Blessed Nation

 

(I want to post this early so we can focus on the meaning of our Independence all week.)

 

 

 

 

 

Psalm 33:1-15. Please read this Psalm in its entirety………….. a portion follows: Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the people of the world revere Him. For He spoke, and it came to be; He commanded, and it stood firm. The Lord foils the plans of the nations; He thwarts the purposes of the peoples. The the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of His heart through all generations, Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people He chose for His inheritance, From heaven the Lord looks down and sees all mankind; from His dwellng place He watches all who live on earth – He who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do.

 

 

 

 

This week we celebrated and continue to celebrate the independence of North America – the United States as well as Canada share a holiday this week. This message goes out to all. It will mention mostly the U.S. but with arms that encircle all of this northern hemisphere.

 

 

 

I think that most – if not all of us – would agree that our Nations have been blessed. We have been blessed materially, geographically, educationally, and technologically.

 

 

 

As we celebrate the birth our Nation all this week, focusing on July 4th, we need to be Thankful to the Lord and seek Him for His continual blessings in the future.

 

 

 

Each day, we are reminded again and again (as young men and women have died in service to our country), that our freedom comes with a high price. Men and women throughout the history of our Country have given their lives to make this country what it is – and we thank them for our Independence!

 

 

 

It was this way from the beginning – out of the 56 who signed the Declaration of Independence:

– 5 were captured and tortured by the British before they died.
– 12 had their homes ransacked and burned to the ground.
– 2 lost their sons in the war.
– 1 had two sons captured.
– 9 fought and died from wounds or the hardships of war.
– Carter Braxton of Virginia, a wealthy planter and trader, saw his ships swept from the seas by the British Navy. He sold his home to pay his debts and died in poverty.
– Thomas McKean was forced to move his family almost constantly because he was so hounded by the British. He served in Congress without pay and also died in poverty.
– Thomas Nelson’s home was seized by the British at the Battle of Yorktown and used as a command post. He urged Gen. George Washington to open fire on it. The home was destroyed and Nelson died bankrupt.

 

 

 

Scripture is not silent about Nations. We learn that God is greater than all Nations, that Nations come and go, that God uses Nations as part of His plans, and that people from all Nations will be part of His Kingdom.

 

 

 

Perhaps as we celebrated this Independence Day during the week and onward, we ought to consider that real dangers of our Blessings with God are not from external conflicts and challenges (like terrorism), but are internal ones.

 

 

God’s Word teaches us specifically what a Nation is to do in order to receive and continue in the Blessings of God.

 

 

 

Blessed is the Nation s “whose God is the Lord.” vs.12

 

 

– As we read this passage we see very clearly what it means to be a Nation whose God is the Lord:

 

 

Vs. 1-3; A People who acknowledge and Worship the Living the Lord.
– Vs. 4, 6; A people who seek to know and do what the Word of God calls them to do.
– Vs. 8; A People who FEAR the Lord and show Him reverence.
– Vs. 10-11; A People who seek the Lord’s plans, not their own.
– Vs. 13-15; A People who know that they are accountable to the Lord – He watches them and considers everything they do.

 

 

 

– To be a Nation whose God is the Lord, we must be People who reject all false gods in our country today:

 

– the god of material wealth.
– The god of worldly pleasure.
– The god of worldly approval.
– The god of physical appearance
– The god of power and influence.

 

 

Blessed is the Nation that seeks Righteousness, vs. 5

 

 

Prov. 14:34; “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.”
60:12; “The nations and kingdoms which will not serve the Lord will perish, they will be utterly ruined.”

 

 

 

Righteousness is about doing what is Right, not sinning – it is about serving the Lord. That is why we have to pray for our leaders that they will serve the Lord and do what is right; because it is God’s way and not just politically correct. It is about doing what is right within our country as well as our dealings around the world with other countries.
1) we are not Righteous by nature… we are sinners. 2) We do not become Righteous just by doing what is good. 3) We are made Righteous through Jesus Christ (2Cor. 5:21, “God made him – Jesus- who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the Righteousness of God.”

 

 

 

Blessed is the Nation that Trust in God. 33:21; “In Him our hearts rejoice, for we TRUST in His Holy Name.”

 

 

Psalm 20:6-7 “Some nations boast of armies and of weaponry, but our Boast is in the Lord our God. Those nations will collapse and perish; we will arise to stand firm and sure!”

 

 

 

What do we put our trust in as a Nation? Our Military? Our intelligence? Our technology? Our history? According to Scripture, Blessed is the Nation whose Trust is in the Lord. That Trust has to be more than a slogan on our currency. It has to be present dependence upon the Lord.

 

 

 

At the first Constitutional Convention, the delegates were frustrated due to the burdens of the hour. They were burdened and harassed by tremendous crisis. They were so fragmented that they were just about to throw out the whole concept of a constitution completely. Just then Benjamin Franklin rose to his feet and said:

 

 

“Gentlemen, if it is true that not one single petal from any flower falls to the ground without escaping God’s attention, will the distress of this nation go unheeded? Let us therefore determine to seek His face.” They promptly got down on their knees and when they arose from prayer, the slogan, e pluribus unum was born: One out of many!

 

 

We are called to Trust in the name of the Lord!

 

 

God has blessed us as a Country! We celebrate that fact every 4th of July as we have for over 225 years. But what about His Blessings for us as a country during this week and the years to come?  We need to focus every day and thank our Lord for His blessings daily in prayer.

 

 

The Lord not only gives us His Word to teach us about the Blessings of God for a Nation, but also provides us with a test:

 

 

– How are we as the United States of America (and Canada) doing at making God the Lord of our Nation?
– How are we doing at Seeking Righteousness?
– How are we in Trusting His Name, more than ourselves and military or our faulty government?

