"Count it all joy when you fall into various trials."

Posts tagged ‘Beloved’

A New Touch

Walk into the light

Walk into the light

As I think about the coming New Year, I know some things for certain.  I know that my husband won’t die this coming year as he moved to heaven this year.  I also know that the grief will be less in 2016 because it is not so new.  For me, the most important question is what will change in 2016?

Since Joe left, I find myself learning to rely on Jesus, my husband and my Lord.  It is new territory.

When I had friends lose their husbands, I would say, “You know that Jesus is your husband now.”  It was cliché’ and glib.  I had no idea what I was saying.

As a widow, I have missed my husband’s presence.  He is not here to hold my hand and kiss me good night.  Being alone isn’t so bad but what I find is that I miss his human touch.

As I have spent time learning to get closer to Jesus and understand Him as my husband, I have wondered how I would be able to manage with the absence of human touch.Beloved

In a recent Sunday service, the Holy Spirit showed up in an extraordinary way.  The revelation that came to me  was astonishing.  He showed me that when I am in the Spirit, I can step into Him and He can step into me.  We are one in the Spirit.  I don’t think there are words that can clarify exactly what I mean, but it is breathtaking.

He is my Savior, my King, my Owner, my Husband and my Love.  We are one together in the Holy Spirit.  He touches me in a new way and it is truly fulfilling.

I am His bride and the New Year is filled with expectation.  I am my Beloved’s and my Beloved is mine.

 

The Bride and the Wife

For my birthday this year, I received a very special book, His Princess Bride by Sheri Rose Shepherd.  It has impacted me.

All believers, both men and women, are the Bride.  It reminded me of something I had written and I decided to share it with you today.

The Bride and the Wife

A bride’s eyes sparkle with expectation and joy.  She draws near her beloved and serves him with delight.  She listensJesus & bride to him as he speaks.  When they are separated, she anticipates his return.  Every letter that he sends is treasured, read,  re-read, and kept always.  She sees to it that she is dressed in readiness for his return.  Her home is always in order so that he will find her ready to greet him.  Every moment is exciting and filled with hope and expectation.  Being in his presence is joy-filled..  Each day with him is precious.  They share secrets and talk together for hours without thought of time.  She yearns for the day when they will be one.  Her mind is longing for her wedding day and she is consumed with the preparations.  Her expectation of fulfillment rises with each beat of her heart.  He is her very life.

A wife, if she is not wifecareful, will become weary.  She has come to know him.  There is familiarity in his presence.  She no longer anticipates his return joyfully and has settled into routine and duty.  The freshness of the first love fades.  She serves him but forgets why.  There are children and they have become the focus.  She is no longer fascinated.  His letters gather dust.  The crying of a child is now her priority.  When he is at home with her, she is content to know that he is in the house.  They live parallel lives.  Her hair is disheveled and her jeans and sweat shirt seem fitting.  She has been too busy to shower and the lunch dishes are still on the counter.  When he leaves, there are no long kisses and grief at parting.  The duty has become more than the love.

This is why Jesus refers to us, both men and women, as his bride.  This is who we are.  We are beloved of our Lord and He longs for us with jealousy. He invites us to many adventures while loving others as He loves them.  He wants our every breath to be filled with thoughts of Him and to respond to His love with preparation and anticipation of His soon return.

Revelation 19:7groom and bride

Excellence – not Perfection

Perfection

Once again Abigail had blown it!  She had cleaned the house and thought she had covered every corner.  When her husband, Kyle, came home, he lost it!  Look at this drawer!  It is a mess.  I am so sick of you not doing things right!  She rushed over and began to straighten the offending drawer.  She sighed.  Nothing she ever did was good enough.

Yesterday he had run his finger over the top of the door and found dust.  He raved.  She felt again like nothing she ever did was good enough.  The day before, he told her he  had written a date on top of the refrigerator a week before and she hadn’t found it.  He ridiculed her.

She tried.  She really did, but it was impossible to please him.

Today’s Lesson:

Often we think God is as demanding as Kyle.  Even though we try, we can’t live up to the Law that we see in Scripture.  We may say a swear word or we get angry at our kids.  We don’t pray or read our Bible every day.  We are sure that we have disappointed the Lord and soon we give up trying to reach Him.

The Good News!

God knew we could never be perfect and that is why He gave us the Law so that we could see the futility of trying to do it on our own.  He sent His Son, Jesus, to pay the price for all of our sin and imperfection.  He did what we could not do.  He has released us from all condemnation.

He looks at us as little children.  If your toddler spills his milk, you don’t give him away or tell him that he is useless.  You clean it up and fill the glass again and use a cup that won’t spill.  You help him learn how to manage new challenges so that he can become a responsible adult.  It takes time to develop a child into a person of excellence.  It is done step-by-step and moment-by-moment.  You love them, encourage them, discipline them and give them room to make mistakes.

