The Rushing Waves of Refinement

Is. 59:19 So they shall fear the name of the LORD from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun; for he will come like a rushing stream, which the wind of the LORD drives.


Recently, I had been reading a few Scriptures that I saw in a new light. I love when that happens. It’s refreshing. I came to this verse in Isaiah following my reading of Hebrews.

Heb. 12:6 For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”

A rushing stream is powerful and cannot be stopped by any man or woman without the help of technology. When the Lord does a work either through us or in our lives, it is not something we stop or, in other words, opt out of. Sometimes this is a work he is doing through us and at other times it is a work that he is doing in us to refine and purify.

Mal. 3:2 But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap.

No one can stand unchanged when God refines and at the moment he chooses to do so. All of us are broken down to our sin in order to reconcile with the holy God. These moments come for all of us and is something we can prepare for by remaining broken, teachable, moldable, consistent in our prayer life, and also consistent with our time spent in his word. 

Daniel and his friends were prepared to deny worshipping the image Nebuchadnezzar implemented because thier focus was on God. This wasn’t because of a random disposition. It was a positive result of time spent with the Lord. 

We too can be better prepared to be honest with God when that rushing, unstoppable stream and refining fire comes to deal with whatever it is that the Lord is removing in our lives. When prepared, we are better equipped to resist the devil during his visitation. Read though Daniel 3 when you have a chance. 

Daniel and his friends recognized that it was an opportunity to stand for God. And they were confident that the Lord would either deliver them or they would accept the consequences. How did they know God was a deliverer? This history comes from the Scriptures and from experiencing God’s deliverance beforehand. 

The more we spend consistent time with God whatever that looks like for each of us, the more we are equipped when times of temptation present themselves. The more recent our communing with God has been, the more we are equipped to accept that refining fire. Fire is painful! Water is heavy and especially when it is rushing it carries us to whatever its destination is. 

These things should be welcomed by us because they leave us in a better place than we were previously in. That doesn’t mean the experience should be particularly fun while we’re going through it. Rather we should have some sort of bigger picture and wider understanding to help us recognize that the fruit will be a blessing. 

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Saint Valentine: From Whence Does Our Love Come?

As we celebrate Valentine’s Day, I found it refreshing to learn that it was enacted in honor of Saint Valentine. From there, different stories about Valentine arise.

The celebration was established in 496 AD by Pope Gelasius. It is mostly agreed upon that Valentine was a priest and was martyred in 270 AD under Emperor Cladius II’s rule. One storyline says that Valentine was caught marrying Christian couples when the practice was banned in Rome. This ties nicely with the love theme of Valentine’s Day, but it is not the only historical record and unfortunately evidence shows this may be a later development; however, that doesn’t mean it is necessarily untrue.

Another storyline says that Valentine was apprehended because he would not denounce his faith and worship the idols of Rome under Cladius’ reign. After defending his face, this quote taken from The Golden Legend, written by Jacobus de Voragine in 1260 AD, demonstrates Valentine’s loving nature:

What wilt thou say of our gods and of their holy life? And Saint Valentine answered: I say none other thing of them but that they were men mortal and mechant and full of all ordure and evil. Then said Claudius the emperor: If Jesu Christ be God verily, wherefore sayst thou not the truth? And Saint Valentine said: Certainly Jesu Christ is only very God, and if thou believe in him, verily thy soul shall be saved, thy realm shall multiply, and he shall give to thee alway victory of thine enemies. Then Claudius turned him unto all them that were there, and said to them: Lords, Romans, hear ye how wisely and reasonably this man speaketh? Anon the provost of the city said: The emperor is deceived and betrayed, how may we leave that which we have holden and been accustomed to hold sith our infancy? With these words the emperor turned and changed his courage, and Saint Valentine was delivered in the keeping of the provost.

Regardless, all accounts attribute his martyrdom to his refusal to renounce his faith. Even if Valentine wasn’t really known to send love notes or marry lovers when it was forbidden, Valentine’s love for God was the motivation to his life. And his refusal to betray his first love is a Christ-like portrayal of a loving relationship with the Lord. When our love comes from such a place, it causes that love to overflow into the lives of many other people we touch. And it is then easy to see how stories can come about from that type of love and commitment. 

Happy Valentine’s! Love God and love your neighbor. 

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eVotional: Isa 48:10

“Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.”

