Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Zechariah 4: Who Are You, O Great Mountain of Human Obstacles?

Mountains...everyone experiences obstacles in life!  Unpaid bills, strained relationships, employment stressors, health issues and emotional upheaval are ALL examples of mountains or obstacles, which may block our life's path.  So it is today the same as it was when Zechariah penned this encouragement.

Zechariah 4:6-7

Amplified Bible (AMP)
Then he said to me, This [addition of the bowl to the candlestick, causing it to yield a ceaseless supply of oil from the olive trees] is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit [of Whom the oil is a symbol], says the Lord of hosts.
For who are you, O great mountain [of human obstacles]? Before Zerubbabel [who with Joshua had led the return of the exiles from Babylon and was undertaking the rebuilding of the temple, before him] you shall become a plain [a mere molehill]! And he shall bring forth the finishing gable stone [of the new temple] with loud shoutings of the people, crying, Grace, grace to it!

So there you have it, folks!  Whether leading a people out of captivity and rebuilding a temple or plowing through the life obstacles of today, what we need is oil, the oil of the Holy Spirit. 

His Spirit empowers us to maintain a healthy focus.  We focus on God, Who created the universe, Who knows no bounds,  Whose power is unmatched, rather then being distracted by the earthly "mountain" in our path. 

Often the very solution to transforming a mountain into a molehill is the proper perspective.  We may need to "reframe" the mountain.  In other words, we need to look at the obstacle or situation with a positive mindset rather than a negative one. 

A negative mindset set might say...

Why do bad things always happen to me?

I take two steps forward, then get pushed back ten steps.

I just can't take anymore.

Reframing the mountain and looking at it positively might sound something like...

Life is filled with bad things, they are bound to impact me at some time or another.

When I feel the pushback of life's circumstance, I will fall to my knees and worship.  God can take the pushbacks and use them to strengthen my spiritual muscles.

I "feel" like I can't anymore, but the truth is God will NEVER allow anything to touch me that I cannot handle with Him.

Holy Spirit, empower us to always reframe difficult situations seeing them through Your eyes and not our feelings.  Help us to identify the positive and be thankful for all You have done and provided.  In Jesus' name, AMEN!



Monday, April 6, 2015

Relay For Life Event

Dear Beautiful Grace Readers,

I have been invited to speak at a Relay For Life event at Wilkes University on April 18th.  My story of breast cancer will be expressed to students, professors and community participants highlighting the power of God to empower to climb any mountain as an Overcomer!

I humbly ask that you would pray for me to be BOLD and to SPEAK CLEARLY about the wonders of God's love.  Pray that every heart would be touched by His Spirit and encouraged to face and conquer whatever mountain is faced with Him!!!

Love you all!

Beautiful Grace


Friday, April 3, 2015

I Wish We'd All Been Ready

Yesterday, while running outside on the beautiful spring day, I was praying for a group of people as I listened to DC Talk's "I Wish We'd All Been Ready." I looked up and saw this... 
I think God heard my prayer, don't you? LOVE!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Zechariah 3: Grace-Empowered Coping Skills

Chapter three begins with Zechariah watching Joshua the high priest stand before "the Angel of the Lord (Jesus)."  Satan is standing at Joshua's right, accusing him.  But the Jesus rebukes Satan and assures him that He continually chooses Jerusalem. (Zechariah 3:1-2)

Then the filthy garments (representing sin) Joshua is wearing are removed as Jesus assures "I have caused your iniquity to pass from you, and I will clothe you with rich apparel." (Zechariah 3:4)

Jesus, stood by solemnly and earnestly protesting and affirming Joshua! (Zechariah 3:6)

Then comes the awesome promise...

Zechariah 3:7
Amplified Bible (AMP)

Thus says the Lord of hosts: If you will walk in My ways and keep My charge, then also you shall rule My house and have charge of My courts, and I will give you access [to My presence] and places to walk among these who stand here.

As a psychiatric nurse, I often discuss triggers with my patients.  A trigger:  to initiate, actuate, or set off by a trigger <an indiscreet remark that triggered a fight> <a stimulus that triggered a reflex> (Merriam Webster).

I ask my patients to list their "triggers," because if we know what precipitates an unpleasant emotional reaction, we can develop a plan to manage ourselves.  Some triggers can be avoided, like developing a progressive study plan in order to avoid cramming before a test which triggers an anxiety attack.

But some triggers cannot be avoided, such as, the bully trigger, which may set a bullied child up for self-esteem/depression issues.

