All posts by Franciska Merrick

Seeing Well

Read with me, Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.” Philippians 2:3

“For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.” James 3:16

Every member of the body serves a different function. Just as the physical eye cannot do the job of the heart, and the lungs cannot do the job of the eyes, so we each have our own work purposed for us individually. Each and every part serves a different purpose, magnificently designed to function perfectly and effectively. The varying parts of the body are designed to complement each other, not hinder each other. This holds true for the body of Christ; we were designed to work together, held together by the fibre of His perfect love for us.  *see 1 Corinthians 12

Discord is a cancer to the body of Christ. When there is enmity between brothers, the body suffers. When we look and others and judge them based on what we see, we cause disruption and decay. Today, I want to draw your attention to 1 Corinthians 5:16, Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer.” Regard no one according to the flesh! Not according to their flesh, or yours. It is so detrimental to the body of Christ when we allow others to bleed because of our misguided judgments. We have a hurting bride, a body burdened by the chains of oppression; prison sentences brought on by failure to meet prerequisite standards stipulated by church culture. Look at your local church. Do you know who stacks the chairs on a Sunday? Do you know who unlocks before and locks up after every service? Do you know the person operating the media and sound equipment? I want to challenge the way we view people in general. I have a burning passion to challenge the worldly consumer dominated culture that has infiltrated the body. We need to see well. We need to see. We need to seek Him in those around us.  Seek out parts of the body you would not normally consider, get acquainted with His traits again, dismissing fame and notoriety. Regard every person you see at church (or the supermarket etc.), and see.

Regard them as alive in Christ.  Look at them as a part of yourself that need caring and nurturing  just as you  would give to your very own body. Referencing the function of a body, life comes from the inside; we live from the inside out. We do not allow circumstances to inform us of anything, we trust the word of God, written and spoken. According to the work of the Spirit in us, we work out our own Salvation with fear, not that of another. Powerless people are tossed about by ideas and opinion, allowing circumstances to dictate their view of their brethren. You cannot allow a person’s momentary lapses, or their materialistic standing to inform your opinion of them. Let the Spirit empower you to see them as He sees them.

God has given us a Spirit, not of fear, but of power, love and self-control. The sequential significance of this verse always speaks to my heart. Not fear, but POWER. God wants us to live powerfully. When dealing with the body, we do not induce fear, but power. We do not use fear as a tool to bring about repentance, or change. We do not introduce the very substance of death (fear), in order to create awareness of Life. We bring Christ, and we boast in each other (1Cor 5v12), because I am powerful in God whether you behave or not.  We operate in a Spirit of power, a Spirit of Love, and a Spirit of self-control. We are reminded that we received not other person control, but SELF control. Manipulation and control are tools for powerless people. They are the hallmarks of reactionary living, signifiers of the need to control outcomes of other people’s actions and beliefs in order to feel powerful. The opposite of living powerfully is living as a victim. But, we are not powerless.  In light of this gift of the Spirit I want to urge you to live according to the theme of freedom. Live unbothered by people’s failures, and be untethered by their opinions. Let love win.

The measure of true devotion in a relationship is not what you do with and to the other person, but what you do with you. How do you behave? How do you speak? What do you allow yourself to believe about them? This is a significantly integral part of ministry; elevating people. We carry on His work by bringing people awareness of Him, not promoting self; we do not encourage the realization of how insignificant they are, but how amazing He is. We preach the completed work of Christ, not the insufficient efforts of the flesh.  We bring to light the fact that He makes them powerful, and their power is not found in ability to abstain from sin. We minister life and hope found in Him alone. No man can do what He does on the inside of His own.

 Because we live from the inside out, we start with us. Life as if you are loved and forgiven. Live free. The work that God has started in your life, HE started in YOU. So live from the inside out, and let Him finish what He started.

Purpose – Finding Him

Read with me, “Above the Horse Gate, the priests repaired the wall.  Each one repaired the section immediately across from his own house.”-Nehemiah 3:38

Every believer, me included, has found him or herself at a place where they long for God to reveal His purpose for their lives. He works in us to want to do well and pursue His intents. Have you prayed prayers that sound like this, “Show me what you want from me God”, and “What is your plan for my life?”  There’s something about loving Jesus that invigorates the believer to do! We want to shake kingdoms, we get encouraged to change the world, and we desire to conquer all the evils. Only, often times we envision these great feats taking place in front of a multitude of witnesses. We assume that the assignment was issued with a designated platform.

