Morning Moment: Connect The word of the Lord for today is CONNECT Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.James 4:8 NLT
A bit of jocularity in this verse for today. When I read the part ‘wash your hands’ I laugh. Does God really want me to wash my hands so He doesn’t get my sickness? No, He wants me to be prepared to receive His holiness and healing. He wants nothing between me and Him, not even a speck of dirt.
The thrust of God’s heart is to connect with us. He wants us to be so connected to Him that nothing stands between us to separate.
Good policy directs us to separate from the disease of the world. Healthcare workers put on extensive coverings and become invisible as people to the ones they serve. The Lord asks us to do the opposite in relation to Him. He asks us to take it all away and come to Him with an open heart and no barriers. He wants to infect us.
Give the best hour of the day to the Lord. That is the one after I workout, shower and get dressed. I am sharp and ready. Most of us drag before God unshaven, tossed hair, and half asleep. We would never show up for a meeting at work or with a client that way and expect to walk away successful. Why do we treat God that way?
Give God the best and most prepared moment of today. See what happens.
Connect. Put off your fear and worry. Wash your hands of self serving and financial pursuit. Toss away controlling thoughts, angers, and addictions. Stand with no barrier between Him and you. Take one moment to lay it all to the side and see if connecting with Him is not better than the baggage. Give Him a moment. Connect.
Morning Moment: Stalwart A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing Our helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing A Might Fortress is Our God, Martin Luther
Such people will not be overcome by evil. Those who are righteous will be long remembered. Psalms 112:6 NLT
Take this word for the day, STALWART. It means loyal and strong. What better word for our God! A mighty fortress. Luther’s original words were ‘Ein Feste Burg’ or ‘A Solid Castle’. How are your doing on being a solid castle?
Yesterday’s conversations all had a touch of panic. A friend’s mother died. A couple is preparing for retirement and heart disease looms. A pastor in the Middle East has hundreds refused food by authorities because they are Christian in a Muslim country. A family struggles with going to work in healthcare and the dangers of bringing disease home. A group on probation faces unemployment, kids at home, and heightened anxiety. Another has lost his family to the pains of impact of his past abusive and alcoholic behaviour and looks to find his way in the world. How’s it going with you? Feeling stalwart?
By day’s end, I was tired not feeling loyal and strong at all. But then, my Father lives in me. He is a solid castle, a tower into which I can run, a bulwark never failing. And because He lives, I can face tomorrow.
Do this to build your stalwart stand. Look to the future. This is Easter week like no other. This week, the death tolls are forecast to climb every day and peak on the 15th, a few days after the celebration of the resurrection. Easter comes from an original word that means dawn or sunrise. We need that sunrise.
I’ve always loved the Spanish word for smile, sonrisa, and played with it as the Son Rises in my heart and shows through my face. That isn’t a true origin of the word but it is a solid observation. When the Son, Jesus, rises in my heart, then I am stalwart, strong and loyal, and I smile in the face of adversity.
Psychologists speak loudly that we need to plan solid events in our week during the shelter in place period. Otherwise, we become morose and anxious. It is human nature to turn to destructive lifestyle behaviors when thrown out of balance and restricted from freedom. Anger and alcohol and abuse proliferate under pressure. We need to be strong and loyal. Stalwart.
Our stalwart attitude comes from standing in His solid castle. Malachi tells us, the Sun of Righteousness rises with healing in its wings when we revere the name of the Lord of Hosts. We are able to cast off the dust of the day and the destruction of the disease and leap forward with strength.
Stalwart does not mean perfect. It means consistent and continual. Pressed but not crushed. Slowed but not stopped. Tripped but not down. Step into the stalwart source. Remember the Son rose never to set again. Remember we have a sun that will rise on the other side of these days. Easter is on the calendar. No matter the darkness of our moment, the Son is risen indeed.
Morning Moment: Exploits The word of the Lord for today: EXPLOITS
“Those who do wickedly against the covenant he shall corrupt with flattery; but the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits.” Daniel 11:32 NKJV
In the economy of the kingdom, we are called to great exploits. Not just exploits, but great exploits. It is the people who know their God that are so called and equipped. Do you know Him? Are you ready for great exploits.
