Category Archives: Opportunity

Seeds of Glory

“Come, let us return to the Lord. For He has torn us, but He will heal us; He has wounded us, but He will bandage us. He will revive us after two days; He will raise us up on the third day, that we may live before Him. So let us know, let us press on to know the Lord. His going forth is as certain as the dawn; and He will come to us like the rain, like the spring rain watering the earth. …Also, O Judah, there is a harvest appointed for you, when I restore the fortunes of My people” ~ Hosea 6:1-3, 11.

God returns to His people like the long awaited spring rains that promise new life for the earth when we turn from our darkness to seek after Him anew with wholehearted desire. He is the treasure possessed in the resurrection of His people to new life with Him.

This promise is true, no matter how late the season of our life, or that of the history of humankind. It is His people that God responds to, whether in response to our sin that invites the hand of the Father to discipline us out of His loving desire for our good, or that of the heart of the Father’s loving response to our seeking after Him with sincere desire to know Him. It is His people who seek after, trust in and rely on God as Lord that elicits His response.

Trouble comes in this life. That is an assurance Jesus warned us to expect (John 16:33). We are in the world, which falls to the dictates of fleshly desires, worldly ideology, and demonic influence. Those of the world do not believe God, seek Him, trust Him or rely on Him. As such, these vehemently oppose God, thus producing trouble in this life.

The trouble produced increases when the people who seek God forget God and fall away to the flesh, the world, and the demonic. God often uses trouble in this life to discipline a wayward child. That is what is happening with the people of God in the book of Hosea, yet God promises a return to Him that will find the reward of the fortunes of the spring rains.

What does God promise will come with that fortune? A harvest.

Beloved, God uses times of trouble, whether brought on by our own sin, or the touch of trouble found by our living in a world that opposes God and His will and way. Often, trouble in life allows us to experience the greatness of God and His grace toward His creation.

Trouble always brings opportunity. Sometimes that opportunity is to realize some way we have that opposes God so we can surrender to Him. Other times the opportunity is that of ministering to others in the midst of the trouble. Always, trouble presents opportunity to respond to God by choosing life over death, determining in our hearts that we will serve the Lord, as Joshua advises (Joshua 24:15). There is one more thing produced out of trouble:

Trouble in this life produces in us a harvest. As we learn more about God in seasons of hardship, it produces seeds of Spirit-fruittruth and righteousness in us, giving us a testimony to share with others. Winter seasons can be difficult, but even the winter has a purpose. It is in the winter that a tree rests from its work of produce, able to devote its time to growing deeper roots that allow for a greater harvest season. It is in the winter season that seeds mature in preparation to burst forth with new life. As we come into the spring of life, we share the things we learned during our season of growing deeper roots into our understanding of life with God. Through that, we reap a harvest of souls, inspiring others to know God.

In our days, as we travel this road in a very troubled world, experiencing the winter seasons of life that that trouble brings, there is a spring coming especially to this late hour in history. Come out of troubling times into the fortune found in God. That fortune provides us all we need to help others grow to know the Lord.

Beloved, don’t waste the times of trouble. Cooperate with God to allow trouble’s winter to deepen your roots into Him as God and to prepare your seeds for harvest. Understanding God and the good intended by God will produce its treasure trove within you. There you will find all you need to reap a Kingdom harvest that glorifies the Lord.

In Jesus Name: a Look at John 17 ~ Part 3

Read John 17

“I have manifested Your name to the men whom You gave Me out of the world; they were Yours and You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. Now they have come to know that everything You have given Me is from You; for the words which You gave Me I have given to them; and they received them and truly understood that I came forth from You, and they believed that You sent Me. I ask on their behalf; I do not ask on behalf of the world, but of those whom You have given Me; for they are Yours; and all things that are Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine; and I have been glorified in them.” ~ vs. 6-10.

Manifested Ownership

From the Name of God, to the Words He sent and the people He provided opportunity to share with, and I would add to the worlds goods provided for use in the ministry given Him, Jesus recognized that all was God’s and was given Him by God for His use in manifesting the name, will, way and glory of God. All belonged to God. It was given to Christ for Him to possess, manifest through His own life and ministry, and use as a gift to those in His sphere of influence.

