Acts 10:15 “What God has made clean, do not call common.”

So I’ve been absent the last few days or so because it’s finals crunch and I have some big papers to write before Friday. However, I was writing one of my papers due last week on Peter’s speech in Acts 10, when this one word grabbed me. I have tried to wait to write this post until after final’s are over (because truly I should be writing my 5000 word paper… but I’m not :-P) but this word is just on repeat in my brain. This beautiful word from Acts 10:15 and its implications have had me praising God day and night for his incredible glory. Go read Acts 10. All of it. I know, it’s a lot, but Oh, what an incredible story!!!!!! This chapter is so full of supernatural intervention that it boggles my mind; it shows how important God thought this message way to the early church. Go read it!!

Isn’t it beautiful? This is the “Gentile Pentecost.” This is not necessarily the first Gentile conversion (see Acts 8), but it is definitely the first time that Peter understands God’s will for Christianity and that it be opened to the rest of the world. God tried to do this in chapter 8, but the apostles were resistant to the idea that even the Gentiles should be welcome into the family of Christ; so He sent angels, visions, and words from the Spirit to make sure that they got the message this time.

In 10:9 Peter goes up to the rooftop to pray but then he gets hungry. While he is sitting there hungry, waiting for his food, God sends him this vision of all sorts of animals, birds, and reptiles and tells him to pick some and eat. But Peter, like the good Law-abiding Jew that he was, is shocked and tells God “NO!” I can just hear the shock and offense in his voice. Like, “God! What?! I’m not eating that! It’s dirty!!” (It kind of sounds like my children when I cook something they find abhorrent :-P) But God tells him – “What God has made clean, do not call common.”

Eventually Peter understands that this vision isn’t just about food – the first and most important meaning is symbolic. It’s about mankind. The Jewish people believed that the Gentiles, or the non-Jewish people, were unclean because of the food they ate and the gods they worshiped. God was telling Peter that He shows no partiality among mankind; God loves all people of every nation, every tongue, every background. He shows no preference, no partiality, but loves all equally and desires an intimate relationship with all.

As incredible as that is all by itself, that is not my message today. I want to talk about God’s message to Peter: What God has made clean, do not call common.

These words in Greek are so heavy! The Jews believed the Gentiles were “common.” This word is κοινόϛ (koinos) and means common in a sense that it is set apart from the consecrated or holy; in secular Greek it referred to something that had little value. God had told the Jews that they were set apart for Him, so they believed that the Gentiles were common. As for the Greeks, they associated “common” with “having little value.” Don’t we do the same? We look at ourselves or others and judge. We judge ourselves for our past and see ourselves as having little value; of not being worthy to be in the presence of the Holy One. We judge others and think, “they couldn’t possibly be Christian.” But. God says, What God has made clean, do not call common.

See, this word, this beautiful word, “clean,” in Greek is καθαριζω (katharizo). The definition for this word is, “a physical, religious, and moral cleanness or purity in such senses as clean, free from stains or shame, and free from adulteration (TDNT, 381).” What God has made clean, do not call common. God has cleansed us; He has cleansed us from all amorality, all shame, all adulteration. He has cleansed us from all our bad choices, all our impure thoughts, all our judgments. I keep seeing a vision of myself in front of a mirror, standing there cloaked in mud – it is dripping from my clothes, my hair, my dirty face; this is me before God. After I made Him the Lord over my life, there is a completely different me standing in front of that mirror. Now I see myself in pure white, glowing with radiance that only the indwelling of the Spirit can give. Each of us that follow Christ have the same reflection; we are each clothed in pure white, having been bathed with the blood of Christ, glowing with God’s radiance.

I took so long to see that God is bigger than all my past sins (and my present and future ones too). In my head, I believed, but in my heart I could not understand. My sins seemed so big, so ugly, so deep that I could not grasp that God was bigger. But Praise Him, He is! And He is far bigger than your sin, too. He has made you katharizo, so that you have been physically, religiously, morally cleansed so that you are now consecrated, pure, and holy in the eyes of your Savior, your Creator.

