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What would you say if God asked you what you want for your birthday?

When our children were old enough to understand the meaning of their birthdays, i.e., lots of presents, treats and fun, they were not hesitant about asking and expecting surprises, gifts and a special day of celebration from mom and dad and anyone else who wanted to join the party.  As parents, we secretly planned to give them the desires of their hearts as much as was in our resources and imagination to give.  We have fond memories of many celebrations.  Having four children and nine grandchildren, let’s see, with all of our ages, it adds up to a grand total of almost 350 birthday celebrations. Now that all of our children are living independently; our birthdays are celebrated somewhat quietly, but still uniquely. Mostly, they seem to involve friends and restaurants!

Every year, my husband, Skip, still asks me what I want for my birthday.  My past few birthdays have gone by with small requests and celebrations; but this year, God made a special provision a few weeks earlier.  We received a new credit card with a large sum of credit and no interest for one year.  In order to understand the extravagance of this, it’s important to understand that we have not felt the need to have or use a credit card in over ten years.  In response to his question, I answered with my desire to buy a brand new refrigerator and use the credit card.  Throughout the years, a refrigerator was a necessary item – nothing to get excited about.  We usually bought a good used model or an inexpensive model on sale.   No bells and whistles.  I mean, really, it was just a place to keep our food fresh and the choices were white or white mostly.

Anyway, this year, I was excited about this gift.  So, we began our due diligence.  We prayed for favor and wisdom.   We searched online, checking out the models.  We checked out Consumer Reports recommendations.  Oh, so many choices!  We went to several stores and wrote out the prices, pros and cons.  Finally, we found an exquisite stainless steel French door-in-door model with a pull-out drawer that can be a freezer or a refrigerator depending on our temperature setting and a large freezer with two pull-out trays.  Of course it dispenses water and ice (cubed or crushed) and lets me know the temperature of all storage spaces.  We delighted in our deal of a $4K unit for $2.5K!  Favor was given to us.  I eagerly anticipated the delivery of our new refrigerator on my birthday.  It arrived six days early!

The 29.7 cubic foot beauty sits proudly in our kitchen, gleaming from the reflections of the lights. It took Skip about 3 hours to move the old refrigerator and prepare the space for the delivery of the new one.  It took me 5 hours to empty out the old frig, clean it (it still worked just fine) for the next family and sort through the jars and containers to determine which items deserved the new shelf space.  Then, we moved the old frig onto the front porch and called a thrift shop to pick it up and be a blessing to someone else.  Finally finished.   What a blessing.  Thanks, Father!

I want to keep opening the doors and looking inside at the cool bluish lights and the organization, but after 60 seconds, it beeps at me reminding me that I’m keeping the door open too long!  In addition to the new refrigerator, Skip surprised me with 6 crab cakes and 5 Maryland Cream of Crab soups shipped directly from a favorite restaurant in Maryland.

It’s been a grand birthday this year.  I took a few days off work.  My daughter sent me a box of huge, sweet chocolate covered strawberries and my sister-in-law sent me a tea cookbook and a special license plate that says, “Jesus put the song in my heart”.  It seems like hundreds of people wished me a happy birthday on Facebook.  Quite different from the last few birthdays that I simply wanted to spend a quiet day at home catching up on lingering projects and enjoying the fact that I didn’t have to put on any makeup.  The lean birthdays enrich my soul and always draw me closer to God.

With our without the gifts bestowed upon me this year, my heart remains the same.  I’m joyful and grateful for my life.  But this year, God is stirring my heart for something different.

This morning as I celebrate 63 years on this planet, I sitting with God and thanking Him for these many years.  Of course I acknowledge that He gave me the refrigerator because He provided the extravagant provision for us.  As I was running through my many blessings in my mind, I began longing for the time when I will meet Him face to face and celebrate eternity with millions of loved ones.  Oh, what extravagance in Heaven and for all eternity.  I thought about something that I heard a few years ago.  A pastor spoke about a time when he was talking to the Lord on his birthday and God asked him why he didn’t ask God for a birthday present.  God brought it to my remembrance.

