Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Broken Vows

There are some situations in life that won't go away and people cannot figure out why. Illness, poverty, marital difficulties, addictions, dissatisfaction, irritations and more - seem almost like they are there to unravel a person's peace and joy. They are always for our growth, of course, but sometimes those things are there to remind a person that the life they're living is not the one God has in mind for them. They are not living in their true identity. God is calling for the prodigals to come home.

Did you make a commitment to the Lord some time in the past only to go back into the world and forget about Him? Did you get baptized as a statement of your good intention to fulfill the desire to turn over a new leaf, then walk away from your conviction when temptation got the better of you? Or perhaps a deep disappointment, failed relationship, fear of the future, insecurity at being alone or any number of things caused you to change your convictions in order to justify a lifestyle of living by self-will and keeping God at a distance. After all, if you're not close, you can't really hear what He's saying, right?

Or, how many times have we all said at one time or another, "Oh God, if you get me out of this, I will change! I will live right! I will never be so foolish again!" You were sincere at the time you spoke those words, yet loyalty to Christ was short lived. Perhaps that is you today. Friend, we have all failed our own good intentions at some point, and God is faithful even when people are not, but vows made to Him are still expected to be fulfilled. Grace is not an excuse to just do what we want and expect God to be ok with it. He doesn't let us off the hook! God tries to get people's attention in the little things before He uses the bigger things. 

Do you feel a deep frustration down in your soul?
Do you feel regret that you've been wasting time living the wrong life?
Do you feel dissatisfied with life as you know it?
Do you feel tired and hopeless with the direction of your life?

If you answered yes to any of those questions then please don't run from the conviction you may be feeling. Conviction is there as a means of pleading with your conscience to do what is right. Your heart knows when you have guilt that needs to be cleansed away, and only confession and true repentance will wash it away. Repentance is getting up from where you've been and making new choices, taking a new direction. Please come back to the Lord. I promise you, He is SAFE! He is waiting with open arms! I ask you to consider whether or not you have been directing your own life, or allowed the Lord to direct your life. Did you make a vow to Him that you need to honor? Until you make that choice, the life that you truly desire will continue to be out of reach.

I pray that today is the day that people will remember their vows to the Lord and commit to keeping them. Start the new year off right. Turn back to the Lord and honor the commitment to Him that you made. Bring yourself back into good graces and under the canopy of His protective care. 

"I am obligated by vows to You, God; I will make my thank offerings to You. " Psalm 56:12

Saturday, December 27, 2014

How to Demoralize the Enemy

So many people have found themselves struggling against hopelessness for a long season. I told the Lord I wanted prayers and insight how to leave the enemy hopeless. It's time to return the favor, don't you think? My request was to see what the enemy was up to, and what his assignment was against us. The other night, God opened my eyes, out of a dead sleep, to see a demon with the utmost clarity. I even knew its assignment. I knew exactly what to pray for. How awesome is that?

Would you like to demoralize the enemy and send him off howling with disappointment that his plans have been foiled? Pray what I did and ask the Lord to open your eyes.

Lord, I ask that you open my eyes and open the eyes of my family members as well, to see into the unseen realm. Show us exactly what the enemy is doing and what his assignment is against us so that we know how to pray. Give us specific knowledge so that nothing catches us off guard. In addition, I ask also for prophetic gifting, the seer anointing, and the gifts of the Spirit including dream interpretation that will enable us to understand the spirit realm with clarity. Bless us and fill us with the fullness of your Holy Spirit. Baptize us in the Holy Spirit and let a fresh new anointing be given to me and all my family members. Help us to outwit the enemy at every turn and leave the kingdom of darkness hopeless and demoralized that every one of their plans are ruined. In Jesus name, amen.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Martha's Miracle

As I was reading the word today, my eyes fell upon the scriptures in John 11:17 regarding the story of Lazarus. You are probably a bit familiar with the story, and I won’t go into all the details of it because it’s always great to read it for yourself. Something caught my attention today much differently than when I’ve read it in times past, and that’s what I’d like to share.
I’ve always had this negative perspective of Martha, probably because that’s pretty much how I’ve heard messages preached. Mary was the sweet, attentive and devoted sister that sat at Jesus’ feet, worshipping and paying attention to his teachings. Martha, on the other hand, always got kind of a bad rap. She was the fussy, complaining, overly busy and controlling sister that wanted Jesus to get others to do what she wanted. That’s how I always saw her. Until today.