Great exploits happen in times of great challenge. Job’s recovery came after Job’s disaster. David’s victory came in the face of giants. Paul’s kingdom expansion came through prisons and beatings. The prophet’s words came against stiff opposition. Jesus’ resurrection came after a gruesome torture and death. Are you looking for a great exploit? Look for a great challenge.
Today, we have a great challenge. It is time for great exploits.
It is time to know our God. Do you know Him?
Do you know Him as Shepherd? King? Righteousness? Peace? Supply? Provider? Creator? Banner? Shield? Exceeding Great Reward? Always There? Do you know Him as Lord of Hosts, the Armies Encamped for War? Do you know Him as Savior? Friend? Confidant? Comforter? Holy Spirit? Do you know Him?
When you know Him, great exploits are expected of you.
Do you welcome great exploits?
Welcome Him. Welcome Great Exploits. Welcome healing. Welcome deliverance. Welcome supply above and beyond.
Great Exploits Are On The Horizon.
We are Family You are Loved Jesus is Our Strong Tower
Morning Moment: Certainty The word of the Lord for the Day is CERTAINTY ““But for you who fear my name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings. And you will go free, leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture.” Malachi 4:2 NLT
If anything marks our days it is uncertainty. Will there be enough masks? How long will the Seclusion of 2020 last? Can our nation comeback? Will the global economy work again? Has prosperity left us forever? Can my family and I survive the virus? All of these questions and more leave us with uncertainty. Uncertainty leaves us with depression, anger, anxiety, and fear. Fear Is a liar.
Certainty is a commodity of the kingdom. In uncertain times, the voice of the Lord reigns over the crashing waves of crisis. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. He does not change. There is no shadow of turning in Him.
For years, I saw nothing but growth and power in Christ, in financial footing, in career, in ministry, in family, and in friendships. Certainly, the Lord was on my side. From 1980 to 1989 was a powerful time for my family and for me and for the kingdom. Then it crashed. I crashed. My energy sucked dry. My vision became nothing. Retreating into a sense of powerlessness and loss, I went through the motions daily. The only certain part of my life was defeatism.
During a family camp one of the premier prophetesses of the day called me out of the congregation. She travelled the world in ministry. Her example was a light for me. She did not call me out to pray over me. She called me out to ask me to stand beside her and join her to pray over others. It had been two years since I had ministered. The defeatism was evident in my stance. For some time we ministered together as a tag team. The Lord was stirring me back to stand. The certain part was that He did not give up on me, when I gave up on me.
That day, I took time to listen to Him. In my mind’s eye, I saw a glass casket shining with a brilliant light from the inside. I asked the Lord what it meant. He explained that my vision, my destiny, and my calling were in the casket as if I were dead. But it was all still alive. Of course, I wanted to know how to get out of the casket and back to life. He then began talking to me about my attitude. Defeat in the face of uncertainty is an attitude of death. The potential and power are unable to be effective.
We walked through the lessons of Malachi. For the rest of the week, I dug deep into this book the Bible. A prospering nation became weak, powerless, full of family betrayal, beleaguered by corrupt leaders, and faithless in the Lord. All of that could be solved in just a few responses to the certainty of the Lord. Stand in commitment to family, speak well of the goodness of God, be faithful in serving and giving, and follow the voice of the Lord in daily living. That was it. That was enough to unleash a certain power of the Holy Spirit for knowledge, prosperity, leadership, healing, and family stability. A nation could go from defeatism to destiny with a shift of heart. Take it to heart to give glory to the Lord of Hosts, the Lord Almighty, the Lord of Angel Armies.
On the spot, I resolved to allow the Holy Spirit to correct my heart. Within weeks, I was back in ministry and within a short time I was leading a major reconstruction of a large congregation in fresh vision and anointing. Within days, I took a new career step that would change my destiny for the rest of my business career. In the middle of chaos and crashing, the certainty of the Lord’s faithfulness pushed aside all the uncertainty of the world and took over my life. The top of the casket was pushed aside and the light of the joy of the Lord and the anointing of the Holy Spirit for family, friendships, finances, and freedom captured me.
It took time. But it was quick. It took prayer. But it was joy. It took effort. But it was powered by His support. What it took was taking to heart to give glory to His name. Quit whining. Quit complaining. Quit looking to what I had lost and what had not worked. Look to the good in life and find His mark of grace in every circumstance. Be grateful. Be thankful. Be about His business instead of my business. Live in CERTAINTY of His goodness and grace.
