Glimpses of the Heart
These are things that the Lord has shared with me during my own devotional time. Some have become messages, and some are just things I've pondered in my heart and want to share. It's a glimpse into my heart for Christ and His Church and His heart for us. I pray that the Spirit will challenge your heart, just as I have been challenged, and cause you to become by an operation of His power at work in you.
Vision: A Personal & Corporate Responsibility
JANUARY 15, 2019
There’s a lot to be said on vision, and most often in church settings, we quote Hab. 2:2-3, which states:
“Then ADONAI answered me, He said, ‘Write down the vision clearly on tablets, so that even a runner can read it. For the vision is for its appointed time; it speaks of the end, and it does not lie. It may take a while, but wait for it; it will surely come, it will not delay.” CJB
What an incredible promise concerning the vision God has granted us! If we write, He will see its fulfillment at the correct time. However, very rarely do we look at the preceding verse to understand our responsibility, both personally and corporately to the vision.
Hab. 2:1 reveals the position we should be in to receive the vision of the Lord. Habakkuk tells us,
“I will stand at my watchpost;
I will station myself at the rampart.
I will look to see what [God] will say through me
and what I will answer when I am reproved.” CJB
There is so much more here than meets the eye at first reading. Habakkuk is telling us that he is going to stand firmly with endurance, holding his ground at his watchpost. This is an interesting word, for it signifies your calling, office, or function. This is a personal obligation. Whatever you are called to do, you need to determinedly stand. There is nothing the enemy wants more than to see you cave in and neglect what God has called you to do! No matter what he throws at you, you must have a standing attitude, just as David’s mighty men did in the heat of the battle. It says of Eleazar in 2 Samuel 23:10 that, “He arose and attacked the Philistines until his hand was weary, and his hand stuck to the sword.” NKJV As a result, the Lord would give a great victory. However, David’s victory wasn’t won alone. He had a team of mighty men who worked as one to see the vision come to pass.
This is what Habakkuk is referring to in verse one of chapter two when he states that, “I will station myself at the rampart.” A rampart is part of a fortress, which is meant for the protection of the people within a kingdom. Referring back to the watchpost, every person has their individual place in the Body of Christ for the edifying of the Body of Christ. God never called us to act autonomously. We are meant to work within the context of community. When we stand within the fortress of the Kingdom of God, we are work within our individual posts together. This is a corporate responsibility. What would have happened if Eleazar hadn’t stood at his post? Would the outcome of David’s battle have been different? Would the other mighty men have been able to stand their ground while covering Eleazar’s as well?
As we stand our ground functioning in our calling, we work with others, watching to see what God wants to reveal to us, again personally and corporately. God is not silent! The Commander of the Lord’s Army is speaking, granting perspective and strategy for our lives and His Church. We are admonished by Habakkuk to listen and then respond to what the Lord is saying. Maybe God is telling you there needs to be a course correction; maybe He’s giving a word of encouragement or wisdom. Whatever the Lord is saying, it comes with an obligation to respond. No one likes to be ignored, and God is no exception. When He speaks, He wants us to answer. In this case, we are to reply to Him by writing down what He gives us.
There is something about putting one’s vision in writing. Writing brings clarity and focus to thoughts that may otherwise remain jumbled. It forces the author to reflect on how his/her words are coming across to the reader. Unfortunately, in this day we have observed on more than one occasion people who just spew out their thoughts rather than writing them so that the heart, intent, and message of the author comes across. Writing also keeps us on track with the vision, providing us with something to reflect upon when we are getting off track. Whenever God spoke to His people in the Old Testament, He had them write it down. By writing it down, they gave us a beautiful gift because we can bear witness that Jesus is the Christ. The prophetic word written down verified the plan of God for our salvation.
I would like to encourage you to become actively involved in the vision God has for you personally for your local church, as well as the Kingdom of God. Stand your ground in the place you were planted within the jurisdiction God has given you. Don’t give into the tactics of the enemy to cause you to walk away but look for what God is saying where you are right now and write it down. It may be a short-term goal or a long-term vision, but our objective is the same. Let’s align ourselves with the vision of God and be the light of the world in the midst of a perverse generation, showing others how to take refuge in the Kingdom by accepting the love of sacrifice of our King!
The Story of Us: The Importance of Understanding Church History
JANUARY 22, 2019
Eusebius, Irenaeus, Hippolytus, Polycarp, Justin Martyr. Sound familiar? No? All are individuals that lived within the first few centuries following the resurrection of Christ and were part of the early church.
