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Oneness, Intimacy, and Covenant (Sunday Devotion)

  
Sunday Morning Devotion: God is the Source we are the conduits. Let’s talk about oneness with God, intimacy, and marriage (oneness with another). 

If you want me to talk your ear off, ask about intimacy with God. It is my greatest pursuit; I ask Him questions/ search His Word for greater revelation. I am still learning and on this journey with Him. I hope you join me. I hope this post blesses you. 

God invites each person into personal relationship with Him. The invitation is personal, it is a 24/7 lifetime covenant relationship. It is the strongest covenant (commitment) a person can enter into (see Hebrews 8-9 for the new covenant info). 

God does not come simply for weekend visitations. He comes for a habitation-an indwelling of His Spirit. He comes to take up residence. He knocks on the door of our hearts saying, “I want to live here with you, abide in you, and you in Me.” He wants to be one with us. 

How on earth is God one with us? What is this oneness? Well, let’s start off talking about what it is not.

1. We Do Not Become the Other Person

Marriage is a good example of this. Husband and wife are to become one. This does not mean they become the other person (though some twist (pervert) it that way). They do not become conjoined twins who can not function without the other. They do not share a brain or body parts. They are still two individuals with their own likes, brains, dislikes, free wills, and personalities. God is not asking them to morph into the same person. 

God unites two people so they can agape love (unconditional, sacrificial, unselfish love), have a higher level of intimacy (knowing and being known), and so the blessings of each one can flow into the other. They connect deeply and like a conduit there is a flow back and forth. It is intended for mutual blessing, love. 

Spiritually and in the soul they connect through covenant and physical intimacy on a level that goes beyond just friends. Their bodies, souls, and spirits connect. Hence sex being so powerful. You are saying, “Whatever is in your soul or spirit, I invite it into me. Let’s be one, joined together.” 

In the spirit and soul realm, husband and wife are connected (This happens with all other sexual relationships too (1 Corinthians 6:16)). They are not the same person. That’s why when spouses die, or cheat, or are involved in pornography/immorality…one spouse may feel it. 

In death or divorce/breakup spouses may feel a part of them died. Why? They were connected and in covenant. Yet they are not the same person. If that were so, if one died they both would need to die. If one sinned, they would both be guilty. Yet we know this to be untrue. Each individual will give account for their individual life to God (Romans 14:12). 

God enters our lives through an eternal covenant. We repent and receive through faith in His Son Jesus. For born again believers the objective is for the Holy Spirit to take up residence in us (2 Timothy 1:14, Romans 8:11). If we do not have His Spirit, we do not belong to God (Romans 8:9). He is our seal, guarantee of what is to come (2 Corinthians 1:22). 

The Spirit of God (Holy Spirit/Holy Ghost) is connected to the Son, and the Father. They are one. Yet the Father is not the Son, the Son is not Holy Spirit. They are the Godhead manifested in unique, yet connected forms. 

So being one with God does not make us God. God does not become us. He comes in covenant with agape love, gifts, and the blessings of God flow in and through us. We also gain the highest form of intimacy-knowing God and being known by Him. He is the only One who will know everything about us. Through covenant we become the truest and best versions of ourselves. The love He gives, we give it back to Him. 

2. We Do Not Possess Unlimited Authority 

I am one with God, through Jesus. I am not Jesus. I am not Father God. I am not Holy Spirit. Even Jesus said, “I only do what I see the Father doing and say what I hear Him speaking (John 5:19).” 

It is dangerous to try to use authority that has not been given. Authority comes from the top down. God alone has ultimate authority. Even with ultimate authority He works within the framework He created to allow humans to choose. This means control, manipulation, and abuse of authority are a no go. Being one with God does not give us ultimate authority over everything and everyone. We are not demi gods. We do not have ultimate authority over everything or everyone. 

3. We Are Not Equal to God 

We are made in the image of God. We are His workmanship created for His glory. We are, if we are in Christ, raised up and seated with Him in heavenly places. We become joint heirs with Jesus. We do not become equal to God. God reaches down low to raise us up. He does not remove Himself from His throne and place us there. 

