The Kingdom Building Call (Part Five)

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Week Five Study Overview: Today, we will discuss crisis and speak of how the fire in our bones can become a full-on blazing inferno.

Key Point of Struggle: Crisis! Why must we deal with it, and what do we do when it begins to shake our entire foundation, threatening to extinguish the fire in our bones?

Key Proof of Comfort: We are going to learn a powerful Holy Spirit declaration through John 16:13-15.

To recap, the last time we were with Jeremiah, he wanted to walk away from his calling but quickly recognized he couldn’t. He invited us into a small piece of his world when he revealed this:

Then I said, “I will not make mention of Him, nor speak anymore in His name.” But His word was in my heart like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I was weary of holding it back, and I could not.

-Jeremiah 20:9

Jeremiah dealt with crisis in the form of people beating him, chaining him, and making a mockery of his ministry. It was entirely possible that the crisis of dealing with flesh and blood, people who did not want to hear his words from the Lord, would also lead to a faith crisis. Jeremiah thought about walking away, but he couldn’t ignore the burning in his bones.

Have you ever felt like walking away?

I have.

I’ve been down roads paved thick with grief. I’ve stood all by myself with God and shaken my fists at an invisible figure. I’ve felt alone with a God who said He’s with me to deliver me but haven’t felt any deliverance whatsoever. And then after making peace with knowing that if I have no God then I have no life, I have once again felt the deep burning inside my bones. It’s how I know He’s there even when I can’t find resolve. I stand on promises and know that inside my bones there’s a kindling which cannot be contained. We live in a world full of sin. Crisis will come, but Jesus had a plan.

In John chapter 16, John shares with us the words our Savior spoke to His disciples. Jesus told them the Holy Spirit would come to be their Helper. I picture, in that moment, Jesus looking into the eyes of a bunch of wide-eyed men who grew more and more confused with every word He spoke. They hung onto each sentence for dear life but could not figure out what any of it meant.  And then crisis came. Their Beloved was captured and crucified. For three days the tomb was not empty, and the disciples were faced with a faith crisis. They had lived in a whirlwind of miracles and love so powerful it could restart hearts. It was a love that didn’t just feed mouths, but souls. They hadn’t known anything like it before and after experiencing it, knew they couldn’t live without it ever again. In my mind, I imagine John, who deemed himself the disciple Jesus loved, tearing through his memories working to solve an unsolvable mystery. I envision John remembering these particular words that Jesus spoke:

“However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.”

-John 16:13-15

When it was all said and done and death hadn’t beaten them, after they saw with their own eyes an empty tomb and a resurrected Messiah caught up in the sky, they waited. They sat together in an upper room when the Helper showed up and filled up. The breath of God came in the form of wind that would fill every heart with His Holy Spirit Helper – the Helper of all who believes. And to this day, it’s that same Wind that keeps the fire in our bones burning bright.

“For He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.” Those words from Jesus speak to me mightily.  I’ll tell you why:

Let’s talk for a brief moment about the word crisis. It comes from the Greek word Krisis, which means turning point from a disease. And that word Krisis comes from the word krinein which means to decide.

When we find ourselves in the middle of a diseased situation, it forces us to make some decisions. Crisis backs us into a corner and asks us what we’re going to do. And Jesus said, “He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.”

Do you know what I need to hear in the midst of chaotic crisis? I need to hear the Holy Spirit’s declaration that I belong to Christ, that my identity is in Him and not in the situation that caused my crisis.

I am not grief!

I am not unforgiveness!

I am not a victim!

I am victorious in Christ, because I am the daughter of the living God!

Deep down in my heart of hearts, I know that when Jeremiah contemplated giving up his ministry, he heard the first words spoken to him by God. I believe they played on repeat and reignited the holy burn in his bones.

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.”

-Jeremiah 1:5

Friend, if you’re in the middle of crisis, I want you to know that Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to live inside you and be your Helper. He wants to remind you that you were created intentionally for purpose, and that you’ve been set apart for a life only you can live. You are meant to bring Him glory. Your identity is found in Christ! You are His; the Holy Spirit wants to declare that to you. And you need to declare it out loud!