“Well, Father, what would I ask you for?  I already have the greatest gift a person could want.  My sins have been forgiven through Your Son.  I am your daughter-in-law and I will spend eternity with You.  What more could I want?”

I know that.  What do you want for your birthday?  Ask extravagantly, like your children used to do.

I had to think before I opened my mouth.  Should I really ask Him for what I’d like to have?  I don’t deserve…wait!  I am from the Royal Family of Heaven.  My Father is the King of kings.  He owns everything.  I have not because I ask not, He says.  Well, I thought, it’s a bit late for me – after all, I’m already 63 years old.  But, what would happen if I asked for everything that is in my heart?  I mean, our children did not hesitate to gleefully ask us for everything that was in their hearts.  Due to our parental wisdom and limited resources, they did not always get everything that they asked for, but that did not stop them from asking.  I have so many dreams still lingering in my heart.  I don’t know, but here goes.

Okay, Father, I want to be rich, really rich, like billions of dollars.  I want to spend the latter years of my life living extravagantly with no sorrow.  I want to experience a lifestyle of a real princess that I’ve only dreamed about.  I want to bless my family and many others with extravagant gifts.  I want to be debt-free and travel around the world.  I want to laugh a lot and share Your blessings with as many as will receive.  I want to be a Shaklee Senior Master Coordinator and receive the keys to that beautiful Mercedes from Roger and Sloan Barnett.  You know what that means to  me.  I want to be fearless, courageous, strong, gentle, loving and lovely.  I want the gifts of the Holy Spirit to flow richly through me.

I want to live like the Princess that You made me to be.  I want excellent health for me, my husband and all of my family.  What good is it to have great wealth without great health?  I want to write all the words that You have put in my heart and I want the books that you give me to write to change people’s eternal destiny.  I want to live in all the pages of the book that You wrote about me.  I want to see Your glory.

I want you to restore all that the devil has stolen from me and my family.  I want to live in a lovely, spacious home and have a few strategically placed condos throughout the world.  I want to be blessed with special people who will help maintain those homes and can be trusted.  I want Your anointing, Your favor, Your protection, Your power.  I want You to heal people through me.  I want to see people get up and walk who are bound in wheelchairs and beds.  I want my brother Ricky to be whole!  I want You to raise the dead through me.  I want to be like Jesus because You said that I should be.  I want Your Word to come alive in me.  I want to expose the lies of the enemy and see people set free from the chains that bind them.

I don’t want to spend one second in doubt, fear, rejection, sorrow, pain or suffering because You said that my soul is whole through Your wounds and beatings.  You said that You came to give us life and more life!  I want ALL that you intended for me to have.  I don’t want to be cheated out of one second, one blessing, one challenge, one promotion, one victory, one jot or tittle on those pages.

I want to hear from You personally every day.  I want to obey Your voice because I know clearly that it is Yours.  I want to hold Your hand and walk with You.  I want to sit high on Your shoulders.  I want to hug You and feel Your warm embrace.  I want intimacy with You.  I want my hands to be Yours to use as You will.  I want my body, my mind, my talents and Your gifts to flow and mingle together to accomplish Your sweet purpose.  I am Your Royal Princess and I want the world to see that You are real and extravagant.

I want all of my family saved from Hell and I want to be raptured with all of my family in these last days.  When I meet You and stand for my reward, I want You to hug me and say, “Well done, Georgia!”  I want to see You smile, throw back Your head and laugh delightfully because one day, I finally had the nerve to ask extravagantly.

I can’t think of anything else at the moment.  But if I could ask You for an extravagant birthday present, this would be it.

 

 

Are you being bullied?

I remember when our sons were in elementary school and had to face a bully.  You know what I’m speaking about.  While the details are irrelevant, my husband and I were aware that if the bully was not confronted, then the bullying would persist.  Right?  Can you recall a bullying situation in your own life?  Our sons quickly learned how to confront and the bullying stopped.

