Know Your Way Out

Sometimes even when I’m surrounded, I feel so alone. Certain days, it feels as if everything is going wrong. I try to do things that will get me back on track, but it seems as if I can’t even think straight. 

Today was one of those days. Except I wasn’t alone… I was surrounded by the spiritual realm. 

I believe there’s demons and angels all around. All the time. Even if I don’t physically see them, at times I sense when they’re near. 

My best explanation to you: when I feel lost, confused, in despair, depressed or some other negative feeling other than God’s love; It is because I’m allowing the demons to steal my joy, to ruin my day. 

In that moment I try to turn to anything – to make me feel good. Yet that empty feeling remains. 

BUT I AM NOT ALONE!! HE IS WITH ME!

As many times as it takes me I surrender the situation- my day- my life to our Father in the Heavens. And instantly I am renewed. 

-In that moment the presence of God overwhelms me… And it’s nothing like the anxieties/sadness that’s takes over me on a bad day. 

-In that moment, I feel the Holy Spirit, my Comforter. The enemy’s assignment is immediately canceled out! 

-In that moment I know the angels all around me are rejoicing. The demonic powers can no longer be sensed. 

-In that moment I feel compelled to praise the name of Jesus. And give thanks for renewing my spirit, for changing the atmosphere, for the direct access I have, for the freedom I found in Him. He is always waiting with open arms, each time I fall. He always comforts me when I finally turn to him for guidance. He always instantly turns my day around. 

I want each and everyone of you to experience His goodness, every time you’re having the worst day. I love you all, and most importantly you are loved by Him. 

EL

What I Wish I Asked Yesterday…

There are always those days/moments when you realize you wish you had said something or said something differently or done something or done something differently. Most of us can totally relate to regretfully missing some kind of opportunity for clarity or correction or for some other reason. It is part of being an imperfect human. As a Pastor I am familiar with these feelings often. I want to be able to communicate effectively, teach clearly, love humbly, lead courageously, and glorify God faithfully. It is good to have those desires, I hope that you share those same desires as well. It is also good for us to be reminded from time to time that our perfection in those areas is not what matters most, but rather faithfully, humbly, and honestly following the Spirit the best that we can. This is a good reminder because it helps to remind us that our relationship with our Father is not a will power performance based religion but rather a life changing new birth sustained by the Grace of God and equipped by the Spirit of God. It also reminds us that we are not the focal point of God’s plans, He has His own specific plans and purposes and I am just a piece of it not the center of it.

Part of the many things that I am blessed to be able to do on a Sunday is teach from God’s word. I am not perfect at it. I do some of it well and other parts of it I need to continue to grow in. Some Mondays I have a strong confidence about communicating well the previous Sunday what I think the Spirit had for me to say for that morning. Other mornings like this one He reminds me that I did ok in representing His voice, but I had some thing(s) missing. I have learned to take great joy in this. Not in missing things, but in appreciating the Spirit making me aware of what I may have missed. To me it does not indicate some strong spanking from the Father, but it does communicate to my a loving correction that I know I regularly need in my life. It is good to have a Good Father, cue “Good Good Father” song lol. The same is true for anyone who Has entrusted their life to God. Thank you Lord for the shaping, the molding, the pruning — the Loving.

Without making this a super long blog post, yesterday morning during service we studied Romans 8:18-30. At our church we typically study through books of the Bible on Sunday mornings and we are currently in the book of Romans. We only really got as far as verse 28. The focus that I was trying to communicate was that in these verses Paul gives us 2 Promises and 1 Purpose (A Biblical kind of PPP plan) that Will Lead To A Freedom and A Security That Only He Can Provide. Not sure if I really got that across but that is what I was going for LOL.

I thought that there was some good content in that message but I was reminded by the Spirit about a question that I should have asked but did not for whatever reason. The cliff notes version is that Paul is basically reminding the Christ followers in Rome (who he was writing the book too) that difficult circumstances will try to be used by the Enemy hijack and divert our peaceful and victorious Spirit filled life in Christ. Paul was trying to provide encouragement to them in the midst of some extremely difficult realities that they were living in and experiencing. They were very much being reminded by Paul where their faith lies because their immediate circumstances were horrible, truly evil, and probably very overwhelming.

