SEE THE UNSEEN

The third Friday of each month in 2019 we’re studying my favorite life verses: 2 Corinthians 4:15-18. This section of Scripture has proven a solid source of faith for me through many challenges over the past fifteen years. As we work our way through this passage you’ll see it build on the previous phrases all the way to the end.

” All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen…”

~ 2 Corinthians 4:15-18a

Although we don’t like to hear it, the life of a Believer will always be one filled with difficulties. Jesus even told us to expect them. Life is a series of problems beginning and ending over and over again. And we’re supposed to walk seemingly blind through them all with our faith guiding us.

What is this unseen leading factor called faith?

The author of Hebrews defines faith for us:

” Faith means being sure of the things we hope for and knowing that something is real even if we do not see it.”  ~ Hebrews 11:1

What does this kind of faith look like in reality? All we have to do is read the stories in the book of Hebrews “Hall of Faith” chapter 11 to see this faith:

      • Noah built the ark for a flood when he had never seen rain.
      • Abraham obeyed God’s calling to leave his home for an unseen land.
      • Moses kept the Passover before seeing the deliverance it would bring.

Like these Patriarchs, we’re to have the kind of faith that believes God will bring us to the other side of each struggle in His perfect way. This challenges our natural minds because we can’t see spiritual things. We want proof that it’s going to work out…. not later but now!

When struggling with our finances we need to put on our “Jesus glasses” and see that God will provide for all our needs but maybe not all our wants.

When struggling with health issues we need to put on our “Jesus glasses” and see ourselves healed healthy and whole no matter how we feel today.

Whatever the problem is we can put on our “Jesus glasses” and see by faith that God is solving it in His perfect time!

” You’re always moving in the unseen

   The breath You exhale sustaining me

   Before I call, You know my need

   You’re always going before me.”

ANOINTED FOR LIFE!

On the second Friday of each month in 2019 we will be studying one of the most memorized chapters in the Bible: PSALM 23. Join me as we bring fresh application of this beloved psalm to our lives.

” The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.

Yes, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over…”

 

In this section of Psalm 23 we see God represented as our Heavenly Host instead of our Shepherd. He has prepared a feast for us even though we are surrounded by enemies. During Biblical days a proper host would anoint their guests as a sign of honor and hospitality, as well as refreshment.

When priests, kings and various people were anointed in the Old Testament the sacred oil that was poured over their head signified that they were being set apart for divine use, they are now established to represent God to the people and that they were now empowered by the Holy Spirit for tasks at hand.

Today, we aren’t anointed in this traditional way, rather we’ve been anointed by the Holy Spirit when we are born again. The symbolism of the oil anointing can be applied to the Holy Spirit anointing as well.

When we are anointed by the Holy Spirit: 

        • We have been honored by God.
        • We have been set apart for God’s service.
        • We have been designated as God’s representative.
        • We have been empowered to perform the tasks set for us.

Looking at the anointing by the Holy Sprit in this light gives it such a stronger meaning. Another thing to consider when God anoints us it isn’t a one time thing. The anointing is always flowing. It’s overflowing God’s power, healing and blessings in our lives!

If you haven’t accepted Christ as your Lord and Savior today is the best day to do that. Simply call out Jesus’ name, ask Him to come into your heart and to set you free. Ask the Holy Spirit to anoint you with His blessings, power and healing today!

Allow the Holy Spirit to anoint you like a flood with this powerful spontaneous worship song by Molly Skaggs and Bethel Music.

SURRENDERING MY WILL

The Serenity Prayer column is published on the first Friday of each month in 2019. We’re studying this well-known prayer phrase by phrase and applying it to our life today.

” God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time, accepting hardship as a pathway to peace.

Taking as Christ did this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it. Trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His will…”

 

The typical image of surrender is a criminal with hands raised above their head signaling that their hands are free of any weapons. While we may not be a common criminal who has been caught breaking the law, scripture tells us that stubborn willfulness, which is nothing less than pride, is one of the worst sins against God.

The LORD detests all the proud of heart.

Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished.

~ Proverbs 16:5

Lucifer, before his fall, was one of the angelic hosts in heaven. But because of his beauty his heart became pridefully and he saw himself greater than God. He coveted God’s power and rebelled against God’s authority. God then cast Satan out of heaven along with one-third of the angels who were in league with him.

Pride brings a person low,

but the lowly in spirit gain honor.

~ Proverbs 29:23

When we hold on to what we will for our lives instead of surrendering to God’s will for our life this is the sin of pride. By humbling ourselves, trusting in God’s will and plan for our lives we put ourselves in a position to be honored.

So then, surrender to God.

Stand up to the devil, resist him

and he will turn and run away from you.

~ James 4:7

Surrender can be a scary thing. Letting go of our plans and trusting the unknown can be uncomfortable. The faith-walk is definitely not for the faint of heart! Even getting to a place where we’re able to surrender is difficult at times.

