My New Normal – A Devotion

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Romans 12:1-2 (NLT)

And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

 

Welcome to my new normal! I hear this term quite often in the “social” circle of cancer fighters and survivors. It is a love-hate relationship like so many other things in this environment. For example, I hate that our son has to take a multitude of medications right now. I love that there are modalities to address all the risks and pain that he must go through in this journey. I hate that radiation therapy has taken away his saliva among other side effects but I love that with all those other things the tumor was taken, too. This is our new normal. Well, before I go any further I declare and decree in the Name of Jesus Christ that fighting cancer, taking medication and living at the hospital are not and will not ever be normal for our life. This is not God’s Standard of Living for His Children. However, part of the process so that I will secure a new normal in my own life. What is your idea of normal? What do you allow to be the expected outcome in your life? Why is she going there? Today, I am packing up our things at the Lodge preparing to deposit our son back in his apartment to be king of his castle. He will begin an online class next week and go back to living as a somewhat secluded college student while his body recovers from chemotherapy and bone marrow transplantation. The Lord has provided everything he will need to do that in the coming months. I will return home and go back to work. Seem like things will be somewhat normal again…not so fast friend. Not for me they won’t. I have decided that I am no longer conforming my behavior and customs to this world because have been given the opportunity to be transformed into a new person with new standards and new customs for my life. I am raising the bar this time. God’s Will for our life is good, pleasing and perfect. The “things” in life that we go through labeled as struggles, difficulties and hard times have the potential to have a profound effect on our expectation. I will be the living and holy sacrifice that He finds acceptable because my expectations are now changing. I desire to be transformed into a new creation, a Child of God who has achieved a higher standard of living.

Ephesians 4:13-15 (NLT)

This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ. Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.

 

God did not intend for His Children to be tossed back and forth from problem to hardship to trial to test. But He uses these things as an opportunity to increase our faith and establish hope in Him. Why? Faith and knowledge of Jesus Christ allows us to measure up to the full and complete standard of Christ. Normal means conforming to the common type. It defines what is usual, regular or common in our life. It is the usual or “expected” state, form, amount or degree. Now our normal changed when Adam and Eve sinned (Romans 3:23), we were removed from God’s Standard of Living which means every need was met, no sickness or disease completely cared for by God the Father to rule and reign over the earth. Now, thanks to the Grace, Mercy and Love provided in His Sacrifice, Jesus made it possible for us to raise our standard of living again. Changing our expectations to a new standard of living and expecting God’s Glory rather than random outcomes like the world. I am accepting God’s Standard for my life. A standard is an accepted or approved example of something against which others are judged. We have an acceptable and approved glorious standard given to us by Jesus Christ provided by our covenant with God. It is up to us to accept and approve it as the new normal for our life. God is doing something new each and every day of your life. (Isaiah 43:18-20) He takes every detail working it together for our good even in bad times. (Romans 8:28) I must have faith and believe this is what He is doing to be willing to accept and approve it in my life. The more that I do this the more I will be transformed and thus my idea of normal will continuously change as I increase the boundaries of my submission to God to encompass all that He is doing in my life. What does this mean? Constant change. Security only in the Lord. Peace that passes all understanding. Joy overflowing even when dealing with sorrow.

Romans 8:18-21 (NLT)

Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later. For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are. Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay.

Nothing that we will ever go through on this earth compares to the Glory that God has for our life. Nothing. I tell people almost every single day that cancer did not change us but Jesus did. What does that mean? I did not welcome cancer, invite it in to stay, or care for it in anyway. I worked day and night to do whatever humanly possible to move the Hand of God and modern medicine so that He will be cancer-free. In the meantime, I had to decide not to focus on the problem but rather on the Plan of God that says – “His Glory is coming!” All creation is subject to the curse. You are no different than anyone else. No one deserves to get cancer. Nobody should ever expect it no matter how many packs they smoked or the lifestyle they lived. Sickness and disease are not ever and will never be part of our relationship with God. It a consequence of sin. How do we battle sin? Jesus. Battle won! I am learning to turn more and more of my life over to Jesus with that statement. “How do I __________?” Answer: Jesus. I pour over the covenant we have (His Word), find His Promise concerning my problem (haven’t found one not in there), then I begin to bring it to God’s Attention and the enemy as well. I decide in my heart and mind that I will not compromise or conform to this world that accepts much less than God’s Best. I begin stirring up my faith until hope is affected. I hold on tight and WAIT UNTIL HE COMES! The worst part of any process for me personally is waiting. It leads to the failure of most who do not have confidence that the Lord will do what He promised because they have never waited long enough for Him to reveal His Glory. One time and you will be hooked. The new normal is all you will want every day even if it makes change a part of every day because it most certainly will. You know what else? It makes it worth it!