Isaiah 48:10

Unfortunately, without the exercising of our faith it cannot grow strong and mature. As we go through life experiencing challenges to our faith each situation brings us one step closer in intimacy with him. We are learning to prioritize what is most valuable in life, to embrace the day’s activities, and to trust patiently in him.

If you are going through challenges, know that this is common for all His chosen! Stand firm in the Lord and the power of his might! During challenging times I find it helpful to review the testimonies of past blessings. God’s track record is faithful. Give him the praise, be sensitive to his precious Spirit, and hang on for the ride!

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eVotional: Isaiah 60:1-3 Fasting, Lent, and the Glory of God

Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you. And nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.” Isaiah 60:1-3

When we are more devoted to loving the Lord than we are with our need to be “right”, then we are onto the heart of God. The kingdom is not about what we’re doing, as if it could save us, but rather it is about what He is doing and what He is doing through us.

We are approaching the Lent season this week. Isaiah 58:6 says that fasts are chosen in order to loosen bondages and to lift burdens. Hosea 6:6 says that God desires obedience, not sacrifice. What the prophet means is that God is interested in the sacrifice that comes from letting go of our own will and taking on a life fashioned after His will. Our fasting should be to that end: to love God with all our hearts, souls, and minds.

Kingdom work involves loosening the bands of heaviness on others, to undo those heavy burdens, to set the oppressed at ease, to break the yokes that the enemy has on us and our brethren, to hand bread to the hungry, to bring the poor into fellowship, and to clothe the naked. Helping those who cannot repay brings a reward that cannot be matched! In dark times, the people of God will be lights. The glory of the Lord shall be our reward.

A fasted life is necessary to holy empowerment. But if we have opportunity to be a blessing, that should be jumped on faster than any other ritual or tradition. What good is fasting or praying for someone who is down when we have the ability to help them? I’m referring to the Good Samaritan parable. When we have an opportunity, we should always meet the Lord where he is. And he can be found addressing needs.

We will truly be lights and the glory of the Lord will be upon us. People will come from all over to join those kinds of efforts. And when powered by zeal for the house of God and his church without walls, there are no bonds that can hold us back. Let our fasting and the Lenten season bring closeness to Him who is able to keep us from stumbling and spill over onto the lives around us.

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eVotional: Mark 11:24 Believe That God Hears Your Prayer

“Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.” Mark 11:24

It defeats the purpose to ask God for something in prayer and then not believe he’s going to do it. Why ask? He definitely does not want us to live according to random prayers for whatever we desire, so we must ask wisely. But we should not grow weary in such good doing. If there is no answer or the answer is ‘no” there is a very good reason for it. Part of our duty as followers of God is to become aligned with God. The effective, fervent prayers of the righteous accomplish a lot (Jas 5:16).

God’s timing is just not the same as ours. I think my timing is much better because it is quicker! But apparently quickness is not necessarily better. I know, bizarre. But we have assurance that we can do and have all things through Christ who gives us strength. Christ brought down the strongholds. It is because of him, and we really need to understand that. If He’s the center and the reason for God pouring out his blessings upon us, then it is easier to understand how it is that we may receive them. If God’s aid was dependent on my or your own perfection, there would be no salvation. I know I blew it long ago.

Showing God we believe is through giving him praise by our actions, living like he has already responded to prayer, and as if we are going to start seeing the evidence today! It’s not about trusting our eyes or feelings. And it is even not in trusting the work of our own hands. I am so thankful God doesn’t look for blind faith as sometimes we misinterpret from what God is trying to teach us. There must be a reason for our faith. There must be a reason for what we do. The faith part is stepping out in response to our trust in God.

There is plenty of evidence that he who began a good work in you is continuing to perform it even as we speak! Isn’t there? God is at work. That is evident. God provides just enough confirmation so that we will believe, walk forward in faith, and receive that which he desires to give us as we trust in him.

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eVotional: Jer 20:12-13 Sing Unto the Lord, the Deliverer

“But, O Lord of hosts, that tries the righteous, and sees the reins and the heart, let me see your vengeance on them: for unto you have I opened my cause.  Sing unto the Lord, praise the Lord: for he has delivered the soul of the poor from the hand of evildoers.”

Jeremiah 20:12-13

Through humility the Lord comes to the aid of his people.  The battle is not ours. It is the Lords. Let him take care of the process of restitution, protection, provision, and defense. We have a mighty God in whom we take our refuge! Unless we give him place to act on our behalf, we will act on our own instead of trusting in him. And usually matters become worse. When God acts, he balances the scales of justice, grace, and righteousness that ends up benefiting all concerned!

