discipleship

Day by Day

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One morning, I found myself pouring over the Creation account again during my devotions. I usually try to linger in prayer, worship, or Bible study until I receive a daily download from God. Right now word. Right now anointing. Right now stirring. I wait for the word fitly spoken before launching my day. At least, this is what I aim for most mornings. This particular morning, I lingered in devotions far longer than time permitted and I finally had to close up and move on. Don’t get me wrong, you never go wrong engaging in prayer, worship and Bible study. However, I walked away that day still dry. Still thirsty. Still heavy. Still overwhelmed. I had followed the leading of the Spirit that morning and read through the account of Creation again. And yet I wasn’t seeing the rhema, lifted revelation, I desired that day.

Later that day as I headed out the door to leave, I was considering what I’d read that morning and actually asked aloud, “Why didn’t God create the whole of creation all at once?” I mean why not skip the evening and the morning were the first, second, third day stuff? After all, God is all powerful. Why the breakdown?

As soon as the question rolled off my tongue, I heard the Spirit answer in a still small voice, “One day at a time.” That’s all I heard and yet I instantly knew what God was speaking into my situation.

Why did God take a day by day approach to Creation when all He had to do was speak the word and it would be done in totality? The answer…He did it for me. For you. His example was to approach the enormity of Creation…one day at a time. For those of you, like myself, facing an enormous situation in your life, take a pause and breathe. Slow down. Put one foot in front of the other. One day at a time you will reach your destination. You can make it through this…day by day.

For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. 2 Corinthians 4:16

Don’t focus on the days, weeks, months, even years ahead. We learn this lesson again in the account of the Exodus. (Exodus 16) Can we agree this was indeed an enormous situation facing the Israelites? Yes, they were on their way out of bondage. Yes, God had already done miraculous things for them. Was it still a trying time? Of course! There was so much uncertainty awaiting every morning especially for young faith. How were they to make it through the wilderness? How would they possess the promise? Why did God instruct them to collect only enough manna for the day at hand? Again, He was showing the way by orchestrating their circumstance in such a way to constrain their thought for the present day alone. Keep your mind focused on Christ and your life committed unto Him and He will lead you through!

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. Isaiah 26:3

For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day. 2 Timothy 1:12

Trust God! Yesterday’s mistakes and shortcomings are just that…yesterday. His compassion kept you yesterday and His mercy awaits you again today!

It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him. Lamentations 3:22-24

discipleship

Higher Than Eye

 

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In Bible times, it was common practice for fishermen to use a cast net to trap schools of fish. A cast net was circular and had heavy weights around its edges with a pull cord attached to the center. When a school of fish was spotted, the fishermen would toss the cast net into the sea above the school allowing the weights to drag the net downward trapping the fish beneath. Once the fish were trapped, the fishermen would tug on the pull cord to draw the net either into the boat or to shore if the catch was too large.

It was this manner of fishing being employed by Peter and the disciples in John chapter 21. They had toiled all night without success.

It was oftentimes difficult for fishermen to see exactly where a school of fish were located beneath the surface of the water. Why? The fishermen and the fish were on the same level…shoreline. The fishermen’s line of sight didn’t grant them the best visual vantage point. This was most likely the problem in John 21. Peter and his band couldn’t see the school of fish from where they were standing. The solution? Jesus. He wasn’t on their level. He was on the coastline above the shore. From His perspective, the school of fish was easily seen on the other side of their boat. My point?

Sometimes, we cannot see the solution to our problem. We’re too close to it. The good news? All we need is the vision of the Master. We need the divine line of sight that is above where we are presently toiling. He can see what we cannot. Keep your eyes and ears inclined unto Him and He will reveal where to cast your net!

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 58:8-9

discipleship

A Shepherd’s Toolbox: The Reed

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Every Easter, I try to learn something new about the Passover, the Passion, or the Good Shepherd. This morning, I began to think about a shepherd’s toolbox. There were a few interesting items in his tool chest including the sling, staff/rod, scrip, and reed pipe.

 Today, the tool that piqued my interest most was the reed pipe used to soothe the sheep. It was common practice for Biblical shepherds to fashion a musical reed pipe from two pieces of hollowed-out cane. The sound was made by blowing across a sharp edge. Notes were controlled by blocking holes with the fingers in each tube. This Biblical reed pipe is an ancestor of modern day “reed” instruments such as the saxophone, clarinet, oboe etc.

