Archive for November, 2018

Echoes of Old and Movement in New

Wednesday, November 28th, 2018

My husband and I visited an art museum not long ago. Upon arrival, my heart sank—it was fieldtrip day. The hallowed halls of the art museum echoed with children’s laughter, adult’s frantic efforts to shhh them, and the squeak of soled tennis shoes prancing about. Determined to drink in the culture, vivid colors, and awe-inspired scenes, my husband and I darted away from the groups into hidden rooms deep within the museum.

Soon afterward, while lost in examination of a breath-taking painting, the sounds of a giant herd approached. I whirled around to find my husband, caught unaware, making a valiant effort to cross the gallery before the chaos hit. But, he made his move too late.

Our eyes locked, and before we knew it, a swarm of teachers and children were around us. My husband was literally stuck like a rock in the middle of a river. Children danced, walked, and ran around him completely hindering his ability to move anywhere. We both were frozen in place and the artwork still hung perfectly stagnant on the walls. But, there was movement all around us.

After an indefinite amount of time, the mass left. Frozen still in our reverie, we listened to the remaining echo of the aftermath. The voices, the laughter, the rustling…all danced their way upward into the high vaulted ceilings—reminding us moments after of what had just taken place.

I hadn’t realized I’d been holding my breath. When the echo subsided, I was reluctant to exhale to shatter the newfound quiet and peace that had resettled itself back into the gallery. If I moved, would the tranquility and majesty of the art museum come to an end? Now disturbed, could I rediscover my moment of inspiration with the painting beside me?

***

Reflecting back on this experience, I realize we’ve all had these moments at one time or another in our walk with God. We follow the straight and narrow path with Jesus and then disaster strikes. We’re frozen in place as the Lord fights our battle and restores the peace around us. But, the echoes of the experience haunt our lives reminding us what happened, and we become fearful to return back to the path we were on.

Will we experience another trial? Can we find our previous peace? Will we be able to start a new life? Will strength come again? Will we be as anointed as we once were?

The enemy uses these echoes to control us and lock us into a state of fear. Fear drives us to stay where we are, take a step back in ministry, and tells us no one will receive the Gospel of Christ.

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new (II Corinthians 5:17, KJV).

God has promised to always give us peace if we stay in Him: connected through prayer, fasting, the Word, church, and fellowship (Philippians 4:7). We can’t let the enemy convince us otherwise (II Timothy 1:7)! Circumstances will arise in our daily life that may bring change, but change is good.

Scripture tells us if we’re in Christ we’re new creatures. News flash: there’s no limit on how many times “new” or “change” happens. We die out to sin daily. Fresh trials can happen daily. New tests can come forth daily. We can try to hide, but they’ll find us nonetheless.

The answer to the previous set of questions is not always going to be, “yes.” Why? The devil is in the backtracking and moment-in-time business. God is in the change and creating new business. Instead of the old, you’ll find new and greater peace. You’ll now be stronger and wiser. You’ll step into a new and greater anointing. You’ll be able to appreciate the chaos that comes.

I wish I was “unfrozen” enough to snap a photograph of my husband that day. I don’t want to forget him standing in the river of people. But, in my mind’s eye, when I reflect back, I can smile. God wanted to prove that we could still enjoy the “art” of life without strict peace and quiet. We survived. We made it. And, we’ll do it again the next time we see an art museum in our travels.

Saint of God, don’t be frozen today from the change that has come your way. Don’t be hindered by the noise and the chaos. Continue to forge forward in His Kingdom and know the “new” is coming. Take a moment and see what’s surrounding you, and praise God for it. Something breath-taking an amazing is on the horizon.

 

Counterfeit Power

Wednesday, November 21st, 2018

When I was fourteen, I landed my first job—the kind where you get a paycheck and learn about some guy name FICA who keeps most of your money. I worked at a local retail store and loathed being assigned to the customer service desk. To a teenager, being crated in a box for hours was pure torture.

