WISDOM LOST…THE FEAR FACTOR

 

If the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, then it is clear that wisdom is lost. We are living in a time when every man does what seems right in his own eyes. (Judges 17:6) God is not only not feared, but He is detested, reviled and disdained. Those who claim to be aligned with Him are labeled the enemy or even worse, mentally ill. In case you haven’t noticed, the body of Christ is under attack. 

What has changed? How has such a dramatic turn happened? If we look to Scripture, it becomes abundantly clear. When you lose the fear of the Lord you remove all wisdom. When you lose the fear of the Lord you invite chaos to fill that void. Even to Christians, fearing God seems a thing of the past. For the last couple of decades, we wanted to make our all-powerful, all mighty God a very nice and approachable God instead. We wanted the God who created the expanse of all galaxies and the earth we live in, to be our buddy that we can hang out with. We wanted a God that we were familiar with. The problem with familiarity is that it breeds contempt. 

Jesus said in Mark 6:3-5 “Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.” He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them.”

Because of their familiarity they did not believe. In fact, they were indignant. This very thing has happened in the world. Even those in the church take offense at things in scripture. They believe the parts they like and discard the ones they don’t. This same diluted approach asks why would we want a God that we fear? Why would we embrace such a thought?

To answer that, you must first know what the fear of God is and why you need it. Fear is audaciously just that. Fear. Ministers shy away from the fact that fear means fear. We like to put the emphasis on how it is also awe and reverence. I grew up in a home where my dad is known as the one who loves everyone. Every person I know who meets my dad says the same thing. “I love your dad.” And I reply, “Me too.” His nature is one of grace, long suffering and abundant mercy. All of these are characteristics of our Heavenly Father. But there are other character traits my dad has that also mimic my Heavenly Father. He is fiercely brave and unafraid. He would fight any devil naturally and spiritually. When pushed, he is a force of strength and might. He served in the United States Army and understands what fighting is all about. Growing up, I knew you don’t mess with dad! And I was grateful for having him be like that. I felt safe and secure whenever dad was there.

Well I don’t know about you but in times like this I need a God that fights battles and wins. I need a God that the enemy is afraid of. I need a God that keeps my road clear, straight and narrow, for that is what leads to life. Matthew 7:14 “But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” I don’t need a God that I simply make sure to be quiet around or respect from a distance. I don’t need a Father who winks at my sin and doesn’t teach me how to live and survive in this world. I need a God that is infinitely bigger, stronger and smarter than I am. One that can control the elements when I need Him too. One that fights battles on my behalf and wins. One that insures I get where I’m supposed to go. I don’t need a mamsy pamsy weak and helpless God who just goes around saying nice things to everyone. I want a God that I can say “You don’t mess with Him.”

Proverbs 1:7 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” It’s literally the beginning. You don’t pass go or collect $200 dollars without it. Proverbs is replete with wisdom. But it must be laid hold of in order to produce. One must seek wisdom as if for treasure. One must seek council and lean on those whose lives have proved their words. Multiple times we are taught to head to the instruction of our father. Here is what scripture says.

Proverbs 1:20-29

20 Out in the open wisdom calls aloud,
    she raises her voice in the public square;
21 on top of the wall[a] she cries out,
    at the city gate she makes her speech:

22 “How long will you who are simple love your simple ways?
    How long will mockers delight in mockery
    and fools hate knowledge?
23 Repent at my rebuke!
    Then I will pour out my thoughts to you,
    I will make known to you my teachings.
24 But since you refuse to listen when I call
    and no one pays attention when I stretch out my hand,
25 since you disregard all my advice
    and do not accept my rebuke,
26 I in turn will laugh when disaster strikes you;
    I will mock when calamity overtakes you—
27 when calamity overtakes you like a storm,
    when disaster sweeps over you like a whirlwind,
    when distress and trouble overwhelm you.

28 “Then they will call to me but I will not answer;
they will look for me but will not find me,
29 since they hated knowledge
and did not choose to fear the Lord.

That, my friends, is something to be afraid of. The God I serve has all power. I don’t get to choose the way I want to do it. I get to choose who I follow. 

We shouldn’t be surprised. We have raised a generation of children who mock their parents, refuse instruction and are praised for it. This is shameful. We are reaping what we have sown as a society. Our music, television and media defy all wisdom and instruction. We let a carnal godless world indoctrinate our children because we didn’t want to rebuke them. Now we are upset that they won’t listen to reason and stop their out of control behavior. What we need is to regain our fear of the Lord. We need to repent and follow His instructions and gladly listen to His rebukes. He has given them not because He is a tyrant, but because He loves us. He cares what happens to us. He knows what lies ahead if we refuse.

