Word on Wednesday

A Perfect Promise

“You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:48
I realize I may have already lost you with our opening scripture. Perfect is a far too potent word. We’re comfortable using it to describe our Savior and what awaits us in heaven, but we certainly don’t want to apply it to us in the here and now.
And yet, the words before us emerged from Jesus’ lips during His Sermon on the Mount.
“You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:48, emphasis mine
Yep. Jesus said it. Right after He instructed us to love our enemies.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. … For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?” Matthew 5:43-46, emphasis mine
According to Jesus, anyone can love those who love in return. Sons and daughters of God, however, will also love their enemies. And not just love them, but advocate for them through prayer. Then He sums up His teaching with a charge to be perfect, in the same way that our heavenly Father is perfect.
That’s a pretty tall order, don’t you think? Jesus couldn’t possibly have meant perfect. After all, perfection is impossible, an unattainable goal.
Perhaps this is a good time to ponder another of Jesus’ statements.
“All things are possible for one who believes.” Mark 9:23
Beloved, what we find impossible, Jesus makes possible.

And He commands us to love perfectly—not just our friends, but our […]

Blessing the Overcomer

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 1:6-7 ESV
Hmmm. God allows trials in our lives to test how genuine our faith is.
Perhaps you don’t find that thought particularly comforting. After all, who really looks forward to going through trials? And let’s be honest. Testing our faith doesn’t seem like a very kind thing for God to do.
But here’s something to consider, beloved. What if God allows those trials as a direct result of His merciful love toward us? After all, our opening scripture reveals that various trials will grieve us if necessary. The wording suggests that if we didn’t need them, we wouldn’t have them.
Think it through with me, dear one. God already knows whether or not our faith is genuine, so He doesn’t test our faith for His benefit. That leaves only one possibility. He allows trials so that we can see how genuine our faith is.
I can’t help thinking of Jesus’ words to Peter on the night of His arrest.
“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” Peter said to him, “Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death.” Jesus said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day, until you deny three times that you […]

Passing the Test

Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test! 2 Corinthians 13:5 ESV
Scripture calls us to examine ourselves. For what purpose? To make sure our faith is genuine.
I don’t know about you, but I find that thought pretty sobering. After all, faith saves us and ushers us into the kingdom of God. If our faith isn’t genuine, dear one, we can’t claim the promises that come through it.
Heaviness grips my heart for the body of Christ. Half-truths and deceptions have woven their way into our theology. If we allow them to remain, beloved, I fear it will cost us dearly.
Take a moment to ponder Jesus’ words from Matthew 7:13-14.
“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”
Jesus said the way that leads to life is hard, and few actually find it.
Yet the message often heard from our pulpits suggests something else. “It’s easy to come to Jesus. You just have to pray a simple prayer inviting Him into your heart, and it’s done.”
I wonder, dear one. Why would Jesus tell us it’s hard if it’s so easy?
Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not suggesting that anything other than faith in Jesus Christ ushers us into eternal life with the Father. I’m suggesting that you and I ought to be certain we know what that means.
Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the […]

Salty Streams

Don’t you know that the Lord, the God of Israel, has given the kingship of Israel to David and his descendants forever by a covenant of salt? 2 Chronicles 13:5 NIV
I recently enjoyed a sweet time with Jesus in this very spot. Beautiful, isn’t it? I always somehow feel especially close to Him by the sea.
And this particular morning, a gentle but steady breeze blew the hair from my face while the sun cast its warmth upon it. I couldn’t help but close my eyes and lift my face toward heaven.
Blessings of praise soared from my lips to God’s ears, followed by fervent intercession. You may not have realized it at the time, but you were there with me. Unseen faces filled my thoughts with urgent need.
God means to awaken His church, dear one. And you and I are the church.
Something occurred to me as I sat there with Jesus inviting Him to merge my heart with His. You see, while I cried out to Him for you and His kingdom purpose, tears fell. Many tears.
Eventually I tasted them. And a new thought emerged about what’s found in them.
Salt.
“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.” Matthew 5:13
Jesus declared that you and I are salt, dear one. And He cared a great deal about whether we reveal and display our saltiness. In fact without saltiness, He said we have no use except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
Are you feeling trampled, beloved? Perhaps it’s symptomatic of an absence of salt.
I wonder. Have you and […]

