Thursday, January 28, 2016

The Secret to Being Brave

There are five words that I believe will revolutionize your life and mine if they become an indwelling truth anchoring deep into our heart.

The Lord is with you.

This is a truth Mary, the mother of Jesus, knew when against all reason and logic, she was told she was pregnant with the Son of God.  She was a teenager.  She wasn’t married.  She lived in a society where her outward circumstances would have caused a scandal, shunning, and possibly even death by stoning.  Yet, she was brave.  How?  How does a teenage girl face such adversity?  How was she brave? 

“The angel went to her [Mary] and said, ‘Greetings, you who are highly favored!  The Lord is with you.’” Luke 1:28

Throughout the Bible we find these words.  They are spoken by prophets, angels, and even the Lord Himself to encourage His people to fulfill His plan and purpose in their lives. 

“Nathan replied to the king, ‘Whatever you have in mind, go ahead and do it, for the Lord is with you.’”  2 Samuel 7:3

“When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, ‘The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.’” Judges 6:12

“As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.” Joshua 1:5-6

If God is for us, who can be against us (Romans 8:31). 

Is there something the Lord is asking you to do that scares the begeebies out of you? Perhaps it is to step out into His calling this year.  Or go deeper in healing.  Or confront that person in love whom you have been avoiding. Or reach out to the neighbor down the street. 

Each one of our assignments looks different.  Seek the Lord and ask Him what He would have you do.  If it scares you, it is probably the Lord.  When you step out when afraid the most amazing thing happens, fear loses and courage wins.

The Lord is with you.  He won’t leave you nor forsake you.  He will be right there with you.  Knowing this truth is the secret to being brave.  I need this truth.  Let’s pray for this truth to soak into our souls and become solidified in the center of our core identity.

Father, thank you that You make us brave.  Lord, thank you for Your truth that You never leave us nor forsake us.  Lord, help us grasp a knowing that You are with us, that You are for us. And in that knowing, may we step out courageously into the great unknown and into our calling, to fulfill Your plan and purpose.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.  

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Stepping Out

"His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of Passover.  And when He was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast. When they had finished the days, as they returned, the Boy Jesus lingered behind in Jerusalem.  And Joseph and His mother did not know it; but supposing Him to have been in the company, they went a day's journey, and sought Him among their relatives and acquaintances. So, when they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking Him.  Now so it was that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions.  And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers.  So when they say Him, they were amazed; and his mother said to Him, 'Son, why have You done this to us? Look, Your father and I have sought you anxiously.' And He said to them, 'Why did you seek Me? 

Did you not know that I must be about my Father's business?

But they did not understand the statement which He spoke to them."  Luke 2:41-49 (emphasis added) 

These seven little words, "I must be about my Father's business." have been ringing in my ear ever since we toasted in the New Year.

The time is getting shorter and daily we edge closer to the day of Christ's return.  It is not a time for slumber or complacency.  It is a time to get busy, but not just busy doing is time to be about our Father's business.

The Lord usually gives me a word for the New Year.  (If you haven't asked Him for a word, I greatly encourage it!)  The word I felt the Lord gave me was "Step Out".

The end of last year was a time of stepping back.  It was a time for the Lord to have me step back so He could do some work in my heart He needed to accomplish.

As the new year began, I felt like the time of stepping back was ending and a new season of stepping out was beginning.

When I read this story in Luke about Jesus staying in the temple to be about His Father's business, I'm reminded that in order for Jesus to be about His Father's business, He had to step out.  He had to step away from the crowd.  He couldn't just follow where everyone else was going.  He had to stop... step... and stay.

First, He had to stop.  He had to stop following the crowd.

Second, He had to step.  He had to step out of the crowd in faith.

Thirdly, He had to stay. The scriptures say, "Jesus lingered".  The Greek word for "lingered" is hypomeno and it means "to remain".

Jesus lingered.  Jesus remained.  He stayed.

To "be about my Father's business" is to remain, or stay with the Father. Sitting with Him, listening and learning.  He listened and learned in order to prepare Himself for the divine work He was put here to do.

All three of these components are needed to follow God's business.

Stop. Step. Stay.

2016 is the time to be about our Father's business.

That might mean some changes for you this year.  It might mean giving up some things that distract from God's best.  It could mean changing where you go, stopping an old habit, or stepping out in faith and saying yes to something that scares you but you know it is the Lord.

If we continue along the path with the crowd, we will miss the assignment the Lord has designed specifically for us to do.

If you want 2016 to be the year you stop, step and stay to be about your Father's business, will you pray with me...

