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You Are Not Barren!

never-too-late

Thursday morning I woke up much earlier than usual and I couldn’t go back to sleep.  I just love how God brings about revelation.  I read a scripture on the YouVersion app that I’ve been meditating on ever since.  I was able to minister about it to a home group Friday night and I’m still meditating on it.  The scripture was 1 Samuel 1:7 and it’s the story of Hannah (Samuel’s mother) and Peninnah . The first part of verse 7 says,  “Year after year it was the same.”

Hannah and Peninnah were married to the same man -Elkanah. Peninnah had children and Hannah did not.   Every year Elkanah and the rest of the members of the family traveled to Shiloh in order to make sacrifices to the Lord.  Elkanah gave out the portions of the sacrificial meat to each family member.  Verse 5 says, But to Hannah he gave a double portion, for he loved Hannah, but the Lord had given her no children. Year after year it was the same; Peninnah tormented Hannah because she didn’t have children.  Each year Hannah was reduced to tears and lost her appetite. Some of the most hurtful and tragic situations I’ve walked through with friends was due to infertility.  Hannah was heartbroken over not having a child.  The Amplified Bible says that she was embarrassed and grieved.  To make matters even worse Peninnah purposely tormented her.  Growing up in church I’ve always heard that Hannah was barren.  The Bible never says that though.  It says in 1 Samuel 1:6 “because the Lord had closed her womb.”   There’s a huge difference between a women being barren and her womb being closed.  It might seem barren but it just means that the timing hasn’t been right.  Her womb was closed but it wasn’t barren.  If a women is barren it means that she is unable to conceive.   Hannah was able to conceive it just wasn’t her time to have children -yet.  As I read through the chapter I felt so bad for Hannah.  She was childless, Peninnah tormented her and she was married to Mr. Sensitive.  Bless his heart, Elkanah didn’t have a clue.  He said in verse 8 ““Why are you crying, Hannah? Why aren’t you eating? Why be downhearted just because you have no children? You have me—isn’t that better than having ten sons?”  Hannah desperately wanted children and her husband simply didn’t understand.  He thought he was more than enough for her needs.  Hannah was walking through the greatest heartache of her life and she couldn’t even rely on the support of her husband.

The Bible goes on to record that after a sacrificial meal in Shiloh Hannah got up and went to the tabernacle to pray.  While there, she poured her heart out so desperately that Eli the Priest accused her of being drunk.  Hannah had to respond to his accusations in a place that should have been comforting.  Instead of finding solace she was met with accusations.  Her answer was, ” No, my lord, I am a woman of a sorrowful spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I was pouring out my soul before the Lord.  Regard not your handmaid as a wicked woman; for out of my great complaint and bitter provocation I have been speaking.”  Eli said, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant your petition which you have asked of Him.”  Hannah said, Let your handmaid find grace in your sight. So [she] went her way and ate, her countenance no longer sad. 

There are several things I want to encourage you about today.  We have all probably encountered various situations and year after year it’s the same.  Year after year the enemy torments us about our barrenness.  He torments the dreams and destiny on our lives because we look so unfruitful.  Year after year we listen to his taunts and it’s the same.  Just because there is something in your life that LOOKS barren, it doesn’t mean that it is.  It just hasn’t been time; YET.  However, the time is now!  There is not one barren person reading this who has God given dreams, promises or desires.  You are not barren!  It may look like barrenness because you’re not holding the “baby” yet but get ready!  Exodus 23:26 says, “There shall be no one miscarrying or barren in your land; I will fulfill the number of your days. That verse is used mostly for physical barrenness.  I believe it can be applied spiritually too.  You may not even feel like you’re pregnant with any dreams or promises but just you wait!  You may feel like you miscarried or aborted the plans of the Lord.  Cry out of God for your dreams.  As long as you’re breathing it’s not too late!  Cry out to Him for a glimpse of the plans that He has for you.

You may be married to Mr. Sensitive and he doesn’t understand what you’re going through.  You may feel like you don’t have any friends or family that can relate.  Your soul may be grievously vexed and your heart broken.  You may feel completely alone.  Sometimes the only voice you can hear is the voice of the adversary tormenting you and lying to you.  Peninnah taunted Hannah for being barren. People in your life may look at you and see barrenness but they don’t see the whole picture.  They can’t see that it’s not your due time YET.  Hannah didn’t even find comfort in the priest.  He accused her and she had to explain herself.  The enemy has been accusing you for a long time but that stops now.

