My Calling

Matthew 10:41 (AMP) He who receives and welcomes a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward; and he who receives a righteous (honorable) man because he is a righteous man will receive a righteous man’s reward.

October is Pastor Appreciation Month, most churches celebrated and honored their pastor’s yesterday (ours did it the first Sunday). To be called into the pastoral ministry is a joy. We are tasked with the duty of equipping the saints for the work of the ministry, the ministry of reconciliation, as we were called into it first.

My husband and I have been on a series called “Restore” all year. We have taken the past few weeks to tackle a subject regarding “My Calling.” We find that many in the church start to chase after their calling. Leaving, and forsaking the covering of their pastors, and seeking out those who will promote their calling. Did I just say covering? Is that not old fashioned? Do you not think that this is anything new? The letters in the New Testament were not written to the unbeliever, they were written to the church. Hebrews 10:25 talks about not forsaking the meeting together as some have come into the habit of. What would the writer say about the church today, staying at home, watching on You Tube and disconnected from serving one another?

Hebrews 13:7 (AMP) Obey your [spiritual] leaders and submit to them [recognizing their authority over you], for they are keeping watch over your souls and continually guarding your spiritual welfare as those who will give an account [of their stewardship of you]. Let them do this with joy and not with grief and groans, for this would be of no benefit to you.

I understand there have been abuses. Your pastor does not have the right to tell you who you can marry, where you can live, what job you are to take, nor what car to buy. Your pastor does have the right to tell you that the counsel you have chased after to build up your calling, is not where you need to be. The pastoral calling is heavy and will come with more responsibility.

The initial verse of this is Jesus speaking. Jesus went to His hometown. He desired to see people set free where ever He went. The same power to heal and bring back to life flowed through Him every where He went. Why did it not flow freely in His home town? They still saw Him as the boy that grew up there and not the man who walked in freedom that all the other towns were able to receive from. They could not receive from Him because they saw Him as common. How do you approach the gathering on Sundays? Do you go with expectation? Or are you expecting the same thing every week?

Pastors are vision carriers. They have a passion to see you become free and to do the work of the ministry. That is not always vacuuming or cleaning the bathrooms, but sometimes it is. What it really is…the ministry of reconciliation. Who are we doing the serving with? Those who need freedom in their life, just like you. Do not get so caught up in the work that you do not see the person you are working along side and not get to know them.

I do a lot of one on one care. I will invite someone to do an activity and get to know them. I will find out how I can pray for them, direct them in the Word, share my own struggles and how I am overcoming in the Word, find out their interests and just get to know them. That is what it looks like. Then I will help them do the same for someone else. Not everyone will have a relationship like that with me. Some still see me as the teenage girl, that wore short skirts, dating the pastor’s son. Some still see me as the young woman that would roll her eyes. Does that mean I am not the person I am today? I do not remember that young girl, even if others do. That does not mean I will not serve them.

During this Pastor Appreciation Month take stock of how you see your pastor(s). Pastors, take a look at how you lead and serve the people God has called you to. We are connected for a reason and the reason is the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18-21). We are no longer bound, but free. Freedom takes work to figure out, there are root areas that will try to keep us from putting on the newness (Colossians 3:10) we have become, it takes all of us to get there.

Father, thank you for your goodness, mercy and grace. Let me see the people you have called me to with fresh eyes. I no longer want to see them as common. Your Son said that if I would receive people with honor and see them as righteous that I would receive a righteous man’s reward. I want all that you have for me, so I choose today to lay down my rights and stand on Your truth. Forgive me for not receiving from the pastor(s) you have placed in my life. They have only wanted to see me free and I repent for fighting them in my stubbornness. I surrender my heart to You. Let it be tender and responsive to Your Holy Spirit. I choose to surrender today. Thank you for giving me the ministry of reconciliation, so that I can share Christ with others. I do not take it for granted. It is the calling that you trusted me with. I will not run the race in vain. I choose you today. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Baggage Claim

