Word of the Day

Christmas Presence

I hope you will join me this week for a special series of Christmas themed messages.  I wish you a happy holiday as we celebrate the presence of God with us, Immanuel. 

May your Christmas abound with the goodness of God and the joy of Jesus.

God bless you all!

In Stillness

Psalm 46: 10             KJV

Be still, and know that I am God.

This is one of those verses which I like and often quote from the King James Bible. It is also probably the one scripture that did more for my ability to converse with God than any other. To come to know God, I had to be still. The NASB version is very instructive on this verse. It reads, “Cease striving and know that I am God.” This rendering of the verse spoke loudly to me. I was very frustrated with my inability to hear God speak to me. It turned out that I needed to not try so hard. I just needed to be still physically and mentally, then I could and did hear him.

You have heard me mention Dr. Mark Virkler’s Four Keys to Hearing God’s Voice and Dr. Jim Richard’s Heart Physics. Each of these are good tools for helping you calm yourself down so that you can hear God speaking  inside of you. My favorite tool of all is breathing. Yep, I said breathing. I have learned how to take a deep breath and clear the stress and anxiety from my mind so I can hear Him speak. Sometimes my mind is so active that it is like a pinball game inside my head. That is when I just need to take a deep breath and relax. In the beginning it might take me a while to settle but now I can usually notice a difference with one big breath. I also turn my mind to a picture of Jesus. Usually in times of busyness and chaos, there are lots of pictures and words running through my mind. So, I take a deep breath and perhaps picture Jesus seated next to a mountain stream. In a moment I join him there and the rest of the world slips away for a few minutes.

You will learn about journaling in the Four Keys. Check out, also, some examples of my journaling at http://www.bornofthespirit.today/learning-to-hear-directly-from-god/. Journaling is another good way to calm your mind. When you give your mind and hands something focused to do the chaos calms.

Once I could hear Father speak to me, our relationship began to change quickly. I began to recognize Him as a Dad every bit as much as God. From there I soon recognized His presence with me. More and more He became an integrated part of my life and more and more I yearned to have Him in every moment of my day. He and Jesus have become my friends. They are who I like to talk with. I point out my observations to them and they share their perspective with me.

As, I said, I have not arrived at the end of the journey by any means, but, becoming more intertwined with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit has changed my life, as you would expect it would. I find I long for them even more because life with them is good. Life has stress but when you have best friends like Yahweh and Jesus, it sure helps. They fill me with their peace and take my stress. They take my judgment, replacing it with compassion. Living in them and with them is just better than life without them.

I have shared some of my journey to getting to know the Holy Trinity and how I am intertwining my life with theirs. I invite you to share your experiences and successes so others may find a closer walk with Jesus. Simply click the link below to share your thoughts. Thanks.

Jesus is Real

John 20: 27

Then He *said to Thomas, “Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing.”

Yesterday I promised we would tackle the question of how we intertwine with Jesus. It can be frustrating when a pastor gives a directive without directions, I know. So, let’s see if I can help you find your path. I don’t pretend to have arrived. All I can do is show you the path I have traveled and try to share those things which have worked for me.

Here is a beginning place and though rudimentary, still necessary. We must come to the place where we realize and are convinced that Jesus is real. Thomas, called Doubting Thomas, didn’t appreciate Jesus was still alive. He saw him die, how could he be alive? Well, that is what the resurrection is all about. We, like Thomas, have to come to the same conclusion; that Jesus is alive. He is a real person with real substance. He isn’t an angel or some ethereal legend. He is a living person whom you can relate to and talk with. Okay, sure; he isn’t flesh and blood like the people you see everyday even though he can materialize when he chooses. None the less, he is real; he is alive. He is a living personality and until we really and truly embrace that idea, there is no way we can intertwine with him and him become an integral part of our everyday life. Jesus can become your best friend and your closest ally but first we must believe that he is real right now today and that he is present to interact with and in our lives.

The single thing that was most important to my walk was learning to commune with God the Father. Jesus is the way to him but eventually we have to reconcile our feelings, understanding and beliefs about God. Is he a religious image, a deity or is he a Father? I discovered that although I had a good relationship with Jesus, I had almost none with the Father.

