Friday, March 25, 2016

R.E.A.L. Women - Gift With Purchase

This week I worked at the Clinique counter as it was their first week of "gift with purchase." Interestingly enough, it was amazing at the nature of the average person. Most were grateful for their gift, but many were either ungrateful (not happy with the colors or creams) or they were greedy and wanted more free stuff along with their gift.

Today is a day we reflect on the one priceless "gift wi
th purchase" that we did not pay for, but was paid by Jesus because he loved us so much (1 John 3:16). A gift that cost more than anyone could ever pay in this world. Yet, many reject this gift, many are unappreciative of this gift or maybe grateful for the gift, but have put it in the cupboard and forgotten about it.

If you don't even know about this "gift with purchase," it is available right now for you. God loved you so much, that he sent Jesus, perfect in all his ways, to this earth to give his life for you (John 3:16). Don't pass this gift of eternal life up. Ask God to forgive you for everything you've done. There is nothing too great that He won't forgive! "If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." Romans 10:9. Make this Good Friday your eternal birthday.

In the mean time, If you have received the gift of salvation, take some time today to reflect on how precious it is. How nothing in this world has more value than the blood that was shed for our sinfulness (Isaiah 53). Give thanks that you have received it for free and that you did not have to pay for it yourself! Not only have you been given eternal life, but Jesus said in John 10:10, "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." This is the only "gift with purchase" that will change your life!

Monday, March 21, 2016

R.E.A.L. Women Devotional - Making Mountains Into Mole Hills

 There is a saying when a person faces a challenge in life that fear causes one to make it bigger than it really is.  The phrase is "making mountains out of mole hills."  I must say, fear can do that!

As I was reading in Matthew 17, this passage is an interesting one.  It begins with Jesus taking his disciples up to a high mountain.  While they were there, something amazing happened to Jesus and he was transfigured (Matthew 17:1-13).  

The next portion of scripture (Matthew 17:14-19), Jesus has an encounter with a demon possessed boy. The father of the boy tells Jesus that earlier he asked his disciples to cast out the demon, but the disciples could not.  Jesus rebuked the disciples for their lack of faith and then cast the demon from the boy.

Jesus concludes this portion of scripture with this profound statement.  Matthew 17:20-21 says, "'Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.'"

When I read this, I thought about that phrase we often say, of "making mountains out of mole hills."  Then I wondered if Jesus was really saying that we make mountains in our lives out of our fear, doubt and unbelief.  Jesus starts out by saying they have so little faith.  If we looked at fear more like a mole hill, we would change the world.  But often we let the fear, doubt and unbelief become a man-made mountain, and actually becomes a place of worship for us. I've heard that what you worry about is what you worship.  We build our own high place. We start adding accessories to it, that it becomes greater than it should.

In the days when the Israelites were conquering Israel, God was pretty clear to them that they were to destroy the false gods where the people of Canaan worshipped on the high mountains (Deuteronomy 12:2). You see, only God is to be worshipped on the high mountain.  It takes faith to enter into the presence of the Lord.  God met Moses on top of the Mount Sinai and it was there that He made a covenant with Moses.  The very first commandment being "Do not worship any other gods (Exodus 20:1-17)."  This would include the gods of worry and fear. When Moses came down from the mountain after being with God, the glory of God was all over Moses, so much so his face had to be covered with a veil it was so bright (Exodus 34:29-35).

 Jesus wasn't saying that mountains are bad in Matthew 17.  In fact, he doesn't say speak to all mountains, he says to "this" mountain which I think could be the mountain of fear, doubt and unbelief.  God wants to meet us up on the mountain tops of faith. That is where we are transformed.  

What mountains of fear have you created that need to become mole hills? You can't go around it. You can't go under it.  You can't go over it. You have to just "move" it! Instead, stand on the word of God, enter His presence with thanksgiving and praise and there you will find joy. When we are filled with the joy of the Lord, it reflects our faith.  It's in that high place that we look down from and see that our mountains of fear are nothing but mole hills.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

R.E.A.L. Women Devotional - Super Bloom

This week in my news feed, there was an interesting article on what is called "Super Bloom" in Death Valley.  Death Valley is the hottest and driest place on the North American continent. I wonder what the pioneers must have thought after coming through the lush green states like Colorado and Utah to find themselves in this dry desert place. This year, this barren basin is covered in colorful flowers that have covered the hillsides.  This phenomenon is due to the rainfall in the month of October. The last time this occurred was in 2005.

Have you ever felt as though you were in a drought spiritually? Spiritual drought happens when we begin to doubt. When we start to doubt, the high pressure of life holds back the reign of God's presence and the fire of lies begins to burn up the pastures of hope.  Joel 1:19 & 20 says "To you, O Lord I call, for the fire has devoured the open pastures and flames have burned up all the trees of the field. 20 Even the wild animals pant for you; the streams of water have dried up and fire has devoured the open pastures." 

For those of us living in California, we know what it is to conserve water and prepare for fire season. I kind of feel like the Church is living like this too.  We want God's Holy Spirit to come and flood our gatherings, but because we feel like we are living in a drought we are conserving what is inside of us and not allowing it flow out of us.  I think this is why church can become more ritualistic than fresh. 

It's time for a Super Bloom in the church! With the current condition of our world and country, it is time for us to believe for a super natural reign of the Holy Spirit to pour on our drought stricken hearts! This portion of scripture in Joel 2 is speaking of hope to God's people of restoration "Don’t be afraid, O land. Be glad now and rejoice, for the Lord has done great things. 22 Don’t be afraid, you animals of the field, for the wilderness pastures will soon be green. The trees will again be filled with fruit; fig trees and grapevines will be loaded down once more. 23 Rejoice, you people of Jerusalem! Rejoice in the Lord your God! For the rain he sends demonstrates his faithfulness. Once more the autumn rains will come, as well as the rains of spring."

The spiritual weather forecast shows the reign is coming. In Acts 2, Peter quoted this portion of scripture from Joel 2. It says "‘In the last days,’ God says, ‘I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy.  Your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams. 18 In those days I will pour out my Spirit even on my servants—men and women alike—and they will prophesy. 19 And I will cause wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below—blood and fire and clouds of smoke. 20 The sun will become dark, and the moon will turn blood red before that great and glorious day of the Lord arrives. 21 But everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.'" (Acts 2:17-21 & Joel 2:28-31) That day, in Jerusalem, the reign of the God's spirit down poured when, all the people believed (one accord). There was a mighty wind that rained down flames of fire onto their heads, they were filled with the Holy Spirit and they spoke in other tongues. (Acts 2:2-4)

That forecast is still for the Church today. It's time we got over our theological differences and just believe that the Holy Spirit can rule and reign today. We can have a fresh reign of God every time we gather. I think the picture of the color in Death Valley is a visual picture of what it looks like when we pray in the Spirit. It's beautiful and breathtaking. It's fragrance over powers the evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12) It's the reign that brings healing and hope to a dying world. It is time for the reign of the Holy Spirit to bring a season of "Super Bloom" in the Church!

(Here is the link to a song that is written from Joel 2/Acts 2. "Pour Yourself On Me" (copy and paste: