Terrifying Beauty

Have you ever seen images of novas, or of night eruptions from a volcano? There is a terrifying beauty that is often visible in things being crushed or destroyed. A disturbing thought is that we would never experience the beauty without the tragedy surrounding it. The crushing pressure that takes away all that they are is what transforms them into the thing of beauty we see.

I’ve heard similar things surrounding flowers, except in this case it is more about the fragrance rather than the beauty. At first glance we see the beauty and think it is absolutely perfect, who would want to destroy it? But it is said that a flower is most fragrant when it is crushed, as it is only then that the oils are released.

Going through a crushing like this in our own lives, or watching a loved one experience this can be excruciatingly painful, hard to tolerate or watch. Our first impulse is to beg God to remove the bitter cup!

I think of Peter, and can only imagine the kind of devotion he must have had after walking with Jesus for nearly three years. Watching the many miracles take place at His hand, getting to eat with Him daily, asking questions and getting answers no one else was given, knowing he was blessed to be caught up in the middle of THE MESSIAH come to earth. It must have been amazing!

It was no small wonder then that when Peter heard Jesus tell them He had to suffer and be killed, he instantly reacted out of his emotions, emotions he confused with love and devotion, when he asked for God to forbid it and insisted it should never be! He could not imagine or understand how the crushing of One so perfect could ever be part of God’s plan or used for His glory! Where is the possibility of beauty or fragrance in that?

Jesus reply was direct. “But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.”” Matthew‬ ‭16:23‬ ‭NASB‬‬

I can only imagine how such a rebuke must have made Peter feel in the moment. But even then, Peter was being prepared for his next level of faith on his journey, and would learn soon that it was crucial for Christ to suffer and die on the cross, for it is only on the third day after the resurrection that we begin to recognize the terrible beauty, and to smell the fragrance of salvation! Relationship and fellowship  with Father God was once again possible!

When you are caught up in the emotional side of wanting to do everything in your own power to prevent suffering, and realizing you cannot, are then crying out to God to stop the pain, remember Peter. You are not alone. Then remember too, the beauty we would not have seen otherwise that came about as a result. What if Peter had been successful at convincing God that His own Son should not suffer or be destroyed on that cross? Where would you and I be now?

It might be interesting to point out that Peter changed his perspective about suffering after that, and we can see this in 1 Peter 2:19-24.

Am I saying that God Himself causes the suffering in our lives?  No.  But long before you were ever born, He knew where your path in life would lead and what you would face as a result, and He already set a plan in motion to take the suffering we experience here and use it for His plan and for His glory.  Know this: Although His ways appear mysterious to us (Isaiah 55:9), you and your loved ones are in the hands of Almighty God , a God who can be trusted to turn ashes into beauty (Isaiah 61:3).

Am I saying don’t pray? No. I am saying don’t use your prayers to stand in the way of God being able to use that destruction, what the enemy meant for evil, for His greater purpose and glory instead. Don’t miss out on the beauty and the fragrance! Am I saying it is wrong to pray for miracles, healings, mercy, or blessing?  No, of course not!  We can pray for any and all of those things. Pray too that God’s will be done, for His grace to be given so we can endure with patience, for trust to be unwavering, and for faith to be increased.  He wants to prepare you for the next level of faith.  Are you ready?

Whether you are reading this post as someone going through trials or someone who is learning how to effectively pray for another who is, I pray you are comforted by these words.

“In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”  1 Peter 1:6-7 (ESV)

 

Advertisements

To Love to the End

Dear Daughter,

I am so sorry that you have to walk this path, and feel the pain of ending a relationship you thought would last a lifetime. I know you said you are fine and that you have been thinking about this a lot over the last few weeks.  While this may be true in the moment, there is a part of the healing process that takes time.  As the days go by and the hurt begins to surface, I want to encourage you to stay close to the Lord.  As you allow Him, the Lord Himself will begin to minister to you, speaking gently to your heart on ways you can glean from this hurt and pain the life lessons that are designed especially for you.  Life lessons designed to infuse your future with destiny and purpose.

