Oily Garments

Psalms 133:1-2 (AMP) Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious oil [of consecration] poured on the head, coming down on the beard, even the beard of Aaron, coming down upon the edge of his [priestly] robes [consecrating the whole body].

While in corporate prayer for my church I opened up my Bible to this verse. I had gone to Psalms 130 to read over us being watchmen, that our souls should be waiting in expectation. Watchmen are on guard and while we are interceding in prayer (Ephesians 6:18) we should have an expectation of change in the spiritual battlefield. Many of us go as we make a contribution, “I showed up, didn’t I?” I remember being taught about prayer that if one of us can put 1,000 to flight and two can put 10,000 to flight (Deut. 32:30) what would happen when the whole church was unified in prayer?

Last week I wrote about being set free. The battle we fight against is not against flesh and blood (Ephesians 6:12). Arguments, knowledge (anything contrary to that of God) and thoughts can become strongholds and all of these refer to the mind. I had come across Exodus 28:36-38 and how the turban put on Aaron had a signet that said, “Holy to the Lord.” Then I read in Isaiah 61 (also the passage Jesus read in Nazareth) that He was going to give us a turban. Turbans were the head dresses of the priests. We are called in 1 Peter 2:9 a royal priesthood. Jesus said (as quoted from Isaiah 61), “To give them a turban instead of dust [on their heads, a sign of mourning], the oil of joy instead of mourning, the garment [expressive] of praise instead of a disheartened spirit.”

John 17:15-23 (AMP) I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but that You keep them and protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth [set them apart for Your purposes, make them holy]; Your word is truth. Just as You commissioned and sent Me into the world, I also have commissioned and sent them (believers) into the world. For their sake I sanctify Myself [to do Your will], so that they also may be sanctified [set apart, dedicated, made holy] in [Your] truth. “I do not pray for these alone [it is not for their sake only that I make this request], but also for [all] those who [will ever] believe and trust in Me through their message, that they all may be one; just as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be one in Us, so that the world may believe [without any doubt] that You sent Me. I have given to them the glory and honor which You have given Me, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected and completed into one, so that the world may know [without any doubt] that You sent Me, and [that You] have loved them, just as You have loved Me.

How does this verse from John go with the opening verse from Psalms 133? The focus is on unity. Jesus desired for us to be one just like the Father and He are one. What is the purpose of our unity? The Great Commission, to go out into all the world and present the Gospel (the ministry of reconciliation). A few things jumped out at me as I was reading this passage. Jesus knew that we would be in a battle (He prays for us to be kept from the evil one). What is the weapon of choice? Look at Ephesians 6:14, the first piece of armor we are to put on is the belt of truth. If we do not know the Word (have revelation knowledge) then we will not have the rest of the weapons against the evil one. The battle starts with our mind. Disunity starts with our minds. We have to be equipped with truth.

Leviticus 19:16-18 (AMP) You shall not go around as a gossip among your people, and you are not to act against the life of your neighbor [with slander or false testimony]; I am the Lord. ‘You shall not hate your brother in your heart; you may most certainly rebuke your neighbor, but shall not incur sin because of him. You shall not take revenge nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor (acquaintance, associate, companion) as yourself; I am the Lord.

I have to watch how I talk, how I think and how I interact with the family of faith (the body of Christ). What happens when we do not align our thoughts with Philippians 4:8? You cannot think of anything that is true, that is honorable, that is respectful. My thoughts do not bring peace, but make me anxious and angry. I do not repeat things of good repute, but of harm. I cannot center my mind on anything excellent or worthy of praise. Then disunity set in. Why? My heart has become hardened.

Matthew 18:19-20 (AMP) “Again I say to you, that if two believers on earth agree [that is, are of one mind, in harmony] about anything that they ask [within the will of God], it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in My name [meeting together as My followers], I am there among them.”

We need to get together with the body that will build our minds back up into the truth of the Word. We do not prey against one another. We pray, uplift and intercede for one another. Remember, Jesus prayed for us not to be taken out of the world, but to be equipped with truth to withstand the evil one. Why? So that we could go out into the world unified to present the Good News (the message of reconciliation).

What if we looked at the unity in the body as part of the garment? We call it the full armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18). We are His royal priest hood. Our battle armor should be adorned like priestly garments. Remember to keep your mind holy to the Lord. Put on the belt of truth (the revelation knowledge of the Word). When we are unified and do right within our family of believers the anointing flows freely, now covering those garments. What a mighty people we become for the Kingdom!

