Saturday, January 24, 2009

God's Voice and messages of love

Early in my Mercy journey, I found out that God wanted to talk to me, and I just need to sit sometimes and listen. I don't have to strive or study or pray hard. He just wants me to be still sometimes. I was not so sure about this practice, so one night, I sat in my bed and gave in a try. I closed my eyes and just listened. Not too much time passed before I heard a simple statement: "I love you." I thought, "how do I know that this is really you, God?" I mean, that was so simple and kind of a no-brainer. Duh. You love me. Then He said, "Megan, do you really KNOW this love?" Then He gave me a reference to support His statement. Sometimes in need proof. I guess I am like Thomas sometimes. He pointed me to Hosea 11: "I drew them with cords of a man with bands of love, and I was to them as one who lifts up and eases the yoke over them, and I bent down to them and gently laid food before them." In this message, God revealed that He loves me as a Father. His agape in this sense was the same as His toward Israel in this verse in Hosea.It was so cool that night, that I tried to list to God again the next morning. As I sat in the library, though half asleep, I heard His voice again. This time He said simply, "I am IN love with you." This was a little more uncomfortable. This was the call of the Bridegroom, and He took me to Song of Solomon. He gave me a picture of a beautifully arrayed bride, who was glowing with joy and expectation on her wedding day. She was walking to the alter, where he spellbound groom was waiting. He was enraptured by her beauty, and he could not take His adoring eyes off of her. My God is in love with me like this. He thinks I am beautiful and captivating. He says, "like a lily among thorns, so are you, my love, among the daughters." I am the lily. I am His lily that emits an aroma of beauty and enchantment. God loves us as a Father, and He is in love with us passionately as a Bridegroom. He protects us and nurtures us as He did Israel. He also woos us and pursues us as Solomon his bride. What an amazing God we have!

Peter's Phileo Vs. Christ's Agape

In light of my previous note on Peter, I was given a new insight into the life of Peter in the context of Jesus's question, "Peter, do you love me?" Peter says, "Lord, you know that I love you." The love that Jesus was speaking of was a very different type of love than Peter responded with. The limit of the English language is that there is one "love" which describes all different types of love. This is why I love word studies so much. Jesus was asking Peter, "Peter, do you AGAPE me?" Peter responds, "Lord you know that I PHILEO you." Jesus called for the God-love, that can only be a responses to the Divine love that was poured onto Peter. This kind of love was the kind that was totally against Peter's impulsive and passionate personality. This is the love of deep committment, rational decision, and relentless faithfulness. Vine's says that this is the reverential love toward the Giver and practical love toward other partakers, with a desire to help others seek the Giver. The Love that Peter was offering was the Phileo love, which is a deep attachment and affinity towards others, which, while good, was not the type that Christ called for. Peter's love was based on feeling, just as many of his actions. Christ's purpose was to prepare Peter for service in the midst of the most dire, horrible situations, even death. Feelings would scream for Peter to run and to deny Christ. Jesus says to Peter, "Peter, your phileo is not enough, because it is rooted in you. You need the Agape, which is rooted in Me and My love for you. He chooses to love us, and we are to choose to love Him back. Don't get me wrong. Passion is a vital part of the commitment to Christ and the life of the beloved (Agapos). It can't be the only thing, or it will fail. Dry committment without passion will also fail. True Christianity, however, produces a passion as well as a deep commitment and reverential awe. In 1 Corinthians 13, we see love in the same form as the love which Jesus spoke to Peter about. Agape, which is the work of the Spirit within. The description of this kind of love portrays behaviors and attitudes which we cannot produce in ourselves. They will know that we are believers by our love. I am challenged by this study to evaluate my lifestyle and attitude toward others in my life. I am presenting a practical love toward others, and do I have a desire to help others seek the Giver. As Christ displayed through His life, "greater "Agape" has no one than this, than He would lay His life down for His friends." Friends, let us follow in His footsteps.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The weight of discipleship: Light and easy to be borne