Psalm119:5-7 (NLT)

Oh, that my actions would consistently reflect your decrees! Then I will not be ashamed when I compare my life with your commands. As I learn your righteous regulations, I will thank you by living as I should!

 

Are you tired of your so-so mediocre life? Do you want a new normal? Compare the life that you are living with the terms of your covenant with God. If they do not measure up, change is coming. What can you do to prepare for God’s New Glorious Standard of Living? My actions must consistently reflect your decrees. The closer we align our heart, mind, attitude and actions with Jesus Christ the greater our expectation becomes. We no longer have to see what life hands us but raise our hands praising the Lord for what is coming. We can actually be happy in our waiting times knowing what He is about to do is more than we could even think to ask for. How do I know this? His Word. What happened? I tried it. And? It worked. You cannot expect God’s Standard of Living until you become a Child of God.

Let’s talk about comparison. Note, we are to compare our life with the Word of God – NOT OTHER PEOPLE. There are many people who live a live. The only consistency in this world is Jesus Christ. He is constant. He is our example. We do what He does. We say what He says. We walk how He walked. Comparison with other people is a faulty scale. (Proverbs 20:10) “Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. For we are each responsible for our own conduct.” (Galatians 6:4-5)

Philippians 3:8-9 (NLT)

Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith.

 

Everything is worthless compared to the value of knowing Jesus Christ. It is to be counted as garbage. Now let’s get real…do you really want a new life? Are you willing to change to have it? What are you holding on today that one might consider a guilty pleasure? It doesn’t have to be a socially unacceptable vice but anything that should be subject to the Blood of Jesus and washed away but yet still held tightly by its owner? You know the thing that when challenged you tightly wrap it in His Grace but refuse to let it go. Some people would rather be a victim and get the world’s sympathy than a victor. Others want all that God has but will not give up the things of this world to have them. Sad but true. We all have them. Until we decide that we want a new normal enough to sacrifice security of the past, and comfort zones of hurt, there will be no difference. We must cast off the weight that holds us back from our process. (Hebrew 12:1-2) God isn’t going to rip it off you and Jesus is not going to wrestle it from you. Surrender is the only way.

I Corinthians 3:18-23 (NLT)

Stop deceiving yourselves. If you think you are wise by this world’s standards, you need to become a fool to be truly wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness to God. As the Scriptures say, “He traps the wise in the snare of their own cleverness.” And again,

“The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise; he knows they are worthless.”  So don’t boast about following a particular human leader. For everything belongs to you— whether Paul or Apollos or Peter, or the world, or life and death, or the present and the future. Everything belongs to you, and you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God.

 

Let me break it down for you as the Lord has done for me. I belong to Jesus Christ who belongs to God. Everything belongs to God who gave it to Jesus who offers it to me. “Stop deceiving yourselves.” The only one keeping us from a new normal and a better life seems to be me and you. We must become committed to creating an atmosphere in our life that invites change. We must accept and approve God’s Word as our standard of living because His Glory is so much greater than anything we could produce in our own life. Random living is not for God’s Children. You should be blessed, healed, whole and complete. If not, keep lining up your life with His Promise and reminding Him that something is amiss. When He tells you to take out the garbage, do it! Jesus led by example so follow Him. (John 13:14-16) I will no longer settle for life at the world’s discretion but am committed to seeking the Glory of God as my new standard of life anything less will not be tolerated. Welcome to my new normal.

Ephesians 2:6-7 (NLT)

For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus.

Stuck in the Middle – A Devotion

Stuck in the Middle

 

I John 5:4-5 (NLT)

For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith.  And who can win this battle against the world? Only those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God.

 

Do you feel like you are stuck in a rut? Is your life a never-ending carousel that always stops in the same place? Do you constantly feel pulled in opposite directions – physically, emotionally and spiritually? Join the club. Situation after situation, circumstance after circumstance, problem after problem, bill after unexpected bill, and every other imaginable thing that keep popping up in our life. It is difficult to fell like victors when we are constantly falling victim to such opposition. Life is full of opposition. There will always be something or someone standing in the way of your progress. It is inevitable. Feeling better yet? Me either, but we will. For three years now, I have waited for, longed for, hoped for, prayed for, willed for our son to be healed and fully delivered from cancer. I am still waiting. He has had cancer five times from diagnosis to relapse after relapse to transplant. With medical bills skyrocketing over the million dollar mark between tests, exams, follow-ups, and hospitalizations I truly have a million-dollar man who has yet to make it six months without relapse. It is clear that the doctors do not know the right answer but they keep trying to save our son’s life. God knows the answer. He knows the exact date of his healing. He knows every single side effect that he will have and Jesus took a stripe for each one. God is not finished but I am ready to be done. I signed up for a sprint but found out that it’s a marathon. I like the smooth circular track that is clearly marked start and finish, but God prefers cross country trails that go up and down all around. I have been straining my eyes for the finish line to claim victory after all of this. God says, “Silly you have the victory!”