Father, You are so merciful and good to us. Your Word is a light to our path. Thank You for sending Your Son to light up the Word in my life. I repent for the wrong thinking I have had against the body of Christ. I want to be effective in establishing Your Kingdom here on earth. I repent that I have ever caused another to stumble because of my words or my actions. I repent that I have caused another to not say ‘yes’ to Your Son because of my words against another kingdom family member. Let any word that does not produce from the fruit of the Spirit fall on deaf ears and not take root. God You say that since You are Holy that You desire us to be holy. I thank You that You have given us the Holy Spirit to reveal to us the truth of Your Word. I do not take it for granted. Renew my mind and let me see how You want me to see. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Set me free

Exodus 28:36-38 (AMP) “You shall also make a plate of pure gold and engrave on it, like the engravings of a signet, ‘Holy to the Lord.’ You shall fasten it on the front of the turban with a blue cord. It shall be on Aaron’s forehead, and Aaron shall take away the guilt from the holy things which the sons of Israel dedicate, with regard to all their holy gifts. It shall always be on his forehead, so that they may be accepted before the Lord.

Your thoughts matter. We can be very creative in our imaginations. When Thomas Edison invented the light bulb, he had to imagine a light that did not require it to be lit daily by fire. Josephine Cochrane originally came up with the idea of a mechanical dishwasher that would hold dishes in a rack while pressurized water sprayed them clean. After her husband passed, she marketed her invention to hotels. It eventually became the standard household appliance we know today.

2 Corinthians 10:3-6 (AMP) For though we walk in the flesh [as mortal men], we are not carrying on our [spiritual] warfare according to the flesh and using the weapons of man. The weapons of our warfare are not physical [weapons of flesh and blood]. Our weapons are divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying sophisticated arguments and every exalted and proud thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought and purpose captive to the obedience of Christ, being ready to punish every act of disobedience, when your own obedience [as a church] is complete.

Every description of strongholds refer to the mind. Arguments, knowledge, and our thoughts can lead us to want to seek division to flesh and blood. We vow never to allow access to certain areas of ourselves. We use the creative parts as a defense. We think our lives will be better. There is a light bulb that was invented that stayed lit for over 100 years. The light bulb that Thomas Edison invented was not cheap. It cost nearly a days wages…for a light bulb. What about the dishwasher? That created jobs for not just making them, but repairing them. Then there is the question of disposal once they stop working and can no longer be repaired. What has this to do with my mind? When we try to do fix a hurt with a vow, because of the argument, the thought, or the knowledge we have from past experiences we change the way we approach people.

1 Peter 1:13-16 (AMP) Prepare your minds for action, be completely sober [in spirit—steadfast, self-disciplined, spiritually and morally alert], fix your hope completely on the grace [of God] that is coming to you when Jesus Christ is revealed. [Live] as obedient children [of God]; do not be conformed to the evil desires which governed you in your ignorance [before you knew the requirements and transforming power of the good news regarding salvation]. But like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves in all your conduct [be set apart from the world by your godly character and moral courage]; because it is written, “You shall be holy (set apart), for I am holy.”

As I was reading in Exodus last week, I ran across the passage that described the garments that Aaron was to wear as the chief priest of the Levitical priesthood. In Exodus 28 it describes the turban he was to wear. They made a plat of pure gold and engraved a signet that said ‘Holy to the Lord‘ (AMP) and fastened it to the front of the turban. It was to be on Aaron’s forehead (verses 36-38). At the beginning of this passage in 1 Peter, he is telling us to prepare our minds for action. What is holy to the Lord? Have you ever thought about your mind being holy to the Lord?

Many times when we want to see the outward change in a new convert. We tell them they should be dressing different. If they are a smoker, then we tell them to stop smoking. The first thing that was done with me was I was taken to buy new clothes. What really we need to do is help them with their new identity. We take the scripture out of context and tell people that their conduct (what they do) makes them holy.

Jesus read from Isaiah 61 the last time He was in His hometown of Nazareth (verses 1-3):

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
Because the Lord has anointed and commissioned me
To bring good news to the humble and afflicted;
He has sent me to bind up [the wounds of] the brokenhearted,
To proclaim release [from confinement and condemnation] to the [physical and spiritual] captives
And freedom to prisoners,

To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord,
And the day of vengeance and retribution of our God,
To comfort all who mourn,
To grant to those who mourn in Zion the following:
To give them a turban instead of dust [on their heads, a sign of mourning],
The oil of joy instead of mourning,
The garment [expressive] of praise instead of a disheartened spirit.
So they will be called the trees of righteousness [strong and magnificent, distinguished for integrity, justice, and right standing with God],
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.

When we understand the significance of the turban in context of the priestly garments, then we understand what Jesus really came to do. He came to set the captive free. They believed their freedom was going to come from being liberated from Roman rule. Then He went to tell about what He was going to put on them. A new mindset, Holy to the Lord! We have to be consistently renewed in this (Ephesians 4:23). Our old way of doing things will want to creep back in. None of us are without wounds and we all have made vows in some form or another. I do not know about you, but I want the freedom that Jesus talked about here in Isaiah 61. It is time to tear down those strongholds. It is time to set the captives free! It starts with me.

