Archive for the “God’s power” Category

On the third of December I sent myself a fairly cryptic email. The subject line read like this: “Journal/Blog: 2015 – Year of Hope.”

2015 – Year of Hope. I didn’t identify any specific Scripture I was reading when God dropped that into my spirit, but I remember feeling the nudge from God so strongly that I sent myself an email so that I could later transfer the thought to my personal journal and seek God for what else He might want to say about it. Maybe I would develop it into a blog or series of blogs.

That was it. I haven’t done any more writing on the topic or study or research. But God planted the word in my spirit on December 3rd and it’s been growing.

I suspect there will be a number of blogs on the topic of hope in 2015, but I wanted to start with sharing the thing that gives me the greatest hope on a day-to-day basis.

What is it that gives you hope when you are tempted to feel less than hopeful. When life beats you up a bit, or even perhaps when life just continues in the constant sameness day after day – How do you answer the question that comes unbidden into your mind “Is all this worth it?” What is it that gives you hope?

Now as Christians, we have many reasons to be hopeful. As a believer in Christ and one who desires to make Him Lord of my life, I can have hope regardless of my circumstances because I am…

  • forgiven
  • saved
  • sanctified – a fancy word for “made holy or acceptable to God” (a pretty amazing and wonderful thing)
  • filled with the Holy Spirit
  • the bride of Christ
  • seated with Him in heavenly places

And on top of all that, I have the promise of spending eternity in heaven with my Lord. Hallelujah!

Those are all tremendous reasons for rejoicing and for having hope…all great reasons that I’m not going to write about today, except to say that if you are not totally confident in all those things – if you’re not totally confident that you’ve been forgiven, if you’re not totally confident that you will spend eternity in heaven, check out these blogs:

Made Right with God

How Can I Know I’m Saved

There’s another reason to be hopeful that sits at the top of my list. I can get pretty jazzed about the reasons I’ve just identified, but they’re all very future. Yes, they have a “for today” element, but they’re largely reasons I can be hopeful for my future.

The reason I get most jazzed about is a present, for today, reason. That one reason is this: God – the Creator of the Universe and everything in it – the One who holds the world together – the One who created me and knows me better than I know myself – that God has plans and purposes for my life that have eternal significance. He has things for me to do today that will have impacts that continue through all eternity is what I get jazzed about.

And you know what? I can step into those plans because I know that He is the God of the impossible. So no matter what my circumstances are, no matter what my physical or intellectual abilities are, no matter what my personality limitations are, He is the God of the impossible and He wants to use me to impact eternity! Wow! Hallelujah!

You see, I am sometimes tempted to be discouraged by my circumstances or physical abilities. I am tempted to think I’m not smart enough or I don’t have the personality or natural abilities I need to do something for God. But you know what? A God who can do the impossible – a God who has miracle working power – that God (my God) operates outside the boundaries of our circumstances and abilities.

That’s important enough to repeat: Our God is not limited by our circumstances and abilities – He works outside them. Yes, He works within them in the sense that He uses our circumstances and our abilities to accomplish His purposes, but He works outside them in the sense that He is God. He can do what we can’t even begin to imagine. And the thing is, He wants to do it in and through us. He could do it on His own…but He says “come on, let’s do it together.”

Friends, that’s what I get jazzed about. Let’s look at Ephesians 3: 20-21:

20Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
Ephesians 3:20-21 (NIV)

In the New King James translation, it reads “to him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think.” Hallelujah!

Let’s break look at the passage a bit more closely.

“Now to Him who is able” – are you convinced that God is able? That’s the place to start.

We’ll come back to this passage, but let’s look briefly at Hebrews 11:1. A very common verse…

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
Hebrews 11:1 (NIV)

The Holman Christian Standard Bible says it this way:

Now faith is the reality [or assurance] of what is hoped for, the proof [or conviction] of what is not seen.
Hebrews 11:1 (HCSB)

Choosing to engage our faith – in other words, choosing to say and hold to the “I believe” – comes before the reality of seeing – it is the place where hope lives.

Do you want to have hope? Choose to believe God and His Word. Every day, in every moment, in every circumstances, in every inadequacy, in every discouragement. Choose to believe that God is able.

I’m not asking you to believe that you can do whatever God calls you to do. I’m asking you to believe that He can do it. That He is able.

I know that’s not always easy. But it is where hope lives. When you believe God is able, hope rises in your heart and your spirit.

Even though believing isn’t always easy, there’s an element that’s even harder – choosing to believe means more than simply saying and holding to the “I believe”, it means living the “I believe.”

It isn’t enough, to simply say “I believe” – even if you are believing with all your heart. It must be lived! Faith is living in that confidence that God is the God of the impossible. Living in a way that shows you believe He is able to do the impossible in your life. Not just in Abraham’s and Isaac’s and Jacob’s lives. Not just in the Apostle Peter’s life and in Paul’s life and in John’s life. But in your life and in my life.

And if it’s true that God is able to do the impossible in our lives (and it is), then no matter what our circumstances or physical abilities are, we have a choice to make over and over again many times every day – to believe and live in hope or to back away from it.

Friends, I am exhorting us today not to back away from believing God. Don’t back away from hope.

Let’s return to Ephesians 3:20:

“Now to Him who is able” – Lord we believe that You are able – to do what? “more than all we can ask or imagine.” This verse jumped off the page at me during a Bible study in early November. I felt like God was challenging me to improve my imagination. If God can do more than that, I want to imagine more.

Later, however, I noticed a little word that hadn’t hit my radar before. Scripture says “more than ALL we ask or imagine.” Not more than a little bit of what I can imagine, or some of what I can imagine, but more than all I can ask or imagine.

That’s what the God who is able can do! Lord, I believe you are able. Improve my imagination, give me bigger dreams. And help me choose to believe that you can do it all – that You can do more than all of it.

And even as I say that, the enemy whispers, but…but… you’re 58 years old…you can’t jump as high as you used to jump and you can’t run as fast as you used to run…you have obligations to take care of parents who live 50 miles away…you are overwhelmed with work sometimes…you’re tired…you’re…

And so I am tempted to step back from hope. But the Lord is prompting us to say… “Get thee behind me satan.” “Lord, I choose to believe that you are able to do immeasurably more than all I can ask or imagine.”

Hallelujah! Are you with me? Do you believe that God is able?

Well if so, hang on because there’s more to this verse.

As if God’s ability to do more isn’t exciting enough, here’s the part that I get super jazzed about…How is he going to do that immeasurably more, that exceedingly abundantly more? By the power IN US.

The power – the word is dunamis – the word from which we get dynamite. The explosive power. Miraculous power. When you read the words “mighty works” or “miracles” in the gospels, it is probably the word dunamis in the Greek.

In Chapter 1 of Ephesians, Paul prayed for the Ephesians to know God’s “incomparably great power” – dunamis (Eph 1:19). He went on to say something about that power – He said that the incomparably great, dunamis power, is the same power that He “exerted in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly realms.” (Eph 1:20).

God is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to the power that is work within us – that dunamis power that raised Christ from the dead.


The word dunamis occurs in many places, but I want to share one curious place. In Matthew chapter 13 we have the story of Jesus returning to his hometown.

54[Jesus] went to His hometown and began to teach them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished and said, “How did this wisdom and these miracles come to Him? 55Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t His mother called Mary, and His brothers James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas? 56And His sisters, aren’t they all with us? So where does He get all these things?”

57And they were offended by Him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his household.”

