Revelation

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“1 The revelation from Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who testifies to everything he saw—that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.” Revelation 1:1-3 NIV

The image of John receiving this message from the angel of God is a powerful one. Wow. To see and hear from God like John – that would be incredible.

So what does it take to hear from God this clearly? Be still. I think we also have to know how much God loves us in order to fully trust what we hear.  It is critical for us to know how deep and how true He loves us.

We will be tested.  We will need to stand firm, stand firm in His life and His love.  We will be faced with ugliness. Darkness will be all around us.  In those times, the hard times, we need to trust God.  Trust His love for us.

Father, help me stand.  Help me simply stand firmly next to You. Hold my hand. Never leave me or forsake me.  I know You never will because You promised.

Ephesians 3:18, Psalm 46:10, Hebrews 2:18, Joshua 1:5

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Be A Seed

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“24 I tell you the truth: unless a grain of wheat is planted in the ground and dies, it remains a solitary seed. But when it is planted, it produces in death a great harvest. 25 The one who loves this life will lose it, and the one who despises it in this world will have life forevermore.” John 12:24-25 The Voice

This scripture pointed out so clearly why I have to die to myself.  The concept is a tough one to embrace.  It boils down to what do I really want?  Do I really want all the fullness that God has for me?  Or am I satisfied with just a taste?  His fullness requires the sacrifice of self.  This helped me to understand that it’s not about me and my plan.  It’s about God and His plan.

As I picture the planting of a seed, I want to be planted.  I don’t want to die on the stalk and wither away, useless and wasted.  I REALLY want to plant and have a shot at being part of a larger harvest.  When I think about all the things in my life that I need to lay down, a few things come to mind like over-planning, over-preparing, and over-performing.  These are top of mind.  I have had a tendency to charge “over” the path all three ways without seeking God’s direction.  Moving ahead instead of following.

Father I repent for that old pattern. I can feel it kick in. I turn to You. I want to walk in Your light.  I want to understand Your ways.  I want to follow Your lead.  Help me relax and just walk with You. Help me keep it simple. Help me to count on You. Thank you for Your love.  Thank you for making my heart sing!

1 Corinthians 15:36-38, Acts 4:4

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The Art Of Waiting

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“13 I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. 14 Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” Psalm 27:13-14 NIV

Wait for the Lord.  What does that mean?  I’m learning.  I’m learning that to wait for someone, you have to be in close communication.  You also have to trust their word.  If I don’t ask what their plans are, I might barge ahead with my own plans.  I might get in the way of the other person’s plans. It might mean that we miss our connection entirely. Sometimes I forget to pause and check in with God’s plans for me.  I barge ahead without hesitation thinking I know best.  Occasionally I delude myself into thinking I know a lot more than I do.  I waste time and energy worrying about things He has already worked out.  So waiting is an art.  To wait confidently and gracefully with composure.  I still struggle in this area but I am learning!  Sometimes I get too wrapped up in my head and don’t rely enough on God’s voice.  So I have to go back to square one and get quiet and listen.

Father God, I’m so blessed that You are always there waiting for me.  You never leave without me. You never leave me stranded. Thank you Lord!

Isaiah 55:2-3, Ephesians 3:17-19, Hebrews 4:16, John 8:47, James 4:7-8

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Right Decision Every Time

7-8 He grants good sense to the Godly – His saints, He is their shield, protecting them and guarding their pathway. 9 He shows how to distinguish right from wrong, how to find the right decision every time.” Proverbs 2:7-9 The Living Bible

“He shows…how to find the right decision every time.”  Now that is a strategic piece of knowledge.  So, why do I always think I know best?  Why do I invest so much time and energy trying to figure things out?

I have found that many times I fight against letting go of the helm.  I want what I want when I want it.  That is not an optimal place to submit to God’s will.  It is the antithesis of submission.  Why am I so afraid to let go?  That requires an examination of my heart.  If I really sit quietly soaking in God’s Word and seeking His input, He begins to reveal what might be standing in the way of totally relinquishing to Him.  Sometimes it requires healing; sometimes it requires repentance; sometimes it requires deliverance.  It always requires that I sit with Him.  Being real and being vulnerable enough to hear His voice.

The promise is really incredible!  He grants good sense to the Godly.  He shows how to distinguish right from wrong.  He shows us how to find the right decision every time. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Lord, I pray that I seek You for the right decision every time.

