31 March 2016

One Thing

If there's one thing, just one, that I could gift--literally impart--into the souls of everyone around me, it would be the reality and nature of our acceptability before God. Jesus' victory, His atoning sacrifice, was worked not just so we could be saved at the last day, but so that Jesus could cover our inadequacies and shortcomings and foul-ups with His atoning blood, and BE with us, right here, right now. He won the right to be where we are, before we have risen out of the fallen state.

He set the requirements for His presence and empowerment as this:

A broken heart and a contrite spirit.

That's a humble heart and a spirit truly willing to learn and follow Him.

It is willingness and teachability that He REQUIRES in order to send His spirit. That is all. It is the blood of Jesus that makes us acceptable before Him; it's the covering of the blood of Christ that makes us clean. It's not our actions, not our striving, not our attaining, not sacrifices of our own design that makes us acceptable before God. It is humility and teachability that flow naturally from our LOVE for Him, His Father, and His Spirit.

Please . . . please. Please don't let any old training under the law keep you from receiving anything and everything ***right now*** that Jesus has prepared for those who love Him. Don't think for a minute that you have to *DO* anything to be wrapped in His love, or somehow progress to a certain point before He will lavish you with His Spirit. All you have to do is receive His love. Receiving is hard for us works-trained believers to do . . . but that's where you start: receiving the comfort and love of God. You don't start with works, you don't start with "getting clean", you don't start with striving to be better. You start with resting in the goodness of Jesus Christ, and receiving a revelation of His love for you.

As I've pursued Jesus, as I've entered into relationship with Him, His persistent, insistent message has been only this: 

"I LOVE YOU. SO MUCH!!!"

And as that reality, that LOVE has soaked deeper and deeper into my soul, THAT is what changes everything. That is what heals. That is what drives me to change my behaviors and wrestle against old thinking and old patterns, what motivates diligence and change. That is what brings the fruits and gifts of the Holy Spirit. That is what brings signs and wonders: the presence of God, in me. For God IS love. That is the sum total of His personality. You cannot have love without God, and you cannot have God without love. They are one and the same.

You also cannot have the presence of God within you without His power. We often do alright at discerning the presence of God . . . but we've got to become practiced at receiving the presence of God, and then of existing in a continuous awareness of the presence of God in us, and allowing God to dwell in us and be present in and through us, through the Holy Spirit.

Oh, I could go on for hours and hours on this very topic . . . It's the key to everything: receiving the love of God is receiving GOD, Himself. And it's through that reception that we then can see His promises manifest in our lives, that we can receive sanctification (set apart as holy and dedicated unto the Lord) ourselves and for our families (as Paul wrote: family members are sanctified by the believer).

So receive. 

Believe.

Every one of us has before us the overpowering witness from heaven that we are loved and accepted in the person and sacrifice of Jesus Christ. His victory stands as an invitation for as long as time shall last for anyone and everyone to come unto Him. God so loved the *world*. It's not "God so loved the righteous/worthy/holy.". It's the world--lost and fallen and broken and dark--that God loved so much that He willingly sacrificed His Only Begotten Son. And it's that same love for the world that motivated Jesus Christ to come and do what He did for every one of us, "while we were yet sinners".

It's time to step into that open invitation, to walk in the acceptance of Jesus Christ, and see what beauty, what comfort and strength and healing, await us.

29 March 2016

No weapon. None.

No weapon formed against you shall prosper, And every tongue which rises against you in judgment You shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, And their righteousness is from Me,” Says the Lord. ~Isaiah 54:17

"No weapon" means NO WEAPON. Not one. Nothing. 

And, my friends, that includes DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME.

Father God, thank You for reaching out through the Word this morning, speaking a phrase into my soul and sending me the comfort of Isaiah 54. You truly are the One who redeems us, as Boaz redeemed Ruth. We would be helpless and vulnerable, lost and destitute, but for Your love, the covering we have in Your Son. Thank You for always being at hand when I turn to You, and for the generosity with which You lavish Your love upon all of us, in Jesus' name, amen.

28 March 2016

To love or not to love: THAT is the question.

When faced with disagreement, we have two options: love or not-love. 

Once we choose love, we have two options: accept or forgive.

The moment you choose love, rejection is NOT an option. And the moment you choose to reject, you abandon love.

27 March 2016

Resurrection Day Prayer

Gather Your people, God, into the places you have prepared for them. Let us, each and all, seek Your face, Your heart, Your fellowship so we can be one with You as You and Jesus are One. Let us walk in newness of the resurrection life so freely offered by Your Son, and so readily available to every one of us. Show us Your desires for us, open to our understandings the wonderful things You have laid out before us. Give us visions of Your designs for our lives, so we can align our choices with Your plans for us. As we move forward into this time when everything that can be shaken will be shaken, teach us constantly how to be rooted and grounded in Your Truth, the Rock who is Jesus Christ. We LOVE You, Father God, and we just want more and more of You present in our lives, in Jesus' Glorious name, amen.

