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The Holy Spirit

To make tongues a moment of ecstasy in God and not the very means by which the Holy Spirit will train us is a mistake.

Dr. Mark Spitsbergen

As I was reading through Dr. Mark Spitsbergen’s book, highlighter poised and ready, I ran in to this phrase: “To make tongues a moment of ecstasy in God and not the very means by which the Holy Spirit will train us is a mistake.” (Side note: I love highlighters. And I love highlighting things. It’s a rarity not to find my books marked up in every color of the rainbow. You know, highlighters are like the Holy Spirit. They illuminate things for you.) I stopped. And not only did I highlight that phrase, I underlined it and put a big, old box around it! That statement sums up both the modern day church’s problem and solution, all in one. A lot of the church sees tongues as merely the initial evidence of the baptism but, it is so much more than that! Tongues is the link to the very power that transforms, and sustains us. Tongues is the process by which we stay connected to the person of the Holy Spirit.

John 16:7-8 says, ” But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. And he, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment.” How does the Holy Spirit convict the world? By people, Baptized in the Holy Spirit, standing up in power and demonstration!

Jesus told the disciples that it would be better for them for Him to go away. How in the world… Because it would go from Jesus being in the midst of one single group of people to the Holy Ghost being able to sit upon and indwell every single person who is Baptized. The disciples must have been so perplexed by what Jesus said. How can anything be better than having Jesus in their midst? Jesus knew that in order for the church to go forward and accomplish its purpose in turning the world upside down, it would need the unbridled power, the uncontainable outpouring that the Holy Spirit brings. 

The disciples couldn’t understand how anything could be better. There is no way in their finite minds to grasp what was about to happen! Jesus walked among them but there would come a day when the God of the universe, the God that Psalm 33:6 tells us, breathes out the stars — THAT GOD — who created everything that we see by the spoken word would baptize them and empower them.

If Jesus knew the Holy Spirit was so important to the life of a believer, why would anyone who calls themselves “Christian” not want Him? And to take that question even further, why does it seem that the baptism in the Holy Spirit is not just forgotten, but even mocked and disdained amongst a large part of today’s church? First of all, they have believed the lie that tongues is not for today. It is read Acts 2:38-39. We are those that are afar off. 1 Corinthians 14:1 tells us to “Eagerly desire the gifts of the Spirit.” If the church isn’t eagerly desiring the Gifts of the Spirit there’s something very, very wrong.

In Acts 2:1 we find a couple of very important points. “When the day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all together in one place.” Fully means complete or entirely. To wait for something to “fully come” requires patience. We know for a fact that the believers in the upper room dwindled in the waiting. What started as a large group, ended up a mere 120 people. People are impatient. We need to learn to wait on the important things. While we don’t need to wait for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit any longer (He was poured out on the day of Pentecost and hasn’t stopped pouring since), there are things we do need to wait on to come to fullness in our lives. Fullness takes time. The initial Baptism in the Holy Ghost with the evidence of speaking in other tongues is the beginning of our journey in the Holy Spirit but its also the middle and if we stay with Him, He will give us the power to carry our calling through to the end. They were all together in one place. They were in unity. Unity is the state of forming a complete and pleasing whole, especially in an artistic context. I love this definition as it pertains to art, after all Ephesians 2:10 does say that, “We are His workmanship” other translations use the word masterpiece. We, the church, are a glorious cacophony of brilliant colors and brush strokes that come together to create a beautiful masterpiece! The church was meant to be that way. It was meant to be  unified and complementary and when it isn’t, well… the Holy Spirit cannot stay — if He was welcome there to begin with.

The modern day church values their independence more than the Holy Ghost. If He is going to invade their space, so to speak, they don’t want Him. Much of today’s church cares too much about their image and what the Holy Spirit will do to their neat and tidy services. They care too little for the Gift and the power that He intended for the church to walk in and too much for their agenda.

The church I grew up in was Pentecostal but there wasn’t much emphasis on the Holy Spirit. When a 6th-grade girl (namely me) doesn’t know what the Baptism in the Holy Spirit or tongues is, you’ve got a problem. A church that doesn’t allow the move of the Holy Ghost — better yet — a church that doesn’t treasure and value the Holy Spirit and tongues is in for a world of hurt. (The irony is, I went to the Christian school attached to the church through 5th grade. In 6th grade I went to public school and met a girl who was Pentecostal and I went to her youth group and began my journey with the person of the Holy Spirit.