Exodus 33:13, Deuteronomy 8:6, 1 Kings 11:38, Psalm 25:4

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Appointed Times

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“For the vision is yet for the appointed time; It hastens toward the goal and it will not fail. Though it tarries, wait for it; For it will certainly come, it will not delay. “Behold, as for the proud one, His soul is not right within him; But the righteous will live by his faith.“ Habakkuk 2:3-4 NASB

Father, thank you for Your promises, Your deliverance and Your Word. Thank you for Your love, Your power and Your might that You wield on my behalf. Thank you for going before me and coming behind me. Thank you for Your favor.

Father, please search my heart to make it right and suitable for You. Take my heart and purge it of any prideful or soulish desires. I yearn to be in full communion with You, believing Your promises and waiting patiently and hopefully for Your timing.

1 Corinthians 4:5, Galatians 3:11, Ephesians 2:10

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Humble Me

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“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” 1 Peter 5:6 NIV

Pride has been an issue for me. This verse caught my eye because if I am prideful, I have already lifted myself up.  I have not surrendered everything to God so that He can lift me up in His timing.  Pride makes me get in a hurry to do things my own way.  Pride makes me think that I know the best way.  Pride throws patience to the curb and says “See you later, sucker!”

Pride forces its way into situations and circumstances with an expectation of entitlement.  Humility is graceful and waits patiently offering to serve others in the meantime.  Pride is rude and rash.  Humility is gentle and kind. Pride takes what is mine first.  Humility honors others first. Pride is legalistic.  Humility hears the cry of the needy.

Father, help me surrender and submit to you in every way. Let humility govern my heart.

2 Chronicles 12:6-8, Proverbs 29:23, Luke 14:11, Romans 5:6-8

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A Little While…

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Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. 10 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 1 Peter 5:8-10 NIV

What is a little while? This scripture says that after we have suffered “a little while” Christ will restore us and make us strong.  Whew! I am thankful for that.  However, am I able to withstand suffering for a little while?

Sometimes it is easier to get through things if there is a goal in mind.  Saving for a big vacation or a new car. Saving for a life event like college or a wedding.  The process of saving requires choices, decisions and sometimes sacrifice.  Suffering.  Not having everything you want when you want it.  Delayed gratification.  We are not used to that in this day and age.  We’ve become a right now culture at all costs.  Do we understand what it means to wait or delay for the perfect timing?  Is that why the word “suffering” is such a turn off?

To suffer can mean to be in pain.  But it can also mean to endure or permit.  Can we endure and permit delays and wait for God’s timing? To wait for God’s best for us?

I ask myself these questions all the time.  I find that when I am feeling rushed into making decisions or choices that it gives me pause.  Pause to pray and take God’s plans into consideration above my own.  Sometimes, even frequently, the decision or choice I was in such a rush about starts to fade in importance…And I wait.

Lord, remind me to pause and not allow things to rush me.  Help me to remember that Your pause brings peace and perspective.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18, 1 Peter 1:3-9

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Gentle and Humble

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“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:29 NIV

Yoke: to join, couple, link or unite; to attach, pair; a part that secures two or more components so they move together; a link, tie or bond; to secure or harness.

When we take on the yoke of Jesus it means we are putting His teachings into practice in our lives. We trust Him with our life. It means we are joined with Him when the storms of life come. We are united. We are secure in Him.  We move with Him as one. This is also how we demonstrate our love for Him.

When I was a teenager, I had lots of opportunity to get into trouble.  The only reason I didn’t get in more trouble was because I knew how much my mom trusted me.  She demonstrated gentleness and humility.  It was just an unspoken part of her. It was her heart. Her trust held me in check more than any punishment could have.  I did not want to break her trust. Believe me, I was far from perfect.  Her trust kept me out of harm’s way many times.

It’s no different with Jesus.  He trusts us to choose.  He leaves the choice in our hands every day.  We can demonstrate our love by choosing His yoke and releasing the ways of this world.  Releasing the desire to criticize others, serve ourselves first, push our own agendas, and rush to our own conclusions. We demonstrate our love by walking in faith and trusting Him with our lives and the lives of others on a daily basis.

Father, help me see how much You trust me every day to act like You would.  Help me carry the trust You have in me deep in my heart. I pray it directs my actions in every way.

Matthew 7:24, John 13:17, 15:10-17

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Losing Heart

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“Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart,” Luke 18:1 NASB

The Bible talks about surrendering to God’s will, seeking God’s kingdom first, and that if two agree on earth concerning anything that they ask God for, it will be done.  Let’s say that we believe that we are doing all those things and still do not see a result? How long can you wait? As you wait, how do you stay in surrender and not lose heart?

Maybe we see others around us and it seems like their every prayer is answered; every dream comes true.  It’s easy to get into a shame spiral and pick yourself apart.  But don’t. Never compare. It will always get you into trouble.  We do not know the crosses that others bear.  They generally do not know ours either.  I truly believe that God really does only give us what we can bear.  I also truly believe that every test, every “growth opportunity,” is designed to move us down a very intricately designed path to accomplish a specific purpose for our lives.

