Witness Him Now
Friends, we are living in crazy times. Everywhere I look people are being attacked from all sides. Finances. Relationships. Kids. Spouse. Health. Jobs. Broken this. Broken that. Anxieties. Fears. Anger. Frustration. Bitterness. Offense. It's coming from every direction, and there is no way to stop it. This last week a dear friend of ours stormed out of our shop saying, "I can't catch a break!"
Can you see this happening? You can't catch a break. This is by design. God is trying to get our attention. He is trying to turn our hearts like water back toward Him again, but we have to know what we are doing before we can fix it. From scripture I can see several things that might be happening. I want to share what I see.
Haggai says it this way: The people are saying, "The time has not yet come to rebuild the house of the LORD." Then the LORD sent this message through the prophet Haggai. "Why are you living in luxurious houses while My house lies in ruins? This is what the LORD of Heaven's Armies says: Look at what's happening to you! You have planted much but harvest little. You eat but are not satisfied. You drink but are still thirsty. You put on clothes but cannot keep warm. Your wages disappear as though you were putting then in pockets filled with holes!"
Can you see yourself in this passage? You plant much, but harvest little? Your wages disappear as though you had holes in your pockets? Something is happening. "This is what the LORD of Heaven's Armies says: Look at what's happening to you! Now go up into the hills, bring down timber, and rebuild My house. Then I will take pleasure in it and be honored, says the LORD. You hoped for rich harvests, but they were poor. And when you brought your harvest home, I blew it away. Why? Because My house lies in ruins, says the LORD of Heaven's Armies, while all of you are busy building your own fine houses. It's because of you that the heavens withhold the dew and the earth produces no crops. I have called for a drought on your fields and hills - a drought to wither the grain and grapes and olive trees and all your other crops, a drought to starve you and your livestock and to ruin everything you have worked so hard to get."
God is ruining everything that we have worked so hard to get. Is that crazy? We are good people. We don't try to hurt anyone. But we are going the wrong direction. We are trying to build our own kingdom. We do want our fine homes and fancy cars. All of our energy has been and is being spent on ourselves and what we want. But the time has now come to build God's house, but what does that mean? I don't know what it means for you. I do know what it means for me. I have turned my back on this world and all it has to offer. That's not saying that I don't work hard and try to make things nice. It is saying that this world is not where I am spending my time and energy and money. My focus is on the Kingdom and what my Father wants me to do. At this moment it is 2:30 in the morning, and He wants me to blog. I am trying to listen to what He wants and to be obedient. If you will face Jesus right now with your heart wide open and listen, you will know what God wants from you, too. Then tell God you are sorry for what you have been doing, and begin to obey.
Next, I see passages in Malachi 2:13-16 that explain what might be happening. "Here is another thing you do, You cover the LORD's altar with tears, weeping and groaning because He pays no attention to your offerings and doesn't accept them with pleasure. You cry out, 'Why doesn't the LORD accept my worship?'" I'll tell you why! Because the LORD witnessed the vows you and your wife made when you were young. But you have been unfaithful to her, though she remained your faithful partner, the wife of your marriage vows.
Didn't the LORD make you one with your wife? In body and spirit you are His. And what does He want? Godly children from your union. So guard your heart; remain loyal to the wife of your youth. "For I hate divorce!" says the LORD, the God of Israel. "To divorce your wife is to overwhelm her with cruelty." says the LORD of Heaven's Armies. "So guard your heart; do not be unfaithful to your wife."
I don't want anyone to feel condemnation here about what has happened in the past that you cannot change. God makes all things new, and what the enemy means for evil, God will use for good, so let the past be the past. But our Father wants faithful people. Solid people. Solid relationships. He loves faithful. He is faithful, and He expects His children to be faithful. That faithfulness is not just what we do or don't do, it is what we think. He wants us faithful to our spouse in our thought life. He wants us to be on each other's side. We are one, and as long as we remain one, our children are safe. So we must guard our heart and remain faithful to our spouse. If you have not been doing that, tell God that you are guilty of being unfaithful in your heart. Then turn your back on whoever you were looking at and turn your face toward Jesus and toward your spouse. Open your heart wide. Love again.
Love is patient and kind. It is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Love never fails.
Then in Malachi 3, it says, "Return to Me, and I will return to you," says the LORD of Heaven's Armies. "But you ask, 'How can we return when we have not gone away?' "Should people cheat God? Yet you have cheated Me!" "But you ask, 'What do you mean? When did we ever cheat You?"
"You have cheated Me of the tithes and offerings due to Me. You are under a curse, for your whole nation has been cheating Me. Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in My Temple. If you do," says the LORD of Heaven's Armies, "I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great yuou won't have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put Me to the test! Your crops will be abundant, for I will guard them from insects and disease. Your grapes will not fall from the vine before they are ripe," says the LORD of Heaven's Armies. Then all nations will call you blessed, for your land will be such a delight," says the LORD of Heaven's Armies.
Friends, God does not need our money. He owns it all. It is our heart that He is after, and our heart and our money are tied together. If we do not give tithes (10% of all our income goes to the church we are attending) and offerings (given wherever God wants us to give, wherever He wants us to give it), our heart does not belong to God. His hands are tied. We are cursed with a curse. Everything we do is cursed. But there is an easy fix. Tell God you are guilty and sorry for cheating and stealing from Him, then give. At first, it is hard. It gets easier and easier. ESPECIALLY when we see what God is then allowed to do for us. I am telling you, it is crazy! God rebukes the devourer, and He opens up the windows of heaven. It is like the exact opposite of - "I can't catch a break." Every break comes our way! It is AMAZING! Test Him. See what happens.
