“Shout for joy, O barren one, you who have borne no child; Break forth into joyful shouting and cry aloud, you who have not travailed; For the sons of the desolate one will be more numerous Than the sons of the married woman,” says the Lord. Isaiah 54:1 NASB
Several months ago, while spending some time with the Lord, I suddenly saw an image of the Holy Spirit with a womb. Inside the womb was the universe – everything ever created.
As I questioned the Lord about what I was seeing, I heard “Everything is birthed in and through the Holy Spirit”.
Still, I found it hard to picture the Holy Spirit with a womb.
Until the following day… Randomly, I popped into a conference for a session at a friend’s invitation. The first thing rolling off the teacher’s lips regarded “the womb of the Holy Spirit”. I went bug-eyed for a few mins..
The painting above has invoked a lot of different responses. Some hate it, some think it’s making some kind of political statement, others think it depicts “Mother Earth” giving birth, and still others find it moving, life-giving, profound. Art is supposed to do that I suppose. For me, I was compelled to paint to the best of my ability what I saw, except what I saw didn’t include the image of the baby.
When I began to paint, I kept seeing the image of an infant, an unborn fetus overlapping the universe. I honestly fought it. I tried multiple times to paint it the way I wanted to, but each time I met failure, until I went with what the Spirit was leading me toward. Even the placement of the womb seemed too high for me, but then came the whisper, “I birth things from My heart.”
So, it’s been almost two months since I was compelled to paint it. And last month, the God of the Universe seemed quiet about it all. Crickets really. Like He was just enjoying the wait, the watching.
Until yesterday morning… I was preparing to go to a friend’s to pray over some land. I heard distinctly, play “Isaiah’s Song”, so I did.
As I was listening, the words played over and over, “What was a barren season is giving birth right now.” Then, immediately I heard to share that with a specific friend who has gone through a painful season. “Ok? That was pretty strong,” I thought.
A few minutes later, I found myself texting a friend – just a “how are you?” kind of text. I looked down at the phone. The time read 11:11, which to me are alignment numbers, and those very same words were playing again.
At the prayer event, we took turns reading scripture. It’s our second time being apart. The first time was towards the beginning of this year. As my husband and I walk into the room where the readers were, they were finishing up Song of Songs and beginning to read Isaiah.
“Lord, if you have me read about the barren woman giving birth, I may burst.”
People come in to read, we add an extra, another person is randomly skipped, and my turn comes around. I begin to read Isaiah 53, and as the words regarding Messiah leave my lips, I flashback to several months prior. I had read the exact same passage when I was at the previous prayer event at this same place.
I flipped the thin page, “Shout for joy, oh barren one…” I choked up, but tried to hold it together. “For the sons of the desolate one will be more numerous than the sons of the married woman.”
So, what does all this mean?
I’ve learned not to try to figure out visions, prophetic words, especially timing and how things will all work out, because quite honestly I’ve got about a 5% accuracy rate. 😊
Yet, this what I do sense the Holy Spirit is saying. All things created are birthed through the Holy Spirit. We are in a new season. The season of barrenness is over. The season of birthing is here.
Birthing involves a lot of things. Travail. Transitions. Water Breaking. Pushing. Baby breaking forth. Hope. Promises fulfilled. Beautiful new life. New dreams for the future.
This is the season I believe we are in as the body of Christ. The Lord of Host is birthing His plans and purposes in the Earth right now, and they will not be thwarted or delayed. It’s not us doing it. It is by His strength and ability that this new season and new birthing will occur.
“Shout for joy.” The birthing season is finally here.
One recent morning I was reading the passage in Isaiah 48, where Isaiah prophecies the coming of King Cyrus to take down Babylon. He called Cyrus out by name, (because Jesus already new him) 150 years before the man’s birth.
I began to think about Cyrus the King who came as a conquering warrior. As I sat on my sofa and considered the man, as a warrior, rather than as a king, I suddenly felt the physical feeling of my horse getting up under me and us riding across the sand. (Years ago I was a horsewoman, so I know this feeling very well.) It was so unexpected, but also, so very real.
“Lord, why did you let me feel that?” I asked in wonder.
The Lord replied, “I am calling you into battle now.”
“Lord, what is the battle against?”
“It is against religious heresy.”
I asked, “Lord, what heresy?”
He answered, “The heresy of the vineyard.”
My mind sought understanding. Surely He didn’t mean the Vineyard movement?
“Lord, what is that?”
