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Delight*Abide*Love For People in Pursuit of God

 Oxygenated Sustenance  More than Atlas’ Bicep  Better than Just Benjamin’s  Drunken Housewives  And much more…

October 2012

Dear Reader: So, I am late getting this magazine out and for that I feel absolutely dreadful! Time management is an arena of life that I truly must get a better grasp on. In addition, we’re out of ink so you’re getting black and white simple paper versions. If you feel led to help with ink, please visit our website. This month has definitely been a challenging one; I hope yours was better than mine. I think we are going to see some things get increasingly more taxing as we move closer to His return. Certainly we are all aware of the unrest in the Middle East, the issues with Israel and the attacks on Christians worldwide. Indeed the birth pains are here. You’ll notice that there is one verse utilized twice in this edition and though I didn’t know I’d done it until I began typing all these up for you, I chose to leave it because the commentaries are completely dissimilar. It is quite amazing how one verse can strike you differently upon multiple readings. I guess that’s part of the awesomeness of reading the Living Word. Friends, I pray His hand of blessing, provision, healing and grace upon your lives. I ask that He open your eyes to His will and way and that He enable you to walk in it consistently. I ask that He uphold you with His righteous right hand and that His Spirit within you will praise Him, rejoice in all things and offer up a sacrifice of thanksgiving for He is wholly deserving. Peace and blessings, Ginny Mink

Boo-Boos “Blessed is everyone that feareth the Lord; that walketh in his ways. For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands: Happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee.” Psalm 128:1-2 (KJV) There are so many arguments about this concept of “fearing” God. Some don’t want to consider fear from the point of trembling and thusly will refer to it as a respectful reverence, these are the same people who are super quick to remind us that God is love and we certainly don’t negate that Truth. However, let’s settle this fear issue right here. The Hebrew word is yârê' (yaw-ray’) which means fearing, reverence and it comes from the root to fear, to revere, to frighten. You know what, even upon further study, Proverbs 9:10 which tells us that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, uses yir’âh (yir-aw’), the feminine version of yârê' meaning fear and reverence. I guess then it’s safe to say that we should quiver and respect the Great I AM, and thereby be blessed. The second part of this selection is a rough one for some of us. At least I can see myself stumbling therein. It seems my hands are doing a lot of working but I’m definitely not eating the fruit of my labor. Perhaps you know the feeling. I suspect at this stage in my walk, that the real problem is a lack of Faith or Trust on my part. I need to pray more fervently for that Faith like a child, that Faith that says, when you walk in your Abba’s path, when you fear and revere Him, it will be well with you. God is a good Daddy and He wants to provide for us. Unfortunately, He sometimes lets us come to the painful realization that we can’t provide for ourselves before He steps in and mends the boo-boos. I’m pretty skinned up right now, how ‘bout you?

Oxygenated Sustenance “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” Joshua 1:8 (ESV) Ok, so God’s telling Joshua son of Nun this, after Moses has died. If you’ll read verse 1-9 you’ll find that God tells Joshua, three times, to be strong and courageous. I think there’s some relevance there, it would appear to me that living a life of Faith is not for the faint-hearted, it’s not for the weak, and our Father knew that. He knew His command to meditate on and carefully follow His law was not only going to take strength but great courage and He wanted Joshua to be prepared. I’d like to break some things down that seem quite interesting to me. We’re told not to let His Word/Law depart from our mouth, which is the Hebrew word peh (peh) which means mouth as the means of blowing. I envision Him implying His Word should be our breath, our oxygenated sustenance. We’re to meditate on it, to hâgâh (haw-gaw’) to murmur in pleasure or anger, to ponder on it. I’m sure some people will be bothered by the in anger aspect of the definition but this is how I see it, pleasure and anger are both extreme emotions and the Words of our King should elicit passionate depth in us one way or another. No doubt you’re really wondering about being prosperous, as I was, so it’s the word tsâlach (tsaw-lakh’) or tsâlê’ach (tsaw-lay’akh) and it means to push forward. That’s not necessarily the prosperity I was hoping He was talking about, but I find the fact that it’s a forward move on the path to the Kingdom, comforting. Just for kicks, the success promised here is intelligence. So, if you’ll focus on Him and His Word, He’ll push you toward greater intellect, no doubt a greater understanding of Him which He tells us is something to boast about. Certainly there’s no greater prosperity than knowing the One True King! *I realize this verse appears twice, apparently it was important enough to discuss multiple times.*

Hole Free “Forty years you sustained them in the wilderness, and they lacked nothing. Their clothes did not wear out and their feet did not swell.” Nehemiah 9:21 (ESV) Ezra is speaking here and he’s telling of all that God has done for the Israelites and yet he’s also illuminating their tendency toward memory lapses and thusly horrific backsliding. The verse quoted here has special meaning for me. You see, the other day, as we were getting ready for bed, my husband said to me, “I feel like the Israelites.” I had no idea where he was going and therefore he continued, “I don’t have any new clothes but these aren’t worn out,” he smiled holding up a pair of terribly stained work jeans – they were ugly, but hole free. We both laughed about it but it was an honest appraisal of the circumstances at hand. No, neither of us have any new clothes, but God’s not letting what we do have fall apart either. You know, sometimes I think it’s our discontent that keeps us in worldly poverty. Paul warned us to be content in little and much, because he knew the Truth, if we aren’t happy with seemingly meager provisions, our greed and envy will prevent pleasure in abundant times; no amount will ever be enough. Something interesting here is the last part of the verse, their feet did not swell. Our Redeemer included this here for a reason. He walked them around the mountain, in the desert, for forty years, wearing the same clothes and yet, with all that traveling their feet didn’t swell. He empowered them to walk that long without injury! Imagine trying to walk four hours straight (if that’s too easy, visualize forty hours), your feet are going to hurt and you’re going to want to sit down. They walked forty years and while they complained about a vast number of personal preferences, they never whined about foot pain. Our Father empowers us to get to the places He’s laid up for us!