58And He did not do many miracles there because of their unbelief.
Matthew 13:54-58 (HCSB)

That word “miracles” in verse 58 – it’s dunamis.

Friends, I don’t want to limit or diminish God’s use of His dunamis power in my life because of my unbelief. I want to believe God’s Word that says He is able.

Now to Him who is able to do immeasureably more…by the power – dunamis – at work in us.

We’ve answered the question “is God able?” – how about the question “does He really want to work through me?” Does He really want to work through you? Ephesians 2:10 answers that for us:

For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Ephesians 2:10 (NIV)

We were created for a purpose – to do things that God has prepared for us to do. We are not here by happenstance. We are not living in our community, seeing the people we see, going to the places we go by happenstance.

There is a verse in Acts that says God determined the exact times and places where we should live. It’s not happenstance.

God has worked in your history, setting things in motion, preparing you and preparing the world in which you live, for the good works that He’s called you to.

Did you get that? God has worked in your history, setting things in motion, preparing you and preparing the world in which you live, for the good works that He’s called you to.

And that, friends, is what I get jazzed about that. That gives me hope on a day to day, even hour by hour, basis. When life gets boring, I know that God is working – using His dunamis power in me to accomplish immeasurably more than all I can ask or imagine to accomplish the good works He’s prepared in advance for me to do. When life gets tough, I know that God is working. When life is good, I know that God is working. In all the situations, God is working in and through me…if I continue to pursue Him. If I plug myself into the plan. Because the sad news is that at any moment, I can choose to step out.

I want to encourage all of us not to step out of God’s plan. As we look into the new year, tell God you want to plug into the plans He has for you. And then believe it is happening. Live in that place of faith and hope, whether you see it or not.

Here’s an important point, though: God’s dunamis power doesn’t always look like a TNT explosion. It is at work in the every day things. I can be sitting listening to a message at church, and the pastor can say something that rocks my world. And those around me won’t have a clue. My husband may not even have a clue until I tell him. But in my spirit something arises that spurs me on to love God more and to serve God more. And that is no less an example of God’s dunamis power than the more explosive, miracle workings we think of. When God works in one person’s heart to grow in obedience and love for Him, eternity watches with anticipation to see what God will do next, how He will use his dunamis power in that person’s life.

The works God’s created for us to do may very well be low-key acts of obedience – offering a cold cup of water to a prophet, for example. And here’s a cool thing – God promises us that when we do that, we will receive the prophets reward! (Matthew 10:40-42) Why, because we believed that God was working through us, so by faith we acted. And our cold cup of water enabled that prophet, that evangelist, that Sunday school or Bible study teacher, that preacher, that missionary, that lay person, to accomplish the work God has prepared for him or her.

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
Hebrews 11:1 (NIV)

And so we act, we step into the good works that God has prepared for us to do. We say, “Lord, thank you for using me today. What small or large work do you have for me to do? I believe it will have impact throughout all eternity.”

That’s how I want to approach life.

Here’s my hope and confidence: Some day, I will be sitting with the Lord, and someone will come up to me and they will say “Sandy, you don’t know me, but I’ve been looking forward to meeting you. In 1981 you led a girls club and you encouraged the girls to share Christ with a friend. I was a friend of one of those girls.” And a while later someone will come up to me and say “Sandy, you wrote that blog and it woke me up out of the spiritual slumber I was in.” Or “you preached that message and made it so simple that I understood for the first time that God wanted to use me.” Or “you shared that facebook post and it made me angry but I couldn’t get it out of my head.” Or “Sandy, you built that Operation Christmas Child shoebox or gave that offering and someone worlds away from you introduced me to Christ.”

Friends, I get jazzed about that. That’s my greatest reason for having hope on a day-to-day basis. And not just that, but for what follows it – that person I impacted will impact someone else who will impact someone else who will impact someone else…should the Lord tarry.

It’s not that I have visions of grandeur. It’s not that I’m so great. Quite the opposite! I have confidence – faith – in my God to do phenomenally cool and exciting things – to use His dunamis power in and through me…if I let Him. If I give Him control. If I follow His lead. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from ballroom dance lessons, it’s that two people can’t lead. One must follow. That’s my job. I’m the follower. It often goes against my nature, but that’s what being conformed to the image of Christ is all about – conforming my will to His.

Lord, as I look forward to 2015, help me hold onto faith – that place where hope lives – believing that You are able to do cool and amazing things that will impact eternity through my typically ordinary life.

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Christmas is such a magical time of year. The snow glistens as it falls during the day and glows as it falls at night. Homes and businesses are decorated in celebration. People seem friendlier and more joyful.

For the Christian, though, it goes beyond decorations and magical snow falls. It’s not just a magical time of year, it’s a miraculous time of year. It’s the time of year in which we remember and celebrate the miracle of Jesus and the message of Jesus. Jesus is the reason for the season. Jesus is the Christ in Christmas – without Jesus there would be no reason to celebrate.

Today  I want us to step back from the Christmas story we’re most familiar with and see what came before it. We’re going to look at what was foretold about Jesus 700 years before the Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and Joseph. 700 years before the birth of Jesus in the manger God gave Isaiah a message about Jesus. Isaiah prophecied this:

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign:
The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son,
and will call him Immanuel.

Isaiah 7:14 (NIV)

The story of Jesus didn’t start with His birth or when the Angel visited Mary. There are many prophecies in the Old Testament that told the Hebrews – the Jews – that a Messiah, or Savior, would come. It was knowing that a Messiah was promised to them – promised by a God who is faithful – it was this promised Messiah that gave the Jews hope, even during very difficult and dark times.

This verse in Isaiah is one of those prophecies that holds the promise of a Messiah, given to the Jews during a very dark time in their history. The Jewish people had split into two nations – Judah and Israel, and they were each aligning themselves with sinful nations in order to battle one another. The country is in the midst of a civil war, not unlike our own civil war so long ago. I bet many of you had grandparents who fought in our civil war.

It is at this point that God holds out the promise of the Messiah:

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign:
The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son,
and will call him Immanuel.

Isaiah 7:14 (NIV)

Isaiah’s statement is very simple, but each phrase is important. Let’s look at it closely.

“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign.”

Who is giving the sign? The Lord Himself.

Isaiah wants to be sure that we understand that it is the Lord’s sign, given to us. It didn’t originate in the thoughts of Isaiah, but from the heart of God. The sign is God’s gift to us.

Was God obligated to send the Israelites a sign? Absolutely not. They were led by an evil king and aligning themselves with evil nations. God could have said “I’m done with them. They have rejected me.” God didn’t have to give them a sign, He chose to give it.

He’s like that with us. He doesn’t have to come into our lives. He doesn’t have to provide for us and love us and even heal us. He doesn’t have to offer us eternal life. But He chooses to because He is compassionate and loving.

“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign.”

Who did the Lord give the sign to? The prophecy is given to Israel, but the sign was given to everyone. The sign wasn’t given just to those who knew the Lord and followed His commands, but it was given to the whole nation – to everyone. Not just to those who believe, but it’s also to those who don’t believe. Signs, by their very nature, point people toward things. Street signs tell you which way to go. Signs in the grocery stores tell you what food is in each aisle. Everyone who sees the sign and follows it ends up where they want to go. In Isaiah’s prophecy, God says He is giving us a sign. If we pay attention to the sign and follow it, the sign will lead us – in this case, to everlasting life.

