Monday, December 28, 2009

Spiritual Destinations

"Set up signposts, make landmarks; Set your heart toward the highway"...Jer. 31:21a

It's time to get serious about our destination. There is a sense of urgency in my spirit as I enter this new year about where I am going and how I will get there. I am not the outdoorsy type and I know very little about hiking, but I do know that before you embark on any kind of journey involving distance or difficult terrain, it is imperative that you have specific signposts or landmarks along the way that you look for to ensure that you are on the right path. You might want to think of them as markers or "goals". What a waste it would be to spend days hiking on a trail only to realize that you ended up at the wrong destination.

Though in the natural realm we would not think of attempting a challenging trail without mapping out our journey ahead of time, we often set out on our spiritual journey without the necessary signposts to assure us that our feet are indeed following the right path. The Lord has been impressing me with the fact that goals or "signposts" are a vital part of the journey that He has prepared for us. They are markers of a different type of journey, but just as important as the landmarks on the hike up a mountain.

The signposts that we put in place for our spiritual journey are whatever it will take to make sure we stay on the trail and arrive at our destination. For me this year, accountability will be one of the signposts that marks my spiritual trail. In this case, accountability will be a self-imposed discipline where I give someone else the right to ask me how I'm doing on my journey. I'm doing this because I see the prize at the end of the journey, and I know that too often we get weary on the trail and left to ourselves, we might not be able to muster up the courage to finish well. Accountability is like someone putting their arm around you and helping you to keep going when you feel like you can't go another step on your own. Accountability separates those who are serious about reaching the destination from those who are not.

Another signpost for my spiritual journey this year is words of prophecy. Prophetic words are a big part of the "setting your heart toward the highway" mentioned in Jer. 31:21. God has used prophetic words in my life to call me up to something higher than I would have dared to reach for on my own. Words are powerful and creative and when spoken over someone, they call forth those things in our lives that God has placed within our hearts that have not yet taken form or shape. I love it that God calls things that 'are not as though they were' and we get to partner with Him in attaching our faith to the things that He has spoken into in our lives believing Him and 'judging Him faithful who promised'.

At different times along the trail it will be important to stop, pause, and once again read over the prophetic words that the Lord has spoken to me. Does my daily walk line up with what He has said? What can I do to better implement what He has spoken to me? Does my present path point me in the direction of seeing these words fulfilled?

Other important markers on my journey this year are landmarks of thanksgiving and gratefulness. Often we see historical landmarks along our nation's highways that indicate that something important happened at that particular location. I'm learning how important it is to be thankful and grateful for even the smallest of things that God does in our lives. In Joshua 4, the Children of Israel were instructed to make a landmark of 12 stones as a reminder to themselves and future generations to be grateful for the Lord's faithfulness and deliverance to them as a nation as the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant.

I'm learning that it is extremely important to "make landmarks" or reminders to ourselves of the Lord's faithfulness to us in our personal journey all along the way. Over time, it is too often our tendency to forget the activity or miracles He has done in our lives, and the landmarks we make will help ensure that we do not soon forget. Though they are markers that we look back to, they have a way of keeping our feet on the right path that lies ahead. Our hearts are encouraged to know that what He has done before, He can do again.

One last signpost for my journey this year will be the signpost of JOY. A sure sign that I have somehow lost my footing or gotten on the wrong path is an absence of joy in my life. The Kingdom of God is characterized by righteousness, peace, and joy, and joy is our strength for the journey. Without joy we will soon burn out and wonder why we did not have the strength to finish well. One thing I'm hearing Daddy God say clearly to me is "lighten up and enjoy the journey!"

As I set my heart toward the highway He has marked out for me this year I'm packing my bag with accountability, prophetic words, and gratefulness. In my hand I'll be carrying a JOY-odometer so I'll recognize quickly when I'm running low and I can stop by a "Presence" station and fill up. We know that in His presence is fullness of Joy!

I'm looking forward to the journey ahead because I know that "He who began a good work in me will be faithful to complete it". The Holy Spirit knows every bend and turn of the road up ahead, so I can just relax and follow the best guide ever.

