Up from the Ashes

In the midst of the pain and loss a seed is found – life will move forward, life will spring forth, life will be green again as it rises up from the ashes.

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I often ponder the parallels found in the truths of scripture shown through the natural and spiritual. Many such, have been in the forefront this year.

As last spring began, the lush tall forest trees of the west coast stood strong and vibrant, never knowing what the next season would bring. Spring soon led into a scorching summer as flames consumed over 8 million acres that now lay in ashes – those same lush forests destroyed.

An interesting fact occurs in the midst of forest fires – the seeds of life are spared, hidden and protected – they are surrounded by a hard safe shell that allows them to spread, land and in the midst of the nutrient ash – in time – they will bring forth life. Seedlings of life will begin to turn the black and gray colored hills and mountains into soft green life.

These last 6 months have left much in ashes across our country. Thousands of lives will never be the same due to floods, fires, and hurricanes but also from accidents, drugs, suicides and disease. They too, never expected to have their lives lay at their feet in ashes.

However, strength and new life will arise. If the ash lies at your feet it doesn’t look or feel possible, but somewhere deep inside faith stirs, then rises up to keep moving forward. Somehow that seed of faith has been hidden and protected. In the midst of the pain and loss a seed is found – life will move forward, life will spring forth, life will be green again as it rises up from the ashes.

In the midst of the ashes believe that Jesus has a plan – a protected, hidden seed within you. Your story is not over – trust in your Heavenly Father. He loves you, never leaves you, walks with you, is faithful and good all the time. Trust Him to bring life up from the ashes.

Is 61:2b-3 He has sent me to comfort those who are sad, those in Zion who mourn. I will take away the ashes on their head, and I will give them a crown. I will take away their sadness, and I will give them the oil of happiness. I will take away their sorrow, and I will give them celebration clothes. He sent me to name them ‘Good Trees’ and ‘The Lord’s Wonderful Plant.’(ERV)

Psalm 30:11 Then he turned my sorrow into joy! He took away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy. (TLB)

Out of Love

The desire for the “best of the best” directly from our Fathers hand is available and stretched out to us. He wants to be a Father, to welcome us and dwell with us.

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From the moment we feel the first flutter of life, excitement stirs to see this little life filled with all the “best of the best”. We protect and provide but most of all we love! There is a place within us that is so full of love for this precious one, that it often overwhelms us. As they grow and become adults – well, it NEVER changes – that love grows too. As parents we always want to see the best for our children and that desire comes directly from Heaven.

Our Heavenly Father desires the “best of the best” for us – He protects and provides but most of all He loves, loves and loves. He promises us He will dwell with us, He will receive (welcome) us and He will be a Father to us.

Just as we try to warn our children from making life-impacting mistakes, so does He. The desire is not to manipulate, control or be harsh but is poured out – out of love!

The words “unequally yoked” strike many feelings in us – most eliciting thoughts from our past; but in truth this passage is written to us out of love – great love. The desire for the “best of the best” directly from our Fathers hand is available and stretched out to us. He wants to be a Father, to welcome us and dwell with us. The HOWEVER – is our choice. That HOWEVER says light and darkness cannot share the same room – that’s our choice. If we walk unequally yoked – it is a place that “daddy” just can’t come into to visit.

Yes – there is His unmerited favor and grace extended to us through Christ – that’s a gift – given to us. BUT the “best of the best” that your Father desires to give to you is available for those who walk purely in the light. So take a minute and “reformat” your brain around this scripture – seeing what He is giving you in exchange for that choice of not being unequally yoked (those who you choose to intimately fold into your closest circle).

Daddy has the “best of the best” waiting for you – the however – is up to you.

IICorinthians 6:14 You are not the same as those who don’t believe. So don’t join yourselves to them. Good and evil don’t belong together. Light and darkness cannot share the same room.(ERV)

 

God’s Miracle Dew

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     The story of Gideon, a man hiding from the national chaos around him, sounds rather like us today. He chose to tuck himself in the side of a cliff (a wine press) to beat out his wheat in secret – just minding his own business. But suddenly there in that cave, he is met by an angel – there, he is called a “mighty man of valor” and told he is to save Israel; here begins his questions. Here God begins to mold him into that man “a mighty man of valor” that God already knows him as. God shows up, speaks to him, patiently shows him grace upon grace, and builds his faith.

     My interest today is on God’s confirmation of that “call” – the fleece.

     “Are you sure God?” or “Who me?” These phrases have rung out from before Gideon – right up to today – including you and me.

     We often think of this story and wonder why he asked twice – but Gideon’s belief-system was one of living with the natural course of life. He believed there was a god that created us but he didn’t intervene – life just happened “it is, what it is”. There were no miracles. Ummm – sounds pretty familiar doesn’t it?

     So asking for proof was a big deal to begin with. But though morning #1 gave a specific answer with the fleece being soaking wet and the ground dry, Gideon’s upbringing and belief-system kicked in. Fleece naturally pulled in water, so his mind questioned if this was not just a natural phenomenon. But his second request, to keep the fleece dry and dew everywhere else, was a big step of faith and when on day #2 it occurred, his paradigm shifted – this was a miracle.

     This miracle opened Gideon’s eyes to walk into all that was to come. This miracle opened his ears to hear more clearly when God said to go into battle with only 300 men – sending home nearly 30,000. God wanted them to know that it was not a natural battle but one where God was REAL, where He intervened and where He brought victory. Because of their belief-system, the people needed to see what was truth – that there was a God who was REAL.

