In light of the fullness of Christ everything that seems "in part" makes sense. His fullness, His purpose, His image reflects on every piece of my life. That is such hope especially when the pieces don't make sense.
Growing up my dad and I would build puzzles as a habit. We were serious to the point of "shalacking" and hanging them on the wall as a trophy upon completion. I am not talking about little 100 piece boxes of a gerber daisy, but more like a 3000 piece picture of New York's skyline at night. I mean were we crazy or what? Seriously, NYC night skyline made up of 3000 pieces all of which looked dark and oddly shaped. To begin our project and give me a little hope of actually being able to do this, my dad would remind me to look at the box picture, don't just stare at the pieces. "In light of the FULL picture all the pieces make sense." Wow! So NYC was hung after weeks and weeks of sweat, blood (thanks to cardboard paper cuts), and a few tears. Mission accomplished: the picture was perfectly portrayed through all of our pieces without missing one. That was the second thing daddy would remind me: " we cannot finish much less hang our puzzle if even one piece goes missing. All pieces have purpose."
My Abba Father reminded me of His grand picture on the box right when I am tempted to get overwhelmed and lost in my pieces. You see all the pieces, the dark and colorful ones, are purposeful to create the Picture of Christ in and on me throughout life. That is all sanctification means- the picture of Christ portrayed through and on me more and more. Each piece is vital, intentional, crafted just to fit perfectly in order to successfully reflect the goal Image. That will preach!
So with a puzzle piece on my keyboard next to me, I remember that in the fullness of Christ all my parts fit into the picture He has in mind. All the pieces are perfect when viewed in light of the box. May we never view puzzles and pieces the same!
Go grab yourself a puzzle piece and place it on your computer, in your car or by the kitchen as a reminder of Col 2:9.
The Bible just pops off the page sometimes. It did this morning as I sat overlooking the lake with coffee near and music on. It is like the veil between this life and that one is breached for a moment as the sounds ring, the trees sway, and the Word moves in power. It is a sweet powerful living book that stuns me with phrases, people, and predictions. It takes me out of this life and into the One that I was born to know fully. This morning I read of a woman I did not know previously. The scripture teems inside with new nuggets and characters just like this lake teems with so much underneath. As this earthly wind blows over me it is a picture of His breath through the Word blowing into me.
Huldah was her name. She was a prophetess and a wife. Powerful combination! Even more is that she was the wife of, believe it or not, the “wardrobe keeper for the king”. Seriously!? She was married to a man who had the eye for fashion over the royalty of the kingdom. Oh for that title in the line up of “king’s men”. Not only was she probably dressed to the nines with a keen eye but also that of a keen heart. She was a prophetess of God. Separated and sold out to the King of Israel! Men sought her out to hear her impression not her opinions. An impression is so different than an opinion. Often we all give opinions but rarely do we offer impressions. One who kneels before the Lord is given a keen sense of His opinion into the situation. As we lean into Christ, an impression can be His opinion into the situation. His opinion is all I want to hear and follow.
God had given a harsh dictation to the people of Judah in this passage and some had hardened their hearts because of it. Has God ever spoken a harsh word, direction, or truth to you? Oh He has to me, many a time. What posture does our heart turn to when the King speaks this way? Do we forsake and fret or do we believe and lean in still?
Some of the men as listed in the passage turned their hearts away from the Lord and provoked Him even more. Others were in the habit of bowing low with tender hearts to the God of “harsh words”. Though the word spoken was hard to palate they had nowhere else to turn but into the One who spoke. The one who fell into the Lord after this word was the king of Judah by sending these men out to listen to Huldah, the woman of God. Oh to be such a leader when a harsh direction or prediction of God is made that I look up and into Him regardless!
She told them that because they had turned towards the Lord with a tender humbled heart that He would truly hear them. What a thought? God truly hears and moves when we are broken and contrite with tenderness before Him. Lord, when You say something harsh, let me still, in humility, turn my heart towards you with tenderness just like they did. You ride in on the desperate cries of your people Lord! Awesome promise and posture. That is the best wardrobe to wear, a desperate bent heart towards the Living Lord Jesus.