I challenge you today. Bravely look at how you see God. Do you have a right fear of the All Mighty? Or is he so familiar that you can disregard what He has said? If we want to see change, we must be changed. Our lives, our families and our country will not be affectively impacted without it. We need the fear of God. We need to remember who He is and what He can do. We need a revival!

Blessings to you and yours,

Jaime Luce

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The Masking of Christianity

The parallel seems uncanny. The apostles were continually told to keep silent. Acts 4:18 NLT “So they called the apostles back in and commanded them never again to speak or teach in the name of Jesus.” Acts 5:40 NLT “The others accepted his advice. They called in the apostles and had them flogged. Then they ordered them never again to speak in the name of Jesus, and they let them go.”

Don’t speak. Like a parent covering a child’s mouth. This is exactly how I feel walking around with everyone’s face covered. You can see the eyes but the voice is muffled and sometimes not understandable through the cloth covering it. How many movies and tv shows have we seen where in order for the assailant to subdue his target, he covers the mouth and nose of the victim with a cloth laced with chloroform and the victim collapses into submission.

Acts 5:18 says, (NIV) “And laid their hands on the apostles, and put them in the common prison.” This is simultaneously happening to the church of Christ around the world right now. The governing systems and leaders are telling us to be quiet. Be quiet about meeting together. Be quiet about Biblical righteousness. Be quiet about what the Bible says about abortion. Be quiet about Biblical marriage. Be quiet about equality and justice. They are trying in every way and by every means to put their hands over our faces and shut us up.

How did the Apostles respond? They refused to wear the mask! What happens to the psyche of those who see people with their faces covered all around them? It say’s be afraid! Be afraid of the person behind the mask. Be afraid that they will infect you. That what they have is dangerous and can hurt you. The church needs to understand the danger and deceit of what is happening spiritually. There is a war going on. The enemy wants to silence you and cause those who see you to fear you and your message. He wants to cause those who see you to think that what you carry is dangerous instead of empowering and cause contamination instead of freedom. The strategy is deception. People are told to watch us, report us and ticket or arrest us if we even try to meet. And if we meet, we are to do so in very small numbers while standing far apart.

Just think about that strategy. Don’t allow them to muster the troops. Don’t let them link arms and comfort one another. Don’t allow them to sing and rejoice. Don’t allow them to pray for one another. In essence it’s an attempt to dismantle the body of Christ systematically and stop the advancement of the Kingdom of God.

So what is the church to do? Let’s look at the passage again. Acts 4:13-20

13 When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. 14 But since they could see the man who had been healed standing there with them, there was nothing they could say. 15 So they ordered them to withdraw from the Sanhedrin and then conferred together. 16 “What are we going to do with these men?” they asked. “Everyone living in Jerusalem knows they have performed a notable sign, and we cannot deny it. 17 But to stop this thing from spreading any further among the people, we must warn them to speak no longer to anyone in this name.” 18 Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John replied, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! 20 As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”

Peter and John reasoned that they answer first to God. They were not criminals. They had hurt no one. On the contrary, a man had just been healed. These were not men of terror or chaos but instead men of peace and compassion. Their boldness was called rebellion. Their fearlessness called insurgence and revolt.

We must not silence our voices. We must continue to stand boldly and proclaim the name of Jesus. We must go around healing the sick and delivering the bound. We must advance the Kingdom of God in the face of opposition, tyranny and imprisonment. The apostles didn’t back down and neither should we. Jesus was led to the slaughter so that we could walk in His power and authority. I challenge you not to lay down your sword!

Hebrews 12:1-3 (NIV) says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross,scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

When Jesus ascended and sat down at the right hand of the father he was proclaiming His victory. He had finished the work. His victory has wrought ours. We are to be valiant in our stance and full of courage. According to Matthew 11:12 (NASB) “From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force.” There is still a work to be done and it is we who are to do it.

So today, stare your enemy in the eye. Rip off your mask of silence and proclaim the Kingdom of God is at hand. Wield your sword and stand your ground. You are a conquerer! You’re the called of God and heirs to the throne. Child of God march forward and claim your victory over every sphere in your life and free others while you do!