There is a lie that has crept into the hearts of the chosen, the false idea that ministry is only effective if there is an audience to validate the minister.  The problem with such ideology is, though the calling of many are sure, we cannot all have platforms and audiences. I meet so many people, women especially that mourn seemingly losing out on their purpose because they have been relegated to the task of serving those around them, as if serving is an inferior calling. But let’s be honest, on a Sunday, no one adulates how well the stairs were stacked in the back of the building. It is human to want to be seen and recognized, but it is unwise to equate validation with successful ministry.  There is significant hopelessness that stems from the disappointment associated with unrealized dreams. If you feel this way about ministry and church life, I want us today to determine whether our dreams were reasonable to begin with. I say that because we have to ascertain if those desires in our hearts stem from God’s heart for and instructions to us or do we experience shame because church culture dictates what we are busy with is insignificant and what we should look like.

Washing dishes, cleaning floors, raising children (please add your own tedious responsibilities here), and building walls are generally considered mundane and ineffective, worldly, earthly, material and insignificant. (Because, you know, God is only interested in the saving of your soul, thereafter you better just behave and struggle on in a life of negligible obedience.) I know, because I used to beat myself with this particular stick half near death. There was a deep seated need for affirmation, exacerbated by the lie that until I was reeling in the thousands of new convicts weekly or raising the dead, I was missing God and He was just not pleased with me. The funny thing is that it was indescribably difficult for me to even hear God while being that self-absorbed. What I was missing was Him, right there with me. The issue was the fact that in my head I associated God’s presence with the platform. I created a distinct separation between God and my life. I couldn’t live for Him; because I was struggling so hard living towards Him, unconvinced that I would ever accomplish anything that would garner His attention.  Somehow in the mundane tasks of everyday life I lost hope of ever accomplishing His plan for my life.  The irony is that first step in doing the things we have been holding off on, waiting for the spectacular, is usually your launching pad into purpose. In Nehemiah 3 it was the priests who were repairing the gate. The priests! Can you imagine them not doing what was in front of them to do because it was considered an inferior task?

“Purpose is found in practice, not the platform. It is developed in the Secret Place, not the stage.” Bob Hazlett

It is imperative, when it comes to our purpose on earth, to always bear in mind that He is a good Father. He is not sitting back waiting for us to fail. He is not expecting us to suffer to deserve a destiny. Christ already suffered for you. Now, you get to live. You get to enjoy a good life, a full life, and purpose driven life. If today you feel God isn’t seeing your capacity or using you to your full potential, I want to encourage you to just be present with Him in the moment. He is right there with you. Just do what is in front of you.  Imagine Jesus praying,” Father let this cup pass from me,” consider the fact that He was confronted with a task that was inhumanely degrading.  I’m sure there were many other ways for God to prove His power such as lightning, miracles, gold falling from the sky, physical demonstrations that didn’t involve death. Imagine the trek up the hill of Calvary. He was in pain, suffering, humiliated. Still He kept going, 1 foot in front of the other. That’s the way to go. Do what is in front of you to do however mundane and tedious. 

The plan was to redeem you to a life of freedom. Every second of every day is redeemed. It all counts, even the mundane. Why? Because He died for your ENTIRE life, not just the extravagant parts that are witnessed by others, it all matters. Every thought, every second, every act, it all matters. Nothing can add to what He already did for you. You are already redeemed. Live like it. Honor God by doing what He says.  Do what is in front of you, however simple it may seem. Do what is on front of you, however insignificant it may feel. Do what is front of you, even if it is hard. Allow Him to shape your destiny according to His will and purposes.

I pray that God will establish your purpose today. Ask the Holy Spirit to point out the things in front of you that you can lay your hands to and do. Allow Him to direct you to purposeful living. He is always willing. Remember, His presence is the price.

Knowing Him in suffering

Read with me, “In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:6

“For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.’’  1 Corinthians 2:2

Being faced with hardships such as illness, poverty, loss, and disappointment often times derail our thought life. Why’s and how’s and what if’s run rampant in our minds, wreaking havoc in our hearts. In the face of suffering, when our hearts become heavy, it becomes easy to look at our lives as hopeless, it becomes the norm to look at ourselves and see insufficiency, it can subsequently become a habit to look at our lives and feel only despondency. Lately, during illness and suffering the after effects of it, I so clearly hear God say to me, “What do you see?”  This reminded me of Jeremiah. God asked in Jeremiah 1, “Jeremiah, what do you see?”  Jeremiah responded “I see the branch of an almond tree,”, and God answered Him like this, “You have seen well, because I am watching over my word to perform it.”  God’s question came back to me, and all of a sudden I was overwhelmed with a holy desire to see well. I have such a pressing desire to see Him fulfill His word to me, to see Him be glorified in my life. Yet, in the face of oppression I leaned toward the idea that He was somehow distant and my prayers were out of reach of His hearing.  I was looking at Him, but I was not beholding. I was looking at Him, but seeing only my own needs.  While looking at myself I was measuring Him according to how well I was feeling and doing. Seeing well comes from knowing what we are looking at.

