Breathe In

In my home church, we have been talking about Reconnecting. How to get back in sync. How to reconnect with His presence His will and His direction for our lives. There are many reasons for becoming disconnected from God; but we are going to focus on one of them today - being battle weary or overwhelmed. Sometimes the cares and burdens of this world get in the way of our having true communion with God. This is not something that just happens to the new believer. The battle-hardened saint is many times more susceptible to this kind of spiritual attack. We can get so busy doing the work of the church that we can lose the strength of our connection with God- the head of the church. Make no mistake this is a spiritual attack. This is the enemy coming in when you are at your most vulnerable trying to make you fall.

 

How does this happen? We can become disconnected when we are battle weary. You weren’t distracted, you were following God’s instructions. You were told to stand for Him in a particular spiritual battle. You have done your job. The battle is over and God has won. But you are depleted. Worn out. You need refreshing and you can’t get the well fast enough. It is when you are in this vulnerable state that the attacks of the enemy are more potent.

 

Turn with me to 1st Kings chapter 19 and let’s meet my stressed out buddy Elijah. Elijah was a great prophet by had instances of stress and intense spiritual warfare. (God could trust him) We are meeting him after what was possibly the greatest spiritual victory of his prophetic career - The Lord’s victory at Mt. Carmel over the prophets of Baal. (You know it's big when this is the story that gets illustrated in Uncle Arthur Maxwell’s stories books)

 

Elijah has been standing for God in this one battle for three years . Commanding drought after Ahab and Israel‘s disobedience in worshipping Baal. Three years of standing brings us to the climax at mount Carmel. The atlars are built. The choice of who to worship is made. Yahweh shows up by fire and burns His sacrifice to the ground while Baal and his prophets can do nothing. The people return to The Almighty and Baal’s prophets are slaughtered and rain is on the way.

 

What a moment! After this Elijah should be riding high, Right? Look closer. You can’t tell from the outside that he has left all of his strength on the battlefield. Those around him have no idea that the Glory to do the work has lifted and in your own strength the slightest wind could blow you over. This is where Elijah is in this moment. The enemy senses an opportunity and sends Jezebel to blow Elijah over. With one message, Elijah was on the run.

 

-You’re a dead man.-

That’s all it took. Because Elijah is depleted and can’t get to well fast enough. This first thing you need to do when you are depleted like this is to separate yourself from the source of your stress so you can regroup. Elijah does this, though it does not appear to be a tactical decision. He is disoriented and running for his life. Elijah is running and it seems as if he does not have direction. Not quite so. Elijah heads to the wilderness near Beersheba. Beersheba is in the southern desert region of Israel. Its name means “well of the oath” for it was here that Abraham made an agreement with Abimelech over ownership of the well there. Whether Elijah realized it or not he was headed in the right direction. He was headed for a place where he could be refreshed.

 

That brings us to the next key to reconnecting if you are overwhelmed or depleted. Once you have separated from the source of your stress- seek a safe space. When I say seek a safe space, I do not necessarily mean find a spa or a hotel to be pampered. Seek a place where God can refill you. For the truth is you cannot fill yourself. Stepping back and finding a safe space is an acknowledgement that you are not battle-ready right now and that is okay. It is alright to say, ”I am not okay.”

 

Elijah went from the mountain top to rock bottom and asking to die in the course of a day. It was what he heard that turned his exhaustion into depression. Your safe place needs to be a place where the promises of God are reinforced for you. Where God can breathe back into you His life-giving strength. Elijah needed a place where he could be refreshed and reconnect and God placed him under a juniper tree.