 

Life is a process. Victory is coming but it will never fully arrive until our Savior finally returns to end the wickedness, pain and despair of this world. Until then, I am stuck in the middle. In the middle of what? Both worlds, heaven and earth. I am a resident of Heaven who is a foreigner here. I do not reside here and am not of this world but must walk through it. All the way through it. To the very end of it. Throughout this entire process of cancer treatment and recovery and then to relapse, treatment and recovery – I keep waiting for the moment to run victory laps and shout – it’s over – we win! We win! When the insurance denied further treatment, I just knew that when they finally approved I would dance in the streets when I heard and run up and down the halls of wherever I was. I never doubted that God would come through for Him because of the peace that I have found but I have made a recent discovery. When the good news came each and every time, rather than running, shouting or screaming all I could do was breathe and thank Jesus because He did again. He defeated the world and that nasty thing called cancer. He approved us when the world kept rejecting us. He achieved victory for my life that is consistent in my life whether I believe it or not. Maybe I am stuck in the middle of this life for a reason. Each time He has proved His Promise I have cried. Not sobs necessarily – only that first night. You know the ones. They are tears of relief when faith accomplishes His Word in our life. I believe these are the tears that He catches and save turning them back into good. I believe this is productive sorrow which is what He is recording to perfect that which concerns me. We have overwhelming victory. His Name is Jesus. But where is our faith?

 

Mark 6:46-52 (NLT)

After telling everyone good-bye, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. Late that night, the disciples were in their boat in the middle of the lake, and Jesus was alone on land. He saw that they were in serious trouble, rowing hard and struggling against the wind and waves. About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. He intended to go past them, but when they saw him walking on the water, they cried out in terror, thinking he was a ghost. They were all terrified when they saw him. But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage! I am here!” Then he climbed into the boat, and the wind stopped. They were totally amazed, for they still didn’t understand the significance of the miracle of the loaves. Their hearts were too hard to take it in.

 

The disciples were stuck in the middle of a violent storm. They had rowed out on the lake and now were in serious trouble. They were rowing hard and struggling against the wind and waves. When Jesus approached on the water they were terrified and did not even recognize the Lord who they had been following so closely. His Intention was to continue to the other side. Now hang on a minute. His Closest Companions were in the middle of a storm, fighting for their life, struggling and exerting every ounce of energy just to survive. Obviously so overtaken with fear that they did not even recognize Jesus, and He was about to go right past them. Are you kidding me? But of course, Jesus just couldn’t do it and climbed in the boat quieting the storm. He told them, “Don’t be afraid” and “Take courage.” They were totally amazed. But hang on, this is the same group of people who watched Jesus turn a boy’s lunch into a feast. When the disciples wanted to send the people home to eat, Jesus told them to feed them. With what? What do you have? We have been given everything we needed. Christ has provided from Heaven’s resources to care for us. We lack not good thing. Because we believe in Who He is and What He accomplished on the Cross – we have the Keys to the Kingdom. This is all scriptural therefore true which means in our current state we have everything that we need to overcome every situation. Jesus wasn’t passing them by because He was mad at them, testing Him or didn’t care. He knew that by faith they could quiet the storm but rather than doing that they panicked. We keep looking for the finish line which will not come until we complete our process. Life is the process of discovering faith that because substantial enough to be our hope in every single situation big or small that we face in life. We must fall so in love with Jesus becoming totally dependent on Him so that we know Him. When we know Him, we have empowered our faith and it is now hope that we can hold on to when the storm rocks our boat. We can tell the wind and waves to be still knowing that they will soon calm down. We want the finish line. But we are not ready to cross it so we remain stuck in the middle.

 

Psalm 62:1-2 (NLT)

I wait quietly before God for my victory comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will never be shaken.