Hope to see you on the trail!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Lifting the Veil

I use to enjoy the 3-D pictures that made their debut in the early 90's. I have no idea how they work, but after what seems like an eternity of gazing at a picture made out of random images, suddenly a picture that you couldn't see before begins to emerge and you feel as if you've been let in on a big secret meant for only a chosen few. Once you've seen the picture, you find it hard to believe that you couldn't see the hidden picture before.

Sometimes we read a familiar passage of scripture and because it has become so familiar we forget that God's revelation is often hidden. And like the 3-D pictures, if we will take the time to stop, ponder, and gaze into His Word, the veil will be lifted and a whole new meaning or revelation will often be revealed for those who will take the time to look and wait upon the Spirit to breath upon the word. This doesn't necessarily do away with the previous understanding, but serves to deepen, expand and broaden our understanding.

God doesn't force us to seek after Him, but He is "a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him".

As a child I use to love dyeing, decorating, and hiding Easter eggs. Even more fun was the search for the hidden eggs. Invariably, weeks after the holiday had passed, a strange smell would begin to emerge in the house, and sure enough, a very rotten egg would then be found. Isn't it sad to think that God has revelation hidden for us that we might never find just because we chose not to look or gave up the search too soon?

One of the prayers that I'm breathing often is "Lord, cause me to be hungry". I want His gift of desperation and hunger to drive me to seek and find the treasures and mysteries of the Kingdom. I know from His Word that I can not live by bread alone, but in order to truly live I must have the Word(rhema)that proceeds from the mouth of God.

I have heard it said that we live out what we truly believe. The Word tells us that the mysteries and secrets of the Kingdom are part of our inheritance as sons and daughters of God. Ephesians says that we have been blessed with "every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ". The life we live here on this earth is a reflection and demonstration of what we believe. We will only search if we believe there is a treasure and we will only search if we believe the treasure can be ours when once we find it.

Our thinking has to be renewed until we come into full understanding and agreement with the fact that we have a very good God and He has very good gifts and mysteries of the Kingdom that He delights in revealing to us His children.

I love the way the Psalmist is passionate about the law in Psalm 119:97-99,
"Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day. You, through Your
commandments, make me wiser than my enemies; For they are ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers, For Your testimonies are my meditation."

If the Psalmist under the Old Covenant could find such delight in meditating upon the law, how much more should we, the redeemed sons and daughters of the New Covenant, find even greater delight in uncovering the mysteries hidden for us?

The truth is, our search for hidden truth will always lead us to Him. He is the prize. That is why Paul in Colossians 2 says, "My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge."

So, as we step full into this Christmas season when we are bombarded with shopping, lights, tinsel, and Santa's on every corner, let us not forget the simple shepherds and curious wisemen who searched until they found this same Jesus that we seek today. And just as they found him in an unexpected place, so will we.

Let the search begin!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Alarm Clock Faith

I have had an unusual experience occur repeatedly over the past year. I will happen to glance at my alarm clock at night, just when I'm getting ready to go to bed, and I see the numbers 11:11. Then I started seeing it on my microwave sometimes during the day as well. After a while, it became almost comical as I continued to glance at my clock just when the 11:11 happened to appear.

Then it dawned on me that God was speaking to me. So, I asked Him where I would find 11:11 and He directed me to Hebrews 11:11. The verse is talking about Abraham and Sarah and how she was able to conceive a son late in her years and then it says, "because she judged Him faithful who had promised."

Wow! God has a way of zeroing in on our hearts and pinpointing where we need Him to come and change the way we see Him. A subtle shift in my thinking had taken place in a particular area of my heart where I had experienced repeated disappointment.

I was having a difficult time mustering up the faith to see the thing occur that I knew was His will and heart for me. What I had done as so many others have done as well, was to begin to take the load of faith onto myself instead of letting my full trust rest in Him who is faithful. When I begin to turn my attention away from Him and on to myself and my own ability to produce enough faith, the result is always disappointing.

There is not a promise that God has failed to keep. Who has a record like that? That is why we can always judge Him faithful, simply because He never fails. Folks, this is solid ground to stand upon.

Through my funny alarm clock 11:11 experience, I feel like I've been given a key for me that sets my heart at rest. Now when the accuser comes and whispers "If you just had more faith, you would receive your promise", I can say, "My faith may be small, but I am judging Him faithful who promised".

These few lines from an old hymn, "My Hope is Built", echo my new found declaration:

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame
But wholly trust in Jesus' name.

