My dream of a friend waiting in line

I saw a friend in a dream or a night vision. It was a scene with no movement. No talking. It happened twice in one night. I think I have had this exact dream before, sometime over the past months; and brushed it off, didn\’t get it; but I think I do now.

I saw my friend waiting in line.  I could not find a picture like what I saw: men in line or a man in line, on Pixabay, so the man above represents what I saw.  And so does the picture below.
I saw my friend, a friend I have not been in contact with, waiting in line.  He was dressed in a polo shirt, waiting in a line of people.
My first reaction, each time I had the dream was to say to myself, \”Why is he waiting in line, for food, when he has plenty of money?\’  Now, I realized that I assumed some things.  There was no evidence that this was a line for food!  It was funny or strange how I jumped to that conclusion.  But, was it a word of knowledge?  Or, did I just judge prematurely?  Was this a lesson on presuming or assuming, when I just don\’t know?
All I do know is my friend was waiting in a line.  Then, I began to draw conclusions that may have been wrong.
After thinking and praying about this, here are my thoughts:
Pray for your friend.  There he was alone, waiting, in line.
Waiting is good.  Being in line waiting is good.
I know that my friend is a waiter.  He has been waiting faithfully, on God.
My dream may have been showing me that he is still being faithful to wait on God.  The Bible says that is a good thing and that God will give us what we wait on Him for, according to His will.
I think that my dream or night vision, was a call to pray for my friend.  My first reaction to seeing him, teaches me, to recognize my own self, what I think about something I see, at first; and then to set that aside and see what God sees, and wants to show me.

God Might Give Us Back The Dream We Gave Up On

Fairy Tale, Night, Music, Fish, Sky, Fly, Flight, Sleep
The Lord came to Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did for Sarah what he had promised.  Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the appointed time God had told him.
-Genesis 21:1-2

What if God wants to give us back the dream we gave up on?

Maybe we are like Sarah, given a dream that does not come true; and then we give up on it.

We know God gave Abraham and Sarah the call to have a child. Nothing out of the ordinary, except that they were barren.

I imagine that they wondered why God would call and then not deliver.

What about delays?  God presides over our delays.

Can a dream be dead, or so far past it\’s \”use by\” date, that it is never coming back?


If your dream is a dream that was not fulfilled and God knows it never will be, then I believe God will give you a new dream.

And if you gave up on the dream God gave you and God\’s says it\’s not over, God can give you back that dream.

Sarah gave up on her dream of having a baby. But God fulfilled the dream she gave up on.

What if God wants to give us back the dream we gave up on?

Unfulfilled Promises and Dreams

By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed and set out for a place that he was going to receive as an inheritance. He went out, even though he did not know where he was going.
-Hebrews 11:8

If your promise or dream has not come true, you are naturally sad.

But it also means that God is working.  God is not done.

If your situation seems impossible, that doubly means God is at work.

God is going to do something in your life… If you let him.

This is the irony.

We are the only ones that can stand in the way of our destinies.

Because, God can overcome everything else.

But, he will not violate our will.

We must unfold our arms and raise our chins.

We must prepare ourselves, encourage ourselves, to be ready for God.

We must manage our attitude and keep the faith.

We don’t make it happen, but we let God take us there.

This means we will have to do things, say things, go places.

Because, faith is an action.

Are You Going To Carry That Weight?

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

-Matthew 11:28-30 (MSG)
Are you burned out on religion?  That is the exquisite way that Eugene Peterson translated Matthew 11:28.  Religion means working, getting tired from working and telling others to get to work.  Jesus view and style is that what we do comes out of and through rest.  Resting is not about unplugging from work, but plugging into the one who loves you.
We are ‘saved unto good works’, but we don’t work to be saved.  The work we do was God’s idea and it flows out of our relationship, in Christ:

“Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish! We don’t play the major role. If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.”
-Ephesians 2:8-10 (MSG)

There is an old song called , “He is our peace”.  Besides the title, I always remember the key line, “Cast all your cares on Him, for he cares for you.”  That comes from 1 Peter 5:7, where Peter quotes or echoes Psalm 55:22, that says, “Cast your burden on the Lord, and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.” (HCSB)
It is also notable that believers do stumble and fall, but God has our hand and helps us get back up.  The falling is like tripping, misstepping or losing or way or our ballance.  Some translations say, “Though he may stumble, he will not fall”, while others have, “Though he fall, he is not overwhelmed” (Ps. 37:24, NIV, HCSB).
We all have dreams, from God and challenges, God allows.  We want to and rightly so need to take responsibility for how we unpack and navigate these, as stewards.  But we don’t carry the whole weight of it.

With the vision and with the obstacles, comes gifts of grace, gifts from God.  It is not just about seeing and then doing the vision or encountering and overcoming the obstacles.  It is about unpacking the treasure that God endowed you with to participate in and be a developer of that vision.  And as each obstacle comes into play, you will discover gifts or grace from God to counter the obstacles. 

We partner with God because we are a covenant people.  We are not people who are under a contract, where each side is bound to do this or that.  In our covenant with God, we give ourselves to God and God gives himself to us.