In order to manage their emotional state, I counsel my patient to develop a safety plan, which includes identifying personal coping skills. "In psychology, coping is expending conscious effort to solve personal and interpersonal problems, and seeking to master, minimize or tolerate stress or conflict"(Wikipedia).

As human beings, we all have triggers, but as Christians what we do with those triggers makes all the difference.  The coping skills used to manage our personal triggers includes God's grace! 

For example, we need to remember, when Satan accuses us through a bully, reminding us of our real or imagined faults, that Jesus stands by "solemnly and earnestly protesting and affirming" us.  His grace empowers us to forgive and pray for those being influenced by the evil one.  In this case, forgiveness and prayer are used as coping skills, powerful coping skills!

Forgiveness and prayer not only protect the person being bullied, but also will affect the bully, releasing him/her to our Father.  

These grace-empowered coping skills are tools, which God commands us to employ.  These skills are a way to "walk in My ways and keep My charge" and the resulting promise, "you shall rule My house and have charge of My courts, and I will give you access [to My presence] and places to walk among these who stand here."

Holy Spirit, empower us with the grace to forgive and pray knowing that Jesus stands by us affirming us and rebuking the evil one.  Let us be lights in the dark, encouraging others to utilize the grace-empowered coping skills You have made available.  In Jesus' name, AMEN!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Zechariah 1-2: Be Still All Flesh

It's been awhile since I have read Zachariah...WOW!  This symbolically rich, Old Testament book instills courage and direction.  Even the name, "Zachariah" instills comfort by its meaning, "the Lord has remembered" (Introduction to Zachariah, Amplified Bible).

The Jews have returned to Jerusalem after their seventy year captivity in Babylon.  The Lord is reminding the people, "Return to Me" and "I will return to you" (Zechariah 1:3, Amplified). 

In Zechariah 2:4, the second angel declares that Jerusalem will be "without walls." But this is not a cause for concern, because the Lord promises that He "will be a wall of fire round about" (Zechariah 2:5). 

Use your holy imagination...

There are so many people and livestock that a physical wall can't contain them.  Without a wall for protection, I imagine that the Jews might be a little worried. 

Would another enemy attack them and carry them off into captivity once again as the Babylonians had done?

The Lord ignites a fire wall around His people!  His glory is shining directly from the middle of His people.  I imagine His glory as the fuel for the fire wall.  The people are protected, safe and secure.  God has them, all around.  They are living in the midst of Living Flames of Fire!  The people respond with courage!  Their souls immersed in Peace!  They develop confidence in the Lord of Hosts...they have returned to Him, and He has returned to them!  Cries of celebration replace the cries of captivity!  Songs of joy sung; "He has come into our midst!" It is another day, a different season, a New Beginning!!!  The Lord of Hosts assures them that any enemy who touches them is touching His eye!  He will not stand for an enemy poking Him in His eye!  He swings His hand and the former masters now become plunder for God's people.  The enemy is defeated!  No more, can he enslave.  The people, they are free and their souls are stilled!!!

Zechariah 2:13
Amplified Bible (AMP)

Be still, all flesh, before the Lord, for He is aroused and risen from His holy habitation.

I can feel Your Presence, Lord!  You are reminding me that Your flaming wall of protection surrounds and Your glory shines from the midst of me.  My flesh is still!!!

Thank You, thank You, thank You!!!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Haggai: Called to Rebuild the Temple

The Enemy May Stall, But None Shall Stop the Prophetic Promises talks about the enemy's influence in stalling the progression of the temple building project.  Eighteen years have passed have passed since the Cyrus gave approval to the temple project, but because they were delayed by the enemy, the people turned their attention to building their own homes.  God's temple was in ruins, yet the people lived in "paneled houses."
Haggai 1:2-4
Amplified Bible (AMP)
Thus says the Lord of hosts: These people say, The time is not yet come that the Lord’s house should be rebuilt [although Cyrus had ordered it done eighteen years before].
Then came the word of the Lord by Haggai the prophet, saying,
Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses while this house [of the Lord] lies in ruins?
Today, the "temple" God is calling us to rebuild is our own body, because as Christians "your body is the temple (the very sanctuary) of the Holy Spirit Who lives within you."
1 Corinthians 6:18-20
Amplified Bible (AMP)
18 Shun immorality and all sexual looseness [flee from impurity in thought, word, or deed]. Any other sin which a man commits is one outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body.
19 Do you not know that your body is the temple (the very sanctuary) of the Holy Spirit Who lives within you, Whom you have received [as a Gift] from God? You are not your own,
20 You were bought with a price [purchased with a preciousness and paid for, made His own]. So then, honor God and bring glory to Him in your body.
Father is calling us to rebuild who we are "inside." Haggai teaches us that "holiness is not infectious." In other words, we aren't holy just because we attend a church service or perform in a godly manner.  We are holy, because Jesus has imparted His holiness in us when we accepted His gift of salvation.  Yet, Haggai also teaches us the "unholiness is infectious."  The way that we live matters to God, and it starts with who we are on the inside, the place where His Spirit lives.
Joyce Meyer's had it right when she said the reason we read the Bible is "so we don't live stupid."  Friends, the Bible teaches us the way to build our personal, internal temple, and what's awesome is that Holy Spirit empowers us to do it!  It is a never-ending building project.  We are being remade each day as each day He pours out His mercy.  We just need to be willing to turn our attention to the thing that really matters, building a house that is suitable for the King of Kings!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Ezra 4-6; Psalm 137: The Enemy May Stall, But None Shall Stop the Prophetic Promises

