Designed For His Glory

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Psalm 125:1 (NIV), “Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever.”

All of us who follow Christ and have surrendered our lives to Him are now the spiritual Mount Zion. We cannot be shaken, we endure forever. We are God’s house, His home. Our job is to shine. Our destiny is to carry His glory, to be like Moses who had to veil his face because the people couldn’t handle his glow. We are predestined, chosen before we were born, and designed for his glory.

Romans 8:28-29 (NIV), “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.” (Emphasis mine)

Think about that. The One who made us designed us to hold His glory.

We are being conformed into His image. The closer we get to looking just like Him, the more of His glory will be revealed in us and on us. We are vessels that have to go through the process of firing so that we are strong enough to hold His glory. The Father’s intention is to present us as a bride to Christ. A bride that is without spot or wrinkle, one that is holy and blameless, a glorified Church.

Ephesians 5:25b-27 (NASB), “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.” (Emphasis mine)

II Thessalonians 1:10-12 (KJB), “When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day. Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power: That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Emphasis mine)

 

Each designer has a purpose in mind when they design something; sometimes it is just to look good. However, if you have ever purchased a pair of shoes that looked great, but were so uncomfortable you had to give your feet a pep talk before they would agree to wear them, you know that looks aren’t everything. God didn’t design us to shine just so we would look good! He wants us to lead people to Him. A light house shining in the darkest storm, the flood lights that light up that stage, the soft glow of a candle that brings hope and light in the darkest night. That’s us. Or it should be.

Ephesians 2:10 (TLB), “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”

Accepting His love for us is the beginning, then once we are truly motivated by a real love, not just a mindset to love, but genuine passion for Him, then we can do good works that stand. Those works won’t be worthless, sounding brass, or a banging cymbal (I Cor 13:1). What does a light house look like to those in darkness? A place where they can come in and be judged? A place where they feel threatened and forced to conform to a set of behaviors and standards? How about a place that is just like the darkness they want out of? No! A light house is a place of safety, a safe haven in the midst of the storm. The church is a family, one that is so full of love they just can’t contain it! It is shed abroad in their hearts by the Holy Spirit and just flows out of them, especially to those who are hurting and lost.

We aren’t sent to condemn or judge. We are not called to follow the law, we are called to love, we are sent out to Shine!

I challenge you to search out scriptures about Mount Zion. Then meditate on them. Stir them around in your heart and keep in mind that us believers are spiritual Zion. Good things come from there, people meet God there!

Isaiah 60:1-7 (ESV), “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you. And nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising. Lift up your eyes all around, and see; they all gather together, they come to you; your sons shall come from afar, and your daughters shall be carried on the hip. Then you shall see and be radiant; your heart shall thrill and exult, because the abundance of the sea shall be turned to you, the wealth of the nations shall come to you. A multitude of camels shall cover you, the young camels of Midian and Ephah; all those from Sheba shall come. They shall bring gold and frankincense, and shall bring good news, the praises of the Lord. All the flocks of Kedar shall be gathered to you; the rams of Nebaioth shall minister to you; they shall come up with acceptance on my altar, and I will beautify my beautiful house.”

Sleeping Beauty

 

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(Sleeping Beauty, Thomas Spence)

Ephesians 5:14 (NIV), “This is why it is said: “Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”

In 2003 I read a book titled, “Access Granted” by Joshua Fowler. For me this was the beginning of changing the way I thought about Christianity. Now it was only a beginning and a very small one at that, but the bible tells us not to despise small beginnings. Since that time I have gone through some stuff that challenged my new beliefs, However, God is so good that no matter what came my way, no matter what I read, or what I heard from the pulpit, He was confirming a whole paradigm shift. This continued to change the way I saw God, how I saw myself and how my life as His daughter ought to be, and it is changing the way I see others and the world. Now, thirteen years later, the Holy Spirit continues to bring me deeper in this revelation of who I am in Christ.

