Enlarge Your Hearts-Sheryl

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Jabez called upon the God of Israel, saying, “Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my border… (I Chronicles 4:10)

Lord, may I see Your glory?  Grant me more faith. My heart bows before You.

 

I remember bits of a dream.  I seemed to be part of a house church that also lived together in a couple buildings, one much larger than the other.  There arose some minor differences in theology and the leaders took their disciples away to live elsewhere.  Before too much time passed they brought them back again but then left themselves.  I think the people wanted to return, perhaps missing their friends.  There was a little discomfort as everyone tried to pick up the thread of fellowship and working together again while coming to accept some slight doctrinal differences.  As this was happening the group seemed to be suddenly invaded by a group of undisciplined and somewhat wild animals.  The dogs and horses were more of an inconvenience or nuisance while there seemed to be some threat posed by the lions and tigers.  No one was hurt just frightened at times.

 

Would you speak into this, Lord  I am guessing at parts of it.

 

“You are correct as far as your guesses go, but I will explain more fully.  The first part represents various streams of believers learning various truths and aspects thereof.  For instance, when the charismatic renewal began it was easier to separate out of older fellowships if your experiences were being questioned or disallowed.  Now, true believers are finding their way back to one another with better understanding that there are differences in understanding and practice that do not negate the basic truth and foundation of My Word.  There is more tolerance and sharing.  The more persecution threatens the tighter those bonds get.

 

The animals are different.  You pray for in-gathering.  You shall have it but it will be messy, threatening at times, and require much patience, love, and teaching. Can you love and reach out to the undisciplined, the unwashed, and those with nasty habits, mouths, or addictions?  Will you be able to see through those things to the hurting, seeking hearts willing to turn all over to Me?  Gird yourself with truth now.  Cultivate the fruit in your own lives that you may see and cultivate it in others.  Deeply desire and pursue the gifts you hunger for in your hearts.  Know I inspire them but call you up higher before I can entrust them to you.  I want My Bride to be ready to nurture My babes.  I want you to be truly known by your love for one another as Mine.”

 

Lord, do You want to tell me about the 2 house or building sizes in my dream?  One seemed like a small cottage. The other seemed to be at least a two-story apartment or house.

 

“The small house is the current standard.  My church, My house, My people need to enlarge their hearts, enlarge their vision, and I will fill the larger house.  I’m just warning you, if you are serious, it will be messy.”

Reference Point [Noval]

Proverbs 29:18 New International Version (NIV)

18 Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint;
    but blessed is the one who heeds wisdom’s instruction.

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The Proverbs say that for lack of a vision, people are unrestrained.  One translation says “run riot”. 

I think one of the biggest sources of discouragement, of spiritual and emotional blahs for me is loss of a controlling vision for what my life is about.  If I lose focus and don’t have a sense of an organizing principle that holds my various activities, relationships, priorities and objectives together, I begin to experience boredom, fatigue, discouragement, sensuality and a host of other maladies. 

Maybe that’s why I love Psalm 1 and Romans 12, so much, especially Psalm 1.  It’s still a little broad and abstract, I suppose, but when I say to myself, “I want to be like the 1st Psalm 1 guy (how blessed is the man…) and not the 2nd (not so the wicked…)” it feels like my feet are reconnecting with sold ground. 

I want to be so steeped in what God’s word says about wisdom, about love, about humility and holiness and transparency, the dignity of work, etc. that folks around me can “taste and see” something of God’s character. 

Maybe one of the reasons I’ve always loved lighthouses so is what they represent in terms of navigation: a fixed reference point that tells you where you are.  The wicked guy in Psalm1 gets blown around by life because he’s got no focus, no reference point.  So he’s vulnerable to the counsel and influence of the ungodly, the sinners and mockers. 

The young fool who gets seduced in Proverbs 7 has a similar problem.  Several translations say he lacks sense, but the Hebrew leb also means heart

What does it mean to lose heart?  Doesn’t it often involve the loss of a sense of identity, of purpose and direction?  My guess is that the vulnerability of the young fool stems less from sensuality than from boredom.  He doesn’t rush into the seductress’s arms; he sort of stumbles, drifts toward her.   He’s lost focus and vision.  He’s forgotten what his life means, why he’s alive and who he is.  He can’t see the lighthouse. 

Like the lady of the night in Proverbs 7, the enemy of souls zeroes in on drifting, boredom and loss of vision like a heat-seeking missile to offer his cheap and deadly imitations of the real life we hunger and thirst for. 

