You’re covered 

I will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall exult in my God, for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation; He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with beautiful headdress, and as a bridegroom adorns herself with jewels…”

I love how God uses the common to disclose the divine. This happened to me this week as I watched my 5 year old slip into her new robe. Her blonde curly hair flowed down and met the soft fabric, she slid down into it like she had found a safe place. She pulled it up around her neck and looked so peaceful, like it offered a sense of relief. That’s when I became aware of the robe that enwraps me, my safe place, the relief for my soul; the robe of righteousness.

To be robed in ancient times was to be covered and adorned with significance. The robe was a symbol of authority, status, and inheritance. For example we see it in Genesis 37, when Joseph was clothed with the “coat of many colors”. As Israel draped it over his favored sons’ shoulders, he was doing more than placing a beautiful garment, he was displaying his favor and love.

Likewise, we see Rebekah take the  “best garments” of the eldest son, Esau, and place them on Jacob, the youngest son. The oldest son in biblical days held a certain prominence, they would receive a double portion of the inheritance, Jacob thus, was covered with Esaus inheritance.

After the Prodigal son was done squandering his inheritnece, after the effect of vain living had caught up with him, he returned to the loving arms of the father. Upon his return the father called for the “best robe”to lay across his sons wayward shoulders, symbolizing the complete forgiveness of the son, the reestablishment into the family.

Love, inheritance, forgiveness…all seen in the symbolic gesture of the “robe” throughout scripture. To be wrapped up in a robe was to be adorned with love, the riches of the father, and forgiveness.

In 1 Samuel 18, Jonathan, the heir to the throne of Israel, “stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David..”. The son of the king, the rightful heir to the throne humbled himself by removing the symbol of his authority and placing it on Gods chosen one.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us…” The Son of God took off His heavenly vestments and put on the flesh of humanity. The God-man, stripped Himself of His rights and placed His inheritance onto the sinful shoulders of the chosen.

In Zechariah 3, Joshua the priest stood before the throne of God. Satan was looking on, eager for his chance to accuse and condemn him. As all of Heaven seemed to be watching, in a court like atmosphere, the Lords voice thundered over the accusations of the enemy and said “Remove the filthy garments from him.” As the angel came to take away the rags that hung over the priest, the Lord looked into Joshuas eyes and said “Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I clothe you with pure vestments…”

To clothe- means to envelope, to be enwraped

As, I watched my sweet little girl twirl around in her pink fuzzy robe, I felt the honor of it all; the fact that my earth torn garments had been removed and now the robe of righteousness drapes across my unworthy shoulders. That somehow, the Son stripped His own glory off and laid it across this bare, sin stained woman and in doing so now she was enveloped with honor, love, forgiveness, and the riches of the throne.

“…I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; the train of his robe filled the temple…” Isiaih 6:1

The robe of the One sitting upon a throne now fills us, the temple of the Spirit. All the granduer and glory that is represented by the robe fills our souls as the Spirit thrives. We, now are the dwelling, where God has chosen to tabernacle.

I have read many different things over the past few days about the “robe” of God, something I kept coming across was that in ancient times after a king had conquered his foe, he would tear off a piece of their robe and sew it into the train of their own. So, the longer the train the more victorious the king. I’m not sure if that holds any water in historical accounts, but I do know that the train from the throne of God symbolizes unmatched victory. Victory that has been transferred from His mighty being to our weak frames.

So, child of the King…twirl in your robe, sink down into it and marvel in the fact that you have been endowed with splendor from on high. Extol Him with your life, live as one who is loved, forgiven, and chosen. What better way to lift Him up then to use your life as a platform? Exalt the One who has removed your rags and clothed you with something you could never have afforded on your own…righteousness.

So, no matter where you are or where you find yourself now;YOU’R COVERED.

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Blessed in the face of suffering 

“Blessed”, its all over social media. We hear people claim to be “blessed” all the time, especially during the holiday season. By stating that one is blessed we are declaring that they have an abundance of something like: happy and healthy children, financial freedom, prosperity, a thriving ministry etc. As I scrolled through Facebook I noticed this hashtag, #blessed over and over again on Christmas Day. Every single time it was with reference to something in the physical realm. So, that leads me ask, if being blessed is based on children, then what about those who have none? If being blessed is a brand new top of the line home, then what about those who do not own a home? If it means you have not suffered loss of a family member this year, then what about those who have? If it’s talking about a ministry that reaches millions, what about the ones who only reach a few? 

The world defines “blessed” as abundance in the material realm. Truth is the state of “blessed” is not found in the physical realm but in the spiritual. Being  Blessed is not based on something we own, it’s based on who we are. We are not simply blessed because we have abundance on earth, the book of Ephesians would tell us we are blessed because we are now “in Christ.”. So being blessed is part of our identity that is based solely on the work and grace of Christ Jesus. If all the physical blessings were lost we would still be blessed based on the fact that we are Christ’s and he is ours. 

