What’s the use?

What’s the use?

The question spilled out of my heart like hazardous waste as I looked around at the shattered existence that was my reality. It all seemed so hopeless, such blatant crises that could not be over looked. The pain so sharp. The choices so few. The deliverance seemed so far.

There was a woman in Scripture who could have reacted the same way… “What’s the use?”. After all, Jochebed could not fight the Egyptian troops. The time had came when she could not protect what was precious to her any longer. Yet, the mother of Moses would not give in. Not to the enemy. Not to the threat. Not to the pain.

She carefully wove a basket and sealed it with pitch. Then she laid her tiny treasure in her homemade ark and laid the cover of him, like she was sealing his fate. She did not know that instead she was sealing the fate of her people. She gently sat the treasure chest into the nile and watched as her most treasured possession floated away.

She couldn’t have known it then, but her faith would save an entire nation. For the treasure she released would turn out to be the instrument God used to release His people from bondage.

She could not have seen that in the moment she chose release over defeat and Faith over fear, she was choosing deliverance.

Deliverance often comes through release. When we lay our treasures in hand of an All Powerful, All Knowing God. When we release what we don’t have the ability to do-to the One who does.

But we don’t always respond like Jochebed do we? We crumble under the weight and we wonder “what’s the use?”, “why bother?”. We feel like we are fighting a loosing battle. The questions swirl: whats the use…our kids aren’t listening, the bills aren’t getting paid, the job illudes is, our boss over looks us, the doctors report was grim…it seems like the end is imminent. But is it? Could it be it’s only the beginning?

A common theme rises throughout Scripture: that the end is really the beginning. The beginning of deliverance.

We don’t have to look very far into the Word to see this play out. Joseph was favored and adored. Yet, that favor seemed to be high jacked as he was sold into Egypt. Through a series of events, that seems like Jospehs favor is at an end, we see what many would consider the end was only the beginning. Joseph’s slavery turned out to be the deliverance for many. (…but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive…Genesis 50:20)
. Yet, probably the most profound was when darkness seemed to extinguish the Light on the dark Friday over 2000 years ago. The Word seemed to have gone silent at the chokehold of death. Strangled and broken, the Son of God laid lifeless in a borrowed tomb. His fate, like Moseses, seemed sealed. Yet…

“And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, Behold, two men stood by them in dazzling appareal and as they were frightened the men said to them “Why do seek the living among the dead? He is not here, He has risen!” Luke 24:2-6

What seems to be sealed from man is not sealed from God. 

One woman’s faith saved an entire nation.
Your faith can do the same. 

One act.

One sacrifice.

One moment when you refused to let your circumstances constrain your God.

So, if “What’s the use?”
Circulates through your heart remember…What seems to be useless can be turned out for the deliverance of many…if only we will release our treasure to the One who is able.  

The deliverance you seek may not be within your grasp but it is always within His. 

Advertisements

So Long

The farmer looked up into the grey skies, from the view from the farmhouse window it looked as if the farmer was evaluating the chance for rain, yet the wife knew better. She didn’t see a man evaluating the weather, she saw a man evaluating the harvest. A barefoot little boy with dirt smeared on his jeans pulled on her apron and asked “mama, why does papa walk around the field looking at the clouds?” She smirked the way mothers do and bent down so his eyes met hers. He’s not looking at the clouds, he’s looking past them.” The child looked confused. “How?” She gently wiped the dirt off his face with a wet cloth and stroked his blonde hair out of his eyes as she pulled the answer from the vault of her heart. “Your father is praying over the harvest my child because he knows that every seed grows from the grace of God.” Content with the answer the child scurried away. She was drawn back to the farmhouse window. He was still out there, hands lifted toward the heavens. His tanned weather worn face shone with faith and patience. It had been so long since rain had bathed the corn. It all was drying up before their eyes. They couldn’t do anything but throw their hands toward the heavenlies. All the other farmers had given up on the harvest for that year. “It’s a lost cause…” the preacher whispered Sunday after church as he wagged his head back and forth. But the farmer wasn’t so easily deterred. His faith bubbled out of his mouth in response to the poison of discouragement “I merely planted the seed it’s not my job to make the harvest grow..” “But it’s been so long…” the preacher responded “God won’t reject the seed we’ve sown in faith.” The farmer shakes his hand and walked off with his family in tow. “Papa, how do you know for sure?” The inquisitive boy asked. “I don’t son-but faith doesn’t require us to know in advance.” Her heart fluttered as she thought of that; faith is believing even when we can’t see in advance. “But it’s been so long Lord…” she whispered as she washed potatoes off in the sink. As she washed the dirt off of the potato, she heard a gentle whisper from heaven “your holding proof of my faithfulness.”. Her heart sank as she remembered last years bumper crop. The farmer walked the fields, hands uplifted, eyes turned heavenward, just like he is today. “they trusted and were not put to shame…” the words of Psalms 22 bled out of her heart.

