Sunday, December 1, 2013

Little Drummer Boy

Jesus smiles at us!

I love this song at Christmas time. Check out Pentatonix's version of Little Drummer Boy:


Monday, September 9, 2013

A Scripture Gem

calla lily*


I am my beloved’s, 
And His desire is toward me.
(Song of Solomon 7:10 NKJV)

Jesus paid the ultimate price to make us His. We can have confidence that once we accept salvation, we become His. 

And this verse shows us something far deeper: His desire is toward us. 

No room for all our doubts and the lies of the enemy in that. 

This verse is a feast for the battered soul. A truth to combat the lies, and a gift from the Beloved to us.

____________
Photo credit: from freedigitalphotos.net: "Calla Lily" by Rosemary Ratcliff

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

How Great is the Love!


I'm moved today by the truth that we, believers, the bride of Christ, are the "joy set before Him" for which "He endured the cross, despising the shame and sat down at the right of the throne of God." (see Hebrews 12:2) That truth elevates us, doesn't it?

YOU are treasured.

YOU are cherished.

YOU are desired by God.

Makes me grateful, worshipful, joyful!

Worshiper Heather Hadley sings a response here. Worship along, beloved of God. He loves you!



Saturday, February 16, 2013

Bridal Understanding, Part 2: How Everything Changed

Moon and stars at night*
Recently, here on Net’s Bridal Notes, I explained how God began to reveal His passionate heart to me a in whole new way, how my bridal journey with Him began many years ago. (See that post here.) Today, I want to share more of my story, since it may help you as you move forward into deeper intimacy with God.

As I shared, God led me to a book that delved deeply into the idea of having a sacred romance with God—a guilt-free, passionate, powerful, life-changing love affair with God. Yeah. Those phrases seem too fleshly, too strange when talking about God, right? But He began to show me the purity of romance with Him. How?

Time.

During those years of awakening, my dear husband was working long hours. I had plenty of late nights alone in our room. Thankfully, at some point, God inspired me to use that time to pray aloud. Our children were in their bedrooms on the other side of the house, so I knew I could speak aloud and they wouldn’t hear me. So, I did.

There’s something about praying aloud in a dark room, at the end of the day. Knowing no one is listening and you’re unlikely to be interrupted, you can get very real. You can truly open up and share your heart with God.

I remember my journey into deeper intimacy involved one of those recommitment moments where I committed again to loving God first and choosing obedience. And I was determined to remain a student of the Word of God.

So, with that fresh determination and commitment level, which may have been more for my sake than God’s (who knows?), I felt emboldened to approach Him. And I did.

A Moment of Deep Revelation

One night, during a poignant time of out loud prayer, I remember Jesus revealing to me something I hadn’t truly understood. It was something I had considered, but He made the truth come alive. Suddenly, I felt it.

First, a moment’s backstory: Bruce Marchiano is the actor who played Jesus in the Visual Bible Matthew series. Following that portrayal, he wrote a book about the experience. There were times he described Jesus giving him a taste of what Jesus Himself felt during a certain biblical account. Now, I believe this literally happened because I know God is personal like that and He could use Bruce’s portrayal to minister to or enlighten people with the truth.

So, back to that moment of my prayer time. The lesson of the moment was how very much Jesus wants to be with us. How He longs for time with us. And as I felt conviction about shutting Him out of my day at times, I experienced a heart-rending pain, an ache, an intense insight about Jesus’s heart for me, His inexpressible longing for me.

You know Jesus wants to spend time with you.

Did you know how very, very much He wants time with you?

More than words can describe.

And that moment, as tears ran into my pillow, and I repented of keeping my distance, I had no idea how much my life would change.

His gift of sharing that insight with me motivated me to pray. Motivated me to spend time with Him, to not shut Him out. That revelation changed my life, my prayer life, my heart. I began to see Jesus as passionate and tender in a way I hadn’t before. “Prayer” became communion, no longer a labor, but an enjoyable time, just between Him and me. A time of lover’s communion. I would find ways to meet with Him. My secret life of prayer awakened and I had tender, deeply personal, passionate conversations with Him throughout the day in the secret place of my heart. During that season, I was raising two very small children while my husband worked 60-80 weeks. So, it’s not like I had a lot of time. I was also in Bible college and running a home business. It was crazy. But, somehow, that’s when God chose to awaken my heart, and I spent any time I could resting between His shoulders (see Deut. 33:12). What a journey!

What followed were more revelations as God began to share His heart with me. But that’s a topic for next time.

Let’s pray:

Dear Beloved, there is none like You! You invite us to know You, to delight in You, to enjoy You and we can do so without any guilt whatsoever. We can approach you boldly. We can enjoy You without limitation. Except… sometimes I do feel held back. Maybe it’s my doubts or my fears, or maybe I never understood Your heart like I could. Help me? Show me? I ask for a deeper revelation of Your love this week. Show up and show me Your heart, I pray. Amen.