Christmas night I sat at my grandmother and grandfathers house like we have done as long as I can remember. But this year it was different, this year we had suffered great loss. The weight of my mothers suicide still is heavy upon my family. A piece is missing from us all now that she is no longer with us. By the worlds estimation we would not be considered blessed, for too much has been lost this year. But as I sat on my grandparents couch once again and just like always the the Christmas story was read aloud from Luke, I saw what “blessed” truly is. James says “blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial.” I see that in my family. I see that through all of this, our love for Him and our dependence on Him has heightened. That maybe the loss is not a blessing but the outcome of it can be. I feel my open and exposed wounds met with the wounds of Christ. That in suffering, we find fellowship that would have been missed otherwise. Suffering can cloud the mind in a thousand different ways. The questions of “why” can plague you if your not careful but I have found that in the times of suffering that Christ can be seen more clearly because our eyes are now set on Him and Him alone. As we gathered together at her grave and laid a poinsettia upon the cold dirt- I gazed upon each face and what I saw were people who are truly blessed. Blessed, because Satan didn’t win. Blessed, because death is defeated. Blessed,because we are more than conquerors. Blessed, because Gods promise of joy outweighs Satans lies. Blessed, because we have hope. 

It’s in the place of suffering that the heart of God is exposed; suffering is always met by fellowship, He meets us there. It joins us to Christ. Christ said “Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted”, despite the loss of someone dear to us, we are indeed blessed. Blessed by the grace and strength of God, by His provision, by the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. Blessed to be in Christ. 
The favor of God is not always seen in the physical realm, it’s not something you can weigh by scales or by sight, it’s weighed in the soul of man by the Spirit of Christ. It’s who we are, not what we receive, so no loss could strip that away.
I get all the hashtags, I really do. I get what they mean by the statement. We are really saying we are thankful for the physical gifts we’ve been given. God is a giver so of course his favor spills over into the physical realm. However, it’s vital for us to realize that’s not where it starts. It starts in Christ , at the brokenness of His own suffering and nothing can take away that title from us. No amount of loss suffered could steal our blessedness because it’s who we are. We are blessed because we are held by Christ not by the abundance we hold. We are blessed because He suffered. Now, we get to bless Him through our suffering. No circumstance can crush the favor conferred to us on the cross. No amount of pain can outweigh the grace lavished on us by the Spirit and no amount of grief can steal the joy of being Christ’s and He being ours. So indeed we can say with absolute assurance “I’m blessed.” 
So I want to say this to the one who feels zapped, who feels depleted…”you have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ Jesus…” your identity and your resources are not limited to earth. Your blessing lies in another plane, a heavenly one. Earthly possessions, status, and accomplishments do not define you, Christ does. 

The Way

Jesus said I am the way the truth and life.
Over 2000 yrs ago the path was cleared from God to man. The broken body of the Messiah child would one day hang upon a cross for the sin of man. As He laid bare on Mary’s shoulder as a baby did she realize that The totality of sins grievances would be laid bare on his shoulders, that the veil would be torn and a path laid bare before the throne of God? The Way laid in the manger. 
Today I think about all the ways that Jesus is “the way”. How He is the way through suffering, through the mountain and through the valley. How He makes a path in the wilderness and splits the waters wide open. How He walks through the fire with us, making a way out  so that our hairs are not even signed and the smell of smoke Not upon us. How He makes paths where there seems to be noway out. And how He turns a closed door into a wide open opportunity.  

He is The Way in a million different ways;
He is the way to abundant living, not only heavenly living. We are cheated if we stop short of abundant life, if we think abundance will only be seen at heavens gate. The gate to abundance was swung wide open when the stone rolled away from the tomb that Easter morning. The emptiness of the dark grave was a path to abundant life. The way was made. No longer does fear hold us captive, nor should any stronghold keep us chained. The way has been paved by the blood of Christ. 

 Ascending on high he led a host of captives in his train and gave gifts to men. Eph 4:8

As the nail scared feet lifted from the cruel soil of earth, more happened here then Jesus returning home. More was at stake here than Jesus getting a lift back to the Father. As He ascended, He was lifted up- high above all creation, above all the principalities of darkness. He was raised above all so he could fill all. He made a way to glory. He was connecting heaven and earth, the throne of heaven with the dust of the earth. As He floated through the heavenlies-the path was laid out. The path to abundant life made clear. 

In ancient times a king who had won a great military victory would lead a procession back to his homeland. In this triumphal parade, there would be the redeemed captives. People who had previously been captured by the enemy were now ransomed and brought back to the kingdom. That is us;Redeemed captives. Set free from the dominion of darkness to walk in the freedom of abundance that the Kingdom of light gives. 

Abundant life is simply living full. Living full of the blessings and riches of the Spirit. The ascension paved the way. In order to fill all things, Christ rose above them Conquering them all. All the things that threaten to drain us: dealing with the wake of death, heartache, various hardships, suffering, rejection, failure, our own self absorption, disappointments, fear and anxiety…were all disarmed of their power under the mighty feet of The Messiah. He rose above them all so we can rise above them. He conquerored it all to make us more than conquerors. 

