Saturday, April 23, 2016

Zebulun's Undivided Heart Helped Change a Nation

When King David was at Ziklag, mighty men of valor came to help him. They were remarkable men, but my personal favorites are the men of Issachar and the men of Zebulun.

There were two hundred men from Issachar who understood the times and knew what Israel should do. What's amazing to me is that their kinsmen knew they understood the times, too, so they followed them. Think about that for a minute. 

The men of Issachar knew what was right to do. People knew they understood what was right, so they followed along and did the right thing, too. 

Oh, that we would be so concerned with doing right!

The men of Zebulun were awesome men. Here's what Scripture said about them:

"Of Zebulun, there were 50,000 men who went out in the army, who could draw up in battle formation with all kinds of weapons of war and helped David with an undivided heart." 1 Chronicles 12:33 nasb

The men of Zebulun were disciplined.
They were diversified and multi-talented.
They recognized authority and submitted to it.
They had singleness of purpose and allowed no distractions.

Imagine 50,000 talented, skilled, and disciplined people who were submitted wholly to a common cause.

We've seen what that kind of dedication can do from those who have submitted wholly to the cause of ISIS. It's remarkable. And terrible.

But what if the body of Christ in this country finally said, "We've played at fake church long enough? Let's get totally real and follow Christ with every fiber of our being." 

What if we understood the authority of Jesus Christ and submitted wholly to it? 

What if we had one goal: loving the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength and our neighbor as ourselves?

What if nothing deterred us from following Christ?

I told my son about some people from my church recently and he said, "Wow. They sound like adventurers. That must be so fun." 

He was right. If we understood the adventure of following Christ and were willing to embrace that adventure with an undivided heart, our walk of faith would be fun, too. Maybe hard, but definitely worth it.

Our country is in a mess, and, though we'd like to blame the lost people for our problems, Scripture suggests a different root cause. 

It's the people of God who influence a nation. When we aren't light in the darkness, the darkness increases. And that's what's happened. 

We have tried to shine our light from dirty lamps, and it's not working.

So, people of God, arise! Let us become more like the men of Zebulun. They submitted undivided hearts to their King and they helped to change the direction of a nation.

We can do that, too. If we will.

In case you missed it, here's the link to yesterday's post: God wants a bride

If you're interested in the Hosea Bible study, here's the link to the Hosea Introduction.
#undividedheart #letyourlightshine #Jesus #linesfromleanna

Friday, April 22, 2016

God wants a Bride, not a Maid

My friend, Aletha Hinthorn, sends a daily devotional email. She wrote this morning that God is looking for worshippers, not workers. He wants His Bride to be a bride to Him. He wants us to spend time with Him. Take delight in Him.

As I read those words, the thought came to me, "God wants a bride. Not a maid." 

We are created for relationship, a divine marriage relationship, and it's precious beyond all belief. 

As I've mentioned before, I'm currently writing an in-depth study on Hosea. It's entirely too big a project for me. It means long hours at my computer, many hours studying Scripture, and reading more commentaries than I thought possible. 

It's hard work.

It's also glorious work, and I'm so grateful to be doing it. 

When I sit down with the book of Hosea, I pray for fresh eyes to see it the way God wants it seen. When I begin to type, I pray to have God's words and not my own. It's a precious time because He actually gives me fresh eyes and His words. It's hard to comprehend how miraculous that is. Truly miraculous.

My relationship with God is never sweeter than when I write for Him.

Yesterday, I finished editing the first chapter on the Hosea story, read through it again, and saved it as a draft on the new blog. When the Bible study participants make it through this, they'll have done an amazing bit of work. I'm so proud of them, I thought, and I began to weep. 

I wept for the people who would participate and how God would touch and change their lives, for the wonder that God would use someone like me to do a job like this.

Being the bride of God Himself is more amazing than we realize. He has greater plans for us, bigger adventures in which we can participate, than we can ever imagine. 

Being a bride instead of a maid means we do things together, as brides and grooms do. When I write, I write with Him. When I do good deeds in His name, I do them as a team of two. 

Today, let's pause long enough to reflect on the wonder of the Divine Marriage and our role in it. 