Recently, as a congregation, we have been covering “Who We Are In Christ,” “Our Rights and Responsibilities as Sons of God,” and “Discipleship.” Our Senior Pastor, Dr. William Hohman has written several small books on some of these revelations. Then a few weeks ago, I had a pastor, Mel Wild, ask me to review his book, “Sonshift”. I follow his blog on the internet and I knew that he was experiencing this new wave of God, so I agreed. Through this book, I have an even greater understanding of what our life should look like as Christians.

I am thrilled that God is moving in His Church. He always does and His timing is perfect. This is the generation that will change the world. This is the generation that will bring Heaven to earth.

Here is a quote from the preface of “Access Granted”: “I am encountering people who are hungry for more of God and His blessings…They are determined to press beyond the norm into the supernatural character, power, and order of God. And they are willing to step over the Jordan and pay the price for their promised land…I am concerned because I am also encountering those who think they know it all they’ve been there, done that, and bought the t-shirt. Instead of using their wisdom and experience as a platform for new revelation and exploits, they are stuck in a rut. They don’t realize that they are old wineskins… Why should you allow God to shake up your world, change your thinking, and lead you into your promised land? Because He wants you to obtain your inheritance in theis earth, so you can carry His name to a lost and dying wolrd. Your harvest is ripe!…It is time for you to open your heart to the new wine and reap your harvest. My prophetic word to you in this hour, “Become anew wineskin for the Lord.”

Joshua Fowler is referencing the parable in Luke 5:36-38. Let’s take a look at that.

(NASB), “And He was also telling them a parable: “No one tears a piece of cloth from a new garment and puts it on an old garment; otherwise he will both tear the new, and the piece from the new will not match the old. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled out, and the skins will be ruined. But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. And no one, after drinking old wine wishes for new; for he says, ‘The old is good enough.’”

God is doing something NEW. Maybe not new to Him, but it is certainly new to us. Sure there may be a few who got this years ago. God always has a remnant, those who just seem to be able to surrender to His love in such a way that they get revelation on seemingly a daily basis. Good for them! Now it’s our turn, Amen. We can’t keep being the old us, doing the same old thing, and thinking in the same old way. That’s the old wineskin. That is brittle, inflexible, and other than holding the old wine, it is useless. But I want new wine, how about you? There needs to be a shifting. My friend Mel calls it a “Sonshift”.

Malachi 4:5-6 (HCSB), Look, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome Day of the LORD comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers. Otherwise, I will come and strike the land with a curse.”

Luke 1:17 (NIV), “He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

This scripture was about John the Baptist, but it is being fulfilled in a greater way to us right now. The time is ripe.

“I believe we are seeing today a unique day in the body of Christ. I believe we’re living in a day unprecedented since the days of the apostles. We’re living in a day where God is revealing Himself to us as Father. And because the Father is love, His love is becoming available to us like it hasn’t been for 2,000 years. And as that love is coming, it’s turning our Bibles upside down, inside-out, back to front. It is turning our Christianity, up upside down, inside-out, back to front. It is, for the first time, putting us in the place where we can enjoy our life more than sinners.” –James Jordan, Fatherheart Ministries

This is the generation.

The Spirit said, ‘I will change the understanding and expression of Christianity on earth in one generation.’”- Mike Bickle, Founder of International House of Prayer

In “Sonshift,” Mel Wild uses the parable of the Prodigal Son, to show us that it wasn’t just about one son, it was about two sons who both were a type of “orphans by choice”. Their father wanted the best for them, one rebelled and wanted to do things his own way, while the other had a slave mentality and was working away with an attitude, just waiting for his dad to die so he could get his inheritance. How many of us, who have accepted Jesus as our Savior still live as if we were orphans? Mel calls those “spiritual orphans.”

Here is an excerpt from the book: “The truth is, Jesus came into our orphaned world and introduced His Father to us in order to show us how to live in His Father’s house. He did this so we could be reunited with Him, right now and forever, no longer orphans but sons and daughters. He told us He would do this by sending the Holy Spirit so that we could live just like He did when He walked the earth- abiding in our Father’s house and “proving” to this orphan world that our Papa’s purpose for them is good and acceptable and perfect. Beloved of God, this world has no mental grid for the Father’s love, and the only way they’re going to know it is to see it through our lives.”