Galatians 5:1 (NIV) It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

It has been a few years since I have flown and will be boarding a plane this week to attend Icing in Dallas, TX. I am both nervous and excited. Excited to see a friend and spend a few days with her, nervous about the meet and greet part. As I have said before, I am a recovering extreme introvert. I still get overwhelmed when walking into a room with a bunch of people. For example, a couple of years ago I walked in late for a birthday party for one of my friends and the entire rooms attention got brought on me. My reaction was to go in (with my head down to not make eye contact with anyone) and tell her happy birthday, then I quickly made my exit.

Back to the point of this blog…when I started flying you could check one bag with the cost of your ticket at no additional charge. Now you can check a bag your first bag for $30 and an additional charge for anymore. Or the other option is carry on. Which means you have to keep up with it before your flight. Carry it as your find your seat. Find a place for it during your flight. Carry it as you disembark the plane. We have done pretty good at masking our emotional baggage, by checking it. When we are triggered is when it shows up again.

I fully believe in getting to the root issues of areas. Like why rejection keeps attaching itself to me. There is a root there. It does not belong there. I have to do the work to remove it, but not without the help of the Holy Spirit. Unpacking the baggage of rejection, betrayal, hurts, disappointments is like checking your baggage at the gate. You can walk around freely and not have to worry about until the end of the flight. Just because you checked it somewhere, does not mean it is gone. When it shows up, the weight of it tries to know us down. So here we are at baggage claim to get to the root once again, because even though it is not carry on, we still need to deal with the root issues.  Can I help you with it?

Unforgiveness:

  • Unforgiveness because of unfilled expectations. The participation trophy. I was not recognized because I showed up.
  • Unforgiveness because of untreated pain. Trying to act like it never hurt in the first place. You ever stumped your toe in public and played off like that did not hurt!
  • Unforgiveness because of unsolved conflicts. Unresolved conflicts can turn into resentment. Resentment can turn into bitterness.
  • Unforgiveness because of an unhealthy view of ourselves. You think everyone’s thinking about you…they aren’t thinking about you.

Matthew 6: 7-15 (AMP) “And when you pray, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.  So do not be like them [praying as they do]; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him. ‘Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father, who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. ‘Your kingdom come, Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. ‘And forgive us our debts, as we have forgiven our debtors [letting go of both the wrong and the resentment].
‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.]’  For if you forgive others their trespasses [their reckless and willful sins], your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others [nurturing your hurt and anger with the result that it interferes with your relationship with God], then your Father will not forgive your trespasses.

I do believe we are responsible for dealing with our baggage and unforgiveness. I do believe our lives can be miserable because of our choices. You and I can walk around with weights that slow us or stop us from walking in the life that God intended for us. That is why I chose this verse to focus on today: Galatians 5:1 (NIV) It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Freedom is what God intends for you. If baggage is in our life, let’s identify it, then allow the Holy Spirit to help you get rid of it. A pastor, therapist, life coach, mentor, are all very helpful to lead you through the unpacking of baggage. Make sure they are filled with the Word and have a relationship with the Holy Spirit, if not, the humanistic approach is to put the problem in people. Even the issues that happened in my childhood are not to be blamed on people. I have to forgive, not to be abused again, but forgive, love and grow. I am no longer burdened by my past, I am free! I want that for you too.

Father, I thank you for each and every person that is reading this today. I thank you that you desire us to be rooted and grounded in the love of your Son (Eph. 3:16-19). We are choosing right now to throw off these weights that have kept us from walking in the fullness of that love. We ask the Holy Spirit for the help with the unforgiveness in our hearts and minds. We know to forget is not necessarily not remember, it is the act of not letting it affect the outcome. Our past hurts and the baggage we allowed can no longer affect the outcome of our lives. We are free in you and cast that yoke of bondage away. In Jesus Name we pray, Amen.

Happy Independence Day!

