Arise Talents

As much as I would love to share everything about our trip to Uganda serving alongside Sole Hope, right now I want to share a need and offer you a tangible way you could come alongside and provide for a child an opportunity for a better education. 

During our time in Uganda we got to meet Dickson Nabiru, a local distinguished artist and friend to Dru and Asher Collee (director and founder of Sole Hope) who has a heart for older orphaned children. Before being orphaned himself, at the age of 15, Dickson’s father taught him many different skills of art and also impressed upon him the importance of helping those in need. With his artistic ability and heart of service, Dickson has created a ministry called Arise Talents. At Arise orphaned children come, they are given shelter, food and an opportunity for an education. While the children are at Arise, Dickson also teaches them the skills he knows as an artist, which is a very rare sacrifice because your trade is your livelihood. 

Dickson and some of his amazing art

Samuel, Sasha, Dickson, Jesse, Trevour with the new Arise Talents logo

In Africa, education is not free and is a luxury many cannot afford. As Dickson takes in children, not only is he providing for their immediate needs, but he is also putting them through school. Right now the children are in a classroom setting of 80-100 students to 1 teacher. His hope is to send them to a school with a better student to teacher ratio which would give them a better education and provide for them more opportunities. 

We got the privilege of spending time with Dickson and the children of Arise Talent. My heart was immediately drawn to them as a group and individually - getting to know their names, smiles and laughter was such a joy. 
(our team with Dickson and the Arise Talent kids)

The school Dickson desires the children to be enrolled in consists of three terms in a school year at $220 a term, $660 a year; to provide his children with the education he desires, an education they deserve.

So I ask, would you prayerfully consider as an individual, a house, a group, a family, or as a couple supporting the education of an Arise Talent child for a school year? 

A monthly sponsorship would be $60 a month over an 11-month time frame beginning February this year. Or any one time donation to help a child get an education. 

The immediate need right now is for five of these children to be sponsored enabling them to enter their new school, beginning February 3rd! That’s soon! Two of them have been funded from within our team and we are now looking to get the remaining three supported. 

Contact me here for more information and to set up your support for an Arise Talent student.

Arise Talents kids:

Jesse Mwesigina – 14 years old

Samuel Waiswa– 12 years old

Trevour Muwanguzi (funded) – 9 years old

Sasha Kisakye (funded) – 13 years old 

Victoria – 14 years old (photo to come)

Send an email here for more information and to set up your support for an Arise Talents child. 

The Arise Talents kids sing and pray before every meal, expressing gratitude to the Lord. During our time there they sang and perfomed for us. What a sweet thing it was to hear their voices and see the gratitude in their faces. 
"If you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday. And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail. And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to dwell in." Isaiah 58:10-12

What do I have to offer?

What do I have to offer?...Have you ever wondered that?

This question would be and often is a question echoing from the haunting walls in my life from the enemy. What do I have to offer?

If you've read through the pages of scripture it doesn't take you long to see what people the Lord choose to use - the lowly, outcast, unexpected, inadequate, under qualified, ordinary... do I need to go on? We get it. We can see and hear that God loves using the ordinary to display something extraordinary. I think our nature often desires to feel adequate, qualified, useful, extraordinary.
"You give them something to eat...we only have five loaves here and two fish...bring them here to me." Matthew 14:16,17,18

When reading Mathew 14:13-21 I see Jesus have compassion to feed the multitude and the disciples’ inadequacy in what they had to "offer" to feed the people. I think we often view ourselves that way with the needs around us. In the hands of Jesus, He breaks us, uses, blesses, and multiples when we are willing to give and be used. After feeding all the people, not only was the multitude “satisfied” from the disciples’ shortage, but there also was 12 baskets full (for each disciple) of broken pieces of food. Bring what fish and loaves you had and watch what He will do with your willing obedience and how you walk away filled abundantly in Him.

