All posts by Nicole Vaughn

Giving Up The Mirror

“Moreover, he made the laver of bronze with its base of bronze, from the mirrors of the serving women who served at the doorway of the tent of meeting.” (Exodus 38:8)

In Exodus 38 we read of the making of the bronze altar and the bronze laver. As modern day Christians it is very easy for us to skim through this chapter, quickly scanning the verses, just to get through them because we have no personal connection with a bronze altar. We don’t need the altar to make sacrifices for our sin or the laver to wash our hands and feet. Our sin was dealt with once and for all as it was laid on our Lord Jesus Christ on the cross and today we are washed by the water of the Word of God and our confession of our sin. However, if we just skim and scan these verses we will miss much. There is treasure in these verses.

In Exodus 38:8 we are moved from the making of the bronze altar to the bronze laver. We read that the laver and its base were made from the mirrors of the serving women who served at the doorway of the tent of meeting. These mirrors were not mirrors as we think of them today, but were most likely polished bronze or brass. These mirrors would have been prized possessions for a Hebrew woman at this time. They were most likely some of the spoil that was handed to them as they walked out of Egypt after the ten plagues when the Egyptians were literally paying them to leave.

The women that offered these mirrors were described in Exodus 38:8 as the serving women. The Hebrew word for serving in this verse is tsaba and it means to wage war. It is a primitive root word that means to mass, to assemble, fight, perform, muster, wait upon, war. I picture these women as warriors who gathered themselves together at the doorway of the tent of meeting to pray and to worship. I see them as women who understood the day that they were in. I see them as women who realized what was taking place as the tabernacle was being constructed.

These were women who knew they had a place in service to the Lord their God. I believe these were women who were ready to go to battle on their knees in prayer or standing with a sword in their hands. These were women who were not worried about their own appearance or what others thought of them, they simply wanted to honor their God. These ladies were showing up to worship and serve the Lord even if at that time there was only a tent of meeting and all they could do was serve at the doorway. When the tabernacle would be complete their service would be honored by God as He would use their gifts to construct the laver that would be needed to prepare the priest to enter into His presence.

Moses was so taken with the sacrifice of these women that he saw fit to use their contribution to make one of the key pieces of furniture in the tabernacle. I doubt that this was his own thought. I believe the Lord Himself prompted Moses to use these mirrors for the bronze laver. I believe that because not only did Moses use them for the laver, but he recorded it in the Scriptures for us to read and remember all these thousands of years later.

The sacrifice of the giving of these prized possessions was not what made these women so special. The contribution of the mirrors were simply a reflection of their hearts for the Lord. These were serving women, not just collectors of pretty things. These were not women giving for attention or for accolades. These were women devoted to the Lord. They came to the doorway to serve because this is where the Lord said that He would meet with the people (Exodus 29:42). They came ready to hear from the Lord and ready to be obedient to whatever it was that He called them to do.

If you are a woman reading this, don’t you want to be one of these women. I know that I do. I want to be known as a woman who wages war for the Lord. Notice also this was a group of women, not just a woman. This was an assembly of women who were not competing with one another. This was a mass of women that were not gossiping about one another or gathered together to gossip about others. This was an army of women fighting not with one another, but for the Lord. 

I have to be honest and share that as a woman in today’s world, even in the church, I rarely let down my guard in a group of women, yet even still the Lord keeps calling me to ministry to women. In my experience groups of women have never really worked out well for me, at least not on a long term basis. I have found that women can usually gather together for a conference or a fellowship every now and then, but long term groups so often break into cliques that turn into whispering and assuming and side picking and ultimately destruction of relationships.

Perhaps all this happens because so many women are holding too tightly to their mirrors. Perhaps too many women come to the doorway of the church expecting to be served or at least noticed for their serving. Some women are so worried about their children or their spouses being a reflection of them that they try to control everything about them or at least what other people know about them by any means necessary. Some women are willing to tear down another woman just to make themselves look better, and this my friend is in the church.

Then some women have spent their entire lives being told that they should not be seen or heard. Some women have never been allowed to own a mirror in which to need to lay down. Some women have been fed the the lie that they have no place in service at the house of the Lord and need to simply enter the doors and be silent and go home. The possibility that they could be a woman who wages war at the doorway of the house of the Lord is far from them.  There are armies of women that have been made powerless by the traditions of religion.

Can you imagine what it would be like if the women of God laid their mirrors down? Can you imagine what it would be like if women laid their mirrors down so that women that have never been allowed to own one would not see the back of a mirror, but would instead see the reflection of the glory of the Lord? Beloved, the only mirror we need is the mirror of the Word (1 Corinthians 13:12, 2 Corinthians 3:18, James 1:23).

Can we even begin to grasp the powerful move of God that would occur in our churches and in our community if an army of women gathered together completely devoted to the Lord alone. Women with no concern for their own reflection but only how they reflected the glory of Christ. Women who were known for waging war at the doorway of the house of the Lord and willing to wait upon the Lord and to be obedient to perform whatever it was that He asked of them. 