 

God is my victory. Yay, God but what about today? What about this problem? Where is my healing? When will I be delivered? I guess that may be up to you and I. God has ordered our steps and planned every one for our good and advancement. But until we have faith that connects our will with His Will – we are moving in very different directions. The world does not support such promotion and finds that it loathes it. Advancement of Christ hastens the end of this world and everything in it including sickness, pain, disease, defeat and despair. (John 15:19) Jesus didn’t pray for God to take us out of this world but to empower us to make it to the end of our faith process so we can have hope forever. (John 17:13-15) You are not getting out of anything – you are going through it, overcoming it and endurance is the key. Those who endure to the end will be saved. Again – His Words not mine. We are in a transformation process turning our thoughts to be like His Thoughts. We cannot live in agreement with the Kingdom in our own mindset. (Roman 12:1-2) God is changing my mind every day. He is renewing my thoughts and making them consistent with His Way of doing things. I submit them to Him each day to undergo this process. We are in the process of reconciling our life to God the Father through Jesus Christ the Son as we learn to exercise our freedom while honoring right standing. (2 Corinthians 18-20) This doesn’t happen overnight and some seasons hasten the day but it is still a process of endurance. We are capturing our rebellious thoughts and giving them to Christ to set our mind, soul and body from bondage to sign seeking alignment with Jesus. We are in the middle of pursuing victory! We will know Him when He comes! It’s okay to shout along the way. It is strongly encouraged to rejoice in the Lord always even before you see His Plan because we know that all things work together for our good! That is what He thought the disciples knew in that boat in the middle of a storm and that is exactly what He wants you to discover stuck in the middle of your storm, too!

 

Romans 8:36-38 (NLT)

(As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.

 

Smooth sailing never made a skilled sailor. Remember that today when your boat starts rocking. We are in the process of achieving overwhelming victory through Jesus Christ. Of course, hell and the world we live in will come against it. God is just working to fill our heart and life with His Love so we are confident that there is nothing that can separate us from it. That is called faith. We live in constant pursuit of that love because we know it is real and for us – that is called hope. We may be stuck in the middle today but nothing will ever take us from this place because we are stuck in the middle of His Love! Celebrate victory today! It belongs to you!

 

Romans 5:1-5 (NLT)

Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory. We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

It is Still Well – A Devotion

It is still well

Philippians 4:7 (AMP)

And God’s peace [shall be yours, that tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and being content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace] which transcends all understanding shall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

 

Yesterday was a pivotal day in our life, it seems like so many things came together that had been previously scattered and unknown – now falling into place. As if walking away from a collision where no one is expected to survive, feeling your body to make sure everything is intact, and unbelievably discovering you made it through the terrible ordeal unharmed. Yep, that is where I was at. Shell shocked from the journey, our son’s doctor commented that “mom” looked drained. I bristled a bit because I do not feel drained emotionally, spiritually or physically. I bit tired from bunking with a night owl that’s for sure. But I would never want it to be implied or suggested that I am anything but satisfied. I have decided that at the end of this leg of the journey that it is still well with my soul.

 

I have found great comfort in the hymn “It is Well” by Horatio Spafford. A mighty man of God who spent time with D.L. Moody and other great Biblical scholars, he was a very successful business man in the 1800’s. After reading his story, I have decided that he was the image of Job. Spafford was a very successful lawyer living a perfect life in Chicago. His wealth amassed a great deal of valuable real estate. He had a beautiful home, wife and five children. He was a devout Christian and faithful student of scriptures. However, this did not exempt him from trials and tragedy. At the height of his success, his young son tragically died. The great Chicago Fire of 1871 destroyed also every real estate investment that he had. He decided his family needed a vacation. They were to sail to Europe. At the last minute, an urgent business matter kept him back and he would join his family shortly after their arrival. There was a collision and all four of his remaining children died with only his wife surviving. His story definitely mirrors that of Job. As he boarded a ship to meet his grieving wife, he penned the words that have resonated from that moment until today – “It is well with my soul.” There is comfort in those words for a broken heart, beaten spirit and suffering soul. To be able to say with faith and confidence after all is said and done that is STILL well with my soul is a blessing beyond anything I could think or imagine. It is found in God’s Love alone.

 

Philippians 4:6 (AMP)

Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God.

