Sunday, April 28, 2013

Building God's House

Over the last few weeks my devotional time has been spent chewing and meditating on these few passages about building the House of Prayer

I have recognized and it's been pointed out by others that I have a "builder" anointing. As a builder, my strengths are broad and vary depending on the season of "building" I am in. I feel privileged to share this character trait that my Father in Heaven has, the ultimate Builder God.

"For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God." Hebrews 3:4

The battle some of us "builders" face is that we tend to feel like we are "do-ers" and therefore feel a false sense of lack of intimacy due to our "building" efforts. 

Here is the revelation I want to unpack; building God's house is the ultimate partnership with His heart, and therefore on the highest level of intimacy with God.

God Desires to Dwell with Man on Earth

"Thus says the Lord, “Heaven is my throne and the earth is my footstool what is the house that you would build for me, and what is the place of my rest?" Isaiah 66:1

Knowing what God wants gives us confidence to rest in Him. In meditating on this passage, I am in awe that the God of the universe, God who has the ultimate beauty of heaven, desires to have a resting place on the earth. The He actually desires to commune with man in a house built with human hands. He desires partnership in fellowship. 

Much like a marriage, a home is built together. Both the husband and wife have important roles in the building of their home. The Lord desires our partnership in building the resting place for His presence. It is our "yes" that draws Him to commune with us. 

Loving God's House is Loving God

"How lovely is your dwelling place,

Lord of hosts! My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God.
For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere.   I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than dwell in the tents of wickedness."   Psalm 84:1-2, 10

I remember the early days of my walk with God, at Three Cities Assembly. Each morning before work or school I would go into the sanctuary of the church and read the Word, pray, and play the piano and worship. I was drawn to "the House of the Lord". Why couldn't I just sit in my bedroom and do that? I could, and I did, but there was something drawing me to fellowship with God in His house, and two times a week just was not enough! Can you relate to that feeling?

Today, nineteen years later, I still feel alive and in love as I did back then when I read these words of Psalm 84. All I want to do, all day, and all night, is sing to my God and worship Him in His house- I am consumed with zeal for His house! (Psalm 69:9, John 2:17)

Being in the Presence of God Fuels Prosperity of Soul

The more I lean into the "pull" that is drawing me closer, the greater my soul thrives. 

"But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God. I trust in the steadfast love of God forever and ever." Psalm 52:8

When I say "yes" and give time in my secret place life, that is my life in prayer & the Word, I am growing in eternal places that are not seen on the outside. The outward appearance may look poor and weak, but my soul is thriving so long as I press into the knowledge of God.

Building God's house grows me internally because I am actually gaining knowledge of His will, His emotions, and His thoughts in the process. It is laying down my agenda, and taking up His.

The more I know His will, I gain confidence in my pursuit of Him. I lean more, I trust more.

The more I know His thoughts, the closer I feel to Him. His ways become more and more my ways. My mindset is won over, and renewed.

The more I know His emotions, as in any marriage (covenant relationship), the stronger bond I develop with Him. Sharing emotions, two-way relationships, are the only relationships with intimacy. 

The Lord is showing me that true intimacy with Him is found in being passionate about His tabernacle, His resting place on the earth. This is an eternal calling that begins here in this age, but will not fade. Forever we will worship Him, fellowship with Him, and partner with His heart. By building His house on the earth, now, in this age, we are reaching into heaven, into eternity, and literally bringing heaven to earth.

I want to encourage you to partner with your church and/or local house of prayer in building a resting place for God. Perhaps your church would like to open its doors during the week for people to come and pray, perhaps you can help make that happen to get prayer going in your church or city. I want to encourage you if you are feeling that burning in your heart, to talk with your church leaders, see if there is a room in your church you can use to play some worship music and begin to create a prayer environment. For resources, feel free to contact us in helping start a prayer room.  I'd love to hear from you!

     - gina

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Live Holy, Do Not Compromise.

Living "holy" is a tough topic to talk about, but it has been burning in me since the day I got saved. 

I heard David Pawson say once that, "when you bring the Gospel to criminals in jail, the 'God of Love and Forgiveness' is not the Gospel that preaches well. It is God's judgement, mercy, and righteousness that attracts the sinner to repentance." 

Isn't that interesting? Yes, God is "Love", but He has many faces, and His name is also "Holy".

Demystifying "Holiness"

I have learned over the last 19 years as a believer that holiness begins in the heart attitude. Some people try to change what is on the outward appearance, and that’s good, I mean like quitting bad habits and stuff. But you can only be as “holy” as your heart is.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” Matthew 5:8

I have watched myself and others try to change the outward man, and it doesn’t work. The change has to happen in the heart first, and then the outward stuff will work itself out.

Holiness begins in the mind.

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:2

The transformation begins in the mind. The way we think determines what we do. It is the way of thinking in a culture that drives it’s values and actions. For example, you may be familiar with the sacred cow of India. Many people, not even Hindu, may revere the cow without even knowing the full history of why it is sacred. The culture has been deeply ingrained for centuries in the minds of the people. It would be hard for many to even eat beef, though they may be distant from the personal belief or culture, it is a part of their way of thinking. 

If holiness begins in the mind (heart, mind, will = inner man) than true worship is not the outward expression, but the inward giving of thanks, praise, blessing, etc. Think about that for a moment. Are we blessing God with our thoughts? With our intentions? With our motives? With our emotions? What if we practiced silent worship in corporate prayer gatherings? What if we worshiped God silently from the inner man as a regular discipline? 

What type of thoughts roll over in your mind? To dos? Worries and fears? Circumstantial problems? The hardest thing for me is I rarely feel my mind actually rest. Even when I am asleep I dream constantly. I have trouble just not thinking.

Putting it into practice.

So I have begun an experiment where I try to condition my mind by thinking worship, which is: praise, blessing, and thanksgiving towards the Lord repetitively in my mind. When a negative thought comes in, for example lets say, "Gina, you really suck, you need to just give up on this area". What I do is I turn it around into worship and thanksgiving. 

I picture Jesus on the throne, I kneel before His Lordship over me and I think in my mind, "Jesus, You alone know all things. You know how and why I struggle, I submit this challenge to You  my Lord right now. Thank You for putting challenges in my life to strengthen me. I know that if I never had any challenges I would be dull and bored. Thank You for Your wisdom You are sending my way to accomplish this task. You are so faithful, I lean into Your faithfulness right now. Thank You for strengthening my heart in the midst of my weakness. I trust in Your strength."

A holy heart attracts God. And getting closer to God, getting to know Him more, will only convince my heart that He indeed is good, and no good  thing will He withhold. (Psalm 84:11) Holiness is not about sacrificing the "pleasures" of life to be bored with a 'boring God'. Leaning into His goodness, His holiness will only produce the very best, superior pleasures in our lives.

The truth is I can never be holy enough, but the REAL question is, how close to the man named “Holy” can I get.

How far will He let me go? How abandoned will He let me be?