Another thing I see in Malachi is that we are speaking out against God. "You have said terrible things about Me," says the LORD. "But you say, 'What do you mean? What have we said against you?'" "You have said, ' What's the use of serving God? What have we gained by obeying His commands or by trying to show the LORD of Heaven's Armies that we are sorry for our sins? From now on we will call the arrogant blessed. For those who do evil get rich, and those who dare God to punish them suffer no harm.'"
Wow! Have you ever been there? Thinking that you are serving God for nothing. Like He doesn't see or care? Watching others prosper while you don't, and you think, "It's not fair." My friends, God knows what He is doing. He is fattening up the wicked for slaughter, but for us, He disciplines those He loves. "As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as His own children. Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father? If God doesn't discipline you as He does all of His children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really His children at all. Since we respected our earthly fathers who disciplined us, shouldn't we submit even more to the discipline of the Father of our spirits and live forever?"
For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years doing the best they knew how. But God's discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in His holiness. No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening - it's painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way. So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong." Hebrews 12
If you find yourself in this passage, speaking out against God, turn your face toward Him with your heart wide open and tell Him how sorry you are. Then let Him into every part of who you are. Let Him heal you and set you free. Let Him do whatever He needs to do. Rejoice in the fact that you are His child, and He loves you enough to discipline you.
Now this next passage is a hard one. It requires complete surrender. God wants us to give up our pride and our power. He is the One in control, we are not. "O Israel," says the LORD, if you wanted to return to Me, you could. You could throw away your detestable idols and stray away no more. Then when you swear by My name, saying, 'As surely as the LORD lives,' you could do so with truth, justice, and righteousness. Then you would be a blessing to the nations of the world, and all people would come and praise My name."
This is what the LORD says to the people of Judah and Jerusalem: "Plow up the hard ground of your hearts! Do not waste your good seed among thorns (the world). O people of Judah and Jerusalem, surrender your pride and power. Change your hearts before the LORD, or My anger will burn like an unquenchable fire because of all your sins." Jeremiah 4:1-4
Wow! If we do not give up complete control and all of our pride, God's anger will burn like an unquenchable fire against us. Can I just be real with you right now. My heart is trembling at the time period we are entering. God is coming near to His people. It's a holy time, a time when the whole world will see the power of our God. No one will question that there is a God in Heaven. But with holy comes a reverent fear. We are about to enter a time like the early church - where Ananias and Sapphira were struck dead for lying to the Holy Spirit. (Acts 5) . That's why this preparation time is so important. God is preparing His people to receive and to hold His glory. Only someone who is completely set apart can do that.
So we are going through the fire. It will refine us. We will look like and act like and speak like our Father. Malachi says it like this: "Then those who feared the LORD spoke with each other and the LORD listened to what they said. In His presence, a scroll of remembrance was written to record the names of those who feared Him and always thought about the honor of His name." "'They will be My people, says the LORD of Heaven's Armies. "On the day when I act in judgment they will be My own special treasure. I will spare them as a father spares an obedient child. Then you will again see the difference between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not."
The whole world will be able to see the difference between the righteous and the wicked. This has nothing to do with playing church. This has everything to do with obedience. The fire will show what is real and what will be burned. May we all come through this like pure gold. I ask this in Jesus' name. AMEN
Tomorrow is my birthday, and I will be 59 years old. Fifty-nine. Where did the years go? So all day long I have been working in the shop - this is our busy season, and there is no time to stop and rest - and I have been reflecting on what it feels like to be 59. It surprised me what I found out. I feel like a little girl - maybe six-years-old, laughing and playing in a meadow or by a stream. Chasing butterflies. Splashing in water. Carefree. Content. Protected. Happy.
Now, don't get me wrong. That is not what my body is saying. My body is saying, "Girl, you need to sit down. You are working way too hard." But my soul is jumping up and down and twirling and dancing. It is free. So I am asking, "Why?"
And I find that I am completely trusting my Father to care for me. I feel safe, like nothing can touch me. Somehow or another, some place or time, I began to trust Him. I began to depend on Him to do what I can't. I began to believe every promise He has ever given me, and I began to believe every promise He has given me for my family. I trust Him to care for those I love. So I trust that "All things will work together for good," and "I know the plans He has for me, plans to prosper and not to harm," and "No weapon formed against me will prosper, and every tongue that rises against me will fall," and "I will never leave you nor forsake you." So now I look out there, and everything I see is good. In the natural, it may not look good, but I trust my Father. I trust what He says. I trust what He does. He guides our footsteps, and He delights in every detail of our lives. So I can be that little girl.
That little girl does not worry about the future and what it holds. That little girls does not concern herself with what may or may not happen. That little girl knows that her Father will take care of it all. That little girl knows that her big, strong, loving Father is wise and just and noble. She knows that His unfailing love will see her through anything that happens. And that little girl knows that she is a Daddy's girl. Her Father loves her so very much.
So I look out there and the everyday, mundane things call our name. We get up. We go to work. We clean and care for those we love. And sometimes we think, like Solomon, that life is meaningless, a chasing after the wind - and it is. Everything in this life is just vanity. BUT, if we can ever come to the place where we are little children again - WOW! In Mathew 18:3-4 Jesus says, "I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven."
So, my friends, my heart is rejoicing in the little girl inside of me. The outside is aging and tired, but the inside is brand new. My prayer is that you, too, may find the child within. May you, too, know that your Father loves you so deeply and that He wants to protect and provide for you, too.
Happy Birthday to me!
The scripture says, "May you prosper and be in health, even as your soul prospers."