25 March 2016

Psalm 47 for Good Friday

THE KING OF ALL THE EARTH
For the Pure and Shining One by the prophetic singers of Korah's clan.
A poetic song.

Go ahead and celebrate!
  Come on and clap your hands everyone!
  Shout to God with the raucous sounds of joy!
The Lord God Most High is astonishing, awesome beyond words!
  He's the formidable and powerful King over all the earth.
He's the One who conquered the nations before us
  and placed them all under our feet.
He's marked out our inheritance ahead of time,
  putting us in the front of the line, honoring those he loves.
                             Pause in his presence

God arises with the ear splitting shout of his people!
  God takes the throne with the fanfare of trumpets.
Sing and celebrate! Sing some more, celebrate some more!
  Sing your highest song of praise to our King!
For God is the Triumphant King; the powers of earth are all his.
  So sing your celebration songs of highest praise
  to the Glorious Enlightened One!
Our God reigns over every nation!
  He reigns on his holy throne over all.
All the nobles and princes,
  the loving servants of the God of Abraham,
  they all gather to worship.
  Every warrior's shield is now lowered
  as surrendered trophies before this King.
  He has taken his throne, high and lofty, exalted over all!

22 March 2016

Do you know Him?

How much time do you spend with Jesus, on any basis? Do you know how to spend time with Him?

We Mormon-trained folks have been brought up in a certain way (thinking of the proverb: "train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he shall not depart from it"). We're trained to be VERY principle and precept oriented; geared to learn a principle, apply it in action, and then get a desired result. That's very Greek/Western of us. But it's not how God works. Yes, there are things we do that definitely get a desired result . . . but there's only One thing that we need to pursue, only One Truth that will be the answer to everything: Jesus Christ. He's not "a" truth. He is THE Truth. All truth. The only truth. If there is anything true, it is in Him. Part of Him. And apart from Him, we miss the entire point of all truth.

The main shift that had to happen in me was to move from an "applied principle focused gospel" to a "relationship focused gospel". I had to get to know Jesus through the Holy Spirit. I had to get a revelation of His love for me, and His sacrifice for me. I had to know He had already paid the price to bring me back into His presence, and that I could step into that AT ANY TIME. 

My biggest obstacle was fear. Fear that the devil would answer me instead of God, grab me with his awful chains and drag me down to hell, as if prayer was like calling a huge customer service center staffed with angels and devils, where the source of the answer I got depended wholly on who picked up my call first. An along with that, fear that even if God was the one who answered, I had about even odds that He would sucker punch me when I reached for heaven instead of scooping me up into His arms and making everything all better the way a good parent does.

I can tell you, from my own personal experience, that those fears were lies of the enemy and completely groundless. The FINISHED work of Christ means we can turn and run to our Papa at any moment, and like the father of the prodigal son He WILL receive us with all the lavish joy and abounding love He possesses.

We are all called to speak the Truth. But it's not about defending Truth. Jesus needs no defense. Just speak life. Speak love. Speak the truth of the good news of Jesus' victory that has set us all free, every one of us. We've just been taught to remain in our cells, sitting amongst the broken chains before the wide-open door, wishing we were deserving of getting up and running out into the sunshine, when Jesus has already pled with us, "COME UNTO ME!"

Fill yourself with the goodness, joy, and light of the gospel of Jesus Christ. But get outside of the Mormon Christian experience. Get outside of your comfort zone. Find those that speak the words of life because they're written in their hearts, and soak them up. The Truth can defend itself--and Jesus' defense isn't aggression, it's His glory. So fill yourself with the glory of God (light/truth/intelligence), and be ready to pour His love out into everyone who needs it. Seek to know Him, seek to gain His heart and His eyes, so you can obey His instruction to all believers: we are to bless everyone we meet, build relationships, heal the sick and only THEN declare the Kingdom of God has come near them.

If what you're doing now doesn't fill you with joy and light and love, then it's time to single-mindedly pursue Jesus and get filled with joy and light and love. :-) Love you, friends!

Jesus with us.

“Jesus replied, “Do wedding guests mourn while celebrating with the groom? Of course not. But someday the groom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast.” ~Matthew 9:15 NLT

When Jesus is with His people, they have no cause to mourn.

I recognize Jesus is not physically on the earth . . . but He is present in every one of us through Holy Spirit in us. Jesus' spiritual presence is everywhere, His kingdom expanding inside of us as we walk out the life of transformation He calls us to. So why should I mourn? Why should I think my troubles are heavy to bear? The King of Kings has made His habitation in me, and gives me strength, comfort and joy for every loss, every woe.

Lord Jesus, let me be more and more aware of You day by day, moment to moment. Train my heart and mind to tune into You always, to grow up in You and lean into You every moment. Your strength is what makes me strong, Your paths are what make a way for me through this world. Even though You are not yet come in glory to the earth, You have come in glory into my heart, and I will rejoice and praise and be glad because You have overcome the world. I love you, Lord. Thank you, and amen.

