The Container

    I was looking at my pantry, again! No surprise, I really have a sense of accomplishment when I look in that room. I have containers, lots and lots of containers. Some foods need to be stored in glass to protect the commodity inside, some just plastic or paper boxes. It all depends upon what preserves the contents most effectively. Dehydrated potatoes turn dark and unappetizing when stored in plastic because too much air is allowed to permeate the container. They do much better in glass. I couldn’t really freeze my homemade chili in mason jars, they would break under the pressure of expansion. It just shows me how very important the container can be and how taking care of those containers is crucial to preservation of what’s inside. One nick in the rim of a canning jar can prevent a proper seal and cause bacteria to invade. It’s imperative that I keep these containers clean and undamaged, ready to do the work I depend on them to do.

    And so it is with us. We are spirit, our bodies are the container. Yes, it is fearfully and wonderfully made according to the image of God. But it’s the spirit that is who we are, our essence. They work together to function as an effective ambassador of Heaven. We have to be good stewards of our container, but at the same time, not give it power and pre-eminence. The container holds the jewels. It is utilitarian, it protects the goods. We need to feed our flesh yet fight it at the same time. The flesh, our carnal man, is cunning. It hears the lie of the devil and perverts the will of God for our lives. It hinders us from developing our spirits. Our flesh is a wonderful thing, but it only a vessel; a container. The enemy uses our container to deceive us, to tempt us. Our spirits are not tempted; the enemy can’t mess with that. So, we are spirit, housed in flesh and nourished by God.

    My point is, you only get one container so take care of it. When not properly cared for, it can become weak and sick; bloated and worn out. It must be fed and cared for because it houses the precious Spirit of God. Our connection to God is our spirit. God is spirit, we are spirit. If the spirit is left undeveloped and immature, the flesh can hinder our communication with God. The spirit must increase; it must have the predominance. That’s not as hard as you think. It’s a lot easier to take care of your spirit than it is your flesh. You have to fight your flesh to get control, you spirit doesn’t give you any hassle. The enemy can try to distract you, but he can’t affect your spirit. If you determine to press in, to study the Word of God and worship Him, your spirit grows. By seeking first the Kingdom, you get your focus on Jesus. Your capacity for love increases, your spiritual gifts flow easily, you grow spiritually by leaps and bounds. You are set free from the earthly things that are such an annoyance!

    So you say to me, but I’m too fat, I just can’t stop eating ice cream! It calls to me, it haunts me. Cravings show up like clockwork every night at 8 pm! Ok, I get that, I’ve batted that all my life. Finally, I understand that I have to take those thoughts captive and cast them down. What if you’re handicapped or just stubbornly abusing your body not even realizing it? You have a purpose, diligently seek God for that purpose and stop allowing the hindering of your mind! I have to talk to my body and tell it I (my spirit) can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. He has strengthened and enabled me to win this battle and claim this victory for His glory! It can be done! It is a battle and I have to get off the couch and pick up my sword. The struggle is real my friends, but by giving in, you deny yourself abundance. You deny yourself what the Lord has planned for you in its fullness. Yeah, you are still a Christian, you are going to heaven and you have an amazing portion in the Body of Christ. You are still gifted and still contribute to the Body. I’m just saying we are designed to win this battle to be strengthened in the inner man and to be more in the Kingdom than we are at any given moment. The battle keeps us sharp, it’s actually discussed in Romans. So if you don’t like your container, polish it. Lose weight, gain weight, take a shower, see a doctor, feed it with wholesome food, treat it well. But please don’t disrespect it. The devil would love to pervert your way of thinking. He wants to take you down. If he can get you to hate yourself, he gets you to hate what God created in His own image. He made you specifically just like you are and for his good purpose. Stop judging yourself and focus on the bigger picture. Forgive my bluntness, but it’s realty not all about you! Clean up the container and don’t allow it to dictate to you. Start speaking life to your body, renew your mind about the container you have been given. Nourish and protect your heart and mind. Call on God for healing, stand on the scripture and believe in His goodness. His ways are higher than our ways, just go with that! Be free! Thank God for your container, praise Him and rejoice that you have been given such a miraculous, amazing, perfectly functioning vessel. I don’t mean to offend; I’m actually speaking to myself! Blessings and love my brothers and sisters.

Romans 6,7, and 8.

