Daily Discovering the Blessing

Archive for May, 2012

Zechariah’s Lesson and Mary’s Example

What a difference in the response to God’s Word in these two servants of God!  And what a meaningful message to us about the power of our words.

Zechariah was a priest before God and had been for many years.  He was a spiritual leader of God’s people, God’s representative – a mediator between God and man.  And yet, when God’s instructions were clearly understood by him regarding the birth of his son, John, his response was doubt and unbelief.  And the result?  His ability to speak was taken away.

Mary was a young girl – a virgin engaged to wed Joseph.  When God’s instructions came to Mary her ultimate response was belief in the ability of God to do that which He said He would do:

Let it be done to me according to what you have said. (Luke 1:38)

Of the two – Zechariah having a child with his wife or Mary having a child without the co-operation of a man – the later is clearly the more challenging!   And yet Mary’s response, through her spoken words, was faith.  Zechariah’s response, through his spoken words, was doubting God’s ability in the face of the physical challenge of old age. (And I imagine that Zechariah preached a sermon or two on the miracle of the birth of Isaac in the life of 100 year old Abraham!)

God spoke and Mary believed.  God spoke and Zechariah doubted.  The key point here, though, is God’s response to Zechariah’s voiced unbelief. He immediately stopped the priest’s ability to speak that doubt.  Doubt that would compromise God’s intentions.

Would it make your life easier if, every time you were about to speak out contrary to the Word of God, the Holy Spirit intervened and took away your ability to talk?  While that is unlikely, God has given us, throughout Scripture, knowledge of the power of our words, and wisdom concerning the end result of positive and negative speech. And, He has given us the Holy Spirit to live in us and help us guard our tongues, leading us to speak only “excellent and princely things” (Proverbs 8:6); to speak only the Word of God over every situation. Our words can stop the will of God for our lives, or they can open up the doors of welcome and firmly establish His will for us.

We are co-creators with our Father.  Watch your words!

 

God’s Word on the subject:

Luke 1:1-38    

 

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All is Well

One Sunday morning while greeting my pastor’s wife (in her own right my pastor), she hugged me and said, “All is well!”  She was referring to a particular issue in my life that she and I had spoken of and prayed and praised about, and proclaimed the Word over during the course of many months.  My response to her was, “It’s getting there!”

Immediately the Holy Spirit went into teaching mode.  You have heard of, I am sure, “The Teachable Moment”.  If we will willingly tune in, there are hundreds, even thousands, of “Teachable Moments” with the Holy Spirit.  I heard Him say, “It’s getting there” is not the faith you are meant to walk in and live in.  “It’s getting there” may be hope but it is not faith.  “It’s getting there” implies not yet accomplished, not a done deal, not the evidence, the proof, the substance of complete manifestation.  “It’s getting there” honors and reports on what you see with your eyes.  “All is well” honors the Truth and reality of the Word, the promises, of God.

Words are such powerful packages!  Words carry faith or unbelief!  Please be open to these words: “It’s getting there” demonstrates unbelief. It sounds hopeful and positive, doesn’t it?  But, in fact, we are admonished to “live by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4).   The process of watching over our words is a life-long endeavor. Purposeful practice makes it easier.  An awareness of the power of positive or negative speech potentially informs our conversations. “It’s getting there” came out of my mouth because what was in my heart was a pondering over why this particular issue was taking so long to resolve itself.  A disappointment in what I was presently seeing created that cautionary statement.  Questions to the Lord concerning the passage of time without resolution of the issue had taken the place of faith that would not be denied because God’s Word is forever settled in Heaven (Psalm 119:89) and He is faithful to His promises (Hebrews 10:23).

When God said, “Let there be light” (Genesis 1:3), He didn’t follow that with “It’s getting there”.  When Jesus said, “Lazarus arise” (John 11:43), He didn’t turn to those gathered and say “It’s getting there”.  When the storm rocked the boat and He said, “Peace, be still” (Mark 4:39), He didn’t follow that with “It’s getting there”.

