture, under both the Old and New Covenants. Thankfully, we no longer shed the blood of animals to cover the guilt of our sin. Under the New Covenant, God sacrificed for us, removing our sin and proving His love by offering up the most precious sacrifice a person can give – their own life. What a God!

Sacrifice is a heart gift that displays love in a tangible way. Who isn’t deeply touched when someone shows their love with an act of personal sacrifice? Our Heavenly Father is no different. Our sacrifices for Him move His heart and bless Him.

What can we offer up to Him today? The following verses reveal the kind of sacrifices that are holy, acceptable & pleasing to Him:

  1. Thank offerings – “He who sacrifices thank offerings honors Me…” Ps.50:23
  2. A broken spirit & repentant heart – “The sacrifice You desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.” Ps.51:17
  3. Praise that openly confesses our allegiance – “Through Jesus, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise – the fruit of lips that openly profess His name.” Heb.13:15
  4. Prayer & worship – “Let my prayer be as the evening sacrifice that burns like fragrant incense, rising as my offering to You as I lift up my hands in surrendered worship.” Ps.141:2b
  5. A yielded physical body – “…give your bodies to God because of all He has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice – the kind He will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship Him.” Ro.12:1
  6. Doing good & sharing – “Don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God. Heb.13:16
  7. Giving to God’s people – “I am amply supplied, now that I have received…the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God.” Ph.4:18
  8. Loving & sacrificing ourselves for others – “Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered Himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.” Eph.5:2

These sacrifices and offerings please the Lord. Yet even as we sacrifice to Him, He blesses us beyond measure. We can never out-give Him! Remember King David when he told the Lord he wanted to build Him a house? God responded by promising to build David’s generational house! Whose gift was greater? God’s gift was!

On a personal note, when we sold our newly-built ‘retirement home’ in order to continue in ministry, it was a real sacrifice for us. We simply knew we were to follow the Lord’s leading. Yet since that time, the Lord has blessed us with temporary housing in some of the most beautiful homes and locations you could imagine – way beyond anything we could have afforded or planned for ourselves. What a God!

We can’t lose – even in sacrifice – because our Father is just too kind and generous! Let us consider what sacrifices we can bless Him with today, in gratefulness for all He has done for us!

LET’S GET RICH!

Let’s be truthful. There’s something in all of us that longs for pleasure & prosperity. Well, here’s a good news flash: God isn’t against wealth & riches! He WANTS us to be rich! He motivates His people throughout scripture with promises of wealth & riches, honor & favor, success & prosperity. He calls Himself a Rewarder & and Giver of all good things! So…what is the problem?

Concerning wealth, have you ever heard the phrase, “You can’t take it with you when you die?” Well…what if you can? Perhaps our definition of wealth doesn’t match His. Perhaps we’ve bought into the world’s way of thinking. Maybe it’s time to renew our minds, realigning them with truth, so that the way we live will bring ETERNAL REWARD that we can actually take with us when we die! Ultimately, it’s only God’s definition of wealth that will last so here is what I’ve discovered as to how we can get in on the deal!

