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The Veil of the Present

“And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’” Matthew 28:18-20

present

The Great Commission

I could not write a devotional without the Great Commission. It is a life verse for Zach and me. We have taken the verse literally. Jesus said, “Go!” so that is what we did. When we were dating, a serious talk defined our relationship. Studying to be teachers, we wanted an assignment overseas. We initially talked about helping at an orphanage or International school. We committed our lives to God and trusted him for guidance. We stayed focused, worked in a few public schools and paid off college loans. We had heard too many stories about individuals wanting to work overseas but never fulfilling that desire. We believed God had something great for us if we would stay on course.

A sense of purpose

Teaching in Chicago could have easily distracted us; great jobs, great schools, great communities, and great friends. When we told everyone about our transition overseas, we gained a lot of support. I cannot recall one person talking about opportunities being given up. No one from work cautioned me about resigning. God blessed us with wonderful people who lovingly supported us through every decision. Our sense of purpose was encouraged by others.

We were conflicted during the final walk through of our home, empty of furniture and ready for someone else. We had hoped to start a family in that house. As we were selling and leaving, I got pregnant. It was a little unnerving but we kept our focus. We sold everything and moved overseas. The present did not take our minds off the future.

Our blessed hope

The future is wrapped up in the promise of Jesus one day returning. I not only want to be caught up with Him, but share the journey with as many people as possible. The future is heaven, the resting place of God. The present is where you work, requiring focus.

Your future awaits

Losing focus occurs when veiled with the present and consumed with earthly comforts. Be unveiled! Seek the heart of God and passionately fulfill the work He wants done. Your future in the presence of Christ awaits you when the assignment is finished.

Matthew 24:13-14,

But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”

The unveiling

The point cannot be emphasized enough. God rips away veils that consume and deceive. Allow Him to transform your life into His image and share His story with everyone. Give careful attention to your ambitions and remain unveiled. The future is great,

How has the veil of the present affected you? Share your comments below.

The Veil of Freedom

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” 2 Corinthians 3:17

freedom

Freedom in Christ

Freedom can be deceiving. You find yourself veiled by perceived freedoms, when in reality you are bound by obligation and fear. You may think you are free but genuine freedom is in Christ and in fulfilling the purposes He has determined for you.

Bound by false freedom

You are free to visit many places. You are free to buy whatever your money or credit will allow. You are free to love and marry whomever you choose. You are free to do whatever job you desire.

Yet, how many people are veiled by perceived freedoms and are still bound by situations, circumstances, debt, obligations and responsibility?

Zach and I were committed to moving overseas but until the last bill was paid we were not free to go. We were trapped. When we cleared all our debts, we were free.

Finding freedom

Feeling free and being free are very different. Ask God to unveil you from any perceived freedoms and to show you where you may be bound. May He remove the veil of perceived freedom and lead you into full freedom.

The unveiling

You can be free. Freedom is found in Christ. In Christ you are free from sin and gain freedom from bondage. By reading Scripture you discover inward freedom. He gives freedom as you live according to His plan. Free up your schedule, debts and everything else restraining you from fully following Him. Seek God and be unveiled of any perceived freedom.

How has the veil of freedom affected you? Share your comments below.

The Chosen Veil

“the people of Israel would see the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses’ face was shining. And Moses would put the veil over his face again, until he went in to speak with him.” Exodus 34:35

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A diminishing radiance

Exodus 34 introduces Moses’ encounter with the holy God. As he met with God on Mount Sinai his face began to glow. Moses covered his face with a veil to screen the radiance of God’s glory. Scripture does not state God instructing Moses to conceal his face. Was it to hide the radiance as it faded over time? What would the people think when the glow was gone?

Choosing to veil

You can cover yourself in a veil through life experiences. To veil yourself in any way should cause you to consider your honesty. What are you trying to veil, conceal or hide? In every situation, God is trying to do something. What may seem to be private or painful is a learning moment from God.