Father, Your Word says that because You are Holy, You want me to be holy. I cannot do that apart from Your Son. Search within me and bring back to remembrance any wound that I have created a vow against. I release that wound right now. I repent for me trying to control what should have been Yours all along. Give me a new mindset regarding that wound. Jesus, I release my control and submit it into Your care. I desire freedom in every area of my life, which includes my mind. I choose to cast down any imagination that has caused me to divide from the body of Christ. Holy Spirit, thank You for teaching me this revelation knowledge. Your Spirit alive in me is how I keep my mind holy to the Lord. Thank you for my freedom. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Here I Am

Exodus 3:1-4 (AMP) Now Moses was keeping the flock of Jethro (Reuel) his father-in-law, the priest of Midian; and he led his flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb (Sinai), the mountain of God. The Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a blazing flame of fire from the midst of a bush; and he looked, and behold, the bush was on fire, yet it was not consumed. So Moses said, “I must turn away [from the flock] and see this great sight—why the bush is not burned up.” When the Lord saw that he turned away [from the flock] to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.”

I have a great love for lots of people in the Bible. I get a kick out of the way Elijah outran camels. I love the energy and passion of Peter. Paul in his humility and willingness to change. Ruth and Esther in their courage. One of my all time favorites is Moses. As different as it was portrayed in the films, Moses knew that he was raised like a prince of Egypt but was really a Hebrew. He ran not because of not knowing his identity (Exodus 2:11), he just wanted to keep it under cover. He was going to step out of the shadows of his covering, of prince, and free the people one Egyptian murder at a time.

So he goes off and starts a new life. It seems to be a good life too. He has a wife and children. He enjoys the work he is doing. It seems to fulfill him. Then he sees it. Out of the corner of his eye is something burning. He turns towards it and away from what had previously given him his purpose. What would it take for us to turn and face God for our purpose?

For me it took losing a job. I was really good at it too, until I wasn’t. One mistake, one word taken out of context, and it was all gone. My character with it. Everything within me wanted to run. I ran to the Word. I buried myself in worship, not to get Him to avenge me, but to keep me in His Presence. It was in His Presence that I found my purpose. The call for reconciliation became so strong. I desired to see my fellow sisters and brothers in Christ free. Is that not what Moses wanted? They wanted freedom, Moses discovered freedom without His Presence would not be enough (Exodus 33:14-17).

2 Chronicles 7:14 (AMP) My people, who are called by My Name, humble themselves, and pray and seek (crave, require as a necessity) My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear [them] from heaven, and forgive their sin and heal their land.

Jeremiah 29:13 (AMP) Then [with a deep longing] you will seek Me and require Me [as a vital necessity] and [you will] find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.

What will it take for us to look for the face of God? We know He is with us, and His hand it upon us to those that believe. I am talking about our expectation. Our listening ear. Our vision. Moses was doing what he was supposed to do to keep his family fed. Something was different in his presence…it was His Presence. Moses changed direction from day to day, to Presence. My word for 2023 is “Presence.” The difference is face to face. The Hebrew word for presence is paneh or panim and it means face. Seeking His face as my most essential need. Moses turned to the face of God. Will we do the same? Here I am God, set me on fire!!

Father, You are the worthy of honor. It is in You that I find fullness. Thank You for Your love and mercy shown through the gift of Your Son and the Holy Spirit. I desire Your Presence more than your presents. I know that because You are such a good Father that You are my Jehovah Jireh (God will provide). Reconciliation has always been Your heart. You accomplished that with Your Son. Now I am free. I am free to come into Your Presence. I am now rooted and grounded in the Love of Christ. Forgive me for not putting You first in every area of my life. I am growing in my freedom through You. As You give us fresh mercy everyday, I choose love and forgiveness every day. I do not want to be indebted to anyone through jealousy, envy or bitterness. Search my heart of God. You are all I need. Here I am God, I am seeking Your face. Set me on fire! In Jesus Name, Amen.

This means war

Genesis 14:12, 14, 16 (AMP) And they also took [captive] Lot, Abram’s nephew, and his possessions and left, for he was living in Sodom. When Abram heard that his nephew [Lot] had been captured, he armed and led out his trained men, born in his own house, [numbering] three hundred and eighteen, and went in pursuit as far [north] as Dan.  And he brought back all the goods, and also brought back his nephew Lot and his possessions, and also the women, and the people.

What happens when countries go into war? There are battles fought. There may even be casualties. What happens to the people that are trying to just go on with life? Sometimes, they are held captive. This is what happened to Lot and his crew. Lot and Abram had to go their separate ways. Separations happen, but that does not mean love is not there.