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Taking Spiritual Responsibility for 27 Million People

I’ve known for a number of years that human trafficking exists.   Off and on for several years I’ve prayed for the 27 million people that are said to be victims of modern day slavery.  The past few days my heart has been completely broken over it in a different way. I’ve been heart sick and overwhelmed.   I want to share a few statistics with you.  It’s hard to read, it’s impossible to comprehend but we’ve got to open our eyes.  We can’t sing “Shout to the Lord” with hands lifted while in church on Sunday and ignore the cry of millions all over the world.   A little girl from India can be bought for $24.  A girl from Mozambique sells for just $2.  Texas is considered the epicenter for human trafficking in the US because of the I-10 Corridor. The Department of Justice has identified the top 20 human trafficking jurisdictions in the country.  Houston is number one.   Human Trafficking generates over 9 billion dollars every year in the United States and over 30 billion worldwide.  Sex trafficking victims are forced to have sex anywhere from 20-48 times a day.  Less than 1% of victims are rescued. How can this be in the 21st century?

Yesterday at church I had what I can only describe as a holy moment.  At some point during the worship my heart was overwhelmed thinking about 27 million people being in bondage.  My Pastors called people to the front that wanted freedom in certain areas of their lives.  Then the call was made that if you won’t stand for yourself, do it for your children.   I don’t have children.  I have nieces, nephews, and now great nieces and nephews in Germany, Colorado, Virginia and Texas.  I pray for all of them constantly.  However, in those moments it was as if 27 million people passed before my eyes.  I could see them hidden in the darkness, broken and alone.  God asked me, “Will you take responsibility for 27 million people?”  First let me say that I know there are wonderful ministries all over the world praying and working on their behalf.  I follow some of those ministries on Facebook and Twitter.   However, God’s question demanded my answer.   I wanted to answer Him.  In that moment I said, “Yes God,  I’m willing to take spiritual responsibility for each one.”  I’m willing to pass on a few meals and stand in the gap for them by fasting and intercession.  I’m willing to cry freedom and restoration to the captives.  I have the sheer audacity to believe that because of the blood of Jesus Christ my prayers will make a difference in 27 million people!  I believe with all of my heart that 27 million captives can go free.  During the worship I was heart sick and I was overwhelmed at the number.  The instant I said yes to God I was filled with peace.  God then showed me the children of Israel born into slavery walking out of Egypt free.  He reminded me that On May 14, 1948 the nation of Israel was born in one day. Both seemingly impossible events made possible by our God who delights in setting the captives free.

As of today I am committed to pray 27 minutes every day for those being exploited and for those fighting for their freedom.  I’m putting forth the same challenge to each of you.  It doesn’t have to be all at once.  Pray 13 minutes in the morning and 14 in the evening.  Break it up it whatever way is feasible for you.  We may not have millions of dollars for this cause but we have prayer.   We can pray for a revival to sweep across this earth so there wouldn’t be any demand for sex slaves.  We can repent on behalf of the nations just like Daniel.  We can make a difference.

The A21 Campaign is a ministry focused on abolishing modern day slavery in the 21st century.  Christine Caine with the A21 Campaign says that this is our modern day Holocaust.  What are we going to do about it?  Are we going to feign ignorance or completely ignore the fact that 27 million people are held in slavery right this second?  Can’t we intercede on their behalf and for those who are on the front lines fighting this battle?  Innocent children, teenagers and young women are being exploited all over the world for money and to satisfy the most depraved lust.  It’s time we get on our knees and see where the Lord leads.  It’s time to say, “Yes God, I’ll take spiritual responsibility for 27 million people.”

I’m sharing this for many reasons.  The main reason being for awareness. Each one of us can pray for all of those being held in bondage.  We can make a difference.  The YouTube video is the story of one girl.  She’s one person out of 27 million.

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Destroy the Idols!

sumerian_idols  We see images like this and think that’s what idol worship is.  As a Christian, idol worship is simply anything that we exalt above God in our life.  It’s day number nine of my journey to spiritual transformation. This isn’t something I take lightly.  I’m expecting tremendous and miraculous things in and through my life this year.  As I said before, I’m in for the transformation of a lifetime!