More from Ephesians 2, from The Message:

“But don’t take any of this for granted. It was only yesterday that you outsiders to God’s ways had no idea of any of this, didn’t know the first thing about the way God works, hadn’t the faintest idea of Christ. You knew nothing of that rich history of God’s covenants and promises in Israel, hadn’t a clue about what God was doing in the world at large. Now because of Christ—dying that death, shedding that blood—you who were once out of it altogether are in on everything.” (Eph. 2:11-13)

Inside the covenant, there is no selfishness.  Each party gives for the mutual benefit.  We are new covenant people.
God has made a covenant to save us through Christ.  And we get to give ourselves to God and live in the covenant, in Christ.  God does all the heavy lifting and we get to participate as junior partners or king’s kids.

The new covenant (Matt. 26:26-9, Mark 14:23-4, Luke 22:20, 1 Cor. 11:23-6, Heb 7:20-2, 8:6-13, 9:11-17, 12:22-13-21) supersedes the old one and Christians are now a part of Zion, which has always been believers out of all the nations (Psalm 87).

When we stress or worry, struggle and strive; we might be carrying the weight that is God’s to carry.  We live in the paradox of receiving promises and permission from God, in love; but we don’t have the power or the wherewithal to make it happen.

Please forgive me, for cherry picking verses (versitous), but here are some verses:

  • His yoke is easy and his burden is light (Matt. 11:30).
  • His grace is sufficient for you: strength is made perfect in weakness (1 Cor. 12:9).
  • God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6, 1 Peter 5:5).
  • I will be with you (Judges 6:16).
Are you going to carry that weight?  Time to get low and get the yoke of Christ on.  Time to cast your cares on Him.
God does give us responsibility.  We are stewards of what he gives us.  And we need to be good at stewardship, because that is faith and faithfulness, which God wants from us and it is only natural to be faithful to the person who is faithful to us and to whom we put our faith in.
This question of, “Are you going to carry that weight”, cuts two ways.  We need to not strive or worry and take on what is not ours to carry.  And we need to take responsibility to pick up and carry what is ours.
We also must bear the responsibility for our own development.  Jesus is still asking crippled people if they would like to be made well.  He is still handing out talents and watching to see what we do with them.
So, as I consider the weight, I think about his yoke that is easy and his burden that is light and the resting in him from which my life is supposed to flow, by his design.  And I also think about the responsibility of stewarding what he gives me.
The weight I want to carry is the weight of the yoke of Christ, that is easy, compared to other yokes, and light.  I want to live from rest.  I want to rest in Christ and let him live through me.

The Reversal

The nations will escort Israel and bring it to its homeland. Then the house of Israel will possess them as male and female slaves in the Lord’s land. They will make captives of their captors and will rule over their oppressors.

-Isaiah 14:2
What God has planned and wants to do is a complete reversal in the lives of believers who have been oppressed.  God not only wants to set people free who have been held down, held back, and left behind; but He also wants to put them in charge over those that they were under before.  God wants to take people from servitude to ruling.
God wants to restore his people to their place of rest.  God wants to take his people out of bondage and into a place of stewarding authority.  God is freeing his people, so that they may serve and disciple the nations who previously held them in bondage.
The same people who imprisoned believers and kept them locked in and locked down will become the helpers, guides, and rides to take them to their inheritances and destiny places.  The people of God will capture the people who once ruled over them and be served by them.  The people who were once our oppressors in their homeland or sphere will come with the believers into their homeland or sphere.
A great deliverance and reversal is coming, and when believers are set free, their captors will leave with them and become their servants.  In the awakening that is coming, believers who have been asleep will wake up to God, to their destinies.  When they wake up, they will get up, and they will begin to go towards where God has always wanted them to go: to their homeland, and they will take some people with them, who have not been believers, who will get saved and be discipled and serve the believers who had been in bondage among them.
A great revival is coming, where believers who have become dead in their faith, will be brought to life, raised from the dead or revived.  Their testimony will be so clear and so real, that their pagan or completely non-believing friends, neighbors, or coworkers will be astonished at the change from death to life in these living witnesses, as say, “I want what you’ve got and where you go I will go, so now I will follow you, even to the ends of the earth.”
This will be like the story, in Acts 16, of the Philippian jailer, who got saved when Paul and Silas were freed by the earthquake, and the jailer and his whole family got saved.  Paul baptized them all and they had a meal together.  The jailer served Paul by being the intermediary with the magistrates, for Paul and Silas’ freedom, as well as giving them hospitality.
God is going to set his people free who have been held captive.  And when He does, the people who been around their captivity, will willingly go with, gives rides, and take or transport believers into their promises and serve them their.  This is what is going to happen, again.  God has done this in the past and is about to do it again, because it is what God does.
God sets you free to go into your destiny.  And the people who were there around you, who were part of the system, the tribe, the people, who held you back, and did not recognize you as a son or daughter of God, will suddenly become your servant and serve you, and take you to your place of promotion, destiny, calling, and promise; and not only move you there, but live there with you, as your servant.

The Lord Will Make A Way For You, If You Make Him The Way

Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.

Sing to God, sing praises to his name; lift up a song to him who rides through the deserts; his name is the Lord; exult before him!

