A New Year. No Resolution.

Isaiah 43:19 New Living Translation (NLT)

19 For I am about to do something new.
    See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?
I will make a pathway through the wilderness.
    I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.

2020 is almost here. A New Year. A New Decade. A New Vision. The Lord is about to do something new! This morning He revealed two old things from 2019 that could hinder me from following His new path in 2020:

Number 1: STOP throwing pearls to pigs

Matthew 7:6-8 New Living Translation (NLT)

“Don’t waste what is holy on people who are unholy.[a] Don’t throw your pearls to pigs! They will trample the pearls, then turn and attack you.

I’m not calling people pigs; the BIBLE makes the analogy! I readily admit, I’ve actedlike a pig; eating the slop of the world and rolling around in the mud. The only reason I’m no longer in the pig pen is the grace of God. By the power of His Spirit, I came to my senses and ran home to my Father 20 years ago. As His daughter, I am continually being cleansed from the mud and muck to be made holy as He is holy (1 Peter 1:16). He rescued me from death & filled me with His Spirit, giving me eyes to see, ears to hear, and a heart to understand how long, how wide and how deep His love is for me (Ephesians 3:19). Only by receiving His love am I able to love Him with all my heart, soul, mind and strength (Matthew 22:37). Only by loving Him am I able to love myself. Only by loving myself am I able to love my neighbor. Only by loving my neighbor am I able to preach the gospel & teach people how to obey Jesus.

People.

Sometimes they act like pigs.

In 2019, I received a lot of pearls from the Lord- in fact, an entire strand of them. In my impetuousness, however, I foolishly shared those pearls with people who SAID they love God, but who’s lives continued to SHOW they didn’t. Because I loved them, I ignored the fact that their words could not be trusted. Instead of guarding my heart, I received rejection as they rejected the pearls (dreams, visions, prophesy) I shared. As a result, I felt trampled (betrayed, denied) & attacked (falsely accused).

But the Lord is doing something new in 2020! He says I must forgive those people for lying, but stop wasting what is holy. He has given them the freedom to live like pigs, and I must do the same. He says I must continue to love, but I cannot wallow in the mud with them.

Number 2: STOP chasing prodigals

Luke 15:11-32

11 To illustrate the point further, Jesus told them this story: “A man had two sons.12 The younger son told his father, ‘I want my share of your estate now before you die.’ So his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons.

13 “A few days later this younger son packed all his belongings and moved to a distant land, and there he wasted all his money in wild living. 14 About the time his money ran out, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve. 15 He persuaded a local farmer to hire him, and the man sent him into his fields to feed the pigs. 16 The young man became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good to him. But no one gave him anything.

17 “When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, ‘At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger! 18 I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you,19 and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.”’

20 “So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. 21 His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.[a]

22 “But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. 23 And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, 24 for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began.

25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the fields working. When he returned home, he heard music and dancing in the house, 26 and he asked one of the servants what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother is back,’ he was told, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf. We are celebrating because of his safe return.’

28 “The older brother was angry and wouldn’t go in. His father came out and begged him, 29 but he replied, ‘All these years I’ve slaved for you and never once refused to do a single thing you told me to. And in all that time you never gave me even one young goat for a feast with my friends. 30 Yet when this son of yours comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes, you celebrate by killing the fattened calf!’

31 “His father said to him, ‘Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours. 32 We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!’”

As previously mentioned, I was a prodigal daughter & regrettably I’ve also acted like a prodigal sister .

But the Lord is doing something new in 2020! He’s showing me how to love prodigals as HE loves them: He gives His children their inheritance and the freedom to choose to stay at home or waste their lives on immoral living. He allows them to experience poverty, be in need with no one to help them, and be hungry for pig slop. And when a prodigal finally comes to their senses, He runs out to greet them and throws a party. The Father knows which sons and daughters will return home and which will reject His love for eternity. He says I must love them all. He says I must intercede for some. He says I must seek His will in heaven and pray it on the earth. He says I must not chase after prodigals. He says I must not beg, manipulate or control circumstances to make them return to Him.

A New Year.jpg

A New Year. No Resolution.

Instead, I confess: I’ve tried to save people who act like pigs. I’ve tried to save prodigals who ran away from home.

A New Year. No Resolution.

Instead, I repent: I’ve foolishly asked God “but Lord, what about _________?!”

A New Year. No Resolution.

Instead, I receive His rebuke: “What’s that to you? Follow Me!” (John 21:20-22).

A New Year. No Resolution.

Instead, I submit to His pathway through the wilderness.

A New Year. No Resolution.

Instead, I chose to be in the river that runs through the dry wasteland.