21 March 2016

The Body of Christ

““In your vision, Your Majesty, you saw standing before you a huge, shining statue of a man. It was a frightening sight. The head of the statue was made of fine gold. Its chest and arms were silver, its belly and thighs were bronze, its legs were iron, and its feet were a combination of iron and baked clay. As you watched, a rock was cut from a mountain, but not by human hands. It struck the feet of iron and clay, smashing them to bits. The whole statue was crushed into small pieces of iron, clay, bronze, silver, and gold. Then the wind blew them away without a trace, like chaff on a threshing floor. But the rock that knocked the statue down became a great mountain that covered the whole earth.”  ~Daniel 2:31-35 NLT

In prayer yesterday, I remembered this vision of Nebuchadnezzar's, saw the miraculous stone rolling down and smashing it. Holy Spirit showed me that every earthly kingdom must fall because they are built by men, in the ways that seem pleasing to mankind. And no matter how wisely and carefully they are built, no matter how tall or frightening, the result is brittle and vulnerable. The statue, stiff and unyielding in its lifelessness, couldn't dodge the stone headed its way.

By comparison, we are called into the body of Christ--a living, breathing thing fully alive in all of its senses. Breathed into by Holy Spirit, we live and move and have our being in Jesus. We are literally called into unity and community with Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Jesus draws us into Himself, lavishing us with abounding life far surpassing anything we could build up for ourselves. I wish I could put into words the incredible depth of ALIVENESS I perceived in the body of Christ: every nerve alight with His pleasure, every cell sensitive and responsive to His glory, His generously loving heart, and the wisdom and kindness of His mind.

Lord Jesus, let Your Kingdom expand in our hearts, let us grow more and more aware of You in us and us in You, and let us grow ever more alive in You as we attune ourselves to Your love, Your will, Your kindness and Your desires. Let us make our lives a highway for Your work, and transform every one of us into Your image and likeness that Your Kingdom might fill every particle of the earth, in Your beautiful and holy name, amen.

Palm Sunday Prayer

Lord Jesus, let our worship
rise up before You,
voice mingling with voice
like a thousand palm leaves
raised high,
a pavilion of praise rising up
for Your habitation. 

Our lives lie spread
before Your feet,
cloaks of a thousand colors,
making way for Your entry
into Kingdom hearts.
Come, Lord Jesus,
come.



17 March 2016

God is who He says He is.

My experience does NOT determine God's identity or nature. If God said, then it IS. If I'm not seeing God's word manifest in my life, then I need to spend time with him, pursuing relationship, getting to know him, until his reality becomes my reality and I'm walking in the fullness of all God offers me through the victory Jesus.

14 March 2016

Jesus shows the way.

“Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. And when it was day, He called His disciples to Himself; and from them He chose twelve whom He also named apostles:”
Luke 6:12-13 NKJV

Two observations:

1) Jesus spent an entire night in prayer to prepare Himself to call His apostles. The One who had a constant, clear, powerful connection to heaven, who did nothing but what the Father did and said nothing but what the Father said, spent many hours in prayer before calling the twelve. 

2) He called them apostles before they had been filled with the Holy Spirit . . . before they had received the blueprint of heaven in their spiritual DNA, the internal experience of the love of God that so powerfully recreates us into the image of God.

I find the way Jesus called His apostles both beautiful and powerful. Maybe He spent the night not searching out the Father's will, but doing battle for each of those He was about to call, throwing Himself into intercession. Maybe He had some things to work through; He asked in Gethsemane if the cup could pass from Him. Maybe He had to work through some things before calling Judas, since Jesus was tempted in all points just as we are. 

But regardless of the specifics of His praying, I can see a powerful patterns set by Jesus for the things we know we need to do in His work:

1) Be in prayer always, and don't hesitate to spend dedicated and specifically-focused time in prayer before times or events where we know we will need an infilling of the Holy Spirit.

2) God calls us by the title He has in store for us before we are ready to operate in it. He called the twelve His "apostles" before they were fully equipped to be apostles. He calls us in the same manner, and once we have accepted the calling, He begins more specifically fitting us for the work ahead. The call of the first twelve apostles happened in 28 AD, while the day of Pentecost didn't come until 30 AD. (Dates from BibleHub's timelines.)

Father God, thank you for the patterns so evident in scripture, and most of all for the example of your Son. Thank you for the chance to hear a calling before we're required to fulfill it, and thank you so so so much for the bounty of mercy that allows us to get it wrong as we learn, and the endless generosity of your grace that empowers us to increase in capacity and ability to walk out your will. I just pray for everyone you are calling, everyone you are equipping, and everyone who earnestly longs for you that we will all hear you, all receive you, and that every one of us will open ourselves to experience intimacy and and the fullness of relationship with you through your Holy Spirit, in Jesus' name, amen.