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

-Isaiah 43:19, Psalm 68:4, John 14:6 (ESV)

You and I are each in a place in life, but many of us would like to be in another place.  Call it your promised land.  We have a dream, a destiny, a calling, an inheritance, or a birthright not yet fully received.

The path to the promise is the one who is the way.  The Lord will make a way for you, if you make him the way.  It is as simple and profound as that.

In between here and there looks like a desert.  Maybe to you it looks like an ocean, or a mountain range that is in your way.  But the word of the Lord is that God will make a way for you.

The way through the desert, the way through what seems impossible is the Lord.  He has always been the way for you and I.  Our part is to abide in him and let him take us on his journey.

The path is the one who is Lord.  He is the way to the Father and the way to the kingdom.  The Lord will make a path and lead you, if you abide in him.

The story of Isaiah 43 is the people of God going back to their land of promise, and God encouraging them, that he would make a way for them, in the desert.  This same principle holds true for believers today, because Christ is the way.  Wherever you are in your journey, Christ is with you; you are in Christ who is the way.

The past is our important story.  We learned and we gained good things and we also have scars from how we were hurt.  We are not victims of our past, nor triumphalistic deniers of our brokenness; but we have been redeemed and God redeems out past.

We are overcomers, wounded warriors, the walking wounded; we are all broken people, being made whole by Christ.  We have been receiving provision for our losses, exchanging crowns of beauty for ashes; having oil of joy instead of mourning; and being clothed with praise instead of despair. (Isa. 61:3)

Christ is the way to heaven and the way for life here on earth.  The Christian life is, “Christ in you” (Col. 1:27).  He is the way and the life, so he sustains you on your journey in and on the way.  The way in is the way on.

The past is in the past.  We can make amends and reconcile with people.  We obviously can not go back in time and it is foolishness to be obsessed with the past, idealizing it or wearing shame and despair because of the failure or defeat in the past.

God says, “Behold, I am doing a new thing, now it springs forth.  Do you see it?”  We can be blind to the present, because of an obsession with the past.  The past is over and gone.  Let it go.

God does not erase our past, but redeems it.  You get to keep the wisdom you gained from your past, while you get released from the sin and free from any bondage to the past, including the people, places, and things in your past.  You may still be with those people, in those places, and have those things; but you have changed and you have been redeemed.

The Christian life is life in Christ and it is inside out.  We have Christ in our hearts, so that he changes our identity and how we think and then how we live.

We love him and trust him with our hearts.

We often refer to getting saved as, “asking Jesus to come into our hearts”.  After we invite him in, we give him permission to live there, and make him Lord.  When he lives in us, we enter into a transformational relationship with him, that we call discipleship, which is where we learn how to live in Christ, letting him live his life through our lives.

In order to find the way, we have to let go of the past; grieve it and receive healing for how we were hurt, forgive others, and be forgiven for our blunders.  Then we can be ready to see and believe the new thing that God will do.  And the only way to get to the land of promise, our destiny, and receive our inheritance and come into our birthright, is to abide in the Lord.

Trust in him at all times.

It starts and continues, inside out, from the heart.  Have faith by walking by faith, with the one who has saved you and is taking you in and on his way towards your destiny, on the journey that is unique to you.

He is the way for you.  Other ways are detours, holding patterns, and cul-de-sacs.  This is the good news.

The path is the one who is the Lord.  He is the way to the Father and the way to the kingdom.  The Lord will make a path and lead you, if you abide in him.

Adventure – My Word for 2016

2016 is a year of adventure.

Adventure is defined as (1):

  • an exciting or very unusual experience. 
  • participation in exciting undertakings or enterprises.
Photo: Pixabay

The root, etymological, or historical meaning of adventure is, “to take a chance”.  Ad means “to” and venture means “risky undertaking”.  A venture is a place of fortune and chance.

Adventure means “a thing about to happen, come to, reach, or arrive at”.  Adventure can involve risk and danger and be a trial of one’s chances, or be a perilous undertaking.  Adventure may also mean a novel or exciting incident, a wonder, a miracle, or accounts of marvelous things (2).

Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary:

  • A mercantile or speculative enterprise of hazard; a venture; a shipment by a merchant on his own account.
  • A remarkable occurrence; a striking event; a stirring incident; as, the adventures of one’s life.
  • Risk; danger; peril.
  • That which happens without design; chance; hazard; hap; hence, chance of danger or loss.
  • The encountering of risks; hazardous and striking enterprise; a bold undertaking, in which hazards are to be encountered, and the issue is staked upon unforeseen events; a daring feat.
  •  To risk, or hazard; jeopardy; to venture.
  •  To try the chance; to take the risk.
  •  To venture upon; to run the risk of; to dare.

