It is Written

Tags

, ,

Image1 (2)I am excited to introduce my third book, “It is Written” now available at Amazon.  I am sharing the introduction below for all of my blog readers.  I am particularly proud of this project, because it is all about God’s written Word.  It is a topical Scripture reference guide, we all should have available, which is packed full of passages for the topics you face in your life.

You will find passages on the following topics:

  1. The power of the Word
  2. What you speak
  3. Faith
  4. Protection
  5. Warfare
  6. Children
  7. Salvation
  8. Healing
  9. Financial freedom
  10. Needs
  11. Worship/Praise for who He is
  12. Anxiety/Fear/Stress/Worry
  13. Comfort
  14. Depression/Disappointment/Discouragement
  15. Hope/Peace/Courage
  16. Freedom/Liberty
  17. Overcoming temptation and addiction
  18. Anger
  19. Love

I love the Word of God and I view it as my roadmap, my book of instructions, my inspiration and encouragement, my list of promises, my prayer guide, and a mighty weapon against the enemy…just to name a few! We learn about the armor of God that is available to us in Ephesians Chapter 6.  All of the pieces of armor are defensive except one – the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.  This is our offensive weapon and if we want to be victorious, we must learn how to use it wisely.

Ephesians 6:10-18 NKJV 

10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 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. 14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; 18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.

Speaking, proclaiming, and praying the Word of God is so powerful in the life of a believer. Jesus Himself provides our greatest example.  When He walked on this earth, He faced the same temptations and challenges that we as humans face.  When He was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to endure a great time of testing by Satan, he overcame him through three words, “IT IS WRITTEN!”

Matthew 4:1-11 NKJV

 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. 3 Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” 4 But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'” 5 Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, 6 and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: ‘He shall give His angels charge over you,’ and, ‘In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.'” 7 Jesus said to him, “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.'” 8 Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus said to him,  “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.'” 11 Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him.

When you use the Word of God as your weapon, you also can be victorious just as Jesus was.  The answer to every issue you face can be found in the pages of God’s Written Word.  I encourage you to use these passages or create even more of your own to arm yourself and to become strong in the Lord with the power of His Word.

When you have a need, begin declaring the answer with the promises found on these pages.  When you do not know what to pray, begin praying and claiming the Scriptures.  Take the Word of God and write your own declarations and prayers.  Hide it in your heart and you will become a mighty man or woman of faith!

Follow the link below to order your copy today!

 

Disarmed Means Defeat

Tags

, , , ,

18009464_10209232534790287_1735445591_nAre you or someone you know facing some kind of opposition in your life right now? If so, I want to encourage you today. Jesus said in second part of John 16:33, “…In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (NKJV)

Christ’s victory is a Christian triumph. Christ overcame the prince of this world, disarmed him, and cast him out; and He still treads Satan under our feet. He overcame the wicked of the world, he put his enemies to silence, and to shame; He is telling us here, “And you be of good cheer, for the Spirit will enable you to do so too.” 1

In mid-March, I woke up one morning hearing the Lord say the following message to me:

“The Lord is saying to you today, DO NOT be dismayed by the opposition that is surrounding you. I see the plots and plans with intent to overwhelm and DISARM you. Do not comply, for your weapons are mighty and powerful and they destroy every sophisticated argument that is set up against my plans and purposes being accomplished in and through you. Remember and stay alert that you have an enemy roaming to and fro seeking every opportunity to devour the good plans I have designed for you. Do not look to the left or to the right, keep your eye on the prize the I have set before you. Do not allow these attempts to alter your course. Be strong, be resilient, for if I am with you who can be against you says your Lord!”

When I began to consider this message, the Lord immediately started to show me the battle between David and Goliath.

1 Samuel 17:4-11 NKJV

4 And a champion went out from the camp of the Philistines, named Goliath, from Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span. 5 He had a bronze helmet on his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail, and the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of bronze. 6 And he had bronze armor on his legs and a bronze javelin between his shoulders. 7 Now the staff of his spear was like a weaver’s beam, and his iron spearhead weighed six hundred shekels; and a shield-bearer went before him. 8 Then he stood and cried out to the armies of Israel, and said to them, “Why have you come out to line up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and you the servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves, and let him come down to me. 9 If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will be your servants. But if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall be our servants and serve us.” 10 And the Philistine said, “I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together.” 11 When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid.

Do you see that word in the last sentence? They were DISMAYED!  The opposition they were facing dismayed Israel’s army.  This giant was over 9 feet tall and wore a bronze coat that was 125 pounds!  His taunting was a specific strategy with intent to overwhelm and “DISARM” them and cause them to give up and run away.

This is exactly what our enemy does. In the Bible, we see a reference that compares the devil to a roaring lion. (1 Peter 5:8)  Did you know you could hear a lion’s roar for 5 miles?2

The enemy roars loud and taunts us just as Goliath was doing. However, the Word the Lord gave me reminds us that since our weapons are mighty, we should never allow these strategies to disarm us.