Jesus came to show us the Father. Up until this point people just didn’t understand who He really was. He had been relating to them in a way that they could understand, as a parent to a toddler. You can’t really reason with them, you just have to set some boundaries and then enforce them. Praise God for Jesus’ shed blood. For now God can relate to us as mature sons and daughters. We can see His true identity and purpose as well as our own.

Why is this so important? Well, first off wouldn’t you like all those promises of God, that are supposed to be “yes and amen” evident in your life? Me too! And secondly, we want the orphans of this world to find their true Father, the one who loves them more than they can understand, but who long for him anyway. They might not even understand what is missing from their lives, but when they see it they will know it. It’s just like us when we have a food craving. Frequently I don’t even know what I want, so I go to the fridge and take a look. When my eyes light on that one thing, I know it. If it is a true craving and not just “feeding my emotions”, after partaking I can say, “That hit the spot.” What I mean is it satisfied that craving, that empty spot was filled. That’s the way it will be with the world. On the other hand if I go to the fridge and it is empty… I am going to go look somewhere else. Our fridge needs to be full.

Let’s allow God to change us! Only God can really change us from the inside out, true, but we have to allow it. He never forces us, ever. Let the Potter mold His clay. The outcome will be such a beautiful vessel, such a blessed life, that others will want the same. The harvest is ripe, time is quickly running short. Now is the time. No more delay, no more excuses, and no more procrastination. God’s work is finished, now it is our turn.

We are the true “Sleeping Beauty” but God’s word to us today is “Awake, awake, oh sleeper!”

Isaiah 60:1 (KJB), “Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee!”

Just Call Me Barabbas

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“I was sentenced to die for insurrection and murder. I was a vengeful rebel who refused to obey. While confined to a cell, waiting for a gruesome death by the hands of the Romans, suddenly I was removed from my cell and set free! When I asked in confusion, ‘Why have I been liberated?’ The reply was, ‘Someone else has taken your place. Now my name will be remembered forever.”

Most of us are pretty familiar with this story. If I asked you who this person is, you’d answer, “Barabbas” and you’d be correct. I have read the story of the day leading up to the Crucifixion of Jesus too many times to number, in several different versions, but for some reason this week when I read it again in Luke’s account something new hit me like a ton of bricks.

Take a walk through this account with me.

Jesus has been betrayed by one of His friends, one of the twelve, and has been on a whirlwind tour of Jerusalem. First to the Sanhedrin, then to the Roman Prefect, Pontius Pilate, next to Harod, Tetrarch of Galilee, mocked and beaten at each stop, now we pick our story back up at the Praetorium with Pilate. This juggling act was due to the fact that neither leader could find any blame in Jesus. No reason to put Him to death. Neither one wanted to anger the people and cause a riot. In fact the bible tells us that they became friends that day. So in the end, despite his wife’s warning, Pilate does as the religious leaders demanded and he released Barabbas and crucified Jesus.

In the past whenever I read this passage I have had a plethora of emotions. Sometimes I am just saddened by the horrible treatment of Jesus, other times I am so angry at the religious Jews for their self righteous vindictiveness, or I am greatly irritated with Pilate for not listening to his wife and for caving in to the demands of the crowd. Usually when I get to the point of Barabbas I think to myself, “Wow that wasn’t fair,” or “What ever happened to him?” But this week when I read it again, I got to the part where Barabbas is released and it dawned on me… I am Barabbas!

Luke 23:18-25 (NIV), “But the whole crowd shouted, “Away with this man! Release Barabbas to us!” (Barabbas had been thrown into prison for an insurrection in the city, and for murder.) Wanting to release Jesus, Pilate appealed to them again. But they kept shouting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” For the third time he spoke to them: “Why? What crime has this man committed? I have found in him no grounds for the death penalty. Therefore I will have him punished and then release him.” But with loud shouts they insistently demanded that he be crucified, and their shouts prevailed. So Pilate decided to grant their demand. He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, the one they asked for, and surrendered Jesus to their will.”