A process of steps is helpful here:

    1. Silence and Solitude: Beginning the process of surrender I must first find some silence and solitude. Actual silence and solitude may be impossible depending on the particular situation or circumstance. I may need to inwardly find the silence and solitude when in a crowded environment.
    2. Settle in Peace: Having found some silence and solitude I must then settle my anxious mind from worry. Maybe I’ve been reliving yesterday’s regret or fretting tomorrow’s uncertainty. Either way, I must find some mental peace. To help settle my mind I imagining a boat floating across a lake or river.
    3. Surrender Mind Body and Soul: To get to the place of surrender that I’m seeking I close my eyes and visualize myself floating on my back in a swimming pool. The peaceful stillness of the water holds my anxiety at bay and allows me to rest in God’s loving hands. I am then able to be fully surrendered in the moment, mind body and soul and to what God has for me here.

As we listen to this wonderful song by Matt Redman let’s contemplate surrendering to Christ’s power working in, through and for us. With our arms held high and our hands open grasping nothing, we can give ourselves over to God’s loving grace that brings us what’s best in His perfect timing.

RESTRAIN YOUR SPEECH

In observance of my Benedictine Monastic practices, on the last Friday of each month in 2019 we’re walking Saint Benedict’s 12 Steps of Humility. With each step we come closer to our spiritual transformation and the perfect love of God.

The ninth step of humility is that a monk restrains their speech, not speaking until an answer is required. ~ The Rule of Benedict

Too much talk leads to sin. Be sensible and keep your mouth shut. ~ Proverbs 10:19 (The Message)

 

1500 hundred years ago Benedict of Nursia wrote his rule for the small group of monks who resided with him about 80 miles south of Rome in a monastery called Monte Cassino. Quite unlike our modern life today, these monks lived extremely simple lives that revolved around worship, work and study.

In those days the monk’s primary focus was spending contemplative time with God while also performing their daily duties. But they had one challenge: other people were around all the time. So Benedict wrote these rules to manage their community life and all things that entailed.

This particular step of humility is usually directed at our need to be quiet and respectful around others. But it could just as easily be applied to our relationship to our Heavenly Father.

Like me, I’m sure when you’re trying to have a time of contemplation with God, there seems to always come an interruption of some sort… whether it’s the internal monkey-mind chattering away or a physical distraction that occurs.

“To listen closely, with every fiber of our being, at every moment of the day, is one of the most difficult things in the world, and yet it is essential if we mean to find the God whom we are seeking.” ~ Esther de Waal

Like most people when we’re trying to communicate with someone, we expect them to have proper manners, to restrain their speech, give us their eyes and listen. God isn’t any different. He wants our undivided attention when He’s trying to speak to us. However, we rarely give Him the respect due Him… to stop rambling on about our needs and wants, close our mouth, be still and  listen.

I don’t know about you, but I really struggle in this area. I’m often too quick to speak and too slow to listen when it comes to my conversations with others and especially in my devotional time with God.

Take a few moments to practice the art of contemplative listening to God with this great song by Chris McClarney below:

“I don’t wanna miss one word You speak

Cause everything You say is life to me

I don’t wanna miss one word You speak

Quiet my heart, I’m listening…”  ~Chris McClarney

NOT WHAT IS SEEN

The third Friday of each month in 2019 we’re studying my favorite life verses: 2 Corinthians 4:15-18. This section of Scripture has proven a solid source of faith for me through many challenges over the years. As we work our way through this passage you’ll see it build on the previous phrases all the way to the end.

“All this is for your benefit so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. Therefore we do not lose heart.

Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen…”

 

The world is all about the seen. People say, I’ll believe it when I see it. But God tells us to believe even when we don’t see. That sounds crazy and impossible, which is exactly what God is best at… doing the crazy impossible things!

What are you looking at today?

An empty bank account…

A dead-end job…

A dream unfulfilled…

We must stop looking at what we see and focus our eyes on what we can’t see: God and His promises for our life.

Now faith brings our hopes into reality and becomes the foundation needed to acquire the things we long for. It is all the evidence required to prove what is still unseen.” ~ Hebrews 11:1 (The Passion Translation)

The verse above tells us that our faith, now faith… today’s faith… this moment’s faith becomes the foundation that we need to reach the things we long for. Our faith is the only evidence required to prove what is still invisible, the things which we are hoping for.

Think about that statement for a minute. Our faith, your faith and my faith is the only thing standing between us and the manifestation of what we are hoping for!

I don’t know about you, but I’m hoping for a great many things… financial provision, physical health, complete family restoration, reunited not just in spirit and truth but geographically. I’m hoping for my dream to teach and minister to women… the list could go on but your get my point.