Confusion and impotence are the inevitable results when the wisdom and resources of the world are substituted for the presence and power of the Spirit.

Samuel Chadwick, Wesleyan Methodist Minister 

Why is the Baptism in the Holy Spirit and tongues so important? Here is an living example of what the baptism in the Holy Ghost can to do for an individual: Samuel Chadwick. He was born in Lancashire in northern England. His father worked in a cotton mill and at the ripe old age of 8, Samuel joined his father working 12 hour days at the mill. (The cotton mill was not a place that people wanted to work: working conditions, ventilation, breathing in cotton fibers — terrible.) In his early 20s he escaped the factory to become a pastor in a nearby city. Somewhere in his late 20s or early 30s he experienced what he called his “epiphany.” What happened? He came face to face with the person of the Holy Spirit. He was Baptized with the Holy Ghost and fire! The Holy Spirit turned what was once was a way out of the cotton mill to a burning calling. The Holy Spirit became a fire inside of him. A fire that could not be quenched. So much so that he burned up all of his old sermons. He recognized that everything before that point was rubbish and got rid of his old way of preaching and thinking in an amazingly profound way. In his book “The Way to Pentecost” Chadwick wrote, “The soul’s safety is in its heat. Truth without enthusiasm, morality without emotion, ritual without soul, make for a church without power. Destitute of the fire, nothing else counts; possessing Fire, nothing else matters.”

What does the Holy Ghost do for us when we speak in other tongues? We are edified. 1 Corinthians 14:4 tells us, “One who speaks in a tongue edifies himself.” Forget listening to a self-help guru or reading a pointless book, want to edify yourself? Spend time speaking in tongues! We are built up. Jude 1:20 says, “But you beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit.” To build is to cause to be constructed, to develop according to a systematic plan, to increase or enlarge. Look at the life of Samuel Chadwick. He went from preaching for a profession to preaching from a calling. He went from walking as a mere man to walking in the power and fire of the Holy Spirit! He wrote numerous books and was the principal of Cliff College in England where he was instrumental in educating a young minister who should sound very familiar — Leonard Ravenhill. We are empowered. Mark 16:17-18 says, “These signs will accompany those who have believed: in my name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues, they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them, they will lay hands on the sick and they will recover.” It’s not coincidental that speaking in tongues appears in this list of remarkably miraculous things. How do you think those great miracles are accomplished? By charging ourselves up in the Holy Ghost by speaking in other tongues.

The sound board in our old church was gloriously uncomplicated. Flip it on, turn on the channel and you had sound. When we moved to our new building we got a new board. This board had lots of channels. This board had lots of lights. This board, much to my chagrin, required amps. My husband is the sound board guru but when he can’t be there I stumble my way through. When the new board was first hooked up, I had a constant problem. Flip the board on, turn on the channel and…nothing. Nothing except pure, unadulterated panic on my part. I would call Vince at work and the inevitably, first thing that would come out of his mouth was, “Are the amps on?” To which I would sheepishly respond. “Noooo…” The Amps have one job, to give the speakers the power to do their job. We are the speakers. Holy Ghost Tongues are our amp. He give us the power to speak and declare the Word. To walk in signs and wonders.

Here’s another analogy. Have you ever noticed birds on a high voltage wire? Do you know why they can sit there without being electrocuted? Because they are only touching the line and nothing else. Electricity is always trying to find its way to the ground. (You know, theoretically you can hang off of the same wire and not be harmed but I wouldn’t test that theory.) The power flows when you are connected. If you were to touch that same line while touching anything that gives the electricity a path to the ground? Ka-Boom! The power is in the connection. That’s what tongues does for us. It is the connection between us and the Holy Spirit. If the Holy Spirit is electricity, then Tongues is the charging cable.