 

 

What can we, as His People, do for the Future Blessings of America and Canada?

 

1. We can live for Christ – be salt and light where we are.
2. We can pray: for our leaders, for revival.
3. We can depend on the Lord for our true source of Freedom, courage, and spiritual power.

 

 

 

President Trump quoted this week, “And, above all else, we know this: In America, we don’t worship government. We worship God.”

 

 

I pray each of you had a wonderful celebration as you honored our nation.  And  may our celebrating continue as we celebrate our freedom, our independence. And may we all make Jesus our Savior & Lord, may we seek Righteousness, and Trust in the Lord for our lives, families and our Country!

 

 

 

The FOURTH MAN

We are Called to Worship. (Based upon my notes from Pastor Nate Ruch’s sermon on Sunday June 25, 2017)

Scripture Text: Daniel Chapter 3

20 years after the Israelites were taken captive to Babylon, Daniel and his 3 friends, who were tested and tried in Chapter 2, were still thriving. They were high-ranking in the Babylonian court, they were loyal servants to a cruel, narcissistic king, obedient whenever it was possible for them; but they were still loyal to the living God. They had boundaries that could not be violated and loyalties which were non-negotiable. These men had now spent more time in captivity than they had spent before captivity. They did not have their daily devotional reading, a church family, a Spiritual Family Chat, or a Bible to keep them in line. They had the previous wise choices of their strong characters, and wisdom which had developed from the knowledge they had gained of God and His Kingdom, before being taken away from home and family.

And the King? Nebuchadnessar had been warned in a dream which Daniel had interpreted: You are the head of gold, the king of kings—but your kingdom shall be crushed and taken from you, just as the statue in his dream was crushed. His reactionary proclamation that “there is no god like the God of Daniel who is able to interpret my dream…”  Now we find him twenty years later, having forgotten about what happened to the statue in his dream, and having built a huge icon of himself to be worshipped! Instead of bowing his knee to the God of Daniel, he insisted that everyone’s knee should bow instead to him! Little did Nebuchadnezzar realize it, but he had been “set up” by God, used to show God’s superiority through His loyal worshippers.

The goal of such a call to worship was unity in the nation, establishment of loyalty. Such “statues” are still being built today, and the call to leadership is to worship them.

We are born with  a call to worship. There is a God-shaped cavity within each of us that can only be filled with God. When we unwisely choose to fill it with the worship of other gods, we violate our divine purpose.  Shadrach, Meshach and Abednigo were ordered to bow down and worship the statue of evil King Nebuchadnezzar; but they made the choice to refuse, knowing that it would likely cost them their lives. They did not know the end of the story, as we do.

A decision like this can not remain private and go unnoticed. It is seen and known by all! As there are haters and tattlers now who seek to betray and destroy the loyal followers of God, so there were in this day as well. The haters hated and the tattlers tattled, and the three men were condemned to die in the fiery furnace. Yet they remained firm in their choice.

What kind of faith is this?

  1. They had faith that had moved from “What if?” to “EVEN if!”. They declared that their God was able to deliver them—but even if He did not, they would not waver in their worship of only Him.

     “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you.  If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.” (Daniel 3:16-18)

    They did not have commercial faith, which is based on rewards or outcome. They had true faith, based on the Personhood of God. He is Who He says He is, regardless of what the eyes could see.

  2. They had non-negotiable faith.  When the music was played (the powerful cue) they were determined not to bow, no matter how strong the pull. They would pass the test of the importance of their priorities. Their convictions were not based on comfort or convenience.
  3. They had a tested and tried faith. Faith that cannot be tested cannot be trusted.  They had developed this endurance and strength over a lifetime of wise choices of obedience. It did not just miraculously show up in the eleventh hour.

God’s Presence is with us in the Fire! Emmanuel means “God is with us”.  Whether we inevitably perish in the fire or are miraculously delivered as these men were, God is with us! In life or in death. The book of Job records Job saying, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him.”

19 Nebuchadnezzar was so furious with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego that his face became distorted with rage. He commanded that the furnace be heated seven times hotter than usual. 20 Then he ordered some of the strongest men of his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace. 21 So they tied them up and threw them into the furnace, fully dressed in their pants, turbans, robes, and other garments. 22 And because the king, in his anger, had demanded such a hot fire in the furnace, the flames killed the soldiers as they threw the three men in. 23 So Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, securely tied, fell into the roaring flames.

24 But suddenly, Nebuchadnezzar jumped up in amazement and exclaimed to his advisers, “Didn’t we tie up three men and throw them into the furnace?”

“Yes, Your Majesty, we certainly did,” they replied.

25 “Look!” Nebuchadnezzar shouted. “I see four men, unbound, walking around in the fire unharmed! And the fourth looks like a god[g]!”

26 Then Nebuchadnezzar came as close as he could to the door of the flaming furnace and shouted: “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!”

So Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego stepped out of the fire. 27 Then the high officers, officials, governors, and advisers crowded around them and saw that the fire had not touched them. Not a hair on their heads was singed, and their clothing was not scorched. They didn’t even smell of smoke!