Have faith, Beloved, God shows no partiality, but lavishes us in His love. He has already cleansed us so that we can be with Him; He loves YOU so incredibly much that He wants to be in your presence day and night, through the good and the bad. He made you holy so that you could live with Him for eternity. Has there ever been or ever will be a love like His? Run to Him today, for He has set you apart and made you clean.

Lord God, you see. You know our fears, our feelings of inadequacy and you understand our hearts. I pray that you give each of us eyes to see ourselves as you see us; radiant in purity, beautiful in holiness. Pour your love into our hearts, so that we feel the depth of love you have for us and wrap us in your peace and joy today. Give us eyes to see others as you see them and love them as you do. Thank you for your grace and mercy, Lord. You astound us. You bewilder us. Thank you. In your Precious and Holy Name, Amen.

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“He calls them each by name”

Have you ever had that moment when things are suddenly put into perspective and you realize how incredibly small you really are? Like when you watch a video like this?

I mean. Come on! Can you even comprehend the HUGENESS of the universe, and the complete minutia of our little lives in it? I know it absolutely boggles my mind. We are most definitely not the center of any universe, but there is a God in heaven who is! He is both the center of it – the point about which every single thing in the universe revolves – and the beginning of it and the end. The Alpha and Omega of every speck of matter in all of creation. Even more boggling, He knows each person, every creature, each star intimately. Psalm 147:4 says, “He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name.” I am in such awe, as I write this with tears in my eyes just at the mere fact that He calls me by name as well. Isaiah 43:1 tells us what God told Jacob, “But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.” Please insert your name here:
But now says the LORD, He who created you, O _________, He who formed you, O______: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are Mine.”

God formed us with infinitely more care than the stars, He knit us together in our mothers’ wombs (Jeremiah 1:5), He chose us and planned for us before earth’s foundations were laid (Eph 1:4). I love this verse, it has been a favorite of mine since the beginning of my walk with Christ – one of the first He led me to read:

Psalm 8:3-5

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
    the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,

what is man that you are mindful of him,
    and the son of man that you care for him?

Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
    and crowned him with glory and honor.

See, Beloved, God made all these things – these huge and wonderful things for us. He created the most incredible artwork for us to gaze upon and to know Him in His most revealing beauty, He wanted to give us a piece of Himself and so He created the moon and the stars. He wants us to look up and marvel at His glory, at the beauty He made for us. He wants us to see the world He created for us and to know of His incredible love for us. See, the God that made each star, each moon, each planet, is the same God that made each blade of grass, each beautiful butterfly, and each perfectly made person.

Not only is He master of every galaxy in creation, but He’s master of every situation you will ever find yourself in. Not only does God concern Himself with the rotation of the earth around the sun, but He concerns Himself with the minute details of your life.

YOUR PAST

YOUR DEPRESSION

YOUR PAIN

YOUR HATE

YOUR ANGER

YOUR DOUBT

YOUR FEAR

YOUR SHAME

YOUR EATING DISORDER

YOUR SELF HARM

YOUR ANXIETY

YOUR LONELINESS

YOUR SCARS

YOUR ADDICTIONS

Not only is God concerned with all of it – He is BIGGER than all of it. There are always excuses that we make for not reaching out to God; typically, it has to do with the negativity we feel about ourselves. What is keeping you from God today? Trust me in this, I’ve been in a lot of ugly situations in my life and if He can conquer my ugliness, Beloved, He can conquer yours. God is bigger than any problem you may have – any addiction, any immorality, any shame, any fear. He is bigger, and He will give you victory over all of it!!!

Deuteronomy 20:4 says, “for the LORD your God is he who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies, to give you the victory.”

No only does He fight for you, Beloved, in any trial, but He is going before you – He has already given you the victory! You just have to reach for Him and take it. ❤ Give Him your battle today and let Him give you victory. Amen.

Haggai 1:3-9 “Consider your ways…”

I am struck by this passage out of Haggai tonight. Go read it: 1:3-9.

