Hope

I’ve been reading in Lamentations and thought what a depressing book this was. I understand why the lamenting but I couldn’t wait to get out of it. I even asked the Lord, “Why are you having me read this today?” But………….then I stumbled on chapter 3:21-33

In the beginning of the chapter the author (might be Jeremiah) says, “I am a man of affliction…..” and he goes on to record all the bad things that he was experiencing under the rod of God’s wrath. But then he finally in verse 21 says, “But this I call to mind, and therefor I have hope.” He begins to list the things about God that reminded him of the hope that was before him. And should be a reminder to us when we go through hard times.

  • God’s love is steadfast and never ceases. No matter what we do or what we say, He still loves us. He looks into our hearts and He see the person He created us to be. He gives us room to grow. There are consequences for poor decisions but He is always calling us closer and pointing us in a better direction.
  • His mercy’s never come to an end and they are new every morning
  • His faithfulness is great. God is faithful to His word. He knows the outcome of our circumstances and He promises that His plans are good and not meant to harm us. Though we may be facing trials right now, we know it’s building steadfastness and character in us.  James 1: Be assured that the testing of your faith [through experience] produces endurance [leading to spiritual maturity, and inner peace].And let endurance have its perfect result and do a thorough work, so that you may be perfect and completely developed [in your faith], lacking in nothing. (AMP) When we believe this, we know that although we feel miserable, our weeping will last for a moment but joy is coming in the morning.
  • God is our portion. He is OUR portion! He is everything we need and He is exactly what we need. We need to really get this. He is the ingredient in our recipe for life that brings it all together.
  • He is good to those who wait for Him. when we are weak, tired, burdened, confused, helpless etc…..He tells us that when we wait (with anticipation) we will be renewed with fresh strength and we will sour as we move closer to God. We fill find ourselves up and running  and not giving up. (See Is 40:31)
  • His is good to the soul who seeks Him. He tells us when we seek him we will find him and when we find Him that is definitely a good thing (Jer 29:13)
  • Salvation comes from the Lord for those who wait quietly. The Hebrew meaning of wait means waiting expectantly. We can count on God to step into our situations and either deliver us or leads us into victory. When we don’t wait, we don’t listen and usually find ourselves is a much worse situation. When we are quiet we can hear him say……Is 30:21 And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.
  • He will not be cast off  forever. Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. Everything we go through can have a redemptive purpose. God has a  good plan for our lives, and we will see things work it out in His timing because He has compassion according to the abundance of His love. His heart is not to afflict or grieve his children. Just as we discipline our children, so does the Lord discipline His (us) but His purpose is to turn our hearts back to Him so He can continue to lead us to accomplish the purpose and plans He has for us.

So the next time you’re feeling hopeless remember who God is and how He is working in your life.

 

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Pressing In With Expectation

The Lord loves talking to His people.He love teaching us new things, teaching us deeper things, healing our broken hearts, drawing us into His chambers, revealing answers to prayer ( some of them that we even forgot we asked). He just plain loves spending time with us.  Luke 5:1 On one occasion, while the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God…….

The Greek word for pressing is epikeimai of men, to press upon, to be urgent. To press on in the Cambridge Dictionary: to start or continue doing something in a determined way, often despite problems:

The people were determined to hear from Jesus. They expected an outcome  and they were rewarded. In verse 3 Luke says………And he sat down and taught the people from the boat.  No matter what their circumstances were, they were willing to keep moving forward in the direction He was going. The Lord rewards determination! 

It was the same for the woman with the issue of blood in Luke 8:45. The crowd was pressing in on Jesus again and she reaches out and touches the hem of His garment and was rewarded with healing.

Phil 3:10-14 Paul talks about wanting to really know Jesus intimately and experiencing His mighty power, sharing in His sufferings and even though he wasn’t there yet he was continuing to press on to achieve that goal, the heavenly prize at the end of the race.

Fasting and prayer is just one opportunity to press in deeper. I have never fasted and not received a word from the Lord for me personally, for others and for the Church. Everything I receive from Him comes from His word (spoken to my heart or read from His word) and is confirmed through others, worship, His creation, books about Him, even books not about Him. He confirms in whatever way He pleases.