This present darkness easily causes us to see the bad and embrace a sense of uncertainly and powerlessness. Yet, His goodness is a certainty. His deliverance is a certainty. His supply is a certainty. The Lord is on our side.
Begin speak with a heart that recognizes the hand of the Lord for good in each moment.
In a moment of uncertainty, be faithful to give and to serve. Don’t pull back. Push forward.
In a moment of uncertainty, speak well of the Lord. Point out his goodness to others.
In a moment of uncertainty, listen to right leadership. Quit griping and get to work carrying out solutions.
In a moment of uncertainty, invest in your family. Take your eyes off of alternatives and be fully engaged.
Certainty will embrace you. Vision will be restored. You will leap out of the stall like a well fed calf. You will trample the enemy of depression, anxiety, listless living, and defeatism. Disease will run from you. Disaster will find it is not welcome at your doorstep.
Live in certainty. Speak of the faithfulness and goodness of the Lord for all to hear and see. Watch what happens.
We are family. You are loved. Jesus is Our Strong Tower.
Morning Moment: Return The word for today is RETURN.
“You welcomed him back with success and prosperity. You placed a crown of finest gold on his head.” Psalms 21:3 NLT
The Seclusion 2020 is in full mode in many places. Workplaces are shuttered. At 7-11, people silently stood six feet apart even as they moved through the store. At the park, people wave with a quietness and a respect and a look that says, “I want to say more. I want to come closer. But, I am doing my part to help stop this evil.” And I call you to Return.
It has been my discipline since 1997 to pray seriously every day. Sometimes that is 30 minutes and sometimes 3 hours. It has been my discipline since 1976 to read my Bible and meditate on the words every day. Starting in 1997, I began praying with the book of Ephesians daily. That lasted three years. Three years. One hour a day. I kept handwritten notes that I still have. My life changed. At the time, I was full time in ministry as the Director of Operations of a large multi-cultural church. At the time, I was suffering the greatest challenge of my life with my hormonal system completely out of wack causing emotional roller coaster. At the time, I made many mistakes and did many things right. Every day was chaos and adventure. Return.
The result of the discipline was success. Success is the progressive realization of a worthy goal. Those three years led me into a life change. The ministry went from one church ministering across the city to many churches and ministering across the United States. The ministry went from being my full time to being my parttime. The impact is still changing families. Return.
In this chaos of the Seclusion 2020, I took time to examine. In the 1970’s my personal relationship with Jesus taught me basic Christian disciplines of study, prayer, reading, devotion, giving, serving, fellowship, witnessing, and worship. In the 1980’s the Holy Spirit became a great friend and spoke many specific foundational visions into my life. In the 1990’s, the Lord stretched me to see the fullness of the gospel and His intensity for all peoples. In the 2000’s, the Father walked me into places in the community that had been segregated and expanded the reach of family fixing. In the 2010’s, missions to Mexico and to state legislators consumed my life and the Lord stretched me into the struggling and broken on a full time basis. In the 2020’s, we shall see. What a start to this decade! Return.
Like many of you, I ask the question, “What will we look like when we come through this, Lord? What’s next?”
So yesterday I made decisions on what I will not be doing and listening for His voice for the next stage of the journey. Every day with Jesus is sweeter than the day before. Fills my heart with longing. I love Him more and more. And today He says, “Return.”
Return to His beautiful disciplines of study, prayer, reading the Bible, devotional time, memorization, meditation, serving, giving, singing praises to His name, witnessing, fellowship, and worship. Return to Him.
Desire becomes determination becomes discipline becomes delight becomes desire becomes destiny. Our desire to growth leads us in Christ to a changed desire that matches His destiny for us. Return
Return to giving Him the first hour of the day. Return to what you know works.
In the Seclusion of 2020, domestic violence and child abuse are rising. Loss of connection to support groups will see a rise in slippage backwards into alcoholism and other drugs. Suicide most likely will rise. Social anxiety will heighten. Except for the ones who return. Return to Him and daily disciplines that help you hear His voice.
When this is over, He has a plan to restore prosperity and success. It will happen in the quiet hours we spend returning to Him.
