Gaining a heart of intercession while you bear your cross

It is rightly said that for us to take up our cross and follow Jesus is not to endure trials in and of themselves, but rather a WILLING act on our part to obey and glorify God in bearing the offenses, rejection and wrongs of others with intercessions for them.

As I’ve been faced with a familiar cross lately, God is helping me to see how to bear my cross not with a, “Poor me I’m a rejected Christian…” attitude, but rather with a heart of intercession for the ones that I love.

He’s been teaching me to remember that unlike Jesus, when I take up my cross and follow Him I can’t say I have not sinned or caused damage to others because of my sin. Jesus’ heart of intercession is totally a pure expression of who He is as God. My heart of intercession comes from Jesus dwelling in me and is helped by remembering that my sin required not only the death and suffering of Jesus while He interceded for me and ever lives to do so, but also that my sin has damaged others in this life and that I myself have been like the ones I am hurt by.

“And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.”
-Ephesians 2:1-3 NKJV

When we sin we aren’t the only ones to experience the repercussions of that sin. It impacts those around us like a rock thrown in a lake. Seeing this doesn’t make me drown in condemnation, it makes me get on my knees and labor in intercession for the ones in my life that I see going astray, yet realize my own sinful life has in some way contributed to where they are and why they don’t see Jesus for who He is.
Nehemiah and Ezra were used to lead an effort to rebuild the city of God and the wall around Jerusalem and their motivation was to no longer be a reproach to the surrounding nations. They were aware that they, as God’s people, were responsible for how the pagan nations around them viewed their God. They took responsibility for their sinful ways and had a heart that desired others to see the glory of God in their lives (Nehemiah 2:17).

This leads to the ultimate motivation He’s developing in me for interceding for others: Desiring nothing more than for God to be glorified in my life.

When I want others to see Christ through my life more than anything else, more even than I want them to be “converted”, my heart is pure… it’s not polluted with a less than pure motivation. Yes, I want them to be saved! Yes, I want them to see their desperate need for Jesus! But even more than that I want my Jesus to have the glory He deserves in my life in their eyes. Whether on their part they reject the glory that shines on them, or bend their knees to it… only let Jesus be magnified and exemplified in me! This pure desire in me causes me to plead all the more that God would do a work on behalf of these that I love, because I want Him to have glory… even if they reject it!

If, on the other hand, my motivation is only that they be saved and not first that God be glorified, I’m going to get tangled up in trying to appeal to their flesh… trying to make God cool, trying to make Him relevant and digestible. I cheapen the mystery of God when my motivation is a person’s conversion rather than God being magnified on the earth. It’s seeing God for Who He really is (that is seeing His glory) which brings about true repentance and saving faith. This is why the greatest command is that we love God with all that we are FIRST and then SECOND that we love our neighbor as ourselves. Loving God with all our being, desiring to bring Him glory with our lives, does not abandon the souls of those we love around us… for God is THE intercessor. Loving God with all our being, desiring to magnify Him causes us to not condemn those around us but intercede for them.

“Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him. And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do.” -John 17:1-4 NKJV

This is the trail the Author of our faith has blazed for us. As He lives in us, this is what He is always compelling us towards: Glorifying the Son in our lives that we might bring the Father glory.
And its to that end that in the process eternal life might be given to those God has given us to take up our crosses for. For after He prayed for the Father to be glorified in Him He said, “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”
Desiring to bring God glory with our lives results in those around us being interceded for, and results in God revealing Himself through our broken, earthen vessels to them. What an amazing truth! God chooses to quicken others to eternal life in knowing Who He is and knowing Jesus Christ and He chooses to bring about this knowing through us taking up our crosses and following Jesus.

Oh Father, glorify YOURSELF in my life that I might magnify You in this day, in this home, to my husband and children and around every person I am around, that they might get just a glimpse of Who You are and Who Christ is. Somehow God do this. You are able, I am not! You are the God who gives life to the dead and calls things which are not as though they are. Give life to this body of death that I dwell in. Call me and make me like my Lord Jesus that those around me might smell the aroma of Your presence. Even if it means my crushing. Even if it means my rejection. Magnify Yourself in me. Bring light to those You’ve given me that they might be led to YOU!

So glad He found me ,

Isaiah 51:3

Pure zeal for people

“Because for Your sake I have borne reproach; Shame has covered my face. I have become a stranger to my brothers, And an alien to my mother’s children; Because zeal for Your house has eaten me up, And the reproaches of those who reproach You have fallen on me.” – Psalm 69:7-9

Tonight I had a conversation which evoked passion in me. It concerned sexual perversion and purity. I couldn’t just have the conversation “lightly” or sarcastically or in “good humor.” The fire in my belly starting pouring out my mouth. Tears, a raised voice. “I care!” I cried. “I care okay! I care about those people! It’s not so much about it’s wrong or breaking the law or whatever, It’s about their souls! It’s about that’s not how God created them to be and its destroying them!” And the response was mocking and sarcasm and “Give me a break! Who cares!!!!”

At that point I got mad. I stomped away spewing about how I opened myself up and shared only to get shut down with sarcasm and mocking for actually caring.

I then ran to John. The book of John that is. I felt the Spirit leading me there to purify the zeal that was being exhibited in me. His whisper to my heart was, “When you take up your cross and follow Jesus you care about people. It’s not about what’s ‘legal’ or illegal. It’s about their souls. You care so much that you will speak the truth and not respond with harshness when they are angry with you. You must care and be willing to hurt though they cling to what hurts them and despise you for caring. My pure love that cares for them beats in you Sheila. But that impurity of defending yourself must go. It has to die. Otherwise you’re cutting off ears that would otherwise hear through your willingness to hurt and care in the name of Jesus.”