 Josh: "But they need me here. If I don't help them...how will they... The shepherd, he's part of the prophecy."

Jesus: "Son! Have no fear. The prophesies will be fulfilled be it one way or another. One river is calm while the other is treacherous. In one boat, many will be saved. In the other, many will be lost."

Josh: "But maybe I, maybe I don't want the responsibility. I'm tired of fighting. It's never enough for the one that I save a hundred are...

Jesus: "It matter a great deal to that one person. It matters to Me."

Josh: "Tell me, Lord. What do I do?" (Revelation Road 3: The Black Rider)

Ezra 4:21-24
Amplified Bible (AMP)
21Therefore give a decree to make these men stop, that this city not be rebuilt, until a command is given by me.
22 Be sure that you do this. Why should damage grow, to the hurt of the kings?
23 When the copy of King Artaxerxes’ letter was read before Rehum, Shimshai the scribe, and their companions, they went up in haste to Jerusalem to the Jews and by force and power made them cease.
24 Then the work on the house of God in Jerusalem stopped. It stopped until the second year of Darius king of Persia.

The rebuilding of the temple after the Babylonian captivity was a prophetic promise, yet enemies were successful in stalling its construction. 

Have you even wondered about the prophetic promises, which the enemy halted mid fulfillment? 

Have you considered the prophetic promises yet to be fulfilled?

I certainly have.

While watching the fictional movie, Revelation Road 3:  The Black Rider, a few days ago, I was encouraged by a dialogue between Josh and Jesus as referenced above.  God WILL fulfill His promises.  He WILL complete His plan, "One way or another."  The pressure of personal responsibility to "fulfill" God's plan for Him, is off!  Our heart only needs to say,  "Tell me, Lord. What do I do?"  He is pleased with the "one" we touch for Him.  He is pleased when our heart desires to do right.  He is pleased when we try, but He doesn't expect us to do what only He can do.  He holds the world in His hands.  He is the One who directs the times and the seasons.  His Spirit draws a heart.  We cannot do these things.  We can only say, "Tell me, Lord. What do I do?"

Thank You, Lord, that Your burden is light.  Tell us what to do in every minute of every day, Lord.  In the great and awesome Name of Jesus, AMEN!!!

Monday, March 2, 2015

The Call of My Beloved: Set Me Like a Seal Upon Your Heart

God can use anything, even a cute little Facebook quiz to stir my passion for Him. Earlier today after getting home from work, 1:53 am, I took the quiz, "Which Bible Passage Describes You?" My result Song of Solomon 8:6. 

Song of Solomon 8:6
Amplified Bible (AMP)

6 Set me like a seal upon your heart, like a seal upon your arm; for love is as strong as death, jealousy is as hard and cruel as Sheol (the place of the dead). Its flashes are flashes of fire, a most vehement flame [the very flame of the Lord]!

All day, I have been meditating on this verse. I felt lead to study it's meaning...WOW!!!. During my study, I found this beautiful prophetic writing, which describes so accurately my heart for Jesus and His heart for me. It's lengthy, but well worth the read. He is a Passionate Bridegroom and I, His adoring Bride. You, also are called to be His Beloved Bride! 

He is a Seal Upon My Heart; He is My Dwelling Place

 Submitted by Tara Dulin on January 2, 2014 - 20:21
I can hear the sound of rushing water.

I look. I see a waterfall. It is vast and powerful. I look up. It is enormous. I look for the waterfall’s origin, but I can only see the rushing waterfall, and big, perfect, fluffy white clouds encircling the top of it.