Blessings to you and yours,

Jaime Luce

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His Banner Over Me Is Love

It is probably safe to say we have all learned something about ourselves during this quarantine. One friend posted a funny meme that said, “I never had time to clean my house.” “Now I know that wasn’t the problem.” The joke is on us. Now we have the time to do things we “didn’t have time for” before and we still aren’t doing them.

Do you have something you blamed on not having enough time for? More specifically, did you blame not reading your Bible, spending time with the Lord and praying on time? That is not meant to be a rebuke but simply a real question of introspection. Are we really where we think we are in our walk with the Lord? Titus 2 teaches us to live soberly in this present world while we look for the blessed hope of Christ’s return.

Just a month ago my son and daughter-in-law had their first child. Jane is a healthy, happy and beautiful little girl. For now, we love how small she is, but she is growing every day.  Growth is healthy. As much as we love babies and puppies, something would be very wrong if they remained small and did not grow. We would take them to the doctor to find out why their growth is stunted. According to google, “the most direct causes are inadequate nutrition (not eating enough or eating foods that lack growth-promoting nutrients) and recurrent infections or chronic diseases which cause poor nutrient intake, absorption or utilization.”

Now if you had a child whose growth was stunted, would you still love them? Of course you would. You would love that child no matter what condition they were in. But what would your desire for that child be? To be healthy. You would want them to grow and to flourish into a strong adult. You would want them to live to their fullest potential.

This is us.

Our heavenly Father has many children who are called by his name. But this incubation time has shown many to be stunted in their growth. If you have a baby who can only live on milk because they have no means to chew food, you are happy to give them milk. If, however you have a child who doesn’t want to eat, you have to intervene. If you don’t you will stunt their growth and harm them. It would not be love to let them do as they pleased. They may want to eat only junk or not eat at all. Out of love you would not allow this. You would prepare healthy options that would help supply what they need. Our Father has done this for us. We are a people, a nation in need.

I’m not saying that God brought this virus. I’m also not saying that He isn’t in it. We as a church have entered into a new era. We can’t have church as usual. We are now forced to feed ourselves and see what we are really made of. Every excuse has been taken away for those who are at home. I think I can safely say everyone has a phone or computer which means everyone has access to the Bible and great teaching. To top it off you now have an abundance of the costliest commodity. Time. It can’t be bought and it always run out.

Song of Solomon 2:4 says, “He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me is love.” Will we eat? Will you sit with him and take the time to dine with him to feed your soul and nourish your relationship? He shows you He loves you by feeding you and meeting that need. Revelation 3:20 says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” He doesn’t want to force feed you but instead he has desired to come to you and spend some time with you. 3 John 1:2 says, “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.” We can affect our health in this present chaos by feeding our souls. Romans 10:17 tells us “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” He won’t force feed you but He does invite you. He wants you well and nourished, growing and flourishing even if you’ve not eaten this way before.

After Jesus’ crucifixion, the disciples put themselves into a quarantine of sorts. They hid in fear in an upper room with the door locked. Once Jesus had made himself known to them on several occasions Jesus had a conversation with Peter in John 21:15, “So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Feed My lambs.”

Jesus will question our love. And I can assume we would quickly say Yes Lord, we love you, just like Peter did. But Jesus asked again and again cutting Peter to the quick. Here in lies the teaching moment. We know Jesus was not trying to wound Peter. He was wanting to enlarge Peter.

To help us understand, I’d like to highlight two phrases. The first is “More than these.” When left to ourselves we must ask, do we love him more than these? “These” are all the things we put before him. In the aftermath of Jesus’ crucifixion, Peter said he was going fishing. His “these” could have been the boat, the nets, the fish or the act of fishing. It could have been “the guys.” He was surrounded by fellow fishermen and friends. Whether “these” are distractions or idols, they take our time and our love.

Who do you love? I challenge you right now to stop and think about what you have said is the one thing you wish you could hurry up and do as soon as the quarantine is over. What is the true love of you your life that you would give your time too? What have you complained about not getting to do the most? What have you neglected to do right now that you easily could do? You will know because out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth will speak. 2 Corinthians 13:5 tells us to examine ourselves because it is possible to deceive ourselves.

Do we really love Him?

I know this is a simple example but it is true none the less. When you love someone, you are eager to spend time with them. You will ditch your other friends to be with them. Even your closest friends. If you can’t physically be together you are on the phone. You know how we do. We won’t be the first one to hang up. You hang up. No, you hang up. Then we fall asleep holding the phone. And if you don’t have a phone you write a beautiful gushing love letter. What ever it takes we make a way. Do you ever get creative to be with Jesus?