 

1 kings 19:4-8 -4 “But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers.  5 And as he lay and slept under a juniper tree, behold, then an angel touched him, and said unto him, Arise and eat.  6 And he looked, and, behold, there was a cake baken on the coals, and a cruse of water at his head. And he did eat and drink, and laid him down again.  7 And the angel of the Lord came again the second time, and touched him, and said, Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for thee.  8 And he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights unto Horeb the mount of God.” (King James Version)

 

Locations are not given in scripture at random. Not even a tree. Elijah is noted to have been place under this juniper tree. Why is this here? Why this tree? Juniper in this text is actually an incomplete translation. The juniper with berries that we are familiar with is not found in this area of the world. The tree Elijah is under is known as the Spanish broom tree. It is a shrub that grows up to 8 feet high and offers shade in desert places. Why is our stressed out man here?  Because the flowers of this tree have special properties. The scent from these yellow flowers lowers heart rate. The essential oil from this plant is so strong that is not used in modern herbal formulations for treatment. It cannot be digested and it cannot be used in large doses as it is can be considered toxic.  The only way to use this natural medicine was to breathe it in.

 

Elijah was under the care of the Master Physician who knew just how to dose him. All Elijah had to do was breathe.  When we are stressed. When we are overwhelmed We are not alone. God is right there waiting to make provision for us so we can reconnect with Him.  But first He had to calm Elijah down.  Elijah is under this tree to keep his heart for failing him from overwhelming fear. 

 

The next step to reconnecting when you are overwhelmed is to rest. Rest in God.  Breathe His rest in.  Exchange your stress for His rest.  When think we have to do something in order to rest.  Not so.  God has already made provision to restore you, just like He did Elijah. God knew what was going to happen before the first instruction was given. And in Elijah’s lowest moment God sent reinforcements. An angel kept watch over Elijah the entire night. He woke him up and fed him at intervals to bring back his strength.  An angel got assigned to cook for Elijah!

 

We he got up from this rest, Elijah was able to run. Not from his problems, but forty days toward Mt. Horeb- toward God - where He could obtain instruction.  These instructions would make out the framework of the remainder of Elijah’s spiritual career. But he could not have received them until he was refreshed.

 

When we are refreshed. God will be able to speak instruction to us too.  But first we have to let Him nourish our battle-weary souls. Breathe In. Rest in him and be refreshed.

 

It's Swarming Season

Recently I received a message from my neighbor that surprised me.  She called to say that a swarm of honey bees were in our yard. The bees decided that they liked the tree in our front yard, so there was this huge ball of bees- a few thousand- writhing wrapped around one of the large limbs of this tree. They were so heavy that the limb began to bend toward the ground.  Thankfully my husband and the animal control beekeeper handled everything before I made it home, but they took enough pictures so that I felt a part of the action. The beekeeper took them away bare handed in a box and the swarm received a new home with little help from me.

Growing up I was a part of the Pathfinder Club and many times our counselors used nature as our classroom. We would study how a tree grows or what plants were edible verses which ones were poisonous.  You can learn a lot about who God is and how He thinks by studying and observing the things that He has created. So when bees decided they liked my home, my response was to see it as an invitation from God to learn about the natural and spiritual world around me.  It was time to learn about bees.

So, why a swarm of bees? Where do they come from? Is it an attack?  Late spring to early summer is honey bee swarming season. Not every nest or hive swarms during this season.  Certain conditions must be met in order for a nest or hive to swarm. Swarming is the result of new growth- in particular, a new queen has been born. There has also been enough growth in the hive’s population that the mature queen can take about two-thirds of the existing hive and leave the new queen and the remaining third in the old nest.  A new social structure would be built around the new queen allowing the larger group to move with the mature queen and fly away or swarm. The swarm then sends scouts out to find a new location for their group; they establish a new nest for themselves; and then the growth process starts all over again. They don’t attack during this season unless they are provoked. Swarming bees do not attack because there is no honey at this point to protect.  Swarming is the honey bee version of church planting. Grow, mature, separate, and grow again. (For my biology fans it looks like cell mitosis)

Bee swarming and the hive itself remind me of the Kingdom of God and the church He created. In the beginning, the disciples were taught and grew under the foundation that Jesus gave them.  When they came to a level maturity, they were empowered by the Holy Spirit (on the Day of Pentecost) to fulfill the Commission to go ye therefore. They multiplied that day gaining 3000 to their number. They separated from Jerusalem and the church grew again and again. In the beginning the church was a swarm.