A few minutes ago we said that God didn’t have to give us a sign – He chose to. It is out of His mercy and compassion that God doesn’t leave us to wander around trying to figure everything out for ourselves. He gave us a sign – a pretty significant one – like a blinking neon sign on a dark night! And His sign points directly to Jesus, as we see in the next phrase of the verse.

What was the sign? The next phrase of the verse tells us:

“The virgin will be with child and will give birth.”

A young woman who has never been with a man will become pregnant and will give birth. Isaiah must have been thinking “That’s not possible, Lord!” Yet what does Scripture say about the impossible? It says that “with God, all things are possible.” There is nothing impossible with God. No matter what impossible situation you’re facing, you can know that “with God, all things are possible.”

If we had been around before Creation and God told us He was going to create light and the land and the sea and all that are in the land and the sea…we’d have thought “That’s not possible, Lord!” Or maybe we wouldn’t have been quite so skeptical and would simply have thought “How in the world are You going to do that?” or “Can You really do that?” With God, all things are possible. I love that God has creative solutions to those situations that cause us to think “It’s not possible.” When that phrase comes to our minds, we can immediately think of the sign that God gave us – the virgin will be with child and will give birth. God interrupts our lives in miraculous ways. Perhaps not as miraculous as the virgin birth. That was a once only event because it ushered in the promised Messiah. But the miracle of experiencing His peace in the midst of our trials is still God doing what is impossible.

The prophecy of Jesus reminds us that God can do the miraculous. Every time you sing a Christmas carol this year that reminds you of the birth of Jesus, remember that God can do the miraculous.

In this verse, the Jews were promised that God would one day do the impossible and that “impossible thing” would be a sign to us. The young virgin would become pregnant and give birth.

But that’s not all. Isaiah finished the sentence by writing this:

“And will call Him Immanuel.”

The word Immanuel means “God with us.” Isaiah was saying that the child would be God with us – here on earth.

The sign that God would give us would be a miraculous birth. The message on the sign – the words written on it, so to speak – is that the child would be God in the flesh, here on earth. God, born as the baby Jesus. We read the stories of Jesus’ life and they become so familiar to us, that sometimes we forget that Jesus is God in the flesh and He walked here on earth.

In His compassion, God gave us a sign to point us in the right direction.

In His love, He came as a human who could literally put His arms around the disciples and say “Go this way.”

Seeing God’s compassion and love, is important because we know that Scripture tells us that He is the same yesterday, today and forever. God’s compassion causes Him to reach out to us, sometimes in miraculous ways, to lead us toward Himself. Jesus is a sign for us today. A Sign that God gave us because He is compassionate and because He loves us. He is a sign that will lead us to everlasting life.

A Child is Born – to Us; The Mighty God and Everlasting Father is Ours

A few chapters later Isaiah continued the prophecy about Jesus and wrote this:

2The people walking in darkness have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned….
6For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given:
and the government shall be upon his shoulder:
and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor,
The mighty God, The everlasting Father,
The Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9:2 (NIV), 6 (KJV)

Isaiah gives us more insight into the child that would be born. We have heard these words so many times, they almost don’t have the impact on us that they would have had on Isaiah. Think about it – a CHILD is born – and he will be called MIGHTY GOD! Everlasting Father! Prince of Peace!

The sign that God would give – the child born of a virgin – would be the mighty God. He would be the everlasting Father. He would be God – with us – Immanuel.

For Him to be our everlasting Father, we must have everlasting life. Jesus became God in human form to show us how the way to have that everlasting life. He tells us this Himself.

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
John 14:6 (NIV)

The virgin giving birth was given as a sign and the words on the sign were “God is with us.” When Jesus grew up He said it differently – “I am the way and the truth and the life.” In other words, “follow me and I will give you everlasting life.”

If you don’t know the Lord personally, if you don’t know Jesus as your friend, let me introduce Him to you. He is the Child who was given to us. He is the Mighty God and Everlasting Father. He is Immanuel, God with us. And He is the way, the truth and the life. When we follow Him, we have everlasting life. Tell Him you’d like to get to know Him better. That it is your desire to follow Him. He will reveal Himself to you and if you follow that revelation, you will have everlasting life.

Jesus’ birth didn’t just occur by happenstance. God told us in advance:

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign:
The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son,
and will call him Immanuel.

Isaiah 7:14 (NIV)

Will you pray with me? Father, thank you for sending us a sign so that we would no longer have to wander and doubt. Thank you for sending a sign that points back to you. I pray that during the coming Christmas season You would help us to know You better and help us to follow You better. We want to experience “God with us”. We want to know Jesus. We want to follow Jesus. Thank You, Lord, for giving us everlasting life.

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The message of yesterday’s blog was that in order to be obedient to the Lord, we must first hear what he says, and to properly hear him, we have to be listening. We want to be able to say like Peter said “Lord, because you say so, I will do it” (Luke 5:5). When Peter responded, Jesus turned a night of fishing with no catch into a morning of one last dropping of his nets and a boat overflowing with fish.

Ezekiel responded much as Peter did when He heard God’s instructions – instructions that were crazier than those He gave to Daniel. The results were crazier, too. And the whole story, although far removed from our lives, has application to it. God explained to Ezekiel that the prophecy was meant for the people of Israel, but I think we can look at the whole of it and apply it metaphorically to our lives. We can take the principles from it and apply them to each of our lives.

So let’s go to Ezekiel 37 and read about Ezekiel’s experience in a valley filled with dry bones. God grabbed me in the first verse!

The LORD took hold of me, and I was carried away by the Spirit of the LORD to a valley filled with bones.
Ezekiel 37:1 (NLT)

I have a question for you – Are there dry bones in your life?

One of the commentaries I read about this passage described the scene this way: Ezekiel was taken “to a valley filled with many bleached bones, scattered on the ground, the skeletons of corpses long ago decomposed and devoured by carrion-eating birds and animals.” Are there areas of your life like that? I have some. Some dreams that have been waiting to be fulfilled for a long time. Some areas that I’ve neglected for so long that they are decomposing. Perhaps some relationships or disciplines that in the busyness of life I’ve left scattered on the ground in my haste to do the next thing on my list. The longer I’m away from the discipline, the more it dies and I die with it. It might be your prayer life or Bible reading or the practice of giving thanks or praising God. Are there areas of your life that feel brittle and wasted or wasting away?

“The LORD took hold of me…”

This first phrase got my attention. “The Lord took hold of me.” You are probably more accustomed to reading it in the NIV or King James Version, where it is translated “The hand of the Lord was upon me.” While both translations mean the same thing, the New Living Translation connotatively seems radically different. When I hear or read “The hand of the Lord was upon me” I think of my Father resting His hand on my shoulder and leading me somewhere. The phrase “The Lord took hold of me” implies that I have no choice, that He’s grabbing me by the collar or with both hands and forcibly taking me somewhere. And that’s truer to the meaning of the verse. The word translated “hand” in the NIV means hand, but it means “a hand with power” – which is consistent with the rest of the verse that talks about being carried away by the Spirit, Ruach, of the Lord.

So the first thing I heard the Holy Spirit asking me was “Have you allowed the Lord to take hold of you? Or are you resisting Him? Are you yielding only a little when He wants to take hold of you and take you places you couldn’t go on your own?” Lord, I’m listening…how can I obey?

Have you allowed the Lord to take hold of you? That’s the first thing God is asking you today. He is encouraging us to yield to His power. He is encouraging us to yield to His Spirit’s working. Ezekiel would not have had the experiencing of speaking to the dry bones if he hadn’t allowed the Lord to take hold of him and take him to the valley of dry bones.

