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Monthly Archives: February 2015

Receiving and Abiding in Love (Intimacy with God Part IX)

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Our greatest strength comes from abiding (remaining) in God.

John 15: 1, 4-17.

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener…Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other.

Culture vs. the Kingdom of Heaven

Our culture promotes self. If you want something, you go for it in your own strength. You make it happen. You persist. You press harder or push harder. The central character is us, the created ones. Our culture celebrates the “self-made” person.

The Bible teaches us that we can do nothing apart from God. Nothing means no thing. He is the Source of human life, even for the wicked and unbelieving. We exist because of Him. The central character of God’s story is God. The Kingdom of heaven celebrates the person dependent on God.

It hurts the pride and bruises the ego to realize that God is above all. He is above us. We are not God or demigods, though some teach this. God doesn’t force us to obey Him or comply, He’s still God and there are consequences for our choices. We are never truly independent from His Sovereignty.

If we are in Christ, then it’s good to recall that we are to rely on His strength. Our striving produces stress. Abiding produces abundant fruit. He is the Source of love, peace, joy, hope, faith, goodness, life, patience, meekness, gentleness, and self control. He’s the Vine. If we remain in Him, there’s flourishing life.

Example from Gardening…

I had a plant with vines. I noticed it would grow towards the light. Any parts of the vine that fell off, died. It was disconnected from its life source. The root system of that plant was supplying nutrients. The branches produced no life on their own. If I forgot to water or fertilize the soil, it died.

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We need intimacy (relationship) with God more than anything else. We need the Light (God). We need water (His Spirit). We need fertilizer and food (His Word). When we place other things in front of Him, we suffer. God doesn’t cease loving us, we cease producing fruit.

Fruit is the result of fellowship and intimacy (abiding, remaining). We will always see fruit of our fellowship. If we fellowship with fear, the fruits are worry, anxiety, insecurity, suspicion, unhealthy stress, people pleasing, jealousy…

God knew and knows that we will suffer if He’s not first. We can’t produce Light and His Love without Him. He is Light; He is love.

Our first step in intimacy with God is salvation. The second is abiding. We receive first, then we give.

The highest priority isn’t doing for God, it’s being with God.

So beautiful friends, may we seek Him first. May we meet with Him, talk with Him, listen to Him…

What is God doing? What is He saying? What does His word say? What is God teaching us at this moment?

May we soak in His Presence and allow God to heal, restore, saturate us, and minister to us. God can do more in a moment than we can in a lifetime. He contains solutions to all the world’s problems.

Father, Abba Pai, help us to first receive from You and abide in You as Jesus did. Teach us to rest in Your love and the finished work of the Cross. May we have a deeper revelation of what’s already been paid for in Your Son. May we know heart, mind, and spirit the height, depth, and vast expanse of Your love for us. May we rely on Your strength and Your Spirit. In Jesus powerful name, Amen.

Praying for you! You are deeply loved (John 3:16).

Erin

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Photo credit: Pinterest

 
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Posted by on February 21, 2015 in Devotions, From the Author, God's Heart

 

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The Fire, Den of Lions, & Deep Waters (Intimacy with God Series Part VIII)

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Photo Credit: Pinterest

Isaiah 43:2 Amplified Bible (AMP)

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you, and through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned or scorched, nor will the flame kindle upon you.

I’ve met people who believe that if you live Godly then nothing bad will ever happen. This isn’t what Jesus taught. It’s not what we read in our Bibles. Jesus said, “In the world you will have trouble, but take heart I have overcome the world.”

Sometimes God delivers us from and other times He delivers us through.

Lion’s Den:

Daniel was delivered through. He stood in the lion’s den and God didn’t allow him to be consumed (Daniel 6). He sent angels to shut the mouths of the lions. It was a said of Daniel, “They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent,”~Daniel 6:4b. Daniel was obedient to God, yet he was still thrown into the lion’s den. God did not prevent the incident, He showed Himself strong in the midst of Daniel’s circumstances.

