Hope and Faith When You Can’t See

By Kathi Pelton

We all know that hope and faith is only needed for “what we do not see.” It is what keeps us moving forward, it is what helps us overcome and it is the wind that carries us into tomorrow. As believers, our hope and faith are found first and foremost in Jesus. We hope in His promises and we have faith in His everlasting love that will never fail us. Hope and faith are both with us and before us through our beloved Savior— they give us vision in our “today” and “a vision” (that brings expectations of beauty) for our tomorrow.

Hope and faith are easy to access in times of joy and light. In those times we lay down at night bathed in the pleasures from the day lived and we wake up the next morning in a joyful hope for even greater pleasure in the day that lays before us. Yet, sorrow, grief and unexpected hard times can come and when they do it can feel like you’ve lost yourself in a dark wilderness. You wake up and wonder how to find the pleasures that you had just yesterday and the expectations of pleasures that you dreamed of for your tomorrow’s. This unexpected sorrow can come through many sources— loss, lack, hope deferred, crisis or even just the atmosphere around you. Suddenly, in the midst of hope and faith you can’t find vision and everything become disoriented.

January 1st, 2021 became the beginning of a time of disorientation for me. It began a fierce 24-hour a day battle in prayer for my younger brother’s life that lasted 21 days; then I watched his beautiful body was lowered into a grave. At the same time, many in our nation were grieving, others were losing loved ones and isolation was taking a toll on the younger generation. Being a “feeler”, these things can really touch your soul with deep emotions. I am also a “glass half full” person, therefore my hope and faith were not shaken but my soul suddenly became downcast and disoriented.

The other day I had an appointment with the eye doctor because my natural vision has become very blurry and disorienting (a bit like my emotional and spiritual vision). When the doctor was finding my prescription she commented that I must be having a difficult time with things because one of my eyes is extremely nearsighted and one of my eyes is extremely farsighted (this is unusual). I was quite surprised and assured her that it has made my vision quite challenging. When she found the right lenses for both of my eyes and let me look through them, it was like coming out of the disoriented place and finding clarity.

This natural condition began to speak to me regarding my spiritual condition. In the natural I have always enjoyed perfect vision in both eyes. I could actually see further than most people I knew. This has been true spiritually as well. As a “seer” my vision is one of the things that I enjoy the most. I love to see God, I love to see His perspective and I love the “unseen” realm. Honestly, it is often more clear to me than the natural realm. What joy this has brought to my walk with God! When my physical vision began to change it was hard but I always knew that there were glasses or remedies to clear my sight. Yet, when 2021 began and suddenly my spiritual sight had changed— a deep struggle came with it. I couldn’t see clearly close up or far way. For a seer to lose vision is devastating. I wondered if there was a remedy for this?

Then the Spirit began to talk to me about how I needed new sight for the new age. Just like I am dealing with “aging natural eyes”, I need new lenses for a new time and age. Things have shifted and I need a “stronger spiritual lenses” for these days. His eyes must be the lenses that I look through to have vision and clarity for today and for tomorrow. Hope and faith are the frames but His eyes are the lenses.

“For we walk by faith, not by sight,” 2 Corinthians‬ ‭5:7‬ ‭

My faith has had to increase and my hope fully found in Christ alone; not governments, earthly freedoms, comforts or even the people around me. When I look into His eyes I see beyond the temporal and begin to grasp the eternal. There, I find the window to the eternal and I am comforted and strengthen. Through His eyes I am able to come to the realization that my brother and all who have “died in faith” see with absolutely clarity now. They no longer are searching, striving or stumbling but they have eyes that have beheld our eternal HOPE. There promise of a future and hope is fully realized!

I have begun to understand that we do not have to wait to begin to have the beautiful Holy Spirit adjust our eyes to behold Him or to see the eternal realm. Our eyes are being adjusted to see beyond the world around us, see beyond the chaos and see beyond the heights we have know in order to grasp the eternal. I am still going in and out of clarity but I am learning to focus on His eyes so that I adjust my vision to see as He sees.

It is easy to see what has changed in the world around us. Darkness has covered the world and we have begun to adjust our eyes to see pretty clearly in the dark…but God is adjusting our eyes to the LIGHT— the Light that is eternal!