As I study the different words for burden, two uses stand out to me specifically. One word for burden is “baros”. This word denotes a weight, or anything bearing on one physically. It makes a demand on physical or spiritual resources, of the individual that carries it. The other word for burden is “phortion.” This word denotes something that is willfully carried, which is considered to be lighter and more easily borne than the “baros” burdens. What is the difference between these two different types of burdens? I believe that the answer lies in the passage in Matthew 11, which says, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. [I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls.] Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart, and you will find rest ([relief and ease and refreshment and recreation and blessed quiet) for your souls. For My yoke is wholesome (useful, [t]good--not harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing, but comfortable, gracious, and pleasant), and My burden is light and easy to be borne” The difference between our burdens and God’s burdens lies in the partnership we have with Christ. It also has to do with the actual quality and type of burdens we take on to bear. What happens when we come to Christ? Why are we so weary and heavy laden and over-burdened? We have been trying to carry “baros” burdens. God says that He never meant for us to carry around our own burdens. They physically, emotionally, and spiritually wear us down. He has holy burdens for us. These burdens are our “portion” in Him. Vine’s Dictionary also says that the “phortion” burden involves that which is light, and is often coupled with the life of discipleship and following Christ. The burden of a transgressor and someone carrying his own sin is heavy and physically weighs one down. This is the “baros” burden. The burden of a disciple is Christ’s burden for him, and is thus light and easy to be borne. I want Christ’s burden. Vine’s goes on to say that only the “phortion” burdens will survive the fire that will test our works before the judgment seat of Christ. These burdens we can lay down at the feet of our God when we bow before Him in glory. So why do I try to carry my own burdens? Why do I labor and strive under the weight of self-imposed standards and rules? Were we ever created to bear the burdens that we try to bear? Probably not, if we are trying to do it apart from Christ. He says that the solution is simple: “Come to me.” It is not “work harder.” It is simply to come. When we come, what does He promise? He promises rest. What a blessed gift. For me, this is one of the most wonderful gifts imaginable. Rest does not simply imply lying down, or stopping. Rest often can be synonymous with peace, or shalom, or completeness. He gives us completeness and wholeness. I love how the amplified says that He will ease and relieve and refresh our souls. How can we couple the bearing of a burden with this ease, relief, and refreshment of our souls? We can pair these two states of existence together because they are united through the presence of God in our lives. We are yoked with Him. Being yoked with Christ creates a sense of balance to our lives. This balance comes because He is leading and shouldering the load, and He is in control. Am I overburdened with my own “baros” burdens, or am I joyfully carrying with Christ His “phortion” burdens? Is there striving and toiling in my life, or is there sweet rest and peace? This does not mean that I am to cease action. It just means that I need to walk in surrender to the will of God and in dependence on His Spirit. Only then will I mount up and soar on wings like eagles. With His “phortion,” I will run and not grow weary, and I will walk and not be faint.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Brushes with the miraculous

