Joy in Labor and Hope for New Life

Now that’s a pile of blackberry branches!!

New life from that which was dead


“Behold!  My Servant whom I uphold, my Elect One in whole My soul delights!  I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will ring forth justice to the Gentiles…He will not fail nor be discouraged, till He has established justice in the earth…”  Isaiah 42:1, 4

“There shall come forth a Rod (shoot) from the stem (trunk) of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots.”  Isaiah 11:1

These passages have stuck out to me this year in light of the gardening Jason and I are doing. In them contain important aspects of who God is and how He does things that can be great encouragement to us as we face problems in our individual lives and as we see the issues in our nation and beyond.

We are the only people living on the 30 acre ranch property owned by the ministry we are on staff with.  There are two large gardens, one containing 17 raised bed gardens, the other containing       4- 70ft rows of blackberries, 2- 70ft rows of asparagus and 5 extra 70ft rows of things yet to be planted.

At the beginning of the spring, the blackberry vines had to be pruned, which was a massive endeavor as each branch shot out “laterals” that replanted themselves into the ground.  What ensued was a labyrinth of blackberry branches that needed to be trimmed and ripped out of the ground.  It was a mess!  Then of course there was last years debris scattered about, new weeds coming up, and the need for new layers of wood chips to cover everything.  You might just say a lot of work lay before us (and still does), and I found (find) it a bit overwhelming.

As we began to tackle the blackberry labyrinth, the Lord brought to my mind Isaiah 42:1-4.  In this passage, Jesus is promised to bring forth justice to the Gentiles, and it also specifically states He will not be discouraged until He accomplishes it.  I began to see the world as the Lord’s garden, and just like the garden before us, the world is– quite frankly– a mess.  The constant conflicts in the Middle East, the struggles for power in our nation, the impoverished places of Africa and India, the oppressive dictators in Venezuela and soon Nicaragua…what a mess!  The nations, the Gentiles, are a  labyrinth of labor for Jesus, yet the promise is that He will bring forth justice– He will have His way with the nations and bring forth the Father’s vision for them.  That means that every nation will have the wrong things made right, corruption will be brought down, unrighteousness will be removed and righteousness will replace it, the poor will be cared for, the fatherless will find homes, the sick will be healed.  Jesus will bring justice to the nations of the earth, and He will not be discouraged until He does it!  When Jesus looks at the garden of the earth, He is not discouraged at the work that needs to be done.

This amazes me, because just looking at a few rows of unruly blackberry bushes can discourage me.  But when Jesus looks at the garden of the earth and all the “clean up” and “pruning” that needs to be done, He is not discouraged. Oh how God’s ways are not like our ways.  He sees a task before Him and He takes it head on, full of faith, full of joy, knowing He will make it right.  I am in constant need of this revelation of who God is to wash over me, not just for the sake of our garden exploits, but also in relation to all the problems of life in our nation and beyond.  Jesus will make the wrong things right, and He will not be discouraged until He does it.   We can know that Jesus is laboring, Jesus is bringing forth justice– He’s pruning back that which does not bear fruit to make room for that which will, He’s removing the old to make way for the new, He’s cleaning things up to make things beautiful.

Another thing that has caught my attention working on the ranch this year is that when I look at something that should be dead, somehow life begins to come forth from it!  I stumbled across a dead tree stump, truly an eye sore.  And yet this spring new branches began shooting out and there’s life springing up!  It made me think of the prophecy of Jesus in Isaiah 11:1, that out of the stem or trunk of Jesse, a Rod would come forth.  Israel was “cut down” as a nation and kingdom throughout their history for not being obedient to the Lord, and yet the promise was that out of that old, dead stump, God would bring forth a new shoot, a Branch that would become the mightiest tree on earth (Isaiah 4:2, Jeremiah 23:5, 33:15-16, Zechariah 6:12).  Though the nations continually try to bring Israel low, and at times it has looked as if Israel was perishing, the Lord has brought new life from their nation in Christ.  There’s multiple layers of meaning of Jesus as the Branch of the Lord which I don’t want to delve into in this post– my point is simply to highlight that God’s ways are not our ways, and His knowledge surpasses ours.  When we see something that is “dead”, He sees the life He will bring forth from it, and that is exactly what He did with Jesus springing up from the nation of Israel.

