The truths concerning My dwelling place are powerful and full of many elements. My original tabernacle was a temporary, portable shelter in which My presence was seen in the forms of cloud and fire. There I met with Moses face to face and showed him what I wanted for Israel. As the pillar of cloud/fire lifted, Israel took down the tabernacle and followed until I came to rest. Then the tabernacle was set up and Israel camped until I moved them forward again. Following Me was a day by day reality for them. They had no idea whether I would keep them in one place for a day or for a year. Their eyes had to remain fixed on My presence for direction.
Years after settling in Canaan, Israel was ruled by David, a man after My own heart. He wanted to build Me a temple, but it was My will that his son Solomon fulfill that duty instead. David made preparations. Again My dwelling place was built from the very finest materials I had created. It was glorious, extravagant, filled with gold and splendor—-a wonder that honored the Creator of all things. There was still that special place where My presence rested, and Israel knew that I dwelt among them.
After many kings lived and died and Israel had forsaken Me over and over again, the time came when her enemies overpowered her and My temple was ransacked and eventually in ruins. Following years in captivity I put it in the hearts of faithful men to return to the land and rebuild the temple and the wall around Jerusalem. They were heartbroken to see the disrepair and condition of My dwelling, but they were determined to make things better. A season of reconstruction began under My direction. For a time men became distracted and began building their own homes and neglected My temple. In a very similar way today, My people are caught up in the ways of the world. They try to do the right things but so often with the wrong motivation. They are trying to care for My temple, their bodies, but are motivated by appearance and approval rather than by honor for Me and My dwelling place. Others believe they are working to further My kingdom when they are often advancing their own organization, ministry, or influence. Success on those terms only glorifies man and his own righteousness instead of becoming broken bread and poured out wine that meets the needs of a world starving for Me.
When Israel returned to the job I had given them they found that I cared for and blessed them in the process. I was pleased with their work and effort. I protected them from their enemies and provided all their needs. I encouraged them in the day to day labor of reconstruction. Honoring Me is an active living undertaking. It is not merely a matter of completed perfection; I am honored not only when everything is in its ordered place. It begins in the heart, and every step taken, every work spoken, every thought and intent worthy of My name honors Me. I see and know the hearts and motives of My people and honor those who honor Me.
When the temple was completed the people celebrated a dedication to Me. To the human eye the new temple did not compare with the glory of the first, and some were disappointed. People never see things the way I do. My people had again welcomed My presence and My Spirit among them, and I was lifted and exalted in their eyes. The new covenant that I share with you now is even better. My Spirit is abiding in your midst and I fill My dwelling with My glory, Christ in you, the hope of glory. Set your heart on Me and do not be grieved or discouraged, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.
Ezra 1:1-6; Ezra 3:7-13; Haggai 1-2; Colossians 1:27; Colossians 3:1-4; Nehemiah 8:10
84. THIS MOMENT
I pray, Father, that all I do and say would
Set a guard, Lord, over my heart and mind and mouth
in order to establish Your kingdom rule in every exchange,
both incoming and outgoing.
Make me sensitive to what offends Your Spirit
and avoid it at all cost.
Help me to see the boundaries You have set for me
to guard against defilement of Your dwelling place
in me and in Your church as a whole.
You have set me apart; You have set Your people apart,
not to be unapproachable or withdrawn from the world,
but to offer a fragrance and light and hope in the darkest of places.
Help me fill my part in Your purpose.
There is a power, My child, in each one that belongs to Me. That power is not a ramped up version of your best intents and abilities. That power is a person, the Holy spirit who has taken up residence in you. He is Me. He is not some nice influence or better part of your personality. He is not the sum of the strengths you may try to rally while you resist the pull of temptations that have mastered you in the past. He is Me.
You intend for Me to have rule over your life; you want Me to do My will. But you find yourself caught up in things that should have no place in your life and leave you feeling like you have wasted time and energy on what is worthless. This is the sad state of many of My people living in defeat and not understanding how they got there.