The reality is I don't have much to offer in and of myself, but I'm willing. To step out in faith and discomfort and insecurities and face the accusing claims from the enemy that I don't have anything to offer. I'm willing, doesn't mean I always do. I'm sometimes immobilized by fear or insecurities. My willingness often carries with it the enemy’s accusations, but if I'm willing to be go with Him anways, He shows Himself all the more to me and through me.

"Cursed by everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them...Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith." Galatians 3:10,13,14

So I embrace the enemy’s accusations and point him to the cross - he's right - Jesus saves!

I could listen to all the enemy’s accusations against me - that I have nothing to offer, that I'm in adequate, not enough, lack wisdom or giftings, life experience, etc.

Bring what you have.
Offer what you have.
Watch the Good Shepherd break it, bless it, multiple with it far more than you imagined. He has written your story with great purpose.

Looking to you

Who’s looking to you? For answers, guidance, counsel, leadership, provision, etc. We all have someone looking to us at some point, in some context. A child looking for attention or more of something. A friend looking for guidance, for time, for help. A coworker or employee looking for direction, vision, assistance, answers. A family member looking for time, solution, care. Whomever and for whatever it may be, someone is looking to you to receiving something. What if you don’t have what they are looking for or rather have nothing at all to give? Do you feel drained, inadequate, disqualified, discouraged, irritated?

What Jesus offers is enough for your life and enough for those looking to you.

Recently in a season of feeling that I often had nothing left to give anyone after my 8-5 job, I was frustrated and discouraged. 

I came across in Acts 3 a typical scene in Jerusalem taking place. People entering the temple for the 3pm prayer time. A busy flow of people coming and going. Prime place for a beggar to be asking to receive something from those passing through.

Peter and John are approaching a specific entrance to the temple referred to as "the Beautiful gate" where they notice a crippled man begging for money. They could pass by and pay no attention. They could give him what he is asking for. But instead...

"Now a man who was lame from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, "Look at us!" So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them." (Acts 3:2-5)

Someone looking to and expecting something.

"Then Peter said, "Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk". Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man's feet and ankles became strong." (Acts 3:6-7)

What he wanted they did not have nor give. They offered what they did have, offered what he needed, not what he asked for.

When I feel drained, discouraged, stretched or irritated that someone is looking to me, it’s often because I've been running on my own self-efficiency - looking to my own abilities, strength, and resources. I am limited. Jesus is unlimited. And we get the full measure of Him and His Spirit that we might offer Him to others.

When you feel tugged and pulled in many directions by others looking to you for something, know they need Jesus, not you, you get to be a vessel directing them to the life spring.

There's a freedom in knowing you aren't expected to meet every need of those looking to you. Freed to give because Christ meets us to freely give to others.

1. Be aware of running on your own strength. Recognize when you are irritated and growing wearing of others. How do you respond when being asked of something from you? Our response to others indicates what's going on inside.

2. Practice the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. That takes slowing our hearts down to seek His counsel, guidance, leading and provision. The Lord so longs to do so if we would look to Him as our source, not ourselves. My counsel, guidance, leading and provision is limited. We would also be able to stop and discern the needs of others, not just what they ask of us, but what they truly need.

3. Place your dependency on Him. When you find yourself at your end, know you are being positioned in a place of dependence on the Lord. Ask The Lord to give you wisdom, guidance, provision, because you have come to your end. He loves and longs to meet you there.

I will never read that interaction in Acts 3 the same. That’s why the word is living and active. As my life and seasons change, the Word remains. And in those changes of life, the scripture continues to shed new light on my heart from familiar words. God’s word is life. 

"We gain the most when we give. We learn the most when we teach. We receive the most when we serve." Rick Warren

Rest for your souls

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you fill find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-29

Years ago these words of Jesus breathed life into me during a season of carrying a self-imposed weight of ‘doing’. Now these words have breathed life, pushing on how I once viewed rest and pursued it.

What brings rest to our souls? To your soul?

Sleep is the rest our physical body needs and often our soul. A little R & R often keeps us sane and able to keep doing the work we have to do here. But what truly, really brings lasting rest to our souls?

“Slow mornings” are an extended time I cherish and protect to spend quality time with the Lord, reading His Words, journaling through them, responding to Him, listening, asking, seeking, knocking. This time does bring rest to my soul.

