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Be encouraged.





Untie The Donkey, The Lord Has Need Of You

by Selenia Vera  
“Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them.” (Matthew 21:2–3, NIV)
In Jesus’ time, a donkey was a valuable possession for the ordinary middle-class family. On the day of His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, Jesus instructed His disciples to head into the city, untie a colt from its post outside a certain house, and then bring it to Jesus for His use. The only explanation that the disciples were to give to the owner was that “the Lord has need of them.”
Many folks, much like the untied donkey in Matthew’s gospel, feel as though they have come to the end of the road. Waiting. Never really discovering what for. I have found it even more common for those of us in our fifties, sixties, and seventies to play the conversations over and over asking ourselves, What’s next? What now?  As ones who have absorbed life’s blows, endured the wounds of failure, enjoyed our accomplishments, and relished in our successes, we find that we still wonder. We converse with friends, we seek counsel, we pray, and we search for that which matters. We long to know about our significance. If this is you, I have good news! The human spirit will always cry out for more—God created us this way. And because of this, He calls out to us and draws us to Himself. He is coming after us!
We are certainly not donkeys, but I’d like to submit that our relationship to this story may be this: many of us are tied up. And like the untied donkey in the story in the gospel of Matthew, one of the hardest things to come to terms with when we face transition is our usefulness.
Allow me to pose these questions, Are there ropes holding you back, keeping you from knowing which direction to take? Are there ropes that keep you stuck? Have you accepted the lie, agreed with the argument, that life is over and there is nothing left? Do you hear the whisper, “I’m too old, too much time has been lost”? Do you wonder where to start? Do thoughts of starting over overwhelm you?
Jesus knows this, beloved one, and as the Anointed One in your life, He comes to untie the ropes that are holding you back, to break every yoke, and to declare to you that your life is not over. There is still much to be done. The Lord has need of you! He is in the business of untying donkeys—of breaking people free from that which holds them back.
You were not created to stay tied up on the post of the city gate. If you feel ordinary and insignificant, I submit to you that He uses ordinary people, strengthening them in the significance of relationship with Him—all for the advancement of His kingdom.
My friend, the Master is waiting for you, and the time to flourish has just begun. Don’t you see you have been untied from interruptions, work duties, deadlines, and obligations?
Or are you tired? Run down? To you I say,
Have you never heard?
Have you never understood?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of all the earth.
He never grows weak or weary.
No one can measure the depths of his understanding. (Isaiah 40:28, NLT)
You no longer must bear the burden; the time has come to meet the burden-bearer Himself!
Father God who made us has planned a wonderful future beyond the certainty of growing old and ending our days on earth doing nothing. His purposeful, significant plan is just ahead—eternity with Him. But for it to be accomplished, He has need of you!
He is looking for men and women who will stand in the gap as intercessory catalysts, people who proclaim His promise, whose lives are patterns to be followed, who pave the way for younger generations, whose prayers invoke His presence, and cry out for His return. He is calling those of us who are in our fifties, sixties, and seventies, proclaiming there is yet much to be done, “I, The Lord, have need of you! Will you partner with me?”
You don’t have to spend your latter years in the shadows of yesterday’s accomplishments—there are many new and glorious ones ahead. Indeed, the Lord has need of you!
They shall still bear fruit in old age;
They shall be fresh and flourishing. (Psalm 92:14)
“Even to your old age, I am He,
And even to gray hairs I will carry you!
I have made, and I will bear;
Even I will carry, and will deliver you.” (Isaiah 46:4)
Yes, the Lord has need of you for there is yet another triumphal entry He has planned—one that will not happen until the spirit and the bride say come.”
May your heart be stirred like the man Simeon in Luke 2:25–35,and may you hear and answer the call to partner with Him in your latter years. Join a generation that is crying out for the glorious return of Christ!
Find more information about our three to six-month Simeon internships for individuals who are 50 and older, and how the Lord is strategically using this generation to prepare the way for the Lord’s glorious return.

Selenia Vera

  • IHOPKC Staff Writer
Selenia resides in Kansas City. She enjoys writing and is the author of Go Quickly. She is on staff with the International House of Prayer where she serves in the Marketing department. Visit her blog: seleniascribbles.blogspot.com



It's watermelon season again. 