As Pastor TD Jakes says, “If God is on the throne, my flesh is on the cross. If I am on the throne, I am trying to put Jesus back on the cross.” 

We are not equal to God. We are children of God. He chooses to adopt us and work through us. He will always be God, the Great I AM, the Creator. 

Nothing God created is equal to His majesty. He values us tremendously, yet does not surrender His throne to us. Why? He is God. He also knows anything and anyone we worship other than Him brings bondage and is fueled by pride. Look what happened to Lucifer (Isaiah 14:12-17). God alone is 100% good. 

This is important in the picture of marriage too. God gave earthly marriage as a picture, not for the picture to replace Him or reality. What do I mean? Jesus is God. God alone is to be worshipped. 

Husbands are not God; they are not to be worshipped. They are to be respected and loved just like wives are to be respected and loved. The Church is to worship God. The wife is to worship God. He said, “Have no other gods before Me (Exodus 20:3).”

Husbands are to imitate Jesus in their sacrificial, unconditional, unselfish love for their wives. Part of Christ being the Head of the Church is He is the Chief Cornerstone, providing the most support and He sacrificed the most even to the laying down His life. Wives are to respond to that love and support with agape love, respect, and a willingness to yield to what honors God. Husbands too are to be willing to yield (Ephesians 5:21). All believers are to be willing to yield (submit)-same verse Ephesians 5:21. 

Both husband and wife are to yield to God, then each other. Neither is to become God for the other person. If that were so, God would have said, “You must worship two Gods-Me and your spouse.” He did not give us God alternatives. Our primary allegiance is to always first be to God. 

If a spouse tells us to do something that violates our relationship with God or is immoral or illegal, we are to forsake yielding to them and yield to God. Spouses are also to point each other to God. So going along with abuse or what is sinful or wrong is unGodly. 

Husbands who use their position in the family to abuse, hurt, control, manipulate, dominate, or mistreat their wives and/or children will be held accountable to God. 

Jesus told the disciples, “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and give His life as a ransom (Matthew 20:28).” 

God views authority as a vehicle to protect from the attacks of the enemy, empower others, sacrificially and unselfishly love, honor, and serve. 

Jesus is the perfect model for leadership, authority, a disciple, a yielded (submitted) One. Jesus is the perfect model of a pastor or man or human or husband or leader. 

The one given the highest authority has been given the greatest capacity for sacrifice and is to abide in God to agape love. The highest calling isn’t boss or dictator-those are anti God leadership models for humans. The highest calling is agape (unconditional, sacrificial, unselfish, laid down love) and being a servant. 

Confusion comes when the picture of Jesus and the church is misused and misapplied in marriage.

Let’s jump back to oneness with God…

So becoming one with God comes through covenant and His Holy Spirit. God does not become us. We do not become God. We connect with God. Our spirit connects with His Spirit. His Spirit is to take up residence in our physical house. It is a connection that is meant to flow from this life into eternity. It is the only eternal covenant. Marriage is an earthly covenant that breaks at death, or in some cases divorce. 

Oneness with God provides us with: 

  • Intimacy with God/Friendship with God (the ability to know Him) 
  • Joint Heirship with Jesus 
  • Access to God (we do not need a liaison aside from Jesus-He is the mediator between God and mankind (1 Timothy 2:5))
  • Gifts of the Holy Spirit
  • Supernatural wisdom, revelation, and insight
  • Forgiveness of Sins/the Gift of Repentance 
  • New Identity in Christ 
  • Divine Deliverance 
  • Profound Understanding of His Word
  • Manifestations of His Glory/His love/His power
  • Partnership with God 
  • Name Written in the Lamb’s Book of Life 
  • Ability to Bless the World
  • Every Spiritual Blessing in the Heavenlies in Christ 
  • Advocate in Christ
  • An Eternal Covenant  

May you and I pursue deeper intimacy with God and increased revelation of oneness with Him. 