Bullying is actually a spirit of intimidation.  The purpose of this spirit is manifold, but for believers in Christ Jesus, this spirit comes against us to stop the work of God in our lives and to cause the gifts of God inside of us to be dormant.  Jesus faced bullying in the Garden of Gethsemane.  The battle was over His will or the Father’s will.  Thank God that Jesus never sinned and accomplished the purpose for which He came!  Hallelujah!  However, in the Garden, for the “first time, we see the will of the Father and the will of the Son in conflict in the life of Jesus….It exposed the only thing that could hold Him back-choosing to fulfill the will of the Father another way and thereby saving Himself” (Bevere, 1997, p. 118).

After three hours of prayer, Jesus won this battle and was ready and fully equipped to fulfill His purpose – to defeat the works of the devil.  What works?  Why the works that occurred in another garden – the Garden of Eden.  The devil deceived Eve and she ate the fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.   She handed the fruit to her husband, who was standing beside her, and Adam dishonored God and his wife and chose his will above God’s will.  He was self-centered which led to disobedience.  He gave the authority that God had given to him, which was to have dominion over all the earth, to the devil.  The devil now had a legal right to use his stolen authority against all of God’s creation.

Jesus defeated the devil 4,000 years later.  Jesus gained His rightful authority on earth back (legally) in order for His purpose to be accomplished through His beloved Church.  In fact, He said, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.  Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20).  Once again, mankind and God are able to walk together in agreement and God’s will on earth can be done as it is in Heaven.  A born-again believer has full authority to accomplish God’s will.

So, why are Christians being bullied and still giving their authority over to the bully over and over and over and over?  Why are we not reigning and ruling on this earth as God originally planned?  Intimidation is one of the main reasons.  And, for the most part, many believers are completely blind to this spirit and until recently, I was one of them.

A few days ago, I went to visit a very kind neighbor for the first time.  We had small talk over tea and I asked her what type of work she did.  She told me that she has several homes around the world that she founded where she houses hundreds of young girls and boys who come from abuse of all kinds.  WOW!  How awesome, I thought and told her so.  But, a little bit of jealousy was stirring in me.  I didn’t tell her.  As I listened to her describe how she left her position as a CFO after hearing a “call” on her life, I grew even more envious of her accomplishments.

Her life was free and she was serving her divine purpose.  Sometime during the conversation, I made a comment to that effect; that she was blessed to be walking in her call from God.  She quickly said that she liked to think about God as a creative force…and went on.  I was shell-shocked from the bomb that she had just dropped.  How can anyone think of my beloved God as a “creative force”?  I replied in a rather feeble voice that God is real, He’s not a creative force and He desires a personal relationship with us.  I think that I said that we were created in His image and we are not creative forces.  Did I detect a roll of the eyes?

She changed the subject and went on to talk more about her works, which are admirable by the world’s standards.  But, the atmosphere had changed and I felt uncomfortable.  I wanted to talk about God and share my love for Him with her.  But I did not.  I did not want to offend her, for after all, I just sat down with her for the first time so that we could get to know one another.  If I offended her, I may not get a chance to show her God’s love and help her see that God is quite real and desires intimacy with us.  I felt embarrassed that I was not walking in the things that God put in my heart for many years and was intimidated into silence.  I did not understand the magnitude of that afternoon and how God would use it to transform me even more into His image.

I came home and spoke to my husband about our meeting, but did not reveal the embarrassment that I felt about my “pitiful life”.  After all, I did not want to make my husband feel bad about the course of our lives together.  But, I was miserable.  I asked God why this woman, who calls Him a “creative force” and has no love for Him in her heart was being blessed to do “great things” and yet I was struggling in every area of life.  And while we’re at it, why do so many people in the world who could care less about You seem to have all the blessings and favor while your Church is struggling and suffering?  I don’t get it, I cried out.  What is wrong, Father?  God was listening and He was answering me….