When we see the labyrinth of labor that lies before us, we can ask for God’s strength and perspective because He never gets discouraged at the task before Him.  When we see that which is dead and dying, we can trust God for the new life He will bring forth against all odds. There is joy in the labor, and there is hope for new life. This is simply who our God is!

Let Me Remember

Lord let me remember the goodness of who You are,

When I feel anxious and confused, and You seem to be far.

Let me remember the many times You have broken through,

How year after year, You’ve drawn my heart after You.

Let me remember the things You have spoken,

The comfort You’ve given when I’ve felt lost and broken.

Let me remember the truth about what You see when You look at me,

Because my heart feels dark, and I need Your tender mercies.

Lord let me remember.

Let me remember again and again,

Until I see Your face; until the end.

His mercies are new every morning and His faithfulness endures to all generations, but today feels different.  Today feels alone, today feels chaotic, today feels depressing…

Have you ever had one of these days?  I have!  There are days I just “feel” off.  The new challenges of “today”, the new circumstances and new emotions expose once again my need to remember who God is and what He has spoken, because it is truth that sets free and gives peace (John 8:32).  Today I might “feel” depressed, anxious or alone so I must…

I must recall to my mind the truth of who He is and how faithful He always is…

This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope.  Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed,  because His compassions fail not.  They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.”  Lamentation 3:21-23

I must gird up the loins of my mind and not allow accusation against myself, God or others remain in my thinking…

“Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ…” 1 Peter 1:13

I must allow the Holy Spirit to bring to my remembrance all things the Lord has spoken…

“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you” John 14:26

I must set my mind on things above and not on the things of this world that perpetuate my present emotions and keep me in bondage…

If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.  Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.” Colossians 3:1-2

When the day feels off, when my mind is full of anxieties and I feel down cast, it requires me to intentionally sit and let my soul get quiet, that I might forsake present thoughts and emotions and allow God’s truth to flood my soul. Some days this is easier than others; some days I have to cry out for grace to just sit still!  But it’s always worth it in the end.  My prayer is that the Lord will “let me remember” Him, even if I have good days and bad, that in the end I will have a history of keeping Him in my mind, of keeping truth as my foundation, of keeping a thankful heart for what He has done in my life.  It is a choice we get to make (though we may need help doing it somedays!)… it is a choice we make to bring Him to remembrance.

The Israelites did not always do this and it fostered complaining, frustration and doubt in their hearts.  This was costly for them:

“Our fathers in Egypt did not understand Your wonders; They did not remember the multitude of Your mercies, but rebelled by the Red Sea…13 They soon forgot His works; they did not wait for His counsel, but lusted exceedingly in the wilderness, and tested God in the desert.  And He gave them their request, but sent leanness into their soul.” Psalm 106:7, 13-15

And today we receive the same warning of the peril of not keeping God and the truth of who He is in our thoughts:

“because although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts… 24 therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves…” Romans 1:21, 24

Remembering God, what He has done and who He is, is such a simple thing to do, and it is extremely powerful. So let us remember Him!  Let us intentionally think about the ways He has blessed us, let us think about His faithfulness, let us think about His love, His comfort, the times we felt His nearness, the times He has released provision…let us remember and give thanks.

Lord, as we enter into this season of remembering Your birth, let us be ever mindful of You. Let us remember You and what You have done each and every day, being thankful and expecting You to do the same now and always.

Intercession: our purpose and fulfillment of joy

Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.”  John 16:24

This promise Jesus gave, encouraging His disciples right before He went to the cross.  Over and over, He told them that He was going away, but that it was good because He would send the Helper, the Holy Spirit.  They were to abide in His love and have His words abide in them, and as they did this, when they asked for things in His name, they would receive them.  But the source of their joy would not merely be in receiving, but in the process of how they received.  It would not merely be in the reception of what they asked for, but rather through the process of asking and receiving that would give them joy.