The second phrase is “Feed my lambs.” When Jesus questioned Peter’s love, He followed it with a “than do.” We are to be doers of the Word and not hearers only. If you really love Him, you will do something about it. It will affect your decisions and choices. Jesus asked him to “feed” the others. He knew they would look to Peter.  This was a pivotal point. They would either rise to their call and purpose or they would shrink back and become stunted. They needed to grow. Peter had been chosen to lead this band of men once Jesus ascended. It was time to mature. It was going to take someone feeding them and giving them nourishment. They could not remain lambs. These men were to become the fathers of the faith. It was time for Peter to live what he had learned.

Now it’s our turn.

Let’s use this gift of time, this Selah moment in history, to make sure we are ready for what comes next. We may never have this opportunity again. The commodity of time will run out. We need to be feeding ourselves and helping to feed others.

I can’t help but think of the underground church who never have a building to go to. They never have freedom to worship yet they are close to the Father’s heart. They put at risk life and limb to read his word and worship. We are still the most blessed nation. We can still serve the Lord in freedom and gladness.

Earlier I quoted from John 21:15. Let’s back up now to vs.1-14 and see this beautiful truth displayed.

21 After these things Jesus showed Himself again to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias, and in this way He showed Himself: Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of His disciples were together. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.”

They said to him, “We are going with you also.” They went out and [a]immediately got into the boat, and that night they caught nothing. But when the morning had now come, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Then Jesus said to them, “Children, have you any food?”

They answered Him, “No.”

And He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast, and now they were not able to draw it in because of the multitude of fish.

Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment (for he had removed it), and plunged into the sea. But the other disciples came in the little boat (for they were not far from land, but about two hundred cubits), dragging the net with fish. Then, as soon as they had come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid on it, and bread. 10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish which you have just caught.”

11 Simon Peter went up and dragged the net to land, full of large fish, one hundred and fifty-three; and although there were so many, the net was not broken. 12 Jesus said to them, “Come and eat breakfast.” Yet none of the disciples dared ask Him, “Who are You?”—knowing that it was the Lord. 13 Jesus then came and took the bread and gave it to them, and likewise the fish.

14 This is now the third time Jesus showed Himself to His disciples after He was raised from the dead.

You may feel you fished all night and caught nothing. You can’t go to church to get your fish. Jesus is saying throw your net on the other side. Do it at home. You will catch a huge catch. Or if you have found that you have left your first love without realizing it, or you gave up and said, “I’m going fishing,” don’t fret. Simply confess it. Like Peter you can plunge into the water. Rejoice and come to the table. Can you smell it? Jesus has a meal He’s cooking especially for you.

Blessings to you and yours,

Jaime Luce

 

Photo:  iStock by Getty

 

 

 

 

 

Well Hello Sunshine…

Don’t you just love the sunshine?  There is nothing more beautiful than the sun breaking through the clouds after a storm.  It’s breathtaking. We have many sayings about the sun.  For instance there’s “Well Hello Sunshine” or “Sunshine makes me happy”.  We write songs about it like “You are my sunshine” and “Here comes the sun” or “Sunshine on my shoulder.” There is something about the sun that makes us happy and gives us hope.  But what do we do when the sun isn’t shining?  How do we get through the darkness, the chaos, the emptiness?

God’s word is not just informational its transformational. His word was written for you and me personally. So let’s look at this scripture from a new perspective. Genesis 1:1-4 reads like this. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness.”

God created you and I in much the same way. You were formless and void.  He hovered over us in the waters of a womb forming us in a dark place until the moment he chose to burst forth our lives into the world. We weren’t alone in that dark place but carefully hovered over. Our hope remains in the fact that God is the same yesterday, today and forever according to Hebrews 13:8.

He is teaching us about his power in darkness. Where is the darkness? It is on the face of the deep. In other words, it is on the face of the one in deep darkness. How did He transform it? He said, “Let there be.” Have you ever noticed someone’s face and in that instant you knew they were in deep pain or a very dark place. Our face won’t be able to feel the sun until we allow the Lord to go deep. Our gentle savior will wait on us to allow him into those deep dark places. The hidden places of chaos that we feel trapped in. We have to let there be. We can decide to remain in darkness or let him in.