Working through tough times gives you the ability to help someone else in similar situations.

Openness and vulnerability are challenging. Pride veils the ability to admit your humanness. Be willing to admit your frailty and share your experiences with openness. Remove the veil that makes you appear better than you really are.

Being transparent

In a moment of contemplation, ask yourself about the veils you wear. How many veils are you hiding behind in an effort to manage perceptions? Ask God to remove the chosen veil and allow Him to bring you to a place of transparency for kingdom purposes.

The unveiling

This is an issue of surrender. Following Jesus exposes faulty thinking. He illumines the areas you have veiled that should be surrendered to God. Seek to be unveiled, live for His purposes and remember that God is gracious. The enemy wants you to believe God wants to embarrass and expose you to your harm, which is a lie.

God lovingly brings about good things as you let go of the chosen veil.

Do not allow the enemy to hinder total surrender. God works all things for good as you trust Him and obey His leading.

How has the chosen veil affected you? Share your comments below.

The Veil of Ownership

“The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein.” Psalm 24:1

An obsession to own

Why am I compelled to own things? The importance of ownership can serve as a veil. The goal to own things often requires extra work to buy them. Once purchased, they must be cared for, maintained and later end up being sold or discarded. Nothing is wrong in buying and owning things but they can be all consuming. Some people are veiled by the obsession to own. Do you have the right value system with regards to things? Jesus said,

For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Luke 12:34)

ownership

God owns it all

A greater issue of ownership is failing to submit to God. His treatment towards His children is not like a cruel Ruler, nor like a Master owning everything and giving nothing, just the opposite. He knows every detail of your life. He will guide you and by following His leading, He provides everything you need.

Seeking God’s council

Even when striving to seek the heart of God, you can still struggle with the veil of ownership. A real challenge to your relationship with God is seeking to accumulate unnecessary things. Involve God in the process of buying.

The unveiling

Consider the veil of ownership. What ownership goals do you have? What does God think of your goals? Have you asked Him? Do you own things, or do things own you? Truthfully evaluate the priorities things have in your life. Allow God to have Lordship over your life and your treasures, great and small.

How has the veil of ownership affected you? Share your comments below.

The Veil of the Crowd

“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:8-9 (NLT)

crowd

A fickle crowd

Two thousand years ago, Jesus entered Jerusalem. He was welcomed by crowds of people waving massive palm branches and shouting, “Hosanna,” meaning “save now.” The people were ready for a ruler to set up an earthly kingdom, removing Roman authority and making life better. A week later the crowds were shouting, “Crucify him; crucify him.”  What happen to the palm branches that had no time to wither? What happened to hope? Anger set in and the people wanted Jesus to die in a painful and degrading way.

Going with the crowd

Have you ever heard someone say, “If someone jumped off a bridge would you do it too”? Well, would you? It seems more people are being swayed by crowds these days. Recent political debates have stirred many opinions. What people thought and felt was on the tip of their tongue. Crowds shouted. Tempers and feelings were raw.

God unveils

People of integrity are slow to speak and always loving.

Be slow to anger and speak truth according to God’s word.

Non-believers are veiled and God does the unveiling, not us. You can speak truth until you are blue in the face but until God unveils them, they will not believe it.

The conviction of Scripture

God’s word has that impact. If people do not believe God exists why would they accept Scripture or understand those devoted to Him? A person needs a relationship with God to experience the humbling realization that Jesus died for them. He died so you could live in forgiveness and one day live eternally in His presence. Non-believers do not understand holiness, a God thing for God’s people. This is the treasure believers know and share. Take a moment to pray for those opposing you. Live a godly life and be a quiet example. Saint Francis of Assisi said,

Preach the gospel at all times – if necessary, use words.”

The unveiling

Consider the veil of the crowd. Allow God to speak to you, then speak to the crowd His message. God has insight about the crowd and His thoughts are what matters.  The crowd may not agree, especially when opinions of God are declining.