One of the things I like about this passage is the interaction between Ezekiel and the Lord. Ezekiel doesn’t have a clue what’s going on. He’s just been forcibly taken and gently placed in a valley filled with bones. Imagine his confusion. Let’s read more about the valley:

1The LORD took hold of me, and I was carried away by the Spirit of the LORD to a valley filled with bones. 2He led me all around among the bones that covered the valley floor. They were scattered everywhere across the ground and were completely dried out.
Ezekiel 37:1-2 (NLT)

Basically the Lord led Ezekiel on a tour through the dry bones. They walked among the dry bones. The bones were all around him.

I think we often avoid those valleys of dry bones in our lives – the valleys of decay and brokenness – because they were created by some kind of devastation. The valley of dry bones is a place of death. Something horrible happened to create that valley. Lord, I don’t want to go back there. Don’t take hold of me and take me there!

But if we listen to the Lord, the panic or depression that can take hold of us in the valley is held at bay as He speaks. When God takes us to the valley of decay and brokenness – it’s not to cause us more pain. It’s to bring us back to life. So let Him take hold of you and lead you to the dry places. Then listen.

It’s interesting that when God spoke, it was in the form of a question.

Then he asked me, “Son of man, can these bones become living people again?”
Ezekiel 37:3a (NLT)

God often asks us a question simply to open our mind to possibilities. “Sandy, can this dream live again?” “Sandy, can this relationship be repaired?” “Sandy, can this spiritual discipline that has been long forgotten come back to life?” “Sandy, can our relationship be restored – returned to what it once was?” Maybe that’s where you are – feeling alienated from God. It’s a painful place to be. And maybe you’re feeling like you’re doing everything you can and still you’re far from God. “Can this relationship come alive again?”

“O Sovereign LORD,” I replied, “you alone know the answer to that.”
Ezekiel 37:b (NLT)

Ezekiel answers God’s question honestly. I don’t know. Only You know, Lord. I have no power to change the situation. But You do. Can this dream come alive again? I don’t know. Can this relationship be repaired? I don’t know. Hidden in Ezekiel’s answer is a question – the same question God asked him – can these bones come alive again?

So God answers his question:

Then he said to me, “Speak a prophetic message to these bones and say, …
Ezekiel 37:4a (NLT)

God says – “You, Ezekiel, you speak to the bones. Speak a prophetic message.” The word “prophecy” means “speak by inspiration of God” – Listen to hear what God has to say, then speak it!

4Then he said to me, “Speak a prophetic message to these bones and say, ‘Dry bones, LISTEN to the word of the LORD! 5This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Look! I am going to put breath into you and make you live again! 6I will put flesh and muscles on you and cover you with skin. I will put breath into you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the LORD.’”
Ezekiel 37:4-6 (NLT)

God goes on – “Speak to these bones. Call the dry bones to attention even though they are dead.” What is Ezekiel to say to the bones – “Listen up!” The word translated “listen” also means “obey” – What did Peter say? “Because you say so, I will do it.” (Luke 5:5)

Broken dreams, LISTEN to the word of the Lord. Dead relationship…LISTEN to the word of the Lord.

“Dry bones, listen for the voice of God! The sovereign God says…”

Who says? The Sovereign God – Adonai Jehovah – the self-existing God who controls all things – Listen to what He says!

“The sovereign Lord says “!”

Read that passage again. “The sovereign Lord says “!”

God says we’re to speak to the dry bones in our lives: “Look! I am going to put breath into you and make you live again!” Do you believe He can do it?

Well, in case you doubt that it will be a full and beautiful life, let me be more clear God says – “I will put flesh and muscles on you and cover you with skin. I will put breath into you and you will come to life.”

You know, there’s life and then there’s life. There’s life and then there’s life abundant. Life abundant isn’t just life made alive, it is life adorned – with flesh and muscles and skin! It’s life with the breath of God inside us. It is knowing that He is the Lord. That’s God’s promise.

Let’s step back for a second. Who again was he making this promise to? The decimated Israelites who were nothing more than dead, dry, brittle bones because of their own disobedience! So you know what? I may have messed up big time and that’s why my dreams are unfulfilled or that’s why my relationship with God has gone stale or that’s why my relationship with my husband is distant or cold. But God…But God…offers grace and through that grace and His sovereign power, he offers life.

Scripture says that faith comes by hearing. In this passage, life comes by hearing – listening to the word of God and speaking it as He instructs. Faith and life are inseparable. They cannot be divorced from one another! God says “listen, speak and live…”

Let’s see what Ezekiel does:

So I spoke this message, just as he told me.
Ezekiel 37:7a (NLT)

Like Peter, Ezekiel is saying “Because you said so, I will do it!”

7bSuddenly as I spoke, there was a rattling noise all across the valley. The bones of each body came together and attached themselves as complete skeletons. 8Then as I watched, muscles and flesh formed over the bones. Then skin formed to cover their bodies, but they still had no breath in them.
Ezekiel 37:7b-8 (NLT)

And an amazing thing happened! God was true to His word! He caused the bones of each body to come together and attach themselves as complete skeletons.

Mr. T on the old television show The A Team? “I love it when a good plan comes together!” I love it when God is true to His Word.

As Ezekiel watched, God did what He said He would do….almost. He got all the way through putting skin on the bodies, but still they had no breath. What God did was amazing, miraculous. But it wasn’t finished. So He gave Ezekiel another task:

9Then he said to me, “Speak a prophetic message to the winds, son of man.
Ezekiel 37:9a (NLT)

Remember, we said that the word “prophecy” means “speak by inspiration of God” – Listen to hear what God has to say, then speak it!

9Then he said to me, “Speak a prophetic message to the winds, son of man. Speak a prophetic message and say, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Come, O breath, from the four winds! Breathe into these dead bodies so they may live again.’”

10So I spoke the message as he commanded me, and breath came into their bodies. They all came to life and stood up on their feet—a great army.
Ezekiel 37:9-10 (NLT)

God gives Ezekiel a second assignment required to finish the task.

Too often we watch and are so amazed at what God has done that we are satisfied with a partial fulfillment of God’s promise. We’re satisfied with a partial healing or a partial restoration. “Then skin formed over them but they still had no breath in them.” Don’t settle for half of what God has promised. Yes, half of what He promised is amazing, but it’s only half. It’s not the glass that’s half full, it’s our life that’s half full. Don’t settle.

Speak again. Call on the Lord. Don’t settle for half healing. 

I’ve been watching our plants grow. They grow fast and I love it. Then they bud. Then they produce fruit. I mean, the process is amazing. But if we stop watering and nurturing at any point in the process, the plant dies. Words of prophecy are the watering and nurturing that our bones, our souls, need. So, we listen for His voice…and we speak as He commands.

Let’s finish the passage.

11Then he said to me, “Son of man, these bones represent the people of Israel. They are saying, ‘We have become old, dry bones—all hope is gone. Our nation is finished.’ 12Therefore, prophesy to them and say, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: O my people, I will open your graves of exile and cause you to rise again. Then I will bring you back to the land of Israel. 13When this happens, O my people, you will know that I am the LORD. 14I will put my Spirit in you, and you will live again and return home to your own land. Then you will know that I, the LORD, have spoken, and I have done what I said. Yes, the LORD has spoken!’”
11zekiel 37:11-14 (NLT)

That brings us back to our first question: Are there dry bones in your life? Let God “take hold of you,” have control, “carry you away by the Spirit.” Don’t give God just a little control, let Him carry you away. Yes, even to the place of the dry bones – because sometimes we have to visit those dark places to let God heal them. If we don’t give Him all the pieces, He can’t make us whole.