In 2005, I learned that the fullness of truth is that God is every bit as much my Dad as my biological father. That revelation became very real to me. It was through communing with Him and getting to know Him that I came to understand that. The revelation was possible because some years before I chased God down. I knew others could hear Him but I could only occasionally hear Him speak to me. I was frustrated and angry so I flew out to LA to a conference I knew He would be at. I like to say, “I sought Him until He found me.” The Bible says if we will seek Him, we will find Him. It’s true. When I set my heart and mind to seeking Him, He revealed Himself to me in some awesome ways. So, first, let us seek Him out with all our hearts. Second, we must learn how to commune with Him. I will tell you how I was able to learn that tomorrow.

In Me, In You

John 17: 22 – 23

The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.

There are so many pieces in this segment of Jesus’ prayer. He was preparing to go to the cross, his mission coming to an end. I am immediately struck that he said to God that the glory God gave to him, he has given to us. Did you ever consider that? If we have been given the glory of God, how does it show? How do we even perceive it for ourselves?

Jesus went on to say that the purpose was for us to become one – one with him and the Father and one with each other. It can be difficult for us to intellectually embrace what it means to be one with the Father and Jesus. Ivey Ministries slogan is, “Intertwined with Jesus,” but can we truly be intertwined with him while we live on earth? If we cannot, then what did Jesus mean in this passage? The end game for this is that the world will see that God loves us even as He loves Jesus and that He sent Jesus. So, this intertwining really is essential because it is through our life in and with Jesus that the world gets to see him.

Life integrated with him is not the same as us acting like him. That is a good start but Jesus is talking about something much more intimate. He means a shared life. Have you ever been so close to someone that your lives express elements of the other? Was it hard, sometimes, to see where your life ended and theirs began? Although we need healthy boundaries in our relationships, there are also those relationships which grow so close that they are intertwined. Jesus is offering that and more. Our lives can be hidden in him and he can live in us and give expression to our lives from within. Imagine for a moment, walking along holding someone’s hand. Do your hands swing a bit? Who causes that motion? Is it you, the other person or perhaps the union of the two of you? Jesus’ joining his life with ours is something like that only much more profound. He doesn’t take over and move our hands and feet against our will or even of his own will. He also isn’t stagnate like a lead weight we carry around in our hands. His life with us is an intertwining, like your fingers interlaced with his so that who you are and who he is evidences as an even greater self. The joining of his spirit and yours doesn’t take away who you are it just joins two beautiful items together like putting a diamond in a beautiful gold setting. Together the two are even more lovely to behold and more functional.

Now, how do we get there? How do we experience this integrated life with Jesus? That is the key question and we will look at that more closely tomorrow.

Life and Health

Proverb 4: 20- 23

My son, give attention to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your sight; keep them in the midst of your heart. For they are life to those who find them, and health to all their whole body.

Sometimes there is a war raging in your body. It is the battle between sickness and health. I know for many of you that daily battle is very real. It is not very different from the war that rages around us in the world, the war between good and evil. That war is being played out in a very real sense in your body. Well, we have something to say about the outcome. Our Father has given us some weapons of warfare. One passage says that, “He sent His word and healed them” (Psalm 107: 20).

We do not understand at the deepest levels yet how this works but we know it to work. Nor am I here to try to explain it today. But this we know, God’s word does heal. The thing is, you have to take it like medicine. In other words, you have to take regular doses for it to work. What is regular? Perhaps it depends upon the size of the battle you are in but I would think it careless to prescribe less than daily doses. Three times a day is not too much if you are in a real struggle. As you feed your body the Word, you arm it with the weapon it needs to fight sickness and sustenance with which it sustains itself. You also shore up your mind for the fight.

Believe me, the agents of sickness and disease are out there trying their best to destroy the children of God. We need the protections and armament provided us by the Father. Light and darkness cannot exist in the same space so send the forces of darkness to flight by shining more light into every area where you are challenged. Let the word of God be a lamp unto your feet and all your life.

God with Us

Matthew 1: 23

BEHOLD, THE VIRGIN SHALL BE WITH CHILD AND SHALL BEAR A SON, AND THEY SHALL CALL HIS NAME IMMANUEL,” WHICH TRANSLATED MEANS, “GOD WITH US.”