When Abram heard that his nephew was taken into captivity he gathered up some men of his own to go get him. Soon after a king offered him possessions, riches, to leave Lot and the others in his captivity. Why? The captivity of a people, not just land, shows the grandeur of a kingdom. The devil does not care what possessions you own, he cares about your influence of Kingdom matter.

1 Peter 2:9 (AMP) But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a consecrated nation, a [special] people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies [the wonderful deeds and virtues and perfections] of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.

Romans 8:17 (AMP)  And if [we are His] children, [then we are His] heirs also: heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ [sharing His spiritual blessing and inheritance], if indeed we share in His suffering so that we may also share in His glory.

Galatians 3:29 (AMP) And if you belong to Christ [if you are in Him], then you are Abraham’s descendants, and [spiritual] heirs according to [God’s] promise.

What happens when we hear or see a brother and/or sister in Christ go into captivity? They are no longer living the life they once were. They have fallen away. They become hard of heart and calloused to the rest of the body of Christ. What do you do then? Do we shrug our shoulders and chock it up to free will and we are all responsible for walking our own salvation? You are probably right in saying your words would be ineffective. What about your prayers?

Ephesians 6:12 (AMP) For our struggle is not against flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this [present] darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) places. 

Can you imagine the real battle going on right now? Can you see it? The enemy has come in and taken people captive. The battle raging in their minds. Will you go into the war room to fight for them back. Will you pray over their identities? Will you pray for strength in knowing who they are in Christ?

You may ask if this is your responsibility. Ephesians 6:18 (AMP) With all prayer and petition pray [with specific requests] at all times [on every occasion and in every season] in the Spirit, and with this in view, stay alert with all perseverance and petition [interceding in prayer] for all God’s people. This does not just say pray for your children, your immediate family, those who do not know Christ (as we should)…it says to pray for ALL of God’s people. We are the body of Christ and when one of us is attacked the whole army of the Lord should be coming up against the enemy.

So I have been going down to the enemy camp, calling out what he has done, and I have been taking back what he has stolen in my war room (times of prayer). I have been speaking the promises of God and what He has destined for His beloved. What the devil had taken captive he will not be able to count as one of his possessions.

Father, You are so wonderful to me. There is nothing else that matters but You. Thank you for sending Your Son so that I may be whole again. Thank You for the peace that He brought. There are many things that I do not understand, but in Your grace and mercy I put my trust in You. Thank you for the people that You have put into my life. I am like a blurred reflection of You, looking dimly in a mirror (1 Corinthians 13:12), growing in Your love day by day. In Your Presence I see You face to face. Your Presence is where I long to be. I come boldly into Your throne room of grace. I know Your angels have been assigned and are awaiting the command. I speak to the strongholds that have kept Your people in bondage. They can no longer remain captive to the lies of the enemy. Satan is the accuser of the body and his lies will not take hold of them. Lord, Your Word is a lamp to my feet, I stand in faith to Your promises. Let any unforgiveness found in me be rooted out. I choose hope. I choose faith. I choose love. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Signs and wonders

Mark 16: 17-20 (AMP) These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink anything deadly, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will get well.” So then, when the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord was working with them and confirming the word by the signs that followed.]

I am excited about the state the church is in right now. At the beginning of the year, God gave me the Word “Presence.” For us to truly enter and be at a state of His Presence, we must have a heart of surrender. This starts with repentance and forgiveness.

As I have written earlier, I am in the process of watching The Chosen Series through the Angel Productions app. In season three, episode two, Jesus sends His disciples out two by two to preach what He preached, to lay hands on the sick and to cast out demons in His name. He told them to take no money and not even an extra tunic. The only other instruction was who they were partnered up with. The one that gave the most rebuttal was the pairing of Simon the former zealot and Matthew the former tax collector. It was not them with the problem, but the others, their concern was that the best pair to work together. Could they work together despite their different backgrounds? Often our perception of others limit what we believe they are capable of.

My favorite person to watch in this series is Matthew, I love his transformation. In my reading of the Word it had always been Peter, because he is mentioned so much I guess. In this perspective I just love Matthew. Simon in his former self would have despised and spat on Matthew, just like all the others did in the streets. He would have probably killed him, as zealots were trained assassins by the radical priests that wanted to overthrow the government. Matthew was a tax collector for the Romans, and his people saws him as a traitor. What a fun pair!

I wept when I saw that Simon kept the man calm while he had Matthew cast out the demon. Simon had the strength to do all and just allow Matthew to be a spectator, but that is not how Jesus instructs. It was a real confidence builder in Matthew. You can tell in his face that he felt accepted and needed.