Jesus’ realization of ownership began with self: “for the words which You gave Me I have given to them; and they received them and truly understood that I came forth from You, and they believed that You sent Me.” He believed that He Himself belonged to God for His purpose, sent into the world to accomplish God’s will in God’s way.

Jesus is our example for life. We manifest Him in the same way He shared God with us, as people of God’s own possession, sent for a purpose. That begins with ownership. Jesus received the Name of God as His own. Salvation comes from God through Christ. Father is Immanuel, the Christ, Savior, Lord, Master. He gave rights to Jesus for Him to possess and manifest these characteristics in the world, thus being God with us, fulfilling His purpose as Christ, the Savior made Lord and Master as King of kings under God’s authority.

Jesus, in turn, puts His name on us as followers of Christ, and we are responsible to manifest His character, word, will, way, and stewardship in this age God birthed us to. We are under His authority, given authority with responsibility as stewards of all He gives for our use in living and being His representatives where we are living and breathing.

All that we have belongs to God. Our reputation, our words, our funds, every opportunity for good, our time, this day, our now moments, and every breath we breathe is His. We do well to realize all we have first belongs to God. Then we must realize that all He gives us is ours to possess and use in manifesting Him name and His glory in the earth. When we say we are “Christian”, people look to us to discover what that means. Represent God with every breath.

Beloved, when we frown at tithing, it is because we fail to believe and own the truth that “all things that are Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine,” given us for the purpose of this ministry of manifestation. When the need of others becomes inconvenience InGodsHandssmeinstead of opportunity, we forget whose Name and glory we possess. When anger, depression and other emotional issues take hold, leading us to say things that do more harm than good, we forget the Word gifted us for use in producing His glory and work in the world. When we waste our days and resources on menial things, we forget whose purpose we are to fulfill and the fruit we are to bear. He gives all to us for us to own in His name and use to His glory.

“So then, as occasion and opportunity open up to us, let us do good [morally] to all people [not only being useful or profitable to them, but also doing what is for their spiritual good and advantage]. Be mindful to be a blessing, especially to those of the household of faith [those who belong to God’s family with you, the believers]” ~ Galatians 6:10, AMP.

HE LOVED THEM TO THE END

Opening the word, something caught my attention yesterday in chapter 13 of John that I am drawn to revisit.

“Now before the Feast of the Passover, Jesus knowing that His hour had come that He would depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, HE LOVED THEM TO THE END” ~ John 13:1.

Looking closely at that wording, the footnote says “to the end” means “to the full extent.” He loved fully, all the way to the finish line. The Amplified version of scripture seems to interject that fact best.

“Now before the Passover Feast began, Jesus knew with full awareness that the time had come for Him to leave this world and return to the Father. And as He had loved those who were His own in the world, HE LOVED THEM TO THE LAST AND TO THE HIGHEST DEGREE.”

“So it was that during supper, Satan having already put the thought of betraying Jesus in the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, that Jesus, knowing fully that the Father had put everything into His hands, and that He had come from God and was now returning to God, Got up from supper, took off His garments, and taking a servant’s towel, He fastened it around His waist” ~ John 13:1-4, AMP.

Pondering this scene with knowledge of what is coming to the life of Christ next, I recognize that this is the eve of the greatest hardship of Jesus’ life. In just a few hours, He will take His disciples to the garden for a time of prayer as He prepares for what is ahead of Him. He knows that the weight of the sin of the world will be on His shoulders and that His Father will turn away. He knows the difficulty ahead, and being fully man with all the sensory receptors and emotions of any other, the stress of it affects Him. In just a few hours, that stress will leave Him crying out to God with beads of bloody sweat flowing from every pore of His body. During that time of prayer, it is said of Christ that, “He began to show grief and distress of mind and was deeply depressed” (Matthew 26:37, AMP).

I don’t know about You, but when I know something hard to cope with is coming on me quickly, depression takes hold as the body’s stress chemistry comes into play. Depression too easily hinders my hands and feet, hindering my doing what I need to do while waiting to do what I must. That was not the case for Jesus. Out of love, He sat the good example to the end.

