The Hungry Place

I saw myself walking on a pretty old-fashioned sidewalk. A small berm of snow was neatly brushed to the gutter, frost decorated the shop windows. It was cold, but peaceful. I looked up and saw a retro fifties style diner. The building was painted like a mural to resemble a train’s dining car. It was red and blue and green, brightly colored, warm and inviting. Delicious aromas spilled out into the street promising passersby delightful comfort food. The name of the diner was proudly sprawled across the building over the door…The Hungry Place.

I entered with anticipation, my stomach growling, my mouth watering in readiness. As I seated myself in the homey red leather booth, a friendly waitress with a beaming grin handed me a menu and a glass that was etched with a scene of a deer drinking from a cool mountain stream. The water in this glass was so good, so fresh, so different! I looked around behind the counter across the aisle. Soda fountain trappings were sparkling. A milk shake machine stood tall. I could see the freshly starched white cap of the cook behind the food delivery window. I smelled burgers and fries, apple pie baking and chicken frying.

As I opened the menu, I saw that it was huge. There were too many things to choose from. It was a joy and a delight just to look at it. I studied page after page of that menu as someone nearby dropped a coin into the mini juke box on their table. Sweet sweet music filled the air. My soul was immediately soothed; a joyful word of praise filled my lips. This is the Hungry Place! This where we come to taste and see that the Lord is good! This is it! Look, look at the menu! There’s peace, joy, love, healing, provision, deliverance! There are instructions, truth and clarity! There’s more than enough! Then I saw it, the one thing I wanted, the thing I craved with all my being. The special of the day! It was boldly featured on the last page. A serving is available for me, right here, right now! That most prized dish is intimacy with Jesus. I’m so hungry for it. I feel faint with the need of it’s nourishment. I need it to survive. I will not leave this hungry place without it.

I ordered with boldness. The waitress with the white ruffly apron smiles in approval. “Yes Hun, it’s the most sought-after dish in the diner!” “Not everyone thinks they are entitled to partake; are even afraid the serving would be too much to digest.” “Go ahead, reach out and take it! Dig in! Breathe in the fragrance of Jesus, consume every bit of this meal!” “Commit it to memory, strengthen your bones.” “Fill yourself with His love and comeback often for more!”

Oh yes. The menu is vast, but that one special dish is what I craved and what I requested. I sat with my choice for hours, savoring every nugget of His presence, delighting in every word whispered into my ear. I left that Hungry Place filled, whole, rested and satisfied. I know I can return again and again, be filled and loved, and never be turned away.

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Exemptions

    It’s January again, time to start getting my notes and receipts organized so I can think about doing our taxes. Not my favorite thing. It would probably benefit me to keep a ledger during the year, but I tend to get lazy and put it off till crunch time. The first thing I do is make a list of the deductions and exemptions I’m entitled to. Look, the IRS doesn’t exactly have a Good News Department. If you make a mistake, unless it’s in the government’s favor, you won’t know about it. The bottom line is, if you are entitled to a deduction, you must have knowledge of it and you must claim it.

    So it is with the Kingdom of Heaven. You know, Jesus gave us a list of deductions; things that we are exempt from. Just like tax information, over the course of the year, we tend to forget those things or shove them in a mental folder, then must bring them back up when it’s crunch time. The Word says, forget not His benefits. Good advice! If you don’t know what you are entitled to, you won’t know to apprehend them.

    The dictionary definition of Exemption is, the process of freeing or the state of being free from an obligation or liability imposed on others. It means immunity, exception, dispensation, indemnity, exclusion, freedom, release, relief, absolution. When Jesus took our sin upon him and died to save us, the things he saved us from, are exemptions. As a result of the cross, we have an immunity from the consequence of living on this earth where Satan rules this age. We are not subject to what the devil imposes on the earths inhabitants. Our sin is forgiven, all debt is wiped out, we are redeemed and free by the blood of Jesus if we believe in Him and ask Him to rule and reign in our lives. Without that forgiveness, we would be under the law and not under grace. The law is righteous, but almost impossible to adhere to. Grace is free, freeing and the true love of God at work.