Sacrificing our Daughters and Sons to Demons

There was a time thousands of years ago when entire nations bowed at the feet of gods that they themselves had to create with their own two hands. Some of these gods would host altars of blazing furnaces. It is recorded that some particular gods were built in such a way that their arms were outstretched and their hands were open and tilted down into a pit of fire. They were designed this way so that people could lay their children on the arms and they would simply roll into the fiery pit as a sacrifice to this god.

It sounds barbaric and ancient and distant and surely nothing like this happens anymore. However, if we are honest and look around the world, we can see that in many nations that simply is not the case. In our nation that simply is not the case. We may not have a god with outstretched arms and tilted hands on which to lay our children as they roll into a pit of fire and are consumed alive before our eyes, but our modern more attractive gods doesn’t make them any less demonic.

But they mingled with the nations
And learned their practices,
And served their idols,
Which became a snare to them.
They even sacrificed their sons and their daughters to the demons,
And shed innocent blood,
The blood of their sons and their daughters,
Whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan;
And the land was polluted with the blood.
Thus they became unclean in their practices,
And played the harlot in their deeds.

Psalm 106:35-39

The nation of Israel had been given laws and precepts and commands by the One True Living God that honored, respected, and loved children. The LORD their God had set up statutes that protected children and honored life and taught them that their strength was in their children. The LORD’s command was to teach their children His ways that they might have long prosperous lives. The Lord proved His Word to His people.

Yet in this proving and in His blessing their hearts grew proud. They forgot that all they had was a gift of God and was theirs as a result of the obedience of the generations before them to His commands. They began to flirt with other nations and with other gods and take on their practices, completely ignoring the warning of their Lord that the spirits behind these gods were demonic and idolatrous. We can look back and say, how on earth could they forget so quickly and fall so far away so fast?

They sacrificed to demons who were not God, to gods whom they have not known, new gods who came lately, whom your fathers did not dread. 

Deuteronomy 32:17

They forgot so quickly and fell so far away so fast because these were new gods. They knew the warnings, the practices, the faces of the old, but these same old demons now came on the stage in a brand new array. There is a reason that Satan, in the book of Genesis, is described as the serpent “more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made.” He uses the same tricks, the same deception, but he dresses it up in different costumes. We usually do not recognize it is him until the tempter has moved us from temptation to sin and we are staring the resulting death in the face.

But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.  (James 1:14-17)

Currently suicide is the third leading cause of death in those 15 to 25 years old. For many of us we have experienced loved ones even younger taking their own lives.  Our schools are full of kids who bounce from home to home because their parents and grandparents are strung out on drugs or more concerned with a boyfriend or girlfriend than they are with raising their own children. Our churches are filled with pockets of pride and lack of concern for those outside of her walls and a refusal to work together with other churches for the cause of the gospel and the increase of the Kingdom of God.

Jill Carattini writes, “In our impervious boxes and minimalist depictions of the Christian story, we can comfortably live as if in our own world, blind and unconcerned with the world of suffering around us, intent to tell our feel-good stories while withdrawing from the harder scenes of life” (For Lazarus and Rachel).

Today, we are still sacrificing our daughters and sons to demons. Our worship of these gods just looks a little cleaner, a little cooler, a little less offensive, and comes dressed in promotions, pleasures, and personal ambitions. Even those who profess the name of Christ justify their worship of their god because they have their children in church on Sunday, but still ignore the command of our God to teach our children His Word and His Ways when they rise and as we go (Deuteronomy 6).

So how do we recognize the new gods as the demons that they truly are? 

  1. We have to know the Word of God, the Character of God, and the Ways of God.
  2.  We have to recognize that God will never “bless us” with anything that leads to us not being able to love our own spouses and teach our own children.
  3. No gift of God will ever ask us to compromise our convictions by ignoring His commands.
  4. There is no darkness, no variation, or shifting shadow in God, no doubt no reason to hide our actions if they are of God. We don’t need a spam account that hosts a completely different personality if we are who we are.
  5. We have to examine the fruit of our lives. Does goodness and lovingkindness follow us or do we leave destruction and suffering behind us by the choices we make.

These new gods that our fathers did not dread come dressed in robes of entertainment and entitlement. They have altars of technology and societal approved sexual temptation. They ask for sacrifices of time and truth for the reward of momentary internet fame and instant fleshly pleasure. They offer freedom but it comes with chains of oppression and cords of death that quietly and covertly wrap us tightly until we are suffocating and bound under the weight of our own choices and their resulting shame. Then they turn on us and point their fingers and say, “Look what you’ve done!

Oh precious one, there is hope! There is deliverance! There is rescue! There is redemption! There is true freedom!

Look to Jesus and look at what He has done!

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 

Ephesians 6:10-13

Waiting On His Promises

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I began this post on November 24, 2015 and left it in my draft. Today I opened it again to read it. I didn’t remember writing all this…

“In less than forty days I will walk through my first Thanksgiving, my first birthday, my first Christmas, and my Daddy’s first birthday without him. There are moments that I feel like I still cannot breathe. This is how I will close out 2015.