 
*Photo credit: www.freedigitalphotos.net. Photo by Phiseksit.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

His Invitation


heart in the sand*

 
I hear this invitation this morning: 

Be My love. 

And I respond: 
 
Yes. 

Today. In my future. In eternity. 

Always Your love,

Jesus. 


Photo credit: www.freedigitalphotos.net Picture by: arztsamui


Friday, January 25, 2013

What is Bridal Understanding?


a bride

Are you looking for bridal revelation, in terms of the kingdom of God? It’s such a mystery, isn’t it?

This morning, during worship (when God so often speaks to me—prophetic time!), it occurred to me that Net’s Bridal Notes blog has been geared toward those who may already have a bridal understanding. So, let’s back up a bit, and start at the beginning.

What is Bridal Understanding?

In the context of this blog, and in the context of all eternity, a bridal understanding relates with knowing Jesus as the Bridegroom God, for whom the universe was created, and people were created to become His bride. In other words, God the Father wanted to give His Son a bride, so He created people through Jesus (the Word) for that purpose. But He’s God, so His limitations aren’t like ours. So, we’re talking a spiritual bride made up of all believers. With me so far?

What About Romance with God?

I can’t remember when I first heard about the idea that believers are the bride of Christ. Or perhaps I read it in the Bible. But I didn’t hear teaching on it. Not right away. In fact, not for a while. In fact, I was so unsure about this idea that when God specifically led me to a book on this romance that God wants to have with believers (a spiritual romance, remember), I couldn’t embrace it. (pun intended) I opened the book He led me to and read about a passionate God who loves us in a way I had never imagined. Yes, I knew about salvation. Yes, I knew about the cross, the astonishing price Jesus paid to redeem His people so we could become the bride. But seeing those truths through the lens of romance? Wow.

Some phrase in this book, some idea, some new concept made me close the book. I couldn’t keep reading. I set it aside. I went to bed, praying, asking, seeking. I didn’t want to be led astray. Remember, I didn’t have anyone to teach me these things. Scratch that. I did have Someone. The Holy Spirit. And He’s an awesome teacher.

That night’s prayer was different than anything of my past. Different than the usual. My mind had been opened and my heart was about to be awakened in a way I had never known. Married over a decade by then, I could draw parallels and God began to do just that. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

So, the next day, as I was still pondering the strange and wonderful and strange book sitting closed in the spare room (where I spent my reading time the night before), I was searching for a specific Scripture. I was in the middle of a Bible study or some such and could not remember the reference for the verse I wanted. I didn’t pull out a concordance, and back then we didn’t have Biblegateway.com, so I just opened my Bible. I knew I could find this verse if I searched for it. Armed with one or two words, I flipped pages and scanned my highlights.

The Moment Everything Changed!

And slammed heart-first into a passage of Scripture so astonishing, so amazing, so un-doing, I couldn’t breathe.

Here was my prayer that day, before I found the Scripture that changed everything: Lord, I don’t know if it’s real. I don’t know what to think about what I read last night. I do not want to be led astray. So if it’s off, don’t let me go there. But if it’s real, show me!

Part of me really wanted the doctrine to be real. I wanted this passionate love to capture me.

And that’s when I found it. In the afterglow of that prayer, God showed me this:

“And it shall be, in that day,”
Says the Lord,
“That you will call Me ‘My Husband,’
And no longer call Me ‘My Master,’”

(Hosea 2:16 NKJV)

My God just got personal.

In that day… you shall call Me Husband.

Wow. That’s bridal! Still sets my spirit on fire.

I went back into my spare room, picked up the book, devoured the entire thing, and I’ve never looked back since.

Next time, I’ll share how my prayer life changed in light of the lens of this Bridal Understanding.

For now, a prayer for you, dear beloved of God:

Oh, Father, only You can draw people to Jesus. So, draw me to You. Open my eyes. Awaken my heart to love. And teach me what it means that I am part of the bride of Christ. And Jesus, Lover of my soul, have Your way in my heart. Show me Your passionate love. Help me experience Your love at a deeper level. A fresh revelation of Your love this week. Amen.

So, what was the book? This little gem:


(paperback)       (e-book)

Monday, January 21, 2013

God Takes Pleasure in His People!

Purple water lily

For the Lord takes pleasure in His people;
He will beautify the humble with salvation.
(Psalm 149:4)

The word "salvation" there is literally  העושׁי yᵉshuw‘ah -- Yeshua! Jesus. We are made beautiful by Jesus. (see Romans 8:29) And God takes great pleasure in us. We are as lilies among thorns to Him. (see Song of Songs 2:2) His heart is so gracious!


Photo credit: Photo by Keattikorn from www.freedigitalphotos.net

Sunday, January 13, 2013

A Prepared Bride

lily bridal bouquet
There are so many signs lately of Jesus’s return for His bride. And lately, He’s been reminding me we need to be ready. We can’t rely on anything we’ve done in the past to prepare us for today. No, we need current revelation, current fellowship with the Holy Spirit, current encounters with Jesus. Visitation.

