June 30, 2009

Relationship precedes fruitfulness

Our first date
26 years later

We’re back from vacation. I got my annual hives upon my return. I’ve decided that I am allergic to vacation ending… ;) Actually I think it is somehow related to the sun. No doctor has ever seemed to give me a satisfactory diagnosis but that’s the only consistent thing I have found. I use hypo-allergenic sunscreen and take all kinds of precautions. The rash doesn’t appear until I get home though! Crazy! But the prednisone has kicked in and I am no longer a raging beast… (itching can bring out the worst in a person) so thank God for that!

This past Thursday Keith and I celebrated 26 years of marriage together! I have been married to Keith most of my life! We married young and although it hasn’t always been easy, I wouldn’t be married to anyone else. Keith is a rock… Keith is a leader… Keith has wisdom… Keith is faithful… Keith is trustworthy… Keith is a protector… Keith is sensitive… Keith is a man of God... Keith is anointed... Keith has integrity... When Keith walks into a room, there is a feeling of peace and safety... (not to mention he's doggone good-looking too ;). Wow, I’m blessed! He married an immature, selfish, wounded little teenage girl. But he somehow saw something in me, he believed in me and he loved me unconditionally. Although he got right with the Lord after we married, I know that the Lord put us together when He did and used him in my life to show me the undeserving love of God. Not to make him out to be perfect, he’s had his faults, but overall, I know, I am one blessed woman because my husband loves me. And throughout the years, that opened my heart to the love of God. I have definitely grown and I am even now, growing in the knowledge of the love of God. I wonder if we ever will fully know it on this earth? But for 26 years I can truthfully say that I know I have been dearly loved. The value of that isn’t lost on me.

One must learn to receive love before one has it to give. 1 John 4:19 says, “We love because He first loved us”. He makes that first step towards us. I am convinced that most believers are not fully aware of the love of God. Because of experience, imperfect examples and our inborn fallen nature, sonship doesn't come natural to us. We may have been taught that God loves us our entire lives (how many of us sang in Sunday School, "Jesus loves me, this I know"?) and we may know it in our heads, but sadly few of us are truly settled, confident, secure and resting in that love. For many, it hasn’t made it to our hearts and consequently much of our soul wanders in uncertainty and much of our obedience is wrongly motivated. If we know we are loved and we love in return, we’ll WANT to obey. I don’t lose any sleep in insecurity over Keith's love. I don't bless my husband because I HAVE to out of fear, obligation or in order to earn his love, for I already know he loves me. But I rest and I bless him because he loves me and because I love him. Its just a natural outflow of being loved.

It is all about RELATIONSHIP.

No one will argue that the Great Commission to "...go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[a] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (Matt.28)" is high on the priority list in the Kingdom. And the Church has built many a program on how to accomplish this worthy goal. But truly- the Great Commission is meant to be preceded by another greater priority in the Kingdom- The Greatest Commandment.

Matthew 22 :37 "Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'[b] 38This is the first and greatest commandment. 39And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'[c] 40All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." Relationship!

So much in the natural is a pattern for the supernatural. When the Bible talks about a husband and wife’s relationship, it often says “and he KNEW his wife and they begat…” Just as relationship/ intimacy precedes and produces natural children, likewise, true spiritual fruit can only come out of a love relationship with our God. In the spiritual also- intimacy/relationship/knowing precedes fruitfulness.

Jesus said it this way-

Matthew 7:21"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' 23Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!

He never KNEW them. There was no relationship. It was just religion. Even though they DID great things… and in His name too- HE didn't know them!

There are different levels of 'knowing'. Keith was in the Navy for 20 years and he worked for the President of the United States. He knew the President. He knew his name, recognized his face. He followed his orders and gave orders under his authority and with his approval. But had the President passed Keith on the street he'd not have known his name. Keith knew the President, but the President didn't 'know' Keith.

I know many people- Acqaintances whose name I know. Although I don't know them very well, on some level I can say, yes, I 'know' them. And I also have several close friends whom I know well; and family members also, and they in turn 'know' me. But I don't know anyone like I 'know' Keith. There is a level of 'knowing' there that is on a whole different level. We are one.