Synonyms for Adventure (3):

  • enterprise
  • escapade
  • venture
  • risk
  • chance
  • undertaking
  • experience
  • feat
  • exploit
  • happening
  • occurrence
  • deed
  • event
  • incident
  • endeavor
  • fortuity
  • quest
  • fortune
  • happenstance
  • journey
  • passage
  • pilgrimage
  • attempt
  • campaign
  • engagement
  • excitement
  • fun
  • initiative
  • mission
  • opportunity
  • pursuit
  • tour de force
  • transaction
  • trip
  • accomplishment
  • achievement
  • activity
  • chronicles
  • crossing
  • encounter
  • migration
  • outing
  • trip

Antonyms for adventure:

  • avoidance
  • inaction
  • inertia
  • passiveness
  • boredom
  • latency
  • abstention
  • certainty

1.WordReference Random House Learner’s Dictionary of American English © 2016
2..Online Etymology Dictionary
3. Power Thesaurus

Walking Wounded

When (And it happened that) Abram was ninety-nine years old Yahweh appeared to Abram. And he said to him, “I am El-Shaddai; (God Almighty) walk before me and be blameless so that (and) I may make my covenant between me and you, and may multiply you exceedingly (very, very)”.  Then Abram fell upon his face and God spoke with him…

…And Abraham fell upon his face and laughed. And he said in his heart, “Can a child be born to a man a hundred years old (“to a man one hundred years old can he be born?“), or can Sarah bear a child at ninety? (“can ninety-year-old Sarah bear a child?)” And Abraham said to God, “Oh that Ishmael might live before you!” …

 …And they said to him, “Where is Sarah your wife?” And he said, “Here, in the tent.”  And he (Yahweh) said, “I will certainly return to you in the spring (at that time of life), and look, Sarah your wife will have a son.” Now Sarah was listening at the doorway of the tent, and which was behind him.  Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in age (going in the days); the way of women (“the road according to women”) had ceased to be for Sarah.  So (And) Sarah laughed to herself saying, “After I am worn out and my husband is old, shall this pleasure be to me?”  Then Yahweh said to Abraham, “What is this that Sarah laughed, saying, ‘Is it indeed true that I will bear a child, now that I have grown old?’  Is anything too difficult for Yahweh? At the appointed time I will return to you in the spring (“at the time of life”) and Sarah shall have a son.”  But Sarah denied it, saying, “I did not laugh,” because she was afraid. He (Yahweh) said, “No, but you did laugh.”
-Genesis 17:1-3, 17-18; 18:-9-15 (LEB) (Footnotes and literal in parentheses)

Illustration by Jim Padgett, Distant Shores Media, CC BY-SA 3.0 

Many Christ-followers, God-followers living in the second testament times, are walking wounded.  We are people who desperately want God’s will for our lives.  We do not want to live as pagans or in a worldly fashion.

In our following of God, we make mistakes, have failures, and go down the wrong road.  Our detours end up hurting us and hurting others.  Instead of the abundant life, we end up being the walking wounded.

This is what happened to Abraham and Sarah.  About 15 years before the time quoted above, Abraham had an amazing experience with God, recorded in Genesis, chapter 15.  It was all about his son and the destiny of his son’s offspring.

To put some more context on that encounter, Abraham had just rescued Lot and met Melchizedek (Gen. 14).  I mention this, to say that, by the time we get to the encounters in Genesis 17 & 18, Abraham had had several, and several more than most people, supernatural encounters.  Here is one lesson from reading Genesis 14 to 18:  Encounters with God do not make you mature or whole.

This is how we get the term, “immature prophet”.  An immature prophet is a prophet who has not matured.  He or she has got the gift, but they do not have the stature, or the maturity, to carry that gift and use it effectively.  Every Christian is called to an, “on to maturity” life, where we become mature and “put away childish things”.

Abraham’s and Sarah’s lives illustrate the maturing process required to receive the fulfillment of God’s destiny for our lives.  I believe that they were not a lot more ready for the fulfillment in Genesis 17 & 18, than they were in Genesis 15, which is illustrated by their reactions.  The new word from God, which built upon the old word was, “Yes, it is still going to happen.  Partner with with me, to make you the parents that I have always had in mind for you to be.”

This is the key from God:  “Walk before me and be blameless”.  And I believe “blameless” means wholeness.  The wholeness comes from God.  He heals the shame that binds you.

Sometimes, our reaction to God showing up, is to run and hide in the bushes, because we are ashamed.  Who told you that you were naked?  Abraham and Sarah are not exactly like that.  They don’t have crippling shame, but they are wounded from their prophetic journey.

Abraham (Abram) and Sarah (Sarai) are walking wounded, because they lost patience and decided that while God’s word to them was true, that they needed to do something to make it happen.  They reasoned that because of their age and the long silence from God, that this must be the right thing to do.  Perhaps, they even reasoned, that it was not ideal, but it was the best they could do.

We are supposed to act on our faith, right?  Faith is an action, based upon the faithfulness of the person whom our faith is in.  So, within a year or two of Abram’s last encounter, when Sarai was not conceiving, they decided that Abram should sleep with one of their slave women, and even take her as an additional wife.

And as soon as he did that, and Hagar became pregnant, something in Sarai went “tilt”.  She did not like her idea, when it worked, and Hagar be came pregnant.  Sarai and Abram were now, with Hagar and Ishmael to come, going on a detour that was not going to be happy, especially for Sarai.

