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The Parable of the Bride

The Parable of the Bride

The wealthiest king in the Province wanted a Bride. His intention was for someone to love, to cherish, to add significant value to her life. He and His Father were willing to take a commoner, someone not of Royal blood and graft her into their lineage. She would have access to His entire kingdom, her name written on the royal register, her every need would be taken care of, and she would be fully loved forever.

His family was the most prominent family on the earth. She would join the Royal guardians and have her name engraved on His crest.

The Bride once found, was playing in the dirt. She was not noble. She had boyfriends who led her into bondage. She was wounded. She was broken. She was not anyone who would be considered nobility.

The Groom said to her, “I want you. I choose you. I have so many incredible thoughts about you. Will you marry me? Will you forsake all others and join me?” She pondered the offer of the Groom. His eyes were filled with pure love. He did not come to consume as others had done. He came to invest and sow into her life. She fell for His love and said yes to His proposal.

With one yes, the Groom offered her a ring and new Royal garment signifying of her new identity. She was now part of the Royal family. Her name was added to the register of nobles. The Groom even offered to acquire her family and friends if they wanted to be a part of His kingdom.

The Bride was elated. She went from poverty to royalty with one yes. She was cared for, loved, accepted, given Royal authority and assignments (all the nobles had royal assignments including the Groom), her old identity was transformed, she was given a room with the Groom in the royal palace. She even had full access to the courts and the Royal Judge. She could go before the courts pleading the cause of the poor, oppressed, and even her own causes. She had access to the treasury. She was no longer poor.

The Bride at first enjoyed her luxury, yet her love for the Groom grew cold. Though she had everything she needed, she began to sneak out of the royal palace to seek out the old boyfriends. She knew the Groom would never betray His vows so she partied in the dark streets most of the week and visits the Groom for an hour or so on Sundays. Sundays were festival days in the kingdom. She found hobbies and friends that took up all her time and spent less and less time with the Groom. She did make time when she needed something. She would bake the Groom bread or give Him gifts with lists of things she wanted attatched to them. She mostly gave to the Groom with an expectation that He would give even more back to her.

Anytime the Groom asked for her partnership on a palace project, to join on a project of the nobles, or to help Him love the orphans or misfortunate near the kingdom, the Bride said no, “That’s not my duty. Please ask someone else. I am too busy to be a part of your projects.”

The Groom loved the Bride. He paid the highest price to include her in His lineage. He listened to her long lists of desires, He worked to make her life blessed. He was generous, loving, kind, pure, and the most respected and honored Kings of all time. Yet the Bride was more interested in what she could gain, than loving the Groom. She lived part time in the kingdom and part time in the land of the dead.

She and some others even built their own mini kingdom with the Groom’s name on it, yet their focus was primarily what they wanted to do. Sometimes they would give the Groom their agenda and tell Him to get on board with their plans.

They used the Groom’s name to manipulate others in the Province to gather funds to build their own towers, gardens, and villas. They robbed the poor and refused to feed the poor or care for others in the kingdom. They built their own celebrity circle and would perform for the commoners yet not allow the commoners to get close to them. They spent hours trying to build their kingdom, when everything they needed was in the Royal kingdom. The commoners worshipped the mini deities not realizing they were not truly representing the Groom’s heart for the people.

The Groom’s heart was grieved. He and his Father were grieved. They did not have a Bride who loved the King and his Kingdom. They had a Bride who loved herself, the world she came from, and her mini kingdom. The King tore His robe and wept. He loved the Bride. She knew His love was unwavering so she treated Him poorly knowing He would not abandon her. The heart of the Groom kept pursuing good hoping the Bride would reciprocate His incredible love.

The Groom is Jesus. The Bride is His church. Though this parable does not reflect all of the Bride, it is a picture to hopefully bring us into greater understanding of what God is offering and asking of us. He gave His life for love. If we look at the ways we love God, would we want to be loved that way? If we had a spouse who treated us that way, would we enjoy it?

God is after our hearts, all of our hearts. Jesus is not returning for a girlfriend, sleeping beauty, or a Bride with all her other lovers. Even a human spouse or family are not to take priority over God. He is not our genie in a bottle, slot machine, or cuddly Santa. God is the King of the Universe. The invitation has always been, “forsake all others and follow Me.” God wants it all. He desires our full devotion.