A Prodigals Sister

Luke 15:11-32

11 To illustrate the point further, Jesus told them this story: “A man had two sons.12 The younger son told his father, ‘I want my share of your estate now before you die.’ So his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons.

13 “A few days later this younger son packed all his belongings and moved to a distant land, and there he wasted all his money in wild living. 14 About the time his money ran out, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve. 15 He persuaded a local farmer to hire him, and the man sent him into his fields to feed the pigs. 16 The young man became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good to him. But no one gave him anything.

17 “When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, ‘At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger! 18 I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you,19 and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.”’

20 “So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. 21 His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.[a]

22 “But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. 23 And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, 24 for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began.

25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the fields working. When he returned home, he heard music and dancing in the house, 26 and he asked one of the servants what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother is back,’ he was told, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf. We are celebrating because of his safe return.’

28 “The older brother was angry and wouldn’t go in. His father came out and begged him, 29 but he replied, ‘All these years I’ve slaved for you and never once refused to do a single thing you told me to. And in all that time you never gave me even one young goat for a feast with my friends. 30 Yet when this son of yours comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes, you celebrate by killing the fattened calf!’

31 “His father said to him, ‘Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours. 32 We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!’”

 

Since 2011 I’ve been at home, working in my Father’s field while my man worked away from home. Let me clarify a few things from the get go: my man is a son, adopted into our Father’s family since he was a teenager. But during the last 8 years as he traveled for his job, his heart became lost.  He didn’t waste his money on wild living. He faithfully supported his family. He didn’t squander his inheritance on prostitutes. He remained faithful to his wife. But, as a self-confessed prodigal, he admits that he left his Father to pursue a life on his own.

During that time, I tilled the ground at home: managing the estate, training the kids, homeschooling, and doing the work of the ministry. I slaved away….and I was continually angry. I was angry that I was doing IT ALL alone. I was angry that my frequent flyer platinum preferred man left at the beginning of each week. I was angry that my frequent flyer platinum preferred man came home for weekend layovers. I prayed for him to come home permanently. I begged. I pleaded. I yelled. I threatened. All to no avail. He couldn’t see that he was starving in the farmers field. He couldn’t hear that I was starving for his love and his leadership. As days turned into months that turned into years, I eventually began relenting to corrections from those in the body of Christ who love me, “Jodie, LET. IT. GO. You can’t fix it.” I finally gave notice to the “Mrs. fix it” job when I surrendered to the Spirit at my annual spiritual heart exam this spring. Through the ministry of a pastor (gift, not title) in NC, the Spirit revealed that my heart was done (literally DONE; it had been boiling in a pressure cooker!). I agreed with the Spirt and declared “I’m done.” Two weeks later during a worship service in FL, the Spirit showed me the done heart again… along with a jello heart. He commanded: “choose one.”  I chose jello, and He crushed the done heart into ash.

I won’t speculate that my obedience to the Spirit helped cause a radical shift in our circumstances the following months, but I don’t believe in coincidence. God uses ALL things for our good, according to His purposes, not our own. (Romans 8:28)

Around the same season, my man came to his senses in the pig trough. He began seeing the Holy Spirit burn his hardened heart from the inside out. He started to feel again: longing for relationship with the Father, with his wife, and his children. He confessed. He repented. And a short time later, someone from his companies HR department asked him to apply for a newly created position. He applied. He interviewed. He was flown to headquarters. He was given the job. He accepted. And the location where this newly created global position would be based from? AT HOME!

Not. Kidding.

Oh, how the Father rejoiced when He saw his son come home! As my man received his robe and ring and sandals and gathered with family in celebration, I stood outside the party pouting. Me, the prodigals sister in the Lord. Me, the one who prayed for the prodigal to come to his senses. Me, the Father’s daughter who stayed at home.

Me. Me. Me!

sister.jpg

As steaming hot lava began flowing out of a volcano of emotions, I realized my sense of justice was unbalanced. From my perspective, I deserved to be praised and celebrated for staying at home the entire time! After all, I was the one who had been doing what the Father said. And now, because my brother had finally come to his senses and come back home where he belonged, the entire family was rejoicing like it was 1999…uh, I mean, 2019!!!

Yep. There it was, hidden in my Pharisaical heart: spiritual pride. Only the revelatory conviction of the Holy Spirit could give me eyes to see and ears to hear. Only deep grief through the gift of repentance could remove it. And now, this sister is rejoiceing in the celebration of her brothers homecoming, knowing that:

WE are His beloved children.

WE have been given an inheritance.

WE have the freedom to choose life or death.

WE have been lost.

WE have been found.

WE have received a robe and a ring and sandals.

