To Remind Us

“Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” Genesis 28:15

We know that God keeps His promises. But what about us? Do we keep the vows that we make?

Jacob, the third patriarch of the Old Testament, literally wrestled with God in one of the most physical of theophanies ever recorded. While his relationship with his creator was complicated, I admire how real and raw it was. Their relationship wasn’t one-sided like so many of our relationships with God in prayer. Jehovah God talked back and reminded Jacob of the vow that he made to Him at Bethel. That night, years back, when the angel of the LORD visited Jacob, they made a covenant with each other. Jacob said that if God took care of him, then He would be his God. Years down the road, God visited Jacob again in a dream to remind him of his vow. It was time to take his large household and livestock and travel to the country that God set aside for him. God kept His promise and now it was time for Jacob to keep his.

I believe that one of the many reasons that there was a need for theophany was that it provided the basis of trust. Before the written word and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, people of the Old Testament needed to know the person who was asking the impossible of them. Only God’s provision and protection would lead His people to this new place filled with both bounty and enemies. We also need God’s provision and protection today, but we have access to God, through His Son, Jesus. What was a rare event is something that can live within us at all times. If only like Jacob we were willing to wrestle with our faith and have a two-way relationship with the God who calls us friend… If only…

Heavenly Father, I forget sometimes that I’m not alone. You’ve kept Your promises so empower me to keep mine. I can’t do this without You.  In Jesus Name Amen

Journal

Have you wrestled with your faith? How?

Are there any areas where you need to listen more and talk less?

What promise has God asked You to keep?

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Two Fold Purpose

And he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God. Exodus 3:6

God always takes interest in all of the details of our lives, even so more than we do. In everything He has not just one purpose for us but two.

He wants us to know Him. He wants our relationship to so overtake us that the overflow will impact others. That is exactly what He did with Moses, the most famous adoptee of all. After he killed a violent slave master in Egypt, he fled into the wilderness. Moses started over, getting married and starting a family. Forty years passed while he tended sheep. Then it happened. While he was tending his livestock, a nearby bush began to burn. God spoke out of this bush in what is probably the most well known theophany. This happened privately. Just as the angel Gabriel came to Mary when she was alone, God spoke to Moses alone. While the purpose was bigger than anything either of them could even imagine, God took interest in them first as individuals. Sure, we are all part of a huge purpose, but our Shepherd King takes great delight in rescuing each one of us singly, so than none will be lost.

God took the time to reveal His plan to Moses, building him up in the process. Moses had none of the luxuries or the tutors that he was raised with in the Egyptian royal house. Those many years in the wilderness humbled him beyond recognition. All he had was a staff. God said, “What is that in your hand?” (That was my grandfather Wyrtzen’s favorite topic for preaching.) God chose to use what Moses had, which wasn’t much. This man, brought to so low a place, only had “I AM” and his staff. Yet that is what the Almighty decided to use.

This same God is interested in you. He wants to know you. His purpose for your life will come out of redemption of your story. Will you trust Him with it today?

Heavenly Father, You are my Father! Thank you for loving me and using the redemption of my life to rescue others. I cannot help but sing of what You have done in my life. I love you! In Jesus Name, Amen

Journal

What is the lowest that you have been?

Have you asked God what His purpose was for that experience?

In what part of your life do you need to declare, “Is anything impossible for my God?!”

Why Theophany?

“O Lord, if I have found favor in your sight, do not pass by your servant.” Genesis 18:3

Did you know that Jesus appeared in the Old Testament? He came in the flesh for an important purpose before His birth.

This year, my Mom is focusing on the acts of Jesus in the Gospels while I focus on His acts in the Old Testament. A theophany can be defined as the physical appearing of Jesus before His birth. Some teachers focus on the New Testament while ignoring the Old but this is a mistake. We cannot fully enjoy the beauty of the New Covenant when we haven’t explored what came first. At Daughters of Promise, we went into this New Year with the goal of teaching a cohesive ‘scriptural whole’. We desire to give a big picture of what our all-knowing God did for us.

So why study theophany? We study it because it is the source of hope! Even before we were given the written law, the Son of God approached Abraham to tell him and Sarah that in their old age they would have a baby boy. The Son who was to come prophesied in the flesh a firstborn son. This, in and of itself, was a prophecy of His very own birth down the road.

Think about it, even before the words were written on the page, the Word came and spoke hope to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He walked into the fire with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Jesus’s rare presence before His advent ushered in such profound consequences. Children were born to the ancient. Millions of people were protected from armies. Kings bowed their knees to the ground knowing that this God could protect His children in a fiery furnace.

Now, this God, whose physical appearances were so infrequent, makes available now to us His very own spirit. This year, let’s see the mighty things our God has done since days of old so that we can believe Him today for what He wants to do from inside our very own hearts.

Heavenly Father, I praise You for the ways in which You have revealed Yourself. Seeing what You did in days gone by gives me hope for what You can do in a willing heart tomorrow. So, today, take over every part of me. Let this heart be Your dwelling place.

Journal

How do you think people pictured God as before He appeared to Abraham?

How do you think Abraham was able to know that He was seeing Jesus?

Does this give you hope?