Papa God, thank you for offering us your righteousness for our wickedness. Thank you for offering us nobility, royalty, a kingdom, new garments, priestly robes, royal assignments, and most of all the King. Thank you! Help us to receive your love. Help us to return that love. Help us to be a Bride who loves the King more than anything. Forgive us for loving anything and anyone more than you. Forgive us for forsaking our heavenly assignments for our earthly ones. Forgive us for mistreating you. In Jesus powerful name, amen.

Love in Christ,

Erin L. Lamb

 
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Posted by on September 20, 2017 in Devotions, From the Author, God's Heart

 

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Weekend Devotion (God Wants Relationship) 

Photo: Nay Crumors 

Morning Devotion: Knowing God (intimacy with God) is the most important thing…Not church attendance, tithing, church affiliation, serving, or being entertained. God is after personal, intimate relationship. 

Being with God, knowing God, trumps doing for God. Being is to lead to doing with the motivation to love God and others. 

When intimacy with God and knowing His heart and character are removed from Christianity you end up with powerless religion. 
We can spend our lives in church, paying tithes, doing Christian stuff, having great worship, and go to hell (totally miss God). How can I say this? Well, it came straight from the mouth of Jesus. Read Matthew 7:21-29, Matthew 25:31-46. 

Religion void of relationship leads to idolatry and oppression. The Pharisees had religion not relationship with God. 

Mankind without connection to the Vine (Jesus) yields no good fruit. See John 15:4-5. There is a form of godliness in religion void of transformative power and genuine agape love. That’s why the Bible was used as an excuse to kill millions of Native born Americans (First Nations people) or enslave Africans (deny them any human rights) or abuse women and deny them equal rights. So many horrific things have been done under the mask of “Christianity,” yet Jesus made it very plain. He stated, “You will know My followers by their agape love.” See John 13:35. 

Love fulfills the law because it does no harm to it’s neighbor (Romans 13:10). Love is holy and without any sin, including selfishness the most destructive sin. Love involves freedom and equality. Love is not rude nor full of mean sarcasm. Love builds up. Love gets low to serve not seeking to be served. Love has no prejudice. Love honors even the dishonorable. Love seeks the best interests of others. Love possesses humility (others matter). Love does not seek to dominate, control, hurt, harm, abuse, use, or harass others. 

There is a huge difference between someone who claims God and someone who knows God. The one who knows God grows to resemble God (1 John 4:8). Some of what we call Christianity is not about Jesus at all. It is traditions of men and void of God’s love, purity, and power. 

God invites us to know Him. All the other things flow out of knowing God. If I am intimate with God, I will want to give. If I am intimate with God, I will grow more loving. If I am intimate with God, I will want to fellowship with other believers. If I am intimate with God, I will want to serve. If I am intimate with God, I will want to share the Gospel. If I am intimate with God, I will humble myself and serve others. If I am intimate with God, the fragrance on my life will draw others to Him. Our strength lies in intimacy with God. 

Love, 

Erin Lamb 

 

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Saturday Devotion (The Gospel According to Jesus)

Photo Source:Pinterest 

Weekend Devotion: The Great Falling Away, What is the Gospel, The Prodigal, and Salvation. Looking at the words of Jesus (He is perfect theology). 

I have been thinking about prodigals and those who do not know God. I have also been thinking of those who believe they know God, yet what they have is religion not relationship. I started thinking about all the people told to simply pray a prayer to be saved (Jesus never did this) or told baptism and church membership saves them, and then live independently of God. When facing God, some will have an interesting awakening. 

The revelation will come that God is better than anything created and the words, “Depart from Me I never knew you,” will sting. 

How could a loving God reject someone? 

God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. The choice is set before everyone-choose life, choose the Son, follow Him, do what He says. God extends the invitation, mankind rejects God. 

I personally do not believe in once saved always saved. Why? I find scriptures that speak of those who fall away (Matthew 24:8-9), those who turn their backs on God, those who practice lawlessness and do not care for others being cast into the darkness (Matthew 7:21-23, Matthew 25:31-46). 

 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day [when I judge them], ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, and driven out demons in Your name, and done many miracles in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them publicly, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me [you are banished from My presence], you who act wickedly [disregarding My commands].’~Jesus (Matthew 7:21-23). 

And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he who endures until the end shall be saved~Matthew 24:12-13. 

And the longest passage comes from Matthew 25:31-46.

There is such a burning in my heart for every person to have a personal awakening and relationship with God. 

The Role of the Disciples of Jesus

The Church is to reveal to the world the heart, nature, compassion, and goodness of God. 

Jesus revealed the Father and the world came to know God. 