I live in you. I LIVE in you. I live IN you. I live in YOU. Let My truth sink deep into your heart. You will live in defeat until you understand that your life ended at the cross, was buried, and is raised to a new life, My life in you. I am a part of every breath you take and every moment you live. Live out from My life in THIS moment. Do it again in THIS moment. Allow into your heart and mind and life only what I bring you in THIS moment. Give the world its walking papers. It has no place in you. When you take in the good things that I have for you, you will have no appetite for the refuse the world offers. Focus on the intake and what you are feeding on. The outflow will reflect and be in character with what you have taken in. When you feed on Me and My goodness, love will flow out and express itself according to the opportunity I place before you. Again you will depend on Me in THIS moment to show My love, make a choice, offer a cup of cold water, be broken bread or poured out wine to someone else. I do not separate you from the world; I transform the world where you are standing into My kingdom in THIS moment. Do not look for the over-arching purpose and plan for your life. Live by Me in THIS moment. ALWAYS.
Romans 7:14-25; Romans 8:1-17; Galatians 5:16-25; 1 John 2:15-17;
2 Corinthians 2:14-16; Colossians 3:16-17; Colossians 4:5-6; Hebrews 13:20-21
85. LEARNING CONTENTMENT
Paul said in Philippians that he had learned
to be content in any circumstances.
We all seek many different things,
believing that they will bring us contentment.
What does it mean to learn to be content?
Most of the people you meet every day run to and fro, endlessly seeking contentment from their achievements, attainments, and possessions. They believe that doing better, being successful, and having more will fill the void they feel. They turn careers, homes, health, and even relationships into idols by drawing their satisfaction and self-worth from them. Sadly, when a dream is fully realized, they find that the void remains.
My people can fall into the same trap. They can idolize the same things that the unsaved do and add to those by worshiping a religious system with their own spiritual maturity at the forefront.
This was never My design. I offer you something better as My child. You are My very own, and it is My plan that you learn contentment. That may not sound like the plan you would choose. It would be much simpler if your circumstances fell into place according to your preferences and prayers, and you would, therefore, be content. I have chosen, instead, that you learn because that is a process that requires your attention, your time, and your will to choose My ways. You will need to humble yourself under My instruction and sovereignty in order to progress in the class of contentment.
We start with your circumstances. They may be favorable or not. They may seem to be the result of My grace, your bad decisions, someone else’s sin, or even Satan’s plot against you. It matters not. If you are My child no circumstance can touch you that I have not in some way allowed, so the place to start is to accept it from My hand. Next, you must understand that the circumstances you find yourself in are something completely separate from your ability to find contentment.
Paul also said, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” He had learned that his satisfaction was anchored in Me. Because I am rock-solid and unchangeable, the shifting of your circumstances does not have to dictate your ability to be content. What greater “all things” could you hope to accomplish than to be content in any circumstance? That is a prize worth striving for.
As you walk closely with Me, trust Me with the details of your life. You will find your heart is satisfied in ways neither the world nor Christian activity can match. You will develop repose deep within where I dwell that no changing circumstance can stir for very long.
You will learn that when your appetites scream for more, and when your needs exceed the supply, you can enter into the fellowship of My suffering and find satisfaction in Me. On the other hand, when your path is full of delight and there is abundance at every turn, you can humbly lay it all at My feet and find your chief joy and contentment in knowing Me.
All this and more awaits, if you will come and learn from Me. Are you tired of trying to fill your own void? “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
Philippians 3-4; Matthew 11:28-30
86. PAGAN SHRINES
There is a pattern in the reigns of Judah’s kings
beginning with Solomon and continuing through nearly
every king that followed.
Solomon fell away from worshiping You,
the one true God,
and erected pagan shrines throughout the land
where people offered sacrifices to and worshiped false gods.
Even many kings who were commended for following You
with a whole heart allowed these shrines to remain in the land.
They were a snare to the entire nation,
leading them away from God.