This is really sad, because not only was Sarai grieved, but her unhappiness would affect her husband and this lady, now pregnant.  Instead of repenting and taking full responsibility, Sarai hatched her plan “b”.  Note that her plan “a”, was to have Abe impregnate Hagar, and her plan “b”, was to mistreat Hagar so badly that Hagar ran away.  Perhaps Sarai rationalized that Hagar got what she deserved, because Hagar began to be direspectful of her (Gen. 16:4).

Wait a minute.  She encouraged her husband to sleep with this lady and then after the lady had been sleeping with him and was pregnant and was enjoying herself, put in this strange (to us) position by Sarai, then Saria has the audacity to be mad at her?  What happened?

Abram and Sarai messed up really bad.  But, they were not in the “mess up” category of, for example, David, when he murdered a man (2 Sam. 12:9) so he could sleep with his wife.  They were also not like Esau, who God judged as not caring about something that was precious, his birthright (Rom. 9:13).  They also were not like king Saul, who infamously lost his patience and was called a rebellious person practicing witchcraft (1 Sam. 15:23), and who lost his inheritance, his sanity, and his life.

What was different about Abraham and Sarah, that makes them models for us?  Good question.  They had faith.  It was flawed, immature, and not patient; but they had some faith.  They made a mistake, a very big mistake.

What they did was not malicious or deceitful.  We have to consider the cultural context.  Polygamy seems to have been ok in that time, for cultural of social reasons we do not understand in modern, western society.

You can imagine, that because of wars and the harsh conditions in labor (at work), there might have often been more women around than men.  It is actually compassionate to allow polygamy in such times, so that women could have a roof over their heads and become mothers.

In this context, we can see that what happened to Hagar was in the realm of “normal”.  She might have even thought herself lucky to become a second wife of the tribal leader.  In the midst of her good fortune and then misfortune, she gets her own visit from God, and some have said, that she in the first theologian in the Bible.

Hagar had a visit from God, after being mistreated by Sarai (and Abraham), and got to give God a name, “El-Roi”, “the God of seeing” (Gen. 16:13).  God dialogued with Hagar who told him that she ran away from Sarai, because she was mistreating her.  God’s response to Hagar, was to tell her to return to Sarai and submit to her “hand”.  Then, the angel of Yahweh gave her a personal prophecy for her son, naming him, and telling her that his descendants would be great in number, wild, and have everyone against them and the hostility of all his brothers (Gen. 16:10-12).

Hagar returned to Sarai and Abram, gave birth to Ishmael, and they all watched him grow up, assuming that this was the child of promise, but he was not.  They settled into “second best”, or “good, but not great”.  They might have felt something uneasy, like when you realize that you made a wrong turn, and you keep going further into somewhere that does not look like where you wanted to go.  But you rationalize and make the best of it, perhaps going into some level of denial.

Thirteen years went by after Hagar returned and Ishmael was born.  Ishmael was 13 years old.  Maybe Abram noticed a wildness about him.

Do you know how we have the pejorative term “Ass” to describe someone who is a jerk or rude?  Unfortunately, that was the prophecy over Ishmael.  Asses or donkeys are good beasts of burden.  That is the positive side.  But the prophecy was that he would be,

A wild donkey of a man,
his hand will be against everyone,
and the hand of everyone will be against him,
and he will live in hostility with all his brothers.

“Wild donkey” is connotative of incorrigible, someone who does not take orders, is delinquent, or “a law unto themselves”.  So, a “wild ass” person is worse than a “spoiled brat”, although there is overlap.

So, into this context, about 15 years since Abram’s last supernatural encounter recorded in Genesis 15, God shows up again, talking about the same prophecy, amplified version.  Abram and Sarai are now walking in or living with, what they thought was the answer to their prayers or the fulfillment of God’s promise.

They are making the best of it and are living in woundedness, rather than wholeness.  They have self-inflicted wounds, that God is fully aware of.  In spite of what they have done, on God’s calendar, it is time to talk to Abram again and tell him, “It’s time”.  God says, “It’s time and here is how it is going to work out for you.”

That is when God says, “I am El-Shaddai”, which means “Your all-sufficiency”.  Then he says, “Walk before me and be blameless”.  God does not want them to “hide”, in shame, or “do it for themselves”, in self-righteousness.

No.  This means that God will cleanse them and make them whole.  It is just like John’s word, “But if we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7)  This is the good news.  He makes us whole.  We just have to be in relationship with him, walking before him.

When we don’t walk before him, we are either hiding in shame or living self-righteously, even shamelessly, apart from him.  We can only become whole by walking before him.  It means an “Honest to God” and “Into-me-see” life.

The incarnational life of the king living his life through us, is the only authentic Christian life that there is.  Remember, “Apart from me, you can do nothing”?

The point I want to make, is that we can mess up and even mess up other’s lives with our blunders, but God is still faithful.  We try to “do the right thing”, just like Sarah and Abraham, and end up on detours from God’s plan.  The crux of the story that I have been reiterating is, will we be flexible in letting God correct our course, when he comes along and gives us the grace we have been waiting for?

Imagine the feelings that Abraham and Sarah went through when God encountered them again, a year or so before Isaac was born.  Imagine the offer of your dream, from way back, coming true, that you gave up on.  You might feel great joy, and at the same time, you will feel the loss of that which you have built and convinced others, to build with you, that was not God’s dream he gave you.