The next day, I had lunch with another friend who is a godly woman.  I told her my experience the day before.  To my surprise, I revealed that I felt intimidated.  My friend asked me why I felt that way.  I responded that I did not know why and she said that she would bring me a book to read that would help me understand intimidation.  The book, “Breaking Intimidation – How to Overcome Fear and Release the Gifts of God in Your Life” by John Bevere, was in my hands in two days.  Okay, Father, this is great and I began reading.

As the Holy Spirit began to speak clearly to my heart, many scenes from my life passed through my mind.  I began to see what had been happening to me over the years as God exposed the spirit of intimidation that had been operating in my life.  I was once again shell-shocked…but this time, it was God dropping His truth into the territory that the enemy had taken possession of inside of me.

Back to Jesus and the Garden…

Jesus deliberated for three hours in that Garden “until He knew His battle was won.  His will was totally one with the Father’s.  He was now ready to face the intimidation of the enemy at the hands of the Jewish leaders and Roman soldiers” (Bevere, 1997, p. 118).

“And while He was being accused by the chief priests and elders, He answered nothing.  Then Pilate said to Him, ‘Do You not hear how many things they testify against You?’  But He answered him not one word, so that the governor marveled greatly” (Matthew 27:12-14).

“Boldness is not how loudly or how much we talk.  It is also found in silence – silence while false accusations are thrown in your face.  Jesus stayed in His authority by not reacting.  He knew they had no power over Him.  To react would indicate they did.  They attempted to control Jesus with their accusations, threats and powerful positions.  To answer them would be folly, for they had no concern for the truth.  Jesus knew they couldn’t take His life because He had already given it to the Father!” (Bevere, 1997, p. 118-119).  The silence that Jesus had was not the same as the silence that I had experienced that afternoon a few days ago.  A spirit of intimidation had silenced me.

“The root of fear and intimidation is the love of self.  Perfect love casts out fear and gives us boldness.  Boldness born of love breaks the grip of intimidation.  Imperfect love, or self-love opens the door to intimidation….Jesus said, ‘Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life…’ (John 15:13).  When we truly lay down our lives out of love for Jesus, we will no longer care what happens to us because we know we are committed into His care.  Then we are dead and hidden in Him….He purchased us; therefore, whatever happens to us is His concern only.  We just love and obey.  Fear should no longer torment us because a dead person can’t be tormented.  You can point a gun at a man in a casket and threaten him, but he won’t even blink” (Bevere, 1997 p. 119-120).

Today, as the spirit of intimidation in my life is exposed and defeated, I pray the same for you.  I highly recommend the book that I referenced here.  Christians must understand our authority, our position and the tactics that the enemy uses against us so that we can go forward in the plan that God has for each one of us.  There is nothing that can compare to a life that has been laid down and given to Jesus.  Being hidden in Him is the safest place in the universe.  Therefore, we have boldness to do all that He has given us to do.  May you be filled with the Spirit of Boldness from God, whether in speaking or in silence.

References

Bevere, John.  Breaking Intimidation: How to Overcome Fear and Release the Gifts of God in Your Life. Creation House.  Lake Mary, FL.  1997

By my 40th wedding anniversary, I learned about sacrificial love.

Always on our anniversary, we remember our wedding day.  And we celebrate another year of our love together.  I love to celebrate with my husband, Skip, and simply enjoy him.  This day marks our 40th celebration as husband and wife.  We lavish each other with gifts of kindness, attention, sweetness and well, love.  My heart is full of him all the time, but it simply bubbles over on such an occasion as this.  Sometimes, however, my heart has not always bubbled over for him because I have misjudged his motives and mine.  These were times when I had not yet learned to “die” to my own selfishness.