How has the veil of the crowd affected you? Share your comments below.

The Veil of the Door

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” Matthew 7:7

Doors

While attending a conference I noticed several creative and uniquely designed doors.  A conference speaker gave an illustration about the doors in his hometown, as well. A large photograph of local doors hung on the hotel room wall and sparked an interest. I began thinking of the many doors I have walked through.

I have entered and closed many doors. Zach and I have moved ten times. That is ten different doors to our homes. Of those doors, one stands far above the others in my mind.

door

A life of doors

Everyone walks through doors, some fade with time and others remain clear. Some take on some form of meaning. Within friendships, careers and relationships you have opened and closed doors. Some great friendships are established in a short time and develop, regardless of time and distance. Everyone has doors in their lives, both literally and figuratively.

Choosing the right door

What door is God behind? Do you remember the game show, “Is it door number one, number two or number three?”  Finding the door God is behind is not a game.  The doors of life you choose do matter and you have to live with the results. Carefully consider the right door.

Doors in the Bible

Two Bible verses address the subject of doors.  Revelation 3:20,

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.”

Matthew 7:7, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”

A godly door

Contrary to what some think, God is not talking about opening the door to a dream car. A heart truly seeking God seeks the door God has prepared. The Lord will guide you through the right door and into His will. Center your heart on God and be prepared for what he has to say. When He speaks, you will be ready to receive direction and have the ability to walk through the door He opens. Remember that the enemy seeks to derail you in your earnest pursuit of the door God has prepared. The enemy may try to distract you with another door that easily opens. He may dangle before you a beautiful and shiny door. Don’t be fooled!

You may have to push with all your might or stand at the door for a long time, but when God is in it, it is in your best interest to wait.

The unveiling

Go to the Lord in prayer for your life, your direction and your decisions. Are you seeking new doors of opportunity, new relationships or new endeavors? Is your heart truly seeking His will and leading? Are you seeking unrealistic or selfish doors? Allow God to unveil the wrong doors and ask him to open the doors He has prepared.

How has the veil of the door affected you? Share your comments below.

The Veil of Comfort

“So we are always confident, even though we know that as long as we live in these bodies we are not at home with the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 5:6 (NLT)

*I encourage you to read all of 2 Corinthians 5 for a more thorough understanding of this veil.

comfort

Holiday comforts

A Christmas tree is a symbol of comfort to me. Decorations, music, food and visits from family and friends are some of my favorite memories. Living overseas, I feel more at home after the first Christmas in our new location.

Comforts!

If not careful, you can determine your own course for maintaining a certain level of comfort. Visiting a third world country very quickly points out many comforts you do not want to live without.

Sometimes vacations reveal a bed that is not to your satisfaction. Maybe there is not much water pressure in the shower or the heating unit makes too much noise. Many live behind a veil of comforts, hindering a willingness to go beyond an uncomfortable standard of living. Have you thought or said any of the following:

That’s too far; too dirty; unsafe; not my type; not the right neighborhood; not the right time….”

Second Corinthians makes reference to the cravings in this life. Having been given a taste of heaven may you not be impatient and create your own heaven now. Chapter 5 encourages you to long for heaven, not allowing earthy conditions to steal joy. 2 Corinthians 5:6 from the New Living Translation says,

So we are always confident, even though we know that as long as we live in these bodies we are not at home with the Lord.”

The challenge

Take time to consider the life of Christ on earth. He left the comforts and majesty of heaven to live among us. He was mocked, scourged and nailed to a cross for you. Ask God to help you put comforts aside and embrace all that He has for you.

How has the veil of comfort affected you? Share your comments below.