The baptism of the Holy Ghost cannot happen without speaking in tongues and speaking in tongues cannot happen without the baptism in the Holy Spirit. One cannot happen without the other. It’s time for the church to quit looking at speaking in other tongues as a one-time occurrence. As merely the initial evidence of the baptism. Not only is it the initial evidence, it’s the continual evidence. We were intended to be filled and poured out and filled and poured out over and over. It’s a continual infilling. Which happens as we pray in the Holy Ghost. The pitcher is filled up and poured out.

Ephesians 5:18 tells us to be “continually filled with the Holy Spirit.” You don’t need to continually fill something that’s still full. We were meant to pour out! So let’s go for it… Over and over, day after day, moment by moment. Taking in, giving out. Taking in, giving out, through speaking in the heavenly language of the Holy Ghost.

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A Matter of Honor

If we are going to attain the life that God wants for every believer we have to develop a virtue almost non-existent in the 21st century. Honor. Honor is key to receiving anything from God. God tells us in 1 Samuel 2:30 “But now the Lord says: ‘Far be it from me; for those who honor me I will honor, and those who despise me shall be lightly esteemed.”

God’s glory and honor are intrinsically connected. You cannot have His glory without being a person of honor. (What better way to honor someone than to have the glory of Almighty God rest on them?) We will only be honored to the degree that we honor God. If we want to see a greater move of the Holy Spirit we must reverence Him! To reverence someone means to regard them or treat them with deep respect. We must love what He loves. We must hate what He hates. We must disdain what He disdains. And most importantly, we must honor what He honors! Honor is similar to faith, in that there are no degrees. You either have it or you don’t. You either honor or despise. There is no middle ground.

Hebrews 13:17 tells us, “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves.” That is a command, not a suggestion. We cannot be forced to honor our submit. It is something we must choose! All we have to do is obey His word and His word is very clear on this subject. Honor is very important to God. How we esteem or honor Him will differentiate us from other people and will even directly affect whether we get a full reward, partial reward, or no reward at all!

Lack of honor can happen is so many ways. We can, even through ignorance, fail to honor Him. Imagine you’re driving down the road. A police officer pulls behind you and turns on his lights. You pull over and he walks up to your window. “Ma’am, do you know how fast you were going? 55 in a 35.” Do you think he cares if you missed the posted speed limit sign? Yeah, no. He expects you to know the laws of the road before getting behind the wheel. In the same way, God expects us to know how to operate our “motor vehicle” of life. He expects us to know what to do and especially, what not to do. It’s the same way with honor. He expects us to know how to show honor. Ignorance isn’t an excuse!

1 Thessalonians 2:12 tells us, “That ye would walk worthy of God, who has called you unto His kingdom and glory.” So, how do we walk worthy of His calling? Through honor. And how do we show honor? First, through reference: How do we refer to the person we are seeking to honor. If we call our Pastor, “Hey, you!” Then we get “Hey you’s” anointing. But if we refer to our Pastor as Pastor, we benefit from the Pastor’s anointing. Second, through preference: Romans 12:10 tells us, “Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another.” Thirdly, through deference: Deference is the esteem due to a superior or elder. Do we honor those above us, in both age and anointing, by deferring to them? We certainly ought to. Always, always defer those who are your elder by either age or position! Back in the day, deference was just known as common manners!

We are working hard to instill honor in our children. To get up and give an elder their chair when they come in the room, to allow an elder to go ahead of them in line, to address their elders appropriately… It is so important that our children know how to honor their fellow man or woman. If they can’t honor those they see, how can they honor God, who they can’t see? (I think I read that somewhere…) 

We certainly don’t want to be like Eli, who didn’t discipline his sons. Eli’s lack of discipline seemed to stem from pure laziness. But nowadays it seems to come from the belief that if we discipline or chasten our children we don’t love them. Whatever happened to “spare the rod, spoil the child?” Divine love doesn’t ever mean giving in to people. Proverbs 3:11 says, “My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord; neither be weary of His correction.” And again in Job 5:17, “Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth: therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty.” Love will do what’s best for you, even if you don’t like it. Honor must be taught!