On Christ the solid rock I stand
All other ground is sinking sand
All other ground is sinking sand.

-Edward Mote (1797-1874)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Hidden Words

As a child, I use to love the puzzles where you had to find the hidden words. It's even fun as an adult. I am always amazed that I can look at a row of letters over and over and not see a word that is hidden in the maze. Then all of a sudden it jumps out at me, and then I am surprised that I didn't see it before.

God likes to hide words, too. God reveals things to us through His rhema word or His revealed word and it seems to be His great delight to remove the veil on something that we may not have seen before that time. Bill Johnson says that "He hides things for us, not from us".

Not only is His word often hidden from us, sometimes it is revealed to us in layers. I like to think of it as multi-dimensional rhema. This rhema to which I am referring is not given to us for the purpose of adding to our head knowledge, but He gives it to reveal a part of Himself to us or a part of who we are to Him. In other words, it's personal. He removes the veil for us and gives us a wondrous glimpse into a word or truth that we have never seen or experienced before that time. Later on, sometimes years later, He may again uncover for us another portion of that same word, not taking away from the original revelation, but adding to it another amazing yet previously hidden insight.

In my own life, He seems to enjoy doing things in groups of 3, and I have had instances of God breathing life on one word 3 different times, revealing 3 multi-dimensional meanings or applications to me. I have learned that the Word of God is like a deep well that has no bottom. It just keeps going and going and continues to provide nourishment and life to those who are willing to look deep into the mysteries of the well.

Our journey with Jesus is one of faith from start to finish and His rhema word is like the fuel for our engine of faith. In Rom. 10:17 this familiar passage tells us that "faith comes from hearing and hearing by the word(rhema) of God". In other words, God must illumine or reveal His word to us for our faith to have a sure place to stand. Too many Christians, myself included, have ventured out in presumption without having heard the rhema of God, only to fail in our valiant attempt to walk in faith.

Much of God's word can be taken and our faith attached to it whether it has become rhema to us or not, because it is God's word and we know it to be true. But many times to truly move out in faith on a word requires the illumination of God on that word to our spirit. When we know that we know that we have heard His voice, or have received His revealed word, then our faith has something to be attached to, and it becomes the sword of the Spirit mentioned in Ephesians 6:17. For it is when we attempt to move out in faith, that the enemy comes to attack us with doubt, unbelief, or other types of assault from the demonic realm. The rhema becomes our mighty sword because it is not just a head knowledge word, but a word that we have experienced or received by revelation. This rhema sword packs a powerful blow to the lies of the enemy because the word is a revealed manifestation of His truth, and where truth is, lies cannot exist any longer.

I use to believe and adhere to the saying that "God does not play hide and seek". I now believe He does, at least when it comes to hiding words. In His infinite wisdom He hides His word for us (not from us) and watches with delight as we find the treasures that He has hidden for us.

We may wonder why He would bother to hide things and not just give them all to us now, but evcn in this earthly realm we know and understand the joy of hiding our gifts, or why would we bother to wrap them? For children, Christmas morning would lose much of it's appeal if all the gifts were placed under the tree unwrapped. It is the hiddenness and mystery that enhances the joy of opening the gift at the appropriate time, and so it is with God's rhema word. He hides it for us and gives it to us at the appropriate time revealing once again His immense love for us His children.

As we come into the realization of the absolute necessity of receiving His rhema word for our lives, our stance can no longer be passive. Matthew 4:4 says, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word(rhema)that proceeds from the mouth of God." His rhema word is our very sustenance and life.

In all this talk about words, it is another mystery that Jesus, in John 1, is called the "Word". And isn't it fitting that far and above all other "words", He is the one Word most worth searching for?

"And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart."
Jeremiah 29:13

Saturday, October 3, 2009

How Much Does it Cost?

I'm a bottom-line sort of gal. When a salesman comes to the door and offers me his product, all I can think about is "how much does it cost?". A decent and honest salesman will tell you up front what the cost is, and that way when the deal closes, there won't be any surprises.

I think that this is an area in which the modern day church is missing the mark. The presentation of the gospel often includes the benefits of becoming a Christian, but like a crooked salesman's contract, the cost is hidden in tiny print somewhere on the last page.