This was a very important lesson for His followers then and for us today; He was teaching them about their fullness, about what would make their lives abound with meaning and purpose.   What we were originally created to do yet lost at the Fall, Jesus restored to us through His death and resurrection– that is, partnering with Him in relationship as we subdue the earth under His leadership (Genesis 1:26-28).  Through sin, our identity as children of God was destroyed and the authority we were made to walk in was given away.  We became those that hide from God in the world we were destined to rule over as His children.

26 “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in Our image…let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air… 27 So God created man in His own image… 28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it, have dominion…”  Genesis 1:26-28

“And they heard the sound do the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.”  Genesis 3:8

Jesus’ work upon the cross gave us back our rightful identity as children of God by destroying the works of sin and the devil (John 3:8).   As we receive His Spirit He promised to give, we are released from the shame of sin, brought out of hiding and into His presence again as His beloved children.  We  bear His name, destined to walk in the same authority that He has.  Thus as Jesus offered this encouragement to His disciples, He desired that they would begin to walk in their original purpose and highest fulfillment, as those who subdue the earth in partnership with God.  “Ask, and you shall receive, that your joy may be full.”  This was what we were made for– to be so close to the Father that we can ask Him to establish His kingdom, then wait in confidence because we know He will release it.

“The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children then heirs–heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ….”  Romans 8:16-17a

Why does asking and receiving give us such joy?  Primarily, because we enter into a true, living, active relationship with the Father of glory,  and we realize that the God who made heaven and earth hears our small cries, He hears our hearts, and He does something about it.  Intercession is a place of dignity because He validates our requests as we partner with Him; the tension lies merely in waiting for Him to release it.

The Beauty of Merging Missions and Prayer

Missions, from the very beginning of the church after Jesus ascended, has been central to Christianity.  There have been ebbs and flows of intensity, but none the less, the striking last word of Christ to “Go and make disciples of all nations” has rung in the ears of believers for thousands of years.  Prayer, while we know it is something we “ought” to do, seems to be of less importance.  After all, it’s easy to get people to sign up for a missions trip into the nations to help children in an orphanage, but its so hard to get believers to attend a prayer meeting!  I get it, I really do…I want to go to the nations too:)

But while we may see “missions” and “prayer” as two different realities, I believe that in the heart of God they are very much the same; you cannot have one without the other.  How?  We cannot have effective missions that are not birthed in prayer, and we cannot have prayer that does not motivate missions.  Let me elaborate:  Missions will not bear much fruit if not first revealed as part of God’s will and then also sustained by His love as the labor continues.  Taking to Gospel to other nations to make disciples is not easy, it is laborious.  Jesus said we had to “pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers” (Matt 9:35).  Why?  Because labor is hard, and most don’t want to do it or don’t know how!  Thus we must hear from the Lord in the place of prayer the labor He want sue to put our hand to, and also sustained by Him in prayer to continue.  Prayer is what missions flows from.  Without prayer, our missions will be less effective and our missionaries weary!

Prayer cannot be seen as separate from missions.  As we talk to and engage with the One who was so zealous for the nations, we cannot help but to receive His desire and power to go and make disciples.  As the disciples met in the upper room after Jesus ascended, they prayed and worshiped together.  It was then that they received the “Promise of the Father” (Acts 1:4) which empowered them to preach and be full of the Holy Spirit even in the midst of persecution (Acts 4:13-22).  They knew that they were to go into the nations (Acts 1:8), and as they waited upon Him they received all that they needed in order to go and be effective without compromise. But it began in the place of prayer.

Missions and prayer are an endless cycle:  prayer births missions, missions and missionaries are sustained by prayer in the labor, they make disciples who then serve and connect with God through prayer, who then receive new missions from God to go elsewhere and make disciples who will pray.  It just keeps going and going, and we cannot have one without the other.

While these two realities are dynamically connected, I believe that the end of it all is prayer, or worship rather (which is a type of prayer;).  When we look at where all of human history is going- to a wedding where the bride is full of worship and praise for God- we know that one day missions will cease, and worship will arise.  We cannot have one without the other now, but one day missions will be obsolete and we will all be united with one voice, praising and thanking the Lord for bringing us back to Him and destroying the works of the Devil, forever (read Revelation 19:1-9).



