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Strengthen Yourself In The Lord Day 1-10

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In the Old Testament God was a God of celebration. He was a God of work and a God of rest. In the Law of Moses there were times to come together as a family and celebrate. In Judaism every Sabbath is a celebration. They don’t look at the Sabbath as a time of boring mourning but as a celebration of worship to God.

Aaron Evans released a word to us to strength ourselves in the Lord for the next 21 days. When we questioned him about this and he said it should be a 21 day time of joy. So for the next 21 days lets have a feast. God always broke the fast time with feast times. Five times a year God called for festivals. Every 7 years was a festival, time every 50 years was a festival time. GOD LOVES FESTIVALS!

So my role will be to try to put together a daily devotional on festivals and joy.

Lets strengthen ourselves in the Lord!

Day 1

Mar 1, 2007

Ezra 3:10-13  When the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the Lord, the priests in their vestments and with trumpets, and the Levites (the sons of Asaph) with cymbals, took their places to praise the Lord, as prescribed by David king of Israel. With praise and thanksgiving they sang to the Lord: "He is good; his love to Israel endures forever."

 And all the people gave a great shout of praise to the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid. But many of the older priests and Levites and family heads, who had seen the former temple, wept aloud when they saw the foundation of this temple being laid, while many others shouted for joy. No one could distinguish the sound of the shouts of joy from the sound of weeping, because the people made so much noise. And the sound was heard far away.

Do you sense it? Do you sense a change in the atmosphere? Do you sense an excitement in your spirit?

In Ezra the people had such an excitement that they could hardly stand it. In chapter one it says that after the word was released to rebuild the temple that those “whose heart God had moved” prepared to go up and build the house of the Lord. This is our call a time to build the house of the Lord. The people gave financially, they gave with building materials, they gave with material for vestments.

But what is the temple of the Lord? It is you and I. We are the temple of the Lord. God does not dwell in temples made by human hands. Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you? 1 Cor. 3:16 We can’t do anything to make a place for God to dwell in us. He dwells in us because He made us, and loves to dwell with us. That is reason for GREAT joy!

…these I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations." Isaiah 56:7 (emphasis mine). One thing we can do is open ourselves up to being a house of prayer. To bring a sacrifice of praise to Him. Not because we have to but because we want to please our Beloved.

Today celebrate that God loves to dwell with you.

Father thank You so much for making me a temple of Your Spirit, thank You for dwelling in me. Lord, help me to be Your temple, a place that You will invade and take up residence. I give this temple over to You so You can take over every part of me.

LORD You are good and Your love to me endures forever!

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Day 2

Isaiah 35:1-10

    The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom.    Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy. The glory of Lebanon will be given to it, the splendor of Carmel and Sharon; they will see the glory of the Lord, the splendor of our God.

     Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way; say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you."

    Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer,  and the mute tongue shout for joy. Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert. The burning sand will become a pool, the thirsty ground bubbling springs. In the haunts where jackals once lay, grass and reeds and papyrus will grow.

    And a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness. The unclean will not journey on it; it will be for those who walk in that Way;  wicked fools will not go about on it. No lion will be there, nor will any ferocious beast get up on it; they will not be found there. But only the redeemed will walk there, and the ransomed of the Lord will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.

 Fasting is similar to being in a parched land, it is a time that we set aside the desires of the flesh that want to be lavished upon and instead enter into a desert period. When we come out of the fast I am always surprised that I desire the sweetness of the land. The breaking of a fast is like the desert receiving rain, we watch the hidden plants spring forth as the new rain falls on them. But like a desert that receives to much rain can causing flooding, over indulging as we break the fast which can cause more harm then good.

This next 20 days will be a time of asking and expecting God to strengthen us. As He strengthens us there will be encouraging times from the Lord. I say to you today “be strong do not fear; your God will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you.”  Be strengthened in the Lord! Why? Because He will “drop what he is doing” and come to your aid!

Listen my beloved you are so important to Him that the Bible says that He will come to help you. He will come to your aid. This is a word for you today!

A number of years ago we were sitting having breakfast at some friends house when there was a knock on the door. When we opened it there was a police officer there and asked if we had called 911. Our answer was “no” everything was fine and we had no reason to call 911. The officer looked around to be sure we were really ok and then left. The Lord spoke to my heart and said “see I am sending your emergency help before you even call or know you need help”.