What is it, Lord, in my life that is a pagan shrine?
What is it that I allow to exist in my heart and life that pulls me
away from You even when I believe
that I am giving You my whole heart?
You have seen the crux of the issue that eventually led Judah into captivity. Even though a king was devoted to Me, he would fail to purge the land completely because the idols had become so much a part of the daily life of the nation that he would not recognize the danger they presented. The people came to the Temple, offered their regular sacrifices, and celebrated the festivals in all sincerity. They would worship Me, follow My laws, and fulfill their duties with devotion, but near to their homes were the comforts and convenience of the familiar shrines.
The pagan gods were easy to get along with. They didn’t demand holiness or strike any fear in their hearts because they were gods of their own invention. They pandered to the appetites and desires of the people, justifying and excusing their selfishness, their pride, and the darkness in their hearts they were unwilling to part with. The people could satisfy God’s expectations at the Temple and then conveniently pursue their own lusts, calling it a religion, and feeling like they were covering all the bases.
My people today are much the same. They come to Me with their religious lives full of church, Bible study, praise music, small groups. service projects, and mission trips; these are well and good. However, it is the other hours of the day that show where their hearts lie. The snares of this life are not the ones that Judah faced, but the result is the same. It is the familiar day-to-day indulgences that present the greatest danger. My people spend their time and money entertaining themselves rather than caring for others. Their lives are filled with movies, television, social media, noise, books, media, politics, sports, hobbies, fitness, finance, business, home, and every other distraction the world has to offer. They know more about pop culture than they know about My word. They know status updates, but forget to pray. They can recount the record of their favorite team, but fail to learn of the One who created them and longs to be known by them. Their lives revolve around having bigger and better, calling it stewardship, but they know little of sacrifice and service. They thank Me for the blessings they hold securely in their hands, but blame the poor for their plight. They believe that they are fully devoted, but are blind to the things that are hindering and blocking the flow of My life through theirs.
These are not sinful things in themselves, but when you allow something to control your attention, your time, and your perspective it has become a false god, and you have erected a pagan shrine. The shrine is a very comfortable place to hang out and gives a sense of connection to the world around you. That is part of its danger; it tethers you to the world and has the power to pull your heart from full devotion to Me without you realizing it.
Let Me search your heart and I will show you the things that ensnare you and hold you captive. You will need to be ready to hear the truth and make whatever changes I show you. Be assured that what I have for you is infinitely better than the comfort of your pagan shrine, Your heart will be filled and satisfied by My very life, and you will find your most common days filled with purpose, prayer, and power as you live as My representative in your world. That outflow may be quiet and peaceful or full of signs and wonders; let Me direct each day as I see fit. Bring your heart to Me day by day, moment by moment to let Me clear away the debris and distractions so your focus remains on Me. As the pagan shrines fall, the glory of My Temple will shine and go forth in healing and love for all.
Isaiah 58; Revelation 3:27; Isaiah 61:1-4; Isaiah 66:2; Psalm 139:23-24; Colossians 3:1-4;
87. OUT WITH THE OLD, IN WITH THE NEW
Lord, I need a fresh start, a new year…I’m ready.
May Your Spirit blow a fresh wind through my soul
and clear out all that is old, stale, and reeking of the world.
The course of my reading on this last day of 2014
is about how Hezekiah began reforms in Judah that led to a great revival.
It just so happens that they began the process on the first day of the new year.
How do You want me to start?
My child, we will begin where Hezekiah began—cleansing the Temple of all the defiled things that have collected there. Over time your mind and heart absorb the influences of the world. Bring your heart to Me just as it is and let My Spirit and My word cleanse away all that is false in your perceptions, attitudes, and opinions. I will purify your eyes to see what I see and to hear as I hear. Every thought needs to come before Me and be tested before you accept it as truth. The thoughts that cannot stand the testing of My word must be rejected as false.