We are in exciting times. There is a spread of revival in our college campuses and a shift in the atmosphere in our churches. Why? There is a heart change happening. It starts with repentance and forgiveness. It is not surrounding one charismatic preacher or one team of people. It is because the body started working like it should. They are no longer spectators waiting for a move, they are the move, they have the power of the Holy Spirit inside of them. The church has awakened.

Every person that we come in contact with has potential. I am a born again child of God and I still desire more of Him in my life. I still desire more freedom. Why? The enemy wants me to stay bound to things in my past, in my offenses, to what science tells me I am predisposed for genetically, therefore, I have become so beat down that oppression is what I would choose to function through. Just enough freedom to go to heaven, but not enough to rejoice and set other captives free. Oppression is a demonic stronghold that has had it’s hold on the body of Christ long enough. It keeps us in the back ground. It keeps us in the dark to say that the Word does not work that way for them. Enough is enough and we need to be bold enough to look the devil in the eye and say they have no place here any longer. Jesus is Lord here!!

Let’s just say demons oppress believers and a woman was set free yesterday in service. Is the promise of heaven just enough? For me it is not. I want all that God has for me. Jesus came to restore me, to make me whole, on earth. I am excited to see the ones who have been satisfied with the background to gain freedom in Christ. I was one of those. I want to be confident in Christ so that when the demons present themselves I do not have to look for someone with the authority, I have the authority. I can lay hands on the sick and they will recover. There is an awakening returning to the body. Signs and wonders will be follow. We are the move of God!

Father, forgive me for doubting Your power that was placed inside of me. I repent for putting me first in what comforts me. I repent for holding onto unforgiveness of those that have hurt me intentionally or unintentionally. You are more than enough for me. Thank You for Jesus and His compassion to lead well, and to humble Himself to teach us how to do Your mighty works. We want to see Your Kingdom here. We want to see the captives free. If there is anything in my life that is still holding me captive, I release it to You. I surrender my life, my will, my emotions so that freedom can flow through me. I ask that You place opportunities before me so that I can present Your Gospel, the ministry of reconciliation. I surrender all. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Heart Nuggets

1 Thessalonians 5:16-22 (AMP) Rejoice always and delight in your faith; be unceasing and persistent in prayer; in every situation [no matter what the circumstances] be thankful and continually give thanks to God; for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench [subdue, or be unresponsive to the working and guidance of] the [Holy] Spirit. Do not scorn or reject gifts of prophecy or prophecies [spoken revelations—words of instruction or exhortation or warning]. But test all things carefully [so you can recognize what is good]. Hold firmly to that which is good. Abstain from every form of evil [withdraw and keep away from it].

I was in 1 Thessalonians yesterday and came across this list given by Paul. It had so much good nuggets of truth in that I wanted to break it down. What is funny is that it is list of do’s and don’ts. Isn’t that what the modern day church is trying to get away from? However, it is not a list of what not sins to do and how to be pure and holy, this is a list of how to keep your mind right. Paul confessed about the battle he had going on in his mind about this very church (1 Thessalonians 3:5), “For this reason, when I could no longer endure the suspense, I sent someone to find out about your faith [how you were holding up under pressure], for fear that somehow the tempter had tempted you and our work [among you] would prove to be ineffective.”

So here is my list for this week:

  1. Rejoice always and delight in my faith. In my prayers, in my daily parts of life and in all circumstances. No matter what happens, I am to rejoice. How can I rejoice when someone just blasted me? How can I rejoice when the bills keep coming in? How can I rejoice when I just got in a fight with my spouse? Remember Romans 8:28: And we know [with great confidence] that God [who is deeply concerned about us] causes all things to work together [as a plan] for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to His plan and purpose. In trust Him, so I rejoice. Joy is a fruit of my faith in Him. Continually have a heart that is thankful. This is God’s will for you!
  2. I should be accepting of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. I do not need to be scornful in direction. We have become an independent, self governed, selfish group when we do not take direction as a growing opportunity. The Holy Spirit is not trying to harm you. We need to grow in the surrendered life.
  3. Do not reject the gifts of prophecy. This is man speaking to me through the revelation of the Holy Spirit. “Nobody is going to tell me what to do!” What will they say? Revelation knowledge (to get me back in line with the character and nature of God as revealed in His Word). Words of instruction (you are always going to have someone tell you what to do). Warnings (sometimes my attitude needs to be put back in check).
  4. Test all things! We like this one. I get to judge and criticize what is being said or done. Wait though. It says to test all things so you can recognize what is good. I do not test things and tear down what is bad. SO I CAN RECOGNIZE WHAT IS GOOD! Philippians 4:8 says, “ Finally, believers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable and worthy of respect, whatever is right and confirmed by God’s word, whatever is pure and wholesome, whatever is lovely and brings peace, whatever is admirable and of good repute; if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think continually on these things [center your mind on them, and implant them in your heart].” This is a true test for love. Can I change my mindset to focus on the good on others? Can I hold firmly to what is good?
  5. Abstain from every form of evil. Is this telling me to not sin? Why are we so focused on sin? This is a heart thing. If I need to hide who I am or what I am doing, then that is opening a doorway for the evil one into my life. The church has been good about hiding , therefore, it now lacks power. Be a person of integrity. Do not cause anyone to question your motives. This is why transparency is the body should be encouraged. Why are our boundaries more like weapons against flesh and blood?