The point is that God is ever on watch for you, that He is ever wanting to come to your aid even when you don’t ask for His help He is sending it. He is making a way where there will be no lameness, no desert, no lions in your path. But a place where you “the redeemed, the ransomed of the Lord” will walk. You will enter Zion with singing and everlasting joy will overtake you.

Today I bless you with singing and everlasting joy. I decree over you that gladness and joy will over take you and I declare that sorrow and sighing must leave you and your dwelling now and not return! BLESSED BE THE MOST HIGH God!!

Today as you go about your duties find a place where you can break out into joy singing and even a little two step!

 

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Day 3

Isaiah 41:8-20

    "But you, O Israel, my servant,  Jacob, whom I have chosen, you descendants of Abraham my friend, I took you from the ends of the earth, from its farthest corners I called you. I said, 'You are my servant'; I have chosen you and have not rejected you. So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. "All who rage against you will surely be ashamed and disgraced; those who oppose you will be as nothing and perish. Though you search for your enemies, you will not find them. Those who wage war against you will be as nothing at all. For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. Do not be afraid, O worm Jacob, O little Israel, for I myself will help you," declares the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel. "See, I will make you into a threshing sledge, new and sharp, with many teeth. You will thresh the mountains and crush them, and reduce the hills to chaff. You will winnow them, the wind will pick them up, and a gale will blow them away. But you will rejoice in the Lord and glory in the Holy One of Israel.

     "The poor and needy search for water, but there is none; their tongues are parched with thirst. But I the Lord will answer them; I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them. I will make rivers flow on barren heights, and springs within the valleys. I will turn the desert into pools of water ,and the parched ground into springs. I will put in the desert the cedar and the acacia, the myrtle and the olive. I will set pines in the wasteland, the fir and the cypress together, so that people may see and know, may consider and understand, that the hand of the Lord has done this, that the Holy One of Israel has created it.

 

We have been grafted into the Vine of Israel! Hallelujah! If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, Romans 11:17. Because of this we share in the promises that we read about in the above passage.

Do you know there is absolutely nothing to fear, nothing! There is nothing that will happen to you that God is not aware of. There can be no trouble or problem that can come against you that God doesn’t know is happening. Go ahead think of something God doesn’t know about. Better yet tell me if you can what can happen to you that God can’t stop or allow. No matter what comes against us God knows what it is. That is why He put Romans 8:28 in the Bible …And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. This doesn’t mean that He makes bad things come against you but He will make sure that everything that does come against you will work out for your good.

Do you love Him? Good! Then whatever happens to you will work out for your good. God will use the negative things in your life to bring you to being in the place He has called you to.  Everything in our lives can either build us or break us. As I have mentioned in previous devotionals God is looking for character; trials and how we respond to them are what build our character. 

So today The Lord says to you 'You are my servant'; I have chosen you and have not rejected you. So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

This is a prophetic word from God for you today! It’s not just some scripture that might fit or not, it is for you today directly from God. Praise the Most High God!

What are you going through right now? Reread the above Word and receive it into your heart and mind and place your situation into His promise.

Today I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge--that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

The Lord has spread out a net, the kind the fire department uses to catch a person falling from a building. He has His angels holding the edges so you CAN NOT be hurt. You may fall but you will not be hurt. Let go and fall into His grace and mercy, you will never be disappointed.

Be strengthened in the LORD!

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Day 4

Read Esther 8:1-17 That same day King Xerxes gave Queen Esther the estate of Haman, the enemy of the Jews. And Mordecai came into the presence of the king, for Esther had told how he was related to her. The king took off his signet ring, which he had reclaimed from Haman, and presented it to Mordecai. And Esther appointed him over Haman's estate.

    Esther again pleaded with the king, falling at his feet and weeping. She begged him to put an end to the evil plan of Haman the Agagite, which he had devised against the Jews. Then the king extended the gold scepter to Esther and she arose and stood before him.