But maybe another rest for our souls does not come from such “practices” but being a part of the actual commission - making disciples and bringing the hope of Jesus to lost hopeless people. 

Our ultimate, complete, and whole rest is in the finished work of Jesus on the cross, Him rising again defeating death, bringing restoration to a broken world. 

What brings rest to our weary souls while trying to live an alternate life in this world - aligning our hearts to God’s heart, to His purposes for us in these days here, giving of ourselves endlessly and tirelessly to the work of His Kingdom here and now.

When I selfishly pursue self, my desires, comfort, ways, my soul is lacking rest and peace. I grow weary of others. I do not want to give but want to receive.  My interest, my days, my time becomes priority over others’. The center focus we thought that would give us success, fulfillment, power, strength - this focus on self is an empty deliverer and deceiver.

As I consider an opportunity to help with a tangible need in Uganda, Africa, I’m reminded of and considering what true rest for the soul looks like. It may feel uncomfortable, uneasy, risky, hard, when we give of ourselves but I can think of no greater joy than bringing the hope and life and truth in Christ alone. We may often be called out of our “comforts” to love others by giving of ourselves. And we are also called to be Jesus right where we are. In our homes. In our work. In our relationships.

There’s such an incredible rawness and radical dependence on the Lord when we step out to do uncomfortable, exhausting things for His Kingdom, to reconcile people to Himself. 

Why do we need a Comforter if we are comfortable?” - Francis Chan

There may be still unrest, chaos, uncertainties, and suffering around you and in your life. But the rest of a soul, the quiet and gentle spirit comes from a soul, heart, and mind aligned with God’s heart and will. A soul at rest with the Lord, no longer fights for its way, its rights, but lays down its own agenda, takes initiative for the good of others and can’t do anything but be the gospel in motion and words.

In Matthew 11, Jesus offers a "yoke" that is different than the law seeking righteous teachings of the pharisees at that time. Jesus offered a yoke free of dead deceitful doing, a yoke of grace, freedom, reconciliation, wholeness, completeness, unending joy! From this He lived a life poured out for others. He walked with the Father allowing Him to fill Him, guide Him, instruct Him, and from what the Lord gave Him to do, He lived out for the sake of others. 

Those in Christ are new creations. Our old nature has been put to death at the cross and we are given new life, a new nature, rising with Christ. We are meant and empowered to live differently. To be about a different agenda and not our own anymore. Yet we often do choose ourselves and our soul is at unrest when it’s not living out what it’s been given new life to do: To know God and make Him known. Maybe the rest our soul often needs is more “doing”, not the empty self-promoting doing of trying to win the favor of God or man, but living out the way the gospel compels us to boast in Jesus and sacrificially give of ourselves to make Him known and for others to come to know Him.

if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday. And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.” Isaiah 58:10-11

I know I may not do this well or perfectly and that’s the beauty in it. The more I gaze at Jesus the more His heart becomes mine and I get to journey through the laying down of self more and more each day with Him, in His grace.

May I kneel before Him with tired achy knees, dirty sweat, blistered hands, wrinkly tired skin from pouring out my life and enjoy full rest when I see Him face to face in glory to be with Him for all eternity.

“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:22

“…even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:28

"I want to be challenged endlessly; I want to be learning and growing every minute. I want to be taught by those I teach. I want to share God's love with people who otherwise might not know it. I want to work so hard that I end everyday filthy and too tired to move. I want to be used by the Lord. I want to make a difference and I want to follow the calling God has planted deep in my heart. I want to give me life away, to serve the Lord with each breath, each second. " Katie Davis 

"Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure…Behold, you fast only to quarrel and to fight…Fasting like yours this day will not make your voice to be heard on high. …Will you call this a fast, and a day acceptable to the Lord? Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? THEN shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’ If you take away the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday. And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail. And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to dwell in.” Isaiah 58:3-12

Carry Your Name” – Passion – Christy Nockels

Your Great Name

Hanging on our wall are these seemingly silent letters. They call me to stop and listen to Jesus. Choose the good portion (Luke 10:41-42). Stop and listen. Trust who I am. Wait on Me. Be satisfied in Me. Step in my leading.