I am rejoicing over you today. I am thankful for those that He has placed in my life to guide me. I will not be scornful in correction. I choose love instead.

Read 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 in the Passion Translation. I like to put my name in the passage…Amanda’s love is large and incredibly patient. Amanda is gentle and contently kind to all. Amanda refuses to be jealous when someone else is blessed. Amanda does not brag her own achievements not inflates her own importance. Amanda does not traffic in shame and disrespect, she is not seeking honor for herself. Amanda is not easily irritated and is not quick to take offense. Amanda is joyful when honesty is presented and celebrates it for herself (does not find ways around the truth), and she does not delight in when someone else is wronged. Amanda’s trust is under the shelter of the Almighty for she is grounded in His perfect love. Amanda believes and thinks the best for others. Amanda does not take hurt, rejection or setbacks as a defeat. Amanda continues to hope, because love never gives up.

I have to admit that I failed at a few of these this morning, but instead of beating myself up, I look to the Father. He is the perfecter of my faith.

Father, I thank You for the reader today. I thank You that you sent your Son to reconcile us to You. I choose to walk in freedom and grow in the areas that brings me more freedom. I do this so that I can be a light and example to others that need freedom. I bind up every thought that may be holding me captive to loving others the way You want me to. I repent for not walking in love like I should. I know you give me grace in these areas, not that I take advantage of Your mercy to give me permission to hurt others, but so that I can grow. Let my hope grow today. I rejoice in every set up that has been made today. I know that I can trust You. I place my trust in You. I desire You. Holy Spirit I surrender more of me today. I pray for those that persecute me for Your Name’s sake. Let your Word reign in my heart, in my mind and on my tongue today. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Put a demand on it

Luke 18:35-43 (AMP) As He was approaching Jericho [on His way to Jerusalem], it happened that a blind man was sitting beside the road begging. Now when he heard a crowd going by, he began to ask what this was [about]. They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.” So he shouted out, saying, “Jesus, Son of David (Messiah), have mercy on me!” Those who were leading the way were sternly telling him to keep quiet; but he screamed all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Then Jesus stopped and ordered that the blind man be led to Him; and when he came near, Jesus asked him, “What do you want Me to do for you?” He said, “Lord, let me regain my sight!” Jesus said to him, “Regain your sight; your [personal trust and confident] faith [in Me] has made you well. Immediately he regained his sight and began following Jesus, glorifying and praising and honoring God. And all the people, when they saw it, praised God.

I am in the process of watching the Chosen series for the first time. If you have not seen it, I recommend it. It does take some creative licensing to fill in the blanks on what could have happened behind the scenes. It is not one hundred percent Bible, but neither was the Ten Commandments nor the Prince of Egypt. I like it because it gives personality to those that Jesus ministered to. It gives personality to His disciples. I do not know if this particular encounter is portrayed, but I hope so.

One of the things I like about the series is that it also does flash backs to other stories in the Bible, like the time Moses fashioned a snake on a pole. What they are doing is showing the character and nature of God and how Jesus did what He saw His Father doing. Jesus is showing us that as a man (He laid down His deity for us) His ability to heal was because of the Holy Spirit. Which we now have (Acts 1:8).

My question to you: is healing still for today? I believe it is. I believe it and have experience healing first hand. It did not come by the laying on of hands, as there are times for that. Mine came through drawing on the anointing of corporate worship. Jesus spoke to the man, “your personal trust and confident faith in Me has made you well.” The only time I have missed a service for being sick was when I was COVID positive. Other than that, I have been there (I have missed for being of town). If I could not play the bass, I entered into worship and drew off the anointing. I have been there with sinus infections; I have been there after COVID still recovering; I have been there when my joints were sore. Why? You sometimes have to be in a faith building environment to put a demand on the anointing.

This may not be you. You may say that is condemning to those that do not come when they are not feeling well. I promise you, I am not. I just want to stretch your faith a little bit. When I got saved I told God that I wanted everything that He had for me. I had to put a demand on it when I did not feel like it. I had to put a demand on it when family told me I was being a little too radical with chasing after God. I had to put a demand on it when I was called names that did not match my character. Jesus was called a heretic and a false prophet. The Messiah had stones thrown at Him! What did He do in return? He went to the Father and sought Him for the next town, the next person and the next water stirring event.

