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Thriving in the Wilderness (Abiding & Intimacy with God Series Part 11) 

  
Photo Source: Christi Gee

We can thrive in any season if we surrender to God and seek to understand the process and His timing. The wilderness is a call to intimacy (deeper knowing of God). 

Moses spent 40 years in the desert, unseen by many before he was called by God to return to free his people. Jesus did not enter ministry full-time until He was 30 years old. David was hidden, overlooked, and even rejected by his earthly father before he became king. 

Our culture seeks to bypass process. There are things we can only learn about God in the secret place, the hidden place, the wilderness. The Holy Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness to be tested by the devil for 40 days (Matthew 4:1). The attempt to bypass all testing, trials, challenges is a invitation to perpetual immaturity, and limited authority. We gain authority over what we have overcome. 

Attempting to shortcut the process is an invitation to bypass character development, and intimacy with God. Character is important. Anointing and gifting will take a person places their character can not stand under. Self promotion and self acceleration is a sure fire way to eventually crash and burn. 

God develops our trust in Him alone in the wilderness and unsupported season. 

I used to be discouraged when I could not get any support. People were concerned with their lives. I spent a period of life sad that I was walking through the seven levels of hell while others were frolicking in the promised land. I watched them acquire everything I was praying for and I had to press on with God. 

They had no wilderness, no fierce trials, no Goliath. I on the other hand was walking through 7 years of real persecution, loss, tragedy, near death experiences, periods of physical illness, betrayal, being lied on/slandered, on one occasion left to die (people drove on by), and meeting Goliath after Goliath. As a young person, it certainly was not how I wanted to spend my life. 

I learned some very valuable things. 

1. God + Nothing=Everything. 

These profound lessons are not learned if you go from one red carpet to another. They are not learned if everyone is holding your arms up all the time. It is not learned in the seasons of roses and skipping along the water path. 

Many great lessons are learned in the Garden of Gethsemane. They are learned when no one will help you, they ignore your need, pretend they do not see you. They are learned when God allows you to be placed in the battle with Goliath then ties your arms behind your back and the battle rages on longer than you think your flesh can stand, for me years. You learn God as Best Friend, Victor, Healer, Provider, Strength, Strong Tower…Everything. 

2. Your frailty, weaknesses, and unbelief is exposed and dealt with by the One who is strong in your weakness. 

It is easy to believe God when everything is going your way. When everyone is applauding! When it is good. In the wilderness, times of pressing, persecution, trials what we truly believe is exposed. Do we believe God is good when life is in turmoil? God works out deep faith in the seasons no one sees if we stay connected to Him. 

3. You have chances to fail without casualty. 

I never asked God for a platform or influence. I asked to know Him, be one of His best friends, and to have the character of Jesus. I specifically asked to be held back from any influence that would not bring Him glory. 

In the process, hidden seasons you have the chance to try things, step out in faith, and not have it negatively impact many people. So many people want a platform, yet their character is not developed. They end up hurting people or leading people into mass deception. They bucked correction, accountability, and character development. They know of God, read of God, yet have not experienced Him in every season. They have not been to battle, they have not had their faith tested by fire, and therefore what they offer is not always based on encounter. It is based on what has been read, or heard. 

4. You learn to pray with authority, abide in God. If you do not, you die. 

When God is your Primary, the violent waves and winds are crashing against your boat…well you learn to pray. You learn to cling. You learn His voice. My goodness you learn. Your identity becomes solidified in Him alone. 

5. You let God open and close doors and shift seasons. Who God promotes, no person can demote. 

Seeking the approval of man is futile. Mankind can love you today and hate you tomorrow. Just as they did with Jesus. Trying to push open a door is wasted time. Anyone who pushes their way in front of God in their flesh will need to operate in the flesh to stay there. Who God calls, He equips. God promotes. God demotes. God’s timing is perfect. When God opens a door, you are fully equipped to walk through that door. 

Sweet friends, no matter your season, God is there. The most important question is, “Is God here?” Staying connected to God is the way to thrive in every season. Therefore, we bear fruit in every season. The objective is not to see our names in lights. It is to know God, love God, and establish more of His Kingdom on earth. 

If you are in the wilderness, a season of testing and challenges…please know it is not permanent. Relief does come. May your faith and heart not fail. You are so deeply loved and if you are in Christ, the Spirit of an Overcomer lives in you! Lifting you up before our King in love. 

