Word on Wednesday

Wielding the Sword of the Spirit

Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. 1 Peter 3:8
I recently saw something that unsettled my spirit deeply. Some people I love and respect shared a video disparaging several Bible teachers I have also come to respect.
Henry Blackaby was one of them, labeled a false teacher for his Bible study Experiencing God. That Bible study was the very tool God used to lead me to salvation in His beloved Son.
Grief is the only word that aptly describes my response. I literally wept. What tool of the enemy would draw me into intimate, authentic relationship with Jesus Christ?
I can say authentic with deep conviction, because that relationship unleashed the power of grace in my life. I was changed. God tendered my shackled heart and caused it to love in ways that it couldn’t before. His Spirit within me brought forth beautiful fruit.
And yet some would say that teaching didn’t come from God.
It’s amazing how people who profess the same Lord can view things so differently. Passionately clinging to our own interpretation of scripture, we stand on opposing sides, using the same Bible to hurl accusations at one another in a desperate attempt to prove we’re right.
I don’t believe that’s what God had in mind when He placed the sword of the Spirit in our hands. We’re not meant to turn it on one another. We’re meant to unite against the real enemy—God’s enemy—the one whose agenda remains division among the body of believers.
Scripture clearly defines our enemy in Ephesians 6:11-12.
Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle […]

Who’s Leading Whom?

Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul. Psalm 143:8
It wasn’t exactly the morning we’d planned.
Summer had changed things for my prayer partner and me. Life took us in separate directions, and our weekly time of kneeling together at the mercy seat had been relegated to a few catch up phone calls and some prayer texts. We decided to break our summer rut of not seeing one another by meeting at a local park for a walk.
Great plan. Until my friend suggested I bring my dogs.
I knew they could use the exercise and would love the adventure—they love going anywhere in the car or on a leash. I could picture our little Jack happily bounding along with his heart full of wonder on only his second time exploring a trail.
But I also knew having my little darlings along would greatly alter the dynamic of our time together. I wasn’t sure. She said bring them. I brought them.
Excited is a bit too small a word to describe Jack’s mood.
All his lessons of heeling calmly at my left vanished as though they’d never taken place. I guess he couldn’t make the connection between the sidewalk and the woods.
I found myself severely tempted to take him off the leash. He repeatedly bounded ahead up the trail, darting from one side to the next sniffing everything, often tying Jen and me up with crossed leashes. And there seemed to be some discrepancy between the dogs over who deserved the right to lead. Let’s just say Jen and I didn’t set our pace.
We told ourselves they […]

Opening the Gift of Joy

. . . I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:11-13
Last week we discovered in scripture that we are abundantly blessed and lavished in grace. In case you missed it, take a moment to revel in the wonder of Ephesians 1:3.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.
God the Father has spoken every blessing available to us in Christ over each of our lives. Do you know what that means, dear one? Nobody has a greater blessing than you.
I know what you’re thinking. You see a lot of people with sizeably greater blessings. You have friends who have better jobs. Your neighbor has that great car. There’s that one family at church that always takes those amazing vacations. Your sister has those perfect kids.
You don’t feel equally blessed. Perhaps you even feel forgotten.
I’d like to suggest to you that’s precisely how the enemy wants you to feel. That’s the reason he continually shifts your gaze to worldly blessings. If he can convince you God has not blessed you, you won’t walk empowered by your blessing. Then he can keep you right where he wants you: defeated under his oppressive yoke.
I think this is a perfect opportunity to ask God to help us “not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind” (Romans 12:2).
You see, the […]

Loved and Lavished in Grace

For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. John 1:16 ESV
“There is no one on this planet more blessed than you.”
Beth Moore spoke those words during a recent taping of “Wednesdays in the Word” for Life Today TV. At the time, I joked with a friend who attended with me. “I’ve been telling you this for months. Will you believe it now that you’ve heard it from Beth Moore?”
Somehow it seems impossible to believe. Most days we don’t feel extravagantly blessed.
If that’s you, you’re not alone. I presented that same truth to the ladies in my Sunday school class a few days ago and asked if they believed it. You should’ve seen the eyes darting from my gaze, heads shaking in disagreement around the room.
I think we believe in a God of blessing. We just have trouble believing those blessings belong to us.
We easily assure others that God loves them desperately and has great things in store. But that same truth doesn’t seem to apply when we look in the mirror. We carefully guard our list of reasons that prove what our thoughts convey: most of God’s blessings aren’t meant for me.
The Apostle Paul begs to differ with you, dear one. So does the God who inspired his words.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. Ephesians 1:3
Whether or not you feel blessed at this particular moment, if you have put your faith in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, God’s Word says that you are. According to Ephesians 1:3, you have already been blessed with every spiritual blessing available to you in […]

Disabled by Fear

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7 (NKJV)
Have you ever had a moment that robbed your peace so suddenly and completely it felt like the ground you were standing on actually shifted? I had one of those last Monday.
Nothing particularly extraordinary happened. I simply received some news. But that news opened a door for a thought to enter my mind that I hadn’t considered before. And that one thought sent me reeling.
It’s amazing how a simple piece of information dropped into a conversation can change everything.
But the funny thing is, it wasn’t the news itself that caused the problem. It was what my heart suggested I do with it—the overwhelming sense that I should fear it. I didn’t have any concrete evidence to justify my fear. It was simply a thought—a whisper—a possibility.
But once I had it, I couldn’t get away from it. It repeatedly drew all other thoughts back to it, and every time it surfaced my heart pounded while my stomach churned. Because at the end of the trail that thought led me down, I saw pain for my family. Pain I didn’t want. Pain I was certain I couldn’t handle.
So my heart raced and my stomach turned. And I bent in submission to the fear.
Do you know, beloved, that you and I have a right to choose whether fear can have its way with us? If you have been redeemed and the Spirit of Christ dwells in you, fear has no right to govern you. For God has not given us a spirit of fear… (2Tim 1:7).
Yet fear does often govern us, doesn’t it? […]