As the bride of Christ, work in tandem today, heart to Heart with our Bridegroom, the Lover of Our Souls.

"And in that day, declares the Lord, you will call me 'My Husband'... Hosea 2:16 esv

"And I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness. Then you will know the Lord." Hosea 2:20 nasb

"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 54:5 nasb
#brideofChrist #faith #Jesus #linesfromleanna

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Fighting with Valor - on our knees

My reading this morning was in 2 Samuel about David's mighty men of valor. Eleazar's story caught my attention and surprised me all over again.

Eleazar was one of David's three closest, and bravest, warriors. He was a "mighty man". When David and his men fought the Philistines, Eleazar was determined to overcome them. He wrapped his hand around his sword, held on tight, and fought like the nation depended on him, because it did.

Eleazar fought so long and hard that his hand "clung" to the sword. His grip on the sword was so tight that the muscles in his hand spasmed and wouldn't release the sword. 

"and the Lord brought about a great victory that day." (2 Samuel 23:9-10)

The warriors went to battle, fought until they were exhausted, then fought some more. They didn't stop until the battle was won.

We, the body of Christ, need that kind of stamina. There is a spiritual battle that must be won and, judging by the state of our nation, we're not fighting the way we should. 

For the believer, the spiritual battle is fierce, but it is not fought with swords or knives or guns. It's fought on our knees. The enemy of our souls is strong and wily. If we expect to survive the battle unscathed, we must gird ourselves with truth, righteousness, the gospel of peace, the shield of faith and, most important, the helmet of salvation. 

We have one offensive weapon, and we can use it with impunity, if we but will. The Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, is the weapon with which Jesus began His own battle on earth. It is powerful and can overcome any enemy offensive. That's why studying our Bible and knowing what it says is critical for the believer.

Knowing what someone says about the Scriptures is not sufficient. We must know it for ourselves so that it becomes a part of us. It is only then that we are adequately equipped to fight past exhaustion until the battle is won.

I could do more. I could pray more. Fast more. Be on my knees more. If I would. Perhaps you could, too. 

Our God, who judges nations and hearts, is well within His right to judge our nation. And He will. He has.

Time is short. We must do our part, and it begins in the position of humility. 

So, body of Christ, let's do it. Let's humble ourselves and pray. Immerse ourselves in God's word and repent of our sins. Seek His face.

When we do, He will do as He as promised. Forgive and heal.

"If my people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14 nasb
Want to read more? Here's another post on this topic: The 7:14 Prayers
Here's the link to yesterday's post: Epiphany on the Patio: Using the Past to Overcome
I'm blown away by the response to the Hosea study that starts May 1. There's still time if you want to be added. It's in depth and a lot of work, with online links to follow and a lot of background Scripture to review. You will work at your own pace and from the comfort of your own home. It's my prayer that, at the end, you'll be able to study Scripture in depth on your own. You can still join the group. Let me know if you want to be a part. (message, comment, email)
#Jesus #spiritualwarfare #714 #disciple

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Epiphany on the Patio: Using the Past to Overcome

I have asked myself, "What were you thinking?" quite a few times since I announced the Hosea study. It's a huge job and I already had a huge job of editing underway. Every time I've started fretting, I've reminded myself that I was sure God had called me to it and He would carry me through it.

Monday afternoon, though, I sat on my patio, computer in my lap, Bible on the table before me, and wondered how I would ever get it done. I had zoomed through Chapter one, but, when I hit chapter two, the writing came to a standstill.

Time is short, so I was very concerned. Okay. In the interest of truthfulness, I panicked. I cried. I prayed. I reviewed a ton of commentaries. At the end of all I'd studied, I wondered if they had read the same words I'd read. 

"If you're not doing this through me, Lord, I'm not doing it." I set my computer aside, closed my Bible, and went for a walk.

Yesterday, I picked up Hosea again. I read the commentaries again. I prayed again. I sought wise counsel again. And, finally, I came to a deep understanding that it's one thing to study Scripture in the original language. 

It's a totally different thing to live Scripture. 

The commentators had studied Hosea and they knew the words with great accuracy. I had lived his life, and it wasn't easy.