John 8:36 (AMP) So if the Son makes you free, then you are unquestionably free.

Acts 13:38-39 (AMP) So let it be clearly known by you, brothers, that through Him forgiveness of sins is being proclaimed to you; and through Him everyone who believes [who acknowledges Jesus as Lord and Savior and follows Him] is justified and declared free of guilt from all things, from which you could not be justified and freed of guilt through the Law of Moses.

The United States of America is two hundred and forty six years old today. I do not know about where you are (for those that life here in the states), but celebrations have been going on all weekend. Our city held their fireworks show and Freedom Celebration on Saturday (two days ago). Our neighbors were shooting off fireworks all night last night. Tonight the city next to us has their fireworks and festivities. We have not made plans to attend a single one. We would have done it when the kids were smaller. We would go now if it interested them.

What does it mean to be unquestionably free? My definition of freedom is probably different from yours. My definition is tied to my peace. My peace of mind. Torment is not freedom. Worry is not freedom. Anxiety is not freedom. To me, that puts me back in bondage. When I get that way I have to dig deep and ask myself, what has put me back in bondage.

John 14:27 (AMP) Peace I leave with you; My [perfect] peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be afraid. [Let My perfect peace calm you in every circumstance and give you courage and strength for every challenge.]

There are moments that I allow my peace to be taken. I allow myself to worry about certain things and thought of certain people. I allow myself to get upset when I allow another person’s torment to affect me (this usually shows up in annoyance). I am not as nice as I would like to be sometimes. I have allowed that freedom of peace to be taken. Here is the great thing about Jesus. He already paid the price for me to take it back. I do not need to beat myself up about what happened for me to lose it. I do not need to feel guilty or shameful. I (with the help of the Holy Spirit) put my thoughts back in line and focus on what is important to bring me back in line with peace.

Romans 14:17 (AMP) For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking [what one likes], but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

Take back your dependence on all the wrong things. Put your focus back on Jesus. He is the one who gives us the real freedom. Peace is part of that freedom package. No matter what the legislature is saying and doing. No matter what your family may be saying and doing. No matter what the news outlets (some depend on social media) are saying and doing. What did Jesus do? He came so that we could establish His Kingdom here on earth. With what? With righteousness (not by dead works), with peace and with joy.

Galatians 5:13 (AMP) For you, my brothers, were called to freedom; only do not let your freedom become an opportunity for the sinful nature (worldliness, selfishness), but through love serve and seek the best for one another.

When I can seek the best for others, I know that love has brought me to the place of perfect peace.

Happy Independence Day!

Tennis Balls and the Holy Spirit

As I was reading Undistracted by Bob Goff, Saturday, I came across him talking about having to decide about whether he would have a heart procedure done because his heart was beating too fast. His resting heart rate was in the two hundreds. A normal resting heart rate is between seventy and one hundred beats per minute. He had to decide to have a procedure that would stop his heart and then send a shock to restart it (all done while medicated sleep). He posed the question: “Would you be willing to risk dying in order for your life to be more lasting? Would you risk everything for the chance to live your life more fully?”

Jesus did just that when He went to the cross for us. He did that, then how is my life better?

John 16:5-7 (AMP) But now I am going to Him who sent Me; and none of you asks Me, ‘Where are You going?’ But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your hearts [and taken complete possession of them]. But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper (Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor—Counselor, Strengthener, Standby) will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him (the Holy Spirit) to you [to be in close fellowship with you].

My mind went directly to the gift of the Holy Spirit. He is the reason my life is so much better! Yesterday was Pentecost Sunday. If the Holy Spirit was not here, and within me, then the church would not be able to reach her fullest potential.

Acts 1:8 (AMP) But you will receive power and ability when the Holy Spirit comes upon you; and you will be My witnesses [to tell people about Me] both in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and Samaria, and even to the ends of the earth.

I fully believe that I would not be able to fulfill the commandment Jesus gave me without the Holy Spirit.