…He had my attention; the word heresy is a very strong word. 😳
Over the centuries, many people have been put to death under charges of heresy; sometimes because they actually were proponents of heretical teaching, but more often because it was politically expedient to someone’s political career that they be gotten out of the way.
Today, sadly, the phrase “heretical teaching” is a favorite accusation to cause division among believers. But when Jesus calls something a heresy, as I believe He spoke this word to me, then we can be sure it really is a heresy.
The definition of heresy is: (by Merriam-Webster Dictionary)
adherence to a religious opinion contrary to church dogma; an opinion or doctrine contrary to church dogma Or: dissent or deviation from a dominant theory, opinion, or practice.
You could say, (this part is just me), it means a belief or doctrine contrary to what is “normal” and “accepted as correct” within church teaching. I’ll come back to that.
In answer to my question, “Lord, what is the Heresy of the Vineyard?” the Lord led me into research. I looked up scriptures related to the vineyard. There are many, but the one that I felt His weight on as I searched is the “Parable of the Evil Farmers,” This parable is in all 3 synoptic gospels. It appears in Luke 20, Matthew 21 and Mark 12.
This is an interesting parable, and as I studied, I found new understanding and the answer to my question. Luke 20 begins with the leading priests and teachers of religious law challenging Jesus on the source of His authority.
“By what authority are you doing all these things? Who gave you the right?” they asked.
3 “Let me ask you a question first,” he replied. 4 “Did John’s authority to baptize come from heaven, or was it merely human?” Luke 20:2-4
But, they refused to answer His question because there was no politically correct response. So, Jesus refused to answer them…and then!
THEN, He told the parable of the evil farmers/tenants who tried to steal from the vineyard owner, even resorting to killing the heir of the estate. The answer to their question, and mine, is contained in this parable:
Luke 20: 1-19
1 One day as Jesus was teaching the people and preaching the Good News in the Temple, the leading priests, the teachers of religious law, and the elders came up to him. 2 They demanded, “By what authority are you doing all these things? Who gave you the right?”
3 “Let me ask you a question first,” he replied. 4 “Did John’s authority to baptize come from heaven, or was it merely human?”
5 They talked it over among themselves. “If we say it was from heaven, he will ask why we didn’t believe John. 6 But if we say it was merely human, the people will stone us because they are convinced John was a prophet.” 7 So they finally replied that they didn’t know.
8 And Jesus responded, “Then I won’t tell you by what authority I do these things.”
Parable of the Evil Farmers
9 Now Jesus turned to the people again and told them this story: “A man planted a vineyard, leased it to tenant farmers, and moved to another country to live for several years. 10 At the time of the grape harvest, he sent one of his servants to collect his share of the crop. But the farmers attacked the servant, beat him up, and sent him back empty-handed. 11 So the owner sent another servant, but they also insulted him, beat him up, and sent him away empty-handed. 12 A third man was sent, and they wounded him and chased him away.
13 “‘What will I do?’ the owner asked himself. ‘I know! I’ll send my cherished son. Surely they will respect him.’
14 “But when the tenant farmers saw his son, they said to each other, ‘Here comes the heir to this estate. Let’s kill him and get the estate for ourselves!’ 15 So they dragged him out of the vineyard and murdered him.
“What do you suppose the owner of the vineyard will do to them?” Jesus asked. 16 “I’ll tell you—he will come and kill those farmers and lease the vineyard to others.”
“How terrible that such a thing should ever happen,” his listeners protested.
17 Jesus looked at them and said, “Then what does this Scripture mean?
‘The stone that the builders rejected
has now become the cornerstone.’[a]
18 Everyone who stumbles over that stone will be broken to pieces, and it will crush anyone it falls on.”
19 The teachers of religious law and the leading priests wanted to arrest Jesus immediately because they realized he was telling the story against them—they were the wicked farmers. But they were afraid of the people’s reaction
The passage says that the religious leaders became offended because they realized that Jesus was telling the passage against THEM — THEY were the wicked farmers!
At this point in my research, I began to feel like I was gleaning understanding about the “Heresy of the Vineyard” that the Lord had spoken to me;
For the Lord of Heaven’s Armies has arrived
to look after Judah, his flock.
He will make them strong and glorious,
like a proud warhorse in battle.
He will make THEM, (the flock, NOT the shepherds) strong and glorious like a proud warhorse in battle.
The book of Job 39:19-25 (NLT) gives a fuller description of a warhorse. In the pictorial language of scripture, a warhorse is majestic and terrifying to the enemy, he laughs at fear and is not distressed; he does not turn back from the sword. He rushes into battle at the sound of the trumpet. The warhorse smells the battle from afar and it does not make him fearful — it excites him!