Love in Action

Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. 1 John 3:18 
It’s time we awaken, dear ones.
Prosperity has lulled the western church into a false sense of security. We visit our beautiful buildings on Sundays to hear a message from the pulpit and to thank God for His provision. Then we return to our homes where we work diligently to build our own kingdoms.
And all around us evil surfaces. People are beheaded. Women are sold. Children bear children. It doesn’t touch us personally, so we pause in indignation at the news and then return to what matters in our own lives.
Meanwhile, Jesus’ call rings forth, carried on the breath of His Spirit.
“I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Matthew 16:18
Where is the prevailing church of Jesus Christ?
I fear she has been sleeping. And if she continues to sleep, evil will soon find its way to our own doors.
Jesus calls us to wake, beloved.
“I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God.” Revelation 3:1-2
Will you wake with me before it’s too late, dear one? Will you rise in love that acts?
Today I share Ann Voskamp’s words from a recent post after visiting Iraq. As you read them, I ask you to open your heart and seek God’s face. It’s time we feel what He feels and start doing what He would do.
Blessings, dear one.

What the News Isn’t Telling You and Why We Can’t Afford to Pretend it’s Not Happening

The Marks of Spiritual Thirst

. . . my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water. Jeremiah 2:13
The people of God are parched. Dry. Thirsty.
But there’s an even bigger problem. I fear we don’t recognize the severity of our condition. The desert has become so familiar we’ve stopped believing God for the Promised Land.
So it sits, just beyond the horizon. The river of life flows within it, but we don’t drink. We’ve stopped believing it exists. Instead, we just keep trying to draw from the same old broken cisterns.
A Samaritan woman experienced a similar thirst. Seeking water from an earthly well, she didn’t recognize her true need. Jesus pursued her, going out of His way to awaken her to her lack.
Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” John 4:10
Her response reveals the first mark of spiritual thirst.
The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.” John 4:11-12
Spiritually thirsty people don’t believe Jesus can do the impossible.
Jesus offered her living water, and she didn’t see how He could possibly provide it. Her faith had become limited to what she could see and rationalize with her mind.
What about you, dear one? Do you believe Jesus can do the impossible in your life? Or […]

The Seed of Power

Rise up, you women who are at ease, hear my voice; you complacent daughters, give ear to my speech . . . you will shudder, you complacent women; for the grape harvest fails, the fruit harvest will not come. Isaiah 32:9-10 ESV
I find it interesting that this passage speaks specifically to women. The warning? If women are complacent, the harvest will fail.
I can’t help thinking of Jesus’ declaration in John 15:5, 8.
I am the vine; you are the branches . . . By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.
Rise up, complacent daughters, or the fruit harvest will not come.
On Sunday we celebrate Mother’s Day. We set apart that day to honor women, applauding the influence we have in raising up the next generation.
But I’d like to take this time to speak to all women. And, if you’re willing to listen, to the men who have the potential to either encourage or repress.
You, precious daughter, have a significant role to play in reaping the Kingdom harvest.
The enemy knows it. And he wants to suppress it.
Perhaps you have believed his propaganda declaring that women have a lesser role. Jesus did, after all choose twelve men as His Disciples. And I can’t find anywhere that the names of the women who loved and served Jesus will be inscribed on the foundations of the New Jerusalem.
Yes. Satan easily convinces us that even God Himself holds women in a lesser regard.
This might be a good place to remind us that only together can man and woman fully reveal God’s image.
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female […]

The Satisfied Soul

“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 […]