LebBlog

LebBlog

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Shut In - Shut Out

"The animals going in were male and female of every living thing, as God had commanded Noah. Then the Lord shut him in."  (Genesis 7:16)

Ever felt like the “crowd” won’t let you in their circle? Perhaps God has shut you out.

The Lord shut Noah in to give him a safe haven. He was spared from the destruction all around him.

Surely, he felt the waters pound on the side of the wooden ark, God’s wrath hitting every part of the ship. I wonder how often Noah looked at the sealed door and remembered that God himself had shut him in. His security, his trust and future preserved by the hand of God. The winds howling day after day as the deadly waters filled the earth shutting Noah out from God’s wrath. The stench of death was all around him but his escape was in the obedience.

Much time was spent with the Lord. Every detail prescribed. Build the ship because the rains are coming. Noah could not fully understand but he obeyed. God shut Noah in to preserve him and shut him out from his global annihilation!

Adam and Eve were shut out from the Garden. But their exit would not be the end. The Messiah was coming. The enemy of our soul had gained entrance into their lives, but the penalty of sin would soon be overcome.

As we allow our spirit to listen closely to the Lord we will often here him ask us to get away quietly with him. Sometimes that gentle whisper comes in around 3 a.m. when everyone else is asleep. He wants to close us in so we can hear him clearly. He invites us into the tabernacle like he did with Moses.

He will gladly shut out all the earthly distractions that come to steal and destroy our relationship with Him. The noise of the world pounds hard and it makes luring invitations to us. “Sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” (Genesis 4:7b) Allow the door to be shut and run to the Lord! 

Those outside the Ark mocked Noah. Jeremiah brought a similar warning and the people mocked him as well.

Jeremiah replied, "But if I say, “I will not mention his word or speak anymore in his name,” his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.” (Jeremiah 20:9)

It’s in the quiet times that the Lord continues to permeate and flood us with his presence! He fortifies and strengthens us as we remain in his care.

We are Messengers of Life carrying this same fire! It’s the fragrance of Christ. “He uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere.” (2 Corinthians 2:14) 

As we stay close to the Lord the world around us loses its grip. Jesus spent time alone with the Father because he knew that soon he would be shut in. The cross would call, and the grave would consume him but not overtake him. On the third day the sealed tomb door exploded wide open with his Redemptive Power on display for all to see! Death could not keep him and the penalty of sin was paid.

“But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you. Surely, Lord, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield.” Psalm 5:11-12

The next time we "feel" shut out let's remember that God may be protecting us and preserving us for a life-saving adventure! We must bring the Good News to all.  The boat is ready.  The rains are coming.  Even if we are mocked we must share the Love of God. It's like fire shut up in my bones!

God bless you!~Liz

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Thump, thump. Can you hear it?

Is the shout clouding our judgment or common sense? Our hearts are racing, and all we can feel or hear is our own heartbeat. 

It’s a parade of opposition closing in over us!  We feel as if we are in a tunnel and everything is shrinking except for the noise.  The clamor is powerful because we chose to move backwards.  After all everything inside of us is shaking and commanding me to cave in.

Often when we feel intimidated or afraid, we run through a gamut of emotions. Reason is somehow obliterated, and it seems easier to go with the crowd.

During Jesus arrest and public accusation, we see such a case.  What was Pilate afraid off?  He had three opportunities to set the record straight, to release Jesus but the crowd’s noise silenced his convictions.

“For the third time he spoke to them: “Why? What crime has this man committed? I have found in him no grounds for the death penalty. Therefore, I will have him punished and then release him.” “But with loud shouts they insistently demanded that he be crucified, and their shouts prevailed.” (Luke 23:22-23)

Have you been cornered and accosted to change what you know to be right?  Has fear of people caused you to be silent? It’s amazing how crafty the enemy has become in his pursuit to shut out truth and justice.

Pilate let the fear of the crowd change what he knew to be true.  Jesus was beaten and crucified.

Elijah ran away from Jezebel after he heard the message delivered to him that Jezebel was coming after him. This was a prophet mightily used of God but now running to the heartbeat of fear.

Jesus was crucified but rose from the dead!  Elijah encountered God in a whisper that encouraged his heart to focus again.   

What can we do when errors and wrongs are trying to manipulate us? How can we stand up for what is right and not succumb to the noise?

Sometimes stating what is right has to be learned because for some of us it does not come naturally.  It is easier to stay in the boat than to rock it!

We must recognize what we are thinking.  Our thoughts dictate what we feel, and they produce actions. Self-dialogue is good.  Communication should be respectful of others.  But we must practice assertiveness and state what we want to say.  Fear of other’s opinions will cripple us.

