Devotion

When I get up in the mornings it’s usually just me and my dog for a blessed period of relative quiet until my kids wake up.

This morning was no different.  I got myself some coffee and gave my dog, Copper, a scoop of food and headed down to the basement to read my Bible.  My dog actually abandoned his uneaten bowl of food to follow me.  Which is hilarious, because we joke he has two great loves in life- eating and Mama (me).

I was really touched that he would rather be by my side than eat alone.

My husband calls him my “Hachi” because of his devotion.  On nights when I went to work he would refuse to leave the door until I got home.  This is him waiting (so sadly!) for me to get back. spudy

It’s an honor to have the love and devotion of a pet.  He wants to be near me because he knows I love him.

I wonder what are we willing to give up to be with our Heavenly Father?

A few minutes of sleep in the morning?  Our “channel-surfing” time?

How do we show our love and devotion?

This morning I just absolutely had to go to church.  We’ve mostly missed church since Gabe started TSW about 5 months ago.  This morning we went, though it meant rushing around and the kids eating snacks and having juice boxes for breakfast in the car for a makeshift breakfast.

It was so great though.  The worship and message were great, and exactly what I needed.  We went up for the altar call after the service.  Tim carried Gabe up.  An older couple prayed over us.  I just cried and cried and the older lady held me and it was very healing.

I’ve read about people going through extended dry spells where the presence of God seems to always elude them, but that has never been the case for me.  If I’m dry it’s because I’m not really seeking.

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13

I have always found him so faithful, so eager to meet with me.  When I put my phone down and instead spend those early moments in the day seeking Him, I find he is there waiting.  I’m so thankful for that.  That he isn’t far away, or hard to find.

“….though he is not far from any one of us.” Acts 17:27

“Father, thank you that you are so available to us, so near.  Help us to put aside distractions and earnestly seek you with all our heart.  For those of us who are seekers, please make yourself so visible and tangible.  Amen.”

 

Suffering and Heaven

18920650_10158894564500074_8516742202078951748_nYesterday I took just Gabe out shopping.  I don’t often get to spend alone time with him and I was reminded what an amazing kid he is.  He has such a tender soul.  He wants to run an orphanage when he grows up… but he also wants to drive a Ferrari, so… 😉

We had a fun time, just the two of us.  On the way home he kept asking me about Heaven and what it’ll be like when Jesus comes back.

I explained to him that Jesus will appear in the sky with great glory, riding the clouds.  That every eye will see him, even those that pierced him.  That we will rise to meet him and be changed, to be like him.  That there will be no more sickness, death, pain…

I got choked up and so did he.  He said, “Mom, I can see him coming.”  I said, “honey that’s the Holy Spirit showing you that it’s true.”

You see, just the day before he had been in a lot of pain.  In between tears and sobs he had asked, “if God loves me, why am I suffering so much?”

The conversation, and the sweet presence of God, was something we both desperately needed.  Something that I need more of.

In my own suffering I tend to turn away.  I feel like I can’t take anymore disappointment at times, without losing hold of my faith.  But yesterday, it was like He peeled back the curtain obscuring eternity and gave us both a glimpse of our future and the end of suffering.  I felt a glimpse of the eternity and wonder awaiting us, and looking over at Gabe’s tear-filled eyes, I know he did too.

I know that Gabriel is being molded in ways I can’t even begin to comprehend.  I know he has a huge call on his life.  Even at the age of 8, there is a level of tenderness, empathy and hunger for knowledge of God that is amazing…. probably as the result of all the suffering he’s had to endure.

We can got lost in the hardships we face but we need to remember that life here is short and eternity is long.  We can’t choose the trials but we can choose how we face them.  Our God loves us.

 

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“I Felt God”

20150617_185056_resized This is my son, Michael.  He is ten and he loves reading and video games.  His step-dad and I have tried hard to raise him right.  The first song he learned was ‘Jesus Loves Me’.  There’s been lots of prayers for a covering of grace because we have made so many mistakes, you know?  It has been a tough road at times.  Michael is super bright, funny and a natural leader but he also has aspergers syndrome.  That kid is as stubborn as a goat. 😉  He is too smart for his own good, for sure.  Thankfully, one thing (the most important thing) has sunken in.  His faith in God.

Last Sunday, as he often does, he got himself kicked out of children’s church.  So he sat by me through the service, doodling on an offering envelope.  About halfway through he started listening and quietly asking me questions.  When Pastor Al gave the altar call, Michael wanted to go.  I went up to the altar with him and stood behind him, quietly praying.  Pastor Al prayed over Michael and we went back to our chairs.

“I felt God.  He is here in the room.”  Michael said quietly.  “It felt like he was filling me up with his happiness.”

You can and should teach your kids about Jesus but nothing comes close to that first-hand encounter.  God only has children, not grandchildren, right?  So years of prayer and teaching culminated in Michael’s first real encounter with the living God.  I am grateful and pray that it is only the first of many.  Cause, as Michael said, he was born for this. 

One Spirit

“So Moses went out and told the people what the Lord had said. He brought together seventy of their elders and had them stand around the tent.  Then the Lord came down in the cloud and spoke with him, and he took some of the power of the Spirit that was on him and put it on the seventy elders. When the Spirit rested on them, they prophesied—but did not do so again.

 However, two men, whose names were Eldad and Medad, had remained in the camp. They were listed among the elders, but did not go out to the tent. Yet the Spirit also rested on them, and they prophesied in the camp.  A young man ran and told Moses, “Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp.”