 
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Posted by on October 25, 2016 in Devotions, From the Author, God's Heart

 

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God is Pursuing You (Saturday Devotion)

  
A deep, intimate, flourishing relationship/friendship with God is available to any person who wants one. He so loves the entire world. We have as much friendship with God as we desire. He is consistently pursuing the world, to love the world. 
God is never too busy, or too annoyed to be an incredible friend, loving Father. I have not met anyone who holds a candle to Him. God love (agape) far, far, far surpasses human love and only His (agape) love does not fail. 
Looking for love, be with God. I love people, yet they are not my source of love or security or identity or joy or confidence. God is. 
Being with God and receiving His love leads to…💛
💫Loving God (we love because He first loves us). 
💫Loving ourselves (we receive perfect love for ourselves from God, and grow to love ourselves unconditionally).
💫Loving others (we can only give what we possess and release what we carry. We love our neighbor as we love ourselves).
💫Godly confidence (it’s not about our thoughts or what we think of who we are. Who does God say we are). 
💫Peace and Joy (God’s love brings with it peace, contentment, and overflowing joy).
💫Wisdom and Understanding (His thoughts are far higher than mans. His wisdom incomparable).
💫Awe (intimacy with God evokes awe-how marvelous, majestic, wonderful, and glorious He is!!!).
💫Healing and Restoration (no one does it better than God. He gives beauty for ashes and joy for mourning).
💫Purpose and Identity (The purpose of something is known best by the One who created it).
💫Transformation (we are deeply changed not by our striving, but by abiding. Apart from Him we can do nothing). 
💫Courage and Compassion (the more intimate we are with God, the more His heart becomes our heart. His courage becomes our courage. Fear, selfishness, and pride dissipate in His presence, when we receive). 
So sweet ones, the invitation is open to all. Whosoever will let them come. God will not force Himself on anyone or into any busy schedule. He knocks on the door of the heart and says, “I love you. May I come in? I long to be with you and be known by you.” How He loves us so.

Papa God help us to respondto your  relentless pursuit! May we know You for who You are and know who we are in you. Help us to cease being busy and make time for the greatest love we could ever have. Thank You for everything. In Jesus mighty name, Amen. 

I leave you with one of my favorite worship songs: Wrap Me in Your Arms

 
 

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Proximity Is Not Intimacy (Abiding & Intimacy with God Series Part 9)

  
Morning thoughts on intimacy: Proximity does not equal intimacy. Nor does proximity or just spending time equal friendship. 

There were people who traveled with Jesus, ate with Jesus, and considered themselves disciples or friends of Jesus. Yet those who followed Him and dined/traveled with Him many of them still did not know His heart. When you read the Gospels you will read of their doubt, unbelief, selfishness, pride, issues, and denial/betrayal of Jesus. 

Only Mary showed up at the tomb of Jesus. Only John (of His male disciples/followers) showed up at His crucifixion. On the night before He was betrayed, they went to sleep, though He begged for their prayers. 

The disciples could touch His flesh and still missed His heart. They walked with Him yet were not good friends to Him in His time of need. 

We can spend time with people, read about their life, and still miss being intimate with them. Why? How? If our focus is inward, we can be sitting right next to someone and not know them. If we are filled with unbelief we can be close (proximity) to Jesus and still miss knowing Him. If our eyes are set on, “What can I gain from this relationship, what is in it for me? What about me? How can they bless or validate me? I think, I feel…me,” we miss out on the greatest gift-knowing God. And if we are that way with people we miss out on knowing them too. Me centered living does not launch us deep. 

Even some of the relatives of Jesus did not truly know Him. Those in His community mocked Him, scorned Him, and were offended by Him. Some thought He was crazy. They were in proximity with Jesus, they were not intimate with Jesus (truly knowing and believing He was the Son of God). 

When we are truly intimate with someone we see them as they are, not as we wish them to be. We listen to their heart, and what matters to them begins to matter to us. We love them deeply for who they are not what they can do for us. We know their voice, the way they move, their heart and motivations, the intonation in their speech. We can in detail tell others about parts of their inner world. 

Intimacy is not a destination; it is a journey. A perpetual journey to know someone deeply, beyond the surface and simply stating surface facts or what we have read or heard. 