God is much nicer than you are.  He is Good and  His Loving-kindness endures forever!

It is  Satan who has made us think that God is our critic.  He is not.  He knew we couldn’t live the life we see in the Law – not even  the basic ten commandments.  Jesus had to become a man and dwell among us and pay the full price for all the things we have done and will do.  He covered everything including our thoughts, actions, attitudes, all kinds of sin and fears.  When we accept what Jesus has done, He begins to complete the good work He has begun in us.  He won’t stop or give up on us.

He might put us on hold if we get too rebellious but He waits patiently for us to turn back to HIm.

Excellence

When we yield to the Spirit of God, we begin to become who has intended us to be.  He has given us everything we need for life and godliness.  Everything!  He has made us the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus.  He has sent His own Holy Spirit to live in us to help us, lead us, guide us and comfort us.

He is nicer than the most loving parent and He brings us into people of excellence and not perfection.

Perfection!  “It ain’t ever gonna happen – so get over it and enjoy the patience and the love of God who restores us and loves us at all times.”

There is a process that happens over time as we yield to the leading of the Lord and it yields excellence.  When you mess up, confess it to the Lord, and walk free of the guilt and shame.

 Tell the devil to ‘shut up!’  He will want to continue to beat you with your failures.  He thinks he is so clever.  He tempts you to do wrong and then beats you for doing it.  

Freedom!

God sees that you have made a mistake and as soon as you confess it, you are released it and you are free.  I love the Scripture that says, “It is for freedom that Christ set us free!”

Trust Him with all the circumstances of your life and live free!

Share a time that you when you knew you were free!

A Pure Heart

Vivian and Abner were pushing forty when they married.  The desire of their hearts was to have a child.  They knew the risks and yet were completely delighted when Viv found out she was pregnant.  They rejoiced in the Lord and began to speak to the little one in her womb.  Every day they spoke of Jesus and read Scripture and put worship songs on in their home.  The atmosphere was filled with the love of God.

The day came when Vivian went into labor and they were filled with anticipation.  It was an easy delivery but immediately the doctor seemed to be concerned.  He took the baby and left the delivery room.  After Viv was put in recovery, Abner and the doctor came in and told her that the baby had Down syndrome.  There would be challenges. There were some health issues that they may face and almost assuredly the baby would have some degree of mental retardation.  The nurse brought the sweet little bundle and laid him in her arms.

“I want to name him David ,” she said.  David slew Goliath and I believe this baby will be victorious no matter what the doctor says.

The years passed and little David was taught about the Lord every day.  He reached his teenage years and had learned how mean other kids were to anyone who was different.  They called him names and bullied him.  He just responded with love and remembered that Jesus loved him.  God began to show him what was true in the Spirit.  He saw angels and heard God’s voice.  He never felt alone.  He had the most amazing child-like trust that those who took the time to get to know him realized that he knew far more about almost all important things than they did.

Then it happened.  A troubled young man came into the school waving a gun, David’s classmates and teachers began to move in confusion.  David quietly said, “Step into the closet and close the door.  There are angels guarding the door.”  Many of the kids responded by crowding into the small space and soon the rest joined them.  The teacher followed them in. David didn’t go in the closet.

He stepped into the hallway and turned toward the man.  He had seen him at church a few times and knew that he was lost and alone.  He called his name, “Mr. Glen, what are you doing?”  He looked at David confused and began to wave the gun in his direction.  David looked at him and said, “You can’t hurt me, I have God’s angels to protect me.  I want to help you.”  Glen raised the gun and pointed it at David and pulled the trigger.  The gun didn’t fire.  He pulled the trigger again.  Nothing.  He looked at David and started to cry.

David walked up to Glen and took the gun and invited him to sit down.  By this time, the police had arrived and they took Glen while dismissing David as a mentally retarded boy who was of no consequence.  David didn’t care.  He knows who he is and who he belongs to.  Jesus lives in him and the heavenly host are his guard.

It was just as his Mom knew when she named him.  This little David defeated the Goliath that threatened the life of Glen and the school children as well as the teachers.

Today’s Lesson:

Unlike David, we are too smart for our own good.  We are not simple in our faith.  Often we complicate things and mix law with grace. We make it all about us.  It is only and always about Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit and Father God.

Ask God to give us wisdom and purity as we walk as simple children who look to Jesus for everything as we face both challenges and blessings.

Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.  

The Renegade Vine

Shelly was in a high rise building with thick darkness. The city was in a complete blackout.  She was on the twenty-fourth floor and knew there was no elevator service.  Walking the stairs wasn’t a good idea because she didn’t know what or who she would meet.  She was truly alone. The batteries in her flashlight were dead and she couldn’t find the matches to light her only candle.  She was completely alone and quiet for the first time in many years.

She sat on the couch and listened to the silence that was intermittently broken by a distant siren.  She put her head back and sighed.  This was just one more dark day that punctuated the depression she had been feeling.   Thomas had left her for his administrative assistant three months ago.  She had been reeling ever since from the emptiness of the apartment and of her life.  Now this darkness closed in around her.

It had been a long time since she considered that God was watching over her or that He even existed.  If He did exist, she believed that He had forgotten her.  Yet now, in her despair she cried out, “God, if you are out there, help me!” The cares of her life began to lift and inside she heard a still small voice saying, “I have always been here.  You have only to ask for My help.”   A peace that she had never known came upon her and caught her by surprise.  Over the next few hours, she sat in God’s Presence and He ministered His love and healing acceptance to her.  “There is no condemnation for you, my child,” He told her.  “You are loved and have always been loved by Me.  I never left you and I know your pain.  I have a better way.” Shelly gave her heart to Jesus during the long dark night and when the daylight began to come through her windows, she was new inside.  There was joy and it felt wonderful.

She had been trying to live her life without Jesus.  She remembered that she had loved Sunday School as a child and Mrs. Pearson had led her in a prayer when she was ten.  God let her know that all this time, she had been His and He was just waiting for her to seek Him.

Today’s Lesson:

Shelly was trying to live a fruitful life apart from God.  She had been self-sufficient or at least she had tried to be.  She had music playing or the television on when she was alone.  At work, she managed multiple tasks and had been promoted to a Regional Manager.  Her life was filled with noise and activity.  She was never quiet and seldom alone.

She had turned off her power source and was winging her way through life.  She knew it wasn’t working

When the blackout forced the quiet and the solitary hours, she slowed down long enough to hear the voice of her Lover, her Father, her Savior: her God.

In the Scripture, there is a story of the Vine and the Branches.  Shelly had become a renegade branch.  She was trying to make leaves, blossoms and fruit apart from the Vine.  It seemed to work as long as the life force was still remained in the branch, but soon, the branch had nothing to draw on and it withered.

Shelly had withered and was striving to live apart from God.  She was empty and alone.  When she finally became still on that dark night, she heard Him and she knew that apart from Him, life was empty and without purpose.

Today Shelly is a different person.  When the lights came on, she searched her storage unit and found her Bible which she devours each day.  She is looking for a place to worship. The lights are back on not only in her apartment, but in her life.

Are You Religious? Take the test.

The Religion Test:

  1. If church promised a $10,000 door prize at the 11:00 service or Sunday, would you go?
  2. If you could work-out in the gym at church for free, would that make regular church attendance interesting.
  3. If your company offered you double time to work on Sunday, would you skip church?
  4. If church was a really fun place to go with golf tournaments, theater and musicals and a great social program, does that get you to attend?
  5. If you heard that the church was teaching about ways to draw near to God and become intimate with Him, would that attract you?
  6. Or perhaps there is nothing that could draw you away from the sports on TV or a day on the lake.
An affirmative answer to all but the fifth question proves that you are religious about something.  If you answered yes to five, you are interested in really getting to know God which is based on a relationship with Him and His love.

We quickly see what is the most important to us when we consider these questions.  Most of us would go for sure to get the money.  If we wanted to get fit, the gym has a certain appeal.  Turning down the overtime money would be difficult.  The social aspects of a big church serve to integrate you in the community and help to meet new friends.  But . . . how many of us really want to draw nearer to the God of the Universe.

Religion itself is bondage to something.  We think of the Pharisees and Saducees in the Bible.  They were the most religious of all as is some of the church leadership today.  What are you bound to?  Is the organized church the answer?  How do you escape religion and get to know the God that loves you?

How many of us want to really know Jesus Christ?  How many of us want to sit, face-to-face with the Father God and have a conversation?  How many of us want to “be the true church;” to be ‘the called out ones?’  Called out by the Father to hear His voice and walk in His ways?

But, you say . . . “I don’t know how to do that.”  Yes you do.  So do I.  Why is it so hard to start?  What is the fear?  Are we afraid that He will show us the areas we are avoiding in ourselves?  Is it because we think that we don’t need Him?  Are we doing just fine using our own resources?  Or has the demonic realm deceived us and convinced us that we don’t need to get too close to Him?

What keeps us from the joy of knowing the wonderful God that loves us, even before we give Him a thought.  Why are we so arrogant as to think that we don’t really need anyone or anything.  Has  American independence so infiltrated our thought process that we think that we can go it alone and be just fine?   Then, I remember exactly what I had when I was on my own before meeting Jesus Christ.  I was broken and filled with bravado.  I didn’t want anyone to know how wounded I was;  but, everyone knew.  I was the only one who was being fooled.  Are you fooling yourself?