After the message I realized there was a key question that I should have brought up and at least discussed briefly during the message but I did not. This kind of realization happens a good amount of the time, because I am a far from perfect clay pot. So I wanted to write a blog post to share it with you so you can at least consider what was not mentioned yesterday and probably should have been. It seemed so obvious to me afterwards and I felt silly for not recognizing it during my message prep during the week. The question I should have at least brought up and asked is the one that many people ask and consider. I ask the question a few different ways here –> “Why do bad things happen to good and faithful people of God“? or “How can God be good and powerful and allow good and suffering in people’s lives?” or one of my favorite wordings, “Is God worthy of my trust event if I am not blessed?”

How about some more personal practical questions that follow in that same vein:

  • Can I still trust God after I have asked for good friends and I don’t have them yet?
  • Can I still trust God after I have asked for a spouse and have not received one yet?
  • Can I still trust God after my spouse of 1 year or 50 years dies?
  • Can I still trust God after my child has passed away?
  • Can I still trust God after my kids have turned to a life and rebellion?
  • Can I still trust God when my mom and dad are a dysfunctional mess?
  • Can I still trust God when an undeserving coworker gets the promotion and I do not?
  • When life makes no sense can I still trust God?

All really difficult questions that we all struggle with. There are TONS of more educated, more qualified, more gifted, better seasoned individuals that have written and talked about this very topic and I encourage you to hear and read some of what they say/write. I just wanted to share with you one piece of insight that I pray you will bring to the Father and let Him speak to you directly on.

An insight to me that I find strength and hope in, is not some pithy cute Christian cliche or some deep secret profound truth that theologically answers every issue. A Biblical insight that helps me with this difficult question of “Why do evil acts happen every day with a Loving good God in total control?” is found in the book of Job. Definitely worth your time if you have never read it before. Faithful Job has done nothing wrong and God allows “unfair” and seemingly unloving things into his life. Without a full Book of Job study, the book of Job basically reminds us of these 4 things about God

  • We do not exist at the same level of God
  • We have to come to grips that we are not His equal
  • Many times He does not and will not many times explain Himself
  • Many times He does not and will not follow our rules our assumptions

But most importantly to help answer our question, God never gives Job a bottom line answer of why. Job is asking for facts and answers and God just gives job a fuller revelation of Himself. It is incredibly interesting to me how God never actually provided the answers Job wanted God just provided Himself. It is almost as if God is saying, “go ahead Job and ask all the Whys or How Comes you want to but do not expect or assume you are going to get all of the answers you want.” From what we know from Scripture we are never told that Job was ever told about the conversation between the devil and God in Job 2.

It is basically as if God is saying, will you still believe me and trust me even if the answers you are desperately wanting never come your way? In other words we are faced with the reality of, will we Trust Him even if sometimes all we may get is suffering without an answer as to why the suffering is happening?

In a way this complicates it more for me but it also makes sense to me. It makes sense to me that when we are faced with more WHYs than answers, that God is providing for us a chance for us to exercise faith without facts. Isn’t that what Faith is? Sometimes only trusting even when we have zero answers? Isn’t this what Peter was referring to in 1 Peter 1:7?Isn’t that what the Enemy wants to target, our faith? Faith is the critical part of our lives in God and the Enemy is consistently and constantly trying to attack it.

As I write this there are righteous believers and innocent people all over the globe that are experiencing oppression, hatred, violence, and evil. Does the presence of this mean that a Good Loving God is not in control or that He cannot be trusted? Could it be that there are answers, purposes, and a plan that I know nothing of? That you know nothing of? Would I allow those unknowns speak louder than what I do know Christ has done?