“…[Abraham] is our example and father, for in God’s presence he believed that God can raise the dead and call into being things that don’t even exist yet.” ~ Romans 4:17 (TPT)

Now… today… this moment… I must have the faith to see these things that are yet invisible to my physical eyes. I must reach deep into my spirit, put on my Jesus glasses and see these things with my eyes of faith and believe that they exist even before I can see them… like Abraham did.

Maybe the most important part of this kind of faith is not just to believe it and see with eyes of faith, but to thank God for them with faith-full words in advance.

Lord, give me the kind of faith Abraham had. Help me to believe, see and profess with faith-filled words of thanksgiving, and receive the things I am believing you for!   ~ AMEN

Watch this wonderful video by Hillsong United and contemplate how you can fix your eyes of faith on the unseen things in your life today.

THE PREPARED TABLE

On the second Friday of each month in 2019 we are studying one of the most memorized chapters in the Bible: PSALM 23. Join me as we bring fresh application of this beloved psalm to our lives.

The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.

He makes me to lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside the still waters.

He restores my soul.

He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil;

for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies…

In our culture today we don’t really have enemies surrounding us like David who faced lions and bears that were trying to get his sheep. However later in his life, David had to run for his life many times when being chased by enemies like King Saul and even his own son sought to kill him at one point.

What enemies do we face?

Because you’re reading this column most likely you have all the basic comforts of the Western world: food, clothing, shelter, medicine, etc… In a spiritual sense the biggest enemy we face I believe is doubt and fear. Our physical enemies are often things such as lack or sickness.

Our own worst enemy.

Sometimes my biggest enemy is my own mind. I may have physical struggles although I have all my basic needs met. But when I wake up in the morning my mind goes right to today’s challenges or to the things I wish could be different. Starting my day with worship music always helps me with this. Maybe that’s why David wrote so many songs.

See the blessings not the struggle.

The lesson I get from this portion of Psalm 23 is that no matter what enemy we may be facing: lack, illness, fear or doubt… We need to look around and see all the things we already have before we grumble about the things we don’t have.

God has already blessed us with so much.

See His Goodness now!

Contemplate God’s goodness with this beautiful video by Elevation Worship.

TRUST GOD

In The Serenity Prayer column, published the first Friday of each month in 2019, we’re studying this well-known prayer phrase by phrase and applying it to our lives today.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time, accepting hardship as a pathway to peace.

Taking as Christ did this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it. Trusting that He will make all things right…

 

Attitude matters.

Whether we trust that God will make all things right really doesn’t change what God is going to do. What God does is always right whether we trust Him or not. The lesson here is more about how we live in the process while we’re waiting.

Time passes the same.

When waiting for an answered prayer, a new job, a life season to change… we can either be stressed, angry and sick or peaceful, happy and healthy. Either way, the same amount of time will pass from the beginning of the wait to the completion. How I walk it out is up to me.

Simple but not easy.

This principle of trusting God seems so simple. We hear it a lot in Christian circles. But little is taught about how to actually live out this trusting time. The season I’ve been in for the last three years has been one of the hardest in my adult life. It’s been all about waiting for God to make something right out of something that was very wrong. I’ve struggled often with a poor attitude while watching my sweet husband be so positive. Different things are easier for different people.

How to trust.

When I think of trusting, I think of the childhood game where we would fall back into the arms of a trusted friend who would catch us. We knew our friend wouldn’t drop us or let us fall because we believed they cared for us. If we can believe that our girlfriend can love us so much to catch us, why can’t we believe that our God, our Heavenly Father, who loves us even more, will not only catch us when we fall, He will make the circumstances into which we fall be perfect for us! And hose circumstances will then help us rise higher.


Trust in the Lord completely,
and do not rely on your own opinions.
With all your heart rely on him to guide you,
and he will lead you in every decision you make.
Become intimate with him in whatever you do,
and he will lead you wherever you go. Don’t think for a moment that you know it all, for wisdom comes when you adore him with undivided devotion and avoid everything that’s wrong. Then you will find the healing refreshment your body and spirit long for. ~ Proverbs 3:5-8 (TPT)


Let’s not be shaken or disturbed about where we’re going, how we’ll get there or when we’ll arrive.

Fall back.

Trust God.

He has a perfect plan.

He is with us all the way.

 

Contemplate trusting God with this beautiful song by Bethel Music.

BOOK REVIEW: ANONYMOUS by Alicia Britt Chole

 

 

 

Anonymous:

Jesus’ Hidden Years… and yours

by

Alicia Britt Chole

 

This book has been a life changer for me. Anonymous by Alicia Britt Chole is one of the most applicable books I’ve ever read. I first read it when her series on the TBN network began airing in October 2018. Once I began reading I was blown away by how much it spoke to this season of life I’ve been in for more years than I care to count.