I hear My Savior’s voice behind me. He is the Lover of my soul. He says: “This is My provision for you. This is My Spirit, My life that I have poured out for you. All you have need of, is found in Me, My presence, My life, My love for you. I love you with an everlasting love. My love is unmoving, unchanging, unshakeable. The lies that have been spoken over you are just that, lies from the father of lies, designed to steal, kill and destroy. Those lies are not from Me. They are NOT Truth. Fix your eyes on Me. Tune to the flow of My Holy Spirit. Rest in My embrace. Allow Me to minister My truth, My life and My love to you.”

I sense Him. He is behind me. He is near. I feel Him embrace me. I lean into His embrace. I rest in His embrace.

“Forgive me, Lord, for not coming to You first. Forgive me for not being perfect. Forgive me for letting others down. Forgive me for letting You down. Forgive me for listening to the lies and allowing the lies to overtake me for a time.”

“I am always here. I will never leave you nor forsake you. Never for a moment were you not forgiven. You did not let Me down. Apart from Me, there is pain, suffering and death. I am always here. I am unmovable, unshakeable Truth. Lies cannot take hold of you unless you focus on them. What you look to grows. Keep your eyes fixed on Me and My truth. Allow Me and My truth to wash over you. Allow My word, My power and My presence to wash over you and cleanse you.”

He takes my hand. Together, we step onto the massive pool that is before the waterfall. We walk on the water together. I feel the cool water lapping at my feet and ankles, but I feel a solid surface under my feet. I am safe. I feel the warmth of Jesus’ hand in mine. I look at Him, He is smiling at me. The warmth and love in His eyes is overwhelming. He is leading me to the waterfall. I enjoy walking with Him. With every step we take together, I feel stronger. With every step we take, I feel lighter. Walking with Him is rejuvenating. His hand is strong in mine. The warmth of His hand spreads from my hand, up my arm, into my heart. My left hand, my left arm and my heart are warm. The warmth intensifies. I feel the surge of His power and His love hit my heart. He is ministering to my heart. Being with Him, walking with Him, my hand in His, changes me.

“I have overcome sin and death. In My presence, sin and death must flee.”

I look at my Jesus’ left hand. It is glowing. It is a red-yellowish color, as if it is on fire. My left hand and left arm are the same color as His hand. I look at my heart, it is also glowing. His presence is radiating up my arm, into my heart, out of my chest.

He speaks: “Set Me as a seal upon your heart.”

I respond: “Yes, Lord. I set you as a seal upon my heart.”

My heart feels as if it is on fire.

I look to Him. He is watching me, smiling. We stop walking. We are standing before the waterfall. I feel the mist of it on my face and arms. I feel the force of it in my heart and chest. The waterfall is so strong and powerful, I know the force of it will crush me, but I am not afraid. I am safe in His presence. My heart is still warm. I feel the warmth increase, yet again.

Jesus steps in front of me. He stands between me and the waterfall. I look into His eyes. I see nothing but compassion and love. His face is gentle and kind. He loves me. He loves me as I am.

I have looked into eyes filled with anger, pain, fear, and malice. There is a knowing in my spirit that what I saw in those eyes and the lies that followed were intended to harm me. The subsequent depression and thoughts of death did not originate in Jesus.

My Lord speaks: “Will you trust Me? Will you allow Me to wash over you? Will you allow Me to cleanse your body, mind, spirit and soul of those lies?”

“Yes, Lord. I trust You. My life is in your hands. I surrender all to You. Again. I know You are the Way, the Truth, the Life.”

I continue to look into His eyes. The love and kindness I find there continues to minister to me. I weep. He opens His arms wide, and He embraces me. I melt into His embrace. He pulls me into Him.

I am me. He is Him. But we are One. I feel Him embrace every cell of my being. I feel Him hugging me. But it is a deeper embrace than I have known in the natural sense. I close my eyes and settle into His embrace. I feel Him embracing my heart. I feel Him embracing my mind. I feel Him embracing every part of me. I am me, yet I am hidden in Him. I do not understand it. I just receive it. I receive Him and all He has for me. I receive His embrace fully into my body, mind, spirit and soul. I feel His warmth and His presence settle into me as I settle into Him. I open my eyes. I see the form of His body around me. He is translucent, and I can see out of Him. We are standing in the waterfall. I did not know we had stepped into it. He protected me from the force of the downpour that would have killed me. Yet, I can still feel the rush of His power minister to me from the outside-in. He is the rushing water. He is the Living water. I lift up my arms. His arms lift up with mine. Our left arms are still glowing as if they are on fire. I open my mouth. His mouth opens with mine. I drink deeply. I drink deeply of the cool water that He drinks first. As I drink, I feel His power minister to me from the inside-out. His truth is changing me. I am being washed by His word, the Truth. It is changing my heart. His Truth is ministering to my heart. His truth is ministering to my mind. I stand in His presence, wrapped up in His love, inside the waterfall that is His overwhelming power, and I am made new.

