Word on Wednesday

Purchased by Blood

And they sang a new song: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.”  Revelation 5:9
Today we celebrate our risen Lord. Jesus. The Word made flesh. Savior. Redeemer.
The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. Hebrews 1:3
When Jesus walked the dusty roads of Galilee, creation knew its Master. Water became wine at His word (John 2:9). Empty nets filled with fish at His command (Luke 5:5-6). Bread multiplied as He blessed and broke it (Matthew 14:19-20). And when a boat carrying Jesus and His Disciples tossed about on a stormy sea, Jesus stilled the waters.
Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”  Matthew 8:26-27
He wasn’t just man. He was God.
Jesus reigns as Lord over all creation, and creation bows. I wonder if when Jesus walked on water He simply told the waters not to let Him sink. I imagine creation’s symphony of praise lifting to His throne delights His heart. And I suspect the contrast of man’s rejection wounds Him with a piercing ache.
He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. John 1:10-11
How thankful I am that above all else, forgiveness and love flow from God’s heart toward humanity. Anger could have been justifiably hurled from […]

The Power of One

“I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one:  I in them and you in me.”  John 17:22-23a
Feeling stirs my heart as I ponder the words of our opening Scripture today. They flowed from the mouth of Jesus on the night of His arrest. You just read some of the last recorded utterances of the Word made flesh before His body dangled for you from a bloody cross.
We observe an intimate moment between God the Son and God the Father, the heart of God laid bare before us in His perfect Word. Did you know Jesus’ final prayers were for you?
Jesus had just finished praying for Himself and the disciples He would leave behind. Then in verse 20 He adds, “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message.” That’s you and me.
What did He pray for, dear one?
 “… that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”  John 17:21
Witness the Father’s revealed will spoken through the voice of His Son. His highest priority? Unity within the body of believers. Jesus prayed that believers would be one with each other in the same way that He is one with the Father. The resulting unity would cause the world to believe that Jesus did indeed come from God.
How is that possible?
Jesus and His Father are completely one in every way. Jesus declared it in John 10:30, “I and the Father are one.” They share the same thoughts […]

Empowered in the Wilderness

Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness. Luke 4:1 NIV
I imagine the wilderness isn’t high on your list of places you’d like to visit. It certainly doesn’t top my list. Give me oceans, lakes, or mountains with bubbling streams any day.
Yep. I’m a water girl. Something about the way the light glistens atop it stirs my soul. I love its sound, the feel of it on my skin, even the coolness in the air as you get closer to it. Water refreshes in so many ways—which makes the wilderness pretty unappealing.
So I find it surprising that the very first place the Holy Spirit led Jesus after His baptism was the desert.
Does it surprise you too? I mean, Scripture teaches that we’re supposed to follow the Spirit to abundant life. So why would He lead Jesus straight into the desert?
Verse 2 tells us what happened there.
 Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry. Luke 4:1-2
I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t sound like a whole lot of fun to me. The wilderness offered Jesus confrontation from the evil one and an empty belly. Conditions like that tend to defeat most of us. We wallow in our misery and assume that God has abandoned us.
But that’s not what happened to Jesus. Verse 14 describes Jesus at the end of His wilderness adventure:
 Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside.
Did […]

Careless Words

“But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” Matthew 12:36-37
Careless words. We’re all guilty of speaking them. On a good day we offer flippant answers. On our bad days we easily express thoughtless putdowns and let angry outbursts fly without a second thought.
But they’re only words, right?

Beloved, when Christ returns, He will hold us accountable for all of them.
Words may seem an odd thing for Jesus to judge us by. We might expect righteous works or immoral sins as a basis for judgment, but careless words?
Scripture reveals at least two reasons why God would place such high importance on the words we speak. We find the first tucked right before our opening verse in Matthew 12.
 You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. (verses 34-35)
What we say flows from what resides within our hearts. Our words reveal our true heart condition. As believers, the words we speak will either reflect the oppressive chains of sin or the life-giving presence of Jesus.
Dear one, 2 Peter 1:3 assures us that once we put our faith in Jesus, “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him . . .”
According to Scripture, we lack nothing necessary to live a godly life, but […]

Approaching Glory

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Matthew 27:46
Do you ever have moments when darkness seems to engulf you? When it becomes so thick and heavy you find it hard to remember the warmth of the light?
I do. They don’t come frequently, but they do come. Sometimes things just don’t play out like I hoped they would. And in those moments of darkness, doubt takes over. It tries to convince me that the God who loves me has abandoned me.  Forsaken me.
Ever been there? I’m guessing you have. You and I won’t follow Jesus for very long without facing some kind of adversity.
I wish I could tell you that once you step into the Light and give your life to Jesus you’ll never feel the touch of darkness. But I can’t. Jesus doesn’t promise an end to trouble on your path to abundant life. He promises the means to overcome it (John 16:33).
Beloved, there will be moments when adversity comes against you that you will feel abandoned by God. The logic of your circumstances won’t align with what you committed to believe by faith, and the enemy will do all he can to convince you that God has forsaken you. After all, he is the deceiver and the father of lies (John 8:44).
I’d like to ask you to consider another possibility. What if, in those moments of greatest darkness, God has never been closer? What if He is so near He must shield your eyes from viewing Him to protect you from His closeness? And as you trust Him through the darkness and the first streams of light begin to filter into view, you will glimpse His glory like you’ve never seen […]