God invites us all to know Him deeply and for ourselves. Intimacy is more than reading the Bible and attending a few services. It is a laid down life of being loved and known by God, then loving and knowing God in return. It surpasses the intimacy that can be shared between a husband and wife in covenant. And this intimacy extends on past life on earth…into eternity. 

May you and I continually pursue intimacy with God and dive deeper in covenant relationships as well. May we be people of depth, moving beyond shallow or surface knowings. 

I have heard His heart cry, “Do they know Me?” Let’s be pursuers of His heart as He pursues ours. God is worth knowing. How He loves us so! He is pursuing us to love us. 

 
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Posted by on August 16, 2016 in Devotions, From the Author, God's Heart

 

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Invest & Nurture (Weekly Devotion) 

Morning devotion: Healthy relationships require mutual investment. What we feed and nurture grows, what we starve or neglect dies. Intimacy is an ongoing mutual pursuit. 

I have plants. I had one I took to the basement once and well I forgot about the poor thing. There is minimal sunlight in the basement. It obviously was not watered. Guess what? It died. Dead. Dead. Super dead. There was no feeding, nurturing, or investment in the plant. So it died. 

I also have bank accounts, as do most people. If I pull up and try to withdraw 10 million dollars, the cashiers will send me a note, “Insufficient funds.” I have not deposited 10 million dollars, therefore I can not withdraw the amount. 

Relationships are like the plant and bank account. What we neglect, or ignore often withers and dies. It is not enough to invest in the beginning and then do nothing coasting on commitment. Intimacy will wither and fade. 

God invests richly in us and has no lack. So we are not adding to His bounty per say. God does want our love and pure devotion. When you truly love someone, how they treat you matters. We are encouraged in Scripture to love God; love Him with all of our heart, soul, strength-to love Him above a spouse, child, family, or friends. In order to deepen our friendship, I must purposefully seek Him. Our friendship grows when I seek Him to know Him. “God what is on Your heart today? I am here to love You God. Thank You God. My heart and life is Yours God. I am listening, what do You have to say?”

God so loves the world despite reciprocation of love. It does warm His heart to be loved in return. Unrequited love is no fun. Trust me I know this well. 

The same goes for relationships with people. If we never talk to them except when we need or want something, we have reduced them to being an ATM. They are a resource for us and not a person. 

I read a quote that stuck with me, “The problem with the world is people were meant to be loved and things were meant to be used. We have people being used and things being loved.” 

I had someone tell me once, “I love you Erin. You are always there for me. No matter what you are there.” This person I only saw when they needed something or did not have a boyfriend. I was completely ignored otherwise. They never asked how I was doing, never contacted me to just say hello. Guess what? The relationship died. I was a friend. They were not. I found people who treated me like a human being who is loved. 

Healthy relationships require some investment, otherwise they wither and die. 

How can we be a good friend to God and others? How can we nurture the relationships that we have? 

What we feed, nurture, pay attention to grows. What we ignore and neglect withers. May we not abuse the unconditional love of God-“He will never leave me so I will treat God however I want.” May we also not abuse the love of people. One day we may look up and they have moved on to where they are supported, honored, and love is reciprocated. 

 
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Posted by on August 2, 2016 in Devotions, From the Author, God's Heart

 

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Friendship with God (Abiding & Intimacy with God Series Part 4) 

  
And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God,~James 2:23. 

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends,~John 15:13. 
You are my friends if you do what I command,~Jesus (John 15:14). 

There are several people in the Bible who were considered friends of God. They walked with God. Moses, Abraham, Enoch, Mary-gave birth to Jesus, Mary/Martha/Lazarus (friends of Jesus), and more. 

There’s an invitation God sends out to humanity, “Come and know Me. Come be loved. Come be known and valued. Come be honored and respected. You and Me, let’s be close friends.” 

It’s a shame salvation is seen, at times, as a ticket into heaven instead of an invitation into the closest and best relationship ever. Friendship with God is eternal. Covenant with God is eternal if we repent, believe, and place our faith in the Son of God. 

So why then is friendship with God sometimes placed at the bottom of the priority list? 

The Creator of the Universe wants to have deep, close fellowship with humanity. I don’t know about you, but sometimes when I look at humanity, I am wondering, “Really God? You want to connect with us? Did you read this news this morning? We are all sorts of messed up!” 