John 15:12 (AMP) This is My commandment, that you love and unselfishly seek the best for one another, just as I have loved you.

Not many of us can say that being unselfish is easy. I am one that likes to have my time. I plan out what I am cooking and how left overs are going to be used when I am doing my weekly shopping. I am at the gym every day at the same time. I plan what errands that I will do each day and will try to be home at a certain time. This is so that I can have time to read and take a nap before we have evening sports. I can say that I have gotten better at letting go of the routine. How do you think those like me would have handled the changes when the Holy Spirit took root in the early church?

Acts 2:41-47 (AMP) So then, those who accepted his message were baptized; and on that day about 3,000 souls were added [to the body of believers]. They were continually and faithfully devoting themselves to the instruction of the apostles, and to fellowship, to eating meals together and to prayers. A sense of awe was felt by everyone, and many wonders and signs (attesting miracles) were taking place through the apostles. And all those who had believed [in Jesus as Savior] were together and had all things in common [considering their possessions to belong to the group as a whole]. And they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing the proceeds with all [the other believers], as anyone had need. Day after day they met in the temple [area] continuing with one mind, and breaking bread in various private homes. They were eating their meals together with joy and generous hearts, praising God continually, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord kept adding to their number daily those who were being saved.

Your possessions are anything that you get to decide how they are used. Would I give up my time so that others can receive Christ? Would I give up my Saturday so that I can meet the need of someone else?

Bob Goff compared the amount of effort it takes for you heart to beat is like you and I taking a tennis ball in our hand and trying to squeeze it. Try it, it’s not easy. That to me is what it is like to do this love walk (unselfishly seeking the best for others) without the Holy Spirit. I need the Holy Spirit in my time. I need the Holy Spirit in my coming and going. I need the Holy Spirit in my self talk. I need the Holy Spirit in getting to know the heart of the Father. I need the Holy Spirit to become more and more like Jesus. To try to do this without the Holy Spirit is like squeezing a tennis ball. You might get one or two squeezes before you hand cramps, but not enough to sustain a steady heart beat.

If you have not done so invite the Holy Spirit into your life. If you have not received the baptism of the Holy Spirit I would love to talk with you more about that. The benefits of the Holy Spirit that Jesus gave us is so much more than just a Comforter. We also get the benefit of a heavenly prayer language. We get the benefit of not going at this love walk alone. We get the benefit of having God within us. I am so grateful for Pentecost (the gift of the Holy Spirit) and my church. I am so happy that Jesus risked everything so that I could live a life more fully!

Mirror the Glory

2 Corinthians 3:18 (AMP) And we all, with unveiled face, continually seeing as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are progressively being transformed into His image from [one degree of] glory to [even more] glory, which comes from the Lord, [who is] the Spirit.

Progressive is an adjective (a describing word) meaning: happening or developing gradually or in stages; proceeding step by step. I am progressively being transformed. What am I transforming into? His image. By glory to glory.

We were created in His image. What image? His glory! When He breathed His Spirit into man (Genesis 2:7) we took on His likeness. This is part of the restored purpose that Christ came for.

Genesis 1:26 (AMP) Let Us (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) make man in Our image, according to Our likeness [not physical, but a spiritual personality and moral likeness.]

You were created for more than just to exist. You were designed to take on His spiritual personality. John 15:4-5 tells me that I am nothing in myself, but in Christ, I am everything I need to be. My self image matters.

Ruth, often preached as a love story, is a story of perseverance. Ruth was a brave woman. Being a Moabite, Noami’s sons were not supposed to marry them, but they did anyways. Why? Moabites are from Moab, the son of Lot and his oldest daughter. They worshiped idols. In Ezra we see the Levites disowning their wives and children from those unions because they were told not to marry them. However, Ruth set out to change her destiny. Do you know what the future held for a woman that was widowed and had no children? They were either to become a beggar or a prostitute. Ruth did not have to follow Naomi, she chose to. Ruth did not have the right to glean in the field, that is why she went behind everyone else. Everything was set against her. Her race, her culture, her status.