I hear my own thoughts: “Thank you, Lord. Thank you for doing all this for me.”

He responds to my heart. It is but a whisper: “My beloved, I gave everything I have and everything I am for you. You are My heart’s desire. This is Our secret place. Dwell with Me. Stay with Me. In this place, you are strengthened. In this place, you are covered, surrounded and protected by My abounding grace. In My presence, you are safe. You cannot be harmed. This is your reality. I am your reality. Stay with Me. Stay in My embrace, and dwell with Me.”

With much love...His Beautiful Grace

Friday, February 27, 2015

Pictorial History in Honor of Strongman's Birthday!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Ezra 1-3: Tears in the Midst of Joy

Ezra 3:12-13
Amplified Bible (AMP)

12 But many of the priests and Levites and heads of fathers’ houses, old men who had seen the first house [Solomon’s temple], when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, wept with a loud voice, though many shouted aloud for joy.

13 So the people could not distinguish the shout of joy from the sound of the weeping of the people, for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the sound was heard far off.

We've all done it...compared the glory of things past with our present. What is it about human beings that causes us to never be satisfied with the blessings of now, the things present in this moment?

The present never seems to measure up with the "good old days." And even more insidious, the present blessings are not quite as good as what is coming in the future. We have a difficult time with remaining present, in the now!

I think of how a child reacts to the wonder of the moment. A new experience sparks a joyful and curious pleasure. I love watching a child take pleasure in the blessing of the moment.

We are to be like a child. Our gratefulness for the moment blesses our Father in heaven. Let's not be stuck in past blessings or fixated on the future blessings. When we allow ourselves to be distracted from the now, the blessing directly in front of us becomes muddled. Our vision is dimmed and our hearts become ungrateful.

"Now" is the time to see and be thankful. "Now" is the time to "shout for joy." Let's not waste our tears on the past. Let's not long for a future at the expense of missing what awesome pleasures await us NOW!

Hebrews 13:5
Amplified Bible (AMP)

5 Let your [a]character or moral disposition be free from love of money [including greed, avarice, lust, and craving for earthly possessions] and be satisfied with your present [circumstances and with what you have]; for He [God] [b]Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor [c]give you up nor leave you without support. [I will] not, [d][I will] not, [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor [e]let [you] down ([f]relax My hold on you)! [[g]Assuredly not!]

No tears in the midst of joy!  In Jesus' name, AMEN!!!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Daniel 10-12: I Set My Mind and Heart to Understand

Daniel 10:5-6
Amplified Bible (AMP)

I lifted up my eyes and looked, and behold, a man clothed in linen, whose loins were girded with pure gold of Uphaz.
His body also was [a golden luster] like beryl, his face had the appearance of lightning, his eyes were like flaming torches, his arms and his feet like glowing burnished bronze, and the sound of his words was like the noise of a multitude [of people or the roaring of the sea].
The above description of Jesus description is one of my favorites!  In the presence of this Awesome Being, how could we be afraid?  How could our direction be uncertain?  Why would we gaze at our earthly troubles or trials?  Yet...
Daniel 10:7
Amplified Bible (AMP)
And I, Daniel, alone saw the vision [of this heavenly being], for the men who were with me did not see the vision, but a great trembling fell upon them so that they fled to hide themselves.
Although the men with Daniel did not "see" Him, they sensed His power, His Presence.  They responded by running away, hiding themselves.  Even Daniel had a physical reaction to His Presence.  He became pale and weak and dropped to his face in response to "the angel's" words. 
Daniel 10:8-10
Amplified Bible (AMP)
So I was left alone and saw this great vision, and no strength was left in me, for my fresh appearance was turned to pallor; I grew weak and faint [with fright].
Then I heard the sound of his words; and when I heard the sound of his words, I fell on my face in a deep sleep, with my face [sunk] to the ground.
10 And behold, a hand touched me, which set me [unsteadily] upon my knees and upon the palms of my hands.
In studying Daniel 10:12, I see a pattern in the life of Daniel that preceded the appearance of Jesus.
God's Response
Daniel 10:12
Amplified Bible (AMP)
12 Then he said to me, Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your mind and heart to understand and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come as a consequence of [and in response to] your words.
I think the pattern of Daniel is wise and applicable for us today.  It's so important to actively monitor our own thoughts, because our thoughts are the first step in the sequence leading to a "God encounter."  If the evil one can taint our thoughts with the "cares" of this world, he can distract us from meditating on the Lord.  Thoughts fan the flames of our love for Him.  Humility is imperative, because without it, pride overtakes us and God resists pride.
I don't believe God encounters can be limited to a formula, but I do believe that the Word of God was written for us as a pattern for living our lives.  God does what He will do.  He is God!!!  But we also do our part empowered by grace.
Jesus, we all have become distracted and lost sight of Your awesomeness!  I ask that Your Spirit would remind us of Your beauty and power.  Remind us that we "find ourselves in You."  In Your Brilliant Name, Jesus!  AMEN!!!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Daniel 7-9: The End of the Matter