The Prodigal

The prodigal had to come to his senses. He thought what the world had to offer was better than the Father. He was wrong. 

The prodigal traded royalty for a pit. He gave up paradise for something far beneath his destiny. 

The devil works overtime to convince people life on earth is all there is. He shouts, “Live it up,” knowing life independent from God leads to destruction. 

The Spirit of This Age 

The spirit of this age blinds people to the truth of who God is, how good God is, and offers temporary pleasures that never, ever satisfy. They leave people empty, broken, wounded, confused and on a death march to hell with the devil. 
Even the spirit of religion blinds people to the truth of the Gospel. 

The Gospel is… 

  • God so loves the entire world (every people group, both genders, every ethnicity).
  • There is no racism or sexism or hierarchy of people/genders in God’s heart (1 John 4:8, Revelation 5:9). 
  • God empowers both men and women to have dominion on earth and do the works of Jesus (Genesis 1:28, Galations 3:28). 
  • God so loved the world He sent His Son Jesus to die for our sins (John 3:16).
  • Sin leads to death (Romans 6:23). The death penalty was on us all (Romans 5). 
  • Jesus paid for all sin on that rugged cross. So whosoever shall believe on Him and follow Him will be saved (John 3:16). Jesus invited people to follow Him (relationship).
  • He (Jesus) was born of a virgin, died for all sin, and was resurrected on the third day with all power in His hands (Matthew 1:18, 1 Peter 3:18, 1 Corinthians 15:4, Matthew 28). 
  • The same power that raised Jesus from the dead came on believers at Pentecost (Acts 2). It is available to every born again believer (Acts 1:8). 
  • Repentance (changing our mind about sin), accepting Jesus by faith and making Him Lord creates radical transformation in our lives. 
  • The old is passed away and the new comes (2 Corinthians 5:17). 
  • As far as the east is from the west, that’s how far our transgressions are removed from us (Psalm 103:12). 
  • We are crucified with Christ and it is no longer we who live, it is Christ who lives in us (Galatians 2:20).

My continual question on the street, in the market place, even at church is, “Do you know (have personal, intimate relationship) with Jesus?” 

Papa help us to know you, really know you. I pray for any person reading this devotion to have an encounter with you. I ask for radical encounters of your love, peace, joy, and wisdom. I pray for any not following Jesus to have a heart that turns to you. Let not one perish. Every spiritual scale fall off their eyes. Every bondage be broken. Every lie be seized. Holy Spirit of truth come and saturate us all. Come Lord Jesus and reveal yourself to each one. Breathe on us. In Jesus powerful name. Amen. 

Love, 

Erin Lamb 

 
 

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The Promised Gift (Holy Spirit University (HSU) Series Part I)

...the Helper (Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor—Counselor, Strengthener, Standby), the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name [in My place, to represent Me and act on My behalf], He will teach you all things. And He will help you remember everything that I have told you,~Jesus (John 14:26). 
Jesus promised the disciples a gift, a gift that would abide with those who place their ultimate faith in Him. 

Holy Spirit is an incredible gift, a gift that sustains, equips, empowers, loves, comforts, intercedes, blesses, gives spiritual gifts, imparts wisdom, and helps believers in incredble ways. 

Holy Spirit University (HSU) series is about doing life with the blessed Holy Spirit. I can not overstate the importance of Holy Spirit. 

Holy Spirit is not a wind or dove or fire-though symbolized this way in scripture. Holy Spirit has emotions, a will, a mind, insight, a voice (Holy Spirit speaks and teaches), and is perfect in every way.

Yielding to the Holy Spirit is vital to living a victorious life. 

Let’s read some scripture together: 

While being together and eating with them, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, “Of which,” He said, “you have heard Me speak. For John baptized with water, but you will be baptized and empowered and united with the Holy Spirit, not long from now.”

So when they had come together, they asked Him repeatedly, “Lord, are You at this time reestablishing the kingdom and restoring it to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know the times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority. But you will receive power and ability when the Holy Spirit comes upon you; and you will be My witnesses [to tell people about Me] both in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and Samaria, and even to the ends of the earth.”-Acts 1:4-8. 
Jesus spoke of this gift from God that would empower and equip the disciples. The Holy Spirit would give them holy boldness to be His witnesses. 

What on earth does Holy Spirit do? 

Part of the role of Holy Spirit is to empower us to do what Jesus did. 

Jesus did not say, “I am going to give you this gift that will help you do nothing. Please sit and do nothing until I return or you die. Also please stay the same way I found you.” 