Swarming is unified movement. A bee (like a believer) is vulnerable on its own. But when a believer (like the bee) is united with its swarm it has protection and community.  Once a nest is established they have the power to reproduce and be fruitful (honey).

Bees work in unified purpose. In the hive every bee has a position; every bee has a place where they fit.  The worker bee is not out trying to be the queen. The queen is not trying to become a drone. She knows where she fits. The bees’ lives and purpose are interwoven with one another. They work individually but they also work in oneness.  When the system functions effectively there is unity. Where there is unity, there is fruit.

We-the church- are God’s hive.  Oh, He doesn’t call us a hive. He calls us a body. In the body of Christ, every believer has a place. Every believer is given a gift or gifts from the Spirit and every member of the body has a purpose. We have not just an individual purpose in Christ but also a collective purpose in Him as a church.

Now collective unity is the opposite of what we were taught before we came to Christ. The culture of this world-particularly western culture- does not promote unity. The world system teaches competition. We are taught that it is the survival of the fittest that reigns. That eventually the stronger will take down and (destroy) the weaker.  In some cases folk were taught to pit people against each other so they can destroy themselves. You may have heard of this one; “throw the crabs in to an open barrel, watch, not one of them will escape for they all pull each other back down.” The world encourages this concept. It encourages the- I will only help others if there is something in it for me. We are designed by God for unity, but we are not initially trained to practice unity with selflessness.

Thankfully the Kingdom of God is not structured this way. When we are in Christ we are no longer of the world, but we still live here. We have to shake off the world’s training and its mind set and allow God to renew our minds and teach us His methods. As it is written in Philippians 2:5 “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” We are not crabs. We are bees – unified, mature, and ready to produce.  We are leaving the old mind set and embracing the new – speaking this new truth over ourselves as we allow God to mold us fully into this new reality.

The Kingdom is structured more like a hive.  When the hive produces food it is not just for the few, but for the whole hive.  The Kingdom encourages provision, not just of food and funds but of the whole man.  Widows and orphans are to be cared for. We are to give peace to the troubled. We are to be in position to help those who have no hope.  We are to provide stability in the midst of an unstable world. When we do those things we show the unified movement of the body of Christ.  We are meant to be dependent on God and interdependent on each other.
It is not just that God wants us to just be unified with each other. He wants us to be unified – or in agreement- with Him. He wants us to understand and experience oneness. Being in agreement with each other without being in agreement with God means nothing.

Our hive does not have a queen. We have Jesus as our leader. Throughout His life on earth and in His ministry, He was in sync with the Father.  Every move He made was in submission to the will of His Father and ours. Jesus is the head of the body of Christ. It is His blood and the breath of the Spirit that make the body of Christ – the church- a living, breathing and vibrant thing. As it is written in 1 John 5:7-8 “For there are three that testify; the Spirit and the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement." (In the original language agreement is the word “hice” meaning one). The Son and Spirit do not move without being in agreement with the Father and neither should we.

When we are in sync with each other and in sync with God. When we have taken on His mind set, His way of thinking; when we move when He says move and stop when He says stop.  We see things happen. We produce and our fruit remains. It doesn’t spoil. Honey bees produce…well honey. Did you know that honey is the only food that does not spoil?  What God has given us- the Good News of Jesus Christ- it never spoils either. And we have been commissioned to give this good news away. We are supposed to pollinate the earth with it, like bees pollinate flowers.  Honey bees are the main source of pollination of ¼ of all U.S. crops. Just in pollination of crops they produce $10 billion dollars of revenue in this country every year. Now that’s being fruitful.