First a short history lesson: The Hebrew people were exiled under King Nebuchadnezzar in 605 BC (Daniel 1:1); he besieged Jerusalem and took all the Israelites captive, reduced their city and temple to rubble, and returned with them to Babylon. Then Nebuchadnezzar’s son lost his throne to the Medes and the Persians (Daniel 5:31). When King Cyrus of Persia took the throne, he released the Israelites to return back to Jerusalem and rebuild both their cities and their temple (538 BC). When these people returned, they came to a place of rubble – a destitute place without food, homes, or most importantly for this passage, a temple.  According to Ezra, the Jews came out of exile with a drive and excitement to rebuild the temple; however, “the people of the land discouraged the people of Judah and made them afraid to build and bribed counselors against them to frustrate their purpose, all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius king of Persia (Ezra 4:4-5).” Thus, Haggai comes on the scene around 519 BC to tell the people of Israel God’s desire for them to resume building on the temple.

This is where we pick up in Haggai 1. Actually. Read Ezra 4:4-5 again. Did you notice why the Israelites stopped building the temple in the first place? Eventually King Artaxerxes of Persia ordered them to cease work on the temple in 521 BC, but that was 17 years after the Israelites had returned from Babylon (Ezra 4:21)!” The Israelites folded from outside pressure: God asked them to do one thing, but they did not have faith that God would take care of the obstacles they faced in their task. God often calls us to do things that seem to have insurmountable obstacles, but when will we learn that those are the places where we get to see God do incredible things? So many times I have been asked why God doesn’t do miracles or why we don’t see God’s work – but here’s the thing: We will never see God perform miracles on our behalf if we never put ourselves in places where His miracles are needed. If we don’t step out in faith to do a task that we know without a doubt that we cannot do by ourselves, when do we give God the opportunity to show His hand?! Like the Israelites, the opposition seems too fierce and we become discouraged and do not finished our work. Discouragement is Satan’s most prized possession. Do not be fooled; when God has led you into a task, discouraging words, discouraging thoughts are the Devil’s way of obstructing the completion of it. See here’s the thing – the ONLY way the Devil wins against God is through OUR WEAKNESSES. If we are willing to have faith enough to see it through – there is NOTHING that can stop God’s will from being fulfilled. Our fears and lack of faith are the only thing that keeps God from using us to do incredible, miraculous things in His Wonderful and Glorious Name! Can I get an Amen?!

Back to Haggai 1. Again :). The LORD told Haggai to tell the Israelites that He was not happy with their lack of progress.

“Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins? Now, therefore, thus says the LORD of hosts: consider your ways.

You have sown much, and harvested little. you eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. you clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes. Thus says the LORD of hosts: Consider your ways. Go up to the hills and bring wood and build the house, that I may take pleasure in it and that I may be glorified, says the LORD. You looked for much, and behold, it came to little. And when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why? declares the LORD of hosts. Because of my house that lies in ruins, while each of you busies himself with his own house.” Haggai 1:4-9

These are such hard words. In the Old Testament, people of God did not have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to guide them like we do now – that’s why they had prophets in the first place. That is also why we see God withholding success and prosperity from His people – it is a message of God’s displeasure. Once Christ died on the cross and rose from the grave, he opened a way for us to dwell with God, to hear God speak, to know God’s pleasure and displeasure for our actions, to feel the conviction of His ways in our life through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. During the Old Testament times, however, they did not have this and so we continuously see passages like Haggai 1 throughout the Scriptures. God used natural elements and neighboring peoples to convey His pleasure or displeasure with His people. In this case, He withheld prosperity until they learned to put Him first. They had forgotten their true love, they had forgotten to be faithful to Him first. In this passage, Haggai is explaining to them why they are not having any success in any endeavor they undertake: they forgot God first.

I just love the Living Bible Translation of Proverbs 3:6:

In EVERYTHING you do, put God first and he will direct you and crown you with success.