 

Do not have anxiety about anything. This is much easier for some people than others. We can decide not to worry about today but if there is no confidence that things are taken care it will be a constant futile battle of mind over matter. The Word of God says in every circumstance give everything to God by prayer, petition and definite requests. One cannot be sure of their faith unless they spend some time getting to know their covenant contract with the Lord. You cannot expect certain things or request them without knowing what is available and how to attain it. Like withdrawing from your bank account requires identification, receiving God’s Blessings requires that we are identified as Children of God. The Holy Spirit is our guarantee that these things will come to pass but many people choose to ignore the spirit and feed the flesh then wonder why nothing is prospering in their life. We are invited and encouraged to make our requests to the Lord. The word it uses is “wants”. Why not our needs? God has already provided. If we properly identify ourselves as Children living according to the Spirit and not the flesh, God’s Provision is as easy as opening the pantry door in your parent’s house. It is yours for the taking. I fret. I worry. I get anxious. All of these are consistent battles in my life, but as I learn to surrender one by one to the Lord – He has been faithful with each and every single thing that I have entrusted to Him. Unfortunately, it has taken a mighty trail and exhausting all my resources to come to that conclusion. But it doesn’t have to be that way. We cannot have peace unless we learn to shift our dependency from the things of this world, people in it and ourselves completely over to the Lord. His Grace and Mercy provides a shelter for every time we snatch it back in fear and settle for something far less than He planned. Peace comes at a price. The prices is called faith. Faith without confidence is useless. But faith in total dependency becomes the hope that we hold on to. This anchor is forever secure.

 

Philippians 4:7 (AMP)

And God’s peace [shall be yours, that tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and being content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace] which transcends all understanding shall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

 

The tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ is indescribable. I cannot explain it. I cannot show you it. I cannot even demonstrate its powerful affect. All I can say is that it is STILL well with my soul. It allows us to be fearless if we strive to live in His Love everyday rather than pursing other lovers. See that is the catch. You are not going to jump into the Arms of Jesus with the last fiber of your being, piece of your heart and strength in your body when all hell breaks loose unless you are absolutely sure of the unseen but totally relevant certainty of His Love. It’s a trust fall. I am very reluctant to participate in such things because I do not easily trust people. Imagine my personal resistance when it came to an unseen but very real God. Contentment comes when we discover that this life is going to have trials, trouble, problems, circumstances and situations not facilitated by the Hand of God but a roaring, toothless and clawless lion that is bent on convincing us that His Grace is not sufficient and His Love is not enough to save us in our storm. We are offered God’s Love, Peace and Protection in our earthly lot. We assume it by becoming His Children and serving His Son. You want peace that passes all understanding today? Do you want a garrison or guard over your heart and mind so you won’t go crazy in this mess? You will only find it in Jesus Christ.

 

Philippians 4:8 (AMP)

For the rest, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of reverence and is honorable and seemly, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and lovable, whatever is kind and winsome and gracious, if there is any virtue and excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on and weigh and take account of these things [fix your minds on them].

 

The little engine that could kept saying, “I think I can…I think I can…I think I can.” He made it over his mountain and that is how we will make it over ours, too! It begins with our thoughts. I have a wild imagination. My ability to produce what-ifs is epic. I can work up a frenzy that is quite elicit. Those rebellious thoughts keep me at the foot of the mountain never progressing over it as God intended. “For the rest…” not sure what context this is in but for me the Lord is telling us that “if you want to rest” fix your mind on these things. When we fix our mind on something it impacts our actions and changes our communication. For example, many years ago when our daughter came down with rapid onset debilitating asthma, I decided to give this faith and healing thing a go. Not just praying for her healing but really investing my faith in the effort. We pursued medical treatment. Doctor’s visits were up to as many as four times a week. Her breathing treatment machine went everywhere that we went. The medications barely broke through the wheezing and rattles in her little body. I knew this was not God’s Will for her life. I had this mustard seed of faith but no idea what to do about it. In an effort to change all that, I began diving headfirst in the Word of God. I didn’t want to hear from other people anymore I wanted to know exactly what God had to say about it. I sought guidance from other believers who I knew walked in faith for healing. Real Christians who lived it rather than only professing it. We prayed over her time and time again. When the day came that the doctor proclaimed that this would be her life forever, everything changed. Not only was she completely healed of asthma that day never having another occurrence to the complete astonishment of her physician but I changed. I now know the parameters of God’s Love and that no one can ever curse them because they are blessed Children of God. You don’t have to break a curse that never affixes itself to our life. How does it attach to us? In our thoughts and mind, you will never overcome anxiety and achieve perfect peace until you are absolutely sure of the things God has for you and the things that are completely unacceptable in our life. When you do, your faith becomes a force to be reckoned with. Confident hope is nothing more than confidence in God’s Love above all other forces in this world. We believe that God’s Love is greater than anything this world can bring against us.