Knowing Him, really truly experientially knowing Him directs vision and direction.  We get to know Him through reading His word. Scripture is breathed on by God, and is a lamp for our feet so we can see where we are going. Scripture reveals Christ and the truth of His nature. When faced with difficulty, it is imperative to have a default thought pattern that yields itself to looking to Jesus. The instance hardship arises it would facilitate your faith process if you immediately turned your thoughts to the Word. The word is truth. Just as in Jeremiah, the answer is in front of you, what are you looking at? While looking at the mountain in front of you, do you know that He is still God? Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Heb 12:2. I love this Scripture! Keep your eyes fixed and focused on the one who endured! The One, who endured opposition for joy, is the very one who authors and finishes your faith! Now, what do you see? Do you see that you can face anything? Look at Him, let Him initiate faith in you, and endure so your joy might be full.

What do you see when viewing your life and God? The answers to your needs are in what you already have. You have the Spirit!  The Spirit testifies of Christ and His suffering, His victory, and sufficiency. So, when hardship arises, we look to the Word. We look for Christ in the Scripture, we look for what He would have said or done, or we just rest in the knowledge of what He has already accomplished – He has won it all. He is acquainted with suffering, He is a man of sorrows, and we do not ever have to be ashamed of having to process through emotions and doubt. But continual suffering is a choice. We can rest in the finished work, knowing He has given us all things that pertain to this life, to a Godly life. We do not have to beg and plead, we just need to know. Determine today to know He is enough. Make the choice to know Him, in everything you face. Know He is present, He is kind, He is just, He is for you.

What are you looking at, what are you seeing? What are you listening to, what are you hearing?  What do you have? You have the fullness of Christ. You have Him. You need nothing else. Keep your eyes fixed and focused on Him, the author and finisher of your faith. He is the answer. When faced with difficulty, we do not look  for reasons to justify suffering. We know Christ. Determine to know Him. Determine to seek Him, to see Him, to Hear Him. Know him. In suffering, know Him, in want, know Him, in everyday life, know Him. Experientially know Him. Know He is good. Wait on Him, feel Him, and Know Him.

Pray with me, “Thank you Jesus that You have shown us that there is joy at the end of endurance. I pray that You will reveal Yourself to me in a new way. I want to know you, wholeheartedly. I acknowledge You as the most important part of my life. Direct my life, I want to live a life that reflects intimate knowledge of who You are. I love You, Lord. I adore You.”

fight for peace

Read with me, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27

Fight the good fight of faith… 1 Timothy 6:12

 A couple of years ago I found myself in the unyielding waves of despondency. I was very lonely, extremely depressed, and visionless for my future. I was going through a cycle of tough mental acrobatics to make it through any given day. I spent many weeks just seeking His face, longing for deliverance, crying at His feet as I poured out my heart and daily explained to God that it was all just too much to bear. I so clearly remember God telling me, “ Girl, you gotta fight..” I don’t want to necessarily acknowledge it, but a big part of my heart believed God would come swooping in and save me, consequently I would be required to do nothing while looking absolutely amazing. A decent part of my faith didn’t make provision for the ideology that God would answer me in such a way that demanded more intentional action. I believed He would do it all for me, instantly. He certainly could, He was most assuredly able. But He is a good father that knows how to reach into the depths of our hearts and heal what is broken.  In my heart, how I viewed Him as a father was deficient.  He does not withhold peace in order to bring across a point, He doesn’t speak through turmoil and chaos to illicit faith, His language is peace.  He does not use the language of this world. He doesn’t provide a stone or a burden when we ask for bread and sustenance.

That morning God showed me a picture of how we proactively guard our possessions from theft. Setting alarms, building walls, locking doors, we are taking action to protect things that have value to us. God clearly spoke to my heart that I have to aggressively fight against the onslaught on my mind. To the same extent you would go to drastic measures to defend your household, you should defend your peace. Fight for it, claim it as yours, and know that His portion for you is peace. If we can only believe that He is for us and our inheritance in Him is good, it becomes easier to identify the enemy’s tactics as a ploy to steal our peace.  If peace is hallmarked by a deep and restful knowing, then unrest is affected by turmoil and fear of the unknown. Peace comes from knowing.  One main thing that steals our peace and causes turmoil is misunderstanding His heart and failing to remember He is good and His intentions are good. When we do not know if He is really for us, whether He is truly good, or if He is honestly willing to come through for us it is easy to take matters into our own hands by trying to stress and fear the situation into submission. Let me remind you today, the thoughts He has towards us are good, and full of hope. It is damaging to our trust, and ultimately our hope, to think thoughts that allow for a vengeful and angry Father, we can’t paint Him as uncaring in one thought, yet holy in the next. It is in the very fact that He is holy that we can rest assured He is for us, because He does not lie. He loves us. Our peace is this, He is good, and He is true. Do not allow your circumstances to inform your faith; do not allow your fear to steal the deep knowing you have that you have a Father that loves to take care of you.  

