Deeper Day 365: Heart on Fire

While walking recently, I saw God reach into my chest and pull out my heart. When it came out it was on fire. I have a heart on fire. On fire with the Holy Spirit. A fire that nothing and nobody can quench. I feel a holy fire burning within me. I feel the truth burning within me. Justice. All things righteous.

As I observe so much injustice in my life and the world, I feel like I’m on fire all the time.

What do I do with this burning? How do I manage it properly?

Certainly not by lashing out at others. Absolutely not by throwing a fit and flailing around. That’s all counterproductive and not at all like Jesus.

So, what does Jesus think about such things? Well, as I read of His walk, I noticed a couple of things…

Jesus never wavered. When faced with accusations and lies, He simply stood firm and didn’t become faint. He stood. He didn’t force or fight, He stood.

Jesus always went away to pray. He made regular practice of getting away from others so He could spend time talking to and listening to God.

Jesus knew Who He was, so it didn’t matter who He was around. He wasn’t afraid of the leper or the prostitute. He didn’t fear the faithless or the tax collector. He knew His identity so others couldn’t influence Him or make Him feel anything less than powerful. He had a solid identity that was grounded and rooted in God alone. He knew Whose image He was made in. He knew Who He was and where He was going (heaven).

I certainly want to be like this image of Jesus.

Power held in truth is a quiet and gentle strength. It moves mountains and can shape futures, all with a whisper. The voice of God over our lives isn’t condescending. It’s not demanding. It’s Fatherly. It comforts and encourages. It brings joy and peace. It builds, even when it’s renovating. It fashions us into more solid individuals.

Prayer Moment: God, thank You for giving us Jesus. Thank You Jesus for coming to earth to not only build a bridge between us and heaven, but to also show us how to walk out this life. Help me to cling to Your example. Help me to walk in a way that honors Your sacrifice. I adore You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

But when I was silent and still, not even saying anything good, my anguish increased. My heart grew hot within me, and as I meditated the fire burned; then I spoke with my tongue. Show me, O Lord, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life. You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before You. Each man’s life is but a breath. Man is a mere phantom as he goes to and fro: He bustles about, but only in vain; he heaps up wealth, not knowing who will get it. “But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in You. Psalm 39:2-7

Deeper Day 364: Ramrod

Ramrod: A rod for ramming down the charge of a muzzleloading firearm. To force a proposed measure to be accepted or completed quickly.

Right now, the enemy is trying to ramrod his agenda into our lives. The onslaught of lying and manipulation is extreme. As we hear lie after lie, even when a retraction occurs, who cares because the damage is already done.

I am reminded today of some characteristics of God as I consider the ramrod method of the enemy.

God is always gentle…even when the Spirit comes with fierceness, there is always an accompanying gentleness.

God is always peaceful…that means even when a word is hard or a time is difficult, you can find peace within it when God is behind it. The enemy leaves us feeling fear and anxiety. God’s words and actions are always tempered with peace.

God is truth…There is no such thing as “my truth” or “your truth”. There is only the Truth. All truth comes straight from God. There is no gray in God. It’s black and white truth.

God stays the same…While everything else on earth changes, we can count on the character of God to remain the same. Unchanging. Unchangeable. Unshaken. Unshakeable. All other things may fall away, but God will remain.

God never has to force anything…you won’t find an instance of God forcing people. He gifted us with free will, so all life is a choice. Following Him and loving Him is a choice. Perhaps the most important choice you’ll ever make. I believe it is. The Spirit bears witness to Himself, so there is never a need to force anything.

The moral of the story is this…have you noticed anything that must be screamed, forced, demanded and controlled to be bought into by the mass public? Then that, my friend, is the enemy ramrod and not God.