If we don’t address and speak what we want to convey, the silence will reap resentment in our own hearts causing stress and even anger at ourselves.  The thought, “why did I not say something” often reverberates within us.

Speak the truth with respect and promote honest dialogue.

We must acknowledge truth and learn to speak a yes or no when called for.  Often, we are afraid of what we should say.

Being quiet is a powerful tool. But, when we are called to speak, we must push past the fear and speak up.

Truth will prevail.

Let's not get caught up in the noise.

Pilate had three opportunities to release Jesus, but he was silenced and intimidated by the crowd.

Today we have an opportunity again to address and speak with respect to the situations that want to overtake us.

Humbly stand before the presence of the Lord like Elijah. Let his presence realign the heart.  Let our minds be renewed and our tongue surrendered to his use.  Every member in our body for his glory.

“When hard pressed, I cried to the Lord; he brought me into a spacious place. The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? (Psalm 118:5-6)

God bless you!~Liz

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Do we have riches? Or do they have us?

Why did the Rich Ruler leave Jesus’ presence so despondent? Was it the riches?

He stated to Jesus that he had kept all the commandments and yet he was still looking for approval from the Lord, the way of Salvation.

Do we have riches? Or do they have us?

When an orb-weaver spider creates its web, it’s a very clever design. Scientists marvel at their creativity even while not fully understanding the depths of this creation. “Spiders can spin different kinds of silk, and not all of their silk is sticky. In fact, in a spider web only the silk used for the intricate catching spirals are dotted with glue, so spiders know which threads to avoid.(https://www.loc.gov/rr/scitech/mysteries/spiderweb.html)

The Lord replied to the rich ruler, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” (Luke 18:22)

It’s easy to judge this man. But what happens when the Holy Spirit tells us to give something up? Perhaps money, time or just our French fries? What is our reaction? I’d dare say that if we quickly think of an excuse, then this thing has us! Pride reveals its ugly head and gives us permission to protect what is “ours.” We are caught in a web spun by our enemy.

We can learn a thing or two from the spider’s web designs. It knows how to create the web and not get stuck in its own trap. She makes herself a way of escape so that she herself will not end up being consumed.

The Rich Ruler’s response.: “When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was very wealthy.” (v23)

Riches are a blessing from the Lord. We are entrusted with them but must be willing to release them at the Master’s request.

“Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.” (1 Timothy 6:17-19)

Let’s take a look at all we have, or better yet all that God has put on loan to us. Lord, may we use all you’ve entrusted to us to share the Good News and advance your Kingdom.

Go ahead and build a web of resources and dispense at the Lord’s request.

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ (Matthew 25:40)

“Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore, love is the fulfillment of the law.” (Romans 13:8-10)

Do we have riches? Or do they have us?

God bless you!~Liz

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Will you follow? At what cost?

While reading Luke 9 today I can see a condition of the heart that at times can describe me and perhaps you as well. Surely it spoke to the disciples while they walked with Jesus himself.

Here are men who have been called by Jesus; invited to be in his inner circle. A front seat with the Master. He gave them authority to drive out all demons and cure diseases. (v.1-2) He reminded them that He himself would be their provision. Take nothing with you as you minister the Good News. (v.3)

The disciples are still students and we are about to embark on an object lesson. The multitudes have gathered, and they are hungry. What is the response from the students? “We only have 5 loaves and 2 fish.” (v.13) How quickly we forget that God himself is our provision.

FORGETFULNESS

It’s getting personal now. There is an inquiry, "who Jesus is?"
“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” (v.20) Peter acknowledges that Jesus is the Christ.

Now that we have established authority, Jesus tells his students, “don’t tell anyone.” (v.21) He further explains that he must be killed and that he will rise again on the third day. “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.” (v.24-26)

Liz do you still want to follow? You must deny yourself, take up your cross. (v.23)

DENY YOURSELF

As the Father commends his son from glory, what are we doing? Are we sleeping? Stay alert!
“This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.” (v.35)

LISTEN

The teacher once again shows his authority as he sets free a boy tormented by an evil spirit. The request came from a father, “Teacher, I beg you to look at my son, for he is my only child.”. With just one look the authority is established! “Jesus rebuked the impure spirit, healed the boy and gave him back to his father.” (v.42)

What was the trouble here? Jesus lets us know. “You unbelieving and perverse generation.” (v.41)

The students have a lot more to learn. Jesus reminds them again, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men.” (v.44)

Still want to follow? Where is my trust & faith? Did Jesus say, unbelieving?