Ruth 1:16 (AMP) Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people will be my people, and your God, my God.

According to the US Census Bureau data released in 2015, the poverty rates for women are substantially higher than the rates for men. The overall poverty rate is 3.8 percentage points higher for women than for men, and difference in the poverty rate among those over the age of sixty-five is even higher, with nearly one in five women who are over sixty-five and live alone in poverty.  (nwlc.org/resources/national-snapshot-poverty-among-women-families-2014)

Ruth is in the lineage of the direct descents of Jesus. Do you think that your past, or what you went through, can keep you from wholeness?

Break the generational bondage in your family. Break the poverty spirit. Break the orphan spirit. Break the spirit of anger. Break the spirit of not being able to accept love. Break the abandonment spirit. Break the spirit of rejection.

What holds you in bondage has control over you. Often we do not understand why we react a certain way is, it is because there is a form of bondage that has been attached to you. It is time to break free.

For me, I battle with not feeling accepted or wanted. There are many women in my family that struggle with the same thing. Where did this root come from? Where did it start? I have no idea. It started to take root in my oldest son and then I became aware that it was generational. What made me feel rejection was starting to show in him.

Ephesians 3:17-19 (AMP) So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through your faith. And may you, having been [deeply] rooted and [securely] grounded in love, be fully capable of comprehending with all the saints (God’s people) the width and length and height and depth of His love [fully experiencing that amazing, endless love]; and [that you may come] to know [practically, through personal experience] the love of Christ which far surpasses [mere] knowledge [without experience], that you may be filled up [throughout your being] to all the fullness of God [so that you may have the richest experience of God’s presence in your lives, completely filled and flooded with God Himself].

I was created to present His glory. He came to make me whole so that I could fulfill that purpose. We were given the Holy Spirit so that we can fulfill that purpose. I am not the result of my past. I am the result of the Holy Spirit taking root in me. I am rooted and grounded in Love!! Do those thought still come up? Yes, I have to choose to put them aside and think on what is true, honorable, confirmed by His Word, what brings peace, and anything worthy of praise (Philippians 4:8). It takes practice. We can choose different because we were created to reflect His glory.

How I think of myself matters

Romans 12:2 (AMP) And do not be conformed to this world [any longer with its superficial values and customs], but be transformed and progressively changed [as you mature spiritually] by the renewing of your mind [focusing on godly values and ethical attitudes], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His plan and purpose for you].

Yesterday I had the privilege of ministering the word to my church. It was called “Mirror the Glory.” This is an excerpt from it. I believe our minds are the biggest battle we face to keep us from walking in the command to love, just as Jesus commanded us to. It all starts on how we see ourselves. The NIV starts off the above verse with “Do not conform to the pattern of this world.”

What is the pattern of this world? “I am the result of my upbringing.” “I cannot move ahead because I was not set up to succeed.” “I was not loved as a child so I do not know how to show love (or receive love).” “I grew up in dysfunction so all I know is dysfunction.” “I was abused so I seek out relationships that abuse.” “I have been through too much.”

1 Corinthians 7:23 You were bought with a price [a precious price paid by Christ]; do not become slaves to men [but to Christ].

Do not become slaves to this thought pattern. Do not allow this to keep you from the abundant life that He came for (John 10:10).

1 Corinthians 6:12 (AMP) Everything is permissible for me, but not all things are beneficial. Everything is permissible for me, but I will not be enslaved by anything [and brought under its power, allowing it to control me].

We are held in bondage by the thoughts we have. This has nothing to do with His love for you. I can be held in emotional bondage and He still loves us.

Romans 8:38-39 (AMP) For I am convinced [and continue to be convinced—beyond any doubt] that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present and threatening, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the [unlimited] love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

This has nothing to do about whether you are saved (going to Heaven), whether He loves you, this has to do about the SOZO. SOZO means to save, deliver, heal, to make whole. The devil’s goal is to separate us from God’s love, because God’s love is the main factor in our emotional healing.