Honor can be difficult. Especially when the person we must honor is irritating or is honorless themselves. We don’t treat those in authority differently because of who they are in the flesh. 2 Corinthians 5:16a says, “Wherefore, henceforth know we no man after the flesh.” What YOU do in the flesh affects your spirit. If you don’t honor someone who is an irritant or honorless, it doesn’t affect them, or their spirit. It affects you and yours! It’s not worth the damage to your spirit to try and prove that point.

Honor and respect is a selfless act. It moves us from center stage and puts Jesus there, where he belongs. When Jesus is in the center of our lives — in the place of honor — everything goes the way it should. Honor should never be something we “do,” honor should be who we are! In the same way that God doesn’t love, He is love, so should honor not be something we do but who are we are! To honor isn’t an external thing. It’s a matter of our heart. We can choose to be people who are honorable or we can actually be a person of honor. I choose the latter — I hope you will too! 

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A Walk Through Psalm One

This year the kids and I have been working hard at memorizing more of the Bible. There can be no exaggeration to the importance of hiding the Word in our hearts. If you have the scripture hidden in your heart it’s a lot easier to meditate on. We don’t always have our Bibles in front of our faces but if we have as much of the Word memorized as we can, we can call it up at a moment’s notice to chew on. I’ve heard people liken it to a cow chewing its cud. We can feed on the Word, swallow it, let it sustain us, and then bring it back up to chew on some more to bring more of the nutrients out of it. But unlike the grass a cow eats, the Word never ceases to offer live-giving insights.

The first one we tackled was Psalm 1. This passage offers us a beautiful snapshot of the contrast between what our lives should and shouldn’t reflect — the way of the righteous and the way of the wicked. The teaching in this Psalm enforces that there is one way to life and that is through obedience to God and His Word.

Psalms begins with a very dangerous progression for the believer. Psalm 1:1 says, “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful.” It speaks of a deepening involvement with the world and its all-encompassing wickedness. First, we find ourselves in the company unbelievers — we all have unsaved friends, family, acquaintances. It’s unavoidable, really. Should we take counsel or solicit advice from them? No. 2 Corinthians 6:14b says, “What fellowship has righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion has light with darkness?” Then something we see or hear causes us to stop. Something pricks our ear — we entertain what has been said. Alistair Begg wrote, “The challenge is always this: Are men and women going to allow the Word of God to sit in judgment on their puny minds, or are they going to make their puny minds the judges of the word of God?” Ultimately, we end up sitting in the seat of the scornful — that is a dangerous place to be.

When I think of sitting in the seat of the scornful, it makes me think of a message I heard Steve Hill preach. He was talking about believers pitching their tents toward Sodom. (Genesis 13:12-13) Lot did that and without going into detail — since I think we all know the story. It cost him dearly. How in the world does a believer end up sitting in the seat of the scornful? It’s not an intentional thing. It’s a gradual thing. It’s a series of unwise decisions. It’s a series of small, seemingly inconsequential compromises. Genesis 4:7 says, “If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.” I don’t believe Cain started out his life as a homicidal two-year-old wanting to kill his brother. It was a gradual, little by little, kind of thing. There is nothing the enemy likes more than to corrupt a son or daughter of God. It is his singular aim.

In order for us to keep verse one from happening to us we have to move on. Psalms 1:2 reads, “But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.” What happens to the believer when we delight in and feast on the Word of God? Certainly not verse one — verse three happens, that’s what!

“He shall be like a tree, planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither, and whatever he does shall prosper.” A tree planted by the rivers of water has no lack of sustenance. A tree planted by the rivers of water is productive and a blessing to others. (A tree doesn’t eat its own fruit.) A tree planted by the rivers of water is able to offer shade and shelter to others. A tree planted by the rivers of water is prosperous. Much like most promises in the Bible, verse three is conditional on us doing what is stated in verse two.

Psalms 1:4, “The ungodly are not so, but are like the chaff which the wind drives away.” The ungodly are no so, what? They are not anything mentioned in verses two and three. The ungodly are dead. The ungodly are dry. Chaff is what’s left over after the grain harvest. The farmer has processed the wheat to remove what is useful to them and has left the rest. The chaff, which then dries up, is blown away by the wind. That is not to be us! We are not to be like the chaff — dried up, blown away, useless. We are to be like the tree — rooted, grounded, fruitful, productive.