I am trying so very hard to not be selfish. I am trying so very hard to be thankful for all the memories. I am trying so very hard to remember that I had almost thirty-nine years with my Daddy and they were good years. It’s just so hard to believe that the man who gave me my name is not here.

I am thinking of Peter right now, and how Jesus gave him his name. How Peter watched Him be taken away. How Peter rushed to His grave. How Peter saw Him in His resurrected Self alive and well… and how once again Peter watched Him be taken away.

So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them. They also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.”

Acts 1:6-11

Peter watched the man who had given him his name ascend into the heavens and then he went back to the upper room and he waited on the promises of Jesus. I too am waiting.

I had a vision for my life. I could face any adversity in that vision because I knew that I had the support of my Daddy. I could handle any hurt and push through any negativity as long as I could talk to him and hear him say, “you can do this.” Losing him has struck me with blindness. I have lost my vision.

This morning as I studied through Mark 10:46-52 with Phil Waldrep I read verse 51,

And answering him, Jesus said, “What do you want Me to do for you?”And the blind man said to Him, “Rabboni, I want to regain my sight!”

I am blind.

I keep thinking I’ll pull myself up out of this but so far I can’t. I have moments that I can see. I have momentary glimpses that remind me that I still have sight. The ember of joy is there, but I have not yet been able to rekindle a flame.

I feel most alive when I teach. When I teach I feel His presence. When I teach I remember my vision.”

After reading this again… all I can say is God is Faithful.

Enjoy Your Glory and Stay At Home

Amaziah was twenty-five years old when he became the King of Judah after the people of Judah had conspired to put his father, Joash, to death because he had turned his back on the Lord after the death of Jehoiada, his mentor and uncle. King Joash was a man who did right as long as the right person was leading him. He had no convictions or courage of his own, which I find sad. For me there is nothing much sadder than a grown man with no guts and no honor. Joash appeared to have both, until it was revealed that he did not when his guts and his honor died with Jehoiada.

King Joash is a reminder to us all of how important it is to not borrow our belief system from others, but to know what we believe and why we believe it. King Joash, even though he had been raised behaving rightly, was not a tree firmly planted in his own convictions and own relationship with the Lord. He was a tumbleweed, or at the very least a shallowly planted bush that could be easily uprooted and stuck in the ground somewhere else. Joash had never pursued the Lord with his own heart. He had never made the law of the Lord his own personal delight. When his outward circumstances changed, so did Joash.

Amaziah, the son of Joash, now is King and the Scriptures teach us in 2 Chronicles 25:2 that, “He did right in the sight of the LORD, yet not with his whole heart.” His Daddy had no heart for the Lord, and Amaziah had some. Amaziah started out well, but the longer he reigned as King, instead of growing wiser and more dependent upon the Lord and His commands, he did the opposite. As the Lord blessed him, he turned his blessings to pride instead of humility. This proud heart became his downfall.

Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling. (Proverbs 16:18)

Amaziah begins to build an army to go out to defeat the enemies of Judah and he goes so far as to hire mercenaries from the northern kingdom of Israel. The Lord sends a prophet to him to try and talk some sense into him and remind Amaziah who he was and who the LORD is, “But a man of God came to him saying, ‘O king, do not let the army of Israel go with you, for the Lord is not with Israel nor with any of the sons of Ephraim. But if you do go, do it, be strong for the battle; yet God will bring you down before the enemy, for God has power to help and to bring down.'” (2 Chronicles 25:7-8). Amaziah answers back about all the money he has already paid all these mercenaries, and the prophet replies with, “The LORD has much more to give you than this.” (2 Chronicles 25:9). So Amaziah, at this point, listens and sends the mercenaries home and goes to battle against Edom without them.

It is here during this time of Amaziah’s life that he begins to reveal the true nature of his heart. First of all, his father David would have never gone to battle without seeking the Lord first. Therefore the mercenaries should have not been in the picture at all. Nevertheless, our God in His mercy and grace sends Amaziah a warning, which he does heed. However, in 2 Chronicles 25:11-13 we see that there are consequences to Amaziah not coming to the Lord on his own before he hired these men. Grace and mercy does not always alleviate the consequences of the choices that required them to be extended to us.

Now after the victory over Edom comes the depth of the evidence of Amaziah’s divided heart. Amaziah knows that his victory has come by the hand of the Lord. He KNOWS this, but he brings home the gods of Edom and bows down before them and burns incense to them (2 Chronicle 25:14). How crazy is that? Why would he do this? He knows the God that cannot be picked up and carried anywhere. He knows the God that has power to help and bring down and he still chooses to bow down and worship at the feet of gods that could be captured by mere men.

This, precious one, is what pride will do to us. Amaziah’s heart had grown proud and when we get proud we refuse to listen. Amaziah has gone down in history as the King who refused to listen. He refused to listen to others and he refused to listen to the Lord. Amaziah decided that he wanted gods that listened to him, so he brought some home. Oh, but it remains true to this day, pride always goes before destruction.