Listen to a recap of our study briefly. Chapter 2 will be in two weeks...
On the heels of fireworks, the fourth, and friends I am refreshed at the thought of deeper freedom. Freedom means the state of liberty rather than confinement; exemption from external control, interference and regulation; the power to determine action without restraint. True freedom is granted to us by the Living Lord Jesus for II Cor.3:17 states, “Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom!” Do we believe and live in this freedom afforded for us? As daughters in Christ we can enjoy liberty not confinement to emotions, circumstances or people. As His lovely brides we are exempt from controlling anything, regulating everything, and interfering something. As His very own we have His power to determine our actions, desires, and beliefs. Praise is God’s for this reality! The Spirit lives in us and is ever-present therefore let freedom ring in and through us to all watching! It is for freedom that Christ died and set us free as mentioned in Galatians. National freedom is a gift worth our recognition, gratitude and tears along with many sacrificed lives, however spiritual freedom is a gift worth believing and exhausting for it took the life of one Man, God Himself! He died that we might truly live, fully and freely alive. Sink into the deeper freedom that resides in you now through the Precious Crucified Lord that arose from the grave in the ultimate ring of Freedom! Glory to Jesus…
So it stands to reason then that where there is Vision, people flourish.
Tonight is a night I have prayed about and seen with my spiritual eyes for over a decade. I want to cast what I believe God has raised up in my heart and in this ministry for women in living rooms all over and many others we all have yet to meet. To capture vision best is to communicate it through a story. Jesus taught His people through story and it is one of the beautiful elements of this ministry…
Est.Her was birthed in my heart many years past though her name was not given to me until about 4 years ago. God called me at a young age to be a part of deepening women’s personal journeys with God through an experience of His word… living and written. I prayed to know the Lord like Mary sitting at His feet more than like many sitting in a pew. He answered that prayer! I was unaware though that the answer was packaged with things I never would have chosen.
I grew to love Him and His Word because He caused me to need it more then anything when He introduced incredible suffering into my life. Suffering can come packaged in many forms whether relational, spiritual, physical, emotional, or whatever… but suffering is suffering. During a dark season of my life in 2005 The Lord led me to I Peter 5:10 the same week I was asked to speak on Esther at a women's conference. I Peter 5:10 says, “After you have suffered for a little while, the God who called you according to His grace, will Himself, perfect, confirm, strengthen, establish you.” The words dried my tears as I realized a few things about suffering. Suffering is inevitable. Suffering is not only an inevitable part of life, but it is also a divine gift in life. Pain is the gift that nobody wants… but when we open it… we are introduced to the Gift giver. Suffering also is seasonal, it has an alpha and omega to it. Praise the Lord! Not all of life is meant to be lived wearing the garment of mourning, but it is the abundant life meant to be embraced with joy and peace! Suffering actually ushers in true Joy and peace in ways you would never believe. It is never a wasted cistern that sits stagnate but a meaningful catalyst that pours out life for others. Suffering is a catalyst for perfecting our identity through Christ, confirming our call from Him, strengthening us for that calling, and ultimately establishing us in Jesus.
He is life not merely an addition. There are many women who think and live like He is an extra add-on, an accessory if you will… I did. I was living my dream with the mansion, the ring, the fiancé… I was still so empty as a Believer. I bought into the lie that I taught never to believe. "Jesus plus anything will satisfy". It is Jesus plus nothing! He is a jealous God that wants nothing to rival HIM as our affection. He grabbed my attention and affection forever when He crucified many dreams for me. But the beautiful fact is that resurrection follows crucifixion! He wanted to become my Life even though He had been my Lord and Savior since I was seven. So 4 years ago in preparing for my Esther talk at this conference where I was asked to give my brokenness story, I flipped the pages from the I Peter passage back to Esther and my eyes enlarged. "Establish Her" was written in Est.Her. He stamped a promise period on me that day saying " Sarah through suffering I will bring you to the end of yourself and the beginning of me. I want to establish your identity in me and use you to lead other women to a deeper awareness of me as their Life". He wants to establish women, whether married or single, young or old, through the artistry of suffering and learning the purpose behind it and value in it.