A lot of people love verse three, but I have to tell you, verse 6 is my all time favorite.“For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly shall perish.” Knows in this verse is the same word that is used in Genesis 4:1 where it talks of Adam knowing his wife, Eve. It’s not just a general knowledge or awareness of, but speaks to a deep level of understanding — an intimate personal knowledge. If I am the righteousness of Christ, and 1 Corinthians 5:21 says I am, then God knows me. There’s no more beautiful thought than that!

The passage concludes with a goal that ought to be the goal of every believer. The enemy’s aim, like I said in the beginning, is to corrupt and draw away that which is God’s. Our goal? To know Him and be known by Him. We know we cannot know him if we stand in the counsel of the ungodly, or stand in the path of sinners, and certainly not if we sit in the seat of the scornful. His word must always be before our face, before our eyes, in our mouths, buried within our hearts.

We are here for a purpose. To know God and be known by Him and if we know God, we know his heart — His heart is to be known by people. 

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O Magnify the Lord

O magnify the Lord with me, And let us exalt His name together.

Psalms 34:3

I’ve been pondering lately on what it means to “Magnify the Lord.” He is most certainly and without doubt worthy to be magnified and exalted. To be praised and glorified. But how do we magnify God? The obvious answer is through praise and worship. We exalt Him with our words — our lips. But even praise and worship serves as a greater purpose which we will get into a little farther down.

Let’s start with the basics. What does it even mean to “magnify?”

Magnify (v):
1. To cause to be held in esteem or respect.
2. To increase in significance: intensify.
3. To enlarge in fact or appearance.

Going off of the first definition, how do we show God that we esteem and respect Him? I don’t know about you all but when my kids do what I’ve asked of them I feel very esteemed and respected. But do you know what feels even more amazing? Not having to ask. My daughter Grace, is an expert at knowing what’s expected of her. She sees the need and without me having to say a word, she just does it. (What a kid!) As our kids show us respect through their obedience, so we can magnify God through our obedience.

The second part of the definition tells us that to magnify causes something or someone to increase in significance. Someone of significance should affect a great portion of our lives. Father God was of such significance to Jesus that while He went through the torture of the crucifixion He said very little. What He did say gives us an idea of how significant the Father was. Most of what Jesus said was ministerial in nature. “Father forgive them” to His torturers. “Today you will be with me in paradise” to the thief. “Woman, behold your son” to his mother. But there was one phrase that rose above all the rest. One phrase that epitomized what Jesus found to be the most tortuous of all. “Father, why have you forsaken me?” The Bible doesn’t record a single word of complaint from Jesus about the physical pain he was going through. Father God was so significant to Jesus that separation from Him was more agonizing than the physical pain of crucifixion!

Would we feel that way? I hope so. Does God occupy such a significant part of our lives that we would cry out in such a way if we felt God depart from us? Or would we be like King Saul who didn’t know when the Holy Spirit departed? I think a lot of the church today wouldn’t notice — for this terribly tragic reason,  they do not know Him. But we can show God through our lives how we Magnify Him by giving Him our all. Every part. Even the ugly bits.

The final part of the definition — to enlarge in fact or appearance is a bit abstract. Can we make God bigger? Yeah, that’s a no. He’s without measure and we are not that powerful. In the natural we make things appear larger by looking in a magnifying glass or a microscope. Why do we do this? So we can see better. I have a magnifying mirror and a pair of tweezers in my purse because well, I’m part German and there are hairs where there aren’t supposed to be — but that’s off topic. When we use a microscope. It brings things from the realm of the unseen to the seen — from the unknowable to the knowable. That’s what worship does for us. Worship is our microscope, bringing that which we cannot see clearly, into focus. We magnify Him when we allow ourselves to gaze upon Him. To study Him. To know Him until what surrounds us becomes insignificant.

There’s an old chorus that says it beautifully:
“Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim. In the light of His glory and grace.”

Saints, let’s magnify him through our obedience. Let’s magnify Him through giving Him everything we are. Let’s magnify him by allowing our worship to illuminate who He is. Because as we do, He doesn’t just become magnified in our lives. He becomes magnified in this world. 

And oh how this world needs Jesus.