Prayer Moment: God, help me to be so familiar with You and Your character that I immediately know when something is You and when it isn’t. Fill my heart with Your affirming presence. Guide my every step and never let me be led astray. I place all of my hope firmly and securely in You. I love You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

“For in Him we live and move and have our being. As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are His offspring.’ Therefore, since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone- an image made by man’s design and skill. In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now He commands all people everywhere to repent. For He has set a day when He will judge the world with justice by the man He has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising Him from the dead.” Acts 17:28-31

Deeper Day 363: Gridlock

I don’t know about you, but so much of my life has been feeling gridlocked lately.  It can sometimes feel like I’m stuck in the middle of a giant traffic jam and have no way out. Not there of my own accord, I’m just stuck in the midst of a mass of cars and have no way to get out on my own. I am simply forced to wait until they begin to untangle the mess from the outskirts first. As layer after layer of cars is released and allowed to begin to travel on its own course again, I then feel a mixture of relief and impatience, as I still await my turn.

Watching all things in life feels this way for me right now.

I am in a waiting game. Only God determines the tempo. My only recourse is to relax and lean into His timing. To surrender. Yesterday, as I considered some of these things, I saw myself in the process of delivering a baby. The head had crowned and the baby was coming, but I was enduring, in that moment, the greatest amount of pain. We all (women who have given birth) know that the greatest pain comes as the baby comes out. Everything that previously happened pales in comparison to that hopefully quick moment when the baby finally makes its entrance into the world.

This is not a moment to give up. No mother would stop at this point in delivery. On the contrary, every birthing mother hits this point and feels the readiness to fully deliver the baby.

God, come and fully deliver the promise to us today, in Jesus’ name.

This is our moment, the labor has been longer than expected, the pain has been greater than we believed we could endure. We have labored through this extended night. We are here. We may be exhausted and poured out from all the gridlock and waiting, but we are here!

I have never given up God. I have never denied Your promises. I have partnered with You at every step. I have leaned into You with every burning contraction. I have learned to rest in the gridlock. Now is Your moment to step in and deliver this “baby” holy Physician.

Come. Release us from this gridlock. Remove every obstacle in our path. You are our only hope, but You are more than capable to deliver us.

Prayer Moment: God, I will trust in You. I lean into You now, to receive the release of the promise. You are Hope. You are Deliverer. I will trust in You. No matter what I see with my earthly eyes, I will still trust my spiritual eyes more. I look toward heaven and receive the dove of promise today. You are the Foundation of my hope and strength, and I know, with full confidence, that You never fail. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

“Therefore, say to the Israelites: ‘I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment. I will take you as My own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God, Who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians, and I will bring you to the land I swore with uplifted hand to give to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob. I will give it to you as a possession. I am the Lord.” Exodus 6:6-8

Deeper Day 362: Good

Last week when I was leading worship for a group at our church, I heard a new song at the end of the song I had just led. We had just sung “Lord, I Need You” and I was rotating through the chords and praying out loud when I began to hear these words,

You make all things good. You make all things good. You make all things good, and beautiful in Your time.

This simple chorus has sung through my head for a week now. I can’t get away from it, and honestly, I don’t want to. Over the last week, when things have felt stretching, I’ve sung it. As I prepared to lead worship for our main church service yesterday and our sound system was having hiccups, I sang it. As I’ve read and processed headlines and real news stories, I’ve sung it.

It is God’s chorus over the earth right now. More specifically, America.

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. Ecclesiastes 3:11

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28

The chorus is a mash-up of these two scriptures and I don’t think it could be more relevant. It’s been a centering chorus. It’s been stabilizing, and that’s why I wanted to share it with you. Now, I know you don’t hear the chords and melody that it is accompanied with, but let the words drift over your heart. Let them stoke that home fire in your belly. The place within you that truly believes in the goodness of God. Let the words be like nectar to your fasting soul. Like the sun rising after a dark and stormy night.

God makes all things beautiful in their time.

He is still a good God today. The coronavirus didn’t change Who He is, and neither does the election struggle. Just like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego said…

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and He will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if He does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your god’s or worship the image of gold you have set up. Daniel 3:16-18

This is where I stand. My God is able to deliver us from the evil that is attempting to steal our country, and He will, but even if He doesn’t, I will not serve other god’s or worship what they demand.

Prayer Moment: God, grant us each the strength to walk out this day. Infuse us with Your presence. Fill our hearts and minds with truth. The truth, not a version of it. The actual truth. Give us discernment. Establish Your kingdom in our hearts and minds and keep us tethered so closely to heaven that we know who we are, Who You are, and what is real. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Deeper Day 361: Songs of Joy

I keep reading this verse from Proverbs…it’s circled in my Bible and I can’t seem to open it without laying eyes on it.