  • Who are you to God? Search scripture and write about it in your journal.
  • Psalm 143 is a beautiful psalm of David as he seeks wisdom and guidance in the middle of crisis. For deeper study, I encourage you to read the entire psalm, write 143:10 in your journal, and pray it over yourself every day this week.

 

Next week, we will be studying the widely known scripture in Jeremiah 29:11 as we close out our series on the faithful prophet Jeremiah.

When you learn to search the word, the word will come alive to you like never before. The fire in your bones will become an inferno. Don’t underestimate who God made you to become!

Love,

Jennifer

PS: I recently did an interview for Kimberly Taylor at Take Back Your Temple. If you’re interested, you can read it here.

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You Have the Ability to Soar in Stillness

You Have the Ability to Soar in Stillness

In Christian art throughout the ages, the representation of John is an eagle. It’s been said that John took the gospel and soared with it. No one could stop him.

An interesting fact about eagles is that they fly toward the sun. What if we all lived our lives soaring toward the Son? S-O-N.

John was the only apostle out the twelve not to be martyred for his faith. He lived to be an old man, and part of me thinks that must have been even more torturous.

You see, there was heavy persecution happening for all who chose to bear the name of Christ. John lost faithful friends, who right alongside him, were firsthand eyewitnesses to the majesty of all Jesus did.

John wrote this:

And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen.

-John 21:25

Those who shared his pursuit were killed along the way. One by one they were beaten and tortured and John knew it. Yet, he continued to soar passionately with his gifting.

Every gift we own was given to us by the creator. Too often we deem them ours. Our voices, our words, our fingertips to instruments, our love and kindness. But when we choose to soar like an eagle straight toward the Son, we give up those gifts and allow Christ to take ownership of them.

We have the ability to use our freewill in an act of trust and faith and then soar high in stillness. John soared through pain, trust, hope, and faith knowing what he saw was real.

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life— the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us— that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.

-1 John 1:1-4

John declared what he saw so that we might have fellowship with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.

Friend, John was a real man who bled and cried and groaned with grief, yet his joy was full because he soared straight towards the Son. He moved in stillness within the presence of God and used every gift he possessed in the process.

At first, scientists couldn’t understand how eagles could soar straight for the sun, but later it was discovered they have protective coating over their eyes. They were designed that way on purpose by a purposeful God.

You, too, have gifts and are able to soar and stare straight into the Son. He will protect you and your joy will be full regardless of whatever grief comes your way.

Don’t be afraid to move in the stillness of God using your gifts. You were made for it.

You were made to soar toward the Son!

Love,

Jennifer

Today is Day five of my October series, The Struggle to Live a Still Life, If you missed any posts and would like to catch up, just click here.

PS: In honor of Write 31 Days I’m having a special giveaway. If you subscribe to my blog via email, Amazon will send you a kindle edition of my book, Nothing to Hold but Hope, as a gift. The offer is good through October 7th 2015.

What the Gospel of John Taught Me…

JohnJust the other day I sat down in a dimly lit room full of silence and opened up the gospels. I was aware of the sound each worn, thin page made as my fingers opened up to where I knew I had to read.

I compared each story, sifting through the passion of each writer and then, as always, the word began to teach me fresh and new. It was as if I hadn’t studied those accounts hundreds of times before. They lit up colorfully right there in the quiet of my morning.

It was John’s testimony that made my soul shout in praise.

I love John. He stood under the cross. The disciple whom Jesus loved stood there and witnessed death become life for all.

For ALL.

Oh to be the eyes of John. My heart is so jealous for that moment.

I know it must have been excruciating to watch. I don’t envy the pain of that day. It’s the truth inside each tear – to watch death become life and sullied sin become clean. To feel the ground quake at the exhale of Jesus’ final breath. To know, firsthand, the power of truth. That is what I envy.

Even though John didn’t know what would happen next, I’m sure his soul felt mended to his Savior in a way only grief can bind us. And then Sunday came…

Three days after, Mary Magdalene ran to Peter and John. She told them the stone was rolled away and Peter and John went running to see with their own eyes. John outran Peter and when he approached the entrance of the tomb he stooped down and peered in. When Peter arrived He went inside and saw the linen cloths lying there.