John 8:12 says, “Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” We may not be able to go back and change the past but Christ has unlocked the door to a different future. A new dawn. Country singer Terri Clark’s song “I just want to be mad for awhile” describes a place we can get stuck in. The last two lines of the chorus say “Please don’t make me smile, I just want to be mad for a while.” It’s cute and comical and too often true. We get comfortable and we can even begin to hold fast to it. But darkness can be deceiving. It will lie to us and tell us it’s our friend. We were wronged so we have a right to hold it. And we may very well have been wronged but instead of being our friend it continues to steal life from us and it holds us captive in the darkness of yesterday.

Depression, trauma and tragedy are real and I’m not here to argue or dismiss their reality or severity. I am here to say however that if we “let there be” God can do what only he can do. He needs only to speak and our darkness can break. We have to cling to the truth found in the book of Jeremiah. God has planned for us a hope and a future. He promised in Philippians that the work he began in us he would complete. He won’t leave us there if we are willing to leave it behind. How he leads you is personal to each one of us. We all walk a different journey but our guide should be the same.

As a little girl my father sang in a quartet and traveled from church to church almost every weekend for years. Being on that circuit I learned so many songs that ring in my ears today. One of those was “It always gets the darkest just before daylight.”  Have you ever sat waiting to watch a sunrise? It can be so dark you can feel it. Then almost without detection the black has somewhat softened to a flatter black from the stark sharpness it just eminated, then to almost a very deep blue. Before you know it, light is breaking on the horizon like a aura. It may begin ever so dimly but it most definitely is rising. 

Jesus Christ, our hope, wants to break forth into your darkness and warm your face with his light and warmth.  I hope today you hear the Lord say “Let there be” over you. Let him speak peace to the chaos and lead you out of darkness and into his marvelous light. 

Blessings to you and yours,

Jaime Luce

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Confused???

Let’s start with a truth. According to 1 Corinthians 14:33 God is not the author of Confusion. He is however the author of peace. If you are bombarded by vacillating thoughts or struggle with the uncertainty in your decisions between what is right or wrong you are not alone. Many find themselves in this overwhelming place at one time or another.

Elijah, in 1 Kings 18, has gathered all the people of Israel including the prophets of Baal and says, “How long will you falter between two opinions?” This is a whole nation he’s speaking to. This is our nation right now. Not only is this a problem on a national secular level but it is a private and personal problem on the individual and spiritual level.

This very problem is what causes division and the break down of every kind of relational sect. We know that a nation divided against itself can not stand. A couple divided against itself will crumble. A mind divided against itself will cause self-inflicted pain and dissolution.

What causes this? What does this passage teach us?

Elijah takes them all up on the mountain where the altar of the Lord was. This was the place where they offered up their sacrifices to the Lord and the Lord would hear their cry and answer from heaven. Here is the problem. When he gets there, the altar is broken down.

A broken altar will cause confusion every time.

What is an altar? It is the place of prayer and supplication. The place you regularly meet with the Lord. It is your quiet place. The place where you shut out the noise of the outside to be quiet and hear what the Lord would say. It is in this place and in his presence we receive peace, direction and when needed, answers.

Without an altar you are continually bombarded with distractions and differing thoughts and ideas about every possible thing. We like Elijah have to find out that God is not in the wind, the earthquake or the fire. He is the still small voice. The altar is where you clean out the confusion from your heart and mind and wait to hear the answers. It’s were we can hear his voice.

How does it become broken?

This story shows us that the people had followed after the false Baals and offered their sacrifices to them. This is a picture of how the people who are called by God’s name leave off from their personal time and communion with him to run after the things of the world and whatever is popular at the time. They mock when others try to persuade them that they are going the wrong way or straying too far. They tear down the altar and build new ones to the god’s of this world. They are distracted by the cares of this life. They make the altar the first thing they don’t have time for.

What’s crazy is the prophets of Baal in this chapter harmed themselves to get answers. They cut themselves in an attempt to get answers. They went to extremes to be heard. This is all too familiar to us in this society. People are hurting and confused and this confusion can cause self harm.

But there is a solution. You don’t have to be filled with confusion. You can know the mind and heart of your Father. You can know what good things he has in store for you. You can know what it is to come to him with questions and pain and have him answer and give you direction when you don’t know which way to go.

You do what Elijah did. He repaired the altar that was broken down. (1 Kings 18:30-31) You pick up your stones and one by one you rebuild. You come back into communion with the one true God who knows how to prove who he is to you. He is not intimidated by your questions or struggles. He welcomes the opportunity to show you who he is.

The bonus is that it won’t only be you who see’s God work and answer but all those watching will see. We read in V.39 “Now when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, “The Lord, He is God! The Lord, He is God!””