In this groundbreaking book, Alicia teaches us about the 30 Hidden years of Jesus Christ’s life before his ministry went public. A topic I’ve never read or heard anyone teach about before. Here’s a snippet from Part One:

…Consider the growth of a plant. Before a gardener can enjoy a plant’s fruit, she must tenderly and strategically attend to its root. So a plant’s birth begins with its burial. The gardener commits a generally unremarkable seed to the silence of the soil, where it sits in stillness an sightlessness, hidden by the smothering dirt. Just when it appears as though death is imminent, its seeming decay reveals new life. The seed becomes less and yet more of its former self, and in that transformation takes hold of the darkness and reaches for the sun. All that is to come rests greatly upon the plant’s ability to tightly and sightlessly develop to roots in unseen places.

As with a child in the womb and a seed in the ground, God’s unanticipated move of hiding Jesus granted him protected, undisturbed room to be and become. From God’s perspective, anonymous seasons are sacred spaces. They are quite literally formative, to be rested in, not rushed through and most definitely never to be regretted.

Unapplauded, but not unproductive:  hidden years are the surprising birthplace of true spiritual greatness. ~ Alicia Britt Chole

If you’re in a dark season of waiting. If you have a dream in your heart that you want to share with others, yet the perfecting time fails to appear… this book is for you.

I highly recommend Anonymous by Alicia Britt Chole!

Watch Alicia Britt Chole on Praise introducing her book and then watch Anonymous series on TBN. Here’s a sample of one of her interviews… enjoy!

BE MOLDABLE

In observance of my Benedictine Monastic practices, on the last Friday of each month in 2019 we’re walking Saint Benedict’s 12 Steps of Humility. With each step we come closer to our spiritual transformation and the perfect love of God.

The eighth step of humility is that a monk does only what is recommended by the common rule of the monastery and the example of the elders. ~  The Rule of Benedict

Without good direction, people lose their way; the more wise counsel you follow, the better your chances. ~ Proverbs 11:14 (MSG)

 

One of the most important principles Benedict tries to teach us on this humility path is that we should be willing to be taught by anyone of any age. Being teachable isn’t just a challenge for the young in our culture. Many of us in the older generation also struggle with being taught by others.

Having re-entered the corporate workforce in my sixth decade of life, I find most of the people in charge are the age of my adult children or even younger. This can be quite off-putting some days.

A good measure of our moldable-ness is how we accept correction.

 

To be honest, when I first took this job in 2016 it was quite difficult to be supervised by a woman who was younger than my daughter. It proved my own lack of humility. Here I was writing a book on humility and struggling with it almost on a daily basis.

God has a weird sense of humor some days. He likes to put me directly in the lesson that needs to be learned not through a book but in the trenches of life!

 

For most of us our community isn’t a monastery with an abbess who leads us. My work community is a financial institution with managers and customers. Our life communities: cities, states and countries have managers and citizens. In each of these communities there are people who lead and those who need to follow the leaders.

God gives us leaders for a reason. They are His authority representatives and we are to see them as such. When we lose sight of this value our work places and communities will break down. I believe we’re experiencing this more than ever in our culture today.

Being moldable and teachable isn’t a sign of weakness. On the contrary, it is a sign of strength, faith and trust. The challenge is to make sure the person who is molding us is following God’s direction and Biblical values.

The best place to start is to totally surrender myself to God so that He can make me what He wants me to be. As I do, my heart will be more open to the directions that come from and through the authority figures in my daily life.

Take a few minutes to contemplate how moldable your heart is as you enjoy this beautiful worship video by Hillsong United.

FIX YOUR EYES

The third Friday of each month in 2019 we’re studying my favorite life verses: 2 Corinthians 4:15-18. This section of Scripture has proven a solid source of faith for me through many challenges over the past fifteen years. As we work our way through this passage you’ll see it build on the previous phrases all the way to the end.

All this is for your benefit so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes…

 

What we focus on draws our attention. When we focus our eyes on something, we will eventually gravitate towards it. If I am riding a bicycle and start looking at a tree on the side of the path, there’s a good chance I will ride towards the tree.  While driving a car, if we take our eyes of the road in front of us and start looking at something on the side of the road, it’s possible we will run off the road.

What influences our life changes our behavior. In our lives if we focus on the wrong behaviors we will eventually begin to act on those things. If we are hanging around people who have bad habits like drinking, smoking, gambling, using drugs, etc… it’s just a matter of time before those same bad habits will show up in our life as well.

I will meditate on your precepts, 

and fix my eyes on your ways.  

~ Psalm 119:15

By keeping our hearts and minds focused on Christ, keeping God’s Word in front of our eyes daily we will be certain to walk out the right behavior, good habits and attitudes.

Where are your eyes fixed today?

 

Contemplate where your eyes are fixed today with this lovely song by People and Songs.