The Veil of Tradition

“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18

tradition

A life of traditions

Traditions are an integral part of life. They enrich holidays, family events, religious practices and much more. My favorite tradition centers on Christmas, having been passed down by my grandparents. On Christmas morning we would wake up our parents and, before seeing the tree, return to our bedrooms to wait for the best Christmas song ever, “Sleigh Ride” by the Boston Pops. Just thinking about it causes butterflies in my stomach. My two older brothers and I would stand together at the door, listening and waiting. Once we heard the first notes, we would burst through the door and run into the room to see the gifts under the tree. Zach and I do the same Christmas tradition with our children.

The good and the bad

Traditions usually conjure up great memories but some traditions bring hard feelings, hurt and regret. Traditions can give pleasurable or haunting feelings. In the classic story of The Count of Monte Cristo, Edmond Dantes is whipped in prison on the anniversary of his imprisonment. What a negative and harsh tradition! Unfortunately, negative traditions do occur.

Removing the veil

Behind the veil of tradition, evil can reside and run amuck. Allow God to remove the veil of tradition and illumine areas covered in darkness. God is love and wants to dispel evil from your life. He can bring light to dark areas, but you must take action. Second Corinthians 3:18 is a key for removing the veil of tradition. Paul writes,

With unveiled faces….”

Not like Moses who veiled his face and not by being veiled in unbelief, yet with unveiled faces behold the glory of God. Come to Him by the leading of the Spirit and begin changing into Christ’s likeness. Traditions can veil you from beholding God’s glory and can stand in your way of transformation.

Old traditions may need to end. New traditions may need to be introduced into your home. God is holy and worldly traditions should stop. God is love and hates evil. Any evil tradition must end.

Literal veils

When Zach and I arrived in Jerusalem, the veiled faces of the neighborhood struck my attention. Sudan was a place of veiled faces but here was a new set of traditional coverings. Within Islam, women cover their heads and, in extremely conservative families, cover head and face, feet and hands. We now live among Muslims and Jews. The traditional head covering for Jews impacts both men and women. Second Corinthians 3:18 has become a great verse to share with others. Be unveiled!

The cost of unveiling

Jesus gave his life for your unveiling. Upon His death on the cross, the veil in the temple was torn in two. This was not an accident. Could God Himself have ripped the veil, screaming: “Enough with veils and traditions! Look to Me without veils. I am directly available.” At that moment God put an end to a veil of tradition in the temple. You should strive for the same thing.

The challenge

Prayerfully consider your traditions. Take time over the course of a year and examine events and holidays. What place does traditions have in your life? Have you allowed a tradition to have greater significance than God? God wants to rip the veil in two and bring you closer to him. Unveil your life of worthless traditions that separate you from God.

How has the veil of tradition affected you? Share your comments below.

The Veil of Routine

This week’s blog post comes from my wife, Shellie. She has been working on a 21-day devotional related to different veils we have in life and their ability to cause us to miss God. She will be taking the next 9 weeks to share her entries and get feedback as she completes the formatting of her book. We appreciate any comments you may wish to share.

“But let me say this, dear brothers and sisters: The time that remains is very short. So from now on, those with wives should not focus only on their marriage. Those who weep or who rejoice or who buy things should not be absorbed by their weeping or their joy or their possessions. Those who use the things of the world should not become attached to them. For this world as we know it will soon pass away.” 1 Corinthians 7:29-31 (NLT)

routine

The checklist

Get dressed. Check. Eat breakfast. Check. Read email. Check. Have devotions. Check. Sound familiar?  It’s called routine. Most people have them. Some live a rigid lifestyle, keeping strictly to a routine. In many ways life is made to live routinely. Important details are better remembered by living this way. You must examine, however, how rigidly you hold to routines and be careful to not dismiss divine interruptions.

Missing God moments

This is a complex veil. Are you veiled by routine? Have God moments been missed by a personal list of items? Are you placing your own schedule above God’s agenda? Will you trust God with your life, including your plans?

The challenge

Ask God to remove the veil of routine from your life. Have God prioritize your routine and seek His agenda.

How has the veil of routine affected you? Share your comments below.