 When you are experiencing turmoil and fear, it is not necessarily God informing your heart to abstain from something. It is usually do to a lack of knowing Him in your circumstances. Fight to know His heart for you. Have the mind of Christ by embracing the peace that He so freely gives you. Have peace and live. 1 Corinthians 2:2 urges us to know nothing amongst others except Christ crucified. If I look at people causing havoc in my life, I need to know and see Him, if I look at circumstances, I cannot look to people but to Him. How do I pursue faith that produces peace? I aggressively fight the enemy of peace. I aggressively fight the lies. You ‘PUT’ your hope in God. We cannot look at what’s going on around us and blame Him for our lack of peace, because we are responsible for what we look at and believe and think, specifically about Him. What we believe about Him directly affects our faith and hope. He comes first. What we believe about God influences everything; it informs our words, hearts and deeds. We need to approach circumstances with the knowledge that the price is paid. The crucifixion provides us the gift of salvation and ultimate peace.  What do you know? Do you know there is no hope, or do you know the God of hope? Do you know fear, or faith? Do you know your thoughts, or Him?

Today, say this, “ I know this, He is God, He is good, and I know He is peace.”  And when I start to discern difficulty around me, I enthusiastically grab hold of truth, and fight to believe until I do not know the fear.  I then refuse to be acquainted with doubt.  I deny all familiarity with turmoil. Then Fear does not know my name. He now holds my heart wholly and solely. His words are true, it is His sweet whispering that stirs my heart to action; it is the still quiet love that comes in the morning that invokes my heart to wait patiently for instruction.  

Peace is an abiding state of being. Stay in peace.  During difficult circumstances of life, the Holy Spirit is present to help. Peace—deep, genuine, God-given peace—can be the “norm” in which you live day to day. Do not give, do not relent; let not your heart be troubled.  We cannot be afraid in the face of His faithfulness. Call to mind His faithfulness and inform your mind that you have been given peace by a good father.

conflict

And God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good…. Genesis 1:27, 31

The scary thing about relationships is that they are messy. Other people’s processes are not always easy to understand. Relationships are notoriously hard to navigate. During particularly daunting relational conflict it is common for thoughts of self-preservation to make an appearance. I want to encourage you today, if you are facing difficult relationships, if the waters around you are troubled and it is difficult to see clearly, He has already given the power and love you need for victory.

When we live for ourselves we tend to, by definition, live selfishly. Our conversations and thoughts revolve around ourselves. I often witness this phenomenon in relationships as conflict is introduced. How often I listen just to be ready with a reply, hardly to understand. More often than not, during conflict, while the other person speaks I hear more of what my own opinion informs me that what the person is actually saying. Have you ever watched a movie with subtitles? I get so distracted following along with them I miss the actual visual imagery on screen. This is what happens in my mind when I follow a conversation reading only my own opinion in the moment. I lose sight of the other person and what they are saying. This results in counter arguments that are usually very ineffective, and one-sided. The argument that results are then aimed at defending me, distance is created to protect myself, and silence is inevitably doled out to ascertain my standing in a relationship after myriad verbal punishments are served.

We fail to honor the other person, because we have lost sight of them in the chaos. It is imperative to remember that what God made is good, and those we are in conflict with are also made in His image. I love that when Jesus was standing in front of the high priest and Pilate and they brought His personhood into question, He did not answer them. I think there is much wisdom in staying silent when our character and who we are comes into question. Essentially conflict resolution is NOT loud redefining moment for us; it is a wonderful moment to lessen the distance between two people. The point of conflict should always be connection – how I can understand you better, love you better, treat you better, be better, more like Jesus. We cannot avoid conflict, but we can handle it with the wisdom of God. The only way to handle conflict well is to love well. For this we need His love and Spirit.

“So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him.” 2 Corinthians 5:16-18

What if I told you that part of every believer’s calling is reconciliation? Whether prophet, evangelist, mom, teacher, scientist. If you are a believer and you don’t know your calling, you are called to reconcile people to Him. We do this by reminding people who He is, not who they are. We remind them what He has done, not what they have done.  I cannot lead you to Christ by pointing out all your mistakes. I can only lead you to Christ by leading you to Christ. I can only reconcile you to Him by showing Him to you. During conflict, this is where love plays its part. If we are disagreeing, it is my God given duty to see Christ in you, and remind you of who He is, and who that makes you. Imagine being in an argument and telling the person everything they do well, everything they do that reminds you of Jesus, details that call to mind the amazing calling on their life. Let God have the last word.