28 Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise to the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego! He sent his angel to rescue his servants who trusted in him. They defied the king’s command and were willing to die rather than serve or worship any god except their own God. (Daniel 3:19-28)

When we worship God BEFORE the test, He joins us IN the test. However, He is not the only one who sees us in the fire. Our enemies and those around us also see our faithful obedience and loyalty when we stand tall when everyone else bows down. Evil will be overcome by our testimony. TT

“Don’t be afraid of what you are about to suffer. The devil will throw some of you into prison to test you. You will suffer for ten days. But if you remain faithful even when facing death, I will give you the crown of life.” Rev 2:10

When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of all who had been martyred for the word of God and for being faithful in their testimony. (Rev. 6:9)

Then I saw thrones, and the people sitting on them had been given the authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their testimony about Jesus and for proclaiming the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his statue, nor accepted his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They all came to life again, and they reigned with Christ for a thousand years. (Rev 20:4)

So, what are your “non-negotiables”?  How big or how hot a fire would it take before you would give in? Are you about the business of building up your strength and endurance NOW, before the hottest fires are upon you? Are you making wise choices about who and how you will worship? Are you following Your Father with loyalty and perseverance? NOW is the time to prepare for the coming trials and testings.  Daily set your focus on the FOURTH MAN IN THE FIRE! He will not let you down!

Let’s pray: Lord, so often we wonder about ourselves when we compare ourselves with Bible characters like Shadrach, Mesach and Abednigo…Would I stand the test? Would I persevere to the end, not knowing how the story would end, or would I cave in? I want to be one of those who will stand by You to the end, as You stood by me to the end. But I am so weak, so filled with fear, doubt and I lack courage. Your word does not ask me to live in the tomorrow, but in the today. TODAY I want to make choices that will temper my faith and endurance. TODAY I want to worship only my God! TODAY I want to stand true. Lord, without You I  can do nothing. But with Your Spirit living within me, anything is possible. Lord, please come and fill me anew and redirect my purposes along that path that You have marked out for me so that I will be found faithful and true, and my faith will be non-negotiable!

In Jesus name, Amen.

 

Get Yourself Closer to God

 

Jennifer Camp  (ibelieve.com)

You are the beloved. You are adored. You are worth fighting for.

Even if the opposite of this feels most real.

Even if you don’t know how to take the first step to believing this.

Even if you don’t know how to get close to God.

I want to share with you what practical things I do to fight for my own heart when God feels oh, so far away. It has been a season of hard things—and a season of blessing.

There is so much more to say. But for now, let’s start with a simple list.

Are you ready?

1. Get your eyes off of you.

When we are focused on our own self—our problems, our issues, our worries, our fears—we forget to look at God. This is super hard to do, right? Particularly when we feel overwhelmed. Stuck. Alone. But we need to do this.

We need to keep the eyes of our heart on God. His abundance. His presence. Right here. Right now. So, be bold—and, even if you don’t feel like it, praise Him for His goodness. Praise Him for His love. Name His attributes and look up verses that remind us of who He is. Speak them aloud. Write them down. Declare their truth over yourself.

Remember:

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge” (Psalm 91)

2. Confess to God your brokenness.

Screenshot 2015-11-04 17.47.46

Ask Him to show you how your heart is struggling. Be specific. Don’t hold back. Don’t worry about your words—how to communicate what your heart is saying.

 

“Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts, and see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” (Psalm 139: 23-24).

Just say what is on your mind. Trust your heart. The Holy Spirit will guide you toward Him.

3. Make note of what He’s given you.

Ask God to show you how He has shown up for you in the past. Remind your own heart of His faithfulness, the gifts He has given you, the way He continues to press in. How has He healed you? How has He pursued you? How has He helped you? This is a prayer He loves to answer.

4. Listen to music that creates space in your heart for God.

When we are stuck—when our mind knows that God is close, but our heart struggles to believe it and move toward Him, it can help to listen to music that opens up our heart to Him. There are certain songs I turn to when I am lonely, when I am far away from my Father and I am desperate for Him to pull me close. They are songs that help my heart be receptive to the Holy Spirit. They usher Him in. They open up heart and mind and spirit to receive more of Him—more of all He has.

5. Change your posture.

Wake up. Get your body positioned to better receive the presence of the Holy Spirit. This might mean finding a place of quiet, of removing yourself from distractions. Do whatever it takes—physically—to help yourself be present to Him. Get on your knees. Or stand up. Lie down. Or raise your hands. Dance. Or run. Walk. Or be still. Concentrate your whole self on thinking about who He is, how He loves you, how He is with you, how He never leaves.

Screenshot 2016-03-10 20.43.286. Let your imagination run beautifully wild.

Picture yourself with Him—with Jesus, or with God, the Father. Invite in the Holy Spirit and give Him full access to your mind. Let Him open up your heart. Ask Him to show you a scene—just you and God or Jesus. Stay there. What does He look like? What is He doing? What are you doing? Where are you with Him? How do you feel? Stay there as long as you can. Stay. Let him show you what it is He sees when He looks at you. Let Him love you. Let Him come.

7. Do something different.

If you normally sit down and worship—stand up. If you normally stand, sit down, kneel, or lie down on the floor. Tell your mind to get out of your own way. Let your body respond to your heart. It is telling it what to do to wake yourself up to God’s presence. Trust it.

Screenshot 2017-06-22 09.49.078. Just do it—(do what you love).

This might mean finding beauty—immersing yourself in it. Or going on an adventure. Or resting and reading a book. You are created to experience God’s presence in a way that is unique to you. Invite in the Holy Spirit to steer you toward an activity that brings you joy—and, in that joy, helps you experience God’s presence. And then do it. Break the agreements you have made with the enemy about who you are, and who God is. Then you will hear Him and see Him and move with Him more easily.

9. Be a rebel.

Go against what your mind is telling you is true about yourself, and about God, and about the world that is actually false. Our Savior has risen up against the lies about ourselves and about the truth of who God—and who our Savior—is. He rises up again and again, just as the lies sneak in again and again. Jesus never forsakes us. He never leaves us. He knows our hearts and how we need Him. He knows the false messages of the enemy and entreats us to pray—activate the armor He has given us. We can’t be passive, sisters. We have what it takes to stand, to be bold, to send to the foot of the cross the lies that threaten to pull us under.