Shortly after starting, the general manager called a floor meeting. He reported there was a group in the area paying with funny money. We received a quick tutorial for spotting suspicious bills and were armed with a highlighter. But, it wasn’t an ordinary highlighter: for when you drew on a bill and the color changed, you had identified bad currency.

I remember the day a woman came up to the counter, loaded down with merchandise. I scanned her items and retrieved money from her outstretched hand. But, as the bills leafed through my fingers, my eye spotted something unusual. I slowly pulled a bill out of the pile, snapped the lid off my highlighter, and drew a mark. I held my breath as the color changed. I had spotted a counterfeit bill.

You can imagine the look on the woman’s face when I told her we couldn’t accept her tender.

And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved (II Thessalonians 2:6–10, KJV).

In Scripture, Paul warned the church of Thessalonica about the Antichrist. He described how he would come and do the work of Satan: demonstrating signs and miracles, but with counterfeit power. This individual will seem like he has the goods until the One with the true power and authority, Jesus Christ, steps on the scene. Jesus will reveal the real truth, all will come to know it.

In our Christian journey, we must take care to walk in truth and demonstrate true power through Jesus Christ. What we live and believe must be in alignment with the pure, unadulterated Word of God. Scripture warns us to guard our hearts and minds against false doctrine. And, we must have pure motives in what we do—it should all glorify God, not our flesh.

Jesus told His disciples that not everyone will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. They will claim to have prophesied in His name, cast out devils, and completed many wonderful works. But, He will tell them to depart from Him as they only walked in wickedness (Matthew 7:21–23).

Just because we seem to have authority and power doesn’t mean it stems from the right source. If we operate according to our own will, and think we have the power to do a work on our own, when the time comes and the Lord pulls out His highlighter, we’ll find what we have isn’t real or powerful at all. What we’ll have is only counterfeit.

We might be living for the Lord today to the best of our ability. But, it’s always a good idea to stop and do a quick pulse check. How are we operating? Who are we living for? Are we serving self or are we serving the Lord? Is our momentum and success from our own doing or is it from God?

We all need to find a closet of prayer and ask God to eliminate the fake from our lives. We desperately need the Holy Spirit of Promise burning with us. We need the baptism of the Holy Ghost and fire! Don’t be caught with the counterfeit today. Let’s operate in the true power of Jesus Christ.

The Roadblocks of Thanksgiving

Sunday, November 18th, 2018

Watch the Service

And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off: And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed. And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, 16 And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan. And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine? There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger. And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole (Luke 17:11–19, KJV).

More than an Event

Thanksgiving is an attitude and not an event in our life or just a response to something. We offer up thanksgiving to God even if nothing has happened to us! We thank Him because He is great and worthy of our praise. This is why we draw close to the Lord in prayer and make thanksgiving a part of our daily walk. We enter into His gates with thanksgiving and  into His courts with praise (Psalms 100:4)! The closer we get to God, the greater our praise and thanksgiving will be. In reality, our thanksgiving will never be more powerful than when everything in our life is going wrong and we still praise God anyway!

The Enemy of Thanksgiving

Paul warned Timothy in the last days people would be ungrateful (II Timothy 3:1–4). We see this active in our society today and it is further enhanced by our media. But, there are many things in life that should cause every person to be thankful! The very simplistic things are cause for giving thanksgiving to God. We need to heed the warning Paul gave to Timothy and be wary of everything that tries to cause us not to be thankful. Satan is one who tries to rob us of thanksgiving at our beginning so we lose our power and awareness of thanksgiving at the end. Keep thanksgiving a part of your walk with God and block out what tries to separate us from it.