Right Now

After this David inquired of the LORD, “Shall I go up into any of the cities of Judah?” And the LORD said to him, “Go up.” David said, “To which shall I go up?” And He said, “To Hebron.” 1 Samuel 2:1

What are you doing right now? What are you thinking about at this very moment? My God’s mercies are new every morning. So why do I live in the past; bitter, angry, and ashamed over what I can’t fix? Does God want me to fixate on what’s behind me? My God isn’t worried about the future either. He knows what will happen. So why do I worry and over-plan?

I can’t bask in the beauty of my sweet Savior if I’m being torn limb by limb by both the past and the future at the same time. Life is hard enough. Why do we add to our own drama? There’s a time and a place to take stock of the past and ponder our future but not at the expense of ‘the now’. I will never have this moment back.

What does God have to offer me right now? If I’m going to find out, I’ve got to let go of the burdens of the past and the weights of the future. I want to hear His voice so I need to still my own. I need to feel the beating of His heart by not trusting the lies swirling inside of me. Let’s stop and let His glory light up our faces. Only He will purify us: past, present and future. Only He will warm up our souls to worship. We need Jesus to breathe us out of our spiritual deep freeze.

This year, this season, let’s ask our God to bring us to a hushed place so that He can whisper His truth to us. I choose to not set my own agenda. My own agenda leads me into a yoke that I’m incapable of carrying. I will seek His holy and perfect heart for me. He can weave me into His will without unnecessary mending if I quit spinning. At the moment, we may not understand this place where our Heavenly Father has our church, our country, or our personal lives. But we can trust Him, right now. He is with us, right now. We won’t make it if we don’t wait for Him.

Heavenly Father, Forgive me for not living in the present. You have given me grace and mercy for today and I choose to listen to You right now. I’m done spinning.  In Jesus Name, Amen


Journal:

How are you trapped by your past?

How are you in bondage to the future?

What does the Bible say is God’s relationship to time?

The Trade-In

Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. Romans 3:27

If you are anything like me, you can often catch yourself striving for God’s approval. But trying to gain worthiness is the way of Hell.

I am hard on myself, so much so that my friends and family worry about me from time to time. While I’m not nearly as hard on others, I hold myself to a ridiculously high standard. That is one of the reasons I believe that God has allowed an autoimmune illness to come into my life. It has been creeping in slowly, beginning with migraines at age two. I’ve never known what it’s like to not be exhausted and in pain. To compensate, I’ve pushed myself above and beyond to become an over-achiever. I do not have the time of day for laziness and whining. So, some of this is good. Very good, even.

But, do you smell the sulfur of legalism here? I do. I’ve lived it. Illness has forced me to be so dependent on God that I am daily aware that my heart can’t beat even once without Him. While my life didn’t turn out the way I thought it would, I have joy and know that I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be. There has been very little room for me to get off the right path, but there have been times when somehow I’ve managed to veer off anyway. Through it all, I have come to know that my Heavenly Father boxes me in out of love. I have nothing good to give Him. I have less than nothing because all I have is flesh.

I was grieving in prayer the other day that I didn’t have lovely things (like gold, frankincense, and myrrh) to give the Savior, the One who gave me everything. Then I heard the softest, sweetest reply in my spirit, “Just keep giving me what you have. Trade in and I will give you something better.” The point is that if we give Jesus the soul junk that we harbor, that makes room for His heart to connect with ours. The fact that we care at all means that we belong to Jesus Christ, the ONLY originator and definition of goodness.

Heavenly Father, I look up out of the mire to Your glory. I praise You and am so thankful that You clean me up to be shiny and new. You live in me, making me precious. Being unworthy makes my spiritual adoption all the more lovely.  In Jesus Name, Amen

Journal:

Do you have parts of your life that look holy but are just legalistic?

How do you discern the fine line between disciplined holiness and fleshy legalism?

Write out a prayer thanking God for His adoption, through Jesus, our big brother.

Difficult Gifts

DIFFICULT GIFTS

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial…Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above… James 1:12a and 17a

Have you ever received a gift that you did not want? Have you ever been given a gift that required great responsibility from you?

I became a follower of Jesus at a young age so my spiritual gifts surfaced at this time. It became very evident early on that one of my gifts is discernment. I’ve always been able to see people and situations, especially in a ministry setting, clearly. Motives (both good and bad) were rarely ever hidden from me. Even at age 8, I could often tell what was driving people to make certain choices. This did not make me popular. Kids are pretty blunt and I was no exception.

Eventually, I learned that it was more important to see and listen instead of see and speak. While all of us are all called to cultivate a deep prayer life, it is crucial for those with a discernment gift. If we walk closely with Jesus and know His Word then we will know when to speak up, because timing IS everything. Continue reading “Difficult Gifts”

Too Good To Be True

TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE

But when they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they would not believe her. Mark 16:11 (ESV)

Has God ever come through for you, but you found yourself just not believing? Did you know that this can be a huge roadblock ~ keeping you from a deliverance in your life?

After Jesus’ crucifixion, His followers experienced such grief. The very man they saw raise Lazarus from the dead, and many others, the very man who made the blind to see, the very man who saw into their hearts and accepted them, died the most gruesome death imaginable. This lead them to a crisis of faith. Were they imagining things? Was what they saw and experienced real? Continue reading “Too Good To Be True”