Watch Therefore, and Pray Always: Luke 21


I’ve written on this passage a couple different times, yet it is something that the Lord keeps impressing upon my heart.  In context, Jesus is teaching His disciples about their future persecution, the destruction of Jerusalem, and about His return to the earth in glory (Persecution:  Luke 21:12-19; Destruction of Jerusalem:  21:20-24; His return:  21:25-28).  In other passages, Jesus reveals that this time is the most severe and troublesome time the earth has ever seen since God created it (Mark 13:19; Dan. 12:1). The troublesome events He describes are likened to a snare which will come upon the whole earth (21:35).  A snare is something unexpected;  a trap lying in wait in the forest to catch its prey.  Yet while He reveals the time of His return as an unexpected snare and time of great trial, He admonishes His disciples that we should understand the “season” of His return, just as one can tell summer is coming when the fig trees begin to bud (21: 29-31).  There is a time coming upon the earth that will literally “catch” many who are unaware and unprepared for what is coming.  Jesus shepherds us to know how we can prepare for the time of His return.

It is an issue of awareness- awareness of the world events going on and awareness of our own soul.  His command is to cultivate a heart of awareness through watching and praying (21:36).   He wants us to be a people of understanding.  As we pray and seek the Lord’s heart in the Word, He gives us understanding of His plans for the nations of the earth and for His people Israel (Psalm 33:10-12). Also, because His Word is like a light, as we engage with Him in prayer He uses it to illumine our ways that are not in agreement with Him and sets us on the right path (Psalm 119:105).   Engaging with the Lord through prayer and the Word keeps us “alert” spiritually to know both the season the earth is in and how we respond to the pressures of life. He’s just waiting of rue to open up our bibles and to begin to inure of Him so that He can show us things!

Specifically in regards to our own hearts, Jesus reveals that we will be caught off guard if we allow our hearts to be “weighed down.”  We are prone to be weighed down– depressed, apathetic, anxious– by various things, and it becomes a distraction that prevents us from being prepared to see the snare that is coming upon the earth.  He highlights three specific things that cause us to be weighed down so that we might overcome them:

Dissipation:  I used to think dissipation meant only drunkenness, but it can also mean excess, self-indulgence, intemperance.  There is a reality of the human heart that we are weighed down when we choose to serve only ourselves, constantly seeking to satisfy the ache in our hearts with more– whether that be food, sex, money, pleasure, drugs, etc.  In dissipation, we are seeking to fill a void with something temporal that was meant to be filled by the love of God.  If we seek to fuel our lives by something other than what we were made for, we become weighed down as that which we pursue leaves a constant void inside.  It’s exhausting.

Drunkenness:  Here Jesus specifically pinpoints the issue of drinking in excess.  Proverbs 20:1 says, “wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise.”  While Jesus never forbids drinking, He does caution us about it’s harmful side when we are not able to constrain ourselves or are using it to escape painful realities of our lives.

Cares of this life:  Bills, painful relationships, trouble at work, not enough recognition, not enough money, daily chores, the boringness of life.  Life is full of things to care about, yet God desires that we cast all our cares upon Him because He cares for us, and He does not want us to be weighed down with the worry of them.  We cannot make things happen for our good, we cannot always be perfectly prepared, but we can trust God.  Jesus says to “take heed” to our hearts, that we not be weighed down with the concerns of today, but rather to seek to walk in righteousness and worship our King (Matthew 6:31-34).

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving  let your requests be make known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”  Phil. 4:6-7

“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, because He cares for you.”  1 Peter 5:6-7

In light of this time that is coming upon the earth, we are not to be weighed down in these various ways.  The intense wars, earthquakes, and persecution that awaits humanity will be a cause of a snare upon the earth, yet we are not to be caught off guard, but learn how to patiently endure our lives now in preparation for these things that will come as Jesus returns (21:10-19).  While He reveals the intensity of events that happen around His return, His desire is that we would have strength to endure and stand before Him full of faith:

“Watch therefore, and pray always, that you may have strength to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.” Luke 21:36

I believe that God wants us today to learn how to handle our emotions, our responses, with both the fear and love of God in sight, no matter what issues we are facing.  And while the issues we have today are much smaller than this troublesome time that awaits the entire earth, these can be used as “training exercises” to help prepare us. The strength that we are in need of is not physical strength, but strength of heart and character, to be able to go through the greatest trials the earth has seen with love in our hearts overflowing to God and people.