History doesn’t tell us what happened to Barabbas, I checked. I can’t help wondering what did he do with his life once he got this second chance, this unexpected pardon? Did he change his life or did he go back to the same old- same old?

You dear friend are also Barabbas. What will you do now that you have been set free?

What Do You Have?

II Kings 4:1-2 (NIV), The wife of a man from the company of the prophets cried out to Elisha, “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that he revered the Lord. But now his creditor is coming to take my two boys as his slaves.” Elisha replied to her, “How can I help you? Tell me, what do you have in your house?” “Your servant has nothing there at all,” she said, “except a small jar of olive oil.”

This poor woman. In those days, in that culture, a widow with small sons had no one to provide for her. With sons not old enough to work, and her husband gone, she is facing the horrible fate of having her sons taken to be used as slaves to pay an old debt. We all come across situations that seem out of our hands. Her husband is gone. Hard enough to handle, and now she may lose her children. As a mother and a grandmother, I don’t even want to imagine what that might feel like, but I can assume she feels deserted, and frantic. Who can help? Then she remembers the man of God.

When she relates her circumstances to Elisha, his response is two sided. First he asks, “What can I do to help,” then he asks “What do you have?” Both are very important questions. He is asking this widow to think about a solution, not just the problem, and he is asking her to think about what she does have, instead of what she doesn’t. God can just override everything and instantaneously give us what we ask for. He is able. However, He knows as well as we do what happens to those who are just handed everything they want. It makes them weak, and spoiled, and they begin to feel entitled. They don’t grow in relationship with the person who seems to be like a vending machine, they only make demands and expect instant results. Nobody wants kids like that, not even God.

We appreciate things more if we work for them, or if it has cost us something. We treasure gifts, don’t get me wrong, a thankful heart that is grateful for every gift is a good thing. However, when a child works hard and saves every penny of his paper route money to buy that new bike…well who can blame him when he is proud of his new purchase. Even King David understood that there should be a cost. He was instructed to build an altar on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. Araunah not only agrees to allow David to do that, he tries to give him the oxen for the offering. Here is what David replied:

II Samuel 24:24 “No, but I will surely buy it from you for a price, for I will not offer burnt offerings to the LORD my God which cost me nothing.”

Let me try to explain it this way. Pretend that a missionary comes to your church and speaks quite convincingly about the need for help in the Congo. You feel two things simultaneously, one you want to help, two you are quaking in fear lest God calls you to the Congo. So what do we do, we quickly drop a twenty or more in the offering to ease both of those feelings. You say, “I have helped, I don’t need to go, someone else can use that fifty dollars to help.” Usually we are very quick to give to missions. Then the very next week your pastor speaks of the need to replace the furnace at the church you attend, your house, and what do we do? We slip a five into the offering and say, “let so and so give the big bucks, they have a better job, sister such and such doesn’t have diapers to buy, let her give it, I wonder if we can get a grant from Uncle Sam to pay for it?” On the surface it looks like giving to mission is easier, but if you look deeper, it’s the same spirit. We don’t want it to cost too much. Selling everything and moving to a foreign country is costly! So we cave and give money. Less costly. Paying for a new furnace is costly, so we cave and make excuses why we don’t give.

God is so smart! Elisha asks the widow, “What do you have in your house?” She had oil. God gave her so much oil that she borrowed jars and jugs and still ran out of containers. She then sold it for enough to get out of debt! That is just like the little boy who shared a small lunch…with thousands. There was a multitude, a huge multitude, that were tired and hungry and Jesus told his disciples to feed them. They started adding up the monetary cost to feed so many, and of course they came up short. Jesus wasn’t even thinking of money. So, He asks, “What do we have?” Enter the little guy whose mom packed him a few fish and some small loaves. What happened? Well, of course, they were all fed, and they gathered up baskets (12) of leftovers!

Salvation is free, but that doesn’t mean that there will never be another sacrifice on our part. “Obedience is better than sacrifice,” you say. Yes, it sure is. Are you obeying?

Romans 12:1 (Holman Christian Standard Bible), “Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship.”

