Day 350: Breath of Life (Dec 16)

Lord, breathe Your breath of life over each one of us today.  Let us rise up singing Your praises for You alone are worthy of all praise.  You alone set the earth upon its foundations.  You alone spoke everything into existence.  You alone are the breath of life.  You alone.  God, I seek to honor You today.

God grabbed me.  God’s Spirit took me up and set me down in the middle of an open plain strewn with bones.  He led me around and among them- a lot of bones!  There were bones all over the plain- dry bones, bleached by the sun.  He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”  I said, “Master God, only You know that.”  He said to me, “Prophesy over these bones: ‘Dry bones, listen to the Message of God!’”  God, the Master, told the dry bones, “Watch this: I’m bringing the breath of life to you and you’ll come to life.  I’ll attach sinews to you, put meat on your bones, cover you with skin, and breathe life into you.  You’ll come alive and you’ll realize that I am God!”  Ezekiel 37:1-6

God is here now to breathe life into the dry bones upon the earth.

Why did God breathe life into those bones in Ezekiel?  To create an army!

God is here today to breathe life into our dry bones because He is assembling an army.  Our time has come, the battle is here, we must receive His breath of life if we are to survive this battle.  We must receive His breath of life if we are to be made ready for war!

Our time is now.  The time has come.

Let this devotional be a clarion call to the assembling troops.

Remember we are not few, we are many.  Don’t forget all of the unseen warriors…..

And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.”  Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.  2 Kings 6:17

I know sometimes we see all the enemies gnashing teeth and we feel intimidated and as if we are few, but that is another trick.  It is a lie.  We are many.  We are accompanied by angel armies and we will win this war!

Do you believe it?  Are you ready?

Lord, make us ready.  Steady our hearts and make us bold and courageous.  Remove the hangnail of fear from our lives.  Lord, open our eyes to see Your army surrounding us.  Let our hearts be full of the war cry of victory, as I am certain You have already won this war!  I will stand.  And if I become weak, I know You will surround me, and I will stand still.  Lord, I am Yours, in Jesus name, Amen.

 

 

Day 349: Manifold Wisdom (Dec 15)

I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of His power.  Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people, this grace was given me; to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ, and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, Who created all things.  His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to His eternal purpose that He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Ephesians 3:7-11

As I was having my own devotional time the other day, I came across these verses.  Now, I have read the entire Bible several times, but somehow I never really absorbed what was said here.

Re-read this portion:  His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms…..

In my brow-beaten, “I must be less” state of mind, I had probably glazed over any mention that we on earth could have any influence upon heavenly things…. What does this mean?  Through the church the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms?

I don’t pretend to know the answer, but I just felt the need to put this out there.

Is it possible that we have so downplayed our existence and purpose that we are missing something huge?!

God wants to use His church on earth as a way to showcase His manifold wisdom.  As I researched the definition of manifold, I discovered it’s like saying, His great wisdom….to put it plainly.

God knows what He is doing.  He is the One moving and shaping the church.  He is the One sculpting us in His wisdom.  His great wisdom.

Isn’t that amazing?!

Maybe, just maybe, instead of criticizing and complaining about the church and how it does or doesn’t function, we should be asking God for His wisdom and how we can each apply it to our walk with Him and as a part of His body.

I feel like that last sentence fell upon some of your hearts like a lead weight of conviction.

If so, then let it.  Let it stir you to repentance.  Let it move you to become the best representation of God’s wisdom that you can be molded into.  Clearly, we are not wise on our own merit, not a single one of us, but when partnered with the Holy Spirit, we are one with Christ, our brother and Co-heir of the Kingdom.

God let Your manifold wisdom be shown through Your church, in Jesus name, Amen.

 

Day 348: With All My Strength (Dec 14)

I am a runner, so every day I will carve out a little time to make that happen.  It’s a real priority in my life because of all the benefits.  Imagine my surprise yesterday, when I had just enough time to squeeze in a run and a shower before dinner and the evenings activities, God instructed me not to do so.  In the past, I may or may not have allowed my ears to be tuned to hear that gentle voice of instruction, but I clearly did yesterday.  I had two children who needed to study spelling for tests the following day, and while I could’ve still made that happen in a different way, I felt God instructing me to sit down and truly focus on them instead of running, and to do so as an act of worship.

Yes, you heard me, it was to be done as an act of worship.