    "If it pleases the king," she said, "and if he regards me with favor and thinks it the right thing to do, and if he is pleased with me, let an order be written overruling the dispatches that Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, devised and wrote to destroy the Jews in all the king's provinces. For how can I bear to see disaster fall on my people? How can I bear to see the destruction of my family?"

    King Xerxes replied to Queen Esther and to Mordecai the Jew, "Because Haman attacked the Jews, I have given his estate to Esther, and they have hanged him on the gallows. Now write another decree in the king's name in behalf of the Jews as seems best to you, and seal it with the king's signet ring--for no document written in the king's name and sealed with his ring can be revoked."

    At once the royal secretaries were summoned--on the twenty-third day of the third month, the month of Sivan. They wrote out all Mordecai's orders to the Jews, and to the satraps, governors and nobles of the 127 provinces stretching from India to Cush. These orders were written in the script of each province and the language of each people and also to the Jews in their own script and language. Mordecai wrote in the name of King Xerxes, sealed the dispatches with the king's signet ring, and sent them by mounted couriers, who rode fast horses especially bred for the king.

    The king's edict granted the Jews in every city the right to assemble and protect themselves; to destroy, kill and annihilate any armed force of any nationality or province that might attack them and their women and children; and to plunder the property of their enemies. The day appointed for the Jews to do this in all the provinces of King Xerxes was the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar. A copy of the text of the edict was to be issued as law in every province and made known to the people of every nationality so that the Jews would be ready on that day to avenge themselves on their enemies.

    The couriers, riding the royal horses, raced out, spurred on by the king's command. And the edict was also issued in the citadel of Susa.

    Mordecai left the king's presence wearing royal garments of blue and white, a large crown of gold and a purple robe of fine linen. And the city of Susa held a joyous celebration. For the Jews it was a time of happiness and joy, gladness and honor. In every province and in every city, wherever the edict of the king went, there was joy and gladness among the Jews, with feasting and celebrating. And many people of other nationalities became Jews because fear of the Jews had seized them.

 

(For those of you who saw the recent movie about Ester there was much latitude in the movie that did not take place in the Biblical account.)

God is looking for ways to heap favor upon His children. As we read this chapter we see that when protocol is carried out great blessing comes to Ester and her people.

Ester has just had a huge victory, Haman’s plan has been uncovered, the king orders Haman hung on his own gallows, and she receives Haman’s estate. Ester could have gotten excited and overconfident and waltzed into the throne room and demanded the king do as she asks. But that’s not what she does, she recognizes that even in her victory there are protocols to follow. Ester approaches the king, falls at his feet weeping, and begs in humility to see if there is a way to save her people.  In following protocol she is strengthened as the king extends to her the royal scepter and she rises before him.

We need to understand and follow heavens protocols. God is not Santa Claus, God does not exist for us to bring our wish list to Him so that He might give us our every whim. God has outlined the proper way to come to Him, allow me to list a few protocols to follow so we can be strengthened in the Lord and know that He hears us.

We must come to Him boldly. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16

Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, Hebrews 10:19

We must come to Him by faith. And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. Hebrews 11:6

We must come to Him in humility. But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." James 4:6

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. James 4:10

We must come to Him knowing He hears us. This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us--whatever we ask--we know that we have what we asked of him. 1 John 5:14-15

We must come to Him sacrificially. Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship. Romans 12:1

Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise--the fruit of lips that confess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. Hebrews 13:15-16

We must come to him in compassion …Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; Hebrews 10:5

These last two point seem to contradict themselves but they don’t, there are times of sacrifice and there are times when mercy is greater then our sacrifice. 

Let’s learn the protocols of heaven and be strengthened in the Lord.

Father I come humbly before you with great boldness knowing that you hear me. I ask you to strengthen me in my inner man and reveal your power through me today. I ask you to fill me with all spiritual wisdom and knowledge. I pray that I will please you in every way. I ask You that I will bear fruit in every good work and grow in the knowledge of You. I pray that you will strengthen me with all power so I may have great endurance and patience. I joyfully give you thanks this day my God, in Jesus’ Name I ask these things.

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Day 5

Read Esther 9:18-31  The Jews in Susa, however, had assembled on the thirteenth and fourteenth, and then on the fifteenth they rested and made it a day of feasting and joy.