Polycarp, a disciple of the Apostle John, was martyred, leaving behind “much fruit,” just as his name suggests. Justin Martyr was an early Christian apologist who made the legal case, not once, but twice before Rome on behalf of its Christian citizens. He, too, would be martyred. Irenaeus and Hippolytus both wrote extended works that addressed early church heresies and for which its members were confronted and excommunicated. Eusebius wrote the first comprehensive book on early church history around 309 AD. All provide us with a glimpse of the early church and stand as witnesses against us that we were warned.
Interestingly enough, no modern heresy exists today that didn’t first exist in the early church. The difference being is that today’s modern church chooses to compromise in the name of political correctness and tolerance refusing to offend their neighbor while the early united church came together to address the lies so intricately woven into to the truth and denounced them point by point. In our time the church is floundering and gasping to breathe, while in their time the church flourished, daily adding to their numbers. I can’t help but wonder what our predecessors would say after sacrificing their lives to avoid the very things we so flippantly ignore?
If it sounds as though I'm standing in judgment, I am, knowing full well that I am first in line. You cannot help but be affected when you read of the sacrifices made so that we would have the opportunity to know Christ. Molten lead poured down the backs of people who refused to recant, and Christians torn apart limb from limb for refusing to sacrifice to idols. These are our predecessors who ran to the mouth of the lion instead of from it, that they could gain Christ all the more and provide a witness and testimony for the Lord.
What has the church done that we look the other way at the threat of our tax-exempt status being stripped from us or run to avoid confrontation the clash of swords that wielding the Word of God must ultimately bring? And then, to top it off, we excuse our behavior in the name of love, forgetting that Love, in its purest form, is defined by the very person we deliberately betray as the end of the age dawns.
So, what is the importance of church history? It is not only a story, but it is OUR story. It holds a mirror to our weaknesses, warning that except by the grace of God, there go I. It also provides us with examples of how to address heresy, solve issues within the Body, and to live in joyous victory even amid the most atrocious of persecutions. They are our great cloud of witnesses, and while my greatest desire is to hear My Lord say, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” I also long to be a good steward of the legacy they have left me. It is a legacy mostly unknown, but Christ is revealing again that we may learn from both their failures and their successes, and in so doing add our own chapter to the story of us.
Thirsty On the Mountain
JANUARY 16, 2019
In Psalms 63:1, David declares, “O God, You are my God; early will I seek You; my soul thirsts for You; my flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water.” NKJV
In this case, David has been in a desert place and his soul is longing for the Lord. Nothing else can satisfy what only the Word of God can provide. It seems only natural that when you are separated from the Lord, you would thirst for Him and become spiritually dehydrated, but what about when you are moving towards Him? This condition of thirst happens not only in the desert places but also when you’re scaling the high places.
Living in Colorado, one quickly realizes that it is unwise to ascend the mountains without an adequate supply of water. You don’t notice it at first, but as you reach greater heights, your tongue begins to dry out, you get light-headed and dizzy, and if you are not used to it, can even make yourself sick or pass out because you were not hydrated enough to go up to the high places. For those of us who live here, it would be unwise and cruel to not forewarn our visitors of this possibility and not provide a steady stream of water for consumption. Not coffee, not tea, not soda or juice, but water. Nothing else will do the job.
The same is true spiritually. One cannot ascend the Mountain of the Lord without being saturated in the Water of the Word. It can’t be done. While the view from God’s perspective is amazing, it hasn’t been reached without a steady intake of the Word of God. If you try to ascend it without the Word, you will quickly realize that it cannot be done in your own strength or over the course of a day. There are twists and turns to traverse, tunnels to burrow through, and rocks to climb. You must reach past the foothills, past the forests and tree line, and past the alpine tundra to reach the peak. It is literally impossible to do successfully without water.
How thirsty are we really for the presence and reality of Almighty God? Are you earnestly seeking the Lord, brave enough to embark upon the trip? Are you filled with the water of His Word, ready to move upward in Him or do you find yourself content in the prairie grass appreciating the view of the Mountain of the Lord without experiencing the splendor of it for yourself? Are you convinced that all that God has for you is enough to leave the lowland behind and pursue the peak? Let’s stay hydrated in the Word so we can ascend to greater heights as His children! He's graciously provided His Holy Spirit as the guide. The mountain is dangerous, full of spiritual predators ready to prey upon and devour you. It takes training and skill, but it is possible to push past all of it and reach the top. It’s breathtaking!
More Than You Can Bear?