    

Dwell

I have an amazingly gorgeous pantry.  I love it, I can go in there and look at all that the Lord has provided, with awe and wonder.  I have a sense of accomplishment when I see all the beautiful jars of delicious home canned and dried food.  If feel confident that I can make meals for friends and family in a matter of minutes.  I am prepared for any crisis or emergency.  I don’t compare it to anyone else’s pantry, it’s mine, it’s the way I need it to be.   I don’t hang out in the pantry; I store things in it that I have made with love.  It’s just a room in my house, not a place in which I dwell.

How different it is with my spirit.  I need desperately to abide in Jesus, to dwell in His presence, and to be found in Him.  I have learned that I can’t compare myself to another because God works in us individually, as we allow.  We go from glory to glory.  The rapidity of the process depends on our own willingness to pursue Him.  We can, however, encourage one another and learn from one another.

Somewhere along the line I stopped going from mountaintop to dry valley experiences.  As I cried out for more, for wisdom and understanding; and as I spent time seeking His eyes and studying His Word, the road to righteousness leveled out.  Not that we are not righteous, just that we travel a road through life that reveals more and more as we go.  I began to notice that although life brought times of sorrow and times of joy, I was always in Him.  I noticed I was dwelling in the secret place of the most high.   As I sought more, I snuggled in deeper.  Instead of ups and downs, the path was straight.  The things of life didn’t affect me as much as they once did because I viewed them from my seat in the heavenly places.  (Ephesians 2)   I had a changed vantage point.  Things that once were confusing or saddening, were understood as just another piece of the grand plan God has for my life.  I can see heavenly purpose in almost every situation, and even when I don’t clearly see it, I know by faith that it’s there.  This emboldens me, it gives me confidence to continue counting every life event as all joy.

I can say, okay Lord, what is your purpose here, how will You use this thing for Your glory?  Is this warfare against the enemy?  Is it warfare against my flesh?  Am I reaping something I’ve sown?  Reveal what I need to seek forgiveness for and show me what I can take from this and use to glorify You.

To abide in Jesus is to ever be surprised by His love and protection versus being caught off guard by life’s challenges.  To abide is to dwell in His presence, to be in Him at all times as life unfolds.   He is not distant and He doesn’t require a special procedure.  He waits for me!  He wants me to just come to Him.  I know I can find rest in times of pain, I can rejoice in times of abrasion, and I can find reasons to praise at all times.  The closer I get to God, the further I get from my flesh and from bad decisions that lead to sin.   Seek first the kingdom of God and the rest truly is added to you.  I have learned that it’s up to me, I need to study the Word, ask for clarification and wisdom, and spend time praying.  The investment of my time has reaped a hundred-fold return in His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

Every time I look into the perfect word of God, I see something deeper; a new revelation.  There’s always another layer, something new to discover and tightly grasp.  This is why I need to continually study the Word.  It is nourishment to the spirit, food for the soul.  It is exhilarating and prophetic and encouraging.  Sometimes I find myself forgetting to breathe simply because of the spine-tingling wonder in those words.  I live and move and breathe and have my being in Him.  I am always aware of His presence.  I am never alone.  Jesus reveals truth to me through His Word, how to live, how to love and how to know His voice.

Romans 8:1  taught me this:  We are free from indwelling sin because we walk according to the Spirit, not the flesh.  Verse 5 teaches, “for those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.”  You will set your mind on what the Spirit desires, what the Spirit communicates to your spirit.  It doesn’t happen instantly, it’s a lifelong process of seeking, learning, resting and renewing the mind.  “To be spiritually minded is life and peace”.  Of course it is!  The more spiritually minded we are, the less our flesh affects us.  Little irritations bother us less and less.  Our mind is on the Spirit so the things of the world lose significance.  Therefore, we are free from the laws of sin and death.  We are freed up to love unconditionally and live eternally now!  That’s more good news!

So today I urge you to seek God right from where you are.  Seek His Word, seek His opinion and seek His glory.  Pray, learn scripture and talk to your friend Jesus continually because He is right there beside you.  Sing a song of worship to Him and thank Him for His lovingkindness.  Abide in Him.  Make the effort to put your focus on Him in everything you do and He will lift you up.  You will never be the same!     Blessings friends.

 

Seated in Heavenly Places

I have been fascinated with the book of Ephesians for the last several weeks, and particularly, Ephesians 2. The Amplified version of verses 4-6 say this:
4 But God—so rich is He in His mercy! Because of and in order to satisfy the great and wonderful and intense love with which He loved us, 5 Even when we were dead (slain) by [our own] shortcomings and trespasses, He made us alive together in fellowship and in union with Christ; [He gave us the very life of Christ Himself, the same new life with which He quickened Him, for] it is by grace (His favor and mercy which you did not deserve) that you are saved ([a]delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ’s salvation) 6 And He raised us up together with Him and made us sit down together [giving us [b] joint seating with Him] in the heavenly sphere [by virtue of our being] in Christ Jesus (the Messiah, the Anointed One).