Jesus longed for that oneness, that unity, and He prayed for you and me in John 17. He said,

20"...I pray also for those who will believe in Me through their message, 21that all of them may be one, Father, just as You are in Me and I am in You. May they also be in Us so that the world may believe that You have sent Me. 22I have given them the glory that You gave me, that they may be one as We are one: 23I in them and You in Me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that You sent Me and have loved them even as You have loved Me...25"Righteous Father, though the world does not know You, I know You, and they know that You have sent Me. 26I have made You known to them, and will continue to make You known in order that the love You have for Me may be in them and that I Myself may be in them."

Our God wants to know us, for He truly LOVES us! Do we really believe that? How many of our problems and doubts and fears would be swept away if we truly BELIEVED this! How much more would the Kingdom be advanced and the Great Commission fulfilled if we first, KNEW Him and KNEW that love that motivates us with love to go after the lost. Not in order to earn His love, but because we KNOW we are loved and want to please our Daddy and to be like Him. If only more of His children truly believed. Forgive us Lord and help us to overcome our unbelief!

The very foundation of the Gospel is love. Romans 5:8 "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

But obviously not everyone has this revelation as clear as some. This is why Paul prayed for the Ephesians this way:
Eph. 3:14 "For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15from whom his whole family[a] in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. "

So Lord reveal Your love to us in a fresh, personal way. May we truly KNOW it in our heart of hearts. At the very core of our being and may we be planted settled and motived by Your love. We already believe with our minds. May we believe with our hearts and deepen in our relationship with You and produce beautiful fruit that will last for Your Kingdom and Your purpose and Your glory. In Jesus name, Amen.

God bless. Kayla

June 16, 2009

Big Dogs

2 Cor. 10:4"For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, 6 and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled."