2 Corinthians 10:3-4 NLT

3 We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do. 4 We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments.

This brings me back to the story; while Israel’s army was disarmed with fear, David responds differently. If you know the story, David was too young to be fighting, he was back taking care of the sheep, but his father sent him to the battlefield to take some food to his brothers, and get a report on how the battle was going.  When David saw what was happening, he said he would go fight Goliath.  Saul told him he couldn’t do that because he was just a youth, but look how David responded:

1 Samuel 17:34-37 NKJV

34 But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep his father’s sheep, and when a lion or a bear came and took a lamb out of the flock, 35 I went out after it and struck it, and delivered the lamb from its mouth; and when it arose against me, I caught it by its beard, and struck and killed it. 36 Your servant has killed both lion and bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, seeing he has defied the armies of the living God.” 37 Moreover David said, “The Lord, who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” And Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you!”

David recognizes that he didn’t fight the lion and the bear with his own strength, but through the Lord. His weapons were not carnal they were mighty through God!  If you know the story, David tried to put on armor, but it didn’t fit him, so he went out to face this 9 foot giant with a sling and 5 smooth stones, let’s pick up reading at that point in the story…

1 Samuel 17:43-46 NKJV

43 So the Philistine said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. 44 And the Philistine said to David, “Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field!” 45 Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you and take your head from you.

In the natural, a sling and a stone is not a mighty weapon, but when it was used in the name of the Lord it became a supernatural weapon that was unstoppable, which took down the greatest giant!

1 Samuel 17:48-51 NKJV

48 So it was, when the Philistine arose and came and drew near to meet David, that David hurried and ran toward the army to meet the Philistine. 49 Then David put his hand in his bag and took out a stone; and he slung it and struck the Philistine in his forehead, so that the stone sank into his forehead, and he fell on his face to the earth. 50 So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone, and struck the Philistine and killed him. But there was no sword in the hand of David. 51 Therefore David ran and stood over the Philistine, took his sword and drew it out of its sheath and killed him, and cut off his head with it.

This brings me to my second point about weapons. Not only was David armed with a weapon with supernatural strength, but also now, we see that he takes the enemy’s weapon and turns it against him!

David demonstrates with God on your side, you can take the enemy’s weapon that is intended to destroy you and your destiny, and use it to cut off the head of your greatest opposition!

The enemy meant to cause you to be dismayed by the opposition he is bringing against you, he used strategies intending to overwhelm and disarm you, but your weapons are mighty through God and He can take what was intended to take you out and make it a strong weapon in your hands!

If you know the story about Joseph, the enemy wanted to use his brothers to destroy him, but God had a plan for Joseph’s life and when it was all over he told his brothers not to be upset with what they did, God used it to preserve His people. (see Genesis 45:4-5)

Now if you are facing great opposition, the last thing you often want to hear is how God will use it for good, but if we know that in this world, we will face tribulation and opposition, why not at least make the pain mean something?

You have heard it said, “New level, new devil” but what you must remember is that with every defeat of the new devil, you can disarm the enemy of the very weapon he attempted to use against you!

To demonstrate this point, consider David again. Goliath was just one of his first battles.  If you read about the life of David, he was a great warrior.  Saul was jealous of David and his success.  He knew the anointing that was on David’s life, and he knew he was anointed to become the next king.

Saul turned on David, and sought to take his life. David and a few of his men ran for their lives and they find themselves at the site of the tabernacle.  Look at what David asks the priest:

1 Samuel 21:8-9 NKJV

8 And David said to Ahimelech, “Is there not here on hand a spear or a sword? For I have brought neither my sword nor my weapons with me, because the king’s business required haste.” 9 So the priest said, “The sword of Goliath the Philistine, whom you killed in the Valley of Elah, there it is, wrapped in a cloth behind the ephod. If you will take that, take it. For there is no other except that one here.” And David said, “There is none like it; give it to me.”

First, we saw that God provided David with a supernatural weapon to use against his enemy. Secondly, David used the enemy’s own weapon to cut the head off the opposition. Now, we see that in a future time of need, David is able to go back and use that same weapon for a new opposition!

Can you see the pattern here? When David was faced with the biggest battle of his life, Goliath, he pulled from his previous victories.  He reminded himself that just as God had delivered him from the lion and the bear, he would help him defeat this giant.  He won the battle, he used the enemy’s weapon to complete the victory, and now that same weapon is available to help him win in another opposition.

We shouldn’t face our opposition from a victim’s mentality, happy to just survive the battle, we should disarm the enemy and then turn his very weapon against him and in all future battles!

How can you do that in your natural life? By understanding the strategies the enemy tries to use against you.

1 Peter 5:8-10 NLT

8 Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. 9 Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your Christian brothers and sisters all over the world are going through the same kind of suffering you are. 10 In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation.

The best way to form a winning game plan is to study your opponent, and to understand your own areas of weakness and vulnerability. If you have an area of weakness that the enemy always exploits, you need to allow the Lord to help you deal with that weakness for the last time.  Recognize that the enemy uses his plots and plans with intent to overwhelm and DISARM you. Remember and stay alert that you have an enemy roaming to and fro seeking every opportunity to devour the good plans God has designed for you.