Those living far away fear Your wonders; where morning dawns and evening fades You call forth songs of joy. Proverbs 65:8

When I walk on the dirt roads around our neighborhood, there are many times when I can see both the sun and moon adorning the sky at the same time. It has caused a lot of awe and wonder in my heart. It always seems significant, but it wasn’t until I read these words in Proverbs, yet again, that I immediately saw this wonder.

Where morning dawns and evening fades, is the space where I go walking. In that space, He calls forth my songs of joy! How amazing is this?!

Continually, God is bringing me back to joy. He is infusing within my heart a capacity to remain joyful in all things. This time in history is an opponent of joy. So many things hang in the balance. So much seems lost. Lives are being destroyed by terrible lockdowns in many states, and for what? People’s health is being negatively affected by wearing masks all the time, and why?

Instead of cowering away and living in fear, what if we burst forth in songs of joy. Deliberate acts of joyfulness are most useful right now. Thinking of ways to spread joy to others could be life altering. The joy of the Lord is our strength, never forget that. Don’t ever let those words lose their power. The JOY of the Lord is our strength.

I encourage you to take today to purposefully be joyful. I encourage you to reach out to others in ways that you know will cause joy to abound within them. Don’t be so distracted by the troubles of this world that you forget how to be a blessing to others.

Today, I encourage you to live out this verse…

The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace. Numbers 6:24-26

Allow that blessing to fall upon you, but also determine to release that blessing over others today. Let’s be the light we hope to see. Let’s live the change we long to see.

Prayer Moment: God, I ask that today You would give me creative and simple ways to bless others. Place in my path those who You desire me to bless. Give me wisdom and courage to reach out. Anoint my actions so they will bring peace to others. I am Yours completely, and in Your peace, I find my rest. I adore You. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Deeper Day 360: Friendship

One gift I’ve received, particularly in 2020, is friendship.

As a family, we have moved a lot, and that means that we are not strangers to being the “new” people in town. Finding and building new connections is always a commitment. Sometimes, it feels like a burden and other times it feels like such a gift. One thing it has done, though, is given me a true appreciation for friendship.

Suddenly, this year I’ve found myself surrounded by several quality friendships. Such a treasure. Such a gift.

When Chris came home for a 24 hour visit recently…he had just left when I received a text from a friend offering wine and conversation later that day. What a joy to be thought of by a person who knew sadness would come on the heels of Chris’ departure.

Other times, friends have sat by my side at ball games and had silly fun with me as we very enthusiastically root for our team. Then over covid lockdown, I met with a friend several times a week to get in exercise and lots of conversation. This and many other instances have led to me having the most fruitful friend season I’ve ever experienced.

Even three of the women I cultivated friendship with while in PA have served as steady and faithful friends still. In past moves, I have had the hard realization that even good friends will fall to the wayside when distance requires them to make additional effort. It’s been a painful but all too real truth for me. But these three faithful relationships have stood the test of time and our distance has only enhanced what we share. We’ve walked through challenging seasons together and forged bonds that time and space can’t dissolve. Faithful friends are a treasure from heaven.

If you’ve only lived in one place during your life, I encourage you to take a minute and reflect on the treasure trove of relationships you have and remember it’s not that way for everyone. We all have something to be grateful for, friendships are one of those things.

Prayer Moment: God, thank You for friendship. Thank You for blessing my life. During this rich season of seeing friendships abound, I want to say how very grateful I am. You are my best Friend, though. Help me to always remember that. You are my most trusted Confidante. I adore You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of one’s friend springs from his earnest counsel. Proverbs 27:9

Therefore, encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.     1 Thessalonians 5:11

Deeper Day 359: Hope Springs Eternal

One thing that God has been continually burning into my soul is this…there is ALWAYS hope!