There is a line in the Christafari song in yesterday’s blog that I didn’t really hear until I listened to the song for about the tenth time. It’s during the extended “reggae speak” portion and they say “With God’s all seeing eyes you will see clearly that your day to day life it is just prophecy; to be fulfilled by God Almighty.”

Your life – the life God wants you to lead – is waiting for you to prophecy it so God Almighty can fulfill it.

“Speak a prophetic message to these bones” God told Ezekiel. Speak a prophetic message to the broken, dead bones, so that they might live! Listen up, broken dead bones – The Sovereign Lord wants to impart life to you.

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I used to make fun of my husband. Many years ago he purchased an 8-volume set of commentaries on the book of Ephesians. That’s 8 2-inch thick books on Ephesians (by Martin Lloyd-Jones) – which takes up about 8 pages in my Bible!

Well, I am being so blessed by Paul’s letter to the Ephesians this year that now I’m seriously considering tackling those books! A few months ago Phil and I lead a Bible study on the book of Ephesians with some nursing home residents. We’ve been leading a weekly study with them for about three years. This is the first study I’ve recorded because I was being so blessed. Now as I am reading it in our Resting at the River’s Edge reading, I am equally as blessed. I’m picking just a few paragraphs from the letter each day to write on, but I suspect there’s a more comprehensive Bible Study of the letter coming soon.

Today, we have to look at Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians that we find at the end of chapter 3:

For this reason I kneel before the Father,
Ephesians 3:14 (NIV)

Even this first sentence grabs me. “For this reason” – what reason? All that he has written before, which is a discussion of how we have been reconciled with God through Christ.  “We are no longer foreigners” he wrote in Ephesians 2:19, “but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household.” He then went on to write that he had been given the privilege of preaching “preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ” (Ephesians 3:8).

It is for this reason that Paul “kneels before the Father.” Do you kneel in prayer? I rarely do. I have a spur on my knee that makes kneeling painful so I rarely kneel. But, I find that when I humble myself by physically putting myself in a position of humility like kneeling, my prayer changes. Usually I get comfortable in my “prayer place” – a chair I frequently sit in while reading, journalling, blogging and praying – before praying in earnest. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s good to be comfortable with God. Yet, when I kneel, or often in my case simply sit on the floor with my head bowed, I have a stronger sense of God’s greatness and my smallness. It’s good to be reminded that He is God and we are His servants. I need to kneel more.

Paul takes the position of kneeling which emphasizes the master/servant relationship, yet he immediately acknowledges the intimate relationship we have with God – He is our Father. He is almighty and He is our Abba, Daddy. Without the intimate relationship, He becomes only a hard task-master. Sin has a price which must be paid, but His love caused Him to pay the price for us. Remember yesterday’s blog4But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions” (Ephesians 2:4-5). It is to this God that Paul prays. It is to this God that we pray.

16I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.
Ephesians 3:16-17a (NIV)

What a wonderful thing to pray! Paul first prays that God, who has immeasurable riches, would strengthen us in our inner being. That’s where I need God’s strength. That’s where I need to know that I know that I know that He loves me, that He is with me, that He is working in me and that He has purposes for my life. In my inner being. That’s where my strength comes from – deep inside, knowing God’s love for me. Paul prays that Christ may dwell in their hearts through faith. Again, I need that fully confident knowing – that’s faith. In the face of opposition or failure or just everyday life, I need to know Him. I need Christ in my heart through faith. Remember, Paul is writing to Christians. He asks God to strengthen them in their inner being so that Christ would dwell in their hearts by faith. As a Christian, pray this for yourself and those believers around you. Because we all face life and the enemy uses circumstances of life to try to tear Christ from our hearts. He tries to use disappointments to attack our faith. Pray that out of his glorious riches that God would strengthen our faith.

Yes, I know what that means. It means the testing of our faith. It means that we will face challenges. But they are challenges designed by God to help us grow stronger in our faith. They are challenges designed by our coach – the One who is training us in godliness and faith – to make us victorious. They are not challenges by our enemy that are designed to defeat us. They are designed by God to help us defeat our enemy.

Paul goes on, picking up the theme of love again:

17bAnd I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.  
Ephesians 3:17b-19 (NIV)

It is out of God’s great love for us that He made us alive with Christ. It is in that great love that we have been rooted and established. That is our starting place and it is from that place that Paul prays that we might have the power to grasp – to apprehend, to take hold – how wide, long, high and deep God’s love is. The word “grasp” is the same word Paul used in Philippians:

I press on to take hold of [to grasp, to apprehend] that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.
Philippians 3:12b (NIV)

This is not a “gaining by osmosis” or even supernatural impartation. Yes, there is supernatural impartation involved, but there is also action on our part – a pursuing and grabbing and holding on. Paul prays that we would have the power to grasp the depth of God’s love for us. God will empower us, but we must also grab and hold onto that love – so that we might be filled to the “measure of all the fullness of God.”

In a long paragraph about this phrase, Matthew Henry concludes with this sentence:

Those who receive grace for grace from Christ’s fulness may be said to be filled with the fulness of God, according to their capacity, all which is in order to their arriving at the highest degree of the knowledge and enjoyment of God, and an entire conformity to him.
Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible

Are you “filled up” with Christ? Do you experience the highest degree of knowledge and enjoyment of Him? I’m not. But I press on to attain it. And I pray that God would give me the power to grasp His immeasurable love for me.

Let’s pray for ourselves and others as Paul prayed for the Ephesians.

Should a sliver of doubt creep into your heart as you pray for such understanding and filling, Paul ends this prayer with a doxology:

20Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
Ephesians 3:14-21 (NIV)

He is able, friends. To do more –immeasurably more – than all we ask or imagine. More than all, not just more than some of what we ask, more than all of what we ask. And not just more than we ask, but more than we can imagine. He can do it. For His glory. Amen and amen.

Let’s pray for ourselves and others remembering that He can do immeasurably more than we are asking and more than we can imagine!

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Living God's HeartLiving Gods Heart

5b“Why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive?
6He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead!”

Luke 24:5b-6a (NLT)

He is risen! He is risen, indeed!

I hope you celebrated a wonderful Resurrection Sunday a few days ago. At the end of our service, several of us were sitting around…not wanting to leave the holy area where God’s presence had been, I suppose…and I think it was our pastor who said “I wish every Sunday was Resurrection Sunday.”

Yes, we had a great morning – a special early service followed by a potluck breakfast followed by a regular service. But the reason behind it all is that Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!

He is alive! The resurrection is the turning point of Scripture. Everything prior to that point in history was leading up to it and everything after that event flowed out of it. The Old Testament builds toward the lamb of God slain for the sins of the world. Jesus is that lamb of God. But it’s not His death that gives us life. Yes, it is His death which pays the required penalty for our sin, making it possible for us to live eternally with God in heaven. Yes, it is His death which bridges the gap between our holy God and sinful Sandy. Yes, it is His death which demonstrates how very much He loves us.

But it is His resurrection that seals the deal. It is His resurrection that proves He is the King of Kings, Almighty God who holds all power in His hands. It is His resurrection that makes it possible for Him to be seated in heavenly places at the right hand of God. And it is His resurrection that makes it possible for us to be seated in those places with Him.