Your enemy would not be trying so hard to overwhelm and disarm you if he wasn’t afraid of the good plans God has designed for you! In closing remember the last part of the Word of encouragement from the Lord:

“Do not look to the left or to the right, keep your eye on the prize the I have set before you. Do not allow these attempts to alter your course. Be strong, be resilient, for if I am with you who can be against you says your Lord!”

Stay firm in your faith today! Keep your eye on the finish line and you will see the great plans God has designed for your life!

 

  1. Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible, PC Study Bible Formatted Electronic Database Copyright © 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. John 16:33
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lion 4/21/17

 

Feeling Fragile

Tags

, , ,

Have you ever had moments in your life where you felt as if you could shatter into a million pieces? IMG_0320The older I get the more I realize that life can bring deep disappointments and unfair circumstances.  Recently I began to ponder how these kinds of life’s experiences could leave a person feeling fragile.  Perhaps your confidence has been shaken, your faith is wavering, or you feel like one more obstacle or challenge will break you completely.

When I think of an item that is fragile, the first thing that comes to my mind is dishes that we put on display but seldom use. Maybe it is an heirloom you want to protect for sentimental reasons.  This thought process made me consider if it is possible for us to allow ourselves to become like that heirloom, just for display and no longer for use.

I strongly believe that Christians should never retire from their work for the Kingdom on this side of heaven. We should allow God to use us through the gifts and talents He has bestowed upon us to be His hands and feet extended, or His voice to those who need ministry, love, and encouragement.

If the path we have been walking on has left us in a state too fragile to be fully used by God, what is the solution? We certainly do not want to retire or leave parts of our assignments unfulfilled!

2 Corinthians 4:7-10 NLT

7 We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. 8 We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. 9 We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed.

At the time Apostle Paul wrote this, he could have been killed for preaching the gospel, yet he encourages Christians then and now to realize that it isn’t about the fragility of our own state, but the great treasure we contain. The power to be strong does not come from us, but from the God who lives within us.  If God’s power and love is limitless, we simply must access it to overcome my fragile state.

God told Joshua, “…Be strong and courageous! Do not be terrified or dismayed (intimidated) for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9 AMP)

David told Solomon as he trusted him to complete his work of building the temple, “Be strong and courageous do not be afraid and lose heart.” (1 Chronicles 22:13b NLT)

We read in Psalm 27:14, “Wait for and confidently expect the Lord; Be strong and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for and confidently expect the Lord.” (AMP)

Hezekiah encouraged the people after rebuilding the broken section of the walls, “Be strong and courageous! Don’t be afraid or discouraged because of the King of Assyria or his mighty army, but they are merely men.  We have the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles for us!” (2 Chronicles 32:7-8 NLT)

Paul finishes his letter in the book of Romans by saying, “Now all glory to God, who is able to make you strong…” (Romans 16:25a) He again tells us before describing our Christian armor, “Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.” (Ephesians 6:10)

I believe the instructions we find in all of these passages is to overcome our fragile state through being strong in the Lord. Like most spiritual concepts, easier said than done, right?  I believe the key is proximity!

If I want to grow stronger, I have to get closer to the strength giver! His strength is perfect when our strength is gone. (see 2 Corinthians 12:9)

We have to become like a tree firmly planted and rooted and fed by streams of living water. (see Psalm 1:1-3)

“Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.” Colossians 2:7 NLT

A fragile person is easily broken or damaged. They are delicate, vulnerable, and easily destroyed, just like a tree with no root system.  The solution to overcoming fragility is planting ourselves in close proximity to the stream of living water.  There is nothing I can do in my own strength to change this state, except to be determined to plant myself so near to my creator that my root system has constant access to His supply.  This connection will provide nourishment for me to grow strong.  Before long, I will become strong in the power of God’s might and with God on my side, who can be against me!

 

Keys To The Kingdom

Tags

I am so excited to announce the release of my Keysnewest book, Keys To The Kingdom.

To peak your interest to get your own copy, I am going to share the introduction of the book with you below.  Get your copy today at Amazon.com.

Keys To The Kingdom

Introduction

Looking back I see now that I have always had a storied history with keys – physical, lock-opening, ordinary keys. Having been a Christian for many years, it should not have surprised me then that the Lord chose to use such a simple, tangible object as a touchstone for my spiritual growth and learning down the road. The book you hold in your hands contains many of those teachings. But first, before the spiritual significance of keys could ever become part of my experience, I had to learn a few things about keys in a general, human way.

As I consider my history with keys, a few stories come to mind.

The first time I really paid attention to keys was as a sixteen-year-old. Most of my friends at the time were younger than I, and we all thought it was cool that I could drive them home after basketball games. As teenagers, transportation freedom is one of those rites of passage leading to all other types of independence, and we were no exception. Also not unusual was the fact that we didn’t always act responsibly with our new freedom.