A will and heart cleansed by My blood and submitted to My Spirit is a treasure we will rejoice in together just as Judah celebrated the restoration of worship in the Temple. Living in that joy, we will tear down the pagan shrines and sacred pillars that used to dominate the landscape of your daily life. Time will become servant of the Most High instead of remaining the tyrant of your day. You will draw your value from Me and never from the fickle dictates of people’s expectations. Your heart will rejoice to give mercy instead of finding ways to render judgment. You will set aside noise and distraction in favor of quiet and restoration. You will achieve wholeness by sowing to the Spirit rather than resorting to the methods of the world and the flesh, falling prey to their false ideals.
All this and more is waiting for us to share. My lovingkindness and compassion are new every morning, and I rejoice to begin a new day, each day, with you.
2 Chronicles 29-31; 2 Corinthians 10:5; James 2:13; Isaiah 30:15;
Galatians 6:8; Romans 8:11-12; Lamentations 3:22-23
I’m waiting, Lord, for so many things.
I’m waiting to see the answers to some prayers.
I’m waiting to feel better.
I’m waiting for the seasons to change.
I’m waiting for a door to open.
I’m waiting for a kitchen remodel.
I’m waiting for a break in the routine.
I’m waiting for the next big event.
I’m waiting to see my grandkids again.
I’m waiting until there’s more money.
I’m waiting until I have more time.
I’m waiting until I’m a different size.
I’m waiting for a phone call.
I’m waiting for an apology.
I’m waiting for someone to change.
I’m waiting for me to change.
I’m waiting for my gifting to become clear.
I’m waiting to feel like I am significant.
I’m waiting to be delivered.
I’m waiting until I’m stronger.
I’m waiting until I feel Your presence.
I’m waiting until the present trial ends.
I’m waiting to reach the end of the desert.
I’m waiting for the morning.
I’m waiting for the night.
All the while, days rush past…….
Child of Mine, rest. I hold all of time in My hands. You are covered and protected as you abide under My wing. All of these things that you wait for are completed in My sight. The real truth is that I am the One waiting for you. I wait for you to come to Me so I can show you My love and compassion. I am faithful and true. When you come to Me and ask for My help, I respond to your cries.
I am with you to teach you and guide you. As you hear and follow My voice, you will throw out all the false idols that you thought were precious. The tyrants of men’s approval, external circumstances, time, money, appearance, rights, health, reputation, and comfort will be cast aside like garbage at the curb.
You need not wait for anything to change before you come to Me and are accepted, loved, treasured, kept, surrounded, and protected. You never have to reach a certain point or have circumstances change before you present your heart to Me. Do not hesitate to pour out your feelings, disappointments, and tears. Nothing is hidden from Me, but you need to invite Me into your pain before I can begin to heal your wounds and make you whole. Tell Me every detail. This is not the time to be brave and strong; you must not feel guilty about feelings that may be ugly and selfish. As I said, I already know them. First come close and be assured that I hold you in My arms and keep each of your tears. I protect and cover you in the midst of the circumstance that is causing you pain. I am faithful to your heart even when you do not understand what is happening. Draw near, pour it all out, and count on Me to hold you close when you have no strength left. Your life depends on My faithfulness, not yours, so come and find rest for your heart.
Only in returning to Me and resting in Me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength. Joy will come. It will. With it will come compassion, mercy, and understanding for those who are being held in chains by their circumstances. You will be able to show them that I am available to them right where they are, and your life will proclaim My faithfulness.
89. ARE WE THERE YET?
What a relief, Lord, to come to the realization that I’m already dead.
There is nothing that can hurt me,
or shake me loose from my destiny
which is eternity with You.
I’m already there…mostly.
I’m still breathing;
I’m enjoying good health;
I could have many years left here in this life.
I’m planning on that.
But in the deepest part of my existence
there is a reality that I’m learning to depend on.
I already died.
I’m covered with Your blood, Lord,
and as I stay close to You and remain under Your covering,
nothing that the world and Satan throw at me
can penetrate or do any real harm.