Here are some additional scriptures to back up this post: Ephesians 1, Ephesians 5, Exodus 20:3, John 17:20-24, Mark 10:7-9, Colossians 3:19, 21, Romans 14:12, Hebrews 8 and 9, 2 Timothy 1:14, Galatians 5:13-26, Romans 8

 
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Posted by on November 27, 2016 in Devotions, From the Author, God's Heart

 

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Glory to Glory (Manifesting Sonship Series Part V)

  
Photo credit: Pinterest 

And we all, with unveiled face, continually seeing as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are progressively being transformed into His image from [one degree of] glory to [even more] glory, which comes from the Lord, [who is] the Spirit,~2 Corinthians 3:18 (Amplified).

God’s glory is the external manifestation of His being. God’s glory is something that appears ( Exod 16:10), is revealed (Isa 40:5), or can be seen (Num 14:22)-source BibleStudyTools.

Holy Spirit is glorious! He is fully God and marks/seals believers as belonging to God (2 Corinthians 1:22). He works within us to reveal Jesus, righteousness, and to take us from glory to glory. 

I’ve heard some preach that since we are saved by faith and God loves us as we are, that means we are to stay as we are when God encountered us. This isn’t what the Bible teaches. It neglects the powerful work of the Holy Spirit.  When God encountered Paul (formerly Saul), he was persecuting and killing Christians. After his radical encounter with God, Paul became one of the most radical preachers of the Gospel. We see a murder and persecutor completely transformed.  

We worship a God who makes all things new. 

We too are called to transformation. It’s not transformation that is the result of striving. It’s a result of beholding Him and abiding (remaining) in Him (John 15:5).  

Our spirit is made new at conversion. Our soul (mind, will, emotions) and character are being transformed/sanctified. 

The Road to Tranformation…

Faith: It starts with believing God. My thoughts about God will determine what I become. If I believe God is harsh or critical, it will manifest in my behavior and response to Him. 

Believing the revelations of God’s word, nature, and character brings transformation. 

Truths I’d love for us to digest and meditate on today: 

  • God is love. It’s who He is, not simply what He does. It’s not based on our merit, behavior, or performance. 
  • God is truth. He cannot lie! Every word He speaks is truth. Every promise in Him is yes and amen. 
  • God is good. Every good and perfect gift comes from above from the Father of Lights who does not change like shifting shadows. 
  • God is holy. There’s no sin in God, and He will never lead you down a path of sin. We were born into sin; He paid the price to free us from sin. 
  • God is perfect in patience. God has infinite patience. He is not like humans who may toss you aside if you fail. Think of the prodigal son story. The Father was looking for the son! He ran out for his wayward son. If everyone else gives up on you, God will take you back. Come running…if you move an inch He will run miles. 
  • God cares for every detail of our lives. What matters to you, matters to Him. He knows every hair on our heads, every tear we have shed. He knows our thoughts, dreams, desires. He cares more than anyone else.  

His Word: I truly believe we are to be people of His Word. He gave it to us as food and a blueprint. We read, study, and seek Him with the Holy Spirit. I ask the Holy Spirit to teach me. 

Worship: Loving God, honoring God, celebrating God, and putting Him first in all things leads to such encounters. He inhabits the praises of His people. It takes the focus off who we are, what’s happening around us, and places the focus on Him. 

Intimacy with God: God invites us into relationship with Him. A deep, pure, growing relationship that’s life giving. It’s more than a Sunday morning activity. It’s a daily love relationship, more intimate than marriage.  

Obedience: Scripture tells us we are a slave to whoever we obey (Romans 6:16). We are either obeying God or the evil one. Obedience is better than sacrifice. Jesus perfectly obeyed the Father. I’m not suggesting perfectionism or striving. I’m stating there’s blessing in obeying God. If we miss the mark, we go to our Father and say sorry. He’s so eager to forgive. No shame and no condemnation (sentencing). 

What If What We See Isn’t Jesus? 

It’s a process. So the focus is God. If I sit down and look at the character of Jesus and my character, I have so far to go. He’s perfect. I am not. The objective isn’t a self help program or to try to make myself like Jesus. The objective is to remain in Him, let Him love me, and keep my eyes on Him. 

It’s not what we see. It’s what God sees and who He says we are. We are His image bearers in the earth!   
Photo credit Pinterest. 

You are so deeply loved friends! Lifting you up. God bless you. 