So, I started by dusting off my prayer notes from Ephesians. I created a prayer outline for intercession during that time and keep printed copies so I can take more notes. Yesterday, I returned to allowing Him to change my direction and shutdown the voices of so many that want me to do something for them versus what the Lord wants done. In the 2020’s, the Father says, “Return”.
Return to the basics. Let Him take you on an incredible journey that shadows all your prior life. This is the hour of destiny, when He prunes what is not needed, quiets your mind and heart to listen, and puts a crown on your head for the future. Return.
Oh, the picture. I took it 10 years ago when I was in another period of change. The Lord blessed my family with a lake lot and I built a stone patio for prayer under the trees. On that patio, I spent many hours returning and I do not regret any decisions. I left the corporate hustle and dedicated my remaining years to face to face intervention in the family struggle. I became a full time missionary to fractured families. It happened on that patio in return.
We are Family. You are Loved. Jesus is Our Strong Tower.
Morning Moment : Welcome Back The word for today is WELCOME BACK In Psalm 21, the king is welcomed back into the good graces of the Lord. He and the nation are restored to prosperity. It is time we begin to prepare for our comeback
Comeback power is an awesome commodity. In Christ it is always available. Do not get accustomed to this land of fear and financial loss. Do not get comfortable in chaos or down in death. Take a stand against the wiles of the enemy and the conditions of a cursed world separated from His redemption. Speak back to it. WELCOME BACK.
Begin to apply wisdoms learned in the pressure. Don’t go back to the way you were but build a new way, a way of rest in Him and prayerful days. Do not forget the fear but leverage it to produce a more fulfilling life.
When I was 26, Dian and I and our newborn daughter returned to Oklahoma City. For two years, I prepared for ministry at Christian Outreach School of Ministry. The Lord prospered us financially and spiritually.
It was 1982. The oil bust hit. In a matter of a few months we lost everything. The job promised disappeared in the wake of economic downturn. We had no healthcare but we had a newborn infant. The partner in ministry that I returned to work alongside, left his family and the ministry. I went to work at a temp agency changing jobs each week. One week filing. One week stacking newspapers. One week delivering furniture. Whatever I was assigned.
At the point our bank account was emptied a bottom rung job opened. I took it with joy. It took three years to rebuild. It took night shifts. It took starting at the bottom and working my way back up.
During this season, I joined two other men in prison ministry. My finances were gone, but I could share faith, hope, and love. For the season as my prosperity was restored, i continued to share the gospel every week. Miracles were common.
Don’t give up whose you are in days of downturn. Days of WELCOME BACK are waiting.
Welcome is a great word. It is German in root. It means “Come and be well.” In Spanish the word for welcome, Bienvenidos, means the same Come and be well. So I say to you and the Lord says to you, Welcome Back, come and be well, prosperous, satisfied.
Today, I pray for restoration of the economic engine of the world. That the Lord would welcome back the economy. That we would return to productivity and enjoyment of life. That we would wisely enjoy our families and not get caught up in the rush of hedonism. That we would be gracious to each other. That His will be done in our cities through a spirit of gratefulness and generosity and gospel.
“If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just [true to His own nature and promises], and will forgive our sins and cleanse us continually from all unrighteousness [our wrongdoing, everything not in conformity with His will and purpose].” 1 John 1:9 AMP https://www.bible.com/1588/1jn.1.9.amp
This great verse speaks to my present day. One of my favorite Star Trek series is with Captain Jonathon Archer. It is set in the first days, when humans are able to zip through the universe meeting other cultures. They constantly are in conflict and grow and learn. Isn’t that just like us humans? We learn by trial and error and trail and success.
This particular excerpted verse from John’s writing to his sons and daughters speaks to that human quest. John has been through learning face to face with Jesus. He stood at the cross and watched the blood of his cousin and friend splatter to the ground. Mary, Jesus’ mother, was put in his lifelong care. The resurrection and ascension are real events to John witnessed with his own eyes. The early miracle breakout of the believers was personal experience. He participated in the expansion of the church into other countries and served a long life as a leader in the kingdom. Now, he writes a few notes of love and concern before he will be imprisoned for the last time and whisked off to the prison island of Patmos, where he will experience and record the Revelation. This is a man of intense faith based on the words of God and a lifelong walk with the Holy Spirit. Heed them.