Hope does indeed spring eternal, straight from heaven our forever home. I ran across this scripture in Proverbs that reinforces our old staple of Jeremiah 29:11…

There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off. Proverbs 23:18

There you have it! Our hope is sure and will NOT be cut off. I’ve read and heard much debate about how Jeremiah 29:11 was a specific promise for a specific people….and even though God has specifically spoken that promise over me as a today (Rhema) word, I now have this gem from Proverbs to back it up. God never changes. His desire to give us hope and a future remains the same. You can rest in this. You can cling to it. You can use it as a star to guide you through dark times.

Over the last week, God has been constantly telling me that He is releasing joy within me. He is giving me fun. Several times, I have been in a situation and wondered, “God, is it ok for me to do (this or that)?” and He has said, “I want you to have some fun!”

What a relief!! Especially after years and years of feeling the weight of being responsible. The pressure of shaping and molding the next generation has left me, at times, feeling that I needed to highlight self- control so much that fun fell to the wayside. It wasn’t intentional, but the business of raising kids is intense. I gave myself over to it completely, but God never intended that I lose my fun-loving spirit. Here’s a secret about me…I LOVE TO HAVE FUN!!!

So many times, I will say to my husband, “I just want to go have some fun!”

Life can feel heavy. Obligations to family and daily needs can feel overwhelming. What if we began to learn how to embrace the joys God places in our lives? What if we remember how to have fun?!

Prayer Moment: God, remind me how to have fun. I ask that You lift off the burdens of this world and give me time to breathe in Your goodness. Teach me how to walk in joy and fun! Give me the grace to embrace and enjoy life. Help me to be a joy to others. Teach me to embrace joy so that my children can walk in the strength of joy. God, I love You. I enjoy You!! I adore You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from Your presence or take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Psalm 51:10-12

“For I know the plans I have for you”, declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord. Jeremiah 29:11-14a

Deeper Day 358: Position

Lately, I have thought a lot about how often people jockey for position. Have you noticed? People manipulate or speak highly of themselves, all in an attempt to win position and favor. It happens everywhere…schools, jobs, families, even within the church. But as I read my daily scripture from Proverbs this morning, I was reminded of something. Let me first share the scripture…

Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will serve before kings; he will not serve before obscure men. Proverbs 22:29

It reminded me that when we do something with excellence, God will promote and reward us. And if we allow Him to be the One doing the promoting then we will sustain what is given. Failure comes quickly to those who self-promote. Never envy someone you see who is jockeying themselves forward, because it will inevitably end in failure. Maybe not tomorrow, but one day soon.

So whatever phase of life you are in, take a moment and step back. Are you finding that in your zeal to move further into your calling and purpose, you have begun to manipulate or jockey? If so, then take the reigns and pull back. Ask God to forgive you and then to reset your course. Course correction is ALWAYS available. If you find yourself being trampled as you humbly wait on promotion amid a mass of jockeys…then go to God and reaffirm your trust in His plan and timing and ask if there is anything He would have you do differently.

In the kingdom of God there is more than enough for everyone. He will NEVER run out. God has made room for all of us. He creates space around us. He creates positions for us to fill. He releases favor and blessing. Those things will never run out.

So, if you are currently feeling lack in any of these areas, I encourage you to do these things…ask God, am I where You want me to be? And if so, ask God to create places for you to be used and useful.

If He has placed a call on your life, then you can rest assured that He will make a way for you. You don’t need to fight others. You only need to work excellently and allow Him to move you into place. Your anointing will make room for you.

Trust Him. He Who called you is faithful, and He didn’t call you to bring disappointment into your life. Trust is the key.

And remember the process you walk out to move into your position is largely the point. It’s where you grow and establish deep roots. The process is where your strength for tomorrow is developed.

Prayer Moment: God, I trust You. I know that at the perfect time, You will place me in the positions You have promised. I desire to only be right where You want me to be. Help me to be satisfied and hungry all the time. Satisfied with where I am and always hungry for more of You. I desire to desire You. You are all that matters. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. Ecclesiastes 3:11

Deeper Day 357: Grace

I’ve been walking out some conflicts in my life lately. Building relationships is sometimes hard. It can feel so uncertain. When someone begins to be angry with me and I am unaware that I have done something to cause it, I often feel overcome. It’s hard because then I feel as if everyone is allowed to receive grace but me.