The scripture says that Lazarus had died and everyone was mourning his death. Jesus had deliberately stayed in Jerusalem when he could have easily made it back before Lazarus died. It was only a couple of miles. So there was a lot of misunderstanding and feeling of disappointment surrounding Lazarus’ death. No one questioned Jesus’ identity at that point. Many, including Lazarus’ own family members, believed Jesus was exactly who He said He was; it was His timing they questioned. Because they didn’t understand His purpose, they felt incredibly let down. They knew He could have intervened before it was too late, but God himself allowed their deep disappointment at events that didn’t turn out the way they had hoped. Have you ever experienced that?

When Martha got word that Jesus was on his way, she was moved to action. Jesus was on the way but she was compelled to go find him before he even got into town! When she met him, the first thing she said was, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now, I know that whatever You ask of God, He will give you.”

I have always looked at that as though Martha was saying it accusingly.[My translation]… “Gosh, Lord, why’d you wait so long? You could have healed Lazarus and he wouldn’t have died. Why did you let me down?” In other words, “Don’t you care about us anymore??” But you know what? I didn’t see it that way as I read it today. Today what I saw was Martha’s faith in action. Her confession that Jesus was the Son of God, and with Him, nothing would be impossible. She was the one, not Mary, to get up and go in search of the One who held the power to change the circumstance. It was Martha that put a demand on the anointing when she said, “But even now…even now that everything looks hopeless and it’s way past time when we had watched and waited for you to show up…even now, Lord, I know that whatever You ask Your Father for, He will give You.” The unspoken please was hanging like a heavy weight in the atmosphere. Please, Jesus. You have the power to change our sorrow to joy. Please.

All the times when Martha was busy cooking, serving, and fussing in the background while Mary sat at Jesus’ feet, she was still listening. Her faith was growing. That little seed was being watered by all the testimonies of people being healed. That little mustard seed of faith was a pure seed. There was no mixture of doubt or double mindedness. No false teaching. No spiritual error. No confusion about who Jesus was or what He came to do. Martha didn’t doubt His will to heal and restore. Though the scriptures don't state it directly, I believe Martha was close enough to Jesus to witness the miracles. Jesus was close to her family, so it makes sense that she too would be around to witness a great deal of Jesus in action. She knew He healed those who seemed worthy of the blessing and she saw him save, heal and deliver the demoniacs, too. His love wasn't a matter of who deserved it and who didn't. She remembered a troubled woman who once approached Jesus on behalf of her demon possessed daughter. She did not go to Him based on her own merit. Her need drove her to appeal to Jesus' mercy, and He responded to her faith. (see  Matthew 15:26). Martha also remembered Jesus’ words when He said, “If you’ve seen Me, then You’ve seen the Father.” God was inherently good. Martha wasn't a perfect woman by any means, and none of us are, but it didn't stop her from getting up from where she'd been to go seek out the One who had all authority and power to help her. While Mary sat at home in her grief, Martha was driven to action. Martha was determined to ask even though the circumstances looked impossible. Jesus freely gave to those that had faith to come to Him! There was no fear in asking for the desire of her heart. She asked only for Lazarus’ life to be given back to him, and God agreed.