The Holy Spirit within is a power house. This promised gift was to love, bring comfort, to teach, to be a seal on believers that they belong to God, to give power, holy boldness, counsel, give strength, reveal the righteous nature of God, sustain, impart spiritual gifts, provide wisdom, and so much more. 

Ready or not, here comes Holy Spirit!

The disciples walked with Jesus. I am certain there was attachment. He told them it was better that He go to the Father than remain with them. The Spirit of God would come and dwell with believers and inside of Spirit baptized believers. They would have this power house within them.

God fulfilled His word at Pentacost (Acts 2:1-13):

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place, and suddenly a sound came from heaven like a rushing violent wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. There appeared to them tongues resembling fire, which were being distributed [among them], and they rested on each one of them [as each person received the Holy Spirit]. And they were all filled [that is, diffused throughout their being] with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues (different languages), as the Spirit was giving them the ability to speak out [clearly and appropriately].

Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout and God-fearing men from every nation under heaven. And when this sound was heard, a crowd gathered, and they were bewildered because each one was hearing those in the upper room speaking in his own language or dialect. They were completely astonished, saying, “Look! Are not all of these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears in our own language or native dialect? Among us there are Parthians, Medes and Elamites, and people of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia [Minor], Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya around Cyrene, and the visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes (Gentile converts to Judaism), Cretans and Arabs—we all hear them speaking in our [native] tongues about the mighty works of God!” And they were beside themselves with amazement and were greatly perplexed, saying one to another, “What could this mean?” But others were laughing and joking and ridiculing them, saying, “They are full of sweet wine and are drunk!”
Many went on to share the Gospel of Jesus with exceptional boldness and clarity. This power house filled those in the upper room and changed their lives forever. 

The gift that produces victory!

It is impossible to live a victorious life without Holy Spirit. 

…you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to him at all.)~Romans 8:9.

…the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words,~Romans 8:26. 

For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God,~Romans 8:13-14. 

When you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and when you believed in Him, you were also sealed with the promised Holy Spirit,~Ephesians 1:13. 

Without the Holy Spirit our flesh or soul (human mind, will, emotions) will dictate our lives. The mind of the flesh wars against God, it cannot please God. Without the Holy Spirit, according to Romans 8:9, we do not belong to God.  We need this gift and to honor the blessing of the Holy Spirit. 

As we contunue on this study of Holy Spirit I pray we grow to have deeper intimacy with God. I pray we grow to know more about Holy Spirit and cultivate greater friendship with Him. 

Love, 

Erin Lamb 

 
 

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Weekend Devotion: God is Our Peace

Weekend Devotion: Peace in the storm. Navigating through extreme challenges with God. Prayer at the end. 

How many of you have had a wilderness experience with God? How many have had a series of challenges that seemed overwhelmingly hard? I have. 

I lived in the wilderness. I had a tent there, a water pail, a tear stained pillow, and it got to the point where I would not answer the phone because it was simply bad news after bad news. If people knew my story, they would understand why God is my best friend, why being with God trumps being with them, why worship and intercession are crucial parts of my life, why intimacy with God is the highest priority, and they would understand the intensity of my current joy. 

I would love to tell you God immediately takes away every challenge, pain, trial, or Judas experience. This is false. Every warrior, including Jesus, I have studied in the Bible went through a series of tests and challenges. James, who’s real name was Jacob, tell us the following…

Consider it nothing but joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you fall into various trials. Be assured that the testing of your faith [through experience] produces endurance [leading to spiritual maturity, and inner peace]. And let endurance have its perfect result and do a thorough work, so that you may be perfect and completely developed [in your faith], lacking in nothing,~James 1:2-4 (AMP). 

Before you want to slap Jacob. I want you to change vantage points. Can you take a moment to look not from earth’s point of view, but heaven’s point of view? 

Earth is a temporary place. Heaven is eternal, forever, does not change, has no pain or suffering. We may live 100 years on earth. There is no end to heaven. 

Our loved ones who leave us far too soon, we will grieve. This I have walked through. The pain some days was almost unbearable. Yet I know for those in Christ, I will see them again. And we will be together forever, without end. Oh praise Jesus. 

Our hearts that end up broken by those who are void of God love, they can heal. This too I know all too well. God reminds me over and over, “The love you receive from people is directly proportional to the love they have received from me. They can not give what they do not possess.” So you pray as Paul prayed that people would know the height, depth, width, and vast expanse of God’s love. You forgive and allow God to love you to wholeness. 