Humility and Praise “Therefore I say unto you, what things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.” Mark 11:24 (KJV) This verse is a mind-blower to me. This is Jesus talking to His disciples about the power of their Faith. He adds a couple of conditions to Faith with such magnitude. The first is, you can’t doubt what you’ve asked for (v. 23) and you must be clean in the realm of forgiveness (v. 25). I think we fail to realize the strength of unforgiveness, it has a way of hindering all kinds of Spiritual growth and I suspect the fact that two verses on the topic follow Jesus’ power of Faith statements is supremely relevant. In fact, I would submit to you, that any unforgiveness in your heart is preventing the full realization and revelation of answered prayer that our Father wants to give us. We must cleanse our hearts of all grudges, even the trivial ones. Get clean, believe and receive. No doubt some people will be bothered by that statement so let me add the seemingly obvious disclaimer: No, God won’t give you anything outside of His will (unless of course His will is for you to learn from the mistakes caused by asking for things outside of His will – however, that means it’s still in His will). There’s no license for greed here and He’s no genie, pure and simple. By the way, the word desire is to ask, the Greek aitĕō (aheeteh’-o), and the word pray here is prŏseŭchŏmai (pros-yoo’-khom-ahee) meaning to pray to God, supplicate, worship. So, we’re told to ask Him via supplication and worship. That should create some powerful imagery. I see humility and praise while asking. That makes sense to me too because if we’re praying in the midst of true humility, trust should be a lot easier because our contrite Spirit won’t condemn us, we won’t be asking for things contrary to His will and, we’ll be praising Him as if He’s already answered our prayers, and technically He has because He knew what they were before we even opened our mouths!

More than Atlas’ Bicep “and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might.” Ephesians 1:19 (ESV) I wish I could wholly grasp the power of our King. I suspect that if I were able to do that then my issues with trust and belief would be alleviated. Why is it so much easier to believe that my husband can go to work and thereby pay the bills, than to believe that my Father, who owns all, can open up the windows of heaven and pour out blessings upon us so that we no longer dread the first and the fifteenth of every month when the bills come due? My husband, though wonderful, is just a man, an imperfect human with numerous limitations, my God has exceedingly great power that He’s willing to utilize for me if I’ll but believe! What a sad sack of unbelief I am! I’d recommend that you read Ephesians 1:15-22, there’s some amazing encouragement therein. Paul asks that Christ give the Ephesians a Spirit of wisdom and revelation in Him, that they’d know the hope they’ve been called to and riches of His inheritance. Then in verse 20, Paul explains the proof of the Father’s power. What’s particularly interesting here is that typically when we see the word power we get this idea of muscle-bound strength; yet, the Greek word for power here is more than Atlas’ bicep. It’s the word, dunamis (doo’-nam-is) and it means force, specifically miraculous power usually by implication a miracle itself. I suspect that’s the problem for us – God is miraculous and we’ve been taught not to believe in miracles. Our skepticism, our cynicism prevents our grasping the riches and power of His gloriousness. Help our unbelief!

Believe “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” Romans 8:32 (KJV) If you’re not familiar with Romans 8, please, take some time to read it now, I’ll wait…heck, I think I’ll read it again myself. Wow! There are so many great verses to talk about in that chapter; in fact it’d probably make a great Bible study on its own. I hope you took notice that verse 31 is the one that says if God is for us, who can be against us, and then verse 33 reiterates that concept by assuring us that God justifies us regardless of what someone might bring up against us or charge us with. Listen, Romans 8 tells us some things that if we’d REALLY apply to our lives, we’d see huge changes therein. First, there is no condemnation for us! So quit letting the enemy beat you up about your past sins regardless of how heinous they may have been, you are forgiven, he’s got nothing on you (v. 1). You’re free (v. 2), to walk in the Spirit (v. 4-13), because you are a child of God, adopted and an heir with Christ (v. 14-17)! Therefore, endure the persecutions and sufferings that go along with the privilege of adoption (v. 18). Hope with perseverance, allow the Spirit within you to speak your needs to the Father and trust Him to work things together for your good, to conform you to His image because you’re already justified and glorified (v. 24-30). Hallelujah! There is no greater love than the love the Father has bestowed upon us, there’s nothing He won’t do for us, He already sacrificed Himself that we might enter into His Kingdom and His rest. He loves us and He’s God! Believe that He’s capable and powerful and will answer both minute and grandiose prayers if you’ll just BELIEVE!

Better Than Just Benjamin’s “You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the power to get wealth, that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your fathers, as it is this day.” Deuteronomy 8:18 (ESV) Moses is talking to the Israelites here. He’s reminding them of the import of walking in the ways of the Lord, of keeping His commands. Verse 8:17 tells them, and us, not to get too puffed up, not to look at all we have and begin to take credit for its acquisition. No, Moses says it is God that enabled you to prosper. It seems really easy to forget the King when things are going well for us. No doubt that’s why Jesus said it was nearly impossible, actually, wholly impossible but by the Grace of God, for a rich man to enter the Kingdom. When we start depending on our own abilities, on our own creative endeavors, to provide for us, we lose sight of true provision and ultimately we find ourselves right back in the poverty we’d been so proud of getting out of. Listen, we, like the Israelites, need to make sure we never lose sight of where we’ve come from, how we’ve gotten where we are and WHO saved us. He will give us the power, the kôach (ko’akh) to be firm, have vigor, force, capacity and means to produce chayil (khah’-yil) a force, whether of men, means or other resources, an army, wealth, virtue, valor and strength. See, when our King enables us to prosper, to get chayil, wealth, He’s giving us infinitely more than monetary gain. He’s allowing us through His power and might, to be conquerors! Our Father is not the God of just this, or just that. No, He’s the King of life more abundantly, of exceedingly more than we can hope, think or imagine. Let’s not lose sight of the One who makes us rich in better ways than just Benjamin’s!