Paul “urges” us, in other translations he “begs” and “beseeches” us to present ourselves as living sacrifices. That sounds costly doesn’t it? Before you get all worked up, stop and ask yourself, “What do I have?” What has God given me that will be multiplied to do His will and work miracles?

Do you have a little food, a little oil, some time, some money, a little talent? Give it to God. He’ll multiply it and use it to bless others. Don’t think about what you don’t have. When you are asked to give, don’t just plunk whatever is lying on the bottom of your purse in the basket. Stop, pray and listen. Then be obedient. It may cost you more than you wanted it to, but remember the leftovers? Remember the widow who had more than enough? Yep, that’s what God can do with it. Next time you are running errands and you see someone in need, stop, pray, and listen. What is God asking you to do? Take the time, sacrifice, let it cost you and let God work a miracle.

What do you have that God can use? We all have something, because He made sure you were prepared.

That should get you excited!

 

 

The Sin Scale

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We all have one, a “sin scale”, where we weigh those bad things we do. Or worse yet, we use it to excuse our bad behavior or habits by saying to ourselves, “my white lie I told my boss is only a two, my co-worker’s adultery is a seven…at least my sin is not as bad as his.” A lot of us, who claim to be Christians, love to point out the sin of homosexuality, armed robbery, murder, child abuse, and so on, and if there really was a scale, we would all agree that those probably are off the chart. However, there is no such thing as a “sin scale.”

To God, sin is sin. There isn’t some worse than others, and even more importantly, sin really isn’t an action or lack of one, it’s a nature! Those horrible, or less-than-righteous things we do aren’t in themselves the sin, they are a symptom or a corresponding action to our sin nature. We are all born with one, due to the fall of mankind in the Garden of Eden. But, praise God, when we surrender our hearts to Him, he gives us His nature. His nature isn’t sin! We are then the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. We aren’t as good as God, but we are as right as Him. Not from anything we did, or can do, but because of what Jesus did. Because we aren’t as good as God, we aren’t perfect, we continue to mess up, and miss the mark.

Matthew 19:7 (KJB), “And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.”

Thankfully, since Jesus died for our sins, we just confess and turn back to God. Soon we sin less and less. Our sin doesn’t make us “sinners” because we don’t get our old nature back; we still maintain our rightness with God as long as we humble ourselves and repent.

So instead of trying to excuse, or weigh our bad behavior, instead we should be trying to please God. We need to have faith in Him, be confident that He is doing a work in us, that we are being changed from the inside out. God had told us that without faith it is impossible to please Him (Hebrews 11:6). We need to hear Him, believe in His great power, stand firm on His word.

Let’s take a look at what Jesus said to His disciples as He sent them out:

Matthew 10:11-15 (NIV) “And whatever city or village you enter, inquire who is worthy in it, and stay at his house until you leave that city. As you enter the house, give it your greeting. If the house is worthy, give it your blessing of peace. But if it is not worthy, take back your blessing of peace. Whoever does not receive you, nor heed your words, as you go out of that house or that city, shake the dust off your feet. Truly I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city.”

He said, “Whoever does not receive you, nor heed your words…it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment.” If you still have that sin scale on your mind, this should wipe it away. Not heeding, not hearing His “Good News” is worse than the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah…

Shall we continue?

Matthew 11:23-24 (NIV), “And you, Capernaum, will not be exalted to heaven, will you? You will descend to Hades; for if the miracles had occurred in Sodom which occurred in you, it would have remained to this day. Nevertheless I say to you that it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for you.”

Jesus came to point the way to the Father, He showed God’s love and mercy, forgiveness and kindness. Had those miracles been shown in Sodom, He says that it never would have been destroyed, inferring that they would have believed and repented!

Sin is sin. We can’t categorize it, weigh it, label it, or whitewash it. The only remedy for sin is surrender. Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God and He will lift you up (James 4:10). He doesn’t cover it, as the blood of sacrifices did under the old covenant, He takes it away, and then even better, He forgets about it!

How many times have I stood at the altar (figuratively or literally) and thought to myself, “at least I am not like so-and-so” or “at least I have never done that”? Sound familiar?