Do not get me wrong: I am not preaching a “prosperity” message here. Neither I nor the Bible promises you without a doubt that if you love God you will have all the material possessions you ever desire. No. Not at all. God is not nearly as concerned with your comfort as He is your character and He will use hard situations to mold your character into His likeness. You are promised trials in this lifetime, some of those may be material. What this does promise, however, is that if you put God first then He will provide all your needs according to His good purpose (Rom. 8:28). If you align your will with God’s, commit yourself to “Your will be done, not mine,” then you will be successful in every situation God takes you into. The Israelites left God’s plan for them to rebuild “His house,” and instead focused on their own houses. What they forgot is that without a temple their path to God, their atonement through sacrifice, or His presence with them, was not possible. So they left His path and were totally unsuccessful in every aspect of their lives.

We, too, are called to put God first. If your path is not successful, like the Israelites, if your crops are not flourishing (metaphorically speaking), then maybe you need to ask yourself why. Check your relationship with God. Check the reason for your endeavor: is it God’s path, or is it one you are trying to cut yourself? Like God said through Haggai, “Consider Your Ways.” Follow God’s path for your life, put Him first, laugh at the opposition, praise God for the incredible miracles He will work for your sake, work towards your goal, and watch as He exceeds any expectations you ever imagined! Hallelujah and Amen!

Acts 21:12-14 Let the will of the Lord be done.

I didn’t plan on writing on this today, but I simply cannot let its beauty go unnoticed. Go read this section (really Acts 21:10-14 for context). What a beautiful scene this is to my heart. A prophet named Agabus had just come from Judea, most likely from Jerusalem and he comes to Paul, took Paul’s belt and bound his own feet and hands and said, “Thus says the Holy Spirit, ‘This is how the Jews at Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.'” Essentially, this man had just come from Jerusalem (Luke uses “Judea” and “Jerusalem” interchangeably throughout Luke and Acts) and God had given him prophetic insight as to what would happen to Paul if he chose to enter its gates. God allowed Paul the unique opportunity to be fully informed before he chose to fulfill God’s plan for his life. He gave Paul foreknowledge of his own demise, should he do as God asked and return one last time to Jerusalem.

Has this ever happened to you? Has God given you insight into something bad that will happen if you did as He asked? Did you do it anyway? What do you think God’s purpose is in giving you this knowledge and did it help or hurt you to receive it? I have never personally experienced this, but I would love to hear your testimonies!

We move on to v12 when the Christians around Paul hear this terrifying possibility and beg him not to go. I love that Luke includes himself in this – he doesn’t hide his plea for Paul to avoid Jerusalem. There is such beauty in this, the love of a friend. Even though it was God’s will for Paul to go and they knew this, it is so hard to accept it when a loved one will face unspeakable pain and trials. I am reminded of Matthew 16:21-23 when Jesus predicts his own death and Peter says, “Far be it from you, Lord! This will never happen to you!” Jesus rebukes him, saying, “Get thee behind me, Satan!” See, Peter did not understand Jesus’ role in God’s plan for the world. All Peter saw, like us, is a beloved friend being hurt and taken from his life. Luke and the others were so like Peter; they did not see God’s plan but only the pain both they and Paul would endure before it was over. Like Jesus, Paul was quick to respond, “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be imprisoned but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus (v13).”  Can’t you just imagine this scene? Can’t you see the pressure they are putting on Paul to leave God’s path and avoid imprisonment and death? I love his words, “Why are you breaking my heart?!” Can’t you hear his distress at their pleas? Sometimes the call of God is hard enough that it doesn’t take much for us to be tempted to leave his path for our lives. Thank God that Paul was so focused on God’s will that even his friends’ pleas couldn’t force him to stray. It is so important to keep our eyes on God, not looking to the right or the left.

V14 says, “And since he would not be persuaded, we ceased and said, ‘Let the will of the Lord be done.'” Sometimes it takes an exhaustion of all other options before we are ready to accede to God’s will. Can you imagine the New Testament without Paul’s writings? The majority of them were written after this event in Acts 21, after he was in custody. How we are blessed in so many ways because of Paul’s faithfulness – his courage!