As I am reading Heavenly Man about Brother Yun, I am reminded that we absolutely cannot divorce God from the miraculous. It the modern Christian church, I find that we often try to place God in boxes. He is notorious for breaking out of those boxes, and I am so glad that He does. Often, churches swing from one extreme to another. One says that God doesn't operate in the means that He did in the early church, and the other says that those who do not operate in a certain means aren't truly believers. To speak in tongues or not to speak in tongues?
That is the question. The same holds true with prophesy, the miraculous, and other aspects of Christian life. Should these experiences be part of our every day existence? Should we depend on them for our faith to be maintained? Do we often seek God's manifestations above His face and heart? In the past 6 months, my eyes have been open to a lot of misconceptions and human restrictions which I have placed on God. God will not be restrained, however, and He cannot be told that He can't do something. Is anything too great for God, who is the Author of all? No, NOTHING.
Why does it seem like miraculous events only happen in remote tribes in Africa and persecuted regions of China? Why do we not experience them here in America on a regular basis as those in other cultures and countries do?
I have had several brushes and interactions with God's miraculous power in the past several months, and it is my desire to testify to God's amazing hand that can accomplish anything. Can we have enough faith to simply touch the hem of His robe and expect the impossible to happen? I had broken my leg in May, and it had caused many problems, probably because of my history with osteoporosis and malnutrition. It was supposed to be better in August, but it was not, and I was still in quite a bit of pain. I was so frustrated, and I struggled to function. A group of 12 girls from mercy had the amazing opportunity to go to the Godchicks conference, where we were blessed to hear Holly Wagner, Lisa Bevere, and Priscilla Shirer speak. One evening, there was a time of prayer and intercession for those who were sick or suffering. Nandi shoved my hand up in the air when they asked for those who needed healing to stand up or raise their hands. We started to pray, and I felt a set of powerful hands on my shoulders and heard a strong voice praying in a heavenly language. I felt strength and power flow through my body, and I opened my eyes to see the face of Lisa Bevere. That night, I had the sweetest worship of my life, and I felt a renewed sense of freedom. Up to this point, I had not fully surrendered and was still holding to little peices of my addictions. After this, I was truly freed and surrendered more fully than ever before. God did a huge work of healing in my heart and soul. Physically, I was healed as well. After that night, there was no more pain. I went to the doctor three days later, and there was complete healing in my ankle. My ankle healing was amazing, and I was so thankful. I also believe that my osteoporosis was healed that night. I will have that bone density test and confirm that later. More importantly, however, God healed my heart and mind. My transformation was advanced that night to new levels .
The second event that I want to share that evidences God's great healing power is a wonderful story of a voice restored. I have a precious friend who is 29 years old. She has suffered with great trauma, abuse, fear, depression, and an eating disorder for over 20 years. The enemy has sought her more aggressively than I have ever seen in anyone else's life. At the age of seven, her singing voice was stolen from her. Worship through singing is vital in life, whether a person has a beautiful voice or not. Worship lifts one's spirits, stomps on the enemy's head, and exalts the Lord. It has a three-fold power that the enemy can never match. Knowing this, I was compelled to pray for her and for the restoration of her singing voice. She could talk, but when she opened her mouth to sing, nothing came out. This had lasted for 22 years. On Saturday, we spoke, and a couple of us committed to pray for her. I was on my knees that night praying for the restoration of her voice. As I prayed, I felt the Spirit of the Lord assuring me that my friend would sing again on Sunday. God is so good to take our prayers and respond to them when they are in line with His will. The next evening, my precious friend opened her mouth and sang for the first time in 22 years. We sprinted throughout the house, as she announced God's restoration of her voice. Not only did God restore her voice, but she has the sweetest voice that I have ever heard. She can now wage spiritual warfare through song, and Satan is defeated in that area of her life. God is a miracle worker who indeed put a new song in my friend's mouth.
Finally, another sweet friend with Cerebral Palsy since childhood has been praying for healing for years. One day, we went to walmart and were in the picture section getting pictures developed. A girl named came up to us with her brother. She asked my friend her name and asked what was wrong with her. My friend expressed that she has CP and that she has trouble walking and is in constant pain. She wears a leg brace, and she cannot stand up for long periods of time. Robin, the girl who approached my friend, asked her permission to place her hand on my friend's legs and pray for her. Robin prayed for my friend, and warmth flowed from her hands into my friend's body. There was healing, and my friend's feet straightened. She took off her leg brace, and she and Robin ran down the aisle at that walmart. I have to admit that I doubted it briefly. How can God just heal someone through a stranger in the middle of walmart? Well , He healed the world through a little helpless baby in an obscure town named Bethlehem in a lowly, stinky manger. I guess He can do the same thing in the middle of a walmart on a random Friday in December.
God is a God who still does miracles. Do we have to courage to ask for those miracles? Let's step out and try. He still moves stones, raises from the dead, and restores lost lives. He has not grown weaker or less involved than He was in the days of the early church. We may have lost some passion and faith, however. I never want to stop believing in miracles. To stop believing in miracles would be to stop believing in the God who is the greatest miracle Worker

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Why Lilly?