The New American Standard uses small caps to indicate a quote taken from another part of scripture. You will often find the New Testament writers quoting from the Old Testament Scripture. In this case, the quote comes from Isaiah 7: 14.

Jesus accomplished much during his tenure on earth. However, in the company of salvation, redemption and restoration, I find this great marvel and joyous blessing oft overlooked. I would say, though, that this miracle of God with us is among the greatest of all the gifts God has given us.

I have enjoyed several conversations recently on this very topic and I believe there is revelation in the land. More and more people are receiving a fuller revelation of Jesus with each of us at all times. For these people, Jesus’ presence is becoming something very real. One of the discoveries I have made about God recently is that He is very literal. We often take His words figuratively but that is us, not Him. In His statement about the child Immanuel, whom we also call Jesus, He was being very down to earth literal. He meant that God is now with us 24/7. Let that sink in for a moment. He is literally there with you right now. What does that mean to your life?

Well, first of all, you are never alone and never have to feel alone. He is as close as your next breath. Wait, did you breathe? He was there in that breath. That is a huge revelation when is sinks in. It also means that he is within your grasp every moment. One of my friends was discussing some of the wonderful traits of puppies. One of them is that you can hold and cuddle them. They are easy subjects of all the love and affection you have to give and they give unqualified love in return. There is another name for that kind of love and acceptance: Immanuel.

God is revealing Himself as that ever present love. God is love. Immanuel means God with us that means love with us at all times. God worked a miracle so that He could be with us every minute. He is really as close as your perception. If you can receive it, He is as close and cuddly as a puppy. If your heart will accept, He is arms around you. And for you tough guys out there, He is the safe Father who is big enough, strong enough to hold you in His arms and let you be a little boy. You can cry on His shoulder, giggle in His face. You can sleep in His lap, and even tell Him silly little jokes.

Our Father really is this close to us and He is making a point to reveal His presence to this generation. He wants you to open your sensors to the awareness of God with you right now and every minute. Ain’t it great? The baby savior was given a name of great comfort and presence. He was not given a warrior name or a kingly name. His purpose is to be with you. You’ve just got to love a God who makes His purpose being with you.

Invested Bread

Ecclesiastes 11: 1

Cast your bread on the surface of the waters, for you will find it after many days.

This is such an archaic message. I wonder if it has lost its meaning. Let’s see if we can put a little modern spin on this for everyone.

The New Century Version says it this way, “Invest what you have, because after a while you will get a return.” There, that makes much more sense. I guess if you think of the term the way it was used in the 70’s it helps in understanding too. People back then called money “bread”. So cast your bread out there, invest it so that it can make a return for you. Several other versions agree with this idea even though they use the old language because they add that more will come back with the original. So you cast your bread, receiving it back and more besides.

The Living Bible reads, “Give generously, for your gifts will return to you later.” Here we learn that the investment is a gift. Is there a guarantee of a return when the invested bread is a gift? No, generally not, but then there is no guarantee in any investment. There is one giving that does guarantee you get your principle back along with earnings on it. It is the subject of today’s verse. When you cast your bread to God, or give to Him, then your investment is guaranteed. This is the Kingdom of God. “Do good wherever you go. After a while, the good you do will come back to you (ERV).” This is God’s investment strategy and He guarantees we will make money on it.

As you know, there are a lot of broke Christians. Many of them have never been taught God’s economic system, which is really sad. Then also, there are some who are just stingy. They don’t give because they want every dime to spend on their pleasures. They don’t believe God rewards giving or that He gives a return on investments made with Him. Perhaps, many of us just have no faith, while others always seem to see a conspiracy like someone, the church, the pastor, are after their money. I don’t see my giving to a ministry solely as a gift to that ministry, even though it is worthy of my gift. I see it as a gift to Dad, money for His Kingdom work here on earth. That alone is a good return but then our Father actually multiplies the money as well and returns it to us.

Don’t you want in on this deal? How can we lose as we invest in spreading the Good News of God? Well, cast your bread on the water. Send out money on every wave so that every wave will bring you return. I guarantee that the Kingdom of God is the best blue chip investment you will ever find.

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