The angels asked the women “why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive?” Jesus is alive! His heart still beats. His hands still move. His ears still hear. He is the lamb who was slain yet lives forevermore.

The resurrection shows us – it demonstrates for us – the kind of power that is available to those who believe.

Come with me to Ephesians 1:

19I [Paul] also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power 20that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms. 21Now he is far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given—not only in this world but also in the world to come. 22God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made him head over all things for the benefit of the church. 23And the church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself.
Ephesians 1:19-23 (NLT/NIV)

The power and authority that is in Christ is also alive in us. His heart beats in us. That power and authority becomes available to us and through us when we submit to His headship. Verse 19 says it is God’s power for us who believe…it is God’s power thrown open by our obedience. If you look through Biblical history, both Old Testament and New, the Israelites had power when they were obedient. The Apostles had power in their obedience. They were ineffective in their unbelief.

Yes, I’m using the words belief and obedience in the same way and that’s because in the ancient, middle-eastern mindset, they can’t be separated. To believe means to act on or live by that belief. It means to obey. You can’t have one without the other. It is our faith and obedience that gives us access to God’s power.

How great is that power? In verse 21 Paul struggles to find words that are big enough and well, powerful, enough, to describe God’s power. He uses these words:

  • Arche – means principality, also means source or beginning – Jesus is the originator of all things
  • Exousia – means authority, power or jurisdiction
  • Dunamis – the word from which we get dynamite – explosive power, ability, miraculous, creative power
  • Kyriotes – means dominion or ruling power, governmental power
  • Onoma – the power to name something – this power comes from having ownership, control or authority over something

Paul is saying that God has made Jesus far above all those kinds of power. Far above. And he goes on to say that Jesus is far above all those kinds of power not only in this world, but in the world to come.

And that very same power that raised Jesus from the dead is alive in us who believe – He makes that power available to those of us who believe.

Do you believe when you pray that you can change the world? Do you believe that when you talk to someone about Christ that you can change the world? Not because of who you are, but because the power that raised Jesus from the dead is alive in you.

There are many reasons why we might not be experiencing that power in your life, but one of them is that we simply haven’t owned it – we don’t expect to change the world (or often even to have an impact) when we do things for Christ. Yet Scripture says that the very same power that raised Jesus from the dead is alive in us. Oh ye of little faith! (Oh, me of little faith!)

God’s message to me this Resurrection Sunday was that He is alive! He is alive because of the awesome power of God that was able to raise Jesus from the dead! That power is “for those of us who believe” – it’s in me!

I don’t waste that power because I didn’t believe I had it. I don’t waste it because I don’t even try to use it.

Let’s believe in – that means expect! – powerful moves of God and let’s step into them.

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14After Hezekiah received the letter from the messengers and read it, he went up to the LORD’s Temple and spread it out before the LORD. 15And Hezekiah prayed this prayer before the LORD: 16“O LORD of Heaven’s Armies, God of Israel, you are enthroned between the mighty cherubim! You alone are God of all the kingdoms of the earth. You alone created the heavens and the earth. 17Bend down, O LORD, and listen! Open your eyes, O LORD, and see! Listen to Sennacherib’s words of defiance against the living God.

18“It is true, LORD, that the kings of Assyria have destroyed all these nations. 19And they have thrown the gods of these nations into the fire and burned them. But of course the Assyrians could destroy them! They were not gods at all—only idols of wood and stone shaped by human hands. 20Now, O LORD our God, rescue us from his power; then all the kingdoms of the earth will know that you alone, O LORD, are God.”
Isaiah 37:14-20 (NLT)

I’ve always loved this passage from Isaiah. The Assyrians had conquered towns in Judah, then headed north to conquer Israel. They called out King Hezekiah with a speech that challenges him in front of his people. A distressed Hezekiah sent for Isaiah who delivered a prophecy from the Lord that promised  He would rescue Israel. But the Assyrians kept up their taunting:

10“This message is for King Hezekiah of Judah. Don’t let your God, in whom you trust, deceive you with promises that Jerusalem will not be captured by the king of Assyria. 11You know perfectly well what the kings of Assyria have done wherever they have gone. They have completely destroyed everyone who stood in their way! Why should you be any different? 12Have the gods of other nations rescued them—such nations as Gozan, Haran, Rezeph, and the people of Eden who were in Tel-assar? My predecessors destroyed them all!
Isaiah 37:10-12 (NLT)

That’s when King Hezekiah went up to the temple, spread the letter out before the Lord and prayed. I love that picture. He doesn’t just stay at home and pray. He doesn’t just go sit in a pew and pray. He goes to the altar, spreads the letter out and then prays. I see him unfolding the letter, laying it on the floor, then flattening it out with his hands before he takes a step back to pray. It’s as if he’s laying a gift at the altar. It’s a petition, but also a gift. Hezekiah is treating the message from the Assyrian king with respect, but he gives it to the One who deserves greater respect.

But after spreading the letter carefully out before the Lord, He doesn’t say “Lord, I’m in a real spot here.” He doesn’t say “Lord, help me. Rescue us from our enemies.” No. He says “O LORD of Heaven’s Armies, God of Israel, you are enthroned between the mighty cherubim! You alone are God of all the kingdoms of the earth. You alone created the heavens and the earth.”

Hezekiah worshipped. When we’re in a jam, aren’t we so tempted to get right to the request? Perhaps it’s because our focus is on our need and not on our God. Hezekiah knew his need was great. But he knew His God was greater. So he first declared that.

The next time you’re in a tough spot – start by praising God.

Hezekiah continued “Bend down, O LORD, and listen! Open your eyes, O LORD, and see! Listen to Sennacherib’s words of defiance against the living God.”

Hezekiah puts the taunting in perspective. No ego here. Hezekiah doesn’t say “Lord, do you hear what they’re saying about me and my leadership?” No, he says “They are defying the living God.” Hezekiah is offended that His God has been insulted, not that he’s been insulted. The battle is not ours, but the Lords.

The next time you’re in a tough spot – put it into perspective. Whose battle is it?

Hezekiah isn’t finished praying. He has more reframing to do:“It is true, LORD, that the kings of Assyria have destroyed all these nations. And they have thrown the gods of these nations into the fire and burned them. But of course the Assyrians could destroy them! They were not gods at all—only idols of wood and stone shaped by human hands.

Hezekiah brings truth into the situation. He acknowledges that what the messenger said was true – all the other nations and their gods were destroyed by the Assyrian kings. But that’s only half the truth. The full truth is that the gods of these other nations weren’t true gods. They were only idols made of wood and stone shaped by human hands. Of course they could be destroyed by the Assyrian army.

The next time you’re in a tough spot – spell out the truth about your enemy. I don’t know who your enemy is, but I know without a doubt that your enemy is not greater than the Lord, Creator of heaven and earth, Ruler of all the nations of the earth, Lord of heaven’s Armies.

Hezekiah finishes his prayer with his request “Now, O Lord, rescue us – then all the kingdoms of the earth will know that you alone are God.” A simple request for a mighty need. A simple request with an eternal purpose – so that all may know that He is God. If the Assyrian army wasn’t so powerful that it conquered every country it attacked, it wouldn’t be so well know for it’s might…and it wouldn’t bring such glory to God when God defeats them.

The next time you’re in a tough spot – remember that you don’t need a miracle until you need a miracle. God’s glory is shown greater when the need is greater.