Then He led me to this:

“Then Simon Peter drew a sword and slashed off the right ear of Malchus, the high priest’s servant. But Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword back into its sheath. Shall I not drink from the cup the Father has given me?” – John 18:10-11

Put your sword back into its sheath Sheila! Shall the sufferings of Christ not be seen in you because of your impure zeal?”

When Christ lives in us, zeal for His house eats us up too!

His house.

You know what that is? You know what His house is?


“Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.”

-1 Corinthians 6:18-20 NKJV (emphasis added by me)

A pure zeal for God’s house (people) to not be defiled will be willing to bear the reproach of those who reproach God’s name. If my zeal is pure, I will be willing to bear shame for the sake of desiring God’s name to be glorified in the lives of people… the “house” which He chooses to dwell in.

If my zeal is not pure, like Peter, I’ll be quick to cut off the ear that won’t receive the passion Christ has for souls. I have cut an ear tonight. But I’m so glad that my Jesus is reaching down to put it back on tonight and heal it.

God calls us to live a life that bears the reproach others have for God’s character while reaching out in truth and love for the deliverance of their souls. He calls us to have a zeal that eats us up for others! He calls us to care that people are dying in bondage to sexual perversion, lies, all kinds of subtle evil and twisted ways that are not what they were created for. He calls us to be passionate about people who He created to bear His own image… who He desires to inhabit that His glory might be displayed in their lives, and that they might have intimacy with God as they were created to. But He calls us to be willing to bear their offenses without returning offenses in our zeal.

“For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: “Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth”; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously;” 1 Peter 2:21-23

“Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.” – 1 Peter 3:8-9

Search me and know me oh God! See this wicked way of cutting off ears and returning reviling for reviling in me, and rid me of it, leading me in Your everlasting way!

Isaiah 51:3

Follow up on Pet Sins

A few days back I wrote about Pet sins… about my pet sin. I confessed it here because I want all to see the mercy and saving grace of my Redeemer and I want to be free of ANYTHING, that binds me. Especially things I think are no big deal but are really keeping me from fully inheriting the Spirit as God would have me.

After writing that post though I just wanted to clarify something. I in no way am condemning the eating of sweets or enjoying a piece of cake, etc. If God provides it, and we give thanks for it, we can eat and be thankful. My post had nothing to do with eating and everything to do with hiding from God.

Hiding from God, trying to find an escape and indulge self just a bit with a hidden attitude of, “Can’t I even have this!?” is the heart of this issue I was exposing in my life.

I’m not my own anymore. See, because I face daily the cross Jesus calls me to take up and follow Him with, I have a choice. I can either seek some form of escape from that cross, or I can deny myself, pick it up, and follow my King.

I face that choice everyday, and lately it seems my flesh is enticed to escape my cross via chocolate or goodies. I find myself having the thought, “I need to get away… I just need a break.” Right before I go seeking some sweet thing to eat.

But the Spirit calls me to deny myself that false escape. He calls me not to return to a well that will not satisfy when I’ve tasted Living Water. He bids me to drink of His sweetness and be satisfied, so satisfied that I can take up my cross and follow Him.

Lust is an insatiable desire. It’s not that the desire for rest and escape is wrong, but when it’s sought to be satisfied with any substance or act of the flesh its lust, its insatiable. God wants me to find rest and escape… IN HIM! He wants me to labor to enter that rest. The labor isn’t doing more of this or that. It’s throwing off the lusts of my flesh. It’s pushing away from deceptive alternatives that never satisfy.

The enemy will always entice my flesh with an alternative to the cross. And if I don’t recognize every indulging self as a refusal of the cross God’s called me to take up, following His Son, then I’m in danger of becoming hardened to the Spirit’s urging in me to do His will and experience His everlasting life right here and now and forever.

There are times where I can eat cake or sweets or whatever and its not self-indulgence. In fact, there are all kinds of pleasures I enjoy everyday, but the Spirit knows when the thoughts of my heart are to escape the pain of being misunderstood, rejected and thought a fool for loving Jesus and teaching His ways to my kids. THAT’S THE HEART OF THE PROBLEM: SEEKING TO ESCAPE MY CROSS! He knows cake, chocolate, ice cream, cookies… none of those temporary pleasures are going to take me one step closer to experiencing fellowship with Christ, in His sufferings and in His resurrection. He has no problem with me eating sweets. He has a problem with me running away from the cross He’s set before me, no matter what route of escape I try to use.

I like the way Amy Carmichael put it in The Edges of His Ways:

Luke 9:23: “If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.”

I think often we accept the cross in theory, but when it comes to practice, we either do not recognize it for what it is, or we recognize it and try to avoid it. This we can always do, for the cross is something that can be taken up or left, just as we choose. It is not illness (that comes to all), or bereavement (that also is the common lot of man). It is something voluntarily suffered for the sake of the Lord Jesus, some denial of self that would not be if we were not following Him. Often it is something that has shame in it (this, of course, was the earliest connotation of the word), such as the misunderstanding of friends and their blame, when the principles which govern our lives appear foolishness to them. It always has at its core the denial of self and self-love in all its manifestation. Self-choices go down before the call to take up the cross and follow. They fade away and cease to be.

I want to know Christ ladies! I want to share in His sufferings, be conformed to His death and live in His resurrection. The more I think on Him the more I despise that I still seek escape in sweets! May I not refuse to take up my cross and follow Him today by indulging my flesh in temporary escapes!

So glad He found me ,

Isaiah 51:3