This is not a small thing, a nit-picking distinction, a frivolous hair-splitting.  It is the crux of the matter.  Faith speaks what God’s Word says.  Let your words speak God’s Truth— only!

God’s Word on the subject:

Deuteronomy 8:3         Matthew 12:36-37         Mark 11:22-24           

Learning to Count Higher – Part Two

From the Lord one morning:

Learn to count higher!  I delight in My children’s gigantic expectations.  I desire to bless you abundantly – and to be your sole source.  Higher than you can think or imagine – proclaim, plan, pray.   You cannot dream as high as I can give.  I need your attention, your time daily.  So many of My children miss so much because they don’t dare to ask, and they don’t dare to ask because they don’t spend enough time with Me.  I am a Blesser – My darling daughter – to those who believe enough to receive.

Our Father speaks to us through His Word in superlative terms.  Abundance, more than enough, higher than you can think or imagine, incalculable, extravagant – our self-revealing Father throughout Scripture speaks of a bigness we don’t easily understand.

…that you may be filled [through all your being] unto all the fullness of God [may you have the richest measure of the divine Presence, and become a body wholly filled and flooded with God Himself}!  Now to Him Who, by (in consequence of) the [action of His] power that is at work within us, is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly far over and above all that we [dare] ask or think [infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes, or dreams] (Ephesians 3:19-20).

It is not a natural knowing.  We can ponder the bigness of God, but are unable to live in the reality of it without truly knowing Him.  We can give mental assent to His sacrificial love, we can even agree with the truth and the power and the result of it, but until that amazing love informs our thoughts and actions and our very being through a daily personal, intimate knowing and sharing with Him, it is only “knowledge without experience” (Ephesians 3:19).  We can share the Gospel, travel to the mission field, raise up our children in the way that they should go, honor Him with the first fruits of our labor, and have the assurance of Heaven and still not fully partake of the extraordinary, deep and intimate love of the Father, which is His wish.  He wants to be so known.  The Holy Spirit’s admonition to me did not only pertain to financial matters.  We need to learn to count higher when it comes to allowing the Spirit of God to instruct us in Kingdom living and flourishing and expanding our outlook.  With limitless offered to us, why do so many of us put up with just getting by?

It is a supernatural knowing. Hebrews 13:15 tells us that praise, “constantly and at all times” is to be offered up to God.  And Psalm 25:14says that we have the assurance of “the sweet, satisfying companionship of the Lord” as we “fear, revere, and worship Him, and he will show them His covenant and reveal to them its deep, inner meaning”  We come to know the bigness and the awesome all-encompassing power of our Father as we set aside time to be with Him and as we worship and praise and honor Him.  His desire is to abundantly bless for that is His character – that is Who He is.  He delights in our faith and in our gigantic expectations.  Spend time with your Abba today.  Get to know Him and you too will begin to count higher!

God-friendship is for God-worshippers;  They are the ones he confides in (Psalm 25:14 – Message Bible)

 

God’s Word on the subject:

Psalm 25:14              Ephesians 1:17-23              Ephesians 3:14-21

Hebrews 13:15

 

Learn to Count Higher

The title of today’s entry is something that I heard the Holy Spirit say to me several years ago.  One of our self-revealing God’s many names is El Shaddai – “the God Who is More Than Enough.” My pastor said several years ago that we are meant to soar with the eagles (Psalm 103:5) not scratch around on the ground with the chickens!  But we need to develop a realization of this truth in our lives.  We need to grab hold of that vision.  We need to exchange our limited for God’s limitless. Let the Word of God and the promises of God, the realization of Who He is and Who He wants to be in our lives, debunk worldly “wisdom“, religious tradition and teaching, and Satan’s lies concerning you, today and in your future.