Ephesians 3:17-19 (AMP) So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through your faith. And may you, having been [deeply] rooted and [securely] grounded in love, be fully capable of comprehending with all the saints (God’s people) the width and length and height and depth of His love [fully experiencing that amazing, endless love]; and [that you may come] to know [practically, through personal experience] the love of Christ which far surpasses [mere] knowledge [without experience], that you may be filled up [throughout your being] to all the fullness of God [so that you may have the richest experience of God’s presence in your lives, completely filled and flooded with God Himself].

In order to full experience this amazing and endless love, you need to go through the process of giving Him what bounds you. It is through this process that you experience the love to the fullest. The Holy Spirit was given to us to Comfort us through the process. It is going to hurt, but it is a good hurt. Let the spiritual roots of bondage be set free. Receive the wholeness that He came to bring you. It is a continual thing. It is not a one and done.

2 Corinthians 3:18 (AMP) And we all, with unveiled face, continually seeing as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are progressively being transformed into His image from [one degree of] glory to [even more] glory, which comes from the Lord, [who is] the Spirit.

Look yourself in the mirror today and make this declaration: I am fully loved by God. He adopted me into His family. The pain of my past does not determine my future. The spirit that now dwells in me has full access to my life. He has permission to search within me and clear out anything that the enemy can use to hinder the call that He has on my life. I am free! I am healed! I am whole!!

Untie the colt

Acts 4:13 (AMP) Now when the men of the Sanhedrin (Jewish High Court) saw the confidence and boldness of Peter and John, and grasped the fact that they were uneducated and untrained [ordinary] men, they were astounded, and began to recognize that they had been with Jesus.

Yesterday we began what we call “Holy Week.” Starting with Palm Sunday, we celebrate and reflect on the week leading up to the Resurrection of Jesus on the following Sunday. Palm Sunday was the day that Jesus made His triumphant entrance into the city riding on the back of colt, the foal of a donkey,(Luke 19:28-38) as prophesied in Zechariah 9:9.

Jesus was 30 years old when He was baptized and He started His ministry. We read in Luke 2:41 that His parents took Him every year to Jerusalem for the Passover Feast. We even see at the age of 12 that He was able to talk about and have an intellectual conversation about the scriptures. He was 33 years old when He went to the cross. Nearly 33 years walking into that city for the Passover Feast. Why was this one so special? Jesus knew that the time would come. There was never a time that He did not celebrate the Passover. What made Him decide this time was different?

Reading the story of John and Peter healing a man in front of the temple, and then getting arrested, made me think of what Jesus’s disciples thought when their king was hung on the cross. How many times do we say, “it was not in God’s time” because we do not see an abundance of blessing poured out on someone when they step out? Looking at these two situations. That is what it looked like in the natural. How big was their faith to say “even if?”

Jesus hung on the cross for hours in agony. He died a horrible death. Our Jesus willing did that. God did not have the colt waiting for Him to ride at the bottom of the Mt. of Olives. He had to tell His disciples to go and get it. He chose to do it!

Matthew 22:14 (AMP), Jesus said, “For many are called (invited, summoned), but few are chosen.” Do you think that meant that we are called forth and chosen? Remember in elementary school how we would be divided on team for dodge ball? We would have two “captains” and they would take turns calling out the names of the kids they wanted on their team. It was always humiliating to be the kid picked last. That is not how it works in the Kingdom. Chosen here means you have a choice. Chosen are the ones that say ‘yes’ even if.

What has got you from grabbing onto your colt and starting? We were not told the year or age that Jesus would die on the cross before hand? John and Peter did not say, “God said,” before they laid hands on the sick. It was the Holy Spirit inside of them that led them.

Many of us do not want to step out of God’s timing. May I encourage you to not be led in fear of punishment, but know that He loves a heart that is willing.