When this happened recently, I found myself spiraling into a sea of frustration again. Feeling like I was drowning and couldn’t figure a way to survive. Then like a break in the storm, I felt grace fall. The Father came to me, took my face in His hands and began to speak truth.

“Lisa, if these relationships in your life are so fragile that they can’t withstand the tiniest amount of conflict, then are they truly important to you? Do you really believe that if things aren’t perfect then everyone will leave you?”

Of course, this revelation to my heart brought an instant surge of relief. I had been believing a lie and wasn’t even aware of it.

I was then able to step back and detach. A flood of perspective washed over me, and I released all the perfectionism I’d been unwittingly holding onto. I felt a literal weight lift off of my shoulders…I had been under attack. A cloud of deception had come to rest upon me, and I hadn’t even known when it happened.

Suddenly, the weight of grace broke the weight of perfectionism.

I wonder, where do you feel a lack of grace in your life? Is there a relationship that causes you to feel the way I was feeling? Do you feel a lack of grace over a certain struggle you have?

There is so much grace. Reach out your hand toward heaven and take a hold of it. Handfuls of grace. Grace is there for you today, and it will be there for tomorrow, each day holding its own portion. Don’t fear it running out. Lean in and trust God to provide. The poverty spirit says, “There won’t be enough for me.” The one with identity in Christ says, “God gives exceedingly and abundantly more than we could ask or imagine.”

Prayer Moment: God, I pray You would break the cycle of condemnation over me today. I pray that You would open my eyes to grace. Consume my heart with a revelation of Your love and understanding. Give me the perspective I need to give and receive grace. Thank You for loving me enough to keep growing me. You are an all-consuming fire. Come consume me again and again. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Now to Him Who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21

Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:8-9

Deeper Day 356: Reservoir

Reservoir: A large natural or artificial lake used as a source of water supply. A supply or source of something.

There are so many times that I have wondered how I would ever make it through this life if I didn’t have a reservoir of God’s presence within my heart. Where would I find the grace for each moment? How would I walk out the many ups and downs of life?

We each need a reservoir of His presence.

The year 2020 has really been a time to discover who has this reservoir and who doesn’t. The media has done it’s very best to stir up all kinds of fear to boost their ratings. The more afraid they can make us, the more they capitalize. It’s all a game to them, a sick and perverted game.

Those without Jesus have been running wildly amok in their fear. The evidence of the Prince of Peace in the lives of believers has never been more clear. Those who know where their hope lies, are walking out this time with grace. Those who are certain that heaven is their final destination have nothing to fear of death. This is a set apart time. A time to let our faith in Jesus Christ shine like the sun, and warm the cold, weary earth.

I press into my reservoir every day. Lately, I have felt so worn out. Tired from parenting alone while Chris is working out of state, tired of the constant spiritual warfare that is happening. Tired of struggling to maintain peace in our home when the world is constantly trying to steal it.

Last week I found something new, though.

Having reached the end of myself again, I let go and fell backwards into the reservoir of God’s peace. This new pool of Presence is one I’ve never been in before. A deeper pool. I daily pray for God to take me to deeper places within Himself and that’s where I found myself, suddenly.

Things I’ve struggled with for years simply washed away in this deep pool of His presence. Other things that had been covered by years of moss because I was unaware they existed, were suddenly brought into the light so God could speak truth over them as He removed them completely and replaced them with Himself…and then another wave came. A deeper wave of His presence. I’ve heard of it but hadn’t experienced it quite this way before. God was showing me a new place in His heart.

Today, I offer an encounter to you. An encounter with a deeper level of His Presence. How is it found? By asking and then being still. When it comes, just believe it to be true and then surrender to letting go. Let go of this life and hold onto heaven. Release your fears and dreams and receive His vision for your life. Exhale all the panic that breeds control and inhale His saving grace. He is more than enough.

Prayer Moment: God, I ask You would pour out a deeper measure of Yourself over every person reading these words. I pray that right now they would feel You in a deeper way then they ever have before. Come and consume them with Your grace. Wash away comparison, fear and poverty. Release the joy of the Lord over them right now. All this in Jesus’ name, amen.

His mercy flows in wave after wave on those who are in awe before Him. Luke 1:50 (MSG)