Daniel 7:28
Amplified Bible (AMP)

28 Here is the end of the matter. As for me, Daniel, my [waking] thoughts troubled and alarmed me much and my cheerfulness of countenance was changed in me; but I kept the matter [of the interpreting angel’s information] in my heart and mind.
Daniel was a gifted prophetic seer.  Not only did he receive directive and predictive dreams from God, but he was also able to understand those dreams for himself and for others.  This gift can be a emotionally painful cross to carry and a wonderful blessing at the same time.
The Lord has given me directive and predictive dreams as well.  I can identify with Daniel, in that, sometimes the information received "felt" like more than I could bear.  Years ago, I was receiving dreams revelation (a divine or supernatural disclosure) of things to come.  There was a point in my life that I actually asked God to stop giving me the dreams because I didn't "feel" like I could handle the responsibility of knowing.  And the dreams stopped...immediately.  Then I realized the dreams of encouragement also stopped.  I rethought my request and using wisdom asked Abba to "give me only the dreams that I am mature enough to handle." 
My dream life is much different today than it had been in the past.  My current dreams are more about personal direction and encouragement rather then revelations for others.  To be honest, it's a relief.  I think I have a lot more maturing ahead of me.
I'm thankful for my Patient Father!
As I "see" predictive dreams from the past played out today, I remember my calling to pray.  All will be according to Father's will.  His will, will be done!  In the name of my King Jesus, AMEN!!! 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Daniel 4-6: None Can Say, What are You Doing?

Nebuchadnezzar had witnessed God's power first hand.  He watched as Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were delivered from the fiery furnace.  You would think he would have developed humility.  In His mercy, God gave Nebuchadnezzar a warning dream. I think God was giving Him an opportunity to repent, to realize that God was the One Who gave him his kingdom.

Daniel 4:25
Amplified Bible (AMP)

You shall be driven from among men and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field; you shall be made to eat grass as do the oxen and you shall be wet with the dew of the heavens; and seven times [or years] shall pass over you until you learn and know and recognize that the Most High [God] rules the kingdom of mankind and gives it to whomever He will.

This warning dream was fulfilled and the king ate grass like a wild animal for seven years.  When his mind ("reason and understanding") was restored, he had learned his lesson in humility.  He realized that God alone is in control of the nations, and He is the one Who appoints and gives power to men.

Daniel 4:34-37
Amplified Bible (AMP)

34 And at the end of the days [seven years], I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted up my eyes to heaven, and my understanding and the right use of my mind returned to me; and I blessed the Most High [God] and I praised and honored and glorified Him Who lives forever, Whose dominion is an everlasting dominion; and His kingdom endures from generation to generation.
35 And all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing. And He does according to His will in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth, and none can stay His hand or say to Him, What are You doing?
36 Now at the same time my reason and understanding returned to me; and for the glory of my kingdom, my majesty and splendor returned to me, and my counselors and my lords sought me out; I was reestablished in my kingdom, and still more greatness [than before] was added to me.
37 Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, Whose works are all faithful and right and Whose ways are just. And those who walk in pride He is able to abase and humble.
Nebuchadnezzar transitioned from worshipping Himself to worshipping and praising the One, True God!
When personally considering this story, I think about all the blessings and positions of authority in which God has placed me.  My attitude has been the opposite of Nebuchadnezzar, but still a form of pride.  I have resisted the positions in which I have been placed.  My personality is more of a "follower" than a "leader."  Yet, if God appoints those in authority than who am I to say, "What are You doing?"
Thank You, Lord, for reminding me that You work according to You will "in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth."  I ask, I require Your empowerment for any position of authority You provide.  I require Your wisdom and ability to perform excellently.  I "praise and extol and honor [You], the King of heaven, whose works are all faithful and right and Whose ways are just."  In the great and awesome name of Jesus, AMEN!!!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Daniel 1-3: The Light of Grace

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to bow down in worship to the image Nebuchadnezzar had set in place.  These men had directly defied an earthly king to avoid offending their Heavenly King.