Harvest time is coming sooner than we think.  The world is still hungry to know whether there is more to this life than the day to day grind. Are we holding our honey? I encourage you to reach out to the people in your sphere of influence. The people God is putting in your path. Pollinate them with the Good News and the love of Jesus Christ . Allow them to taste sweetness of who He is while the window of opportunity is still open.

Beloved, it is swarming season. The bees are doing their job. Let us make sure that we are on ours. Let us be submitted to the Lord’s moving, pollinate where He sends us, so that the harvest can be great.

Be Blessed

 

The Meek Are Getting Ready

My Mom used to wear a button that read, “the meek are getting ready.”  Getting ready to do what you ask? In Matthew chapter five verse five Jesus tells us that “the meek shall inherit the earth.”

How is that possible?  When we hear the words meek or gentle we tend to think of ` who is a boneless jellyfish. A weakling. Meek and weak rhyme in our language and we have begun in our society to make them mean the same thing.  But that is far from true.

The best definition of meekness I have heard is that meekness is regulated strength or strength under control. But strength under whose control?  Our own? Now that would be dangerous. It is not self-governance that is the key here; but the yielding of our will to that of our Heavenly Father. Meekness is our strength, our energy, yielded to God’s control.

The Greek word used here in Galatians five at this point is one that is loaded with meaning.  Bible translators have a hard giving us one English word that encapsulates all of what is being said with this one Greek word. Pieces of the meaning keep falling through the cracks. The three words that keep coming forward in translations are meekness, humbleness and gentleness. Each of these words hold a piece of what the original word is trying to convey.  Meekness focuses on our inward attitude and how it flows out, humbleness talks about about our walk before God and man and gentleness focuses on the outward behavior of this trait toward our brother.

Some of the meanings of meekness are the ability to submit, the ability to humble and the ability to be teachable. Meekness is the ability to work for God and allow yourself to be vulnerable so that His glory can be seen.

Jesus is the ultimate example of strength and power under this type of governance. Everything Christ did in His ministry was in submission to the will of God the Father. Every miracle, every healing, every parable shared- was according to Divine purpose-even to the moment when He cried, “It is finished.”  Jesus who spoke the world into existence. Jesus who has all power at His disposal. He could called angels to defend him from his detractors. Yet, He made the decision (daily) to yield His will -His power- to the will of His Father.

And He has given this power to us as one one the fruits of the spirit.  Wait. Sister, I don’t think I heard you just right - meekness is a form of power?  Yes, it is a form of power. You see when you yield to God and submit (there’s that word again) to His will and plan. He then empowers you to do the work He has called you to.

Our power is from the Most High God and when we yield to Him- power and Divine wisdom get to operate at peak efficiency. It wasn’t that Jesus wasn’t capable or powerful. He is all of these things, yet He yielded. And He was one with the Father. Everything He did was done with power, but it was done in meekness. Jesus walked with humbleness. He didn’t have to grandstand. He didn’t have to yell and tell people that He was the chosen one - the only begotten of the Father full of grace and truth. He simply operated in His purpose. He moved with humbleness and allowed God the Father to direct and instruct Him. Jesus allowed Himself to be teachable.  In His ministry Jesus was teaching to multitudes but yet He craved the Father’s instruction.

.Jesus had the ultimate source.  Because of His shed blood on Calvary, so do we.  We have access to the Father. We can rest in the Father just like Jesus did.  When you received instruction from God to move, you can rest in the Father who is making provision for His work to be done through you.  When you know your source, When you know where your power comes from. That releases the humbleness in our walk.

You know that you cannot function this way on your own. When God empowers you, you do not have to labor in the Kingdom from a place of insecurity. God creates a safe space for you. When Jesus said in the gospel of John that “I’m preparing a place for you.” he meant more than just your mansion in glory.  He was also creating a space where you fit in Him and in His Kingdom - so you could do the work of the Kingdom right here on earth. That safe space allows you to feel secure in Him; it also allows you to soften and be gentle with your brother when he or she is not at that place yet. We can be understanding when he or she are feeling unsafe and are lashing out. It softens you so that you do not see your brother or sister as competition in the Kingdom of God but as a co-laborer.