Looking at these passages incites a holy fear in me to continue to learn how to maintain my heart amidst my daily trials, knowing that as I learn to keep my spirit in alignment with God’s word today, I will be able to do so tomorrow when the trials become more difficult. May we all be blessed with His peace and have the grace to be watchful and pray always!

A Heart Like David’s


Why is there such an explosion, such an attention to prayer across the nations of the earth?  I’ve heard this said many times, and its good to hear again, that we may understand that God truly is doing something unique in this generation:  the fact is that before the 1980’s, scarcely would there be mention of a “prayer ministry.”  There may have been those “old ladies” in the back of a church praying, small pockets here and there, but today there is a press for prayer to be raised up in churches, cities, and nations.  God is calling His people forth to not just follow His commands, but rather encounter His heart in the place of worship and prayer.

While this may be “newer” to a lot of us, it was always in the heart of God to have a people who sought His heart rather than just being obedient to His commands.  He of course wants obedience–but from a place of voluntary love and not fear.  That love is cultivated in greater measures as we seek Him in the place of worship and prayer, hearts connected to His.

This was something that King David understood.  Israel had been given great promises and great commands, coupled with a system of worship that was so unlike the other nations around them.  It was easy for Israel to enter into the place of religious duty, performing the “rituals of worship” without actually connecting to God Himself.  This pained the Lord.  Of Israel He revealed:

 “…these people draw near with their mouths and honor Me with their lips, but have removed their hearts far from Me, and their fear toward Me is taught by the commandment of men…”  Is. 29:13

More than knowing God in a personal way, Israel was content to perform the many rituals that were mere shadows of what true worship was intended to be.  Yet King David saw that these rituals were a way that he could connect to the heart of God.  Rather than a hindrance, he understood the spiritual implications behind the rituals.  He cried out in Psalm 141:2:

 “Let my prayer be set  before You as incense, the lifting up of my and as the evening sacrifice.”

David saw that the evening sacrifice and the smoke of the incense were mere representations of what God truly desired, which was a heart that longed to worship Him.  The Lord loved the heart of David, it was the type of worship He longed for, and David is known as the man who was “after God’s heart” (Acts 13:22)What a testimony to have!  And yet in this generation, God is calling forth men and women, young and old, to cultivate a heart like David’s; He’s calling us to draw near to Him in worship and allow our prayers to arise before Him as incense.

Thus as we see prayer spread across the earth, we can be assured that God is establishing that which He has desired for centuries:  hearts that burn with love and devotion for Him, voluntarily.  He’s not wanting those who follow a religion, but those whose hearts are connected with His desires.  As we come before Him with hands outstretched, hearts open, and our voices directed to His throne, we both give and receive from the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  He wants to make us, like David, a people set apart who know Him and proclaim His goodness across the nations.

He whispered “pray for your brother Israel…”

Israel has a very special place in the Lord’s heart.  Though from the very beginning He purposed to save all nations through one Man (Genesis 3:15), He chose Israel to be His special treasure (Exodus 19:5).  They would be the nation He would bring forth the promised Messiah through.  As they followed Him, He would bless them, and the nations would see what a good God Israel served.  This would prompt them to follow the God of Israel as well.

But just like every other nation, Israel was disobedient to God and chose to live how they desired, even worshipping other gods.  The result was that He gave them partial blindness until they were humbled enough to receive the truth of who He is as God (Isaiah 6:10-11).

After Israel handed over Jesus to be crucified, Gentile (those not of Israeli descent) believers in the Messiah have taken a posture of arrogance towards Israel, even proclaiming that there is no longer salvation for the Jew, or that the Gentile church has replaced Israel in God’s redemptive purposes.   In his letter to the Romans, Paul adamantly refutes this idea in chapters 9-11.  He admonishes the Gentiles to not be arrogant, for salvation comes only through faith.  Unbelief, which caused Israel’s fall, is common to every man, and thus there is no room for Gentiles to exalt themselves above their Jewish brothers.    He reveals that God actually set up the Jewish people to be deemed disobedient, that they, just like the Gentiles, would be recipients of God’s mercy (Romans 11:32).  Though Israel was chosen for a special purpose, the point is God’s mercy on both Jew and Gentile, His goodness being exalted amongst all.