I want to stay determined no matter what I am going through. I want to keep pressing in, seeking, asking and knocking. Not only through this fast but even after it’s over, cause it’s really not over: it’s just beginning! There’s a whole boat load ( if you read the rest of Luke 5, you’ll see that was a pun) of things to come and to know. There’s so much about our Lord that we don’t know and He invites us in and to discover it!

Phillipian 3:13 No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead….

Day 16 of fasting for 21 Days! This fast has been pretty amazing so far and there are still 5 days left! I’ve suffered with some physical pain through it and a bit of hunger and cravings but the reward has been so worth it. The Lord used Luke 5 to encourage me to encourage others to press in and He gave me a word for our church from vs 4-11 that I may share tomorrow because it could be a word or teaching for any church.

The Word came in the Wilderness

My greatest times with the Lord have been while I was in the pain of the wilderness. I’ve walked through many wilderness experiences and although I don’t enjoy the pain, the lessons learned and the word given during those times have helped me grow and mature as a Christian woman.  Luke 3:2 “……….the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness.”

In my book Breaking Through to Higher Places I wrote, “When Jesus was led into the wilderness, it was by the Spirit. It was intentional. The word led is the Greek word anago, which means He was led up. To be led up is to be led in a more elevated position, as to climb to the top of a ladder. The wilderness is the higher place. We often enter the wilderness crying, angry, and with great dread thinking that this is the lowest form of punishment and testing. We start asking God, “Why me?” or “Why are You doing this to me?” I wonder what would happen if we started entering it with joy, great expectation, and started believing that God is going to meet us there. Yes, we will be tempted, but Jesus already went through it, will help us, and He knows how to tug on the strings of the Father’s heart. Every wilderness experience is an opportunity for change and a deeper intimacy with God. Can you think back to a time when you said you wanted to be like Jesus? Can you remember asking him to help you to treat people the way Jesus would have? Have you asked God for a deeper more intimate relationship with Him? Well, be careful of what you ask for because going through the wilderness will reveal who you really are. But then, when you see the truth and acknowledge it, God can release you from your captivity, the kind of captivity that keeps you from growing and deepening your relationship with Him.”

God talks to us in many ways and many forms but for me personally, I have received so much from Him during the hardest times in my life. The most important thing I have learned is to be willing to learn. 

After the word of the Lord came to John His ministry took off full swing. He was preaching, exhorting, baptizing and teaching. If we are willing to listen and learn, God will also instruct us in the wilderness how to respond once we move out and move ahead.

Day 12 of my 21 day fast. I woke up in so much pain not due to the fast but I believe from what could be fibromyalgia but I remain in a state of joy and expectation. This pain is my wilderness experience so it stands to reason, today will be a day of hearing from the Lord!!! The fast so far has been so much easier then I thought it would be. I do miss a nice big slab of meat and the feeling of something being chewed between my teeth hahaahhaha. The Lord continues to speak and encourage me through His word and through His people. The biggest message is greater things are coming!

If you say so, Lord!

Luke 1: 38 And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” I can’t imagine the things that were going through Mary’s head as the angel Gabriel appeared to her. First of all…AN ANGEL APPEARED TO HER!  But then to find out she was going to be pregnant and not by the man she was betrothed to. Whoa!

I found it interesting that she was more troubled that he called her “favored one” then that she was going to have a child. I mean she did ask the obvious question, “How can this be since I’m a virgin. But  she was GREATLY troubled at the greeting.

Crazy enough I get it! If anyone came along let alone and angel and said I was God’s favored one, I’d be thinking, “Ok what do you want?” I have had people tell me that in the past that I was highly favored and I became highly suspicious of their motives. It’s not that I don’t believe that I am God’s favorite. Yes I am! Misty Edwards sang a song about that very thing. Some of the lyrics are:

Jesus,
Here I am your favorite one
What are You thinking, what are You feeling?
I have to know
(Repeat x 2)

It’s different to know I am His favorite when He tells me but when someone else tells me, I just want to ask them, “How do you know?” When someone else tells me all of a sudden I know I am faced with some big…huge……GIGANTIC responsibility coming my way and THAT terrifies me.