     Are we not living in the same state today? Often we don’t ask because we don’t believe He will intervene, He is REAL, or that He cares, much-less loves us. We live a life where, life just happens, “it is, what it is” BUT I know a God that is REAL and makes Himself real in our lives every day if we open our eyes to see and our ears to hear.

     Gideon’s request – his “fleece” didn’t anger God. That fleece was a genuine heart request and God was filled with love and compassion to show His divine grace and favor over that request.

     That fleece was the miracle that allowed the “YES LORD” to leap into Gideon’s spirit and move his feet into place. That place allowed him to pick up and wear the mantle that made him God’s “mighty man of valor”.

     As ambassadors of Christ we all have been given assignments – maybe not like Gideon – but ones that impact others. Often due to insecurities, belief-systems or other obstacles we question that assignment – that’s ok – don’t allow the enemy to win. God still is gracious to confirm His assignments and build your faith – making you ready to carry all He has called you to. Taking that opportunity is where faith steps in.

     Remember, not only was Gideon’s double “fleece” confirmation a miracle in the natural it also gives us an incredible example of God’s grace and patience.

     And one more tidbit – dew throughout scripture is used as a sign of divine grace and favor. So step into it and watch as HE makes Himself REAL in your life.

Numbers11:9 When the dew fell on the camp at night, the manna would fall with it.

Flaming Warriors

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     Flames shooting 200ft in the air as billows of grey smoke darken the sky. Trees burst into flames due to the close proximity of this intense heat – spreading  un-containable -the fires grow – consuming everything in their path. Fires stretching down the entire west coast and moving east ………

     The natural often seems to signal that which follows in the spiritual.

     Complacent “life is wonderful-just enjoy it” lifestyle has consumed us, leaving our thoughts far from God, far from the clarion call to intercede in prayer, far from the Heavenly agenda, purpose and call “to stand guard on the wall”. Our armors have been left rusting in the ash as life has gotten in the way of many of His warriors – the flaming swords have been extinguished and lay on the sidelines. We are far from flaming warriors.

     It is time to put on those armors, pick up those swords and accept the call – not to devastate those around us but to cover them with the love of Christ; To bring hope where there is none, to bring peace where chaos reigns.

     It is time for us to be the flaming warriors that walk in boldness, that are seen from a distance for who we are. Flaming warriors filled with His love that spontaneously ignites those in close proximity. It is time to pour out the gospel of LOVE. It is time to intercede, break the chains, free the oppressed and declare the love of Christ to the broken. It is time to stand up and spread the un-containable fire of the gospel as it consumes the despondent hopelessness, fear and hate that has consumed everything in its’ path. It is time for the fire of God – His presence, His love to heat up and stretch from coast to coast breaking the chains that engulf this nation.

II Timothy 1:6-8 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God (ESV)

Which Will Refresh?

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Sometimes I just need a Coke – nothing else will do. I’m thirsty but choose something that actually defeats the purpose – something that dehydrates me. My body is asking for water – my flesh chooses wrongly.

We have become a “thirst-less” bride of Christ – dehydrated from choosing wrongly. We live an ineffective lifestyle – no longer true ambassadors for the Kingdom. So many of us have chosen wrongly – chosen that which has dehydrated us.

How do we become thirsty if we have allowed our thirst to be quenched with other things?

Once again we need to turn – stir up what has been lost – pant as a thirsty deer after the presence of a living God. Drink deeply from the rivers that reside within us – then we will be the bride that has made herself ready, the bride that will pour out healing for the nations, the bride whose heart overflows with living water to all those around her.

Today chose to put down the Coke and drink deeply of the water of His presence.

Psalm 42:-2a As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirst for God, for the living God. (ESV)

John 7:37-38 On the last day of the feast, the great day; Jesus stood up and cried out, “if anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink, as the scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” (ESV)

We Are Never Empty

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As I wrestled with sleep through the late hours into the morning, I dreamed. I woke over and over from a similar dream – quickly falling back to sleep to dream another version. This puzzling dream was filled with only one thing – open boxes. All the boxes were different sizes, construction and material but all were empty. I began to question God and wait for an answer as to “what does this mean and what do I do with it?”

That morning, I soon found myself listening to my pastor explain a tradition of the Feast of Tabernacles regarding drawing of water and empty cisterns. (In Latin, cisterns translates to boxes) My galloping heart sat transfixed, waiting for God’s revelation.

Now, days later as understanding has marinated in my spirit, His direction brings expectation in my heart. We the bride of Christ have allowed our cisterns (the place of His indwelling presence) to grow cold and empty – thus many empty boxes.

How easy we trudge through life in the midst of chaos, pain, and distraction; never realizing that each hit we take from those we love, our physical ailments, financial struggles and living in a crazy “on the edge” world; sucks the water from our own cisterns. We live in a state of constant empty boxes – our cisterns have been depleted – and that is the insidious lie! We have been given full cisterns – ALL the time – it’s a sustainable promise! The Spirit dwells within us, we are never empty – we just don’t take time to dip in and drink.

Within each of us resides the Spirit of God through Christ – we have all we need within us. Jesus has given us a river of living water that is available to us ALL the time. We don’t have to live a life with dry empty cisterns. Just stop, dip in and you will find water available! Begin to walk in a life filled with thanksgiving and praise – yes in the very midst of all that sucks you dry – there you will soon find that your cistern is no longer dry but will begin to flow. Joy will bring relief – and though life may still be in the same state you will find the journey now flows differently within your heart.

John 4:10 Jesus answered her, “if you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”

John 4: 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”