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A Year for a Suddenly

I know you’re just itching to know what word I picked for this year. For those of you who are like, whaaat? Its grown in popularity over the years for people to pick a word — or words. Words that speak to them. Words that they want to see develop in their life over the coming year. I don’t often pick one (There are so many, how do you choose?) but when I do, its something that jumps up at me strongly. Words like: perspective and intention, are ones that I’ve had in the past.

A few weeks ago as I was getting ready for church I had Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne on, as I often do. I call it my pre-service service. He was talking about “suddenly.” It’s not first time I’ve heard a message on that subject, as my Pastor can preach a message on suddenly from Acts 2 that will blow your hair back! As I listened it just grew stronger and stronger. This was my word. We have been believing for some specific things over the last couple of years and while the answers have trickled in I felt God say, “This is your year for a suddenly.” And I am holding on to that with every ounce of faith within me.

Now you may say, suddenly, that’s a strange word to choose. First off, I didn’t choose it, it chose me. And secondly, that word appears in the Bible many times — not always in a good context — but we’ll just focus on the good this time around. Here are a few examples:

The shepherds in the time of Jesus’ birth had a suddenly. In Luke 2:13, “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God.”

The early church had a suddenly in Acts 2:2, “And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind.”

Paul certainly had a suddenly when he was knocked off his donkey in Acts 9:3.

The woman with the issue of blood had her suddenly in Matthew 9:20, when she pressed through the crowd and received her miracle.

The suddenlies of God are powerful, transformative and, dare I say, SUDDEN. The shepherds were innocently herding their sheep when suddenly, their eyes were opened to the Messiah. The early church was on the defense, when BAM! Suddenly they received the power of the Holy Spirit and became those who were known to have turned the world right-side up. Paul was transformed suddenly on the road to Damascus from a man who persecuted the church to one who built the church. The woman with the issue of blood was suddenly changed from a desperate social pariah to a woman who was praise by Jesus for her faith.

Our suddenlies are no different. We’re all believing for things — and if we’re going to get God involved, let’s make those things big! Let’s stand this year. And having done all to stand, let’s stand some more. For our suddenly is surely coming.

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Know Your Place

When I was a little kid I was as timid and shy as they come. When I was introduced to new people I was the one who would literally hide behind my mother’s skirt, hiding my face. Of course, I was never in any actual danger but my little brain certainly thought I was! That shyness and fear continued until God got a hold of me in my early 20s. Something happened to me then when I learned who I am and more importantly WHOSE I am.

When I became a mom I understood what it meant to protect my children with everything within me. And to this day, there is nothing that will touch my kids if it’s within my power to stop it. I can’t imagine in my wildest imaginations that God would be any different. Matthew 7:11 gives us an excellent comparison between earthly fathers and our heavenly father. “How much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask him?” How much more, indeed!

What is our natural inclination as parents when danger comes sniffing around? We protect our kids. We push them behind us and put ourselves between them and whatever would seek to harm them. Let me say again… How much more, our heavenly Father? But God doesn’t just push us behind Him to put Himself between us and danger. He surrounds us. Deuteronomy 1:30a tells us “The Lord your God who goes before you will Himself fight on your behalf.” Isaiah tells us in Isaiah 58:8b “The glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.” He goes before us and follows behind us to protect us from all directions!

If you can believe it (and you should), it gets even better than that. Not only does He surround us. He literally places us within Himself! Colossians 3:3 proclaims “For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” We are veritably hidden within Him and there can be no better hiding place than that! So dear friends, when you feel temptation whispering in your ear or see the enemy coming at you –know your place. It’s in Him!

Psalms 55:22b “He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.”

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Just Like Daddy

The other day I went to the doctor for an ultrasound for our newest little guy who will be joining our family in October. I lay on the bed as the ultrasound tech slid the wand cross my belly, where he is safely ensconced, watching the images move across the screen. As they scanned for all of his organs and appendages I saw something that tickled a memory. His feet. I saw his little feet with his little toes. And they looked exactly like his big sister’s!

