Let Your Spirit Lead

God created you in His likeness— for your spirit to rule your mind, will, and emotions and to direct your body in what is right in unison and agreement with Him.

When Adam and Eve disobeyed God’s command, their relationship with God was severed. They were created in His image — for their spirit to lead their thoughts and actions. Their desire to go their own way led to the death of their spirits and caused them to depend on physical knowledge. Their physical senses told them what to feel and think. The physical and natural became dominant over the spirit.

Before we accept Christ, our spirits are in that fallen-from-grace darkness, the same condition of Adam and Eve’s hearts after the fall. Our spiritual senses sit in darkness allowing our physical senses to interpret our lives for us.

When we accept the sacrifice Jesus made to bring us back to God, His life and light immediately illuminate our spirits.

Our revived spirits are ready to go to work; however, our physical senses have told us how to respond to everything around us for so long that we are conflicted by old habits and new abilities. That’s why Paul reminds us that we are new creatures. The old person—ruled by the physical world—dies, and we become alive in Christ to forever be led by our spirit man.[1]

Although there are good people in the earth, the world we live in today has become extremely hostile and full of hate. The world exhibits the very nature of the god of this world, Satan. He opposes God, and wants to destroy the object of his hate—or we could say he opposes God’s love.

God’s design is to bring every man, woman and child back into fellowship with Him. As the ultimate Father, He doesn’t want to be separated from us. He loves us—no matter what!

[1] 2 Corinthians 5:17

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All Because of Love

It’s been a journey for me, but over the years I have come to truly believe God is a good Father. From a very young age (maybe two years old) I’ve been aware of God’s presence in my life. He was always my friend. And I’ve come to trust that no matter what I do (or don’t do), He never changes. He is dependable, trustworthy and always responds to me with an abundant, overflowing, immeasurable love.

In Romans 5:8, God reveals His faith in action: But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Our Heavenly Father’s love is not an emotion, but a decision. Perhaps the very first decision God made about us was to love his creation (you and me) unconditionally.

Everything He’s done from the beginning of time is all because of love.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.[1]

He had faith that His creation (you and me) would return to fellowship with Him. God’s love produces goodness. Everything good originates from love. Everything bad is a distorted, twisted form of love. Because of His love for us, by faith, He gave Jesus.

God’s desire for relationship caused Him to create man, and that same desire continues to draw us to Him by His love working in us. I am so thankful He pursued me and never gave up.

First John 4:8 says, He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. It’s who and what He is. It’s His makeup—His essence— His character. So we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.[2]

Thank God He is conforming us into His image and likeness.

When we make a decision to accept Jesus, we choose by faith to accept Him, and what He’s done for us. Why should love be any different? We love God by our very act of faith—believing that He exists and accepting Jesus as our Lord and Savior. We love God by accepting that He is a good God and wants the very best for us. This takes faith. And loving others takes a daily practice to choose to love no matter what.

As you choose to love others with God’s supernatural, unconditional love, what changes do you believe God for in your relationship with others? And in your relationship with him?

 

Wash Away the Past

 

For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland (Isaiah 43:19 NLT).

If we’re honest, we all have stuff—things we’re not proud of, mistakes we’ve made and decisions we wish we would have made different. Many of us keep a box of ‘if onlys” in the back of our mind. When we reach a point of transition—where things get hard or it feels like you’re not moving forward, it’s easy to drag that box to the forefront and begin to revisit the failures of the past. That’s exactly what the enemy of your soul wants you to do.

If your focus is on the past and where you’ve been, it’s easy to get stuck there. Then you don’t have the courage, energy or strength to push forward and accomplish the purposeful future God has for you.

My husband, Blaine and I made a promise early on in our marriage. We were stuck in a hard place. Our marriage was going nowhere. Once the word divorce escaped my lips, God gave me a picture of Blaine and me passing our toddler back and forth each week—raising him in two separate homes. As a child of divorced parents, I didn’t want that for my children. So, we came together and prayed, asking God to intervene.

We felt like we weren’t physically where we belonged. We agreed in prayer for God to place us wherever he would have us. We promised God and one another that day we would always go wherever he sends us.

