Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Gift Inside

Open up the gift inside
See Him there with Spirit eyes
Immanuel, the child King
Lift your voice, His praises sing
Risen Lord of glory and grace
Look in the mirror, see His face
Gaze deep into your eyes and know
His holy Seed within you grows
A shoot, a stem, a branch, a tree
He is the Vine, in Him we breathe
And live, and move, and have our being
Our Life, our Light, all darkness fleeing
From manger to the cross and death
He gives to us His righteousness
Redeemed and chosen, purchased, loved
He bought us with His own shed blood
He lived our life, now we live His
To love, to reach, to touch, to give
Lord of mercy, God of grace
My heart your home, come take your place
Cleanse this vessel, make it pure
You in me, I am secure
Empty me of self and pride
And any worldly thing inside
Remove the stuff that's not of You
Let Your Light come shining through
Your joy, Your hope, Your love, Your peace
So the world knows You dwell in me

If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and His love is perfected in us. Hereby we know that we dwell in Him, and He in us, because He hath given us of His Spirit. And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world. Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God. And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God and God in him.--1 John 4:12b-16  (KJV)

Dwelling in His Love,

Thursday, December 22, 2011

He Is With Us

I wanted to leave up the post with the Christmas poem until after Christmas, but I couldn't get this off my mind. WARNING---this is long! You may want to grab a Coke or a cup of coffee....and a cookie!!

Sunday after church my husband and I made a run to Walmart. He wanted to change out of his too warm sweater. We didn't have time to run home between services as our church Christmas play was that evening. So, he found a shirt he liked and we headed back.

As we pulled up to the traffic light exiting the parking lot, there was a man holding a sign that read, "Out of work-need help." I turned to my husband and asked, "Don't you think we should give him something?" He asked me, "What has the Lord told you?" To which I replied, "He didn't speak anything specific to me but His word says if someone is in need and we have it beside us that we are to give." (Matt. 5:42, 1 John 3:17)

I knew I only had one bill in my purse but I drew it out, rolled down the window and said, "Excuse me, sir." I held out the money to him. He looked at the money in my hand, took the few steps to the truck, received the money, he may have mumbled something, and returned to his spot in the median. The man never once looked at my face or smiled. I never saw his eyes. His focus was only on the money in my hand. I didn't feel any real gratitude from the man.

This has stayed with me the past few days.

When we give to someone we don't worry about what they will do with the money. As far as we are concerned that's between them and God. I learned a long time ago (from my Mom and Dad) that when someone is in need and you have it to give, you simply give. AND you don't expect anything in return. When we trust God as our source, He is the One who repays us, and we are blessed. I didn't say rich because that we are not. But God takes care of our needs.

I thought about that man at Walmart as I drove to work today. I wondered how many times we, as Christians, treat God in the same way. How many times do we look to His hand instead of seeking His face? Our Father hears our faintest cry, turns to us, reaches out and blesses us. How often do we receive His blessings and never even thank Him? The answer would be-Every. Single. Day. And every single day we wake up looking for the next blessing. Even if we don't look for them, they are there all around us.

I watched as the sun rose through the clouds and thought, "Every day is a precious gift that we unwrap as we move forward, step by step and breath by breath." Do we thank the One in Whom we live and move and have our being? The One Who gave us breath and continues to give us breath every moment of every day is worthy of our thanksgiving and our praise.

We may mumble a quick, "Thank You, Lord" under the breath He gave us, but do our actions show that gratitude? Really!? Do we worship Him in spirit and in truth? And do we love Him with ALL our heart, ALL our mind, ALL our strength, and ALL our might? Does every fiber of our created being desire to please our Maker? I wonder.

What if we truly believed Immanuel? What if we truly believed God is with us? Do we believe the reality
of His presence? Always! Do we live our lives, think our thoughts, do our works as if we believe this vital truth? HE IS WITH US!