Our disappointments are nothing compared to the glory of God. God withholds nothing good. Our idea of good often varies from God’s. God sees what is coming. We see today. We see earth, the physical realm. We do not see fully what God sees. Maybe that relationship or job would have brought hell on earth. Maybe that friendship ended to protect someone. Maybe destiny was on the line. Maybe something better is coming. Maybe that person left earth because they wanted to go home to Jesus. We do not see all. Therefore, our best bet is to climb up into the arms of God. 

No matter what happens, God is so good He can bring something good from the situation for those who love Him and are called according to His purposes and plans. 

What did I learn from the wilderness I could impart to you: 

1. It is temporary. 

Life in the wilderness is not the intention of God. Our mindset, murmuring, or complaining can prolong a short stay into a long one (read about the Israelites). 

2. It is often a call to intimacy or spiritual bootcamp. 

I am not saying God causes bad things to happen to get our attention. I am saying God does not prevent every challenge. Sometimes God does not immediately deliver us from, we are delivered through. I see prime examples of this in the life of Daniel, Jesus. God did not prevent all adversity. He did bring forth Kingdom advancement through adversity. 

3. We can learn more about God and our own beliefs in the wilderness. 

It’s easy to proclaim God is good when life is skipping through rose gardens, and every person prayed for is healed, when there is breakthrough after breakthrough. Is God still good when life feels like a massive storm? 

Our faith is revealed in the wilderness. Unbelief is exposed. Our true ideas of God are put on display. If we take our thoughts, pain, and disappointments to God, we can grow! Oh my, we can grow stronger in faith. 

4. We gather testimony of overcoming! There is power in being an overcomer. 

I love the quote, “Smooth seas do not produce skilled sailors.” If I were placed on the front lines of battle, I would not want my commander to be someone afraid or unable to withstand adversity. You want someone who has overcome and keeps on overcoming. There is power in facing adversity and refusing to let the storm kill you! 

We have authority in the storm where we maintain peace. Peace, dear ones, is a weapon. Tenacity and refusal to succumb to circumstances is powerful. It’s hard to beat someone who will not move or give up or give up ground. 

5. Our character is refined in trials and challenges, if we yield to God. 

The weakest person is the one who refuses to face challenges. They do not grow. They never allow their faith to be stretched. They shrink back, retreating from the next spiritual promotion. 

Character matters. Jesus was promoted (grew in favor with God and man) by overcoming tests. What if Jesus just threw in the towel? What if He said yes to Satan just like Adam? We would all be lost. He overcame. He turns to us and says, “In the world you will have trouble. Take heart, I have already overcome the world!” He overcame demonstrating we can overcome! Jesus maintained peace in storms because He knew the heart of the Father and the intentions of God are always good. Always! Not sometimes, always. Even when we do not see it or feel it or understand, God is good. 

Papa God, I thank you that these momentary afflictions are nothing compared to your glory which will be revealed within us. Change our vantage point so we live from heaven down. Help us to abide in your truth even when what we see is vastly different from your truth. You are always good. I declare peace into every storm. I ask for the anointing of your peace to flood every heart, soul, spirit, body of each reader. Take us higher, above the storms. You are greater. We can trust you. You will work it all for a greater good, even if we do not see it until heaven. We are going from glory to glory! May our faith not fail. In Jesus powerful name.

Love, 

Erin L. Lamb

 
 

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Thriving with God 


Weekend Devotion: Stay connected to the Vine and thrive baby thrive. Spiritual growth is a byproduct of intimacy with God, not self effort and striving. 

I am the Vine, you are the branches. If you remain in Me you will bear much fruit. Apart from Me you can do nothing,”~Jesus (from John 15:4-5). 

The miracle plants that have thrived in my house focus on their source. They grow towards the light, they respond to being watered/fed, they stay connected to their source. Any vine that disconnects, shrivels up and dies. Why? It has no source of it’s own. We each have a body. If you cut off part of your body from the blood supply, your beating heart, and your nerve ends are depleted of oxygen-guess what? That part of you will decay, die, rot, atrophy. 

Spiritual growth is similar. God is the Source. We are pretty special to God. We are not God. He is the all sufficient One. He knows exactly what is needed to grow us up into tall thriving vines. We can yield and grow or buck Him and stay the same size. 

God loves multiplication and growth. Stagnation is not His speciality. You read in the parable of the talents God likes to reproduce what has been given. Why? If we are blessed, displaying His glory, then more people can be blessed. We can pray for God to bless people, yet He empowers us to be a blessing. 