It made me think of a Facebook post I wrote on my page back on July 2, 2016...

     The watermelons were on sale today, I love watermelon! I was so excited I scooped up two and hurried to the checkout counter.
     As I was standing in line I had this thought,"You never used to eat watermelons." I didn't really like. In fact, most of my life watermelons grossed me out. It was connected to a repulsive memory. When I was a little girl my mother would buy watermelon and cut them into really fun slices. She would call us in from outside and talk about how wonderful and sweet the watermelon, she would call us in and talk to us about how sweet wonderful and sweet the watermelon was and as she was calling us in we would hurry inside. Once she served us the watermelon, she would then make us go to the back porch where we had to stand in front of this giant metal garbage can.

Those were hot summers in Chicago. We had no air conditioning and on the really bad days, the humid days, there would be no breeze and the sweat would just drip down your back. Just imagine that scenery and being told you cannot come in the house because the watermelon would make a mess.

She would make us lean over and into the garbage can to eat the watermelon all while inhaling fumes of garbage that of course was several days old. (garbage pick up was only one day a week)

Now picture the flies as they swarmed around your ears and face. It was a revolting experience, to say the least, one felt as though they would vomit. I am certain you can imagine. The fun of eating watermelon was soon diminished or as in my case, removed altogether.

You might say, "Why didn't she just send you outside?"

Well, there were lots of children in the neighborhood and we were poor. There wasn't enough watermelon for everyone. I suppose my momma meant well, she wanted to treat us to something special like "A watermelon that was on sale."

As I stood in the line waiting for my turn to check out, my thoughts were drawn to how the Lord redeems things in the lives of His children. And as I waited I began to thank the Lord or watermelon and how much I loved it now.

I was trying to recall when it was exactly that I changed from hating watermelon to loving it. It had to be sometime when I was in my early thirties when the conversation came up and a friend said to me, "Well, you're not on our momma's back porch anymore."

They were right! My location had changed and I now had been given the luxury of air-conditioning and the ability to make the decision of how and when I would eat watermelon. And so, I ate watermelon and I loved it!

Suddenly, I was free from the memory of those early years.

As I continued to wait in line, I began to thank Jesus again for watermelon. This time I could hear the Holy Spirit whisper to me, He said, "You know, your being able to eat watermelon today and not have it connected to the emotions and experiences of your childhood is so likened to how Father God restores 'original design' to his children."

He heals us and restores us to the person he created us to be, with the characteristics he designed us to have.

He breaks the strongholds off of hearts that prohibiting us from living our lives to the fullest. —He invites us to come off the back porch.

He heals the injustice. You know, those things that happened in our lives that aren't necessarily considered "bad," but were incidents that the enemy used to twist our perception and rob us of joy—The Lord removes the garbage can.

The enemy comes to distort, to warp, to muddy up everything that surrounds our character and our purpose. He comes to make us feel putrid and undesirable— So the Lord causes the flies to go away.

Yeah, the enemy strikes against your soul, your original design, your purpose.
But watermelon was created to be refreshingly enjoyed in fun celebratory surroundings and so were you!

The Lord is always very simply and sweetly coming to us to say, "You don't have to stay on the back porch anymore. I can change your location. allow me to serve you. When I'm around, the watermelon is always on sale."





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Love’s Expression


Within two chapters of the book of Acts are the stories of six men—each man with his own story—each story woven into one greater story. The story? How Jesus sought them out, pursued them with relentless love—a story of how each encounter altered the course of their lives.

As many of you as were baptized into Christ, have put on Christ. For there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:27–28)

This verse is remarkable and all-encompassing and because of this verse, I can in some peculiar way see my own story hidden between the lines of theirs. And as I read, I am astounded how the same Jesus that reached for those men reaches for me, finds me, and repeatedly pulls me close to His heart. He never tires, never gives up, always inviting, always.
So Just Who Are These men?

They are:

Stephen 
Saul 
Peter 
Simon the Sorcerer 
Philip 
The Unnamed Ethiopian. 