Sometimes God’s plans for our lives are so frightening, but He gives in our exact moment of need. Just Google “scripture about courage” and see how many verses come up. It’s crazy! See, God knows that He asks us to do some nutso things – things that simply don’t make sense or are just inconceivable to our small brains – so He provided us with so many words of encouragement, that we may know of His faithfulness and our victory in Him. “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged – for the LORD, your God, will be with you wherever you go” Joshua 1:9-11.

It is not often that God calls us to imprisonment for His sake – though it does happen – but God often calls us into the unknown, into frightening circumstances beyond our control. Let’s resolve to stand firm in God’s will like Paul and take the courage of the Spirit and face the future with strength and commitment; we know that God is with us through all things and He is working them for our good according to His good purpose (Romans 8:28). Take courage from Paul’s example, and follow likewise. ❤

Daniel 3:16-18 “But if not, O King…”

I have been waiting on God to show me a passage to write about when finally, at 10:30 at night, He finally brings me to this incredible passage out of Daniel. So many of you are probably familiar with this story in Daniel 3, but go read it again anyways! This passage picks up smack-dab in the middle of the story about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and the fiery furnace, right after King Nebuchadnezzar (henceforth “King Neb”) had them brought forth for refusing to bow to the golden statue he had set up. In verse 15 King Neb tells them, “But if you do not worship, you shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you out of my hands?” Oh how I love this question! “And WHO is the god who will deliver you?!” How we humans have such arrogance to believe that we control our little (or even big) worlds. See, Ol King Nebby had yet to meet the God of Daniel; he had no clue the might and power of the One who held their lives in His Glorious hands. But he will – in numerous and sometimes painful ways. Do you run up against people who laugh in disdain at your faith? I am sad but also amused when I hear non-Christian people make excuses for someone’s faith: they or a loved one is sick, they aren’t educated, or whatever it may be. It is so hard for those not of the faith to understand why someone would cling to a god they cannot see, physically hear, or touch. Like King Neb, they have not yet experienced the power and might of the El Shaddai. Pray for them, Beloved, because God has a plan for them and your prayers are instrumental in their lives, though you may not see it; pray for them unceasingly.

We pick back up in v16 and I just LOVE their response to King Neb’s demand:

O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom

we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out

of your hand, O king. BUT IF NOT, be it known to you, O king, that we WILL NOT serve

your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.

Can I get an AMEN?! What strong words! These words make my heart shout for joy, and yet yearn for COURAGE like these men. We in America are not faced with death or torture because of our faith. We here are both blessed and cursed with religious freedom. Let me explain: what an incredible blessing it is to be able to exercise our faith and speak freely of our love for God and His love for others. However, we as a culture (not all – just speaking in generalities here) have become Christians in name only, without the fiery furnace to test our perseverance and conviction of our love for God. Those in other countries, in Africa, in Europe, where we see as the “mission field” because of the pagan religions and poverty – they see US as the mission field because of our lack of conviction in Christ. I grew up in the Bible belt where the culture was to go to church Sunday morning with your family, walk out the door, and never remember God until the next Sunday came around. I lived like this until my mid-20s when God allowed things in my life to show me that I had a DESPERATE NEED for him all day, every day. I moved to DC where the culture was the opposite – and what I saw astounded me. I saw people who filled the church that were on fire for Christ; I believe it is because Christianity in this part of the US is counter-cultural. It is absolutely not the culture to go to church – Christianity is something you keep to yourself here in fear of offending all the other religions that surround you. Even though that type of society is not even close to what others in the world are facing, even that small amount of pressure against Christianity has lit a fire for Christ in those who have accepted him. Like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, there is a fire that tests the depth of your conviction for Christ and forces you to take a stand on your beliefs. No matter where you live – Bible belt or in the most anti-Christian place you can think of, God will allow tests and trials in your life for two reasons: 1. to test your conviction, your faith in him and 2. to give you an opportunity to see what your God is made of. Hallelujah! Like the three men in Daniel 3, we can choose to break under the pressure, or we can choose to stand firm and let God go to work. No matter what, in a fiery trial God will do one of three things (Moore, Daniel):

1. He will save you from the fire: you will miss the trial completely. He will save you from that car crash, from the bad test results, from an affair in your marriage, from an unplanned pregnancy. He will perform a miracle on your behalf and you will know His might and power!

