Friday, December 13, 2013

Standing in the Waterfall

I have a problem.  However, most Christians wouldn't believe it's a problem.  In fact, some might scoff in disbelief.  I've taken stock of my own walk with God compared to others, and I've come to the conclusion that I'm not like other brethren.  I'm strange, different, and quite odd.


I never get spiritually dry.  

You know those familiar laments - "I'm so far from God..."  "My prayers just seem to hit the ceiling..."  "It's like God isn't listening..."

This never happens to me.  And while I'm not trying to brag about it, I have noticed my predicament and wondered why?  What makes me so different than my fellow Christians?  I doubt myself often.  "My time is coming," I think to myself.  "Just you wait, Becka.  Everyone has dry spells."

Yet as each day passes, as each week passes, as each month passes, God is still there, God still speaks, God is right there with me.  What is going on?  And why don't other Christians live lives such as this?  Have I found some secret to keeping God before me and beside me (Psalm 16:8)?  I know it's not because I'm "special".  God's grace is undeserved.  There is nothing in me, save for Christ, that impresses the Lord God Almighty.

So I asked Him, "Lord, please show me why I never get spiritually dry.  Allow me to pass this on to my brethren, so they can know how to never lose sight of You."

God, as He's so apt to do with me, gave me a picture in my head.  I immediately understood.  But let me explain a bit.  He also gave me a few Scriptures to help bring the picture together.

First of all, let me describe my typical day.

I listen to sermons.  Sometimes only sermon snippets, but I've got YouTube, podcasts, and such to listen to.  I love to explore old-timey preachers, so I'm always on the look-out for great, Christ-exalting, Scripture-expositing sermons since there seems to be a terrible lack of them in today's pulpits of cheap grace.

I pray all day.  Not only do I try to have a specific prayer time every day (be it morning or evening), I pray all day, every day.  God is my "invisible Best Friend".  I talk to Him about what's for dinner.  I laugh with Him over the antics of my children.  He comes with me to the store.  I ask His opinion all the time.  This never really stops.  My kids are used to Mom "talking to herself".  My husband thinks I'm weird.  But I am ever in God's shadow.

I don't listen to secular music.  I often have no clue who the next up-and-coming band is.  Kids or hubby will mention so-in-so and I have to admit, "I don't know who that is."  Aside from some golden oldies and music from the 80's, I never listen to the world's music.  I'm just not a fan.  I've been doing this since I was a kid.  I would get up and get ready for school by listening to Christian radio.  On the way to school, I'd pop in some Christian tapes (don't judge lol).  I've never had a huge desire to listen to songs that go on and on about how hot someone is, how they're partying at the club, or the raucous electronic cacophony known as dubstep.  So go ahead, world, lick your dirty construction equipment and wear your nasty meat dresses.  I'm not interested, nor am I impressed.

I make a choice, every day, to shine Christ.  Since I'm a stay-at-home mom, I try to get out of my house at least once a day.  Usually this involves going to the store or to my local coffee shop.  I know there will be lines.  I know I might have to wait.  But I don't let it bother me.  I have to keep my thoughts captive to Christ, so this is a great way to test my patience and grace with others.  Also, I get to touch people with a smile and a kind word, even after waiting in long, annoying lines.  I'm not always the model of Christ, but I try to be.  If I yell at my kids for no good reason, I always apologize afterward.  In fact, if I'm ever in a bad mood, it's likely because I've missed my prayer time, or I haven't been talking to God throughout the day.  Even skipping my praise music makes me grumpy.  Having that constant connection with God is a big way for me to keep Him close.

I don't read fiction.  I am so satisfied with studying God, that it almost feels like fiction is a vain waste of time.  Every book I buy is a book by a favorite author/preacher that furthers my knowledge about God or His Word.  And I read them voraciously.  I'm never without my pen for underlining.  I'm not one to freak out about marring a book, so I underline and mark up the margins with notes if I so desire.  If this thought makes you cringe, you can always get a blank journal and write your notes/thoughts in there.  But ever since I've begun studying my books rather than merely reading them, I've retained more and learned more about God, His creation, and His Kingdom.  Every night before bed, I read-read-read.  I'm constantly trolling the "bargain bin" on for good deals.  The slightly imperfect books are the best, because there's hardly any imperfections and you get the book at a great price.  Once I'm finished with one book, I pick up another.  I have a huge pile of books that needs to be read, but I have an equally huge pile of books I've already read.  The overwhelming feeling of not having enough time to read them all fuels me to get through the pack as fast as I can, and the giddy desire to find great deals on books ensures that pile will never diminish.  It's rather a catch-22.  I sometimes wish I could open my brain and pour the books in.

In the same way, I study my Bible.  I try to get my nose in the Word every day.  I decided not too long ago to buy a Bible with scant notes (in other words, NOT a study Bible), and then highlight the text myself and write my OWN notes in the margins.  This has been instrumental in fueling my love for Christ, my need to know Him, and my faith in Him.  A Christian must never, never, NEVER skim the Bible in favor of the next best-selling book from the new hot-shot pastor.  The Bible is God's written Word.  How can any of us have true, abiding love for Christ, the Living Word, if we don't study and treasure His inspired Book?  As Spurgeon said, "Visit many great books, but LIVE in the Bible."  Amen.  If you need help with this, pray Psalm 119 over yourself.  God will awaken a renewed love for His Word in your heart if you're sincere and humble before Him.

Do you see a common denominator in my daily activities?


Everything I feed my brain is God.  All my fountains are in Him (Psalm 87:7).  I learn of Him through online sermons.  I pray to Him all day long.  I sing to Him whenever I turn on my music.  I try to shine Christ to everyone I meet.  I study His Word, I don't just skim it.  I study deep truths of God in my leisure time.

There are a few Scriptures that give us a clearer picture of how a life that never gets spiritually dry stays that way.

First, the obvious, James 4:8 - "Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you."  People who are spiritually dry might believe they abide in Christ, and thus are unsure why they're dry, but I am skeptical if they abide in Yeshua at all.  Taking a look at my experience, if God is distant from a person who saturates themselves in Him, there must be some lesson of God's all-sufficiency they still need to learn.  Have they not fully surrendered to His Lordship?  Is there someone in their lives they haven't forgiven for wronging them?  Is there an old, familiar sin they refuse to repent of?  Remember, repenting isn't merely being sorry for the sin, but turning from it all together and walking in the other direction.  One who claims to saturate themselves in God, yet seems distant from Him reminds me of these verses in James 1:23-24: "For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like."