Six men. From different walks of life, with a different narrative and yet each one is spoken of and written about within the confines of just two chapters.

I believe this is why testimonies and triumphant life stories are written—to tell of the marvelous works of God's hands. The writer’s hope is that the reader will identify with some portion of the story. These two chapters serve as mirrors and as I read and ponder, I see my reflection. At first glance, I am somewhat disheartened, but as I look closer I see it and I am face to face with Love Himself and in His kindness, He shows me what cannot be seen at first glance. Tenderly, the Holy Spirit walks me into victorious Love and He illuminates my darkness with His light.

In the stories of these men’s lives I find a kind, tender, merciful and loving God—but the mystery is hidden and just as He wrote their story, and is writing mine, He is writing Yours.

Profound mystery, hidden treasure. Beautiful invitation.

Let’s follow the men in these chapters and let’s examine what they found and what they lost. Let’s rejoice with the ones who accepted the invitations into Love and reflect and learn from the loss of the ones who didn’t. And then, let’s examine our own hearts—where we stand.

Let’s say as the Psalmist did in Psalm 139: “In His book, all the days of my life have been written.” And Lord, you have searched me and you know me.

Let’s see how “Love’s Expression” is written in the stories of these six men—and ours.

Stephen (Acts 7:54–60)

I suppose there have been times in my life when I believed I was just as committed and fervent in my love and passion for the gospel of Christ as Stephen was. I could say that I believed within myself that maybe I could be as courageous as Stephen and that maybe I could be a martyr for the sake of the cross. I mean who doesn't want to be as devoted and brave as Stephen? Who wouldn’t just love to have all that bravery, devotion, and righteousness imputed to them, right?
Love’s Expression

To Stephen, He came. Jesus stood next to His Father, His heart feeling deeply, His love overwhelming, watching Stephen gazing into heaven whilst he was dying. Opening his eyes, Mercy allowed Stephen to see the fullness of the glory of God, as he reached for Him. It is true, I may never attain the kind of courage Stephen possessed. There have, however, been very difficult times and seasons when I have felt that Jesus stood—reached out for me with heart and arms wide open, pouring out mercy, pulling me close to Himself. Just as He did with Stephen. And the beautiful mystery is that the same love He extended towards Stephen—to save Him and catch him up in the spirit—He does for me on every plain, simple, ordinary day. No, I don’t have to be dying to receive from Him. But He rescues me, and I am astounded.

Saul (Acts 8:1–3)

Most days I really identify with Saul. Like Saul, I have acted arrogantly and been offended, I have presumed, been misinformed, and have judged with passion. I have pursued a cause with aggressive determination, in error having wielded my sword of judgment, my finger pointed with indignation and words of accusation. Bitterly unforgiving, I have allowed my spirit to remain offended. With a dark heart. Guilty of murder.
Love’s Expression

Jesus, you understood Saul. You watched painfully yet mercifully as his immature zeal and misinformed belief systems persecuted You, afflicting, tormenting and murdering your children. But You came and in a moment, suddenly, on an ordinary day, you stopped him in his tracks—tender mercy and redemptive kindness intervened. In a most mysterious way, as the Way, the Truth, and the Life, You magnified Yourself, and Your glory was found by those who were victim to Saul’s actions.

Knowing what Paul’s actions would do in the heart of Your disciples. You knew his misplaced zeal would scatter them and that in the scattering, they would be catapulted into their destiny. You knew they would fulfil the Great Commission. Your mercy knew that well because sometimes love overcomes havoc by using havoc to draw men unto peace. And there, hidden between those sentences, I find myself, like Saul, and like the disciples who tried to render adversity useless, running into the purposes of God for my life because chaos and havoc have driven me into the heart of the Prince of Peace.
Peter (Acts 8:18–25)

Peter—popular, confident, self-assured. Peter—stubborn, strong, impulsive.