The materials for making Biblical reed pipes were very plentiful and readily accessible to shepherds. They were also extremely easy to make. Because of this, it was common practice for the shepherd to break and dispose of a torn reed choosing rather to craft a new one versus repairing the torn one. It is this custom that Isaiah referenced when he prophetically spoke these words:

A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench; he shall bring forth judgement unto truth. Isaiah 42:3

You see, even though it was the custom of Biblical shepherds to discard a torn reed, it is not the practice of the Good Shepherd to do so. Jesus does not break and toss out the torn, bruised, and broken. He is and will always be a repairer of breaches. If this Easter finds you torn and broken, take heart…there is a Good Shepherd who will not cast you aside.

I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. John 10:11

Your brokenness does not repel the Good Shepherd. Your bruises do not offend Him. In fact, He was bruised for you. He bore your grief and carried your pain. Your peace is upon Him.

Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. Isaiah 53:4-5

The Good Shepherd will not break a bruised reed. Jesus is in the mending business!

discipleship

The Gallery of Grace

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Once, during a particularly tough trial our family was facing, my husband saw an image of Pinkie (above right) in prayer. At the time, we had no idea what God was trying to say. Being artists and art lovers, we decided to dig a little deeper. What we discovered profoundly changed our lives.

We stumbled upon a very unique relationship between The Blue Boy (above left) and Pinkie. Like many, we’d seen them together many times throughout our lives. My husband’s mother had replicas of both on display in his childhood home. It was this image that God called to his remembrance in prayer. These two works of art have been displayed together over the years on everything from drink coasters and magazine ads to esteemed exhibits at the Pageant of the Masters in Laguna Beach, CA. Even the set designers of the TV show Leave It To Beaver frequently paid homage to their special bond.

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I’d studied The Blue Boy masterpiece by Thomas Gainsborough in school. Being widely known as the most famous work by a British artist, it’s masterpiece status is questioned by none. In 1921, The Blue Boy was sold to American railway pioneer Henry Huntington for a record setting $640,000. To keep things in perspective, this $640K was equivalent to over 8.5 million dollars today.

Here’s where it gets interesting. Because the two works of art are frequently displayed together, many erroneously believe both to be masterpiece works of Gainsborough. The truth is…Pinkie isn’t even considered to be a masterpiece at all. She was painted 25 years apart from The Blue Boy by another notable British artist named Thomas Lawrence. Lawrence’s works, unlike that of Gainsborough, would never achieve masterpiece status in the art world. In fact, Pinkie would become the most notable of Lawrence’s works due to her connection with Gainsborough’s The Blue Boy.

Pinkie and The Blue Boy weren’t associated until 1927 when she was purchased by The Blue Boy’s owner, Henry Huntington. She was immediately put on display facing The Blue Boy where she remains to this day. I’ve come to call her resting place the Gallery of Grace.

grace: /ɡrās/

(noun)

the free, unmerited favor of God

Because of her relationship to The Blue Boy masterpiece, she has been heralded alongside him on exhibit at the Pageant of the Masters time and again.

My point, and more importantly God’s point in the midst of our struggle, is that Pinkie didn’t need to be a masterpiece after all. She has experienced every honor and esteem possible in the art world solely because of her relationship to the Master.

We realized, like Pinkie, we are esteemed and lifted from obscurity because of our relationship to Him and Him alone. The Syrophoenician woman understood the significance of being in close proximity to the Master.

And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table. Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour. Matthew 15:27-28

Incredible things happen at the feet of the Master. He can take us to unimaginable heights if we’ll only do what Pinkie has done…remain in the presence of the Master. The splash-over blessing (crumbs) of His glory is more than enough to accomplish anything in this life. He will take you from the prison to the palace Joseph. He will move you from the lion’s den to the King’s advisory panel Daniel. He will lift you from captivity to the throne Queen Esther.

You need no one and no thing save a relationship with the Master!

discipleship

Your Voice + His Word = Change

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You can wait out a storm but battles are won and lost in the fight. If you find yourself in the middle of a spiritual attack, FIGHT! You will not come out the victor until you do. In all the pieces in the armor of God, there is only one offensive weapon listed…the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God.

And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Ephesians 6:17

Someone who is hungry wouldn’t sit in a room with a biscuit on the shelf all week long and wait to be spoon fed on Sunday. Dust off your Bible and dig out a word for your situation! Heaven and earth shall pass away. However, the Word is forever settled!

Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. Matthew 24:35

For ever, O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven. Psalm 119:89

Everything else is temporal…temporary, subject to change.