One night – and I still shudder to recall how we were allowed to do this, especially in the winter – our coach let us leave our game still in our sweaty uniforms. Shorts, a sleeveless shirt, and knee-high tube socks were hardly appropriate for the temperature outside the gym. My two friends and I drove through our small town that night. We came to a stop light, and one of them hollered, “Chinese fire drill!” The three of us reacted with great excitement by jumping out of the car, running around it, and clamoring back in before the light turned green. I don’t know if teens today still take part in this silliness, but it was great fun for us at the time.

My car, however, made “Chinese fire drills” difficult because it had a five-speed, manual transmission. This meant I needed to ensure the car was in neutral and the emergency brake was engaged before jumping out to run around the car. On that particular night my friends, as they ran past the driver’s side of the vehicle, hit the door lock and shut the driver’s side door. They thought it was entertaining to watch me standing outside the car, freezing, at a stop light.

Not one to let the fun pass by, I decided to return the favor. During the next fire drill, I ran past the passenger side doors, and I locked and shut them. It would have been funny, except that I didn’t realize my friends were doing the exact same thing on my side of the car, probably at the exact same moment! The humor of our funny prank quickly dissipated when we realized we were all standing outside the car at a stop light, in our sleeveless shirts and short shorts, in the middle of winter, at night, locked out of the car, with no spare set of keys. The feeling of frustration and discomfort is something I still recall to this day.

Years later, I had another run-in with keys, but this time it wasn’t such a funny story. It was, in fact, a bit scary.

My husband and I lived in the country, and our first child was about a year old at the time. I worked the late shift at a hospital about thirty minutes from home. One night the hospital was on “lockdown” because of a local situation where a manhunt for an escaped, dangerous convict was underway. Someone reported seeing a man sneaking in through the Emergency Room, so the hospital was locked while this report was investigated. After a thorough search, the convict was not located within the hospital. It was a good news/bad news situation, though – certainly I was relieved there wasn’t a runaway convict hiding in the hospital where I worked, but I was also about to leave my shift and head for home along a dark, rural road at 11:30 at night. The convict was still at large, and I was about to be out in the darkness, alone. As I left, I kept looking at the row of trees lining the road, scanning them carefully and anticipating that the convict would jump out at any time. By the time I arrived at home, un-attacked, I was a jittery mess and eager for the safety of our home.

Living in a rural area, we often left our doors unlocked. None of my neighbors or anyone I knew in the area could recall the last time there had been a home burglary, and it was nice to live in a trusting community where locked doors weren’t a frightening necessity. That meant, however, that I didn’t often keep a house key on my set of keys. Why would I ever need it?

That night, however, likely because of the manhunt, I found the doors to my home locked. I knocked and knocked, pounded on the door with all my might, and tried to awaken my husband. He was sleeping at the other end of the house and with the attic fan running, there was little chance he would hear me. In my spooked state, I was certain the convict would jump out of the bushes any moment and attack me.

At the time, we had a rescued Doberman named Max living with us in our backyard. Max and I hadn’t quite figured each other out yet by that time and, while I was fairly certain he was harmless, I’d had a run-in with him recently and knew he could be quite protective of our son and our yard. Still, since the front door was locked, making it through the yard to my bedroom window seemed my only hope. If I could arrive at the window unscathed, perhaps I would be able to bang on the window loud enough to wake my husband.

I approached the yard cautiously, and Max immediately began to growl. This didn’t bode well at all. In that moment, I had to choose between my fear of the dog and my fear of the man who might jump out to get me at any moment. After deciding to take my chances with the dog, I made my way to the window; it was just high enough to be barely out of my reach. About that time, I heard Max snorting and pawing at the ground. I turned in time to see a snarling Doberman in full stride, headed straight for me.

To my amazement, and I never will quite understand how it happened this way, he didn’t attack me. Rather, he jumped up and hit the window with his head. Then, he backed up and did it again!

I breathed a sigh of deep relief when, moments later, the porch light came one, the back door was opened to me, and my startled, sleepy husband stood in the doorway in a stupor, trying to figure out what was happening.

Without a key, without access to open a door, I needed to open, the anxiety and fear and hopelessness of being locked out was immeasurable. I’ve never forgotten what it felt like. But the sensation of having the door opened to me was equally memorable – there was joy, gratefulness, and a deep sense of relief.

I tell you these two stories to make a specific point: Keys are important because we do not like to be locked out. And, just as we need keys in our natural life, spiritual keys are also a necessity. Jesus provided us with some important spiritual keys.

During Jesus’ earthly time of ministry, He met with his disciples and asked them who people thought He was. The passage below tells this story.

13 When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” 14 So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 18 And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. 19 And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” (Matt. 16.13-19)

Here, Jesus told His disciples at the time and all future believers that He had purchased some keys for us, keys which will enable us to walk in greater fullness and victory on this side of heaven. While I had read and quoted this particular passage from the Bible for years, the keys mentioned here took on new meaning about six months ago.