Living this kind of testimony will give you incredible clarity and strength. After this event Elijah had such supernatural power that he destroyed every false idea that day, took out every false prophet which describes the false words we’ve heard, listened to and believed and then he out ran King Ahab in his chariot.

Our lives are busy and full of every kind of demand. We need His strength to out run our enemy and overcome every lie and hurdle that comes to trip us up.

If you need strength to run your race its found at the altar. So I ask again. How long will you falter between two opinions? You do not have to be confused and tossed to and fro in your mind and in your life. There is a clear and right answer and your Father has it. I like the way the New Living Translation says this in 2 Corinthians 6:2. “For God says, “At just the right time, I heard you. On the day of salvation, I helped you. ” Indeed, the “right time” is now. Today is the day of salvation.”

We are told in Hebrews not to harden our hearts. If you think of your natural heart having hardened arteries you will see this truth. If you don’t soften them your life is on the line. If you continue in your habits it is only a matter of time before the life flow of blood can not get to your heart to keep you alive. It is the same in the spiritual. Let the Lord take out the stoney heart and give you a heart of flesh. Let his blood flow again and bring new life.

He is already there waiting for you. Come to the altar.

 

Blessings to you and yours,

Jaime Luce

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Above image: Clarity is a two-way street.Getty

 

 

To dream or not to dream…

Photo by Glogster

Frustration is a killer of dreams. How many times have you had a dream of achieving some goal but once you began the process it seemed to take much longer than you imagined. You ran into obstacles and maybe even attempted something that failed leaving you feeling that it was just a pipe dream. You now look at it and think it was unrealistic to dream it in the first place. If you think this way at least you can put some of the pain away and not feel responsible for having not achieved it. If it is someone or something else’s fault than we are off the hook. Or are we?

These kinds of dreams don’t seem to really ever go away. They just seem to bury deeper and deeper into our subconscious and only come out every once in a while as a fleeting memory. The problem is the older we get we revisit them with a new frown thinking that time is running out. “If only” becomes our thought.

While attending my son and daughter-in-loves baby reveal party I had the opportunity to look at the moon through a very high powered telescope. I could see with clarity so many things about the moon likes it’s hills and valleys, it’s craters and seemingly rough terrain. I wanted to just stare and try to take it all in. It seemed as if I could reach out and touch it yet the moon is 239,000 miles from earth. It occurred to me that this is the proper way to see our dreams.

In the book of Genesis God gave Joseph a dream about his position in the future with such clarity that Joseph immediately told his brothers and parents thinking it to be close enough to touch. The clarity of it made it appear as if it was right in front of him. In actuality it was 13 years and a different country away.

Think about this scenario. NASA looks through their highest powered telescopes and see’s the moon. They decide they want to put someone on the moon. They have the vision with focus and clarity. Now what? They have to do as much research as possible about every known element from space and rockets to human ability. They build and go through simulations of trial and error to find problems and solutions. Every possible idea must be tested and all possible candidates forced to go through all physical extremes.

This is the crux of most frustration. We like NASA will go through trials and errors in order to be properly prepared for the dream ahead and all of this takes mountains of time and endurance.

Joseph had to go through betrayal and slavery to build an inner character that would not only forgive his brothers but be prepared to care for them and their families in their time of need. That is a hugely difficult and emotional trial. But God chose him for the job because he knew he could do it. He knew that he would do it.

Can God trust you with that kind of power?

Then Joseph was lied about in the worst way. The end result put him in a dungeon prison when he was guiltless of all charges and had actually acted honorably and ran from the prospect of being involved in a disloyal and sinful act of betrayal. Then while in prison on trumped up charges he is neglected and forgotten after helping those he was imprisoned with.

It may seem unfair but the dream was a big dream. Are you dreaming a big dream. God may have shown you the future through his very clear high powered telescope. It is not a lie. What he showed you is real. Though the vision tarry, wait for it. I like the way the New Living Translation puts it. Habbakkuk 2:3 “The vision is for a future time. It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled. If is seems slow in coming, wait patiently for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed.”

The waiting is not a waiting time. It is not a wasted time. We are to prepare and learn during the waiting. The waiting serves a great purpose. We may go through trials and errors but those trials and errors are some of the best teachers.

Throw off your frustration like an old garment and remember the dream is for an appointed time and the God who is faithful believes you can do it. He’s given you all that you need for the step you are taking toward it now. When it is time to take the next step you will be ready for that too.

