Sunday, January 29, 2017

Virginal Innocence, Got It?

(photo from Pinterest.com)
Wise Virgins; 
Our Innocence

The very thought of ourselves being innocent might make us laugh, at least to ourselves. How long has it been since I was innocent? That’s exactly what happened to me when a dear friend referred to me using the term innocent.

Your innocence may have been taken from you at a very young age, or because of a promiscuous youth you may have given away your innocence. But, how does that reflect on you now?
         
Not long ago I confronted these thoughts without warning. When my friend called me innocent, in my mind I instantly roared with laughter, mocking myself with split second thoughts like, “You don’t know me very well, do you? Ha! Me? Innocent? Not in a very long time! You should know the things I’ve done!” But in the very same moment I mocked myself, I heard God speak to me quietly saying, “Are you not my child? Are you not washed with the Blood of the Lamb?” As I drew in a breath of shock, I lowered my head and whispered back, “Yes.” He finished, “Then you are innocent. Now.” I had to push back tears of joy as an overwhelming shock of reality set in. After my friend and I finished talking, I walked away to ponder what God Himself had just spoken to me.
         
Can you relate to what a reality check that was? I don’t know that I had ever thought of myself as innocent. Children don’t walk around acknowledging that they are innocent. And by the time mine was lost, my mature adult brain saw it as lost for good. Boy, was I wrong! I am innocent now! Not because I’m a particularly good person, but because my sins have been washed away by the Blood of the Lamb. It’s a simple truth we all know - but I wasn’t walking in my innocence. I was continuing to walk as one who had been handed a guilty decree, just like the enemy of our soul wanted me to.

(photo from Blog - Universal.org)
The lies of the enemy are subtle, and he’s rehearsed them a thousand times before he whispers them in our ears. And, we listen. And, we believe him. Without even checking out what God has to say about it, we believe the lies of the enemy, and we suffer because of it. We go without, because we aren’t walking in the Truth.

Revelation 12:10 And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. 11 And they overcame him by the Blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.

After we have been washed clean, reborn, made innocent by the Blood of the Lamb, we need to tell somebody, often; that would be the word of our testimony.

Determine some of the differences between the five wise virgins and the five foolish virgins Matthew talks about in chapter 25. Into which group do we fall?

Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh. –Matthew 25:1-13

(picture from emaze.com)
It appears that the only thing that made the foolish virgins foolish, was that they didn’t take any extra oil with them. The wise virgins had oil enough to burn their lamps, even after waiting on the bridegroom for so long a time that the lamps of the foolish virgins had gone out. Both virgins knew about the coming of the bridegroom, both were waiting for his call; it even appears that they were waiting together.
         
Relating this parable to our lives, the oil for the lamps has been said to represent the Holy Spirit; oil in other places in the Bible represents the Holy Spirit. But, the oil has also been said to represent the personal relationship between the bride and her bridegroom, or her faith, or even her works. The bottom line it represents is readiness; readiness for the return of the bridegroom. Are we ready for Christ’s return?

There are many who consider themselves Christians who won’t be taken in the rapture; they have not been washed in the Blood of the Lamb. They are not watching, as we are told to do. Christ will say to them, “Depart from me, I knew you not.” (Matthew 25:13 above)  

Could the oil represent their innocence? Whether or not they had indeed been washed in the Blood of the Lamb? The foolish virgins weren’t realistic about how long their oil would last and they were not ready when it was time to go. Were the foolish virgins living in the reality of salvation through Jesus Christ? Or were they just living under the title ‘Christian’ which many do, even though they have not accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Are we living in the reality of our salvation through Jesus Christ? If we call ourselves Christians, we are either one of the wise virgins, or one of the foolish. We are either washed in the Blood of the Lamb, or not. We are innocent, or we are not. How do we know?
 

(picture from Pinterest.com)
Ask yourself if you are among the innocent. Are you innocent, but didn’t dare to call yourself innocent? Can you say it aloud? Is that being arrogant or proud? Or is it simply the word of your testimony?

Can you look around at your Christian friends and see their innocence?

To be wise, to be ready, ask Jesus into your heart, making Him your Lord and Savior, tell someone, and watch for His soon return. Jesus doesn’t expect you to clean yourself up and then come to Him, He takes you just as you are right now.