This is a description of us believers! We are to be warhorses. This is the us that Jesus says He is making us into!
So What Is The Heresy of the Vineyard?
The shepherds, (the Pastors and Teachers, and we can include Apostles, Prophets and Evangelists too) are supposed to be making us into warhorses!
We are the Lord’s agents, we are His co-heirs! He sent us! Not a select few, but all of us, His chosen ones! We are the ones made in His image who know Him as King.
But Zechariah said, He is angry at the shepherds, because instead of building us up, they take our authority from us, make us question our authority, our callings (the callings spoken to our hearts by the Father himself) and leave us as lost sheep relegated to pew sitting, waiting on the shepherds to do it all for us.
In many cases, we haven’t even been taught what is supposed to be done, much less be trained do it for ourselves.
Someone in the Body needs prayer? Only the pastors or elders or trained people can do it. Everyone else stay where you are! You might mess it up! You might say the wrong kind of prayers. We’re not even sure you hear from the Lord!
You have a word of the Lord for another believer? We need you to pass it through us first, just to make sure we agree it is from the Lord—But they don’t teach on discernment so that the one receiving knows that they can discern for themselves or among those who know them by the SAME HOLY SPIRIT!
The Body of Christ has been turned into bench warmers instead of powerful, fiery, passionate warhorses! This, I believe, is the “Heresy of the Vineyard.” Jesus is coming to train us up. He will make us strong and glorious! His bride, ready to receive Him, ready to be one with Him.
Fleshing It Out
Remember, Heresy is a deviation from what is accepted as correct doctrine. So in the context of this parable, NOT accepting or diminishing the authority of the Lord’s people is NOT NORMAL! It is in fact heresy.
In the early church, there was an equality among believers, regardless of their title. It was acknowledged that each one carried the SAME Holy Spirit and that everyone could hear from the Lord and move by His Spirit.
Jesus turned the 70 loose, as babes, to go out an do what they had seen Him doing. Preach the Kingdom of God, heal the sick, raise the dead, cast out demons. They came back shocked that they had been able to do it. They didn’t even have certificates to say they could!😋
However, over the centuries religious leaders have gotten it wrong. These shepherds, far from training and sending out believers who were humble yet secure in their authority, are instead acting like parents who, long after their son is married to his wife, continue to try and manipulate and control him.
In their efforts to control, religious leaders are like parents who cite to their married son, the commandment to honor you father and mother. However, before that law was established on stone, the word of God said through Adam, “a man will leave his father and mother and cling to his wife and they shall be one flesh.”
As married adult children, we continue to honor our father and mother but we do not do everything they say.The relationship with our spouse now takes precedent. We are the Bride of Christ, not of the church establishment on Earth.
We believers are now married to the Lord Jesus Christ. We have become one flesh with Him; we are His Body. His Spirit leads us. We can honor our human authorities, but we obey the Spirit of God. Our “shepherds” do not have superior authority to Him.
Jesus never desired for His Body to be couch potatoes. Everyone He taught was required to put His instruction into practice immediately; try it out. We have not been given authority only to sit on the sidelines of the war while a few valiant warriors do battle. We all have a role to fulfill. The war is waged every day.
Beloved, YOU are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus to accomplish good works that He set aside for YOU to do. (Ephesians 2:10)
In Christ Jesus, YOU are the head and not the tail, above and not beneath. YOU are a restorer from ruin. In your righteousness – that YOU HAVE RECEIVED from Jesus– YOU are like a great oak that the Lord has planted FOR HIS GLORY!
As a new creation in Christ Jesus YOU are a rebuilder of ancient ruins. The ruins in your family, in other peoples families. A rebuilder of the ruins left after addiction, abuse, bad choices…
YOU are called a priest of the Lord, a minister of our God. All the time, every day.
Instead of shame and dishonor YOU will enjoy a double share of honor. YOU will possess a double portion of prosperity in your land.
Because you ARE in Christ Jesus, the Holy Spirit HAS and IS renewing your mind and you are gaining wisdom in how to steward ALL things. He is instructing you how to steward your gifts, how to steward your authority, how to steward the hearts that have been put in your care, how to steward money, land, wealth for the increase of the Kingdom in your community and everywhere you set your feet.
Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is FREEDOM! (2 Corinthians 3:17) Not guilt and condemnation. There is the easy flow of living according to the Spirit within you and seeing the fruit of that Spirit from the easy obedience you live in.