With this knowledge in mind, I sat reading Psalm 135:4 which says  “For the LORD has chosen Jacob for Himself, Israel for His special treasure,”  and the Lord whispered some precious things to me about His heart for Israel and that I should continue to pray for them.

Israel is your older brother, My firstborn.  They are My special treasure.  Are you jealous that they are My special treasure?  They have been partially blind.  I blinded them that you might have sight (Rom 11:30).  In their disobedience you have been given mercy.  But do you think that I will not have mercy on those who have been disobedient?  For you yourself were disobedient.  

What do you do when you look upon someone who is partially blind?  Do you scorn them, or do you try to help them?  Don’t you pray for those who cannot see, believing that I will heal them?  Pray for Israel.  They are partially blind, but I am He who opens the blind eyes.  So your heart must be towards Israel- not judging at their lack of sight, but merciful for their encumbrance.  Their blindness is for the glory of God, much like the man who was blind from birth who was healed (John 9:1-34).  He was blind from birth, miraculously healed, and it was for My glory.  So it is with Israel.  They have been blinded for a time, but through their blindness the whole world was reconciled to Me.  If then they are healed of their blindness, will it not be so powerful that the dead will actually rise?  (Romans 11:11-12, 15)  So do not scorn or even be indifferent towards those who ought to see yet are blind, have compassion upon them as I had compassion on you in your blindness.  Pray for My people, that their eyes might be opened.”

“You will arise and have mercy on Zion; for the time to favor her, yes, the set time, has come.”  Psalm 102:12  

“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:  may they proposer who love you.”  Psalm 122:6

Facing our Sin by Developing Jesus’ Heart of Prayer

“Why do you sleep?  Rise and pray, lest you enter into temptation.”  Luke 22:46

 Facing some of my own sins and temptations, I have been brought to many tears realizing the weakness of my flesh, my proneness to sin, the casualness that I see my sin at times.  I can see the beauty to which God has invited me to walk in, for us all to walk in, thus the sin that easily ensnares moves my heart to great pain.  But we are not without hope!  In the context of a dark world, we are called to love God with all our hearts, displaying our love through obedience.  He has made a way that we can walk in victory over our flesh.  As I look at Jesus’ life and the prayers He prayed to keep Himself before the Father,  I believe we are called to His life of prayer, to offer up our cries to the Father in the same way that we also may not fall to temptation in our darkest moments (Luke 22:39-46).

 The hope that we have to overcome temptation is this:  that Jesus lived as a Man (like us!), and He lived without sin.  We often focus on the fact that Jesus died to forgive our sins, but we overlook that He labored and lived a sinless life, and rising from the dead gives us His life to live as he did.  He is the example of how God intended humanity to walk, full of love and fully obedient.   The Father sent Jesus to live the way we could not, and then gave us Jesus’ Spirit so that we could be like Him.

Jesus became a man, lived as we do, tempted with the same things, yet did not sin (Hebrews 5:14-15).  This is most miraculous and reveals how great His beauty is.  For how many times in a day is there a temptation to be selfish, to be prideful, to speak in anger, to keep a lustful thought, to not be kind?  And how many times does it actually happen in our lives?   We are tempted, and every single one of us has failed in our attempts to live according to what God has called humanity to live in.

Yet Jesus, though He was tempted in every way as we are, did not sin once (Hebrews 5:14-15).  Not one thought that was against God’s word was kept in Jesus‘ mind.  He did not despise others, speak cruelly out of hatred, act immorally with women or even entertain thoughts of doing so.  He did not lie, cheat, steal, take vengeance upon another, gossip, or dishonor His parents.  Daily, perhaps moment by moment, Jesus kept His thoughts, emotions, desires, words and actions in perfect obedience to the will of the Father.  Satan appeared to Jesus face to face, the fullness of evil before Him, yet He never swayed for one moment.   He never gave in.  He loved the Father fully, obedient to every single command.