My desire is for my earthly husband.  God gives wives that desire.  But another desire exists…for my heavenly Husband.  God says that He is the Only One who knows the motives of our heart.  He is the Only One who will transform those motives to line up with His perfect motives.  Sometimes, my motives are not pure toward my husband, whether it be my husband of 40 years or my eternal Husband.  And, over the years, others have judged my husband with incorrect motives and have spoken unkind things about him.  But God says that He is the Only One who knows the motives of our heart.  He is the Only One who will transform those motives to line up with His.  God loves to show us about loving with His love – empty of our selfish desires; especially toward the ones that we love the deepest and most intimately.

My husband is a quiet, humble man of God who loves me and I believe that he would die for me.  He loves God and is saddened by the lies spoken against Him. He loves his country and is saddened by those who try to destroy it.  He loves his family and is saddened by anyone who wants to destroy them.  He loves God’s creation – all of it and it pains him to see destruction of God’s beauty.

God blessed us with four wonderful children who are now having children of their own.  Throughout the years as we raised our children, my husband had to demonstrate tough love on rebellion – at least to the extent that he understood how to be tough.  Sometimes our beloved children judged his toughness incorrectly and that hurt.  But, don’t we do the same thing with God?  We judge Him incorrectly because we don’t know His heart.  That saddens God.

In the past several years, I been seeking God’s heart as I desire to know Him and fall more deeply in love with Him.  I have been given the time to examine many areas of my life and my character as the Holy Spirit leads me.  I thought about my beloved husband of 40 years.  The trials have made us stronger.  Jesus is the Center of our marriage today.  But it wasn’t always that way.

Back Where You Belong by Jack Vittriano

Sometimes, we misjudged each other’s hearts.  We blamed each other for our failures.  But, because of grace and mercy, we began to ask God to examine our hearts, and they were not empty words.   Not only did we want to know each other’s hearts…I mean, really know, but we wanted to know our own hearts.  And we wanted to know our spiritual Husband’s heart…I mean, really know it.  As I discovered, neither husband is a hard taskmaster…at least not toward His beloved family.  And each  husband has the responsibility of helping his wife be all that she was created to be.

When we are born into the family of God, He looks at us in a new way.  God is always for us and He always loves us.  It’s just like when my husband and I were married, we looked at each other in a new way.  Sure, we understood our passionate love for each other at first but as we celebrated another and yet another anniversary, our love grew to include a deep companionship and deeper, more sacrificial love.

We are for each other and we love each other – as completely as we can understand.   Jesus loves us so much that He died so that “we” could be one with Him and enter into a sacred covenant with Him.  In the same way, my husband and I were joined together in a sacred covenant ordained by  God.  In that covenant, we have learned that we are to stop judging each other and love each other the same way that Christ loves us.  That’s supernatural – for without God’s hand in our marriage and in our lives, we would have perished.  We continue to lay down our own lives and die to our selfish desires – little by little – the same way that we lay down our lives for our spiritual Husband – little by little – until we are so entwined with Him that His will becomes ours and we become the fullness of each other in the sacred covenant.

It saddens me that so few couples are enjoying what we have been blessed to have.  People misjudge others.  People misjudge God.  People don’t forgive themselves or else blame God for stuff that the devil has done to them.  Immaturity – blindness – selfishness – sin.  All the attributes of the fallen sin nature of humanity.  Why do human beings reject the love of God towards them?  God says because the devil has blinded them.  Is God a hard taskmaster?  Some think so.  I did, for many years.  But, God already exhibited His tough love toward us – through His Son, Jesus, Whom He sacrificed for us.  Can love get any tougher than that?

As I consider my life and this occasion, my heart grieves for the deception of the people in the world who blame and misjudge our beloved Heavenly Father and Husband.

Father, use me to show others how wonderful You are.  Bring Your Bride’s heart into alignment with Your heart that we may be one.  Thank you for giving my husband and I forty years together to learn about love and You.

Letters from home…

Many years ago, during my basic training days in the United States Air Force, I looked forward to mail call just like every new recruit.  When I left for basic training, my husband, Skip, was my boyfriend.  He faithfully wrote to me every day.  Mail call always meant a letter from home.  I anticipated a letter from him and could hardly wait to open it when I got back to my room.  I clung to every word that he wrote, reading and re-reading each letter.  I cherished them and pondered them in my heart and thought about  him all day long.  What do you imagine the outcome would have been if I had thrown away all of those letters?  Or what if I would have simply tied them with a pretty ribbon and stacked them neatly in my drawer?  What a silly thought, you say, and I agree.