Luke 18:9-14 (ESV), “He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

How dare we stand like that Pharisee and think that somehow we are better because we placed our sin on the sin scale of our own making, and declared ourselves more righteous. As the body of Christ, we pray for souls, or should be, so we need to ask God to forgive us for expecting those souls to be rich, well dressed, un-broken, and good. Those very people we have looked down our noses at, those are the ones that our loving Father wants us to reach out to with His love. Separating ourselves from those who live in the world, can’t get us saved any more than hanging out with them will get us unsaved.

When they accused Jesus of wrongdoing when they found him eating and fellowshipping with sinners, His response was, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mark 2:7)

We don’t do what they do, we don’t participate in their wrong behavior, but we show them a better way. Hate doesn’t lead to repentance, judgmental attitudes won’t, God’s goodness will.

I think I will close with this scripture:

Luke 6: 35-35 (NASB), “But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Do not judge, and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon, and you will be pardoned. Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return

Brainwashing?

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Ephesians 4:22-23 (Holman Christian Standard Bible), “You took off your former way of life, the old self that is corrupted by deceitful desires; you are being renewed in the spirit of your minds;”

At our Church our pastors and teachers frequently tell us to “repeat after me” and then we say things like “God is my Father,” or “I can do anything through Christ,” and one of my favorites “I am the righteousness of Christ Jesus.”  We confess God’s word and His plans for us at Church and at home. It is a way of life, it is common place for us so I don’t think about it too much. Then I brought someone to Church with me recently, who isn’t in the habit of going to Church, and afterward when I asked her what she thought, she mentioned the “repeat after me” thing. In her words “it was like brainwashing to me, I don’t like someone telling me what to say.” I quickly explained that to retain what you learn you need to hear it, read it, and write it (the same explanation of why I took notes during the message) and that by saying it out loud, it helps us even more to remember what we have learned.

I don’t remember exactly what we repeated that day, maybe even a few things. It was either scripture or scriptural and uplifting, so I pondered that for a while. I thought, if we repeated something like “drink the Kool-Aid” or “kill the infidels” I would understand better the objection. Then I thought, people do that all the time in marketing seminars, self-help seminars, and feel good about yourself and life seminars. They repeat things like, “I am a winner,” “I can sell anything,” or “Nothing can stop me.” I don’t really have a problem with any of that. When I realized this didn’t bother me because it was positive thinking, it was to help and build up confidence, it suddenly dawned on me (or the Holy Spirit finally got through), it was brainwashing!

Now, I realize that a lot of bad brainwashing goes on. Just watch TV or any commercial. If we don’t have that new car, we haven’t arrived yet. If we don’t wear those clothes, we aren’t part of the in crowd. If we don’t drink that booze, we are so less than cool. We are brainwashed to believe that youth is the only type of beauty and then only if it is a size six with perfect skin, hair and nails, and teeth white enough to see from space. We are brainwashed into believing that the government can do a better job of raising our kids, and that a women that stays home to raise her own must be lazy. But, is all brainwashing bad?

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Hebrews 4:12 (NIV), “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”

My answer I “NO!” If our minds get filled up with so much junk, bad words, bad images, bad attitudes,  pure “crap” from the world, and lies from the enemy, shouldn’t we be washing that all out! Of course.

So yes, I wash my brain and if you go to a good Church they will ask you to wash yours too. They may even say, “repeat after me.”

Less you think that just repeating a few lines on Sunday is enough to brainwash you, think again. True brainwashing happens by repeated and continual exposer. So, repeat, read your Bible, and then do is all again. Daily.

Happy washing!

 

Devote Your Day to God

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Isaiah 40:28-31 (NLT), “Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding. He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.”

Sometimes I feel like I have the strength of a wet noodle. The day seems so much longer than my energy reserve or my nerves seem more frayed than the cuffs of my favorite sweater. Something unexpected comes along and the though goes through your head, “give me a break,” or that last minute request from a loved one just about sends you over the edge. On those days my husband says, “I feel like I have been going a hundred miles an hour.” My favorite one seems to be, “I feel like I have been drug through a knothole backwards.” Do you ever have those days?