Jesus replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all you mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  Matthew 22:37-39

Because I love the Lord, I listen to Him.  Even when I can’t fully understand the “why”.  And as I loved Him yesterday by obeying His prompting, I loved my neighbor as well….(my children).

I literally said to God, “As an act of worship I am not going to run today.  Instead, I will really focus on studying with my kids.”

Then I had plenty of time to sit and study and love on two of my babies.  It was a beautiful moment.

Not to mention, because I laid down my run, I wasn’t as rushed that afternoon.  The day continued in a pleasant and relaxing tempo and we all felt loved.

Do you love the Lord with all your strength?  That’s the word used in the book of Luke….

He answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind”; and ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  Luke 10:27

It took all my strength to lay down what I really wanted to do, and instead do what needed to be done.  To lay down my own agenda and time table and realize that sometimes it’s better to refrain for the sake of the family.

That day, I was loving my neighbor as myself, and I was loving the Lord with all my strength.

 

Day 347: Taking Time (Dec 13)

One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating.  Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked Him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”  “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all you mind and with all your strength.  The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  There is no commandment greater than these.  Mark 12:28-31

In a world that has grown self-centered and very self-indulgent, it has become increasingly challenging to discover what healthy self-reflection and self-care looks like.  But please hear my heart, even though many over use and abuse the self-centered aspects of life, it doesn’t mean that believers should become self-deprecating and totally deny something that God clearly instructed us to do.

I honestly believe that we (the church universal) would be much more suited to take our rightful place and love our “neighbors”, if we would start with ourselves.

Isn’t it interesting that many “Christian cultures” or denominations seem to circle around how awful and terrible we innately are?  While it is true that we all sin and fall short of the glory of God, it is also true that the cleansing of salvation is thorough.  I wouldn’t want to rob God of a bit of His glory by continually walking around as a brow beaten servant when I can walk as an heir to the Kingdom.

That is exactly what Jesus paid for on the cross.  He paid for all our sins.  All.  That means when I receive Him into my heart, I become clean.  The rest of my days I walk out what learning to be more like Jesus looks like.  That’s the beauty of it.

We know the enemy is only here to steal, kill and destroy, so it makes total sense that he tries to exploit and twist all the good that God had set into place, including love your neighbor as yourself.

I encourage you today to ask God what it looks like for you, as a unique individual, to love yourself.

“How can that help you love others?”, you may be asking.  Well, it all stems from value.  We only value others as much as we value ourselves.  It’s truly interesting to watch this play out in people.  As I have grown in understanding how much God values me, my natural response has been to seek to understand and value others more and more.  It’s a beautiful exchange.

There’s no reason for us to continue this vicious cycle of needing to be less.  God is more than enough, and His glory cannot be threatened by little ole me.  On the contrary, I bring glory to Him when I discover more of who I was created to be in Him, and how I was created to love others.

Our God is an awesome God.

 

Day 346: Refrain (Dec 12)

Yesterday, I asked God what His word for my life was right now, in this moment.  I immediately heard the word Refrain.

Refrain:  Verb- Stop oneself from doing something.  Noun- a repeated line or number of lines in a poem or song, typically at the end of each verse.  The musical accompaniment for a refrain.  A comment or complaint that is often repeated. 

It was intriguing to me that this word immediately came.  Right away I thought of a refrain in a piece of music.  As a musician it really spoke to me.  I felt individually loved because God spoke in my language.

Then I took a moment to reflect more deeply on the musical meaning of the word.

Refrain: from the Latin refringere, “to repeat”.  Is the line or lines that are repeated in music or in poetry; the “chorus” of a song. 

Then the truth of what God was releasing began to wash over me.

Over the last week or so, many old fears have been knocking at the door of my heart.  I have recognized them and have sought to focus on God’s truth instead, but none-the-less, they haven’t relented.  Oftentimes, in our line of business, the holidays can feel scary as business slows down and we all wonder what the companies next year budget will include.  So over the years, I have fought anxiety during what should be a joyous and relaxing time.

These have become unpleasant refrains in my life, and I won’t lie about it, I have been struggling with them.

I kept asking God, “How much longer will we walk through all of this?”  and, “God, it would be so great to finally have a holiday season where we saw our business increase instead of decrease just to bring comfort to our hearts.”

Even in typing that I feel it deep deep inside.

But what I see now is this, God is ready to release a new refrain over my life.  A refrain of joyful expectation!  A refrain of hope.  A refrain of trust.