I’m also spending a good deal of time in Jeremiah.  Jeremiah is called the Prophet of the heart.  Heart is mentioned 66 times in Jeremiah.  God is after our heart.  Chapter two begins with God telling Jeremiah, “Go and shout this message to Jerusalem.”  Please take the time to read it for yourself.  I’m sure I could find a more eloquent way of explaining the effect that this chapter had on me.  I’ll opt for the graphic description though.  As I’ve read it, listened to it and studied it I felt like my guts were being turned inside out.  God takes idol worship very seriously.  It caused me to exam areas of my life where I may have allowed attitudes, wrong thinking etc. to become idols.

In Chapter 2:2 God said He remembered what Israel was like when they were eager to please Him.  In those days Israel was holy to Him.  They even followed Him through the barren wilderness.  He goes on to say that somewhere along the way they lost their passion for Him.  Other things caught their attention and affection.  Can the same thing be said for you?  Is your schedule so overcrowded that you barely have time to whisper a prayer at night?  Are appearances more important to you than God?  Does your job keep you away from your family and church constantly?  God asked them “What did your ancestors find wrong with Me that led them to stray so far from Me?  In other words, God asked them “What’s wrong with Me?  Wasn’t I enough?  Didn’t I do enough for them?”  Their lack of gratitude is appalling but aren’t we like that?  We’ve witnessed Him accomplish the impossible yet we still look to other people and things to worship.  He said, “They worshipped worthless idols, only to become worthless themselves.”   I’ve read all of this many times before but the more I read these verses the more they pierce my heart. I don’t want to be worthless!  Haven’t you been through too much, experienced God in such a way that you don’t ever want to be worthless?

In verse 7 He says “And when I brought you into a fruitful land to enjoy its bounty and goodness you defiled My land and corrupted the possession I had promised you.”  God brought them safely to a fruitful land yet the corrupted it by worshipping idols.  They allowed other gods to capture their heart even though God worked wonders for them numerous times.  As an entire nation they traded their God for new gods. Verse 11 says, “Yet My people have exchanged their glorious God for worthless idols!”  I wonder how many times I have been guilty of exchanging my glorious God for worthless idols.  Those idols don’t have to be what Christians think of as the “big ones” like drugs, alcohol, stealing, fornication etc.  Some Christians wouldn’t dare go to a bar but yet have no problem wishing someone else was dead.  Some people exalt their negative attitudes and criticism of others far above God and His Word.  Offense and bitterness can be idols just as money and fame.  Ask the Lord to open your eyes to any idols that may be in your life. Anything we exalt above the Word of God is an idol.   God takes it seriously when one of His children worships other idols.  In fact, verse 12 says, “The heavens are shocked at such a thing and shrink back in horror and dismay,” says the Lord. Think of the times you heard a particularly brutal story on the news that affected an innocent child.  Most likely your reaction was to shrink back and gasp in horror.  That’s what heaven does at the thought of us turning our back on God to worship other gods.  God help us.  I’m going to address other verses in this chapter later particularly the two evils God charges against His people.

 I want to encourage you to exam your heart in the coming days.  What has your attention and affection above God?  My friend, it’s not worth it.  Anger, lust, drugs, alcohol, jealously, TV, food -none of it.  It’s not worth all of heaven shrinking back in horror and dismay.  God wants our heart.  In His loving and merciful way He’s pleading with all of us to destroy the idols in our lives before they destroy us.  One last point, verse 9 says, “Therefore, I will bring My case against you,” says the Lord.  “I will even bring charges against your children’s children in the years to come.”  Worshipping anything above God regardless of what it is will have an affect on your great grandchildren.  If that’s not enough to destroy the idols in your life what is?

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I Choose You

choose

“I choose you.”  I recently heard those words while watching a makeover show on TV.  I’ve watched the show before and heard the same words but this time they hit me in a different way.  The basis for the show is that a client writes to the Transformation Specialist expressing why he/she desperately needs to be chosen.  In almost all cases it truly is a necessity.  These people need to lose extreme amounts of weight and other areas of their lives are in serious trouble. When chosen,  the client gives themselves over to the specialist for one year.   During that year their lives are transformed.  I noticed that most times when the Transformation Specialist said the words “I choose you” the client dissolved into tears.  It’s a motivational show and more times than not I find myself blinking back tears.  I love to watch as people’s lives are transformed.  By the end of the year some of them have changed so much they aren’t recognizable.