My heart is filled, steady, and unwavering when I dwell on Who God is; when I choose to dwell there. When I choose to dwell elsewhere I see the distracting waves pulling me down.

His steadfast character engraved on my heart and etched into this wood. To make Him known.
"Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we TRUST IN THE NAME OF THE LORD OUR GOD...Your name, O Lord, endures forever, your renown, O Lord, through all generations." Psalm 20:7; 135:13

These are some of the Lords names and characteristics most significant to me. As I pressed these letters into the pine wood, they were being pressed and inscribed deeper into my heart.

We are the indwelling of His name to make Him known.

In the book of Deuteronomy over and over again God tells the people of Israel...when you get into the promise land, do not set up an altar or any other worship place except "to the place that the Lord your God will choose, to make His name there"...over and over  (Deut. 12:4-5,11,13-14,26; 14:23; 15:20; 16:2,11; 18:6; 26:2) yet 10 of the 12 tribes are led astray by Jeroboam to set up alternate worship places, to do their own thing. When we leave the land intended for us we leave the Lord's intended provisions, protection, and purpose. When we pursue our own agenda we loose sight of what matters, of what is lasting and fulfilling.

I want to make His name known, not my own. As His image-bearers - what are you reflecting? What are you making known about Him?

Who is Jesus to you? What draws you to Him? Do you dwell on those things? Tell others about Him? Make Him known!

"cannot fully fathom the unchangeable, unconquerable, immoveable, irremovable, unwavering, untiring, unflinching love of God"

"Your Great Name" by Natalie Grant

"I am the Lord, I change not"

Charles Spurgeon on: 

"I am the Lord, I change not." Malachi 3:6
It is well for us that, amidst all the variableness of life, there is One whom change cannot affect; One whose heart can never alter, and on whose brow mutability can make no furrows. All things else have changed-all things are changing. The sun itself grows dim with age; the world is waxing old; the folding up of the worn-out vesture has commenced; the heavens and earth must soon pass away; they shall perish, they shall wax old as doth a garment; but there is One who only hath immortality, of whose years there is no end, and in whose person there is no change. The delight which the mariner feels, when, after having been tossed about for many a day, he steps again upon the solid shore, is the satisfaction of a Christian when, amidst all the changes of this troublous life, he rests the foot of his faith upon this truth-I am the Lord, I change not.

The stability which the anchor gives the ship when it has at last obtained a hold-fast, is like that which the Christian's hope affords him when it fixes itself upon this glorious truth. With God is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. What ever his attributes were of old, they are now; his power, his wisdom, his justice, his truth, are alike unchanged. He has ever been the refuge of his people, their stronghold in the day of trouble, and he is their sure Helper still. He is unchanged in his love. He has loved his people with an everlasting love; he loves them now as much as ever he did, and when all earthly things shall have melted in the last conflagration, his love will still wear the dew of its youth. Precious is the assurance that he changes not! The wheel of providence revolves, but its axle is eternal love.

Death and change are busy ever,

Man decays, and ages move;
But his mercy waneth never;
God is wisdom, God is love.

Leaving the Land

It's hard to stay in places you no longer want to be. The city you are in. The job you work at. The house you live in. The relationship you are in or wish you had. A season of life. The uncertainty of life. We are all longing...longing for more. 

There is a time to leave and there are times to remain. God called Abram and Moses to leave. God called the apostles to scatter. But sometimes God calls us to remain in the places He has placed us.

Leaving the land that was intended for you displaces you. Vagabonding through dangerous waves you once desired to conquer, finding yourself lost at sea. 

The nation of Israel was really no different from you and I. Disbelieving, disobedient, wandering, forgetful complainers. Unfaithful, yet He remained Faithful and True. And the Lord had great plans and purpose for them. For you and I.  