We are His children, the sheep of His pasture, the apple of His eye, His chosen, His peculiar people, His beloved. He is our Provider, our Healer, our Deliverer, our Redeemer, our King, our Lord. Do we treat Him as such? If so, why do so many begin their day without acknowledging His very presence? HE IS WITH US! Why are there so many Christians who feed the body and not their soul? Why do so many enter the church on Sunday morning unprepared?

They take time to shower, brush their teeth, and fix their hair. Their clothes are the latest fashion. Make up, just right. The outside of the cup is fresh and clean. But the inside is empty, even dirty, maybe. They are unprepared. Worship begins and they stand there. Idle. Waiting. They wait for the waters to be troubled so then, maybe, they can jump in. BUT, someone else always gets there first. Or maybe, they don't want to be first, so they wait.

They want the outside temperature to be just right. They want someone else to "carry them" into the waters. They complain about the song, the music, the singers. They are harboring their pet sin (unforgiveness, criticism, jealousy, etc.) and they just can't seem to focus on the King today. They define their worship according to external circumstances or internal feelings. They have forgotten to be thankful, they forget the reality of His presence, and have forsaken the relationship of the heart.

A thankful heart, one that is in love, will always respond in worship and adoration.. Do we enter His gates with thanksgiving? If not, we cannot enter His courts with praise. People, it shows on the outside, more often than you think, where your heart is. God doesn't want lip service, He wants your heart. Many may be saying, "God looks on the heart and not the outward appearance." Yes, this is true! God was speaking of the difference between Saul and David. Actions speak louder than words! David worshipped God. David trusted God. David was obedient to God. David was all that Saul wasn't. Where is your heart? God sees!

Worship is much more than singing a song. It comes from a grateful heart. It puts our focus fully on Christ. It exalts Him and as we lift Him up He draws us to Himself. Worship is spiritual warfare! As God inhabits our praises, the yoke of the enemy is broken. When everyone is worshipping, we are in one accord and of one mind and Holy Spirit wind and fire is set loose in our midst. When we worship we are in unity with heaven and with one another. When we worship we become united in one with the God Who united us with Himself in the Person of Christ Jesus.

God came in the flesh. He still comes in the flesh; our flesh. Know ye not that ye are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? (1 Cor. 3:16, 6:19) God is not peering down at us through some cosmic hole in the universe. No! HE IS WITH US. We, as His children, should act us such and reverence Him. Then we shall see Him moving in our midst and not before.

Today, I asked God to forgive me for my ingratitude. I asked Him to forgive me for the times I seek the blessing and not the precious face of the Blessor. I asked Him to forgive me when I take His gifts for granted. I asked Him to make me more aware of His presence every moment of every day. Will you join me in this prayer? Because--HE IS WITH US!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Unto Us

Every year my mother and I write Christmas poems. I send them out instead of the traditional Christmas card. Mom usually includes hers inside her cards. Today I'm sharing my poem with you. I wrote the poem but the words are God's!

For unto us a child is born
In a lowly manger in the dead of night
Unto us a Son is given
Whosoever believes in Him has everlasting life
The government shall be upon His shoulder
All power is given Him in heaven and earth
His Name shall be called Wonderful Counselor
Immanuel God with us at His birth
He is the Almighty God
Who was wrapped in swaddling clothes
He is the Everlasting Father
Our Savior Christ the Lord
He is the Prince of Peace
The Creator of all things
The One the shepherds glorified
Of Whom the angels sing
The people that once walked in darkness
Have seen a great and glorious light
Those that dwell in the land of the shadow of death
Upon them has this Light brightly shined
He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life
Who died upon the cross
Holy, spotless Lamb of God
Slain to save the lost
He triumphed over death and the grave
To reign forever more
By Him we enter in and are saved
Our Shepherd is the Door
He is the Son of God
Who was born the Son of Man
Who from the foundation of the world
Was salvation's plan
He is King of Kings and Lord of Lord's
He is coming back again
Glory to God in the highest and on earth
Peace, good will toward men

May you all have a very Blessed and Merry Christmas and may Christ Jesus be born afresh in your hearts! Still Dwelling in Him as He dwells in me.
Love and Blessings

Friday, December 16, 2011

Wide Open

This morning my prayer was:

Lord, I want to live with my eyes wide open, I want to see what You see and to see others as You see them.

