When a walk becomes a run…

In my quiet time this morning, I came across a passage that really resonated with me. Before coming to this passage, I felt the Lord calling me to put aside the to-dos that cluttered my thoughts and just simply draw near to Him and His presence. As I entered into my quiet time, I was led to the passage found in Psalm 119: 30-32. In reading this passage, I heard the Lord whisper straight to my heart through these verses. It’s amazing how God uses His Word to speak softly through the loudness of the world around us.

The book of Psalms is by far one of my favorite books in the Bible. The authors not only capture the essence of Christ’s presence but also give us a glimpse of what a relationship with Christ should look like. All throughout the book there are psalms of praise, peace, joy but there are also psalms of sadness, bitterness and loneliness. The book in its entirety shows that above all, God is our friend. We not only need to give Him praise but we also need to give Him our minute-by-minute emotions. He not only is a God who longs for our happiness but also draws us closer to Him through our hurts. So in reading the book of Psalms, I am truly made aware of my relationship and more specifically, my friendship with my God. For in Him, I find all that I need.

way of truth

As God spoke to me this morning, He used the verses in Psalm 119 to show me exactly what His precepts call me to.
Starting in verse 30,
“I have chosen the way of faithfulness, I have set my heart on your laws.”
Upon reading this verse, I have come to realize that the closeness I have with my Savior depends on my choice and the “things” I choose to set my heart on. Choosing the way of faithfulness is not just a single decision but a decision made daily. I make many decisions throughout my day but do I really stop and ask myself, are the decisions I’m making displaying my faithfulness to my God? In all honesty, I fail to ask God about many of the decisions I make throughout my day. However, I am thankful that in those times, His love never wavers for me. When I do choose to pause and devote my decision to God, then I am more apt to “set my heart” on His laws.

Verse 31 goes on to say,
“I hold fast to your statutes Lord; do not let me be put to shame.”
Once I choose to walk in the faithfulness of the Lord and set my heart on His laws, now I can then hold onto His promises. It’s amazing as I grow in Christ, just how much more His promises mean to me. When I begin to read and study His word, His promises start to form a connection with my heart. His promises begin to take the shape of a firm foundation that I can hold on to. When His promises begin to invade our hearts, the struggles no longer have a hold on us for we are unshakable in the hands of Christ and He will “not let me be put to shame.”

The last verse, verse 32,  in this passage resonated with me in a powerful way,
“I run in the path of Your commands, for you have set my heart free.”
Wow. God’s promises are not just something to hold on to but empower us with the strength to run and not walk the way of the Lord. When our faith walk becomes a run, God begins to open doors that seemed as though they were impossible to open. When we run in the path of God’s commands, He begins to bless us with the plans He has for us! (Jeremiah 29:11) We then choose His path instead of our path. In choosing to follow God’s direction, He breaks down barriers in our hearts that were once held captive. Entering into a faithful relationship with Jesus allows out heart to break free and begin to sing a new song!

Let’s choose God’s path of truth and allow our hearts to be set free, running and not walking in the plans that God has for us!

He creates the blueprint, our job is to follow it.

From Ashes to Beauty

When God moves, there’s no denying that it alone is Him that is creates the movement. Often times, as Christians, we see God doing things in other’s lives and wonder why God isn’t moving in our own or chooses to stay distant. But what if the problem is not with God, what if the problem is found in our obedience to Him in the midst of the silence. What if the silence is a chance to remain faithful and obedient to His promises even when we cannot hear His voice? God longs to move but are we willing to move for Him even when He isn’t visible?

See God longs to move in each and every person’s life but is our outlook based on what He does for us or do we love Him simply because He first loved us? God’s love does not stop. Just like the song says, “Your love never fails, never gives up, never runs out on me”. So why, when the silence comes, do we turn to other forms of strength? Sometimes we look for strength in our church, in our friendships/relationships, or simply in ourselves. However, God is looking for Christians who will stay beside Him even in the silence. He wants to feel loved just as we want to feel loved by Him.

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What if the situation was reversed and God was trying to move but we were the ones that returned the silent treatment? Does He get mad, pout and turn His love and devotion away? No, because He is a God of strength in times of weakness. The best part is that God’s love is so much more than our comprehension. God’s love is more than a love with conditions. His love is unconditional. The greatest love that could ever encompass a wretch like us.

So God wants to use a wretch like me? Yes, that is exactly what He wants. See, He is a God who takes our ashes and creates a beautiful masterpiece. He is a God who looks past the wreckage and sees a magnificent treasure. He sees the finished product out of a life of struggle. His love is big enough, wide enough and strong enough to endure the strongest storm. Even when we turn our back on Him and give Him the silent treatment, He still sees the best that we can be, even at our worst.

