Purpose Found in Simplicity

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Matthew 22:37-39 And he said to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.  And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. (ESV)

Do you find yourself asking those deep internal probing questions?  Who am I? What is my purpose?  What is the God-dream that stirs inside of me? I do, and they get my mind swirling.

Today, I ask what is a God-dream anyways? Is it an actual, physical while-I-am-sleeping dream?  Is it something deep inside of me that is who I am at my very core? Is it something I desire to do or accomplish? The answer is yes – to all of them.

My life has been full of “doing” and I wonder, did any of it fit into God’s plans and purposes?  The tasks, achievements, talents, projects, jobs, creativity have all been part of what has made me who I am today BUT they are not who I am deep within my being. So, I sit at the feet of Jesus today, asking – who am I? What is it that I could not live without doing? What is the dream that sits within me; stirring, driving, waiting to erupt?

At each season of my life I have said YES, grown, and moved by the Spirits direction. Accomplishing many things that had benefit for the Kingdom of God as well as doing the everyday, the needed and those that I take joy in.  Again, the answers are convoluted in my heart. If all of those life accomplishments, gifts and talents were taken away, what is it, that would drive me? What is left? Is that the dream – the God-dream – His plan for my life?

So, here I sit with six decades of life behind me and I’m still asking these questions. Maybe I am just slow but I think I’ve made it too hard.  As I contemplate the life of Jesus and how He answered deep questions I see simple answers – “give to Caesar what is Caesar’s”, “he who is without sin cast the first stone”, “your sins are forgiven you”, “Lazarus come forth”. Simplicity seems to permeate the character of God – He says it, we believe and we chose to do it. Could all those swirling questions be answered that simply? If so, then I can give a very loud shout to its simplicity.

Though you have been gifted with tasks, achievements, talents, projects, jobs, and creativity to share with others and the world; somewhere in that process you will find the answer – the simple answer, to His plan and purpose for your life – your God-dream.

So, as you dig deep to find that simple plan, take one step at a time and do it.  Keep walking through this life, fighting with the weapons He has given you. Fight forward to see His purposes, don’t hesitate or shrink back. Stand courageous and push back against all that tries to derail you. His plan for you is a victorious one – filled with hope and a future.

II Peter 1:3 Everything we could ever need for life and complete devotion to God has already been deposited in us by his divine power. For all this was lavished upon us through the rich experience of knowing him who has called us by name and invited us to come to him through a glorious manifestation of his goodness. (TPT)

A Blank Page

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As the sunrise begins to illuminate the sky, I sit in front of a blank page. I contemplate all that this new year has to offer, not the things of the past but more – more than I have ever asked for or imagined.

A sunrise brings a new day filled with opportunities, but a new year opens a breath-taking landscape of possibilities; the anticipation is palpable.

What are you anticipating, expecting or hoping for, from your new year? This new year is a gift sitting in front of you. God has a plan for your life and it is full of increase – increase to pour out His love through you.

The question is, what does that look like in your life? Jesus desires to use you to impact the world by restoring who He created you to be, your identity; that which He put deep within you, those hidden purposes that make you, who you really are!

What is hidden deep inside, waiting to be ignited, waiting dormant to erupt? Those gifts that you have set up on the shelf, or thought maybe someday? Do you think your time is past, so that gift still sits unopened? He is waiting for you. Accept this new year as a gift, full of purpose – walk into – no – run into a new level of faith that will access heaven over your life.

This is the year!

As the sunrises today – look up, stir your faith, expect Holy Spirit to bring restoration to the once sleeping purposes within you. Watch as He ignites a joyful new life deep inside that will produce a refreshed imagination, explosive energy, and awakened dreams. Step out in faith, access the new places He has planned for you this year. Watch as he awakens forward movement into the agenda He has, not just for you but for the world.

 Ephesians 3:20 Never doubt God’s mighty power to work in you and accomplish all this.He will achieve infinitely more than your greatest request, your most unbelievable dream, and exceed your wildest imagination! He will outdo them all, for his miraculous power constantly energizes you. (TPT)

Whose Got Your Back?