The 10 Lepers

In Scripture, the 10 lepers cried out to Jesus for healing. On their way to the priest, they realized they had been cleansed. Of the 10 lepers, only 1 stopped and began to cry out with thanksgiving to God. There was a difference between the 9 vs. the 1 who gave thanksgiving. The 9 dealt with elements inhibiting their thanksgiving. From this Scripture, it’s important we learn their roadblocks to thanksgiving and avoid them in our own lives.

Things that Block Thanksgiving

Entitlement

Jesus dealt with entitlement before He taught about thanksgiving with the lepers. Entitlement is the attitude where we think we’re owed what we have, lost, or want. Truthfully, we’re blessed no matter what. Nothing is ours, nothing is owed to us, and we shouldn’t want anything when we already have the presence of God in our life (Luke 17:9–10).

We shouldn’t feel like we should receive “credit” for doing right for God or doing something extra. Our obedience to God is our reasonable (minimal) service! We are called to live a life that’s a living sacrifice to God at all times. There’s a problem when we think we own anything we’ve been given or have in life. Every good gift is from above (James 1:7) and everything is the Lord’s regardless (Psalms 24:1). We need to ask God to help remove this “blockage” from our spiritual heart so we can offer up thanksgiving to the One who owns and gives all things.

Comparison

In Scripture, we read about a Pharisee and publican coming before the Lord in prayer. The Pharisee compared himself to the sinful publican, stating his perceived elevated status. However, the publican, although fallen to comparison, compared himself only to God (Luke 18:10-14), identifying his true shortcomings. If we are to compare, we need to raise our gaze and only compare ourselves with God. When we try to compare ourselves with others around us, this shows a lack of trust and faith in God. When we look at ourselves against God, we realize how unworthy we are and how great He is. And, we can be truly thankful for what He has done to change our lives.

When we compare with something or someone else, we can miss thanksgiving in our “here” when we look at “there.” Goals are not bad to have, but the pursuit of “there” is dangerous. We must be able to thank God for where we are in the present. He may not move us on in life or pour out any additional blessings until we learn how to thank Him for what He’s doing now. Whatever state we’re in, we need to be content (Philippians 4:11). Our thanksgiving says, “It’s enough for now.”

Negative Attitude

The mindset of the believer needs to be yes. Jesus told His disciples that if they had faith to speak unto a mountain, it would move. You can have what you ask for if you are positive and have faith (Mark 11:23). There is incredible power in the confession of our faith, but the same is true for confession of disbelief. Jesus shared a pivotal truth in the power of confession and thankfulness. An unthankful spirit can manifest in our lives if we don’t have faith or praise God.

Regardless of the circumstances around us, we need to keep our mouths shut until we can agree with God’s will and thank Him for it. The promises of God are always yes and amen (II Corinthians 1:20). If we have a “no” or ungrateful spirit in us, we need to get to a place of prayer and fasting and allow the Holy Ghost come in an change us. Our mouth needs to confess the mind-change God wants to make in us: a grateful and thankful heart in all manner of living.

Conclusion

Because the leper turned to praise God, Jesus spoke something to him beyond what was said to the other 9. In this interaction, the leper became more than cleansed, he became whole. There is much more on the other side of thanksgiving we never get to because we’re kept back by various hindrances. Enter into God’s presence today with thanksgiving and find out what’s on the other side.

 

The Cross-Examination

Wednesday, November 14th, 2018

Any time I receive a letter in the mail from our local county, my heart leaps in my throat and there’s a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. A silent prayer goes forth regarding the envelope’s contents. After slicing open the seal with a letter opener and sliding out the folded piece of paper, there are two words in all the English language I don’t want to see: jury duty.

I’ve been blessed thus far in my adult career to receive a jury summons only once. But, that experience was one I’ll never forget. It was a heart-wrenching murder trial of a young college student, full of long days, grueling testimonies, and very persuasive attorneys.