10. Accept healing.

This is big. This is the beginning of our life with Jesus—the laying down of our old life for His. This deep healing is difficult to do on our own. God welcomes us into community with Him—and into community with Saints—so that we can help each other toward healing.This pursuit of deep healing can mean counseling. It can mean sharing our stories and receiving healing prayer. It definitely means doing the hard (and usually painful but necessary and good) work of letting Jesus into the places where we have never let Him in before. We need to let Him transform our wounded, broken hearts and make them whole again.

Let’s fight for our own hearts now. He gives us the tools. He will guide us deeper into Him. We are not alone in this fight.

Father, let us step toward you now. Let us see You. Let us hear You. Remind us how we are Yours. Let us live this day believing You are right here.

Life is Perpetually Unfolding

 

The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the  Almighty gives me life.” Job 33:4

 

 

 

The seasons, as they come and go, speak to us of the mystery of transformation. As we move from winter to spring and now spring into summer, we see that life is perpetually unfolding.  In other parts of nature we see this transformation as well.  Our hummingbirds have returned and are enjoying our esperanzas and plumbagos, plus several other flowering plants, native to our area.

 

 

 

Think about the little frog and where it had its beginnings. It begins as a little egg. In the fullness of time, that little egg will burst forth and a tadpole will appear.

 

 

 

Have you ever gone to a pond and watched the little tadpoles. It was always such a mystery to me that after a while the tadpole that looked like a little fish would no longer be that. It would start to grow legs, and in the fullness of time it would walk on the land.

 

 

 

(Here we go again with my butterfly metaphor – hope you aren’t getting tired of it.)  The same mystery of transformation unfolds in the butterfly. A little butterfly begins as an egg. Then, out of the egg comes a little wiggly thing that is furry and has lots of legs – we call it a caterpillar. Then, when it feels an inner push, it will make a chrysalis around itself. Out of that chrysalis will emerge a winged creature of great beauty. I often use the butterfly as a metaphor when speaking of transformation and see each of us in a stage of this metamorphosis.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What about our transformation? We might call ourselves “just a human being.” Then the day comes when we see more of who we are. We say, “I’m not just a human being. I’m a child of God.” We begin to see the child of God seed unfolding. A spiritual transformation has begun.

 

 

 

Then the day comes when we think of ourselves as not a weak human but we think of ourselves as a child of God as Jesus said we were. I know, in my inner self, that the destiny of the little tadpole is to become a frog, and the destiny of the caterpillar is to become a butterfly. And our destiny is to become a child of God as a human being.

 

 

 

What do I mean by a child of God human being? I have but to look at the life of Jesus Christ to know at least a bit more about what this new creature in Christ looks like.

 

 

 

Jesus came to us to acknowledge, discover, experience and be the fullness of who He was and is. I think He must have, gone through all sorts of seasons of His life; times when He felt VERY human, times when He felt VERY Divine. Then he came to that place in His life where He was aware that He was a child of God, a God – FULLY incorporating the human and the Divine. Then he taught us that we should follow him and do the same.

 

 

 

Ephesians 3:16 , “I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources He will empower you with inner strength through His Spirit.”

 

 

 

 

Our hardest task will be to dissolve the critical, crippling, self negativity that is trapping us; where we thought we were only a weak human. We will need to do what seems impossible–to walk paradoxically in two worlds at once, inhabiting an earthly body with a new spiritual intent. What we on this planet now are about seems to be impossible because we ARE walking a paradox between two worlds–inhabiting an earthly body with spiritual intent.

 

 

 

 

1 John 4:4, “Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”

 

 

 

 

As we walk through the seasons of our lives, we will come to powerful junctures that will call us to leave behind old ways of thinking, speaking, being, and living. For God draws us, woos us, pushes us, and pulls us forward. Now, more than ever, I think we are being pulled forward to the stage where we combine our human and Divine, and we honor both. We are both, somehow, at the same time.

 

 

 

 

This critical time may offer a baffling crisis of the spirit. It may be the time in our lives when things happen, and we don’t understand why. We may not understand why those pieces are configuring they way they are. We may have been doing everything we thought correctly, and then our world begins to crumble. We experience an illness, or someone we love goes away, or something else happens that is catatrophic to us.

 

 

 

 

It may very well be that a number of us are in a baffling crisis of the Spirit trying to understand. It is in these times that we oftentimes ask many questions. We ask: “Is this all there is to life? Isn’t there more? I want more, but I don’t know how to get it. I’m afraid to take the steps forward.” We ask the deep questions of God.

 

 

 

I think this process of going through the seasons of our lives occurs over and over again. It’s not that we have one baffling crisis of the spirit or that we have one time of major transformation. We have many. We go through that process again and again. So we may be at the point right now where we are beginning another cycle, and we’re baffled. We ask questions.

 

 

 

A book titled “When the Heart Waits” talks about a time when the author, Sue Monk Kidd, faced such a time in her life and some of the questions she asked. Maybe they are our questions also.

 

 

 

 

“Is it possible, I asked myself, that I am being summoned from some deep and holy place within? Am I being asked to enter a new passage in a spiritual life-the journey from false self to true self? Am I being asked to dismantle old masks and patterns and unfold a deeper, more authentic self–the one God created me to be? Am I being compelled to disturb my inner universe in quest of the undiscovered being who clamors from within?”