    That is why rural Jews--those living in villages--observe the fourteenth of the month of Adar as a day of joy and feasting, a day for giving presents to each other.

    Mordecai recorded these events, and he sent letters to all the Jews throughout the provinces of King Xerxes, near and far, to have them celebrate annually the fourteenth and fifteenth days of the month of Adar as the time when the Jews got relief from their enemies, and as the month when their sorrow was turned into joy and their mourning into a day of celebration. He wrote them to observe the days as days of feasting and joy and giving presents of food to one another and gifts to the poor.

    So the Jews agreed to continue the celebration they had begun, doing what Mordecai had written to them. For Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, the enemy of all the Jews, had plotted against the Jews to destroy them and had cast the pur (that is, the lot) for their ruin and destruction. But when the plot came to the king's attention, he issued written orders that the evil scheme Haman had devised against the Jews should come back onto his own head, and that he and his sons should be hanged on the gallows. (Therefore these days were called Purim, from the word pur.) Because of everything written in this letter and because of what they had seen and what had happened to them, the Jews took it upon themselves to establish the custom that they and their descendants and all who join them should without fail observe these two days every year, in the way prescribed and at the time appointed. These days should be remembered and observed in every generation by every family, and in every province and in every city. And these days of Purim should never cease to be celebrated by the Jews, nor should the memory of them die out among their descendants.

    So Queen Esther, daughter of Abihail, along with Mordecai the Jew, wrote with full authority to confirm this second letter concerning Purim. And Mordecai sent letters to all the Jews in the 127 provinces of the kingdom of Xerxes--words of goodwill and assurance-- to establish these days of Purim at their designated times, as Mordecai the Jew and Queen Esther had decreed for them, and as they had established for themselves and their descendants in regard to their times of fasting and lamentation.

We are in a 21 day time of strengthening ourselves in the Lord. One of the ways to strengthen ourselves is to go back over the prophetic words we have received. Ester was written sometime around 520 BC that’s approximately 2500 years ago. The Jewish people have been remembering this story for 2500 years. They have been strengthening themselves with the memory of their rescue by God since it happened. The Jewish people have also been celebrating Passover for somewhere around 3500 years. They strengthen themselves by remembering that God took them out of slavery and brought them into the Promised Land.

In this modern day many of us who have received prophetic words have lost hope in those very words that once gave us much hope. I still remember the first time I was called out from a crowd and given a prophetic word. It was in 1994 and I was told that I would raise up people and train them in their gifts. While I had some limited success in that, it wasn’t until 2006 when teaching a group of people in the prophetic that the Lord brought it back to me that it was the beginning of the fulfillment of that word. There was a 12 year span from when I first received the word until it just BEGAN to come to pass. I still have not seen the larger fulfillment of that word. Many folks think that when a word is spoken it must come to pass right away. We forget that from the last prophecy of Christ in the Old Testament to His birth was 400 years! None of you have waited for 400 years for a prophecy to be fulfilled!

So take this week and pull out the old prophecies you’ve received and read over them. God is not done with you. Look at the words and see which ones have been fulfilled. Even some of the words that described where you were emotionally at that time are proof that God wants to speak to you and encourage you. Rejoice in the Lord because now you have fresh vision from God, you now have something to look forward to. Don’t grieve Holy Spirit by not believing the words spoken over you. Don’t think it’s to long or it can’t happen, remember NOTHING is impossible with God.

These days should be remembered and observed in every generation by every family, and in every province and in every city. And these days of Purim should never cease to be celebrated by the Jews, nor should the memory of them die out among their descendants.

But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. Jude 1:20

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Eph 6:10

Lord God, I thank you for speaking prophetically into my life. I repent for not believing or forgetting the words you have spoken to me. I declare that the words that have been released into my life will not fall to the ground but will accomplish what they were meant to do. I choose to strengthen myself in You O God.