Love in Christ, 

Erin Lamb

 
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Posted by on December 5, 2015 in Devotions, From the Author, God's Heart

 

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Identity Crisis (Manifesting Sonship Series Part III)

 
Before I shaped you in the womb, I knew all about you. Before you saw the light of day, I had holy plans for you: A prophet to the nations that’s what I had in mind for you,“~Jeremiah 1:5. 

Those are beautiful words spoken by God about the prophet Jeremiah. God affirms it is He who shaped Jeremiah in the womb. He is also the One who had a plan for Jeremiah’s life before he was born. You and I are no different from Jeremiah. God knew us before we were ever conceived and has a great plan for our lives. 

We matter to God. Every life has a purpose. You were not a mistake. If you were born male, God intended you to be male. If you were born female, God intended you to be that way. Your skin color, nationality, ethnic origin, place in history were all seen and known by God. He doesn’t make mistakes. Humans make poor choices or mistakes. Because of Adam and Eve we are born with a sin nature, yet God even took care of the sin issue through His Son. We may be born with issues, that doesn’t mean God intended for us to keep them. Nor does He wish for us to sin or have a perpetual identity crisis. He longs to restore humanity to the first estate. 

The first estate of Adam and Eve was God’s plan. Man and woman made in His image, without sin, linked together in the first human covenant, to be representatives of Him in the earth. He made mankind in His image (Genesis 1:27). They (man and woman) together represent what He is like. They were given a purpose; be with God, love God, love one another, have dominion on the earth, rule, subdue, be fruitful and multiply (procreate). 

Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother’s womb.

I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration—what a creation!

You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something.

Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you. The days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day,“~Psalm 139:13-16 (The Message). 

Our society has redefined identity. Even in the church. Everyone gets to be who they want to be. Our culture says if you feel like a duck, then you can become a duck and everyone around you must approve and applaud. If you dress like a duck, I’d still love you. God still loves you. That doesn’t mean you are a duck. Your DNA will still say human. No matter the pills we take, clothes we wear, or what we place on our drivers license/birth certificate, or what we call ourselves, our identity was selected by God and written on our DNA. 

On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this,” will it?~Romans 9:20. 

You may be saying you’ve never argued with God about your identity. Have you ever wished you were someone else? Wanted their gifts, talents, skills? Wished you could look like someone else or have what they have? Tried to change who you are to fit in, so people like and approve of you? Defined yourself by success, family, marriage, or associations instead of as a beloved child of God? Defined yourself by your sin instead of what God says? Allowed others to tell you who you are? Felt discontent because you couldn’t compete with others? Allowed the opinions of others or lack of approval/acknowledgement to steal your joy?

Our media is set up to bring confusion and discontentment. There’s no message that I can find of, “Be content with who you are and what you have.” Nor are there many messages stating God is the standard, the tuning fork we are to adjust our lives and thoughts to. 

Examples from life:

My personality is rare, the rarest among women according to Myers Briggs. People have told me, “You’re like a man.” I’m not a man. I’m 100% female and don’t wish to be a man. Yet it’s challenging when people try to define who you are by their standards instead of God’s. God gave me a mostly logical brain, and I am a thinker. I’m not into the same things many women are. Yet I am who God created me to be; created to display His creativity in the earth. 
Wait a minute! Don’t change my design…

There’s a comic artist I love online. Her comics bring such joy! One day she posted how people were taking her creations and chopping them off or changing them by only showing part of the image. She as the creator was livid that her original designs were being changed. She knew the message she wanted to send to the world. When her creation was changed, the meaning was lost and it no longer brought glory to her. She was no longer honored nor her true intentions seen. It wasn’t hers anymore. It was altered, changed, and the message confused. 

God handcrafted you! You were and are His design. 

I posted somewhere I had a vision a year or so ago with all these priceless hand cut gems from heaven. The Father was pouring them out into the world via a conveyor belt. They filled the earth perfectly. Each one different and unique, and perfectly cut so they fit together. He then lit up the world; it was the most brilliant scene. What if the diamonds decided to be rubies or the emeralds to be opals? They decide to make their own design and well, that’s where we get perversion. Which is something twisted, altered, and the wrong version. 