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Our lives are filled with battles – from within and without – the physical, emotional and almost always, the spiritual. As independent people we usually choose to handle them alone, “I’ve got this, no need to bother anyone else.” When we live – or try to live – our life in this fashion, we are ultimately giving-in to a life lived in a form of isolation. We are not meant to handle life alone, we need others.

We all need that friend – you know the one – the friend that sticks closer than a brother. Do you have one, maybe two or three? Ones that no matter when, where, how, or what you need them for – they will be there for you. If not, now is the time to look around and begin that scary relationship that just might lead to that friend. If you have been a Christian for long, you will have picked up some hesitancy here! I know, me too. But in faith, step out and spend some time asking God to direct you to those people.

In biblical times, Kings and Princes had armor-bearers and even today, pastors establish those who they trust to stand in prayer, listen and to be that friend. We have inherited a place of prince or princess – a child of the King – in the Kingdom of God. The need for each of us to walk side-by-side with at least one armor-bearer is imperative. For us to walk with a different spirit as Caleb and Joshua did – one who hears, obeys and battles for the promised land – will require us to gird ourselves with the prayers of those walking this same journey.

As the body of Christ – the church – we hold one another up in prayer consistently, and that is necessary for a healthy church. As individuals we need to go one step deeper – one step of vulnerability – one step of trusting another with our “stuff” that we keep hidden. The days of “I’ve got this, no need to bother anyone else,” are gone. Having a trusted armor-bearer for yourself is much safer than doing it on your own. Being one and having one are two different things – you may be one for one individual yet need a different one for yourself.

If we want to see and walk in a new place of awakening in the body of Christ then we MUST lay down our pride, pick up our swords, fight forward and depend on our trusted armor-bearer to stand and fight with us. So, who is yours?

Numbers 14:24 But my servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit and has followed me fully, I will bring into the land into which he went, and his descendants shall possess it.

I Samuel 16:21 When David came to Saul and entered his service, Saul loved him very much, and David became his armor-bearer.

Proverbs 18:24 A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

 

Surrendered Silence

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In a world where we are inundated with noise, it is hard to fathom what silence and solitude look like. Periodically we experience a glimpse of this mirage; an early morning sunrise in the desert, a breathtaking walk in the rain forest, the stars eruption as you sit high above the city, or a morning wake-up to a deep blanket of snow. But how does it look within our spirits, our hearts, our emotions or our minds? That place of complete stillness that allows peace to reign. To find it – even for a few minutes – is a practiced discipline.

“Be still, and know that I am God.” Ps, 46:10 (ESV)

This scripture is known well, but do we really know what it means? It sounds peaceful and it’s great on a refrigerator magnet, but practicing this discipline is not easy. Try it – spend just five minutes, stilling your thoughts – don’t think, pray or look around – just be still, soak in that silence. Once you have gotten through a few days of practicing, you will find something amazing begin to happen. Sitting silent before the Lord will stir a desire to live in this blissful place.

Finding this place of stillness stirs within a divine depth of peace. Here in this place we find intimacy with our God. In this quiet place of silence, we hear His voice. Adoration and worship – an “awe” of knowing our God – begins to surface, as all of the noise of our world disappears. Here, we step into a place of worship that is found past the music and all of our words. This place is where our words – our requests, desires, needs and prayers – are not needed. This stillness will transform your busy, clattering life into a humble place of just “being” at His feet. Here, you will surrender; be laid bare, open, yielded, and ready to move only as He directs.

The discipline of stillness and solitude require practice, but soon in the midst of your chaotic life, you will find the ability to be still and know the presence of God.

Join me in developing this discipline. As you begin, don’t get frustrated if five minutes seems like forever. It will soon be fifteen minutes and before you know it, sitting in stillness for extended amounts of time, will be time that you will desire and willingly run to. Let’s joyfully surrender to a place of stillness found only at the feet of Jesus.

For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him.  Ps. 62:5 (ESV)

Does Your Barrel Leak?

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The oak barrel sits, ready to receive its prize. No thought is given to what it has endured to get to this place. Once it was carefully constructed, the real preparation began; boiling, flushing, toasting and more, all awaited this single barrel. The importance of each step will make the difference in its ability to keep the prize – one that is full of life, rich, and desirable. The prize – New Wine!