Romans 8:28 (AMP)  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.

Let me encourage you this Holy Week to step out into your calling. Make a contact this week. Peter and John were not qualified by man’s standards. Jesus was ridiculed even up to the moment of His death.

Matthew 27:54 (NIV) When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!”

Even if it looks like a mess, He can turn it into good. They will be astounded at the goodness of God. Untie the colt and start!!

Water Gate

Nehemiah 8:1-3 (AMP) Then all the people gathered together as one man at the open square in front of the Water Gate; and they asked Ezra the scribe to bring the Book of the Law of Moses which the Lord had given to Israel. So Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly of men, women and all who could listen with understanding, on the first day of the seventh month. Then he read from it, in front of the open square which was in front of the Water Gate, from early morning until midday, in the presence of the men and women, those who could understand; and all the people listened carefully to the Book of the Law. 

I have just finished reading the Bible in chronological order. I have yet to do a rapid Bible read through in 90 days. This is only the second time I have read it completely through. It is not an essential thing to accomplish to be a good Christian, but I do believe it should be a desire of our hearts. This is one of the areas that I would say would be “works” oriented. It does not matter how much scripture you read in a day, how much you memorize or how much you pray. Do you follow the teachings? Do you love to the extent that Jesus did?

As I started a new plan, I decided to start with Haggai, Ezra and Nehemiah. Nehemiah being a type and shadow of the Holy Spirit, as his name means Comforter. Nehemiah was not a priest and he was not a prophet. What he did was have a burden for the people. He desired for them to be restored. That is exactly what the Holy Spirit will do in our lives. Jesus is not just my savior, He is the Prince of Wholeness (Isaiah 9:6-7 MSG).

In the first chapter of Haggai he pointed out the people were concerned about their personal needs and they just couldn’t get it together, although they knew God called them back to this place. He said twice “Consider your ways.” The Israelites returned to Jerusalem after 70 years of captivity in Babylon, focusing on rebuilding their homes, reestablishing their businesses, and creating comfortable lifestyles in their homeland. Yet they completely forgot the importance of rebuilding the temple and reestablishing their relationship with God.

Haggai 2:3, 6-9 (AMP) Who is left among you who saw this house (temple) in its former glory? And how do you see it now? Does it not seem to you like nothing in comparison?For thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘Once more, in a little while, I am going to shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. I will shake all the nations; and they will come with the desirable and precious things of all nations, and I will fill this house with glory and splendor,’ says the Lord of hosts. ‘The silver is Mine and the gold is Mine,’ declares the Lord of hosts. ‘The latter glory of this house will be greater than the former,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘and in this place I shall give [the ultimate] peace and prosperity,’ declares the Lord of hosts.”

In the book of Ezra we see them come back to rebuild the temple. It did not look the same way that it did under Solomon. Those that knew it’s previous glory mourned. Those who never saw it before rejoiced that it was there. It is all about perspective.

In Nehemiah, he sees the importance of rebuilding the walls and the gates. Each one has significance but I want to concentrate on the Water Gate. Located adjacent to the Kidron Valley, the Gihon Spring was accessible via the Water Gate. The Kidron Valley served as a burial ground. This is the world’s largest Jewish cemetery, located next to the Mount of Olives. It shows their commitment to the faith.  

Ephesians 5:26 (AMP) so that He might sanctify the church, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word [of God]

Psalms 119:9 (TPT) How can a young man stay pure? Only by living in the Word of God and walking in its truth.

The Holy Spirit is the one who makes the word of God alive to us personally, allowing cleansing, encouragement and direction to take place in our life. This Word is so important to us and our restoration. Water yourself in the Word! Hold truth to the Word!!

It was of spiritual importance that the Word of God be read in front of the Water Gate. The Word was valuable to them. It should be valuable to you. It does not determine your salvation from Hell. It does not make you a better “Christian”. The Word of God is restoration. You will not know all that He has available to you unless you know what the Word says about it. Come dip with me in the water today, and when you are ready, we can go a little deeper. Desiring for more is where my heart is!