Yes, My child, you are free! Life holds no real threat of disaster for you, for there is nothing you will face that is greater than death. As My child you were in Me when I was crucified and, therefore, you died with Me. You were also in Me when I rose from the dead, and you stand now in a place of new life as a new creation. Your feet are still tethered here to the earth, and as your earthly body ages you feel the weight of decline approaching. The real you, however, the inner you, is renewed and growing lighter. You can look forward to a life that far surpasses anything you can hope or imagine.
You are already in possession of that life and can walk in it day by day, moment by moment, as you abide in Me. Do not look at the things which are temporary and visible only to the earthly eye. I give you eyes of faith to see the things that are eternal and beyond the limits of human sight. You may walk with courage and strength even as your walk slows over time, for I am preparing you to take your place in eternity with Me. At that time, all that is weak and mortal will be put aside, and everything will be LIFE.
Walk now in freedom, standing firm, living no longer for yourself or as a captive of sin and fear. Live joyously as you use this freedom to love and serve Me and all those around you. Let My death do its work in your heart and depend on the accomplished work of My cross. Then lift your eyes to My empty tomb and see your present place seated with Me in My resurrected life and filled with My Spirit. Rejoice and live well. I have created you for nothing less.
Galatians 2:20; 2 Corinthians 5:17; 2 Corinthians 4:16-5:9; Ephesians 3:20-21;
Galatians 5:1, 13; Romans 6:1-14; Romans 7:6
90. WIND OF THE SPIRIT
We’ve had rain; now we have wind,
an amazing and powerful force.
We hear it.
We feel it.
We see its effects.
The wind blows, but we cannot know
where it blows from or where it blows to…
…So is everyone who is born of Me, the Holy Spirit. My presence in the life of My child is a mystery. How did I come? Where do I go? How do I lead? When do I speak? Yet when I move in power it is like the wind which, though itself unseen, is unmistakable in its effects. Do not hide yourself from My work by trying to remain sheltered in your religion and your safe ideas about who I am and how I do things.
It is My desire to not simply take up residence in your life and give you holy little nudges and warm fuzzy feelings. I am the HOLY Spirit, and I would make you holy, as well. It is My desire to burn away the chaff and useless trappings that collect in your heart and life. I would have you full of My word and dressed in My armor to be a warrior in prayer, unafraid to ask, seeking for My will, and knocking until I answer.
I am your only source of love and compassion for the world around you. I see every need, know every thought, and catch every tear in the lives you encounter day by day. Do not jump to your own conclusions, but look to Me and know My heart for that person. What you discern from Me is shown to you so that you may pray, never so that you may judge. If you fall into a spirit of judging, you will no longer hear from Me with regard to that situation, and you will be deceived, having given Satan a foothold. He is a clever and scheming enemy, and your only place of refuge is Me. Let your heart constantly behold My face, and you will be able to test every thought and know whether it comes from Me, from yourself, from the world, or from the very pit of hell. Any thought that does not come from Me is to be tossed aside and replaced with the truth of My word.
As your Comforter and Teacher, I will guide you in every area of your life, whether big or small. There will be those holy little nudges, and you must never ignore them. They are the key to your future usefulness in My kingdom, for if you are faithful in little I will entrust you with much. Do not turn away from a path I lay before your feet because you are afraid you are unable to make the journey. You are never intended to do anything in your own strength, and I will be faithful to do through your life all that My will intends. It will be My work, My strength, My resurrection power working through a broken, but surrendered, vessel.
Let us go now into the unknown together. Each day is an adventure and full of opportunities to see My hand at work. Live with a present awareness of Me and be filled with thanksgiving.
John 3:6-8; 1 Peter 1:14-16; Ephesians 6:10-18; Matthew 7:7-8; Ephesians 4:20-32;
2 Corinthians 2:6-11; 2 Corinthians 10:3-6; Matthew 25:21; John 15:5;
2 Corinthians 4:7-18; Colossians 2:6-7