Now the angel tells her what that responsibility is going to be. She must have thought, “Joseph is never going to believe this. What if he divorces me or has me stoned for adultery cause he knows it isn’t his?” I can only imagine that things that would have gone on in my head. But when the angel answers her she just says, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”

She trusted God so much that she was willing to go through anything for Him no matter what the consequences would be for her . Especially what people would say about her or how they would treat her.

I remember many years ago in another city, long before Greg and I became pastors, being in a situation where I had to deal with what people said and the way they treated me because of something that happened, that I felt God lead me to do at a retreat, I had put together. I was beaten up mentally by one of my best friends because I didn’t do things the way we planned. But in my defense our biggest plan was to allow the Holy Spirit to move even if it meant changing our plans. And that’s what happened! Unfortunately it involved not doing what she had planned. She raked me over the coals in front of everyone. Fortunately one of my former pastors was there and just the night before she had told me that an ancient nation was going to rise against me. I just didn’t think it would be one my best friends. She gave me an incredible book to read by Francis Frangipane The Three Battlegrounds. This book helped me so much and there were two quotes that I held on to for dear life.

“Satan will not continue to assault you when the circimstances he designed to destroy you are now perfecting you.” and “Peace is the best weapon against adversity.”  I remember laying in bed and telling the Lord, I was done. I was done with woman’s ministries. I was done with the women in the church and I was done with Him. He gently listened and then very quietly said, “Ok, where will you go?” I started crying even harder and said, “Lord, there is no place for me to go without YOU.” I told him that I was His student (servant) and that whatever I needed to learn from this, I was willing to learn.

The Lord told me not to defend myself to others or even talk about what happened because it would be gossip. I would be making myself look like a victim instead of a victor and those who were attacking me would be made to look like victimizers. He told me to trust him and He would be my defender. He also revealed a huge error I had made on my part that started long before the planning of the retreat that actually caused a domino effect and even though what happened to me at and after that retreat was wrong, I still had to take responsibility for it……and I did…..but that’s another story.

Carrying that by myself with no one to talk to was very hard. My pastor’s wife knew a little of what was going on at the time not from me but offered to to be a mediator. It never came to that as God opened many doors of conversation that actually ended up with Him restoring me completely and when I left that church, I left on a great note. I trusted Him and He did not let me down. I wanted to be an obedient servant no matter what.

I’ve been through so many more situations where God has told me what He was going to do and it was going to be hard. But I have come out of each one a little stronger and little wiser with plenty of more room to grow. So now I try very hard when He is about to birth something in and through me to say, ” If you say so, Lord!”

Delighting in the Lord

In my devotional time today, I read Mark 12:37b………..And the large crowd enjoyed listening to Him. Other versions said they delighted in listening to Him, they heard Him gladly, and they were delighted with what they heard. My favorite version was the Amplified Bible  “The large crowd enjoyed hearing Jesus and listened to Him with delight.”

It made me question my motivations how I read His word, how I listen to someone else bring His word and how I read what someone else has written about Him in a book. For the most part I can say I enter in with great expectation of hearing from Him but there are times I just tune out and go through the motions. Just being honest here. I don’t like when that happens.

I hate when I have to keep reading the same scripture over and over cause I’m thinking about something else. Anyone else do that?  Or the times when someone is talking and I tune out and then they say, “What do you think, Diane?” Argggggggg Or how bout when you read a whole chapter in a book and when you get done, you can’t account for what it was about?

I don’t ever want to take the Lord for granted. I want to hang on His word the way the people did when He walked the earth with them. They were so excited they came in droves and stayed without even thinking about what they were going to eat. I think about the guys that believed in everything He said so they brought their friend to Him for healing and dug through a roof to get to Him. Now that is excitement!