Their conviction got them thrown into a fire furnace!

Amazing God gloriously spared these three men proving once again that the One True God has the power to accomplish the miraculous.

Nebuchadnezzar Himself comes to the realization that,

"...there is no other God who can deliver in this way." 
Daniel 3:29

I imagine myself in the situation of these three bold men.  Would I have the resolve to say "no" when faced with a fiery furnace?  

Would I stand firm and refuse to bow down?

Then I remember what it feels like with the powerful spotlight of grace empowering to stand firm in the face of persecution.  Just a few weeks ago during worship, the Lord's Presence was physically perceptible.  He allowed me to "see" myself with hands raised and a column of light from heaven shining on me like a spotlight.  Experiences like this give me courage. 

If ever placed in that kind of severe position, I will trust that the Light would empower me to stand firm.  The benefit of a personal relationship with God is grace.  His grace empowers!

In this year of "Great Grace," we are trained to access His power, the power we need to walk through life victoriously.  I require this training!  You require this training!

Holy Spirit, teach us!  We need you!!!  In the name of Jesus, AMEN!!!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Joel: The Latter Rain is Coming

Joel 2:23
Amplified Bible (AMP)

23 Be glad then, you children of Zion, and rejoice in the Lord, your God; for He gives you the former or early rain in just measure and in righteousness, and He causes to come down for you the rain, the former rain and the latter rain, as before.
God is giving a promise.  He is calling to memory what it was like when His Spirit was first poured out in you.  Do you remember how your heart burned with passion for Him?  Do you remember how full, how overflowing was His love through you?  Do you remember how you were compelled to speak of all He had done to all who would listen?  Do you remember how His music inspired bodily movements, because there was no other way to release what He was pouring into you? 
For the Lord is saying...
"I am with you.  I will bubble up inside of you again.  The latter rains are coming.  Look to the horizon and see the clouds are forming.  Just as Elijah's servant looked and saw the cloud the size of a man's hand, so it is now.  My child, small beginnings, do not despise.  Do not despise the season in which you find yourself.  You are being trained to hear Me, see Me and feel Me beyond your emotions.  You are learning to obey My whisper and walk in faith.  Physical sight no longer leads you, but My Spirit cultivates the spiritual sight which reveals faith's path.  Stay the course!  Walk with Me.  I will pour out the latter rain.  I will cause refreshment of soul.  Your passion is not dead.  Receive My breath, which revives.  Live again.  Love again.  Shine!"

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Ezekiel 46-48: THE LORD IS THERE

The chapters ending Ezekiel describe God's temple and the allotted land surrounding it.  This land, evenly divided among the tribes of Israel as an inheritance, was a city called, "THE LORD IS THERE."
Ezekiel 48:35
Amplified Bible (AMP)
35 The distance around the city shall be 18,000 [4 x 4,500] measures; and the name of the city from that day and ever after shall be, THE LORD IS THERE.
On the last day of 2014, I consider the previous year with its challenges and its blessings.  It is good to review how God has intervened in the past.  How He has taken those situations and experiences designed for destruction and turned them around for good. 
However, as I was preparing to write this post, the Lord reminded me not to dwell on the past.  Before reading today's passages, I checked my email.
December 31, 2014     
I want you to see the uniqueness of your life and the path that you have chosen. The paths of others have crossed yours and even been parallel with yours for a certain distance before separation.  But, ultimately, you are responsible for your own desires, choices, and direction.  Refuse to allow regret to overwhelm you nor consider what might have been or could have been.  Do not look back.  Walk with Me into the days ahead with the assurance that I will never leave you nor forsake you, says the Lord. 
Philippians 3:13-14  Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Then I began to read and came to...
Ezekiel 46:9
Amplified Bible (AMP)
9 But when the people of the land shall come before the Lord at the appointed solemn feasts, he who enters the north gate to worship shall go out by the south gate, and he who enters by the south gate shall go out by the north gate; he shall not return by the gate by which he came in but shall go out by the opposite gate [straight ahead].
What's interesting is what I had written in the margin next to this verse.  "Don't go back (past).  Go straight ahead."       
Past dwelling distracts from pressing toward the prize, running my race and obtaining the inheritance the Lord has set aside for me.  Just as He set aside an inheritance for Israel, He has also provided an inheritance for us.
Be encouraged, just as Israel's inheritance was named, 'THE LORD IS THERE," I believe Holy Spirit is reminding us that our inheritance is also where the Lord dwells.       
As 2015 unfolds, let's consider our inheritance and remember, "THE LORD IS THERE."  No matter what trials or tribulations or blessings or favor the new year holds, we can be confident in this...
"I will never leave you nor forsake you, says the Lord."
Lord, Your grace is enough for 2015 and beyond.  Thank You for being such a good Helper and Counselor, Holy Spirit. We open our ears to hear what You would say.  We will not be distracted with things past, but will press forward with You!  In the great and awesome name of Jesus, AMEN!!!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Ezekiel 44-45: Serving God, No Sweat