The evil one says, “Do what feels good to you. God made you different than what you appear. You can be who ever you want to be! It’s your world, your body, your ideas, your feelings, and passions that matter most.” Then he sits back and laughs at humanity like I believe he did with Adam and Eve. They forfeited God’s amazing plan for something that brought sickness, torment, disease, sin, pain, confusion, abuse, heartache…all the horrors we see in the world today go back to Adam and Eve choosing their way over God’s. The devil never told them the negative consequences of believing him over God. The devil never tells anyone that stepping outside God’s will cause eventual destruction. 

What’s the Good News?! The good news is God always has a redemptive plan. No matter how we feel or think about who or what we are, God can and will give us His lenses and perspective. He sent His Son Jesus to redeem humanity and reestablish broken, fractured, and lost identity. He takes what was broken in the Garden and makes it whole. 

God’s vision for humanity was represented in the Garden of Eden before Adam sinned. If Eve had truly believed she was made in the image of God, when the serpent tempted her with something she already had she may have resounded, “I am created in His image already. No thank you!” If she had fully grasped the goodness of God, maybe she would responded, “God withholds nothing good from me. He is good. I will not eat from this tree.” 

Sweet friends, God knew what He was doing when He created you. He has an amazing plan for your life. You are defined by heavenly standards and God sees someone He loves. He defines you by His book, His creative idea, by Himself. You were carved out of the imagination of God. God doesn’t define anyone by sin or the world’s standards. He looks at His children and calls forth their true identities as sons and daughters of God. It’s not about what we feel or what others say. It’s about what He says. Only the Creator can tell you the purpose and identity of His creation. You are a walking poem and billboard for God’s creative genuis. 

Papa God, please forgive us for trying to tell You who we are, for defining ourselves by the world’s standards or by our feelings/thoughts/passions/insecurities. Please cleanse us of pride, insecurity, deception, rebellion, perversion, and unbelief. Please forgive us for redefining who we are in ways that dishonor and disrespect You. Help us to seek You for identity because the greatest title we can carry is child of God. Help us to see ourselves through Your eyes. Show us what we were born for. In Jesus mighty name amen.

You are so deeply loved! 

Erin 

 
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Posted by on November 19, 2015 in From the Author, God's Heart

 

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Adopted into a Royal Family (Manifesting Sonship Series Part II)

 
Photo credit: Pinterest 

Adopted children are chosen for love, desired, and given the same access to the Father as natural children. 

Beautiful friends, I’m so thankful you’re joining me on this exploration of sonship. Knowing who God is and who we are in Him is so crucial to living an abundant life and manifesting what He’s like to the world. 

I cannot love myself, love others, or fully love God if I do not first know His love for me. I also cannot imitate someone I do not know. It’s impossible to bear the fruit of His likeness without abiding (remaining in Him). See John 15:5. 

You and I were once unreconciled to God. Scripture tells us all but Jesus have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23). God however had a redemptive plan all along, to save the world through His Son. Through relationship with Jesus we have the opportunity like Him to call God Abba Father. 
Let’s dig into some scripture that talks about our adoption. 

Ephesians 1: 3-14 (Amplified)

Blessed and worthy of praise be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms in Christ, just as [in His love] He chose us in Christ [actually selected us for Himself as His own] before the foundation of the world, so that we would be holy [that is, consecrated, set apart for Him, purpose-driven] and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined and lovingly planned for us to be adopted to Himself as [His own] children through Jesus Christ, in accordance with the kind intention and good pleasure of His will— to the praise of His glorious grace and favor, which He so freely bestowed on us in the Beloved [His Son, Jesus Christ]. In Him we have redemption [that is, our deliverance and salvation] through His blood, [which paid the penalty for our sin and resulted in] the forgiveness and complete pardon of our sin, in accordance with the riches of His grace which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and understanding [with practical insight] He made known to us the mystery of His will according to His good pleasure, which He purposed in Christ, with regard to the fulfillment of the times [that is, the end of history, the climax of the ages]—to bring all things together in Christ, [both] things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him also we have received an inheritance [a destiny—we were claimed by God as His own], having been predestined (chosen, appointed beforehand) according to the purpose of Him who works everything in agreement with the counsel and design of His will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ [who first put our confidence in Him as our Lord and Savior] would exist to the praise of His glory. In Him, you also, when you heard the word of truth, the good news of your salvation, and [as a result] believed in Him, were stamped with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit [the One promised by Christ] as owned and protected [by God]. The Spirit is the guarantee [the first installment, the pledge, a foretaste] of our inheritance until the redemption of God’s own [purchased] possession [His believers], to the praise of His glory.