Perhaps these folks do spend time in deep study and still remain spiritually dry.  But they must not put into practice the precepts they learn in study.  They go away and forget what they look like.

Second, Psalm 1:1-3 - "Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers."

Here, we see that the man whose delight is God's Law (the Bible), and the one who studies day and night is "blessed".  The effect of this delight and daily meditation is like a tree planted by streams of water, that yields fruit - and whose leaf *does not wither*.  

More Scripture to ponder this Truth:

This isn't a "sometimes" thing.  This is a "day and night" thing.  We must be diligent to seek God and daily meditate on Him.  Not just every day, but ALL DAY.  I understand we all have jobs.  We're all busy.  I home-school my children, do chores, run errands, pay bills, and make dinner, among other things.  I know what it's like to be busy.  But even so, we should be so saturated in God, we're like a sponge floating in a sink full of water.  That sponge will never dry out.

In fact, the picture the Lord gave me was quite telling.  Some people only walk beside the still waters.  Others might dip their toes.  Yet others might wade out into the deeper depths.  But God has told me the secret to never becoming spiritually dry.  

Stand directly in the waterfall
of His grace and joy,
all day, every day,
and never emerge. 
 Praise the Lord!


Saturday, November 30, 2013

Be Still and Know

"Be still and know that I AM God." ~Psalm 46:10

Due to the holidays, this Scripture has been on my mind.  When family visits and plans are made, normal devotion times are sometimes set aside for other activities, and we can become spiritually dry or distant from God.  We become so busy, the world around us is a swirling storm with no peaceful harbor.  

For me, any stolen moment away from chaos is my time with the Lord.  I'm often ribbed for going off on my own and being "antisocial" at times, but I don't thrive on activity.  I need calm, peace, and the still, small voice of God.  Perhaps I am antisocial.  I'm okay with that.  Sitting in the presence of the King of Glory trumps anyone else's company in my book.

This Scripture from Psalm 46:10 has been on my mind a lot lately.  The Lord has been using it as a reminder for me to stop and be still.  When we slow down and take a breather, we can empty our mind of frivolous worldly activities and fill our mind with HIM.  It's often hard to do.  Having so many things to get done, my mind often wanders during prayer time.  And confession time: due to a buzz of activity and family visiting for the holidays, I haven't cracked my Bible for many days.  The enemy has been on my back about it, but the Lord just beckons with a smile and asks that I sit with Him for a time.  That's what I've been doing, grabbing a few solitary prayer times whenever and wherever I can find them.

And through all the hubbub, He says, "Be still, Becka.  Know that I am God."

Which means to me, "Don't be anxious, there's no need to stress.  I've got this."

The more He impressed this Scripture on my heart, the more I began to study it and really dig in and read each word.  There are two other instances in Scripture where the Lord says to "be still".  The first is in Exodus 14:14 (NIV), which reads: "The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still."

The other is in Mark 4:39 (ESV):  "And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, Peace! Be still! And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm."

As I began to think about these verses more and more, they seemed to be tied back to the verse in Psalms.  The reference in Exodus talks about God fighting for us.  When God tells us, "I've got this", that's essentially what He's doing - fighting for us.  We aren't strong enough, we aren't wise enough, we aren't holy enough - but HE is.  The other reference is spoken by Christ Himself as He calmed the storm.  Sound familiar?  The storm (of life) is raging, Christ calls out, "Be still!And thus the storm is still.

I do not doubt the Lord spoke these words on purpose.  He could have simply said, "PEACE!" and the storm would have ceased.  But He also said, "Be still!"  Regardless of the fact His disciples were mere fishermen, their schooling as young boys would have familiarized them with Scripture.  As you read those words in Mark, "Be still!" you can almost hear the silence after that storm whisper back, "...and know that I am God."

In fact, the disciples were taken aback, and whispered amongst themselves, "Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?" ~Mark 4:41

Were some of them whispering about Psalm 46:10?  I looked back through the book of Mark.  The Twelve had seen Christ perform a few miracles already, healing the sick, crippled, and such.  And I'm sure those miracles were shocking as well.  Surely the Spirit of God rested upon this man.  But calming the storm was much more of a shock to them, I believe, as Yeshua showed His disciples that He is more than a "man of God", but God Himself.

"Be still!  ...and know that I am God.

What a glorious confirmation of His Deity they likely missed at the time.

Notice also the order of Christ calming the storm.  The storm didn't calm itself.  Christ didn't tell it to be still while it was calming itself down.  He declares peace, and peace is left in the storm's wake.  We should take a lesson from this.  Too often we try to calm ourselves and find our "moment of zen" while coming into the presence of God.  But no, God tells us to be still, and thus we are.  This is not by our own effort.  We must pray for Yeshua's peace to calm us from the storm of our lives.

I imagine breathing in His Spirit and breathing out my stress, all the while praying.  Yeshua's Spirit speaks peace into my spirit, and thus my storm is calmed.  Without Him, I can do nothing (John 15:5).

It is hard to explain, this peace of God.  It passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7).  We don't know how it flows down to us.  I liken it to the water cycle of earth.  We send our prayers up, the Spirit carries them to the Son, who brings them before the Father, who then rains down Yeshua's Glorious Peace into our hearts.  It's almost like being out of tune, and His presence resonates our hearts to sing His Frequency.  It is an amazing experience.

We learn from Exodus that God fights in our stead.
We learn from Mark that Christ speaks His Peace, and thus it is so.
We learn from Psalms that when we're still, we can focus more clearly on God.

Is there anything further to learn from Psalms?  Yes.  An amazing truth, actually.  This little verse, only eight words long, is packed with Heavenly wisdom.  First, the obvious - I AM.  This is God's personal name, Yahweh.  Christ used this title many times in the book of John (John 10:9, John 10:11).  This verse does not say "Be still and know God", rather it says, "Be still and know that I AM God".  This means the God of the Hebrews, Yahweh, is the One True God, not Allah, Buddha, Krishna, Vishnu, Ra, Jupiter, Odin, or a vast plethora of other gods.  

Also, the wisdom of this verse hinges on one little word: "know".  It is Strong's number H3045, the same exact word used in Genesis 4:1.  Jews often used this word "know" as an idiom between husbands and wives when they consummated their marriage.  This word "know" isn't merely speaking of acknowledging God's power, understanding God is there for you, or even feeling His presence in prayer.  This verse is telling us to KNOW God.  Seek Him for the sake of seeking Him.  Become familiar with His Word.  Praise Him often.  Pray without ceasing.  Always give thanks.  Make Him your Best Friend.  No, go one step further.  