God has given me the name “Lilly.” It all started with the prophecy which was spoken over me at Mercy. Jane and Tom Hammon came the first week of December to speak over each girl. They quoted Matthew 6, where Jesus says, “Consider the lilies of the field and learn thoroughly how they grow: they neither toil nor spin. Yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his magnificence, excellence, dignity, and grace was not arrayed like one of these.” The Lord said to me, “Didn’t I clothe the Lilies? Didn’t I give them beauty? Didn’t I do such great things for them, and how much more so those that are mine?” Then the loving heart of the Father said to me, “Child, you are mine. You are the Lilly of my heart, and I will care for you like no one else can.” This was a great revelation. It came and went, and I thought very little of Lilies after that.
Throughout the next month, the focus seemed to remain on Lilies wherever I went, whatever I read, and whatever sermon I listened to. God was trying to get me to listen. One night this week, the Lord led me to study “light” and its purpose in the Word and in our lives. Doing my word study, I did a word search with scriptures on “light,” “illuminate,” and “bright.” I learned great things about light, but I kept on stumbling upon the word “Lilly.” I felt inconvenienced and continued on my search for light. Finally, after tripping on the word “Lilly” a couple more times, I got the hint. Thanks, God, for recognizing my denseness and throwing it out there a couple more times. Sometimes He has to smack me in the face with something in order to get me to see it.
In my study of light, the Lord was revealing that we are to put on the armor of light in Romans 13. He said that He gives us as a light for the nations, and in Matthew 5, He says that we are the light of the world. We illuminate the world as we reflect HIS glory. The light that He shines through us allows His salvation to be seen to the corners of the earth. Our reflection of Him is imperative. His glory rises upon us, and He causes us to show forth His light. Thus, our light is not at all of our own doing. It is all His light, which is the only true light. The greatness of light is that the darkness cannot and never will overpower it. One author says that no matter how insignificant the light, it can penetrate even the most oppressive darkness. Light ALWAYS trumps darkness, like scissors ALWAYS trump paper in paper-rock-scissors. All of this information is vital to the understanding of the significance of Lilies. Keep in mind; nothing led me to move from light into lilies except the providential hand of the Father. The Hebrew word for Lilies is “shooshan,” which represents whiteness, ornamentation, and a trumpet. This is interesting because in the Lilly, we find purity, beauty, and proclamation. These are characteristics that God, in His great mercy, has called me to and declares me to have. In the Greek definition of the word Lilly, we find a flower that is rich in color, and, get this, illumination!!! The Lilies bring light. They are light in the darkness. The Lord brought me to Lilies from the study of light to give me a perfect example of light in the darkness. The definition goes on to say that those who see lilies growing amongst the grains cannot miss them, just as no one can miss the light that we are called to reflect in the darkness. Lilies are distinct, pure, beautiful, declarative, and illuminating. Not only are Lilies found in fields of grain, but other varieties are found in swamps and pasture grounds. They blossom everywhere, just as we as Christians blossom all over the world in all circumstances. Lilies bring light and they grow even in great trial and difficulty. Lilies offer luminous emanation, just as Christians stand as light-bearers in this dark world. God’s word is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our paths. If we, as light-bearers and lilies grow on the road of truth, we can be lights to peoples’ path and present the illuminating Word of God. We are the lilies that grow in the field, or in the pastures, or in the swamp lands, or even on the path of those who are seeking the Way.
The final concept of Lilies in Matthew is that they neither toil nor spin, but the Lord cares for them all. Consider the Lilly and learn thoroughly how it grows. They grow in rest and trust. They do not strive and strain. They grow confidently but don’t force it. They know that God will provide for them. God is calling me to rest, to be still, to know that He is God, and to cease striving. Consider the example of the Lilly. I shall not worry about money or clothing or success or any other worldly lust. What do the Lilies do? They look up to their maker with confident expectation, they grow, and they are clothed with beauty that far surpasses that of Solomon in his entire splendor. In this state of restfulness, they shine brightly, proclaim loudly, stand gracefully, and rise above with confidence.
These are the Lilies of the field. God has called me the Lilly of His heart. He has called me Lilly.

Weight of Glory

Hope deferred,
heart become ill.
Flesh decaying,
while flint-set will.
Oppressors crushing,
Penury undue.
Vessel breaking
yet being made new.
Through trite tribulation,
scoffers with hate,
rises joy transcendent,
Blessed Glorious Weight.

Lucy (Light-bearer)

Darkness settles
upon the blanket of snow.
Bone-chilling cold,
rivers cease to flow.
Light suspended
bounces in icy air.
Barely visible first,
irresistible stare.
Hope rekindled,
A glimpse of light,
From lonely solitude,
Ignites the night.
Tiny as a spark,
Yet growing in the gaze.
Clarity of noon day
casts out haze.
Candle-bearer arise!
Demolish the night.
Fear not the darkness,
the world needs HIS light.


Pull open the curtains,
let the sunlight in.
The darkness was stale,
Overstayed its welcome,
if ever well-received.
But it was comfortable,
however destructive.
Squint in the brightness,
but feel the warmth.
Secrets exposed,
but love heals the hurt.
Your eyes will adjust,
and grow to love the rays,
shadows no longer sufficient,
You yearn for the Truth.
Unveil the lies,
and see their true colors.
Gaze into the radiance,
Never to close the curtains again.