I want to live with my arms wide open, to embrace who You embrace and what You embrace.

I want to live with my heart wide open, to love who You love...unafraid.

I want to live with my life wide open, to reach the broken, hurting, needy, lost, poor....

I want to live with my ears wide open, to hear You when You speak as You tell me to

I want to be like You!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Mighty Men and Women of God

When I miss an opportunity from my Lord, I tend to "beat myself up." This happened to me Sunday morning in church. Sometimes I trip over this..."all things are to be done decently and in order" (1 Cor. 14:40).  I'm afraid I might speak out of turn. I respect our pastor and I don't want to interrupt him. So, I wonder, when do I speak up after God has given me a word?

The word my Lord gave me was this, Behold, I am the Lord of hosts, the Lord of heavenly, angelic armies. You will encounter the enemy, you will face the battle.  But more there be with you than there be against you. You have the power to lead the enemy captive. I have given you the power. I have equipped you to fight. Use My word, use the power of My Spirit. Use your sword. Be still and know I am God does not mean lay down and quit. It means to prepare to see My salvation IN the battle. It means hit your knees and pray. It means trust. It means let faith arise in you. I am the Lord your God, I will fight for you IN the battle. Be strong, be of good courage. I am the Lord your God and you are victorious in Me.

I thought of Elisha in 2 Kings 6. The king of Syria sent his army to capture Elisha. But the Lord had sent His heavenly army to protect him. Therefore, Elisha and his servant led the entire enemy army captive.

This isn't what our pastor preached, but it was close. He delivered his message from 2 Samuel 23. He encouraged us to stand up against the enemy and be dedicated to the battle. God has a group of people who will fight. David was a mighty warrior who surrounded himself with like-minded men. You cannot serve the Lord and fight the battle while living in the enemy's camp. You have to separate yourself to be victorious.

I have gone back and re-read 2 Samuel 23 and God continues to reveal more to me about David's mighty men in the battle. In verse 8, we meet Adino the Eznite who "lift up his spear and slew eight hundred men at one time." In Joshua 8:18 the Lord told Joshua to "Stretch out the spear that is in your hand..." And how about in Exodus 14:13-16 when all of Israel was caught between the Red Sea and their enemy. God told Moses "...lift thou up thy rod, and stretch out thine hand over the sea and divide it..."  In all these instances, God gave them victory.

So I ask, "What is in your hand? What can you lift up to the Lord in faith so that He can move on your behalf?" Little David raised a sling and a stone against a mighty giant and God have him the victory. Abraham stretched forth his hand and raised a knife, willing to sacrifice his promise from God. Just look at the results of his obedience (Genesis 22) in verses 17 and 18, blessing and multiplying and possession of the gates of his enemies. Just because he lifted up something in his hand in an act of pure faith and trust in God.

While I am on this, what has God asked you to give up that you are still holding onto? Are you afraid to lay your Isaac on the alter? Are you afraid God will not fulfill His promise to you if you just let it go? What about that job, that relationship, that church? It's easy to lay down the things we don't want or those things that we know are evil. But what about that "good thing" that has actually become your idol? Think about it!! I am.

The next of David's mighty men is Eleazar. He single-handedly attacked the Philistines that were gathered together to battle. He rose up and smote (struck and killed) the Philistines until his hand was weary and his hand clave (adhered to, clung, remained faithful...) unto the sword. The Lord gave him the victory and the people returned and gathered the spoil.

How many of us can say that we clung faithfully to our sword in the heat of the battle? There are times when others will leave us and we are alone in our battle. Our battles are fought, not by might nor by power but only by God's Spirit. And we have to stand, clothed in the armour of God, wielding our sword of the Word. Sometimes others will join us on the battlefield. Other times it's just you and God.

