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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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Pressing In

“If only I may touch His clothes, I shall be made well.”

Mark 5:28

I can’t seem to get off of this topic. Pressing. Persistence. So many times we want Jesus to press through to us, but it doesn’t work that way. To accomplish and receive God’s best for us, we have to press. What does it take for us to press? Not just hope or belief but faith. Faith that as we press through whatever is in our way that God’s promise is there.

The woman with the issue of blood knew how to press — literally and spiritually. She was stricken for 12 years with something that separated her from all she loved. She didn’t just have the sniffles. What she had made her unclean and 12 years of that is a long time! Leviticus 15:19 lays out the law concerning her issue. “If a woman has a discharge, and the discharge from her body is blood, she shall be set apart seven days; and whoever touches her shall be unclean until evening.” One minute she was living a normal life, and the next? Ostracized. But she made a choice. To not stay where she was — where her condition would never change. She made a choice to step toward Jesus. And when we choose Jesus our lives are forever changed.

Mark 5:26 tells us she “had suffered many thing for many physicians, She had spent all that she had and was no better.” What disappointment. What desperation. That when she heard she heard of Jesus, she acted on what he had heard. She knew that if she but touched the hem of His garment that she would be made whole. She knew that by pressing through the crowd she would be breaking the law, and by doing so would cause those she touched in the press to be unclean. Oh what reward! Mark 5:29 says, immediately the blood dried up and she felt that she was healed! Jesus confirmed that her faith had made her well.

What our circumstances say doesn’t matter. What other people say doesn’t matter. What the Word of God says is the only thing that matters. I’ve heard people say, “Jesus said it, I believe it, and that settles it.” In actual fact, if Jesus said it that just plum settles it. Period. Don’t give up. Don’t give in. Press in to Him and be made whole!

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Pressing On

“Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.”

Philippians 3:12

We run. We press. We fight. In this battle we call life we are not called to retreat — not ever. If you are going up river and you are not rowing what are you doing? You are going backward. If you are floating in the ocean with no purpose, what are you doing? You are drifting. These are two things we must never do. The Christian life is meant to be lived with purpose and intention.

In Philippians 3:12-14, Paul says, ” Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” There are so many action words in here! Attain. Press. Lay hold. Apprehend. Reach. Don’t let the enemy trick you into lethargy or inactivity. Faith is active.

I went through a season in my life where I hunkered down within myself and tried to outwait my enemy. All that served to do was to allow the him to build a stronghold around me. You’ve heard the term “a rolling stone gathers no moss?” Well I wasn’t rolling. And it showed in all areas of my life. Stuff grew in all around me until it was nearly impossible to move. But for the power of God and His mercy, I would still be there.

Pressing requires effort. It requires movement. It requires us to remember who we are in Christ Jesus. To forget our shortcomings and downright failures of the past and shake ourselves free. Yes, Jesus already freed us from the wages of death and hell and seated us at the right hand of the Father. But that doesn’t do us any good if we don’t recognize and accept the validity of that fact. It’s time to break free and press on!

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Fighting Weight

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”

2 Timothy 4:7

We pray for the greater things. We pray for the fullness of God to dwell in our lives and oh, how God desires for us to have them. To walk with us as He did with Adam–as He did with Enoch–with nothing standing in the way of pure, holy, and unhindered fellowship. But. There’s that word again. But. We have some very important things to do on our end in order to prepare ourselves to receive.

God has been impressing on me over the last few weeks to get down to my fighting weight. Not physically–although that is important too–but spiritually. We all have things in our lives that keep us from experiencing and walking in the fullness of God that He intends for all of His children. A prize fighter cannot live like a normal person. Any athlete that plans on excellence makes a choice to remove things from their lives that will stand in the way of their goals. What is their goal? To receive the prize.

The apostle Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.” Run in such a way that you may obtain it. How does an athlete run to obtain their prize? One word. Preparation. They would not have success in any of their races or competitions without it.

An athlete prepares by removing things from their life that would be detrimental to their end goal. Things that are not purposeful. Sometimes that even includes their body hair! (It’s been statistically proven that in a marathon a person who removes their body hair can shave 5.7 seconds off their time. Weird, I know.) So must we. There are things that a nominal person can have in their lives (like body hair, lol) that a person with purpose and intent cannot have. Some things may be OK for someone else that God has said for you not to touch–be it social media, movies, certain books, or the company you keep. We need to make the decision to remove the things in our lives that hamper or completely stop the flow of the Holy Ghost. Preparation also includes continual, daily exercise and eating the proper foods. These are essential. We must feed our spirit by feasting on the Word of God and spending time in prayer and fellowship with other believers and exercising our faith.

God has done his work. His power and fullness is there for us. We have to act. Ephesians 4:22 tells us that we have to put off the old man. Hebrews 12:1 tells us to lay aside every weight and run with endurance that race set before us. God intends for His fullness to dwell in us as it dwelt in Jesus, but we have to decide. We have to come to a place that there is nothing more important. A little extra weight is OK for the purposeless person, but not for us. Not for people who have a fight to fight and a race to run.

“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,”

Hebrews 12:1 NKJV