Another interesting thing that happened with my natural eyes is that I was having a hard time with light. All light sources were causing what I’d call “light flares” which were once again distorting everything else. During my eye appointment, the doctor put a plastic object over my eyes with tiny pin holes in it. She asked me to find a pin hole and look through it to the letters on the chart across the room. As I did that I suddenly could see what was before me. All of the letters came into focus. It was like a beam of light that gave me a portal of focus. This can happen when eyes have astigmatism which is when the front surface of the eye or the lens, inside the eye, is curved differently in one direction than the other. I believe that God is clearing up an spiritual astigmatism that has caused us to have a divided focus. His eyes are like that pin hole— the narrow way that brings clear and undivided focus.

Hope and faith will be the pathway to find His eyes which will open up the eternal. Heaven will be opened up before us as the cares of this world fade into the background. I believe we also need to refocus our thoughts. Philippians 4:8 says this,

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

The media, even Christian media, often is highlighting the darkness and demonic agendas that are being established as laws throughout the world. Wars and rumors of war fill the air with fear and dread– replacing hope and faith for some. Yet, God has given us instructions on where to focus our thoughts. It is a beginning place that will lead us to His perspective and His eyes…which are windows into the eternal.

Do not fear if you have lost clarity or focus. Ask our precious Holy Spirit to be your spiritual optometrist that will correct your vision and adjust your sight for the days that we are living in and the true hope set before us— which is eternal and unshakable. Jesus has sealed our hope with His blood— giving us a secure faith.

“Because God wanted to show His unchangeable purpose even more clearly to the heirs of the promise, He guaranteed it with an oath, so that through two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to seize the hope set before us. We have this hope as an anchor for our lives, safe and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain. Jesus has entered there on our behalf as a forerunner, because He has become a high priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.”
‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭6:17-20‬ ‭

Turn your eyes upon Jesus!

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Receiving Esther’s Garments

By Kathi Pelton

During this time of Purim, I have been meditating on the Book of Esther. As I have read this book over and over again. The part that has stood out to me more than any other part begins in Esther 2:15.

“Esther was the daughter of Abihail, who was Mordecai’s uncle. (Mordecai had adopted his younger cousin Esther.) When it was Esther’s turn to go to the king, she accepted the advice of Hegai, the eunuch in charge of the harem. She asked for nothing except what he suggested, and she was admired by everyone who saw her.

Esther was taken to King Xerxes at the royal palace in early winter[a] of the seventh year of his reign. And the king loved Esther more than any of the other young women. He was so delighted with her that he set the royal crown on her head and declared her queen instead of Vashti.” Esther 2:15-17

After the twelve months of beauty treatments, each virgin was to pick what they wanted to wear and adorn themselves with before being brought into the king’s chambers. But Esther decided to deferred to the counsel of the king’s trusted official, Hegai, who would know what the king truly desired. She wore only what he suggested; rather than clothing herself with what she desired, she clothed herself in the King’s desire.

This is what I have felt that the Holy Spirit has been doing with the us in these days. The Holy Spirit is like Yeshua’s trusted official to mankind (though so much more- He is One with the Father and the Son). He knows the desire of our King. The bride has been longing to rid herself of all “her choosing” so that she can be fully clothed in her Beloved’s desire; just as Esther was clothed in nothing except what would fulfill King Xerxes desire. When he looked upon her he fell deeply in love with her and took her as his queen; placing the royal crown upon her head. I believe that as we yield to the desire of our our King, settling for nothing less, there is a crown of bridal (queenly) authority that is placed upon our head. His bride will go before the King and she will receive favor– even to the point of being used to reverse evil decrees that have been put in place.

The desire to please our King has been awakened like never before in His bride. There is a holy desperation to rid our lives of any other thing- except His desire. Every other name is being removed (even our own names). We long to take His name as our identity and our crown.

“There I will give her vineyards back to her and make the Valley of Achor (Trouble) into a gateway of hope. There she will respond as in the days of her youth, as in the day she came out of Egypt. In that day- this is the Lord’s declaration– you will call Me, ‘My husband,’ and no longer call Me, ‘My Baal.’ For I will remove the names of the Baals (Masters) from her mouth; they will no longer be remembered by their names.” Hosea 2:15-17

Isn’t it interesting that these scriptures are from Esther 2:15-17 and from Hosea 2:15-17? Esther is presenting herself in purity to become a bride and Hosea is redeeming his wayward bride so that she can be made pure.