When we pray and persevere, fighting for the kingdom, God will bring the victory and we will gather the spoil. We will take back what the enemy has stolen, not only for ourselves but for the kingdom, for our families, and for our church.

Then we have Shammah. He also stood alone, and faced a troop of Philistines, to guard a piece of ground. It was a garden full of lentils. Did you see that? The garden was FULL! The enemy doesn't want your dirt, he wants your harvest. Not only your physical harvest, he especially desires to steal your spiritual harvest. Read Is. 61:3, 1 Cor 3:9, Is. 60:21, and Jer. 17:8. These verses declare that WE are God's garden or His tree, a planting of the Lord. Don't allow the enemy to enter into your garden.

In the Song of Solomon 4:12-16, the maiden is referred to as a garden enclosed. The only One she invites to come into her garden is her Lord. We must be careful to guard the garden of our heart otherwise "little foxes" will creep in to spoil the vines and steal the fruit (2:15). I looked up the word spoil, it means to impair, damage, or ruin something to the extent that its worth, beauty, or usefulness is diminished. It means to damage beyond repair. It means to impair the completeness, perfection, or unity of.  And spoil is also plunder taken from an enemy in war or stolen from a victim in robbery. You are not a victim. You are more than a conqueror in Christ Jesus!!

We know that the thief (our enemy) comes not but to steal and to kill and to destroy. But Jesus came that we would have life, and that we would have it more abundantly. (John 10:10)

There is one more exploit of David's mighty men that I want to expound on in 2 Samuel 23:13-17. In this account, the three men joined together. David had spoken out loud that he longed for a drink of water from the well of Bethlehem which is by the gate. No doubt he was thirsty and the well was deep and the water of that well of Bethlehem must have been cool and refreshing.

This reminds me of the woman at the well in John 4. She came to draw water from Jacob's well but she encountered the Well of Bethlehem. The One who is deep and contains the waters of salvation. The only One who can refresh our soul. The only One who can satisfy our longing heart. Jesus, the Well of living water that sprung forth in Bethlehem. He asked her for a drink. The Bible never tells us that she gave Him a drink but I believe He was refreshed by her faith. How often do we refresh our Lord with our faithfulness?

David is a "type" of Jesus. Here we see that David's mighty men joined forces to break through the enemy lines just to bring him a drink of water. Jesus said there is a reward for someone who gives the thirsty soul a cup of cold water. This was to the extreme. Most of us have never risked our lives to give Jesus something to refresh His heart. And the majority have never even risked their pride to give Him glory.

Think about Mary who was ridiculed as she poured out her precious oil on the head and feet of Christ. Mary, who took down her hair in public to wipe His feet. Mary, who sat at His feet and hung on His every word. What about the one leper out of ten who returned to thank Jesus for making him whole. What about worship; to cry out Hosanna unashamed. Many won't worship in church, let alone on the street. Many of God's children won't even pray in public to thank Him for His provision.

How can we refresh our Lord? How can we pour out an offering to Him? David realized the only One worthy of this kind of love and devotion was his Lord not himself. David didn't drink it, instead he poured out the precious water unto his King. Life giving water that others had risked their lives to give became an offering. What do you have to offer Him? What has He asked you to lay at His feet?

 How can we bless the Giver of all blessings? We can thank Him. We can whole-heartedly worship Him. We can do what He said, "What you have done unto the least of these My brethren you have done unto Me."


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Light versus Darkness

My Lord continues bringing a particular piece of scripture to my mind. It is 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1--Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel (unbeliever)? And what agreement hath the temple of God with Idols? For you are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God and they shall be My people. Wherefore COME OUT FROM AMONG THEM AND BE YE SEPARATE, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from ALL filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. (KJV)

In the above scripture, God has said He will dwell in us, but He has also said that light and darkness will not dwell in the same place. In Matthew 6:22-23, Jesus tells us, "The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!"