I gave you lots of verses for a reason; we have a weighty inheritance. I encourage reading these verses again and again asking the Holy Spirit to root them deep into your heart and mind, soul and spirit. 

What can we take away from these verses. 

  • You and I are no mistake! We were on God’s mind before the foundation of the earth. Our earthly parents may have been confused but God wasn’t. 
  • God wanted and wants a personal and intimate relationship with us. We were chosen. Adopted children are wanted and chosen (hand selected). 
  • We have a spiritual inheritance in Christ. We are not orphans without an inheritance or future. This means we are not paupers, beggars, nor are we poor. Our Heavenly Father owns everything. He’s not poor.  
  • We have been given His name and His seal. In Christ, we are His. I was adopted. I took my Father’s name. Everything the natural children received because of my father’s name, I received. We are coheirs with Christ. Not beggars outside the gate. 
  • We become a Royal Priesthood! …you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a consecrated nation, a [special] people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies [the wonderful deeds and virtues and perfections] of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light,~1 Peter 2:9. 
  • We can boldly approach the throne of grace, our Heavenly Father (Hebrews 4:16). We have been given access in the Son (Jesus). 
  • We don’t have to beg God to do things. We are His children; He longs to do what’s right more than we do. Jesus told us to ask, believe, not beg (Matthew 7:7-11). He withholds nothing good (Psalm 84:11). Our idea of good doesn’t always match His, His timing, or His understanding yet He’s always working for good. 
  • We are unconditionally loved. God chose us in love before we ever said yes to Him. Therefore His love isn’t based on our performance. He loves us because He loves us. 
  • He chose us individually, therefore His love is not a cookie cutter love. 
  • We are not without family, purpose, or a divine destiny. When your Daddy is God you can dream big and bigger! He’s unlimited. Each person has a divine destiny and purpose. Your life matters. 
  • God likes you! He likes me! No one chooses something they don’t like or value. The value of something is determined by how much someone will pay for it. The Father gave His Son. Jesus gave His life. 

I will end by saying God longs to be with us. He’s not a cruel dictator or tyrant. He longs to be with us to love us. He actually enjoys our company. I struggled with this concept until my niece came along. I love her with my life and she makes messes, has mini tantrums, destroys flowers, and can’t communicate fully yet. I love being with her and doing what she likes to do. 

One day I asked God, “Why do You like being with me? I haven’t said anything remotely intelligent all day and even if I tried, I can’t match You.

He responded, “I love you. I love you more than you love Naomi. You simply enjoy being with her. I enjoy being with you. You’re my daughter and if you do nothing I’m right here loving you.

May you and I believe, accept, and bask in our identity as God’s child. If you’re not in Christ, have not repented and asked Him to be Lord over your life, He’s longing for you. Check out How to Know Jesus.

Papa God thank You for choosing us. I ask every lie about identity would be uprooted and replaced with Your truth. May we know the height, depth, width, & vast expanse of Your amazing love. Show us what it means to be Royal, and model Kingdom Royalty like Jesus-a humble servant. In Jesus mighty name, amen. 

Love,

Erin Lamb

 
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Posted by on October 31, 2015 in Devotions, From the Author, God's Heart

 

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Know the Author (God)

  

Seek the Lord while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near,~Jeremiah 55:6.

The platform and foundation of my life is intimacy with God. Intimacy with God is so crucial to understanding the Word of God and living an abundant life. 

One of my life verses is John 15:5. Jesus said, “I am the Vine and you are the branches. Apart from Me, you can do nothing.” The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are one, in perfect communion, unity. If we are to know God, we must abide in Him. 

