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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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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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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.”

Thoughts, Truth

Choices

Choices. We often think that our choices have no bearing or affect on other people. That our choices only affect ourselves. That is so far from the truth. I was talking with my daughter the other day about how important our choices are. We talked about the story in 1 Samuel 15 in which Saul was instructed to go up against the Amalekites and destroy them. In verse 3 Samuel instructs Saul to, “Attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them. But kill both man and woman, infant and nursing child, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.” But Saul did not obey. He kept the king of the Amalekites alive and he took the best of the flock to sacrifice to the Lord. Was it wrong that Saul should desire to honor the Lord with a sacrifice? No. But his instructions were to leave nothing of the Amalekites alive.

The key to this whole passage lies in 1 Samuel 15:22 when Samuel tells Saul, “Has the Lord a great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams.” Samuel then prophesies to Saul that God will remove him as king, that the kingdom would be ripped from him and given to another. 20 years later, Saul is killed in battle along with his sons and the prophecy is fulfilled. The irony? Saul’s death blow was delivered by an Amalekite. Saul’s disobedience not only affected him and his family, but the ripple affect was felt generations later. Hundreds of years passed before the affects were felt by a woman named Esther. Her people, exiled in Babylon, were threatened by a descendant of the Amalekite king, a murderous man named Haman. Haman took it upon himself to attempt to annihilate the entire the Jewish nation. But for the bravery of Queen Esther, he would have succeeded where Saul failed. Our choices, good and bad, can be felt for generations upon generations.

Contrary to popular opinion, Jesus had a choice when He went to the cross. He said in John 6:38, “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent me.” Jesus spent all night in the garden of Gethsemane surrendering His will to the Father’s. Praying for another way to accomplish what God required of Him. If it were not His choice to make, I doubt He would have sweat great drops of blood in making it. If it were just a mindless act for Him it would not have been difficult. He had to choose to go the cross, knowing what would happen to Him. Knowing that his body would be broken for us. Knowing that He would be reviled and ridiculed. And most excruciatingly, that His Father would be required to turn his back on Him as our sin weighed heavy on His shoulders. But still Jesus chose obedience. And in His obedience the ripple effect can be felt 2,000 years later. Jesus’ decision to obey brought millions upon millions into relationship with the Father.

Deuteronomy 30:19-20 says, “I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants my live; that you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to him, for He is your life and the length of your days.” Like Saul and Jesus, our decisions will continue to speak long after we are gone. Choose life!

Truth

If Jesus Can Sleep, You Can Too!

On the same day, when evening had come, He said to them, “Let us cross over to the other side.” Now when they had left the multitude, they took Him along in the boat as He was. And other little boats were also with Him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling. But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?”

Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. But He said to them, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?” And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, “Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!” Mark 4:35-40

Jesus and his disciples were going about their way, moving through life as we all do, when a great storm arose. The disciples had been with Jesus. They knew what He was capable of and yet they panicked. They looked to the storm and not to the calmer of the storm. There are things that happen in this life—battles that must be waged and storms that must be faced. 2 Corinthians 5:7 tells us that we “walk by faith, not by sight.” It’s time to get our eyes off of the wind and the waves.  We need to come to the realization that He has already overcome the world. There is nothing He did not accomplish on the cross. He left nothing undone.

There are times in the midst of the battle where all we can do is rest in what He has already done. Please understand, I am in no way advocating “lazy faith” but once everything that needs to be said has been said. And everything that needs to be done has been done—we rest. 1 John 5:14-15 says, “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.” The disciples had Jesus in the boat with them. They walked with Him, they learned from Him and at the first dose of reality they forgot what He taught them. When they woke Him, Jesus rebuked them for their lack of faith—”How is it that you have no faith?” Where was their confidence? They had Jesus with them. We have the Holy Spirit inside of us. To bring what we have learned up to our remembrance. To give us comfort and strength. We need to keep our eyes on Him and as we do that, the waves won’t look so overwhelming.

I have set the Lord always before me; because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; my flesh will also rest in hope. Psalm 16:8-9

Thoughts, Truth

Bent, Not Broken

This week marks my 16th week of pregnancy. Little Bean is growing right on schedule for his or her September 11th due date. I have found it hard through this pregnancy not to think back to last summer when at 16 weeks we found out the little girl we were expecting had died a week before. So I reminisce, not to grieve, but to wonder at how God has brought us through. Closer. Stronger. More sure of God’s promises and plan than ever.

I find my self pondering on the shepherd boy and future king David—when his father sent him with food for his brothers who were on the front line of battle. As David approached to greet his brothers he heard Goliath—who for 40 days had been berating the Israelite army. As the mocking of the Philistine giant fell on David’s ears, an indignation filled him. In 1 Samuel 17:26 he asked the question, “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” We should be just as indignant when anything or anyone seeks to exalt themselves over the word and the promise of the Lord. The Israelites were the army of the Lord, the chosen people. We, however, are literally the children of the one true King. We have been washed in the blood of the Lamb. When Jesus died and rose again He was seated at the right hand of God the Father. Ephesians 2:6 tells us that God “raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”

“Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all to stand, stand therefore…” (Ephesians 6:13-14 NKJV) When we stand against an enemy, we stand in His righteousness and authority. There is nothing, absolutely nothing—be it sickness, disease, poverty, addiction, depression, or anything else—that has the right to defy us if we dwell in the secret place mentioned in Psalm 91. When David stood he used what he had and trusted God do the rest. Ephesians 6:10 tell us “to be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.” When we stand—we stand on what God has already done. He has already provided our healing, our provision, our deliverance, our redemption. So we stand, trusting that God has already provided anything and everything we have need of through the shed blood of His Son, Jesus. So, what do we have? We have the promises of God sure and steadfast. He has never and will never fail. So we we stand—bending but never breaking.