So, the lust of the eyes is allowing worldly things to obstruct our view of heavenly things. Our eyes are to be fixed on Christ. Whatever we fix our eyes on is what we are drawn to or what we will become. He is to be our "single" vision. Matt. 6:23 says that we CANNOT serve two masters! There is no such thing as someone "walking the fence." There are no gray areas. God says you are either full of light or you are full of darkness. There is no in between. God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all. If we are in Him, there should be no darkness in us at all. If we say we have a relationship with God and continue to walk in sin, the Bible says we are lying. (1 John 1:5-7)

Some other examples of separation are found in Matt. 7:15-20. This is where Jesus warns us about false prophets who are ravenous wolves in sheep's clothing. He tells us we will recognize them by their fruits. (V.18) A good tree CANNOT bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. He speaks more on this in Matt.12:33-37. In James 3, James says that sweet and bitter water cannot come forth from the same fountain. And in John 15, Jesus tells us that only those who abide in Him will bear fruit, those who do not abide in Him wither up and are burned. This tells me that some who were once in Him fell away from Him and died spiritually.

I John 2:15-17 tells us that we are not to love the world or the things that are in this world. If a man loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.

Way too many people and churches are trying to mix the things of God with the world. They are watering down the Word of God and making it ineffective. This is having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof. They seem to have a concern for the lost, but they draw them in with worldly enticements rather than praying and seeking God and allowing Him to add to the church. All it took in Acts was a Spirit filled man preaching the truth of the gospel and GOD added to the church by the thousands.

Man seems to have forgotten that it is not he who saves but Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit of God draws all men to Christ as we lift Him up. Instead, many churches have so many distractions such as television and videos. The modern church has "giveaways" to draw people in. Come to church and get a free gift; a coffee cup, a pen, or a t-shirt. WHAT ABOUT COME TO CHURCH AND GET GOD'S FREE GIFT OF SALVATION THROUGH JESUS CHRIST!!! Christ told His disciples to "Go and make disciples." If all we do is "get people saved" and never disciple them, we end up with orphaned baby Christians who are never fed on the pure milk of the Word. Therefore, they never grow in Christ.

God says, "Be ye holy for I am holy." He would not have told us this if it were not possible. It is possible  to be holy when we dwell in Christ and He dwells in us. Then, everywhere we go, the light in us dispels the darkness. The very first words that are recorded in our Bibles, that were spoken by God in the creation of this world is, "Let there be Light!" And until He returns, we are to be His light in this world. (Matt. 5:14) 

Keep Dwelling In His Light!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Church, Keys, and Prison

I was going to share some things today that my Mother and I were discussing yesterday but I guess that will be for another day. God has a way of redirecting us sometimes and He did this through a birthday card I received in the mail yesterday.  Through this card, He took me back to what happened Sunday morning in church.

During worship my Lord began to speak to me, "I will give to you the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever you  loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." (Matt. 16:19) Then I saw, in the Spirit, the hands of Jesus holding forth a jeweled box. He was presenting it to different people. Some didn't even notice, others were reaching in with joy and withdrawing something from inside. I began crying out to Him, "I want it, Lord. Give it to me. I want what you have to give." He held it before me and opened it. It was full of keys. I reached in to receive.

I love our pastor and our church. It is full of Spirit-filled believers, but sometimes I wonder if they are really listening to the Spirit of God within them. You see, our pastor didn't have to preach long because the Holy Spirit was already moving in a powerful way. He flowed with the Spirit and gave an alter call. The call was for anyone who had an unfulfilled promise from God or anyone who needed a breakthrough. Well, I have to tell you, my husband and I wasted no time getting in that line. I jumped right in with my mind full of needed breakthroughs, unanswered prayers, and promises that have not yet come to pass.

As I stood in line full of joy and praise for this opportunity to step out in faith and have my faith united with the faith of others, I was amazed at the people glued to their seats. I thought, "REALLY? None of you have a need, an unanswered prayer, an unfulfilled promise? None of you need a breakthrough? None of you are wrestling with powers, or principalities, or the rulers of the darkness of this world, or spiritual wickedness in high places?"