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Day 6

2 Chron. 31:2-8     Hezekiah assigned the priests and Levites to divisions--each of them according to their duties as priests or Levites--to offer burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, to minister, to give thanks and to sing praises at the gates of the Lord's dwelling. The king contributed from his own possessions for the morning and evening burnt offerings and for the burnt offerings on the Sabbaths, New Moons and appointed feasts as written in the Law of the Lord. He ordered the people living in Jerusalem to give the portion due the priests and Levites so they could devote themselves to the Law of the Lord. As soon as the order went out, the Israelites generously gave the firstfruits of their grain, new wine, oil and honey and all that the fields produced. They brought a great amount, a tithe of everything. The men of Israel and Judah who lived in the towns of Judah also brought a tithe of their herds and flocks and a tithe of the holy things dedicated to the Lord their God, and they piled them in heaps. They began doing this in the third month and finished in the seventh month. When Hezekiah and his officials came and saw the heaps, they praised the Lord and blessed his people Israel.

We are in a season of strengthening ourselves in the Lord. One of the ways to strengthen ourselves is to MINISTER to the Lord. Wait a minute, didn’t you just say that we were in a time of GETTING strengthened? Yes we are getting strengthened but to do that we must minister to God! Yep it’s one of those God things, like the first will be last and the last first, the weak will be strong, the poor are rich, etc.

Pride (one of the main reasons for the fall) is mans worst enemy. Pride says LOOK, LOOK, LOOK at me. Look at how I worship God, look at how well I’m doing in life, look at how great I am. Look there’s a piece of fruit that will make me smart. Look it brings pleasure to my eyes. Look at the wisdom I’ll have I’ll be just like God. And when we begin to look inward we focus on self and loose focus on our beloved. I like to call it navel gazing.

In today’s text King Hezekiah (one of my fave’s) instructs the people to bring an offering to the priests for the Lord. For four months they brought offerings to the Lord and piled it up in heaps. I believe that during that time the people were focused on God. Humanly speaking people don’t normally put effort into something they don’t pay attention to. So I expect the Israelites had a pretty good focus on God during that time.

Psalm 22:3 says that God will enthrone Himself in the midst of people who praise Him. I suspect that one of the reasons that so much booty was brought in was because the more the people focused on God the more He came into their midst, the more He showed up, the more they wanted to praise him, and the more they praised Him the more he came into their midst and so on, etc. The end result of this focus on God was that it caused other people to praise God and the giving allowed others to receive material blessings from God as well. (you have to read on for that part)

When we minister to God we take our eyes off of ourselves and our circumstances and focus on God. It has to do with sacrifice, it has to do with allowing God to strip us of ourselves and then he can rebuild us into the vessel he desires us to look like. Not what your neighbor thinks you should look like, but what God wants you to look like.

I will look at some ways we can minister to Him over the next few days.

Father God, my desire is for You to be the apple of my eye. I desire to eat from the Tree of Life today and not from the tree of good and evil. I ask for Your help to take my eyes away from those things that would cause me to look inward and help me to look long into Your eyes focusing on You. I pray this in the name that is above all names, Jesus.

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Day 7

Song 4:8-16 Come with me from Lebanon, my bride, come with me from Lebanon.Descend from the crest of Amana, from the top of Senir, the summit of Hermon, from the lions' dens and the mountain haunts of the leopards. You have stolen my heart, my sister, my bride; you have stolen my heart with one glance of your eyes,  with one jewel of your necklace. How delightful is your love, my sister, my bride! How much more pleasing is your love than wine, and the fragrance of your perfume than any spice! Your lips drop sweetness as the honeycomb, my bride; milk and honey are under your tongue. The fragrance of your garments is like that of Lebanon. You are a garden locked up, my sister, my bride; you are a spring enclosed, a sealed fountain. Your plants are an orchard of pomegranates with choice fruits, with henna and nard,  nard and saffron, calamus and cinnamon, with every kind of incense tree, with myrrh and aloes and all the finest spices. You are a garden fountain, a well of flowing water streaming down from Lebanon. Beloved Awake, north wind, and come, south wind! Blow on my garden, that its fragrance may spread abroad. Let my lover come into his garden taste its choice fruits.

Beloved Come away, my lover, and be like a gazelle or like a young stag on the spice-laden mountains. Song 8:14

One way to strengthen yourself is to minister to the Lord. Those of you who have children will understand what I mean with the following illustration. I do not have any children of my own but I do have spiritual children and I have also “adopted” some grandchildren. I find that when a young child wants to climb up in to my lap or climb into a chair beside me or to sit with me, there is no greater sense of love.

