Deeper Day 19: Kings of the Land

I seem to be finding myself in the season of facing the “kings” that occupy my promised land.  God has shown me over and over again that I am moving into my promised land, and that is why the battle is so fierce.

Remember the Israelites?  They had waited many years to finally be led into their promised land, but when they did, the Bible recounts how they had to fight the kings of the land. God told Joshua, “I will give you every place where you set your foot.” (Joshua 1:3).  He immediately followed this with, “No one will be able to stand up against you all your life.” And repeatedly, “Be strong and courageous.”  Clearly, God was preparing him for the fight.  Just because you have entered into the territory God has promised you doesn’t mean the battle is over.  On the contrary, this is often when the battle intensifies dramatically.

If you are in a season of preparing for your promise, don’t forsake all that you should be learning and strengthening during this time because when you cross over to take possession of said promise, you will need ALL the strength you can muster.

If you are in your promised land and keep wondering why the fight is so intense, be strong and courageous.  I keep hearing God speak, “Stand” over me continually.  So many things in life look contrary to the promise, but when I reflect and remember where we have come from and how we got where we now are, I am full of certainty and steadiness knowing that the same God Who lead us here, will continue to lead us forward.

Another thing that I have learned is this, when you are standing and fighting for your God given territory, you must also be sensitive to little openings He makes for you to begin moving into the promise.  Sometimes, we can get so distracted with the warfare that we don’t notice the little reprieves or victories He gives us, or we are so war weary that we can hardly fathom goodness anymore so when it comes we don’t even notice or believe it to be true.

That happened to me this week.  Part of my promise began to unfold in an unexpected way.  At first, I was flooded with joy and excitement, but it was quickly tempered with second guessing and doubt.  It was really pretty sad.  Here God is trying to do something loving toward me, and I have been fighting and standing so long that it was almost painful to believe a good thing and forward motion was happening.  Then I had an unexpected flash of fear that I would miss out or be left out by the group I was entering into this process with…..I immediately identified that spirit…..Poverty.  Yuck.

Poverty spirit says, “There’s not enough for you.  You’re gonna be left out.  Don’t count on it happening.  You better grab what you can because if you don’t, then you won’t have any.”  I loathe that spirit.  The very spirit that says your being robbed, is actually trying to rob you.  It’s a sick spirit.

I’m so grateful that I could immediately see it for what it was because I’ve learned when I feel that, I should take a step back.  I did, and right away the feeling subsided.  I also told myself that I can’t miss out on something God has set aside for me.  He’s not like that.  He will make sure I walk into the things He has planned for me, one way or another.  As I poured truth into the wound that poverty had attempted to fill, healing and wholeness and steadiness returned to my heart and only then could I continue to move forward.

The spirit of poverty was one of the kings occupying my promised land, and it had to go.

Prayer Moment:  What’s occupying your promised land?  Do you struggle with poverty spirit, spirit of jealousy, anger, doubt or some other spirit?  It’s important to begin to identify these things.  You can’t fight what you aren’t aware of.  Spend some time today searching your heart with the Lord and ask Him to reveal to you the kings you must defeat in your life and promised land.  Then ask Him for strategy to do so.

So Joshua ordered the officers of the people: “Go through the camp and tell the people, ‘Get your provisions ready.  Three days from now you will cross the Jordan here to go in and take possession of the land the Lord your God is giving you for your own.  Joshua 1:10-11

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.  Ephesians 6:12-13

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, Who give generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.  James 1:5

Deeper Day 18: Being Blessed

Chris and I are the type of people who really like to bless others.  One of our greatest pleasures in life is to not only bless someone, but to do so extravagantly.  During these stretching times, it can be so hard to feel restricted in this area, but there’s always something we can do.  In October I began to provide meals to the four pastor families at our church, once a month.  Even through this down time I have joyfully continued to do this.  It has brought me such peace and satisfaction to continue on.  I’ve also been trying to intentionally bless my children with my time.  This is always a worthy idea.

What has been revealing though, is how we’ve felt as some friends and loved ones have gifted us money.

I will never for my whole life forget the moment I began to get paypal payments from a group of worship leaders that I’m connected with.  Several different ones sent love offerings to us, completely out of the blue.  My heart was beyond moved.

This is not something we are used to being on the receiving end of….I saw the sadness dance across my husbands face the first time it happened.  It wasn’t because he was ungrateful, it was because he was having that moment when you know you can’t do what you long to do, but others still can.

I, on the other hand, had been longing for our friends and loved ones to love on us this way.  I longed to be loved in the way we had loved on others.  Not because we deserved it.  Not from a greedy heart, but I just needed to feel thought of…I wanted to know God was putting us on other people’s hearts.