I can honestly testify that the goodness of God changed my perspective of not only me but how I viewed the people around me. He has come and blown on the dry husk of my heart, breathing life into me, reviving me in His love. I have come to realize that He has placed immense value on those He loves, and that He has called His children to love each other the same way. That value cannot fluctuate because His love and nature is constant. I believe the highest calling is to love people the way God loves us. When we are confronted with difficult situations and rocky relationships, we often turn to verbal and emotional means to rectify the situation. If you win by manipulation, you will have to maintain with manipulation. I want to stress that it is only the goodness of God that can lead people to repentance, and only His love that allows for change to happen. Without operating in this love and from a good heart we will never see our relationships healed. And it is in operating from this mindset that we discover the purpose God has for our lives; to be good, and to do only good, consistently.

“For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” Philippians 2:13

Pray with me, “Thank you Father for Your unfailing love and patience. Let Your goodness witness to my heart and encourage me to freely and wholly love every person I encounter. I want to see them as You see, loved and lovely. Help me lay down my weapons, and to use my words not to destroy, but to point out the good. Help me to recognize and acknowledge the value You have placed on the people around me, especially those I don’t always agree with. May my focus ever be on the identity they have in God and on the fact that the price for their lives are also paid in full.”

hope in him

HOPE ETERNAL

For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness.” Romans 8:24-26a

Hope is commonly defined as the strong desire to see something happen, anticipation of a promise coming true, a wish, actually. But for us as BELIEVERS, hope is not wishful thinking; hope is a confident expectation of the fulfilment of God’s promises, which finds merit in His faithfulness. We hope because He is trustworthy. I love the way Paul plainly and logically paints a picture of hope, he says “you do not hope for something you can see or already have,” because we only hope for what we don’t see. We hope as people who know that He will fulfil His promises, we hope as people who believe, we hope as those who can trust the One who promised.

Hope is the other side of the coin of promise. We hope, and we wait. There is a tension between what we don’t see, and what we hope for, and often times this tension can be misinterpreted as fear, anxiety, or doubt which inadvertently leads us to shame. But these are the very feelings and thoughts that necessitate hope.  We, as Christians, tend to lean towards being sensitive to any form of emotion that resembled fear or unrest, and when we experience these feelings we are quick to determine ourselves faithless. But we need to understand that there are times when we are faced with the lack of manifestation which will require a deliberate act of looking the situation in the eye and acknowledging that we need hope for the future. It is helpful to remember that being in a reality of unfulfilled promise and lack consequently demands hope. Acknowledging the dire situation is the action that can catalyse the hope we need. Look it in the eye, and speak hope to it. This process builds character and endurance, which leads to hope.  Romans 5:4  and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame…

Because He is the God of hope, anticipate today to be a good day. Expect Him to come through for you. We hope, we expect, we anticipate with excitement. Act what you believe. Let your heart rest in this, He is willing and able. His arm is strong, and not too short to help. He will fulfill all He has promised. Hebrews 10:23 urges us to not let go of the confession of our hope. What are you saying about that situation? Are you calling God faithful? Are you hopeful that HE will come through for you? If you are struggling with this, one way to stir hope in our hearts is to speak and act according to His word, regardless of your feelings, because faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17). Speak His truth so that your ears can hear and your heart can have faith and remain in hope.

When we allow our hearts to hope on Him, we come alive with purpose. Hope gives new life to our dreams, our prayers, our focus becomes sure and our direction set.  Allow His truth to navigate your heart towards hopeful words and actions. Allow hope to make the waiting easy. Wait on Him, for the thing you don’t yet see. Be patient for the fulfilling of promise. What He promised still stands. His promises are YES and AMEN, HE doesn’t change based on our inability to comprehend His heart, HE is still good, He is still for you. He doesn’t change. Allow your eyes to take in all the awe of His majesty, and let wonder arise in your heart again. Let Him be your default. Let Him be your first love. Not the stuff, not the breakthrough, not the answer, but the person. His love for us is great.

 “Say to those with fearful hearts,“Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you.” Isaiah 35:4-5

Pray with me, “Thank you Father for every promise you have spoken over my life. I trust You. I trust Your heart and Your intentions toward me.  I ask that you will revive hope in my heart, for hope to arise and guide my thoughts and actions. I know that You are good. Today I choose to speak according to Your Word, “I am not afraid.”