The instructions that God has been pouring into you can now flow out in a gentle manner for the benefit of His Kingdom.  When we walk in humbleness, when we work with gentleness, when we submit and allow meekness to flow through our lives; we put ourselves in position to be prepared to receive our inheritance in God.  The meek shall inherit the earth. Let’s get ready.

Be blessed


 

Wedding Invitations

This past week the world gathered in awe to watch a family come together to watch their son marry his chosen bride of his heart. Weddings always fun, they are always stressful and they are always expensive This wedding was no exception to that rule.  The cost of this wedding was in the tens of millions.  A wedding fit for the grandson of a queen.  You all know who I am talking about.  Prince Harry’s marriage to American actress and activist Meghan Markle; the first interracial marriage in the British royal family in more than 200 years. The last being King George the III to Queen Charlotte in 1761. (The same King George that the 13 American colonies broke away from.)

Even if you didn’t see the wedding for yourself, it was hard to get away from.  Footage was all over the news. Coverage of the pomp and circumstance- from the dress, to the flowers, the sermon, the gospel choir and the tears of the groom- all of it was everywhere. Even the commentators covering the NBA Playoffs that Saturday night had something to say about the royal wedding.  Everyone who thought they were somebody was clamoring to have a seat at this wedding but only those who had a relationship with the happy couple ended up with an invitation.

But at the heart of all of this ceremony and celebration was a family- a kingdom- coming together to graft a new member into the family tree.

Watching what could be seen as excess splashed across the television could be a bit disillusioning until you take a step back to think.  There is a ceremony being planned right now that is more elaborate and more wonderful than what Harry and Meghan just experienced. In fact the coming celebration pales in comparison.  And it is being prepared just for you and me.

The U.K. and its Commonwealth has a Queen but we (Christians) are under the sovereign lordship of God the Father.  He is the king of the universe. He is richer than any ruler that has ever lived. He is just. He is fair. His resources are endless…..and His son is getting married.  We, the church, is His bride of choice- the bride of His heart.

In Revelation 19:6-9 we are told:

6 Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out,

“Hallelujah!
For the Lord our God
    the Almighty reigns.
7 Let us rejoice and exult
    and give him the glory,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
    and his Bride has made herself ready;
8 it was granted her to clothe herself
    with fine linen, bright and pure”—

for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.

9 And the angel said[a] to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.” (English Standard Version, ESV)

 

Twenty-nine million Americans watched last week’s royal wedding. That is only the viewership of one country. But the royal wedding I’m talking about will be watched by the universe.  Everyone will want a front row seat. But only those with a relationship with the Bridegroom will receive an invitation.  Everyone wants to be a guest at this wedding. But there is just one problem. The date is blank on the wedding invitation.  No one knows the day that the Bridegroom is coming to escort His bride to the wedding site. She lives in a perilous place. He must bring her to where is.

We are simply asked to be ready.

Be ready?  Oh He is not asking for us to have our tux starched or our dress steamed ready to go.  No In fact there is a garment at wedding waiting for each of us.  Instead He is asking for us to get our hearts right and to tell a friend.  You don’t even have to get the bleach out yourself. You just have to give your heart to Him.  He’ll do the work.  Oh you may be saying, give it to Him, but my heart has so many stains. Don’t worry. The Bridegroom has the ultimate stain remover.  He did the hardest part. He paid for the wedding in His own blood.  All you have to do is take His hand and receive the gift.