And as I look at how Jesus prayed to the Father in Luke 22:39-46, I can see that Jesus’ obedience was not easy for Him.  Though He was fully God, that did not make His life of obedience easy.   He actually felt all of the difficulty in walking in obedience to the Father:

 “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours be done.”   Luke 22:42

As a Man, He was facing a most gruesome death.  He knew and understood the way that He would die as He was familiar with Is. 52:13-53:12. Rather than giving in to fear or a desire to keep His own life, Jesus offered up vehement cries to the Father, crying out to the One who could save Him from such a death (Hebrews 5:7-8). His cries were so great that He sweat drops of blood as He prayed, pouring out all of His emotions, thoughts, and cares to the Father.  He could feel the temptation to give in to His own desire, but in that moment He cried out to God and was empowered to do what the Father desired.  Jesus was honest,  He opened up His heart and spoke to the Father the truth of what He felt.  And it was in that moment that He received grace to die the death that He did.

In the midst of all temptation, Jesus lived a sinless life, and thus we can have hope, because if His Spirit lives in us, then we can live according to His obedience and not according to our temptations.  But we, like Jesus, must bring ourselves before God at times of temptation and offer up our cries that we might be spared from temptation.  We must be open with God about what is going on and then receive His grace to overcome.  Living for Him is worth it!

May we all have grace to face the temptations we have and find His help in our times of need  (Hebrews 5:14-16).

Blessings and happy thanksgiving!

Jesus’ Return to a Singing Bride

Even after being involved in the prayer movement for a few years, I continue to ask the Lord why I (and many others globally) am so compelled to remain in the place of prayer.  It seems crazy to want to devote the majority of life to prayer, and yet inside there is a gripping that I can’t move away from it!  There is a promise in Scripture that we are allowed to take great delight in knowing God, and that He has freely given us His Spirit so that we can enter in to that reality (Jeremiah 9:23-24, 1 Cor. 2:10-12).  The plans and intents of His heart will be accomplished (Psalm 33:11), and we are all invited to seek His heart and find out what those plans and intents are–He actually beckons us to!

What I am realizing is that the global worship and prayer movement that is sweeping across the earth is the primary desire of His heart in order to institute an atmosphere that is fitting for Jesus’ return.  Right now heaven is filled with songs of praise and delight of God.  Yet here on earth, the name of Jesus is used as a profanity, His existence as God’s Son denied, His laws perverted, and His grace made available through His horrific death refused.  He is light, but we who live in darkness have not understood the beauty of His heart and His plan to release justice across the entire earth, and thus He has not been worshipped in accordance to His worth.

He is changing this however, and He will have a people in agreement with who He is as He returns.  While we wait, He is filling the earth with the understanding of who He is, that we would see Him rightly and worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:23).  It is in the place of prayer that the Holy Spirit breaks forth with revelation and worship arises from the human heart.  As He continues to beckon people to prayer, He is “setting them up” to become His welcoming committee at His return.    Just  as He went into Jerusalem and the multitudes praised Him as king (Matt. 21:8-9), so when He returns His bride will be praising and proclaiming the truth of who He is amidst the nations who are raging at Him (Psalm 2).

He’s worthy of a bride  waiting for Him, agreeing with the truth of who He is throughout the earth.  The prayer movement is His way of establishing that cry.  As houses of prayer and praying churches continue to fill the nations, Jesus is preparing to have a grand entrance into the earth once again.  He came lowly, unexpected as a baby at His first advent, yet now He will come exalted in power and glory, riding upon the clouds of heaven, returning to His bride made ready for Him and taking the nations of the earth as His inheritance (Daniel 7:13-14; Matt. 24:29-31; Rev. 19:11-16).

Lord you are worthy to have people cry out to you day and night from the earth, echoing the songs of praise that emanate from Your throne!  Let the songs go forth in all across the nations!

Isaiah 62- Partnering with the Lord in the longing of His heart

One thing I love about the Scriptures is that in them we get to peer in to the very thoughts, plans, and purposes of God.  We have a God who actually gave us a written manuscript that He reveals Himself through- that is so crazy and amazing.  The Bible can be the very place that we encounter His heart.  And though the Old Testament for many is not something that is read very often or is that familiar,  it is the place for some of the greatest encounters with His heart.  For it’s in the prophets, books like Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea etc…that God opens up His heart and speaks directly to us through His prophets.  If we quiet ourselves down enough, we can begin to hear His voice through the pages of Scripture, having His voice resound through the words into our very spirits.