There is a bride being prepared, to stand as an Esther before her King and there is also a redeeming of every wayward place that has sought out other “lovers” and become enslaved to their name and harsh rule over her. God is redeeming His bride so that she will be clothed in His desire alone and reign with Him in purity and authority. She is taking His name and every other name (Baal or master) is being removed from her.

As we are in the time of Purim, let us ask the Holy Spirit to instruct us how we are to clothe ourselves. Let us lay aside our thoughts and be clothed with His desire. Let every name but His be removed from our lives so that we become “His desire.”

“I will give them a desire to know me and to be my people. They will want me to be their God, and they will turn back to me with all their heart.” Jeremiah 24:7

“Clothe and adorn us, Holy Spirit, in all that our King desires. May He be our whole desire and may we be ‘His desire.’ We long to turn back to You with our whole heart. We will call you ‘Husband’ and we thank you for removing the names of Baal from us and redeeming us as your own.” Amen

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Finding Your Way Home

Kathi Pelton

Have you ever gotten lost on a walk or on a drive? I remember when I was about 20 years old, my husband and I had just moved to Baton Rouge, Louisiana (where he was attending college) and I needed to go grocery shopping after a long day at work. It was dark and I didn’t know my way around the city (this was in the days before cell phones or GPS). I had gone to an area of the city that was unfamiliar to me to shop and when I was done I took a wrong turn (in a wrong direction) and suddenly was I was absolutely lost. I didn’t have any coins for a pay phone and honestly didn’t know who’d I call anyway since my husband was at a night class and I didn’t know anyone in the area.

As I drove, looking for anything even remotely familiar, I began to feel panic— would I ever find my way home. I wasn’t in the city limits anymore and couldn’t even find my way back to a populated area. I had gotten off the “beaten path” and was lost and scared. After over two hours of frantic driving I finally found a familiar landmark and my way back to the college. When I arrived I got out of the car and walked to where my young husband was waiting and when I saw him I just fell in his arms weeping— I had found home— in his arms.

2021 began a bit like this for me personally. It felt like I walked out onto my favorite path but somehow turned a wrong corner and ended up in an unfamiliar wilderness with no path, no way to communicate, no sense of direction and completely alone. Quite honestly, I was disoriented and felt a bit of that old “panic” that I’d experienced when I was lost as a 20 year old in a strange city. I just wanted to find my way home.

I began spiritually and emotionally trying to find something familiar or a sign that would lead me back to the path that I knew— the path home. I would go through each day with varying degrees of numbness, grief, longing, surrender, weeping, etc. Nights were the worst because even the beautiful “God dreams” that accompanied my sleep had become nights of bad dreams. I’d wake up even more disoriented.

Finally, I remembered the words that are told to most young children by their parents, “If you get lost, stay still and I will find you.” So, I stopped trying to find my way home— the way back to the intimacy and the “home” I’d known. I stopped and got very still, waiting for my Father to find me where I was (am).

“Instead, I have calmed and quieted myself, like a weaned child who no longer cries for its mother’s milk. Yes, like a weaned child is my soul within me.” Psalm 131:2

I finally stopped long enough to remember that God has never left me or forsaken me— so I stopped looking for a way out of the wilderness and am now finding him in the wilderness. I am drinking of him and learning to “calm and quiet my soul” in his arms.

It is just like that 20 year old who found home in the arms of her young husband, I am finding home in the arms of God, even in this unfamiliar and strange place. There is not much else in this place but he is everything that I need. The verse that comes directly prior to Psalm 131:2 says this,

“LORD, my heart is not proud; my eyes are not haughty. I don’t concern myself with matters too great or too awesome for me to grasp.” Psalm 131:1

I think that I had begun to concern myself with matters too great and too awesome for me to grasp. They began to be like a “master” over me. I had to humble myself and become like a child. I had to get still and remember that, “He is God.”

