Saturday, July 25, 2015

Enlarge the Place of Your Dwelling

Isaiah 54 is the Lord's Sonnet to Israel, but as with most Old Testament writings, there are applications for God's modern Lady, the Church, and personal applications for individual believers.

Isaiah 54 is the Lord's Sonnet to Israel, but as with most Old Testament writings, there are applications for God's modern Lady, the Church, and personal applications for individual believers.

Start Making Room for the Good Stuff!

Isaiah 54:2-3
“Enlarge the place of your tent,
    stretch your tent curtains wide,
    do not hold back;
lengthen your cords,
    strengthen your stakes.
 For you will spread out to the right and to the left;
    your descendants will dispossess nations
    and settle in their desolate cities. (NIV)
How can I enlarge the place of my tent?
It is tempting to pass over a verse like this saying it does not apply to my life. I don't live in a tent. That was then, this is now. We don't live in tents, but there is a principle here that is timeless. It transcends time, culture, and the Old Testament/ New Testament, Law versus Grace divide. I don’t live in a tent, and yet, I know this verse is for me on a personal level. I know this verse is a word for me right now, today. How can I enlarge the place of my tent? What does it mean to spread my tent curtains wide? I can come up with all kinds of excuses- it's for a different time, a different culture, a different people. But then He says, "Don’t hold back." This is big. This is important. This demands a response. God has more for you and for me, and we need to make room. This begins with a change of heart. We can start by opening our hearts and minds to receive more: more knowledge, more understanding, more wisdom, more grace, more love, more resources, and more blessings. With these come a greater field of influence and more responsibility.
Do not hold back
Before we can take on more responsibility, we need to prepare. If we are preparing for a little job, we only need to prepare a little. If a big job, we need to prepare a lot. What is your job? Are you raising children? Starting your life over after some major setback? Starting a new career? Getting clean and sober? Whatever is before you, God wants to pour His vast resources into your life to give you overwhelming success. He needs you to make room! Now, my natural tendency is to anticipate obstacles, which can be good because it helps me prepare well, but it can also cause me to underestimate what I can do, and  what the Lord can do for me and through me. I have a tendency to hold back by keeping my expectations small. So He makes a point of telling me to prepare all aspects of my dwelling to be able to accommodate more than I can imagine. Are you, like me, in the habit of thinking small? Just enough to get by, Lord, that's all I need. Such prayers do not please God. He is a God of abundance, not a God of lack. Just go outside on a clear night and look up at the stars. There are solar systems and galaxies beyond what we can even imagine. Our God does not lack anything. The only thing He ever lacked was a relationship with us, and He gave His only Son, to buy us back. Why would He not also freely give us all things? (Romans 8:32) Our first task is to stop thinking small. Our second task is to start thinking big.
Lengthen your cords and strengthen your stakes
Lengthen your cords and strengthen your stakes. A bigger tent requires reinforced supports. Our first and greatest support is from the Holy Spirit. If I am going to be expanding, I need to reinforce the things that hold me up and strengthen me. I need to protect my prayer and study time and be careful to not only hear the Word but put it into practice (James 1:22) because strength and stability comes not from just reading the Word daily but actually doing it (Matthew 7:26, 27).
What are some other supports that need to be added in? Relationships with family and friends provide support. So I need to reconnect with those I have lost contact with, reconcile with those I have been at odds with, and reach out to those who can help and mentor me on the way to where I am going. I need to make sure I am established in a local church. It would be hard to plan and pursue great things with a burden of debt. It is going to be important to become financially stable by reducing debt and living within my means. So, I will “lengthen my cords and strengthen my stakes” by daily communing with God, strengthening my relationships, getting financially secure, and being active in my local church.
Spread out to the right and to the left
I’ll need to do all this so I can be ready to “spread out to the right and to the left.” Now, God told the Israelites through Isaiah that their descendants would literally dispossess nations and settle in the desolate cities. How can I apply this truth to my life on this day? My descendants are the legacy I leave behind when I leave this earth. My legacy is not just the people, but the knowledge of God, His love, and His ways. If I can instill these strongly in my children and grandchildren, they can replace the desolate beliefs of witchcraft and paganism that used to govern my family. It is my hope that my descendants will spread out with God’s Word of salvation, not only to my descendants but to neighbors, cities, and nations.