Psalm 33:11 “The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of His heart for all generations.”

I remember reading this verse a years ago and saying, “Lord, what are the plans of your heart?  I want to know what’s on Your heart!”  And recently He has been pointing me to see something very specific that He desires found in Isaiah 62.

Isaiah 62:1-2 (this is God speaking) “For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until her righteousness goes forth as brightness, and her salvation as a lamp that burns.”

Wow!  As God sits upon His eternal throne on the sea of glass, there is something that He has not ceased thinking about and crying out for, and that is for Jerusalem to be established in righteousness.   What is so interesting is that God has chosen the city of Jerusalem to be the location where He will dwell, Jesus actually calls it the city of the Great King ( check out 1Kings 9:3, 2 Kings 21:7, Psalm 132:13-14, and Matt. 5:35 to see what God says about Jerusalem!)

Hundreds of years after Isaiah spoke this word from the Lord in Jerusalem, Jesus walked amongst the same city.  During the week before His crucifixion, He was received by the multitudes with worship, proclaiming “blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!”  Yet the Jewish leaders, Pharisees, elders, and those in the city of Jerusalem were not praising Him or recognizing Him as the One sent from the Lord.  (To see the specific passages that highlight how the multitudes accepted Jesus but the religious leaders did not in Matthew 21-23, click here– its fascinating!).  Yet even though the multitudes were recognizing who Jesus was, Jesus longed for His people in the city of Jerusalem to know that He was God and know His goodness.  They didn’t, they wanted to kill Him, just like they had all the prophets God sent in the past.  Rather than listening to the prophets and turning their hearts to God, the people of Israel would kill the prophets instead.   Jesus now stood in their midst, proclaiming the kingdom of God, calling them to repentance that they might enter the kingdom, yet rather than listen they wanted wanted to kill Him.

Though the multitudes recognized Him as King and Son of God, the leaders of Jerusalem did not.  It was these people however who knew all of the Scriptures, who were responsible for teaching all of Jerusalem and leading them into the truth, yet they themselves did not recognize Truth (Jesus) when He was standing before them.  God had spoken to His people for centuries through the voice of the prophets, and now God Himself stood before them, revealing all of who He was to them, and they did not know Him.  Jesus wept at this (Matthew 23:37-39).  He wept because He “often longed” to gather His people together underneath His wing to protect them and care for them, but they would not allow Him to (Matt. 23:37).

So though throughout the nations of the earth the gospel is going forth, there is one nation that does not proclaim this- His nation Israel.  Jesus was told to ask the Father for the nations for His inheritance (Psalm 2), and Israel He will never cease asking for, it’s His desire.  His eye is upon Israel to be filled with His glory and righteousness.

Psalm 132:13-14  “For the Lord has chosen Zion; He has desired it for His dwelling place:  ‘This is My resting place forever; Here I will dwell, for I have desired it.” 

Israel exists as a nation after a 2,000 year disapora.  This is the only nation in history that this has happened to, and its because God made covenant with the nation’s forefather, Abraham, and desires to dwell in that land.  God actually desires to dwell in a specific location!  That blows my mind, that there is actually a place on earth that He wants to be- He Himself knows what “homesickness” is:)

And He invites all those who call upon His name to pray for righteousness to be established in Jerusalem as well, that they would come to know Jesus as their Messiah and be made new by the power of the Holy Spirit.  He has not and will not cease crying out for His people in Jerusalem, and He invites us to pray and enter in to His burden.  He states in Isaiah 62:7

  “You who make mention of the Lord, do not keep silent, and give Him no rest till He establishes and till He makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth.”

As we see that He cries over His nation and cries out for Israel to come back to Him, we can join Him in that cry and share this piece of His heart.  It’s amazing we serve a God who actually wants to share the things on His heart with us, and it is a great privilege.  Thank You Lord, for making Your heart known to us.