Isaiah 61:2

“…and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes”

The powerful thing is that through God’s son, we have the ability to come to Him and openly ask Him to take our ashes and turn them into beauty. I picture in my mind a heap of ashes and as they are ignited with God’s magnificent grace, they become a strong and mighty flame. It is Christ who allows the ashes to ignite into a flame but it is our ashes that are used for His glory!

He can use our ashes for His glory if we would allow Him.

Allow Him to use your ashes and replace them with beauty. Live out your beauty in Him.

Lord, allow us to surrender our ashes at your feet to be used for your kingdom. Help us not to become silent when we cannot hear your voice. Help us to realize that the silence is a chance to grow closer in intimacy with You. Use our ashes, for it is all that we can bring.

Leave it to Live

As I wake up this morning I feel the need more than ever to fall to my knees and surrender. As I got up from my knees, I felt uplifted and ready to begin whatever plans God has in store for me on this day ahead. But my thought is, why don’t I fall down to my knees in surrender every morning? Doesn’t God want me to surrender my day to Him upon opening my eyes each morning?

When I think of surrender, a lot of things come to mind. Joy, peace, trust, hope…but one thing that I found this morning with my quiet time with God is that my surrender depends on my willingness and unselfish attitude to come to Him and give my all to Him. He is there, patiently waiting to see my obedience to lay down my plans and leave with His. Surrender is all about sacrifice and with sacrifice comes a price. For me today, that sacrifice happened to be the plans I had laid out for my day ahead. But why is it so difficult to lay my plans down? Looking back over my life, I question why my surrender takes so long to discover when the joy that comes is so great as a result of my obedience.

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Part of my unwillingness to surrender, I have found, stems from my past. I struggle with the fact that my past is full of regrets and moments where trusting in God came in fleeting thoughts rather than a moment by moment dependence. It wasn’t until the recent years that my faith walk took on a complete transformation. I call it my encounter with Jesus. But through continuing on my journey and God showing me the “plans He has for me” (Jeremiah 29:11). I truly know the love of my Savior and that through Him, my past regrets are lost on His “ocean floor” as Audio Adrenaline would say. For me, forgetting my past is a daily struggle and that is why surrendering every morning is very important for me with every good morning that comes my way. Although I have my days where my to-do list takes over my morning, I still acknowledge that without Him, I would not be able to have the strength to “pick up my cross and follow Him” (Luke 9:23).

Surrendering to God means to leave my past, pick up my cross and with His strength, walk through and live out His plans for my life. Because after all, “joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5)! We as Christians need to believe that our past is forgotten and our future is far more important than the past we leave behind! Surrender can be difficult in a world that only seeks to fulfill itself but after an encounter with the Lover of your Soul, His love causes you to hunger for moments of surrender.

So as we go about our day, let us choose to leave it and live it with Christ!

It’s time to leave it on the “Ocean Floor” and see what God has in store!

 

They’re all behind you

They’ll never find you

They’re on the ocean floor

Your sins are forgotten

They’re on the bottom

Of the ocean floor
Your sins are erased

And they are no more

They’re out on the ocean floor

(Audio Adrenaline)

 

To Risk or Receive

Is it worth more to risk or receive?

Laying in bed one night, I finished reading a book that has transformed my thinking about what my life should look like in God’s eyes. The book, “Radical” by David Platt has changed my way of thinking into more God focused and less “me” focused. After laying down the book for the night, I meditated on what I had read and pondered on one question. When God looks down upon my life, does He see a risk-taker or a wide-receiver? And no, I’m not talking about a football play, I’m talking about a life plan written by the Master Planner. Is my life one of risks or am I constantly waiting on the receiving end?

As I thought about this question, some stories from the Bible began to come to mind. The story in Daniel Chapter 3 speaks loud and clear. Three men, one fiery furnace and one miraculous sighting. Often we hear this story or were taught this story when we were young but the message behind it is so powerful that it is often overlooked. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were three men who not only knew who God was, but feared Him. These men truly knew what it meant to “follow” God with their whole being. Let me just say that we have reconstructed the term “follow” to mean “cautious careful cowards”. (Just a side note). To follow Christ means to sacrifice, so if following involves not giving up anything, are we really “followers”? But back to the story, the miraculous thing about this story in Daniel is that the three men could have easily turned away when the fire got too hot, but they were so enveloped in God that they chose to follow Him even into the fiery furnace at its hottest. They not only knew God, but knew His faithfulness. They were so fixed on God’s will for their lives that they were willing to step into a blazing furnace for the glory of God.