A Testimony of the Power and Mercy of our Lord

After battling with severe anorexia for over half of my life that truly should have killed me, after being prescribed a combination of medications that placed me in a position psychologically to attempt suicide three times (each of which should have taken my life), God revealed that He preserved me for this time in history. He saved me so I could get to this point and receive the healing that I never thought possible. I started at age 14, being admitted to adolescent eating disorder units. Three hospitalizations later, I was sent to the Renfrew Center in FL. It was at Renfrew that I got a brief glimpse of God's amazing purpose for my life. He revealed (not through the program, but within my heart) that He wanted to heal me from the anorexia in order to make me a living testimony to His great power. The promise was established at that point, and I left Renfrew not quite healthy physically, but much more sound spiritually and emotionally. This glorious encounter with the Lord propelled me through the remainder of high school. Jesus became my passion and best friend, and I was truly a freak for Jesus even in a Christian high school. I couldn’t get enough of His word, His presence, and His service. I was always hungry for Him. This prolonged glimpse of light brought me to Asbury College, where God revealed that He would glorify Himself in my furthering of my education. In the transition to college, however, I lost sight of His face and refocused on the mirror. The mirror is a liar and a horrible god, and I slipped back into the grips of the eating disorder. Sadly, I battled it continuously throughout college, got kicked out due to medical instability, and ended up hospitalized two more times, once in New Orleans, and the second time at Remuda Ranch. I truly believed that Remuda Ranch would be my saving grace. While it saved my life, I did not allow God to transform my life there. It was more about bringing me to a place of physical stability and not a place of spiritual understanding and hope. The band aid of Remuda lasted about a month. 30,000 dollars later, i had little to show for it. Once again, though, God shone His light into my life and redirected me to His face. I had the opportunity to be healthy enough to go on an amazing mission trip to the phillippines, where I was able to see 4,000 people come to know Jesus as their personal Savior. That same year, I had the blessing of being able to travel to England to study at Oxford University. God reminded me of the love I have for His truth and for the study of His word, literature, theology, and culture and society. God fulfilled His promise when He called me to Asbury and graciously allowed me to graduate 5 years later with a miraculous GPA of 3.93 with a BA in Psychology and English. It was a painful process, in which because of osteoporosis and addiction to running, I broke two ribs, and my hip. During my last semester at college, I had to have hip surgery after fracturing my hip, and ended up in the Orthopedic ward with a bunch of 80-year-olds. My bones were so destroyed through starvation over time that they were the bones of an 80-year-old. God's faithfulness reigned, however, because He is indeed Rapha. I was able to walk across the stage at graduation to receive my College Diploma. What an undeserved blessing. After college, I faced the thought of life after school with sheer terror: I was an adult and at a place that I had promised myself, my God, and my family I would never be: Still controlled by my eating disorder and exercise addiction. This was a terrifying reality, but I stepped forward. (what else can you do?). The problem with experiencing the goodness of God is that you become discontent with anything less. I was terribly discontent. I started to take steps toward healing, eating more regularly, exercising more moderately. Life was getting better.
Then the enemy tried to throw the blow that he thought would take me out of the game forever. I met with a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner who put me on a devastating combination of medications: One that would cause me to go deeper into depression and become much more impulsive and desperate (the equation for suicide). About a month later, after never being suicidal in my life, I made my first attempt. A month and a half after that, I made my second attempt. These attempts were not playing around, either. They should have been deadly if not for supernatural intervention. Finally, after my third and most dangerous attempt a month and a half later, my mom (not the doctor) called out the culprit. The medications I was put on tried to destroy my life. The enemy, seeing that his attempt to destroy me through the eating disorder was not working, orchestrated the medications and medical professionals in my life to set me up for destruction through suicide. He blinded the eyes of the doctors to see the lethal combination of drugs for five months. Unsprisingly, when I was taken off of the combination of medications, my suicide attempts ceased, and all of the urges became nonexistent. When I realized later that the suicide attempts were the result of the medications’ affects on my brain chemisty, the shame of the behaviors was replaced by a deep anger at Satan and a horror that the enemy has that kind of ability and influence. God responded to that horror in saying, “Megan, the enemy may have taken away your ability to choose life by manipulating your brain chemistry, but I have the upper hand. I know your heart, your hope, and your love for me, and I stepped in and supernaturally spared your life in each of those situations. He cannot take your life from you in that way.” I had begun my application process to Mercy in March, and I was accepted into Mercy and entered into the program in June.
God supernaturally spared my life time after time, not just because He loves me so much (He does), but because He has countless lives that He intends to touch through my life. I am honored and humbled at His grace, mercy, and miraculous hand in my life. Through the glorious process of transformation during the last 6 months, God has brought me to my knees in gratitude for His great grace. He has shown me how His hand has been woven throughout my entire life since my actual birth. He has showed me that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. The "painful process" of recovery that I feared turned out to be a beautiful, easy process of transformation as I sought His face. His burden is indeed lighter than the one that I have been striving to carry all these years. The new song that rises up in my spirit and out of my mouth and life is one that is fueled and inspired by God's deliverance through His Son's grace and His Spirit's renewal in my life. The newness of the song is not a matter of something that is "made better," but it is the newness of a complete change in substance and quality of character. This is a song of rejoicing, and it is a song that rises out of the "new Megan." I will continue to sing the new song as long as I live, and as long as my God sings over me. And He will continue to sing over me. My God is mighty to save. I know that He has given me a passion for His word and His truth. The key to my transformation has been TRUTH. When I meditate on the truth of His word and know the truth through experience and heart knowledge, then I am free. I must be aggressive and faithful in holding unswervingly to the truth every day, because the enemy is creeping around the corner. He is a little snake and makes nasty attempts daily, but my authority is in Jesus, and as long as I remind Satan of that and throw it in his face, he can't pretend to have any authority. God is calling me to be a voice of truth in the lives of those who are lost in the lies. He is faithful, has been faithful, and will always be faithful. WE praise His name. I join the chorus of lives that are lived as testimonies of His goodness. I am not the first and by no means will I be the last. I joyfully enter into the ranks of the great cloud of witnesses.