Vision that speaks

Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.   Deuteronomy 31:6

 The LORD is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid?  Psalm 27:1

Has someone said “No” to you lately? How did it make you feel? We have all experienced rejection in life. We have all had “I’m not good enough “ tears run down our faces, while we wreck our brains to make sense of the whys. In a moment, all it takes to derail me is one discouraging word from someone else, their view of me, their perception and vision of my life.  One word ushers in all the doubts available on the market in brightly wrapped packaging. As I rip into these untruths and peruse their value, I eagerly unpack all the reasons that I am not enough. Oh, how often I find myself wondering where I could have done more and have been more, to accomplish more. But more often than not, if I am honest, I can confirm this to be my striving to gain notoriety with people, to be accepted, seen, invited, and included. So often I wish others could see my calling, acknowledge my worth, confirming that I have a purpose. In these moments I am convinced that if people give me a ‘yes,’ it is confirmation of my worth and calling, arguing that God’s word needs the agreement of others to make it true and valid. IF you can relate to this, I want to remind you today, dear friend, the word of God over your life needs only your agreement. It carries the authority of heaven, and your life has been bought at a most invaluable price. No man can add or take away from this.

Often times, I have interpreted rejection as a hallmark of God’s disapproval; I confound man’s disapproval with God’s, thinking if they said no, it was because He said no. If the common response to me in a scenario, or something I am attempting, is negative, I often interpret it as God’s ‘NO.’ This is problematic in various ways. Firstly, this ascribes God’s intentions towards the situation without actually consulting Him, and also assumes that His answer is generally reflected in people’s behavior. This is not necessarily so.  I am not saying that God’s answers to us is never NO, I am saying that we need to be careful to not interpret people’s opinions as God’s divine word to us. Imagine Jesus in the wilderness. He had just been baptized by John, the Holy Spirit descended on Him, and the Father had audibly confirmed Jesus’ identity in front of witnesses. God had spoken over Him a purpose, a truth, placed a marker on Him, and solidified His calling. Yet, it is right after this momentous happening that the enemy comes. What is significant is that the devil comes to challenge Jesus’ identity. The very thing God had made Him to be and then confirmed with a spoken word. Pay attention to the significance here, the timing and sequence. Jesus had a word from the Father. Jesus’ sonship had been affirmed, His identity confirmed, His calling aligned with the purpose of the Father, and the Father’s approval had marked Him as chosen. This is true for you when God speaks over you. The word God has given you as affirmation, making your calling sure, affirming you as His child, approving of you for ministry, confirming that you belong to Him. And it is these very words that come under severe attack, become scrutinized into minute detail, and be inquisitively questioned by the enemy. He attacks your identity, by questioning what God has spoken. People questioning your worth, your identity, your calling is not a sure sign that you are on the wrong track. Believe what He has said over you. One of the greatest forms of worship is coming into agreement with Him. Allow your heart to hear His words to you, today. Bind it around your chest, carry it close, treasure it, and believe it, because He is trustworthy.

This week I want to challenge you to be brave, to stand on His word. If you have a specific word God has given you, whether personally or through someone else, please take this week to intentionally stand on it and pray it back to God. I want to challenge you to set out time this week to think on His word, set out time to meditate on it, to pray over it, to take courage to believe God for it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak and not lie! Wait for it!

For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak and not lie. Though it tarry, wait for it, because it will surely come; it will not tarry. Habakuk 2:3

Align with fire

And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? For ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.  2 Corinthians 6:16