Amaziah’s proud heart, and I’m sure his new gods, have him swelling up and sending a message asking for a match up with Joash, King of Israel. Amaziah sends his big boy talk out and Joash responds with one of my favorite replies in the Scriptures, “You have indeed defeated Edom, and your heart has become proud. Enjoy your glory and stay at home; for why should you provoke trouble so that you, even you, would fall, and Judah with you?” (2 Kings 14:10)

Enjoy your glory and stay at home. Amaziah receives some wise counsel from Joash, but the following verse says, “But Amaziah would not listen.” Amaziah and his proud heart and boastful mouth gathers his army and he marches himself right into one of the biggest whoopin’s of his reign. Then his refusal to acknowledge the Lord as God and his leading the people of Israel away from His commands have him fleeing for his life until finally he is put to death. He should have enjoyed his glory and stayed at home, but even more so he needed to have had a heart that was wholly the Lord’s.

What about you beloved? Do you have guts and honor and a heart that is wholly the Lord’s? Do your belief’s change according to who you are hanging around at the time? Have you chosen to allow the successes and victories in life to make you proud and boastful instead of humble and grateful?

Take time today, tonight, this week… and sit before the Lord your God and ask Him to reveal your heart to you in the still quiet private so that you might know it and see yourself as He sees. Look for any warnings that the Lord has sent you through His Word, the words of others, or even situations that you have found yourself in. Examine yourself to see if your speech and actions change according to who you are around. Look for pride in your heart now before the path of destruction clearly reveals it later.

But if we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord so that we will not be condemned along with the world.

(1 Corinthians 11:31-32)

What Do You Have In Your Hands

As I am studying through the book of 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles and digging into the life of Elisha and all that God called him to do there was a huge thing that caught my attention. So out in the margin of my Bible at the top of the left hand page right beside 2 Kings 6:3-6 I wrote, “God always uses a tool that is ready and available to do His works.” He does so, because it is never the person, nor the tool that has any power, it is always only the Lord and our obedience to His Word. As I stopped at this revelation in 2 Kings 6 and went back and read through 2 Kings 2 – 6 again I saw that it was never about Elisha, or Elijah before him, but it was always about their faith.

For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. (1 John 5:4)

Here is the perseverance of the saints who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus. (Revelation 14:12)

In 2 Kings 2:14 God used a mantle.

In 2 Kings 2:21 God used a jar and some salt.

In 2 Kings 2:24 God used some bears.

In 2 Kings 3:15 God used a minstrel.

In 2 Kings 4:3 God used some borrowed vessels.

In 2 Kings 4:8 God used the hospitality of a woman.

In 2 Kings 4:16 God used the husband of that hospitable woman ;-).

In 2 Kings 4:33 God used the prayer of Elisha.

In 2 Kings 4:41 God used some meal.

In 2 Kings 4:42 God used some bread.

In 2 Kings 5:3 God used the voice of a young girl.

In 2 Kings 5:10 God used the Jordan River.

In 2 Kings 6:6 God used a stick.

In 2 Kings 6:17 God used His angel armies.

When I went back through and wrote down all these accounts, there was one verse that the Holy Spirit kept repeating in my heart: The Lord said to him, “What is that in your hand?” (Exodus 4:2). Too many times we watch what God is doing in and through someone else and think that since we are not able to be that or do that we have nothing to offer the Lord and no means by which to serve Him. Beloved of God, let me assure you that is a flat out blatant lie from the pits of hell. There is no such thing as being “unable” to serve the Lord… there is only being unwilling.

In 2 Kings 5:9-19, a man named Naaman almost missed the blessing of the Lord simply because he was unwilling to do the simple thing that he was instructed to do. This small seemingly insignificant thing was not a big enough thing for him to think it meant anything. One of his men came to him and said, “My father, had the prophet told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it?” (2 Kings 5:13). Humbled by the words of his servant, Naaman went and did this very small thing and because if it he not only was healed physically, but he came to know the One True God.

Is there an act of service that has been requested of us and we are unwilling because we think that what has been requested is too small and beneath us… then we will miss our God.

Is there a request that has been brought to us yet we are unwilling to give because the amount we have to offer seems too small and insignificant and we are embarrassed that this is all we have to give… then we will miss our God.

Is there an opportunity placed before us and we are unwilling to step into it because in our eyes we stand unqualified and incompetent to carry out the task at hand… then we will miss our God.

The Lord looks at us and asks, “What is that in your hand?” It is never about us… our God is able to use whatever it is that is in our hands. Stop looking at what others have in their hands and start looking to your own and offer it up to our God to be used for His glory. It’s not about being able… God is always able… it is always about us simply being willing.

 

 

How Big Is Your God?