It took me a while to discern a pattern on those days. I can pretty much predict when they will come now. They don’t have so much to do with what does happen during the day as what didn’t happen during the day. If I jump out of bed (honestly I never jump, I roll and yawn, and shuffle) without spending some time in prayer that will not be a banner day. My daily schedule during the week starts with a time of devotions, bible reading, and prayer. Since I am an empty nester, it is much easier now to do this. When the kids were at home, and when they were little, it was much harder. Now, I set my alarm early so that I have time to pray with my husband before he leaves for work. Then I am up to let the dog out, make my coffee and unload the dishwasher, I found I have just enough time to do this while coffee is perking and dog is doing his thing. Next, I am back in my bed, with pillows propped, bible in hand and doing my daily reading. At this point in the day I just read through my bible, either chronologically or straight thru, it usually takes me about a year to do this. After my reading time I either talk to God about what I have just read, and then pray, or I pray and allow Him to talk to me while I pray. I keep a prayer journal and my daily entries help me see answered prayers.

This is my favorite time of the day. The house is quiet, I am not distracted by jobs that need to be done, and I am comfortable with my coffee. If I start my day this way, the world, the devil, or my own stupidity can throw me a sucker punch, but it doesn’t knock me down. There are some days that things don’t work out, maybe my grandson is coming earlier, or my husband needs some help with something in the morning, and my morning routine is altered. On those days, I make a point of finding some time later in the day. I determine to have a thankful heart and keep the lines of communication open. Sometimes I have to remind myself that it isn’t a “magical” routine that promises a good day. It also isn’t something I have to do to earn God’s blessings for the day. If we are on vacation, have company, or something else gets in the way, God isn’t sitting in heaven thinking, “you’re on your own today, you didn’t devote yourself to me this morning.”

What those times do, especially first thing in the morning, is remind us that God is good, that He loves us, and we have that special time of fellowship with Him. It builds a relationship with our Father. That way we burn for Him instead of getting burnt out. Burn out happens when we don’t take the time to refresh ourselves in Him. That fire inside of us, is supposed to be like a beacon to the lost, not a forest fire that destroys our lives and those around us. Let’s face it; life can be overwhelming at times. When we stay rooted and grounded in Him, in His word, we can not only face it, we can overcome it. I read a good Christian fiction book where the main character talked about “devoting” herself every morning. I always called it “devotions” but her version is so much truer. We are saying, by that set aside time, “Father, I am devoted to you and I devote my day to you.” What a great way to start each day.

David knew this.

Psalm 5:3 (NIV), “In the morning, LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.”

So did Isaiah.

Isaiah 50:4b (ESV), “Morning by morning he awakens; he awakens my ear to hear as those who are taught.”

Maybe your mornings are crazy busy. I guarantee you that if you just set your alarm for an extra fifteen minutes and devote that time to God, make it a habit, you’ll wish you would have tried it earlier. For those of you like my children, who have little ones that get up between four am and five am, use their nap time as your set aside time. I used to nap with my little ones, however if I had known what a difference it would have made, I easily would have given up those power naps. I would have had more patience with my kids, I would have not felt so frazzled at the end of the day, and I am sure that my relationship with God would have been so much better than it is now.

I challenge you, put away that phone, turn off the computer, get up early, do whatever you have to do to give God a purposeful time during your day. It may feel like you are wasting time at first, especially when you have a million things to do, but trust me, it’s will be the best used time of your day. I used to try and do it before bed, big mistake, I was so tired and stressed at the end of the day I either fell asleep or my mind jumped around like a ball in a pin ball machine. Those times now are reserved for some reflection and thanksgiving.

At one point in Martin Luther’s life he was faced with a large day ahead, when he proceeded to begin his usual two hours of morning prayer time, an assistant said something like, “you are too busy to pray today,” Martin’s reply says it all. “I am too busy not too pray.” He realized that He needed the strength and peace of God for his day.

Don’t we all?

Psalm 143:8 (NASB), “Let me hear Your lovingkindness in the morning; For I trust in You; Teach me the way in which I should walk; For to You I lift up my soul.”