 

 

 

 

What are your questions? Think about your questions. Even if you may not be in a mighty crisis of spirit, you may still have questions about your life-what’s happening and where you’re going. We need to ask the questions. Even if the answers may not come instantly, it is the questioning that is important for spiritual growth.

 

 

 

 

We ask our questions and we search. We find that the bottom line will be that we must commit to becoming a new person.  Thomas Moore said, “That was the major commitment of humanity–to become a whole, new person.”

 

 

 

 

Do you know what happens when the caterpillar goes into the chrysalis and forms a cocoon around itself? When the caterpillar goes into the chrysalis it becomes, over time, a yellow-gold liquid. It becomes liquefied. It is not a caterpillar as it was in olden times, and it is not yet a butterfly. It is liquid. Out of that liquid there is a configuration of cells out of which eventually the new comes forth.

 

 

 

 

The caterpillar must have a time of waiting, a time of allowing that inner process to occur. When we are in a crisis of the spirit, and we are moving from one stage of evolution to another, one stage of growth and change to another, we must allow ourselves some waiting time. We can not push it; we must allow it to evolve in order for the fullness to emerge.

 

 

 

 

We, as humans, don’t like to wait. We want it to happen, and we want it to happen now or sooner. We don’t like to wait. We have a concept that waiting means we’re doing nothing. But this waiting I’m talking about is a deep introspection where we do our spiritual work through prayer and meditations, where we honor all the guidance from God that speak to us.

 

 

 

 

James 1:1-27 states this about the stages of spiritual transformation, “James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion: Greetings. Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

 

 

 

 

We may have all kinds of internal voices pulling us and shaking us up, and we may have a lot of external voices as well that want to dissuade us from moving into that which is our destiny.

 

 

 

 

Let’s remember it is our destiny to go beyond just being human. God has created us from the beginning of time to be a child of God human being. All the spiritual insights, and Jesus point to who and what we are becoming.

 

 

 

 

Our commitment is to become an entirely new person that is strong spiritually. Didn’t Paul say something about being a new creature in Christ? We’re going to be a new creature in Christ; a new, wondrous being. But we must allow time and let the waiting do its holy work. As we take our time inwardly in prayer, let us remember that. Sometimes it may take weeks or months to move through all the layers and come to the place of resolution. We will have conflict, stress, and pulling in many different directions, but the day will come when we will feel a peace in our new way of being. It will be all to the glory of God–to honor that Spirit that is us. 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”

 

 

 

 

Henry David Thoreau had the luxury of choosing to live part of his life at Walden Pond. He talked about this time at Walden Pond. In February, 1857, he wrote: “You think I am impoverishing myself by withdrawing from men, but in my solitude I have woven for myself a silken web [or chrysalis]. A nymph-like shell, air long, bursts forth a more beautiful, perfect creature.” In our waiting we are creating a chrysalis and we will burst forth a new creature.

 

 

 

I would invite you to close your eyes at this point, and acknowledge with me (as I acknowledge within myself) that each of us is so much more than the eye sees or the mind declares. Let us acknowledge, for a moment, this wonderful body in which we live, move, and function in this world.

 

 

 

Let us acknowledge that we are one with God by nature. We have the seed of Spirit planted within us. Probably, for many of us, we have been loving, and acknowledging this Divine essence of our being–maybe for a long time. Maybe we have been struggling with the either/or of the human and the Divine.

 

 

 

 

Maybe today we are facing a baffling crisis of the Spirit. Maybe we consciously choose to have a baffling crisis of the Spirit so that we might hold the possibility – of something greater.

 

 

 

 

Even in the midst of any anxiety that this thought might bring up, let us hold the wonder, excitement, and joy of the new that is being birthed in us and through us. Our destiny is to become a child of God human being.

 

 

We know as we walk through the seasons of our lives that we do not walk alone. We have the promise of Jesus Christ that He will always walk with us, be our friend, companion, and Way – show-er. He has already gone this route. He already knows the ups and downs, twists and turns. We do not have to go it alone or figure it out totally by ourselves. He will whisper in the ear of our heart and make the road a bit less bumpy.

 

 

 

 

In the fullness of time we will stand in consciousness, in beingness, in expression, with Jesus.

 

 

Let us pray.

 

Thank You, God, for our holy destiny. May we have the courage, strength,
and conviction to become a totally new person. In the name and through the
living, loving presence of Jesus Christ we pray and believe…Amen.

 

 

May God bless you as you transform into a deep, loving child of God.

“Beloved…..”

1 John 7,8 states strongly, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God;  and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”   I saw a bumper sticker on a car in front of me. The bumper sticker said,  “God loves you—and I am trying.”

Love is a journey not a destination. Love is like a river, never ending as it flows, but
gets greater with time. God is love.

One person said, “Love is like swallowing hot chocolate before it has  cooled off. It takes you by surprise at first, but keeps you warm for a  long time.”

What would Jesus say about love? I believe that He would say, “Love is my  religion!” Very simply, love is all there is. Love is really all there  is—God IS love, the only energy, the only presence. The only power that  we should express in life is the energy of God’s love, for if we do,  our life will be successful.

You and I, truly, are radiating centers of God’s love. Our spiritual  purpose is to express love to others and to allow others to love us.   Everything we do should be an act of love, the only thing we should  express.

In the first letter of John, it says twice that God is love. It is in the  Bible because it is a reality. God is the very presence and power of love.   God is not necessarily loving, like a human being can be loving, or not  loving; for God is the very essence and quality of love itself.

Because, as it says in first Genesis, you and I are made in the image and  after the likeness of God – so,  it must be that  we, as God’s own creation, also are Divine love in expression. Love is our basic nature, and love is our essence.  If we are not living in that natural essence and expressing from that  essence of love we feel disjointed, and out of kilter.