The Fire:

“Is it true . . . that you do not serve my gods or worship the image of gold I have set up?” Nebuchadnezzar asked Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (Daniel 3:14). Shadrach, Mechech, and Abednego were thrown into the fiery furnace for refusing to worship an idol. They were thrown in bound. The fire was so hot it consumed the guards who took them into the fire. Yet when they looked at the men in the fire, they saw another man in the fire and they were not consumed. They were unbound and walking around. When they came out they did not even smell like smoke (Daniel 3).

Deep Waters:

When the Israelites where fleeing Egypt with Moses the Lord parted the Red Sea for them. The power of God parted the deep waters. Once His people were on dry ground, the Lord then allowed those waters to drown Pharaoh’s army (Exodus 14). The Lord said to Moses, “My people will know that I am the Lord, when I have gotten the glory over Pharaoh, his chariots, and horseman,”~Exodus 3:18.

These are just three stories in the Bible where God delivered His people through the challenge or obstacle. He didn’t remove the obstacle, the challenge, or adversity. He stood in the fire. He closed the mouth of the lion. He parted the Red Sea. Sometimes God will allow you to be challenged so He can show Himself strong on your behalf. Without a problem, there’s no need for a miracle. The Spirit of God is one of an overcomer.

There are things we can only learn about God when He’s the only One who can help us. There’s an intimacy (knowing) that occurs in the challenging seasons of life. You learn to pray. You learn the intensity of God’s love. The power of His healing and comfort. You learn the very heartbeat of God as you cry out to Him in the midnight hours. The closeness of God forged in those seasons cannot be snatched from you.

I walked through a 10 year season of what I would call the 7 levels of hell. But God! In my life I’ve had 7 near death experiences, including being trapped in my car under water. 911 never came for me, yet God performed such a miracle to allow an already flooded engine to turn over for 60 seconds to get me out. Others left me to die, but God didn’t. I watched my mum suffer for 7 years; surgery after surgery…we lost the house, car, so much. But God made a way out of no way. Not one day was spent hungry. I watched both my parents battle cancer. One healed. One died. I endured 4 years under intense persecution from my manager. Human resources did not help me. God stepped in and she eventually gave her life to Jesus. I’ve been sick and healed by God. Lost friends, been lied on, gossiped about, betrayed, but God intensified my friendship with Him. He fortified my identity as His daughter and friend. I’ve been placed in many situations where no human could or would help. Been left to die, but God!

You see, I’d never know His power without those encounters. You learn the comfort of God in the seasons where your heart is wrenched with grief and no human is willing to wipe a tear. People are great yet they do not trump God. You learn to lean. You learn His voice. You learn the power of God to sustain you and keep your mind. God becomes your best friend. He is my best friend.

Sweet friends, no matter what you’re facing…I want you to insert the words, “But God.” He makes a way out of no way. He is the resurrection and the life. He is the alpha and the omega! He is the everlasting God. He speaks and the world must respond to Him. Heaven is His throne and the earth His footstool. He can do more in a moment than we can in a lifetime. Is anything too hard for Him? The answer is no.

So, I say to you what He says to me, “Come to Me all who are heavy and laden and I will give you rest. You can trust Me. I will work this for good. Abide in Me. My strength is made perfect in your weakness.” And sometimes all He says is, “I love you.” His love is like no other. He longs to be known by us in every season; to be our source.

God loves you more than anyone ever could. If you’re in the fire, the lion’s den, the deep waters, God will not forsake you. This too shall pass. He gave Job double for his trouble. God is a restorer of ruins. He takes ashes and makes them beautiful.

Praying for you. May your intimacy (knowing) of God go deeper than it ever has before! You are deeply loved (John 3:16).

Love in Christ,

Erin

 
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Posted by on February 15, 2015 in Devotions, From the Author, God's Heart

 

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The Wilderness (Intimacy with God Part VII)

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Moses and the Burning Bush (Exodus 3:3-12)

Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.”

When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!”

And Moses said, “Here I am.”

“Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” Then he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God.

The Lord said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey—the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.”

But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”

And God said, “I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.”

I love the story of Moses for many reasons. If you have not read it, it’s worth the time to invest in reading and studying the life of this man who encountered God in the wilderness and then led God’s people out of the grips of slavery. It’s simply one of the most miraculous stories aside from the birth and life of Jesus.

Moses had fled his place of nobility after killing a man for his mistreatment of his people. We find him tending flocks. No one was looking for Moses. He was an outcast.

Have you ever felt like an outcast? Unseen, unheard, unloved by peers, or that you’ve been stranded on the back side of the desert? If so you’re in a good place to encounter God.

You may be thinking, “That’s ludicrous!” But it’s not. God encounters us in the mundane, the hidden seasons, our brokenness, our pain and suffering, and in our wilderness experiences.

We normally ask the questions:
Why am I here? When will this be over?

The great questions to ask are…what is God attempting to do in me? What can I learn from God in this situation? What is God teaching me? Isn’t this just a setup for a miracle? How can I listen for and learn the voice of God in this hard place, the hidden place, the wilderness? How can I go deeper with God in this place?

I dare not glorify suffering and I’m not talking about sickness or disease or poverty. I’m talking about those hard situations in relationships and family, being abandoned by those who said they’d always be there, finding yourself as an outcast in society, etc…

I want you to know that God knows where to find you and He wastes nothing. You are not hidden or forsaken by God.

If you allow it, the wilderness can be a place of deep intimacy with God. Since He is the only support system, there is a daily learning to trust Him for manna. There is more time to be with God and converse with Him.

There’s sanctification and strengthening of the inward man in the wilderness. Our pride is exposed in the wilderness. The sense of entitlement rises up within us, “Why me God? This isn’t fair!!! You’re blessing everyone but me. Why are they being promoted? What about me?”

Trust me as one who’s had long seasons on the back side of the desert, it’s worth it…though it’s painful. There were days I felt forsaken or I could not take another step forward. God didn’t deliver me from, He delivered me through. I learned and am learning to lean. He placed me in many situations that required miracles, and He provided.

God longs to be known and loved. The wilderness exposes who and what we are worshipping and who or what we love.

We become humble or bitter in the wilderness.

If we seek God in the wilderness, we find the sweetest encounters with the Living God.

One of the greatest thing about this story with Moses is that when the angel of the Lord appeared in the burning bush, he turned to see what was happening.

We can miss God in the wilderness if we are busy trying to get out of the wilderness or hosting pity parties. God is always up to something good. He says, “I want you to know me in this place. The hidden place, the place of complete dependence on me, so you can know me.” God is speaking in your wilderness. God is showing up every day to meet with you. Don’t mistake His silence for absence. Sometimes He wants to be pursued, or He’s silent during a test. Yet He never leaves or forsakes.

Intimacy is fueled by desire…

I’ve found people who have never had to depend on God know less about Him and aren’t as hungry for Him. I know it’s a generalization, those are not good…here me out. When I go to Brazil on missions, people will get in canoes and travel hours even at night for a church service. They are so hungry for God and prayer for the sick. They have no healthcare. In the USA, we have worship services and sometimes people don’t come at all or they are on their iPhones or talking or looking at their watches. If it’s not a big name worship leader, prophet, teacher, healer, evangelists…then there’s no packing the church or venue. It’s not my place to judge. Yet I’ve not seen any worship in the USA that compares to the worship in the villages on the interior of the Amazon Jungle. People so hungry, one night we had worship by lanterns and we’re all most eaten alive by mosquitoes (slight exaggeration, yet it was a bug fest)…people came by the canoe full and never complained.

May you and I seek God in the hard places, the hidden places, the wilderness experiences. May we abide in Him and grow to know His miraculous love and provision. May we choose knowing and loving Him above all…

God bless you! You are deeply loved and prayed for.

Erin

 
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Posted by on February 9, 2015 in Devotions, From the Author, God's Heart

 

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