By the way…after his prayer, the Lord had another message for Hezekiahi:

21Then Isaiah son of Amoz sent this message to Hezekiah: “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: Because you prayed about King Sennacherib of Assyria, 22the LORD has spoken this word against him: ‘The virgin daughter of Zion despises you and laughs at you. The daughter of Jerusalem shakes her head in derision as you flee.’”
Isaiah 37:21-22 (NLT)

Did you catch the phrase at the end of verse 21? “Because you prayed…” I love it. Because Hezekiah prayed, the Lord had a message of humiliation and defeat for the king of Assyria.

Hezekiah’s prayer wasn’t long or belabored. It was simple, heartfelt, full of praise and truth and confidence.

The next time you’re in a tough spot – pray as Hezekiah did.

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I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Psalm 139:14 (NIV)

I love it when science declares the glory of God. This video bears witness to the fact that we are indeed “fearfully and wonderfully made” by a Designer who knows no bounds.

This video it pretty amazing. It was created by Alexander Tsiaras, a former Associate Professor of Medicine and Chief of Scientific Visualization at Yale University. In addition to the video itself being amazing, I am quite surprised that it was presented at an INK Conference.

Just a bit of info about INK: INK (which stands for Innovation and Knowledge) is an organizational offshoot of TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design). TED’s website describes the organization as “a nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading.” They sponsor semiannual conferences bringing the best and brightest in a variety of fields to speak in short segments (as in eighteen minutes short). Neither TED nor INK are Christian based. Yet in 1998 they invited Billy Graham to speak. You can watch the video of Billy’s speech here. He was given 26 minutes as the closing speaker and his message differs from any other I’ve heard him give…yet it is also the same, because he did a wonderful and totally culturally appropriate job of presenting the Gospel to the “best and brightest” assembled at the conference. Worth listening to.

In 2010, Mr. Tsiaras spoke at the INK conference and presented this video. The focus of the video is the visualization of life from conception to birth (and beyond) – well worth the trip! His discussions before and after the video are just as compelling. “It was hard not to attribute divinity to it,” Tsiaras says. “The magic of the mechanisms inside each genetic structure saying exactly where that nerve cell should go — the complexity of these mathematical models – of how these things are indeed done – is beyond human comprehension. Even though I am a mathematician…I look at this with marvel…it’s a mystery, it’s magic, it’s divinity.”

To God be the glory, great things He hath done! (from the hymn by Fanny Crosby)

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I did two foolish things yesterday. And I am praising God for His awesome protection. First, I decided to run on the treadmill without wearing the safety clip. The safety clip triggers an automatic shut-off if the runner moves too far from the controls – in other words, if he or she falls off the treadmill. My second foolish act (within a period of less than five minutes) was to close my itching eyes and rub them while running.

That’s when I fell off the treadmill, which of course didn’t stop treading (or is it milling?).

Our treadmill is in a very enclosed space, so all I could think about was rolling into the small space beside the treadmill to get away from the moving belt. My knee was a bit wrenched and my foot (which I’ve broken twice) was hurting. I immediately thought of all the things I having coming up over the next few weeks and how I really didn’t want to have to do them on crutches. Then my spirit kicked in and instead of staying in the place of expecting the worst, I remembered that God is able. There has been a verifiable miraculous healing in our community recently – a woman with two broken feet was healed by the power of our miracle working God after the breaks were confirmed by x-rays taken at the ER but before her appointment with an orthopedic. There have been other incidents where it is clear that God has intervened. I remembered those incidents and I asked God to restore any damage that might have been done to my knee and foot.

Then I waited for a few minutes for the pain to subside. I began to think that if I didn’t walk a bit my muscles would stiffen up – leaving my wrenched knee wrenched. I felt like I needed to walk it out and trust that my foot would be fine. No, I didn’t have a specific word from the Lord that I should do so, but I did have a strong sense that I shouldn’t lay there  (even though my husband would have found me very soon). So I very cautiously stood up and began to walk. And God, in His graciousness, either healed me or protected me from injury. Hallelujah! I’ll take either.

This evening I’m sitting here looking at the space between the end of our treadmill and the wall and I can’t explain how my foot didn’t get trapped there and then twist to the point of breaking. The other two times I broke my foot, it was a relatively minor twist that caused the break. But yesterday, God protected me. He is so good.

So today I want to publicly praise God for two things – (1) that I so quickly changed from expecting the worst to remembering God’s goodness, and (2) for His healing and protection when I fell. I have been praying about and working on not expecting bad outcomes. I serve a God who lavishes His gifts upon us and who fights my battles for me. I want to expect good outcomes when I get hit with life. Well, I got hit with life yesterday (due to my own foolishness) and I quickly moved from expecting the worst to trusting God for the best. Thank You, Lord, for continually conforming me to Your image. I’m not there yet, but I’m so glad, so thankful, that You keep me moving in the right direction. And thank You, Lord, for your tremendous, awesome power to protect us even from our own foolishness. (How did I ever think I could close and rub my eyes while running on a treadmill?) Thanks for keeping me from harm and healing all injury that occurred except the slightest soreness in my foot. I think perhaps if my foot weren’t slightly sore, I wouldn’t remember to be thankful so often today.

Friends, I hope you weren’t as foolish as me yesterday and that it didn’t take falling off the treadmill to remind you of God’s awesome goodness. Let’s praise Him in all things – because whether we’ve fallen off a treadmill recently or not – (1) He is working to conform us to the image of Christ and (2) He is protecting and healing us 24/7. What an awesome God we serve!

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Tuesday’s blog was all about God’s desire to transform our minds – to rearrange the way we think so that the way we live is ultimately rearranged.

 “Faith is not idleness, it’s an action word,” my pastor said recently. He went on to say “God wants to entrust this world to us.”

Isn’t that exciting? It is for me:

  • First, I’m excited that faith isn’t just sitting piously in my prayer room. (I’m not dissing praying! Prayer can be pretty exciting, too…Hmmm…I should blog about that soon!) Faith is an action word! Read the New Testament and you won’t find much idleness.
  • Second, I’m excited that God wants to entrust this world to us! It is our responsibility to bring His Kingdom to earth. We learn about that Kingdom through His Word and our obedience. As we obey – that is, as we take actions to do what His Word teaches, not simply give mental assent to it, He responds by giving us the keys to the Kingdom, by entrusting this world to us.

There’s a degree to which, we have to mature into that trust. You don’t give the keys to your best car to your teenager the moment he or she turns 16. No, you watch to see that they have developed the maturity required to handle the car you give him the keys to. Likewise, God is going to give us keys to the Kingdom, but He’s going to do it progressively as we mature. That means not only rearranging our thoughts, but also rearranging our actions. Because God doesn’t only want us to think differently, He also wants us to act differently.

Faith is an action word! It is a way of living.

For the Kingdom of God is not just a lot of talk; it is living by God’s power.
1 Corinthians 4:20 (NLT)

The Kingdom of God is not in the rearrangement of words, either on paper or in our minds – it is living by God’s power. God first rearranges our thoughts – causing us to think differently, but in the process we are transformed…so that we act differently and can transform our world. We are renewed so that we can live by God’s power.

For the Kingdom of God is not just a lot of talk; it is living by God’s power.
1 Corinthians 4:20 (NLT)

When God highlighted that verse to me this week, the thought that immediately followed it was “we settle for too little…” and “we expect too little from God!”