Restoration takes more than me

Philippians 3:12 (AMP) Not that I have already obtained it [this goal of being Christlike] or have already been made perfect, but I actively press on so that I may take hold of that [perfection] for which Christ Jesus took hold of me and made me His own.

There are many benefits of our Reconciliation through Christ besides just “going to Heaven” but they can remain dormant and non-beneficial until discovered and used. My husband posed this question to us a couple of Sunday’s ago: “Am I walking in the Freedom of Reconciliation today?”

Your relationship with God is as deep as you want it to be. Your freedom is to the level that you set it.

Luke 10:19 tells us that Jesus gave us the ability to exercise authority over all the power of the enemy (Satan); and nothing will harm us. I want to remind you that you cannot do this alone. You were not meant to do it alone.

Have you ever heard this? “I work out my own salvation!” That is taken from Philippians 2:12 and we use it as a defense mechanism because we do not like being corrected. We are taking it out of context. You see quoting this and stating “I work out my own salvation” is not the character and nature of God. Actually, in the original Greek it is not quite stated like this. The New American Standard Bible has the closest, because we all know from grammar classes, punctuation is important.

You should not quote verse 12 without 13: So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to desire and to work for His good pleasure.

You cannot do this separate from the Holy Spirit. You are not alone to work out your own salvation. You need to know and read His Word, but if you do not have the Holy Spirit you are limited. You will quote verses out of context and live half free.

There was also something else that God gave us to help in our restoration. He gave us each other.

Ephesians 2:18, 22 (AMP) For it is through Him that we both have a [direct] way of approach in one Spirit to the Father.  So then you are no longer strangers and aliens [outsiders without rights of citizenship], but you are fellow citizens with the saints (God’s people), and are [members] of God’s household, In Him [and in fellowship with one another] you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

The devil will try to tell you that since you are the only one like you in your family that you do not belong, that you are an alien, that you are an orphan. Even though you DO belong to a family, he will do everything he can to keep you from the full benefit of salvation. I know what it is like to feel like you are not included. My husband and I are the pastors. Do you know how hard that is to be the leader? Someone once said that if you want to please people sell ice cream. However,I cannot become all that He created me to be if I do not fellowship with my church. I am not talking about gathering to eat food. Am I being authentic in my growth with them so that they can encourage me? Not just one sided to where they are vulnerable and I just can’t because of my lack of trust in the very body of believers I am called to. I need to walk in fullness. I have to let the body do what it is suppose to, even if it hurts (just a little secret, growth is suppose to hurt).

Ephesians 4:12, 16 [and He did this] to fully equip and perfect the saints (God’s people) for works of service, to build up the body of Christ [the church]; From Him the whole body [the church, in all its various parts], joined and knitted firmly together by what every joint supplies, when each part is working properly, causes the body to grow and mature, building itself up in [unselfish] love.

The five fold ministry is essential in equipping the saints (the born again believer). Do you have a pastor? Do you allow them to correct you? There are good ones out there that want to see the best in you. The body of Christ is also essential to each other. We are no longer our own person. My restoration was for a bigger purpose than myself. I should be encouraging you to grow. You encourage me to seek the Holy Spirit in my growth!

Love is the unselfish concern for others, to see the best for them. This goes against the culture of “do what is best for you.” That shows a total lack of trust in the Father. Do you honestly think that if you did something that was better for someone else that He would not see to it that you go the best too? Let us grow past looking out for ourselves and serve one another.

Let us get back to the main question: “Am I walking in the Freedom of Reconciliation today?” We cannot do it apart from Jesus and the Father. We cannot do it apart from the Holy Spirit. We cannot do it fully without each other. You were not meant to work it out alone. God’s desire is for you to be whole. Let the Holy Spirit and the body of Christ do its work.