 Elijah the Tishbite was getting ready to leave this world and be taken up to glory. The Lord knew he had fulfilled his purpose at this time on this earth, but he would not leave without discipling another to take up his position as prophet. The Lord would lead Elijah to anoint Elisha as the next prophet to Israel and he would spend possibly around seven years being taught by Elijah. The Scripture says that Elisha was known as the one “who used to pour water on the hands of Elijah” (1 Kings 3:11).

When it came time for Elijah to be taken up in the chariot of the Lord, Elisha still did not feel competent or confident in this new role as prophet. He asked for a double portion of Elijah’s spirit because he knew he could not fulfill this mission before him without the help of the Lord. The Lord would honor Elisha’s request and the mantle of Elijah would be left for Elisha as a symbol of the answer to His yes (2 Kings 2). Elisha takes the mantle and steps on the banks of the Jordan and he strikes the waters with the mantle and asks, “Where is the LORD, the God of Elijah?” At that moment the waters of the Jordan divide and Elisha crossed over to the other side where the sons of the prophets stood watching the entire thing take place. Here begins the ministry of Elisha.

Some may have looked at Elijah as he called down fire from heaven atop of Mount Carmel, or as he prayed for rain, and thought; well that’s Elijah, God listens to him. However, James tells us that, “Elijah was a man with a nature like ours” (James 5:17). Elisha understood this because Elisha was there with him, spending time with him and learning from him. Elisha saw that Elijah was just a man. He knew that it was never really about Elijah, but the LORD, the God of Elijah. The very same LORD that we serve today.

Here in America we have many pastors and denominations that will tell us that the Lord is not in the signs, wonders, and miracles business anymore. The canon of Scripture is here and complete and God has left us His manuscript to follow and that’s it. We are simply to believe who He was in the past and have faith in who He will be in the future, but here in the present we are  just to try to be good and not sin and show up for church on Sundays, give our tithes, and tell others they are sinners and Jesus is the only way to keep them from Hell, where all the sinners go when they die. Now I ask you, how big is your God?

In 2 Kings 3 the King of Israel and the King of Judah come together to seek the Lord through Elisha because they need water for their army and cattle. Elisha tells them,Thus says the Lord, ‘Make this valley full of trenches.’ For thus says the Lord, ‘You shall not see wind nor shall you see rain; yet that valley shall be filled with water, so that you shall drink, both you and your cattle and your beasts This is but a slight thing in the sight of the Lord; He will also give the Moabites into your hand. (3:17-18). Elisha says, this is but a slight thing in the sight of the Lord. Not only is the Lord going to provide water out of nowhere, but He is going to fight with and for them to give them victory over their enemy. I ask you again, how big is your God?

Then in 2 Kings 4 we begin to see a string of miracles performed through Elisha. We see a widow woman who needs money to provide for her home be supplied as she steps out in obedience to the Word of the Lord. We see a barren prominent woman who loves the Lord and shows hospitality and kindness to Elisha be blessed with a son, and then we see her and Elisha’s faith in the Lord raise that same son from the dead. We see hungry men who almost kill themselves with poisonous ingredients in a stew be able to eat that very same stew, and we see an offering of firstfruits be used to feed a multitude with some left over, all “according to the word of the LORD” (4:44).

Let us fast forward several hundred years to the day that a man named Jesus would walk the streets of the land of Israel. When we read the gospels we see Jesus perform similar signs, wonders, and miracles as those of Elijah and Elisha. We see Him raise the dead and feed the multitude. We see prominent women step up and provide for Him and show Him hospitality. Then when it comes time for Him to leave this world we see Him say, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father.” (John 14:12).

Looking back we see the mantle passing of Elijah to Elisha as a beautiful picture of Jesus commissioning us for the work of the continuation of His ministry; “And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” (Luke 24:49). In the book of Acts we see the disciples wait just as they were commanded by Jesus to do.  Then we see them filled with the Holy Spirit and go out and perform the works that Jesus said they would perform. I ask again, how big is your God?

The Word of God tells us that, “For I, the Lord, do not change…” (Malachi 3:6). The book of Hebrews tells us, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (13:8). In 2 Chronicles we read that, “For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His” (16:9). Our God is searching for and seeking those that He can strongly support. Now the question is are we someone that His eyes can rest on, and be found as one He can strongly support? Perhaps the reason we do not see the strength and power of God in our lives, in our churches, is because our hearts are not completely His.

We are told in the book of Hebrews that we are to, “Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord” (12:14). Perhaps the reason why our God has become so small is because our egos have become so big. If we are to see God, then we must pursue peace with ALL men and sanctification, because without peace with men and personal holiness we cannot see the Lord. The word pursue in this verse means to aggressively chase like a hunter going after a catch. It means to eagerly and earnestly go after. Do we, here in the American church, really aggressively chase and earnestly go after peace with all men and personal holiness?

Perhaps the reason we don’t see God move the way He did through Elijah, Elisha, and the early disciples is simply because we aggressively chase after the things of this world and not personal holiness. Perhaps it’s because we allow the things of this world to cause us to pursue dissension with others instead of peace. Instead of setting our own personal importance aside we demand our way or the highway. Instead of laying our opinions down at the cross and to the weak becoming weak that we might win the weak (1 Corinthians 9), our message dies on the hill of pride. I ask again, how big is your God?