I read through Hosea's words with the lens of my past and I saw it in a brand new way. I knew how Hosea felt because I'd felt much of what he did. 

Experientially, I understood.

I knew it was a Hosea time when it was unfolding, but I never dreamed I'd write it. In a way, it was simply an act of obedience that required me to die to self over and over again. I didn't see the bigger picture. If I had, I might've tried harder to be better.

Yesterday, I came to see a vital truth in a deeper way. 

God never wastes suffering.

When hard times comes, and they will, He will carry us through. He'll also use that hard time to refine us and strengthen the body of Christ, if we will allow it.

The Apostle John wrote these words:

"And they overcame him {the accuser of the brethren} because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even to death." Revelation 12:11 nasb

With the Hosea study, I'm allowing God to take my testimony and do something new. To overcome because of it.

No matter what lies in our past, no matter how hard, no matter how terrible, in God's hands those hurts and sorrows become the key to overcoming the enemy of our soul. If we will allow God to heal and use all He's carried us through, He will do something better than we ever expected.

We have a choice. Stay trapped in the pain of the past or allow Him to heal so that we can overcome by our testimony. 

Which will it be?

Today, let's take a look at the painful things that hold sway over us and choose freedom. Choose healing. Choose overcoming.

It may not be easy, but one thing's sure. It's worth it.
In case you missed yesterday's post, here's the link: Tending Roses and the Garden of Our Heart
#faith #testimony #overcome #linesfromleanna #Hosea

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Tending Roses and the Garden of Our Hearts

Sam's wife, Jamie, loved flowers in her yard, and she was terrific at growing them. Jamie used a technique that might have helped me over the years. She planted one at a time and carefully tended it until it was well established and growing.

Jamie loved roses. She had two red rose bushes, one planted on either side of her front stoop. I'm ashamed to admit how many roses I've planted. In general, they haven't done well, mostly because they were more trouble than they were worth to me.

When I stopped by Sam's house this past weekend, I was stunned. Jamie's roses are nearly to the roof and are filled with healthy, beautiful flowers. 

Jamie understood that plants need care if they are to thrive. She wanted them to thrive, so she tended them. She provided what was needed to make them grow and bloom. She treated disease before it was widespread. 

Her attention made a difference.

In Jesus' parable of the sower, He talked about the conditions into which the seed was planted. If the soil wasn't right, the seed wouldn't grow. When the good news of Jesus lands in hearts, He said, it wouldn't take root unless conditions were favorable. 

When the conditions in our heart aren't optimal, His word can't take root and yield a harvest in our lives, either. If we gave our hearts the kind of attention Jamie gave her roses, it would be a different matter. She sprayed her roses to rid them of disease, carefully picked off insects, fertilized, pruned as needed. She tended her flowers.

I'm left wondering if I tend my heart the way I tend my roses. Poorly. It's a surprise every time those roses bear flowers, and it's no wonder. If I sprayed, fertilized, and pruned the way Jamie did, I'd have better roses.

If I did that in my own heart, I'd likely have a better, more God-like heart, too. Are there pesty sins that need to be removed? Dead wood that needs pruning? Do I need the fertilizer of God's Word and Bible study? 

What would it take to make my heart a healthy garden in which God's word can flourish? What would it take for your heart?

Today, let's do a heart-check and tend the garden of our heart. If we give them the attention we should, a garden of God's making is sure to grow and we, too, can yield a harvest.

And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit, and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty." Matthew 13:23 nasb
In case you missed yesterday's post, here's the link: Golden Words
Follow me on Google Plus and see the new collection I've started of Sam Stories.
#word #gardenoftheheart #roses

Monday, April 18, 2016

Golden Words

Psalm 56 was part of the Chronological Bible daily reading for today. At the top of Psalm were these words: "A Mikhtam of David."

The word "Mikhtam" (according to means "golden" and indicates words that are so precious that they have been written down on a tablet to preserve them. The words of this psalm, then, are considered of great value, like gold. In a way, they are golden words.

This psalm was written by David during the time when Saul was pursuing him to murder him. The situation had become so precarious that David had taken refuge with the Philistines in Gath. The Philistines were enemies of Israel. David seeking refuge there would be like us leaving the United States to take refuge with a terrorist cell to hide from people in our homeland who sought to hurt us.