Our Almighty Daddy “The apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith!’” Luke 17:5 (ESV) Ok, something to note here is the preceding verse in which Jesus tells people to forgive their brother seven times in a day if he repents. Then the apostles ask for an increase in Faith. I kind of have to chuckle at that because the Lord knows that it takes Faith to forgive others, especially multiple times a day! So, the apostles are thinking, ‘man, you are going to have to help us do that Jesus!’ Yet, Jesus doesn’t remain focused therein, instead He tells them about the Faith of a mustard seed (v. 6). “Ah, the mustard seed bit,” you’re probably thinking and I wonder if you’ve ever pondered just how to attain that minute, yet hugely powerful portion of Faith. I know I have. I mean it seems that such a miniscule microbe of belief should be readily attainable and here’s the thing, I believe that it is. I believe that just such a seed is implanted within our Spirits upon salvation. However, we have difficulty accessing it because we don’t think it’s there, we doubt. What a plague and tragedy doubt is. In fact, it is the culprit of most instances of Faith and miracle depletion. We’ve got to quit doubting our King, quit believing the negativity, skepticism and cynicism the world feeds us. Our Father, our Abba, created the entire world with His Word and Jesus tells His disciples that with that mustard seed they’ll be able to “say” (v. 6) to a tree jump into the sea. I point this out because He’s made it abundantly clear that our words make or break our lives. Let’s start speaking Faith, believe like little kids and trust our Almighty Daddy!

Humanity Makes No Sense “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1 (KJV) What things not seen are you hoping for? Will your Faith provide evidence of their existence? If you were asking me these questions I’d have to admit my failures in the Faith arena. I’ve much to hope for, tremendous needs and desires and yet I often fail to prove by Faith that my Father hears me. I know He does, but when I allow doubt to intercept His blessings I’ve no one to blame but myself. This verse is an interesting one when you break it down by individual words. For instance, the word, Faith is pistis (pis’-tis) and it means persuasion, credence, conviction, reliance and constancy. Are you persuaded, devoted, convicted and reliant on Christ constantly? Well, that’s Faith, that’s the mustard seed that gets prayer answered. It is the substance, the hupŏstasis (hoop-os’-tas-is), the setting under, the support, the essence, the assurance of those things you’ve hoped for. The things you’ve expected or confided in your Father for, as hoped is the word ĕlpizō (el-pid’-zo). Listen, we trust our BFF’s with a number of things and we believe in their confidentiality and the fact that if they can do something to help us they will. We confide in them and expect them to help. Why in the world do we doubt the King of Kings? Humanity really makes no sense; we put more Faith in the creation than the Creator. This verse tells us that our Faith supports, undergirds the things we expect our Abba to do and thereby proves He will act. Our belief in Him, our constant reliance upon Him, assures us that He’ll answer us. Hallelujah!

COEXIST, but Don’t be Deceived “one Lord, one faith, one baptism.” Ephesians 4:5 (ESV) Six words that separate us and them. It truly amazes me how many people who claim the Faith are quick to accept those COEXIST bumper stickers, I’m sure you’ve seen them. I’m not implying that there’s anything wrong with living peaceably with our neighbors regardless of their spiritual leanings. However, it appears to me that there’s more to that little cleverly devised piece of propaganda. There are a slew of so-called ‘believers’ arriving at the conclusion that all paths lead to God, that all the various faith systems, though calling Him another name are actually aligned with Him. Hopefully I’m not the first to say this to you, but that is absolute heresy and blasphemy against His Spirit. In fact, in Exodus we’re told not to even mention the names of their gods. If the King feels that strongly about the subject, surely He wants nothing to do with such hell-based compromises. You know, we’re warned that the enemy will deceive even the elect if he can and this COEXIST concept is a most excellent ploy. Do not be tricked, all roads don’t lead to heaven; all religions are not ultimately treading the same path. Listen, open your ears and hear, there’s a reason Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life, no man comes to the Father but through me.” Pretty amazing that we hear the first half frequently but the second half is neglected. People get mad about Christianity being elitist, but so is every other faith system. The difference is, we’ve a Savior who lives, His bones aren’t in any grave like all the others. COEXIST, fine, but don’t succumb to the lies attached therein.

A Reason to Praise “who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion.” Psalm 103:4 (NIV) David is praising the King in this particular Psalm and he’s listing the reasons in which the Father is deserving of such praise and adoration. The verse prior to this one credits our Redeemer with forgiving our sins and healing our diseases. The verse that follows says God satisfies our desires with good things and renews our youth like the eagles. No doubt many others have written on either verse 3 or verse 5 as they seem happier (for lack of a better word) than verse 4 does. There’s something about hell-bound-destiny reminders that turns people off, and scares writers away. Well, I’m not afraid. Jesus mentions hell thirty some times over the course of His three year ministry. Obviously He felt it was a subject we needed to understand. I don’t know if you ever noticed Him discussing it, but the descriptive nature He utilizes emphasizes, at least to me, what exactly He intended to protect and save me from. I can tell you I am wholly deserving of weeping and gnashing of teeth, unquenchable fire and an undying worm. I absolutely should spend my eternity in the midst of extreme and horrific torture without rest and in utter darkness separated from the Almighty. Thankfully, He redeemed me from the pit! His blood shed, His anguish, saved my eternity. I know that as humans we have a hard time grasping the concept of time without ending, eternity, so let me assist. Think about the wretched stuff going on in your life right now and imagine that it never ends, pretty heinous, right? Well, now, get on your knees and thank the Savior for putting an end to that for you and for promising you never ending joy and peace in His Presence, crowned with His love and compassion. Think you might have a reason to praise?