Over the years I’ve met so many people who can quote me verses of the Bible and miss the heart of God. Even some who can defend their prejudice or sexism based on passages of the Bible. People defended slavery with the Bible. People still defend sexism with the Bible or the oppression of women. I began to investigate why so many people had an image of God that did not match up with the whole of scripture or the heart of God. 

We are trained to memorize the Bible instead of allow the Bible to lead us into an encounter with the One who inspired it. 

I grew up in church. We went several times a week. My dad is a pastor and evangelist. My mum was my Sunday school teacher. I heard the Bible over and over and over. I watched my parents live it. Yet it wasn’t until later in life that I truly began to get to know God on an intimate level. What changed? This burning desire grew inside of me to know His voice and know Him on a deeper level. I read in the Bible that God showed up and revealed Himself to His people. He wanted relationship. 

The foundation for growing relationship is communication and it is also built on experience. 

God longs to connect with us. Talking to God is great. Hearing His voice and listening to Jesus pray, that’s life giving. Living life with God instead of Him being a Sunday morning activity is the best. 

I wrote a book. I write Standard Operating Procedures. If you simply read what I write, talk to me about your problems, visit me once a week, and never inquire of me or listen to me, you will not know me. If you only spend time with me in the same setting, you won’t truly know me. The people who have camped in the jungle with me on missions know more about me than those who meet with me for coffee every so often. We forged intimacy through proximity and life experiences, some of them quite challenging. Those who have done missions with me don’t know me like those who have been roommates. I’m not extroverted. I spend lots of time reading and being alone with God. Those who live with me know I’m not a social butterfly. I’ve learned and by the help of the Holy Spirit how to engage with large groups, be outgoing. He’s teaching and helping me continually. Also intimacy (knowing, oneness) with God leads me to want to love and connect with people. 

The Bible is to lead us into an encounter with God, not replace relationship with God. 

His word reveals Him, it does not contain Him,~Kris Vallotton. 

There’s also a level of intimacy that is forged in challenging seasons. Those who attempt to bypass all challenges in life forgo the opportunity to know the power, sustaining power, comfort, healing, and miraculous works of God. During the hardest seasons of my life, a best friendship was forged with God. I learned He’d sing me to sleep when I was crying tears no one saw but me and Him. I learned He’d feed me when I was working three jobs trying to complete two degrees. I learned God would defend me when I suffered under 7 years of persecution (some at work and some through Christians). I learned God was stronger than death as I faced near death experience after another! 7 of those too…if I count right. I learned the sustaining comfort of God when I had to bury my mum. I learned the provision of God as He sent people to send checks in the mail during times of crisis. I learned the love of God (still learning) through all the peaks and valleys we’ve been through together! Don’t bypass the process of getting to know God in every season.

So, for you and I…I pray we seek God and have continual dialogue with Him. One associate joked that all I do is pray (like I’m locked in a closet somewhere all day). Nope. I have continual dialogue with God (that’s prayer). At the grocery, at the park, at work, in the car, working out, playing guitar…all day my heart and spirit is open to His. 

I leave you with these keys that have been deposited along this journey.

1. God wants an intimate (knowing, oneness) relationship, to be the closest person to us. 

2. God speaks. 

3. God will not violate His Word, He will challenge and expand our understanding of His Word. To truly understand His Word, we need to know the Author and be led by the Holy Spirit. 

4. God is love and He is holy. There’s a love movement that forsakes holiness and it’s not of God, nor is it grace. God will never condone sin because He is holy and Jesus died to free us from slavery to sin. 

5. God is good. If what I’m experiencing now isn’t good, I can trust God will work it for eventual good. My definition of good may not match God’s. He never ceases to be good. 

6. Asking God for wisdom is wisdom. 

7. Humility leads to greater understanding. He is God. I am not.

8. God is infinite. He continues to reveal another aspect of who He is. He doesn’t fit or belong in a box. The beauty is getting to know Him over time. He’s an abounding treasure! 

9. God wants to be known by us. More than we want Him, He wants us. 

10. When we seek Him, we find Him. Intimacy with God is worth pursuing. 

Love you dear ones. Lifting you up! Have a blessed week. May it overflow with God encounters and intimacy with God. You are SO deeply loved (John 3:16). 

