Holy Spirit Breathes Vision

I spent the day with dear friends last Friday sharing the Word of God and learning more about the recent launch of Chaverah Magazine. Founding Editor, Dr. Debbie Harper, uses her gift of bringing women together for the benefit of mutual encouragement and giving glory and praise to God the Father for all He is and all He does.

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Debbie and Rachel Harper of Chaverah Magazine

Every time I’m with Debbie, I get a morsel to chew on- she is that kind of mentor! She challenged me last week to have a vision now for what Sharing Love and Truth ministry will be when I have departed the earth. “Do you have a ‘hand-off’ strategy?” she asked. That is a savvy business mindset to be thinking now about those who will follow after you, and very few leaders implement it, she said.

I have a mission for my life that far outlives my temporal time on the earth, but I honestly had not given any thought to how that applies to the practical planning of the ministry. It really took me to the core question, do I see the value of the ministry I lead?

Such a deep question landed me on a walk in the woods this morning! Do you know what I mean? It is as though you are called outside where the expanse of God’s creation invites the mind to dream big! Today my walk revealed to me the renewed sense of rhythm. Life is a rhythm, and the best rhythm to be in the midst of is the flow of the Holy Spirit. It is through abiding that we find the rest God offers His children. The wind causing the tree branches to gracefully rise and fall spoke beautiful rhythm to me while I walked. The wave-like flight pattern of a yellow finch declared rhythm… Passing by my husband’s family home caused me to reflect on the cycle of life because now a new family lives there, raising children and carrying on daily without any knowledge of the Beamers who built the home, watched four children grow up, played with grandchildren, loved well, threw parties, laughed, grew old, and departed from this earth. Life is a rhythm.

In an effort to understand my value of the ministry, I had to ask God again for the vision. First comes vision. If I have heard from heaven, then I can run with the revelation given me.

“…Run with perseverance the race marked out for us…” (Hebrews 12:1).

This was a necessary question because I have sensed a shift in recent years, and it causes me to fine tune my speciality and my services, so that I am better able to reach my audience. So I came up with the following flow chart:

VISION leads to VALUE leads to INVESTMENT.

The most exciting thing is seeing the flow chart actually form a circle! It begins with God as the Holy Spirit imparts vision, it flows through my life as I run in faith and exhaust all the heavenly resources entrusted to me as I invest well in the lives of His daughters, and they, in turn, live increasingly abandoned to Jesus with Spirit-infused worshipful lives that unceasingly bring praise to the good Father in heaven.

In the short time this morning that I focused on Debbie’s challenge to me, walked, prayed and reflected, I would say that God supernaturally delivered! This overall season of change indeed produces a greater sense of clarity, and I believe that I am tracking well. At least that is what another mentor says of my process of seeking clear definition of the mission! She also plays a vital role in what will be produced in the coming months, but first I must capture the vision and have a true sense of value.

I’m curious- when you find yourself in a season of redefining mission, how do you process? Do the questions I pose and the process I’m working through resonate with you? Do you work solo through it or in community? I’d love to hear from you!

 

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Love Life

Sharing Love and Truth readers, thank you for being on this journey with me! I pray that we continue to move closer and closer to the Father’s heart and to one another.

I left a piece of my heart on the FundEasy page, and I’d love for you to read my update entitled, “To Save a Life,” that explains why I’m Walking 4 Life and raising funds through sponsorships of my walk. I have a big goal, but I serve a big God!

https://secure.ministrysync.com/ministrysync/event/website/?m=3219404#4

Much love,

Renee

When Faith is Tested

Faith apart from the Holy Spirit’s empowerment is wishful thinking. How often do we profess belief in God, but we rely more on the judgment of man? Think on it this way: when the disciples faced the fear of dying at sea and awakened Jesus, did they all consult a meteorologist to determine if they would come through the storm alive? No. Jesus abided in God’s Presence (see John 1:33), and the peace of God within Him commanded peace over the storm.

The same is true for every believer. We begin our journey of victory over the storms in life by drawing from within. The Spirit lives in us; we have “the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:19).

And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever- the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept Him, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. But you know Him, for He lives with you and will be in you (John 14: 16-17).

If these truths do not yet resonate within you, and you have believed upon Jesus as your Savior and live in obedience to Him, then perhaps your faith is being tested for the purpose of its maturation. As you look upon the mountains looming before you, you may feel a sense of hopelessness and a physical weakness.

There is one prescription: Dig into the Word of God and feed truth to the Spirit of truth within. Give Him something to agree with, and you will experience the empowerment of your faith. God’s Word comes alive to us in a hungry state for truth, and we delight more in it than temporal sustenance.

Personal testimony: In exercising my faith, my initial response to a personal dilemma is to consult the Holy Spirit who is always with me. Jesus said His name is Counselor, so with the understanding that He has no limitation due to His eternal nature, I always seek understanding through Him. He is all-knowing, and He is with me. If and when additional steps require a consultation with man, my expectation is for man to confirm what the Holy Counselor has already spoken to me.