Do you know what awe and joy feels like, when your jaw drops and you have no words?  Do you know the feeling of joy expressed in laughing with uncontrollable tears at the same time?  That is the feeling or experience of the feelings, when Jesus does something for you that seemed impossible or you had wrestled with for years, maybe decades, and since he did not do it, you gave up on it, while still worshiping him as Lord, but with massive disappointment in your heart.

You learned that the highest form of worship is lament.  You learned that you will trust him no matter what.  And then one day, God visits you and says it is about to happen.  That thing you gave up on, he is going to give you.  You must open a closed, broken heart, and grieve the loss of your personal sand castles.  God, totally understands and is patient while we take in the good news that sounds unbelievable, but it true.

Abraham fell down with emotion.  He exploded with laughter.  Was it joy or incredulous laughter?  I think it was a flood of many emotions hitting the man at the same time.  It was “Joy unspeakable and full of glory” (1 Peter 1:8).

He probably told Sarah about the newest encounter, and when the angel of the Lord came and spoke to Abraham again, soon after, and just before the destruction of Sodom, Sarah overheard the Lord reassuring Abraham of the word about the baby, Isaac, coming in the next year.  And she laughed very out loud.

It was funny that the Lord chided her for laughing.  God’s special messenger is standing there, reminding Abraham about the soon coming baby.  It is as if he was encouraging Abraham to get on with it and do his part to conceive.  Sarah eavesdrops on this conversation and bursts into laughter.

Does she not know who this person is, talking to her husband?  Maybe she does not.  She is honest about her incredulity and he says, in a sense, “Get with it.  You are about to be a mother”.  Wow!  Sit with that thought or with what went through Sarah’s heart.

Abraham and Sarah completely used their resources to make the life or destiny and calling from God, as they best knew it, come true.  Now God comes and says, “here it comes”, and “now I am going to make it happen… through you two.”  That is the laughter, that it is completely by grace.  We just get to be vehicles or carriers of it.

This story is an encouragement to those of us who are walking wounded, with promises on our lives, yet to be fulfilled.  God meets people who have faith, weak faith, flawed faith, and faith mixed with unbelief (Mark 9:24).  We are the walking wounded and when God comes, he will heal us and make us whole, restoring us and fulfilling all his promises (Hosea 6:1-3).

Walking Before God

When Abram was ninety-nine years old Yahweh appeared to Abram. And he said to him, “I am El-Shaddai; walk before me and be blameless so that I may make my covenant between me and you, and may multiply you exceedingly.”
-Genesis 17:1 (LEB)

Photo from Pixibay

I looked up Genesis 17:1 in ten translations and looked at David Guzik’s commentary, and decided that I liked the Lexham English Bible the best.  In the LEB, we have, “Yahweh”, “El-Shaddai”, and “Walk before me and be blameless”.
Instead of Yahweh, most other translations have, “The Lord”.  I believe “Yahweh” here in this story is fitting, because that is God’s proper name, that means Lord.  Why not have the name, rather than what the name means?  And “The Lord” means the “I AM”(Ex. 3:15).

This verse starts out with Abram’s age of 99.  He is still Abram, without the “ha”.  These Yahweh encounters are going to result in a name change of  his name (Gen. 17:5); and his wife’s name (Ge. 17:15).

In the verses that follow, God tells Abram that he is going to multiply him and Sarai, which is what their new names, Abraham and Sarah, signify.  They were worried about addition and God wants to do multiplication.  The multiplication did not occur until the third generation, when their great grandchild, Jacob had his children, who became the 12 tribes.  From these 12, there would be millions and millions of people born.

“I am El-Shaddai”

God is standing in our future, with the provision we need to live there.  He said to Abraham, “I am El-Shaddai”, before he said to him, “Walk before me and be blameless”.  From David Guzik’s commentary, he writes that, El-Shaddai might mean “God who is sufficient” (Kidner), or, “I am that God who pours out blessings, who gives them richly, abundantly, continually” (Clarke), or, “It may have in mind the strength of a man’s chest (God Almighty) or the comfort and nourishment of a woman’s breast (God of Tender Care)” (Barnhouse).

It is a Biblical principal that where God guides, he provides.  Before God gives Abraham the promise, that was something Abe and his wife wanted more than anything; he wants to transform Abraham through a revelation of who he is.  Abraham gets an expansion of his knowledge of God.

He must be expanded, to receive what is coming.  And Abraham and Sarah’s relationship with God must deepen and widen.  The gift will come in the context of the relationship.  All authentic ministry comes from relationship with God.  All the benefits come from the benefactor, just like a good father who takes care of his child. 

God wants to transform Abraham into a person who knows God as El-Shaddai:

  • God has everything you need and will give it to you.
  • God’s blessings, in all dimensions, that he wants to pour upon you, are beyond measure.
  • God is The Almighty, who cares for each one of his kids.
  • God’s provision for us is also in his comfort and nourishing, tender care.

God does not just want to provide for us.  He wants us to know him as our provision.