When I catch myself comparing myself or my situation to others, I squelch it as quickly as I can.  When I feel shame begin to creep in or discouragement or disappointment, I try to acknowledge it and move on. Those are indicators that I am losing heart.

It is only through prayer, a direct and personal connection to God, that my heart can stay right.  It is in that place that I find the tender care I need.  That is where I find an incredible love that permeates those negative feelings.  It shines light in the darkness of negativity and obliterates it.  The fruit of that connection is reassurance, joy, peace, faith, and trust. It is all led by a wave of love that washes over me.  It assures me that I am not lost or forgotten. I am simply in a narrow place that requires sharp listening skills and an open heart. That is surrender.

If I can give a prescription for anyone losing heart, it is a healthy dose of prayer – as often as needed!

I may feel like a mess at that moment, but in the quite place in my heart I hear, “That’s not true.” It is in that place I come to understand that I am ok. I have to trust God. I know that He has my best in mind and that His best is worth waiting for.  Sometimes it is in the waiting that I discover how to find the joy and peace that passes understanding. I learn to accept and appreciate every blessing along the way.  I begin to see God in places I may not have even noticed before.  It is in that place that I see more and more of Him in others, as well as watch Him produce a transformation in me. It is often during the wait that I finally let go of my agenda and become more open to God’s plan.

It is amazing to get a glimpse of just how big God truly is. Each glimpse stretches my view and perspective of Him. It grows my faith.

Father, thank you for being trustworthy and never changing. I have to trust You. There is no one else like You. And I’m learning.

Luke 18:1-8, 2 Kings 6:17, Isaiah 40:31, Psalm 40:1

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The Work Of God

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“The tablets were the work of God; the writing was the writing of God, engraved on the tablets.” Exodus 32:16 NIV

Each of us has been called to fulfill God’s plan for our lives.  While each of our plans are different, we each have one.  They have all been intricately designed to complement and fulfill God’s plan in concert with one another.  I think of some of the most incredible symphonies.  Performance and execution of those masterpieces can vary significantly.  Each performance depends on the mastery of each individual with the part they are to play.  It also depends on how well they follow the direction of the conductor.  If one orchestra member decides to go off on his or her own, it can create chaos and discord.

The work of God depends on those two things as well: (1) that we focus on the part we are to play and to play it with excellence, and (2) that we follow God.

I think it is easy to get distracted by the parts others play. When we do that, we get over involved in their part.  We can become judgmental and find fault. We can begin to neglect our own part because we are so focused on theirs. We lose the “sweet sound” of our own melody line. We can miss timing. We can lose sight of the direction of God. It can easily become noisy and overwhelming when we take on the parts of others.  We forget that the work of God is so much bigger than us.  He has the power and wherewithal to do great and mighty things.  He just needs us to be willing and pliable for Him to channel that work through us.

Think of the experience Moses had on the mountain with God as He chiseled the 10 commandments on the tablets! I can’t even imagine. Moses had to be willing to go up the mountain and listen and follow God’s direction.  He had to be present and willing. God did all the work.

I think of what Moses found when he descended the mountain with the first set of tablets.  The Israelites had gotten tired of waiting and decided to take matters into their own hands.  In the midst of the wilderness with God providing manna every day, they missed the opportunity to follow God and see His mighty work. They were impatient with the part they were given to play.

How different would the wilderness experience have been if each day God’s provision had been celebrated? What if the opportunity to seek the presence of God each day in prayer had been capitalized on?  What if they had danced like David around the cloud that guided them through the desert? In my own journey through areas of wilderness, I think about those things.  I try to look for the opportunities God has placed in my path and not discount or minimize them.  I try to look for God and follow, step by step, with Him leading instead of me.

If I follow the conductor, I will see His cues for me to enter into the part He has designed for me in His symphony. If I practice the part I am to play daily, I am less likely to worry about whether or not someone else is practicing. If I practice daily, I will be ready to step into the role that He has for me when He calls me. I trust that He is doing all the work of the conductor.  All the parts will make sense at His direction. At His direction – by His work – the music will be rich and full and complete. Nothing is missing and nothing out of place. Perfect and intricate timing, building to a crescendo or falling softly to a diminuendo, by design.

Father, let me not put my work before Your work.  Help me to celebrate and recognize Your work with a willingness to simply do my part and a willing heart to follow You.

Exodus 31:18, Exodus 33:7-14, Proverbs 16:9, Jeremiah 31:33

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