Not the Co-pilot “Wail, you who live in the market district; all your merchants will be wiped out, all who trade with silver will be ruined.” Zephaniah 1:11 (NIV) Zephaniah is prophesying about the “day of the Lord.” Verse 7 says He has prepared a sacrifice and consecrated those He’s invited. Listen, God knows who are His and they will know His voice. Given the way things seem to be going, we may very soon hear it. I try not to get political or newsworthy in these devotions because my goal is focusing on Him and not this dreadful world. Yet, when I read this in Zephaniah, I couldn’t help but think about the seriously screwed up economic situation we’re in currently. I also found it quite interesting that he says all who trade in silver will be ruined. Let me explain, prior to my recommitment in 2008, I had started doing a lot of conspiracy theory, what’s really going on economically and politically, research. At that time, this concept of the inevitable crash of our dollar was at the forefront of my research and the recommendation then was, of course, buy silver (or gold if you could afford it). Thusly, I did buy a pretty nice stash of silver coinage. However, after I returned to my Faith, I read something about storing up and loving money and a slew of other verses and ultimately I gave away all the silver I’d stored up. This verse though, wasn’t involved in that decision. Yet, as I look at the silver market and think about all the people believing in the possession of silver for bartering and exchange abilities, I have to shake my head. Zephaniah reveals our King’s thoughts on the subject, they’ll be brought to ruin. This just further emphasizes for me the necessity to lean on Him, to surrender and let Him be the Pilot, not the co-pilot of my life. He knows where we’re going and the best way to get there!

Get Content and Real Quick! “But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.” 1Timothy 6:8 (NIV) “Yeah right!” most of us should admit we thought when coming across this verse. Sure, Paul can be content with that minute provision, after all, he traveled all over the place, he didn’t have rent due on the first, an electric bill due that same day and a family of four to feed. No, all he needed was food and clothing. Ironically, those are the only two things we’re directly promised to have. The Father assures us that He’ll feed us (He proved that with the manna, and the ravens that brought Elijah his food) and clothe us (the Israelites walked around in the desert for forty years and never had to make a pit stop at the mall). I think that people don’t like this truth. They want to believe that the King has promised them a nice 3/2, a late model car and good paying job, but He didn’t. He just promised to feed us like the birds and clothe us like the lilies. This is the juncture in which people bust out with the, ‘life more abundantly,’ quote and that’s all well and good but we’re also told to set our minds on heavenly things, not to covet the things of this world. I know this sounds in-your-face and believe me, as abrasive as I can be, I definitely don’t intend to point fingers or place blame. If believers were all doing their jobs I think we’d find ourselves in an even greater situation than being concerned about what’s in it for us. Oh that we’d learn contentment. Remember that verse that tells us He’ll give more to him who has more, I’m just gonna tell you right out, quit complaining or even what you think you have will be taken from you. Get content and real quick!

Slice and Dice “I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the Lord.” Psalm 116:17 (ESV) Before you really start thinking about this verse, go read 116:1. Wow! Do you realize that the Father has heard your voice and your pleas for mercy? Yes, even those boomerang ones, the ones that seemed to go nowhere, He heard! Can you at least love and thank Him for that, no matter where your life is right now? Read verse 2, our Abba bends toward us, He leans in to hear His children. You’d probably do well to read the whole chapter. The psalmist goes on to talk about how wretched his life was, but that the Merciful Almighty was there for him through it all and since there’s no partiality with the King, you can rest in the assurance that He’ll never leave or forsake you either. Now to get back to the selected verse… I chose it because I find the use of sacrifice quite interesting. Here the psalmist says he’ll offer up a sacrifice of thanksgiving. Elsewhere (in Hebrews 13) we’re told to offer a sacrifice of praise. I guess there are some people out there who are perpetually thankful and praise-focused even in the midst of turmoil, but I’m not that person. I suspect the psalmist wasn’t either. What I mean is that when life’s really beating the snot out of me (which happens far too frequently for my liking) I’m not hugely inclined to be thankful and praise-filled. The truth is, I have to slice and dice, mutilate and smash to smithereens my innate tendency to complain and worry. I have to sacrifice the natural man so that thanksgiving and praise can flow from my heart and out of my lips. I sacrifice my humanness to thank my King for saving me, for hearing me, and for delivering me even if I can’t see any of those things. Maybe there should be something about the sacrifice of trust.