Sunday, November 27, 2016

Is God Still God?


Is God still God when “He doesn’t answer our prayers”?

The short answer – yes!

But, since when do I use short answers?

When we pray, particularly when we pray for someone else, or over a situation involving someone else, they continue to have the freedom to choose; as do we.

They can choose to rebel against God, as can we. (Assuming what we were praying over them was included in the will of God.)

When we’re praying for someone else, the best way we can pray is for God to get a hold of their heart, for Him to reveal Himself to them in an undeniable way. But, instead, we often pray for them to make a choice in a matter that’s pleasing to us.

When they don’t comply, God gets the blame and often, we stop praying for them; we “give up on them”. Ouch!

We lose sight of our part in their heart softening toward God; they’re salvation or they’re deliverance, or whatever God is doing in their lives.

They’re left hanging and we become angry and bitter with the God of our salvation, the God Who loves us eternally, more than our human hearts can imagine. We’ll miss out on so many blessings while we’re stewing in our bitterness.

When we pray, our faith doesn’t disappear when things don’t go our way; that’s when faith is really tested.

God already knows your faith is plenty strong enough to hold on. Do you? Ah, yes, that’s who you’re proving it to. Each test of faith we rise above is showing us just how strong that mustard seed of faith, planted in our heart, really is.

Turn around. Run to Jesus. Right now.

It may involve tears.

It’ll definitely involve forgiveness, both giving and receiving.

Now is not the time to give up on prayer. Now is the time to seek God’s face all the more passionately. We’ve still got a lot of living to do, a lot of mountains to climb, a lot of joy to be expressed!

You’re in my heart, you’re in my prayers.

But, more importantly, God has not turned His back on you. Run to Him. Now.

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 8:38-39 (NIV)



Monday, June 6, 2016

City Lights

(summitpost.org)
Last night, as I find myself quite often, I was incredibly tired. A well-spent day led to a lazy evening. After I packed my husband’s lunch, I gazed out my kitchen window. The view of the well-lit expanse that sold us on this house never disappoints. I saw the city below me, glowing. The lights of each home or business twinkled as the wind blew the tree leaves in every backyard behind me.

The sight is captivating and brings a smile to my face every time I take a few minutes to enjoy it. Sadly, many nights I go to bed without appreciating the beauty around me. Weariness stakes it’s claim on my body and my mind, and I fall into bed, hoping I don’t wrestle with the cacophony of thoughts that will dance through my brain on my way to slumber.

Long ago, when we first moved into this house, I watched the city below me, flickering with life. There were fewer businesses, and perhaps not as many homes. A thought struck my mind so profoundly, that it continues echoing to this day: “If the lights in each home where the Name of Jesus isn’t clung to turned off, how dark would my city be?”

Every member of every family that doesn’t know Jesus is literally in darkness.

Just how dark is my city?

Though you may not have a view of the city lights from your back windows, how dark is your city?

“Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” – John 8:12 (KJV)

“As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” – John 9:5 (KJV)

“Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.” – Matthew 5:14 (KJV)

As Jesus resides in us, we are the light of the world.

Again, I ask, how dark are our cities…….?

Paul prayed for and left instructions for those he led to Christ, and I believe, for us, as well.  In the book of Philippians we read, in part: “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. Do all things without murmurings and disputing: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life…..” – Philippians 2:13-16 (KJV)


Rejoice! The time is now! Light your cities!

(The city lights pictured above are not those of my view. My camera can't do justice to night photos, this one came from summitpost.org)

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Expecting?

(letterpost.nl)
“Answered prayers are all about one thing, us drawing closer to God.” – An enlightening line from the young man’s sermon tonight at Friendship Assembly of God here in Colorado Springs, Pastor Brad.

“We keep knocking, seeking and asking to keep maturing.” – Pastor Brad.

This young man says some really good stuff! And better yet, what he says makes me think. I love that!

God is looking for our faith, not the beauty of our prayed words. Are we trusting in the wording of our cries – or the God we’re calling out to?

Sometimes a thought crosses our mind that surprises us. Well, it happens to me, anyway.