Rejoice in the Lord Always

Rejoice in the Lord Always
As I was in the Word last night, God led me to study the word “rejoice”. As I sought to understand what it was to rejoice in the Psalms, I realized that in the Old Testament, rejoicing is an overflow of emotions, stimulated from an external circumstance. It is an extreme “happiness, expressed in a visible or external manner.” This rejoicing took place in festivals, weddings, celebration, or triumph over enemies. Rejoicing was reserved for special occasions. There were three main elements of rejoicing: First, rejoicing was a spontaneous, unsustained feeling of jubilee. It was fleeting and lasted for but a brief time; Secondly, it was a feeling so strong that it found expression in an external action; Third, it was always prompted by an external stimulus. Based on this definition, rejoicing in the Old Testament was inconsistent and conditional on circumstances.
I could hardly believe it when I studied the Greek definition of the word “rejoice” found in the New Testament. To rejoice in the New Testament sense, “Chaio”, is an action of rejoicing in the Lord, His incarnation, presence with us, triumph over Satan, enrollment in heaven, our liberty, our hope, and our salvation. These truths are unchanging. Our victory is won. We have been given salvation, hope, and a future. We are able to sustain rejoicing in the New Testament because God became man and dwelt among us. He was crucified for our sins, He conquered death, and He sent His Spirit to DWELL WITHIN believers, thus giving us a spirit of rejoicing ALWAYS.
As I compared these two forms of rejoicing, I was struck by how poignant it was that Christ became our rejoicing. Through Christ, we have eternal rejoicing and we have constant rejoicing. We never have to stop, and if we truly know Him, we will never be able to stop. In the Old Testament, rejoicing was spontaneous but unsustained. It was wonderful in the moment, but it ended as soon as it started. Moses was given a glimpse of the backside glory of God, and his face radiated for a while, but the radiance faded. We, with unveiled faces, can all reflect the glory of God consistently for our entire lives. Through the presence of the Spirit within our hearts, we have constant access to the throne of grace. The rejoicing of the Old Testament was prompted by something outside of the individual, rather than on the inside. This is why it was fleeting. But now our hope is eternal and it is internal. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. We have now seen the Glory, and because we have seen the glory and continue to behold the glory, we greatly rejoice continually. We would never be told to do something that we cannot do, and in Philippians, we are told to rejoice in the Lord ALWAYS. This is accomplished through the Spirit’s power, which is at work in me.
In understanding the rejoicing of our Lord, I also see that God’s rejoicing over His people was so strong that His external expression was the Incarnation of His Son. Zephaniah 3:17 says that our Lord rejoices over us with joy. Our Lord sings and dances over us. He rejoices over us. His external act was the life, death, resurrection, transfiguration, and hope given by His only begotten Son. Because of His external expression of rejoicing, I am now able to rejoice in His presence always. Philippians 3:1 says that we are to delight ourselves in the Lord and to CONTINUE to rejoice in Him. This would not be possible if the Holy Spirit were not inside of us, providing us an internal, rather than external stimulus for rejoicing. Colossians 1:24 says for us to rejoice in the midst of sufferings. We cannot rejoice in the midst of sufferings based on the Old Testament understanding of rejoicing. We have to adopt the New Testament definition, which provides us with the internal reason rather than the external reason. Our internal reason is our salvation, our hope through Christ, and the power of the Spirit at work within us. So here is the amazing thing which Paul learned as the result of this truth: “I have learned in any and all circumstances the secret of facing every situation, whether well-fed or going hungry, having a sufficiency and enough to spare or going without and being in want. I have strength for all things through Christ Who empowers me. (Phil. 4:12-13).” The joy of the Lord is my strength. The fruit of the Spirit, which His presence within accomplishes is JOY (Galatians 5:22).
The final setting for rejoicing of the Old Testament is victory in battle over enemies. We know that our Lord is mighty to save. We know that He triumphed over death and the grave at the cross. We know that the enemy has been defeated and will eventually be forever cast down. Our victory in Christ is settled. In the knowledge of this and in the conviction given by the Spirit, let us rejoice. We were told in the Old Testament to rejoice in the Lord always, and now we are given a means to rejoice in the Lord always…His name is Jesus, Emmanuel, God with us.