I hope you have been blessed to have some of the MANY righteous, loving, generous and servant-hearted leaders in your life. Leaders who have set you free to become fully who you are called to be. If so, the fruit is likely that you too are producing disciples who are becoming more and more in the image of Christ Jesus.
If not, the evidence my be hard for you to see. If we lived under a tyrannical government that made us choose between our faith in God and obedience to the law of the land, we would recognize that we were not living in freedom.
The problem has been that we have not, consciously, recognized the problem for what it is when people with titles like; pastor, leader, teacher or organization cause you to be locked in conflict with your conscience, requiring you to choose whether to obey them or Holy Spirit within you. Just like the tyrannical government, this is illegitimate authority. Censorship. Captivity. Heresy.
Just as Jesus has the full authority of the Father because He is submitted to the Father, you and I have been given the authority of Jesus because we are submitted to HIM! We do not take off our authority, give it to our pastor and sit down!
It is time to rise up beloved! Rise up into the fullness of your identity in Christ Jesus.
You ARE a new creation, you have been given the authority of the Bride of Christ. You have been given authority as sons and daughters of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
Take a step today and begin walking in the fullness of your authority. Let Holy Spirit teach you how to walk in it. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord. Our victory is sure, but we must still engage in the war.
Cultivate a close group of fellow believers who are believing God and learning to walk with Holy Spirit. Listen to the wisdom they too are receiving from Him; discerning and growing together into the fullness of your gifts and calling.
Take the Word of God seriously, then take territory for the Kingdom of God.
If your spirit has been stirred as you have been reading this, talk to Jesus about this feeling. If He confirms that there is a problem, turn away from the Heresy of the Vineyard. Spot it by Holy Spirit in familiar places.
Ask Holy Spirit what to do about it, and agree with Him. Step into the fullness of your authority in Christ Jesus as co-heir of the Kingdom of God. Let Holy Spirit be your teacher, and believe what He says! The world needs us to be warhorses who know how to take and hold territory for the Kingdom of God. May everlasting joy be yours as you experience true freedom in Christ Jesus.
“Lord, I need to see a sunrise at the beach.” Those words have slipped from my lips a few times recently. It’s been a few years since I’ve seen that beautiful scene in that setting.
So, when on vacation, I’m the one rolling out of bed at 5:00 am to go strolling on the beach to see the sunrise. Yeah – that one – the one grabbing my ball cap, pulling it over my bed head hair, slipping on my flip flops, and practically escaping, like a bandit, out in my pjs.
To me, sunrises on the beach represent hope, dreams, a new day dawning. And when I’m there, I just can’t wait to see the ball of fire piercing the horizon. Though the last few times we have been to the beach, the morning horizon has been clouded with storms, and the sunrise – hidden, I’ve still been out there, hoping, waiting, expecting.
I know it’s still there, of course. The sun is still rising behind those grey clouds, but it’s just not the same as seeing the blazing glory waking up the world.
So, I’ve been complaining a bit to the Lord… It has felt like cloudy, stormy, grey skies for a long time now, blocking the promises, the dreams, the hopes of God.
Delay after delay after delay of things I know the Lord has promised. Sometimes, I’ve felt my hope has wained. I wonder how Abraham, the Father of our faith, managed to not only keep his faith alive, but to actually grow in faith for the fulfillment of the promises.
At the beginning of summer, I pulled the covers up to my chin, and sleepily said once more, “Lord, I could really use a sunrise at the beach,” really meaning, I really could use some hope, some glimmer that these crazy promises from you will be fulfilled.
Immediately, the Lord shot back, “Carolyn, the sun rises every morning. Why don’t you get out of bed and come see it?”
The moment of decision came. I swung my legs over the edge of the bed, slipped on my shorts, pushed my ball cap over my head, and shoved on my tennis shoes.
I don’t live anywhere near the beach, but I have a peaceful golf course of rolling, grassy hills within walking distance.
I padded down the twisting, dewy path passed an old country club, up and down the hills to the back of the course, and around a mist-covered pond with geese floating across it. Disturbed by my intrusion, the flock took flight. The rhythmic beating of their wings and honks filled the air as the majestic birds flew over my head.
The early morning sun’s rays glowed on the grassy hill ahead of me. I quickened my steps so not to miss the moment.
It happens in a moment you know, that precise time when the sun peaks over the horizon line.
As I rounded the bend, reaching the top of the hill, I turned to face east. There in front of me, the rays began peeking through the trees like shining beams of liquid gold.
The simple beauty caught my breath for a moment.
“Wow, Papa! I had forgotten.”