As I meditated and prayed for full understanding of this scripture, a picture appeared. I saw a huge indoor stadium. The rows of cushy red leather seats went up and up, farther than the eye could see. The seats were joined together to form rows, and the rows were bolted to the cement foundation of the building. Each seat was bolted to each other, immovable and permanent. I saw myself sitting in my designated seat, right next to Jesus. From that seat, I could see the earth, I could project Jesus’ love and feel His love for His people. And what amazed me was that each of us was seated next to Jesus, we all had His ear and His touch.

I noticed that not all of the Body of Christ were present in the seats. In fact, a large portion of the stadium is empty because the people don’t know they may take their seats. Each seat is numbered, designated and reserved. Many many of the seats are empty. How can that be? How has the enemy fooled us into thinking we were grounded on the earth alone?
We must spread the Word. We must shout the good news that we have been given the authority to take our seats! Come up! Come up! We must shout louder; we must get through the cacophony of noise that bombards the Body in an attempt to distract us from truth. People, there is more for you, there is reserved seating! Come and sit where Jesus reserved your seat. He bought your seat, He paid with His own blood. You don’t need a ticket, just come up! The seat is so comfortable that you can stay in it for hours on end; days and months and years! Your body can function on earth, but your spirit can thrive in its seat. Let’s pray Eph. 1:17-18 over our friends and family now!
I went back to Ephesians 1:20-21 that says:
19 And [so that you can know and understand] what is the immeasurable and unlimited and surpassing greatness of His power in and for us who believe, as demonstrated in the working of His mighty strength, 20 Which He exerted in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His [own] right hand in the heavenly [places], 21 Far above all rule and authority and power and dominion and every name that is named [above every title that can be conferred], not only in this age and in this world, but also in the age and the world which are to come. 22 And He has put all things under His feet and has appointed Him the universal and supreme Head of the church [a headship exercised throughout the church], 23 Which is His body, the fullness of Him Who fills all in all [for in that body lives the full measure of Him Who makes everything complete, and Who fills everything everywhere with Himself].
Ok wow, Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father. He sits far above all principalities and powers and might and dominion. AND, we sit next to HIM in that same heavenly place! Did you get that? You are seated far above the enemy and his nasty legions. You can see his plans, spy on his camp and take him down! We all know that Ephesians 6 explains that we are not wresting against people, but the enemy, his influences on people and his evil plans. So why are we whining? We are seated in the most powerful place in the universe. Our weapons are mighty for the pulling down of strongholds. We wield weapons of mass destruction to the enemy and we can use them from the ultimate vantage point!
So let’s let our minds be renewed in the Word of God. Read it, study it, find out just how amazing you are in Jesus! I don’t know about you, but I’m jumping for joy right now! I have taken a stand, I have taken my seat in the heavenly places and from there I will stand in the evil day! Woo hoo! Rejoice in the Lord! Victory is assured!

Limitless

Not long ago we were visiting relatives in North Dakota. What amazed me was the incredible limitless skies above the vast, wheat covered plains. Those skies were descriptive and honest. There was no mistaking the sky’s innermost feelings at any given moment. Some days the sky was crystal clear blue, decorated with puffs of white clouds; the next might be dark and stormy with just tiny patches of light. It was poignant. There is no beginning and no end. Limitless.
Imagine understanding Ephesians 1:1-23 in terms of limitlessness. I can’t even stop reading that and pulling it in. God’s limitless love for us. His open invitation to intimately know Him. His plan since the beginning of creation, to welcome us to fellowship with Him. Can you get it? Can you imagine yourself in a place so open that it has no borders, no obstacles, no yeah buts, no what ifs. That, is the heart of God. That is the place of peace, the meeting of the Spirit of God in all the fullness and freedom of His love. There’s no stopping place, no conditions, no prerequisites. His freedom is limitless. We are only prevented from living the limitless life by fear or just not understanding the truth. If I understand completely that God’s love for me is limitless, I am on my way to entering in. He has a future and a hope for me. Nothing limits His plan except my unwillingness to submit and accept his freedom.
So, if I know that God is limitless, that Kingdom living is limitless, then I know how to pray Ephesians 1 with understanding. My eyes, being enlightened, see that my faith can be limitless, my expectations, my mind, my heart and my desires for relationship with God, can be limitless.
Joy. Pure, free, joy comes from grasping this truth. God be limitless in me! I repent of my self-imposed limitations. I release the things that worry me and the things I can’t control. Things that hurt me in the past, are over and I let them go. I know within my very soul that I am protected and loved and my steps are directed by the Lord. I submit all of me to you Lord. Be limitless in me Lord! Let your glory be limitless on the earth. Stir the dry bones in this nation and bring forth rivers of living water to quench the weary ones. We all need a little joy now in the face of division and unrest. Look to heavens where your help comes from. My help comes from the Lord. I can do anything He calls me to do. His help is limitless! Fire Lord, holy fire, holy waves of joy Lord. Be limitless in us Lord!!!