I think  this issue is directly related to Jesus’ repeated exhortations in John 15 to abide in Him and with Him.  “Come to Me“, He invites.  “Look at the Light.  Remember who you are and why you’re alive so you don’t get seduced.  So your fruit will remain.  So you won’t get blown around like chaff.

Work It [Noval]

Proverbs 24:3-4 New International Version (NIV)

By wisdom a house is built,
    and through understanding it is established;
through knowledge its rooms are filled
    with rare and beautiful treasures.

Don’t let my enemies triumph over me….teach me wisdom, knowledge, understanding and the holy Fear of the Lord.  

Wisdom is like a muscle; it grows and expands the more you exercise it, choice by choice, decision by decision.  There are no shortcuts.  It’s not normally just imparted, but developed  over time.  True wisdom is a lifestyle.  Knowledge and understanding  are essential but not sufficient to the development of wisdom.  Wisdom is developed as knowledge and understanding are applied in practical, real-life choices and decisions.

Deep heart transformation involves a process of observing cause/effect relationships between good choices and good fruit or poor choices and bad fruit.  You can make these kinds of observations by looking at the lives of others, but the lessons that really “stick to your ribs” involve your own choices and decisions.  This is where you “taste and see” the benefits of the Fear of the Lord. 

This is where the neuroplasticity I’ve built into your brain becomes really significant.  “Tasting and seeing” the results of your own choices can rewire your neural circuits.  The repeated rewards or chastisements that result from choices develop habits that become lifestyle that become character. 

My servant Paul touched on this in Romans 5: affliction produces endurance, endurance proven character, and proven character, hope.  In this context think of affliction as resistance.  As you choose the right paths in the face of resistance, temptations, difficulties and short-term costs, the muscle grows: the capacity to see beyond the short-term costs to the long-term fruit.  True wisdom is born of faith-the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. 

Proven character is able to say “no” to the enticements of the easy choice, the broad road, the cheap substitutes for real life because of clear vision.  And, again, vision gets clarified over time as you see the long-term fruits of your choices. 

Clear vision thinks in terms of generations, of legacy, of passing  the blessings of  life well-lived to those coming after you.

Pick Up Your Cross-Sheryl

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 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. (Matt. 16:24)

“While worship is My due, I desire to raise you up to sit beside me.”

Even seated beside You in heavenly places it is still my role to worship You, my Lord and my God! 

Lord, what does it really mean for me to deny myself and pick up my cross?  Is it only doing the daily stuff, the work that is mine that is before me, or is it deeper than that?  The cross was an instrument of torture and death, but I don’t think You are passing out that for everyone every day. 

“For Me it meant torture and death, which I defeated.  While the world may hate you and some may meet this fate at its hand it is not what I give.  The cross I refer to is laying aside your agenda for mine.  It is crucifying the old nature and walking in newness of life.  You carry My agenda, bear one another’s burdens, serve others, consider others more important.  There is a yoke or cross to bear but I promised to be in it with you and that My yoke would be easy and my burden light.  If I am in it and have called you to it, you can do it.” 

And I need to “abide” in You, stay closely connected to You, stay aware of Your Presence and the voice of Your Spirit to get My assignment and directions on the path You set before me. It is laying down what I think I want to do and listening for Your voice. 

“That is the bottom line and where the sticking point is.  Do you choose Me or going your own way?” 

I want to grow in abiding and choosing You, Lord.

A Matter of Faith [Noval]

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I’ve got a river of life flowing out of me! Makes the lame to walk, and the blind to see. Opens prison doors, sets the captives free! I’ve got a river of life flowing out of me! Spring up, O well, within my soul! Spring up, O well, and make me whole! Spring up, O well, and give to me That life abundantly. Words and Music by L. Casebolt

Increase my joy!  Your joy is my strength. 

My righteous one lives by faith.  One of the quickest ways to get discouraged is to fail to see immediate fruit from your efforts at loving, serving, connecting, doing life in My presence and to conclude that nothing of value is happening.  Recall I compared My kingdom to a grain of mustard seed- seemingly irrelevant, inconsequential- but containing the potential for abundant life in you and others.  But because you may not see immediate cause/effect relationships, the enemy can offer you his key lies: insignificance, impotence, incompetence- and get your focus all distorted. 

Don’t buy his lies. Come and abide with Me and in Me and you’ll bear lots of fruit.  That’s My promise and My promises are true. 

You need new eyes to see the kingdom.  It’s not what appears to be happening today that’s really significant, but your vision for the potential in your life.  I’ll say again what I’ve said before: your number one job as a believer is to believe:  that I am in you and you are in Me; that your sin is utterly cleansed and cancelled; that My power and life can flow and are flowing through you to others; that nothing can separate you from My love; that you have everything you need pertaining to life and godliness. 