  1. GET WISDOM!
    Pr.8:18 “With wisdom are riches & honor, enduring wealth & prosperity. Her fruit is better than fine gold; her yield surpasses choice silver.”
    Pr.8: 21 “I (wisdom) bestow wealth on those who love me, making their treasuries full.”
  2. FEAR THE LORD!
    Ps.112: 1,3 “Wealth & riches are in the house of the one who fears the Lord…”
    Pr.22: 4 “Humility & the fear of the Lord bring wealth, honor and life.”
    Pr.8:13 “To fear the Lord is to hate evil…”
  3. LOVE GOD’S WORD!
    Ps.112: 1,3 “Blessed is the man who…finds great delight in God’s commands. Wealth & riches are in his house…”
    Ps.19:7b “The statues of the Lord are…MORE precious than gold & in keeping them there is great reward.”
    Josh.1:8 – “Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.”
  4. DEVELOP FAITH
    Jms.2: 5 “Has not God CHOSEN the poor of this world to be rich in faith…?”
    Now there’s a different thought! God blesses the poor with the wealth of faith, should they choose to receive it! He says that without faith it’s impossible to please Him so maybe this ought to provoke our current mindsets about the poor!
  5. DO WHAT IS RIGHT
    Pr.13: 21 “Misfortune pursues the sinner but prosperity is the reward of the righteous.”
    Pr.14: 11 “…the house of the upright will flourish.”
  6. BE A GIVER!
    2 Co. 8:8 “Love is proven sincere through giving.”
    2 Co.9:11-14 “You will be made rich in every way SO THAT you can be generous on every occasion &…your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God…”
    Mt.10: 8 “Freely you have received, freely give.”
    Good News Flash: It’s not just money we have to give! Paul said, “Silver & gold have I none but such as I have, I give unto you. Rise up and walk!” He didn’t have money. He had something better – the power of God! He gave it away & the man was healed. What do YOU have? A word of encouragement, a prayer, a healing touch, a song, a listening ear, a meal or a bed, time, energy, a smile? Get creative & whatever you have – give it away!
  7. BUY GOLD
    Rev.3:17 “You say, ‘I am rich’; I have acquired wealth & do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, POOR, blind & naked. I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich…”
    So how do we buy gold from God? By being willing to pay a price for what HE says is valuable. Buying gold from God will cost us something! It requires that we lay down selfish desires and yield to His fire – the trials & tribulations that purify our motives & bring us into maturity. What is most valuable to God but His Son Jesus. God wants to use the circumstances of our lives to help us become like Him. THIS is His goal for us, not personal enjoyment or comfort. HIS goal is that, when it’s all said & done, we look like His Son!

GOD’S INVESTMENT PORTFOLIO
Mt.6: 19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasure on earth…but store up…treasures in heaven. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also….You cannot serve both God & Money.”

A word for the poor in this present world:
In God’s economy, anyone who wants to can become rich. It’s your choice! There are NO obstacles to accumulating God’s kind of wealth, a wealth that will last for all eternity!

A word for the rich in this present world:
1 Tim.6: 17,18 “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous & willing to share. In this way, they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is TRULY life!”

LET’S TAKE INVENTORY
How are we storing up treasure in heaven? What are we investing in that’s eternal? Are we seeing wealth from God’s perspective? Will our wealth stand the test of time? God says where our treasure is, our heart is. Where is your heart today?

Global shaking could be the very best thing that has ever happened to us! If desperation drives us to seek God, it may radically change the course of our lives, bringing us into a lasting inheritance that we CAN take with us when we die! I’m banking on it!

Heb.11:26 “By faith, Moses…regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than all the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.”

The Sacred Romance

The following poem is the result of my meditation on Psalm 45 – a wedding song. Although written for an earthly king, it clearly also refers to Jesus, our King.

My heart is stirred by a noble theme so I recite these verses for my King…

Supreme above all men, blessed by God in heaven
You’re crowned in splendor, clothed in majesty
Your words are full of grace & joy lights up your face
As you come to claim your glorious Bride-to-be

Your robe is dipped in blood, a suffering of love
The act of one heroic sacrifice
You bore the judgment she would face by dying in her place
Then conquered death by coming back to life

Ride forth, O mighty One, in majesty ride on
For truth and justice and humility
Gird your sword upon your side, O Lover of The Bride
Let your right hand display your awesome deeds

You war against injustice, you fight for what is righteous
Your adversaries fall beneath your feet
Arrows pierce their hearts like a thousand poison darts
As the Word of God prevails triumphantly

How magnificent this King, glorious in strength
The crowns upon His head declare His worth
With justice as His scepter He sits enthroned forever
King of kings and Lord of all the earth

Now excitement fills the air as a wedding is prepared
The palace is adorned with ivory
The music of the strings brings gladness to The King
He turns His gaze upon His Bride-to-be

He’s ravished by her beauty, she’s radiant in glory
Her wedding gown’s embroidered with pure gold
She holds her head up high, this pure and spotless Bride
With eyes fixed on the Lover of her soul

Now listen to me daughter, bring your Bridegroom honor
Bow before the One who is your Lord
Leave your past behind, forget your former life
And stand beside the One whom you adore

In joyous celebration lead the grand procession
Let the lovely maidens follow you
With jubilee & gladness enter the King’s palace
To unite with your beloved Bridegroom

Now the wine is flowing freely, the wedding feast is ready
The aroma of The Lamb fills the room
Lavish gifts are given by noble men & women
In honor of the union of these two

Their many sons & daughters will bring their Father honor
Reflecting Him in beauty & in grace
And from every generation will come healing for the nations
As they join Him in His rule & His reign

So let all the singers sing the wonders of this King
Let all the dancers dance ecstatically
For the Lamb who gave His life is now reigning with His Bride
Together…for all Eternity

APRIL 2020 – FROM PASSOVER TO PENTECOST!