Establish means to make firm and stable that which was already there, to cause to grow and multiply, to found something or someone as if bringing into existence and to put into a favorable position. We are who He says we are and He is who He has said He is!
We have all known need and pain… There is no escaping it. It is in this place of humility that intimacy with Christ is ushered in which starts the journey of perfecting our identity in Christ, confirming our callings from Him, strengthening us for our responsibilities, and then, of course, firming us up deep as women in God, not just women of God. Big difference! I Thess 5 says that Faithful is He who has called us and HE WILL DO IT! What joy and comfort!
This journey of intimacy out of need is what happened to me and I knew I was called to create environments of vulernability and community while communicating the written and living word. Beautiful atmospheres for women to enjoy and encounter Christ. He has called me to share His love affair with me through stories ( His and Mine) to women all over. I want to see them in turn do the same with others. Where more than our story is spoken of but Christ is lifted up and left in the hearts of the hearer!
Far more women are active for God and not very intimate with Him. Activity can be one of the greatest enemies to intimacy with Jesus. Establish Her was born for and through women who are hungry for intimacy in Christ, not merely activity for Him. It is open to women who are learning their deep need and dependence on Christ as everything. Women who live life from their knees not their feet, as I had to learn and am still learning!
The John 15 abiding that we all crave is not developed on the pinnacle, as much as it is in the pits or "prisons" of life. Even Paul wrote from prison, “I have learned to be content with whatever the circumstance."
Establish Her celebrates Christ not our circumstances, but Christ in our circumstances. It gives women’s stories a voice and an audience. We believe in the validity and application of the whole council of Scripture, while also enjoying and profiting from the individual voices and ‘establishment stories’ of broken women made whole. Truly, He inhabits the praises of His people and inhabits us, indeed. misery births ministry. It is humbling to think that God brought me to the end of myself and the beginning of Him with this day in mind and ministry in heart… for each of your benefit not just my own. Years ago and still to this day," Death worked in me that Life may work in you." II Cor. 4
He is raising up women in Atlanta to stand along side me in furthering this vision to more than just this room. What if we could fill living rooms all over with women who are growing in their need of Jesus and each other. What if we could fill banquet falls with incredible feasts and encounters centered around hearing the establishing that Jesus is doing in the life of a women’s story. James 1 says to THROW A PARTY WHEN YOU ENCOURNTER various trials… I think we should do that for women all over the place. For in loss there is great gain, especially when we embrace and celebrate it as from the Lord.
Rev 12:11 says there is power and overcoming in sharing our story…. Rev 3:20 says that Christ is sitting at a table not a desk. I am called to be a table setter and invite women to an intimate conversation with the Living God through Jesus Christ. I see Establish Her gatherings of women in different cities studying the scripture, sharing their stories and celebrating together on a large scale a few times a year over who Jesus is becoming in us!
I have an incredible team that believes in this and is along for the journey… many of you are in this room. Thank you! We have the glory of God ahead us and behind us. This is His idea not mine… He is simply using us as vessels to communicate it!!! To be rooted deeply in and planted firmly by Jesus Christ as our Life is the I Pet 5:10 destination and the desire of my heart in this ministry.
Anticipate miracles when Jesus is in the equation, as my Pastor Louie, says…. Growth, duplication, unity, lasting kingdom fruit in all of our lives is ahead because we are caught up into what He is doing not asking Him to bless what we are doing.
I will leave you with II KINGS 19:30 Says "The surviving remnant of the house of Judah will again take root downward and bear fruit upward."