We are missing it, if our eyes are just on the provision.  Remember that we enter his gates with thanksgiving (Psalm 100:4) and that it is God’s will for us to be thankful in all circumstances (1 Thess. 3:18).  We get caught up in thinking we do not have enough and wondering why God lets others have more.  Ironically, many of the people who have more are also in discontent.  Why?  Because the key is knowing God and letting him transform you, so that you see him as your provision.

What is your vision?  If you are a Christian, then God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) are your “pro”.  They are definitely professionals at what they do, but the “pro” here is short for “provision”.  They are the provision for the vision.

Abraham, when he was Abram; had a vision, a desire, and a destiny that God affirmed, confirmed, and prophesied.  That’s the good news.  The bad news was that it did not come to pass, for a long time.  And, he shared that vision and prophecy with his wife, who would be his partner in that destiny or vision coming to pass.

Can you imagine the thrill at receiving the divine affirmation and confirmation about your procreation, and then the disappointment, when it does not happen…  for weeks, months, years, and then decades.

What if the wait was because God was waiting for Abraham and Sarah to get something, about God, before God could give them what he promised? 

Abraham would be looked back on as “the man of faith” (Gal. 3:9), and as “the friend of God” (James 2:23).  His faith was severely tested and the friendship was stretched or refined by the fire of his suffering.  Sarai’s suffering was his suffering.

All those years went by and Sarai saw other ladies get pregnant and give birth and raise beautiful children, while she sat alone, barren.  Why on earth would God promise something, but not bring it to pass?  Can you imagine her faith and the strain on her relationship to her mystic husband who told her that God appeared to him and made these promises?

You might remember when Sarah laughed.  Well, Abraham laughed before that and it seems like he laughed even harder (Gen. 17:17), because he fell to the ground laughing.  I don’t think his laughter was joy, but was incredulity.  It is hard to imagine laughing like that when God is speaking to you, not in a whisper, but in a full on appearance.  I think that this is evidence of Abram’s friendship with God.

And God said to Abraham, “as for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, for Sarah shall be her name.  And I will bless her; moreover, I give to you from her a son. And I will bless her, and she shall give rise to nations. Kings of peoples shall come from her.”  And Abraham fell upon his face and laughed. And he said in his heart, “Can a child be born to a man a hundred years old, or can Sarah bear a child at ninety?”   And Abraham said to God, “Oh that Ishmael might live before you!”  And God said, “No, but Sarah your wife shall bear a son for you, and you shall call his name Isaac. And I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant to his offspring after him.
-Gen. 17:15-19

Faith is messy.  We believe, because after all, God is faithful.  But, we have doubts and we just don’t understand, and then when painful disappointment mixes in, it is a mess; but there is still faith.  It’s still real faith, because real faith has faith in the faithfulness of another.  We don’t have to understand it, for it to be real faith.

So, Abraham could have laughed hysterically, when God again made his promise and gave him the prophetic word; and still be a man of faith.  Notice also that God named his son Isaac, which means “laughter”, right after Abraham laughed hysterically.  On the spot, God took Abraham’s incredulous laughter and incorporated or transformed it into joyous laughter in the more specific prophecy about the promise that would be fulfilled soon.

It is also notable that Abraham and Sarah had a godly marriage, that Peter references in 1 Peter 3:1-7.  Sarah never went to her place of prayer and got words from God about her destiny of being the mother of Isaac, that we know of.  Instead, God gave her words through her husband.

She was subject to her husband.  Subject does not mean “sourced”.  God was her source.  Her husband was her loving leader.

“Walk before me and be blameless.”  

There is a saying that, “The secret of your future is hidden in your daily routine”.  The Bible teaches that a happy life, a content life, comes from wholeness.  That life comes from walking before God, who is our Father, our provider, and our all-sufficiency.

You can be rich or poor, an owner or a renter, fertile or barren, sick or well, on the mountain top, or in the arid desert.  You may be highly qualified or a simpleton.  But the question is, are you walking before God?  Or are you going your own way?  Are you letting God meet your needs or are you doing it for your self?

“Walk before me and be blameless” (LEB, ESV, NET, and NKJV)

“Walk before me faithfully and be blameless.” (NIV)

“Walk with me and be trustworthy.” (CEB)

“Serve me faithfully and live a blameless life.” (NLT)

“Obey me and always do right.” (CEV)

“Live entirely before me, live to the hilt.” (MSG)

“Live in My presence and be blameless.” (HCSB)

“Walk before me habitually and be blameless” (Young’s)

Our physical walking is daily and many times daily.  Our walk with God is the same.  We may walk to the curb to get the mail or we may walk from the parking lot to our destination.  In out walks, short and long, we encounter people, situations, and choices.  It is in those places of living that we walk with God.

Our walk with God is not divorced from all of our run-of-the-mill, every-day encounters; but is completely wedded to it.

I think that “blameless”, means, “with integrity”.  I think the idea is wholeness.  God is after wholeness in us.  Playing the part of “Christian”, but not really being one in how you live in private, is not wholeness.