When our oldest was born my mom uncovered her feet, and panicked. She thought she was missing a toe. She wasn’t, of course, there was however a larger than normal gap between her big toe and the rest of her little piggies. Turns out our daughter ended up with feet just like her daddy. And this little guy is following in their footsteps. (No pun intended.)

With our oldest, Grace, the similarities didn’t stop with her feet. She also had her daddy’s dimples, and notch on her ear. The funny thing was, she was like a stamped copy of him. An exact mirror image. (Dimples on the opposite side of her cheek and mouth, and notch on the opposite ear.) I thought that was the coolest thing. You see, my husband never met his biological father. He does have an amazing dad who has been in his life since he was a small child who he loves every much, but there’s something about not knowing about the person who physically makes up the other half of you. So I thought it was amazingly poetic that God caused my husband’s first born to be stamped in his image so beautifully.

It got me thinking of us and our Heavenly Father. Each of us ought to be stamped in His image. Be marked by our maker. Obviously each of us have different physical characteristics, but spiritually, we ought to be the spitting image of our Father. Genesis 1:27 tells us, “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him.” Now were we created in His image physically? I don’t know. But he did intend for us to be like Him in every other way. He meant for us to walk in His love, mercy, kindness, joy, etc. And He especially intended us to walk in His authority. In Luke 10:19, Jesus said, “Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.”

If God has created us in his image and has given us the ability to walk as He walks and live as he lives, what a sad state that we chose to live so far below where He intended. 1 John 4:17 says, “Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.” It’s time that we decide whether we str going to believe what He says or not. The previous verse told us that “as He is, so are we in this world.” Do you believe it?

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Fix Your Eyes

“Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.”

Colossians 3:2

Have you ever noticed that when you really gaze at something or someone, whatever is around that particular object loses clarity but what you have fixed your eyes on becomes perfectly focused? Our spiritual lives are like that. It really is that simple. Whatever holds our gaze become the most clear. When we focus on our problems, obstacles, trials, etc, those come jostling to the forefront. But when we fix our gaze on God, His Word (also known as Jesus), and the person of the Holy Spirit, they become clear and our problems fade into the background.

The Israelites of the Old Testament give us so many great examples of what not to do and this next story is no exception. Numbers 21:4-5 gives us two key phrases: “the people became impatient because of the journey” and “the people spoke against God and Moses.” You want to lose your perspective in a hurry? Start complaining about your circumstances (even though its more than likely you that got you in those circumstances to begin with…) and start speaking out against your leaders. In verse 6 it says, “The Lord sent fiery serpents…” When what you’ve spoken or done previously, initiates the next verse which begins with “The Lord sent fiery serpents,” you know you’ve done something really, really stupid!

To their credit, the people immediately responded by repenting of their sins. But sin sometimes creates very uncomfortable consequences that aren’t easily reversed. Moses intercedes and the Lord tells him to, “Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a standard; and it shall come about, that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, he will live.” Seems simple enough, right? But can you imagine the chaos in the camp? The panic as people were being bitten and dying? In verse 8 of Numbers 21 it says, “When he looks at it,” this implies not a quick glance. A gaze. A focusing on. A fixed eye. An intent look.

God wants our focus to be like that. But not just focused on anyone or anything. Most of us have no problem with a fixed eye on our cell phone or on our television. What God wants is a fixed gaze on Him, His Word. Colossians 3:2 tells us to “Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.” And again in Romans 8:5 Paul says, “For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.” Jesus Himself said in Matthew 6:33, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Set your mind on the things above. Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness. Simple things to do really, but in this day and age there are so many distractions pulling at us from every side.

What consumes your thoughts controls your life. A simple, concise statement but, oh so true. Jesus knew this. Isaiah 50:7 tells us about Jesus’ singular focus. “But the Lord GOD helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced; therefore I have set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame.” He set His face like a flint. For those who don’t know, flint is a hard gray rock that was used in ancient times to make tools and weapons. Jesus was like flint. Immoveable in His focus. He wouldn’t allow anything to shift His gaze. What was His gaze fixed on? John 5:30 tells us. “I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.”

Jesus focus was solely on the will of His Father. What should our gaze be fixed on? That very same thing. It’s time for the church to stand up and be counted. It’s time for the church to quit allowing herself to be blown about by every wind of doctrine. One of my favorite old choruses goes like this: “Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face. And the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.” Its time for the church to look intently, unwavering on God, His Word, His Will. To set our faces like flint toward His purposes and allow the world and its influence to fall away.