David was caught between two terrible choices. If he stayed home, he faced certain death from Saul or non-stop fighting and hiding to avoid it. If he went to the Philistines, he faced possible death and non-stop fighting and hiding to avoid it. There was no good option. 

It's clear from these words that David was weary and afraid to the point of tears. But. He had put his trust in God and he made a concious decision to keep his trust in God, not man.

That introduction made me want to see exactly what words would be considered golden. As I read through the psalm, I found these words:

"When I am afraid, I will put my trust in Thee.
In God, whose word I praise,
In God I have put my trust;
I shall not be afraid.
What can mere man do to me?"

"Thou has taken account of my wanderings; 
Put my tears in Thy bottle; Are they not in Thy book?"
Psalm 56:3,4, 8 nasb

In the midst of death threats, misunderstandings, and deliberate distortion of his words, despite his fear and sorrow and fatigue, David had a choice to make. He could give in to despair or cling to his faith.

David chose faith.

David chose hope.

David chose worship and thanksgiving.

Why? David recognized the watch care of God. God knew him, knew where he was and what he faced. He also knew that God would keep every promise He had given David.

In the midst of hard times, we, too, may be overwhelmed with sorrow and fear, but we don't have to stay in that mindset. We can, like David, choose faith, hope, worship, thanksgiving because we have not been forgotten or overlooked. We, too, serve a God who knows the circumstances we face and always keeps His promises.

They are golden words, indeed. No need to fear. God is on His throne and He will not be thwarted. 
In case you missed it, here's the link to yesterday's blog post:
The Totality of Trouble and Complete Deliverance

Sunday, April 17, 2016

The Totality of Trouble and Complete Deliverance

Any time you start a new project designed to honor the Lord, you can expect resistance from the enemy of our souls. The Hosea Bible study has been no exception. 

When I began work on the proposed study, it went quickly at the start, but the resistance soon started. I take it as a good sign that the study will make a difference in the lives of those who participate. The resistance, however, is frustrating and difficult.

One problem after another, from computer difficulties and internet connection problems to untimely trouble with septic systems to unexpected expenses, have arisen. 

There are probably some people who are more perfect and serene at working through these issues than I am, but I freely admit that I struggle. When the first trouble arose, I reminded myself that "Greater is He who is in me than he who is in the world." (1 John 4:4) 

As time progressed, I remembered, "God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind." (2 Timothy 1:7)

On Friday, I had such a plethora of pressures that I spent the afternoon and evening recalling, "Cast all your care upon Him, for He cares for you." (1 Peter 5:7) 

There hasn't been much time for trouble-taming because I've been eyebrow-deep in Hosea, but I've spent my bit of spare time this weekend casting cares on the Lord. I've reviewed the ways He's cared for me in the past and all the victories I've seen Him win. 

This morning, I read about David's troubles when Saul chased and tried to murder him. It was terrible, and I doubt I could've survived it, but David persevered and God helped him. 

Saul complained that David was very cunning (1 Samuel 23:22) and, when I read that, I laughed out loud. In a way, it was God who was "very cunning" because He's the One who protected David from Saul.

We serve a creative, sometimes cunning, able-to-deliver God, as David learned over and over again.

David wrote about his troubles with Saul. His words are so appropriate for my own troubles that I thought they might be an encouragement to you today, too.

"Behold, God is my helper;
The Lord is the sustainer of my soul...
For He has delivered me from all my trouble;
And my eye has looked with satisfaction upon all my enemies."
psalm 54:4,7 nasdb

 You won't be surprised that I went to the Hebrew to be sure about that lovely word "all". It turns out that the phrase "all my trouble" means that God delivered from the totality of trouble. 

Everything about David's trouble was resolved. He will do that for me, too. He'll do that for you.

After David's deliverance was accomplished, he looked back "with satisfaction" for what God had done. 

Fully delivered. Completely satisfied.

That's how our God works. 

When troubles arise and cares assail us, casting those troubles and cares on Him makes the most sense of all. We might not be able to handle all that comes our way, but Our God can. 

And He will.