Why have we become embarrassed at what the Lordship of Christ requires of us? Wasn't it Jesus in Luke 18 who told the rich young ruler that he must sell all that he had and distribute it to the poor in order to inherit eternal life? Jesus is not setting up a rule that everyone must obey in order to be saved, but He is putting his finger on the one area that the rich young ruler was not willing to submit. This was the cost for him. It was the deal breaker.

Jesus wants all of us. Ours is a relationship that can't be compartmentalized. Real Christianity is not about putting in our time on Sunday morning so we can live our life like we want the rest of the week. Real Christianity is not a formula, but a relationship. When a person meets Jesus and realizes what they've been saved from and what they've been saved into, they will never be the same. A full-on gospel is all about an amazing love relationship with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords whose love and grace so transforms us, that the things that use to hold our hearts no longer have appeal. "Full on" in the urban dictionary means "holding nothing back, intense, relentless". Jesus has held nothing back from us, so He deserves no less from us.

Jesus doesn't require that we be perfect to come to Him, but He does ask that we give all that we are to Him and that we allow Him access into every area of our lives. God is relentless in His pursuit of us, and relentless in His goal to conform us into the image of His Son, Jesus Christ.

Christians in other parts of the world know what Lordship means. Ask my daughter who serves in a Muslim nation where believers pay a high price to take on the name "Christian". It's an all or nothing mindset for them and ours should be no different. Our watered down version of the gospel has produced a watered down version of what it really means to be a Christian, and a watered down and powerless church that is more concerned with what He is going to do to make us happy, than what part we are going to play in advancing His Kingdom.

Jesus, unlike the deceptive salesman at your front door, tells you to consider the cost. He is looking for those who will slide their chips across the table and say, "I'm all in". When you cash in your chips with Him, you are giving up the right to dictate the direction your life will take. The greatest thing in all the world is that with this full surrender comes a joy unspeakable. It is one of the many mysteries of the Kingdom that "in order to find your life, you must first lose it."

Maybe that's why so many in today's church are wandering aimlessly trying to find their life. The truth is, they never lost it.

So, am I discouraged about the future? No, because I believe the church is on the threshold of Her finest hour. There are believers everywhere that God is raising up to be radical sold out revivalists whose one passion is to see His Kingdom come here on this earth as it is in heaven.

The days of "riding the fence" are soon to be over as the chasm between darkness and light widens. As the Body of Christ comes into her true identity and position, those who have never lost their lives will not be able to fake devotion as the cost will be too high.

This is the time to rise. This is the time to buy oil for your lamp. This is the time to lose your life in order to find it.

So as the Savior knocks at the door and shares with you His offer to enter the Kingdom, consider the cost. It is so worth it.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Laughing Box

I sat in rapt attention as the speaker finished up her message on inner healing and the need for us to have Jesus heal the wounds of our heart. Once again I was met with a challenge that I had faced many times. The Holy Spirit had pointed out to me during the message my need for healing in a specific area of my heart. I have learned over the years to quickly obey His voice in these matters because He is extremely persistent, I have found, and I might as well get the business over with instead of putting it off.

But, this time was different. As I attempted to press into His presence a wave of hopelessness overwhelmed me making it difficult to sense His nearness.

The offense had been repeated many times and so the wound in my heart was painful and deep. I had given Him my pain before in this matter, but somehow it always managed to find its way back into my heart. It seemed that the more I was offended the more difficult I found it to forgive the next time it happened, creating in my heart a web of unforgiveness. In spite of this, my heart was willing to forgive, but my hopelessness revealed that somehow my perception needed to change.

I cried out to God and through my tears said, “Please Father, show me how to set my heart. I don’t know how to do this. Show me what I need to do. I give it to You.”

As I waited in His presence with upturned face, I heard Him say these words to me, “We need to put that in the “Laughing Box”.

Then it was as if we were in a room in heaven, and He said, “We have a place for you to put those things that are too difficult for you. We call it ‘the Laughing Box’. He opened up a large trunk-like box and as He opened up the lid He began to laugh and His laugh caught me off guard at first. Then the longer He laughed, I began to laugh as well, and pretty soon we were both laughing. There was something different about His infectious laugh, and I knew intuitively that it was a laugh of healing and it was a laugh of hope. The longer I laughed, the more my perception began to change and the more I could see things from His viewpoint. Pretty soon the lies of hopelessness and defeat that the enemy had been speaking to me seemed utterly ridiculous….in fact, they were hilarious!