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10

The matter of the nations had become to great for me to grasp. The matter of life and death was too awesome for me to fully comprehend and so God brought me into a wilderness place to show me “home.”

“Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her. There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor (Valley of Trouble) a door of hope. There she will respond as in the days of her youth, as in the day she came up out of Egypt. “In that day,” declares the LORD, “you will call me ‘my husband’; you will no longer call me ‘my master.’ Hosea 2:14-16

The wilderness does not “feel” good but as I have discovered a few other times in my life— this “Valley of Trouble” is usually a door of hope that restores my soul and ushers me into a place of greater abundance. But, we must embrace it rather than fight against it.

Running frantically when you have lost your way only gets you more lost. This is where we must stop, get still and know that he is God. He is with you in the wilderness and he will feed you, hold you, restore you and deliver you from every area that has become enslaved to false “masters.” This is where you find him as “husband.” This is where you run into his arms and find home. Then, you will hear this,

“Who is that coming up from the wilderness, leaning on her beloved?” Song of Solomon 8:5

I think that all too often we take on things that “are too great for us to grasp” and they enslave us to a weight and burden that becomes a master over us. When we’ve done all we can do, it is time to get still and stand (Ephesians 6:13). Stand in who he is and stand in the arms of the One that created all. The earth is his and all that is within it. He is God— our partnership with him is in the context of “bridal covenant” not “slave and master.” That is where the enemy loses his footing and love wins.

Stop running…stop striving…stop panicking! Home is with you— right where you are. He is always with you so be still and let him hold you until you are fully restored— leaning on your Beloved!

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Leaving The Familiar

By Kathi Pelton

Hearing God has been easy for me. I love his voice and always enjoy what he has to say, but I wonder if in the familiarity if at times I’d begun to finish his sentences, assume a conclusion due to familiar filters, or even listen without fully gazing into his face to wait for him to finish. We can become so familiar with hearing someone that we are not actually listening. Hearing and listening are two different things.

We see this in marriages often. We can easily become so familiar with our spouse that we begin to half-hear what is being said with our backs turned in busy activities and assume the full meaning. Familiarity is easy and comfortable but it also robs us of depth and intimacy. There can be assumptions and carelessness that comes with familiarity.

I am not speaking into any particular issue or to anyone person particularly but myself and anyone who can relate to this. When I first began hearing the voice of God and feeling his presence, I would tremble when he’d speak. The awe of intimacy would take my breath away and cause me to listen attentively. I would listen, ponder, meditate and tremble at his word. The same is true with my husband. In our first years together when he spoke the entire world stopped and my greatest pleasure was his voice and listening to what he had to say. I loved to look into his eyes and to watch his every move.

As the decades married to my husband have gone by, I often find myself assuming that I know his every move, his looks and what they mean and that the first three words of almost any sentence can lead me to a quick conclusion so I can stop attentively listening. This familiarity can make me careless or even inconsiderate because it lacks honor, intimacy and humility. His look may not have meant what I assumed at all and if I don’t take time to ask and listen then I will “hear what I hear” through familiar assumption. If I finish the second half of his sentence in my mind and stop listening then I risk the wrong conclusion and may interpret something he has said wrongly. This is a risk and reality in any long time relationship. Familiarity can be a thief of intimacy.

From the very first day of 2021 I felt the fear of the Lord come to break me out of familiarity that has at times forgotten the depth of intimacy. It has been a time of being emptied of me to find him in a new way. When I want to find something to fill that emptied place (because this season is unfamiliar and uncomfortable) I feel a deep caution to remain emptied so that the fullness of Christ can have full reign. I don’t think I’m doing it very well but even my lack leads me again to a greater emptying.

God is not trying to hurt me but he is preparing me (and you) for the days ahead because my familiarity and half-hearted hearing will not serve me well in the days to come. I must have a renewed intimacy that empties me of me to make room for the fullness of Him. I must learn to listen to God’s voice, while looking into his face and trembling at his beauty, majesty, power and wisdom.

It feels like a reset or personal reformation that breaks me out of the familiar and takes me to a place of “awe.” This is not anything that I can do in myself but it is requiring me to get still, silent and completely dependent on his grace to awaken me from the fog of familiarity. Surrender has taken on an entirely new meaning. Waiting and listening is required, resting and yielding is necessary.