Let’s keep asking the hard questions, Let’s keep interceding for our world, Let’s keep praying and fasting, Let’s keep protecting and sticking up for others when they are not able, Let’s keep going to Church, Let’s keep worshipping His name, Let’s keep making ourselves vulnerable to others, Let’s keep allowing The Spirit to be first in our lives. Let’s keep responding in Faith despite not having the answers. Could it be that if Believers respond in greater Faith that this world could experience and see some of God’s supernatural power, plans, and purposes?

Be prepared for no answers or incomplete answers and also be prepared for when you are struggling for a WHY that God will likely only strongly reveal to you a WHO. Be prepared for Your Father to reveal more of WHO He is and less facts about WHAT He does and WHY He does it.

Father show us more of who YOU truly are! Fill our hearts and our homes with more of YOU. We are not in surrender to YOU for what we can get, but rather because of WHO YOU ARE.

-PJ

Choice.

The word of God never ceases to amaze me. With that being said, some people can continually baffle, frustrate, and leave us in utter bewilderment.  So it’s time to unravel this ethical conundrum. I have chosen to parallel this paper entitled ‘Joyous Choice or slippery slope’ with a topic which has been around. I am speaking on a particular question of all ages.  Which is the correct way we should live?

Whether you see this as a moral or an ethical challenge; many see this choice we have been given as being very difficult.

Others see it as cruel and feel a loving God would not do this and it’s seen more as a church mandate.  Yet some simply shrug it off as nonsense and do as they please.

We know right from wrong, good and evil, and despite your religious views, most people know these two forces coexist.

Yet there are those who chose not to believe and live the way they want.

If you open God’s word and read: from Genesis to Revelation. One thing that never changes is God. His love is constant; His expectations are set in stone.  And the way He deals with people, His creation, His children; is unwavering.

You see when God created us, that wasn’t the end, only the beginning. God has a plan and purpose for each of us. How do I know? Well for one, Jeremiah 29:11 says:

“For I know the plans I have for you” —this is the Lord’s declaration—“plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

From the old testament prophets to the new testament disciples and apostles, each of these individuals had knowledge from the Holy Spirit and wanted it known.

The prophet Ezekiel wrote:

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”

– Ezekiel 36:26

Knowing the issues of people through observation of their lifestyle and hearing from God, there was Hope. Simply stated: God says do this, you do it. If God says do not do something, therefore, you don’t.

God protects us, He loves us, and is patient with us; very patient. 

Regardless of those facts which can be backed with scripture, people are seemingly stubborn, arrogant, and ignorant.

We’ve all encountered those type individuals.

The stubborn like the way things are and see no reason to change.

The arrogant have it all figured out and do as they please.

Then there’s the ignorant (I’ll raise my hand) despite knowing the right choice, would rather go along with the crowd for acceptance. Yes, I was once guilty of this however, I’ve been forgiven, saved and set free!!!

Oy vay, what a mess society has become. Judgment and wrath are both reality and God has the final say.  He will judge us based on how we live. And we Will feel His wrath based on the choice of lifestyle we partake in.

The apostle Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:10:

“For we must all appear before the tribunal of Christ, so that each may be repaid for what he has done in the body, whether good or worthless.”

Goodness, just look at the Bible, countless recollections of how God deals with humanity based on the way people live.

The flood: was this just because God could do it? Nope.  Read the story and learn the reason why God ended His creation yet spared a few.

The Israelites wandering in the desert: coincidence? Nope. Read the story and learn the reason for 40 years. This track is roughly 250 miles and could normally be done in 12 days.

Sodom and Gomorrah, again we see how God destroyed some and saved a select few.

Why? Again, the answers are there for those who seek them.

As I was reading through the book of Revelation, I was literally on the edge of my seat. Not so much gripped in mystery or suspense but in utter bewilderment.

When the tribulation is spoken of, people are recorded as still being in utter denial and refusal to repent.

Revelation chapter 16 speaks of the final seven bowls of the wrath of God.  These seven bowls represent climactic moments of God’s punishment for sin. For the first time I really studied this and what I learned was shocking to me.  During this time there will be those who are still blind, have hard hearts, and will continue to be deaf to the truth.