    Let’s examine the truth a little here. We will limit the discussion to sickness for the sake of blog space. In order to claim a deduction, you have to know what you are entitled to. The word, salvation, is defined in the Greek language as meaning rescue or safety (physically or morally) welfare, prosperity, deliverance, preservation, health, salvation. Logic would remind us to remember those benefits and use those exemptions as life happens. People have been tricked into believing sicknesses are hereditary, run in families; or are just part of life. It’s tolerated, it’s feared, it’s allowed. Hold up, let’s look again at the Word. I Peter 2:24 in the Amplified Bible says, “He personally carried our sins in His body on the [a]cross [willingly offering Himself on it, as on an altar of sacrifice], so that we might die to sin [becoming immune from the penalty and power of sin] and live for righteousness; for by His wounds you [who believe] have been [b]healed.” Jesus already paid the tariff for living in this infected world, so we are exempt. He bought our sickness, it is finished. He could have just died for our sin, but He gave us more. We need to know that! Satan is going to try every trick in his book to destroy you. He will get you to accept the cold or flu. You assume you will recover, and justify it, even welcome it as time to get some much-needed rest. Your friends send sympathetic wishes on social media and hope you feel better soon. However, the flu turns to pneumonia and the little foothold became a stronghold and now you are out of commission for weeks. You are rendered helpless; your vitality is stolen, and your strength is temporarily gone. A wish and a hope based on nothing, won’t do anything. An overflowing faith filled claim of demand based on absolute truth and knowledge of what Jesus did on the cross, along with your received benefits, will. When we take our stand, the affliction has to leave. We may have to fight, but we march forward knowing the victory is already ours, and we do it before the foothold has attached.

    James 4:7 says, “resist the devil and he will flee from you”. We can go straight to the court of Heaven and request enforcement of our right to what Jesus paid for. We can simply stand in our own authority and rebuke him. The devil has no recourse but to flee. He is legally bound to bow to the authority of Jesus, and that authority has been passed down to us. He is a liar and the author of confusion. Are you confused as to why you are afflicted? Awesome! You are on your way to victory because you recognize confusion as an attempt on your life! Keep rebuking the enemy, deny him access, there is no trespass allowed! Watch your mouth, idle words can trip you up. If you say, for example, “my arthritis is hurting”, then you just opened up the door for the enemy. Arthritis is not yours. It is a name and the name of Jesus is the name above all names. That name of Jesus is your weapon, your truth, your covering. Claim that name, not the name of something useless or harmful! There is nothing owing on your account, it has been paid with blood. You have immunity! He gave us every tool and every weapon in His name, to overcome everything the enemy would bring. I will not disrespect what Jesus has done for me by allowing Satan access to my mind, my body or my spirit.

    So, what’s the bottom line? Know the Word of God. Jesus is the Word. He became flesh and dwelt among us. Know His words and you know the intentions of God. God himself came to earth to free us from our assumptions and confusions, the enticement of sin, and the terror of torment. He paid the price for our sin and set us up for divine health, life, abundant and overflowing. We have the Holy Ghost to guide us and teach us, and we have everything we need for life and godliness. It’s all there in the Bible, but it’s up to us to discover its riches, learn of His grace and devour His character. Lay claim to your exemptions and live exceedingly, abundantly. Blessings.    

The Giver

    I received a handmade pen for my birthday. The pen is fashioned by a cabinet maker, from a gorgeous piece of polished wood. The trim is gold. The grip is perfectly comfortable, the fine point tip flows beautifully.

    When the Holy Spirit opens something to me, inspires me and downloads something into my spirit, I hand write it in my journal. Today, I’m writing for the first time with my new pen. What really makes me marvel, is the one who gave this gift to me. My dear friend David chose the perfect thing for me. He knows my heart, he knows my passion for writing. David was thinking of me when he sought out a gift. It wasn’t random or an afterthought. It wasn’t an obligation or a chore. David wanted it to be special, he wanted to give me joy. It’s the giver that makes this gift so perfect.

    Is that not a lovely picture of Jesus? He gave us the ultimate gift. He continues to enrich us, grow us and bless us with gifts of grace, mercy and love. He goes farther. He inspires those around us to give into each other’s lives. Because Jesus loves Mike and me, He gave us David. Because Jesus loves David, He gave him our family to love. Together, we recognize and rejoice in God’s perfect love.

    Jesus was thinking of every one of us as He hung on the cross. He knows our deepest desires and thoughts. He lived in a human body and suffered just as we do. Jesus knows exactly what to give us to bring us joy and freedom. It’s that intimate, personal love that picks out the one special gift that brings us to our knees in wonder and adoration.

    As we enter the Christmas season, let’s think about the giver. Our father, creator of the universe, gave us Jesus, and gives us all good things. Because of His original gift, I want to remember to cherish the givers the Lord has put in my life, and give Him all the praise, honor and glory. It is an awesome thing, too much for us to comprehend. Blessings.

Cast Your Care

I Peter 5:6-7 says: ” Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” NKJV. I got to thinking, what does it mean to cast your care? It sounds almost violent to me, as if you are to throw it with vengeance and disgust. I was wrong.