The only work for me is “willingness and waiting” so that I do not run back to the familiar. At times I want to comfort myself with what I knew before and how I functioned before because it became easy.

We are approaching Purim (February 25th & 26th), which is the celebration of the salvation of the Jewish people as told in the Book of Esther, I have been thinking about how Esther had to leave everything familiar to be prepared to be queen but also to risk her life to save her people. She had to trust Mordecai’s counsel and the steps of the Lord fully. This was not a time to assume or act hastily.

We are in a similar time and we are being prepared— emptied of all that is familiar and prepared to walk as the King’s bride and to risk everything to find favor in his sight. We need to know when to act and when to wait, when to conceal and when to reveal. Carelessness and assumption can be costly if we do not learn the fear of the Lord.

It’s time to leave the familiar and allow the deep places to be forged in our lives. It’s time to be emptied in order to see the fullness of God revealed in his bride.

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A Crisis of Faith

By Kathi Pelton

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:11

Now more than ever are we seeing so many believers in Yeshua experiencing what I would call a “crisis of faith.” This current crisis will do one of two thing; it will either usher those who wrestle to the point of surrender into a unshakable faith or some will abandon the faith by which they were saved. My constant prayer is that not one person would abandon their faith.

I believe God has allowed this crisis, not to hurt his people but to shake the shakable areas so that we can recognize them and yield them to the firm foundation of our God.

Most of the Christian church in America has had at least a moment of disillusionment, disbelief and even a spiritual crisis as 2021 has begun. Of course we do not know what tomorrow will hold but we do know who holds tomorrow. If these days of shaking or crisis have done anything for me (personally), it is to bring me into a greater surrender and dependency on who HE is rather then on how he does things.

Even the current “prophetic crisis” can turn eyes from the man (or woman) who has become known as a prophet to the One who created him. I sense a holy jealousy in the heart of God for a bride whose eyes are fully fixed on his. A bride who will put her faith and assurance in who he is more than what he does. A bride who doesn’t turn her face away when life doesn’t look like what she thought it would. A bride who has no other “lovers” but her beloved Jesus. This does not mean that we do not have prophets but that we do not elevate them to the point that they are exalted in any way.

So, maybe the question isn’t so much to be focused on if the prophets were right or wrong but rather it should be, “Who is the bride’s faith, loyalty and focus upon?” I am not saying that there is not to be accountability in the prophetic but there also needs to be a personal searching of individual’s hearts if their faith was more in a prophetic voice or a desired outcome than in Christ alone.

We have not seen tomorrow, therefore we do not know what is ahead or what only God can do. We know that, without a doubt, some details and timings were wrong but we do not need to loose faith in God or despair because those who see in part got parts wrong. As most of my readers know, I truly believed that the president would be re-elected and although I never prophesied a second term or a re-election by January 20th- I surely thought that it would happen and was not secretive about that. Does that cause me to loose faith? No, because my hope, assurance and faith is not in my thoughts or the way I believe something will play out, but my faith is in Christ alone.

During my brother’s illness with Covid during the month of January. Many people wrote to me and encouraged me with notes, prayers and even declarations that he would “live and not die.” Some even saw visions of his healing. Yet, on January 21st he died in the arms of his wife. Should I lose hope or judge those who sent me notes saying that they saw God healing him? Never!! God fully healed him and he entered into the fullness of joy that day. Their words were not wasted because they strengthened my soul through the day and night battle that we were in. In Christ, death has lost its sting and there is only victory.

I cannot tell you what is ahead for our nation, our world or even my life. I don’t know for sure if even greater crisis will come in 2021 or if a miraculous turnaround will suddenly appear. I tend to lean toward both being present simultaneously but both not looking anything like we’d expect. So what do we do? We put our faith in the absolute, unfailing love of our God! We surrender (let go of and repent for) every place of resistance, rebellion, idolatry, anger, unforgiveness, bitterness, unholy justice, wrath and hatred. We stop pointing fingers at others for what we chose to believed and we fix our eyes on the One who is faithful and true. We humble ourselves before the Holy One and we join with heaven in declaring, “Worthy is the Lord!” He is sovereign and his dominion has no end. God has not been shaken— we have! Now we must put every shaken area upon the unshakable foundation of the Rock of Ages.