What I’ve learned and am learning about God is this: 

  • God knows the depravity of humanity. 
  • God knows He is the only cure. 
  • God sees who He created.
  • God can see past the brokenness, sin, and issues. 
  • God is love. 
  • Love is not simply what God does; it’s who He is. 
  • We are not transformed by our self effort. 
  • We are transformed through relationship with God (abiding and intimacy). 
  • We are not God’s fixer upper projects; we are objects of His affection. 

I’ve been pursuing friendship with God for a long time. I wanted Him to be able to say, “She’s one of My very best friends. I trust her. We can talk about anything. She keeps My secrets. She seeks to do My will. She spends time with Me just because of who I am.” 

God is glorious. He’s lavish in love. He leaves me awe. Sometimes I have no words (yes, it’s true). He gives good gifts. 

As I grow to know more and more about God, I find I just love who He is. He doesn’t need to do anything. He’s my best friend. 

Over the years He’s shown me He’s more than the One to go to in crisis. He’s more than a song we sing about on the weekend. He’s more than what we do for Him. God is more than the things He does for us. 

God is worthy of reciprocated love and genuine friendship. 

Have you ever had “friends” you only heard from when they were in crisis? They only called or texted you when they bored or needed something? They were never there for you, but were angry if you missed being at their immediate disposal? They invested nothing and expected you to do everything? They rattled off for you their lists of prayer needs and went on their way? They spent time with you to feel good, then you didn’t see them again until they felt bad? They were there to take. They felt no matter how badly they treated you, if you loved them, you better be there? 

I have known and do know people who fit the paragraph above. If you ask them, they will tell you that we are great friends. I have more people calling me their best friend than are actually someone I would call a friend. 

Do we treat God like a best friend? Are we His friend? Do we love Him for who He is, not simply what He does for us or how He makes us feel? If there was no heaven, would we worship God? Do we do what He asks? Are we learning more about Him? Do we spend time just being with Him, not just asking for things? 

How do we grow in friendship with God? 

Friendship with God starts with salvation. 

1. Salvation (Come on into the Kingdom of God! We are family.). 

See the link at the top of this webpage if you don’t know Jesus. The post talks about how to know Jesus. No one comes to the Father except through the Son (John 14:6). 

2. Seek God for who He is. 

I started praying, “God show me who You truly are. I want to know You. I want to be a best friend to You.” 

I set aside date days or times with God. God and I would have nature days, to explore nature together. We’d have worship dance parties. We’d have listening times, He talked and I listen or vice versa. We’d have study the Bible times. I asked Holy Spirit to teach me the Word of God. We’d laugh. We’d write music. Well, I wrote music. I’d ask Him what made Him happy, brought Him joy. I’d ask Him how I could love Him. 

You don’t have to do what I did. Each person has their own walk and relationship with God. Yet I encourage seeking God for who He is. 

3. Do what God says. Become a person of integrity and trustworthiness. 

God’s love for us is unconditional. The level of trust He imparts to us is not unconditional. Say what?  Jesus grew in favor with God and man (Luke 2:52). The trustworthiness, obedience, faith, integrity, and love of Jesus was tested. He was obedient even into death (Phillipians 2:8).  We too are tested (1 Peter 1:7). If we are faithful over little, more is given (Luke 16:10). 

What about us who are still growing in faith, love, and integrity? 

You and I are operating under the glorious umbrella of grace. Those who are in Christ operate out of what God has already done through Jesus. 

God tells us to believe, receive, abide, submit, and there will be good fruit. Just like earthly friendships, they grow and flourish over time and proximity/intimacy. Trust also develops over time. 

God is kind. If He continues to pour out truth we refuse to obey, we are held accountable for what we know. God also values people. For Him to entrust people to us or their brokenness or secrets means He wants that stewarded with love. 

We are not to use things God gave us to pray about to slander people. I rarely ever use people’s real names in sharing testimonies (I ask if I can share), and I don’t seek tell things given in confidence nor do I seek to manipulate people. 

People’s personal business is not mine to disclose. I’m also prayerful about what God shares with me. His secrets are safe with me.