If we freely admit that we have sinned.. What an opener for a sentence. Sin is anything done outside of faith. Worry is sin. Getting up in the morning to live our own way instead of His way is sin. Pushing a church agenda based on marketing and personal preference is sin. Building a financially prosperous business based on self fulfillment and wealth accumulation is sin. All of this is sin because it is not done in faith, trusting God and walking according to his plan and way.
If we freely admit that we have sinned… The definition I use for sin is mistaken living and imperfect obedience. We stretch out to do right and do wrong. We live our way and call it God’s way. We fall. We fail. Sometimes, we succeed in the eyes of the world and make God cry at our selfishness and greed mentality. Get all you can. Put it in a can. Sit on the can. That sentence might describe our 401k strategies and slithering sumptuous pride at high performing economic markets while ignoring the pain of those that have no means to participate. We should freely admit that we have sinned.
If we freely admit that we have sinned… Sin is rebellion. This is the one we think most about when we think sin. We like to ignore those other modes of sin and park here. Of course, we can avoid most blatant rebellion. After all, we did not murder or commit adultery or lie intentionally or worship an idol or even miss Sunday services without a big excuse. Or did we. Jesus deflates that aversion by picking adultery as a target example. He says if you let lust take you on a fantasy trip involving another, you have violated the heart problem of adultery. That could be 3 minutes of pornography. Right? Oops. The arrow to the liver brings us down.
If we freely admit that we have sinned…. Sin is aversion. God does have a plan for you life. God has a plan for every minute of your life. And then we run a different direction. We consume ourselves with books and pundits and memes to solidify our search in a different direction than His will for us. We master a trade for which we were never crafted and say, “Surely, I trust it to Him so He will bless me in my disobedience.” We are flawed and failed and that is what makes us human. The question is will we take the next step to grow. There is no condemnation in being a flawed and failed human. John lets us know that it is normal.
Confess our sins… Confession clears the path and sets the tone for growth. Get honest with another human and with God. Put down the pride and get real. This does not mean continue to live in the sin. That is not the intent. To be a Sunday Baptist that drinks to be drunk on Saturday and smiles all dressed up on Sunday is not the goal. To be a weekend Pentecostal that manipulates in the market all week and dances and shouts on Sunday is not the goal. To be a confessional Catholic that lives like hell to slide behind the shut door with the priest and get absolution and a penance is not the goal. The goal is an everyday acknowledgement of human frailty and a pursuit of getting stronger and stronger not hiding under the invisible cloak of grace and forgiveness. And that takes an honest life with others and our self.
Here we find a great definition of grace. He is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us. He sets us on the right course with no shame or condemnation. He strengthens with character the area in which we have continued to slip. He wipes off the after effect, the blood and mud and sand and gravel into which we have crashed, and stands us back up. As a child, I loved getting on the back of one of those old tricycles with a platform on the rear. They were the early day skateboard. And they were deadly, which is why you don’t see them anymore. One foot on the platform, hands on the bars, and use the other foot to push off and gain speed. What a ride! One day, I decided to take a ride down a steep hill. Somehow, I forgot about how to stop the ride and just plunged forward. The exhilarating ride was greater than any roller coaster. The rush of air across my face was great. And then the bottom of the hill that ended in an almost 90 degree turn to the right looked up at me an laughed. I tried to loose a foot from the platform and make the turn so I could gradually slowdown on the coming flat road. The force of my speed and weight prevailed and I flew tumbling over and over into the gravel and roadside brush. Man, that hurt. There were scratches and blood and bruises that could not be hidden from my mom when I went home for supper. The undeniable marks of my mistake had to be confessed. The gravel needed picked out of my elbows and knees and ointment applied for healing and avoiding infection.
Confession allows others to pick out the gravel and apply the ointment. We want to do it alone. But, we might not know which ointment to apply. We can get it wrong. A counselor who counsels himself has a fool for a client. We don’t need to hear, ”Don’t do that again.” But we need to hear, “Don’t do that again.” So the next time, I drug my foot a little during the ride down to decrease the speed and ensure a safe turn. Of course that was not so cool on my shoes and mom and I needed to have another talk. Gradual growth.
Summary: Admit your humanity and lack of faith. Confess your mistakes to others and God. Receive the correction and healing touch. Grow stronger in character. Be a human. God created you to grow in faith like one as you explore the universe.