"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

The Acacia Tree

January has been one incredibly filled month. Started with venturing to the Holy Land and walking the heart of the Lord in Israel. Forever changed from it. Ended by buying a house. Been a crazy process and thankful that this long escrow finally closed Jan 31st with keys in hand!

I do want to process through each day in Israel on my blog, but for now I want to share about this tree and it's significance that we learned about days before we left for Israel. After Dan Goetz, who led our trip, shared this I wanted to jump on the plane right then and go, but it would only be a few days until my eyes would be forever change.

In Genesis 13, Abraham and Lot were separating because their livestock and possessions were too great to share one area. Abraham let Lot choose where he went, trusting wherever he went the Lord would guide and provide. Hadn't He thus far proved Himself faithful, why wouldn't He continue to do so? Oh to live by this faith.

Lot choose the direction of Sodom and Gomorrah that was a lush thriving land at that time. He went for what looked good (Genesis 3:6; 1 John 2:15-16). Lot started on the outside of the city, progressed to living inside the city then at the city gate (the place of influence for the city). The sin and morality of Sodom and Gomorrah was so severe that God destroyed these cities. Through Abraham's intercession Lot was spared, though he was reluctant to leave that life behind.

God rained down "burning sulfur" and destroyed these cities (Genesis 19). Nothing there could survive the wrath of God's judgment. No man. Nothing. When you drive in the desert area around the dead sea you can see what appears as mountains and walls, which they are, but many are made of solid salt. The sea is called the dead sea or salt sea because everything in that area was once covered in salt and still has the effect of that. No life can spring or grow there because of that. Not much of anything can be sustained in that soil and nothing in that water.

In the Hebrew text, there were many "types" of Christ, pointing to Jesus. For example, the known stories of David and Goliath, Samson, etc. were examples of deliverers for Israel, all pointing to Jesus who would come and ultimately be our deliverer and redeemer.

Every piece in the tabernacle and temple point to Jesus. The laver that washes away the sin before entering, Jesus' sacrifice and blood washes away our sin. The table of bread, Jesus is the bread of life. The lampstand, Jesus is the light of the world. Those are just a few. The Ark of the Covenant represented the presence and the intercession through blood needed to be right God. Jesus came to fulfill that and His blood was in a sense poured on the "mercy seat" that covered the Ark of Covenant separating between man and God's presence. Blood spilled intercession. Christ is our ultimate and final intercessor!

The Ark of Covenant was made of two parts. Acacia wood first, then covered in Gold. Acacia and Gold. Jesus was both fully man and God. Man and God. Acacia wood represents Christ coming as man, man is from the earth as acacia wood is from the earth. Gold represents the deity and holiness of God. Fully man and fully God. Acacia and Gold.

As you drive in the desert area surrounding the Dead Sea, the only natural life you will see (besides some weed bushes) are Acacia trees!

Christ, came down as a man to bear the wrath of God on our behalf. No one can withstand the wrath, but He took it upon His shoulders for us. The only trees in the area where nothing could stand to God's wrath proclaim Christ, standing tall, proclaiming Him to be the One who could! The land speaks. The land proclaims Him! I hope that grips your heart like it does mine!

As that land proclaims Him, may my life proclaim Him in all things! I just got keys to the house I bought. I want that home, those walls to proclaim Him and be a place of refuge, refreshment, for every person that enters and leaves knowing and loving Him more by being there.

This is just a glimpse of how each new sight brought new life to scripture. Stay tuned for my processing through those days and keep me accountable to it!