Make Faith More Evident “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love one for another.” John 13:35 (ESV) “I want to make much of you Jesus…” Stephen Curtis Chapman croons on his All Things New album. This song is playing in the background as this verse comes into view. I’ve been asked how I write these devotions and the truth is, most of them are wholly random in selection, I ask the Father to pick them and to guide this pen. This verse really grabbed me and then with that song in the background well, I’m nearly moved to tears. You see, I want to make much of Jesus, I whole heartedly want to bring Him the glory and honor and praise He’s so worthy of and yet, when I read this verse, well, I’m discouraged. Maybe that’s an odd thing to say, but it’s the truth nonetheless. You see, there’s a fear lurking in me that says, people don’t know you’re His because you aren’t loving others as you should. I don’t need a reminder about the spirit of fear, perhaps conviction would have been a better word choice. Regardless, the simple reality is that I’m so not servant-hearted, I’m not hugely giving and I’m not even that personable. Sure, I can sit here and write about all the things I know we’re supposed to do and attempt to inspire you to seek Faithincreases and Spiritual growth at every opportunity, but if I don’t start loving people better and giving more, I’ll never accomplish the things I desire in this life: 1 – to make much of You, Jesus; 2 – to have a face that shines like Moses’ or looks angelic like Stephen’s; 3 – to be so salty everyone who talks to me thirsts for Christ and; 4 – to be a constant and consistent light in a dark world. Yes, that’s what I want but somehow I’ve got to make my Faith more evident in my personage. Perhaps you know what I’m talking about? Father give us the strength, mercy and grace to be more obviously loving toward our Spiritual siblings. Amen!

Every Bleak Moment “If you falter in times of trouble, how small is your strength!” Proverbs 24:10 (NIV) Let’s think about this for a moment, when would be the most probable, perhaps even understandable moment to falter, to faint as the KJV says? Seems pretty obvious that it would be in the midst of adversity or while under pressure as the NLT reads or on a day of distress according to the NASB. In fact, just reading: time of trouble, adversity, under pressure and day of distress kind of wears me out because each of those descriptions conjure up memories of trials and difficulties. Did I falter? Yeah, probably, and that answer ticks me off, to be quite honest, because I’d like to think I’m a pretty tough woman yet Solomon implies otherwise herein. I think perhaps the real problem is that when these storms besiege us we have a tendency to lean on our own understanding, to do battle ill-equipped utilizing our futile fragilities. No wonder we fail (NLT) at those times, no wonder we break down, we lose it. Joyce Meyer talks about not wanting other believers to keep going around the mountain and that creates such vivid imagery for me because how long is it going to take us to realize: 1 – hardships are part of life; 2 – trials create endurance and patience (if we don’t give up); and 3 – we need to just depend on Him. That last bit is probably the most significant lesson for us. You see, we falter, faint and fail because we take our eyes off the Redeemer, we allow doubt to destroy us. Doubt is probably the enemy’s greatest tool; it destroys Faith and trips us up. Pray like the disciples, ‘Lord, increase our Faith!’ Then you’ll be empowered to patiently endure every bleak moment.

What has HE heard you say? “So tell them ‘As surely as I live, declares the Lord, I will do to you the very things I heard you say:” Numbers 14:28 (NIV) Ok, so the Israelites are complaining, again, and they’re telling Moses how they wished they’d just die in the wilderness (v. 2). Ultimately God gets fed up with the fact they don’t trust Him and He threatens to eliminate them completely (v. 11-14). Moses steps in for them (v. 16-19) and God relents, saying He will forgive them but He still gives them some pretty intense consequences for their behavior (v. 20-27) and thusly we arrive at the selected verse. The Father promises, as surely as He lives, that they will die in the wilderness just as He’s heard them wish for. Context revealed, I hope we all understand that the Israelites are examples for us, in fact, many times their behaviors are representative of our own. So, though God told them what He intended to do, I think it’s safe to ascertain He could be saying the same to us. Maybe that doesn’t concern you, but I’m very aware of all the things my Father has heard me say: we’re broke, my husband’s making me crazy, nobody’s reading this… I hope you get the picture. You see, our words are oh-so-powerful and though most believers can nod in agreement to that statement it appears that such cerebral understanding is doing us little good as we continue going round the same mountain. Why are we frequently troubled financially? Maybe it’s because we said we are. I’m not insinuating that I can walk around saying, “I’m a millionaire” and will thereby become one, all I’m saying is we need to quit talking about how poor we are. The Word tells us that He’ll supply all our needs and that we shall not want, so what’s our problem? The same thing that made Him mad at the Israelites, we don’t trust Him. Start now!

Stipulations “Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the field.” Deuteronomy 28:3 (ESV) Now, wouldn’t that be a great thing? You’d toil in the field amongst a tremendous harvest, carry it into town and get the highest possible price for that which you’ve produced. You’d be blessed in the field and the city, Publix would have Cheerios and sweet tea buy one get one free. You know, I’d love to be able to pray such blessing upon you, my children, my husband, all those I love, but I’d be remiss it I didn’t direct you back a couple of verses. You see, it’s really easy to pick great verses out of the Bible, verses that encourage and uplift people and we’ve all done it, but that doesn’t make it right. Here’s the truth, our Father adore us, He loves us more than we can possibly imagine or comprehend and yes, it is His desire to bless us in the city and the field. He wants good things for His children, but He has stipulations, just like your parents did. You wanted to go to the mall, they wanted you to have a good time, but they wanted even more, to teach you responsibility, so they made you clean your room and finish your chores first. God wanted to bless the Israelites in their goings and comings, but He also wanted them to obey Him, to follow His directives, those statutes that would bring them into closer communion with Him. Go read 28:1 and you’ll know what I’m talking about. It’s so amazing to me that while our Father has no problem with allowing us to be prosperous, it’s not His focus. No, He wants us, He wants to be near us, to commune with us. He loves us and we take Him for granted always seeking His blessings and not Him. He’s all we need!