After our laughter began to calm, and we had wiped away our happy tears, the Father closed the lid to the “Laughing Box”. He encouraged me to place the difficulties and ‘impossible’ situations in my life in the box and He turned to me and shared that He and the angels often go to the “Laughing Box” and lift the lid just to laugh at the lies of the enemy. They laugh, not at our pain, but at the enemy’s frantic and futile attempts to separate us from His love. They laugh because they know that we have His grace as our inheritance and that He has already seated us in heavenly places with Him, and if He be for us, who can be against us? They laugh because they know that once we began to see things from His perspective and His reality, our present difficulties will not seem so difficult.

I have a feeling that I’ll be making more trips to the Laughing Box in the future and I don’t mind. After all, I’ll be in good company.

But God in heaven merely laughs! He is amused by all their puny plans.” Psalm 2:4 (The Living Bible)

Monday, September 14, 2009

I was an "Are Not"

There are seasons in our lives when we seem to trudge along in monotony and then there are moments when God breaks through and speaks to us and we are never the same. Such a day happened for me in 1995. I was in turmoil inside struggling to find my identity. I had just come through a season where God had allowed areas that were "false identities" for me to be taken away. It was such a painful process because I could not understand what the Father was doing. You see, the things He took away were good things, but He knew that they weren't the best. I was getting my need for approval met through the things that I did, and He loved me too much to let me continue on that path that led to frustration and heartache.

I attended the Toronto outpouring in that same year and God began to touch me and shake off the old and lavishly refresh me with His Spirit. I was undone and could not seem to get enough of His presence. This was all so new to me and a whole new world had opened up to me as I learned what it was to experience His manifest presence.

Following our trip to Toronto, many of us would gather at our church during lunch time just to pray, worship, and continue to seek Him. One day during an unusually intense time of experiencing His presence, a woman whom I had never seen before or since, walked up to me and prophesied over me, "The Father is going to began to speak to you and the words He gives you will be like meat that you will be able to chew on for a long time."

After hearing those words I knew that something had been deposited in me. It was just two weeks later that I heard Him speak clearly to me in a way that I had not heard Him before. I was at home, cleaning my house, and I heard Him say, "You are an 'are not'."

I can not explain it, and I still don't understand it, but those words so staggered me that I had to look for a place to sit down. Please understand, I was not use to hearing God speak to me. I had been a believer for a long time, and spent time with God and followed Him the best I knew how, but I had not come into a place where I could confidently say that I knew how to hear Him. And even though the words "are not" should not have meant much to me....they did. You see, an "are not" is exactly what I felt like. If I were looking in a mirror, I would have said, "You are not smart, you are not talented, you are not strong, you are not pretty,etc"....and the list would go on and on.

You see, God knew exactly how I saw myself and He spoke right into the most vulnerable part of my heart. He then took me to I Cor. 1:27-29, "But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things and the things that are not- to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before Him."

Right then and there I knew for the first time in my life that He had created me exactly the way that He wanted me to be and it was for His purpose. I knew that I was chosen and that He loved the fact that I was an "are not"! He loves using those who are "are nots" because He is glorified through our weakness.

God is so amazing in that He can take two little words and breathe life on them and change a person on the inside.

While I was still basking in the sweetness of these words, just two weeks later I awoke one morning hearing Him speak clearly to me again. This time He said, "You are my workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which I prepared in advance for you to do." Eph. 2:10.

Again, I was overwhelmed with gratitude and humbled that He was speaking these words to me. You see, a father imparts identity to his children and mine had not done that for me. I was so grateful for my Daddy God who was choosing to reveal His heart for me so that I could know my true identity.

Two weeks after that again He spoke to me from Psalm 1 and said that "I would be like a tree planted by streams of water, yielding its fruit in season, my leaf would not wither, and everything I would do would prosper."(Ps. 1:3)

The Father's words over us are priceless and are to be treasured, meditated over, and prayed through until they become our true identity. I have learned since this time that the Father loves choosing "are nots", those who believe that they have nothing to give, and speaking words of life and destiny to them in such a way that their world is turned upside down. He does this "so that no one may boast before Him". In other words, it is so obvious that it is a work of His doing, that we would be foolish to try and take the credit for what He has obviously done.