Just last night I was sitting in a chair when a 1 ½ year old pulled himself up onto my chair and picked up my arm and moved it so he could snuggle in next to me and drape his little arm over the side of the chair onto mine. That seemingly little action grabbed my heart and ministered to me in a way that probably no one else could. Why? Because he didn’t have to crawl on the chair and sit next to me. He could have gone and sat with daddy, mommy or nana or even by himself on the floor with his own toys. But he choose to come and sit in my lap. He didn’t come with elegant speech or deep conversation, in fact he basically just grunted at me. He didn’t come with a list of things he needed, he wasn’t looking for something, he just looked at me with a contented look. He said no distinguishable thing but he blessed my heart so much that I want to share it with you now.

If I, as a human, am so blessed by a small action like that how much more is our Heavenly Father pleased and blessed and ministered to when we come to Him, to spend time with Him. We think he’s to busy or I’m not important enough, or it’s just a small thing but to God no matter is to small to come to Him with. In the Song of Solomon in today’s reading we have a picture of God’s love for His bride. The passage says that the Bride, you, have stolen His heart. That there is nothing he would rather do then just gaze at you and in His “mind” describe to Himself how beautiful you are. He remembers the last time you spent time with Him. He remembers your fragrance, he remembers the kiss from your lips, He remembers the words you spoke to Him.

When a child chooses to spend time with me rather then do something else I am ready to pull out my checkbook and say “what is it you want just name it I’ll give you anything you want”! When we minister to God and take time from our busy lives it so pleases Him that He wants to give us the desires of our heart.

How about we take some time and fight over who’s gonna get in Daddy’s lap today?   I’M FIRST!!!

Daddy I love you, I desire to spend more time with You and want to bless You in all I do. Just one moment with You is all I need, just one glimpse of You will last a lifetime. I bless You Father and worship You.

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Day 8

Read Psalm 91:1-16 Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare of the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I am trusting him. For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from the fatal plague. He will shield you with his wings. He will shelter you with his feathers. His faithful promises are your armor and protection. Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night, nor fear the dangers of the day, nor dread the plague that stalks in darkness, nor the disaster that strikes at midday. Though a thousand fall at your side, though ten thousand are dying around you, these evils will not touch you. But you will see it with your eyes; you will see how the wicked are punished. If you make the Lord your refuge, if you make the Most High your shelter, no evil will conquer you; no plague will come near your dwelling. For he orders his angels  to protect you wherever you go. They will hold you with their hands to keep you from striking your foot on a stone. You will trample down lions and poisonous snakes; you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet! The Lord says, "I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name. When they call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue them and honor them. I will satisfy them with a long life and give them my salvation."(NLT)

 As we continue to strengthen ourselves in the Lord we need to minister to the Lord. Psalm 91 has got to be one of the top 5 Psalms people quote. We tend to go to it because of the great provision in it for our lives. I know I have quoted “a thousand will fall by my side but no harm will come to me”. Or he will command His angels concerning me to guard me in all His ways. Theses are good verses to stand on, but… the Psalm is not about us it’s about HIM!

The Psalm starts with dwelling in HIS secret place (shelter). In order to strengthen ourselves we need to get into the secret place of the Almighty. I have heard the phrase “press into God” for years. It has come as a “prophetic” word in the middle of worship. It has come as an “encouragement” from a fellow Christian. It has come as a “comfort” from others but I have always wondered just how do you “press in”. Being one that always measured success on the number of widgets I produced at the end of the day, I would tend to measure my “pressing in” on what I did and then how I felt.

This Christian walk is not about you, it’s not about what you do, or how well you do it, or whether you’ve seen angels or whether you speak in tongues or have been to the 3rd heaven, or whether you’re an apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor or teacher, sin or don’t sin, go to the nations, or etc, etc, etc. it’s all about Jesus. Where in this Psalm is it about you? Now I hope I’ve got you thinking.