Is He big enough to humble yourself under enough to pursue peace with all men? Is He greater than your opinions and your view of life?

Is He big enough to humble yourself in obedience to enough to pursue personal holiness. I don’t mean outward appearance of holiness, but inner true holiness in the secret places of your heart and mind.

Where is the LORD, the God of Elijah? He is right here. His eyes are still searching to and fro for those whose hearts are completely His.

 

God, Where Are You?

 Sometimes… well who am I kidding, most of the time life is just plain hard. We get up in the morning already overwhelmed with the day that lies ahead not usually because of some huge event, but all the small ones that we must navigate through simply to make it to bedtime. We wake up and check our phones or turn on the news and the scroll and the stories before us are of people hurting, fighting, and doomsday proclaiming. The economy is awaiting a global crash, the President is tweeting like a twelve year old boy instead of a grown man holding the highest office in the nation, the young girl that used to ride her bike in front of our house has just taken her own life, and a friend of a friend is watching their son fight cancer with all the strength he can muster. We can see this and think, “God where are You?

I think most of us stand out on the ledge of life and we are trying to find God in the strong winds, in the earthquakes, in the fires of life. We are searching for the Lord in the storms. Our eyes frantically scanning out into the midst of the fearful situations before us and we can’t find Him. Our hearts and minds completely fixed on the problems that are so much bigger than we are and completely out of our ability and power to do anything to change what we see before us, and we cry out, “God where are You?

While we stand out on the ledge and look up and outward to find the Lord, He is whispering inwardly to our hearts the entire time, “I AM.” I Am right here. Take your eyes off the storms, stop scanning the horizons and searching the distance, because I Am near.

“For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as is the Lord our God whenever we call on Him?” (Deuteronomy 4:7).

“You are near, O Lord, And all Your commandments are truth.” (Psalm 119:151)

“But what does it say? ‘The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart’—that is, the word of faith which we are preaching” (Romans 10:8)

When Elijah the Tishbite stood out on his life’s ledge he was tired, frustrated, scared, lonely, and  wanting to die. He was done with life, but the Life-Giver was not done with Him. Elijah came out on the ledge and the earth shook and the winds blew and the fires raged and he could not find God anywhere. Then he felt a gentle wind blow across his face… (1 Kings 19:3-21).

“Cease striving (be still), and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10)

“And He got up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, ‘Hush, be still.’ And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm.” (Mark 4:39)

When our girls were little and we would walk into a crowded room or down a crowded street, or we were trying to make it to the car or to a storm pit in he midst of strong winds and pounding rain… we didn’t hold them out at a distance from us. We didn’t even leave them in the carrier. No, instead we pulled them in close to us. We wrapped our arms tightly around them and put their little heads in the crick of our neck so that we could whisper words of calmness directly into their ears. Shhhhhhhh… it’s going to be okay, don’t be afraid, I have got you. 

Elijah stood out on the ledge and when the gentle breeze blew across his face he wrapped his cloak around his head and blocked out the strong winds, earthquakes, and fires and tucked his head into the crick of the neck of his Father God and let Him whisper in his hearts ear and Elijah knew that His God was indeed still near. Beloved, our God is still near. The God of Elijah is still our God and he desires to be even closer than near us; He desires to be one with us.

“I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.” (John 14:16-17)

“The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.” (John 17:22-23)

Our God is near. His word is near. He is not far off. He is not on the other side of the storms and fires of life separated from us. No, He is right there with us. We have to stop looking up and out and searching the horizons and trying to see past or through the storms to find Him, and instead just stop and choose to be still, and listen. Wait for the gentle blowing, the sweet whisper of His Spirit is there calling us to Him. Wrap your cloak around your face, block out all the noise, and open your heart, He is right here with you.

“Do not fear, for I am with you;
Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you, surely I will help you,
Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)

 

 

 

“Anne with an E” Parental Heads Up

I grew up watching Anne of Green Gables. I remembered it being filled with laughter and truth and the rises and falls of growing up. I remember identifying with Anne because I too was red-headed and freckle faced and spirited on the inside, although a little to introverted to express it as a child on the outside. I remember the excitement I felt when Gilbert and Anne finally admitted their love for one another. I will never forget the scene when Anne asks if Marilla has ever been in the “depths of despair” and Marilla responds, “No, to despair is to turn your back on God.” This is the Anne of Green Gables I grew up watching.

When Netflix announced it’s version of the 1908 novel, Anne of Green Gables, by Canadian author Lucy Maud Montgomery, I was excited to watch it with my girls. The first season did not disappoint. My girls and I binge watched the entire season in less than a week and loved it. So when we saw the next season was available we couldn’t wait for the opportunity to binge watch it together. Yesterday we did just that.