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Christ, the Rock

For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?

1 Samuel 17:26 NKJV

As I was praying in the Spirit a while back, I saw a  little snapshot in my mind. In the image I saw David from behind from the shoulders down. In his hand was his sling and five smooth stones and before him I saw the feet of Goliath. It’s so hard to describe the knowing that came upon my spirit of what I was seeing and why.

David stood before Goliath alone. Of course, he had God with him but the Israelites were as good as defeated in their fear. Nevertheless David obeyed God and picked up his stones — the weapons of his warfare — and approached his enemy. In the natural it was a suicide mission but David knew his God. What was David’s weapon? What did he hurl at his enemy? The stone. (How awesome that he prepared for a much larger battle by picking up five stones but he only needed one?)

Psalms 118:22 says, “The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.” Who was the stone mentioned here? Christ Jesus. John 1:1 tells us, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Who is the the Word? Christ Jesus, again. What is the weapon of our warfare? The manifold and mighty word of God! So as we stand before our Goliath we wield our stone — the rock, Christ Jesus — the Word of God! Deuteronomy 30:14 says, “But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart that you may do it.” We must always fight our battles with the Word of God, because in that Word is life!

As I went back to my Bible after seeing this, I noticed something. In 1 Samuel 17:26 when David says, “For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” David is not talking to Goliath. I always thought he was but, he’s talking to the Israelites. The people who had forgotten who their God is. My pastor said in a message a couple of weeks ago, “There are too many saints walking around forgetting what He has provided for us.” He is so right. God has provided full sufficiency! In Him we lack nothing. No. Thing. So don’t walk through this life as an Israelite. Walk as David did, reminding those around you who’ve forgotten, who there God is!

For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds.

II Corinthians 10:4

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The Name

I was driving down the road the other day with Jenn Johnson’s song, “The Mention of Your Name” on repeat. It. Is. Amazing. (You can listen to it here: https://youtu.be/5vXPVGeccCw.) As I listened over and over, I felt the Spirit of God wash over me and He spoke to me so strongly. He said, “My children are living so far below their station. If this very earth and everything on it is held together by the power in the Name, how much more can I do? There is so much more that I have provided but they just won’t believe.” Friends, there are things in our lives that we allow that would be utterly and completely obliterated if we just remembered who we are and whose we are — if we remembered the power in the Name.

What is provided to us that Name? Everything. Period. End quote. There is nothing that wasn’t accomplished for us at the cross. Smith Wigglesworth said, “There is nothing impossible with God. All the impossibility is with us when we measure God by the limitations of our unbelief.” God’s word says it, that makes it so. One of our Pastors said recently, “‘I believe’ are two words that will change everything, if you mean it.” We have to make a choice to simply believe. Our misstep comes in when we live our lives focused on our circumstance. We should never, never, never let our circumstance change our view of God. Our circumstance ought to be changed solely on our view of God and His Word — for they never have and never will change. In Malachi 3:6a God tells us, “I am the Lord, I do not change.” Philippians 2:9-11 tells us that He has been given a name that is above every name. Cancer. Heart Disease. Diabetes. Poverty. Fear. Lack. Anxiety. Those are all just names. And they are so far below THE Name.

“Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.” (Hebrews 1:3) If Jesus — who the Bible calls the Word — ceased to exist, this world would cease to exist. He upholds all things by the word of His power — and all means all. Ephesians 2:5-6 tells us, “Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” If we are in Him, and He is seated at the right hand of the Father then that’s where we are too! His rights are our rights. His authority is our authority. If Jesus can command the wind and waves to cease, so can we. If Jesus can command the Legion to leave, so can we. If Jesus can heal the sick and cleanse the leper, so can we. If Jesus can live above sin, so can we. If Jesus can live in the fullness of God, so can we! If God’s Word says we can do it, we can. If God’s word says we can have it, we can. Its time for we the church to rise up and stop weighing our expectation by our understanding and only believe in that precious Name.

John 1:1-2, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made.”