About half-way through “basic” (that’s military lingo), we were permitted to make a phone call (pre-cell phone days).  I greatly anticipated hearing Skip’s voice on the phone.  While talking to him, he asked me to marry him!  I accepted his proposal and a few days later, my engagement ring arrived during mail call.  Some of the other young women in the barracks shared in my excitement and said that I was so “lucky” to have such a loving, romantic fiance.  But some warned me about trusting him and that he may not mean what he said and “be careful that I don’t get hurt”.

Which voices did I choose to believe?  Of course, I believed the voice of my future husband and no one could persuade me otherwise.  Now, I began receiving two or three letters a day.  I was on his mind 24-7!  I was (and still am) his beloved.  I cannot even explain in words how my heart felt the day that I stepped off the plane once I finished “basic” and saw my husband face-to-face as he wrapped his loving arms around me.

Fast forward 40 years.  Last night, our pastor spoke about our hearts toward God and His heart toward us as He revealed deeper revelation from His Letter.  As I walked out of worship service with my husband, the Lord instilled a deeper love in my heart for Him and His letter to us: the Bible – His Letter from Home to every one of His beloved.

We are engaged to Christ for eternity.  I was pondering what had just been spoken to us through God’s Love Letter as God used His servant to impart the words to those who wanted to hear.  I considered the similarities and the differences between my earthly husband and my Heavenly Husband.  Why would I believe my imperfect earthly husband’s words and not believe my perfect Heavenly Husband’s words?  Should I put any less “weight” on the Love Letter from God than I did on those love letters from Skip?

God lovingly reminded me of my anticipation of Skip’s letters, of the promise of marriage and of the fact that I believed and clung to every word that my earthly husband spoke to me through his letters and through that one phone call.  Did I doubt anything that my future husband said to me?  Did I doubt his love for me?  Of course not!  Then, why is it that I sometimes doubt any word that God has written to me?  Why do I sometimes believe the voices of those who want me to doubt my future Husband’s love and plan for me?

Last night, I determined in my heart to read and re-read the Love Letter from Home with the same committed heart that I had as a young bride-to-be over 40 years ago.  My anticipation to hurry to my room and read His words to me has heightened.

Fellow “basic trainers”, our Husband-to-be is returning for His Bride one day soon.  Don’t be deceived by the voices of the enemy.  Read and re-read the Love Letter and cling to every Word that is written.  If your Beloved wakes you up at 3 a.m., get up and go spend a some time with Him.  He wants to talk to you.  We can trust Him to fulfill every Word that He wrote.  We can rest assured that God’s promises are true, that He is not a liar and this His thoughts toward us are good.  God loves and adores His betrothed and we are on His mind 24-7  – and even greater than that  – we are on His mind for eternity.  Just like I received my engagement ring – the promise of future marriage from my earthly husband, God sent His Holy Spirit to us until we see our Beloved.  Precious Bride of Christ, arise, for the world will soon know of God’s love for you as we draw near to the time when “basic” is over and we will see Him face-to-face.

Jesus is the Name above all names.

Philippians 2:10-11

New International Version (NIV)

10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

King of Kings and Lord of Lords

Look carefully at who will bow and confess that Jesus is Lord.  Everyone in Heaven, on earth and UNDER the earth.  That means fallen angels and people who died despising the Lord.  There are two major differences in the confession of His precious name.  One confession will be by those who love and confess Him before passing into eternity.  Their reward will be eternal life with Him.

The other confession will be by those who despised Him in this life but will eventually stand before Him in judgment.  Prior to eternal damnation, these people and fallen angels will bow before Jesus and confess His Lordship prior to being cast from His presence forever.  What a horrifying thought.