If you are in a crisis of faith then this is a gift to you so that you can cooperate with the Holy Spirit to shore up those areas of crisis and replace them with Christ. In the midst of my grief about our nation, the place that we live (in the Washington DC region), my brother’s death and so many more things— I have found that the one sure thing is JESUS! He is more than enough to believe in, hope in and put my full assurance in. He holds every answer in his hand and has not turned aside from any prayer of faith that was prayed or that will be prayed. His ways are higher and he is calling us to a higher place. A higher and purer faith. An unshakable faith.

Crisis can take you to the place of “Christ is…” Christ is absolutely faithful, absolutely holy, absolutely sovereign, absolutely beautiful, absolutely worthy, absolutely pure, absolutely powerful and absolute LOVE.

Let your crisis take you to this revelation,

“Then I saw heaven opened, and a white horse was standing there. Its rider was named Faithful and True, for he judges fairly and wages a righteous war. His eyes were like flames of fire, and on his head were many crowns. A name was written on him that no one understood except himself. He wore a robe dipped in blood, and his title was the Word of God.” Revelation 19:11-13

THIS IS WHO HE IS! Crisis averted!

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Pondering Deep Truths: Stillness and Knowing

By Kathi Pelton

Grief is a quiet place that is filled with timeless memories, silent prayers and a stillness that only a few are invited into.

It’s an interesting place where “gifts” don’t seem to matter much and all the activities of normal life that filled my time now seem so unimportant. The veil between the temporal and the eternal becomes very thin in this place.

I don’t know if this is grief or just what God is doing right now but even my normal prayers fall short and all I want is to be totally surrendered. Silent surrender seems to be producing deep intercession— wordless but deep. I want to know Him as He is, I want to see His face and learn the intricate movements of His ways, I want to be like Him. Here in grief I find a deeper hunger for the truth of the words, “Be still and know that I am God.”

Rather than my confidence in Him wavering in this place of loss, it has shifted my confidence from what He will do, to a confidence in “Who He Is.” That is the ultimate victory. Understanding His sovereignty, gazing upon His beauty and pondering His eternal perspective consumes my thoughts and desires.

Some days I feel like a caterpillar going through a personal metamorphosis. It is hidden, quiet, still and yet change is happening in this place. Maybe the whole body of Christ is going through this and the grief of “what was” has become our cocoon? Maybe grief is a gift of grace to birth us into a new identity and new way of living? Maybe our tears are like the perfume that flowed out of the alabaster jar upon His feet.

I have always loved my family so deeply but in this place I only want to look into their faces and drink in the unique beauty God created them in. I want to sit next to my husband in silence and just know that he’s here with me. I want to embrace the people I love a little longer and honor others in a way that actually restores their souls.

I want to fully embrace the words, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” No more striving— no more want because I have everything I need in Him. There is nothing but Him that I can take with me when I leave this world so may He be my whole “want.”

I haven’t forgotten all that we did in 2020 to see our nation saved. It was beautiful and how honored I felt to be a part of it and to stand with nations that stood with us. When I asked my Heavenly Father about it, He just smiled with such a proud smile upon His face as He looked upon His faithful children. He will be exalted in the nations— that is the line that comes right after, “Be still and know that I am God.” We exalted Him and He received it all like a proud Papa. We danced, we repented, we wept and we shouted for joy…and it made Him smile— it wasn’t perfect but it made Him smile. My brother’s life wasn’t perfect but made Him smile— he knew he was perfectly loved. Your life makes Him smile and my “very imperfect” life makes Him smile. Perfect love looks good on us.

For me, 2020 was my year to learn the ways of “Be still and know that I am God” but 2021 has begun as a year to live what I’ve learned. I have become very still…maybe because of grief and maybe because of grace. Who He is has caused me to become still…HE IS GOD.