In one of our recent conversations, one thing that came up was a hint towards a lack of partnership, or a lack of willingness on his part to work through some of the issues the two of you were facing. I heard you say “I’m done”, and I made a bad attempt at the time at trying to express my thoughts surrounding this, so was hoping to clarify a bit.

You know how I like Beth Moore! In a clip I watched of her recently she was saying as women, we often can express feelings towards one another like “Oh I just LOVE her” when what we really mean is we like what that person represents to us, but not necessarily that we truly value or care for them deeply enough, seeing that we don’t really know them well enough to treasure them.  In reality, there are very few people we truly deeply value and take the time to know well enough to treasure.  In that same clip she continues by saying “We will miss our most expensive treasure if we look past the hardship and pain”.  Remember that.

Those few relationships we value and take the time to truly treasure, like a spouse, are the ones we invest in. As a Christian, through the patience of the Holy Spirit who so continuously works within us, over time we pour into those we treasure a love, respect, and servant hood that we see reflected in Christ Himself; a tender preference that can only be found in Him.

For Christ, His treasured circle of relationships included the 12 men given to Him by the Father. Not only do we see in John 13:1 that He loved them unto the end, but also in the first portion of John 17, His love demonstrated to them in the High Priestly Prayer (and for us, too, later in that same chapter).  And though He lost Judas, we find that it was not Christ’s choice to walk away from Judas, it was the other way around.  There was no time at all that Christ ever walked away from Judas or made the decision on Judas’ behalf to end that relationship.

I know one day you will heal, and you will meet another who becomes the desire of your heart. The time will be right and he will be the one. So how is the love, respect, and servanthood that Christ demonstrated reflected in a marriage?  The marriage covenant one makes with another is by far deeper than just the partnership-like commitment one makes in a dating relationship.  It is you giving of yourself to another person 100% of the time, at all times, no matter what the circumstance.  It is not conditional and has nothing to do with a keeping of the scores as one would in a partnership.  Partnership implies that “here is where I draw the line and will go no further, because it is up to my partner to step up to that line on their side – and if they don’t, well then that is that”.

Covenant, on the other hand, implies “till death do us part”. Practically speaking that means even if my spouse makes the decision or finds himself in a position where he never gives, never respects, never prefers, never loves, never “steps up to the line”, because of the covenant I have made in Christ, I have no right to walk away.  I don’t keep score.  I have no expectations placed upon my spouse.  Regardless of what he does, my obligation is to love, respect, and have a servant’s heart towards him anyway, until death do us part. We can do this because all our expectations and hopes are not on our spouse to fulfill, but are rather on Christ Himself.

You may find yourself in the situation I describe by his choice, which is often a cause for divorce these days. Or you may also find yourself in this situation due to other circumstances, such as disease or a tragic accident. Not by his choice, not where he would want to be.  But you will always have the choice in whatever circumstance to love him as Christ loves you, even if he cannot return that love; even in times where he would not be able to provide for you the way the world dictates a man should; even in times when it appears no one else is having to go through those same experiences, and you find yourself weary in well-doing.  Remember, when we are weak, Christ is our strength.

I do not want you to think I am advocating placing oneself in harms-way, I am not. We do what is necessary to preserve the relationship and to also preserve and protect life, and hopefully we all make better decisions than to covenant with one who, of their own choice, does not wish to keep that same covenant. There is always that risk.  But, as we take the time to really treasure and get to know one another, we can trust God in the Holy Spirit to work within each other to blossom and grow the love in the relationship in ways we could never have imagined, especially in times of weakness.  And we too can join Christ in saying that we loved our treasured ones “to the end”.