The Greek word for cast means to throw upon (lit. or fig.), to cast upon. But that word is a combination of two other words, so let’s see if we can get more clarity. In digging around, I found that it means a superimposition of time, place, order, etc., as a relation of distribution. To have charge of, over, upon, beside. It is through the idea of sudden motion, to fling, with a quick toss, not a deliberate hurl. It indicates an extended projection, by qualification to deposit (as if a load), to disperse, cast down, out, scatter abroad, throw.

    So, in all that, it seems clear to me that because of the blood of Jesus, we are qualified and loved eternally, so much that, He desires to free us from worry, guilt, hurt, anything that would hinder us or cause us to focus on anything but Him. He tells us to worry about nothing, to be anxious about nothing, and gives us the way to accomplish just that. Casting has a nonchalance about it. Casting is just flicking it aside over to the one who heals our wounds of the body and the heart. Casting is not a deliberate or violent act, it’s a mere tossing of the care off to Jesus. It’s almost casual, without a lot of thought, done by rote. We can do that because He cares for us.

    We all know that the devil hates us and wants to kill us. But Jesus loves us and wants us to live abundantly, fruitfully and blessed. He will turn our mourning into dancing. He will turn all things for our good. He has already paid the price for our sin and shame, it is finished, forgotten and He set us free. So, Jesus, having walked this earth as a man, suffered and knows all our sorrows and pain, worries and life issues. He knows what it’s like to be sad and depressed, to be hurt by others, to be broke and hungry, and to be lacking. We live in a contaminated world, but keep in mind, we are only sojourners here. We are citizens of Heaven. In Him, there is fullness of joy. In Him there is hope and an unshakeable understanding that He did everything for us. It was finished a long time ago, and whatever our circumstance at the moment, if we will cast that care upon Him, He will turn it for our good. I’ve seen Him obliterate debt, fill a hungry stomach, pay the rent, and give rest to the weary. He doesn’t give us trouble to teach us something, there’s no need. The instructions for life are in His Word. He doesn’t take from you, He fills you. He doesn’t cause problems, He can’t. God is good and His mercy endures forever. He never stops being merciful and kind. He is not a man that He should lie, He is trustworthy.

    Bow your knee with a grateful heart, be convinced that He will lift you up, and tell Him your cares. Transfer authority over to Jesus concerning your cares. Remove it from yourself and focus on what is promised in His Word. He is forever faithful. Just hand it over and walk away in anticipation of what He will do. Sing to Him a song of praise. Blessings.

The Trouble

I was talking with a family member the other day about suffering. Not a popular topic, to be sure. We were talking about suffering with sickness and disease, and there was a reference made to suffering for the Lord in infirmity. I was profoundly knocked off balance and saddened that anyone might believe that God desired they suffer such agony, but then I got to thinking. Slow down Carol, analyze this. It’s a logical conclusion if someone doesn’t know God’s Word on the subject. The devil is a liar and seeks to trip us up anywhere he can. His lies sound like they make sense. If that kind of supposition is pervasive, then I better get educated. If the devil can persuade someone that we suffer for Christ in many ways, sickness included, then he succeeds in one more step in his quest to destroy them. Not on my watch! We will build each other up in our most holy faith!

Three words came to mind as I poured over scripture; suffer, trouble and tribulation. Trouble and tribulation are almost interchangeable, finding their root in the Greek word thlipsis which means pressure, affliction, anguish, burdened, persecution, tribulation, trouble. I started from John 16:33 “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” NKJV. The same word is seen repeatedly in the new testament indicating squeezing, pressurized distress that crushes. The word suffer in the Greek is pascho, which is a verb meaning to experience a sensation or impression (usually painful), to feel, passion, vex. It is combined in this text with the word sun, a Greek word denoting union with, i.e., by association, very closely with, a process, a resemblance, possession, meaning beside or with. Together and in the context of John 16:33, Matthew 16:21, Mark 8:31, 9:12, and Romans 8:17, (there are many more, but I don’t want to get you lost in scripture yet!) the meaning is clearly to suffer the same way Christ suffered, to identify with, to be persecuted as He was, to endure pressure, anguish, tribulation, be crushed and beaten as He was. To go through the process of persecution in the same manner as Jesus did. It makes sense, people still revile Jesus and religion and are quick to attack a believer for things they do not understand. Go back and look again, Jesus said in Me you may have peace. If we suffer, we do so in His peace, without animosity, bitterness or worry for self-preservation.