Glory

This post is a little different today.  It is an actual vision and prophetic word I received this morning.  Ephesians 1.

I was praying today and the Lord came to me with a vision.  I began to see a large church sanctuary, filled with people, containing four aisles that lead from the back of the church, down to the platform.  Standing face to face on either side down each aisle, are people, intercessors, who have been named ushers.  These, Jesus says, are the ones who have prayed for revival and breakthrough for My Church.  They are ushering in My glory.  My glory will fill the church.  It cannot be stopped.  Watch.

The columns of ushers turn to face the back of the church.  The two ushers on either side of each aisle at the back, are given a large bucket.  They turn together in unison, and hand the bucket to the next usher.  The ushers become a bucket brigade.  As the buckets pass up the aisles, they slowly fill with fire and light and sparkling swirling flames.  A sound like wind becomes audible.  The buckets fill higher and higher until they are almost overflowing.  The podium is empty.  The platform is empty, there are no people there.  As the buckets come down the aisle, the people begin to get on their feet in breathless anticipation.  They crane their necks to see what is happening.  When the buckets reach the platform, the people begin to cheer, they start raging with joy.  The last ushers in the row, throw the buckets of glory onto the platform.  A burst of fire dances across the stage.  The whole platform is a boiling mass of reds, oranges and yellows interspersed with gold and silver.   It is swirling glory.  A loud booming wind thunders above the people.  The fire crackles and pops diamonds.  The buckets make their way back up the aisles to the back of the church to be refilled and passed again and again.  The ushers and the buckets keep coming and the flames grow higher and even more glorious.

The ushers are turning toward the pews. They reach back to gain a stance of strength and with all their might, they throw buckets of glory upon the people.  They cover the crowd with glory.  It cleanses the crowd, it fills them with release and joy and laughter.  It releases them from control.  The glory consumes them.  They are playing in the glory; singing praises and dancing in the glory.  They are healed and set free.  They are filled with purpose.  The fire burns away all that is worthless and leaves pure gold.

The noise and color begins to fade, but the people are healed, delivered and changed.  The people carry the glory.  They are empowered and carry the glory.  They are joyful and confident and speak with boldness.  They know that they know, and are eager to serve one another.  They are eager to love, eager to esteem others higher than themselves.  They sing together as one voice, as they file out of the church and go into the city.  They bring the good news.  They sing a new song.  Rejoice church, your hour is coming!  My church will be filled to overflowing.

 

 

Circle the Runway

I was praying the other day, complaining to God about a few things. I didn’t feel my book was selling very well, I had no sense of belonging anywhere. I was feeling like an outsider, but I know God put something in me that’s valuable to the Body of Christ. It has to be, ministering is my passion. I sat down next to Jesus in His garden. We sat on the familiar white stone bench, flowers and fruit trees blossomed around us; the sweet smell of summer freshness was in the air. He touched my hand and spoke intimately to me saying, “Circle the Runway until I tell you to land”. Don’t run here and there looking for something, don’t guess; just wait in that holding pattern, circling far above the runway.

It occurred to me that in the natural world, airports are very busy places. There are people with all types of jobs, all moving quickly, all working diligently. In order for a plane to land, there has to be communication between the control tower and the pilot. The baggage handlers have to be in a particular place at a particular time. The runway staff has to be out of the way, the plane itself has to be in landing mode. Tray tables and seats have to be returned to their proper upright position, carry-on baggage must be carefully stowed under the seat or in the overhead container for safety. Seatbelts need to be attached and flight attendants must be seated. A lot goes on down on the ground, a lot of preparation takes place before a plane can land. Sometimes the plane has to circle the runway until the timing is perfectly right, all jobs have been completed and the ground is prepared to receive the aircraft.