In pondering the faith that fills my prayers (or should fill them), a prickly thought crept in: Am I looking forward to a day I’ll no longer need faith? Or to the day when my faith is all-consuming, abounding everywhere, always?

(virgin.com)
I savored the thought like a sip of old wine.

This would be the difference between looking at faith from the outside-in, as through a window at something we want to obtain vs. walking in that faith.

Our prayers can’t be uttered in faith when our lives are littered with sin. I wonder, what does God see when I pray without expectancy? Do I find myself in the same boat with the disciples when Jesus declared, “Oh ye of little faith…”

When I pray, “Heavenly Father, I want your peace, Your joy, Your power, Your presence…..” – How do I respond when He asks, “What will you do with it, Helen?”

Ouch! How would it feel to be praying and hear God call you out as a hypocrite? As the young preacher pointed out tonight, God isn’t afraid to speak plainly. Jesus instructed us not to pray like the hypocrites. As He taught us to pray, He was frank about those who prayed empty prayers for show.

“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others…” – Matthew 6:5 (NIV)
(bestsayingsquotes.com)

What do our prayers look like to God?


Another tantalizing line from Pastor Brad: “We’re praying because we know we’ve won!” I suppose too many of us are praying with hopes that we “win” – but the risen Christ is all the hope we need; we’re on the winning side!

Well, then what?

When God answers “this prayer” of yours – then what? For example, in response to a prayer for healing of some sort, “If I’m pain-free I can serve You better, Lord….”

Perhaps if we serve Him better, our pain will disappear. And by better, I mean, with a more open heart; willingly, not begrudgingly – with love. Maybe we need to walk out the “then what” as we pray…

“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” –Mark 11:24 (NIV)

And to drive home the prayer of expectancy, Pastor Brad used this verse:
“But, meanwhile, also prepare a guest room for me, for I trust that through your prayers I shall be granted to you.” – Philemon 1:22 (NKJV)

Roll a few of these tasty nuggets around in your head – then in your heart; ponder them with me. What are your thoughts on the matter?

(theunboundedspirit.com)



Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The Desert Call

(blog.hdwallsource.com)
Jesus didn’t just wander into the wilderness, He was led there by the Spirit of God. It wasn’t a wrong turn.

Why do we run from our wilderness experiences as if landing there was a mistake?

Why are we owned by our circumstances when we’ve given ourselves to God?

What if you’re right where you’re supposed to be?

What if all the decisions you’ve made up to now were all taken into account before you made them? Any turns in the winding path through your life have already been orchestrated, making up for the escapades the enemy meant for your destruction. You’re still putting one foot in front of the other; you’re still drawing breath.

God is calling you. He’s leading you.

There’s an old anonymous quote that says, “Bidden or not, God is here.” Whether you’re excited about walking with God, or scared half to death that you can’t make such a commitment, God is here – with you every step of the way.

Ponder this, Jesus’ ministry days began after He came out of the wilderness. It was there in the dessert, alone with His heavenly Father, that He was equipped for the tasks ahead of Him. It was there He recognized the power of faith, both the faith He has in His Father, and the faith His Father had in Him. In that faith lay the secrets to His power.

In those dry spots, those hard places, those circumstances you don’t think you’ll make it through – reach up to heaven and tear through the fabric of time and space with the cries of your heart. God hears you.

“But if from there you seek the LORD your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul.” – Deuteronomy 4:29 (NIV)

“The LORD looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God.” – Psalm 14:2 (NIV)

(sobadsogood.com)
You are never closer to God than when you need Him. Don’t panic and run from God, use that same energy balled up in your gut, and instead, run TO Him. He’s right there – you can feel His breath on your face. Believe it! Call out to Him! He hasn’t placed His hands over His ears so He can’t hear you. He wants you to reach out to Him! Wait a moment longer, reach a little further, stretch yourself; put your whole heart into it.

“Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near.” – Isaiah 55:6 (NIV)

“This is what the LORD says to Israel: “See me and live…” – Amos 5:4 (NIV)

Let’s encourage one another. Let’s invite one another into the presence of God! We’re not alone. The people around us are hurting, too. They’re going through trials of their own. Reach out and bring them with you.