A couple of weeks passed by with me encountering the sunrise, but my heart still felt heavy with the longing for the specific sunrise I had been asking for – the specific promises that remain unfulfilled.
I felt the Lord beckon me again, but this time as I began to climb the final hill to where the sun’s rays had already begun to cause to ground to glow, the Lord’s voice rung strong in my ears.
“Sweetheart, why don’t you just enjoy the sunrise I give you, instead of longing for something different, “ I felt a pause, and then He continued.
“Daughter, the sun is always rising wherever you are. The rising and the setting are every day. I am present with you in every moment. Stop longing for what you don’t have, but look for what I am doing today.”
“Look for me in this day dear one, and at the right time, you’ll have your beach sunrise again – in my time, in my way.”
I walked further down the path as He continued. “I will give you hope for the promises to be fulfilled, and I will fulfill those promises at the right time. Both come from me. Don’t be discouraged that it’s not happening the way you think or at the place you think. I am always at work. I’m in every moment, in every sunrise, in every sunset, and I will not disappoint you.”
“If you keep your focus on what you don’t have, you will miss me in the moment called today.”
I continued to walk down over a bridge and then back up another hill, while a hawk swooped near by.
“Life is about journeying with me. Not a destination. At each promise fulfilled, there will be a new horizon in front of you to reach. This is for all eternity, not just your journey on earth. There will always be a journey with me, a new adventure in me, growth in me, new horizons with me for eternity.”
I allowed His words to sink deeply into my heart.
I have a tendency to always be looking at what’s not completely healed, what’s still broken or incomplete, or what I don’t have yet. Like the next goal or the next horizon; to the point that, many times, I miss Him in the moments.
He is always working in our lives, journeying with us, healing us, comforting us, encouraging us, and forming us into the beautiful sons and daughters that He has created us to be.
Yet, if we are always discouraged about what hasn’t happened yet – the promises that aren’t fulfilled, the healing that hasn’t manifested yet, the pain that still lingers, etc., then we will miss what He has done and is doing on the journey where we are. We will miss the sunrises and sunsets. We will miss the thousand ways that He is at work in us.
Paul said that he had learned to be content or at peace in whatever circumstance He found himself in.
Whether hungry or well fed, whether healed or having just been beaten, etc., he had learned the art of seeing Jesus in his “moments”. He kept his eyes fixed on his Lord and what he was doing today.
Savor, relish, taste and see the Lord’s goodness every day, the glimmers of His presence in our every day.
Think about “Whatever is good, lovely, of a good report…” That’s seeing our Lord in the present, and enjoying what He is doing.
That’s living in the Kingdom, and seeing things from His perspective.
Have you ever just looked back sometimes to see how much you have grown, to see how far you have come? It’s a beautiful thing to see the good fruit of the Holy Spirit’s work in your life.
Ask Yahweh to show you. Ask Him to show you the glimmers of His involvement in your day to day life. Even in the mundane of life.
Like when your teens crowd your bedroom for a late night chat, or in the washing of the dishes with the clean, smooth, gleam of the porcelain in your hands, or in the unexpected call of a friend, etc.. It may not come in the way you expected or the place you expect, but He is there. He is at work bring about His good plans for our lives.
He is always present, always good, always working for our good.
May you savor the sunrise wherever you find yourself today, discover Yahweh in your moments, and trust Him to fulfill His promises over your life in His perfect timing and way.
I was on a Zoom prayer call and suddenly I was answering a text that came in on my phone. I felt the urge to finish the message I was typing, but that meant I was only half listening to the words and prayers being spoken on the call and NOT listening at all to the Lord for what He would say through me.
“Put it down,” I told myself. I put it down only to pick it up again!
Suddenly I remembered a scripture verse; If you do not love your brother whom you do see, how can you say you love God whom you do not see? (1 John 4:20 NLT paraphrased)
It came into my heart, if I can’t pay attention to these women I love, whose shining faces I can see right in front of me and who are full of treasure, how can I say I love God, from whom the treasure comes, and not leave my phone alone long enough to listen for His sweet voice?
My brothers and sisters, love the ones in front of you really well. Love God enough to leave your devices in the other room while you spend precious time with the One who loves you and gave himself for you. He’s worth it.
This morning as I was washing the clinging soil from the carrots and leeks I’d just brought in from my garden, I was also listening in on a weekly prayer call full of wise and godly women.
The crisp cold water released the pungent fragrance of the leeks and the sweet refreshing scent of the carrots that had grown strong in my raised beds. Our leader told us that today was the National Day of Repentance. As I stood feeling the cold water and cleaning my harvested future meals, I began to discern what the Lord was saying.