 

Philippians 4:9 (AMP)

Practice what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and model your way of living on it, and the God of peace (of untroubled, undisturbed well-being) will be with you.

 

When it comes to our faith, practice makes perfect. As we model the imagine of Christ in our life, we build up and fortify our faith so when the storm comes and ends life as we know it our faith is still standing after all is said and done. The faith that I began investing time and energy into when our baby girl was in distress was the mustard seed that would begin to grow in my life. Our son has had cancer diagnosed five times in his body. God has healed Him every time. What’s crazy is that I have not experienced fear but only agitation. There is a difference. I am offended when the enemy attacks because he has no right to. My insolence stirs up that faith and it becomes stronger. Yet still in the little, minor details I get swept away in fretting, worry and fear. The Lord proves faithful time and time again. Life is a process of learning to trust God until we completely turn our life over to Him in Eternity. We must practice. We must learn more about His Word, His Will and His Way. Christianity is not a hobby or pastime to be done in our spare time – it is a lifestyle of surrendering our life to the Lord piece by piece until we find the peace that He has promised so we say with all the saints, “It is STILL well with my soul!”

 

James 3:17-18 (AMP)

But the wisdom from above is first of all pure (undefiled); then it is peace-loving, courteous (considerate, gentle). [It is willing to] yield to reason, full of compassion and good fruits; it is wholehearted and straightforward, impartial and unfeigned (free from doubts, wavering, and insincerity). And the harvest of righteousness (of conformity to God’s will in thought and deed) is [the fruit of the seed] sown in peace by those who work for and make peace [in themselves and in others, that peace which means concord, agreement, and harmony between individuals, with undisturbedness, in a peaceful mind free from fears and agitating passions and moral conflicts].

 

Undisturbedness gets the nasty redline of Spell Check warning us that this is not a word. It is right this is not a word that will ever comprehend or find outside of Jesus Christ. The events of the society that we live in are disturbing. Without wisdom of God and what He has planned for us, we will never have this peaceful state free from doubt, wavering and insincerity. The Harvest of Righteousness born of a seed of faith is peace. It requires conformity to God’s Will in thought and deed. When we do that we can live in agreement and harmony with God, mankind and ourselves. It is a peaceful state free from fear. True wisdom from God always is peace-loving. God wants to work it in us and through us until we are always in a state of rest. Even when all hell is breaking loose around us, faith remains strong and the anchor called hope secure so it is STILL well with us.

 

Hebrews 13:20-21 (AMP)

Now may the God of peace [Who is the Author and the Giver of peace], Who brought again from among the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, by the blood [that sealed, ratified] the everlasting agreement (covenant, testament), strengthen (complete, perfect) and make you what you ought to be and equip you with everything good that you may carry out His will; [while He Himself] works in you and accomplishes that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ (the Messiah); to Whom be the glory forever and ever (to the ages of the ages). Amen (so be it).

 

My husband and I have purchased two homes and refinanced one time. The process of closing on a house is overwhelming. The contract has a hundred pages with so much legal ease, one can only hope that they did not sign away their children and dog with it. It is painstaking to read over each page especially if you are unsure of the terms. We are in covenant with God. He has given us a copy of it called His Word. Jesus Christ even came to depict it for us in living color. You must know the terms of your covenant to have peace with your contract. God authored it so who better to explain it to you. He is the One who gives peace so who better to ask for it. This everlasting agreement is not complex but requires a sacrifice. We must put our faith in our covenant with the Lord. He signed His Part in Blood. All we have to give is what is left of this broken life. When we decide to give our faith to Jesus and live our life for Him, His Spirit will begin to equip us with every good thing that we need to carry out His Will. He will work in us to accomplish what He has ordained and called us to do. He accomplishes in a yielded vessel that which pleases Him. Don’t you see in Jesus Christ it is well with my soul and all that I must do is continue to give myself to Him? “Through it all…through it all… I’ve learned to trust in Jesus…I’ve learned to trust in God! Through it all… through it all…I’ve learned to depend on His Word.” It’s the “through it all” that leads us to the peace that passes all understanding because once we have been “through it all” faith is the only thing that will remain and that which is secured by confident hope. Now as another storm cloud disappears over the horizon, I am so thankful that “it is STILL well with my soul!” Just like He promised!

 

Psalm 16:8 (AMP)

I have set the Lord continually before me; because He is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.

Dear Friends… – A Devotion

Dear Friends

Proverbs 27:9-10 (NLT)

The heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume and incense. Never abandon a friend—
either yours or your father’s.  When disaster strikes, you won’t have to ask your brother for assistance. It’s better to go to a neighbor than to a brother who lives far away.