I was reading & praying Joshua 5-6 during the season from Passover to Pentecost & it has been absolutely revelatory for me, encouraging me in my journey with Jesus. Here’s what I feel He has been speaking to me…

A MIRACLE IS HAPPENING TO US!
“When the kings…heard how the Lord had dried up the Jordan until the Israelites had crossed over, their hearts melted in fear and they no longer had the courage to face the Israelites.” Josh. 5:1
This is a crossover time for us as Jesus’ followers. Although we’ve been in a frightening & seemingly impossible situation with this corona virus, we are actually being positioned for a miracle, just like the Israelites! God is taking us through His river of purification, bringing us to the other side, to a new place of hope restored & promises fulfilled! A miraculous mega shift, for our good, is taking place right under our noses! Things will not go back to the way they were and we will never be the same again, for we are called to something much greater!

WE ARE BEING CLEANSED
“Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.” Josh.5:9
After crossing over, they were circumcised & waited there until they were healed. God has us in a season of waiting for a reason. He is giving us time to cut off unhealthy desires & habits that have made us weak, ineffective & vulnerable to the enemy, to let go of past hurts and to forgive those who have wounded us. If we will yield to this process, the reproach of our past will be removed from us forever! He is also graciously giving us time to heal & be strengthened in Him so we are prepared for the spiritual battles that we will face in order to take possession of our inheritance.

WE ARE EXPERIENCING PASSOVER
“While camped at Gilgal, the Israelites celebrated Passover.” Josh.5:10
We have very literally come through our own Passover, crying out for the blood of Jesus to protect us from the spirit of death . God is wanting us to apply His blood over the door of our lives so we remain under His protection.

NEW PROVISION!
“The day after Passover, they ate some of the produce of the new land…and the manna stopped.” Josh.5:10-12
After 40 years of wilderness manna, the Israelites finally taste the first fruits from the land! Can you imagine what that must have been like for the children who had eaten nothing but manna & quail for 40 years? Lord, transition us now from what has sustained us to something much better –  the fullness of all You have prepared for us!

WE ARE ENCOUNTERING HIM!
“…As commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.” Josh.5:14
Joshua has an encounter with the Commander-in-Chief of the armies of heaven, who isn’t there to take sides but to humble Joshua, to reveal His holiness & to give instructions for the future.
The Holy Spirit isn’t coming to us to “take sides”. He is coming to bring us to our knees, to reveal to us His holiness & to give us instruction for what is coming so we can join Him in what He is doing. He will bring about the victories as we obey His strategies!

GOD’S STRATEGY RADICALLY DIFFERENT FROM OURS
“March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days…” Josh.6:3
God brought down the walls of Jericho, not Joshua & his army. They surely would have never come up with this strange strategy!  It will take heavenly strategies to win the coming battles so we must lean in close to listen – and then obey!   Lord, grant us divine encounters & heavenly orders that will position us for victory.

RADICAL OBEDIENCE:
“March around the city with priests blowing the trumpets…” Josh.6:4
Who would have ever thought that God would turn an evil virus into something He could use for our good, to hem us in with Him, so we could be still & remember that HE is God.  It’s a time to cover our mouths (except for taking up our priestly role of prayer & worship) & wait until He speaks, then blow our trumpets, declaring out loud only what He is saying.

CONCEALMENT REVEALED:
“When the trumpets sounded, the army shouted…and the wall collapsed…” Josh.6:20
The word, Jericho, means a place of concealment.  After 7 days of both silence & trumpeting, the place that was concealed is revealed.  The walls fall & the barred gates are brought down!
In our place of concealment through this mandatory quarantine, we can prepare ourselves for what is ahead by worshiping, praying (emphasis on listening for what God is saying), & declaring it through prayer into the spiritual ream.  (We wrestle not against flesh & blood.)  Then the Lord will go before us to bring down what seemed inpenetrable, giving us victory over our enemy!  May it be so!