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Testing 1, 2, 3, 4

By Kathi Pelton

The words, “Testing 1, 2, 3, 4” are most often heard when a person is doing a microphone sound check. It is to check clarity, levels and balance. So, it was interesting to wake up hearing these words. It is like a heavenly sound check is taking place. I then heard these words from the Book of James, chapter 1, verses 2, 3 & 4,

“2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

I wonder if too many of God’s people are trying to figure out what is going on by gauging the world around us? I hear statements like, “This is what I heard but this is what I see.” I surely understand and I get why there are questions, concerns and confusion. Personally, my world has been altered on so many levels but then I remind myself of Bible story after Bible story where absolute defeat turned into a greater victory than expected when the narration of events was written by God and not man. Here are just a few…

Young Joseph was given a dream and a coat of many colors that promised him authority, honor and favor but the promise did not play out like Joseph thought they would in his young mind. God’s narrative quite honestly seemed at best cruel and harsh; betrayal, slavery, isolation, abandonment, false accusation, imprisonments— but then the promise came to pass. The journey looked nothing like the dream but the outcome was so much greater and saved a nation in a time of great famine!

Then there was Moses. He went to Egypt as a deliverer of the Israelites but I guarantee you that each time he told Pharaoh to “Let my people go!” and the Israelites labor was increased and plagues came upon the land that they most likely not only questioned his authenticity but also did not view him as a deliverer. I imagine the accusations against Moses and Aaron were numerous. But God’s narrative once again played out much differently than even Moses expected. Not only were they delivered but their enemies were defeated.

Let’s not forget Lazarus! He was a personal friend of Jesus; a family friend where he found a home. Basically, Lazarus was an “insider” and counted among Jesus’ inner circle. When he gets sick his sisters know what to do…go get Jesus! Surely he will not let his personal friend die. He will come quickly and heal his friend. But no. He delays and almost seemingly strolls without any urgency to the home of his friend. He’s not only late, but Lazarus has been in the grave for days. The pain felt by all is real and raw. The questions of “where were you” and “if only you had been here” were intermingled with such deep grief. Yet, once again our God was not late but He was narrating a different story than anyone understood. The natural was not going to dictate the sovereignty of God or His ways. Although Lazarus was dead and it appeared final (nothing could be done)— then Jesus showed up and spoke, “Come forth!”

Last, Jesus came through a virgin birth, lived a sinless life, healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, fed thousands with only a small lunch and raised the dead. His disciples knew He was their long awaited Messiah. They had such hope, such promise and so much confidence in Him. They had seen the miracles and watched power flow from His hands. They knew that victory had come into a world of oppression. But then their precious Jesus was arrested, betrayed, beaten, crucified and put into a gave. Can you imagine the grief, the shock, the confusion and the questions. I am sure that there were many moments of great division as His disciples and followers tried to figure out what had just happened and who was at fault. I would imagine that there were fingers pointed at one another and accusations made. Pain often looks for a reason or for “what went wrong and who is to blame?” It was not a pretty sight…where had love and unity gone? But then the third day came…God’s narrative once again prevailed in the greatest victory known to mankind happened in the greatest moment of division and despair.

Here we are again…

2021 has begun with what many are perceiving as the greatest defeat they have seen in their lifetime. An increasingly horrific global pandemic, oppression and evil manifesting like the plagues of Egypt, economic ruin for so many and the shock in America upon a church that prayed, repented for the sins of their nation, humbled themselves before the Lord and walked in faith regarding what they heard the Spirit speaking to them…then the opposite happened. But even when the narrative on earth looks nothing like what we thought it would— does that mean that we have been defeated? It surely looks like absolute defeat (for our freedom, for the unborn, for our children, for our safety and for righteousness to prevail). But God…

In this place of what appears to be contradiction to our faith suddenly fingers are pointing at one another, people are in pain, in grief and in confusion. They are looking for someone to blame or clinging to the narrative that they thought would occur. But God’s narrative always has a deeper work to be done.

What if the “testing of our faith” is upon us so that we become steadfast, complete and lack nothing? Maybe in the midst of emotional turmoil and deep grief we should stop trying to figure out the Almighty and begin to “count it all joy” that our faith is being tested. Maybe we should stop pointing fingers and instead raise our heads so that we see the face of God. Maybe…just maybe, a much deeper work is being done.

For me— my personal losses and pain is bringing up dross that needed to be removed. Places that I didn’t even know that I had held unresolved issues have suddenly been uncapped so that I can be washed and purified by His blood.