(The word shame in the Hebrew language is “bosh” and means: dried up, embarrassed, disappointed, delayed, and so long. It is in used in context when farmers experience distress over no harvest.)

She looked out at a man whose entire life echoed the heartbeat of faith. He trusted God in the bumper crop and in the drought; even though everything was drying up all around them he trusted the heart of God. As she mixed up the pie filling she glanced back out the window; he was on his knees now, face still uplifted and hands reaching high. She heard herself repeat the words “it’s been so long…too long Lord” as she laid the final plate on the old plank table she paused,she heard a strange sound…a melody she hadn’t heard in so long. She ran to the window, and gasp at what she saw; the window of heaven had been thrown wide open. The bottom was falling out of the sky, instead of the bottom falling out of their harvest. The farmer was still there, on bended knee, eyes turned heavenward, hands lifted high. She ran to him and threw her arms around him. He looked her in the eyes,his hat brim dripping with the blessings of God and said “we trusted in Him and we will not be put to shame.”.

“It’s been so long…” I don’t know if you’ve ever uttered those words.. If you’ve ever had something that seemed like an illusion etched in the front of your mind. The distant memory of a better time is vague and hazy now. Time seems to elapse the faithfulness of God after awhile. We can get caught up in the tick of the clock, with every passing minute that we wait our faith is being attacked by the subtle enemy of time. We have a plan and a time table laid out before the throne of God but He’s never been good at reading time tables.

Time begs us to throw in the towel but faith tells us to wipe our brow with it and keep trudging onward. So, whatever it is you have planted, keep looking upward. Looking past the circumstances into the heart of God. He will not reject the seed you’ve sowed in faith.

He’s got a plan-trust His heart when you can’t see His hand.

Thonyou we cried and rescued; in you they trusted and were not put to shame. Psalm 22:5

Promise of Presence 

Joy. It’s the epitome of the season. Yet, for many of us it’s an act. We pull our fake facade of contentment over the empty groaning of our souls. We are masters at masking our discontent with smiles and scripture. Our lives seem together and orderly but deep within there is chaos and disorder. The echo of emptiness bounces off the walls of our hearts and into the channels of our minds. We can’t shake this. This thing that has the attention of our hearts. 

Something has grabbed our hearts attention. Everyone of us has something on the radar of our hearts. It could be anger, stress, brokenness, disappointment, unfulillment…whatever it is, the beat of our heart echos the pain. 

Whatever has the attention of our hearts also has our energy. We go to bed with it on our minds, we wake up with it still there, it consumes us. Our emotions, our choices, our conversations, our plans…they all revolve around this thing that has our hearts attention because when something has our hearts it has our lives. 

In Matthew 2 we see the story of 2 types of seekers. One is superficial, the other is sincere. 

The superficial seeker was Herod. Herod focused on the threat of the present over the promise of the presence. Superficial joy is obessed with the apparent. It’s stuck in the moment and misses the miraculous. It has the appearance but lacks the substance. 

The sincere seeker(s) on the other hand, set their hope in the presence of God over the threat of the present. 

The wise men rejoiced when they saw the star; notice they didn’t wait until they got to house where the child was, they rejoiced when they saw the star. 