Listen to what Smith Wigglesworth has to say on this subject:

“You cannot enter into this life without being enlarged, abounding and super-abundant.  God never wants a child of His in the world to be measured.  All the riches of God are infinite and boundless.  There is no such thing as measuring them. If ever you measured God you will be thin and little and dwarfed.  You cannot measure. You have an exhaustless place. God’s Son is in you with all the power of development, until you are so enriched by this divine grace that you live in the world knowing that God is transforming you from grace to grace, from victory to victory…you cannot measure the purposes of the Spirit life; they are infinite.”  (Smith Wigglesworth Devotional}

Ephesians 3:8  speaks in similar terms when it tells of “the unending, boundless, fathomless, incalculable and exhaustless riches of Christ.”  Philippians 4:8  tells us that “My God will liberally supply (fill to the full) your every need according to His riches in glory.”  Ephesians 3:20  elaborates further: “Now to Him Who by (in consequence of) the action of His power that is at work within us is able to (carry out His purposes and) do superabundantly far over and above all that we (dare) ask or think (infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes or dreams.)”

In his book, Extraordinary, The Life You’re Meant To Live, John Bevere writes:

“Oh, how we’ve settled so far short of His ability.  Why haven’t we thought, imagined, prayed on a larger scale?”

Let’s prayerfully reconfigure our understanding of God’s provision.  Let the Word inform your expectations.  Learn to count higher!

God’s Word on the subject:

Psalm 103:5              Ephesians 3:20

 

Tessa’s Lesson

Jesus often taught a spiritual lesson using examples in nature (Matthew 6:26-29; Matthew 10:29), teaching kingdom principles associated with faith and the very foundational need to trust God in all circumstances. Recently, through observing a household pet, I had an opportunity to add another “rung to my faith ladder!”

At one time we were a two dog household – Tess and Jude.  This was not a nod to Thomas Hardy for you English majors; we simply liked the names.  One evening we realized that we were using the last of our food for the dogs, and my husband was planning to go out early the next morning to get some.  Tess, however, earlier than Jim had planned to go out shopping, began looking for her breakfast.  For Tess, when food was needed, food was always provided.  We were the providers of her food, the assuagers of her hunger. She stood before us whining, and quite confused and concerned that we did not seem to be responding to her need.  She did not know, could not comprehend, that we were well aware of her need and had a plan already in place to provide her with food. The immediacy of her desire could not be informed by our intention to accommodate her need.  We could not reason with Tess that we take our responsibilities as her caregivers very seriously, that we were both well able and very willing to provide her with food, and that her need would be taken care of very soon.

Our Father has much to say in His Word about His role as provider.  One I speak out often is Psalm 103:5, which promises that God:

…satisfies your mouth (your necessity and desire at your present age and situation) with good… [Emphasis mine]

That certainly covers all contingencies!   And yet how often have I pondered and even complained in my heart when a prayer request does not manifest in what I consider to be a timely manner.  God assures us that He hears us when we speak to Him of a need (1 John 5: 14-15), He also vows that He is ever watchful over His Word to perform it (Jeremiah 1:12).  Our Father never goes back on His Word or is heedless of a promise that He has made. Knowing that to be true, shouldn’t standing in faith become an easier task? The exercise of patience in faith is ultimately to our benefit (James 1:3-4), and if we truly believe the Word, we already know the end from the beginning – God will provide.  It is one of His redemptive Names (Jehovah – Jireh Genesis 22:14).  We have experienced it throughout our walk with Him, and we will experience it over and over again, according to our faith in Him.

Watching Tess that morning increased my faith and taught me again of the value of patience informed by trust in our Father.

God’s Word on the subject:

Psalm 103:5           Matthew 6:26-29             Matthew 10:29           1 John 5:14-15

Careful Words

May Jesus Himself and God our Father, Who reached out in love and surprised you with gifts of unending help and confidence, put a fresh heart in you, invigorate your work, enliven your speech.  (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 – Message Bible)

While in the middle of preaching to a congregation, right in the middle of a church service, Kenneth Hagin tells of hearing from the Holy Spirit concerning his misinterpretation and incorrect teaching on a particular verse of Scripture.  Right there and then he got down on his knees to ask for forgiveness and to thank God for the revelation.  Not only was he that closely tuned in to the Spirit, but his relationship and interactions with the Spirit clearly took precedence over any other issue in life.  To be so closely connected to God’s indwelling Spirit, to give His voice and instructions first place always – that is our goal.  That is a powerful testimony.