I believe the actions we take directly impact the workings and effects of the spiritual, and vice versa. I have witness many times how atmospheres shift when a specific person walk into a room, how conversations take new directions when one finds oneself in new territory, and how impactful our words are to accomplishing our goals. I believe we have the power to make or break most situations in our lives; I stand by the belief that we are not mere victims of sin and death, but that we have been given the power to effectively live as overcomers. For this reason I become frustrated when my seemingly simple hardships turn into these big, unyielding, disobedient mountains. I mean, these mountains need to read themselves some Scripture, they’ve got to move.  I am talking about those times you find yourself angered at simple things, being bored by prayer and worship, God seems a million miles away, old habits peek their heads out and you find yourself intimidated by life in general. You feel alone.  The road seems daunting and deserted. For me personally, these mountains are more often than not represented by the things I feel I have overcome, resurfacing without warning, for instance, impatience or doubt. Finding myself in a struggle once again with these thoughts, I am always also at the same time experiencing loneliness. When I find myself in a personal frame of mind that is unpleasant, more often than not the cause can be traced to a moment I came into an agreement with a particularly unchristlike idea- the idea that I have to go at it alone. This idea crept in that I need to accomplish victory in my own efforts. Loneliness walks alongside self pity, and with self-pity comes inactivity. I can then usually pinpoint a day, moment, where I thought and then believed I am ____________, ( failing, not enough, not going to succeed, unworthy, unloved, rejected, unapproved, overlooked, add whatever you want.) I want to draw you attention to the story of the Israelites as they travelled through the desert.  The presence of God manifested as a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night as they walked. There are two significant elements here relevant to my point. First, they had obeyed Him and left Egypt(slavery) resulting in the manifest presence of God walking with them as a direct result of taking action and obedience, and secondly they aligned themselves with the presence of God by walking where and how He guided. Our decisions have an impact on whether we see and feel the presence of God or not. We can walk in our own strength, but we can only have freedom when we align ourselves with His leading. The result of His leading is always the fulfillment of promise. Your destination with God is always destiny.   When there is agreement, there is power. Nothing can legally happen if there isn’t agreement between two parties. Amos 3:3 Can two walk together, except they be agreed? It is easy to determine that I have been walking alone when I am not operating effectively or living powerfully. When I feel God is far, could it be that the pillar of fire inside me burns for another direction, moving opposed to where I am going, beckoning me towards great promise and destiny? Can it be that I am trying so hard to find a path, proving my strength and knowledge?  God has given us authority and power, but we do need to come into agreement with His will in order to be effective.  God will have no unity with idols, no alignment with ideas that promote self.  In Genesis 11 we see the people of the earth conspiring to build themselves a city and a tower. They wanted to build a fortress to protect themselves, out of fear of being scattered about the earth, standing alone. Fearing the desert journey will result in self effort, being afraid of the notoriety that comes from walking alone, will result in building an empire with a self-preservation mindset. Their entire mission was based on fear; this idea gave birth to a mission of gaining ground and establishing self. They said to each other, “let us make a name for ourselves.”  God recognized that they were one nation, undivided. They spoke one language. They had psyched each other up so much, there was such conformity to the norm of elevating self that God proclaimed anything they put their minds to would be possible for them. And He chose to confound their wisdom, He chose to confuse them, He chose disunity of a nation above the elevation of flesh. He alone should have the glory in earth. Confusion runs rampant when self is at the helm of a journey.

The presence of God walks in us, guiding as He wills. Our victory is found in the going.  Two walk together when there is agreement. When we say, “You are my God,” His presence becomes a fire burning with purpose and direction. His presence in us becomes the compass that directs our lives. Whenever we respond to this fire, our hearts consequently burn within us to do His will, and our souls become refreshed with hope. If you are feeling far from God, I want to ask you to think of the last time your heart burned with purpose? What was He saying then? Where was He leading? Bring to remembrance the agreement you made to follow Him. Realign your heart with His. Walk where you feel Him, go where you hear Him, journey where you see Him. His presence is fire, it lights the way.

Pray with me, “Thank you Father for your presence in my life. Thank you for walking with me.  I respond to your presence today, I align my will with Yours. I want to go where You are going, do what You are doing, say what You are saying. Use me according to your will. I choose to walk with you. ”

serving

Read with me, “Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” Philippians 2:1-4

God has been reminding me lately that every area He has called me to, He has not necessarily called me to lead. One of the biggest misgivings in ministry is the notion that when we are called, we automatically lead in that area. It is not necessarily true that you will be the head of the spear in your particular field, more often than not He calls us to serve. ‘Serve,’ a little word met with much apprehension, the needle that readily deflates the most eager, an effective prompt to humble and reposition us. How often do we claim it an honor to serve God, while confidently assuming our “yes” positions us in front, at the top, visible and strong?

I love how He gently comes and reposition my focus on the small things by calling me to serve Him in the secret first, there where no-one sees and hears. Here God would put on display the secret thoughts of my heart, the things I hold dear and cherish, the things I hide and keep secret, things I value and desire to keep. It is usually during these secret conversations that He reminds me that others come first. It is not just about me, my calling, my word. Here He recently recalled that serving involves empowering and assisting others, to come in alignment with His word over their lives. Serving involves covering people, promoting their ideas, preserving their platforms. Serving can mean that when I have the perfect opportunity to gossip with valid true info, I refrain. Serving is the opposite of promoting myself. Serving is not enduring a certain amount of time in ministry in order to carve out a platform for myself. Serving is inherently selfless. It is laying down our own wants, desires, and opinions for His. What is His opinion of the other person?

I want to draw your attention to the story of Obadiah ( you can read it in 1 Kings 18), who hid a hundred prophets from Jezebel. Jezebel, King Ahab’s wife was killing off the prophets of God, but Obadiah hid them, fed them, and kept them safe from her. In Kings 18 we read that Obadiah revered the Lord greatly, and therefore protected the people of God, risking his own career and life. It hit me hard that love and reverence for God made this man protect His people. It has stirred a prayer in my heart to be reminded to protect others, to cover them, to host them. The love of God will make us servants of men. Our own pride has no place in the Kingdom of God. What would you look like if you took thought to promote someone else today? What would the conversation sound like if you had to promote someone in front of others? Would it sound different than your usual dialogue? We honor God by honoring each other, we show our love for Him by loving one another. I want to ask you today, do you still know what the interest of your neighbor is? Are you invested in their promotion? Are you in a state of mind to facilitate their protection? Are we still hosting the presence of God in the secret thoughts of our hearts just like Obadiah protected His presence by covering God’s people in shelter and safety. We serve by sheltering others’ hearts. When the presence of God, who resides in others, becomes of value to us it becomes an enjoyable task to protect their reputations, their callings, their platforms.