 

In this world of great technology, I believe that the word “friend” has become lost in the Internet. We text our conversations rather than speaking to one another and I am just as guilty as the rest. It’s fast and easy yet often we miss certain points or take things out of context because let’s face it words without emotions are meaningless. I can say that I love you many different ways, but unless you can feel it in my words and really know my intentions it may be hard to interpret a typed conversation. It’s not all technologies fault. When used appropriately, it is a powerful tool that keeps me in touch with my family and friends when we are apart. It allows me to work 200 miles from home. I can plan a wedding, shop for school clothes, and pay the bills never stepping foot in a store, business or even my own house which has proven very useful these last couple of years as I did the majority of my Christmas shopping online while my son was receiving chemotherapy from November to December. As I have been with him while undergoing a bone marrow transplant, again I find myself far from home. I wouldn’t be anywhere else but of course, I am homesick. I miss my husband and children even our little dog. I miss my job and friends at work. I haven’t been to church in almost two months. Out of touch does not seem to fit the isolation that I sometime feel. My brother and sister-in-law live in this town so they fill the gap of homesickness. I have made wonderful friends here among the medical staff. I have also come in contact with some friends who I have not heard from in a while. The thing about this journey that we are on is that it is long term. So people cannot hang this close to life and death afraid that it might touch their life in some horrible way. Others feel their heartbreaking so avoid us and I understand. But then there are those men and women of God who are not just my friends but something more. The ones who are compelled to reach out with words of encouragement when we haven’t talked in months. To go beyond the “I’m praying for you” to roll-up their sleeves and get involved with a meal, play date for my daughter and other countless blessings along the way. In the last couple of days, two of my longtime friends have sent me the most awesome encouragement that each time I read find that I cannot respond through the tears. I promise you two I will get back to you. This journey that we are on has stirred up and revived old friendships, strengthened existing bonds, and even brought new people into our life. This is just another way that God trades beauty for our ashes and joy for our pain.

 

The heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume and incense. Perfume is a blessing. In the Old Testament, it came at a very high price making it valuable. Incense was used in worship. The priests used it in preparation for the Presence of the Lord. I believe that God has given us friendship to do just that bless us and worship Him. We have lost touch with each other. Strangers attend church each week never even getting the other guy’s name although they sit by us week after week. I am just as guilty as you probably are. We do not get to know people and have extended three feet of personal space to the firewall on our computer. We may have 575 Facebook friends, 400 followers on Twitter and 27 likes on Instagram but at the end of the day we have no interaction with other people so we are missing out on many blessings and a way of worshipping our Father in His Love.

I John 4:7-11 (NLT)

Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love. God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other.

 

Human beings have a really bad habit of only coming together when tragedy strikes. I have seen it happen in our life. I have seen it in the life of others. Friendship is an act of love. Love comes from God. We love Him because He first loved us. As Children of God, our one and only mandate is that we love other people. Real love is not what we have made it. It is being the Hand, Feet, and Heart of Jesus Christ to everyone who we come in contact with in this world. I never knew how much a meal delivered to someone’s home might be until so many have done it for us over the last few years. I could not comprehend how precious that word of encouragement from the mouth of a person sent from the Heart of God. God uses people to get His Message across. He wants to use you. He wants to use me. We must be willing to be dear friends to do it. You may never know the impact made on another person’s life by your kindness or generosity in their time of need, but God does and He credits it to us with blessings far greater than what we withheld would have given us. Paul throughout all his letters called the recipients “dear friends” no matter what his message was. Are we doing the same with our life? Are we living as dear friends? According to this passage in I John, we are obligated to real love if we have accepted the Love of Christ.

 

Romans 13:8-9 (NLT)

Owe nothing to anyone—except for your obligation to love one another. If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God’s law.  For the commandments say, “You must not commit adultery. You must not murder. You must not steal. You must not covet.” These—and other such commandments—are summed up in this one commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

 

We are obligated to love each other in friendship and brotherhood. If you peruse the Ten Commandments it really is all about treating others as you would like to be treated. However, like the Ten Commandments, the Bible and Jesus Christ, the Golden Rule no longer applies either. Our country has adopted a sense of entitlement. We feel that the world owes us something when in reality it cannot even stop its own mass destruction. We want what belongs to us and will go through whoever stands in the way. Forget dog-eat-dog, it’s a man-eat-man society. Marriages statistically are doomed for divorce. Until we stop going into every relationship looking for what we will get out of it, and decide to invest all we have to make them work then we will never meet our godly obligation to love one another. This is how we prove to God, the world and ourselves that we are His Children. We love others the way that we want to be loved. A friend is always loyal. (Proverbs 17:17) That means when someone does not meet your expectations than you choose to love them and be loyal to them anyway.