James 3:2 gives us keen insight into our nature and into what we should be striving for:

For we all often stumble and fall and offend in many things.  And if anyone does not offend in speech [never says the wrong things], he is a fully developed character and a perfect man, able to control his whole body and to curb his entire nature.

I remember a moment when the careful speech that reflects our life in Christ was an addendum to previously misspoken words I had uttered.  As headmaster of school, I had spoken with a student concerning a minor indiscretion.  After the conversation, the Holy Spirit showed me a better and more honoring way, comparing the words I had used to reprimand to the words I could have used to redirect and encourage with love. He gave me Scripture to share and words of reconciliation to offer.  Calling the student back into my office was such a teachable moment for us both.  I saw concern at being called back into my presence fall away as the surprised student heard my apology for judgmental words and then the words and Scripture the Holy Spirit had given me for our mutual growth.

We don’t always get it right the first time but if we are carefully listening to the peace in our hearts, or lack thereof, we will be able to repair and readjust.  My second meeting with that student came about because my heart kept replaying the initial conversation with an uneasy sense that I had missed the mark. When we carefully listen and immediately obey, healing happens.  Ideally, we would every day be so carefully tuned in that our conversation at all times is “gracious (pleasant and winsome) seasoned [as it were] with salt…”. 

Let the word [spoken by] Christ [the Messiah] have its home [in your hearts and minds] and dwell in you in [all its] richness, as you teach and admonish and train one another in all insight and intelligence and wisdom [in spiritual things]…. (Colossians 3:16)

There is our goal.  There is the key to a lifetime of offering careful, Holy Spirit words to a weary world.  Let the Word dwell in you richly and negative expressions and hurtful words will have no place in your heart.  And should we falter in this, and we will, the Lord will offer remedy and healing if we are listening for those care-full words.

 

God’s Word on the subject:

Colossians 3:16-17         Colossians 4:6            James 3:2

 

An Early Victory

   Very early on in my faith walk – I had probably been walking with the Lord for two or three years, and had been discovering through His Word, through experience, and through strong Gospel teachings that He was interested in all aspects of my life, small and large issues –   I discovered again one Saturday morning about His willingness to shepherd me, even through the seemingly unimportant issues in life.  It seems like a trivial moment, and some might say not even worthy as testimony, but to me, at that moment in my faith walk, it was a huge lesson and an indicator of His loving concern for me.

   On that particular Saturday, two things had to be accomplished.  Most important to me, I was to attend a family wedding several states away, and was to be picked up by family members at a particular (and non-negotiable) time in order to arrive at the wedding in a timely manner.  Most important to my son Gary, we were to sign him up for summer camp at the local YMCA.  This was the only morning for camp registration, and Gary had been looking forward to this for quite a while.  When we arrived at the registration site I was appalled to see the crowd, and especially the line, for camp sign up.  Watching the length of time it took for just one person to sign up, and the excruciating slowness of the line, I realized that I would never get this accomplished in time to leave for the wedding.    I walked up to what appeared to be someone in charge of the registration and told her of my deadline problem.   She looked at me with a certain amount of disdain and said, rather coldly, “Ma’am, all of these people have places to go and things to do.  You’ll just have to wait your turn like everyone else.”    At that point I prayed something like this – “Lord, you know where I have to go and when I have to leave in order to get to the wedding on time, and you also know how much this matters to Gary. I’m asking You to solve this problem.”  I then waited in a chair, with Gary standing in place in line, for about half of an hour.  The line barely moved and, knowing that I had to leave soon but also that I could not and would not disappoint my son, I began to get up from the chair to locate that same woman to again plead my case. At that moment  I clearly heard the Lord say, “You asked Me to solve your problem.  Now sit down and let Me do it.”  I sat down again, quickly!  Moments later that same  women who had earlier been quite cold and officious, came strolling into the room, took a look at the slow-moving line, walked up to me and said, “Let’s get you to the front of this line so you can get to that wedding on time.” 