Pure faith is so powerful, it only takes one little seed. I liken it to the example of a drop of essential oils. Do you know anything about essential oils? They are so potent, even billions of molecules are contained in just one drop. They are super concentrated. That’s what faith is like and it’s what Jesus meant in the whole parable about the mustard seed. When your faith is pure, then it's potent, and all you need is the tiniest seed of faith to move a mountain. Nothing shall be impossible for you! What did Jesus say? Tell that mountain to go throw itself into the sea. It will never bother you again. 

Friend, what would restore your joy? What do you need to restore you to your purpose? Perhaps there is someone on your heart that desperately requires a meeting with God to deliver them or heal them. What is the need that is crying out for God's intervention? If you have even a mustard seed of faith then all things become possible.

I know that there are many people in a waiting mode right now, and hearts have grown heavy. I think there are many people that don’t understand what is taking so long. As with Lazarus, we know it’s not a question of God’s power. It’s His timing we don’t always understand, but sometimes the delay is purposeful in order to show God's glory. He waits so that everyone knows when something happens that could only be His doing. Friend, don’t lose hope while you’re waiting. The promise is on the way. Jesus is on the way to your house, but take that little mustard seed of faith and get up from where you’re at. Get up out of hopelessness and despair. Get up out of depression. Get up and stop talking yourself out of your miracle. If you make it all about you, then maybe you're focused on the wrong thing. I don't know what you're waiting for, but miracles and breakthrough are often about others. Remember who He is! Go find Him. In worship, in prayer, go find Him. Pay attention to your dreams, for God often gives clues to what remains to be resolved through your dreams. Come into agreement with Him in your asking, not just for what you want, but for what needs to occur before the promise can be birthed. When you do, put a demand on the anointing. Ask again. Ask Jesus to ask His Father to release your promise. Whatever it is you have been waiting on. You can move that mountain out of the way with your faith!

Jesus was moved with compassion and wept over Mary’s grief, but I believe He was moved to action over Martha’s confession of faith. Martha, the one who always seemed to be looked down upon in scripture, got up and went to find the Lord and lay claim to the miracle that Lazarus needed. It wasn’t specifically for her. She went to God on behalf of her brother, and her faith helped move that stone away from the tomb. Jesus wasn't the only one to come out of the tomb, you know. And that's a testimony for all of us to lay hold of. No matter how deep the pit, how lost or forgotten we may feel, how alone, how dead our dreams may appear...GOD IS ABLE to resurrect them all and bring our promises out of the grave! Jesus did many things to display the power of God, but He also asked a question, “When the Son of God comes, will He find faith in the earth?” My friend, I ask you, “Will Jesus find the kind of faith He is looking for – unwaivering faith - in you?”

You know the rest of the story. He went to the tomb and commanded the stone be rolled away and Lazarus to come out. And so he did. The grave clothes were stripped away and Lazarus became a living testimony of God’s resurrection power. He was a living witness to Jesus’ ministry. His testimony was so powerful that many people became filled with fear and tried to kill him! The fear of the Lord is a powerful thing. It can snap sense into people in a hurry and restore a healthy awe and respect towards the Lord. We need that again. God wants to restore the fear of the Lord so that many will be saved.

Every time I have felt I have prayed everything that there is to pray and I’ve exhausted every angle of prayer, God eventually reveals something else that needs to be prayed through. I know that transition and delivery can be exhausting, but don’t stop now! God’s delay is not an indicator that His promise is not going to be fulfilled. It may mean that there are some details that are still in need of attention, and perhaps you need to pray in agreement with Him to take care of those loose ends before your miracle can come forth. Or, like Martha, perhaps you need to pray for someone else to receive their miracle…their resurrection…or someone else’s restoration before you can receive your own. Breakthrough is often like that. God often requires us to consider the needs of others above our own, and enlists the aid of others to pray in various parts of the many breakthroughs on His agenda. Ask the Lord to raise up intercessors to pray for your needs as you give your attention and prayers to those of others. He will do it! There are breakthroughs that cause a ripple effect throughout the body of Christ, families and communities. Today, stop praying for what you desire. God already knows what you need and what you hope for! Instead, pray for someone else’s miracle. Ask Him to send spiritual doctors and midwives. Sometimes, the thing that represents the spiritual baby’s head gets stuck. Remember, we are all a part of one body. Christ represents the head. We are His body. Each one of us represents a part of the function of His body. The baby must be in proper position. A lowered head represents humility and readiness to come out of the birth canal. Ask Holy Spirit to deliver the head so the rest of the baby can come forth and the birth can be a safe one. Far too often there are dreams and promises that are either stillborn or abort prematurely simply because God requires a great deal of prayer. He looks to and fro to find intercessors to birth the plans of God and bring forth the promises for us all. Ask God to send angels of breakthrough. PUSH! Pray Until Something Happens. It’s time to deliver the promise!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

But, God! God Wants to Drive Your Doubts Out of Town!

Have you ever looked at the enormity of a situation and said, "Impossible. That will never happen?" We talk ourselves out of believing it can happen and then hopelessness sets in. When we agree with all the negativity, then we receive exactly what we believe for: Nothing. BUT, GOD! Today, all of a sudden, I looked at the same situation and said, "You know, that's not so impossible." Suddenly, out of nowhere, God had given me a fresh faith-filled perspective on an old situation. I recognized Faith had shown up out of nowhere so I thanked God that with Him all things ARE possible, and then invited Him into that particular area to go to work.

Listen Friends, sometimes God just shows up out of nowhere and presents a fresh perspective that has faith in the equation. You know it's real because your attitude isn't one of defeat and doesn't waiver at the promise of God. When God presents the faith you need to see the situation change, it's important to act on it right away before the enemy can come in to try to steal that seed away again. Take a moment to invite God into all of YOUR impossible situations...the one's that frustrate you, zap you of your strength and energy...the ones you've looked at for years and always said, Nope. Not happening." Today is the day to act. Come into agreement with my testimony and realize that what God does for one person He is willing to do for others, they must simply seize the moment and agree with the Spirit of Faith!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Love Leaves the Door Open

         I barely saw her sitting there in the shadows, until I noticed movement. Night after night I would catch glimpses of her tiny silhouette sitting there in the dark, hoping. Waiting. She glanced up from time to time, looking up at the weathered gray wood trim. The loyalty she showed was undeserved. “They’re not there anymore, little one,” I whispered. My heart broke for her, because no one deserved to be treated with such casual disregard. She didn't ask to be left fending for herself, homeless and alone. Still, night after night, there she sat in front of the door marked #101.        

            Months passed, and she grew and ran wild. She was certain of it now; she had been abandoned and no longer trusted anyone. Her sleek black frame no longer darkened the doorstep of apartment 101. I would see her at a distance and call to her, and tell her it was safe to venture closer. Every once in a while I would catch her watching me from a distance before she darted away, but I never expected her to make the first move.

            Hunger drove her, I'm sure, but kindness drew her to a new door. My door. I opened the door one day to see this little black and white visitor watching and…waiting. “Well, hello there, Mittens. Are you hungry?" I returned a few moments later with some food. My husband had started calling her Mittens months before because she looks just like the kitty from the movie, Bolt.

            After she ate, she just sat there, so I left the door open a bit to see what she would do. I went back to doing the dishes. It wasn’t long before a little inquisitive face peered into the house. And so it began.

            I would put food out, and Mittens came to breakfast and dinner. I left the door open, so she could poke her head in and take a look around. Little by little, she allowed me to come closer, but she always darted away as soon as I got within inches of touching her shiny black fur. I sat down on the concrete. She sat down and watched me. I laid down and reached out a hand, assuring her it was ok to trust again. Mittens took a step. Then, she laid down on the concrete and reached out an arm, again, pulling it back just before I could touch her. Perhaps it was the faint memory of a touch from long ago that broke through the fear, but she worked up the courage to let me pet her – and when I did, she finally gave in to letting herself feel something she hadn’t felt in a very long time. Love.