We have seen such extravagant blessings at the hands of those we love.  We will be forever grateful.  And know this, it’s only lit a fire under us to continue to give as much as we can now and more than ever later.  Just because we aren’t working doesn’t mean I can’t give in little ways every day.  There’s never any excuse to stop giving.

Prayer Moment: Take some time today and evaluate your life.  No matter what your circumstances, are you giving?  Giving can be done in so many different ways, it’s not just a financial issue.  You can give time, words of encouragement, hugs, casual hospitality in your home.  You are a gift.  Find a way to reach out this week.  You won’t regret it.

Give, and it will be given to you.  A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap.  For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.  Luke 6:38

And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of the glory of Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:19

May God bless us still, so that all the ends of the earth will fear Him.  Psalms 67:7

Deeper Day 17: Keep Dreaming

Recently I had a vision.  I saw myself as a kid when I used to put a sheet over my grandmothers big dining table and pretend it was a fort.  I would spend forever under there just using my imagination and dreaming up little worlds for myself to play in.  God said to me, “You must keep dreaming”.

Friend, I don’t know what you are facing in life right now, but I do know that no matter what is going on in my life, God wants me to keep dreaming.  When you dream, you get past the now and remember that you do have a future and it will be good.  When you dream, you activate places in your heart that stir up hope and joy.  Dreaming is so crucial.

Shortly after our news of being laid-off came, God told me to do another poster project.  This one was very different though.  It involved dreaming.  He told me to have Chris draw our home and property and then add all the improvements and things we’d like to do to it while we live there.  We had had many conversations in the past of some landscaping ideas and adding an additional garage with an apartment.  We had even planned to put a storm shelter under the floor of our garage.  Things like that.

Chris agreed to partner with me on this project, so one day we sat down and he drew it all out while we discussed what we wanted and where.  In no time, hope filled the room.  In no time, we were believing it wouldn’t always be a struggle.

God is so good to us.

The next project was to create a dream job board.  I’ve only completed half of that one, but when I began to work on it I was shocked at how full my heart felt.  I can’t wait to finish it.

When is the last time you dreamed on purpose?  Have you ever just told God all the things you want to do without holding back?  Just telling Him all of it?

For a long time, it was hard for me to honestly tell Him things I desired because I was worried He would think I was greedy or something.  That’s madness.  He loves my dreams more than I do!!

Prayer Moment:  GO DREAM!!!!

In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people.  Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.  Acts 2:17

Where there is no vision, the people perish.  Proverbs 29:18a

“And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people.  Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.  Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days.  Joel 2:28-29

Deeper Day 16: Living From Joy

As I continue to recount to you the many lessons that I have learned during this winter season, let me establish this for you.  I chose every single day to live FROM joy.  You won’t often find me cranky in the mornings.  You will instead find me grounded in joy.  You won’t often find me withholding praise and worship from God.  You will instead watch me bleed out all the pain and turmoil from within my heart, onto the keys of the piano and through my voice in passionate singing.  No, I’m not perfect in any of it, but this is what I strive for….to be found full of joy, no matter what.

So, instead of constantly lamenting the perceived drought in our life, we set out to embrace the challenge and to actively use the time to build into family.  Let me tell you, it’s been so worth it.

We brought our kids together and made a list of daily things to pray for (as God instructed us to do).  We have enjoyed the Christmas break, and Chris and my three oldest have killed seven deer between themselves.  So, we not only filled the freezer, but the kids also enjoyed a lot of Daddy time.  Priceless.  We are teaching our kids to walk out this thing called faith, and to do it not with a sour expression and lamenting, but with the fullness of joy and expectation of good things.

See, nothing good in life happens by accident.  It’s all set into motion from something.  If you’re rooted in joy, then when you are disappointed by life, it takes far less time to get back to that joy.

I’ve noticed my “turn around time” from the pangs of struggle to joy is so much less than in years previous.  That’s because I’ve already spent years pouring into this idea.

Now, I’m not talking about fake happiness. I’m not talking about putting on the “happy face” when you’re really crying on the inside.  No, what I’m talking about is being open and very real with God and then letting Him speak truth to my heart so I can move forward.  I’m talking about believing in the character of God.  He is good.  There is no darkness in Him.  He is trustworthy.

Every day I recount to myself the attributes of God.  Every day I remind myself of the history I have with Him.  I remind myself that He’s never ever let me down so far, so why would He now?  I remind myself that He opened every door that led us to Oklahoma and even this specific house, so why would He abandon us now?  The simple answer is, He won’t.  But there’s more…. I don’t worship Him for what He gives me or what He has done.  I worship Him because He is God and I love Him.  That’s as real as I can get with you.  And it’s totally true.  I am so in love with Him that I can’t even entertain the idea of Him not being Who He said He is.  I believe Him. That’s all I really need to know.