The star was the promise of His presence. The men were wise indeed for their  hope was not locked on the present moment but on the promise that God is here. 

We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of our souls, a hope that enters in beyond the veil, where Jesus has gone…” Hebrews 6:19

In the Old Testament, the temple/tabernacle conplex was divided into two main parts. The holy place and the most holy place, a veil separated the two. No one was allowed to enter the Most Holy place except for the high priest and he could only go in one day a year. Why? Because that’s where the Presence of God dwelled. The Skeinah glory of God honored in between the cherubs. This was more than a building it was the promise of His presence. That is where our hope is to be anchored, not in circumstances but in His presence. 

Joy in the Greek is the word Chara and means “exuberant pleasure, delight.” Its experienced when our soul finds its delight. 

Our hearts groan, we have a need that the present cannot satisfy. We crave goodnees that this world cannot give. 

Yet, There is a place where our need can be meet….

18 Moses said, “Please show me your glory.” 19 And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The Lord.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. 20 But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.” 21 And the Lord said, “Behold, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock, 22 and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by. 23 Then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back, but my face shall not be seen.” Exodus 33:18-23

There is a place…a place where your soul can be satisfied; in His presence. 

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High, will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.” Psalm 91:1

The Hebrew word dwell means, “to keep the attention directed.” While abide means “secure”. When God has the attention of our hearts than our souls will be stable no matter what comes our way. 

Joy is a choice. But to choose joy we must choose His presence. 

“…in your presence is fullness of joy.” Psalm 16:11
The joy of His presence is the pleasure our souls crave. 

The question is will we choose the threat of the present over the promise of His presence? 

How much more? 

“If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?” Luke 11:13

How much more do you want? 

The answer to that question will no doubt be determined by what it is that’s being offered to us.  

More coffee? Yes, please.

More debt? No thank you.

More compassion? Absolutely.

More judgement? Not so much.

What about the question “Do you want more of the Spirit?”

Desire. That’s where our answer to any question comes from. Our desire for more is dictated by our awareness of the possibilities laid out before us. We settle because we don’t understand the abundance offered to us; we have come to the conclusion that we’ve reached the zinth of His presence. Abundance seems to be an illusion. Like it’s only for a select few. But could it be we only see a few experience it because only a few ask for it? 

At any given moment we can ask: Is it possible to have more of Him? And the answer would be “So much more”! 

Sometimes it’s not that we don’t want more of the Spirit, we’re just content with what we have. But then something shifts; our circumstances become pressing as fatigue and frustration flood our hearts; we may not be suffering but we’re not comfortable here. It’s not painful but it is pressing. Discomfort has a way of raising us up to fullness. We are never more apt to be full than when we are being stirred within; Never more desperate than we we realize what we’re missing.

Throughout the scripture death brings life; the rousing of stagnant souls is seen from Genesis-Revelation; Dry bones find fresh flesh, collapsed lungs are filled with air, still hearts start to thump…

Stagnant and cold. Unproductive and passive. That’s us. The genius of resurrection is that it raises the cold heart from obsecurity to boundless heights; it rescues us from ordinary. 

“For you have died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” Colossians 3:3

Because our life is found incapsulated by the Word made flesh, we are lifted from the ordinary to soar on the heights of His victory. When Christ was raised from the dead the victory was won but it wasn’t until he was raised to His place of authority that the victory was released on those who believe. After he rode on the clouds, traveling back to His throne, He poured out His Spirit, the same power that “worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him in the heavenly places…”.This power, resurrection/ascension power, has been injected into the believers life by the presence of the Spirit. He raises us above…above the struggles, above the abuse, above the threat, above the hurt, above the shame, above the discomfort…to fullness; He has seated us with him in heavenly places. That means any power that is suppressing you  has no authority to hold you there. 

The victorious life is depicted by one who lives above the watermark of common. It’s easy to be swallowed up by the current of commotion, we find ourselves fighting the tide the chaos of ordinary brings. It pulls our minds into the torrent of superficial thinking. We set our minds on what is seen, on what is around us. We are obsessed with the obvious and because of that we are classified as ordinary; a life that leaves no impression. 