As I got to walk the pages in Israel in January, Tel Dan, in the norther region, was a site that particularly engraved the picture and call to remain faithful to the Lord and the conquence of neglecting His calling and placement.

God had alloted the 12 tribes of Israel specific portions of the land to occupy, cultivate, and defend. With purpose. As much of this land for the 12 tribes was in a desert area, I can imagine the hesitation/disappointment as they pictured occupying the land they and their forefathers had been wandering in for 40 years, holding out to get to this lush promise land. This land wasn't necessarily all lush in the greenry we may picture, or what they had pictured. Ten tribes ended up heading north, following Jeroboam's rebellion breaking away from the remaining two in the south under Reoboam, David's son. 

The tribe of Dan, part of the 10 northern tribes of Israel that followed Jeroboam, moved North because the land looked better than the land the Lord had allotted for them. Jeroboam was setting up a self-promoting kingdom, pulling these 10 tribes from remaining in unity with the others as God intended; to gather corporately, edify, share, learn, and serve. 

After the ten tribes moved north, the Assyrians came through that part of Israel and destroyed them, taking them captive in 722 BC. The Lord places us intentionally for growth, santification, protection, His Kingdom work, reliance on Him; moving away from His chosen places, I miss out on all of that.

Leaving the land intended for me I leave the Lord's intended provision, protection, and purpose. This resonates deeply with me as I am always processing and praying what and where the Lord would have me. Restless in many areas. Trusting in many ways. I do not want to leave the places He intends for me even when something else may be seem more appealing.

The land elsewhere may look more appealing but will prove disappointing, unfulfilling when it's not what/where God has for you. 

I know many, including myself, are in this "in between" season and sit in a restless state. But how long do we stay in this state? When does this restlessness or longing point to the Lord's leading for something different?

"Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him...Each one should remain in the condition in which he was called." 1 Corinthians 7:17,20

Consider your motives. Your peace. Your giftings, passions and callings. Is and can God use you right where you are? Remain until you can do nothing else but that desire/calling deeply planted in you, if it is something/somewhere else. I do wonder if it's more dangerous to step out to something the Lord is not in nor calling you to, or remaining stagnant in the places God has placed you. 

"If Your presence will not go with me, do not bring us from here." Exodus 33:15 

"The heart of man plans his ways, but the Lord establishes his steps." Proverbs 16:9 

"The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when He delights in his way." Psalm 37:23

Trusting in and remaining under God's soverignty is what He intends for us. Even in uncertainty. 

How often I compare my "alloted" land to someone else's. God has uniquely designed and placed you. Our "allotment" could be our giftings, personality, season of life, careers, etc. 

A sense of displacement or restless may be a season the Lord is refining and growing your faith and trust in Him. 

"The Lord your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul." Deut 33:8

God gave Moses clear instructions for so many areas, but not with his role as judge, governing the people. He allowed Moses to struggle and wrestle through that until his father-in-law Jethro came to him with a word of wisdom. God did not speak to him about this like He did for other areas. Why? Allowing him, us, to wrestle with certain areas to learn to respond to and live by the Spirit. 

The tribe of Dan went north with Jeroboam and what remains of them is an altar that was worship to pagan idols/gods. We sat and considered what will be remembered of us. Will I remain faithful when it's hard or other "land" looks more appealing? 

"I want to be challenged endlessly; I want to be learning and growing every minute. I want to be taught by those I teach. I want to share God's love with people who otherwise might not know it. I want to work so hard that I end everyday filthy and too tired to move. I want to be used by the Lord. I want to make a difference and I want to follow the calling God has planted deep in my heart. I want to give me life away, to serve the Lord with each breath, each second. " Katie Davis 

The place I can best live this out is in the "land" the Lord has placed me, not leaving the land. That does not mean I cannot physically leave something, but the heart of being fully present in the things/places God has planted me with great purpose, plan, intentionality, and allowing Him to walk me in this land to cultivate what He has for me in it. I'm not afraid of God doing/moving big ways in me, I'm more afraid of Him not and missing what He would have for me. What is God calling you to? Are you willing to pack up and follow Him? Are you willing to dive in and remain where you are? I'm wrestling with this myself, pursuing His leading because I want to follow the Good Shepherd and His way of life, wherever He leads. That's where I want to be.