So it is with God in our lives. He may have promised a thing, but it can’t take place immediately because the ground is not prepared. People have to finish their part of the job and I have to finish whatever my part is. My heart must be grounded, prepared and ready. Things have to be moved around, everything has to be in place. When Jesus advised me to circle the runway, I believe he was working in me and for me, for His glory. In my obedience and patience at His word, the action became a catalyst for an even greater thing to come. While I wait, watch, study His word and pray, He is at work in others also to do and to will for His great pleasure. I’m waiting, I’m diligently listening. When He tells me to land, I know I will land in victory and triumph, for His praise. I will see a new plan, a new season, and a new place of belonging according to His word in Jeremiah 29:11.

11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.

I can now go out in boldness and confidence that the one who goes before me is sovereign, holy and faithful to me. He is also faithful to all those others who obediently followed His direction; preparing something they knew nothing about. As He moved them into new places of glory to accommodate His plan for me, everyone involved was blessed and lifted higher.

So if you are in a place of transition, ask Him if you are circling the runway. Ask Him what he is working, and pray for its victorious completion. He is faithful always, to the end of the age. Partner up with God and see how far He will take you!
Blessings, Carol.

Put a Sock in It!

I used to smoke cigars. Does that shock you? Didn’t we all do something destructive to ourselves before Jesus cleaned us up? I loved cigars, craved them and relished my time sitting in the garden relaxing with a big fat one! I mean, I really loved my cigars.
I’m free now, free of addiction to nicotine and of destructive behavior. Jesus freed me with His blood, mercy and grace. But what am I afflicted with now? Do I gossip? Do I use my spirituality to hurt others with kind sounding words that actually rip the heart to shreds? Do I reject people because of the way they look or dress or think? Do I fail to love purely like Jesus did? Am I jealous of another’s accomplishments?
Talk with me about what’s on my heart today. I know a person who purports to be a Christian. It’s hard to watch her squander the gifts and talents God has given her. She appears to choose unrepentant evil over freedom. I’ve watched for years as she wrestles with her own pride and false humility. It breaks my heart that freedom is only one short step away, yet she prefers to purposely make elaborate plans to set up and then tear down people. She speaks softly and sweetly yet her words absolutely rip people apart. She could rely on Jesus to elevate her, but chooses to do it herself by throwing others under the bus.  It’s ugly, it’s icky,  and you know you are in the presence of evil.
As the Church, are we guilty of that? I wonder, do we cause people to leave church on Sunday feeling depressed and in bondage? Do we ensnare others with unkind words, condemnation and guilt? Jesus doesn’t reject, He loves. Love covers a multitude of sin. Love conquers all. Yet the world seems to think we Christians are evil. Why do you think that is? We are accused of being judgmental and critical. Now look, I am not saying we cower and submit to political correctness. We have to take a stand against evil. But God tells us to love the sinner and hate the sin.  It doesn’t tell me to convict someone of my idea of sin, the Holy Spirit will do that in truth.  I want to take me out of it.   I’m willing to be persecuted for the gospel. But maybe that means I need to keep my mouth shut about my own personal biases and prejudices, and just love instead. The Bible doesn’t instruct us to beat people up with man made rules.  Maybe that means we are to persecute our own flesh. My motivation must be love, not fear or prejudice. Maybe we all need to ask God if we have an agenda to lay down at His feet. Is our way of thinking wrong in any place at all? If we have a prejudice, we might want to consider asking God to change our wrong thinking. We might take a look at what causes us to form an evil opinion, and get free of that. He is the one who has the plan for our lives, He might just be waiting for us to get on the road to success instead of the detour to misery.
Maybe we just need to press into Jesus instead of our agendas and thinking errors. If you have an evil thought come into your head about someone, who put it there? It wasn’t Jesus! We all sin and fall short of the glory of God. Give yourself a break, you have the gift of self-control, so use it. Paul laments the evil of his flesh in Romans. I kind of think it’s part of picking up our cross daily and following Him. We need to die to self, shut down the flesh, and live to the Spirit. We need to seek unity, not division.   We need to seek God’s intended freedom and joy for our lives.
So the next time I want to criticize something or find fault with someone or speak negatively about anything, I think I’ll put a sock in it. I think I’ll seek the Lord for His will and His reaction. I think I’ll claim the scripture that says I have the mind of Christ, and I will just keep quiet. I will pray and seek righteousness and love for every person and every situation, and then speak the life that I hear the Spirit whisper to me.