We’ve moved many times during our marriage as God led us. The transitions from there to here were difficult each time. It’s hard when you know God wants you to do something, but you have to stand firm and wait for him to order your steps and open the door. I’ve had to fight discouragement and doubt while waiting. I’ve found the enemy will challenge you, and based on your past, try to convince you that you didn’t hear from God.

God desires for you to look forward to the new things he is doing in your life.

Right now you may not see it. It may seem difficult to hold on and believe, but the rewards are great. Let him wash away the past.

Make a conscious effort to throw away that box of “if onlys” and trust him to lead you to the new.

 

“The sea will grant each man new hope, and sleep will bring dreams of home.” Christopher Columbus

Ask Anything

Do you imagine God so big that He is too busy for you? Perhaps you feel compelled to handle things on your own so He can spend His time taking care of “bigger” issues. Maybe you know people who are “worse off” than you are, or you think someone deserves His time more than you do.

Don’t believe the lie!

God desires to be there for you no matter how small you think your problems might be. He has endless capacity to do and be—far beyond anything you can imagine.

Imagine yourself the child of a father with endless resources who loves you, wants to provide for you and give you the desires of your heart. There is only one condition—He wants you to ask. You serve a God without limits. He is unrestrained in what He can do for you.

What things are you holding close to your heart today? Your Heavenly Father is just waiting for you to ask for His time, His wisdom, His intervention. He wants to give you the desires of you heart. It’s not a matter of deserving it. You’re His child and like a good father, He wants to do you good!

Open your heart today and relinquish to Him anything you’ve been holding back. He wants to be a part of the answer. Take a moment and invite him to intervene on your behalf today.

In that day you will no longer ask me anything.

Very truly I tell you,

my Father will give you

whatever you ask in my name.

Until now you have not asked

for anything in my name.

Ask and you will receive,

and your joy will be complete (John 16:23-24 NIV).

 

Obedience’s Miracle—The Widow of Zarephath (P1)

Part 1 of 3

God chose to take the life of the prophet Elijah and intertwine it with the life of one widow. Elijah served as God’s spokesperson, the man who stood in front of King Ahab and prophesied “…the next years are going to see a total drought—not a drop of dew or rain unless I say otherwise.”[1] Jezebel, King Ahab’s wife, tried to kill all of God’s prophets. At one point, Elijah thought he was the last living prophet.[2]

Our lives our intertwined for mutual provision and blessing.

Those who worshiped Baal believed he was the god who brought rains and bountiful harvest—so the words Elijah spoke for God were profanity against Jezebel’s god. After declaring no more rain, Elijah hid himself in the Kerith Ravine, east of Jordan where the Lord sustained him with water from a brook and food ravens brought to him.[3] When the brook dried up, God sent Elijah to Zarephath with instruction to look to a widow to sustain him.

The woman, only referred to as the “widow of Zarephath,” demonstrates a powerful faith through her obedience in 1 Kings. The city serves as part of her identification. We can assume she is the only widow in her city. Zarephath rest inside the region of Sidon, the native country of Queen Jezebel, the woman who married the wicked King Ahab and required her god, Baal to be worshiped instead of God Almighty.[4]  We might easily assume this widow is not of Hebrew lineage, but she clearly believed in the Hebrew’s God and trusted Him.

So she went away and did according to the word of Elijah; and she and he and her household ate for many days. The bin of flour was not used up, nor did the jar of oil run dry, according to the word of the Lord which He spoke by Elijah (1 Kings 17:15-16 nkjv).

God’s purposes are so much higher and wider than what we imagine. God tells us to go here or there—to do this or that—and it’s easy to think it’s about us. Hopefully we can see it as God positioning us for blessing. While that is often a part of his plan, our eyes usually rest on ourselves, when in fact it has less to do with us and more to do with what he wants to do through our relationships with the people to whom he connects us for a bigger purpose. Our lives our intertwined for mutual provision and blessing.

Who has God sent into your life to help you? Are you looking for God to answer you through the divine connection of relationship He’s placed in your life? What relationships does He want you to cultivate?