Dear Lord, we want to step out into everything you have for us.  We want to be about Your Kingdom business Lord.  Father, we ask for you to show us where we need to stop, if there is something specific we need to stop.  We ask you to show us where to step and lead us and guide us as we step out into the unknown with You.  And Lord, we want to remain with you. We want to stay tightly with you learning and listening and growing in You.  We know the stopping and stepping means nothing if we aren't staying with You.  Lord, we only want your Kingdom to advance, increase, and multiply. Oh Lord, let us be about Your business.  In Jesus' Name, Amen. 

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Lord, Why Don't You Fix This?

We have entered into a new year.  For some, there are high expectations and hope for what is coming in 2016.  For others, there is a lingering issue from 2015 still hanging like a thread that keeps unraveling a beautifully constructed tapestry.  If only the thread could be cut and the tapestry remain intact. 

Perhaps it is marriage that is teetering on divorce.  Or a health issue of a loved one. It could be a child that has wondered and lost his way.  There are daily news reports of catastrophes around the world. There is so much darkness.   You have prayed and yet the tapestry still is unraveling and you question…

“Lord, why?  Why don’t you fix this?!”

This past summer, I was discussing an ongoing issue I was having with a dear friend.  She encouraged me to change my question, to stop asking “Why?” and ask “What?”. 

Lord, What are You doing in this?

It is ok to ask the Lord questions.  It is ok to question. 

Tucked away in the Old Testament, we find the book Habakkuk.  Habakkuk was a prophet who saw his world around him crumbling.  Not only did he pray, he asked the Lord questions. And He was “real” with the Lord.  When he was afraid, he told God.  When he was mad, he told God.  What he didn’t understand, he told the Lord and questioned Him. 

I want you to know it is ok to be afraid.  It is ok to be mad.  It is ok to question and not understand.  God already knows.  Tell him.  He won’t get mad.  He wants you to tell Him these things and talk to Him.  You don't have to pray a certain way to be heard. 

 And He wants to answer you. 

“O Lord, how long shall I cry for help and You will not hear? Or cry out to You of violence and You will not save? Why do You show me iniquity and wrong, and Yourself look upon or cause me to see perverseness and trouble?  For destruction and violence are before me; and there is strife, and contention arises.”  Hab 2:2-3

Perhaps you have wondered the same as Habakkuk.  O Lord, how long shall I cry for help and You will not hear?  Or cry out to You and You will not save? 

The Lord answered his question.  He answered with a "what" answer. 

“Look around [you, Habakkuk, replied the Lord] among the nations and see!  And be astonished! Astounded! For I am putting into effect a work in your days [such] that you would not believe it if it were told you. “  Hab 2:5

What then Lord revealed about the impending judgement of Israel is difficult to hear but Habakkuk understood that God’s ways are always good and just even in the middle of calamity. 

Then the Lord encouraged Habakkuk:

“And the Lord answered me and said, Write the vision and engrave it so plainly upon tablets that everyone who passes may [be able to] read [it easily and quickly] as he hastens by.
For the vision is yet for an appointed time; it will not deceive or disappoint.  Though it tarry, wait [earnestly] for it, because it will surely come; it will not be behindhand on its appointed day. “ Hab 2:2-3

From Habakkuk, we can learn that when all hope seems lost, that God has a bigger plan than we can see and it is for good.  There is encouragement.  There is a Light.  God longs for his people’s hearts to be turned towards Him.  He knows lasting joy and peace only comes from being in right relationship with Him.
There are plans in progress we cannot understand.  God sees the big picture.  What I want to be clear about is that the Israelites had brought this judgement on themselves after MUCH mercy and grace from God.  I don’t believe the Lord brings disaster into our lives to “teach us something”.  We do have a very real enemy who is out to kill, steal and destroy.  And the Lord and he are NOT partners. 
Because of these variables, it is even more so important to ask the Lord “what” is going on here when we are faced with things we don’t understand. If it is the enemy, then our mission will be to engage in spiritual battle through prayer. But we need to ask.  
The good news here is that after we ask, He will answer

Although you may have been walking through this thing for a while, I believe the Lord will astound you as you see that He is working out a plan you would not believe if it were told to you! 

Write your vision.  What vision [outcome] has the Lord given you in your heart?  Write out the promise and daily read it, pray it.  And go on in faith knowing that it will come at God’s perfect time. It will not deceive or disappoint.  God doesn’t lie.  God says it will “SURELY” come at the appointed time and it will not be late!

God is already at work and I believe you will be astounded.