In our focal passage it says, knowing His time was upon Him, that He loved His people to the end, all the way to the finish line, with all the fervor of love possible. Out of His love, He put on the servant’s towel and began washing the feet of the guests. Take a moment to realize, please, that among the guests present, there is Judas Iscariot, the one He knew would betray Him. Jesus loved on His betrayer. (Selah ~ Pause and calmly think on that.)

It was customary when guests entered a home that the lowest servant in the house put on a towel, get a basin of water and wash the feet of the guest. Reportedly, this was the worst job there was to do. Why?

I don’t know if you have ever tended to another’s dirty feet, but it is not a pleasant job to do. In Bible days, people walked most everywhere on dirt paths in sandaled or bare feet. Their feet got nasty. Yes, it was a dirty job; proven in part by the fact that Jesus did not just put on a towel, but he first took off His garments. He knew He would get dirty doing the work of washing feet, so He removed His outer garments to protect them. On this day, no one took it upon himself to tend to the feet of the guests. It was a nasty job and no one wanted to do it, so, as a last act of love, Jesus put on the servant’s towel and did the lowly job of tending to dirty feet.

Pondering this act of Christ, I discern several reasons for His choosing to put that towel on, instead of asking another to do it.

  1. It set an example of selfless service. Asking another to perform that particular service would have embarrassed the one asked, considering it an insult. Jesus, being guest of honor, put the towel on Himself and showed all there that love chooses to do the lowliest, least desirable acts of kindness for those loved. Love is selfless.
  2. Jesus used the opportunity to teach His followers, and us through this account, that the cleansing power of their relationship with Him is complete. Completely cleansed from all sin by Christ, we need only the touch up cleansing when a new soiling of sin occurs. Thus, as they say, it is vital that one stay prayed up with God in their battle against sin. This discourse is one proof for those of us who believe that once we enter into salvation by the blood of Christ through faith to believe Him for it, we do not lose our salvation with every struggle against the nature of sinful flesh. Our spirit is secure for all eternity in Christ. (See John 13:6-10)
  3. It is my belief that Jesus chose to do this job himself because it was opportunity for some one-on-one time with each of His disciples. I do not believe that Peter was the only one Jesus had a conversation with while washingtheir feet. I believe each one responded out of their own fleshly impulse, need, and nature; and Jesus used the opportunity to minister personal lessons all around, encouraging the growth and faith of each one, according to their
    "You gave Me no water for My feet, but she has wet My feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair." (Lk. 7:44)
    “You gave Me no water for My feet, but she has wet My feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair.” (Lk. 7:44)

    need. This account with Peter is just the one on which we get to listen.

Beloved, a lowly, unpalatable job is not a shame for us in Christ. It is opportunity to make oneself available to God for purposes of His own. It is a chance for some one-on-one ministry time with those around us who can benefit from the perspective we have in Christ. It is love’s greatest act of sacrifice when we do the lowliest job with eternal purpose as exemplified by Christ, our Savior, King, and Lord.

What is it that He said in another example of sacrificial service? Oh, yeah!

“Now go and do the same” ~ Luke 10:37.

In All We Do

“Fear not, for you will not be put to shame; And do not feel humiliated, for you will not be disgraced; But you will forget the shame of your youth, And the reproach of your widowhood you will remember no more. For your husband is your Maker, Whose name is the Lord of hosts; And your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel, Who is called the God of all the earth” ~ Isaiah 54:4-5.

~*~

Watching the hummingbird this morning, thanking and praising the Lord for the cool of them, I pray, “They are so awesome, so tiny, and they just kinda do what they do.”

All the earth just kind of does what it does, seemingly without worry or fret over it, just doing what it is born to do while005 hummingbird trusting the creator for the outcome. So why do I concern myself with things? Why not walk through life doing my best at all the good I find to lay my hands and heart to, trusting the Lord in it?

I can bemoan what isn’t all day long, regretting the past, fretting the future, and miss out on the glory of God in what is my now existence, or I can trust God, do my best to the honor and glory of His name in all that I do each day, and enjoy the life He gives me.

“Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand” ~ Romans 14:4.