Spiritually we talk of New Wine and with excitement and anticipation begin a frenzied chase to find it – conferences and concerts abound – though will you find it there? You may experience a manifested encounter with the presence of God and be stirred for “more”, but will it stay when you get home?

New Wine poured into an unprepared vessel leaks out.

Just as the oak barrel is prepared for its prize, we, too, are prepared.  However, it is not about “doing” things to get ready – trying to pull it down from heaven – it is about “being” made ready. Preparation for us looks similar to the barrel – we will go through the boiling, flushing, and toasting as we surrender to the loving hand of our Heavenly Father.

As we hunger for the presence of God – that hunger stirs a deep love within – that love turns to desire – that desire erupts into a longing, and that longing pushes us to the feet of Jesus.

As we spend time in silent adoration at His feet, a mindset of yielding to only what is Him, solidifies in our heart – something changes; the vessel is prepared. As we chose to lay aside all the distractions, choose to step into worship, into reading the word, into prayer, and into fasting – suddenly, we are there. All of these choices are not about coercing Gods hand, but about a love that is growing – a love that desires His presence above everything else – a love to see His face. In that place of passionate pursuit, we find His presence; there we begin to experience and hear Him – right there in our own living room His presence manifests. We become a vessel that He has prepared to carry and distribute His New Wine. We will no longer leak!

As we wait at His feet, He pours a continual flow of New Wine into and through us. Then, as we walk into a gathering of passionate pursuers’ – we will enter into an atmosphere that has been saturated in worship, word, and prayer. The love, excitement, and joy will pulse as a single heart-beat from the Father and we will find ourselves in the presence of an explosion of Glory.

Every part of our lives will begin to have one central focus – Jesus! Our alignment to the Father’s voice, His plans and purposes will stir a passion – passion to say YES, LORD as we live a lifestyle full of New Wine from heaven.  We will see others drawn to us by the intoxication we are now walking under – they will ask, “Where have you been? Why does your face shine? How can I get what you have?” – sharing the gospel will be easy. Our prayers will change as we hear and do as Holy Spirit directs. We will see His answers and miracles abounding all around us. Our faith will be WHO we are, not something we do.

Join me as we fight off the distractions, begin to walk a lifestyle of passion, and choose to daily sit at the feet of Jesus!

Be ready to say YES, LORD as He directs you to pour out New Wine to those around you.

Matt. 9:17 Neither is new wine put into old wineskins. If it is, the skins burst and the wine is spilled and the skins are destroyed But new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved. (ESV)

 

 

 

 

 

Into the Wine-Press

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The scent of fermentation is distinctly nauseating. The process can’t be rushed. Days pass as you find yourself periodically retching as a whiff catches you off guard. Finally, at just the right time, you can bring out the wine-press. Its brutal archaic feel is needed to exert continuous force on this batch of crushed, fermented grapes. The pressing process now removes all the solid bits and from it begins to flow pure rich wine.

We don’t think of the pressing process often; we take it for granted. We press many things without a second thought; juicing a lemon, rolling out cookie dough, ironing out wrinkles – all are a form of pressing. Applying pressure always changes the original form. A solid lemon becomes juice, a bowl-full of dough becomes a tasty well-formed cookie, your just-out-of-the-dryer shirt changes from “a mess” to a smooth presentable clothing item – all from that process.

When Holy Spirit works the pressing process in your life, you must remember that His plan is always to change you, transform you into new wine. He works on one batch at a time and the process must be yielded into and walked through. How you chose to walk through it is the key – eyes on Jesus, trusting that He is in control and laying down your “fix it” mentality.

You have made it through the crushing and fermenting of this batch but the pressing now begins. Yielding your heart, mind, body and spirit to the loving hand of the Father will allow this process to bring forth a sweet wine.

Leaving behind all that was you to become what you were planned for is the ultimate process of pressing. Holy Spirit’s desire is to move you into a position of contact with the face of Jesus. The pressing will release a free-flowing wine and here you are changed. The pure rich wine that flows sends an aroma of worship to the Father that is intoxicating. It is a worship not made from man, not a music or performance but a purity of true worship that can only be found as you yield to the wine-press.

II Corinthians 3:18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. (ESV)