I am just stirring up the waters a little bit. Ezekiel 37 is one of my favorite passages to stand on for healing. Why? Because it is illustrative. Verses 1-4: The hand of the Lord was upon me, and He brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of the valley; and it was full of bones. He caused me to pass all around them, and behold, there were very many [human bones] in the open valley; and lo, they were very dry. And He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord God, You know.” Again He said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord.’

Why is this significant? First off, the hand of the Lord was upon Him. Did you know that when you seek His face that His hand is right there? Ezekiel was placed in the middle of the valley. When we are going through times that we do not see a way, those can often be seen as valley moments. When we do not feel like it. This valley was full of human bones. I look around during the day and I see human bones, just going through their next task. I see human bones that are not really alive and free, just dry. This part I love, how many people did God call “Son of man?” The only other time we read “Son of man” is when it is in reference to Jesus (in Daniel, Matthew, Mark, Luke and Hebrews). To me this is a shadow of the Holy Spirit and the power available to mankind.

Lastly, what does God tell Ezekiel to do? He said to prophesy and tell those dry bones to hear the word of the Lord. God told Ezekiel to put a demand on His Word. When we prophesy (not future telling, but speak His Word) we speak power packed words through a power filled man or woman of God. I put a demand on the Word and it will come to pass.

For what purpose? To turn this world upside down. It is to glorify Him. It is to open eyes and awaken other dead men so they many glorify God. Why do I believe healing is for today? Because there are still dry bones. We need to get out of the grave, take off the grave clothes and step into freedom. Put a demand on His Word!! Do not be ashamed to call after the name of Jesus!

Father, I thank you that when you sent your Son, you sent Him just for me. I speak to these dry bones whether it is in my mind, in my physical body, in my emotions, in my spiritual growth or in my feeling of being unworthy. I believe You see me. I speak do these bone to live. I speak strength to these bones and my mind. I choose to glorify You in everything I put my hands to. I put a demand on Your Word. I believe Your Word is truth and life giving. Just like in Ezekiel, if there are times of correcting and mourning, I willing take it upon me and let it be a sweet taste to my lips. I choose freedom today! I choose to look for the best in others and seek the best for them. You are my strength and my shield. I praise You! In Jesus Name, Amen.

Where does rest come from?

2 Chronicles 14:2-5, 7 (AMP) Asa did what was good and right in the sight of the Lord his God. He removed the foreign altars and high places and tore down the [pagan] pillars (obelisks, memorial stones), and cut to pieces the Asherim [the symbols of the goddess Asherah]. And he commanded Judah to seek the Lord God of their fathers [to inquire of and for Him and seek Him as a vital necessity], and to observe the law [given to Moses] and the commandment. Asa also removed the [idolatrous] high places and the incense altars from all the cities of Judah. The kingdom was at rest and undisturbed under his reign. So he said to Judah, “Let us build these cities and surround them with walls, towers, gates and bars [to secure the doors]. The land is still ours because we have sought the Lord our God; we have sought Him [longing for Him with all our heart] and He has given us peace on every side.” So they built and prospered. 

When I read the Bible I do not pick and choose just my favorite verses, I read it in context of what was going on during the time it was written. Chronicles is separated into two books and goes along with first and second Samuel, first and second Kings, the books of the prophets, the writing of Psalms, Proverbs, Lamentations and Song of Solomon. King Asa (found in 1 Kings 15 and 2 Chronicles 14-16) reigned after the death of this father Abijah. In the first verse of 2 Chronicles 14, it states that the land was quiet for ten years. Why was that important? Because after Solomon died, the kingdom was split and warring against each other. There are now two kingdoms and two kings. Does that not sound confusing?

King Asa ruled 36 years. He was known to be a man of character and brought reforms to the nation. In verse five it states, “The kingdom was at rest and undisturbed under his reign.” Yet reformation happened and building happened. Actually, a few verses down we read that Zerah, an Ethiopian Cushate, came out against them. What? I thought they were at rest? The total number in King Asa’s army totaled 580,000 (army of Judah 300,000 and from Benjamin 280,000). The men from Ethiopian came out against them with one million men and three hundred chariots. Talk about out numbered! Asa went out to engage and arranged for battle.

2 Chronicles 14:11 (AMP) Asa called out to the Lord his God, saying, “O Lord, there is no one besides You to help in the battle between the powerful and the weak; so help us, O Lord our God, for we trust in and rely on You, and in Your name we have come against this multitude. O Lord, You are our God; let not man prevail against You.”

What happens next? God strikes down the enemy before King Asa and Judah. What does God striking down look like? Is it like He sends down lightning? How about He empowers us so that it happens like we put a knife in a stick of butter that has been softened.