I may not always understand where I am in life. I may not always see the work my hands do as important in the scheme of things, but one thing I know. All God allows has purpose of eternal worth and my responsibility is to do all I do to the glory of His name. Just as that hummingbird, which should not be able to fly, trusting its creator, does so with great ease, so I can trust the Lord to lead me through each day and empower me to do all I do to His glory and praise. He will faithfully weave all in to the tapestry of eternity, making for Himself a glorious pictorial.

~*~

“Sing praises to God, sing praises! Sing praises to our King, sing praises! For God is the King of all the earth; sing praises in a skillful psalm and with understanding. God reigns over the nations; God sits upon His holy throne” ~ Psalm 47:6-8, AMP.

Know the True Battle Lines

“Simon Peter then, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s slave, and cut off his right ear; and the slave’s name was Malchus. So Jesus said to Peter, ‘Put the sword into the sheath; the cup which the Father has given Me, shall I not drink it?’” ~ John 18:10-11.

Jesus knew His hour of glorification was at hand. Peter did not understand fully what was to come, so he drew the sword to fight for the life of the One he loved, and found himself standing in opposition to the Christ. Jesus, on the other hand, understood the evil coming at Him was from the Father for the fulfillment of all things good and glorious. Fighting against drinking that cup would be fighting against Father. Fighting against the very will and way of the Father would keep Jesus from fulfilling the purpose for which He was sent into the earth.

As I read this today, I am reminded that we must have this insight within us that Christ had for His hour of Glory’s opportunity. Every hard thing that comes at us, though the enemy of God intends it for evil, we must realize that God intends to work good out of it. And there are some hard things that come for God’s purpose that are not sent by the enemy of God, but are sent through that evil by God for a purpose that may be beyond our comprehension at the time. Seeing the glorious purpose of God fulfilled requires us to cooperate with Him in addressing our life circumstances. (Romans 8:28; Genesis 50:20)

Take the Patriarch Joseph as example. He suffered much hardship because of what looked like the cruelty of his brothers. But God laid out the plan in which He trained Joseph and put him into position for the dreams sent him by God to be fulfilled. Though Joseph did not fully understand why he had to go through such hardship, he kept faith and trust in God, cooperating with Him by making the most of each situation. As a result, those very things suffered were used of God to grow his faith and his gifting in preparation for his ultimate role that fulfilled the purpose of God in saving his people in the time of famine. Just think what might have been if Joseph fought his captivity instead of making the best of it?

Thus I find myself asking today what situations I am in that are God’s road for training and equipping me for the opportunity ahead that will allow me to work with Him in fulfilling the glory He has planned for my life.

We all go through days of difficulty, beloved. Sometimes those hardships come because of our sin: Father’s disciplining hand reaching down to deliver us from those tendencies that too often lead us astray of His will and way. Beloved, when it comes to God’s desire for a right and eternal relationship with us, He is not afraid to break our leg as a good Shepherd would do to a wayward sheep, putting us into a position where we will seek Him and where He can have quality time with us, gaining our undivided attention. He would rather put us on our backs now to keep us from eternal damnation and separation from Him than see us perish for all eternity. He uses such times to increase our faith, enabling us to fully trust Him who is making us into the person of His design, ready to fulfill His purpose.

Most often the evil one sends difficulty meant to knock us off kilter in an attempt to stop the work of God in and through us. The devil hates God and he hates us who follow him. Lucifer wants to be God, and he wants as many as he can possibly deceive to be with him in his eternal punishment. So he works overtime, doing all he can to hinder the work of God in and through us who are his witnesses and his chosen vessels meant to help others come to Christ. If Satan can lead us to destroy our testimony so we are useless in the work of helping others to discover the truth of Christ, he wins a battle. If not that, he will work to get us so wrapped up in our hardships and difficulties that we have no time or energy to minister to others, thus bringing us to defeat.

Then there are the times, like with Christ and Joseph, when God is the one who sends those things into our lives that bring difficulty and are hard to understand. He uses such hardship to train and prepare us for some work ahead that may not be evident yet. Or those very difficult things may very well be the very path that gets us into position for God’s very glory to come forth and accomplish His very purpose for our very lives. It is the “verily, verily” of God’s very truth.