How do we grow….

1. Stay connected to God. 

One of my morning routines is, “Morning Papa, Jesus, Holy Spirit. Love You. Thank You for everything. What do You want to do today? What’s on Your heart. I invite You into my day.” It’s not every day or I feel bad. It’s a habit of letting God know He is welcome in my life. 

God is always there. He is not always invited to participate. He is sometimes relegated to the back seat. He is spoken to for needs, complaints, everyone else is busy, boredom, obligation, or never. God likes to be included. Not for control purposes, because He loves connection with humans (This I do not fully understand). 

Growth occurs through relationship. 

2. Eat 

God’s Word is food for the spirit and soul. His presence is living water. Digesting the Word with God (key word is with God) is life giving. I am not talking about obligatory reading. I am talking about inviting God in to feast on His Word together. It is great to go to a local assembly and be spoon fed the Word. It is far better to eat on a regular basis with God. You can live eating once a week, yet strength comes in daily feasts with God. “Lord here I am, speak to me through Your Word.” 

3. Listen 

God speaks. Sometimes His voice is missed due to unbelief, “God does not speak, those people are crazy.” 

The unbelieving will continue to miss God. For everything in the Kingdom works by faith. Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1). Sometimes His voice is missed because we are too busy. “Lord I will be right back, I got this, I know what to do.” 

I LOVE consultations with God. Why? He sees everything. He sees the heart, motives, past, future, impact, everything. God’s view is not tainted nor one sided. He sees it all. 

Seeking God grows us up in wisdom. The counsel of God is unparalleled. I highly value godly counsel from wise Christians, yet they never trump God. I take what they say to God. “Hey Papa, what are we keeping? What are we throwing in the garbage?” 

4. Worship 

We become like the gods we worship,~Ralph Waldo Emerson. 

Worship is more than singing songs. Worship is a lifestyle of adoration. Worship is love. Who or what do we love? Where is our identity rooted? Only God is worthy of worship. Why? He alone is 100% good. Worship pleasure, become an addict. Worship beauty, become vain. Worship food, become glutton. Worship money, become greedy. Worship power, become a dictator/tyrant. Worship self, become grossly selfish. Worship people, become a people pleaser. 

Worship of God takes our eyes off ourselves and places them on God. Looking inward, navel gazing, leads to self defeating behaviors and pride. We are either looking inward and seeing all that is wrong or looking inward and patting ourselves on the back for how awesome we are. The truth is we are not the source of light, God is. Our true growth comes by basking in His light, not looking for our own. 

One of the greatest tools of the enemy is getting humans to turn their gaze away from God. He will even use good things like relationships, family, ministry, serving. If he can replace activity for intimacy, then he knows eventually that person will run out of steam. 

The power and growth is not in self, it is in God. Look up. Look at Jesus. Focus on who God is. Focus on what God has done. The devil since the beginning has been trying to put a wedge between God and humanity. He knows God is good. He is also jealous of the connection between mankind and God. He wants to be worshipped, if not directly he will settle for false gods. Anything to keep people from knowing God and loving Him. 

5. Yield to pruning 

Plants need pruned. Our hearts do too. Weeds can sprout and grow…weeds such as bitterness, fear, unforgiveness, selfishness, lust, pride,…they come to choke out love. We were created by Love (God), to be loved, then to love others. 

Trials come sometimes as tools of pruning. We need more patience so God allows some challenges. Every challenge or storm is not the devil. God allows some things because we need to grow up. Let me give you an example. I am the “Let’s get this done, we have plan A, B, C. What is our contigency plan? Early is better than late. I will do what I said. Let’s be efficient, excellent,” type personality. God allows me to be connected with others who have no plan, are not organized, everything is last minute, oh I forgot-was that today, always late, no concerns about efficiency-what’s that?, just go with it…type people. At first it caused frustration. Then I learned to yield to the challenge. 

I learned to set boundaries, invite tardy people earlier than they needed to be there, cast vision, inspire planning, and go with the flow when it’s unnecessary to map it all out. I learned to love those very different from me and appreciate their personality. They are looking to have fun. I am normally seeking to build, develop strategies, multiply, and be efficient/excellent. I have fun. I also like building. 

That challenging person may be God’s way of producing greater patience or love. That season of waiting is not God is doing nothing. If we yield we see a seed is hidden in the dirt a long time before it pops through the soil. I baby is in the womb 9 months. We prefer trees over a field of seeds, and fully developed babies over fetuses. 