   The love the Father has for His kids is demonstrated in lives that have given over control to Him, and that have a growing understanding of His desire to be intimately involved in their day to day needs.  Jesus said,

What man of there is you, if his son asks him for a loaf of bread will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish will hand him a serpent?  If you, then, evil as you are, know how to give good and advantageous gifts to your children, how much more will your Father, Who is in heaven [perfect as He is] give good and advantageous things to those who keep on asking Him?”  (Matthew 7:9-11)

  Ask yourself this question.  Where would you be several months or years from now if you truly gave God entire control of your moments, days, months and years?

Our Ever Present Provider

If I take the wings of the morning or dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there shall Your hand lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me. (Psalm 139:9-10)

   The Message Bible paraphrase of Verse 10 is, “You’ll find me in a minute – You’re already there waiting.”  I remember hearing an album of a live recording of a Gospel concert.  The singer, Andre Crouch, said at the beginning of the concert:

“Jesus is alive, and He is everywhere present.  I know that to be true because I brought Him here with me, and when I arrived I found Him to be already here!”

   We are inevitably blessed and uplifted as we recognize the continuous Presence of God in our every moment.  To practice that realization is to tap into the ever ready, ever available provision of our Father.  Our loving Abba purposed that it would be this way.  We have God in us!  The Holy Spirit lives within- counseling, guiding, teaching, reminding, and causing us to be the very best and most beautiful we can be in Jesus. 

   He gives us the words we need to speak (Luke 12:12), the route we need to take (Isaiah 30:21), the prosperity that fulfills the covenant (Deuteronomy 8:18), the health and strength that characterizes an abundant life (Psalm 103:3, John 10:10), a peace that demolishes any device the enemy tries to throw our way (Philippians 4:7), and the “full, personal knowledge of Him” (1 Chronicles 28:9, 2 Peter 1:3).  Through all of these “His divine power has bestowed upon us all things that [are requisite and suited] to life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3) [Emphasis mine]

   In 2 Kings 6:14-17 we have a lesson in the power of spiritual sight.  The servant of Elisha, a prophet of God, was filled with fear concerning the enemy forces that were surrounding them.  Elisha prayed, “Lord… open his eyes that he may see” for “those with us are more than those with them.” As God’s beloved daughters, our walk in the Spirit is to be so empowered.  We are meant to see with the eyes of our spirits

   In Luke 24:25, 38 we read some challenging words concerning a spiritual state we do not want to find ourselves in:

And Jesus said to them, O foolish ones [sluggish in mind, dull of perception] and slow of heart to believe (adhere to and trust in and rely on) everything that the prophets have spoken…Why are you disturbed and troubled, and why do such doubts and questionings arise in your hearts?

We have the entire force of spiritual Truth and God’s Word as our foundation.  Walk in that realization as you head out through your day today.  See yourself, surrounded by God’s powerful angels, dedicated to your safety, well-being, and kingdom success.  Give full attention to the indwelling Holy Spirit Whose job it is to help you see spiritual Truths.  Accompanied by your Father you will walk into the future moments of your day and discover Him and whatever provision you need from Him to be already there!