Prayer Moment:  Has this word convicted you that maybe you need more joy in your life?  That’s ok.  It’s never too late.  Take a minute and repent of any crappy attitudes you’ve had and ask God to awaken the joy within you.  I guarantee He will do it!

The prospect of the righteous is joy, but the hopes of the wicked come to nothing.  Proverbs 10:28

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Romans 15:13

Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion, for great is the Holy One of Israel among you.  Isaiah 12:6

Deeper Day 15: Staying in Tune

The only way I have survived this time of being laid off is by staying very tuned into Holy Spirit.  Here is one example.  When I knew we may be laid off God told me to be prepared to walk through December without a paycheck.  He showed me where our money would come from.  (We have a savings account that we’ve been living on.)  So, when the final word came and being laid off was a certainty, I already held a measure of peace.

That’s grace friends.  I wouldn’t have had such peace if I wasn’t already always listening.

Another time, I knew we wouldn’t be buying big Christmas presents, so I decided to do fun stockings.  Still, when you have no income, it’s really hard to make a decision to spend on something that feels frivolous.  Yet, one day I felt literally compelled to go buy stocking stuffers.  I prayed about it and asked Chris how he felt about it.  He said that I should go ahead and do it, so I got in the car and headed out.  I made a split-second decision to check the mail as I was leaving and lo and behold, we had a business insurance refund check in the mail that would more than cover all the stockings!!!

That’s grace again, friends.  I can’t live without it.

I want to testify another time, if you don’t mind.  While we were visiting my parents for Christmas, I got a huge hole in my tire and needed a new one.  Which meant I needed to go ahead and get four because we really needed heavier duty tires.  It was a risk, but we had peace and made the decision to get four new tires.  Right before I called the mechanic, I checked my email and again we were getting another business insurance refund check for twice what the tires would cost!!

Grace again…..

Are you noticing a theme?

Now, I want to really give you something to think about.  How often does God provide for you and then you get mad because you “have to” spend it on something like tires?  Do you get what I’m saying?  In the moment that I found out we’d be getting that check, I had two choices. First, I could’ve complained about getting that money and having to spend half of it immediately on “stupid” tires.  Second, I could rejoice in knowing God had planned, in advance, to not only provide for our need, but to exceed it!

During this whole journey I have made that same decision.  As each obstacle has come, I have made a definite and purposeful decision to be grateful and rejoice over every victory, no matter how large or small.  This is something that must done on purpose.  It seems in the world today that grumbling and complaining, even for Christians, is the standard in life.  Not for me.  I truly believe the more we can train our hearts and minds to be grateful and our tongues to speak with gratitude, the more joy we will have in life.  My abundance comes from inside.  It’s not connected to my circumstances, it’s connected to Christ in me, my living Hope.

Prayer Moment:  God, help me to always guard my tongue.  Forgive me for the many times I’ve spoken death over myself and others.  Forgive me for groaning and complaining.  Hem me in, Lord so I will live my life being held by your Presence.  I only want to be with You.  Nothing else matters.  You are the fountain of Life from which I drink.  Every morning when I wake up, You’re the first thing I think about.  Let that always be true.  I am Yours completely.  In Jesus name, Amen.

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you!  Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal.  Isaiah 26:3-4

Deeper Day 14: Getting Personal

Today, I am going to really crack open my heart before you guys.  Even as I type that, my hands feel warm and I see my heart breaking open and really thick oil is pouring out of it.  Today, I break open my alabaster box.

On a side note:  The thing I’m about to tell you isn’t something I’ve been hiding because of pride.  No, God has had me holding it close as something sacred.  Something to only be shared with specific people who would partner with my faith, not speak doubt over me.  During the time I’ve been keeping this fairly quiet, I’ve learned a lot about following His leading and protecting my heart while He’s working the miracle out.

When God asked me to do another year of writing devotionals, I knew it was risky.  I knew it probably meant I would walk out a lot over the year, what I didn’t know was less than a month later my husband and I would get laid off of work.  In fact, as of the writing of this devotional, we are still laid off.  Ouch, my heart hurts.  Saying this to you is hard, but maybe not for the reasons you might think.  It hurts because my faith muscle is so sore right now.  I’ve been flexing it longer than I anticipated.

I still trust God completely though.  We have seen His hand move and provide beyond measure.  He has hemmed us in during this time in truly miraculous ways.  Even the day I found out that being laid off was definite.

That day was a normal day, I wasn’t expecting any news.  I was spending my day worshiping God and His presence was so tangible in my home.  He spoke to me that I was to make a “We’re Getting Out of Debt” poster.  This would have four columns representing our four debts…Two of which are homes. (We have a rental home in Conway.  It was the first house we ever bought.)  This seemed like an encouraging task and we enjoy being a family of little debt, so I was all about this!  I went to the store and right after I unloaded the car with my supplies for the project, Chris called.  He told me we were to be laid off in a couple of weeks. My heart sunk as I immediately thought of the poster I was supposed to make.