So as you move forward from this experience, I hope you take my words with you. I hope you think about them within the relationships around you that God has given you, and are able to apply them to those treasured ones the way Christ does for us. Keeping the right perspective in any relationship is key to its survival.

 

Why Did Uzzah Have to Die?

I was reading from 2 Samuel chapter 6 recently and came across the story of poor Uzzah, who died after reaching out to steady the Ark of the Covenant.  They had placed the Ark on a cart that was being pulled by oxen, and the oxen nearly caused it to overturn.  Uzzah stretched out his hand to steady it and keep it from falling.  It seemed like such a noble thing to do, right, to steady the Ark so it wouldn’t fall off the cart?  So I could not help but wonder to myself why God chose to smite this guy right there on the spot.  I had heard this story several times before, but never with a fuller understanding of what was the big deal, and why it cost poor Uzzah his life.

So I decided to turn to Matthew Henry’s Commentary, and have highlighted a few interesting tidbits:

  1. Uzzah may have been a Levite, but only priests were allowed to touch the ark.
  2. Uzzah’s offence seems small, but scripture was very clear, they must not touch any holy thing, lest they die. Num. 4:15 .
  3. Good intention will not justify a bad action.
  4. Uzzah was long familiar with the ark. The thought is that perhaps he wanted to show everyone how he could make with the ark, with it having been so long in his care he presumed God would wink at his actions.
  5. God saw the presumption and irreverence of Uzzah’s heart.
  6. David afterwards owned that Uzzah died for an error they were all guilty of, which was carrying the ark in a cart. Because it was not carried on the Levites’ shoulders, the Lord made that breach upon us.  1 Chr. 15:13
  7. If it was so great a crime for one to lay hold on the Ark of the Covenant that had no right to do so, what is it for those to lay claim to the privileges of the covenant that come not up to the terms of it?

What led up to this event?  The Philistines had stolen the ark, but had had given it back after a time because it literally caused a plague to fall on the Philistines in whatever city they tried to keep it within.  In the process of giving it back, it wound up within the personal home and care of Abinadab and his two sons, Ahio and Uzzah.  It stayed in this home for so long it was nearly forgotten by the younger generation, and Saul, the previous king (although he wanted to be blessed by God) seemed to care nothing about it.  But when David became King over all Israel, he wanted the Ark to have a place of honor, and was intending to move it from Abinadab’s home to the city of David (Jerusalem).

Here is a sacred, holy object that represents the very presence of God and is a type of Christ, and Uzzah has been the one caring for it for many years now as a result.  Somewhere along the way, he seems to have developed a sense of entitlement and privilege that Matthew Henry refers to as “familiarity”.  He was too casual with the Holy Presence of God, and as a result became irreverent.

The last point in my Matthew Henry list (#7) speaks about the laying claim to the privileges of the covenant that one has not come up to the terms of, and so I could not help but wonder what holy things of God we have also become too casual with?  Acts 4:12 says “and there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved”.  Do we presume upon His blessings without meeting the terms of His new covenant?

How does this tie in today with our programs, works, and service to God?  Have we become complacently familiar with our ideas about Christianity?  Do we see Him as holy? Are we willing to deny ourselves and take up our crosses daily to follow Him (Luke 9:23), or have we become so familiar that we don’t recognize His holy presence when we see it, and choose to be irreverent in the process?  Galatians 2:20 says “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me”.  These are the terms of the new covenant. Maybe, like Uzzah, it becomes necessary for us to “die” (to self) as well, so that we can live in Him!

 

Esau I Hated

“but I have hated Esau, and I have made his mountains a desolation and appointed his inheritance for the jackals of the wilderness.””
‭‭Malachi‬ ‭1:3‬ ‭NASB‬‬

I believe there is a reason why the Lord wanted us to know He hated Esau. This verse in Malachi is echoed again in Romans 9:13. It is the only time we see God specifically mention that He hated rather than loved, so I believe it is worth paying attention to.