Repairer of Broken Walls and Restorer of Streets (Isaiah 58)

As the Israelites camped below Mount Sinai preparing themselves to meet God (Exodus 19), I have been camped in Isaiah 58 for months now wrestling with this, meeting the Lord there.

When you want something (or just the opposite), you start to see it and notice it everywhere.  As I’ve been spending time in this text and talking about it with others, I’ve continually been surrounded by it. As if I were about to pack up camp thinking I was done here, the Lord comes in and just shows me that “no, we’re staying here a little longer.”

I have a tendency to be a “doer”. God is always doing a work in my heart to free me from any appearance or performance to sitting and resting in what He has already done. 

Here are the things this chapter has stirred, challenged, deepened in me from some commentaries on this chapter I’ve been reading. Take some time to read the chapter and after you read it, listen to an audio of it, you’ll hear it fresh and new every time.

The discipline of fasting in this text can be any spiritual disciple we practice. Is it for show, appearance, approval or from a genuine authentic heart after the Lord?

Isaiah 58:1-3
“Shout it aloud, do not hold back. Raise your voice like a trumpet. Declare to my people their rebellion and to the house of Jacob their sins. For day after day they seek me out; they seem eager to know my ways, as if they were a nation that does what is right and has not forsaken the commands of its God. They ask me for just decisions and seem eager for God to come near them. ‘Why have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and you have not seen it? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you have not noticed?’ ”

God describes the appearance and how the people felt God was unfair to them. They are asking is everything we are doing in vain, what is the point of this if you are not answering OUR prayers? Seem eager – they have the appearance, but not the heart.

Isaiah 58:3-5
“Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please and exploit all your workers. Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife, and in striking each other with wicked fists. You cannot fast as you do today and expect your voice to be heard on high. Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for a man to humble himself? Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed and for lying on sackcloth and ashes? Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the Lord?”

God did not accept their fasting when it wasn't connected with a sincere heart of obedience. They fasted for needs certainly, but selfish needs. Though their prayer was accompanied with fasting, it was still a selfish, even wicked prayer - that God did not answer. The purpose of their fasting was to glorify themselves. The answer isn't to stop fasting, but to get right with God and make your fasting more than superficial. Real, selfless, prayer and fasting that is partnered with real repentance has great power before God.

Empty doing. Outward obedience without an inward heart and affection is meaningless.

Colossians 3:1-3 tells us that since our old life/nature/flesh died with Christ, we are also raised with Him who is seated at the right hand of God. Our life is hidden in Christ…Hebrews 4:16 tells us to then approach the throne of grace with confidence.

Being at the right hand of a king meant intimate fellowship, meant you have the very ear of the king. We are all things in Christ. We are seated with Christ at the right of God. We have the ear of the King! What am I doing with that? Intentional? Selfish? Petition for the needs of others, our city, nation? Aligning my heart and prayers with His?

Isaiah 58:6-7
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter— when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?”

Getting right with God begins first by stopping the evil we do towards others. Getting right with God continues by doing loving things for others. 

Isaiah 58:8-12
Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. “If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.”

v. 10 "your light will raise in the darkness" - it's an enlightened life
v. 11 "the Lord will guide you continually" - it's a guided life
v. 11 "satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land" - it's a satisfied life
v. 11 "like a well-watered garden" - it's a fragrant life
v. 11 "like a spring of water, whose waters never fail" - it's a freshly sustained life
v. 12 "you shall build up the old waste places" - it's a productive, healing life

The picture of being called “Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.” (also Isaiah 61:4) is beautiful and something I want my life to be about. I want a life ministry of reconciliation, restoration, refreshment. Jesus came to restore and repair what was broken.