I have two dogs- a German Shepherd (Zeke) and an Akita (Lucca). The other day I had Zeke's head in my lap. I started examining him. He's probably about 80 pounds, not the biggest German Shepherd I've seen but he's quite a large animal to have sprawled across my lap. He is about chin level to the kitchen table. If we ever decided to let him join us for supper, he could easily eat out of a plate without much effort.
His teeth remind me of the wolf rug my Papaw used to have hanging over his bed. Papaw was a trapper back in the 1950's and 60's. He'd trapped a huge timber wolf and had had the taxidermist make him into a rug (like the bearskin rugs you see in old Westerns). I always wondered why my grandparents had separate bedrooms... thinking about that wolf, I think now I understand why! A dead animal in the bedroom was probably where Mamaw drew the line. It wouldn't seem to me to be condusive to rest, plus the decorating factor alone... ugh!! But as a child, I was fascinated with it. I attempted to take many a nap in that bed while staring wide-eyed over my head at the fixed snarling mouth of that poor glass-eyed wolf. Those teeth were like something out of a horror movie. But looking into Zeke's mouth, I thought- his massive teeth look so like Papaw's wolf. Long, sharp, scary and created with the capability of breaking the necks and tearing into the flesh of prey. He is big enough, and his teeth strong and sharp enough to seriously harm a human if he were threatened... People usually hesitate when approaching a German Shepherd. Probably some of that is due to movies and how they are portrayed as Police and guard dogs. And with good reason. Their intelligence, strength and bravery are legendary. They are a dominant species of dog. They appear intimidating.
However..... somehow...... Zeke doesn't realize that. He doesn't understand that he looks intimidating and that he is....a big dog. He has no revelation that his jaws could easily defend himself and could even break the hand that feeds him. He is the gentlest dog I've ever known. One stands more of a chance of being attacked and mauled by a hamster than by Zeke. All he uses those teeth for is to eat and to tear up empty water bottles in the back yard. He doesn't know what he's capable of. The other day, Keith took him to the vet. As they sat in the waiting room a lady came in with a Chihuahua.... This Chihuahua didn't realize what it was NOT capable of. It didn't know that it was NOT a big dog. It proceeded to rush at Zeke, barking and snarling. With the Chihuahua being about the size of Zeke's head, Keith was obviously concerned for the foolish little fellow. He needn't have been.... Zeke ducked under Keith's chair and remained there, hiding and wishing the vet would hurry up and rescue him from the dangerous threat of Fifi... Keith was embarrassed.
Lucca, on the other hand KNOWS she's an Akita. Akitas are another dominant breed, known for their guard dog skills that can appear intimidating. And I pity the Chihuahua who would try to snarl at her. She's gentle and sweet to PEOPLE, but would have no mercy on smaller prey, or if her family was threatened. She walks with a confident air. She doesn't get anxious or nervous...She's at peace. She knows she's a big dog.
How many of us are like Zeke? We don't know what we are capable of in Christ! We are German Shepherds who think we are as capable of defending ourselves as hamsters. As Nick Callaway put it this past Sunday-we view our capabilities in warfare as if we were going into a gunfight with a Popsicle stick (haha).
Pastor has been preaching on spiritual warfare the past several Sundays. Then lo and behold Nick also speaks on it. Obviously the Lord is trying to get our attention. We, who are children of the Most High God are equipped with everything we need in Him to face our enemy, but we walk in unbelief and fear.
We have many God-given weapons, in our aresenal. One of our biggest weapons in overcoming the enemy is- surrender!
James 4:6 "But He gives more grace. Therefore He says:“ God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” 7 Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. 9 Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up."
So many times I've looked hard at the "Resist the devil" part and quickly skimmed over the "submit to God" part. But they are inseparable. We cannot resist the devil without first surrendering to God. The enemy is a legalist... He cannot take what we have not given him. When we truly surrender, we have moved off the throne and God has taken His rightful place as Lord of our life. Where God is enthroned, the enemy cannot hang around for long.
But the weapons of our warfare are mighty in God for pulling down strongholds. There is power and authority in a "not my will but Yours be done".
Prayer and fasting are also powerful weapons... Fasting combined with prayer is like throwing a nuclear bomb at our mountains... (Matt. 17:21)
The Word of God is our sword (Eph 6:17). Jesus used it against the enemy. (Matt 4).. Our Father is not a man that He should lie (1 Sam 15:29). Men will break their promises- they are promise breakers. But our God is the Promise Maker! We can take His promises to the bank. We can stand confidently on God's promises and use them as an effective weapon against the enemy. declaring"It is written!"
Praise and worship are powerful weapons- How many times in God's word did He rout Israel's enemies, when they worshipped their God, played their instruments, with the singers out front marching into battle (2Chron 20, Judges 7:19-22) Or what about Paul and Silas in the jail, singing praises to God at midnight. He brought an earthquake and set them free ( Acts 16:25-26). God is enthroned on the praises of His people (Ps 22:3). Again- when God is enthroned, the enemy can't hang around for long.
One of satan's most effective weapons against us is unbelief. He can't take our salvation, but he can sure get us so in doubt and confusion that we don't access God's available, powerful, rich promises. We could have an oil well on our property but live in poverty if we don't BELIEVE that it is there and take advantage of it. When will we believe God and His word? His promises are for us, today! Faith is a POWERFUL weapon. For without faith it is impossible to please Him (Heb 11). As believers, we have the 'mind of Christ' (1Cor 2:16). God is alive and He lives inside of us. That same Uncreated God who created EVERYTHING... including our little planet earth, that is like the size of a dust particle compared to this vast universe which He holds in His hand... He is INSIDE of us (1 Cor 6:19)... And we are In Him. (Eph 2) Wow!
So for those of us, feeling like a hamster facing a snarling Chihuahua.... let's see ourselves as one of the 'big dogs'... :) Not crazy about the dog analogy?. Well, how about seeing yourself as a dearly loved child believing in and protected by his big and strong, loving Daddy... 'Don't mess with my kid!' Those of us who are parents understand that! Lets run to Him, believe in Him, trust Him and stand confident against our Goliaths, not in our own strength, but in the all-powerful name of our Lord, our Daddy!
Have a great week, all you mighty warriors, dearly loved, protected and equipped by your Papa God!