If we are occupied with the obvious we are forfeiting the power offered to us by our Father. We uncounciously bind ourselves to things that make sense, to the rational and the safe. Yet Our lives are not to be defined by what we see: by suffering or  even by our influence. Our lives are buried in Christ, the fullness of Him marinates our life with the aroma of heaven. 

A steak is placed in marinade to soak in flavor, to cause it to loose it’s blandness. The longer it soaks the more flavor the steak has. So too with us; the longer we soak in the presence of The Spirit the more our lives loose the bland “taste” of ordinary. 

So, how much do you want? 

Access had been unlocked and He’s waiting. 

The Weight of Obscurity 

7 The angel of the Lord found Hagar near a spring in the desert; it was the spring that is beside the road to Shur. 8 And he said, “Hagar, slave of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?”“I’m running away from my mistress Sarai,” she answered.9 Then the angel of the Lord told her, “Go back to your mistress and submit to her.” 10 The angel added, “I will increase your descendants so much that they will be too numerous to count.”11 The angel of the Lord also said to her:“You are now pregnant  and you will give birth to a son.You shall name him Ishmael,[a] for the Lord has heard of your misery.12 He will be a wild donkey of a man;his hand will be against everyone and everyone’s hand against him and he will live in hostilitytoward[b] all his brothers.”13 She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen[c] the One who sees me.” 14 That is why the well was called Beer Lahai Roi[d]; it is still there, between Kadesh and Bered.  Genesis 16:7-14

She felt used and misunderstood. She was seen but people only saw what she could do for them. Her dreams, her desires, her plans seemed to dissolve by someone else’s itinerary. She felt the brunt of someone else’s decision and was left with the consequences. Hagar (Hagar was Sarai’s servant who was given to Abraham to try and fulfill the promise of God through Human Resources. The idea was she would conceive and give Sarai a child that way. But it didn’t work out like Sarai planned. Like anything that comes with the flesh, dissension and jealously drove a wedge between the two women. So, Sarai treated her “harshly” scripture says.) carried more than a child with her as she ran away from her harsh circumstances. She carried the weight of being seen but treated like she fell in the cracks of oblivion.

We’ve all been there, seen but treated like we weren’t. The sacrifices we make go unnoticed, the commitments blown off, the loyalty taken for granted…we feel used and worst of all looked over. Like some how our best wasn’t good enough and as a result our dreams dissolve in the shadows of obscurity. We had more to offer, we have great potential but it’s not noticed. We end up watching someone else get the promotion, the title, the grade, the car, the friends, the husband, the child, the applause…someone else seems to get the product of promise, someone other than us.

Maybe you’ve never been there , in Hagars shoes. Where it seems everyone’s sucesss is at your cost. Where things are happening but at your not in it. Some of us know the burden of obscurity all to well. The weight lays heavy on our souls as this question swirls like a cyclone through our mind: does anyone see?

They say they do but we’re not so sure. So we hide behind our schedules and use our callings as camouflage; we feel obscure so we hide. That’s a tale as old as time; Satan convincing us we are obscure and as a result, we try and hide from the One who is searching for us. He’s clever alright. Knowing the fatality of obscurity is in it’s irony; that if we feel unseen our instinct react as though we are.  Eve did it in the garden and we still do it today. As Adam and his help mate heard the gentle steps of the Creator coming their way, they hid. In Genesis 3 God called to His prize and said “Where are you?”. The Almighty knew where they were so why did He ask? He didn’t just want to know where they where He wanted to see them. God asked Hagar the same question as she was running from obscurity; “Where have you come from and where are you going?” She was in the wilderness, pregnant with a promise she had yet to receive. The wilderness is often a place where we are at a crossroad of where we used to be and where we are going. In a place where promise is growing but it hasn’t began to show. It’s a place of encounter; where promises are pronounced. But Hagar didn’t know that. She only knew the burden of obscurity. But Someone saw. God found her in her obscurity and spoke a promise into her present. Nothing’s as obscure as the present because we can’t see beyond it so we think we aren’t seen either. Hagar was stuck in obscurity, pregnant with a promise that she had yet to receive…maybe in those times when it feels like I’m stuck in obscurity my situation is actually pregnant with a promise I didn’t even realize God made. Maybe in those times I feel used and looked over, Someone has seen and that Someone has promised that there’s future beyond the present. Maybe what seems obscure and unimportant is actually the stage for our purpose to be born.