There is the one particular passage which I can not seem to fathom.

Revelation 16:10-11:

“The fifth poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom was plunged into darkness. People gnawed their tongues because of their pain and blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, yet they did not repent of their actions.”

Hold on, you mean to tell me there will still be people who are going to be in pain due to God’s wrath? Under judgment and they would sooner blaspheme God and gnaw their tongues rather than repent!

So rather than know God, receive forgiveness, be set free from guilt, shame, and condemnation, people would rather live in sin which offers no real and lasting Joy or Peace. Sin which ultimately leads to death and destruction…seriously?!??

I recall a song from a band DC talk entitled “What if I stumble”

The song begins with this thought:

The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today

It’s Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips

Then walk out the door and deny him by their lifestyle.

That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable…

We have a choice and quite honestly that is not a design flaw, it is by design. God created us in His image. Yes, you read correctly, the angels and us share in the ability to make a choice.

Lucifer who was an angel, actually one in which was of the highest order, who felt at one point he could usurp God’s authority and kingdom. Yet there is only one God and therefore Lucifer was cast out of heaven. Just a little history/understanding of Satan. Now, back to the point of this paper.

We can Love the Lord God with all our heart or chose to love our self. If we love God, our desire is to please the Father by living the way he designed us to which is in a relationship with Him. This predestined way of life is selfless.

Likewise, if we love self we choose to please self.  By choosing self over God, we ultimately take Him off the throne and in place, put ourselves. Sounds pretty selfish huh?!

As I stated earlier, God has the final say regarding our choice, our lifestyle and our eternity.  The Bible is very clear of His wrath and what to expect if living so. Thereby His judgment should come as no surprise.

There comes a point where each of us decides to make the choice.  Either to do our thing as we have chosen, or live as God desires.  I pray that you have made the correct decision based on facts and not on persuasions or temptations.  Fully know what is the correct way to live.

One more important verse which seems to sum up the right choice:

John 1:12-13

“But to all who did receive Him, He gave them the right to be children of God, to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood, or of the will of the flesh, or of the will of man, but of God.”

Self-check, Ask yourself: 

Does my lifestyle reflect Jesus?

Do I live according to the word of God or way of the world?

Your answer is between you and God.

That my friend is a joyous choice or a slippery slope.

The choice is yours.

in Christ,

Michael T. La Tulippe

Armor of Love.

We are all familiar with the saying to put on the Armor of God.

What is the Armor of God?

The best ever!!!

My brothers and sisters, it is time for us to stand up, suit up, step out, and be bold.

“Put on the full Armor of God so that you can stand against the tactics of the Devil.”

Ephesians 6:11

So what exactly does this Armor consist of?

14 Stand, therefore, with truth like a belt around your waist, righteousness like armor on your chest,

15 and your feet sandaled with readiness for the gospel of peace.

16 In every situation take the shield of faith, and with it you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.

17 Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is God’s word.

Ephesians 6:14-17

This is where I began to take a look at the word armor or armour. When a deeper look was taken, I began to understand how strong the armor or armor of God truly is.

The word armor originates from the old French word Armure.  Adversely the root word is a derivative from the Latin word “armatura” which the basic meaning for armor, equipment, armament, or outfit.

Armor is the American spelling of the word meaning a tough protective covering.

Armour is the preferred spelling in all the other main varieties of English. Other than the spelling, there is no difference between the words.

Now, let’s step this up a bit and gain some more knowledge.

Another word which comes to mind is Amour; that word in French means love.

When you think about the Armor of God and think of the love of God as described in

1 Corinthians 13.

 

And again apply this further in our understanding of Armor.

 

Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 13: 4 – 8:

Love is patient

Love is kind.

Love does not envy.

Love is not boastful.

Love is not conceited.

Love does not act improperly.

Love is not selfish.

Love is not provoked.

Love does not keep a record of wrongs. Love finds no joy in unrighteousness.

Love rejoices in the truth.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things

Love never ends.