I felt led to study the Book of Jeremiah this year.  It occurred to me that there are 52 chapters and of course there are 52 weeks in a year.  If God wants me to study it for all of 2014, I’m willing.  In my reading I discovered a verse that I know I’ve read many times because I love the Book of Jeremiah.  Today this verse came alive.  Jeremiah 2:25 says; When will you stop running? When will you stop panting after other gods?  But you say, ‘Save your breath. I’m in love with these foreign gods and I can’t stop loving them now!”  One translation says But you say, ‘It’s hopeless!  For I have loved strangers and foreigners, and after them I will go.  One more translation says, But you say,  ‘I can’t help it!  I’m addicted to alien gods.  I can’t quit.’  In today’s vernacular that  response could also be “What’s the use?   I can’t change. I don’t want to change!   I’ve always been like this.”  Have you ever said that to God?  Have you ever felt like something has such a grip on you that even God can’t deliver you?   Is there something in your life that you’ve given up on and lost hope?  My friend, there is absolutely NOTHING that is impossible for our God. Don’t shake your fist at God and say, “What’s the use?”  Lift your hands and say “God I give myself to You.”

I’ve decided to do something that might seem kind of odd to some people.  I’m officially giving myself over to God the Ultimate Transformation Specialist.  For the next year, I’m going to trust Him like I never have.  I’m going to get out of the comfort zones and into a place of extreme spiritual makeover.  I’m going to give Him every single area of my life and say “Have Your way in me.”   I’ve been in church my entire life, I’ve gone to Bible School, I’ve led classes, ministered at church and experienced the life changing presence of God countless times.  I’ve heard His whisper in my heart but it’s not enough.  None of that means anything if I can’t know Him even more.  Nothing and no one is going to get in the way.  This is going to be my year of extreme makeover.

On the show, the client has to trust the Specialist.  The year of transformation isn’t going to work or stick  if they don’t trust him.  I realize that I’m going to have trust God more than ever. Immediately something happened today to challenge that trust. Transformation isn’t easy but it’s definitely possible!   I can’t do things the way I’ve been doing them.  I can’t think the same way I’ve been thinking.  I have to trust Him and His Word.  One of the things that really touches me about that show is how much the specialist seems to care for his clients.   He has such a sweet, compassionate heart.   He’s invested in his clients success.  He gets tough when necessary but he’s also very encouraging.  My Bible says in Jeremiah 31:3I have loved you, My people, with an everlasting love.  With unfailing love I have drawn You to Myself.”  God invested  the life of His precious Son in us!  He is willing to do what it takes so that we are molded into the image of His dear Son.  In Jeremiah 31: 4 God promises, Again I will build you, and you shall be rebuilt.  One of the commentaries I read about verse 4 said, The combination of the active and passive to express the same fact implies the infallible certainty of its accomplishment.  God is going to build you and you shall be rebuilt!  What a beautiful promise!  In that building and rebuilding  there will be demolition.  It’s not a comfortable process but it’s worth it!

So what do you say…are you with me?  Are you willing to give yourself to God in a new and fresh way this year?  Are you willing to set this entire year apart for Him to completely transform you?  You might be thinking that there’s nothing “wrong” with your relationship with God. Do you want it to be stronger and more intimate?  Do you want Him to increase so you’ll decrease?  I realize that we should set our entire lives apart for Him -don’t get all religious on me.   I’m talking about a year of dedicated and intense transformation.  I’m in for the transformation of a lifetime!  I heard Him say “Jennifer, I choose you.”  If you listen you’ll hear Him say, “I choose you.”

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#SaveSaeed

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The American Center for Law and Justice sent out an update about Pastor Saeed earlier today.  Please take the time to read the entire article. More than anything, please pray for him.  His family also needs our prayers.  Pray for all of our brothers and sisters who are being persecuted for the sake of the Gospel.

Tomorrow a special event for Pastor Saeed is scheduled.  The organizers  propose the single loudest outpouring of support via social media to free Saeed in recent memory.  They’re encouraging people to use whatever platform they have available -Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, blogs, etc.

You may think that you’re only one voice.  Let’s think about what “only one voice” accomplished.  One voice said “Let there be light”, and there was light.  That light is STILL piercing through the darkness.  One voice spoke peace to the raging storms, brought the dead back to life and cried out “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do”.  One voice declared “It is finished”.   There are multitudes of examples in the Word when one voice changed everything.  With God ALL things are possible!  Our voice lifted in faith can set the captives free.  While my heart is heavy for Pastor Saeed, there are countless others of our brothers and sisters experiencing the same persecution and torture.  Let’s be their voice -individually and corporately.  Right where we are, we can be one voice for the captives that changes everything.