These are promises in God’s Word that we can accept for our lives today. We show that we believe them by taking action to enlarge the place of our tents, lengthening our cords and strengthening our stakes in practical ways in our lives so that we have a place to receive all the benefits God wants to bestow upon us. Do you have a spiritual poverty mentality? If this is your starting point, Matthew 5:2-4 says you are blessed! Why? Because yours is the Kingdom of Heaven. People who aren't aware of their need never pick up a book like this and never lay hold of the Kingdom. We, however, need to let go of old belief systems and trade them for the Kingdom of God. In other words, we need to renew our minds. (Romans 12:2)
Scriptures to help exchange the poverty mentality for the kingdom mentality:
Helplessness, powerlessness - 2 Peter 1:3; Romans 1:16; Ephesians 3:16-18; Ephesians 3:20; Philippians 4:13
Not belonging, feeling like an outsider - Ephesians 3:6; Galatians 6:10; 1 Peter 2:17; Luke 15:3-7; Romans 12:4
Not deserving of the blessings others enjoy- Acts 11:16-18; Romans 3:21-23; Romans 5:22; Romans 5:17; 1 Corinthians 1:26-31
Inferiority and unworthiness-Matthew 10:29-31;  Matthew 6:25-26; Luke 15:11-24; Ephesians 3:14-19
If you are in Christ, you are rich even while you are still poor. You are accepted even when you feel rejected. You are blessed, even when you don't feel it or see it yet. You have the same power in you that raised Jesus from the dead. (Romans 8:11) By meditating on the truth of these scriptures, you are making room for God's blessings and plans for you and the legacy you will leave for your children and grandchildren. If, like me, you have felt like your life is barren, bearing no fruit, having little to show for all your years of living, then you can start singing! And then, let’s get to work!
Questions for Personal Reflection or Group Discussion
In what areas am I thinking too small?
In what areas do I need to build in supports?
What dreams does God have for expanding my influence?
How can I begin to renew my mind to let go of the old poverty mentality and make room for God's Kingdom abundance using the above scriptures?
Dear Lord, please show me how to get ready for the great things you have planned or my life. I am going to enlarge my life to make room for your plans. I claim this word for myself, my children, and my grandchildren. I claim it not only for my bloodline, but also for the spiritual children that I will help bring into your kingdom by spreading your light and your love to others. Help me, Lord, to walk in your ways as your precious child. In Jesus Name, Amen!
Sit in a comfortable place with no distractions. Shift your body so it is well supported. Gently close your eyes and focus on your breath, breathing in slowly and deeply and allowing your muscles to relax as you exhale slowly and fully. Take a few more deep breaths as you become more relaxed and focused.
Now imagine your life as a tent or a dwelling. Take some time to see it and the space around it. You are standing outside the tent. How big is it? How sturdy is it? Look around the outside. What do you see? And now, go inside the tent. Here you see the people in your life. You see your hobbies, your vocation, your activities, even your thoughts and feelings. This is your life as it is today. You are not here to judge, only to observe your life openly and honestly. Just take a few moments to take it all in.
Next, see what needs to be enlarged or fortified. Choose one area and in your imagination, make the change that needs to happen. Do you need to apologize to someone? Give up a self- defeating habit? Or do you just need to make more room for God’s goodness and plans for your life? Take this time to see yourself making the change. And when you are finished, thank God for this change and ask Him to bring it about in your life. You can come back here as often as you like to make changes and get your tent ready for the great life that is coming!
Action Steps
Take a moment to write down the steps, if any, you will take in the following areas. This can begin with changes in your attitude and expectations to match God's word and the dreams God wants to plant in your heart.
Personal devotions
Church life
Anything else God is speaking to you about
God wants to bless us more than we want to be blessed. He wants us to be open and available to spread His blessings to the right and to the left, and to settle them into areas that were once desolate. Once we really embrace this truth, we will begin to conduct ourselves differently. How will you be different when you truly know that all heaven’s resources are at your disposal? (Mark 11:22-24)

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