Esau traded his birthright for a bowl of stew. If you remember, his brother Jacob received the birthright instead. Jacob, who was later called Israel, and by the promise made to Abraham, through him all the nations of the earth are blessed. That could have been Esau, but he chose to trade the eternal for the immediate. Not only did Esau cheat himself, he also cheated his descendants.

Are you willing to trade Heaven later for all this world has to offer here and now? Are you willing to sacrifice your family for a “bowl of stew”?

Fearless

Fear is a strange thing, isn’t it?  Have you ever been gripped by a fear that firmly held you into place, paralyzing you so that you were unable to clearly think or move forward?  There is every kind of fear imaginable; fear of heights, fear of death or dying, fear of living, fear of speaking, fear of harms way, crowds, clowns, spiders, flying, being alone… I could go on, and there is a unique name for all of them!

One fear in particular that I imagine touches us all at one point or another in our lifetime is the fear of death.

The more I move into a deeper relationship with my Creator, the One True God and savior, Jesus Christ, the less fear I experience in my life.  I realize His presence is the absence of fear, and under His wings I can sing for joy.  I realize that it does not matter if I am at home with family or in harms way on a battlefield with bullets whizzing past my head, the number of days my God has ordained for me was written long before I was born.  If today is the last day I am ordained to live, no circumstance can change that.  If today is not my last day, no circumstance can change that either!  Death does not discriminate, but it does not have the power to do its own thing.  It is subject to Christ!

I don’t know about you but I find that very freeing!  Fear has lost its grip and I am free to move, live, and have my being!  I also know as a child of God that my being is encircled, wrapped in Christ.  Does that mean I am bullet proof?  No, of course not!  The Lord may know my last day on this earth but I certainly do not.

What I do know is this, I can live my life in service to God, fulfilling His purpose for me, and glorifying Him free of fear in the process.  Why?  Because whether in life or in death, I am in Christ.  So if the “process” finds me in harms way, the circumstances do not change the fact that I am hidden still in the shadow of His wings.  I can do as He leads, go where I am called to go, do what I must, and I can teach my children to be fearless warriors in Christ!

You can be free of fear as well.  Do you know Jesus Christ?  He tells us in Proverbs 8:17 that “I love those who love me; And those who diligently seek me will find me“.  The scripture also says in 1 John 4:18 that “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love”, and John 3:16 says “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life”.  Do you believe?

Perhaps you are already a believer and know there are fears in your life you need to let go of.  Here are a few verses that may help:

“For in him we live, and move, and have our being…” Acts 17:28

“For You have been my help, And in the shadow of Your wings I sing for joy.” Psalms 63:7

“In peace I will both lie down and sleep, For You alone, O LORD, make me to dwell in safety.” Psalms 4:8

Faith

Hoping to catch some fall colors and breathtaking views, recently my husband and I decided we would take a trip through the Wet Mountains to see the Sange de Christo Mountain rage just west of WestCliffe, Colorado.  We had been watching the weather forecast closely, as heavy clouds and rain was being predicted over most of the state, and this area seemed like our best chance at decent weather.

In the morning prior to heading out I had been once again reading Hebrews chapter 11, called by some the “Hall of Faith”, as it walks us through multiple examples of those who have gone before us.  The common denominator in all of them was they had chosen to demonstrate to us the meaning of that very first verse : “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen”. 

As we were on our way out of the city, the clouds were so heavy and low it was almost like fog in some places.  Not always rain but very wet. I was constantly having to wipe the windshield.  My husband said “I don’t know, honey, I’m not so sure we will get out of this.”  “Well”, I said, “the weather forecast for Westcliffe was partly cloudy with only a 15% chance of moisture”.

Several times along the way, my husband continued to expressed doubts that we would be able to see anything at all.  There was a certain ridge, however, on the passage over the Wet Mountains that I had become very fond of, as once crested, became a window to the entire Sange de Christo range.  It was so breathtaking!  My hope was that once we reached that height, we would pull out of the thick cloud cover and all would be well.   To that my husband said, “perhaps, but we’ll be looking down on the clouds then and still may not see much of anything.  I laughed, but began secretly to wonder if he may be right.