Yielding to correction is also a way to grow. 

The, “You can not tell me anything,” attitude leads to immaturity…it leads to a plant covered with weeds, not producing good fruit. Even correction in the wrong spirit can cause growth. Over my life I have been exposed to lots of Holy Spirit polices. They feel it is their job to police everyone and their issues. God did not give them a badge. They are self appointed officers of the law, like the Pharisees. One can be angry with the Pharisee or take their verbal lashing to God. “Is any of this true? If so, help me. If not, garbage.” 

People who buck correction fail to grow. Feedback can be such a helpful tool. Pride says, “I know it all, you cannot correct me. I do not need any help.” Humility says, “What can I learn from you?” 

God created us to be fruitful. Being fruitful is more than having children. Being fruitful is taking the seeds God has sown, the gifts, talents, skills, and putting them to use for His glory. Being fruitful is yielding to God so the fruit of the Spirit is on display for the world to see Him. Being fruitful is being faithful to whatever and whoever God placed in front of us. Being fruitful is abiding in God so we are a loving blessing. 

Lord help us to stay connected to You, to live out of Your heart, and thrive through the work of the Holy Spirit. Help us to cease trying to be our own light or looking for others to be our source. You are our Source. Deepen our connection with You in 2017. Take the focus off insignificant things. Help our gaze be fully on You! In Jesus powerful name. Amen. 

 
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Posted by on February 18, 2017 in Devotions, From the Author, God's Heart

 

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It’s a Journey (Notes from the Wilderness)

  
Photo credit: Pinterest, Tony Evans

Beautiful friends, I might have one more post in me for the Spiritual House series. However, stay tuned for a new series upcoming-Abiding & Walking out Sonship. We need to know who we are as children of God. 

Today, I hope to impart hope from my journey. You’re reading words from a person who understands brokenness and the wilderness. I walked through abuse (verbal mostly), sickness, loss, betrayal, persecution, persecution from Christians, abandonment from my biological father, rejection from peers, rejection from family members, and so many things I won’t drudge them all up. My heart has been broken so many times; by family, in ministry, by friends…by people who claimed to love God. 

When people say to me, “I wish I had your relationship with God or your life is so good,” I want to say to them, “You don’t want to go where I’ve been and walk through what I have walked through with God.” 

My life has been walking through whatever I have been called to minister to. Like Jesus, I’ve had to walk it out. I went through many years of devastation…Needing miracle after miracle…Cheating death over and over…Living under persecution for almost a decade, praying, fasting…crying out for a miracles. 

God didn’t always deliver me from. He delivered me through. There’s so much of my story you’ll have to hear in the Suffering with Christ book I’m working on. There’s not enough space here.

I don’t glorify suffering. I do think people need to know all of life with Jesus isn’t skipping through parks of roses. If you suffer, it doesn’t mean you don’t love God or have enough faith. 

I feel I walked out of the wilderness in late 2012. Battered, bruised, tired, over trauma and near death experiences, over phony church love (yes I said it-I was tired of being beat up by Christians and imitation love), exhausted, wounded, discouraged, grief striken, and fed up. I had walked through both parents having cancer, my own sickness, too much church drama, losing a parent, losing “friends”, perpetual harassment at work, and so much more. I was done…

How do/did those wounds heal? God. 

Crucial Keys/Notes 

1. Forgiveness: forgive the people who’ve hurt you. Many of them don’t know God’s love. There are people in your church community/life who do not know the love of God. They can’t give what they haven’t received. You forgive (release them to God-don’t gossip, don’t seek revenge) and keep connection with God. If you’re upset with God, talk to Him. He’s not afraid of pain or you. 

Pray for those who hurt you. Their greatest sin is against God. They need Him and to know Him.

2. Seek God. 

My major healing didn’t happen with a SOZO, a pastor, a conference, counseling, or reading a book. 
The healing began with God. Over and over He would meet with me and heal one part of me then another. Some progress was quick. Others slow and painful. I was like a person who had been backed over repeadily by a semi truck and every bone broken. 

I was saved and sad. My soul was sick. Abundant life is in His word, yet I wasn’t seeing it in the people around me. 

The mentality was, “As long as my spirit is okay. I’m saved. I am okay.” This is false. We can be saved, on our way to heaven and miserable because we are filled with unbelief, fear, anxiety, depression, despair, insecurity, without lasting joy, or hope. 

Jesus paid for the whole person to be healed and restored!-Saved, healed, and delivered. 