During a normal Sunday morning sermon, our pastor flashed the above verse about keys on the screen briefly. He did so to demonstrate one of the points of his sermon, though I don’t recall entirely now what the sermon was about. At the end of the service, I was led to pray for a particular friend who was fighting a physical illness. While I was praying, in my mind, a vision of an old-timey lock came to me. Some would call it a skeleton lock, and perhaps you have seen the antique skeleton keys which were used in such locks long ago. As I prayed, I heard the Lord say, “I have given her the keys!”

Remarkably, after that service, I saw keys everywhere I looked. I couldn’t escape them! For example, a billboard sign I pass by regularly and never take notice of had a key on it, and it stuck out to me like a sore thumb. I began to notice how many of the inspirational quotes I read mentioned keys in their messages. I even noticed there is a key emoji on my phone!

Around that time, my daughter asked me, “Mom, what do you want for Mother’s Day?”

While I don’t normally want or need anything, I knew as soon as she asked that this year was different. I had found a set of forty-two unique skeleton keys, and I really wanted a box with a skeleton key lock on the outside. I already knew exactly how I wanted to use the box and the keys, and I was excited to put my revelation into practice in a visual way.

In the chapters to come, we will talk about what I did with those keys and how transformational our vision of keys can be in our spiritual lives. The spiritual keys I discuss are closely related, and they become more powerful when connected together.

I pray that you too will realize every key on our key ring has a purpose. Relying on these keys is an important tool in making sure we aren’t locked out of all that is intended for us.

ORDER YOUR COPY BY CLICKING HERE

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1633082571/#

 

 

 

 

 

Pruning Season

Tags

, , , , , , , ,

IMG_0293“I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more.”  John 15:1-2 NLT

During Jesus’ earthly ministry, He taught the people using parables and analogies that made the message relatable. This particular passage of Scripture about pruning in the vineyard is packed full of truths that can be applied to our lives.  When we consider the practice of pruning, especially at this time of year before growing season, it is relatively easy to consider the importance of pruning away dead or diseased branches.  However, the interesting thought found here is the fact that he also prunes the good branches to make them better.

Sometimes the most powerful enemy of “great” is settling for good. These words that Jesus spoke challenge me to be open to the reality that sometimes our Heavenly Father will prune good things out of our lives to create great things.

Letting go of the good can be unsettling and very difficult at times. We like the comfort of the known and the security of the familiar.  Truthfully, we are often attached to the “good” in our lives, and it is difficult to release that without knowing what “great” looks like or when it will arrive!  This is the point where our level of trust in the gardener will be critical.  We have to believe that He knows best even while we wait to see the results that come from the pruning process.

Like many spiritual concepts, this is easier said, than done, so let me try to encourage you further. There are many factors that can affect the overall quality of a grapevine, but the three most important are climate, slope, and soil.1

For the best fruitfulness, vineyards need to be in a climate where there is a lot of sun. When they are positioned on a slope, they get full advantage of the sun, are more protected from the frost, and benefit from the best drainage.  Drainage is the most important factor for healthy soil, which is critical for strong root systems.  Healthy roots determine level of growth or fruitfulness.

How can we apply this to our own spiritual lives? Keep reading below from the passage we read at the beginning:

4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. 5 “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.” 8 When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.  John 15:4-5; 8 NLT

Just as a climate with much sun is important for a fruitful vineyard, our connection to the “Son” is equally significant. We must remain in Him; spend time in His presence and in His Word if we want to be fruitful.

Our slope is crucial for two key reasons. First, in the context of position to best absorb the sun and avoid the frost.  From a spiritual standpoint, we must position ourselves as victors and not victims.  We cannot be fruitful with a victim mentality.  Secondly, proper slope determines drainage.  We have to position ourselves where the pain, stress, hurt, and all other negative influences can drain away.  If we allow those things to remain, the soil and ultimately our root system will be diseased and damaged, preventing growth.

If you find yourself in a pruning season, it can be very painful because you often do not understand what is happening. Try to remember that if He is pruning you above the ground, your root system is multiplying below the ground.  Even when the process is painful, try to focus on the fact that He wants to take you from good to great!

 

Reference
1.  Web.  10  Mar.  2017.  http://www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viticulture

 

 

 

In Your Place

Tags

, , , , ,

16933338_10208778665523839_1348636568_nDid you know when God created you, He had a specific place for you to occupy in His plan? Many people feel insignificant in this world, but no one is irrelevant in the kingdom of God.  Paul, the apostle who wrote the majority of the New Testament understood the significance of the place God designed specifically for him.

“But even before I was born, God chose me and called me by his marvelous grace. Then it pleased him to reveal his Son to me so that I would proclaim the Good News about Jesus to the Gentiles. When this happened, I did not rush out to consult with any human being.” Galatians 1:15-16 NLT

Paul realized that God was the one who chose him and selected his place. You could say that God anoints those He appoints for a specific purpose or place…and we all have one!  Elijah is one of the best examples of a man who was in his place mightily used by God.