Closing thoughts: 

As we seek God for who He is and desire friendship with God we will enjoy one of the greatest gifts; God. He’s worth knowing. It’s a journey and process. I’m still learning. Each day I’m learning new things about God. I hope you are too! We will have eternity to know Him; that’s exciting. 

Love, 

Erin Lamb 

 
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Posted by on April 23, 2016 in Devotions, From the Author, God's Heart

 

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The Friendship of Jesus!

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Photo Credit: Passion of the Christ Movie (Pintrest)

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends,~John 15:13.

Sometimes we rely too heavily on people. It can be family, friends, coworkers, or people in church. The truth is unless our lives are being fueled first by God, we are in trouble. People will fail you, some will leave you, hurt you, and some disappoint you. I’ve found God will strategically put us in places where He is the only One we can trust, rely on, confide in, find comfort, hope, love, and support from. He’s not punishing us; He’s transforming us (if we let Him).

Those seasons are challenging and every one is not authored by God. He can and will use anything for our good. Losing loved ones to death is not the topic of this post. God brings comfort to all who mourn and has great compassion on His children. People are meant to comfort one another. However, people were never intended to replace God in our lives or become our primary source.

Help I need somebody!:

Our flesh cries out for the security blanket of another person during trying and challenging times. People also displace God in good times. If we run to God, we will find the following:

1. Only God has an unlimited supply of what we need: love, support, wisdom, healing, joy, comfort…He never grows tired or weary. People do.

2. God is jealous to be first in our lives, even before our families. Anyone or anything we love more than Him, spend more time with than Him, care more about or care more about their approval, etc…is our idol. At the end of our lives we will stand before Him alone. Our idols (including ourselves) will always disappoint.

3. God wants to teach us. Hard times are learning times and character building times if we dive deep into His Presence. They are seasons of preparation, purging, cleansing, growing, and for those grieving-finding comfort in God.

4. Everything happens in seasons. Trouble doesn’t last always! It won’t always be winter. And normally God places people in your life who are in the opposite season so you can learn and serve. Those who are experiencing great joy can encourage those in hard times and mourn with those who mourn. Those in hard times can learn to celebrate with those who are celebrating and find hope.

5. It’s not about us, it’s about God. It seems harsh, but it’s true. While God cares about every single detail of our lives, His primary agenda is to love us. Part of that love is molding us into the likeness of His Son (not by our self efforts-by the power of His Spirit). He’s eager for the world to be changed by His power working through us. Our lives are not our own, but were purchased with the blood of Jesus. We were born with a divine purpose.

6. We will find that God is good and better than any person we’ve ever met! He’s the source, everything and everyone else are resources. He heals, makes us whole, ministers to deep levels of pain, comforts, encourages, and transforms us from the inside out.

7. God knows how to have a good time! He’s not boring. Oh boy does He know how to fill a place with goodness. He laughs. He sings. He deposits joy!!! He knows how to party. We don’t find that out until we decide as Moses did to stop and turn to the burning bush. We often miss God because we are so busy looking for someone or something to give us what we need.

8. God wants us to be powerful, not pitiful. I’ve found that God doesn’t like pity parties. Not because He’s rude or uncaring or lacking compassion. It’s because He knows how powerful He is, and His Spirit in us is the same One who raised Jesus from the dead. Nothing is too hard for God. Unbelief is a damaging and blessing blocking sin, for without faith it’s impossible to please God. Pity parties are self focused. God wants us to be God focused. Jesus didn’t go to the cross so we could live defeated. He conquered death! He speaks sweetly to us: LIVE! He doesn’t scream at us, “Get it together already, stop whining!” He does lovingly point us to the truth of who He is. He’s patient and compassionate. He longs for us to view life through His eyes and live empowered lives.

Whether you have an abundance of people supporting you/encouraging you, or no human being at all; know God is for you. God is cheering for you! Jesus is praying for you! He’s the One to cling to. He’s all you need. You plus God is a winning team. Come to Jesus. It’s all for Him, about Him, and being held together by Him. By no other name can anyone be saved. And how He loves you so!

May we seek first God and His Kingdom. He’s worthy!
May we let Him flow through us to be a tremendous blessing to every person we meet.
We are called, chosen, loved, accepted, empowered, and set apart for His glory!

Love,

Erin

 
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Posted by on December 30, 2013 in From the Author, God's Heart

 

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