Season 2 began right where Season 1 left off. I won’t spoil it for you with details in case you plan to watch. However, I do want to let you know that when you get to Season 2 Episode 7 the Anne of Green Gables you grew up watching disappears and Anne with an E becomes something entirely different. Here in Episode 7 at a party at Aunt Josephine’s house in Charlottetown, Anne with an E, becomes an agenda. Some of the lines of Anne’s character in one scene in Episode 8 after her experience at Aunt Josephines party are,

Remember when I wanted to be a bride but not a wife. I think I need to reimagine the whole marriage wedding thing. Well it isn’t just about one brief shining moment in white or saying I do. And I’m not going to give myself over to someone and be a pretty-ish piece of property without a voice or ambition. We will be equals and partners, not just husband and wife. And neither one should have to abandon their hearts desire. I’ve come up with a new name for both parties together because I believe that they should be named the same. Life-mate. Instead of a marriage I shall call it a love bond and any two people can have one.

Episodes 7 through 10 are so intricately woven together with this agenda focus in the threads of racial bigotry, gender inequality, and the self-sacrifice of brother and sister Marilla and Matthew who remained unmarried together in their childhood home in order to keep the farm alive, that even I found myself almost wanting to cheer on Aunt Josephine and applaud Anne’s reasoning.

“the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness.” (2 Thessalonians 2:9-12)

Do your children know the truth of Scripture? Are you feeding your children true food and true drink on a daily basis? Please do not think that an hour or two or three on Sunday and another on Wednesday and even a week of summer church camp added to that will be enough truth to sustain your child for the days ahead. Do not be deceived.

Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” And the woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” (Genesis 3:13)

Please Christian parents, if you have not started the conversation with your children about homosexuality and how to deal with it in both truth and love, then start now. The world has most definitely started the conversation with them and will be glad to let them know how they think they should feel about it… and will use other children to do so. What I found the saddest in Episodes 7-10 is how this series used a young boy with great artistic ability and sincere genuineness to set him up to be the “gay kid.” As though to say that if these qualities and traits are yours as a boy (or girl as seen at Aunt Josephine’s party) then that difference means you are inclined to be gay. Very sad. Very, very, sad to place that label on the sensitive eye and creative artistic ability.

Might I recommend, Gay Girl Good God by Jackie Hill Perry.

I believe reading this book could possibility help us with the conversation on how to deal with this topic with both truth and love. I have not read it yet, but I do know Jackie’s story and I believe from what I know of her, this would be a good book to gain some insight into the world of homosexuality. We can’t ignore it and just say, “Hey, it’s wrong. Homosexuals go to hell.” Because, well, so do, fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, effeminate, thieves, covetous, drunkards, revilers, swindlers (1 Corinthians 6:9-10), and the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, immoral persons, sorcerers and all liars (Revelation 21:8). 

Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God (1 Corinthians 6:11). We all need Jesus to be saved from hell. It doesn’t matter what your temptation or sin inclination might be… apart from Christ we will die and perish.

We also cannot make any one believe. If Jesus, the Word of God made flesh, standing right in front of people could not convince  some, then let us not be shocked over disbelief. Yet, also let us not be guilty of condemning someone to hell over a moment of time that we have had with them either. We do not know where they are on their journey or where they have been or what they have been through. We never know the work that the Spirit of God is doing in someone’s heart. As long as they have breath there is hope, SO BE KIND.

All this to say, Parents here is your heads up. The Netflix series, Anne with an E, is not the Anne of Green Gables that you grew up watching. So be prepared, but not shocked. This is the world that our kids and grandkids are growing up in and are being called by God to be an ambassador to (Acts 17:26, 2 Corinthians 5:20, Ephesians 6:20). Therefore, let us get them ready to stand firm and serve Jesus, their Lord and Savior, and the world’s.

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

John 3:16

Missing Persons: A21 10-Year Film

It is one thing to be awakened to injustice and quite another to be willing to be inconvenienced and interrupted to do something about it.”
― Christine Caine

I joined the Launch Team for A21. A21 is a nonprofit organization fueled by radical hope that human beings everywhere will be rescued from bondage and completely restored. They are the abolitionists of the 21st century. They work with you to free slaves and disrupt the demand.

Human trafficking is destroying lives, but freedom will have the final word.

 

 

 

A21 works to:

REACH, RESCUE, & RESTORE   

Slavery is the fastest growing organized crime in the world.

It’s real, hidden in plain sight, and tearing at the social fabric of every nation and economic structure. But that’s why we exist— 21st century abolitionists determined to bring change.

Our operational strategy, and the heart cry of our organization, is to ReachRescue, and Restore lives.

REACH THE VULNERABLE AND DISRUPT THE DEMAND.

We prevent slavery from ever happening by engaging people through events, student presentations, and education programs.

RESCUE VICTIMS THROUGH IDENTIFICATION AND SEEK JUSTICE AGAINST THEIR CAPTORS.

We work closely with law enforcement on the ground to support raids, identify victims through our resource lines, assist in the prosecution of traffickers, represent survivors in court proceedings, and collaborate with Governments and other NGOs to eradicate slavery at every level.