He Knew It “I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me because of their testimony.” John 17:20 (NLT) If you’ve never read John 17 I recommend you take the time to do so now. You see, it consists of a three pronged prayer uttered by Christ. The first section is for Himself, the second for His disciples and third for us! Yes, us! This concept of Jesus praying for us prior to His betrayal is absolutely jaw-dropping. The fact of the matter is, we’ve always been on His mind even before our DNA adhered to its chain. Jesus knew what He was doing, He knew His sacrifice wasn’t just for those who had physically seen, heard or touched Him, it was for every ounce of mankind whom would eventually be chosen, those the Father had given Him 2000+ years in the future! Yes, He died for you and me, specifically and He knew it. That just blows me away! Let me add something here, if you’ll read 17:21-23 you’ll discover something interesting about the concept of unity and oneness with the Trinity and other believers. According to Christ’s prayer it’s so that the world will see He came from God, that He is the Son of God. I find that interesting because I think we’re often taught that the Body’s unity and oneness is for the sake of power and prayer, but really it’s for testimony, for the revelation and proclamation that Jesus is the Messiah. That’s why we need to get over these denominational doctrine arguments! Our job is to unite and broadcast Christ as Savior. He says He’s already given us His glory (v. 22), let’s quit bickering and shine for Him, after all, He died for us, and He knew it!

Drunken Housewives “Men of perverse heart shall be far from me; I will have nothing to do with evil.” Psalm 101:4 (NIV) It’s the second part of this verse that grabs me, “I will have nothing to do with evil.” David’s heart desired so desperately to be pure before his King and there’s no doubt that desire is what made him a man after God’s own heart. God appreciated David’s heart even if He didn’t always approve of David’s actions. It’s the same with us. He knows how weak and frail we are, how easily His sheep get distracted and led astray. The issue at hand though is, where is your heart? When I read, I’ll have nothing to do with evil, it just pushes me further into what some would deem radical living choices. What I mean is, I pretty rarely have anything on my TV that isn’t Faithbased (or Sprout for Hazel, my one year old). The few times I’ve put other stations on I find myself deeply disturbed by the ads for their primetime TV shows. No joke, I just saw one a couple of days ago (while watching Wipeout with my son) that displayed these words, boldly: Magic, Revenge, Seduction, Indulge. Yep, that’s what’s on ABC these days. No thanks! I’m trying to have nothing to do with evil and every single one of those words implied nothing less, this is not to even mention the imagery that went along with the commercial. I guess we need to first decide what is evil. It seems people like to be wishy-washy on the definition so let me just share mine – if it’s in direct opposition, or supports anything that is in direct opposition, to the Word of the Living God then it’s evil, plain and simple. So, yes, all those drunken housewives and cursing child beauty pageant stars fall into that category for me. ABSTAIN from evil, my friends!

Get Happy “Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you.” 2 Corinthians 13:11 (ESV) Paul, once again, let the Corinthians know their shortcomings and the arenas in which they were in need of improvement. I don’t know if you’ve ever been chastised or had someone point your weaknesses out, but chances are the experience left you either discouraged or angry. I suspect the Corinthians felt the same way while reading Paul’s letter and that’s why he concluded it the way he did. No doubt hearing your issues doesn’t automatically lead to rejoicing and yet, Paul tells the Corinthians to do just that. Basically, ‘I’m getting on to you, now get happy!’ Doesn’t make much sense logically but this is what I think about it, only people who care about you confront you on your failings in an attempt to better you and so there can be rejoicing in the fact you’re cared for. The next thing Paul did was give them specific instructional steps to attain the blessing he intended to close his letter with. Paul wanted them to forgive one another and learn how to get along with each other, to live in peace. He also told them to comfort each other and to agree with one another. No doubt he was aware of the power of agreement in prayer. He tells them that if they’ll do these things then God will be with them. Not only that, but he calls to their attention two very beneficial traits that God will bring with Him as He dwells among them, love and peace. Listen, humans are not naturally loving or peaceful. We must have access to the Father to manifest such behaviors and Paul gives us a step by step plan to achieve His Presence and His love and peace. Let us be more forgiving, comforting, agreeable and peaceable with one another because we definitely need God to be with us.

Not All-Inclusive “and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship.” Exodus 31:3 (ESV) God is talking to Moses here, He’s already given the blueprints for the temple and all that’s to be found in it. If you’ve ever read the details in those blueprints then surely you’re aware of the fact that someone would have to be gifted by God to accomplish the creation of the things therein. I mean, it’s so precise and seemingly impossible that it’s no wonder God had to give Bezalel His own Spirit. The amazing thing for me is when I think about the New Testament gifts of the Spirit I don’t see craftsmanship: artistry, gold/silver/bronze-smithing, lapidary and carpentry skills included. Yet, that’s exactly what the Spirit of God that fills Bezalel enables him to utilize. I find this hugely encouraging; it’s a verse I want to share with my husband. You see, so many of us are familiar with the Spiritual gifts included in the New Testament, that those who can’t find themselves listed therein can be discouraged. However, that New Testament list is not all-inclusive and there are other gifts our Father reveals in the Old Testament like those included in this verse in Exodus. Anyway, I was saying I wanted to share the verse with my husband because he’s a hugely gifted craftsman. He can fix just about anything home-related and if he had the materials (and licensure) he’s skilled and knowledgeable enough to build an entire house from the ground up. I’ve often thought that was his gift from our Father, but I think he sees it as his job. I’m so grateful for days like Carefest when he gets to use that gift ministerially. I know it does his heart good. You see, God gives us various gifts included, or not included, in the Scripture to use for His Glory and He loves seeing us do so.