Hillsong Church released a CD in 1998 called Touching Heaven Changing Earth.  Fifteen years later the title track still touches my heart.  My heart is so stirred with the simplicity of  the message; touch Heaven, change earth.  Our persecuted brothers and sisters need us to touch Heaven for them.  Pastor Saeed, my brother and your brother in Christ desperately needs us to lift our voices for him.  The lost and the dying need us to touch Heaven and change earth.  Later on tonight I’ll take my precious dog for a long walk, enjoy a hot shower and go to bed.  Pastor Saeed is sharing a cell with murderers and rapists.  He covered with lice and in severe pain.  Our brothers and sisters are being starved and tortured.  They’re enduring all of this so that God will be glorified.  In our freedom, let’s remember our brothers and sisters.  The Bible tells us in Hebrews 13:3 to Remember those in prison as if you were there yourself.  Remember also those being mistreated as if you felt their pain in  your own bodies.

#savesaeed

#freesaeed

 

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Run!

cross

  Last week I read an article about a dog that was terribly abused.  His owners put a halter around him when he was a puppy and they didn’t loosen it as he grew.  Over time the halter became embedded in his body.  Thankfully he was rescued.  The only way to remove the halter was for the dog to have surgery.  Unfortunately I’ve seen that happen on so many occasions.  I didn’t post the picture but it was absolutely heartbreaking.  This weekend God allowed me to see how His people are walking through life with deeply embedded chains around their neck.  I could see it just as clear as if I was looking at a picture that someone took with their camera.  As heartbreaking as it is I’m glad He allowed me to see that image.  Some people have been in bondage for so long that they don’t know what it’s like to walk in freedom.  For some the chains are so embedded in their neck that they require surgery from the Great Physician in order to experience freedom.   The price has already been paid, we just have to cooperate with His process.

What I’m about to write may seem hard and lacking compassion.  Please hear my heart though.   I haven’t felt the weight of something like this in a very long time.    I have great compassion for those in bondage.  God has done such a work in my life. I long to see others free and  walking in true intimacy with Him.  I say this as someone who is absolutely trembling at the word of God in my heart right now. I’m not perfect and I’m walking out my own salvation.  I know this is straight from the heart of God.   My friend, the enemy is trying to destroy you.  Do you understand that?  Satan is trying to destroy you, your family and your destiny.  He is trying to use those things from your past, those things that are deeply embedded around you and he’s trying to destroy you.  He’s trying to stop the plan of God for your life.  For some of you,  he temporarily succeeded.  You may feel like you’ve been stopped for years. As long as you have breath in you it’s not too late and it’s not over!!  You have to wake up though.  You have to realize that those things that have held you in bondage for years, maybe even since you were a child, it doesn’t have to be that way.  God can remove those chains that no man or woman can remove.  Now is the time.  The enemy is trying to destroy you and now is the time to run to God with arms wide open.  I say this with all of the love of God in my heart -it’s time to stop allowing the enemy to lie to you and keep you in bondage.  It’s time to walk away from the destruction and into freedom and life.  The things of the past have to be in the past. You don’t have time to play games.  I believe that for someone reading this, it could be life and death.  I don’t say that to scare anyone.  I say it with a holy boldness and love so your life won’t be destroyed.  God doesn’t want your life destroyed, He has great plans for you.  He loves you with an everlasting love.  He’s waiting for you to walk away from death and choose life.  It’s time.  Only you can make that decision. I can plead with you and minister His love to you but you have to make the choice.  If you’ve stopped going to church, stop making excuses and get back in the house of God.  Do whatever it takes to get in a place where you can walk out the freedom Jesus purchased for you.  I included the picture of Jesus on the cross because it’s His sacrifice that paid the price for your freedom.  You may need more intensive help for whatever has you in bondage.  The first step in that process is your choice.  Are you going to keep playing games or are you going to choose life?

I’m going to share an extremely personal story from my life.  I’m doing so because it’s the only other time that I’ve felt a warning like this so strongly.  One morning I woke up with an extreme urgency and warning of danger for my best friend.  Without hesitation I called her and told her that I was scared for her life.  I told her it was time to make the tough decisions and get her life right.  She received it and made some changes.  Unfortunately the changes weren’t enough.  A few short months later she was found dead.  Your story doesn’t have to end that way!  You don’t have to be destroyed, your kids don’t have to go to hell, your marriage doesn’t have to end in divorce.  I’ll tell you what does have to happen.  You must surrender. Surrender to God, His Word and His ways.   You must run away from whatever has you in bondage.  Run, run, run!

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