We first read about Elijah in 1 Kings Chapter 17. “At this time Ahab, who was the seventh and worst king of Israel came to reign.  He took for his wife Jezebel who was a zealous participant of the worship of Baal.  Ahab’s marriage to her led to the official endorsement of this immoral and idolatrous worship.”1

God’s solution to Israel’s worst king was to raise up one of the greatest and most powerful prophets in the Old Testament named Elijah. He confronted King Ahab and tells him, “As the Lord God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, except at my word” (1 Kings 17:1b NKJV).

Have you ever wondered why Elijah did this? Those who worshipped Baal believed that Baal controlled the rain.  Elijah cut to heart of Baalism and challenged their so-called god by proclaiming that there would be no rain until he said there would be rain!

After nearly three years of drought, the question about who really controlled the rain was answered in a battle between 450 prophets of Baal and 1 prophet of the Lord, Elijah. The prophets of Baal failed to call down fire from heaven to consume the sacrifice that was offered, but the one true God responded to Elijah’s prayer.  Then all 450 false prophets were slain (see 1 Kings 18:20-40).

He went on to prophesy the return of the rain to the land and the drought ended. He had a very specific purpose and place to occupy and saw an amazing victory in his place.  God has a place and a purpose for each one of us. He has specific calls upon our lives just as he did Elijah.  If you are struggling with that truth, I pray that the Lord will help you to step out in faith and believe that He predestined you for fruitfulness.

There are two common challenges that many of us will face. First, it is sometimes difficult to understand where our place is.  Secondly, when we find it, sometimes God will transition you to a new one.  A wonderful couple in my church used to lead our prison ministry. They were in their place, but then God called them to pass that ministry to someone else and become pastors of a different church.

When you find yourself in a place of transition, it can be very unsettling. I recently posted a picture on my Secret Place Revelation Facebook page that showed two different paths….the message said, “Rejection can be God’s way of saying wrong direction.”

There are times in life where we may find ourselves feeling obsolete or purposeless, but I am here to tell you that this is simply not true. Sometimes those feelings are compounded because the path in front of you seems to be going in a new direction and in order for you to move forward in the new way, you have to let go of the old way.  This transition can leave you feeling unsure of you place or your purpose.

There are also times when you are going the right way, but the enemy continues to put obstacles in your path to discourage you from continuing forward. Discerning which situation you are currently facing can often be very difficult.

This thought brings me back to the story of Elijah. This man just experienced the greatest victory that should have left him full of confidence that he was in the right place.  However, when Ahab told his wife Jezebel what had happened in the battle of the prophets, she sent a message that his life would be taken next!  This sent Elijah running for his life to a place of utter discouragement that made him want to die (see 1 Kings 19).

The Lord was so merciful to Elijah during this time, He continued to minister to him but he eventually finds himself in a cave and the Bible tells us that the Word of the Lord came to him there and said, “What are you doing here Elijah?” (1 King 19:9b)

1 Kings 19:10 NKJV

So he said, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.”

The Lord continues to try to encourage Elijah…

1 Kings 19:11-16 NKJV

11 Then He said, “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; 12 and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice. 13 So it was, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. Suddenly a voice came to him, and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 14 And he said, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts; because the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.” 15 Then the Lord said to him: “Go, return on your way to the Wilderness of Damascus; and when you arrive, anoint Hazael as king over Syria. 16 Also you shall anoint Jehu the son of Nimshi as king over Israel. And Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel Meholah you shall anoint as prophet in your place.

Did you see those last three words…IN YOUR PLACE? If someone as mighty and powerful as Elijah can go from a place of such great victory to a place of such discouragement and purposelessness, we can too!

I have often asked myself, “What happened to his faith?” This man prayed there would not be rain and there wasn’t for almost three years.  He prayed for the dead son of the widow of Zarephath and he returned to life.  He prayed fire down from heaven that consumed the sacrifice, yet the threat of Jezebel sent him into a state of great discouragement that seemingly took him out of his place.

My pastor recently said, “Disappointments are inevitable but discouragement is a choice.” Do you think it is possible that Elijah could have continued in his place if he could have overcome the discouragement he was in?  I have always wondered.  He was an amazing and mighty man of God and he certainly received his reward with a chariot ride to heaven, but consider for a moment the possibility of what he missed completing when he was told to anoint Elisha to take his place?

I do not want to be a person who fails to be in my place. I don’t want God to have to look for someone else to complete the call He gives me to do.  We have a mission at our church, “To know Him more, and to make Him known.”  I have a place in this mission and so do you!  I cannot let the devil or a Jezebel talk me out of that.

I am encouraging you to make that mission personal….“To know Him more and to make Him know IN YOUR PLACE!”