As Christians, we are the embodiment of Jesus and in turn, represent the Father’s Love.  As the body of Christ grows in strength and confidence, the enemy becomes, angered, annoyed and weak. Although we may not physically put Armor on, being wrapped in the Father’s Love provides the basis of protection.

Think of love as the chainmail which you put on underneath the armor.

Now, as a Christian, we apply the full armor of God as prescribed above in Ephesians 6.

Truth like a belt around our waist,

Righteousness like armor on our chest

Feet sandaled with readiness for the gospel of peace.

In every situation take the shield of faith, The helmet of salvation

The sword of the Spirit, which is God’s word.

Pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request.

Now we are ready, prepared and able to show up with boldness and shine as we are fully in the Armor of light; the Armor of God.

We no longer desire what is offered by the world. Our satisfaction is found in knowing the savior and living in the will of the Father.

The night is nearly over, and the daylight is near, so let us discard the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.

Romans 13:12

 

And hasn’t it been said, without Love you have nothing?

Therefore anything we possess without love is meaningless.  Everything we do is thereby motivated with the love of God.

By knowing this, putting on the whole Armor of God is attainable and we become a threat to the enemy.

Written by: Michael T. La Tulippe

Timeless.

Timeless.

What is timeless?

Love is timeless.

God is timeless.

God is love.

 

If you looked at the word of God from cover to cover, beginning to end, Genesis to Revelation; we would see the general theme of love.

 

Early on we read verses like Jeremiah 31:3

“…I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore, I have continued to extend faithful love to you.”

John 3:16

“For God so loved the world…”

Verses such as 1 John 4:7-12 exemplifies how our knowing God is knowledge of His love.  Love is from God, love is of God, and love is God.

If God was, is, and always shall be; thereby timeless – therefore so is love.

If we actually did a biblical search on:

  • The love of God

  • God is love

  • God of love

  • God’s love

And so on, we would find hundreds and possibly thousands of examples of His love.

A love which is freely given.

We understand how much God loves us. From the beginning, we see how God does everything in love.

 

“Hold up” “wait a minute” you stop me at this point, you brow shows concern, and the questions begin.

“Ah, you remember the flood, the ark, and Noah; where was the love?

“Or how about the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah?”

And I am sure the list could go on and on.

 

At this point, I would simply smile, sit back, and open the word of God.

Let’s take a look at some of the issues you mentioned and see if, in fact, love was the reason.

We know God is a just God. We also know God, the Father, disciplines those who don’t adhere to his word; correct?

And discipline is an act of love.

Like or not, a parent disciples their child out of love. Discipline is thereby a corrective action to mold us, make us, bend us, and at times; break us.

As humans, we have fleshly desires, selfish attitude, and self-interest at heart. However, you may feel that those human traits or characteristics are by design as since God created us; then that fault is on Him.

You do realize we were created in the image of God. We have free will, and we also know God’s will.

Our one key facet which makes us desire to do the will of the Father is we know we were created in love to be in a relationship with our heavenly Father.

Then why the flood? Why Sodom and Gomorrah?

Those people which lost their lives choose self over God. Rather than living self-less and according to God’s commandments. They wanted to do their own thing, selfishly live the way they wanted to; with no regard for their Creator.

Whoa, this paper seems to be getting a bit deep for my liking; can’t I just live normally and enjoy life?!

My question would be, define normal and the things that you find enjoyable. You don’t have to tell me, simply keep that answer for yourself. Your choice is between you and the Father.

Now go a step further with what you defined as normal and those things you believe to be enjoyable. Ask yourself: Is what I am doing, how I am living, pleasing in the eyes of the Father?

I am not here to judge you or perhaps make you feel guilty. Your conscience, by His design, is a moral compass as it were. The Bible is what God wants for us. How to live, how to act, how to enjoy, and how we are to conduct ourselves.

As I started out with regards to Timeless. Hopefully, I have illustrated:

Love is timeless.

God is timeless.

God is love.

Love is timeless.

May you find joy in knowing the Father through the Son.