Love in Christ, 

Erin 

 
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Posted by on June 8, 2015 in Devotions, From the Author, God's Heart

 

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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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Hearing God’s Voice (Intimacy With God Part V)

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Then came the Festival of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was in the temple courts walking in Solomon’s Colonnade. The Jews who were there gathered around him, saying, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.”

Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me, but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all ; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one,~John 10:22-30.

I recommend reading John 10 in it’s entirety. Jesus repeats that His sheep know His voice and the voice of another they will not follow. Sheep are not smart animals. They will follow each other off cliffs. They need a shepherd. Through close proximity, relationship, and time there’s a knowing of the shepherd to his sheep.

It’s challenging to know someone we’ve only read about or we only have second hand knowledge.

God speaks. I’ve heard some teach He does not speak, which is opposite to many scriptures. Such as:

Now I wish that you all spoke in tongues, but even more that you would prophesy; and greater is one who prophesies than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may receive edifying,~1 Corinthians 14:5.

It will come about after this that I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; And your sons and daughters will prophesy, Your old men will dream dreams, Your young men will see visions,~Joel 2:28.

See also 1 Corinthians 12:4-11.

God has spoken to His children since the beginning of time. He spoke to Moses through a burning bush. He sent an angel to speak to Mary. He spoke to Abraham and Sarah. He spoke to Saul, the later to be Apostle Paul on the way to Damascus. Jesus retreated often to be with the Father. People in the old and New Testament prophesied, had dreams, visions, and encounters with God.

We too, through relationship with God have the opportunity to know His voice and communicate with Him.

I had a pastor friend who believed we could not hear from God outside of reading the Bible. God continued to place people in his life who would regularly prophesy over him things he’d only told God. He grew to believe God speaks, though he cautioned we shouldn’t just believe every person who says they are speaking for God or saying, “God told me this.”

The Bible is clear that what we believe we are hearing from God or what others believe they are hearing from God is to be tested against the word of God. God doesn’t violate His Word. He will expand our understanding, yet He won’t violate His Word.

Examples:

God won’t tell you to leave your spouse for that cute person at work who’s nicer to you.

God won’t tell you to gossip or slander people.

God won’t tell you to steal.

God won’t tell you to sleep with that person who’s not your spouse.

God does speak and listening to Him increases our intimacy with Him. I told a friend this story.

Suppose a father narrates stories for his son or daughter to help them through life. He places many words of wisdom in the book. He appoints several people to help his child along and represent him. The child gets the book and the father says, “I’m not going to talk to you anymore. You must find what you need in this book. I no longer want to deal with you, please go find someone I appointed to help you.” We’d call that parent cruel and unloving. Yet we say God is that father.

There are doctrines that make God out to be a deadbeat, lazy, and uninvolved parent. He wants us to memorize the Bible and never speak to us or engage with us outside of the book. Or some believe only “special people” can hear from God. There’s a doctrine that essentially silences the Holy Spirit and anyone’s ability to hear from God themselves.

You will find if you read the Bible God is more eager to speak to His children than they are to listen. I could write an entirely new series on the ways God speaks. I will say spending time in God’s word is essential for knowing if what we think we are hearing or sensing or seeing (dreams and visions) are from God.

Sweet friends, Jesus died for relationship. God wants to dwell with mankind, hence sending His Son and Holy Spirit. He’s after relationship. Relationship involves intimacy (knowing and being known). Intimacy involves communication. God wants to be known by you. He wants to be the closest One to you and for your relationship to grow. He longs to communicate with you. Prayer isn’t simply talking to God, it’s listening to Him as well.

Father, please reveal to us how much you long to speak to us. Reveal how your love for us surpasses that of an earthly parent. Help us to see you as you really are. Help us to hear clearly from you. Remove any deception, doubt, unbelief, and anything hindering us from hearing from you. May we know clearly your voice, check it against your word and character, and grow in intimacy with you. In Jesus powerful name, amen.

 
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Posted by on December 28, 2014 in Devotions, From the Author, God's Heart

 

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