Creative Expression – It’s Been A Long Time Coming!

NowPeter denied Christ. Paul persecuted Christians. Yet, there is marvelous restoration in Christ for everyone who receives Him.

And then he told me, My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9 Message)

Before Peter or Paul captured the beauty of their life in Christ, they saw their own glaring frailties and complete failures. They each failed miserably. Then they encountered the reality of Christ. In their weakness, He came into their lives with awesome encounters. It was at this point – their point of absolute weakness – that they are awakened to their absolute need of Christ to make them whole. Things have not changed much for us today. In fact, it has not changed at all.

About an hour later, someone else spoke up, really adamant: “He’s got to have been with him! He’s got ‘Galilean’ written all over him.” Peter said, “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about.” At that very moment, the last word hardly off his lips, a rooster crowed. Just then, the Master turned and looked at Peter. Peter remembered what the Master had said to him:” Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” He went out and cried and cried and cried. (Luke 22:59-62 Message)

The piercing eyes of Jesus, eyes filled with absolute love and mercy for Peter. Peter looks and is suddenly accosted by regret, guilt, and condemnation.

That set off a terrific persecution of the church in Jerusalem. The believers were all scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. All, that is, but the apostles. Good and brave men buried Stephen, giving him a solemn funeral––not many dry eyes that day! And Saul just went wild, devastating the church, entering house after house after house, dragging men and women off to jail (Acts 8:1-3 Message)

Paul brazenly defended his religion, without mercy and without regret.

Both of these men soon hit rock bottom. It was at that point that Jesus reveals Himself to each of them. His grace is made perfect in their absolute weakness.

Transformation comes with confrontation.

Peter’s revelatory moment.

Then the disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, “It’s the Master!” When Simon Peter realized that it was the Master, he threw on some clothes, for he was stripped for work, and dove into the sea. (John 21:7 Message)

Then he said it a third time:” Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was upset that he asked for the third time, “Do you love me?” so he answered, “Master, you know everything there is to know. You’ve got to know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. (John 21:17 Message)

Paul’s revelatory moment.

He set off. When he got to the outskirts of Damascus, he was suddenly dazed by a blinding flash of light. As he fell to the ground, he heard a voice: “Saul, Saul, why are you out to get me?” He said, “Who are you, Master?” “I am Jesus, the One you’re hunting down. (Acts 9:3-5 Message)

Restoration flows through each life in the wake of revelation – the unconditional love of Jesus Christ. His mercy. His grace. Jesus comes to restore and make whole, anointing men and women for His purpose, not in their relevant strengths but in their blatant weaknesses.

That’s when Peter stood up and, backed by the other eleven, spoke out with bold urgency:” Fellow Jews, all of you who are visiting Jerusalem, listen carefully and get this story straight (Acts 2:14 Message)

He said, “Who are you, Master?” “I am Jesus, the One you’re hunting down. 6 I want you to get up and enter the city. In the city you’ll be told what to do next. (Acts 9:5-6 Message)

One day as they were worshiping God––they were also fasting as they waited for guidance––the Holy Spirit spoke: “Take Barnabas and Saul and commission them for the work I have called them to do. (Acts 13:2 Message)

There it is for me to see. Failure, utter failure, discouragement, regret and wholehearted restoration in Christ. This past year, in my own self-indulgence, always thinking about me, I discounted His love and mercy, His grace and forgiveness in my life. I often hurled accusations at my God for being absent, uncaring or an unloving Father. Over the past year, my faith in crisis, often felt like Peter standing close to the fire, blatantly saying, “I don’t know You.” I discounted all those past years when He met me supernaturally and loved me unconditionally.

Yet, today, after some God ordained supernatural days, transformation is flowing into my life. I did not ordain the time. I did not ordain the season. It is God.

February is a turning month for me. God spoke that to me, yet hope deferred blinded my eyes from seeing its truth and reality. Healing touches my heart. Hope is restored and faith gives me eyes to see what I could not see even 2 weeks ago. My encounter, my reality.

I failed miserably in many ways in my life. Yet, His grace is sufficient. I have stumbled and offended. I have allowed anger to rule my emotions. Yet, His grace is sufficient for me, in my weakness.

It’s been a long time coming. It seems as if scales are falling off my eyes to love and be loved. My spiritual voice is being restored with authenticity and honesty flowing forth. If you are reading this and have followed my journey, I would not be saying this just to have a good blog. God shows no favorites. He loves His children. What He does for me, He can and will do for you.

There are still good and bad days to come but here’s the difference. There were cracks in my foundation, blatant cracks in my life. I often felt like I have destroyed so many things – relationships and more – that there was no hope. Then while walking a few days ago, I kept thinking about Peter and about Paul. Jesus’ strength made perfect in blatant weakness. This strength is for me, right now in my life. Christ in me, the hope of glory. Seeing the reality of my life without Him. Seeing that I cannot go further in my own strength, I fall headlong into my own life. Then, He comes at that point and restores and renews and refreshes.