Absolutely nowhere in the scripture is there a reference to sickness and disease in conjunction with suffering for God. I find no reference to any of the disciples suffering pain and disease. Pain and suffering sickness is not included. The reason for that is simple. Jesus was persecuted and as he was nailed to the cross, he took upon himself the sickness, disease, poverty, demonic affliction, and every other thing that would torment and distract us from life in God. Jesus bore those things so we might be free. Because of the blood of Jesus, sickness is not ours to suffer because His blood covered it. I Peter 2:24, “who himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we having died to sins, might live for righteousness – by whose stripes you were healed. He wants us to live for righteousness, right standing with God, unencumbered, abundantly. I Peter 4:12-19 talks about suffering for God’s glory. It speaks of suffering the same insults, persecutions, revilement and reproach that Jesus did, all because we are His. Verse 19 says, “therefore, let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator.” Is it God’s will that you suffer sickness? No, it very clearly says, according to His will. His will is His word, the word does not speak of suffering illness because it is finished on the cross. We have authority in the name of Jesus to cast that out. Sickness and pain serves no kingdom purpose, does not glorify God. Being healed glorifies God. Going through things in the strength and power and equipping of Jesus, glorifies Him. Taking hold of what He did for us on the cross, glorifies Him. Putting on the whole armor of God, glorifies Him.

Wow, I love revelation. So, if the devil can get us to believe we glorify God when we suffer pain in our bodies because of sickness, he can get us to accept it and speak life into that pain. He can get us to just live with it, do nothing about it and die sooner than is God’s plan. It will stop our effectiveness, it will stop us from doing what we are called to do, it will steal our joy and render us miserable. Speak truth and life, speak the Word of God over yourself, refuse to believe anything that is not the will and Word of God. Know the scripture, it is life and health, joy and freedom. Phil 4:8 “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy, meditate on these things.” Look for the goodness of God and think on those things. Forget not His benefits and remind yourself what He has done for you. Train your mind to look for God’s way first. Blessings.

What’s Burning?

Fall is probably the most beautiful time of year in my humble opinion. The colors are otherworldly, the smells of burning leaves and brush, the chill in the air, all promise a cozy winter to come. My husband is outside right now as I write this, burning the trimmings from summer plants and flowers, and the leaves that have covered the yard. It smells like campfires and marshmallows.

How many of us have cried out from the depths of our souls to the Lord, asking fervently for refinement? Create in me a clean heart O Lord, and restore a right spirit within me! I’ve done that, sick of my own flesh, sick of my own will, hungry for Jesus to carry it all away and render my heart clean before Him. Turn my heart of stone to a heart of flesh, burn away any part of me that is unacceptable and unproductive, make me clean and a useful vessel.

So, you’re going along with life, and a situation arises. You are blindsided by the viciousness, shocked at the torment and pain, devastated at the destruction in your life. A wrong perception turned to a completely inaccurate assumption. No amount of reasoning could budge that opinion, no compromise could be found. Friendships were lost, reputation lost, you are alone and cut to the bone. You feel like an old testament burnt offering, an animal fileted down the middle lengthwise, so its blood can run freely like a river into the fire on the alter. You become angry and bitter that such a thing should happen. Why? You cry out to the Lord, you know it’s the enemy come to steal, kill and destroy, John 10:10. You also know you are not wresting against flesh and blood, but principalities and powers of darkness. Eph. 6:12. But why didn’t they see that? Why didn’t they listen to your heart? How did they totally misread you, when they knew you so well? How did they assume you meant one thing when you were talking about another? What is this mysterious burning smell?

Oh, wait, head slap. There is hope, always hope. All things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose, even things that seem impossible. Romans 8:28. The eyes of your understanding start to become enlightened. You start to see, you start to look with fresh, open eyes as you peer into the goodness of God. Jesus took that ugly situation and turned it upside down for His glory. As you walked through that refining fire, you gained confidence in Him, closeness with Him, an awareness of His seasons and the way Kingdom things work. The weight of fleshly desires is shed; the need to be right and recognized is released. It’s not all about you, but Him alone. Your heart becomes clean, the stony place is turned to soft flesh. There’s an awareness that The Lord has restored a right spirit to you. Joy slowly returns, rivers of living water began to course through. Focus changes, freedom comes. A new power and authority manifests, gifts of the Holy Spirit are clearer and stronger. Freedom, victorious freedom from unforgiveness, bitterness and fear emerge. Thankfulness overflows.

I asked the Lord if this was the refining fire I cried out for so many times. So gently, He spoke into my heart. The enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy. No one is at fault in this, no flesh set out to do evil, it is a work of the enemy. But I come to give you life, and life abundantly. I used that work for the good of all concerned because you are all mine, all righteous, in right standing with God. The branches that are done for the season need to be cut off and burned. Unfruitful branches, spent flowers and leaves, no matter how beautiful, can infect the ground if left to rot. To keep the ground pure, the dross is removed and burned. So, rest. Trust the gardener of your heart. Rest in Me while the work is completed, knowing that you know, that God is faithful to complete the good work He began in you. Rest in comfort and peace as He begins the process of promised restoration. Focus on Jesus, the author and finisher of your life, and find complete joy, victory of heart, and fulfillment. Peace.