Jumping 4 Joy

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My fellow believers, when it seems as though you are facing nothing but difficulties see it as an invaluable opportunity to experience the greatest joy that you can!  For you know that when your faith is tested it stirs up power within you to endure all things.  And then as your endurance grows even stronger it will release perfection into every part of your being until there is nothing missing and nothing lacking. James 1:2-4 TPT

James must have been the greatest optimist ever! I believe the last thing I think about when facing nothing but difficulties is joy, but according to him, tested faith stirs up power to endure all things. I could use that!

But the last part, about releasing perfection into every part of your being until there is nothing missing or lacking, that my friend is epic! Can you even imagine a life with nothing missing or lacking? Me neither! But I will say this, our response to what happens in our life can bring us joy or sadness and I believe that choice is always in the way we look at things.

Hear me out for a moment. When I was first married, the Lord said something to me that really changed how I went through things. I heard Him say, “You will always have rocks in your path but what you do with them is up to you. You can leave them there and trip over them every day, or put them together and build something great out of them, the choice is always yours.”

Now that doesn’t mean I didn’t kick some stones along the way or cry myself to sleep at times, but after the tears were gone and the pain in my toes stopped, I would look at what happened and think, “What am I going to do with this? Feel sorry for myself or minister to others out of it?” The choice was always the latter.

There’s a very old song I came to love which became my theme song so to speak. Written by Mahalia Jackson entitled, My Living Shall Not Be In Vain:

If I can help somebody, as I travel along, If can help somebody, with a word or song           If I can help somebody, from doing wrong, then my living shall not be in vain.                     No, My living shall not be in vain, no my living shall not be in vain                                               If I can help somebody as I’m singing this song, You know my living shall not be in vain.

So if it’s joy that’s ultimately responsible for releasing perfection into every part of my being until there is nothing missing and nothing lacking, I’m all in! That’s how I want to live my life right there! Relying on the perfect Love of God which has been deposited in my heart to bring me to the place where I can say, “It’s no longer I who lives, but Christ who lives in me.”

Father, I have such joy deep down in my soul that it keeps bubbling to the surface each time I think of You. Everything You’ve given to me, everything You’ve done for me and through me, I hope it brings You joy as well. Joy unspeakable and full of glory, the type that changed the atmosphere around me. It’s all for You! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

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Seeing Hidden Things

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Now Jericho was tightly shut because of the sons of Israel; no one went out and no one came in.  The Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have given Jericho into your hand, with its king and the valiant warriors.  You shall march around the city, all the men of war circling the city once. You shall do so for six days.  Also seven priests shall carry seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark; then on the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets.  It shall be that when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, and when you hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city will fall down flat, and the people will go up every man straight ahead.” Joshua 6:1-5

I’ve always loved this story for various reasons. First of all, it’s always been a reminder to me that regardless of the crazy instructions God gives, He will cause us to win if we obey.  But as I was recently listening to a message on this, the first word the Lord said to Joshua was highlighted. “See, I have given Jericho into your hand, with its king and the valiant warriors.”

So I went to the dictionary and looked this small word up and found the following definitions: to perceive (things) mentally; discern; understand: to construct a mental image of; visualize: to accept or imagine or suppose as acceptable: to be cognizant of; recognize: to understand intellectually or spiritually; have insight.

I think it’s pretty amazing that God used that as the first thing Joshua needed to do. It’s as if He knew that if they couldn’t see it, they’d never believe it and without believing it they’d never receive it. Are you getting this? It seems to be the foundation for everything in the Word of God; no believing, no receiving!

That my friend is having faith in what we don’t yet possess simply because God said it. We are told that without faith, it’s impossible to please God because whoever comes to him must believe He is who He says He is and that He rewards those who seek Him. (Hebrews 11:6) I’m not making this up! If we can’t see it, we’ll never have it.

If you drop down to verse 7, it says that Joshua said to the people. So he heard the Word, he saw it in his spirit, then he gave instructions just as the Lord gave it to him. So if I’m looking at this correctly, which I believe I am, you have to see it in your spirit, say it with your mouth before you possess it in the natural.

God is Spirit and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth. What is the truth? It’s found in knowing God and His Word. Not just the written Word as in words on a page, but knowing His nature, Knowing the depths of His love, being familiar with His compassion, experiencing His mercy, and having understood that His grace is on display because of His strength and our weakness.

It’s seeing that healing was a part of His plan for us and that regardless of what we see or feel in the natural, His blood was enough to bring that manifestation in the natural. It stops looking to the natural for a diagnosis, and meditates on His Word which has the final outcome. It’s trusting that regardless of the bizarre instructions, following them is the only way to get the desired result.