            She rubbed against my hand, arched her back and came back for more. She grabbed my hand with hers. She seems to love to just hold my hand and close her eyes, savoring the feeling of love soothing her fears away. Her little arms paw and wave in mid air like she's swimming, reaching for more love. Mittens comes in for visits, and has met the rest of the family. She hides under the couch and waits for someone to stick in a hand and give her a friendly scratch. Eventually she ventures out and explores a bit, flopping on the floor and purring contentedly, tentatively waiting for someone to reach down and give her a scratch. She plays with the ornaments hanging from the Christmas tree and I think how love is such a huge reason for this season. I am grateful for this little visitor who warms my heart.

            I think what surprised me the most is how quickly she turned from a timid, unsure wanderer, to a bold, protective warrior.  The previous encounters with our other animals proved uneventful. The cats retreated into other rooms and the dog was just curious. Then suddenly one night Mittens positioned herself between one of our cats and the dog, who had come into the room. Mittens didn't want them to come near me. She hissed and swatted them away as if to say, “Get back! That’s my Mama!”

            “Did you see that?” I asked my husband. She has adopted me! She thinks I am her Mama!”

            “How fierce you are, little one,” I said. “I am flattered that you love me so. You are jealous for me, aren’t you?” I whispered, as I pronounced a kiss upon her little pink and white kitty nose. “I love you, too, Mittens.” She rubbed her face against mine and purred.

            Yet, even in the midst of the many assurances of our love and kindness, Mittens felt compelled to go out, the wild not yet out of her system. She needed to know the door was open, that she could leave whenever she wanted, and I wouldn't try to cage her in. When the door was closed, it spooked her. She felt trapped, panicked and immediately wanted to run away. My impatience to try to keep her safe made me try to keep her close where I could keep an eye on her, but that independent spirit wasn't ready to be broken yet. Mittens was still learning this new found relationship, and testing it to see if it really was ‘safe.’ As with any relationship, trust has to be earned, and it doesn't happen overnight. 

            Another amazing thing that happened is the effect new kitty had upon our other cat, Bebe. Bebe is the most beautiful, spoiled house cat, that wants for nothing. She has always treated me with careless disregard, and in typical cat fashion, treats me like her servant.  I am there to serve her at her pleasure. The things that Bebe takes for granted and often acts finicky about, Mittens appreciates wholeheartedly. Until Mittens wandered into the household, Bebe could have cared less about me. Suddenly, she wants me to notice her, pet her, and remember that she is a member of the family, too. Funny how the cat that had it all didn't seem to care until she noticed someone else receiving my affections! Jealousy is a funny thing, is it not?

            As I petted her one day, I thought of my son’s little friend who recently became homeless. In one day I fed both the homeless child and the homeless cat. I was sad for both. The Lord can speak through anything, and one of the things He reminded me of through all this is how compassionate He feels towards the orphans, the outcasts, those who are disconnected from His body – and disconnected from Him. They’re everywhere. They’re lonely, hurting and many feel very uncomfortable with the church. 

            Perhaps their hunger or another need will be a reason for them to seek out the those who offer help, but need alone is not enough to make them want to stick around and we should not feel miffed if they don't feel obligated. If love is truly unconditional, then when we help others it should not have strings attached either. The moment one person tries to cage someone in and call it love, trust is broken. Relationships can't be rushed. Love gives people space to grow and in the process, loyalty and commitment will grow as well. People must be given the opportunity to discover God’s love on their own, as He demonstrates His gentleness through us. God’s love is not harsh. It’s the kindness of God that leads men to repentance, to have that change of heart that draws them into fellowship with others so that love can heal them. Love leaves the door open so that people can find their way home again. No one has to feel awkward or uncomfortable. They should never have to feel disgraced or ashamed at coming home. There’s grace enough for everyone at God’s table. Just remember to leave the door open.