May you always have a loving relationship with God and others.

Lastly, l leave you with this verse to ponder:

2 Thessalonians 3:5

“May the Lord direct your hearts to God’s love and Christ’s endurance.”

Be blessed.

Written by: Michael T. La Tulippe

Thorn in the Flesh.

The phrase “thorn in your side/flesh”.  Interestingly enough is only in the Bible twice.  As I did my study and prayed about this phrase; I began to gain understanding.

Notably, the term is used to describe a continuous issue/problem. A problem which annoys a person and there seems to be no relief.  Theologians and scholars debate regarding Paul’s thorn in the flesh.

Some suggestions regard poor eyesight, difficulty speaking clearly, a recurring illness or some facial disfigurement. Other suggestions speak literally of a messenger of satan which God allowed to keep Paul humble.

Still, some refer to physical ailment which Paul had received as he had been imprisoned, stoned, beaten, and shipwrecked.

2 Corinthians 12:7-8

“…especially because of the extraordinary revelations. Therefore, so that I would not exalt myself, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to torment me so I would not exalt myself. Concerning this, I pleaded with the Lord three times to take it away from me.”

The other time the phrase was used is in Numbers:

Numbers 33:55

“But if you don’t drive out the inhabitants of the land before you, those you allow to remain will become thorns in your eyes and in your sides; they will harass you in the land where you will live.

In this particular case; the Israelites encountered Canaanites while trying to obtain the Promised Land which God had chosen for them.

The lifestyles of the Canaanites made life more difficult for the Israelites. Once again the chosen people of God did not live according to the laws and commandments which God had given them.

Similarly, my thought is Paul’s thorn, despite his burning passion to spread the gospel; some people he encountered would rather live for themselves.

Paul’s love for the Father and his desire for others to know God’s love; I believe as he encountered those unwilling to listen or receive caused him to anguish.

Much like the Israelites not always living the way God intended often caused them to anguish.  Which ultimately caused our heavenly Father angst, however, His love never stops and He never gives up.

We all have a thorn in our side. However, we are to learn how to deal with it.

We need to give thanks in all things and continual be focused on God.

The more our focus is on His will and what He wants for us; the less our thorn’s presence is known.

Written by: Michael La Tulippe

Box

I’m boxed in
4 walls surround me
I can’t breathe
I feel suffocated
Scream
I can’t scream
My tears hit the floor
Can you hear them?
The pain from within
I’m boxed in
Pressed from all sides
I try to push my way out
I give up
Destroy the roof off my dreams
Crushed
Pressed
Not my dreams anymore
I give up
I surrender
Your ways are way better
Break the box minded mentality
Squeeze me until there’s nothing left
Break me down
Build me back up
To be
All I was meant to be
Free
Free from all the deception
Free from the lies
Give me truth
Til I see
Who I really am
Me

Written by: Leigh-Ann Kalogrides

Freedom

Positioned to Partner

What if Moses had not raised his staff or stretched out his hand over the sea? Would the waters of the Red Sea have parted for the Israelites to cross on dry ground?

What if Joshua had not had the priests with their trumpets and the army march around the wall seven times and then shout? Would the wall of Jericho have fallen?

What if the man who was blind from birth had never gone to wash in the Pool of Siloam after Jesus put spit and mud on his eyes? Would he have remained blind?

What if Ananias had not gone to that particular house, on that particular street to lay his hands on the eyes of Saul (Paul)? Would Saul’s eyesight have been restored?

 

The question is not whether God could have done all of these things. God’s sovereignty is undeniable. The question is whether they would have walked into the fullness of the destiny that God had prepared for them had they decided to not faithfully follow through with the actions that they were called to carry out. Even in just these few biblical examples, the actions can seem a bit odd. Not unlike some of the unusual actions that we see today.