“For as yet they did not know the scripture, that He must rise again from the dead. Then the disciples went away again to their own homes.”

-John 20:9-10

Mary Magdalene just stood there weeping. Wide-eyed with a broken heart she stood strong in commitment to this Jesus whom she loved. And then the angels spoke to her and Jesus Himself appeared speaking these words which poured out far more grace than any of us deserve…

“Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father, but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.'”

-John 20:17

Notice in the above scripture I made sure to bold the word your. After His death on the cross and resurrection three days later, we, through Jesus, were adopted in to the family of the living God.

In chapter one of his book, John tells us this…

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name; who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

-John 1:12-13

When Jesus says, “Hey, Mary, go tell them I’m going to not only see My Father but yours/theirs too, not only to My God but yours/theirs also…” That excited me in a way nothing else has before.

It makes the words on the pages more than just words. They are actions. He died on a cross, beat death, and awoke with fresh breath so that we can call Him Lord, and His Father our Father. He paid the price.

Friend, It never gets old for me. It continually becomes new. I don’t know how He does it, but He really does live inside those words. They repeatedly pierce my heart, soul, and mind. They teach, give hope, and birth new faith.

More than anything I want you to feel the same passion. I want you to be excited about a God who is our God because of His Son who paid for us all.

May you feel His presence today, and may joy overwhelm you. Be excited! You have a Father who loves you and calls you His own. You belong to Him!

Thank you, Jesus!

Happy Easter!

Love,

Jennifer

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And Grace for Grace…

river_nThe other day, I sat on my bed distraught by the reality of how different my life is today from this time one year ago. Last year, I picked him out a television for Christmas. This year, a headstone. The other day I told a friend via text message that I just keep going, going, and going some more so that I won’t be weighed down by the grief of it all.

But then I remembered something: grief can only weigh me down if I allow it.

I know that to be true. And so I’m fighting to stand upright. One of the ways I fight is by means of the Word of God. So as I sat on my bed, I opened up my worn, red, leather Bible and went to battle. I’ve been studying the life of Jesus, and that means spending a lot of time rereading the Gospels. Like so many times before, I began reacquainting myself with the birth of Christ. However, I found another birth story. It’s one of rebirth, adoption, and wild, unhindered grace…

To understand this particular birth story, you have to comprehend that Jesus didn’t just come on Christmas day. He has always existed.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

-John 1:1-5

If you look closely at the above scripture, you will realize that the word, Word is capitalized. It’s referring to Jesus. He has always been and everything made was made through Him. In Him is life. And because of that life, there is light that shines in the darkest places. Even in the black, hollowed out, grief stricken spots.

As that truth began to stir inside my soul, I could already feel the hope begin to well up from the deepest part of my grief. ..

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.

10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. 11 He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.

-John 1:6-11

The previous verses are talking about John the Baptist preparing the way for Christ. Isaiah prophesied concerning him. John came preaching repentance and remission of sins. But even with Isaiah’s prophesy fulfilled, Christ was still rejected. “He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.” (See John 1:11)

And then comes the part where the burden of my grief is lifted. The load has been taken because of who my Father is. You see, what I realized as I read these scriptures, is that this rebirth and adoption story is mine.

And it can be yours too!

12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: 13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

-John 1:12-13

I have received Christ. I’ve made the decision to live for Him, to submit my life to Him completely, and that means letting go of the burden and the heavy weight of grief. Just like a little girl, I can run into the arms of my Father and know that He is more than enough for me. It’s up to Him to win the war over grief for me. And He will.

I am His child because I believe in His Son. And if you believe, then you too have been adopted by wild, unhindered, amazing, grace. The kind that can lift any burden and heal any heart. The kind of grace that says all things are possible. Why? Because Jesus lives…

JESUS LIVES!

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

15 John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.’”

16 And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.

John 1:14-19

“And of His fullness we have ALL received, and grace for grace.”

Grace for grace, my friends!

Love,

Jennifer

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