Oh praise You most High God, for Your ways are higher then our ways and Your thoughts are higher then our thoughts. You made a way where there looked to be no way to win the city of Jericho. You caused the eyes of their understanding to be open and gave them a heart to obey your instructions. Please do the same with us. Open our eyes to see, to say and to believe because all things are possible to them who believe. It’s in Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

His Orders

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“The harvest is huge and ripe. But there are not enough harvesters to bring it all in. As you go, plead with the Owner of the Harvest to drive out into his harvest fields many more workers. Now, off you go! I am sending you out even though you feel as vulnerable as lambs going into a pack of wolves. You won’t need to take anything with you—trust in God alone. And don’t get distracted from my purpose by anyone you might meet along the way.” Luke 10:2-4 TPT

I’m not meaning to take this out of context by any means. This is when Jesus sent the 70 out into the neighboring communities and this was merely the beginning of the instructions he gave. Please read the rest for yourself, because this is applicable to each of us today as well.

However the words that felt highlighted to me in this passage was “go“, “vulnerable“, “trust” and “distracted“.

I had actually been thinking about this story for awhile now, but when I read it again in this particular translation, I saw it in a different light so to speak. These were 70 people who were ‘followers’ and we know for certain that Jesus never went after qualified people, but rather chose those rejected by others to be those he would qualify to go.

Since Jesus’ ministry was only 3 years long, we can be pretty sure that none of them went to ministry school. They were merely discipled by sitting under his teaching and watching him. Talk about a crash course in evangelism! So he said to them, “Go!” Knowing that they were scared, felt unqualified, didn’t know what to expect but the cool thing was that they went.

Heart pounding, white knuckling the whole way, they obeyed. They had seen too much not to trust that what He said, He would do. He gave instructions and they followed them and refused to be distracted with anything else. And the results? Read it for yourself.

When the seventy missionaries returned to Jesus, they were ecstatic with joy, telling him, “Lord, even the demons obeyed us when we commanded them in your name!” Jesus replied, “While you were ministering, I watched Satan topple until he fell suddenly from heaven like lightning to the ground.  Now you understand that I have imparted to you all my authority to trample over his kingdom. You will trample upon every demon before you and overcome every power Satan possesses. Absolutely nothing will be able to harm you as you walk in this authority. Luke 10:17-19 TPT 

Go and do what He’s asked regardless of your qualifications. For who the Lord calls, He qualifies. You may be afraid and vulnerable as the entire 70 were I’m sure, but remember this, He said He is with you ALWAYS, even to the ends of the earth. So go and do it afraid, trusting that He gave you all the authority you need to overcome every distraction, every trial, every rejection and every obstacle. You will always be a team of two when God is in you.

Father, thanks for this reminder. I don’t want to stay stuck where I am because of fears that I may do something the wrong way.  I will step out and show your love in the way you loved me, unconditionally. I may not get it right all the time, but I will try. It’s in Jesus’ name and for His glory, Amen.

You Are Valued

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Every piece of art has a beginning and an ending. Imagine if Micheal Angelo hadn’t finished the Sistine Chapel? But what you may not be aware of is that there are several statues considered ‘unfinished’ that are highly valued simply because they are his.

If his items have such a high value even unfinished, how much more valuable are you? Think about that a moment. You are a created being, designed by God in His image and likeness. What others see as flaws are beautiful to Him. He not only made you, He made you with purpose in mind. Our image is merely a container to hold the glory and majesty of our Creator.

I pray with great faith for you, because I’m fully convinced that the One who began this glorious work in you will faithfully continue the process of maturing you and will put his finishing touches to it until the unveiling of our Lord Jesus Christ! Philippians 1:6 TPT

This process we’re in, the process of maturing and perfecting, of exposing and washing, will continue right up until the day Jesus comes to take us as His bride. Why such a long process? Because although we think we’re ready and may feel we’re prepared for what God has for us, we have no idea what He truly has prepared for us to do.

For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome. Jeremiah 29:11 AMPC

We may have glimpses of what He has in store and we may even ‘know’ that it’s really big, but just how big will not be revealed until we’re ready for it. Trust the process! Allow the Holy Spirit to arrange you the way He wants so that you can do what He’s purposed you to do.

Ok, I hear you! You probably feel that it’s been forever since you said yes you’ll go, yes you’ll do what He wants you to do. After all, you’re not getting any younger, right? I get it! I’m 63 years young and deeply aware that my calendar is getting shorter by the day! But guess what? God knows that as well and seriously, is anything too hard for Him?

He gives me hope in my final outcome. He is continuing to put on the finishing touches, but there will come a moment when the Artist is finished with His masterpiece. He will look at me and be satisfied with the work He’s done. I’m not an after-thought or a flawed canvas. What may look imperfect to you is perfect to Him. I mean seriously! Have you seen some of the ‘art’ that sells for millions of dollars? Beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder and I know who my Beholder is!

“Until then, my heart will go on singing. Until then, with joy I’ll carry on. Until that day my eyes behold that city. Until the day, God calls me home.” Amen

 

Understanding Perfection

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What reward do you deserve if you only love the loveable? Don’t even the tax collectors do that?  How are you any different from others if you limit your kindness only to your friends? Don’t even the ungodly do that?  Since you are children of a perfect Father in heaven, you are to be perfect like him.” Matthew 5:46-48 TPT

WOW! That right there, “you are to be perfect like him”, that seems completely unattainable and so hard to imagine. Yet Jesus said it so it must be true. Wasn’t that Gods plan all along? He knew we couldn’t be perfect in ourselves. We needed someone to give us access to that kind of love. Thus the famous and favorite verse from John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only son that whoever believed on Him would be saved.”

