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)