Ezekiel 44:17-18
Amplified Bible (AMP)

17 When they enter the gates of the inner court, they shall be clothed in linen garments; no wool shall be on them while they minister at the gates of the inner court and within the temple.
18 They shall have linen turbans on their heads and linen breeches upon their loins; they shall not gird themselves with anything that causes [them to] sweat.
I used to joke about exercising, "The eleventh command says, 'Thou shalt not sweat.'"  Later, I found that maintaining a healthy body requires consistent sweating exercise.  This type of exercise enhances the body's circulation, which carries immune systems cells, nutrients and oxygen to all the cells in our body.  Exercise, sweating exercise is good, very good.  
But sweating while serving God isn't spiritually healthy.  The Old Testament priests were commanded to "not gird themselves with anything that causes [them to] sweat."  Physically, sweat mixed with skin bacteria causes us to stink.  God didn't want stinky priests.  :)  But I believe there is a deeper spiritual aspect to this command.  I think sweating is representative of striving
God provides us with grace.  It's grace that empowers us to serve Him, His power in and through us, not our own strength of mind or body.  When we strive, it's like we are saying to the Lord, "I don't need Your help.  I'm good.  I just need to work harder or think longer, then I will be successful in completing the destiny You have set for me.  Striving is sweating (hard work) and that is not the "yoke" the Lord has given us. 

Matthew 11:30

For My yoke is wholesome (useful, good—not harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing, but comfortable, gracious, and pleasant), and My burden is light and easy to be borne.
If you feel like serving God is burdensome, if you catch yourself striving to complete your destiny, remember, what God has commanded, "they shall not gird themselves with anything that causes [them to] sweat."  Grace empowers us to serve Him, no sweat!


Monday, December 22, 2014

Ezekiel 42-43: 2015, The Year of Great Grace

Ezekiel 43:19

You shall give to the priests, the Levites who are of the offspring of Zadok, who are near to Me to minister to Me, says the Lord God, a young bull for a sin offering.
The service of Zadok and his sons was in line with the will of God even at times when the actions of the general nation was not.
Wow!  Imagine being so faithful to the Lord that your service stands alone in the midst of the nation to which you belong.  Although the Holy Spirit had not officially been poured out yet, it seems to me that these priests had a supernatural edge.  How else could human beings stand firm in God's will? 
Today, God provides us with His Grace to be empowered to stand alone in worship even when those around us do not.  Many years ago the Lord revealed the meaning of my given name as Beautiful Grace.  At that time, I did not understand its depth of meaning.  Now I understand that Grace is the power of God to flatten a mountain! 
Zechariah 4:7

For who are you, O great mountain [of human obstacles]? Before Zerubbabel [who with Joshua had led the return of the exiles from Babylon and was undertaking the rebuilding of the temple, before him] you shall become a plain [a mere molehill]! And he shall bring forth the finishing gable stone [of the new temple] with loud shoutings of the people, crying, Grace, grace to it!
As each year ends, I ask the Jesus, what He has in store for the next year.  I felt that He said that "2015 will be a year of Great Grace."  I understood that it will be imperative for me to learn to access and utilize this Grace as never before.  I had a sense that the coming year would be difficult, but that difficulty would be a wondrous stepping stone showcasing His Beautiful Grace in me, and in others. 
The key in accessing this "Great Grace" is allowing my/our hearts to be open to out of the box, daily, and intimate experiences with the Lord.  My acts of worship and expressions of love for Jesus have undergone a metamorphosis, but the longing in my heart to know Him, feel Him, hear Him sometimes is challenged by earthly responsibilities.  One thing I know, no matter what, I will submit to God's will.  Wherever it takes me, I will follow, but it will take Great Grace to walk it out with Him. 
I think that's why He prompted my parents to give me the name that means Beautiful Grace. My name reminds me that I can't serve Him, be in line with His will, without His mountain-flattening, powerful Grace, and it is BEAUTIFUL!
Jesus, I receive this Great Grace You are offering.  I will love You and serve You no matter what.  And maybe the book in heaven will mention a gal whose life was consistently in the will of God because of the Beautiful Grace He gave her.  In Your Name, Jesus, AMEN!!!