In time, like Joseph, you will get the call out of the prison and into position. To quote a line from “The Patriot”, “Make ready!”, for the dream will surely come to pass.

Blessings to you and yours,

Jaime Luce

From faith to faith

Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

Faith is a common word used by both believers and unbelievers alike. It may or may not be related to anything spiritual. We have somehow taken it’s power and relegated it to a fancy word for hope. I however am of the mindset that faith is far more potent than that.

Jesus never said “Where is your hope?” or “Oh ye of little hope.” I can hope without having any faith so I have often mulled over the possible meaning of the phrase “faith to faith” in Romans 1:17 many times. It is commonly accepted as a phrase about how we grow our faith like a muscle to which I agree though it always seemed lacking in weight to me. No pun intended. We know that the Word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword (Heb. 4:12), so there seemed to be more here. Something with more grit or substance than stepping up a proverbial latter of Christiendom.

I don’t have the corner on this subject but as I read the verse today I unintentionally had put a pause in the phrase and something happened. I saw it from a different angle. I heard it in a different tone. The scripure reads “For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.”(KJV) Paul is making an intense declaration of how we are to live as Christ followers. This is no puny summation. The ending of this verse demands that the beginning carry the same strength.

God’s righteousness is revealed from a place of faith. The beginning of faith is to understand that God is righteous. If you do not believe in his righteousness you have not yet begun your race. Paul ended his journey on this earth saying, “I have fought a good fight. I have finished my course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.”(2 Tim. 4:7-8) God is Righteous. This is the principle thing.

Our current culture declares loudly that the righteousness of God and his Holy Word are not righteous. Politicians and news media are replete with those who stand in its opposition and call evil good and good evil. This position is not a position of faith and without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). It is dangerous to adopt the worlds definitions and in particular when they are related to Christianity. Faith at it’s root is believing in the righteousness of our Maker. If you had any doubt, He is right. Psalm 145:17 says, “The Lord is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works.” The NRS puts it this way. “The Lord is just in all His ways, and kind in all His doings.” In other words, He’s good all the time and in everything. He’s not wrong.

If you still have doubts all you have to do is look to all that He created. Psalm 19:1 tells us that the heavens declare the glory of God; the skies declare the work of His hands. There is nothing but perfection in every kingdom He made. The vastness and grandeur of space that cannot be found out. The earth and all it’s resources. The sky and oceans and all their expanse. The way all plant life grows and multiplies in it’s season. The animal kingdom and it’s grand diversity. There is nothing made that was made that did not come from Him and it is all good. Every bit of it is right. If anything is wrong it comes from our fallen state.

His righteousness rules supreme. Understanding this is real faith. It is from this spring board that we then go from faith to faith. What is this second faith? This is the journey. You and I will face every kind of afront that will scream “THIS is not right!” And when we find ourselves in this place we have a choice. We must ask ourselves is God righteous? Do we believe in who He is and what He is able to do? Do we have faith?If He can hold the sun, the moon and the stars in their orbit, if He can feed the sparrow when she’s hungry, and if the flower continues to bloom with each new spring then I know He can care for me. He will be righteous and take me through this storm. He will not leave me alone. “He will perfect that which concerns me.” (Psalm 138:8)

I know we face immensely difficult and seemingly impossible situations but this one thing I know. My God is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.(Eph. 3:20) What is that power? Christ in us! He who is righteous is in us working. Romans 8:28 says He takes what the enemy meant for evil and uses it for our good when we love Him and are called according to His purpose. It is by this truth then that we can confidently say with Paul, “The just shall live by faith.”

2 Peter 11:8 tells us that we have obtained “like precious faith” through the righteusness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ. Let faith be your footstool for leaping into the righteousness of a just and good God. Let Him give you His peace to do the impossible like Peter and walk on the storm. If we keep our eyes on Jesus we will make it safely to the other side. Don’t have faith in faith. Have faith in God!

Blessings to you and yours,

Jaime Luce

Communion

I am coming out of a busy time of transition where I had put down the pen for a spell. Though I have never published poetry here I thought it might be a fresh way to re-enter my blog life. I wrote this about two years ago while attending The King’s University in Southlake Texas. My professor wanted us to write an original sonnet. I chose to write a Shakespearian format. Here is what I submitted. I hope you enjoy it.

            What makes your words the bread of life to me?

            It fills my hungry soul and cures my ill.

            Your thoughts rise up the man I ought to be

            and calms the rumbles angst with peace be still. 