Plagued by Demons

And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he [Jesus] made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. Colossians 2:15 (NIV)
I imagine many of you shared my surprise over the news of Robin Williams’ death. How sad that one who brought smiles to so many people apparently lived with such sadness in his own heart. Oh, how we need Jesus! We’re desperate for Him. If only we truly realized how much.
Can you relate to that feeling of hopelessness, dear one? Do you imagine that your troubles are far beyond Jesus’ reach? Or perhaps you think you simply have too much to overcome.
Let me introduce you to a man drowning in hopelessness, living among the tombs in the Gerasenes, across the sea from Galilee. A prisoner to his mind, he had suffered a long time, an outcast welcomed only by the dead.
When Jesus had stepped out on land, there met him a man from the city who had demons. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he had not lived in a house but among the tombs. Luke 8:27 ESV
You may have already tuned out at the mention of the word demons. I understand. The word makes us uncomfortable. We’d really rather pretend they don’t exist.
But scripture reveals that much of what we battle results from their oppressive influence over our thoughts.
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12 ESV
Whether we like the idea or not, evil is real, and its servants seek to exert its power over each of us. […]

Awake to His Purpose

So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober. 1 Thessalonians 5:6 NIV
I have to be honest with you. I’m feeling a little lost.
You may already know from some of my recent posts that I’ve been away on vacation. I spent two glorious weeks at the beach with my husband and boys, and we enjoyed the added blessing of sharing portions of that time with extended family members from both sides. For the past two weeks, I have been caught up in the rich blessing of God, reveling in the beauty of His creation and enjoying the love and fellowship that only occurs when Christ rules the hearts of very different people.
I have to say, the food was pretty good too. Our bellies had no excuse to groan in hunger, although at times they ached from the sidesplitting laughter that erupted frequently during nightly games around the dining table.
Life is so much better when it’s shared.
But now I’m home, and my view has changed. I’m not just talking about my inability to watch the waves pound the shore or see the sunlight glistening on a seemingly endless sea. I’m talking about a subtle change, one that seems to have occurred within me. Apparently my heart so enjoyed that period of rest, it continues to long for more of it.
Have you ever noticed how easily our enjoyment of the blessings of God can take our eyes off the Giver of them?
Hang with me for a minute here. I’m not saying we forget God altogether. But sometimes we lose sight of the whole of who God is. We relish one aspect of His character and allow His other […]

The Power of Ingratitude

“By day the LORD went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night.”  Exodus 13:21
Did you ever notice how God becomes just what we need from Him in any given moment?
Perhaps you haven’t noticed. Maybe, like the Israelites, you reap the benefit of His presence without ever giving it much thought. They were often so preoccupied by what they lacked, they didn’t appreciate what they were given. Instead of thanking God for His rich provision, they grumbled.
In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.” Exodus 16:2-3
Really? They spent their time in Egypt sitting around pots of meat? Isn’t it amazing how quickly the human mind forgets and distorts. Perhaps you’d like to see what caused God to send Moses to get them out of Egypt in the first place.
The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God. God heard their groaning and he remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob. So God looked on the Israelites and was concerned about them. Exodus 2:23-25
God added these words when He called Moses from the burning bush.
The Lord said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying […]

Redeeming Love

Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” John 13:7 ESV
I need to be honest with you. The last few weeks have been hard. People I love are hurting. Amid the usual struggles of life’s joys and hardships, loss and heartache have descended in a torrent.
A friend and sister servant in ministry at my church received a call recently that shattered her world. Her beautiful 23-year-old daughter had gone to sleep the night before like she did every other night. Only this time, she never woke up—at least not here. She closed her eyes to the blackness of this earth and opened them to the splendor of heaven and the beautiful face of Jesus.
Unimaginably wonderful for her. Devastatingly sorrowful for those left to grieve her.
Two other families close to me have lost loved ones to the ravages of cancer. And I recently received word that the disease has come calling on one of my dear family members for a second time.
Our human nature begs the answer to a desperate question: Why? Why must the body of Christ endure such pain? How do we reconcile God’s love with so much suffering?
I don’t have an answer, dear one, at least not one that will satisfy. If I did not know my God so well, I might be tempted to question Him myself.
But I do know Him well. I know the tenderness of His love. I know His comfort in my own brokenness. I know He is faithful, and I know His Word remains true.
I also know He wastes nothing and intends to bring a good work from every pain.
I recently read this quote from Christian philosopher Dallas […]

Live Your Freedom

“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.” Galatians 5:1
On Friday we celebrate freedom from oppression, liberty purchased for us by the blood of those who came before. I am so thankful for their sacrifice, and for their part in establishing this great country where we can live in the freedom of democracy.
As we pause to reflect on our liberty, may we also remember another who bled for our freedom: the precious Son who gave His life as a ransom for many. Jesus suffered the cross so that you and I could live free.
Are you free, dear one? Have you left behind the shackles of past hurts? Are you still locked in the bondage of controlling sin? Beloved, Jesus shed His blood to purchase your release.
“The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.” Isaiah 61:1
We live in uncertain times. The face of liberty has changed in the United States of America. Perhaps you share concern over the direction our once great nation appears to be headed. Take heart! Hope looms on the horizon. Its power rests within hearts of the redeemed.
Consider God’s promise in 2 Chronicles 7:14,
“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
What if we celebrated this […]