FEBRUARY 1, 2019
I cannot count the number of times I have heard people in and out of the church claim, "God will never give you more than you can handle," implying that if you can't handle it, you won't go through it. This statement is taken from 1 Corinthians 10:13 which states,
“No temptation has overtaken you such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”
Let’s dissect this verse and discover the context and content because I think we might be misunderstanding what the Apostle Paul is telling us. After all, we want to rightly divide the Word of Truth that we don’t fall into error.
1. This is written to a group of believers, the church in Corinth. This is important because the understanding of this Scripture is that these are people who are (or should be) walking in the Spirit.
2. This verse is written in the context of a warning to, "Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he falls" (verse 12). In the preceding verses, Paul has a list of sins that we are to avoid as Christians. He is also warning against pride. He follows this up by telling us that hey, you're not being tempted by anything that everyone else hasn't been induced by, so remember, God is faithful. Yes, in everything we need to remember the faithfulness of God. If He can save our souls from destruction, He can keep us from giving in to temptation.
Paul follows up with verse fourteen in which he encourages us that because of God’s faithfulness and the way of escape He has made, that we are to flee idolatry. At first glance, we may wonder what that has to do with anything, but let’s just face it. Any temptation that we give into is because it has become an idol in our lives. It has become more important to us than Christ, and we are putting our flesh above God’s Spirit.
3. This Scripture is speaking specifically of temptation. Temptation here is the Greek word, "peirasmos," and in this particular verse is referring to the lure of sin whether inward or outward. It is vital that we, as believers, understand that not everything in our life is a temptation from which we have a window of escape. Sometimes storms in our life are merely because we live in a fallen world and we have no choice but to go through the storm.
I remember when my father was incredibly ill and desperately needed a liver transplant. Here was a wonderful man who had given his life to serving the Lord, and through no fault or sin on his part ended up with a disease that affected a vital organ. I wanted God to make it all go away – the disease, the pain, the ache of being so far away and not being to help my mother. He didn’t. He did, however, bring us through it by providing a liver, but even then, there was the pain and process of recovery. Quite frankly, there were definitely times where none of our family thought that we would make it through and there was no window of escape. It was life, not sin. The only temptation we faced was the temptation to give up. God did help us on numerous occasions to stand in faith and reject the council of those who walked in the flesh; however, we still had to walk through the storm.
4. This Scripture expresses that God will make a "way of escape." Can I tell you that from personal experience, the way is found in the person of Jesus Christ who Himself claimed, "I am the way, the truth, and the life" (John 14:6). In Christ, the Living Word, is our way out of the sin that the enemy tempts us with, no matter what it may be. His Word enables us to bear up under the tactics of the enemy. This implies that there is constant pressure by the enemy to cause us to crack and break beneath the weight, but His Word tells us otherwise. Satan will try to distort it and twist the Word for his purposes, but his tactics cannot stand against the undefiled, pure Word of God in the mouth of a believing Christian. You have the same Spirit within you that raised Christ from the dead (Rom. 6:10), and as such you are an overcomer!
In conclusion, though we have for years said the Lord wouldn't give us more than we can handle, this verse, in context, applies to temptation. However, as I have discussed, God is faithful, and if God is for us, who can be against us? After all, we are meant to be conquerors. (Rom. 8:31). It is my opinion that perhaps a better phrase for us to use is, "God will never give us more than He can handle," and that pretty much covers it all – temptation, life circumstances, etc. If we are living in Him, He can do exceedingly abundantly above all that we could ask or think according to the power at work in us (Eph. 3:20). Don't ever limit yourself to what you can handle – God in you is far greater, and in Him, even the moving of mountains is possible (Mark 11:23).
To Those Who Minister: A Call to Return
FEBRUARY 21, 2019
In writing this I realize that even as I point a finger outward, I have three pointing back. However that may be, I feel compelled to do so because time is short and many within our churches are unprepared for the coming of the Lord. In a way I feel very much like Jeremiah who complained God had tricked him into ministry and yet the prophetic word was so alive within him, he declared it to be a “fire shut up in his bones” that had to be released (Jer. 20:9).
As I have been studying the Word for the past several months, one thing has been consistently highlighted to me, and that is God’s incredible displeasure with the shepherds of His flock. This is a tough word because my husband and I can relate to the difficult struggles ministers face. Growing up as a pastor’s kid and transitioning to full-time ministry myself, I know firsthand the heartache that ministers experience. One would not embrace this life unless called by the Lord, so I do want to reaffirm to you that the Lord loves His shepherds and His words of correction and warning are for our benefit and that of the people He has placed in our care. As Zechariah the prophet warns, “Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered” (Zech. 13:7).