How did this happen? Well as I said, it is God’s unique timing and purpose. He led me to a conference where I encountered an anointing in the Holy Spirit. Hands were laid on me and freedom came. God’s timing. God’s way. Out of the cave, one step forward – in my weakness, He is strong. It could have come another way, but it did not. It could have come years ago, but it did not. It could have but His timing is perfect, NOW.

In Christ, Debra Westbrook

DebraPlease pray and consider having Rivers of Eden minister in your gathering, home group, conference or church in 2014. This is our year of release wherever and whenever God opens His doors bringing His grace and His glory through us to those to whom we are called in this season. Feel free to contact us on Facebook, or Twitter.

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Rivers of Eden MinistryI prophesied a lot over the past years – over people, churches, nations, situations. One night many years ago, I awoke at 2 am in the morning to a divine encounter with Jesus, calling me to a prophetic life in Him. There is a hunger in me for Holy Spirit, His gifts, His flow, and His creativity. My Christian life is an adventure – walking in the supernatural is my normal.

We are all called to prophesy. It is part of our Christian life. This is not a teaching. This is my heart in the prophetic – how I grew, how I changed, and how I still love Holy Spirit and adventure. It is for you. It is for me.

Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy. (1 Corinthians 14:1 NKJV)

As grace awakened my life in 2013, the lens over my eyes shifted to prophesying with one focus, and only one focus in my heart. Jesus Christ, His finished work, the glories of His unconditional love and acceptance in the beloved, is the source of all prophecy that flows over my lips and from my heart. There is no other way.

Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” (Revelation 19:10 NKJV)

The testimony of Jesus Christ, flowing through my life, is the spirit by which I prophesy. Yet, that was not always evident in the Charismatic movement in which I immersed myself as a Christian. Over the years, I saw a lot and heard a lot. I was part of it all. Sometimes the bulk of the prophecy, at times, seemed to have its focus on everything but Jesus Christ. As I said, in my life, grace shifted my focus.

Grace has not eliminated the desire to prophesy. It has only clarified my intent and purpose in the gifts of prophecy and other gifts of the Spirit. It has ‘rounded me out’, if I can say it that way. To prophesy from the life of Christ flowing through me and not some other focus or agenda.

Now, I want to add some observations if I may. On my Facebook wall, I read a lot from grace teachers. In their posts, I don’t read a lot about prophecy or the gifts of the Spirit or the manifest presence of God. I don’t read anything about five-fold ministry of apostles, prophets, etc. yet, Paul specifically talks about this in the epistles. Sometimes, I find some things lacking in these posts.

I do read a lot of words about the finished work of the cross, theological debates and discussions. It’s excellent but often I still find it lacking. Kind of like, running with some great revelation, but how long do you keep running with it? I want to ask this question “What now?” How often do you keep saying, “God loves you unconditionally? You are forgiven.” What movement for me is beyond this revelation? To walk in grace in the fullness of the Spirit flowing through my life.

What happens with the revelation of grace? With me, it fits in and adds fulfillment to many of the other teachings in my Christian life that may have been a bit off but now are full in grace. Grace keeps me centered on the fact that I BE in Christ and He flows through me. Yet, I still hunger for the gifts of the Spirit to add that creative element to my Christian life.

I also wonder how one flows as eyes open to grace if you are considered to be a Baptist or a Charismatic or an Evangelical. Do you maintain your positions of belief to some extent even in grace? Does a grace revelation flow from your foundation in that particular denomination. Let me explain. I have not been in many Baptist churches where Holy Spirit is flowing in tongues or in the gifts with spontaneity. From what little I know, many Evangelicals can also hesitate to take the Charismatic seriously. And, Charismatics can be so experience minded, that they could seem a bit ‘out there’ to others.

Many coming into grace from denominational backgrounds. What now? Grace is the great equalizer to accept the truths in Scripture that the lens of our vision may have disregarded in other seasons of our life. In other words, grace opens the door to the fullness of Scripture, not just an add-on to our belief system.

Grace does not negate the five-fold ministry or the gifts of the Spirit in Christ. It beautifully gives these color and creativity. Grace has moved me into a greater measure of His glory by faith in Christ and His unconditional love for me.

Just some thoughts and way more are coming.

In Christ, Debra Westbrook

Rivers of Eden – our ministry in Christ. Please pray and consider having Rivers of Eden minister in your gathering, home group, conference or church in 2014. This is our year of release wherever and whenever God opens His doors bringing His grace and His glory through us to those to whom we are called in this season.

You can contact us on Facebook, Twitter, our Rivers of Eden Contact Page, or right here in the comments.

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