As I washed the soil down the drain, I thought about the qualities of the soil that are necessary for those veggies to grow so big and strong and healthy. Soil fertility. Good soil is fertile soil. Soil that is full of resources and therefore able to produce.
Good soil grows good fruit, good crops. As believers, if there is no fruit, something is wrong with our God-relationship.
But! If there is good fruit, fruit in abundance, then not only do we need pruning, but we REALLY need our soil to be refreshed, restored and made fertile again.
How does that happen? Repentance and intimacy.
If I try to grow next year’s crop in last year’s soil, I may still get a harvest, but it will be less than last year. I may have a greater pest problem. I may have deformed crops. All of these are characteristic of depleted soil.
But just let me add some new resources to my soil, fresh from my time at Jesus’ breast, and watch new life thrust itself out of the soil and produce an abundant harvest again!
Sometimes when we have had a long history of producing good fruit, we get in a rut of things that “work” for us that are part of our former relationship with Jesus, but that Jesus has now left behind.
He has moved on in our relationship, but I am still clinging to THINGS that used to be part of our relationship. Somehow, I have let go of His hand. Jesus isn’t doing it that way anymore. My soil has given to the crop all the good resources I got from Jesus and is depleted.
I remember being at a conference and they were calling for “seeds to be sown, and people were running up to the stage to drop money in the basket.” Translation; put money in so money would come back to you. The lady next to me, a stranger, said, “This works! You need to do it!” THIS works. THIS religious exercise. THIS thing devoid of relationship with Jesus.
But Jesus said, “Without me you can do nothing.” When Jesus wants to refresh us, we need to let go of the old things. They did work then. But now, “See I”m doing a new thing.” Isaiah 43.19
In the last 2 weeks, I have talked to many believers needing help, because Jesus was upending some things in them. Through dreams and difficulties and just plain uncomfortableness, Holy Spirit was pointing to things in them that have been there a long time. Things that NOW He wants to help them uproot and remove once and for all.
In the last year, we have been through a season of shaking, so repentance should be a natural. In this season of repentance, Holy Spirit is bringing to our attention fears, misunderstandings, wrong thinking, strongholds, and cultural norms that He wants to help us tear down once and for all. THIS is true repentance and it leads to true FREEDOM too!
In all of us are “the patterns of this world” but Holy Spirit says, “Don’t be conformed to those old dead things, but let me transform you by replacing your thoughts with my thoughts instead!” (Paraphrase of Roman’s 12:2)
“Yes Lord! Please do it! On this National Day of Repentance, do it! Refresh my soil with newness of life, abundant life so that a new and flourishing crop may grow again.
Dear reader, I bless you to feel the discomfort of Holy Spirit poking at the thing he wants to take from you and you unburdening yourself of it, so you can receive ALL that He wants to give you instead. I bless you in the freedom of repentance and intimate refreshing.
“Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.” Matthew 13:8
Have you ever felt like you’ve been in a holy kind of boot camp, where the Holy Spirt is trying to train you in something, teaching you a very important life lesson, (actually the most important), and you keep losing your grip on the next level of the climbing wall and slipping back down?
Well, honestly, I’ve never even attempted to climb a wall. They’ve always looked insurmountable to me. With this wall though, the Lord has been so gentle with teaching and training me. He certainly has not been a drill sergeant with me, but more like a caring, encouraging coach.
Yet, sometimes when His words hit your heart, you are like “Ugh. Lord, I’m still missing the mark?” Please, don’t hear me saying anything about performance based love here.
The wall for me, the lesson the Lord has been so gently, but relentlessly trying to teach me, has been understanding what real love looks like.
Even a little has been difficult for me to understand, partly because I didn’t have many good examples of love growing up. At best, it was a twisted, selfish, human love I knew. Also, God’s love is simply so incredibly different than what most of us experience in life.
I have several difficult life situations I’m attempting to walk out right now. Again and again when I’ve asked the why questions, “Why can’t this end now, Lord?” Or, “Why am I still being treated this way, Lord?” Or “Why is this happening all at the same time, Lord?” (you know, the questions you aren’t supposed to ask God, almighty) I’ve gotten the same consistent answer.
“I’m teaching you how to love with My love.” Sometimes, that has been a daily reply. Yet, so many times, I struggle and fight it instead of just leaning back into it.