No one knows when the wedding is, but is closer than you think. You don’t have to be Oprah to come to this wedding; you just have to know the groom. It is the event of the ages and no one should miss it simply because they did not know.  My charge to you tonight is-tell a friend. Tell your friends that Jesus is coming soon. Tell your children that Jesus is coming soon. Tell your enemies that Jesus is coming.  Then show them that you are preparing your heart to meet the Bridegroom.

Be Blessed.

Waiting on an Open Door

Have you ever been waiting for an appointment that seems as if it will never come?  Your doctor’s appointment was scheduled for 9 am but the facility was already overwhelmed with patients at 8 am and so now- through no fault of your own- you are waiting.  It is not as if you didn’t follow instructions. You arrived on time (or early); but you are waiting.  You are waiting for the door to open and the tech to say, “Ms. Lady, the doctor will see you now.” So you try to be patient and read one the magazines they have provided; or you pull out your cell phone and check social media in order to pass the time.  All the while, your ears are alert to respond at the calling of your name. You are ready. You are in place, but the door just will not open- yet.

Welcome to the waiting room.

Sometimes the life of a Purpose Propelled Woman can feel just like that doctor’s appointment. However, it is not the doctor that we are waiting for.  It is our next level in God – our break though moment.  You have followed instructions and moved into position at the gentle urging of the Holy Spirit. You have showed up at the appointed time and signed in at the front desk. You are in the waiting room, but the door is not opening - for you.  In fact, it seems as if every one’s name is being called but yours.

Do not lose heart. This is not a prank.  Your break through, your promotion, the restoration of your family, really is coming. This is the right place. This is the right time. This is your door.

I am reminded of a parable of Jesus, the story of the ten virgins or bridesmaids found in Matthew chapter 25.  These ten bridesmaids were assigned to meet the Bridegroom upon his arrival for the wedding. They all arrived and were in place for the scheduled time of their appointment with the Bridegroom. All ten had their lamps burning ready for him to arrive, but hours ticked by and there was no Bridegroom.  Only five of the bridesmaids had prepared for the possibility of a delay.  These five had reserve oil for their lamps and could wait out the delay without falling into darkness.

The Bridegroom (Christ) did not show up for hours but there was no way He was not coming! The wedding could not be cancelled for His promises are true. Just as the bridesmaids were in the right place, so are you.  This is your door of opportunity.  This is your season to walk in all God has for you.  All the evil one can do is hinder or slow down your blessing.  He does not have the authority to cancel your blessing for he did not have the capacity to create it.  Hindrance and cancellation is not the same thing! There is no unholy force that can stop the plans God has for you from coming to fruition. Your door will open! The question is do we have the reserve oil to endure the waiting room?

Sometimes there is a test in the waiting room. This may be the time when you hear the voices of you haters in your ears. Those voices may cause you to question the depth of your trust in the One who authored the plan called your life. This is the time to praise God.  Praise, but nothing has happened yet! Nothing that you or I can see, but so much is going on that we cannot see. God is smoothing out the rough edges of your new situation so you won’t get cut up when you walk through the opened door. Praise drowns out the voices of the naysayers. Praise shows that you trust God and His plan even when you see nothing in front of you.  So fill your ears with what God has already done. Fill the vessel of your heart with the fresh oil of the Word. Worship Him until all other voices cease.

Just as He has prepared a mansion in Glory for you, He has prepared a place for you, right here on earth.  Will you walk out of the waiting room simply because your promotion did not come the moment that you walked in? No? Good! Instead, be filled with the spirit of God until your oil reserves overflow! Do you have the reserve oil from your time in the Almighty’s throne room to endure until your name is called? I believe you do. Your break though is closer than ever before. Do not fall into the darkness of lost hope when you are so close to all that God has prepared just for you.  Have faith that when the door finally opens- and you name is called at last -that on the other side of the appointment, on the other side of waiting for that promotion, that healing, that break through- is a place in God that is exceedingly, abundantly, above all you could ever ask or think. It is all of that and more, because that is the type of God we serve.

It’s coming, wait for it

Be Blessed

xylia