 

References
  1. New Spirit Filled Life Bible 2002 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. p 467

Tempted to Look Back

Tags

, , , , , ,

IMG_0268.PNGWhen the road of life leads us into difficult seasons, it is easy to be tempted to go back to the place that was more comfortable. When we decide to swing for the fence, take the big risk, only to strike out, it is tempting to stick with the status quo.  Let’s face it, risk can hurt and leave you horribly disappointed.  Change can be unsettling, and stretch us beyond our comfort zone.  At the same time, we have heard it said that if you always do what you have always done, you will always have what you have always had.

This makes me think about the Children of Israel. They were held captive to serve as slaves to the Egyptians, yet they were God’s chosen people living so far below their destiny.  God raised up Moses, who would lead them out of their captivity and toward their promise.  With the Red Sea behind them and their enemy destroyed, they found themselves in the wilderness, in a difficult season wishing to go back to slavery.

For many, the familiar, even if it is slavery, is better than the unknown is. This mentality limits progress and traps us in a place of mediocrity and in some cases misery.  Some of the Israelites died in the wilderness and never saw the land they were destined to inherit.  They were out of Egypt, but Egypt was not out of them.  They could not seem to stop looking back.

We read a different story of a man who was not afraid to head into the unknown. Elijah, one of the greatest prophets of all time, was directed by God to anoint Elisha to succeed him.

Elijah went straight out and found Elisha son of Shaphat in a field where there were twelve pairs of yoked oxen at work plowing; Elisha was in charge of the twelfth pair. Elijah went up to him and threw his cloak over him. 20 Elisha deserted the oxen, ran after Elijah, and said, “Please! Let me kiss my father and mother good-bye — then I’ll follow you.” “Go ahead,” said Elijah, “but, mind you, don’t forget what I’ve just done to you.” 21 So Elisha left; he took his yoke of oxen and butchered them. He made a fire with the plow and tackle and then boiled the meat — a true farewell meal for the family. Then he left and followed Elijah, becoming his right-hand man. (1 Kings 19:19-21 The Message Bible)

Elisha had a very different response than many of the Children of Israel did. He was so determined to avoid being tempted to look back, that he burned his equipment and sacrificed his oxen!  He had nothing to go back for.

What encouragement for us today. We can grow and learn from our past, but if we want to move forward, we cannot be tempted to look back.  Albert Einstein defined insanity, “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Make a decision today to swing for the fence, take the risk, head toward the unknown, and become everything God has called you to be. Don’t give in to the temptation to look back to your old ways, your old life, or your past disappointments and mistakes.  The Bible tells us, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV)

Find the Seam

Tags

, , , , , , ,

img_0254Tomorrow evening many will watch the greatest game of the Football season as Super Bowl 51 kicks off in Houston Texas. I have loved the game of football since my friend’s family invited me to a Kansas City Chief’s game years ago when I was in Junior High.  Before life with my own family was so busy, I enjoyed playing fantasy football.  Then I thoroughly enjoyed watching my son play the game in high school.

You may not be a football fan, but this game gives me so many spiritual analogies, that I just can’t miss the chance each year to write one. This year I chose a less obvious topic than last year’s “Contend and Defend”.

“Find the Seam” is a term that references a receiver who has the ability to find the gaps or opening in the zone defense. A smart offense will run route combinations that are difficult for the defense to cover.

I recently posted the below picture on my Secret Place Revelation Facebook page.

16265536_1535903549770639_3874139210089503749_n

After posting it, I just couldn’t get the image of that lock holding that door shut off my mind. I guess I have always operated under the assumption that God opens doors of opportunities in my life, and closes doors where protection is needed.  I do believe that this happens in the life of a Christian, but I recently began to ponder the possibility that perhaps the enemy wants to close doors to prevent us from walking into our destiny.

To say this in my football analogy, the zone defense is closing all the seams and the receiver cannot find the opening to make the forward momentum toward the goal line! This thought made me take a step back and consider the possibility that I didn’t win because I let my opponent out play me!

Tomorrow when Brady faces off against Ryan, they each will look for the receiver who can find the seam. If the defense closes in, they will look for a different opening.

I can tell you for me personally, I plan to look at open and closed doors differently in my future. While there may be times I must trust God’s sovereignty, I am not going to sit back idly and see if an opening appears, I am going to scout my opponent’s defense and make sure he isn’t just blocking my progress.

 

 

What is Your Word for 2017?

Tags

, , , , ,

It is hard to believe that three weeks have already come and gone in 2017. For many people, this is all the time it has taken for their New Year’s resolutions to be scrapped.  We always have such good intentions, but then life happens and few carry through.

I want to challenge you early in this year to consider a different question. Instead of what is your resolution, what is your word for 2017?  On the first day of this New Year, our Pastor challenged us with this question during his sermon.  He told us that God gave Abram a small word “go”, and this word had great significance for his life and future.

I pondered and prayed about this question for almost a week. I asked God, “What word will define my life in You in 2017?”  Finally, I felt clearly that word drop into my spirit…..FAVOR.  When I heard that word, I picked up my phone and asked Siri what the definition of favor was.  She replied, “Support or advancement given as a sign of approval or overgenerous preferential treatment.”  If I consider this definition of favor in the context of my question, it gives me great anticipation about what 2017 could hold for me!