You may be wondering if I have ever missed His direction? I have. One instance stands out in which I thought I heard the Spirit indicate that I would still make a speaking engagement on the west coast even though we on the east coast were swamped by a massive winter storm. With thousands of flights cancelled including mine, I came to the place of acknowledging that I was not going to make the event. In my disappointment, I prayed about it and received God’s peace.

Friend, God is not a good luck charm to bring that little extra blessing to life. He is life. All of the essence of life flows from Him, and His promise always to be present is one that we must discipline ourselves to acknowledge. For all who abide in Christ, there is never a moment that we are separated from all of heaven’s resources funded by the Father’s undying love for His children.

The Enemy Unveiled

Reading Nehemiah 6 I discover the enemy’s tactics fully exposed. When he sees you in the will of God, he brings on an assault of relentless attempts to distract and intimidate you.

Not to give any more focus to Satan than necessary, I write this post merely for education, in keeping with biblical truth that we are not unaware of the enemy’s schemes.

Nehemiah was in the process of leading Jerusalem’s citizens in the rebuilding of the walls surrounding the city. They were realizing much success. God’s work done God’s way will have His provision.

Tobias and Sanballat were the willing instruments to carry out Satan’s scheme. They solicited a meeting with Nehemiah who wisely saw through the distraction tactic and responded, “I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and go down to you?” (Nehemiah 6:3).

Expect the enemy to come and distract you from the work of God.

One rebuttal will not be sufficient in withstanding Satan’s goal to distract you. He sent the same message FOUR TIMES to Nehemiah, and all four times Nehemiah restated his focus to carry on the work of completing the wall’s rebuilding. It is no wonder the Scriptures teach us,  “… so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then…” (Ephesians 6:13-14).

Be prepared to resist the enemy not just one time, but multiple times.

The unsuccessful attempt to break down Nehemiah’s will through persistent soliciting grew to an all-out intimidation via blatant lying. Nehemiah received a letter stating, “It is reported among the nations- and Geshem says it is true- that you and the Jews are plotting to revolt, and therefore you are building the wall… Now this report will get back to the king…” (Nehemiah 6:6-7).

Nehemiah knew that Sanballat was trying to frighten him and the Jews, to get their eyes off the goal of the finished wall and to place them, instead, upon the unknown future should these lies get the best of them.

If you can’t be distracted, be prepared to hear the enemy voice lies about you.

But Nehemiah prayed, “Now strengthen my hands” (Nehemiah 6:9). Now. That is the prescription when the enemy threatens you with an unknown future. What if the work appointed me doesn’t get finished? What if all that I set out to do fails? In that moment we pray for the now. The future is God’s business. You and I are responsible for the now- to stay in step with the Spirit now is to walk in faithfulness to God’s will for our lives.

When the enemy tries to incite fear over the unknown future, pray for God’s NOW provision.

Do you think the devil relents at this stage of your resistance? Oh, he is not done! Nehemiah found that one who should have rallied with him in the completion of Jerusalem’s wall instead was a hired instigator of Tobiah and Sanballat. Nehemiah visited Shemaiah who gave counsel under the pretense of concern for his leader’s safety. He suggested that Nehemiah and he go to the temple to hide from those who threaten to kill him. Nehemiah responded, “Should a man like me run away? Or should one like me go into the temple to save his life? I will not go” (Nehemiah 6:11)! Nehemiah saw through the counsel as an attempt to discredit him and ruin his reputation as a leader with integrity.

The enemy will use the voice of others close to you to entice you with a compromise of your conviction in order to ruin your reputation.

Again, Nehemiah prayed to God and lifted up the names of those who relentlessly sought to intimidate him.

Dear fellow Christ-follower, are you in the will of God for your life? If so, you are well aware of the distractions and intimidation coming from the enemy’s camp! Our good Father in heaven douses us with needed wisdom for how to withstand the devil’s schemes. Take comfort that you are not experiencing anything uncommon to all who are in the body of Christ and doing His work, and know that your prayers are powerful and effective.

A Fresh Daily Approach

“God, You are a gracious giver.”

Isn’t it truer than any truth? God gives. God demonstrates His love. He always is communicating His nature to us, but we can be distracted by trouble and our needs. We can be stuck in the default mode of complaining.

In an effort to daily discipline my thoughts, I began to journal the things I’m receiving from the Father. These may be tangible, spiritual, relational… In everything I’m recognizing Him as the source. I’m giving Him praise for a life I don’t deserve to live and for the hope that is to come when Jesus returns for His Church.

I’m even hoping that this tactic becomes a conversation hack! So often our exchanges with others are filled with laundry lists of things we do. Nothing wrong with that- I am a goal-oriented person who enjoys checking off the to-do list. But in a renewed sense of identity, I want to focus on the truth that I’m called to be a good receiver.

He gives; I receive. Everything.

So, the next time someone asks, “What have you been up to?” (I’m always at a loss at how to respond- all that I do is unto the Lord), I believe I’ll be more prepared to say, “Currently, I’m practicing my receiving, and this is what my good Father in heaven has given to me today…!”