To ensure I upheld my end of the bargain in my court-appointed civic duty, I was highly attentive during every court session, scribbling page after page of notes. In the opening remarks, the defense attorney had me captivated and even convinced right out of the gate that the defendant was not guilty. But, then the cross-examination began…

After a week of eye-witness accounts, pieces of evidence, coroner reports, and gruesome photographs, the seeming truth of the defense attorney’s case dwindled in front of my eyes, along with the rest of my fellow jurors.

The first to speak in court sounds right—until the cross-examination begins (Proverbs 18:17, NLT).

I don’t know about you, but my walk with God is a lot like this court-case experience. No, I haven’t killed anyone, but I’m presented daily with the choice to do the right or the wrong thing; act like my Lord and Savior or to act in the flesh.

The many times I’ve acted in my flesh I feel the Holy Ghost convict me. Still abiding in a fleshly mindset, I don the role of a defense attorney. Reflecting on the situation, I present a slew of “facts” to justify my behavior. It appears as if I’m in the right and whomever else in the wrong.

But, then I find an altar of prayer, and that’s when the true trial begins. God begins His cross-examination and compares my actions with His Word. He pokes holes in what I thought was a rock-solid defense case, and lays my heart bare and exposed. It’s in this process, I always discover the real truth of the case: I was truly in the wrong.

As Scripture tells us, the first to speak—our flesh or the devil—can always sound right. We (or the devil) can present a pretty convincing argument. We can even use Scriptures to defend our position. If we’re in alignment with one Scripture, we can be justified, right?

We must remember that God is the ultimate judge, and He is the discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart (Hebrews 4:12). His ways are higher than our ways, and His thoughts higher than our thoughts. He knows His Word more perfectly than we do! We can sound right initially, but when God comes on the scene, He’ll expose our sin and poor judgment.

If you’re in a circumstance that’s “on trial,” I encourage you to find an altar of prayer. When God beings to cross-examine you, you’ll need to repent and receive His correction. This process is never easy, but now is the time to repent and get right with God. Don’t wait until the final judgment to hear God’s final verdict. You don’t want to hear, “you’re guilty,” but “well done.”

The Upper Room

Wednesday, November 7th, 2018

I was speaking with a dear Sister not too long ago, who shared with me her journey in coming to the Lord. As a child, she had a kinship with God—loving every moment she was in His house. But, there was still something missing. Something would stir within her as she sat in church. As the preacher shared God’s Word, she could feel the Lord’s presence all around her, but that was it, nothing more.

There were days she’d long to expedite her childhood so she could join the youth for their church services. Up the stairwell, on the second floor, young men and women would gather for worship. They met in what was known as the “Upper Room.” She always knew something exciting was bound to happen in that room, which was all the more reason to desire entrance.

She knew Scripture spoke about an outpouring of the Holy Ghost on the Day of Pentecost. This had happened in a place, which was also known as the “Upper Room.” And there, the fire of God’s presence fell (Acts 2:1–4). Subconsciously, she knew the fire of God’s presence needed to fall in her life, but didn’t know when or how it would happen.

Years later, as a young woman, she met a man who invited her to church. When she stepped into the service that day, every childhood longing was immediately awakened. Albeit she was in another place, another moment in time, she felt the same stirring within her. She knew this is what she had been looking for her entire life.

She had found an Upper Room that day, and experienced her own personal Pentecost. She felt the true fire—no longer just around her, but finally within her—as she was filled with the gift of the Holy Ghost. It was an experience that changed her life. From that moment, she knew she had found something real. Something she couldn’t express or define as a child finally became a reality to her as an adult.

After telling me her story, she made a simple statement. Even as a child she always desired an upper-room experience. And, even today, she still longs for that experience daily.

***

Just as God gives every man a measure of faith, I believe He instills in us a desire to seek His fire. As children, we have an innocence about us and readiness to believe in something greater than the natural. As we progress into adulthood, that desire and mentality is squandered by reality and human reason. Very rarely do we have an opportunity to step back in time and readopt the sincere heart of our former selves, or find what the mind of our youth sought after so desperately.