In the Scripture, there is a story of five wise and five foolish virgins awaiting their bridegroom to come for them.  When the time came, the foolish ones wanted oil (a type of the Holy Spirit) for their lamps from the wise ladies who were wise enough to say no.  This is not something that you can do on the preparedness of another.  It is up to each of us to be filled with the Spirit and ready for the encounters that the God who loves us has for us.

My heart hungers for Him.  My flesh avoids Him.  It is up to me now to decide who is in charge, just as it is up to you.  Do I let my heart rule and fall in love with my Lord and live in His grace and glory OR do I let my flesh rule and continue to do my own thing.  Now is the day.  Tomorrow is too late.  He wants me to spend time with Him; to romance Him and to love Him.  He desires for me to walk out Spirit-life.

When I draw near, He will draw near to me.  Then I will wonder, whatever did I think was so important, that I didn’t stop and meet with this One I love.

Is the Presence of God Absent?

We walked into the church hopeful.  We had looked for a long time and we were getting discouraged.  Within a short time we knew we had hit the ‘religion’ jackpot.  There was an active ‘amen’ corner.   The lady that sang the solo had no talent and was chosen for her hair style and lack of make-up.  The reverend was very loud and pointed an accusing finger at the congregation who seemed to be used to the berating.  He talked of the devil and condemned each of us to our own private corner of hell UNLESS we repented from our sin.  I could think of no reason to repent but only had a desire to flee.  If this was ‘church,’ we wanted no part in it!  We quickly delivered ourselves outside to the fresh air and blue sky.  It was not our first disappointment and would not be our last.

It must grieve God’s Father heart that we can be satisfied to sit under this oppression and call it Christian.  Being abused every Sunday morning by a leader who has never even have had an encounter with the Living God.  There is a good chance that s/he is not even a part of God’s family.  This person is what the Bible calls a ‘hireling,’ not a shepherd.  He found a career and used his public speaking skills to try to scare people out of hell, but I think he may just have succeeded in convincing them that if this was what church was about, they wanted no part of it.

Other leaders may not be so overt, but they are all about psychology, or they are a friendly social club that only teaches the easy parts of the Bible  There are so many ways that the church has been infiltrated by the devil and the world.

When we were first brought into the family of God, we were zealous and accepted everything we encountered as coming from Heaven.  After several woundings and our son walking away in disgust, we realized that there must be more to the church thing than what we had first thought.

So, we continued our search to find a place where the Spirit of God actually showed up when we came together.  We love the Lord and spent time with Him on a regular basis.  We really did come into His Presence from time-to-time, but it seemed that the more we hung around certain churches, the less we encountered Him.  Finally we gave up and stayed home.  This was really not a solution either.  At home, we began to drift.  I started reading Christian Fiction instead of the Bible – a voyeur into the lives of people who actually seemed to get it.  My husband just pulled in and his wounds isolated him.  Every so often, I would venture into another ‘church.’  If I could persuade him to come, he would give me a list of why everything was wrong, and he was right!

But I was starved for fellowship – the kind the Bible speaks of – koininea – a coming together in unity and oneness.  Jesus prayed that we would be one as He and the Father were One.  I wanted that and I wanted it with my husband.

I attended a small 7:00 AM fellowship in my small town.  There was a young man there that changed before my eyes.  He went from being a good denominational man to a radiant expression of the Presence of God.  He kept inviting me to come to a small church he attended.  He assurred me it was different.  I was intrigued.

When I went, it was definitely different – totally different from church as usual.  The leader claimed to walk and talk with God on a daily basis and taught the Word of God with authority.  Not completely convinced, I went several times before I asked hubby to come with me.  He came but not with a happy heart.  I could tell he was impressed but sitting for a long time is hard on him and the guy could talk!  After two and a half hours, the meeting broke up.  My dear man told me that I should go to this fellowship, but it wasn’t for him.

So with his blessing, I continued to go.  I changed so much that he knew something was up.  One day, he decided it was time to visit with the leader and he found a man-of-God who not only affirmed him but drew him into a friendship.

We began to attend as a couple.  God has done amazing things in our lives in the last six or seven months.  Now we sit through sermons that can last much longer than two hours and still be hungry for more.  We are learning to enter into and abide in the Presence of God.  He is not just Almighty God to us anymore; He is now our Papa – Abba – Father God.  He loves us and we know it.  We love Him because of it.

This fellowship has become our family.  We are now involved in going to the streets to invite people into His Presence.  It has changed our lives forever.

If your church doesn’t have the Presence of Father God in their services and if it doesn’t show in the lives of those who attend, find a place where God is present.  It makes all the difference.

Is your church abiding in His Presence.  Are you?

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