Joseph, like Christ, chose to not allow evil to win, but to cooperate with God’s goodness in the midst of the hardship faced in order for God’s purpose to be fulfilled for the good of all concerned. These are examples to us in our own times of difficulty. No matter the source of the evil, cooperate with God. Don’t put self in a position of fighting God. Know the true battle lines and turn to face the frontlines with Father.

The question for us today is, will we fall to the will of the evil one who is out for our destruction, or will we cooperate with God? Choosing cooperation with God for the good He desires is vital, lest we find ourselves fighting against the One who is doing us good, and not harm meant for evil. God is always working in us to give us a future and hope for our final outcome. And He may even use hardship to put us into a place of being His resource for the salvation of others (Jeremiah 29:11).

Fully Vested

“Don’t divide your life into things you can do by yourself and things that require God’s help. Learn to rely on Him fully, even when you feel adequate for the task. This discipline will enable you to enjoy life more and to face each day confidently.” (Adapted from Sarah Young’s Devotional from “Jesus Calling” for October 10)

I still have the alarm on my phone set to sound off at 7:31 PM. 7:31PM is a ministry of Living Worshipers, a call to prayer. All participating have an alarm set—suggested to be on their cell so they don’t go off without and can include others when they hear it. The reminder is to take 1 second to 7 minutes every evening at that time to acknowledge God’s sovereignty, in our lives, in our nations, in the world and the whole of creation. He holds the plan of eternity in His hand and it is a time to acknowledge trust in His sovereignty. You may read the call at http://livingworshipers.org/731-pm/.  Though I may only bow for a second in the busyness of life to acknowledge His Sovereignty for life and its circumstances, I love when Holy Spirit gives thought to consider as I bow. This is one such thought.

In her devotional adapted above, Sarah addresses the tendency we often have to “project” ourselves into some anticipated future event with the purpose of making ourselves adequate for the situation while leaving trust in God on the sidelines, however inadvertently. From my own experience of this sin-struggle I know that, though I may be crying out for God to be in control, my hope is for my own sufficiency. Grant it, I know that comes from Him, but I want to be sufficient. In that instance I am so focused on being right, doing my personal best, and having all the right words that I wind up fretting over the situation instead of resting with trust in God.

This habit often leaves me wallowing in anxiety, self-pity, and other such upheavals that rob of peace and joy. It also too often robs me of my present and the opportunities to be had in my here and now.

One example God brought to my remembrance is my first and last women’s retreat speaking engagement. I was in just such a state as I traveled to and went through that time with those precious women. I so wanted to be great at this thing God placed in me to do for Him and His glory. I got wrapped up in my ability to perform and be that caring person that wins the hearts of the women and ministers to them just what they need. Not a bad desire. The problem was that I so wanted to be that person that I forgot that, to do so, I had to first and foremost be the conduit through which God could BE, reaching to them through me. It was not me who could do it, but Him in me. And with Him in me, fully trusting Him to be, what I wanted was assured by Him. I wanted to be that conduit, mind you. But I was so wrapped up in my ability, I missed out on His.

As I recall these things in light of current opportunities, it dawns on me that all I need is to Know my God and His truths. As I focus on Knowing HIM, He will make Himself known though me. I don’t have to fret it or try to be what I think I should be. Knowing Him who is Love will assure that Love flow to be my Artesian Spring of resource and equipping. That is what Jesus did. He KNEW the FATHER intimately and fully TRUSTED Him to make Himself known in and through Him, being in Christ the Living Water flow of His Presence to the people.

That is my greatest desire: to be fully vested in God; trusting Him and His sure supply with absolute commitment and without contingency. KNOWing Him as my Artesian Spring, readily flowing and gushing forth to supply every need, is my need for every opportunity.

Rested in Him, I can and will live today with full focus while trusting tomorrow’s journey to His care with full assurance that He, who is already there, has all made ready in His capable Holy Hands.

“My God will liberally supply and fill to the full your every need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” ~ Philippians 4:19, AMP.

So, I hope you will join us tonight as we bow in remembrance and in honor of His sovereignty in all things, and do so as fully vested vessels that “Trust in the Lord and do good; Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, and He will do it. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light And your judgment as the noonday” ~ Psalm 37:3-6, NASB.