The one thing that I am constantly reminded of in this season is this, “It is not only about me.” IT is imperative that we live the life God called us to, it is imperative we realize that we have value and get to absolutely walk in effective salvation, but keeping in mind that our mission should be to bring about unity in the body. Every decision, every act, every mission should be to serve the King in wonder, spurred on by Love.

Pray with me, “ Thank you God for calling me, thank you for calling others alongside me. It is an honor to serve in Your Kingdom. Remind me of your love, show me ways to host and shelter others. I want to dedicate attention to You, to what You are busy doing in others and for others. I lay my life down to serve You and your people.”

god is a bringer

Read with me, “Then the Lord said to me, “You have seen well, for I am ready to perform My word.” Jeremiah 1:12

Sometimes I get stuck on a passage of Scripture for months. This time it is Jeremiah 1. Until I feel urged to move on, this is where I am leaning into what He is saying for now. I feel the heart of God beating for those suffering lack right now. I feel His urge to bring to remembrance the fact that HE is a good God. Jeremiah was afraid, he was afraid to speak because he was facing hardship and uncertainty. God keeps asking Jeremiah, “What do you see?” This is significant because what we behold and focus on becomes what we speak about. What do you see? What are you saying when you look at the situations in your life? Are you feeling inadequate, like Jeremiah. Jeremiah goes on to tell God that he cannot speak, and God responds with these simple words, “ Do not say ‘but’…” It is imperative in this time that we confess the truth of what He has instilled inside of us. This back and forth between God and Jeremiah makes this passage such a prophetically insightful and activating passage. There is a beautiful junction of man’s insufficiency with God’s provision. I love how God allays Jeremiah’s fear with the fact that He is ready to act. Ps 46 says He is a ready help in times of trouble. I don’t know about you, but 2020 and onward has proven troublesome in many ways. Never have we needed to hold on to the word and person of God more than now. I want to draw your attention to one of the characteristics of God, one of the spectacularly beautiful facets of His nature; He isn’t just a doer, but God is a giver – a bringer. All throughout Scripture there are many instances that testify of how He brought what was needed to man. Think about the very beginning. God made everything that man could possibly need to survive before He ever made man. There was not a moment in time where Adam and Eve didn’t have what they needed to live. They did not know lack in His perfect provision. This included food, love, sustenance, shelter, company and fellowship. God provided for them, before they needed, not because they asked, but because He is good. He even provided these elements for the animals before they were created. We know according to Matt 6 He takes care of the birds and feeds them. He knows what we need. He is aware and involved in the details of what sustains life. He cares. He brought food to Elijah, and a ram for sacrifice to Abraham on the mountain which resulted in a geographical landmark being named “The Lord will provide.” Amazing! He is the God that invented food delivery service, via Ravens, nonetheless. He is the God that made bread rain from the sky when the Israelite’s food from their season of bondage had run out. He was in the details, He provided new bread. He is the God that speaks to His children not through manipulating methods of withholding, but through abundance. Lack is not a tool in His arsenal He wields to ascertain our submission. No, He is the God who provides. In 1 Corinthians 10:13 we see He even provides a way of escape when we are facing temptation. He brings the outcome, He brings the breakthrough, He brings the provision, He brings life, He brings the answer. Matthew 27 paints such a beautiful picture of Jesus’ heart when it comes to money. Upon arriving in Capernaum, the tax collector asked Peter whether Jesus was going to pay his taxes or not. Jesus told Peter they will pay their taxes in order not to offend. He then instructs Peter to look in the mouth of the first fish he catches, there he would find money to pay the tax. Jesus provided a way of escape out of offence, out of insult, out of shame, by providing money in an extraordinary way.

If He said He will provide, He surely will. If you are on the mountain having to sacrifice part of your life, He will provide. If you are struggling to make ends meet, He said He will provide. He is watching over His word to perform it. What He said, He will do. When looking at your circumstances, take care to see well, take care to see what He sees. Just as He said to Jeremiah, so He says to us, He is watching over His word to perform it. Speak His word over your situation today. Claim victory, proclaim the goodness of God. Remind yourself of His faithfulness. We overcome by the word of our testimony, so speak life to the situation that are dire.

Pray with me, “Thank you Father for being generous, for reminding us that You are with us and willing to help us. I pray today for the Spirit to guard my words, help me speak only what You say. I trust Your heart, Your intentions, and Your perspective.”