Peter's Transformation

When I think about Peter in his early apostleship, I think of instability and impulsivity. There is a love for Christ, but he is very emotion-driven rather than conviction-driven. Jesus, however, even though He knew this, saw Peter for what He was going to do in and through Him. He saw him for what he would be, not what he was at the present time. The amazing thing about Peter’s life is that God took this man who was like a wave, driven and tossed by the winds, and He transformed him into the rock upon which He would build His church.
Peter responded to his failure in his denial of Jesus with grief, not like the grief of Judas, which lead to despair, but the grief that leads to repentance. He was indeed broken and contrite in spirit as a result of his sin, but he did not let that paralyze him. Satan would have loved to use this opportunity to create a deep shame that would forever separate Peter from Jesus. Peter’s grief led to repentance and humility that would make him more moldable and pliable in the master’s hand. I love how after Peter had denied Christ three times at the cross, Christ in his resurrection body gave Peter the opportunity to publicly acknowledge his love for Him three times as well. Peter’s expression of love for Christ is one of a deep, instinctive, personal affection for Christ as a close friend. Christ, when He is asking Peter if he loves Him, is referring to the love that is reasoning, intentional, spiritual devotion. Peter claimed that he loved Christ with passion and feeling. Christ was stretching him past the feeling (which is still vital) into the sphere of commitment and dedication. Peter’s calling would require patience and devotion, which would have to remain despite feelings. He would never be able to walk the path which Christ walked without this well-reasoned mind, set like a flint upon the will of his Father.
The rock that Peter would become would have to be solid, firm, unshaken, and immovable. When studying the Greek words for rock, I discovered the most amazing thing. One Greek word of rock is “Petra.” This word refers to Christ as the Rock, the Cornerstone. This Rock is a great mass of rock. The second Greek word for rock describes the calling that Peter had upon his life. This word, “petros,” is actually a detached stone or boulder. Peter was part of Christ. Christ ascended, the Petra went up to heaven. He left on this earth a petros by the name of Peter to represent Him and to spread His gospel.
Christ has called His followers to be “petroses.” We are to be chips off the old block, or in this instance, boulders off of the greater mass of rock. Peter would be the rock upon which Christ would build His church, but Peter’s firm foundation must be Christ, the Cornerstone. We have to be firm, immovable, rooted, and established in Christ, no matter what fleeting emotions may say. 1 Corinthians 15:58 says to “be firm, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord.” Always. We are to always be faithful. Peter had to recognize his own personal limitations through his denial of Christ to understand that the only way that he could be the rock that he was called to be was to be rooted in Christ. The path to steadfastness is brokenness, repentance, and surrender. Only then can we become boulders off of the greater rock of Jesus, with feet firmly planted in Him and His faithfulness. We are never rocks through our own strength. Philippians 4:13 says, “I have strength for all things in Christ who empowers me( I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me; I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency.”