And me. Much like Peter, I too have rejoiced and have been moved powerfully as I looked on and watched many receive hope, love, and the Holy Spirit. I have watched how the spirit of Truth came upon others and brought them into greater understanding. Like Peter, I have argued with my brother—be honest, don’t we all? Haven’t we all at one time or another believed our truth, our judgment, our insight was better than our brother’s?
Love’s Expression

Even so, to Peter You came, You strengthened him with Your own prayers, You gave him words of life. You spoke to him and gave him the courage to walk away from his failure, to leave his shame behind; You taught him how to run into You. It was then, from that place, that You sent him and he went—always giving, always offering the more, the better, the deeper, as the story goes, willingly giving to those who had “received the word of God” but not the Holy Spirit.
Yes, Peter, he did just as You foretold, "He strengthened others."

Peter taught. Peter wrote. Peter preached. His letters brought correction, his correction brought hope, the hope that proclaims: “It's never too late to learn, change or begin again.”

Oh, I want to be like Peter, not the unrenewed, unforgiven, pompous Peter. I want to be like the loving whole-hearted, devoted Peter, who “turns and encourages others, that one that strengthens the brethren.” Yes. I can see my story, my longing hidden in the paragraphs of Peter’s story. Can you see yours?

Love is a person—Jesus—the One who is Love. He sees us and reaches out to us—in our confusion, in our ignorance, in our sin. He hears when we accuse Him—in our offense, in our fear, in uncertainty, lust, jealousy, and hatred, through persecution, when we reject him, ignore Him whilst he was dying. And after He rose again He was and is ever seeking us out, pursuing us.

Simon the Sorcerer (Acts 8:9–25)

Sadly, and disappointedly, I have been dark and, in the gall of bitterness, envious and jealous as I've tried and strived to attain fame, fortune. And anointing. Just like Simon.
Love’s Expression

Simon, the one who thought he could obtain gifts fame and fortune. Oh, to Simon Your love offered the gift of repentance and the opportunity to turn around. Yes, your love showed your nature as the amazing God who in a moment can turn things around. Sadly, he declined the offer. May it never be said of us, beloved. May we be found among the ones who receive the kingdom of God—His righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.

The Unnamed Ethiopian (Acts 8:26–40)

Just like the Ethiopian, I have studied and read the Scriptures diligently—yet without understanding. I too have remained faithful to the little that I did know, praying for someone to come and explain to me the more excellent way.
Love’s Expression

Because of the Ethiopian’s diligence to study, to remain steadfast, faithful, and consistent with what little he had, You came, with Your love, and that love interrupted another man's journey and took him on a greater adventure just so that our Ethiopian friend would no longer be in the dark. Yes, You brought the Spirit of understanding in the knowledge of God. May it be said of me that I am like the Ethiopian remaining steadfast, faithful, and constant— waiting for the Spirit of Wisdom and Revelation in the knowledge of Christ.
Philip (Acts 8:26–40)

And lastly, Philip who said: "Yes, Lord" when You called him and sent him on an "interrupted journey.” It was a change-of-plans-and-agendas day (commonly thought as a distraction or inconvenience), but all along it was love that gave him the ability to listen, to follow, and to overtake a chariot. Your love anointed him in the Word allowing him to work wonders and marvelous exploits indeed. Love—it leads us into great adventures by your Spirit.
Love’s Expression

I'd like to think that just like Philip, I have been led by the Holy Spirit—not necessarily transported, although that could happen—but led to another person to instruct and teach them, bringing a greater understanding of the Scriptures. Father, make me like Philip, ready to go, always saying yes to your will and to your way.

_________________________________________________________________________________

I was confronted with my own poverty of spirit as I read these stories—my weakness and profound need of God was exposed and bare. Not in a hopeless way but in a way that made me long for more of Him, His Word, His presence, and the activity of His Spirit in my life—to seek Him and consult Him in my choices in the day-to-day.

I desperately want His Name and Nature to be demonstrated in my character and on the pages of my life’s story.

I want His triumphant victory—won at the cross for me!—to swallow my failures. Or better stated, I want to agree that He has already accomplished this.

May we all be continually humbled as the Holy Spirit reveals to us just how much Jesus Christ and God our Father loved each one of these men, each man—deeply loved them right where they were. To each one was dealt a measure of grace and mercy. And so it is to us.

Friend, yours is a unique and different story but I bet you can also find your storyline hidden within the lives of these six men. And I bet you will also find, as I found, a redemptive and restorative power. Because just like these men in these stories, the love of God has been dealt to me and is being dealt to you with the same measure.