So, this Christmas as we rejoice in the coming of God to earth let’s remember that the greatest celebration we have is that He came but He did not stay. He rose, he’s exalted at the right hand of the Father and that baby that filled a manger now fills all. A way was made in the manger, a way to fullness and abundance. 

I come so that you may have life and have it abundantly. John 10:10

He came for abundance not for complacency. He came for zeal not for indifference. He came for fullness, to fill the barren crevices in our soul with His presence. He came to set us free from the chains of casualness because He knows that a life that is complacent, casual, and indifferent is the most barren of all. There isn’t a inch of our hearts that doesn’ need the fullness of Him.He made a way for the fullness of God to reach the emptiness of man. And for that I am ever greatful! 

Time tells all…

Consider your ways. (Haggai 1:5) 

 Those three words thunder in my soul. Maybe it’s because my ways have broken me down. Maybe it’s because something within me is parched or perhaps famished. I look around and I see the same look deep within my sisters eyes. The look of hunger. The look of a parched and thirsty soul. I see it. Their eyes seem to plead for refreshment. It’s a look that can’t be hidden with a new blouse or a brand new car. The fancy Christmas tree doesn’t cut it either. Neither does the church attendance. Yes, they, like myself, can be found sitting in the pews of the local church. Makeup on, hair just so. We gather there as a sacred ritual. We gather but what are we gathering for? Out of duty? Out of obligation? We’re there in body. But are we there in spirit? Why do we gather? 
The exiles gathered back to Jerusalem. They gathered to rebuild the house of God. Yet year after year passed and only the foundation was laid. They took the paneled wood set aside for the temple and used it to build their own homes. Of coarse they had a good excuse. Excuses are easy to come by and even easier to believe. They reasoned that “the time to build has not come.” 

 Time has a way of doing that; passing us by. Time is the stuff life is made of. As time passes so does our lives, opportunity hitches a ride and like that they both disappear into the sunset. I once read”We are naive to think that we can waste time without damaging eternity.” Time is a precious gift; yet we like the prodigal son squander it on vain living.

 So 16 years passed. 16 long years and no temple. As a result; a drought. They “expected much but it turned out to be little. Why? Declares the Lord Almighty, because of my house, which remains in ruins, while each of you is busy with his own house.” He called them to a deeper level of commitment. They moved back, yes. But he moved them back for a purpose “that I may take pleasure in it and that I may be glorified.” Pleasure and glory go hand in hand. Yet what’s so wonderful about glory is the fact that Gods glory brings pleasure to our souls. We thrive on glory. Yet our lives, like eyes to the soul, show there’s a want there. Both from God and from us. Going to church is just the begining. Many of us have laid the foundation yet that’s where it stops. We’re called to the church to build His Church.

It’s easy to stay busy in this fast paced world. So many things are competing for our attention. We run ourselves ragged, spending ourselves and we have very little to show for it. 

The paradox I see here is; sometimes the most busy people are the most spiritually idle. 

Indifferent to God and His glory, We stutter in our service. 

I’m guilty of this, expecting much yet giving little. Yet the temptation is to stop expecting all together. The fruit of indifference looks a lot like casualness. 

Since when is it ok to be casual about the things of God? Has His glory diminished or has it simply been overlooked? And if that’s the case how do we miss the blazing light of the Spirit? How is that possible? 

I have always found it interesting that after the Exodus, while the very Holiness of God descended upon the mountain, the eyes of the people turned to a golden calf. 

Now, the Glory rests upon us. Yet, our eyes are drawn to the golden allure of our own ways. Blinded by selfish desire, we turn our gaze away. 

God spoke through the prophet Malachi and said “you are robbing me…by your tithes and contributions.” 

Contributions is the Hebrew word for offering. 

We tend to think by slipping God a check we’ve done our share but could it be that in our giving we actually rob from the kingdom? We are called the give monetarily but when that’s all we give we have missed the point. As he called for the people to give tithes, He was calling for the fruit of their time. The outcome of their lives. Many of us can see the tie then, between money and tithe because our lives are wrapped up in making that money. So a money tithe can absolutely be a sacrifice of our life but it’s when we separate the heart from the gift that the opposite effect occurs; were robbers instead of givers. 

Hosea 6:8 says that God desires “the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.”  The contribution he is looking for is that of our heart. It just happens that it takes time to contribute our heart to the sacred cause of Christ. Our hearts will not be spent apart from time. 

It’s clear that the lack of vitality in our lives is because of our own lack of contribution. 

When we with hold our hearts heaven closes up and our souls feel the repercussions.  

Heaven is thundering ever so loudly: Give careful thought to your ways. Because in them the true master of your heart is found out. 

Time tells all…even the master of your heart