Scripture uses strong language –

  • Be transformed, renewed (Romans 12:2a)
  • By Scripture that is alive and powerfulRemember, the word that was translated as “power” is the word “energace” from which we get energy – active power, effective power (Hebrews 4:12)
  • By that is God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16)
  • So that you are living by God’s power (1 Corinthians 4:20)– the word translated “power” here is “dunamis,” from which we get dynamite  – miraculous power, explosive power!

We settle for too little. The Kingdom of God is not just a lot of talk – it is living by God’s power. That’s not the power to get through the day. That’s not the power to overcome the things of everyday life that those who don’t know Christ overcome by simply getting on with life. It’s power to live differently – power to change – transform the world. It’s the power to think differently. I said in our small group last week that I’m tired of negativity in my life – tired of expecting bad things to result. When I face challenges, I want to anticipate God’s energace and dunamis power – His effective, active, explosive power.

I have a magnet on my task board at work that says “Only those who attempt the ridiculous can expect the miraculous.” I’m not suggesting that we all go out and attempt ridiculous things. There’s a difference between presuming upon God – that is, simply stepping out into whatever we want to do and expecting Him to “rescue” us. There’s a difference between that and stepping out in faith into what God has called us. Yet often, God calls each one of us – not just the “professional” Christians, not just missionaries, not just extraordinarily gifted people – each one of us, to things that are bigger than we are. And it’s not until we attempt those “ridiculous” things that we’ll see God’s energace, dunamis power.

For the Kingdom of God is not just a lot of talk; it is living by God’s power.
1 Corinthians 4:20 (NLT)

Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
Matthew 6:10 (KJV)


I expect too little from God. And I don’t believe it honors Him. I look at what I have to do and I can’t get it done and I hope He’ll help me meet my deadlines. He will and He has, but He has bigger things He wants me to do. I want to pray for and believe for those bigger things and live my life accordingly.

I have a two-fold assignment for you this week. (Yes, I’m giving you an assignment.)

  • First, read Scripture every day! Challenge yourself to pray, ask God to open your spirit, then read. God’s transforming power comes first and foremost through His Word. Read Scripture every day with the attitude “Lord, teach me from your Word.”
  • Second, trust God for one thing that is bigger than you’ve ever trusted Him for before. If you know what that thing is, if something has already come to mind, write it down and carry it with you. If you don’t know, maybe your one thing needs to be asking Him to show you a bigger thing to trust Him for.

A few weeks ago I wrote a series titled “Living…Like Someone Left the Gate Open.” My key passage for the series was 2 Corinthians 3:12 and 17. Let’s expand that passage by one verse:

12Therefore, since we have such a hope [that is, the hope of our glorious salvation], we are very bold….17Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
2 Cor 3:12, 17-18 (NIV)


God’s power – energace and dunamis power – at work in and through us transforms us so that when we boldly live like someone left the gate open, we reflect the Lord’s glory to the world. Hallelujah! Look in the mirror – are you beginning to see a new you that is reflecting the glory of the Lord? It’s often difficult to see it in ourselves, but if you are pursuing God diligently, if you are asking Him to transform you and reading His Word regularly, He will do it. And the world will see Christ in you – you will reflect His glory! I’ll take that. I’m willing to sacrifice for that. How about you? Let’s pursue transformation together. Let’s rearrange our lives around Christ and His purposes.

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Two weeks ago my pastor made this comment in his sermon: “we must rearrange our lives around living through Christ.” When he said that, my brain exploded a bit. Every significant thing that happens in our lives requires rearrangements – a changing of patterns. When you got your first job…your life was rearranged. When you got married…your life was rearranged as you learned to live as a couple instead of as two individuals! When you had children…your life was really rearranged! When you came to Christ…was your life rearranged? I hope so. I trust that it was, because serving God means rearranges our lives:

  • Get up earlier to spend time with Him
  • Our schedules are rearranged when we honor Him by giving Him one day of our week
  • Our finances are rearranged when we begin to tithe and when we give offerings as He directs
  • Our lifestyle is rearranged as we pursue Christ more and more, leaving behind things that aren’t pleasing to Him

Looking at that short list, though I see that they are all rearrangements of our schedules and activities…but God wants to rearrange more than our schedules and activities – He also wants to rearrange how we think.

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…
Romans 12:2a (NIV)

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think…
Romans 12:2a (NLT)

The word “conform” means “follow the pattern of” – it’s related to the word that we get the word “schematic” from.


Don’t follow the patterns created or established by this world but let the power of God transform you by changing the way you think. Let God rearrange the way you think! Continually!

How do we do that? The process starts by studying God’s Word for ourselves. There is no substitute for letting God speak to you by studying the Bible. It’s why I create our Resting at the River’s Edge reading schedules – as an encouragement and aid to help you – to help me – read through the Bible consistently. And if reading through the Bible in 2 years is too much for you, take it slower. Read only the New Testament this year. That’s only 1 chapter a day five days a week. You can do that! You don’t need my permission, but I give you permission to ignore the other two columns in the schedule! Whether one chapter or ten, be in God’s Word every day.

In Romans 12:2, the word translated “renewing” in the NIV – “transformed by the renewing of our mind” – the word “renewing” carries the connotation of repetition. It’s not just made new or made new again, but made new again and again and again.

We need to continually allow God to rearrange our thinking – to challenge us. What kind of an attitude does it take to be challenged in our thinking? A humble one. We don’t go to God’s Word with the perspective “I’m going to read this and determine what it means. No, we go to God’s Word and say “Lord, will you teach me?”

In a good marriage or a good friendship, your life and your relationship is rearranged many times as you each grow and change. Phil and I have been married almost 34 years…about 3 years ago Phil developed an interest in tea. That interest literally lead to a rearrangement of our kitchen to make room for the new tea cabinet and our counters to make room for the teapot and various accoutrements that go with it. Phil’s developed another new interest lately. We’ve had long discussions – because I process things by talking about them – so we’ve had long discussions about schedules and finances and possessions and even our theology as our lives are rearranged simply by Phil developing a new interest.

Our relationship with God is not so different. It’s not that He changes His interests, but as we grow in Him, He reveals more and more of His heart to us and His desires for our lives.

As the bride of Christ…is your life being rearranged by Him regularly?

Studying God’s Word on a regular basis provides the instructions for rearranging our lives around Christ. When we meditate on Scripture, it provides the conversation, if you will, that allows us to process those instructions…to understand and to “own” them.

Words can rearrange our thinking, but it requires more than simply words to transform us into the people God wants us to be. Transformation requires the power of God. That power is alive in the words of Scripture. Hebrews tells us…

For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.
Hebrews 4:12 (NLT)

Scripture doesn’t just inform us, it doesn’t just teach us, it transforms us by the power of God. The word translated “power” here is “energace” – energy – active power, effective power! When we start with prayer, asking God to open our hearts and minds and spirits, Scripture becomes alive and powerful. The words take on the power, the breath, of God.

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.
2 Timothy 3:16 (NIV/NLT)

Some translations say “All Scripture is ‘inspired by God’” – “God-breathed” is actually a better translation because the word translated as “inspired by God” is one word in the Greek. Scripture is “God breathed” – it’s not just inspired by God – it is the very essence of God – His breath. It’s that miraculous relationship that God has with Scripture that enables it, that gives it the power to rearrange our thinking and transforms us.

Let’s let God’s Word transform our minds…who knows what exciting rearrangement of our lives that might bring!

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