This passage is a matter of fact statement about the Most High God. The only requirement on our part is to “dwell”. I looked up the word dwell in Hebrew and it means to dwell. Webster’s definition is: To abide as a permanent resident, or to inhabit for a time; to live in a place; to have a habitation for some time or permanence. Our requirement is: at some time, or for a period of time, to dwell with God. Romans 10:5-8 Says Moses describes in this way the righteousness that is by the law: "The man who does these things will live by them." But the righteousness that is by faith says: "Do not say in your heart, 'Who will ascend into heaven?'" (that is, to bring Christ down) "or 'Who will descend into the deep?'" (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? "The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart," that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming (emphasis mine). To dwell or press in then: is to believe in, trust in, and rely on, in your heart that Jesus Christ is Lord, Lord of all, Lord of your job, Lord of your ministry, Lord of you child (ren), Lord of you checkbook, Lord of your car, your house, your health, your cat/dog, everything. That is dwelling in the secret place under his wings. When we come to the place of recognizing that everything we are and have is because of God, that ministers to Him. Again, when our children thank us for taking care of them it blesses our hearts. The same is true of God, when we determine in our hearts that God is Lord of everything and we have nothing unless he provides it and we thank Him for it we are ministering to God, we are pressing in to Him. It is an issue of our hearts. When we believe it in that way then the external will manifest. We will then be guarded. protected, shielded, lifted up. We also will then begin to do other external things such as pray, tithe, give to the poor, fast, and other external activities.   

I bless you with the ability to dwell in His shelter.

Father I ask You to forgive me for thinking and acting as if my life is about me. My only desire is to dwell in Your secret place. I choose today to acknowledge that everything I am is only because of You. Help me when I begin to dwell in me to immediately begin to dwell in You.

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Day 9

Read Psalm 119:41-48 May your unfailing love come to me, O Lord,  your salvation according to your promise; then I will answer the one who taunts me,  for I trust in your word. Do not snatch the word of truth from my mouth, for I have put my hope in your laws. I will always obey your law, for ever and ever. I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts. I will speak of your statutes before kings and will not be put to shame, for I delight in your commands because I love them. I lift up my hands to your commands, which I love, and I meditate on your decrees.

I love Psalm 119, in fact I was tempted to copy the whole Psalm here for us to read. Why do I love it so much? Because every stanza speaks about the statutes, laws, precepts, commands, and word of God. What does that have to do with strengthening ourselves in the Lord? Another way to minister to God is to contemplate His Word. To just take time and contemplate God.

Webster’s dictionary defines contemplate as: To view or consider with continued attention; to study; to meditate on. Another dictionary defines it as To look at attentively and thoughtfully. To consider carefully and at length; meditate on or ponder: as he contemplated the problem from all sides; or he contemplated the mystery of God.

I am reminded of what it feels like to have the love of your life just look into your eyes and contemplate you. (for you young’ens the Bible says don’t stir up your passions to soon!) There is a “knowing” that takes place in that moment when words are not necessary, all it takes is a look. Its been said that the eyes are the pathway to the soul and as you gaze into someone’s eyes there is a connection within their very being that doesn’t need words to express. When we as humans experience this with the one we love, then to spend time and contemplate the God we love we will have even a greater experience.

So, how do we do that with God? If you’re like me as soon as you get into your prayer position, closet, room, or wherever, either the phone rings or you are immediately bombarded with thoughts. Suddenly you remember everything you were supposed to do yesterday or all the places you need to be today or you remember that you’re planning on going on vacation in 2009 and you begin to make plans in your head! Of course the enemy wants to remind you of the fact that yesterday you didn’t even pray or read your Bible or do your sit ups.

Martin Luther the 16th century reformer said “I have so much to do (today) that I should spend the first three hours in prayer.” And I heard Dr. Paul Youngi Cho pastor of the largest church in the world say that when he prays he takes the first hour just to clear his mind of the day to day activities. So you and I are in good company.