2. He will save you through the fire: like the men in Daniel, God will allow you to be thrown into the fire. You might have that terrible crash, cancer, an affair in your marriage, an unplanned pregnancy. BUT. Glory be to Him; He will carry you through it. He will strengthen you to heal from the wreckage, he will teach you to lean on him during your chemo treatments and the aftermath, he will REDEEM your marriage, and he will use that pregnancy to teach you to rely all your days upon Him. This, Beloved, This is where God changes you into the person He has designed you to be; this is where He strengthens your faith and your rest in Him. This is where God shows you his faithfulness.

3. God will use this fire to bring you into his ever-loving arms. Sometimes God saves us by bringing us home. Our time here is finished and God just can’t wait one moment longer to have us home. Praise Him who loves us enough to want us home ❤

One thing is clear: like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednago, your faithfulness to God does not go unnoticed. When you are placed in the fire, you have a remarkable chance to show others God’s faithfulness to you and the love He has for each of His children. How you react in the moments of testing speaks volumes to those who have yet to meet their Creator. You are a beacon that draws them to their heavenly Father. Join with me in praying that we may be filled with conviction and courage in our fiery trials, and that others may see the One who delivers us!

(Source used: Daniel Bible study by Beth Moore)

1 Samuel 27 David in the Land of the Philistine

Hopeless. Paranoid. Faithless. Liar. Schemer. Murderer.

I would go so far as to say that each of these words describe David in 1 Samuel 27. He has been on the run from King Saul for a very long time and just spared Saul’s life for the second time in chapter 26. However, the very first verse of chapter 27 tells of David’s innermost thoughts, saying ” I shall perish one day by the hand of Saul. There is nothing better for me than that I should escape to the land of the Philistines (v1).” David is clearly worn down, he is tired of running, he is paranoid about everyone being a spy for Saul, and has lost all hope for his future. In his hopelessness, he turns to the Philistines – one of Israel’s most hated enemies – for sanctuary. He runs to the enemy of God’s people because he was scared. He was so run down from running that he lost faith in God’s promise over his life. He was scared that God wouldn’t deliver. So he ran and took sanctuary under an enemy.

My heart breaks for all the times we do just as David; we lose sight of the future God has spoken over us and lose hope that our lives will ever be different then they are in that moment. Have you ever had a time in your life when you feel like the trials will never end? When God has promised you something different but it never seems to change? I know so many times I was striving towards God only to be derailed and lose hope in the future – I ran back to take shelter under something familiar, to an old relationship that God purposefully brought me out of, or an old practice from which God had freed me. Aren’t we so quick to lose faith? Don’t we allow our problems to become so big that they eclipse the truth of God’s Word? Like David, we allow our problems to so fill our vision that we can no longer see the God that is so much bigger. We panic and run. Praise God that he is long-suffering and compassionate (Exodus 34:6)!

Not surprisingly, we see David start to act in a way that is far different than ever before. He is granted some land by the king of Philistine in Ziklag (what a name, right?!) and he went and lived there with his 600 men for one year and four months (27:6-7). Verse 8 begins to unravel a tale that just hurts my heart. David becomes a murderer and thief, paranoid to the point of leaving no man, woman, or child alive from Shur to the land of Egypt (check out the map. It’s a lot of land.). Verse 9 says that David “would strike the land and would leave neither man nor woman alive, but would take away the sheep, the oxen, the donkeys, the camels, and the garments, and come back to Achish (the king of the Philistines).” Achish would then ask David who he raided that day and David would tell him – except David would change the location of the raid. Instead of telling Achish that he was raiding neighboring villages, he told them he was raiding the Israelites! Then verse 11 lets us know that it is because of these lies that David left no witnesses – he didn’t want anyone left to tell Achish the truth of the raids. All the while Achish is plotting on keeping David as a “servant” because he has “made himself an utter stench to his people Israel.” Little did he know… And people think the Bible is boring 😛