There is a call to the leaders of the church to return – to get their houses in order both physically and spiritually. Throughout the minor prophets, God reproves His shepherds. In Zechariah eleven, verse seventeen, God declares, "Woe to the worthless shepherd who abandons his sheep! May a sword strike his arm and his right eye. May his arm be completely withered and his right eye totally blind." The arm is a symbol of strength; the right eye symbolizing revelation. In other words, God Himself will withhold revelation and the ability to walk in the power of it when we worthlessly neglect the first things.
So, what are those first things? As ministers, it is not difficult to find articles that will tell us how to grow our church, including special events and outreach ministries. We can discover myriad numbers of ways to keep the flock occupied, but if they remain unempowered to fulfill the Great Commission of "making talmidim [disciples], immersing them into the reality of the Father, the Son and the Ruach HaKodesh [Holy Spirit], and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you,” then we fall short as ministers in fulfilling our call to equip the saints for the work of the ministry (Matt. 28:19-20a; Eph. 4:12). In a culture that is in a consistent state of compromise, God is calling us as leaders to return to the pure unadulterated truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, reminding us that our calling is based in covenant relationship alone.
Regarding God’s covenant with Levi, Malachi states that "My covenant with him was one of life and peace, and I gave him these things. It was also one of fear, and he feared Me; he was in awe of My name. The true Torah was in his mouth, and no dishonesty was found on his lips; he walked with me in peace and uprightness and turned many away from sin. A cohen’s lips should safeguard knowledge, and people should seek Torah from his mouth because he is the messenger of ADONAI-Tzva’ot. But you turned away from the path, you caused many to fail in the Torah, you corrupted the covenant of Levi, says ADONAI-Tzva’ot. Therefore, I have in turn made you contemptible and vile before all the people, because you did not keep My ways but were partial in applying the Torah” (Mal. 2:5-9).
This truth should cause all ministers to tremble, for though written long before Jesus, the principles apply to us, as well. We are to:
Be conduits of life and peace
Walk in fear of the Lord
Awe the Name of the Lord
Speak the true Gospel
Be honest (that includes a vulnerability many are unwilling to show)
Walk in peace and righteousness
Turn people from sin
We should be the ones people seek out for wisdom
Be the messenger of the Lord
Unfortunately, God hits the nail on the head when He tells us that we’ve corrupted our covenant with Him by not only preaching a partial Gospel but partially applying His Word to our lives. Are we safeguarding the truth of God, standing firm in Him, or exchanging His truth for a lie more palatable to the masses? When was the last time you preached on the holiness of God and our responsibility to pursue it as the Apostle Peter told us to, “Be holy for I [God] am holy” (I Pt. 1:16)? When did we choose to compromise the Word for the sake of numbers or tolerate sin in our churches instead of issuing correction to fill our offering plate? Let's be honest: that does not reflect a healthy fear of the Lord, and it is our poor example that has God's sheep wandering about lost in a pasture full of foreign gods that encourage them to indulge their flesh while promising admittance at heaven’s gate.
God describes the status of His sheep under the influence of these false gods in Zechariah ten, verse two. He explains, "For the household gods talk nonsense, the diviners have seen a lie; their dreams convey delusions, and the comfort they offer is in vain. Therefore, they go their way like sheep in distress from lack of a shepherd.” In the midst of this, God lays the blame solely on the shoulders of the shepherds saying in verse three, “My anger burns against the shepherds, and I will vent it on the leaders of the flock.” His sheep are chasing one prophetic word after another in search of truth, exposing themselves to doctrines of demons because we, yes, we, have been negligent in our care for them. The danger of continuing on the path we have trod thus far is that God will hold us accountable and will bring judgment first and foremost upon us.
The good news is that all is not lost. God’s desire for His shepherds is that we return to right relationship with Him, rededicate ourselves to His purposes while dying to our own, and renew our resolve to see His sheep led to green pastures and still waters.
Why this call to return? Because God wants His temple rebuilt. He has promised that in the last days He will once again pour out His Spirit upon all flesh, and they will need leaders who know how to lead according to the Word of God.
In Haggai, the prophet encourages the leaders to begin again. I know many of us are downtrodden and discouraged feeling the work of our hands is in vain. That being said, you are called! You are anointed! You are set apart for such a time as this, and God’s Word is true! If we do ministry His way, just as He was faithful to the Israelites, so He will be to us, reiterating His promise, “From this day on, I will bless you” (Hag. 2:19).
Interested in reading more from Renée? Sign up today and subscribe for more updates!