 

Consider this an invitation to use your imagination to look through the lenses of someone who has never stepped foot into a church building before. At any particular time, they will see people with heads bowed, eyes closed, hands folded, hands clapping, hands joined together with others, arms reaching up, arms extended all toward the same thing/person, hands raised as if waiting to receive something, people standing, sitting, face down on the ground, kneeling, dancing and people laying hands on other people. Maybe this is the first time you’ve really stopped to think about these actions. For me, these actions are not ritualistic or ceremonial; they are an outward reflection of the inner attitude of my heart at that moment.

 

When Ananias physically laid his hands on Saul’s eyes, it was how he displayed to God that he was willing to step out in faith and position himself in such a way that came in agreement with all that God had purposed. And when we actively respond to the leading of the Holy Spirit, regardless of how odd or unusual it may seem at the time, our actions become a declaration to Father God that reveals the “Yes and Amen” that is resounding in the very depths of our heart and soul. These actions demonstrate our inner desire to partner with God; our desire to see His kingdom come, for His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.

 

God once walked in the garden with us humans, and He sent His Son to restore that broken relationship. Undivided, intimate love is what God desires most from us (Matthew 22:37). We can cry out night and day to our heavenly Father, professing our love for Him. But we know from Isaiah 29:13, that love is more than carefully assembled words, as beautiful as they may sound. Father God blesses us with opportunities to show Him that the deepest desire of our heart is to know Him, to love Him and to partner with Him. Our love for Him looks like many things.

 

But responding to those opportunities is a choice. Moses raised his staff and stretched out his hand over the sea, and God parted the waters. Joshua marched around a wall and shouted, and God made the wall collapse. The blind man washed in the pool, and God restored his sight. Ananias laid his hands on Saul, and God removed the scales from eyes and filled him with the Holy Spirit. Are you willing to respond?

 

Ephesians 3:14-21

“For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”

Written by: Joanna Winters

Beauty for Ashes.

Jesus has delivered on this amazing kingdom principle in my life. I signed up for abundant life. But I had no idea that the very desires of my heart would unfold in such an amazing way.

When I said yes to Jesus at first it was a very weak at best yes. But he accepted my yes and grafted me into his family immediately. Just before I said yes to him I met an amazing woman. She brought me to church, real church, for the first time. When the pastor asked if anybody wanted to accept Christ she gave me an elbow strike and sent me on my way up front. ( I’m not sure how she knew it was my time, it’s just a thing she always does) I had really long hair and I was the only man there with no suit on, but I made my way up to the front and gave my heart to Jesus.

I dated this woman for about a year and a half before we decided to meet her kids. She had a young son and daughter.

My wife’s love is strong and passionate. She’s super beautiful inside and out. She is definitely Beauty for ashes.

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My daughter has been a desire of my heart that I didn’t see coming. This particular beauty has drastically changed my life, heart, and direction. The first day I met her, she looked at her mom and said: “What do I call him, dad?”. My heart said yes automatically. She was beauty that Father placed within my heart when I was knit together in my mother’s womb. It was as they say “meant to be”. She stole my heart that day. I’m truly humbled and grateful for her love towards me. It has always been unconditional. There is nothing sweeter than a beautiful daughter to take away ash.IMG953289

Some years later Jesus adds a beautiful daughter-in-law to our family. She’s amazing. I love her tremendously too. She is an amazing gift from heaven also. Then I had three beautiful girls but God wasn’t through yet. He gave me two granddaughters so far. Each one unique and beautiful. And He’s not done yet as our youngest son is not married yet and I’m sure will bring in more beauty.

That’s my storyline. Beauty for ashes, love for hate. That’s God the Father. That’s Jesus. By the way, I also have two sons who are great men of God and four awesome strong and handsome grandsons and counting.

In my church family, I have many more daughters and sons and brothers and sisters. Amazing. They are awesome people. Beautiful.

I’m excited for even more beauty.

Father, you have truly blessed my life. I’m alive with wonder and expectation at what blessing you will bestow on me next. Thank you for my beautiful wife, beautiful daughters, beautiful sons, beautiful granddaughters and beautiful grandsons. I’m overwhelmed with your great love and abundant life. I love you. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Written By: Keith Murphy

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