Many of us will find ourselves in between where we were and where we are going but don’t be mistaken, that is NOT obscurity. God not only knows where you are He sees you there and your situation is pregnant with promise. The beauty of being a child of God is not solely in being known by Him but being seen by Him; found in His promise.

Rest in what seems like obscurity knowing that He is the God of seeing; Jehovah Roi. And instead of hiding in the harshness of the moment look for the one who looks for you and after you. For the darkness of obscurity melts in His embrace.

Wonder of the Word 

The word of God has saved my life. I mean that literally. Without the guiding light of Scripture I would have stayed on the dark path I found myself on many years ago. Quite frankly,  It saved me from myself. I was my own worst enemy, my mind was against me. So, its my passion for others to see the worth of the Bible; for women to realize that all they need can be found wrapped in the scared writings of scripture. It’s the breath of God blowing through our our spiritual lungs, it’s the key to our chains, the scalpel for our infirmities, it’s the salve for our wounds and it’s the honey for our tounges. We have no greater privilege in the West than to be able to own our a copy of the breath of God. People in foreign countries risk life and limb for a copy. Some are willing to chose it over food.  In Corrie Ten Booms book “The Hiding Place” it tells of her heroic actions as she risked her life to smuggle a small copy into the concentration camp. Why would someone be willing to risk their lives for a book? Because life isn’t worth living without it. It’s the greatest necessity we have. I believe that to my core; because America is living proof you can be prosperous outwardly, having all your physical needs met, and be wasting away inwardly. Our souls need the word like our lungs need oxygen. Without it we’ll suffocate in our own flesh. 

Where we are found lacking it supliments us, when we’re tired and weary is refreshes us, when we are hopeless it gives us courage, it silences fears and defines our identity. It directs our course and sets us free. 

It’s not a chore or checklist to mark off; it’s a privelege. To crack open the very words of God Almighty. The same words that threw stars into place, that holds back the tide, that sustains the earths rotation, that feeds the lions and the swallows. This word has cosmic impact; but we push it aside. We choose our favorite TV shows, social media, or sports over the Word that could change the course of our lives. Everytime it’s opened it breathes change. Maybe that’s why we let it lay; We are content in our chaos. Or maybe it’s because the chaos around us has confused us to the point that we truly believe it’s over our heads, we can’t grasp it. Or maybe the confusion isn’t about clarity but about power. Maybe amidst the chaos of privelge we have surrendered the greatest privelge known to man; hearing from God. 

Pause and consider this: that God Himself speaks to man. 

Why? Why would such Soverignty and Majesty correspond with such frailty and brokenness? 

To fix us. To save us. To make us whole. To strengthen us. 

But we choose entertainment over fulfillment. 

God wants to speak into your darkness. He desires to heal you, to restore you, to guide you. But we must listen first. 

I’m so grateful for God is doing in His church. He’s moving. But may we never be like the crowds in Jesus time, who liked to be entertained by Him but not conformed by Him. They liked to see the miracles but they turned in disgust at His words. John 6 shows us that there were some who because of His teaching, “turned back and no longer followed Him”.  As these turned their backs to the Son of God, Christ asked the 12″do you want to leave as well?” Of course Simon Peter answered and said “To whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”

As disciples we must not only be in awe of His works but of His words as well. Fair weather Christians marvel at the works and excuse the word. True disciples see the eternal aspect attached to the words and allow it to change them. 

To be disciples we must be taught. That means we must listen. How can we be disciples with a closed bible? 

The great commission will never be fulfilled if our bibles are closed. You can’t make disciples without it. 

And if it remains closed so will our chains. 