Salvation is an event and a process.  The walk is a continual walk.  We get more sanctified, we get more fruitful, we get more wise, we get more freedom, and we grow in grace.  If you do not embrace the process, the journey, your pilgrimage, and walking before God, through life; then you will not grow or mature spiritually.

Our basis for this walk is not our selves.  God is.  We must do things, but he empowers us to do them.  We must be good, but his goodness gives us that ability.  We take up what he has given us.  That is what Paul means by, “The life I now live is by the faithfulness of the Son of God” (Gal. 2:20).

Sky Links, 3-10-14

Let Israel’s salvation come out of Zion!
When the Lord changes his people’s circumstances for the better,
Jacob will rejoice;
Israel will celebrate!
-Psalm 14:7, 53:6

Broken Dreams

We talk about, “what is tour dream?”, or, “what do you dream of doing?’; and so forth.  What happens when you believe that you have come alive to this idea and you get in touch with your dreams and begin to pursue them, but experience failure, rejection, disappointment, and heartbreak?  Adam H. McHugh wrote about this.  Here is a poignant excerpt from his post, On Having Dreams:

The last year, without hyperbole, has been the hardest year of my life. It has brought with it bouts of depression, when I didn’t want to get out of bed in the morning. Sometimes I have been sad and other times I have been angry and often I have felt lost, still wandering in the wilderness, trying to find where the glory of God went. One morning in November I sat on a bench at the beach, the sun shining radiantly, and just felt utterly abandoned and bereft. One afternoon I sat at my favorite coffee shop in Los Olivos reading, and an old man, not knowing I was there behind the tree, threw the remnants of his coffee on me. It’s been a throw-cold-coffee-on-Adam kind of year. My heart has been pierced, again and again.

Later is the post, Adam writes:

… We devote so much energy to cycling through the memories and regrets of the past, or to what will come in the future, that we miss what is right in front of us. This morning I woke up before my alarm clock, yet again, and as I lay there frustrated and too tired to fall back asleep, I decided to tune my ears to the life around me. I heard an owl hooting outside my window. I listened to him for at least 10 minutes, letting his vigilance protect my heart.

I still believe in dreams. I still believe in taking risks. I won’t be someone who chooses comfort and security over going for it. I won’t let the pain of lost dreams and lost love deter me from dreaming and loving….

Let God Speak to You

Ron McKenzie is one of my favorite bloggers. He is the author of Being Church: Where we Live.  Ron wrote a series of posts on a book called Visions, Visitations and the Voice of God, by Lyn Packer.  It is a 136 page book on the subject of revelation and experience with God.  In Ron’s fifth post on this book, he listed eighteen terms used to describe revelation from God, in Packer’s book:

  • Still small voice of God – This is an internal hearing. God speaks spontaneous words or thoughts into our mind and heart from our spirit.
  • Internal visual impression– A thought picture impression or vision that is seen with the eyes of our understanding.
  • Open eyed vision – Physical reality fades and the spirit realm is opened before us while our eyes are open.
  • Open-eye spiritual vision – Our eyes are open, but a strong impression, sensing or perceiving is overlaid onto the physical realm – we usually still see the physical realm.
  • Closed-eye vision – We receive a strong impression, or pictures like a TV screen on the backs of our eyelids.
  • Trance vision – Our body usually goes very still and can even be frozen in place. Our eyes can be open or shut. Often we are in the vision, operating within it.
  • Perceiving – A strong knowing within, that a particular reality is there.
  • Dreams/daydreams – Dreams are often used by God to reveal kingdom mysteries and his heart. They are often symbolic in nature and will often apply to our personal life.
  • Night visions – These happen while we sleep but are different from a dream.
  • Angelic visitation – Where we receive revelation from one of God’s angelic messengers.
  • Inner audible voice – When the voice of God is so loud in our mind, it might well have been audible.
  • Audible voice of God – God’s voice is heard with our natural hearing.
  • Words of knowledge – One of the gifts of the Sprit.
  • Bodily impressions – Through physical sensation. For example, heat in the hands often means a healing anointing.
  • Spiritual discernment – The ability to ascertain the presence, identify and activities of both good and evil spirits.
  • Inner witness – God confirms something to you by an inner knowing that “This is a God thing”
  • Prophecy – God speaks to us through other believers.
  • Visitation – An extended period of time when God speaks through vision or speech to an individual or group.

Notes, Quips, and Quotes

Your future is hidden in your daily routine.
– Mike Murdock

The hardest changes are from God’s order to God’s new order.
-Rich Marshall

Fellowship ends when the meeting begins.
-Australian pastor

Would you rather be right or be loved?
-Dennis Prager

Whenever God gives freedom, it is always implicit that the freedom He gives you can be given to other people.   You can go around setting other people free from the very thing that you were victimized by. God comes into your life and He turns the areas of your abuse into areas of ministry and significance. He gives you a calling in the area where the enemy tried to strip you of your identity or even kill your life.  Your testimony is the beginning of your ministry!

-Graham Cooke

Jesus did not come to explain away suffering or to remove it.  He came to fill it with His Presence.

-J. Claude

The church is created and governed by the calling and sending activity of God. The church is secondary to the kingdom of God in that it is the instrument or means through which God regularly expresses himself.
-Todd Hunter

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