David didn’t even have to hear Him speak. He was just delighted in spending time gazing on His beauty. Ps 27:4 The one thing I ask of the Lord— the thing I seek most— is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, delighting in the Lord’s perfections and meditating in his Temple

The dictionary defines delight as a high degree of gratification or pleasure: extreme satisfaction. PS 37:4 says, ” Delight yourself in the Lord, And He will give you the desires and petitions of your heart.”  I have read this scripture a bazillion times. Seriously! What if we read it this way, ” Extremely satisfy yourself in the Lord.” Changes the whole way you look at that scripture. Right? The delight in Hebrew means to be happy about, take exquisite delight. Exquisite mean intense  as in pleasure.

We are so fortunate to have the Word of God! I don’t ever want to get to a place where I take it and the Lord for granted. God gives us so many rewards when we delight our selves in Him and His word. Just a few examples:

  1. We’ll get the desires of our hearts (Ps 27:4)
  2. We will shout for joy (Ps 37:47)
  3. The Lord will direct our steps (Ps 37:23)
  4.  He is blessed (Ps 112:1)
  5.  He can have a clean life (Ps 119:9-16)

I think I’m going to be looking at this with different eyes now.

Day 5 of our 21 day fast has been amazing. I feel great. Still get those hunger pangs but not as intense as the first three days. God just keeps giving me so much to ponder on every day. I can’t wait til what He is showing me about me will turn into how He plans to use me for His glory!!! Exciting days ahead!

I am a Sword Survivor!

Jeremiah 31:Thus says the Lord:“The people who survived the sword
    found grace in the wilderness;

I have always loved this scripture. It always reminded me that you can survive the bad things in life and find favor and peace in the wilderness that the sword causes you to run to.

I didn’t realize until today though, as I was continuing my reading in Jeremiah, that this was prophetic of the future for the people of God but also going to be very prophetic for my own life. I am a sword survivor.

I’ve had several battles in my life but no matter what I went through, my faith carried me through the wilderness times. Having grace during those times didn’t mean I was always going to be happy but I knew that God was with me. There’s a lot of lessons to be learned in the wildernesses of our lives if we’re willing to learn them.

My biggest battle happened 4 years ago when I faced a crisis in my marriage and ministry. I ran away from that sword and landed at a very wonderful friends house for 10 days. God was building me up, loving me through it  and promising me I was going to rise above my circumstances. Last blog I talked about the exile I have been in. The exile is the same as the wilderness. In that battle my marriage was saved but not my ministries.

The Lord opened the door for us to move to the country.  I love it and don’t want to leave it, it has been a place of healing, peace and solitude but it has also been a place of loneliness. Because we are so far away, it makes it hard to get involved in ministry. We tried to get involved with one ministry but the Lord showed me that my vision wasn’t the same and I had to step aside but I didn’t quit supporting it. It’s so important to allow God to grow you, where you have been planted whether or not it feels comfortable. We are now looking for a home that is closer to both our church and kids because the door has opened for us to both jump in!

The Lord has loved me and remains faithful to the promises He has given me even though I am still waiting to see the fruit of those promises.

Jeremiah 31: 4 Again I will build you, and you shall be built, O virgin Israel! Again you shall adorn yourself with tambourines and shall go forth in the dance of the merrymakers. Again you shall plant vineyards on the mountains of Samaria; the planters shall plant and shall enjoy the fruit. For there shall be a day when watchmen will call in the hill country of Ephraim: ‘Arise, and let us go up to Zion, to the Lord our God.’”

God was promising to take the people back home, to their land. And He has promises these same things to me. The verse that really jumped out was “the planters shall plant and shall enjoy the fruit. I felt like for years I have planted but have not got to experience the fruit I have been able to produce. I believe the Lord was telling this is about to change and that I will now bear and experience it. This is just so exciting for me!!!

Day three of my 21 Day Fast has been a little uncomfortable. Not the hunger but my stomach has hurt a little and I have felt nauseated but I have pressed forward. I’ve been a little grumpy with the dogs today and their wanting to go outside every ok what seems like every 5 minutes.  I know how amazing fasts are and am already on the receiving end of God’s presence and speaking to me. Come on day 4!

Exile Doesn’t Mean Quit!

No matter where we are in life, we should never stop building, planting, and praying especially when God removes us from one place and takes us to another.