It is that spiritual essence, that truly binds everything together in  perfect harmony in this world.

Paul’s letter to the Colossians in chapter 3, verse 14. There, Paul is  listing some of the qualities that we need to express in life, like  forbearance, forgiveness, etc. He finally winds up, in verse 14, by  saying, “And ABOVE ALL THESE put on love, which binds everything together  in perfect harmony.” It is the spiritual glue, which, in a sense, holds  this whole world together and holds our lives together. How truly important it is.

There are two major choices in life at any given moment—being loving, or  not being loving. It is as simple as that. It is an experience we have all had, to live from the higher vantage point of life, or from the lower.

It seems in life there is always the flip side to everything, just like on  a record. You play one tune on one side, and then you flip it over and  there can be another tune on the other side that is quite different than the one you just listened to. And so it is with love.

Love is a wonderful quality, but we express it according to our  understanding of it. If our understanding of it, at any given moment, is  not what it ought to be, then it comes out as something that we might even call unloving. This is also represented in the Bible, in particular by one of the gospels; the apostle John could represent the spiritual quality of
love.

In the gospel that bears John’s name, we see that love is mentioned a number of times.  What did Jesus have to say about love? Jesus said many things about love.   He also expressed love in His actions as well as His teachings.

The kingdom of God was Jesus’ main teaching, His main theme. He talked  about that kingdom not being so much an outer, political kingdom, but  being a kingdom within us.

At one point in Jesus’ ministry, a certain gentleman asked him what was  the greatest commandment in our law. In other words, what is the greatest  teaching in our Bible? Jesus gave him two answers instead of one.

First of all, He said to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind. This comes from the book of Deuteronomy in the Old Testament,  chapter 6, verses 4-5. Then he said a second is like unto it, love your  neighbor AS yourself. So, you see, at first glance Jesus gave him two for  the price of one.

And when we love God, what does that mean? How do we love God? So much of
loving God in the churches has been the idea of loving a God out there, outside of us, as if God were sitting on some great throne in the sky.

Jesus’ concept of God is a God who wants us to express our own Divine loving self, and in that way, to love God. If you truly want to love God, then what you need to do is to express more of your personal love from God in everything you do. To do this it might be a complete re-creation or rebirth of yourself and the way you live life. It must be accomplished to truly live within the kingdom of God’s love.

I think this is the kind of God that was meant by Jesus. At one point in His ministry, Jesus quotes the prophet Hosea from the Old Testament and  says, “I desire mercy and steadfast love and not sacrifice.”  In other  words, what Jesus was doing, in quoting Hosea, was saying that God does not want ritual or all of these outer observances, but God wants mercy and  steadfast love to all. It is spiritual, inside of ourselves, and through our daily actions. What God wants us to do, in a sense, is to  express our own love. That is how we can love God to the fullest. The  bible says that ALL love is from God, so, to follow Christianity, we MUST express it.  Express and live the  love of Christ.

 

 

 

God bless you!

____________________________________________

Transforming

You all know I talk about butterflies a lot. I love to watch them and even meditate as I enjoy their flittering around, dancing in the gardens of life.

 

 

Image result for dancing butterflies

 

 

 

Nothing illustrates transformation as much as a butterfly does. It begins its journey as an egg, then out of that shell crawls a caterpillar. It has lots of legs and is usually very furry. At a specific time within nature, it starts to weave a chrysalis or cocoon around itself. Following another specific length of time, once again determined by nature, the lovely and winged being emerges and takes flight.

 

 

 

What does that have to do with us? We begin in the womb and emerge after a specific length of time. We develop day by day as the human being we are. As we grow and age we become more than just a human being. We can see ourselves as a spiritual being with great potential to do wonderful things. The “seed” we once were is unfolding and Christ is part of it all.

 

 

 

And suddenly the time comes when we realize that we are a complete child of God. We are whole; we are complete; we are one with God and nothing can change that. We have evolved just as the butterfly did. Our destiny is the path toward becoming a Christ-like human.

 

 

 

Wayne Dyer said, “Transformation literally means going beyond your form.”

[

 

 

The 93-year-old great-grandmother was seen wearing a T-shirt that said
“God’s not done with me yet!”

 

 

 

1 Corinthians 13:12 states, “For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then
we will see face-to-face, now I know only in part; then I will know fully,
even as I have been fully known.”

 

 

 

Looking in a mirror, we see only the reflection ( and a foggy one) of what we are now. We do not see what we will become. We do not see what God sees in us. In time we will see fully, as we have been fully known by God.

 

 

 

Our Lord made us so that we would have this need, this sense, this discontentment that stirs inside and pushes us forward so we can become greater than we are, developing into a new creation in Christ, just as the butterfly became a new creation in nature.

 

 

Monarch butterfly chrysalis hanging on milkweed branch. Natural green background with copy space.

 

 

Jesus came to human life to acknowledge, experience, and to be the fullness of who He was and is. I think He must have gone through all sorts of seasons of His life; times when He felt very human in His mind; times when He felt very Divine. Even though He was the Divine, He came to earth to experience human-ness. I think He went through the phases as we do.

 

 

 

To follow Jesus, our hardest task will be to dissolve the critical,  crippling, dualism trapping us, where we thought we were ONLY human or  only spiritual. We will need to do what seems impossible-to walk,  paradoxically, in two worlds at once, inhabiting an earthly body BUT with a spiritual intent. What we are about, seems to be impossible, but not with new awareness of God.