So, how do we get (and stay) prepared?

· Oil of the Holy Spirit – (read: Matthew 25:1-13) Believers mustn't be caught without oil in our vessels. We must be filled with the Holy Spirit. The foolish think that just because they “used to” walk in anointing that they’ll be able to live distant lives (from God) and when/if they are called upon to serve or pray or lead worship they’ll have the anointing they need. But if you don’t have oil, you can only burn so long. There may be a touch of oil in the wick. Once that’s gone, it’s gone. People are creatures of confidence. If we lack it, we move cautiously, slowly. If we have confidence, because we’ve been with God and are prepared, we move boldly. We know we have oil. If you’re unsure, begin seeking God in a determined way. He’ll show you and while He does, He’ll fill you up with oil.


· White garments of righteous acts – (read: Revelation 19:8) – Believers are called to behave in a holy way before God. Serve others. Care for others. We “prepare” ourselves. The “bride has made herself ready.” White linens represent purity. We served from a pure heart, a willing heart, a compassionate spirit. We had mercy on someone else when we could. God honors those who help the poor. By serving others, we stay prepared. We understand God’s system of reward. Only what we do for Him or with Him will matter in eternity. So, serve others as unto God. Love others. Let them see God in you. 


· Holiness in order to see God – the pure in heart shall see God. (read: Matthew 5:8). One of the drains of our oil is unholy behavior. We can go straight from a powerful church service into a place of sin in our hearts. Oil leaks out. But if we choose a holy lifestyle and abandon unholy behaviors and choices (by the grace of God, which really takes hold once you fall in love with God), you will more easily approach God. You’ll be living a holy life. And the “pure in heart shall see God.”
What a promise!

· Keep short accounts
don’t harbor sin in your heart (read: Psalm 66:18) Every single item above pointed us here to this one. We must keep short accounts. We must not willingly tolerate sin in our hearts. If we regard sin in our hearts (tolerate it, justify it, and dwell with it), we are distancing ourselves from God. Instead, we must search our hearts. Ask God for grace to see and grace to respond to His mercy by evicting sin from our hearts. Otherwise, God will not hear. Wow. That’s as serious as the admonition to husbands to treat their wives well or God will not hear their prayers. (read 1 Peter 3:7) Yikes. I want God to hear my prayers. I want God’s grace. So, we have a choice. We must confess (tell God) and repent from (abandon) sin.

The best way to be a prepared bride is to be a person of God’s presence. Spend time with Him. Even remember He’s with you throughout your day. No matter where you are, engage with Him in the secret place of your heart. Share gratitude and prayer and communion with Him.

I’m convicted by the items on this list. How about you? What will you do differently this year so that you may be a more prepared Bride of the Bridegroom, King Jesus? 



Photo credit: from www.freedigitalphotos.net. Photo by: Sharron Goodyear

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Hunger for His Word

Bible reading
Anyone else attend OneThing 2012 in Kansas City at the International House of Prayer? I did, but not in person. I watched the live stream over the internet. Yay, for technology. The media team does a great job with live streaming! So grateful to them.

There is something unique and fulfilling about the IHOP mode of worshiping. Edifying. Even though I was watching at home, I still participated.

And the teaching sessions were great! Many of Mike Bickle’s insights stand out, but one specifically: that a true believer naturally hungers for the Word of God. And if believers lose that hunger, they’re spiritually “sick” and need to get it back.

What masks our hunger and how do we get it back?

Many things can deaden our desire for the Word of God: addictions, vices, other pursuits, lack of devotional time with God, busy-ness, etc.

So, to get refocused we must set those things aside. That’s what is so great about a conference like OneThing. We can unplug, so to speak, and meet with God in a concentrated, purposeful way.

And we can simply ask God to increase our hunger for His word.

Sometimes, just getting in a worshipful atmosphere (or setting one by worshiping ourselves) induces hunger for the Word.

As I watched the live feed, I noticed each worship leader had her/his Bible open on the keyboard (or in front of them). I love that! I worship like that.

I don’t know about you, but I’m grateful for the grace to hunger after God’s word. Aren’t you?

He’s so personal. 


Open the Word. Read it. Discover nuggets for your life, for your walk, for your future. Let Him give you understanding about the past, about the situations you face. He will speak to you personally through His Word. He longs to.

Read daily. Use a Bible reading plan, or simply start at the beginning (Genesis) and read to the end (Revelation)—a few chapters a day. Or, read wherever He directs for that day. God is not legalistic. I don’t think you have to follow a reading plan to be acceptable to Him (thank God, literally), but be in His word. Often. It’s food for your soul and renewing for your mind. It’s for your refreshment and provides fresh revelation of who God is. And the more we know Him, the stronger our love for Him grows.

And if you are missing that hunger for the Word, know that it’s not His best for you. Ask Him to return the desire for His word. He wants to.

And He will meet you there! 



Photo credit www.freedigitalphotos.net Photo by: Janaka Dharmasena