DOUBT

He is leaving soon. But he promises to send His Spirit.

I’ll follow you Jesus, but can you let everyone know that I am the best? I would like that important seat next to you. Really, you know I’m your right-hand man or women! Well we know the scriptures does not say it like that, but it might as well. (v.46-48)

Humility, where is it?

PRIDE

Jealously arises and Jesus speaks.

“Master,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we tried to stop him, because he is not one of us.” “Do not stop him,” Jesus said, “for whoever is not against you is for you.”

The interesting thing here is that they were just chastised for not being able to deliver the little boy from and evil spirit. Now they are jealous that someone else did. Lord help us!

Their hearts still need change. When the Samaritans would not welcome Jesus, they asked the Lord if they should call fire on them. “But Jesus turned and rebuked them.” (v55)

JEALOUSLY

So much to learn as a student of the Lord. We don’t always have God’s intentions, because we often act and speak out of our own desires.

Scripture reads that pride is the downfall of man. Humility is a reliance on God and not our own flesh. “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:6-7)

I’ll put it like this: Humility is freedom from arrogance and pride. Those who operate in humility are able to achieve excellence by using their God-given gifts and talents without having to self-promote themselves. This perspective allows us to see the strengths of others. Humility does not mean that we lower our standards or that leadership is less effective. Humility speaks volumes. It allows us to excel in relationships and we are often noted as peace-makers. Leaders who motivate and promote others to achieve their best, to use their gifts and talents and overall improve in their area of influence are practicing a freedom from pride.

We have a lot to learn. I’m thankful that God is able to get to the root of my heart and it still pleases him to use me.

Still want to follow Jesus? Yes, Lord I am your servant, your student and ready to listen.

I have some much to learn, a transformation that only the Spirit of God can do.

OBJECT LESSON: So, I just finished writing on humility. I get a call from my husband and  here I go. The Spirit of the Lord gave me an opportunity to practice humility. My words, my conversation should have been gentler.  I should have been quick to listen and slow to speak. So what do I do.  I call him back an apologize for my rudeness. Ouch, object lessons hurt but they also refine.

Back to the classroom! I'm a perpetual student.


"He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered and said, “The Christ of God.” (Luke 9:20)

Friday, January 25, 2019

Riches

Today I want to honor my brother-in-law Ivan who is now in the presence of the Lord.
These bodies aren’t meant to last forever.  “Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures; yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away.” (Psalm 90:10)

Looking over photo memories, I recall our families gathering for holidays, specifically Christmas and Thanksgiving.  I have images that reflect us smiling and laughing, exchanging gifts and enjoying life together.

Thanksgiving was one of Ivan’s favorite holidays.  We often spent Thanksgiving at my mom’s home.  My sisters & I gathered crowed together in the living room.  Sometimes Spanish Christmas carols played in the background while others tried to join in with instruments.

Ivan would join the family but ultimately, he would go back to his home because he too had cooked a bird!  He loved cooking especially for Thanksgiving.

The last couple of years Ivan battled cancer.  An enemy that at times seems to have no mercy.  He fought strong and valiantly.

I treasure my conversations with Ivan because through it all he leaned and pressed into the heart of God.  He said he was not afraid to die because he knew where he was going.  His heart broke for the injustices all around us; the troubles of man, including sickness.

He new we were in a fallen world and truly recognized sin at it’s worst.  It would break his heart to others go without.  He also recognized his own need, a need for a Savior.  He trusted his life to Jesus.
Ivan was not a rich man as most of us define riches.  His treasure overflowed from his heart, a generosity and a spirit of kindness that was tangible.  A family man for sure. 

One of my fondest memories brings me back decades when he designed a gold bracelet for me with stones settings.  You see,  Ivan was a jeweler.  Again, the riches of gold in his hand but it was his heart that reflected riches.

I wonder how Ivan is enjoying the “streets of gold” today?   The Bible quotes Jesus, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” (John 14:1-3)

Yesterday, God who gives the breath, called it back to himself.  Ivan’s place was ready.

Ivan has no need for earthly treasures of gold or stones.  These items are used as material where he has entered.

“The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass. The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, the fifth onyx, the sixth ruby, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth turquoise, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst. The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of gold, as pure as transparent glass. I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.”  (Revelation 21:18-27)

Ivan’s name was in the book!

I’m thankful for the memories and life intertwined. Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

He will be missed.  But I will see him again."

God bless you!~Liz

Monday, January 14, 2019

Good Morning Father

 “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" (Matthew 7:9-11)

I just finished cleaning out last year's bill folder.  Yes, I keep a weekly budget so I can appropriate monies to upcoming bills and daily living expenses.