RESTORE SURVIVORS AND EQUIP THEM TO LIVE INDEPENDENTLY.

We work face-to-face with every person in our care, providing them with access to housing, medical treatment, counseling, education, employment, and repatriation based on their individual needs.

Know The Facts

Watch the film: Missing Persons: A21 10-Year Film

The Prophet of Prophets

I am studying in 1 Kings 17 -19 presently, and I am just flat out giddy about it. This is one of my absolute favorite sections of Scripture. I love teaching the Word of God because I truly believe every single word of it as written and I want everyone else to as well. This past week as I studied in 1 Kings 17 the Holy Spirit brought to my recognition something in the first two verses that I don’t believe I had ever noticed before. 1 Kings 17:1-2 says,

“Now Elijah the Tishbite, from Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, ‘As the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word.’ Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah:”

Now what is so significant in these two verses? What is buried in these words that I had missed the other 500 plus times that I have dug into these verses and sifted through these chapters? What can we discover about Elijah that made him different? So different that he is a prophet that is prophesied about by other prophets in the Bible. “See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes.” (Malachi 4:5) So different that he is the prophet that stood with Moses and Jesus Christ on the Mount of Transfiguration to represent all the prophets of God (Matthew 17:3-4). Read 1 Kings 17:1-2 again and pay close attention to that small word “then“. Do you see it?

This, my friend, is what I saw this morning in these verses that I had completely missed before. Usually when a prophet is recorded speaking in the Scriptures we see that the Word of the LORD came to the prophet and then the prophet goes out in obedience to share what the LORD told him. However, right here in 1 Kings 17:1-2 what we see is Elijah the Tishbite step up before a King and speak BEFORE the Word of the LORD comes to him.

Elijah was just a man who loved the Lord and feared Him. He was a man who knew the word of the Lord that was given to ALL His people Israel through Moses before they set foot in this promised land. He knew what God declared in Deuteronomy 11:11-19,

“But the land you are crossing the Jordan to take possession of is a land of mountains and valleys that drinks rain from heaven. It is a land the Lord your God cares for; the eyes of the Lord your God are continually on it from the beginning of the year to its end.

So if you faithfully obey the commands I am giving you today—to love the Lord your God and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul— then I will send rain on your land in its season, both autumn and spring rains, so that you may gather in your grain, new wine and olive oil. I will provide grass in the fields for your cattle, and you will eat and be satisfied.

Be careful, or you will be enticed to turn away and worship other gods and bow down to them. Then the Lord’s anger will burn against you, and he will shut up the heavens so that it will not rain and the ground will yield no produce, and you will soon perish from the good land the Lord is giving you. Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”

Elijah’s father and his father before him had been faithful to teach these words to their children just as the Lord had commanded. When Ahab brought the Baal and Asherah worship into the kingdom and married Jezebel a priestess for Baal, Elijah simply had enough. Elijah knew what the word of the Lord said and he stepped out in faith before a King and declared it to be done. Even to the point of declaring that it would not rain until he himself said it would.

Elijah set himself up to represent the Lord without having to be asked to or commanded to by the Lord. There was no extra promise or assurance of protection by God that gave him the encouraging push to obey. Elijah stepped into what had already been written, what had already been commanded, what had already been promised and believed God would have his back.

Why is this so significant for us? Why would he be the prophet that is set up as the representative of all the prophets? Look at where we are today beloved. The cannon of Scripture has been closed. All that need be written has been written. There is no new word to come.

“I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll. And if anyone takes words away from this scroll of prophecy, God will take away from that person any share in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this scroll. He who testifies to these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.” (Revelation 22:18-21)

Will we choose to be Elijah’s in our day? Will we choose to live by what was written and declare the truth of God and live in obedience to God even if we have not heard a word from Him? After all, it has already been written…

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (Matthew 4:4)

Do you have the faith to walk by what is written? Even if it means calling out a King? I hope you do beloved. I pray that I do. I strive to be an Elijah, because it’s the Elijah’s that come in spirit and power, 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. (Luke 1:17). Elijah was just a man (James 5:17), just a regular human being like you and me, and God held off the rain for three years simply because he stepped out in faith. Then God sent the rain because he prayed and asked Him to open the heavens.

Elijah walked the talk so God was able to look down from heaven when he bowed up on King Ahab and say “Hey, well would you look at that! Atta boy, Elijah! Don’t worry son, I’ve got you. My eyes range over all the earth searching to and for looking to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Me (2 Chronicles 16:9). I’ve been waiting and searching for someone like you! Now let’s get to work.”

How do we become Elijahs in our day? We start by knowing the Word of God. Then the next step is to walk in obedience to what you know. The third is to start opening our mouths and moving our feet sharing the word of the Lord with others. We need more people who are willing to gird up their loins and live righteously (not self-righteously) and truly get serious about speaking out against the evil in our present day and point the world to the One who came to save while the day is still the day of salvation.