I believe we MUST find some time in our schedules to just sit and mediate, contemplate and reflect on God. We don’t always need to come with a shopping list or needing something. We don’t need to come and have a one-sided conversation (our side!) we need to come and just consider Him. When we sit down to do that, bring a pad of paper and pen so that when thoughts of life bombard you they can be written down on paper, that will allow us to not have to think about them any more at that time. As each thought comes up write it down and attempt to sit quietly before the Lord and think on Him. Don’t even expect Him to give you some revelation or answer. There are times for that, but I’m speaking about setting apart time to just  ponder God. Begin to say “praise You Father, praise You Lord, You are worthy of all my praise”, or something along that line, something that will take your eyes off of you and onto Him. You may want to take a passage such as Psalm 119 and pick out a section and think about His law, precepts etc. those things are who God is, they are His thoughts, they are the things near to His heart. Another book would be Song of Solomon pick a passage and read about how He thinks about you. That will help you to think more about Him. I see many of you finding that time to do that over theses next few days and I see a sweetness on your faces as the world passes you by and you are caught up with Him.

Dearest Father, I ask for Your help in making a time that I can come and ponder You. I desire to make time to come and gaze into Your eyes and minister to You. Help me to put aside my thoughts and agenda and spend quantity and quality time with You. I admit this doesn’t happen on my own so I come to you to guide me and help me in this. I bless you gracious Father, in the name of Your Magnificent Son Jesus the Christ, amen.

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Day 10

Read Isaiah 40:1-5 Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the Lord's hand double for all her sins.

A voice of one calling: "In the desert prepare the way for the Lord; straight in the wilderness a highway for our God. Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all mankind together will see it. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken."

How do we strengthen ourselves in the Lord? By knowing that your sin has been paid for in fact it has been paid for doubly.

The KJV version says “speak comfortably to Jerusalem” the literal translation is “speak to the heart”. So it could read “speak to the heart of my people; comfort. The heart is the seat of the affections. It is in the “heart” that sorrow and joy are felt. It is in our heart that we are oppressed or that we are of a glad or merry heart. To speak “to the heart,” is to speak in such a way as to remove the troubles of the heart and to furnish consolation, and joy.

The term “received from the Lord double” can have two meanings. It can mean that she received double penalty for her sin or it can mean she received double grace because she acknowledged her sin. I sensed the Spirit say the latter.

In any event there is a picture here of a wonderful God who wants to comfort those who sin and wants to bless those who repent. It is also a picture of proper discipline. Whenever we discipline a child (person) it should never be done while we’re angry or at the very least not in the heat of emotion. Those times are when we say and do things that cause long term hurt in another’s life. God disciplines us, not out of anger, but out of concern for us. He desires us to walk in all he has for us and when we don’t (and we all fail at some point) he disciplines us to bring us fully back into His blessings. 

The Lord dropped the following into my spirit as I read this passage. I always read this as A voice of one calling in the desert, prepare the way for the Lord. But what I see is A voice of one calling or the Lord is speaking to a person who is in the desert.

In other words the Lord is saying “you who are in a desert place prepare the way for the Lord, even though you are in the wilderness make a straight highway for your God. Again, I believe this familiar passage is saying that even though you are in a wilderness place in your life spiritually, materially, or physically you need to make the path straight in preparation because God is going to come through. I know many of you intimately and as I write this I think of what you have gone through and what you are going through. I have seen you put one foot in front of the other when all you wanted to do was give up. I’ve seen you stumble into church when that’s all you are able to do. I’ve seen you put forth that one extra effort when you didn’t think you could go on any more.

That process has been the making of a highway for your God. That process, although you don’t see it at the present time, is the filling in of the valleys and tearing down the mountains before you. Sometimes just getting out of bed in the morning is the tearing down of a huge mountain. Then as you go through the day you are filling in the valleys and establishing a flat, solid, straight road that the Lord will be revealed through. It is a work that God is doing. The passage says the valley will be raised up and the mountains will be laid low, not YOU will build up and tear down but it will happen.

Beloved God will use the sin and mistakes of your life to reveal His glory to all mankind. A diamond is just a dirty rock until it goes through a cutting and polishing process. A pearl is an irritation until it is smoothed over through time. So to the mountains and valleys you go through. They are the very things that have turned you into the beautiful person that you are today. Yes, I see such beauty in you.

Father thank you for the deserts and wildernesses I have been through in my life. I ask Your forgiveness for my grumbling over the thorns of life. Help me to see that all I go through is for my benefit so You may reveal Your glory through me to the world. I thank you and bless You Father in the name of Jesus.

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