It’s hard to love people who don’t like you, especially “Christians” who were once close. It’s hard to love family members when they are difficult to deal with, maybe facing mental or physical health issues that require you to put your needs aside. It’s hard to love teens that just want you to leave them alone (at least, they say they do). It’s hard to love people who seem to consistently reject you, and yet God says “Reach out again. Keep loving. Don’t give up.” It’s hard to love people who come to you broken, hurting, when you still feel the same way a lot of the time. It’s hard to love the prodigal.
It’s really hard to love the one who abused you, or even harder; who abused someone you love, like a child. It’s hard to love the way God does.
Heidi Baker recently relayed a story about how God challenged her on love. She had just experienced the murder of many of their pastors in Africa where she is a missionary. She struggled with her emotions over the horrible losses of those she loved. She questioned. She grieved.
Finally, the Lord spoke to her heart. “You have authority over those you love.” She knew what He meant. “Do you really love your enemies? Those who just murdered those you care most for? Do you truly love them?” It was then, she knew what she had to do. Put action to her words of love. That’s His kind of love.
Prophet Bob Jones once said after he had a heavenly visitation that the only question he was asked was by God was “Did you learn to love?”
Do you get that? That’s our one and only pursuit on this big ball of dirt, to learn to love like God does. As Paul said, To know how wide, deep, long, high is the love of God. That’s it. Our one calling. Our one goal in this life.
Jesus said it this way when asked what was the greatest commandment. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself.
We have put a way longer list of expectations on ourselves through religion and culture haven’t we? Yet, the ONE lesson to learn is not exactly easy.
I was spending time with the Lord a few days ago, and He zinged my heart with these words.
“Daughter, the love you have had still has selfish aspects to it. I’m teaching you what pure love really is, without the dross. I’m using this time to perfect that in you. I love your honesty. I love your willingness to love, to give even when it hurts. Love is not afraid of being hurt. Love is not afraid of suffering. Love is not afraid of rejection. Love freely gives with no expectation of anything in return. Your love has needed a return. (Ouch.) Mine doesn’t. My love is not needy. It always gives. It always believes the best. It never gives up… True love is not afraid of anything. Just keep loving. Keep your heart open to my love. Love never fails.”
One of my favorite and least favorite things about 1 Corinthians 13, the love chapter, is that it begins with Love is patient. I’m so grateful for it when receiving it, but oh, it can be so hard to live it. Love is patient. It’s patient with me, and all my mess ups, brokenness, and heartache. But it also asks me to love others patiently.
The one thing that will never fail is LOVE. The one thing that will always win is LOVE – God’s kind of: lay down my life for another, suffering, beautiful love. The kind of love that hung on a cross for me.
I’ve only begun to taste it, to experience dribbles of it, but it is the most wonderful, amazing, and terrifying thing, (in the sense of when I experience it, I am completely undone), I’ve ever known – the true love of God.
If you want to know what God is made of, He says in 1 John 4 that He is LOVE.
I’ll leave you with this, because I feel it is such a beautiful picture of the love Jesus Christ has for us. May we fasten this seal of fiery love over our hearts. Let’s celebrate this most wonderful love.
“Who is this one?
She arises out of her desert, clinging to her beloved.
When I awakened you under the apple tree,
as you were feasting upon me,
I awakened your innermost being with the travail of birth
as you longed for more of me.
Fasten me upon your heart as a seal of fire forevermore.
This living, consuming flame
will seal you as my prisoner of love.
My passion is stronger
than the chains of death and the grave,
all consuming as the very flashes of fire
from the burning heart of God.
Place this fierce, unrelenting fire over your entire being.
Rivers of pain and persecution
will never extinguish this flame.
Endless floods will be unable
to quench this raging fire that burns within you.
Everything will be consumed.
It will stop at nothing
as you yield everything to this furious fire
until it won’t even seem to you like a sacrifice anymore.” Song of Songs 8:5-7 TPT
You gotta get a hold of this love. The Father’s perfect love for you. You-Have-Got-To-Get-A-Hold-of-This-Love!
It will ruin you for every fear, it will ruin you for anxiety, it will ruin you for stress, it will ruin you for anger.
You’ve GOT to get ahold of this love.
The Father’s love is disruptive to what is going on in the world. In the world right now, the spirit of fear is reigning; fear about our health, fear about our economy, fear about our political system…but “Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear.” (1 John 4:18 NLT)
If you are a believer, then the Father’s love for you is PERFECT. He has punished Jesus for ALL your (past, present and future) sins. No punishment is due you. Only LOVE.
If you get ahold of His love, you will become a disruptor everywhere you go. You will be a sea of peace in the midst of the wasteland of fear.