TEMPORARY
adjective tem·po·rary \ˈtem-pə-ˌrer-ē\
: continuing for a limited amount of time : not permanent
: intended to be used for a limited amount of time

What changes it? He does. Who is He? The Word. The Word is forever settled and He changes the times and seasons!

And he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding: Daniel 2:21

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Hebrews 4:12

Where the word of a king is, there is power: and who may say unto him, What doest thou? Ecclesiastes 8:4

The angels hearken to what? The voice of my word? No! They hearken to the voice of His word.

Bless the Lord, ye his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word. Psalm 103:20

Your Voice + His Word = Change.

The angels are ministering spirits who minister for the heirs of salvation.

Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation? Hebrews 1:14

We are washed by the water of the word.

That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word… Ephesians 5:26

In the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God, the Word was God, and the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.

Read: John 1:1-17

The word wasn’t made flesh one time only then mysteriously robbed of its power. It is made flesh over and over again when we speak it! God breathed the breath of life into Adam’s nostrils and he became a living soul.

And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. Genesis 2:7

And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. 1 Corinthians 15:45

This “living soul” is best translated “speaking or discoursing spirit.” Mankind was given a gift unlike any other in Creation!

Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof. Proverbs 18:21

But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it. See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil… Deuteronomy 30:14-15

I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live..Deuteronomy 30:19

It’s your choice! Death and life are in the power of your tongue. What you speak will be made flesh. What we bind here is bound there and what we loose here is loosed there.

Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Matthew 18:18

When you speak the Word only, it supercharges your voice because it never returns void!

So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. Isaiah 55:11

The centurion understood the power of the Word!

The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. Matthew 8:8

His words are spirit and life!

It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. John 6:63

That’s why scripture identifies the Word of God as a sword. It is a weapon…use it!

And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Ephesians 6:17

If you do not know the Word of God, you ARE NOT equipped for battle! Know it. Believe it. Speak it. Receive it.

Your Voice + His Word = Change

Related Posts:
Your Mouth Will Abort The Promise
A Right Appetite: Bread of God

discipleship

The Right Appetite: Fruit of Praise (Pt 1)

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Previously, we’ve explored The Right Appetite: Bread of God. Now, let’s take a closer look at the next spiritual food group…the fruit of praise. Scripture subdivides praise into two main categories: mouth and motion. Today, we’ll explore the first which is the fruit of our lips…mouth.

THE FRUIT OF PRAISE:

Then the fire of the LORD fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. 1 Kings 18:38

Now when Solomon had made an end of praying, the fire came down from heaven, and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the LORD filled the house. 2 Chronicles 7:1

In the Old Testament, the children of God would offer an animal sacrifice upon the altar and the fire of God would consume it. The only difference in the New Testament is that the type of sacrifice has changed but the fire still falls and consumes the sacrifice.

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. Romans 12:1

We’ll talk more about the New Testament fire in a future post. Today, we are focusing on the sacrificial offering. Unlike the dead sacrifices of the Old Testament, our bodies are a living sacrifice in the New Testament. A living sacrifice needs to be offered over and over again. Exactly how are we supposed to do that? How are we to offer our sacrifice continually?

By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. Hebrews 13:15

O clap your hands, all ye people; shout unto God with the voice of triumph. Psalm 47:1

The New Testament sacrifice is praise. It’s the fruit of our lips giving praise to God. He inhabits, dwells in, our praise. When once the presence of God consumed the sacrifice behind the veil in the Holy of Holies, it now consumes the fruit of praise through our lips and takes up residence in the NT temple which is our bodies.

But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel. Psalm 22:3

What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? 1 Corinthians 6:19

This is where we must put action behind our faith. We’ve heard the Word of God that reveals praise to be the New Testament sacrifice. We act on that by opening up our mouths in praise. If we do not praise Him with our voice, the sacrifice cannot be consumed because the outward manifestation of our praise is the sacrifice. Again, we see that spelled out for us in Hebrews 13:15 above. We are to offer the sacrifice of praise. If that wasn’t clear enough, the writer went on to further clarify by saying “that is, the fruit of our lips.” The sacrifice of praise isn’t the fruit of our hearts or of our minds, but rather the fruit of our lips. This sacrifice must be uttered through our lips. It is important that we offer the required sacrifice. Anything less will not do as we can see in the case of Cain. A blood sacrifice was required, remember without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin. Cain tried to offer a different sacrifice.