I believe some were praying in their seats but many more were indifferent. I wonder what our Father thinks when He hands us these opportunities on a silver platter, when He stretches forth His treasure chest of gifts and calls His children to "Come" and be blessed and they just zone out as if a bad commercial came on TV in the middle of good movie. My heart was saddened for them, they were choosing to walk away from the church service leaving behind a blessing, or a miracle, or a breakthrough. I believe God had something for all of them and many missed it. I prayed for them and quickly returned my focus to God and He did not disappoint!!

Now, you may be wondering how a birthday card prompted all of this. You see, the sender is my brother and his situation is an unfulfilled promise. My brother was sent to prison for a crime he didn't commit. It's a long story. I may be able to share it with you some time, if he doesn't mind. But God made a promise to me that HE would be the One to set my brother free when it was time. HIS time! It's been nearly thirteen years now but I still believe God's promise.

My brother is in a physical prison because of what someone else did. Many people all around us are living in spiritual prison as the result of what one man did. Adam. But One Man named Jesus paid all with His blood to set us free. He is the door and He gives His children the key to enter in.

I humbly ask that anyone who reads this post would join me in praying for God to reveal the truth in my brother's situation and that he would be set free. But also that God will use him for His glory right where he is.

In case you have any false illusions of prison life, let me just share a little of his letter with you:

The day here dawned crisp and cold. The powers that be have decided to not provide us with heat this year until the daytime temperatures drop below and remain beyond 60 degrees. (*People, this does not take into consideration the night time temperatures.) This being Texas, could place the introduction of heat, if based on that line of logic, somewhere in January. To further emphasize the disdain with which they view our well-being, they have opted to not provide us with the second blanket, which is usually passed out in the winter months.

The ensuing nights within our concrete enclosure are without question on the far side of brisk.
I have always loved the onset of winter, the autumn seems to bring things into focus where nature is concerned. Every breath is somehow more invigorating and it's as if you can see for miles due to inexplicable clarity. That love though is tempered in here by the restricted line of sight and the lack of the ability, once taken for granted, to gird oneself against the chill. Even so, I am thankful for the relief from this past summer's brutal heat, seventy plus days over 100 degrees. Numb fingers and toes are a small concession to be free of that for a time. (*These men also have no air conditioning in the sweltering South Texas heat.)

I was blessed when they moved me into a cell with a very good friend of mine. You can scarce believe what a calming effect it is to share small quarters with someone trusted and honestly liked rather than some random stranger. (*These cells are smaller than what is legally allowed to house two dogs at the animal shelter.)

My brother went on to say how grateful he was for his Thanksgiving meal but that many complained because they cut out several items that they are usually served. There are two meals these guys look forward to each year. Often the day to day food is served repeatedly until there is scum floating on top and it's soured. Chicken is a rare treat that is used by kitchen staff for bartering for other things, so many of the men don't get their share.

There are supposed to be certain food requirements on what they receive each day. I've also learned that if a guard doesn't like you or something you've done or said, they have the kitchen staff make you what is called a "loaf." That means your every meal for the day is mixed all together in a bowl; breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Then it is put in a loaf pan and baked. That's what you get until the guard says otherwise.

These men are supposed to be supplied with five new uniforms every five years. My brother is wearing the same five he's had since day one. On top of that, laundry is packed so tightly into the big industrial washer that what is in the center doesn't even get wet. Therefore, it isn't even clean. That includes socks and underwear and you don't know who wore them before you.

I could go on. But what I wanted you to notice is the things he is thankful for in the midst of his suffering. It put me to shame. We are so spoiled and take so much for granted and there are people who are thankful for frozen hands and feet because the heat of summer was so unbearable. This led me to think of so many others in our own country who are suffering this holiday season. I pray God opens our eyes to really see the needs right in our own community. We so often set our sights on other countries and their problems when we have hurting needy people all around us. I want to whole-heartedly put into action "what you have done unto the least of these my brethren, you have done unto Me." God blesses us that we might be a blessing to others.

Rich Heavenly Blessings to you My Friends!