We cannot allow the world—or ourselves—to convince us that the Upper Room was a place and/or an experience only for the Book of Acts church. The 120 in the room that day were adult believers, who sought the power God promised (Luke 24:49).

They are no different from us today. We are believers. We are His children. We are a part of His church. Why not seek after what is still being promised to God’s children today? He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8).

The experience of the Pentecost is not a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The Upper Room is not only found in Jerusalem. The ability to believe in a God that can work the supernatural is not only found in the heart of a child.

Find your Upper Room today. Whoever you are, wherever you are, get alone with God, and ask for His fire to fall. Don’t wait any longer wondering what the Upper Room looks or feels like. You can find it if you seek it (Matthew 7:7–8). Once you experience your own personal Pentecost, you’ll desire to step into the Upper Room every day.

The Fragrance of Thanksgiving

Sunday, November 4th, 2018

Luke 7:36–38 // Mark 14:3–5

Two Boxes

These 2 settings of Scripture document 2 different instances when a precious alabaster box was broken and poured over Jesus’ head. Theologians note these 2 accounts were almost 2 years apart. The oil was worth approximately a man’s full year’s wages. Regardless of the cost, 1 woman would pour out the oil for what Jesus had done for her, and 1 poured the oil for what Jesus would do.

Both women had different reasons behind their sacrifice, but they both poured out the oil because they were thankful. And, because of their thankfulness, they poured out their most prized possession. How grateful do we need to be before we make the ultimate sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving? Thanksgiving is an offering every one of us has at our disposal. We all have the potential to break open our box and pour it at the feet of Jesus.

A Released Fragrance

When the box of alabaster was broken, a fragrance was released into the room. Smell is the only sense that can trigger the memory portion of the brain and can also affect how we feel. No matter what state we think we’re in, or what we’re “smelling” or “sensing,” there is power in us pouring out thanksgiving upon the Lord. How and when we break our own box will determine how the fragrance will impact us. Don’t wait until it’s too late; break your box of thanksgiving today.

Lessons in the Box

Thanksgiving is Not a Leftover

The women  brought their best to Jesus when offering up thanksgiving. This was their first action. For us, our thanksgiving seems to come in the context of loss; it’s a leftover for us and not our first action. We need to learn a lesson from these 2 women and provide our thanksgiving up front. We’re commanded to enter into His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise. When we start with thanksgiving, this will change our perspective about everything else. If we have a thanksgiving-first mentality, we can offer thanksgiving that’s driven by our love and gratitude to Jesus for who He is and what He’s done.

In the Old Testament, the church brought an offering of first fruits. This gave God’s people the ability to praise Him for what He did in their past. And, it gave them the opportunity to praise God for giving them the ability to have a harvest! They key to this offering was that it was first! Tis is a model we need to follow when offering God thanksgiving in our life.

Thanksgiving Doesn’t Just Impact Us

No one around the women could escape the fragrance of the thanksgiving poured out. Spiritually, there is a fragrance that’s poured out when we’re thankful. It’s not hard to sense a thankful person—they’re happy, content, persevere, etc. Paul warned Timothy in the last days people won’t be thankful. They won’t stand people that are thankful, and their own unthankfulness will come out in their actions (II Timothy 3:2). In each instance, the men in the room questioned the “waste” of the oil being poured out. We must be wary of those around us who question our praise and thanksgiving. Jesus told them the oil wasn’t waste but a sacrifice.

A Pleasing Fragrance

When Noah stepped off the ark after the world was flooded, the first thing he did was offer up a sacrifice to the Lord (Genesis 8:21). To the Lord, Noah had offered a sweet smelling savor. God has His own sense of smell and He can smell the difference in our offerings; He knows the difference between sweet and stink. We can’t go through the motions and follow the masses in our relationship with God. He is looking for a worshipper who will push through the crowds and one who will make up their mind to have a sacrifice of thanksgiving.