Make Him the Love of your life.  

God wants intimacy, not cold praise.  God wants our hearts, not only our minds.  He wants to be our Treasure, just as we are His treasure, for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Luke 12:34).

When read another way, we see Psalm 46:10 in a new light:

Peace!  Be still.  I've got you, My child.  Make Me, Yahweh, your One True Love!

If peace doesn't come easy for you, there are some verses that gives us a fuller picture of how God infuses us with His Peace.  For extra study and meditation on this topic, here are some choice Scriptures:

Psalm 119:165

Isaiah 26:3

Isaiah 32:17

Matthew 5:9

John 14:27

John 16:13

Ephesians 2:14

Colossians 3:15

1 Thessalonians 5:23

2 Thessalonians 3:16

James 3:18

These verses aren't linked on purpose.  Go crack your Bible and get your nose in His Word!  \O/


Friday, November 8, 2013

How to Love Like Christ - Original Fiction

One day, a little girl sat outside, basking in the presence of God. They frequently spent time together, for He was her very Best Friend. But this day, the girl was troubled. Tears rolled down her cheeks.

"What's wrong, child?" the Lord asked in His still, small voice.

"I don't know how to love like You!" she exclaimed through her cries. "I don't know how to be like You, but I want to be, with all my heart. Yet it's so hard. How can I give grace to the ones who are angry at me, who belittle me, and who laugh at me? They step on my feelings and hurt me."

The Lord nodded and wrapped His arm around her shoulder with a gentle squeeze. "Yes, My daughter, grace has a very high price. You'll open yourself up to all manner of jeering and mockery. People might walk all over you or take advantage of your kindness. Some may even talk evil behind your back."

Lifting a finger, He dried her tears. "You still want to know how to love like I do?"

The little girl nodded so fast, her curls bounced. The Lord chuckled, delighted at her eagerness to learn. He kissed her forehead and whispered in her ear.

"Give grace anyway." 

 © Becka Goings, original fiction, based on my personal prayers.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

The Book of Job is Not About Suffering

The book of Job is one of the most misunderstood books of the Bible.  Folks don't like to read it.  It pushes on raw nerves and calls into question the righteousness of God.  On the surface, it seems like a tragic Greek play, where the bored gods of Olympus decide to toy with a human to see how he handles the firebrands flung from On High for their amusement.

It opens with Yahweh, boasting to Satan of His servant Job, who is perfect and upright.  Satan taunts the Lord and scoffs at His boast; "Doth Job fear Elohim for naught?....Put forth thine hand now and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face." (Job 1:9, 11 KJV)

Satan loves to stir up trouble, and the thought of having God's righteous servant "curse Him to His face" is too much of a golden opportunity.  God, then, allows Satan to destroy all Job has, except for Job's own life.  Here's where the story goes sideways.

Satan brings the Sabeans to steal Job's livestock (Job 1:15), burns up his flock of sheep (Job 1:16), allows the Chaldeans to make off with his camels (Job 1:17), and kills all Job's children (Job 1:19).

In Job 1:20, he goes into mourning, tearing his clothing and weeping in the dust.  And then, we see something amazing - he worshipped.

Satan, not to be robbed of his opportunity for God to be mocked by His righteous servant, assumes that personal affliction will get Job to curse Yahweh.  Therefore God allows the Wicked One to smite him with boils, from the crown of Job's head to the soles of his feet (Job 2:7).  Even Job's wife is amazed he refuses to curse God and die (Job 2:9).

So there he is, his wealth gone, his health gone, his children gone, and his wife's integrity - gone.  All he has left is God, and even He is silent.  Why is this happening?  What has he done to deserve this?  He knows he's a good man, and yet he suffers.

After this, there is no more mention of God's Throne room or Satan at all.  The rest of the book is filled with chapter upon chapter of Job and his "friends" debating about what has happened to him.  Job insists he has remained righteous, and his friends assume he has sinned.  With accusations from those who should be comforting him, Job soon realizes that even HIS integrity is gone, at least in the eyes of these men.  The truth of his loyalty is known only to himself and to Yahweh.

The more these friends push, the more Job pushes back, declaring his innocence and righteousness before them.  He knows he will be justified (Job 13:18).  He is honest in his pain, wanting to know how he has sinned, wanting to know why God hides His face, and why God now holds him as His enemy (Job 13:23-24).  At this point, he's begging God to tell him what he's done wrong, and yet God remains silent, again calling into question the integrity of the Almighty.

Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar continue to argue with, instead of comfort, their friend.  If Job could only pinpoint where he went wrong, he could repent and get back into the blessings of Yahweh.  For God brings low the wicked, snuffs out his candle, and the wicked's own counsel shall cast him down (Job 18:5-7).  His friends are convinced this malady is due to God's judgment upon Job and try to convince him of it as well.  However, Job only sees iniquity in his friends for suggesting Job himself is a liar (Job 19:28).

In Job 31, he goes down a list of things he could be punished by God for - If he wasn't righteous; if he committed adultery; if he mistreated his servants; if he wasn't generous; if he wasn't considerate; if he beat anyone; if his hope was in his money; if he hated his enemies; if he feigned his uprightness; if he was a thief...  He declares in Job 31:35 that his desire is for God to answer him, that God, his Adversary, had written a book of his wrongs so that he would know why he was made low.

And finally...  Finally in chapter 32, we come to Elihu, the only one of the bunch who talks any sense.  He comes out of nowhere, the son of Barachel, who's not even one of the original three friends speaking with Job.  But he makes it known that he's held his peace because he is young, and he respected the elders to speak before him.  However he's aghast that no one has pinpointed the problem, and it is from the mouth of a "babe" (we don't know how old he is, maybe even a teen) that we hear any sense at all.

In Job 33:2 & 9-11, Elihu outlines Job's sin - that he claimed his innocence, without iniquity, yet Job time and time again declares God is against him and that Yahweh counts him as his enemy.  "Behold, in this thou art not just" he says in verse 12.

The sin in this story, therefore, is doubting the integrity of God.  If God is altogether good, just, and righteous, then it isn't "just" to accuse Him of falsehood, bloodlust, and error.

