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 · reblog

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 Mouth Will Abort The Promise

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

Zacharias (father of John the Baptist) received a word from God via the messenger angel Gabriel foretelling the birth of John.

But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John. Luke 1:13

Because of the circumstances, their age in this case, Zacharias doubted and was struck dumb for a season.

And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years. And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings. And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season. Luke 1:18-20

His tongue wasn’t loosed until after the promise came to pass.

And his mouth was opened immediately, and his tongue loosed, and he spake, and praised God. Luke 1:64

Doubt and fear can sometimes cause us to speak words that abort the promise. God did Zacharias a favor. We see the same principle at work at the fall of Jericho. They were to encircle the city once per day uttering not a word…no sound from their mouths.

And Joshua had commanded the people, saying, Ye shall not shout, nor make any noise with your voice, neither shall any word proceed out of your mouth, until the day I bid you shout; then shall ye shout. Joshua 6:10

Jesus also chose to endure in silence…

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. Isaiah 53:7

The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth: Acts 8:32

During these Gethsemane (crushing) moments, one must close their mouth when it comes to the emotional soul dimension. When spoken, the doubt and fear of the flesh will abort your promise. Instead, we should follow Christ’s example. When tempted in the wilderness He spoke the word…

But He answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. Matthew 4:4

Your emotions will deceive you. Isaac heard the voice of Jacob but felt the arms of Essau. He knew Jacob’s voice but was fooled by his feelings.

And Jacob went near unto Isaac his father; and he felt him, and said, The voice is Jacob’s voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau. Genesis 27:22

If you are claiming a promise, don’t allow your emotions to speak. This includes emotional vents to your spouse. I know it’s tough but every word uttered has power especially when spoken through the lips of a regenerated spirit. In trying times, use your weapon…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

Speak the word only and you will surely see it come to pass!