And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell. Genesis 4:3-5

It’s interesting to note that Cain was wroth because God had not accepted his sacrifice. Anger is a common side effect of one who is trying to offer another sacrifice. Often, individuals become angry at God because they see the sacrifice of others being consumed, or accepted but not theirs. This is because we don’t get to choose the sacrifice. God in His sovereignty has chosen the appropriate sacrifice and it is our job to offer what is required. God gave specific instructions concerning the sacrifices of the Old Testament. The people didn’t get to choose which animal they would sacrifice but rather certain animals had to be offered for specific things. The same applies in the New Testament. We don’t get to choose the acceptable sacrifice but rather God has already made that decision and we must adhere to what He has set forth if we want our sacrifice to be consumed. When we offer the appropriate sacrifice of praise which is the fruit of our lips, the fire, Holy Ghost, still falls and consumes our sacrifice! (More to come on that.) As we’ve learned, this is not a one time thing. It is a continual, living sacrifice.

By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. Hebrews 13:15

Praise is a natural occurrence among believers encountering the presence of God.

Took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord. John 12:14

And when he was come nigh, even now at the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen; Saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest. Luke 19:37-­38

They didn’t just think good thoughts about God within themselves, they cried out with a loud voice…saying… Their praise manifest in and through their mouths. Some of the religious establishment of that day demanded they stop this outward expression. Notice His response.

And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto him, Master, rebuke thy disciples. And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out. Luke 19:39-­40

I’m reminded of these lyrics:

Ain’t no rock, gonna cry in my place. As long as I’m alive I’ll glorify his holy name

God will have a praise. Period. We are called to be lively stones!

Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 2:5

Again, why are we to be lively stones? Answer: To offer up spiritual sacrifices. The fruit of our lips, praise, is a spiritual sacrifice. Below, we see again the distaste for public expressions of praise by the religious status quo.

And when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying in the temple, and saying, Hosanna to the Son of David; they were sore displeased. Matthew 21:14

In that day, there were religious folks that did not approve of their loud expressive praise and so it is today.

Again, I’m reminded of a song…

I will Dance, I will sing, to be mad for my King. Nothing Lord is hindering the passion in my soul. And I’ll become even more undignified than this, some may say its foolishness. But I’ll become even more undignified than this.

2 Samuel 6:14-23 tells the account of Michal calling David out for his ridiculous praise to which he replied:

I will become even more undignified than this…2 Samuel 6:22a

It’s high time the people of God become a little undignified when it comes to praise! Why? First, God requires it. Secondly, the enemy despises it because praise is a weapon!

And when they began to sing and to praise, the Lord set ambushments against the children of Ammon, Moab, and mount Seir, which were come against Judah; and they were smitten. 2 Chronicles 20:22

Praise releases ambushments against the enemy! There are many who do not believe it necessary. However, we are commanded to receive God’s Word as truth and every man a liar.

God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged. Romans 3:4

The above verse cues us into how we are to identify lies. The scripture says “as it is written.” If anything contradicts the Word of God, it is wrong not God. We must beware of the traditions of men and let the word of God be the deciding voice in our lives.

For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. Mark 7:8

Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. Colossians 2:8

What others think, feel, and believe has to be weighed out against the Word of God. There are no doubt many who no longer believe in the outward expression of praise as a commandment of God but that doesn’t alter what the Bible has to say about praise. Public expressive praise is required by all.

Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands. Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing. Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations. Psalm 100

O clap your hands, all ye people; shout unto God with the voice of triumph. Psalm 47:1

Let every thing that hath breath praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord. Psalm 150:6

Praise is even required of the angels in the presence of God.

In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. Isaiah 6:1-­3

And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come. Revelation 4:8

There are deep-­seated reasons why the enemy assaults praise so vehemently. The fruit of our lips, the sacrifice of praise, is the necessary sacrifice for the fire of God, Holy Ghost, to fall. And while there are no doubt people who will choose not to praise God right now, there is coming a day in which every knee will bow and every tongue will confess the praises of God.

That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:10-­11

Again to summarize, the first aspect of our praise sacrifice is the fruit of our lips. This sacrifice is the chosen sacrifice of the New Testament. In the next part of our series, we will discuss the second aspect of praise…motion.

Praise is mouth and motion!

O clap your hands, all ye people; shout unto God with the voice of triumph. Psalm 47:1

If you haven’t yet explored expressive praise, I am super excited for you to give it a go! Nothing, and I mean nothing, supercharges your prayer like expressive praise!

Related Posts:
Silence of the Lambs
The Right Appetite: Bread of God