            I eat my daily due for strength to live,

            without no man can know the way to go.

            I’m weak and frail with nothing left to give

            except the nourishment that you bestow.

            This manna feeds, no end to its supply,

            daily prepared for each his own demand.

            No need for questions how or even why.

            His pleasures all at his eternal hand.

            This gift of bread was torn and broke with wine

            to offer each the gift to come and dine.

By Jaime Luce

THE VALLEY OF DECISION

man wearing red hoodie standing near body of water with view of mountains
Photo by Simon Migaj on Pexels.com

Decisions, decisions. In the words of Joel the prophet, “Multitudes, Multitudes in the valley of decision.” Most decisions are small and are made every day almost without thought. Then there are those that we find ourselves running from or wrestling with that keep us up at night. These are the “valley decisions.” A valley is either the place where you are caught between a rock and a hard place with mountains on every side or a lost place. A place of confusion and disorientation.

The first time I read this passage in Joel 3 my heart sank at the thought of multitudes in a valley of decision. What will they do with Jesus? It both horrifies and compels me. The truth of that still sits with me but today to Lord showed me this passage from a different perspective. This does not nullify its meaning but opens another revelation.

Those who have already made the decision to follow Christ will still find themselves in valleys of decision. These decisions must be made but we see mountains on every side. Fear of the unknown hangs over us like a looming shadow. I have been in this valley several times and as I look back, I see two things it took to move out of the valley which are noted in Joel 3:10. He says, “Beat your plowshares into swords and your pruning hooks into spears; Let the weak say, “I am strong.’”

This picture expresses going from the daily routine to a posture of war. First, change your usual tools from routine to a weapon of purpose. You cannot continue as if nothing is different. There is a season for plowing and pruning back. Then there is a season of advancing and taking new ground where you aren’t just plowing the same old ground over and over. Second, while in the valley you may feel small, weak and ill-equipped but you are not to make decisions based on how you feel. You must say “I am strong.” We must not let fear lead. Faith must lead the charge. Gideon, in Judges 6 is a great example. He was threshing wheat in fear, but the angel called him a mighty man of valor signifying he was a warrior not a thresher. He needed different tools and faith instead of fear.

Once we have warred for direction we must charge forward in faith. The just shall live by faith. We cannot remain in a valley of decision. Our indecision is a decision and double mindedness will only take you in circles. This was the case for the children of Israel in the wilderness. They said they wanted to go to the promised land but feared and had no faith seeing themselves as grasshoppers against giants. This led to a 40-year journey of going in circles until Joshua led the faith charge forward.

The good news for those who belong to Jesus is that every valley has a river running through it. He is our source of strength and refreshing. If we will get in the river his current will carry us to the right destination.

Scripture references:

Joel 1-3

Judges 6

Psalm 23 explains this. “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Jaime Luce

Lessons from Joseph… Part 4 The key to your dream

Joseph didn’t go to prison because someone lied about him. Joseph went to prison to interpret a dream for Pharaoh. He had to be there for that exact day. It was the day his own dream had waited on. Can you see it? Joseph had to help someone else with their dream so God could give Joseph his. Joseph now had to serve again but this time his service put him second in command only to Pharaoh. Our dreams are not “get out of jail free cards.” They don’t mean it can finally be all about us, at least not when they are from the Lord. The key to your dream may simply be to serve others. God fulfilled Joseph’s dream by Joseph living to serve another man’s dream.

If your dream doesn’t serve anyone but you it isn’t a dream from God. When Joseph had his dreams as a young man he saw people serving him. This began the test of his character. Could Joseph steward his authority in the way God intended it? Can you? Has God given you a dream? If he has, the dream will test you. Jesus commanded that we love one another and prayed that we would be one as he and the father were. Our assignments, dreams and purpose will always include others. Joseph was lifted to the highest pinnacle, yet his job was to solve Pharaohs problem. He was to make sure everyone else could eat and at the same time build a kingdom not his own. Self-service was nowhere to be found. Joseph knew how to live favored and be held in high regard. His dream didn’t have to teach him that. But being a slave taught him how to serve. Being a prisoner taught him the value of bread and water to those with no means. Being lied on taught him how to handle power with character for he would be in a position that would allow him to take vengeance. Being sold taught him what it was to be a stranger and an outcast. Joseph may have known how to prosper but his dream tested his ability to steward how his dream affected others. Do not be discouraged if you are in your testing time. Keep serving. It will keep you positioned for promise.

Jaime Luce