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How often are we faced with a fiery furnace but refuse to step into it for fear of the unknown? How often does the fiery furnace create so much fear in us that we step back into comfort and away from the Comforter? Sometimes I wonder if we as Christians call ourselves Christians just because we see what is to be received.

These were the questions that ran through my head a few nights ago as I put down a text that told a story of Christ followers in India who walked nightly through the dark, down an alley, into an underground room, just to read their Bible? If you want to talk about risks, are we REALLY risking our lives for the Gospel?

When will the Gospel become more about the cross and less about the gift received from the cross? Don’t get me wrong, salvation is the greatest gift given and I am forever grateful for that glorious day, but does receiving that gift have any affect on those around us? Are we risking the life we live for a Gospel that lives in us? There are people around the world risking their lives just to get a glimpse of a page written in the Word of God but yet we go days without even picking it up.

I know that I’ve gone through times in my life where I felt that God left me out of His big and beautiful plan. It seemed as though everyone around me was figuring it out and I had yet to discover where to begin. However, the problem was not that God had abandoned me but that I had abandoned Him. I realized that my prayer time was spent begging Him to bless me how I thought He should. It was then that God whispered, “What are your risking for me?” Wow, talk about a wake up call. Is my life a risk or a waiting room for blessings?

A life lived awaiting a change is a life not lived. The change starts with you and me. The change starts now. Our perspective needs to change from one of the flesh to one of the Spirit. Our God knows our story to “The End” so why not let Him write it? Risks and all! God sometimes brings us to the fiery furnace to burn away the selfish desires we have built up in our hearts.

It is my desire to walk through the fiery furnace with Jesus by my side, just as Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.

Yes, the fire might be blazing and yes you might get burned, but beauty rises out of ashes.

Lord, help burn away the selfish desires in our heart and help us be risk-takers and not wide receivers for You.

Let us burn for You.

 

 

 

Calling All Angels.

I sometimes wonder what it would be like if we could see with our own visibility, the armies of angels that are surrounding us each and every moment. As I write this I am getting chills…. Have you ever thought about it? Looked around and actually imagined the great and vast army that encamps around you as you go through your minute-by-minute tasks. Often, I find myself walking through hours, minutes and even seconds that I miss this promise from God that His angels are watching, waiting and even bending down to listen and protect me from the evil that surrounds. How powerful is it that a mighty fortress of God’s chosen army is in our midst? I am overwhelmed at the thought….

“Calling all angels,
Calling the watchmen angels on the walls
To come and sing with us”

I love the way that worship music brings the Holy Spirit in our midst. This song, “Angels” by Bethel Music speaks of the angels that inhabit our worship as we lift our praises up to our King. It wasn’t until the last few years that God has reveled to me the true and pure act of worship and what it means to worship in spirit and in truth. As I even sit here, I am amazed at how my worship, much like my spiritual walk, has blossomed into a hunger and a thirst that I have for His presence. Worship is meant to be more than a song, a lifting of hands, a outward act of Christianity. Worship meant to be offered as a sacrifice to Christ who took on our sin and is alive and well in us this very moment. When worship becomes more than a song, there the beauty of transformation that takes place in the heart of the worshiper. Not only does the act of worship change hearts but the person whose heart is entangled in worship becomes determined to live a life of worship. Although worship is more than a song, God uses His children to write lyrics based on the truth of worship. In this song by Bethel Music, they call on the “watchmen angels on the wall”. Again, the angels are there whether we acknowledge them or not. So, when the lyrics of Christ’s children are uttered, the angels, as well as the Holy Spirit, enter the room. Just picture God’s heavenly army of angels filling the room as you lift up The Name Above All Names! What a beautiful picture….

Too often we forget that we are in “the presence” of the Almighty when we enter into worship. I once overheard someone state that “worship is much like a prayer of sacrifice”. The more I look at worship and compare it to a prayer, my time spent in worship takes on a more holy form. When we pray, we are entering into the throne room of Christ where the veil is torn between us and our Lord. So entering into worship is much like entering into prayer with Christ, which is a sacred time of adoration for our King.

When worship becomes more than a song, when we truly visualize the armies of angels filling the worship of His chosen generation and when a song becomes a holy prayer, then worship becomes a sacrifice of praise rather than an outward action.

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The angels are present; just acknowledge them through a life spent in worship…

“Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.  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: 16-17

Lord, open our eyes so that we may call upon Your angels to inhabit our worship…