[1] 1 Kings 17:1 MSG

[2] 1 Kings 18:22

[3] 1 Kings 17:5

[4] 1 King 21:25-26

Give Him Thanks for His Unfailing Love

#5 of 5 Ways to Step into God’s Rest

Psalm 100:5 says, For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.[1] ALWAYS.

I can’t imagine where I would be today without the unfailing love of God active and constant in my life, and yet, I so often fail to thank Him for it. On many occasions, I am terribly guilty of taking His love for me for granted. Instead of a selfless focus, I choose a selfish focus—and that robs me of a deeper relationship with Him and the daily opportunities to choose to step into His rest.

Which brings us to the fifth way to experience God’s rest:

  1. Give Him thanks for his unfailing love.

Psalm 119:90 says, Your faithfulness endures to all generations; you have established the earth, and it stands fast.[2]

David—a man after God’s own heart—learned to step into God’s rest. He struggled to stay in that rest throughout His life, but he always came back to thankfulness for God’s love. He could step into God’s rest and give Him those thoughts and concerns trusting He would do all He promised.

We can enter his rest because he loves us. His love never fails. No matter what choices we make or what direction we go—He continually and affectionately loves us. There is nothing we can do (or not do) to cause him to NOT love us.

What has God’s love promised you? What are you thankful for? What does it take for you to step into God’s rest?

[1] ESV

[2] ESV

Sarah’s Story Part 2—Helping God

Sarah followed Abraham and together they obeyed God not knowing where they were going. Abram took his wife Sarai and his nephew Lot with him, along with all the possessions and people they had gotten in Haran, and set out for the land of Canaan and arrived safe and sound.[1] (Abraham was 75 years old, so that would make Sarah about 65, if you consider she was 90 and he was 100 when their promised son was born.)

It might be compared in some ways to a farmer these days, packing up the house, the barn, the animals and all he and his family possess and moving to another farm in another state—but they didn’t know where they were going. They just stepped out trusting in God to deliver all He promised.

Throughout Sarah’s story, there are many challenges. She and her husband were ordinary people trusting God for something greater than they could ask or think. They were far from perfect—just like us. They had their moments of doubt and unbelief along the way.

Sarah struggled to believe God’s promises included her. The natural circumstances crowded into her thinking as month after month, year after year she remained childless. It was a common practice in their time and culture to give a maidservant as a substitute wife to the husband, but remember, God had called them out from their people. He set them apart to follow Him and live according to His ways. He desired for their lives to look differently from the rest of the world.

God had a plan, but Sarah decided to help God out. Sarah encouraged her husband to follow the culture of her day and to sleep with her maidservant, Hagar. Sarah probably thought she could raise the child as her own. Abraham agreed and acted on Sarah’s plan. Once Hagar became pregnant, Sarah and Hagar’s relationship quickly changed. Hagar detested Sarah, and Sarah resented the woman who was able to give her husband the one thing she didn’t think she could give him.

The Lord appeared to Abraham when he was 98 years old and told him this time next year, I will return to you and Sarah will have a son. Sarah overhead the conversation and laughed at His words. The Lord confronted her asking why she laughed, and she fearfully lied that she didn’t laugh. The Lord again said, “Yes, You did laugh.”[2]

When we hatch our own plan to help God deliver on His promise, or hurry things along outside of His plan, those consequences can have lasting effects. Problems continued between Sarah and Hagar even after Sarah gave birth to the child God promised. (Even today the descendants of Ismael and Isaac continue to war against one another.)

Yet Hebrews 11:11 says, By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised.[3] God is telling Sarah’s story from “the end.” It doesn’t matter to God how many times she stumbled, how many times she failed. It doesn’t matter to him that she laughed in doubt or tried to take matters into her own hands. In the end, she saw God’s promises for her life delivered. She became what He created her to be all along—a mother of a great nation. She believed God and walked with Him by faith.

If you’ve ever waited on a promise, you probably found it very challenging. Even if you’re a very patient person, it’s difficult to cope with a long wait. I know I spend a lot of time thinking about the thing God promised and wondering just how God will pull it all together.

[1] Genesis 12:5 MSG

[2] Genesis 18:10-15 NIV

[3] ESV