Isaiah 58:13-14
If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the Lord’s holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words, then you will find your joy in the Lord, and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.” The mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

God calls them to take delight in the heart and the purpose of the Sabbath, to honor Him, trust Him, not doing your own thing your own way, laying down your efforts. The rest we enter into, as Christians is something to experience every day, not just one day a week. The Sabbath commanded here was a shadow of things to come, the substance is of Christ. We have a rest in Jesus that is ours to live in every day. Though we are free from the obligation of the Sabbath, we dare not ignore the importance of a day of rest, God has built us so that we need rest. An important aspect to this chapter is showing is that what we don't do isn't enough to make us right before God. Our walk with God shouldn't only be defined by what we don't do.

Grace leads to justice. Because Jesus met the conditions of the law, we are free to be unconditionally loved and accepted by that very covenant that He fulfilled on our behalf. When are hearts grasp this incredible, beautiful, undeserved grace, love, service and acts of justice outwork themselves.

“With what shall I come before the Lord and bow down before the exalted God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings?...He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require (desire) of you? To ACT JUSTLY and to LOVE MERCY and to WALK HUMBLY with your God.” Micah 6:7-8

There is SO much more I want to share about this chapter, but would love to hear what this text works in you. What does it look like to act justly? What does repairing broken walls and restoring streets look like in our city today?

What issues stir your heart greatly with “this is not as it should be?” and pray about what the Lord wants to do with that. Feel guilty? Maybe...but guilt is not lasting. A heart so warmed by the gospel cannot help, but act in such a way of meeting the needs of those in needs. Matthew 25:31-46

He is Able...

I love word studies. I have been processing through and dwelling on these verses to be reminded who He is and what He is able to do when life is hard, confusing, uncertain, new; when sin is deceiving, devastating, and destructive, ruining lives and families. I choose to dwell here, because He is ABLE!
I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is ABLE to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.  2 Timothy 1:12
Now to Him who is ABLE to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us. Ephesians 3:20
God is ABLE to make all grace abound toward you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 2 Corinthians 9:8
Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, He is ABLE to help those who are tempted. Hebrews 2:18
ABLE to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. Hebrews 7:25
ABLE to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy.  Jude 24
'Do you believe that I am ABLE to do this?' They said to Him, 'Yes, Lord.' 'According to your faith let it be to you.'  Matthew 9:28-29
Do you believe He is able? He is. Even when I forget or get discouraged or lose sight from the weight and uncertainities of life are pressing on me. His shoulders are bigger and enough to carry it all. 
The Lord doesn't force Himself upon those who are not receptive to Him. He didn't create us robotic to His every command. He created us for relationship and what is a relationship if one is forced to love without choosing to be in relationship with someone? That's not a relationship. That's slavery. And He has set us free from the mastery and slavery of sin and death and given us new hearts to be free to be His. Do you believe He is able He and life remains such a mystery to you? Tell Him. Ask Him. Seek Him. For He is ABLE to meet you and I am confident that 'He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." Philippians 1:6
Dwelling on what you know to be true of the Lord allows you to persevere through any circumstance, any feelings. 
When your faith is tested, by disappointment, discouragement, devestation, look to Him to produce perseverance in you (James 1:3) which builds character (Romans 5:4) and godliness (2 Peter 1:6) that leads to hope that does not disappoint (Romans 5:5) !
What is the foundation of your life built on? The solid, unwavering, unshifting rock of Christ or the unstable shifting sand ideals of the world?
Dwell on what you know to be true of the Lord, start small, seek it in the Bible, speak it, share it, wrestle through it, and see what He does, stirs, and grows in you! He is able. He reigns over all. He is greater.
I'm letting go because He is ABLE. 

"We Exalt Your Name" by Kari Jobe
Spirit come and change the atmosphere  
Convict and open hearts to hear  
The anthems that the angels sing  
The Worship of the King of kings

For Jesus Reigns, Over all He reigns
We exalt Your name, High above the heavens  
We exalt Your name, All of creation sings praise
Your presence fills and satisfies.  
Tears down the walls we hide behind  
Oh, God of every aching heart, we long for You in light and dark

For Jesus Reigns, Over all He reigns

We exalt Your name, High above the heavens 
We exalt Your name, All of creation sings praise