That was when the Lord reminded me of that first verse in Hebrews 11.  “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for…” The weather forecast certainly gave me hope!  “…the conviction of things not seen”.  I had seen previous evidence and certainly had the conviction, the belief, that the sun was shinning beyond the clouds, and was sure hoping we would pull out of those clouds sometime soon.

Then, all of the sudden, it happened at exactly the point I had predicted.  BOOM, there was an abundance of blue sky and sunshine overhead as we drove right out of those clouds and left them all behind.  In front of us was one of the most glorious views of those mountains I had ever seen!  It had snowed on top of them the day before, a local told us later.

It was spectacular in more ways than one, as I was able to experience first hand a very practical application of what it meant to have faith.  And the faith I was expressing was in the weather forecast, no doubt!  But it allowed me to catch a glimmer of what faith in God Himself could really do, and for that I am grateful.

Who have you placed your faith within?  What is it that you are hoping for?

Salvation for Angels?

Have you ever wondered why there is no mention of God offering the gift of salvation to angels? The bible tells us clearly that there were angels in heaven who sinned against God, and as a result are no longer in their place with Him (Isaiah 14:12-17; Luke 10:18; II Peter 2:4; Jude 1:6).  They sinned.  We sinned.  We get offered the gift of salvation.  They do not.

In pondering that question recently, I believe the scriptures and things that came to mind answered my question.  In my playful imagination, however, I could see a conversation between me and the Lord going something like this:

Me: “Lord, how come there is no salvation for the angels?  At least, there is nothing mentioned in scripture along those lines, is there?”

The Lord: “They were with Me in heaven before I created time”

Me: “Okay”

The Lord: “They beheld My glory”

Me: …

The Lord: “You were born into a fallen world, into a fallen nature”

Me: … (I can sense that He is smiling as I look at Him questioningly)

The Lord: “You, who were born into a fallen world and never beheld My glory, have by faith chosen to believe in those things which you could not see. You have chosen of your own free will to love Me.  I wanted to offer you a way that you could be with Me, through My Son and the price He paid with His blood, because I love you.

Those angels who have fallen, they were with Me before I created time, and they beheld Me in all My glory.  They know I AM, and yet, they of their own free will have chosen not to love Me.  Do you understand the difference now, my child?”

Me: “Yes! Yes, Lord, I think I do”

The Lord: “I have given everyone the free will to love Me or not.  Those who choose not to love Me do not receive life, but death.”

_____________________________

John 3:16 NASB “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”

Hebrews 1:1;6  “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen… But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”

 

Mysteries

One of the mysteries of God to me growing up was how He can create something so big, so vast as the universe all the way down to things smaller than a human cell, and yet in the midst of it all He immensely loves and cares for me still as an individual. Even though He’s busy with all that, He always has time for me.

One day not long ago as I was using my fingers to zoom in on a photo displayed on my phone, it struck me that size is as irrelevant to Him as time because He has the ability to manage them in any way He wants. If I can do that with a photo, why could not the Creator do that with the universe or a cell? It has only been within the last decade that we’ve had a glimmer of this through our ability to not only project an image but to direct it, rotate, zoom in or out, mark up or change, all with our fingers.

Funny how we think we know it all sometimes.

 

“Who else has held the oceans in his hand? Who has measured off the heavens with his fingers? Who else knows the weight of the earth or has weighed the mountains and hills on a scale? Who is able to advise the Spirit of the Lord? Who knows enough to give him advice or teach him? Has the Lord ever needed anyone’s advice? Does he need instruction about what is good? Did someone teach him what is right or show him the path of justice? No, for all the nations of the world are but a drop in the bucket. They are nothing more than dust on the scales. He picks up the whole earth as though it were a grain of sand.”  ‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭40:12-15‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Having Done All, Stand!