God is the Source of abundant life. Get to know God personally. Intimacy with God is crucial. 

Quite a bit of my wounding came from other Christians who were either insensitive, ignorant (unlearned about dealing with people who had lived through trauma or abuse), unloving (let’s throw a scripture on it), wanted to be grief buddies (let’s be broken together), critical (if you were truly saved, this would not be happening  to you), or they avoided or ignored me (this isn’t my problem-go see a counselor-I’m only called to love those in my circle-get your needs met elsewhere). 

So I’m a huge proponent of going straight to God.  

There are some great Christian counselors, pastors, people. I’ve peer counseled, led people through deliverance/inner healing. Yet I tell people to continually seek God. I’m only human. I am limited. God is not limited. He can do more in a moment than I can in a lifetime. 

Recommend: 

Pray and ask God who you should confide in. Some people aren’t concerned, they are nosey or miserable too and want company. Some are not equipped to handle other’s brokenness. 

3. Learn the voice of God. 

This key kept my mind. You have no idea the warfare that raged on for years because I didn’t know how to fight. Fight from victory! God already won. 

In life I need His voice.  God saved my life so many times through communicating with me. 

I learned through His still small voice, dreams, visions, impressions, etc…He encouraged my heart, mind, emotions, spirit. His word is incredible. That’s where we started. He would speak the word to me. 

The most comforting thing He showed me during a horrible time was an open vision of me sitting on His knee. In the vision He pulled up movie scenes from my life. He pointed and He acknowledged He was there. He showed me that no matter what I faced, my Papa God was always going to be there. Some things in the last few scenes nearly tore my world apart. He stood with me. He let me know ahead of time, “This will hurt. This will shake your world, yet I am there.” In that vision I was a little girl. And that’s how I view myself now, a little girl on her Father’s lap. 

I live under the waterfall of His voice! Intimacy; listening…abiding. 

What is He teaching me about Himself during this trial or season?

4. Forgive the Process

I’d love to say through it all I’ve been this fierce warrior of faith. I’d love to say I’ve applauded God every second of the process. Nope. After my discipleship group (some of them) turned on me, lied, gossiped, betrayed my trust…and my pastor at the time eluded to the fact I had an idolatry problem because I was wounded from being betrayed by people I’d given my entire heart to for 3.5 years….Not to mention both my parents got cancer during that time, and I was being persecuted at work. I completely shut down. I closed my life off to anyone other than God and my immediate family. 

During that time with God, I had to forgive the process. Did God cause all these things? No. Did He allow them? Yes. Is He using it for His glory? Yes. 

5. Soak in His love; Find hope in His word. 

Soaking is my favorite thing. It’s focused time with God. It’s resting in His love. I soak with worship music or none at all. I invite God to speak, minster to my heart. Wow! He deposits so much. 

His word is filled with life. I do declarations and pray the word of God. I speak to my soul. I speak to my spirit. I highly recommend investing in saying what God is saying over your situation. 

God Your word says, where Your Spirit is there is liberty!

6. Understand it will hurt and you will grieve. 

I mostly grieve with God because He understands how to deal with me. I sometimes grieve with others but not very much. Sometimes people, though well meaning, leave you feeling worse. 

7. Pray for healthy, loving community. 

The worst thing I found in seasons of pain and suffering was the wrong community. It’s worse than no community. We tell people to be in community, yet if it’s not rooted in true agape love and centered on Jesus it can be a disaster. 

I hate it when people say, “hurting people hurt people” so don’t stay away from those who do bad things. If every time I see you I punch you in the face and say, “Hurting people hurt people,” you’d stop coming around me. At least I hope you’d confront me and say, “I love you but this behavior is not okay. Stop or I am distancing myself until you learn self control.” There’s a huge difference between being easily offended and staying in an unhealthy place. 

God longs to connect you with believers who will love you! 

I’m super thankful for my current church. There have been times I’ve gone in hurting and without me asking someone would come pray for me, share a word of hope, or prophetic word. 

There are great churches everywhere. Find your tribe! Pray for God to bring in people who love like Him. There are some. 

God longs to be the primary person to meet our needs. He also wants to love us through people. He sets the lonely in families. You are not alone. 

Well, I’ve given you lots of words. I hope you know you are loved! I’m praying for you (not just saying that). If I can make it, and it was so challenging, you can too. I have more JOY today than I’ve ever had. I laugh more than any of my friends. 😄 God heals! Yes indeed. 

Love,

Erin 

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

 

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