 Joshua son of Nun, who had been Moses’ aide since youth, spoke up and said, “Moses, my lord, stop them!”

 But Moses replied, “Are you jealous for my sake? I wish that all the Lord’s people were prophets and that the Lord would put his Spirit on them!”  Then Moses and the elders of Israel returned to the camp.” Numbers 11:24-30 glorycloud-1

In Numbers 11 we see the people start grumbling against God- who had miraculously delivered then from oppressive bondage in Egypt..who’s presence was visible among the people.  Can you imagine?  Strolling our of your tent (or ducking, I guess) and visibly being able to see the glory of God in the form of a cloud or pillar of fire over the tent of meeting- 24/7.  I would like to think my heart and faith would be rock solid.  But I suppose human nature, being what it is, will always find fault.

The people whined for meat.  For fish.  For the leeeeekkkkss and the onions that they ate in Egypt.  Seriously?  I think I would personally take sweet, buttery manna cakes from HEAVEN over stinky fish and garlic breath.  People were actually ditching camp to go back to Egypt.  Nice.

God understandably is furious.  Moses is just plain burnt out.  He complains to God that he can’t take the burden of this people anymore.  That is where we open in scripture.  God graciously pours the Spirit of leadership he has given Moses onto the 70 elders as well.

I am personally encouraged that it is possible to be in the center of God’s will (as Moses surely was) and filled with the Holy Spirit but still wrestling with doubts, discouragement, and human nature.  God responded to Moses with quiet compassion.  He didn’t rebuke him.  No one ever said being in God’s will was easy.  Moses was complaining but God saw his heart, and provided much needed help to share the burden of leading this huge group of people through a rough time of transition.

I find Moses’ answer to Joshua; who was upset that these two men were prophesying and potentially a threat (in Joshua’s mind) to Moses’ authority, very interesting.  The scenario is very similar to the passage in Luke 9- John answered and said, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name; and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow along with us.” But Jesus said to him, “Do not hinder him; for he who is not against you is for you.”

Moses exclaimed, “I wish that all the Lord’s people were prophets and that the Lord would put his Spirit on them!” and “are you jealous for my sake?”  Like we are not in competition here, people.  There is enough blessing, anointing, and the Holy Spirit to go around.  The more people filled with the fullness of Christ, the better.  The kingdom of God is not like the kingdoms of this World.  Leadership in the kingdom is about humility and servanthood. Mark 9:35 It is about seeking His glory, not self-exultation.  Moses, something of a Christ prototype, was not threatened by God pouring out his spirit on others.  He knew it was a good thing.

That is my prayer today.  That the Spirit would do a fresh move in churches across the nation.  God knows we need it.  We need to stop bickering over details.  “he who is not against you is for you.”  Jesus is going to look a little different on all of us.  As long as we agree on foundational doctrines, can’t we agree to disagree about details not pertinent to salvation?

Side note- We need to hold the Word of God as our absolute truth.  When certain denominations, churches, leaders reject the Word and start worshipping a ‘Jesus’ remade in their own image we absolutely need to stand against that.

Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.” Philippians 2:1-2

Heaven on Earth

In Exodus 24 we see God confirming his covenant with the Israelites.  He invites Moses and 73 elders to come partially up the mountain to worship.  God allows them to see him and live (the text points out that they lived to eat and drink another day!).  A direct translation from the Hebrew reads, “And they saw the God of Israel, and under his feet was a work of paved sapphire stone and the essence of Heaven in clearness.”  Exodus 24:10

It was like the saw God and in his presence was the very essence of Heaven.

I believe that when Jesus died he tore the veil separating us from access to the Holy God. (Matthew 27:51)  We can now go boldly into the presence of God. (Hebrews 4:16)

We can meet with God.  We can see his glory.  That is what we were created for.

If you are a believer you are a saint (Philemon 1:7), and a holy priest (1 Peter 2:9).  God has made you the temple of the Holy Spirit. (1 Cor. 6:19)

If we are filled with the Spirit of God and the resurrection power of Christ (Romans 8:11) then we are virtually carrying the essence of Heaven in clearness within.  Very cool thought, huh?

We can experience God in amazing ways, we just have to be willing to diligently seek him.  Jesus said that the one who continuously seeks will find.  “If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” Luke 11:13

God is excited about filling us to the fullness with the Spirit of his Son.  That is the only way we are going to bear his likeness and have the power we need to change the World.  It is also our direct, 24/7 line of communication with God.  God is still doing amazing things on Earth.  His Spirit is still moving.  We are the church.  We are his ambassadors.  We can experience that essence of Heaven in our quiet time and worship, God longs for us to.

I am a ‘millennial’, I am 28.  I know people my age are leaving the church in droves.  I think they are searching for something real, something true.  They grew up in a churches that were as spiritually dead as a doornail.  It doesn’t have to be that way.  It isn’t supposed to be that way.  I am praying for a revival of the Holy Spirit in church that haven’t been moved in 50 years.  I am praying for millennials to experience God as he intended.  Not religion but a full-bore adventure filled with love, passion, struggle and overcoming great odds.  We serve an a amazing God.  We need to set our sights and expectations infinitely higher.

Only a tremendous out-pouring of the Holy Spirit (revival)- starting within the church- is going to turn the tide.  The early believers were up against a massive, godless empire.  In our day we are up against a similar massive, godless world system.

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8 desert-sunrise-wallpaper-beach-backgrounds-nature-backgrounds-29871

Let’s allow the Holy Spirit to take the wheel, let’s get some real power, and bring the Gospel to the ends of the earth in these last days.  Amen.