Job never cursed God, he continually honored God, and he obviously feared God, but there's one amazing truth I've never seen before.  In Job 34:35-37 and Job 35:16, Elihu reveals that Job (and by association with the original argument - his friends) do not KNOW God.  At all.  And that's not the end of it.  Along with Job's self-righteousness that he has done no wrong, he has added rebellion to the list for suggesting God was out to get him - and for believing that it profits a man nothing to delight himself in God (Job 34:9).

Even though Elihu rebukes Job, he is the only one who rebukes kindly, without being rude, and reminds Job of God's wondrous salvation in Job 33:27-28.  He also reminds Job of God's majesty and glory, of His amazing works, knowledge, and strength.  He reminds Job of the Holy Spirit's conviction to bring back a son from sin (Job 36:9-11), and he reminds Job of the sovereignty of God (Job 37:14).

After Elihu, it is GOD Himself Who speaks, for four whole chapters, chopping at the pride of Job until that old, rotted tree is felled.  Yahweh establishes that it is by His power and knowledge that He created the cosmos out of nothing.  God reminds that He provides for the plants and creatures of the earth.  He reminds that He alone orders the universe.  It is only to man He has given wisdom and understanding because we are made in His image, yet man continually honors the strength of the creature, not his Creator.  Ironically, the Lord then reminds Job that the strength and glory the creature was given by Him.

What does man know compared to what God knows?

Confronted by the glory and majesty of the Lord, as well as the understanding that he didn't really know God at all, Job finally repents and relents, giving over his life to the Sovereign of the universe (Job 42:6).

At the end of the book, God calls on Job's three friends to repent and ask Job to pray for them, because they too thought wrongly of God, that His grace is given by works of righteousness (Job 42:8).  Interestingly enough, Yahweh doesn't rebuke Elihu.  That means Elihu was right, and he was the spokesman for God in that moment - until Job's sin was ferreted out and God finally intervened.

While most people who have a problem with the book of Job dwell on his suffering, ultimately, Job's suffering was merely a backdrop to the true plot of the story.  God needed His most righteous servant to understand that his blessing wasn't a result of Job's performance, but rather, a demonstration of God's grace.  Grace, as defined, is undeserved favor.  God was making a point - that He has the power to do as He wills when He wills, and it is by His grace alone we have any blessings in our lives.  Job was taking God's credit for his blessings by believing his performance pleased the Lord.  God wanted him to know otherwise, that by God's grace, He gives as He wills.

Many people will tell you God has the power over life and death, and when someone dies, it was their time to go.  However, a casual reading of the book of Job and we're up in arms, claiming a dishonor on God's part in the death of Job's children.  We assume God is unjust in allowing them to die, not fully realizing that they wouldn't be dead if it wasn't their time to go.  Clearly it wasn't Job's time, or his wife's time, as God spared them from the hand of Satan.  However, the lesson found in Job is that everything under the whole heaven belongs to Yahweh (Job 41:11).  The moment we assume God's sovereign will is unjust, we are guilty of the same sin as Job - we disannul God's judgment and condemn Him that we may be righteous (Job 40:8).

And therein lies the genius of the book of Job.  It reveals within our hearts our own hypocritical tendency to elevate our judgment above that of our Righteous, Holy, Sovereign God -- just like Job did.  We assume God is unjust.  We assume God is unrighteous.  We assume God is the enemy.  We assume God is frivolously toying with Job's life rather than teaching him through a string of tragedies that He knew before the foundation of the world.

Along with our tendency to doubt the integrity of God, the book of Job also shines a bright spotlight on the state of our own spiritual condition.  When we doubt God's integrity, then like Job, neither do we know Him.  We've lost the sense of His Goodness, His Glory, and His Majesty.  We darken His counsel by words without knowledge (Job 38:1).  We think our own understanding is right, that our righteousness is greater than God's (Job 35:2).

This book unveils our natural propensity to demand and expect God's grace through our performance.  It seems an injustice that bad things happen to this "good" man.  God's response to Job is that no one deserves His grace, even when all the "rules" are followed.  By nature, grace is undeserved, it can never be earned.  And God freely gives to the heart that longs to please Him out of love and devotion, not out of an air of self-righteousness.  Finally, Job understands and knows His God.

When we get it, when grace no longer scandalizes us but invigorates us, when it excites us and compels us to dance and sing in the courts of the Lord, that's when we can finally say with Job, "Now mine eye seeth thee." (Job 42:5).


Friday, October 4, 2013

Beneath Surface Faith is an Ocean of Grace

The majesty of Jesus Christ, when fully realized, changes a person.  It changes them from superficial belief into being sold-out for God.  And I'm not talking about bouncing off the walls for Christ or covering your car with bumper stickers of Jesus fish.  That's got a touch of vanity in it as well.  You're into God because of the "high" you get from spirituality.  But take that high away, replace it with trials, and then what do you have?  Blame.  Distrust.  Disbelief that God even exists, let alone knows what He's doing.

No, I'm talking about a devoted, serious, studious, prayerful, deep, abiding love for God Almighty.  A love that trusts Him so completely, so thoroughly, that one would be willing to lay down their lives for the integrity of His name.  They'd be willing to lose their family, their homes, their livelihood for the Gospel of Christ.

How many Christians actually have this kind of love for their Savior?  I'd be willing to bet most Christians would nod, pound their chest, and yell, "Amen!"  But I'd also be willing to bet that's not the case at all.

Not everyone in the Body of Christ sees Yeshua as absolutely magnificent.  He's great, the Son of God, our Redeemer, He's worthy to be praised.   They sing songs, they read their Bible, they might even pray.  Everything's great!  And yet...

...and yet the Church isn't overflowing with Spirit-filled people.  Some are ashamed of Yeshua.  Some are wrapped up in worldly activities.  Others just don't care, or perhaps, don't know any better.  Some have horrible theology.  Others have been led astray by pastors who had no clue how to rightly divide the Word of Truth, or peppered their Grace with Law.

Too many Christians are content with believing in Christ but not allowing Him to interfere with their lives.  He's the icing on the cake, but not the cake itself.  And that's where we go wrong.  We come to God for what He can give us, not because we simply want...Him.

How does this "shift" in the knowledge Christ's majesty happen in a Christian?  I truly believe it is a grace of God bestowed through our conscious decision to know Him.  In fact, it's quite an easy decision to make.  One must decide to seek God simply because they want to get to know God, and no other reason.  Who is He?  What is He like?  Why does He love me?  Why did He send His Son?