 

God’s Word on the Subject:

2 King 6:14-17       Psalm 139       Ephesians 3:16-21        2 Peter 1:2-4

The Manifestation of Things Hoped For

Now faith is the evidence of things not seen, the manifestation of things hoped for.  (Hebrews 11:1)

At one point, several years into my faith walk, a growth developed in one of my underarm areas.  Although it did not concern me in terms of my health, it was more an irritation when it came to shaving in that area.  It continued to grow larger, and rub against shirt material and get a bit inflamed.  I began to speak with the Lord about it in prayer, asking Him to remove it.  One Sunday morning at church our pastor was calling up certain physical problems for healing.  He mentioned someone with a growth under their arm, and I experienced great warmth, head to toe, which at the time seemed to indicate to me that the Holy Spirit was affirming that I should go up for prayer.  After receiving prayer that Sunday for the growth it got worse, not better!   I had to cover it with a band aid because clothing began to severely irritate it.  It swelled up to twice or three times its original size.  And I spoke to that growth!   “You may not stay.  I have had agreement in prayer.  You must go.  You must leave my body.”  I never gave in to doubt and I thank God for that.  I simply figured, in faith, that God’s Word was true, I had received prayer from a believer of like faith, and it was a done deal!   Five days later, after standing  firmly in faith and expectation, that enlarged growth fell off of me.  It simply came off with the band aid!

My righteous servant shall live by faith, and if he draws back, I have no pleasure in him” (Hebrews 10:38)

These seem like harsh words, but they are a direct route to blessing.  So very often, people seek the Lord for one blessing or another- guidance, provision, etc.  And when the manifestation is not quickly forthcoming, doubt and fear set in and are reflected in our spoken words, diminishing faith and often hindering or completely severing the blessing they are seeking.  Our walk of faith before God is a message to ourselves and to Him that in all things we know that He can be trusted; that He is our Provider, our Nourisher, and our Healer.

Jesus’ words to us, “Don’t be afraid, just believe”, (Mark 10:36) foundationalize a faith walk.  Interestingly, those words spoken to Jairus, a synagogue ruler, came when Jairus had learned of his daughter’s death.  But God had allowed Jairus to witness a wonderful healing as he was leading Jesus to his home to heal his daughter.  The Word mentions that the daughter of Jairus was twelve years old, which was the same amount of time that the woman healed had dealt with her illness, an issue of blood.  Jairus heard the words, “Your faith has healed you”, as Jesus spoke them to the woman before he heard the words, “Your daughter is dead.”  God had allowed that moment to build his faith to receive his blessing.

As we, citizens of the Kingdom, give testimony to the wonderful things that God has done, we speak into each others lives that same faith-building reassurance, that same life-giving knowledge, that in all things, God can be trusted to be faithful to His Word; that His Word is alive and powerful and for our blessing.  “Fear not, only believe.”

The Age of Accountability – Part Two

    How foolish would it be to find yourself caught out in a rainstorm feeling unable to gain access to you home, where you would experience warmth and safety, while all the while the key to your home is in your hand? 

   As newly born-again believers, “babies and toddlers” in the faith, we cry out for help, fuss and fret over desired outcomes, and see them come to pass.  We toddle about on our new faith legs and learn about the Truth of God’s Word through our early successes.   But as we grow in grace, we must step up into a mature view of the reality of the Truth of God’s Word and our responsibilities as believers.  Firmly relying faith is a responsibility of Kingdom citizenship.  Like our Father we are to create with words of faith and a heart of trust.  Continue to grow in the Word.  Discover your identity in Christ.  Accept nothing less than God’s standard.  You are more than a conqueror – you are an overcomer (Romans 8:37).

1 Corinthians 13:11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. Now that I have become a man, I am done with childish ways and have put them aside.

Jesus said, in Matthew 28:18 – All authority (all power of rule) in Heaven and on earth has been given to Me.  Go then…

And in Luke 22:29And as My Father has appointed a kingdom and conferred it on Me, so do I confer it on you (the privilege and the decree).

  With these verses, Jesus gives us the keys to come in from the storm – to come into safety.  He also declares us accountable; accountability which sometimes might feel intimidating. With the blessings – and they are extraordinary – comes the responsibility.  Step up into your rightful place as a daughter of God – accountable to the Truth of His Word, and with that maturity and accountability feed and guide many. 

 

God’s Word on the subject:

Matthew 28:18             Luke 22:29