Day one of my church’s 21 day fast was pretty easy. It got a little tough at night as the hunger headache came on and I was really wanting something solid. I also had insomnia and didn’t fall asleep til after 3 am. But the trade off was/is definitely worth it and that is hearing from God in His word.

Right now I am reading in the book of Jeremiah.  In Chapter 29 God sent His people into exile for 70 years. He sent them from Jerusalem into Babylon. Exile means a prolonged, usually enforced absence from one’s home or country; banishment. (Dictionary.com) or  people that have to leave their own land, often for a long time. (Easy English Bible Dictionary)The false prophets were telling them not to worry that they would return soon. But God was telling them to build houses and live in them, plant gardens, marry and have children. Then He told them to pray for the land they were living in.

I have felt that exile in my own life the last 4 years. I am happy to say though that I have never quit. I  have kept and still keep trying to build and plant seeds where God had me living both physically and spiritually. I know that sometimes God has to move us from one place to teach us new things but He also replaces us to teach other’s new things. Although it hasn’t been comfortable and not all that I have wanted, I have had to learn to be content.

God is true to His promises and even though at times I have felt like I must have imagined them, He has been busy making it even far better then I could have dreamed. I think I am beginning to see a little glimpse into His plan. He will return me back to the places He has removed me in a spiritual sense.

When God told His people to pray He added, vs 7 “…..for in it’s welfare you will find your welfare.” No matter where God has us planted, no matter how painful it might feel, no matter if it’s totally different, we need to pray for peace. What we pray for others will fall back on us. We inherit the rewards of those who are rewarded through our prayers.

God promised them He would visit them and He would fulfill his promise. He will do the same for me and for you. It may not look the way it did when He removed you but it will be better, new, and restored.

God has been having me look above and below the promises he has given me in scripture in the past and tying it together for me in brand new, exciting ways. I didn’t even realize until I got to verse 11 that He was tying in my scripture for 2017:

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.13 You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.

DESTINY!

DESTINY: MY WORD FOR 2017

Every year our pastor asks us to ask God for a word for the new year. Last year God gave me the word THRIVE. And boy did I have to live up to that word. Some of those times were great and others were so painful. The hardest thing was letting go of a dream and the best was publishing my book.

So today as pastor was asking us once again to seek the Lord for a word for 2017, I closed my eyes and said, “Ok, Lord what is my new word for the new year?” As I was praying I could see a word being spelled out (in cursive even) d-e-s-t-i... immediately I said, ” No! That can’t be right. It has to be a verb like thrive….an action word. So I asked again and again I see d-e-s-t-i-n……….So I’m thinking ok this isn’t working. Destiny cannot possibly be the word He is giving me. Then I heard the Lord speak to my heart, “Diane, just STOP and receive the word I want to give you: DESTINY. This is your word for the year and you will understand more later.

I had to laugh later cause that is so me thinking it had to be a certain type of word when I know God is so creative. I even just blogged about the creativity of God.

The dictionary defines destiny as the events that will necessarily happen to a particular person or thing in the future. The scripture that best fits this is Jeremiah 29:11 (Amplified Bible)”For I know the plans and thoughts that I have for you,’ says the Lord, ‘plans for peace and well-being and not for disaster to give you a future and a hope.

God has given this word to me for THIS YEAR! Not next year and not last year. I have waited years to figure out what my destiny is. I gone back and read and reread all His promises and the biggest thing that stood out was I am an encourager.

I have been and always will be what God has gifted me to be. I have done almost everything in ministry except Men’s Ministry and the finances. I’ve taught, I’ve lead worship, I’ve organized other ministries and events, I’ve started new things, I’ve sang, I’ve preached, I’ve babysat, I’ve lead bible studies, hosted bible studies and small groups and fund raised. I’ve pastored, mentored, evangelized, mobilized and energized. I’ve been church secretary, ran sound, ran media, and set up and torn down. I’ve painted, fed the less fortunate, cleaned the church carpet, decorated, etc…
In all these things I’ve done done done. I’ve led led led.