So today I will refrain from thinking the negative thoughts and I will recite a positive refrain over my life.  See, it can work in two different ways!  God is so cool like that 😊

I ask you, what is the refrain that plays over your life?  Is it time to receive a new one?

The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save.  He will take great delight in you.  He will quiet you with His love.  He will rejoice over you with singing.  Zephaniah 3:17

Day 345: A Thousand Tears (Dec 11)

Recently I listened to a podcast about a woman who works with abused and traumatized horses.  She pairs them with abused and traumatized kids and they both heal together.  I love this idea.  I am whole heartedly for any type of heart healing.  Anyway, she described a time when a horse got injured at her ranch and she had to call the vet.  During the vets visit, Holy Spirit showed the lady that the vet was needing help.  Through a couple of gentle questions, she discovered the vet was about to kill herself right when they called her to come over, but before she spoke that she said that after her asking the vet if she needed help, the vet just cried for about 45 mins.

This crying release really resonated with me and led me to this devotional…..

When I was wandering, and living a life contrary to the Christian lifestyle, I stopped crying.  For years I didn’t shed a tear.  I had allowed a callous to come over certain parts of my emotions because there was so much wounding in my heart.  I didn’t know how to deal with the wounds and I didn’t have a safe place to process, so I shut it all down to survive.  I am a survivor, and during that time apart from God, that’s what surviving in the world looked like.

Then I had an encounter with Jesus.

I was in college getting my music major, and I had gone on a trip with the choir.  I was hanging out with two people and we were chatting.  They began to talk about their hopes and dreams for a future.  They talked of marriage and the like, and suddenly, without warning, I began to cry.  Now this was not a normal couple of tears.  Seriously, without saying anything, I just began to sob.  One of the friends there was a boy and out of respect, he left the room.  The other, a dear girl friend, just began to hold me.  She didn’t ask a single question.  I don’t know how long it lasted, it felt like forever, as my soul cleaned out all the stored-up tears.  She laid on the bed and just held me as I sobbed.

It was one of the most impacting moments of my entire life.

In that moment she represented unconditional love.  I still yearn for that same affection in my friendships.  That person who doesn’t require an explanation for everything, but rather is steady enough to let me be me, while they are them and we are simply there for each other when words fail.

That night, I must have cried a thousand tears.

That was also the night that God crashed back into my life and I’ve never been the same.

Friend, do you need this moment?  Have you begun holding back tears?  Have you squashed your emotions in order to survive the trials of life?

I pray, in Jesus name, that right now He would give you the release you need.  Be blessed.  Be whole.  Be loved.

You keep track of all my sorrows.  You have collected all my tears in Your bottle.  You have recorded each one in Your book.  Psalm 56:8

Day 344: The Wind and Rain (Dec 10)

Tonight, as I sit and listen to the wind whipping around outside and the rain pelting the house, I was reminded of the following…..

One of my life passages from Isaiah is:

The fruit of righteousness will be peace; its effect will be quietness and confidence forever.  My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest.  Though hail flattens the forest and the city is leveled completely, how blessed you will be, sowing your seed by every stream and letting your cattle and donkeys range free.  Isaiah 32:17-20

God gave me those verses years ago.  I even had a painter make a painting of them for me to hang in our home.  They have been a source of comfort in a variety of circumstances.  I intentionally read the words on that painting as I walk past it.

I thought of those words tonight as the storm blew, and then it struck me, during this politically charged climate where dark and light are becoming more clearly defined and threats are tossed around like grenades of worry, we can cling to these same promises that have helped me walk out personal storms.

When you hear about this or that occurring in Washington or in your local government, you don’t have to respond with emotional outbursts, protests and shouting.  We are, as believers, called to respond with peace as our fruit of righteousness.  We are next called to respond with quietness and confidence.  Yelling, complaining and groaning are not signs of strength.  They are clear signs of weakness.  As a toddler will flail and throw a temper tantrum when they feel they aren’t getting their way, adults do the exact same thing sometimes.

I encourage you to begin to be change.  Be the one who refuses to argue, but instead goes to God in prayer.  Be the one who is slow to respond because you pray first.  Be the one who refuses to get caught up in the stream of fear.  Instead, demonstrate peace to those around you.

These are valuable qualities.  These are godly attributes.

 

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.  Proverbs 15:1

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established.  The authorities that exist have been established by God.  Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.  Romans 13:1-2