Take my hand. Say to your friend as was written in Zechariah 8:21 – “(…and the inhabitants of one city will go to another and say,) ‘Let us go at once to entreat the LORD and see the LORD Almighty. I myself am going.’…”

To quote an old hymn, “He’s as close as the mention of His Name – Jesus.”

Rejoice! You’re meeting with the King! This is where you’ll gain the strength you’ve been looking for. Here is where you’ll embrace the power He has for you.

Hallelujah!
 
(defenders.org)


Tuesday, March 15, 2016

A Peek Inside

(photo from pinterest.com)
Now, looking back, I see I may have set out to do something without asking God if it was even something He wanted me to do. It seemed like the right thing to do. It was something I would do instinctively; surely, it would be easy enough to do.

However, I don't actually remember asking for God's input on the matter. You know, you don't ask God if you should stop at the next traffic light. If it's red, you stop without giving it a second thought.

Then, I heard God weigh in on the matter.

After wrestling with my version of failure and questioning everything remotely related to the issue at hand, and redundantly asking the input of others, I opened my heart up enough to listen.

God's 'still small voice' said, "That wasn't your assignment."

No explanation necessary.

Surely, He might have frowned at the look of astonishment that overtook my face. Like a teacher who's stubborn student just 'doesn't get it' no matter what teaching approach they use, He might also have wanted to roll His eyes. A lesser god could even have given up on me.

But, no. He's long-suffering. He's patient. And, no, He didn't bite off more than He could chew when He took on loving me and drawing me to Himself.

He didn't scratch His head and whisper to the rest of the Trinity, "What do we do with this one?"

He didn't scrap His plans for my life.

He didn't rethink the purposes He created in me.

Instead, I felt His warm presence wrap me safely in the mantle of His mercy.

Shame fled.

Anger fell away.

Frustrations faded.

Loss was once again replaced with purpose. This time, I eagerly inquired of HIS purpose, pushing my puny human plans aside. Plans, mind you, that I'd thought ideal.

If you’ve ever found yourself sitting on this very same step, tell me your story…..please?

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” – Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)
(pinterest.com)

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Helen, Where are You?

(mindfulbalance.org)
Am I hiding? 

Again?

God knows exactly where I am when He calls to my spirit, “Helen, where are you?”

He knew where Adam was in Genesis 3:9 where we read, “…the LORD God called to Adam, and said to him, Where are you?”

He knows where you are, too, when you hear Him calling your name.

Since God already knows where we are, in every aspect of location, I believe He wants us to locate ourselves, and find ourselves in Him; tucked away under the safety of His wings, protected and empowered by the Blood covenant that ended our slavery to sin and self, living a life of abundance and blessing.

Feeling “lost” doesn’t necessarily mean we’re wallowing in a pig pen of sin and defiance. Perhaps we’ve just meandered off course and need to make our way back to Him.

Sometimes circumstances come up that catch us off guard. God knew what was coming, He knows He’s prepared us for it. Yet, sometimes we flounder, trying to fix things on our own. And sometimes that’s something only He can do.

When God calls, “Helen, where are you?” He’s asking so much more than my location. He wants to know why I’m crushing myself beneath a load I was never intended to carry on my own, and why I’ve stopped trusting Him to meet my needs and answer my prayers. Just as Paul asked the Galatians why they’d come so far in the Spirit, only to now return to the flesh (Galatians 3:3), God is asking why I’ve been behaving so foolishly.

(lifetime.org)
And, not unlike Adam, I’ve tried to hide – like a child covering his eyes and hoping we can’t see him.

Where am I? I’ve been pouting and crying and throwing a temper tantrum because things aren’t going according to the script I laid out.  

I haven’t forgotten God is in control, but I’ve tied His hands. I’ve attempted to “run interference for Him” and reroute the river of life – maybe even in the name of making Him look good.


Forgive me, Lord.
Your will be done. Your will, Your way.
Here I am, repentant and yielding to You.
I am not my own, I belong to You.
You are with me, I am with You, You are in me and I am found in You.
See me here in Your shadow, Almighty God.
Yes, I trust You, completely. Have Your way in me, O Lord.

 He's waiting. He's patient, long-suffering and kind, gracious beyond measure.

Answer Him.




I Don't Care Where You've Been Sleeping - Don Francisco
(gospellive.org)