One of my greatest joys now is to hear the Father speak identity over others, especially those who see themselves as "are nots",and prophesy and partner with Him in imparting that to them. I can not easily forget what He did for me and it is His heart that all His children walk in the full measure of His love, approval and destiny for their lives.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Positioned for Increase

As believers, our walk with God is to be always moving forward. If we ever develop the mentality that decides that we have "arrived" or that we are satisfied with where we are spiritually, then we have already begun to backslide. This does not mean that we can not be content with the season that we are in, it just means that we have not decided to camp there for long.

God has placed within His Kingdom certain laws and one of those is the law of increase. Our understanding of what it means to move forward, advance, or experience increase in the Kingdom is crucial to our being able to fully walk in our destiny.

In the parable of the talents found in Matt. 25:14-30, some principles for increase can be clearly seen. The servants who were faithful to steward well their master's money were given greater areas of responsibility and invited to come and share their master's happiness. The servant who dug a hole and buried what he had been given was harshly rebuked and punished by the master.

I believe that the servant who hid his one talent had a false view of his master that influenced the decisions he made. He saw him as hard, unfair, and unjust. Therefore, he held on to the little that he had been given and refused to do anything that would multiply his master's wealth.

This same scenario has been repeated over and over since the fall of man. One of Satan's chief goals, if not THE chief goal, is to distort the Father's character to us His children. When the bait has been taken, and we buy into the lie that the Father is not altogether good, our heart becomes darkened and we can no longer see clearly to make wise decisions. The fate of this predicament is that we are no longer positioned for increase, but what we once held in our hands or lives as a precious gift, seeps through our fingers like sand. The irony of this state is that the heart often rails at God for His presumed unjust treatment.

Thankfully, God has a way of intervening even into the hardest of hearts with His grace and mercy. I have seen Him, little by little, soften wounded and broken hearts until the individual is willing to risk trusting in His goodness. Like the two servants mentioned in the parable, they invest the talents that the Master has given them, and wait in faith for a good return.

Not only does God multiply what we have invested on His behalf, He then brings increase to our areas of responsibility as a result of our trust in His goodness, stewardship of His gifts, and obedience to His voice.

But best of all, we are invited to come and share in His happiness. There is great, great joy in discovering what gifts you have been given by the Father, using and investing them on His behalf, and then receiving the increase for the Kingdom.

We need to develop the mindset that growing is stewarding. In those areas where we need the most growth, we should intentionally be using what little we have. If you need friends, try investing some friendship. If you want to grow in the prophetic, began stepping out to use the one word you may have been given. If you want to be a business owner, serve faithfully in the business where you are working, as if it were your own.

God honors faithfulness because He is altogether faithful. As our hearts learn to trust in His goodness and faithfulness towards us, we gladly invest on His behalf those things that He has placed in our hands. Our great joy and reward is to see these gifts multiply again and again and again for the glory of His Name.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Joseph's Promotion

Joseph is hands down my favorite Old Testament character. Hollywood epic movies have nothing on this thrilling and heartrending tale of rags to riches found in the pages of Genesis. If you just want to read a great story, the story of Joseph's life takes the bends and turns necessary to keep you perched on the edge of your seat. But, before you run off to grab some popcorn, stick around, because I wouldn't want you to miss the revelation hidden in Joseph's story that has given me hope in my days of darkness and desperation.

The story of Joseph is my favorite because it so wonderfully illustrates two intertwining themes; life in a fallen world, and the sovereignty of God. It seems that these two themes are the thing that man has grappled with since Adam and Eve ate their first bite of forbidden fruit.

We undoubtedly live in a fallen world and that in itself is a sobering and depressing fact. But in the story of Joseph a thread surfaces that would indicate, even to the casual reader, that God's hand was at work in Joseph's life, right in the midst of this fallenness.

God intervened, yes, even interrupted Joseph's life with a vision and then for all practical purposes, He appears to have removed Himself from the stage of Joseph's play. We watch drop-jawed as Joseph is thrown into a pit, sold into slavery, and just when we thought things couldn't get worse, thrown into prison for a crime he did not commit. However, as the story unfolds it becomes more and more evident that not only was God present, His sovereignty hovers over the life of Joseph protecting him, guiding him, and even rescuing him when it seemed that all hope was lost.