Benefits of daily disciplining the thoughts to what is being received from the Father:

  • He loves to be acknowledged
  • Overflow of thankfulness
  • Override of the complaining default mode
  • Praise is a weapon
  • Mindful of His nature
  • Continual inheritance of spiritual truths
  • Development of a healthy dependency
  • Growth of expectation in His goodness
  • Influence others to think on and speak about God’s goodness

On this beautiful spring day, I wrote the following entry:

Father, today I’m receiving from you the beauty of nature in bloom, the sweet song of birds, and the constant presence of my pup. In everything You are communicating Your faithfulness to me.

 

God Spoke Last Sunday

I love corporate worship, don’t you? God is revealing Himself as our hearts are fixed on Him in humble adoration. It is always such a special time in which we discover the unity we have in the Spirit.

Sunday, April 2, 2017 was no exception. I began interceding for our church- that the gifts expressed through the Holy Spirit’s empowerment would be freely released. I sensed that God had a word for us, and I prayed against any limitation that would be blocking it. During our meet and greet time, I approached Demetria, a guest in the service, and assured her that Pastor Jim is receptive to her speaking a word if she has one. I just sensed she was the one. She confirmed it by saying she had already spoken to Pastor.

Pastor asked her to come to the platform and share what the Lord had given her; he is very familiar with her prophetic gifting and trusted her with his flock that he faithfully shepherds. Demetria took the mic and released a prophetic song- that which she heard during the time of corporate worship.

“Though the times are changing, My Word remains the same… Be still and know that I am God.”

The congregation was encouraged. God is speaking, of this we are sure. The Holy Spirit is moving and promoting our unity in Him.

Today, I continue to digest this spoken word, because I know that individually we each have responsibility concerning our response. God is giving His Word priority in relationship to change. The manner and degree of change is not clarified; what is emphasized is the unchanging nature of God’s truth.

Allow me to employ some deductive reasoning: If God says that being still is a necessity, then we must posture ourselves to hear from Him. His Word is the source of truth, and the expectation is that we have a daily diet of God’s Word coupled with prayer to have eyes to see and ears to hear. Why? Why does Holy Spirit speak this direction to us in this day? What change is coming?

I share what I perceive from the Lord… the thing that takes me into prayer again and again. The power of deception is at work; it always has been, but the fruit of its work is defined now as good in our society.

In the community of faith, the gifts are given by Jesus for the purpose of preparing God’s people for works of service. The goal is for the body of Christ to be built up, “attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13). The following attributes will accompany the on-going process:

  1. Unity in the faith
  2. Knowledge of the Son
  3. Spiritual maturation
  4. No longer tossed back and forth by the waves
  5. No longer blown here and there by every wind of teaching
  6. No longer influenced by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming (See Ephesians 4:12-14).

I have been saying for three months, “The winds of change are blowing.” The scripture above pinpoints the wind manifesting as teaching- teaching that takes an unsuspecting soul far from God’s truth. Friend, you and I must not be unaware and caught off guard by what is surely a pervasive thrust in our day. There is an all-out demonic attack to bring spiritual blindness through deceptive teaching.

God’s antidote is that we be still and know Him; position ourselves to hear Him speak truth to our innermost being as we consume the Word. The times are changing, but God’s Word remains the same.

Let’s Talk Words

“Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).

That is what I was- a slanderer. I talked about people, putting them down in my conversations with others. It was destructive behavior, and as much as I wanted to be a nice girl and to be accepted by others, gossip was still a part of my nature. I couldn’t overcome the temptation.

“But you were washed…” When I confessed my sin and surrendered my life to Jesus, everything changed. The temptation to gossip was still present, and at times I stumbled, but the transformation increasingly happened as I took in the truths of God’s Word. A holy reverence and a Spirit empowerment became the guards of my mouth.

The Bible makes clear that every word spoken in secret will be openly proclaimed (See Luke 12:3). That puts a holy fear in a girl whose past included loose lips! Thank Jesus that He is faithful and just to forgive us of all unrighteousness when we confess our sins. All  record of  my rebellion to God in the form of beliefs, words, and actions is washed clean. I have been justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Early in my learning about how to live my faith in Jesus, I remember hearing the testimony about someone who was known for never speaking a negative word about another person. Of course, a reputation like that struck me with awe. Oh, how I wished that was my testimony. I was beginning to understand for the first time that every person has been created in the image of God. Every person has an inherit value because the Creator deemed his/her existence. Therefore, what I speak to another or speak about him is vital. I must use my mouth to make agreement with God, because words hold power of life and death (See Proverbs 18:21).

Paul’s words recorded in Philippians 3:12-14 encourage me, and I hope they encourage you: “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

Did you blow it last year, last month, or last week? Even if your failure was as recent as yesterday, embrace the truth that God’s mercies are new every morning (See Lamentations 3:22). Make amends with the one you have hurt in any way that you have power to do so. And let this mercy we have in Jesus revive your spirit and bring rest for your soul!