My soul said, “God!!! How could You be so cruel!”  But my spirit said, “Wow, God You really worked hard to protect me and remind me of Your promise today.”  So, I went ahead and made that poster and hung it in our closet.  Now, frequently I will walk over to it and place my hand on it and thank God that we are getting debt free!  I refuse to be controlled by my circumstances.  I will be lead by the Spirit.

Today, I want you to think about your soul versus your spirit…..

The Bible say, “My spirit is willing, but my flesh is so weak”

What is your soul?  It encompasses your mind, will and emotions.  Your spirit is what God saved.

Never in my life have I had a season when I have so clearly felt the tug of war between my soul and spirit.  I have literally had nights when I would awake and be in a vision, seeing my soul and I was in the fetal position crying out “Jesus! Jesus! Jesus” and then I would say, “Yes, soul I hear you and this is scary, but my spirit knows God has this.  He hasn’t left and never will.  Each time I would hear my soul crying out in despair, I would (and still do) acknowledge it, and then purposefully tell myself to follow my spirit.

This may sound strange to some of you but test it out.  Search out scripture and listen to your own thoughts and feelings.  You may be surprised.  What the enemy thought would send me into despair, has actually strengthened me to a level that I honestly didn’t think was possible.

Prayer Moment: God, show me the difference between my soul and spirit.  Teach me how to be spirit lead.  Help me where I am weak and teach me how to resist the downward spiral of despair by remembering Who You are and what You’ve done in my life.  I trust You.  In Jesus name, Amen.

(Today’s scripture is a portion of our family Psalm)

Surely the righteous will never be shaken; they will be remembered forever.  They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord.  Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear; in the end they will look in triumph on their foes.  They have scattered abroad their gifts to the poor, their righteousness endures forever; their horn will be lifted high in honor.  Psalm 112:6-9

Deeper Day 13: The Foundry

As I sat at the computer ready to write another devotional, I heard one word, FOUNDRY.  Immediately, I knew it was the Lord.  So I looked up the definition…..

Foundry:  1.  An establishment where founding is carried on. (founding means: to set or ground on something solid.)    2.  The act, process or art of casting metals.

Foundries use a lot of heat.  Making a metal into a liquid is intense.  During the refining you remove the slag (stony waste or matter separated from metals during the smelting or refining of ore).  On more than one occasion lately, I’ve been walking out my day and unexpectedly a lie I believed would float into my head.  I am always surprised when this happens because the lies are usually so blatant, and a couple of times, the lie was hidden so deep within me that I had no idea I actually felt that way.

Like the day I was minding my own business, living life, and I heard “You’re afraid to succeed.”  I immediately had a vision of leaves being blown off a space so you could see there was a hidden item under them…This was the hidden item.  What?!  Afraid to succeed?  Even though somewhere deep within I knew this was a statement that I truly did feel, I still didn’t understand why.  I began to ask God where this lie came from and why I had been holding onto it.  We walked it out as I followed it to its root and then allowed God to speak truth over me and heal the space the lie had been taking up in my heart.

That’s the season I’ve been in for a while.  I keep hearing God tell me that He is really establishing a firm foundation within me.  One that can endure the tests of time.  One that outlasts a hard season.  One that creates a solidity in my walk that maybe I can’t fathom yet.  One that will allow Him to use me more fully.

Early this morning I woke and then could not go back to sleep, so I started really talking to God.  One thing I saw was, Him pouring a liquid gold out of Heaven into my spine and then He reached into my spine and readjusted it for me.  It was obviously a moment ripe with symbolism, but to now this evening, hear the word Foundry….I’m seeing God is truly trying to communicate something significant to me.

For this season, I have willingly walked into the hot place to be melted in His presence.  I have laid myself out as a willing sacrifice.  I long so much to be nearer to Him, that there’s nothing I won’t do.  So, this morning when I saw that vision, and honestly when I see any vision lately, my first response is never “How can this happen?”.  My first response has become, “Yes”.  Whether I understand what I’m seeing yet or not, I simply say, “Yes, Lord.” And then wait for more to come.  He holds my world.

Prayer Moment:  I challenge you to pay close attention to your thoughts and your heart today.  See if any “random” or “unusual” thought or feeling comes floating to the surface and if it does, take it to God and see what He has to say about it.  You will be blessed, I guarantee.

See, I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.  Isaiah 48:10

Pure gold put in the fire comes out of it proved pure; genuine faith put through this suffering comes out proved genuine.  When Jesus wraps this all up, it’s your faith, not your gold that God will have on display as evidence of His victory.  1 Peter 1:7