WE will celebrate together, at the wedding feast with the Father and the Spirit as the Son is joined with His pure and spotless bride (Revelation 19). What a celebration that will be for the family of God, for all eternity!!!

Repent. Believe. Receive.

Acts 19:1-6  (NLT)

19 While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul traveled through the interior regions until he reached Ephesus, on the coast, where he found several believers.“Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” he asked them.

“No,” they replied, “we haven’t even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”

“Then what baptism did you experience?” he asked.

And they replied, “The baptism of John.”

Paul said, “John’s baptism called for repentance from sin. But John himself told the people to believe in the one who would come later, meaning Jesus.”

As soon as they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.Then when Paul laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in other tongues and prophesied.

 

Like so many things in my strong-willed life, I was saved bass ackwards.

Lemme explain:

I was a privileged kid that grew up in a middle-class household with married parents and a sibling who went to church every Sunday (and sometimes other days of the week). believe

I was a privileged teenager who moved to the bible belt and got “saved” and “sprinkled” in a “sanctuary” adorned with stained glass windows and golden lacquered name plates of financial donors on the pews.

I was a privileged bride who married a groom whose parents were also married believers.

I was a privileged college graduate who lived in a big city with a variety of denominational and non-denominational churches to choose from.

I was a privileged citizen of a state and country founded on Christian principles in which the law allows freedom to practice whatever religion I choose.

But at the age of 23, this privileged girl was still going to hell.

For eternity.

Yes, I had heard the gospel.

Yes, I had engaged in religious activity that was required by religious leaders.

Yes, I had tried to obey the law of Moses (well, in action- but not in heart).

But…

I did not repent.

My heart had not been made right with God (because I didn’t think that I had been wrong).

I just confessed Jesus with my mouth on a Sunday morning at the altar of a building (but the altar of my heart didn’t believe).

I just got a few drops of water on my head and a fancy certificate of baptism, but I wasn’t saved.

I was still a sinner- a deceived sinner that was wrongly identified as a saint.

Lord, forgive me! Forgive the church! Forgive the church leaders for not making me a disciple; teaching me to obey all your commands and baptizing me into the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Mercifully, however, God intervened, like He did on the road to Damascus with a sinner named Paul. Only my conversion was in our bedroom while sitting on our king-sized bed (yep- I met the King of kings on our king-sized bed!). Nine months pregnant and feeling like a beached whale, I was blinded by the light that entered my soul. I was deeply grieved over every sin I had committed against my Creator. I began to pour out the wretchedness in my heart, confessing in detail, every commandment I had rejected. I repented for my rebellion against the Father, which grieved His heart. At that moment, I believed Jesus died, was buried and resurrected for ME. I confessed Him as Savior and I was later baptized under water.

I was now saved from eternal damnation! I would live eternally in heaven when I died on this earth, but I had not received the Helper. I had not received the One who would lead me into all Truth (John 16:13). I had not received the One that would empower me to obey the Lord. I had not received the fire that would cleanse me from unrighteousness. I had not received the One who would gift me with supernatural power to minister to others. I had not received the One who would enable me to make disciples, teaching them to obey His commands and baptizing them into the Father, Son AND Spirit. Instead, I reverted back to religious activity in my own strength. Not only that, I was promoted to leadership in our church.

Lord, forgive me! Forgive the Church!

Mercifully, however, God intervened again, but not like He did with the believers in Ephesus when Paul asked if they had received the Holy Spirit. Instead, I was at home, praying in the living room with my husband when God answered my pleafor help in trusting Him as Savior AND Lord. Heaven opened and spiritual fire poured down all over my body. Overwhelmed with the force of power that was rising from the depths of my spirit, I ran to our bedroom, opened my mouth and began speaking in tongues. The unknown language I heard initially scared me; I didn’t know if I was possessed by demons or possessed by Pentecostals!

Yes, I had received the baptism in the Holy Spirit. I received the Helper. I received the One who would lead me into all Truth. I received the One that would empower me to obey the Lord. I received the fire that would cleanse me from unrighteousness. I received the One who would gift me with supernatural power to minister to others. I received the One who would enable me to make disciples, teaching them to obey His commands and baptizing them into the Father, Son AND Spirit.

My friend,

Have you heard the Good News? Have you repented of your sin against the Father? Have you believed Jesus as Lord AND Savior? Have you received the Holy Spirit? Do not be deceived as I was. Don’t think you’ll inherit the Kingdom of Heaven by obeying religious laws. It’s only by His grace that you can be saved. It’s only by His power that you can be baptized into the Father, Son AND Spirit. Don’t wait! Repent. Believe. Receive. Do it today.