We find the answers to these questions in two places -- in Scripture and our prayer closets.  However, merely reading Scripture for the sake of reading Scripture won't cut it.  Praying coldly and infrequently won't cut it either.  Reading the Bible in a year won't make you any closer to God.  But studying the Scripture will -- through prayer.  As we read, we ask the Holy Spirit to reveal, unfold, and illuminate.  Themes, prophecies, history, and doctrine begin to unfurl like the petals of a flower when you come to realize there is no idle word in Scripture as the inspired Word of God.  The flat, bland, and boring suddenly has depth, flavor, and character.  Less dust and more fingerprints now cover your Bible's binding.  The verses within seem to speak of your own life, your own circumstances.  And suddenly, you realize this is how God is speaking with you.

When that realization is made, there is no force in the universe that can keep us from reading our Bibles.  Who doesn't want to encounter the Living God?  Prayer becomes less formal, less duty, and more of a pleasure, more of an excitement at chatting with an old Friend.

The more you know someone, the more you trust them.  The more friendly you are.  The more talkative you become.  You open up, you share your dreams, and reveal the secrets of your heart.  Knowing God starts with seeking Him, being earnest in our seeking, and encountering Him within the pages of His Word.  The written Word is the path to the Living Word, as page upon page is all about Yeshua Messiah.

It is there we learn of His history, His plan, and our future with Him.  It is there God reveals Himself, but only as hidden Treasure to the ones who truly seek Him.  To all others, He will not be found.  Humility and earnestness are keys that unlock His mysteries.  God can see our heart, and it is only with our heart that we can see God.

Praise the Lord.


Sunday, September 15, 2013

Study of Psalm 91

Been doing a lot of prayer and meditation on Psalm 91 - on the surface it would seem to be a Psalm about the protection of God, but layered, it appears to be a Psalm about salvation and deliverance.

Psalm 91:1 talks about the "secret place" of the Most High, which sounds to me like your prayer closet, where God who sees in secret rewards you openly (Matthew 6:4). It goes on to say they shall "abide" under the shadow of the Almighty. "Abiding" in God is praying and living IN Him. Therefore, I believe the opening of this Psalm is telling us the protection a healthy prayer life gives us. It is from the prayer closet that the rest of the Psalm springs.

91:2 - God is your refuge and fortress; you'll trust in Him -- This is the by-product of a healthy prayer life. Only one who prays can have the confidence to say God is their "refuge and fortress". It is only through answered prayer you come to fully trust Him.  This is also the cry of a mature Christian.  When adversity strikes, less mature Christians blame God for their problems, but a mature Christian finds their refuge in Him against the storms of life.

91:3 - While it seems to be talking about the snare (trap) and pestilence (disease) that comes upon the wicked, what if the "snare" is worldly lies and the "pestilence" is doubts and fears that eat away at our beliefs? Perhaps this is a metaphor for Satan and sin.  Who alone delivers us from the snare of the "fowler" (Satan)?  From the "deadly" pestilence (sin)?  Yeshua.

91:4 - His truth is our shield - in Eph. 6:16, Paul says our shield is FAITH. Therefore, 100% trust in His truth is our shield, which we can only keep believing when we pray.  I find it interesting that in Yeshua's High Priestly Prayer, He says, "Sanctify them in Thy Truth.  Thy Word is Truth." (John 17:17)  Therefore, if God's Truth is our shield, it is also the Word of God, from Yeshua's Own mouth.  We must be ever-diligent to keep our heads bowed in prayer and our noses in Scripture.

91:5 - Be not afraid of terror by night/arrow flieth by day - Faith is the absence of fear -- "terror by night" could be demonic oppression (if you've had horrible dreams from time to time) and the arrow by day could be the fiery darts of the enemy while you walk out your life for God. But perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18).  There is now no more condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1).

91:6 - Pestilence that WALKETH in the darkness, destruction at noonday - sounds like spiritual warfare to me. "Walketh" assumes intelligence, "darkness" assumes the absence of Light, knowledge, understanding.  Also, if pestilence refers to sin as in the previous verse 3, sins usually happen alone, in the dark.  However the destruction at noonday is interesting wording, because it assumes the destruction happens in the Light.  Perhaps this signifies backsliding of the Christian.

91:7-8 - Thousands fall at your side, only with thine eyes shalt thou behold reward of wicked -- DEATH will not harm you. This isn't speaking of death in the flesh, but death of the soul.  Since you are saved by Yeshua's sacrifice on the cross, you will not participate in the second death, but only see it sentenced to others.

91:9-10 - Because you make God your habitation, no evil or plague comes near your dwelling - Living in GOD makes Him your Fortress. That means "your dwelling" would be GOD Himself. Evil has no sway over a child of God, nor will any of God's wrath be meted to you.  Also, making God your habitation assumes you visit with Him every single day.  This is no casual relationship with the Almighty.

91:11-12 - He gives His angels charge over thee -- We have angelic protection! Again, a healthy prayer life dispatches angels just as a general calls for back-up in wartime.  The fascinating thing about this promise is it's a by-product of fully trusting in God and making our habitation in Him.  God is our fortress, therefore, He makes sure we are protected when we leave our homes, whether or not we ask Him to.

91:13 - Thou shalt tread upon the lion, adder, dragon under thy feet - Christ gives us amazing authority! The enemy is under OUR feet because as His Body, we ARE His feet! The lion (1 Peter 5:8), the adder (Genesis 3:4), and the dragon (Revelation 12:3) - if you'll notice, these are all pictures of Satan.  In my opinion, this gives us three "witnesses" to the fact that Satan has no authority over us whatsoever.

Then, God's promise to the believer:

91:14 - I will set Him on high because he hath known My name -- This verse assumes that by knowing God's name, we know Him.  Obviously not everyone who knows the name of God knows God, however, in this context, I believe it means knowing that God's promises are true because He swears upon His name.  When we rest in the promises of God and have full confidence in His character, we can say we "know God's name".  He sets us "on high" for this, and blesses us in our endeavors.  Because we look toward Heavenly things, the trials of earth are "small" in comparison.  Also, when we know Who God is and trust in His name, we will be allowed entrance into Heaven, as all who call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved (Acts 2:21).

91:15 - He calls upon Me and I will answer, I will be with him in trouble - Again, we see the fruit of a healthy prayer life. God answers His friends. Notice He doesn't keep one OUT of trouble, but will be WITH him in trouble. Psalm 91 isn't about keeping one FROM the evil of the world, but showing that walking with God is HOW to get through the evil of the world.  But the amazing thing about this promise is the fact that when we make God our abode, He answers our prayer.  We love on Him, He loves on us.  A beautiful exchange.