Today I had a revelation. As I sat in our church staff meeting, the Lord showed me that He is not asking me to jump in and be superwoman anymore but to use my gifts of encouragement, faith, wisdom and prophecy to help encourage other super women! So already God has begin to show me what 2017 will look like. DESTINY!

Don’t Box Yourself In

Day three on my weight-loss journey was soooooooooooooo hard. I had such a bad headache all day and I just broke down and cried. The chronic pain I felt plus the changing of my lifestyle combined was tough. But I knew today, (Day 4) I would feel great. I read the word and tried to journal but I really didn’t hear anything. I think God was letting my brain rest. Today I was back in His word again and He gave me another portion of scripture to ponder.

I love the way God works. It’s never the same way with each person. Just look at the different ways He healed. He healed without even being where the sick person was. He laid hands on them. He healed by the faith of another for the person He was asked to heal, He healed by spitting on their eyes. He touched them and He healed by allowing someone to touch the hem of His garment.

Our God is so creative. He speaks to people differently as well. He speaks in an audible voice, through other people, His word, in visions and dreams, through our thoughts, supernaturally, through the Bible, through circumstances, etc….

As I was continuing my reading today in Jeremiah, the portion of scripture that jumped out at me was chapter 18:1-6

1 The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: “Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will let you hear my words.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel. And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do.Then the word of the Lord came to me: “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter has done? declares the Lord. Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel.

God spoke in various ways  to Jeremiah but this day He chose to use an allegory of the potter and the clay. He didn’t just want Jeremiah to hear the word, He wanted him to see it as well. He could of just spoke right to Him but He used what he saw to help Israel understand His plan.

In our weight-loss journey God can use any method to help us lose weight. And He will allow us to choose what works best for us. But whatever method we use, if we want His help, He is their to lend a hand. He uses many ways to speak to us: His word, friends, circumstances, books etc…We need to be careful that we don’t box ourselves in or others by thinking though, that there is only one right way to lose. We can be just as creative as He is.

 

Your Word Became My Meal

Weight loss is not fun, especially the first two weeks. For me the third day is the worse. Hunger headaches, nausea, insomnia, constant wanting to reach for something to eat drives me crazy. But I’m committed. I know what to expect and prepared myself for it. Ibuprofen or peppermint oil for healing of headaches. Play candy crush til my eyes can’t stay open any more for insomnia…I know I’m weird. Most people’s brains get stimulated; mine goes to sleep. Cupboards and refrigerator cleaned out so there’s nothing tempting me…except for those chocolate bars of Greg’s. Not my favorite though so I think I will be able to hang. Unfortunately I haven’t found anything to get rid of the nausea but I know this too shall pass.

The biggest successes for me in the past were staying in the word and keeping myself accountable. Contests sometimes if the payout was good. I have a hard time with groups (even though I am part of a really good nationwide one for the exact diet plan I am using) because everyone signs up but maybe one third participates and that usually last a couple of weeks. And there I am all alone with no one to encourage or to be encouraged by.

In my devotions yesterday Jeremiah says that God’s word became a joy to him and delight of his heart. The word became,become, becoming means to come, change, or grow to be (as specified). Joy doesn’t come naturally. Something has to happen to receive it.  In this case it was to find the word and then eat it. In weight loss, for me, I have to eat from the word to replace the hunger or head hunger I feel at any time. It’s the same when I fast so this month I will be getting a double portion.

Jeremiah 15:16
Your words were found and I ate them,
And Your words became a joy to me and the delight of my heart;
For I have been called by Your name,
O Lord God of hosts.

In order to find something you  need to search for it. And when you find it, you need to do something with it. In this case God’s words were found and Jeremiah feasted on them. Jeremiah listened to God and it’s the same with us. We are so fortunate to have many ways to hear from God but the biggest blessing is the Bible. We need to open it up, wait expectantly and then let his word become our meal.

So if you are on a weight loss plan like myself….let God’s word be your meal and you will find joy not only in His word but in the changes taking place both spiritually and physically. And who isn’t delighted when their body starts reshaping and the world of fashion begins to open up to us in new and different ways?!!!