God is love! Those who are living in love are living in God, and God lives through them. By living in God, love has been brought to its full expression in us so that we may fearlessly face the day of judgment, because all that Jesus now is, so are we in this world. I John 4:16b-17

Still don’t understand? He never intended for you to try to be perfect. You see, God is love and Love is perfect. If God is in you, His love makes you perfect. You only need to believe it, trust in it, stop trying to be perfect and trust in the perfect love in you. It’s not about the works you do, it’s about your belief in that perfect Love.

When the world looks at us, they should see His love reflected off His Spirit in us. The more He shines, the less of us is visible.

Father, rid me of every hinderance that others would see more of You and less of me. I step aside so that I may be a carrier of Your deep and abiding Love. I believe that You are the light of the world and that Your light is in me. Shine on through me in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

Clean Your Lenses

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“The eyes of your spirit allow revelation-light to enter into your being. If your heart is unclouded, the light floods in!  But if your eyes are focused on money, the light cannot penetrate and darkness takes its place. How profound will be the darkness within you if the light of truth cannot enter!” Matthew 6:22-23 TPT

I would like to take the liberty to add, if your eyes are focused on anything but God, because some may not have issues with money, but rather other problems, worries or cares, bitterness and resentment or unforgiveness. I believe the clear message here lies in the fact that clouded vision hinders revelation light. With no revelation of God, we only reflect our own pain.

Let me give you an example of what I’m trying to say. Have you ever listened to a sermon infused with hurt? You could hear what their week was like because Sunday’s message had become their sounding board? How much more effective their message would be if Love was the only thing heard and seen as they stood before men, glorifying their Father in heaven.

Not one time did Jesus render messages on how men rejected and tried to harm Him. His focus was on His Father and reflecting His love to everyone. How did He do that? By keeping His eyes clear so the Fathers love would be the only thing seen. He only did what He saw the Father do. God (Love) was reflected through Him. Exactly what He asked us to do. When our focus is on Him (Love), only then will we reflect Him (Love).

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the realm of heaven’s kingdom. It is only those who persist in doing the will of my heavenly Father.  On the day of judgment many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, don’t you remember us? Didn’t we prophesy in your name? Didn’t we cast out demons and do many miracles for the sake of your name?’ But I will have to say to them, ‘Go away from me, you lawless rebels! I’ve never been joined to you!'” Matthew 7:21-23 TPT

I know this isn’t a popular message, but nonetheless an important one. Those final words say it all, “I’ve never been joined to you!” Some translations say, “I never knew you” but the implication is the same. It’s a depiction of intimacy with God that has planted His Love in us so that we can reproduce Love in the world. It’s time to stop being a closed off container of God’s love and open ourselves up to be a free flowing expression of who God is-LOVE.

“Your lives light up the world. Let others see your light from a distance, for how can you hide a city that stands on a hilltop? And who would light a lamp and then hide it in an obscure place? Instead, it’s placed where everyone in the house can benefit from its light.  So don’t hide your light! Let it shine brightly before others, so that the commendable things you do will shine as light upon them, and then they will give their praise to your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16 TPT

In Jesus’ Name and for Loves Glory, AMEN!

 

God Will Have The Final Word

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They conveniently forget that long ago all the galaxies and this very planet were brought into existence out of watery chaos by God’s word. Then God’s word brought the chaos back in a flood that destroyed the world. The current galaxies and earth are fuel for the final fire. God is poised, ready to speak his word again, ready to give the signal for the judgment and destruction of the desecrating skeptics. 2 Peter 3:5-7 Message

It’s amazing how important we think we are when indeed, we are truly a very small part of a very large plan. Each of us hold value only as we do our part. Obedience to God and His Word are the only thing that matters. I don’t want to be in this world when God gives the final Word.

We go through life thinking that it’s all about ‘me’, ‘my plans’, ‘my blessing’, but we are merely ambassadors, placed on the earth to reflect God’s Kingdom. We are here to show others there’s a better way, an eternal home. We were told to Love as He is Loves, to go make disciples, heal the sick, raise the dead, do signs and wonders as it is in heaven, so is it on the earth.

But how can we love when our own souls have become clogged up with closely guarded wounds? We refuse to allow the light of Gods love to shine through, afraid that it will expose our own imperfections. In reality, we’re merely disallowing the light of Gods love to shine in and heal our own hurts so that we can in turn heal others.

Unless we allow God to heal us, we will never heal others. You can do good deeds all day long, but it’s merely that-good deeds. And it’s not works that will get us into heaven, it’s believing that the blood of Jesus was enough to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. It’s letting go of the ‘right’ to harbor un-forgiveness and letting Love do what it was meant to do.

Get the window cleaner out, God. Clean me of anything that would keep Your Love from shining through me. I will think on the blood You shed, the deep Love You have for me. It’s enough! Clean my ears out that I may hear Your orders and give me the wisdom to carry them out at any cost. It’s in Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.