This is my “sound check” moment. It’s like God has put a stethoscope to my heart and is saying, “Testing, 1, 2, 3, 4.” I believe this is happening for all who are willing. He’s clearing and purifying the sound of our hearts. He’s balancing and aligning us to His heart, His ways and His pure sound. He’s removing every obstacle that blocks the pure sound of His good news and perfect love.

This is our James 1: 2,3,4 time. Let us count it all joy and then watch a greater victory than we ever imagined come forth as we see a bride without spot or wrinkle emerge. We have not been defeated…we are having our faith tested and it is time to allow Him to make every adjustment needed.

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We Are At Jabbok

By Kathi Pelton

The Spirit of the Lord has been speaking to me daily over the past month about Jacob’s wrestling match recorded in the book of Genesis. This story could be described as Jacob’s wrestle with his flesh, in order to surrender, so that he would “prevail with God!” Remember, at the end of the wrestle God changed Jacob’s name to Israel, meaning, “The one who prevails with God.”

Here is the story in Genesis 32:22-28:

22 That night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two female servants and his eleven sons and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. 23 After he had sent them across the stream, he sent over all his possessions. 24 So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. 25 When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. 26 Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.”

But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”

27 The man asked him, “What is your name?”

“Jacob,” he answered.

28 Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.”

This wrestling occurred in a place called “Jabbok.” For the past month I have felt that the body of Christ, both corporately and individually, are at a spiritual “Jabbok.” We can no longer go forth and overcome in the ways that we have in past seasons. This is a time to wrestle down our flesh with the Lord until full surrender comes upon us. It is as though there has always been a mixture of God’s power and our human strength that has overcome past battles but no longer is that the case! God will touch our hip socket so that He will prevail, leaving us with a fleshly limp but a spiritual victory.

It is time for our name to be changed from Jacob (Jakob) to Israel. Jacob means supplanter and supplanter means “someone or something taking the place of another, as through force, scheming, strategy.” As I said earlier, Israel means the one who prevails with God. The Lord is removing any attempts of our flesh to usurp the glory, strength and honor that rightfully belongs only to the Lord. Every desire within us to force or scheme our way to victory will be surrendered so that we can truly prevail with the truth of Zechariah 4:6,

So he answered me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by strength or by might, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord of Armies.

When Jacob fully surrendered—after his flesh/hip socket was weakened, and his name was changed to Israel—he changed the name of Jabbok. Jabbok, meaning “to empty itself” or “a place of passing over” was now named Peniel, which means, “The face of God” or “he who strives with God.”

I believe that this is a prophetic picture of where we are at as God’s people. We are Jacob at Jabbok, and our wrestle will result in both names being changed to “Israel at Peniel.”

I love the way the late David Wilkerson describes Jabbok,

“Jabbok is the place where Jacob wrestled with the Lord. It is where he made his total surrender to God. It is where he got his new character, and new name – Israel. It was the place where he cast down his last idol, and won his greatest victory.

‘And he rose up that night… and passed over the ford Jabbok…’ (Gen. 32:22).

Jabbok means ‘a place of passing over’. It also stands for struggle; to empty and pour out. What a glorious truth is revealed in this place called Jabbok. It has everything to do with us today. It is the place where God’s people discover the secret of power over every besetting sin. It represents a life and death crisis – one that leads to absolute surrender.” (David Wilkerson)

Absolute surrender! We may have to wrestle with God in order to receive absolute surrender because our flesh and the sins of our flesh can be strong and overcome us. But, in mercy, God caused Jacob’s hip socket to be wrenched, thus causing a physical inability to continue to wrestle in the flesh. The hip joint is a ball-and-socket joint that allows motion and gives stability needed to bear body weight. This is why he walked with a limp thereafter. We may walk with a limp to wrestle down our flesh and the sin that has prevailed, but afterward we will “prevail with God!”

Do not shy from this place or this wrestle because it is the greatest victory you will ever experience in becoming “one with God.” It is where you will learn to dance with God according to His steps and His lead. It is where sin will no longer prevail in your life but you will prevail with God. No more force— “by His Spirit” will be your victory song and it will bring you into a Shalom (rest) that is greatly needed.

Now is the time—

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