This isn’t a matter of trying to cause something to flow out of your life that people hunger for, thirst for, ache for.  It’s knowing that it’s already happening and acting accordingly.  Just go offer your authentic self to others.  When you do that you’re really offering Me.

Be a Light–Sheryl

36A Sunrise on the river

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. (Gal. 5:22)

Father, I need You.  I need to hear Your voice and to fellowship with You. You are the Way, the Truth, and the Life, Jesus.  I only come through You.  Holy Spirit here is the key to my mind and heart.  Make the words of my Lord real and plain to me.  Here is my will.  I totally desire for it to be bent in submission to You.  I worship You, Lord…I see us walking along that dusty, sunny road.  What is on Your heart for me today? 

“You listen to My will and Word almost every day. You often read it.” 

Maybe I am asking for specific direction.  I want to be thoroughly abiding in You, connected to my life-giving Vine. 

“I know your heart, but your will is often divided.  You shy away from discomfort, even inconvenience.  I bring a very uncomfortable, inconvenient message.  Those who carry it are often misunderstood at best and ignored, shunned, mocked, even persecuted at worst.  But so was I.  There was light for a season, but the days are getting darker again.  The thunderclouds and the vultures gather.  But still many need to hear My Word, have My hope, feel My love.  Pour out those things wherever you can.” 

How do we reach those who are so dear to us?  Speak through us when we need to be more direct.  Send others when we aren’t the ones they will hear. 

“Continue to love them.  While you don’t boast of or in your good works you can let them know what you are doing, learning, and how you are serving.  Let them know when you see My power and love at work.  Be a light on a hill. Reach out in love.  Pray for needs.  Ask if you don’t know if it will be received.  Pray silently when necessary and aloud when you can.  Carry My Presence and Spirit with you.  Be the one that changes the atmosphere.  Constantly bring yourself back to abiding, listening, and serving.  Where a sermon is disdained a testimony might find an audience.  Let My work and Spirit shine in you.  Let hope, light, peace, love, joy and all the fruits of My Spirit pour through you.  They come from My hand to shed abroad.  My gifts aren’t for your benefit but to use in ministry to others.  Bless others in My Name.  Let it be clear Who you serve, not an ism, a ritual, nor a law, but your Creator, your Lover, your Savior, your Friend.  That is how to reach others.” 

Moment by moment I need Your help, strength and reminders, Lord.  I want to be always conscious of You and to not grieve Your Spirit.

Preparing for the Deep-Sheryl

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“these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. (1 Cor. 2:10)

 

Show me how to abide, Lord!  I see we are at the lake and the boat is right side up.

 

“Get in the boat.” 

We aren’t in the water. 

“But I am ready to shove the boat out.” 

As long as You get in with me–I don’t want to go anywhere without You.  I know You are strong, but wouldn’t it be easier to shove the boat over sand if I weren’t in it? 

“You need to be in My boat before we can depart. Sometimes I have to push you through a rough patch to prepare you to sail on the deep.” 

I do see You slowly doing things in me, changing me.  Please continue.  I want to be more like You and abide in You.  I wish there was not so much You have to do to prepare me for further usefulness.  I guess I haven’t always been very cooperative.  I have known Your Presence most of my life, understanding and seeking salvation at 11, but  I have been much too self-centered and stubborn.  Please continue Your work in Me. 

“There is no question about that.  I see your ‘Yes’ and even questionable characteristics can be transformed into what I originally intended.  By My Spirit stubbornness is not far from perseverance.  Self-centered can transform into God-centered.” 

Transform me, Lord, so I can sail under the winds of Your Spirit.  I am in the boat and You are shoving it across the sand.  Now we are at the water’s edge.  Are we going to sail? 

“When the weather conditions are right, when circumstances line up we will depart.  We have taken short sails in the past.  We are building up to longer journeys.” 

Isn’t my life a journey with You? 

“Yes, it is a journey, but at times you have left Me on the shore and sailed out on your own.  You found wielding the oars on your own hard work.  Sometimes we have skirted the lake with the bottom almost dragging the water was so shallow or gone ashore for long stretches.  There have been a few times you have walked on the water with Me or swum in the deep with Me.  There were times during storms when you thought you were about to drown, cried out for Me and clung to Me as your life preserver.  And there were times that I carried you along the shore and others when we danced in the moonlight.  But new journeys await that I have been preparing for you.” 

Lord, as we sit at the water’s edge will You come and put Your arms around me, strengthen me, and empower me for the journey? 

“I will never leave you or forsake you.  I am yours and you are Mine and My banner over you is love.”