What happened to Christians in America, and Christians everywhere in the Western world, that we have all collectively over the past century taken on a defeatist attitude and allowed the strategy of the evil one to progress to the point it has today?   Christians not only have allowed it to progress, but have in many cases actively bought into it and taken part in it.

I wish I could point a finger and say I have not been a part of that, but I fear I have been just as condoning, complacent, and compliant. That thought is becoming increasingly burdensome to me.  Am I His child or not? Do I call Him Lord? Of course I am His child and He is absolutely Lord! Then why have I allowed my personal agenda and desire for comfort to supersede His purpose for so long and so often? Why have any of us? We are only on this earth for a fraction of time, and I have wasted many years already.

As Ephesians 6:10-20 so adequately puts it, what is happening today is no ordinary battle and we will not be able to fight it in our own strength. No amount of diplomacy, no amount of additional laws, no amount of embracing diversity, not even worrying or complaining, no physical outward thing will ever be enough in itself to push back those lines.  Why? Because at the physical level there are too many fronts requiring battle, and at that point we’re fighting the shadow of the enemy and not the enemy himself.  There is only one way for us to overcome in battle against the evil one, and that is with the WHOLE armor of God, which is why this portion of scripture was written.

There is one particular element about the armor, however, that am realizing has been often overlooked or minimized, and I don’t think I am alone. Mind you it is by far not the only piece but at the same time I believe we have minimized the value and importance of how this piece fits into the strategy overall.  What would you say it is? What is the first thing that comes to mind?

I see that piece as prayer, and here is why:

All other pieces of the armor are ones we put on, or “wear”, outwardly. Prayer is the only one that can be internally continuous. It is like the breath in our lungs. Perhaps that is why we don’t think about it, because we have to breathe otherwise we die. So we almost see at as an afterthought (“oh yeah by the way…”). For me, I’m beginning to see it as vital as I would see a communications radio on a battlefield.  A silent prayer also maintains operational and communications security, since Satan, as opposed to God, cannot hear our thoughts.

I have failed up until now to realize, understand, and underscore how vitally important it is for me to pray for my family members to have a closer walk with God. Unfortunately for several of them that is territory that Satan has taken, and I intend to fight for it back!

I am realizing too the importance of not having a defeatist attitude in respect to this nation, the United States.  This requires me as a Christian to not buy into the attitude that because perhaps this is the actual end of the end of days, then I should just sit and wait for the second coming of Christ that this present darkness tells me is imminent.

I hope you don’t misunderstand me, I do believe that God is in control, but I must be careful not to allow that thought to release me of any responsibility from the great commission and to uphold His principles.  Remember, no one knows the day or hour.   In other words, God has not issued the operations order for us to lay down our arms and allow the enemy full throttle to destroy the country He gave us.  If you have bought into that line of thinking then you might want to rethink who issues your orders, because they are surely not coming from the one who directs this battle.

So what should we do?  I encourage you to first of all read Ephesians 6:10-23, pasted here below for your convenience.  It is time for Christians in America to take back the land given to us so that we could have a place where we are free to worship in public and advance the gospel of the kingdom.  It is time to stand like a warrior.  So after reading, I invite you to get down on your knees with me and pray!  We are then going to put on all parts of our armor and go forth in battle on all fronts, spiritual and physical.

God’s kingdom rule is everywhere.  Evil is still allowed to dance freely for a while, but that does not mean that God is not King of his kingdom.  This type of spiritual warfare requires of us continual prayer, heavy artillery fire in the means of setting aside our personal agendas and choosing purpose over preference when it comes to actions, such as active mentoring and discipleship of one another and of our children.  A fervent love for one another.  Politically it requires proactive research of issues (not just buying in to what the media tells us) and knowledge of political strategies, the willingness to pray for those in leadership and to vote according to our principles, morals, and beliefs – NOT according to how many freebies or how much we can expect the government to take care of all our needs.  To make sure we safeguard the constitution and our God-given freedoms, which implies we first must know them!  Our prayers can release air support to drop from the heavens!