91:16 - Satisfies with long life, show My salvation - God has regularly promised long life to those who obey Him. Here, God promises to the one who calls upon Him (in verse 15) that He will show His salvation. Again, everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved (Romans 10:13).  This doesn't necessarily mean that God will keep us unto old age.  There are plenty of people who love the Lord who go home to Heaven at a relatively young age.  That's why I believe by showing us His salvation, He thereby grants "long life" throughout eternity.

It was from this Psalm the devil tempted Yeshua to throw Himself from the top of the temple as "angels will keep charge over thee lest thee dash thy foot against a stone." Christ responded by, "You shall not tempt the Lord thy God." ~Matthew 4:5-7  Interesting, isn't it, how Satan twists Scripture to tempt us? That is why it is SO VERY IMPORTANT we have a strong prayer life and "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." ~2 Tim. 2:15.  If we do not pray and study, we are sitting ducks for the devil to run roughshod right over us.  But if we resist the devil, he will flee from us (James 4:7).

While Psalm 91 offers support, protection, and comfort to the hurting, weary soul, we must also understand that the promises of God come about by making Him our fortress, our habitation, and abiding in the secret place under the shadow of His wings - our prayer closets.  God doesn't want casual relationships, He wants to be the reason our hearts beat - He wants us to live within Him every single day.  He also wants us to dwell within His Truth, which Yeshua told us was God's Word.  If we dwell within the Word of God, we come to know the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16).

The wonderful thing about dwelling within the Word of God is that the written Word gives us more faith, more hope, and more LOVE for the Living Word, Adonai Yeshua.  Praise the Lord.


Friday, September 6, 2013

My Book is Now Available - The Prayer Project

For those of you who are waiting for my book, The Prayer Project, the eBook is available for $3.99 and the print is available for $7.99.  \O/  Praise the Lord!  I hope you enjoy it!

Prayer is, perhaps, one of the most misunderstood practices in Christianity. Believers from all walks of life admit to praying, and yet are disillusioned with God, disillusioned with prayer, and wonder if He actually hears them. Some have never prayed outside of church, while others have only prayed before a meal. Many have even said that prayer is useless.
However the problem doesn't lie in prayer itself, but in how we pray.  Churches, unfortunately, don't often teach on what prayer is, why we should pray, and how it is done.  It is an unfortunate truth that knowledge of prayer is taken for granted, and often the believer is left on their own to figure it out.  This book endeavors to teach the basics of how we should approach the Throne of God, and what it truly means to pray for His will to be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.

Buy the eBook here:

Buy the PRINT here: 

Friday, August 30, 2013

A Study on The Lord's Prayer

Whenever I feel something on my heart for a few days, I know that's usually what the Lord wants me to blog about.  I don't come up with posts on my own, which is why I don't update this blog more often than I do.  I wait until I feel the nudge from the Lord telling me He wants me to share.

This time, it was regarding the Lord's Prayer.  It can be found in Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:1-4.  In context, the Apostles wanted to know how to pray to God.  This was Yeshua's reply.  However rather than a passage of Scripture to religiously recite, Christ intended the Lord's Prayer as a template, a starting point, a springboard for discussion with God.

First, this prayer starts out with "Our Father."  I think we gloss over that part a little too quickly.  We're too "used" to thinking of God in this way.  But imagine the crowd in the first century hearing this prayer for the first time.  They knew God was THE Father of creation.  As Yeshua was the Son of God, surely God was HIS Father.  But quite deliberately, the Lord says "OUR Father."  He did not keep it exclusive and say "My Father."  He did not keep it impersonal by saying "The Father."  No, He went above and beyond, making God a personal Father to one and all.  "Our" includes Himself, which levels the playing field between the Son of God and the children of God.  The Father in Heaven is OUR Father.  Yeshua's and mine.

Christ did this all the time in the Gospels.  "...THY Father...will reward you." (Matt. 6:6)  Everywhere you look He says "My Father" and "your Father."  He is making a point that we are God's FAMILY.  Yes, He is the Father of creation, but He is also your Father.  A very important distinction.  Also, Christ is driving the point home that He Himself is our Brother.

"Which art in Heaven" is the next line.  Again, this is something we take for granted.  Yes, God is in Heaven, but He can hear you pray on earth.  He is omnipresent, and He knows that even now you're reading this blog.  He even led you here so you would read it.  Since we know that God is "Our Father", we now know where His Throne is located - in Heaven.  We know He's in another realm, because He's not among the "heavens" of the stars.  And yet, He can still hear this prayer.  Amazing.

Reminding us where God is seated naturally gives us a hunger to go there ourselves.  God is in Heaven.  I love God.  Therefore, I want to live in Heaven too.  But we also know that if God is in Heaven, He's not within that golden calf.  He's not made of wood, sitting upon that altar.  Reminding us that God is in Heaven tells us He is NOT a god fashioned by human hands.  He is NOT an idol.  He is elsewhere. He is in Heaven.

"Hallowed be Thy name" follows, and here, after we've established that God is our personal Father, living in Heaven, we come to the most important attribute about Him -- His name is holy.  Every promise in Scripture is made against the worth and merit of God's name - Yahweh.  If God promised it for His name's sake, it comes to pass.  When God makes a promise and backs it up with His name, He follows through on it.  He cannot defile His holy name.  His integrity and infallibility are on the line.  His majesty and His glory would come into question.  It is impossible for God to lie.  Everything that makes God GOD is bound within His name.  It is impossible for God to turn back on His Word.  The Word of the Lord stands forever.  And the name of God is the Name above all names.

Authority is connected with a name.  If we come in the name of the king, we have the king's authority.  The same goes for "name-dropping".  When you say you know so-in-so, you're essentially borrowing their glory.  People listen to you out of respect for so-in-so's name.   You become "somebody" by being associated with so-in-so.  Now think about God.  He's the highest Authority in the universe.  There is none higher.  Think of all the authority in THAT Name.  There is none like the name of Yahweh.  That is why it is holy.  That is also why it is so grievous when one takes the Lord's name in vain.  This is more than mere cussing, it is claiming to be a believer, yet defiling God's name by refusing to obey His Authority.  Remembering the holiness of God's name helps us to believe on His promises and respect His Law.  It keeps our fickle hearts in check and reminds us that God is not a man.