Prayer:
Lord, just as it was demonstrated in Acts chapters seven and eight, your love comes with intention to the humble, the fervent, the passionate, to the one in darkness and the one in obscurity, to the persecuted and the one confused, to the proud and to the one in error. Your love always comes. May it come to me, right where I am here in this moment. God, give us greater understanding and enlarge our capacity to receive more of your love, to embrace your nature. Because Your love and its expression will always be enough.

Peculiar Pine Cone

  I enjoy scrounging around thrift stores and second-hand shops in search of treasures, sometimes, the treasures I find are not material but spiritual. 

Yesterday, as I was out on one such excursion, I noticed a lady scooping up all things “pinecone." Candles, pictures, decor, etc. It caught my attention because her cart was very full, I thought, she must be working on a project or event of some sort. I moved on without a second thought and eventually made my way out of the store, I turned the car radio on and it was news reporting on the fires in California; I listened as the broadcaster spoke about how the beautiful pine trees were being destroyed. My thoughts wandered to the lady at the thrift store, and well, you know, pine cones...
When I returned home I looked up pine trees of California and read this on the internet:
That the Lodgepole Pine tree with its 3–7 cm cones often need exposure to high temperatures (such as from forest fires) in order to open and release their seeds...) Throughout California and Oregon forest fires are burning out of control in this brutal August heat. To give you some perspective, the U.S. Forest Service is spending $100 million a week to fight the fires! It’s devastating.

And yet, as these raging fires consume the forest, I learned something that is quietly going on to prepare for renewal. You see, this unusual species of Evergreen, called the Lodgepole Pine, that grows in great numbers throughout Northwest America most especially in Yellowstone Park, has the fascinating aspect of the uniqueness of its pine cones.
Lodgepole Pine cones stay on the tree for years before they fall off and even when they do fall, they will not open to release their seed, until they are in the presence of intense heat! What could explain this remarkable ecological foresight?
The answer? But God.
God, designed nature, even in its fallen condition which includes devastating forest fires, has providentially prepared for their renewal by designing a Pine tree whose reproduction requires the agent of its own destruction...fire.
As I thought back to the lady at the thrift store, it seemed the Holy Spirit was inviting me into a conversation about “seeds of Resurrection” by the simple act of allowing me to see this lady gathering pine cones, and then hearing about their destruction on the news…He was sharing a hidden mystery of His heart and ways…

You see, even as trees, wildlife, and all living things are being destroyed in a forest blaze, seeds of life are also being released for the "resurrection" of forest life...because, of course, their seeds are only released in the fire, the Lodgepole Pines are the first to grow in an area that's been burned.
Each of us, have areas in our lives that have, need to be, or are already being burned up -- consumed by the "Refining Fire" of God's Holy Spirit.
Yet God has also provided the renewal for us...a "seed" something brand new, which can only be birthed by intense heat.
This new seed, however it manifests in our lives, represents the resurrection life of Christ, which will only emerge in the presence of His purifying fire.

The Lodgepole Pine stands as a prophetic declaration: “I am the resurrection and the Life!” I am Hope and promise in the midst of fiery trials, pain and sorrow.
Be encouraged today with strength, might, hope and the joy that as you endure, you will be renewed with resurrection life. Though unseen, God is divinely intervening.
My friend, If you are walking in what feels like a desperate and destitute place, might I encourage you? Look to the Lord instead of your circumstances today. He's working on your behalf.


"When God seems furthest, He may be laying the foundation of showing His greatest faithfulness."
David Platt.”


Go Quickly, is an account of Mary's painful journey into the tomb where Jesus was laid and what she learned in that darkness. Read how she found courage to walk out of the tomb, as she discovered the Living One. Order your copy today: amazon.com/Go-Quickly-Selenia-Vera/dp/1461128374










Publication date: March 26, 2011 ISBN/EAN 13:1461128374 / 9781461128373 Page Count:46 Binding Type: US Trade Paper Trim Size: 5” x 8” Language: English Color: Black and white Related Categories: Religion /Christian Life /Personal Growth