Rest comes in His presence, not the absence of opposition. Not the absence of action. Rest and peace is seeking God with all of your heart, soul and mind. It is making Him your vital necessity. This is where rest come from. When opposition comes, you have no fear and no worry. He has made a way before you and you follow along fully armed in the full armor of God. Ready, have done all and then stand firm (Ephesians 6:13). This is why Jesus was able to sleep during the storm (Matthew 8:24).

King David, wrote Psalms 23 (AMP) towards the end of his life. We know his life did not go without opposition:

The Lord is my Shepherd [to feed, to guide and to shield me],
I shall not want.
He lets me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still and quiet waters. 
He refreshes and restores my soul (life);
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
for His name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the [sunless] valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort and console me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
You have anointed and refreshed my head with oil;
My cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy and unfailing love shall follow me all the days of my life,
And I shall dwell forever [throughout all my days] in the house and in the presence of the Lord.

There is so much I can speak more on what His presence truly brings. Presence is my word for this year. In His presence is peace and rest, even when your enemy (the devil) wages war against you. Seek His as your most vital need today. There is nothing greater.

Father, I thank you for being the God who goes out before me. I seek you as my most vital need today. There is nothing else that I would rather have than be in Your presence. I know I will not really be at rest without You. You have proven Yourself time and again. Your guide me and I am comforted in that. You have prepared a way for me and I will not lack because of You. Let me be a light and example of what it is like to be at peace in this world, not to say that I do not have a care, because You care deeply for us. Peace is one of the gifts You sent when you sent Your Son. I am empowered with peace because of the Holy Spirit that now dwells in and around me. I pray for rest for the person reading this. May they grow to know you more this year. We desire more of You. In Jesus Name, Amen.

The Word for this Year: Presence

Psalms 27:8 (AMP) When You said, “Seek My face [in prayer, require My presence as your greatest need],” my heart said to You, “Your face, O Lord, I will seek [on the authority of Your word].”

We go into the new year with ideas of how we would like to change. We may think of changing our bodies with goals of losing weight, or getting healthier by changing our diets and going to the gym. We may think of changing our careers so we decide to rewrite our resumes or update that profile on LinkedIn. We may decide to expand our minds by enrolling in classes, whether they are for hobbies or for education (to help with that new career).

As we enter into 2023 I pray that this year you desire more of Him in every part of your life. On January 2nd, during the Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals game, a player collapsed on the field and was administered life saving measures. Damar Hamlin, at the age of 24, had went into cardiac arrest and the world watched. They stopped the game, because people are more important. Prayer happened and has happened in areas that was no longer allowing to have it happen openly. Prayer happened on the field. Prayer happened on national television (that was not a Christian broadcast). It sparked hope in me.

2 Chronicles 7:14 (AMP) My people, who are called by My Name, humble themselves, and pray and seek (crave, require as a necessity) My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear [them] from heaven, and forgive their sin and heal their land.

What does it mean to seek His face? Moses did it in the wilderness. Read Exodus 33, God is telling Moses that an angel will lead them and God will cause them to drive out the enemies before them. He tells Moses the land is of abundance, it is flowing with milk and honey. However, because of the stubbornness and rebellion of the people, He would not be going, He may be tempted to destroy them. Moses delivered the word and the people mourned. The people repented. They reverenced God and the meetings that Moses had with Him at the tent of meeting. They would rise when he entered, and they would rise when he left. Moses interceded, “Now therefore, I pray you, if I have found favor in Your sight, let me know Your ways so that I may know You [becoming more deeply and intimately acquainted with You, recognizing and understanding Your ways more clearly] and that I may find grace and favor in Your sight. And consider also, that this nation is Your people”  (13). And the Lord said, “My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest [by bringing you and the people into the promised land].” (14)

What is more important, His blessings or His presence? They were promised abundance, but still grieved because they were denied His presence. This is the ultimate desire of our hearts. Just like my Bella (pit mix in picture), we should desire to be so close that peace is what we are known for. For a dog to lay with their belly exposed is said to show trust, it is the most vulnerable part of them. That is how we need to be with the Father. This is one of her favorite parts of her day. If I have not sat down to read the Word, she will stay by my side, and nudge me to get me there. Pay attention to that nudge.

Psalms 37:4 (AMP) Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires and petitions of your heart.

Father, I thank you for your presence. I thank you that you sent your Son to reconcile me to you. Now I have the ability to enter into your throne room of grace and rest in your presence. You go out before me and make a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You are my provider. You are more than enough for me. Check my heart Lord and clean out anything within me that does not bring you glory. I desire to be close to you. Your presence is enough for me. Let me be a light and example to others. I want to know your more so that I can establish your Kingdom here on earth. In Jesus Name, Amen.