VW Bug Size Faith “And he did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief.” Matthew 13:58 (ESV) Jesus is back in His hometown and the people question His authority, they point out the normalcy of His upbringing and His family. Basically they systematically negate His power and because of these words and behaviors, Jesus is unable to do much for them. I suspect we’re in the same boat. I find myself believing that my Redeemer can do incredible things…for other people. If you need me to believe on your healing or your financial restoration I can do that quite readily. The problem is when I have to believe in my own hometown, in my own household, for my family and definitely for myself. Certainly this wretched unbelief has prevented many a mighty work in my life and that’s very frustrating. I’m not sure why I still struggle with this. I’ve seen my Father answer some of the craziest prayers. He miraculously healed my son to an extent that the doctor, the Jewish doctor, shook her head in disbelief. I just told her we prayed for him. I mean God has done some superbly mighty things in my life and therefore I should have VW Bug size Faith and yet I still struggle for the minute mustard seed. It’s a sad state of affairs really and the only thing I know to do about it is what the disciples did, they asked Him to increase their Faith (Luke 17:5). So, Father, You know how easily swayed my doubt meter is. I don’t want to be a storm-tossed ship or a double-minded person. Please, my King, increase my Faith that I may glorify You in all You do and in all the prayers You answer. Amen!

Admit Your Screw-Ups “I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.” Luke 15:18 (NIV) Certainly I don’t know your testimony, but I’d like to briefly share mine here. I got saved when I was twelve. I was baptized at that time. As a new believer, a young one at that, I guess I understood Christianity to be a system of abiding by the rules. Thusly, I strove to be a good kid as best I could. At seventeen I got kicked out, that’s another story all together. I moved in with my best friend, Susan (who’s still my BFF 20+ years later) and her family. I graduated high school with honors, got some scholarships and went to a private Baptist college for free. At that point I’d never revealed my deepest struggle to anyone and that was the fact that I battled with homosexual feelings. It wasn’t until I was about to graduate that I gave into those feelings and began a relationship with a girl I went to college with. I spent the next eleven years in lesbian relationships. My son is the product of one of them; it lasted six and a half years. While deep in the darkness of that sin, I committed a slew of horribly heinous others. Bear in mind of course, that the Spirit within me was deeply grieved and very near quenched. It wasn’t until 2008 that the Father had had enough of me. He was about to cut off this fruitless bad branch and He told me so, in no uncertain terms, when I felt Him scream at me (from within) “STOP! GO…NO…FURTHER!” A week later I found myself on my knees admitting for the first time that my lesbianism was a sin and that I desperately needed Him to forgive me and heal me. We serve an incredible God. He did just that. I spent about a year and a half single and then in April of 2010, I married my husband. God can change you, go back to Him and admit your screw-ups. He’s waiting for you to come home.

Harness Your Feelings “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” Hebrews 11:6 (ESV) I love the logical explanation we find here. I can appreciate the elementary nature of the concept. I mean, how could you ever bring pleasure to God, or get close to Him, if you don’t believe He exists? What’s really cool here is that those of us who do believe in His Awesome Presence are reassured that we do have Faith. Yes, we may be “oh ye of little Faith” but we’ve got some to believe He’s real. I suspect that this minute amount is probably equivalent to a mustard seed but we have this need to feel like we’ve got enough Faith for things to be accomplished and when we feel inadequate in that area doubts surround and drown us. I think maybe we don’t see Him work, not because we are faithless, but because we feel like we are. At some point we’ve got to master our emotions, make them serve us instead of allowing them free reign over our Spiritual lives. If I feel like I’m not being a good Christian, then I usually feel like I don’t deserve an answer from the King and thusly, I don’t get one. It seems pretty simple, but when we’re burdened with the daily strife of spouses and children and work and finances, sometimes it’s hard to get those wayward feelings harnessed. There’s one more thing I want to point out here and it’s the part that says we must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him. Maybe that’s part of the reason our lives feel empty or blessing-less, we are failing to seek Him. The cool thing about Abba is He doesn’t play hide and seek like we do, our object is not to be found, His is the exact opposite. He’s the elephant hiding behind the willow tree, or the Big Bird behind the fire hydrant. Excuse the kid references but I’ve got a one year old and Sesame Street is our friend. So is God though. He wants us to locate Him and hang out. Try it!

Just a Thought “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” Joshua 1:8 (ESV) We live in a right-now world, in an age of the quick-fix and an era of the get rich quick schemes. Surely I understand and am often guilty of wanting immediate results. I can’t tell you how many home-based business ideas I’ve researched and honestly, I keep coming back to the adage, if it sounds too good to be true… I’m sure you know the rest. Since I spend most of my TV time watching the various Christian (and I use that term with some reticence) television networks, I’ve seen a good share of ludicrous teaching. I infuriate my husband because I’ll say things like, “that’s not Scriptural,” in the middle of the program he’s watching, then I go my own way; I’ve no need for unBiblical nonsense. The most bothersome to me of course is this whole prosperity gospel, prosperity preaching mentality. Don’t get me wrong, I wholly believe God desires to prosper His people, I just don’t necessarily think He intends to give them mansions and millions. I think His prosperity is infinitely greater than any material comforts or luxuries. I heard one of these preachers saying he was telling a friend about the new airplane he was getting for his ministry. He said that the friend replied, “You’re getting a jet and I can’t even get a job?!” To which this pastor/preacher/charlatain (oops, sorry) said he hung up on the man, “because people will attack you when your ministry is doing well.” I was so appalled I gave my husband an earful. Am I being judgmental? I hope not, I hope I’m being discerning. You see, our Father offers prosperity and success to those who abide by, and in, His Word – which includes loving our neighbors as ourselves – perhaps offering them a job instead of hanging up? Just a thought!