Were the things that happened to Joseph just random circumstances in a chaotic world, or were they carefully orchestrated events that used a pawn named Satan to carry out a master plan that would chisel away at a man's character and heart to produce a leader that God could trust? I believe the latter is true. Friends, this is God's sovereignty at it's finest.

I love the way that Oswald Chambers describes God's process of development in us; "God gives us the vision, then He takes us down to the valley to batter us into the shape of the vision, and it is in the valley that so many of us faint and give way." But, Joseph did not give way. In fact, it is evident as the story progresses that God's favor is upon his life even in the darkest of dungeons. God's favor on a life indicates that God is pleased with the heart of the individual. The obedience that is part of their life so often means that humility has overcome pride and love and forgiveness have been chosen over selfishness and bitterness.

We began the story of Joseph with a prideful young man who didn't mind at all being the tattletale on his brothers(Gn. 37:2), or unwisely telling them that they would one day bow down to him. By the time Joseph emerges from the dungeon he is not willing to even take credit for the dream interpretation that he would give to Pharaoh(Gn. 41:16).

Joseph finally received his promotion because the work that God so patiently accomplished in his heart was complete. Evidence of his guileless heart can be heard in his response to his brothers when terrified, they realize that he is indeed their brother that they had sold into slavery. Joseph humbly says, "But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance."

My favorite line from the script of Joseph's play is found in Gn. 50:20,"You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives." Joseph's heart was healed from the trauma of the past because he came to a place of embracing God's sovereignty, goodness, and purposes in his life in spite of the evil that had come against him. And this, too, is a key for healing and overcoming the pain in our own hearts.

As the curtain closes on this epic play and I pause to reflect on all that I have seen and heard, I am struck with the fact that my response to God's processes and purposes in my life effect not only me, but all those around me. I pray that I will be like Joseph and choose the way of humility and gratefulness when hardships come, and who knows what my God might do.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Riding the Next Wave of God

Just as I was falling asleep last night I saw a picture of a man on a surf board triumphantly riding in on a gigantic wave as it rushed to reach the shore. I knew that God was wanting to say something to me and then remembered that we have been hearing for years of the coming “wave” of God’s glory that will sweep the earth. In the midst of this realization two questions emerged in my thoughts, “Will I be ready when He comes?” and “Will I be able to ride the wave?”

In response to the questions of my heart, I felt I heard the Lord say, “position is everything”. Just as the skilled surfer knows exactly when to enter the wave and how to stay atop the wave, God is preparing His people to have the capacity to be able to “ride the wave” of His Glory when He comes. Much of this preparation process involves the “position” of the heart. God takes us through a baptism of fire that comes powerfully to burn out everything that doesn’t look like Jesus. This process can be humbling and quite painful at times, but the results will yield the purest of gold. God is doing surgery on our hearts to prepare us to have the capacity to receive and experience all that He wants to do in and through us. This is the time to repent of stubbornness and pride and yield humbly to the surgeon’s skillful hands.

The second thing I heard the Lord say was, “Don’t look back”. A wise surfer can not afford for one second to turn his head and look behind. All of his energy and concentration is needed for what lies ahead. Just as Paul said, “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead”, I felt an urgency in my Spirit that it is absolutely imperative that we be healed of the wounds, hurts and failures of the past. Those things would be like heavy weights that slow us down and even cause us to sink. Our wounds affect how we see ourselves and how we see God. We are able to “forget what is behind” as we walk in forgiveness and learn to let His healing come in to replace the lies we have believed with His truth.

There may be some who turn to look at the successes and methods of the past and this can be just as disastrous as it takes their eyes off the coming wave. Every ounce of our being needs to be focused on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our Faith. He is coming to do a new thing, and it will be those who remain focused on Him, who are alert and sensitive to His voice and leading, who are able to go with the flow of His Spirit in the days that lie ahead. He alone will infuse us with what it takes to ride the wave.

I believe many will be swept along to some extent in this coming wave of God's glory. Those who have cultivated a heart that is yielded to the King, and beats with a passion for His Kingdom, will ride the wave and do great exploits in the name of the King. Their eyes will be focused on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of their Faith, and their hearts will be fully His.