In the previous lines, we were just told God reigns in Heaven, yet here, we see "Your Kingdom come".  What does that mean, exactly?  Most people believe it is referring to Messiah's Kingdom, the Millennium which will happen after the Tribulation.  And it is.  However, as Scripture has proven to me many times, it is layered, and doesn't always have one specific meaning.

Notice how this text seems to flow as one thought - "Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven."  God's Kingdom "comes" when His will is done on earth.  His will is already done in Heaven, which is obviously His Kingdom, therefore, His spiritual Kingdom on earth is the same idea - doing God's will in the flesh just as they do in the Spirit.  This is why Yeshua told us the Kingdom of God was within us (Luke 17:21).  We have the choice to obey Him - or not to obey Him.  That power of free will is within us.  And when we freely do God's will, His Kingdom is come upon us.  There are many Scriptures to support this idea: John 15:14, 1 John 2:17, 1 John 5:14.

But this isn't just for God's will to be done on earth in a blanket sense.  Because Christ is teaching us to pray, this passage is telling us to PRAY God's will.  When we pray God's will, we bring His Kingdom to earth, just as it is in Heaven.  Where can you find God's will?  In God's Word.

Next, Christ tells us, "Give us this day our daily bread."  Again, as with Scripture and it's layers, this passage means both sustenance in the natural and sustenance in the spiritual.  We ask God, not only to provide our physical needs, but our spiritual needs as well.  We are leaky vessels.  What we ask God for today is not sufficient for tomorrow.  Therefore, we pray for our bread DAILY.  Yeshua called Himself the Bread of Life (John 6:35).  Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds from the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4).  Therefore, praying for our daily bread is reminding us that we must pray to God every single day, not just when it suits us.  Not just when we have a problem.  But every day.  We are spiritual beings just as we are physical beings, and as such, our soul hungers daily as well.  Do not starve it.

"And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us."  If we expect God to forgive our sins, we must also forgive the sins committed against us by our fellow man.  If you hold grudges, demand revenge, or refuse to give mercy, God is unlikely to forgive you.  One cannot profess to believe in Christ, daily made in His image, if we hate someone and do not forgive them.  Did Christ ever live like that?  No.  Forgiveness isn't allowing someone to use you as their doormat, but rather, letting go of the resentment in your heart so that you can move on.  You don't have to be their friend or have them in your life, but forgiving them ultimately helps you more than it helps them.  Hatred and bitterness only serve to harm yourself.  Forgive those who trespass against you, and let vengeance belong to the Lord (Romans 12:19).

"And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil" -  The word for "temptation" in this text is also the Greek word for "trial".  This is asking the Lord to deliver us from our trials and our temptations -- deliver us from the snares of the evil one.  Teach us, Lord, how to do this.  How did Christ do it in the wilderness?  By quoting Scripture.  Truly, Scripture is the Sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17).  When we're living in the Kingdom of God by praying and obeying His will, we will not often fall into temptation.  But if we ever do, we can pray for God to deliver us from its evil.  This passage could also mean, "Don't leave us in our sins, but give us Your salvation."  This was done, by Yeshua on Calvary.

And then we come to the crescendo of this little prayer: "For Thine is the Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory, forever and ever."  I think we gloss over this line a little too fast as well.  Usually, it's recited as the closing of the prayer, kind of like "Sincerely yours" at the bottom of a letter.  But let's break it down and examine it.

To God belongs the Kingdom.  What Kingdom?  Heaven, of course.  The spiritual realm.  The universe.  Earth.  Our hearts.  His will.  God thought of it, God created it, and through Christ's purchase on the cross, legally inherited it.  Every kingdom that's ever existed is a sub-kingdom of THE Kingdom, ruled and reigned by God Almighty.  This drives home the fact that not only is God our personal Father, He is also the King of kings.  How mind-blowing is that?!  The One Who breathed the stars into existence also extends to us His mercy and grace.  The One Who imagined whales and grass and the color blue wants to be our One True Love.

And not only is He a King, but He has the Power.  He is omnipotent, able to do anything by His will alone.

He also has the Glory, as no one is like Him.  He is omniscient.  He knows it all because He created it all.

The ending of the Lord's Prayer was to remind us of God's magnificence.  Too often we belittle God and His wonder.  We anthropomorphize Him.  We bring Him down to our level.  We make Him into our image.  This must not be done.  In order to have a proper fear of Yahweh, Lord of Hosts, we must bring to remembrance His excellence and remind ourselves how glorious is our God.

Let us recap:

Whose is the Kingdom?  God's.
Whose is the Power?  God's.
Whose is the Glory?  God's.

For how long?

And ever.


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Prayer Project - a New Book, Coming Soon!

In case you didn't know, I have been furiously writing a book behind the scenes called The Prayer Project.  It is NOT out yet, but it will be very soon.  I wanted to show off my new cover (yay!) that the Lord provided through prayer (double yay!) for FREE (triple YAY!).  This book will be published through Amazon, and should be available through both eBook and print.  It's not very long, clocking in at about 100 pages, so it's an easy read.  But it is a project very close to my heart, and I invite my readers to PRAY for it.

Ever since I began writing this book, my friends on Facebook have been praying for the content, for myself, for the cover, and even for the future readers.  Well, the content has been decided, the book has been written, the cover completed, and now, people to PRAY for the readers to be touched by God and rekindle their prayer lives!

Here's the blurb:

Prayer is, perhaps, one of the most misunderstood practices in Christianity. Believers from all walks of life admit to praying, and yet are disillusioned with God, disillusioned with prayer, and wonder if He actually hears them. Some have never prayed outside of church, while others have only prayed before a meal. Many have even said that prayer is useless.

However the problem doesn't lie in prayer itself, but in how we pray.  Churches, unfortunately, don't often teach on what prayer is, why we should pray, and how it is done.  It is an unfortunate truth that knowledge of prayer is taken for granted, and often the believer is left on their own to figure it out.  This book endeavors to teach the basics of how we should approach the Throne of God, and what it truly means to pray for His will to be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.

I will keep you posted when it is finally published!  \O/


Saturday, August 17, 2013

Study of Mary of Bethany

I have a heroine in the Bible, and that's Mary of Bethany. She is Lazarus' & Martha's sister. She's my "heroine", because I feel like I have a lot in common with her. We see her in Luke 10:38-42, when she's sitting at our Lord's feet and Martha is slaving away in the kitchen. Of course, Martha comes in wanting the Lord to rebuke her sister, when *she* is the one who ends up getting rebuked. I've always been somewhat of a dreamer, content to sit at the Lord's feet rather than slave away in the kitchen (or any other part of the house).