Cosmic Consequences 

“At that time Joshua spoke to the Lord in the day when the Lord gave the Amorites over to the sons of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel,Sun stand still at Gibeon, and moon, in the valley of Aijalon. And the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, until the nation took vengeance on their enemies….then the sun stopped in the midst of heaven and did not hurry to set for about a whole day. There has been no day like it before
” Joshua 10:12-14

The day a mans prayer effected the cosmos; the sun rose just like any other day but unlike the previous days, it was in no hurry to set. It hovered in the sky, locking into place for a set time, setting only when victory arose.

That day the plea of man had cosmic consequences.

James says that the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. The Greek work is actually enabling power, engeraumene. If you look close you can see the English word energy tucked into the ancient construction. The word by definition means to be enabled to do (in the passive form) or able to do (in the middle voice) which is the structure of the word used in James 5:16. The significance is that our prayers are able to do because they have been enabled by the Spirit to do; the ability lies in the enablement. The prayer of the person who prays in the Spirit has cosmic consequences.

To shake the world, to leave a mark, to stamp it with significance…that would be cosmic consequences.

The gift of prayer assumes that not all of life is predetermined but that our petitions move the heart of God and in doing so, they move His hand. Yet, it is our prayers that are shaped by providence, prayers that are modeled after His heart-that move His hand.

Prayer has the potential to unlock providence, to expose the hand of God in any given area.

After all, prayer is the invitation of Gods will into ours. True, authentic, Spirit filled prayer, is the vehicle for the Kingdom to come to earth. It is the submission to His plan, the unlocking of His resources (Matthew 16,18).

There are things yet to let loose, things that are meant to be bound and our prayers play the deputy that serves the warrant.

The Lord not only heard Joshua’s plea, He listened. What would make the God of the universe inclined not only to hear mans pathetic words but to actually do as he asked? What causes such cosmic consequences?

Joshua was asking for further victory. Anytime Gods children ask for victory, even if they have already won-He gives heed to their cry.

That’s why we are more than overcomes, because victory isn’t enough for the Christian. We have been called to a further victory-a victory that exceed the status quo and doesn’t settle for good enough. The victory we are called to experience has cosmic consequences.

This type of victory is only realized through prayer. Even though Christ’s victory gave us this “further victory”, it is ours, marked with the blood and sealed with the Spirit. Yet, for many of us we don’t see the cosmic consequences of that victory because we don’t unlock it by prayer. We have been given every spiritual blessing in Christ in the heavenly places, yet we only tap into those riches on our knees.

Our prayers are used as the vehicle to usher in the unseen to the realm of the visible; where what is not is manifested and is seen for what it is. Our prayers offered in the Spirit, are the keys to the kingdom.

I will give you the keys to the kingdom and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Matthew 16:19

Truly truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you if two of you agree on earth about anything, it will done for them by my father in Heaven. Matthew 18:18-19

Prayer has the power to bind and loosen, it holds the keys to unlock Gods will on earth and bring about the realization of the kingdom; that would be cosmic consequences.

To experience the consequences of the kingdom; the effects of living in submission to His rule and reign in every area. our hearts are to be melted to His, united, beating as one for the same purpose and passion. This compound beat is the consequence of communion.

Cosmic consequences are by products of the consequence of communion. Joshua was first introduced to us in scripture as a servant boy who couldn’t get close enough to the presence of God, he hovered outside the tent of meeting, hanging onto the presence of God. Communion came before conquest. Joshua’s prayers had cosmic consequences because they were the consequences of communion. The greatest prayer warriors are the people who have been impacted the most by the presence of God. Those whose hearts are marked by communion; that’s where cosmic consequences start.

Our prayers will only penetrate to the degree to which the Presence of God has penetrated us. Without communion penetrating our hearts, our prayers will never penetrate the world.

That day the sun stood still at the command of the servant-warrior boy, further victory was his because of the cosmic consequences of communion. Never underestimate the power of His presence; His strength eclipsing our weakness-that’s the cosmic consequence of communion. 

“…for the Lord fought for Israel.” Joshua 10:14