Think about the baker who refuses to bake a cake to celebrate an abomination, to the Christian who writes a letter to their congressman about the indoctrination with Islamic ideals in schools, to the volunteer worker that explains to children in vacation bible school what is pleasing to God and Who is their guiding compass for the moral issues in their life, to the military chaplain who refuses to stop praying in the name of Jesus.  Until the moment you and I are standing in the presence of the Lord, we are called to continue the good fight.  No surrender, no truce, no aid and comfort to the enemy.  This enemy has subverted, infiltrated, manipulated, bated, and perverted man since the beginning of time. He deserves no quarter.  So I call upon all Christians to get on their knees and pray. Fight the enemy by all means and love the hell out of people.

 

Ephesians 6:10-20, NASB:

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.  Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.”

Conversations with God

Have you ever listened to a publicly spoken prayer, or even perhaps to one of your own prayers, where what is being spoken sounds so noble and right but you know is somehow off at the same time, and yet you can’t quite put your finger on why?

I find myself lately in (yet another) spiritual journey.  This time it is all about prayer.  How to pray, how to listen, how to yield, how to commune with God.  I was bothered by what I heard coming out of my mouth in prayer to Him, so I decided to ask Him why, and to teach me how to pray.  Naturally I thought of when the disciples asked Jesus the same question, and His answer in return was ALL of Mathew chapter six, although we so often focus in on the summary, which is famously known as “The Lord’s Prayer”.

What was it about my prayers, private or public, that bothered me so much?  I was asking God for such critical things!  Financial blessing, healing, increase, signs indicating direction and His will for my life, for Him to reveal His heart to me, speak to me, rescue me from circumstances, give me safe travels, keep my family from harm.  I could go on listing all the things that I believe are not just unique to me but to many of us.

Even though I was taught to ask God for these things, the pattern I noticed most was “I, me, mine”, and I knew instinctively it didn’t align with the Lord’s prayer or any other part of Matthew chapter six for the most part.  Somehow the more my desire increased to really know Him, the more these kinds of prayers began to help me understand why Oswald Chambers said that God was not an “eternal blessing machine”.  I wanted to know God for more than just what He could provide.  I wanted to know Him for who He IS!

I began to pray, “Lord, teach me to incorporate Your word in my prayers, to pray to You in communion, as You would desire, not as I would desire”.  I was tired of giving the Lord “commands” to do things He already promised in His word that He would do.  Instead I wanted to align with the promises He had given me.  I wanted to lay down my own agenda, to pick up my cross, and to follow Him!

It was only as I began to yield to Him in this way that I discovered His will for my life is not an end destination where I can say “See here, I have finally arrived, I am just now fulfilling God’s will for my life”.  No.  God’s will for my life, for your life, is all about the journey, the process.  Because He has given me free will, there is a LOT of freedom in my choices to go this direction or that.  I don’t want to imply He doesn’t care about the direction I choose, He does.  But I believe He is more interested in how we interact, react, grow, and learn along the way (be ye holy as I am holy); and He tells us over and over again as long as we delight ourselves in HIM, as long as we love HIM, He works all things out for good.

Loving Him – not the ministry or cause or our ability to serve or the recognition of our good works – just Him, is the gateway to all I need in life.  Being in right relationship with Him, and working out the salvation He has given me through being yielded to the Holy Spirit, so that my capacity for love of Him and love of others is expanded.  The desire for communion and fellowship with the Everlasting Father, Creator, Holy and Almighty God somehow begins to diminish my desire to have my own needs met.  They quickly fade in the light of His face, and all I want is for my life to be a reflection of Him, to honor and glorify Him all my days.