I began to ponder and pray specifically about that word and I quickly saw an acrostic for that word “favor”.

F = Father

The significance for this in my personal life is that our church had been in transition between Pastors for about six months. We had amazing support from our semi-retired staff pastor in the interim, but January 1, 2017 marked the day that our new father was home.  Many fail to see the significance of a spiritual father, but I place high emphasis on this role in my life.  Just as a natural father provides protection, guidance, and authority for a household, a spiritual father can equally bring stability to a corporate body who submits to their headship.  It is a powerful force in the life of a believer.

A = Advancement

I believe 2017 is a year of forward momentum! Waiting is painful, but sometimes essential.  During those delays, we are often being prepared for what is ahead.  At the appointed time, the door opens and it is time to advance.  I am believing for some open doors this year!

V = Victory

2017 can be a year of great victory in your life. Sometimes it feels as if we are circling the same mountains over and over in our lives, but I believe this year it will be more like circling the walls of Jericho, where we see the obedient persistence causes the wall to fall flat and create a bridge into our future! (See Joshua 6)

O = Order

Some Christian references state that the number 17 represents “perfection of spiritual order”.1  I believe this signifies things coming into alignment.  Alignment sets the stage for advancement and ultimate victory!

R = Results

Many people have been faithful for extended periods. They have contended and persevered through multiple challenges and navigated many obstacles, but I believe this is the year for results!

I am claiming Psalm 5:12 for my life this year. “For it is You who blesses the righteous man, O Lord, You surround him with favor as with a shield” (NASU).  I believe this is a year of favor for my life.  What is your word for 2017?  I encourage you to seek the Lord, hear His voice, then write it down and watch it happen this year!img_02264

References:
  1. Adam F. Thompson & Adrian Beale, The Divinity Code (Destiny Image Publishers, Inc., 2011

 

Cast Your Cares

Tags

, ,

This weekend we had a major ice storm come through Missouri. I ventured out of my home on Saturday morning for an appointment and was sad to see so many broken trees on my street in my neighbor’s front yards.

I was instantly reminded of a story I told about a picture lesson the Lord showed me years ago, which I shared in my book, Road to Transformation.  Below is that story.

We had experienced a very bad ice storm in Missouri. A few days after the bad weather, I was traveling between my work locations. As I was praying while driving down that rural highway, my attention was suddenly drawn from the road in front of me to the trees beside me. These were very tall pine trees along both sides of the road. The one on the left side of the road bowed over with the weight of the ice. I heard the Lord clearly say:

“This is a picture of how so many of my people are….weighed down by the cares and concerns of this life, because they will not give them to me.”

Then my attention immediately went to the other side of the road. The trees on this side had been exposed to sunlight since the storm ended. All of the ice had melted away from these trees and they stood as tall as they normally should. This reminded me of another Scripture.

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. 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. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 NASU

The picture lesson continued. Next, I noticed the trees, which had not been able to bear the weight of the ice that had broken, and were destroyed. Since I was picturing these trees as God’s children, I asked Him in my prayer, “Lord what about the ones which have been destroyed?” Immediately, in my mind, I saw a picture of a huge Victorian house, and I heard Him say, “I can build something new out of them!” Then I saw a vivid picture of a roaring fire and He said, “They do not have to lay on the roadside and rot! They will never be a tree again, but I can make something great out of them, if they will let Me!” It is amazing what God can do with broken pieces, and vessels others may consider in the natural to be worthless and insignificant.

The lesson the Lord was showing me, was that we had options after a crisis. Some were still so weighed down with the cares, with the grief, and with the mourning. They could cast those cares over on the Lord and He would help all of those concerns to melt away. As a matter of fact, that is exactly what He is asking us to do:

“Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully.: 1 Peter 5:7 Amplified Bible

“Cast your burden upon the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.” Psalm 55:22 NASU

That word “casting” means to throw. If we throw all our cares over on Him then we don’t carry them…..We trust in His provision and stay in faith believing that we don’t need to be concerned.

Just last night I had an opportunity to put this in practice again. My family was going through several different difficulties at the same time.  After I had done what I could to help, I was alone back at my home and I was cleaning and praying.  At one point, I realized that I was actually striving in prayer instead of casting my care!  It was as if I thought if prayed loud enough or long enough I would see the desired result.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe in persistent prayer, but I realized that was not at all, what I was doing. I was hanging clothes up when I had this revelation and I stepped back from the closet and said, “Lord, I trust you!  I cast these cares over on You and I believe your Word and Your promises that You will never leave me or forsake me!  I place my family’s needs in Your capable hands and I trust You to intervene on our behalf!

Immediately, I had such a peace rush over me. What a privilege we have as believers to take our needs to God and then rest in the knowledge that He is for us and not against us!  If you feel like one of those trees covered in ice under a heavy load, I encourage you to cast those cares over on the Lord.  Get in His presence and let Him melt all those cares away.