I know that God is the provider of all things therefore I take nothing for granted.  Every week after the bills are paid I write a manual handwritten note of thanksgiving to the Lord.  That may seem silly to some but its a heart of thanksgiving that prompts my heart to say, "Thank you Lord!". I've done this for years.

Today, I begin with a new fresh crisp folder.  I insert all my bills on the right side pocket.  I have a calendar that lists weekly expenses from mortgage payment, grocery shopping, tithing and other expenses.

I began the transfer of invoices.  I also took the time to remove the calendar that held my 2018 budget.  As I began to discard last year's calendar it was an opportunity for spontaneous worship!

Week after week I saw how the Lord provided for my family.  I've been out on disability for almost two years.  Once again God has provided for me leaving my heart is a position of worship because He has never failed to leave me in awe as he provides for my family and I.

Over and over again I can testify of how "My help has come from the Lord." He indeed is a Good Father.

The beginning of the new year is always a time of reflection. Let's pause today and reflect on what the Lord has done. It's not a monetary calculation that signifies God's blessing.  But look deep.  We are breathing today, filled with life.  Stare at the beautiful faces of your children or perhaps nephew and nieces or a new life on the horizon; new born babies that speak of God's blessing.

Think about that one time you were desperately crying out to God; how he answered you. Remember that his ways are higher than ours.  His answers at times can be disguised as "unanswered" prayers. But, look again.

Often a cloud seems like it will ruin a good hot sunny day.  The cloud is followed by showers that refresh us leaving even a scent of sweet rain to remind us of the blessings he sends.  The sun will indeed come out tomorrow.

Today is a new day!  Everything belongs to the Lord including "the cattle on a thousand hills." (Psalm 50:10) What are you in need of today?  Need a way of escape? Ask him, believing he is not only able but willing. 

"And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him." (Hebrews 11:6)

Shower us with your peace and joy!  We need your rain.

God bless you!~Liz

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

How Long Should We Wait?

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1)

How exciting when the Lord speaks to us and he gives us a promise, a hope, a vision of things to come!

But how long do we have to wait?

When I was young, I often would wait outside for my dad to arrive home from work. I would look down 5-long blocks waiting for his shadow to appear from a distance. This was my proof that he was walking toward me and soon I would see him. I could tell based on “his walk” the strides he took that it was indeed him, even though I could not clearly see him. Because I knew my dad, his ways and yes even his walk, I was sure it was him.

As I was praying this morning and crying out to the Lord, I felt the same question echo in my soul. Well, perhaps it echoed in as a thought. Thoughts are not always from God or even mine. The enemy knows how to put thoughts in our mind as well. He encourages us to entertain the doubt instead of the hope and to think on how we can cancel the promise that God has told us to hold on too.

How long did Abraham wait for a son, the promised son? When Isaac was dying, he blessed his children based on the continued faith that Abraham had that God would make a “great people” for himself and bless them. Jacob continues and blesses his children including Joseph’s children. Joseph speaks of an exodus, a release from bondage and commands that his bones be taken with the exodus of God’s people.

How long should we wait?

When the promise comes from the Lord who operates outside of time, how long is too long?

He reminded me today just like I knew that my dad was walking home toward me from a distance; I knew his strides and steps though I only saw a shadow, that the same assurance is also mine based on who God says he is in his Word! We don’t see everything in front of us today but there is an assurance rising that points toward what we have yet to see.

Abel was commended. Enoch, Noah, Abraham and on and on. They waited for the Promise of the Messiah to arrive.

“Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of the Messiah and the glories that would follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things.” (1 Peter 1:10-12)

The never saw Jesus but held on to the promise.

When Abraham received the promise, it kept unfolding from generation to generation until they entered the Promise Land, were delivered from bondage and ultimately hundreds of years later the Deliverer entered time! The Promise was that God would reveal himself and deliver, set them free and bring them back to himself. It was about the Salvation that was to come.

Today, the Holy Spirit continues to speak hope into our lives. Salvation has come! Jesus is alive!

If the Lord said to me that he will bring healing than the Healer will heal. I don’t know how or when, but restoration is coming.

What are you waiting on? Will the one addicted to drugs ever be set free? Will the rebellious child ever return? How will we pay our bills? And on and on we cry out!

But the enemy whispers, the debt is too much. They are too far gone. It will never happen.

Has it been too long? Hold on. He who is faithful is coming!

“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6)

I love the promise in Isaiah 40:10, “See, the Sovereign Lord comes with power, and he rules with a mighty arm. See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him.” And indeed, he did come!

God bless you!~Liz