If you grab hold of His love, you will be a disruptor in whose wake of abundant life the atmosphere of stress, worry and woe is displaced. Your very presence (and His in you) demonstrates the Kingdom reality of His love.
You’ve got to get a hold of His love; His love is disruptive to stale spirituality and destructive to performance christianity.
I pray the shock wave of His no-strings-attached love will shake you free of all the religious lies that have kept you tied up and lacking passion. I pray it disrupts the cautious and boring lifestyle you have lived, and frees you to run wild and free in the fullness of your design, following after the Holy Spirit.
You’ve got to get ahold of this love of the Father for you; then you cannot participate in the spirit of division that is tearing the world apart. Instead, you will disrupt the spirit of division with the reality of His love. You will be a bringer of unity; bringing people together in love; as family, as children of one Father who loves us perfectly.
You’ve got to get ahold of–wrap your mind and heart around this enormous, perfect love for you! Rest and let Him love you. It will wreck your life– and the lives of those you influence, in the best possible way. ❤️
For a little over a week now, my husband Bill and our daughter have been sick with a stomach bug. Yesterday we all took Covid tests just to be safe. We shall see. At any rate, in the midst of this week, we have felt so very close to the Father as we have battled this sickness in a spiritual warfare way.
In the worst moments, we have praised the Father for His faithfulness. We have exalted Him as Jehovah Rapha, our healer. We have thanked Him for His good plans for us, plans to proper us and not to harm us, plans to give us a hope and a future. You get the picture. I have more to say about why we have approached it this way, but I’ll save that for another post.
Each time the difficult moment passed and He has also demonstrated His faithfulness in some unexpected ways. Like this dream that Bill had this morning. I think it is prophetic and full of truth.
Bill’s dream – written by him:
I dreamed that the 3 phases of my sickness are really the 3 phases of how the Holy Spirit is dealing with our family, the Church, our city, state and nation.
The first phase: Recognition that we have a problem. Not someone else, but me.
The 2nd phase: Diagnosis (repentance). We go to the “doctor” to describe what is wrong and ask for help.
The 3rd phase: Faith; that He has already healed us and our land. But our job is to wait upon Him in faith. Just like we trust that the medicine has already begun it’s healing work, we need to trust that the Holy Spirit has begun His work too.
It is tempting to jump in and “help” Him, just like it’s tempting to jump in and try to do something to accelerate the medicine doing it’s job in our bodies. But every time we do that, we simply delay the effectiveness of the medicine working. Our job is to rest and let the “medicine” take over and do its work.
The same is true for the Church related to our government. We (the Church) don’t need to jump in and try to accelerate what He is going to do. He already knows what the disease is, where the disease is and has taken over the battle to defeat it. If we try to “help” accelerate the healing, we’ll just make it take longer.
“But Moses told the people, “Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again.” (Exodus 14:13 NLT)
Adel again: Amen. He is faithful and He will do what He has promised. Have faith and watch.
Has anyone felt overwhelmed in the last few weeks? I have.
Three years ago or so, several friends and I were regularly receiving visions and words of a coming flood; like a tsunami.
The connotation was that it was going to feel overwhelming, but God would be in it. And the results would be good.
I remember seeing, in a vision, people thrashing in the water, fighting it, thereby nearly drowning.
Others tried swimming upstream, wearing themselves out in the rising torrent.
Some refused to step into the water, trying to ignore it altogether, but as it continued to rise, they were swept downstream.
Still others just leaned back into the flood waters, floated, and laughed playing in the waves, trusting that they were held by the Lord.
Before Christmas, a friend reminded me of this vision. She said she has held onto it so many times, leaning back into the arms of the Lord and trusting that He’s got this.
As things in our world seem more and more like rising, torrential waters, like the days of Noah, I have a choice to make.
If I fight what Yahweh is doing, I will feel like I’m drowning. If I try to go against it, swimming against the stream, I may find myself exhausted. If I ignore the water altogether pretending it’s not there, it will come all the same. I may thereby endanger myself; being swept away in doubt, fear, and disbelief.
The best choice is leaning back into the waters entrusting my life and the lives of those I love into the hands of God, who loves me, and will work everything out for my good.
In this place of surrender, I can relax even in a tsunami that feels completely over my head. I can’t drown in the love of God. In His arms, I am safe.
I actually can come to the place of playing and laughing in the rising waters, knowing He has this crazy world in His hands. He is on the move, and His glory will fill the earth.
Keep your eyes on the true Lord Jesus. Let Him hold you in the middle of the flood.