 

 

 

Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Matt. 13: 43

 

 

 

The stages of our lives create so many forks in the road – powerful twists and turns. This enables us to move forward in a positive direction, a path toward the All Knowing Lord. Old ways, old habits, old human “ness” disappears and our spiritual life evolves as our human spirit becomes advanced and one with Christ. We are complete – human and one with God in our spirit, somehow, at the same time.  We must  embrace this and live accordingly.

 

 

 

“Never look at the problems that seem to be in your life at this present moment and think this is ALL that it will ever be. Tomorrow changes the past. The past is past and the future calls us forward to become more than we were.”

 

 

 

“Questions must become one with answers. Problems must become one with solutions. Where there is the one, the other is soon to follow. The human must become ONE with God. This critical time may be a baffling crisis of the spirit. It is the time in our lives when things happen and we do not understand why. We may not understand why those pieces are configuring the way they are. We may have thought that we have been doing everything correctly, and then our world seemingly may begin to crumble.” C.C.

 

 

 

We go through these crises over and over. It just doesn’t happen once, and sometimes we are totally baffled at how it happened and where it is going to lead us. We ask God for answers. We wonder where this is going to end up and where we will be when it is over. Will we be one with God?

 

 

 

Do you have questions? Think about it. You may not be in a crisis of spirit right now, but that may change over time. If you do have questions or when you do, then is the time to search and find the answers.

 

 

 

Thomas Moore said that IS the major commitment of humanity-to become a
whole, new person.

 

 

 

When the caterpillar goes into or creates its cocoon, it becomes liquefied. It is not what it was or what it will be. At that time, it is in such a transition, that it is neither its former self or its future self. It is actually a type of yellow liquid. The center of which is a grouping of cells which eventually brings forth new life…a beautiful new life.
But this is a time of pausing to allow that transition to happen. We are doing the same thing spiritually – we are growing and changing and becoming. What a beautiful concept.

 

 

Monarch butterfly chrysalis hanging on milkweed branch. Natural green background with copy space.

 

 

“Remember that it is our destiny as the creation of the Creator to grow into our full potential. God has created us from the beginning of time to be Christ like. All the things we see Jesus being in the past and in our world today are who and what we are becoming. How do we know-Jesus said so!”

 

 

 

Right now your destiny is being born again, a new creation in Christ. Even in the midst of any anxiety that thoughts might bring up, let us hold the wonder, excitement, and joy of the new that is being birthed from God, in us and through us.

 

 

Our destiny is to become more than we are right now. Our destiny is become that new creation in Christ. And as we go through all the changes/transformation during our lives, all the twists and turns, we know that Jesus Christ is going through it with us, walking right beside us. As I said many times and as the famous song says,  “You never walk alone.”  He whispers to us in our heart and soul and that makes the road a little less bumpy and just a little bit straighter.

 

 

 

Then at the exact appointed and determined time, when the cocoon is about to burst open, we will be aware of the truth and will be part of the true expression of Jesus Christ. We will be as the butterfly dancing in the garden of Love.

 


 

 

Let us pray: Thank You, God, for our Holy destiny. May we have the courage, strength,
and conviction to become a totally new person in Christ.

 

 

In the name and through the living, loving presence of Jesus Christ we pray and believe. . .Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We transform into a wonderful life form that can dance in and with the love of God. Dance and fly with that love.  And with the butterflies, you may just touch the spirit of Christ.

 

 

As so it is. . .

Lamenting

Pouring Out Your Heart in Lament to God
by Debbie Przybylski

 

 

Lamenting is a perfect title for this weekend’s message.  We lament as we remember or even relive the times we lived through all the  Memorial Days.

 

 

 

Charlene shared this article with me; and since I was planning a message on lamenting anyway in the near future, I thought that Debbie has written so eloquently that I would use her article from CROSSWALK.  I do so with giving her and Crosswalk complete credit.  .

 

 
“It seems to me that we do not need to be taught how to lament since we have so many models in Scripture. What we need is simply the assurance that it’s okay to lament. We all carry deep within ourselves a pressurized reservoir of tears. It takes only the right key at the right time to unlock them. In God’s perfect time, these tears can be released to form a healing flood. That’s the beauty and the mystery of the prayer of lament.” – Michael Card

 

 

 

 

Dear intercessors,    Did you know that even in sadness you can worship God in prayer?

 

 

 

You can worship Him in the midst of difficulty through a prayer of lament. There are many of these kinds of prayers in Scripture. All the major Bible characters poured their hearts out to God in lament. This is a type of prayer that we rarely hear about, yet at times, it is a necessary part of each one of our prayer lives.

 

 

 

When experiencing the dark night of the soul, prayers of lament are so helpful. We live in a broken world where things do not always go right. There are times when we don’t know what God is doing or which way to turn. Bringing before God a prayer of lament can make all the difference in the world, because God actually changes us during these times when we pour out our hearts to Him.

 

 

 

 

Prayers of lament are a form of worship and faith. We worship God even in the midst of pouring our difficulty out before Him. Instead of backing away from God during a hard time or a dark night, we face the pain and worship Him with it. As an act of love, we offer it all to God. We lay everything before His Throne.

 

 

 

 

“Lamentation is a powerful, and meaningful, form of worship because it places our love for God above even the worst of circumstances in our life… God does not ask us to deny the existence of our suffering. He does want us to collect it, stand in those things and make Him an offering. The Holy Spirit, our Comforter, helps us to do this: He aligns Himself with our will and says, ‘I will help you to will to worship God.’ The glory of the majesty of God is that He helps us will and do.” – Graham Cooke

 

 

 

 

The following is an example of a song of lament that has touched many of us throughout the years. The Spafford family lost everything they owned in a fire. Making plans to rebuild, they moved from Chicago to France. Horatio Spafford carefully planned the trip from America to France and booked tickets on a huge ship for his wife and four daughters. He was planning to join them a few weeks later. On the voyage, the ship was rammed by another vessel and sank, carrying his wife and four daughters to the bottom of the ocean. All his plans suddenly were crushed.