Never cease from residing under the shadow of his wing! If he inhabits the praises of his people like Scripture tells us, the best way to call on him and get into his presence is to praise him amidst our trials and troubles. This holiday season, let it be a season of praise that our savior was born. Our creator became man, walked in our shoes, and suffered with us. This wasn’t the end but a beginning! And the Holy Spirit brings assurance of that reality. Praise the Lord!

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eVotional: Rom 15:3-4 Hope from the Scriptures

“For Christ did not please himself; but, as it is written, “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.” For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, so that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope.”

Romans 15:3-4

Hope comes from Scriptures!  Could this be why we don’t have peace and comfort at times; the ability to acknowledge that God is in full control? When we don’t allow the Holy Spirit to give us the right understanding, we worry. 

How much effort are we putting into our business, our job, our professionalism?  Should we not put more into seeking God’s guidance?  It is the rulers and powers of this age that are attempting to wear us out so that we’re too tired for the things that are most important.

We have access to a wealth of hope, comfort, and power in the Holy scriptures!  We are not shorthanded to deal with the troubles of each day.  We are very much prosperous in God’s educational material!  What ever we do, let us plant our dreams in a way that is built upon God’s kingdom! A Sure foundation.

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eVotional: Pro 8:10-11 Better then Gold!

 

“Receive my instruction, and not silver; and knowledge rather than choice gold.  For wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it.”

Proverbs 8:10-11

Is is not the truth!  Always make a way to hear what God is saying each day, each hour.  Before we receive our monies, our purchases, and anything else of material value, receive his instruction!

Better than the most precious and polished gold, his wisdom brings happiness like nothing else can.  The lengths he has gone to to bring us this wisdom is costly. Let us receive it and put it into practice. Let us allow the Holy Ghost to bring the wisdom and mind of Christ into our hearts that we may abide with him until the end of the age. Always remember, at the end of this age, another age begins!

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eVotional: Job 33:4 He is Close

“The spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life.”

Job 33:4

Breathing itself is a testimony.  We release this breath of life each time we breathe and it returns to us. This breath of life, breathed into us by the Spirit of life, is a miracle!  This is a gift breathed into our nostrils by our Creator (Gen 2:7)

The Spirit of the Lord sustains us. It feels like at times that God is far from us, but we needn’t look further than our very breath as a testimony to the truth that he is always near (Exo 3:12, Mat 28:20).

The God who formed us in the wound is also responsible for the present time we have been given. The Lord has given us tools for pulling down the enemy’s strongholds and destroying his yoke on our lives! Whatever things are good, holy, and pure; meditate on these things! We overcome with a beautiful, divine assistance.

Believers, we are not alone. The breath of the Almighty is with you.

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eVotional: Isaiah 61:4-6

“To appoint to them that morn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.  And they shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations.  And strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, and the sons of the alien shall be your plowmen and your vinedressers.  But ye shall be named the Priests of the Lord: men shall call you the Ministers of our God”

Isaiah 61:4-6

We don’t always pause and truly value the significance of words. I don’t mean overcomplicating word use such as an exhaustive word study. That can be useful, but what I mean is paying close attention to words in context. We refer to Jesus as redeemer. This applies to more than our salvation. Jesus redeems our time, our health, our loved ones, our personal struggles with sin, and all aspects of our life! It means that he takes burdens, besetting sins, and anything that seeks to hinder our intimacy with him and turns them into blessings. He washes all parts of our life wholly clean.

You have been given a part in the ministry of God. There are people who need salvation, physical healing, miracles, and hearts in desperate need of joy.  As the redeemer redeems these areas of your life, be sure to increase the harvest and lead others to the same.

All of the old places and old ways we used to walk in are being renewed day by day!  The Lord is not slack and he is not slowing down concerning this.  He said he would do it, redeeming all areas of your life and mine, and he is already in the process of bringing it to pass!

I don’t know what the Lord has given you, but I do know that what he has promised won’t delay!  Don’t let anyone or any spirit take your focus off of the God who has redeemed you because he has loved you!  When our mind is stayed on him, former desolations, current desolations, all begin to pale in comparison to the treasure we have in God. Ashes become beauty. Mourning becomes praise. In him is fullness of joy. In him is victory. In him is perfect peace.

Though things may take time, the Lord is faithful to forgive and renew.  Repent and move forward.  Don’t let another day pass where you don’t let the Holy Spirit lead you into where he has destined for you to be!

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