Flip the switch for a moment and take a look at Psalm 10 with me. Psalm 10 was written while David was in Philistine and is titled, “Why do you hide yourself?” Can’t you just imagine the distance he felt from God at this point?! God doesn’t let us know how he felt about this ugliness David allowed into his life, but you can be sure he had an opinion. And I can only imagine it was not an opinion of approval. However, don’t you think even in God’s disapproval, he had compassion? Don’t you think God looks upon us in our moments of hopelessness and feels our hearts break, knows our desperation and panic and understands our choices – even though they are the completely wrong ones? I can just imagine him screaming at David, “Come back! Come back, David!! I promise, it’s just a little while longer. I promise I am faithful!” I look back at these times in my life and imagine God saying the same to me, “Audrey, love, come back. It’s just for a little while longer.” I imagine he might be saying the same to you, ” Beloved, come back. It will only last a little while longer.”

But when we lose hope in God’s promises, we often turn to the things of the past or where we feel comfortable. We often put distance between ourselves and God because we are scared that he won’t or can’t deliver. We turn from our paths because the road has become too hard to bear without the hope or belief in God’s faithfulness, just like David. The key to not losing hope (as cliché as it might seem) is the promises found in the Word. We are fickle beings – our emotions run away with us. We allow ourselves to believe the lies told by our emotions instead of resting in the truth of the Bible. We feel let down, dejected, refused, abandoned, worthless, and allow them to swallow us instead of taking up the sword of the Spirit (the Word of God, our ONLY offensive weapon in the spiritual realm) and fighting off every one of those defeating thoughts and emotions (Ephesians 6:17). We HAVE to cling to the promises of God; when what we feel is adverse to the promise of God’s truth, we have to immerse ourselves in His Word and flood our mind with God’s promises to us: that we are alive, saved, and BLESSED, made for a future planned by God himself (Ephesians 2). Don’t be like David who lost himself in a sea of hopelessness; cling to God and the promises he has spoken over you. It is in the times of your darkest that God will shine the brightest. Reach for him and watch him shine!

Luke 18:1-8 The Persistent Widow and the Power of Prayer

This parable has always been one of my favorite parables spoken by Jesus. It is found in Luke 18:1-8 and is one of the more obscure parables. I love it so much because it tells of the power of persistence, specifically the persistence of prayer. In fact, Luke begins the narration of this parable by telling his audience that the reason Jesus told it was “to the effect that they ought always pray and not lose heart (18:2 ESV).” It is so easy for us to pray and lose faith when we don’t get immediate response, or even a response in what we might consider a “timely manner.” This widow shows us why it is so important to be persistent. Go read Luke 18:1-8!

This parable begins in v2 with an introduction of a judge “who neither feared God nor respected man.” It is so important to the rest of this parable that we understand that this man was ugly of heart; he was not righteous in any way and did not have any love or respect for anyone other than himself. Haven’t we all known people like this? Can you imagine awaiting judgment from the one that person, or trying to receive justice and compassion from that person? This is the one to whom the widow pleads her case: an unrighteous man without compassion. Verse 3 introduces the widow who kept coming to him and asking for justice against her adversary. I love this word, kept. This woman was tenacious! I just wonder the last time we had to be tenacious with God? How long do you pray before you give up on getting an answer?

Verse 4 says that the judge refused for a while, but finally he said to himself, “Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.” Again, we see the judge use the word “keeps;” in Greek this word is kopos, meaning, “a beating, an intense labor with trouble and toil.” Can’t you just see the image this definition evokes? This widow beats the judge down with her persistence, her intense labor finally wearing him down to surpass his apathy if only to get rid of her. Essentially, this woman makes herself such a nuisance that the judge has to give into her demands to be rid of the trouble she’s causing him. Do you know what this means for us? We are allowed to make a nuisance of ourselves before God in our desire for His answer! It is not a lack of faith when we repeat our prayers – Jesus told us to do it! We only turn our prayers into actions of faithlessness when God has already given us the answer and we do not believe him in his word.