 

 

 

 

In grief and lament as his ship passed over the watery grave of his wife and four beloved daughters, he wrote this famous hymn, “It is Well With My Soul”. Many of us know that hymn and have been touched deeply through the words expressed in every verse. Horatio Spafford knew the power of the prayer of lament in that instant. His words have helped multitudes face their own sorrows.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

He refused to let God go in the midst of difficulty and grief.

 

 

Prayers of lament may look like prayers of complaining, but they can still be prayers of faith, because this type of prayer refuses to let God go even in the hard times. God may seem absent, but He is not. Prayers of lament are honest before God and bring us face to face with Him as we try to understand what is going on in our heart. Job was one who prayed deep prayers of lament. He had lost everything—his family, friends, home, and health. Yet he wrestled through with God and clung to Him as he sought for meaning to his struggles. He held onto His faith in God and turned to Him with all his heart. He wanted to see God in the midst of his pain. Job did not let God go. He said:

 

 

 

 

I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eye—I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me! – (Job 19:25-27)

 

 

 

In the end God gave him back so much more. Job was able to see God in a far deeper way than before his trial. Not letting go and bringing our heart to God in the midst of pain is an act of faith. Well-known musician,

 

 

 

Michael Card tells us how we can learn faith from Job’s prayer of lament:

 

 

 

“Finally, we see in Job one of the most fundamental lessons we can learn from lament: that protesting and even accusing God through the prayers of lament is, nevertheless, an act of faith. The lament of faith does not deny the existence of God. Rather, it appeals to God on the basis of his loving kindness, in spite of current conditions that suggest otherwise. Job simply would not let go of God—in spite of death, disease, isolation, and ultimately, a fear that God had abandoned him.”

 

 

 

How to Write a Prayer of Lament

 

 

Habakkuk 3:17-18 is a well-known example of a prayer of lament. Habakkuk was living in difficult circumstances but through a prayer of lament, he was brought to a place of peace. In chapter one his prayer was prayed in frustration; he was asking God “how long” and “why” regarding his circumstances. He was not denying the existence of pain. He was bringing it before God. Perhaps the situation sounds similar to our day.

 

 

 

“Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrongdoing? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds. Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails. The wicked hem in the righteous, so that justice is perverted” – (Habakkuk 1:3-4).

 

 

 

 

Through Habakkuk’s prayer of lament, God changed his heart. He didn’t immediately change his situation. God had directed his attention to His long-range plans and not the present circumstances he was facing. He told Habakkuk to wait and to live by faith. By the last chapter he prayed:

 

 

 

“LORD, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, LORD. Repeat them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy” – (Habakkuk 3:2).

 

 

 

Though his circumstances were difficult, God met with Habakkuk in his prayer and changed him on the inside. He began to see from a new perspective. He began to put his faith in God’s eternal hope, and his prayer of lament was a form of worship to God. In lamenting, you actually worship God with your sorrow. We read in Habakkuk 3:17-18:

 

 

“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior.”

 

 

 

You may want to write down your own prayer of lament using the words “though” and “yet” to begin to phrase your lament. Do this when you are facing difficulty. Save this exercise in prayer for the hard moments in your life.

 
• Find a quiet place with God – Being alone with Him is a necessity for this kind of prayer.

 

 

• Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you – He will lead you in a prayer of lament. He will open up your heart to God.

 

 

• Be in God’s presence – We are often so much in a hurry but a prayer of lament takes time spent in God’s presence. Give yourself wholly to God.

 

 

• Write down the “though”circumstances in your life – What difficulties and challenges are you right now facing? What pain or grief do you feel? These are the “though” circumstances.

 

 

 

• Offer these things to God – Offer God the hard things as a sacrifice. Don’t ask for anything.

 

 

• Worship God by completing the phrase – “Though these things have happened, yet _________.”Worship God in a series of yet statements. Bless and praise Him even in spite of the difficult things.  I guarantee that this will have a great effect on your life.

 

 

 

As Debbie explains, ‘I had some very difficult moments in my life nine years ago. I was facing cancer, several surgeries, and a lengthy recovery. I learned that through pouring out my heart to God in prayers of lament, my heart was changed. I began to look at things in a much more positive light.

 

 

 

Praising God in the midst of difficulty is so powerful because God stands in the moment with us. The thing that I can testify during those moments of difficulty—when I brought my pain directly to God and walked with Him through it—was the reality that God was really there, and He gave me a deeper revelation of Himself.”

 

 

 

Think back a few days to the massacre of children at the concert in Manchester, GB.  Those who lost loved ones were in major mourning.  And, ..

 

 

 

“If you are in mourning, you have the opportunity to worship in the most powerful way possible:  lamentation.   This worship isn’t done in order to have God remove the pain. It simply recognizes that God stands in the moment with us. Lamentation elevates God in the presence of our enemies. It brings out a side of God that other forms of worship simply cannot touch.” – Graham Cooke

 

 

 

Together in the Harvest,
Debbie Przybylski

 

 

Thank you for accepting this article by Debbie as a message and learning tool.

Intercessors Arise International
International House of Prayer (IHOP) KC Staff
deb@intercessorsarise.org
http://www.intercessorsarise.org

 

And now from our author, Peggy:  I urge each of you reading this to engage in your own personal  prayer journey of lamentation.  Remember to give God all glory as you worship.  We all have our pains and sorrows AND we all have our joys.  Take that all in and make t part of your lamentation prayer.

 

God bless you!