Pottery 101 “Yet, o Lord, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.” Isaiah 64:8 (NIV) A friend and I were discussing this concept and I’d like to try to create a mental image for you. My parents have this really cool vase, it’s tan and its designs consist of dotted lines and grooves and these unique etchings go all the way around the vase. They are offset in a brown color. The lip has a triangulated grooved pattern. Its texture makes it feel really neat in your hands. Now that I hope you’ve got an idea of its appearance let’s go back to our verse and the conversation I had with a friend. Allowing the Father to mold you will enable Him to create a masterful work of art with an incredible life texture. As romantic as clay molding and pottery wheel work may appear to you (no thanks to the movie Ghost, I’m sure) there are some things we need to realize about the process. Clay comes in a big lump, the Potter cuts off what’s not necessary before He even thinks about shaping the gray lump. If the Potter is manipulating you in His hand, no doubt you’ve felt the trimming knife. Then as my friend reminded me, the clay has to be slammed on the wheel, ever felt that way? Now, the sweet and gentle motions of forming the vessel might just be to prepare us for the artistry about to occur. You see, that cool vase my parent’s have, had to be poked and sliced and jabbed and carved. We require the same work because we’re constantly in need of molding and beautifying until the Potter finally sculpts us into the image of His Son, Who, by the way, endured plenty of cutting and carving Himself. So, if you’re feeling a bit dissected, just remember what (Who) He’s turning you into. Oh, and don’t be surprised when you get placed in the fire, that’s part of the process too!

It’s a Choice “Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.” Mark 10:9 (NIV) In case you are unaware, marriage is really hard. I find it interesting that there’s a verse about finding a wife being a good thing (Proverbs 18:22) but I don’t recall any such statement about husbands. I jest of course, but Paul recommended that people be single like him, he tells us that marriage includes additional struggles and concerns that the single life doesn’t have. If you’re married you can attest to that truth. If you’re not I hope you’ve found contentment in your current state; God’s got you there for a reason and the more you worry about a spouse the less you focus on what He has for you. I understand that single people are bothered by married people telling them to be content and wait, I get it, I just hope you’ll realize that just like with everything else, the grass isn’t always greener. Some days I’m just glad I can still call it grass. Anyway, obviously we don’t want to allow people to cause rifts in our marriages and that means making sure to lift our spouses up even when they can’t hear us. I can write whatever I like about my husband because I know he doesn’t read these things, but the truth is, he’s a great guy. He says he loves me more than I could know or believe. He works really hard to provide for us and he’s supportive of the things I try to accomplish. Are there snares and snags? Of course, we’re both wretched humans, but we’ve chosen to love one another ‘til death. Notice I said we’ve chosen; our marriage isn’t one of those ‘oh we fell in love’ emotional roller-coasters. No, our love is a choice. That’s the aspect of marriage that builds the wall against those who might try to separate it.

All that Matters “For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.” Psalm 51:8 (ESV) Have you ever felt that way? That your past vileness is constantly in front of you? Does the guilt of things (thoughts, words, deeds) you’d never share with anyone, plague you? Obviously David felt that way after stealing a man’s wife, getting her pregnant and then having her husband killed to keep her for himself. Perhaps your sins are less loathsome, but maybe they’re more-so (hating your brother is akin to murder and looking with lust equates to adultery), that part doesn’t really make any difference for all sin is crimson in His sight and He can’t look upon it. David had a problem we don’t have, he lived before Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary, so even though he might have sacrificed an animal (though he acknowledges the fact that God doesn’t desire that in verse 16) it would do his Spirit little good; Grace is necessary. When your past, which you’ve whole heartedly repented for, slams you in the face I hope you’ll see that it’s an attack. You see, when we’re forgiven, our sins are remembered no more, they’re as far as east is from west. If God, the One True Judge, has forgotten your foul behavior then there’s no reason for you to live in the bondage of guilt for it. My best friend told me once that even if I killed someone she’d come visit me in jail, and after 20+ years of friendship, I believe she would. God’s even more dependable than that! He loved you before He created the earth, Christ prayed for you before He sacrificed Himself. Nothing you’ve ever done can keep you from the Almighty’s love. Therefore, rebuke the devil, make him and his terrible memories and guilt flee. For he who the Son sets free is free indeed. Don’t let the enemy hinder God’s work in you by giving into his guilt attacks. You, my friend, are covered by the blood of the Lamb and white as snow in Abba’s eyes and that’s all that matters!

Polluted and Violated “We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.” 1 John 5:19 Ya know, I wish we did know that! I wish believers would open their eyes, THE WHOLE WORLD IS UNDER THE CONTROL OF THE EVIL ONE! When will we get that? When will we stop behaving like pagans? When will we really stand out as the aliens we are? I’ll tell you, when I came back to Faith in 2008, I stopped watching TV completely, no Christian stations either. I spent that time reading the Bible, if you want to know the truth, though that’s not the point. I was still employed as a teacher at that time and I can tell you that my peers definitely viewed me as an alien, even the Christian (I-go-to-church) ones. The reason of course is that if you don’t watch TV you’d be amazed by how much conversation revolves around commercials and shows. Obviously I couldn’t contribute to those discussions and so I was the weirdo and the whole time I was thinking, “What a waste of words.” The Word tells us that friendship with the world is enmity with God. I think that’s pretty self-explanatory since God can’t mingle with evil and that’s what runs the world. I guess what I’m trying to say is that we’ve really got to stop assimilating. We need to look different, act different and talk different. That’s hard to do though when we’re willingly embracing this evil culture and its immoral products. Look, you can’t watch network television and not be polluted by ads, even if the shows were clean. You can’t read the magazine covers in line at the grocery store without having your Spirit violated. The world is evil and we’ve got to be different! People have to see Him in us, but if we’re keeping up with the Kardashians what could we possibly have to offer the desperate housewives?

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