But as I was reading Scripture out of the book of John, I got a little insight that I'd never thought about before. It seemed to add another layer to her story, and brought it alive to me. I don't know if it was a revelation by the Spirit, or just my writer's heart "filling in the gaps", but just in case, use your discernment with my interpretation of her story.

When we first meet her, we realize that her place at Yeshua's feet is likely controversial. Even though He's sitting in her home, she's in a place usually reserved for disciples, and disciples of Rabbis in those days were men. But Christ lets her sit there and no one puts up a fuss.

I think Mary truly believed Christ was the Messiah. She (seemed) to be a dreamer, willing to forsake cooking (and likely cleaning) to sit at Yeshua's feet and learn of Him.

The siblings lived together, and I have always taken it to mean the women were never married and Lazarus took care of them. I've always viewed Martha as the older, more practical sister. Perhaps she'd been widowed. But because Mary (later in the story) has a flask of expensive perfume, I don't think she was ever married, as likely that was her dowry.

Sitting so close to Christ, it is obvious she greatly admired Him. Maybe even had a crush? Who knows what stars may have been before her eyes?

But in John 11, when Mary and Martha's brother Lazarus gets sick, they know Yeshua will come -- He's their good friend, and He heals the sick. He's even close by. He will come.

But for Christ's own purpose, He doesn't come "in time", and when He does come, Lazarus has been dead four days. We then see it is Martha who greets the Lord before He enters town. Mary does not. I've heard commentary that Martha is the more aggressive sister, and that Mary didn't come until Yeshua called to her. But... what if she was mad at Him?

She sat at His feet, she'd believed His words. She thought He was the Messiah, surely He would have known how poor her brother's health had suddenly become. But He hadn't come. Her heart was broken, not only because her brother died, but because the man she adored hadn't come through for her.

Likely with the death of their brother, the women were spun into a panic, wondering what they were going to do now? Mary had a flask of very expensive perfume. We learn (later in the story from Judas) that the perfume was worth a YEAR'S wage. It's likely the women, with no steady income now that Lazarus is dead, would have to sell the bottle, leaving Mary no dowry and no "wealth" with which to start a family.
What was the hope of her young life now? She'd have to sell her dowry to survive, and maybe no man would want her because she'd have nothing to give him.

Christ calls to her, and Martha goes to tell her. Mary doesn't hesitate -- she loves Yeshua after all -- and runs to meet Him, but only after He calls her. Maybe He does care. Maybe He will mourn with her. Maybe He will take care of her. Perhaps her future lies with Him.

But one look at Him and she collapses at His feet -- and here's where my heart broke in the story -- Christ becomes angry and troubled all of a sudden. Why? He knows Lazarus is dead -- He's God first of all, and Martha told Him second of all. But why was Mary's response to Him, weeping at His feet, that moved Him to act?

I believe He saw her heart -- and in her heart, where there once had been lofty dreams of Messiah, was now nothing but shards. Her faith was at an impasse. She knew He was the Messiah, but she felt betrayed and hurt that He hadn't come in time, that He thought less of her, that her hopes and dreams weren't important to Him.

I believe that is why He was overcome with emotion. He read her heart and decided to show her that wasn't the case at all. He had planned on raising Lazarus, that much is obvious, but now He was determined not only to resurrect His friend, but this woman's faith in Him as well.

When Lazarus was raised, Mary finally saw once and for all the power Christ had, and I believe that is the moment she believed He was God incarnate. This realization so overwhelmed her, that it drove her to do another shocking act but a few days later.

In John 12, we have the now-famous scene of Mary of Bethany anointing Christ's feet -- with the very same bottle of perfume that likely, she and Martha had been planning on selling after their brother's death. What had seemed hopeless a few days before, no future without her brother, no wealth for a family of her own, was now full of nothing BUT hope.

After the resurrection of her brother, Mary finally understood that in Christ, her future is secure. Material wealth no longer mattered, and He was the only One solely worthy of it all.

So she anointed Him with the perfume, which was everything she had to sacrifice, giving Christ the one (and only) anointing for His burial that He ever received. Perhaps it was an act of worship. Perhaps it was an act of repentance for doubting Him. Perhaps it was a sacrifice of praise. Perhaps it was done out of pure love. was all of the above.

But one thing was sure... Christ read her heart again, and understood her act for exactly what it was. She'd made her choice, and her choice was Him. She loved Him with everything inside of her, and needed to show Him. She did it the only way she knew how, not only anointing Him for His burial, but also accepting Him as her Bridegroom, as she gave Him her dowry.

No other earthly man would do. Her dowry was now unimportant. She gave herself 100% to Christ. It makes me tear up just thinking about it. Her story with Him is one of the greatest love stories in the Bible -- and it's all of our stories. He loves all of us in this way, and allows us to be so personal with Him. His heart burns when we are angry, hurt, disappointed... And He longs to make things right. He longs to be our One-and-Only.

I cannot wait to meet Mary of Bethany in Glory. I think we'd have a lot to talk about. The Lord loved her so much. He loves ME so much.

But that day so long ago when Lazarus came forth, Christ became Mary's Hero, her Knight in Shining Armor, Her Lion of Judah, Her Beloved. From sitting at His feet, she knew His mission and what He'd come to do. But in that moment, she betrothed herself to Him.

I can't think of a single act of unselfish love in all the Gospels that likely touched Him more than that.

Interestingly enough, I found a parallel verse that seems to refer to Mary's devotion in Song of Solomon.  Considering my studies of Songs and Proverbs, this deeply intrigued me.  Mary's perfume was spikenard.

John 12:1-3 says:

Then Jesus six days before the passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, which had been dead, whom he raised from the dead.
There they made him a supper; and Martha served: but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with him.
Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment.

The parallel verse in Songs 1:12 says:

While the king sitteth at his table, my spikenard sendeth forth the smell thereof.

I honestly believe this little verse in Songs is a prophecy of Mary's act, as the spikenard isn't the king's perfume, but "my" spikenard, meaning the spouse, the lily, the dove.  It doesn't specifically mention anointing the king with the perfume, but it does mention the smell, which John also records, while the king reclines at the table.  Amazing!

This parallel means Mary of Bethany is a type of the Church, as Song of Solomon is allegory between the Bridegroom and His Bride.  We should all take a lesson from her and betroth ourselves to Christ with every ounce of our devotion.

Praise the Lord.