The awesome part is what Jesus says in his explanation of the parable in vv7-8, “And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily.” There is an obvious contrast between God and the judge: the judge in v2 is characterized as neither fearing God nor respecting man, whereas God is seen as a loving judge who hears each cry of his people. This highlights the both the depravity of the human judge in v2 and also the abounding love the Holy Father has for His children. The contrast used in this passage strengthens Jesus’ argument that if the unrighteous judge will begrudgingly, finally give justice to the widow, how much more will the Ancient of Days dispense His holy justice? Not only will God dispense perfect justice, but he answers the cries of his people swiftly and speedily.

Sometimes it doesn’t seem like God answers us swiftly – definitely not as swiftly as we want. I prayed for 6 years for God to direct me in my future path. What I know now is that those 6 years were preparing me to enter a ministry in which I was no way prepared to undertake when I first started praying. I continued to pray and all the while, God was molding me into the person I needed to be before I could even entertain the idea of a career in God’s work. That’s the beauty of God’s timing; sometimes He simply is waiting to answer you until you are finally ready and capable of understanding His answer. Take heart, Dear One; God is constantly preparing you into the one you need to become to face your future. God is breathing in your prayers like incense and they are sweet indeed (Revelation 5:8). Be persistent in your prayers and have faith that God is preparing you for the time when your answer will come ❤

Take Me to the King

I am a music girl. Oh yes. I swear the only way I get anything done around the house – this includes cooking – is if I have my music on and have a dance party in my kitchen. #truth. So today, my house was in dire need of a good cleaning, so I put on my music and jammed out while I was picking up. Then this song by Tamela Mann came on called “Take Me to the King”… Oh my. I stopped cleaning and stood there with my broom in my kitchen and soaked up these words:

Truth is I’m tired
Options are few
I’m trying to pray
But where are you?
I’m all churched out
Hurt and abused
I can’t fake
What’s left to do?
Truth is I’m weak
No strength to fight
No tears to cry
Even if I tried
But still my soul
Refuses to die
One touch will change my life
[Chorus:]
Take me to the King
I don’t have much to bring
My heart’s torn in pieces
It’s my offering
Lay me at the throne
Leave me there alone
To gaze upon Your glory
And sing to You this song
Please take me to the King

All I could think about was all the times in my life I have felt like this: when church doesn’t cut it. When the “church-talk” is too superficial and doesn’t get into the realness where it’s needed. When your friends don’t understand. When you family has no clue. When you can’t speak the words to convey the sorrow. When your soul is screaming and nothing and no one can help fix it, what do you do? I love the words to this chorus: “Lay me at the throne and just leave me there alone!” I remember sitting on my couch with a broken heart that I just could not put back together – nothing I tried for months could fix my broken soul. Until. Finally I heard some words to a Psalm – I may have remembered them from my childhood, but I think it was God whispering them into my ears knowing I would search for them. It went something like this: “Have mercy on me, O LORD, for I am languishing; heal me Lord, for my bones are in agony. My soul is in anguish. How long, O LORD?! How long? (Psalm 6:2-3).” Those words, “how long, O LORD, how long,” repeated in my head as I cried my sorrows into my pillow and waited for the God who promised to be there. I felt abandoned. But slowly God showed me that he is indeed the healer; he is the one who takes the offering of a heart torn to pieces and sews it into a new and beautiful creation. It took me laying at his throne alone – it was just Him and I, no church, no friends, no family. He put me back together in a way that I could never have done, and he gave me a new life that surpassed my wildest dreams. As I laid at His throne, He showed me his glory and replaced my broken love with one that filled me with peace and joy in all circumstances. When my father died two years ago, I knew that the throne was the only place I could go that would reach into my sorrow and mend it from the inside out. And God was there, He was with me every moment of every day, showing me the joy in each day. He did not always give me the answers I craved, but always he gave me peace and rest.

So, Beloved, when your heart is in pieces and “church” just doesn’t cut it. When what lies broken in you is more than man’s words can handle: lay yourself at the throne. Lay there all alone and gaze upon His glory, singing this song. Go to the King and offer Him the pieces. He is the only one that can revive your broken heart ❤

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