Overcome by the Word of Your Testimony

“I am sending you.”
The message penetrated my heart in the middle of worship on Saturday afternoon during our annual women’s conference. An image of my friend who is battling end stage colon cancer flooded my mind.
My lips stopped moving as everything faded, the presence of the Spirit commanding my attention. I knew without doubt He was asking me to go and pray healing over my friend.
I wanted desperately to comply. I would like nothing more than to be a vessel Jesus used to heal her. But in the same moment fear and doubt took hold. Who was I? Nobody. Just a friend…a soccer mom…a Bible teacher. Not a miracle worker.
Do you notice how we tend to focus our eyes on our own inability rather than God’s ability? When God calls us to exercise faith, we make everything about us. But the tasks He appoints have nothing to do with who we are and everything to do with who He is. And in those moments, He asks us to trust. “Will you believe I AM who I say I AM?”
It might be interesting to note the theme of the conference I attended: Empowered by the Spirit. The speaker challenged us to Feed on the Word, Believe the Word, and then Live the Word. What good, after all, is knowledge of the Word if we can’t live it in the everyday? What does Truth mean to us if we don’t believe it and put it into action?
“I am sending you.”
The moment passed and we all settled in to hear the final message from the speaker. I found myself challenged by Revelation 12:10-11,
Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say:
 “Now have come the salvation and the […]

Smoothing the Rough Places

I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them. Isaiah 42:16
It was one of those frustrating days.
I think the rain started it. I usually don’t mind rain until I have to go out in it. I even enjoy listening to the soft patter outside when I’m tucked safely indoors with a good movie and a blanket. It’s when it pours on me that it bothers me.
That day, it poured on me.

I was running errands in the rain when I got a text from my son at school.

I never hear from my son at school.
He typed only three words, but they tied my stomach in knots. He confirmed the realization of his worry about a project he’d worked hard on the night before. It didn’t work. Though I tried to text him back, he gave me nothing more. His silence left me with only worry to consume my thoughts— about his grade, about what he was feeling in that moment, about the disappointment I knew I’d see on his face when he walked through the door that afternoon.
And I wanted to fix it for him, but I couldn’t.
Isn’t it amazing how one little thing has the power to send us reeling? All the work I had planned for that afternoon seemed lost behind the shadow of this one thing.
I felt like throwing a tantrum. I may have even started to once I had returned to the safety of my home. Just for a minute.
But then I took a breath […]

Strength in My Weakness

God amazes me.
Two and a half years ago, God directed me to write a Bible study, Tested by Fire. In April of this year a revised version of that study will become available for distribution to bookstores across the country. I have no idea where God will take it, but I remember well where Jesus had to take me to get here.
I recently came across this post from January 2012, written as God was preparing me to speak at my very first women’s conference outside of serving my church. I am humbled to remember the steps of the journey and where God has taken me along the way. I pray that reading it will encourage you to take your own steps of faith with Jesus, trusting that He’s with you even in the hard times. It just may be those moments of great brokenness that allow you to experience all Jesus wants to be in your life. When you let His strength overshadow your weakness, His glory surely follows.
 
More Than a Conqueror
No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. 1 Corinthians 10:13, NIV (1984)
In two and a half weeks I will have the remarkable privilege of sharing Jesus Christ with hundreds of women at the new “Women of Purpose” conference in St. Petersburg, Florida. It astounds me to think of the plan God has chosen for my life. One particular verse comes to mind as I consider my story. Romans 4:17 celebrates “the God who […]

Carry Your Cross

Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23
I’m guessing that’s not one of your favorite scriptures.
I get it. Your flesh cries out in rebellion against such commands. Deny myself? We spend our lives trying to indulge the desires of our “selves.”  That goes against everything in our nature. And carrying a cross doesn’t sound very fun. No one likes a burden. So those first two make the last one seem pretty unpalatable.
Why would I want to follow Jesus if to do so I have to deny myself and carry a cross?
Why, indeed? I’d like to suggest something that perhaps you haven’t considered. What if the fact that we find those commands so unappealing confirms how very important they are to overcoming the enemy and experiencing abundant life?
Here’s the truth of the matter: The enemy of our souls likes keeping us under his thumb. He’s been governing our sin nature since man’s fall at the beginning of time, and he’s not keen on giving up control. He enjoys the chaos and destruction he generates in our lives as he bends our wills to bring about death, all the while convincing us we’re free and making our own choices.
Maybe you didn’t realize that. Yes, dear one. If you don’t choose to submit your will to God, you’re already submitting it to the prince of this world, the ruler of the kingdom of the air (Ephesians 2:2).
Your will is not your own. You only think it is.
In 2 Timothy 2, Paul challenges believers to call on the Lord out of a pure heart. He says this about opponents of […]

My Righteous One Will Live by Faith

“Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward for this faith is to see what you believe.” –St Augustine
I spent a good bit of my life misunderstanding faith. Instead of exercising it and living my life by it, I thought of faith more like a noun—something we hold in our hearts. If we simply possess enough of it, God will act on our behalf, right?
Then I found myself discouraged because I didn’t see God move. It left me wondering about my own condition. Did I not have enough faith?
Perhaps you’ve been there, wondering why others can share powerful testimonies of how God showed up in their need, but you’re left doubting yourself and the God you claim to trust because your circumstances haven’t changed.
Dear one, if that’s you, perhaps you’ve missed the beautiful foundation through which true faith must flow: relationship.
Hebrews 11:6 states, “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”
Look at the actions describing one who pleases God with faith. Not only must we believe He exists, but we must “come to Him” in that belief. True faith can only be exercised by one who comes near to God. And that approach isn’t simply uttering a casual prayer when the need arises. The verse is clear that God rewards those who “earnestly seek Him.”
Consider Romans 10:17:
“Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.”
Dear one, faith is birthed in us when we hear a message through the Word of Christ. Perhaps our faith is failing us because we haven’t drawn near to […]