 

John 3:16 (NLT)

For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

 

I John 3:16 (NLT)

We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters.

 

Dear Friends, we all want the benefits of John 3:16. There is nothing like the Love of God and His Faithfulness for our life. He pours out unfailing and lavish amounts and those who remain in position of righteousness will experience every precious drop. How do we remain righteous? Our only obligation is to love others as Christ loves us. He gave His Life. He laid it down for other people – we need to be inconvenienced, interrupted and engaged in friendship to do His Will, please the Lord and be blessed. We must learn to live as dear friends even if that means being a giver instead of a taker. Real love is what God is after. Real love requires hand time, face time, and heart time with each other in a real and tangible way off the Internet and hanging up the phone. Three times I have received messages from three godly ladies this week that have touched my heart, renewed my strength, revived my spirit and reminded me of God’s Great Love. He touched me through them otherwise I would still be weak and struggling. God wants to bless you today through friendship. Are you willing to be that dear friend?

 

Luke 16:9 (NLT)

Here’s the lesson: Use your worldly resources to benefit others and make friends. Then, when your earthly possessions are gone, they will welcome you to an eternal home.

 

I came across the Parable of the Shrewd Manager. (Luke 16:1-8) I do not recall ever seeing this before or it was so long ago, I had forgotten. Anyway, the man’s boss had found out that he had not be honorable in his dealings and was preparing to fire the man. The business owner decided to oversee the man’s dealings. Each person who came in to pay his debt, the shrewd manager cut his bill in half. Time and time again with each client. Though the boss was not enthused by the man’s cutting of his profits, he was impressed with the man’s dealings. The unethical employee knew that his days on his job were numbered so he treated other with the kindness that he would soon need. Please understand what you think you have to lose in friendship is nothing compared to the welcome you will receive when you enter Heaven as not only a Child of God but His Friend, too. I have always told my children to never burn their bridges. Leave a door open when you leave in case you must return one day. My father gave me that advice and I have used it many times in my life. We must approach every person we come in contact with in this life as a dear friend to fulfill our obligation to the Lord. But more than that, there will be a blessing in our worship.

 

Psalm 133:1-3 (NLT)

How wonderful and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony! For harmony is as precious as the anointing oil that was poured over Aaron’s head, that ran down his beard and onto the border of his robe. Harmony is as refreshing as the dew from Mount Hermon that falls on the mountains of Zion. And there the Lord has pronounced his blessing, even life everlasting.

 

I am not advocating shutting off all your social media just trying to have as much “face-time” as you do Facebook, talking instead of tweeting, and making memories in person not images on Instagram. Jesus Christ has given us a brand new life with only one string attached – love. How hard is that? Not very, we give our love to many things in this world unworthily if we decided to take half of it back we would be closer to Christ and others than ever before. We must make better choices in our friendships. Sadly, I have been in more broken churches than successfully ministries. Could it be that we have forgotten how friendship works? Perhaps the Body of Christ would thrive and grow if our people learned to love each other despite imperfection, brokenness, and the past. We don’t all have to worship God the same way in the same building as long as we agree there is one true God. His Son, Jesus Christ died and rose again to save us, heal us and deliver us. He is the ONLY WAY to get to Heaven. The Holy Spirit has been given to us with the true Word of God to empower us and sustain us from here to forever. Our faith has set us free to become friends of God through the Righteousness given to us as a gift. In that right standing, we can now please God His Way by loving each other no matter who our pastor is or the where we go to “church”. I want those friends. I have those friends. I need to be that friend. Dear Friends, I must fulfill my obligation to love and thank you to those who have for me.

 

I John 2:7-8 (NLT)

Dear friends, I am not writing a new commandment for you; rather it is an old one you have had from the very beginning. This old commandment—to love one another—is the same message you heard before. Yet it is also new. Jesus lived the truth of this commandment, and you also are living it. For the darkness is disappearing, and the true light is already shining.

 

Planting Tears – A Devotion

Planting Tear

Psalm 126:4-6 (NLT)

Restore our fortunes, Lord, as streams renew the desert. Those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy. They weep as they go to plant their seed, but they sing as they return with the harvest.

 

What is this feeling that is so foreign to me? Where is my usual optimism? Why am I in the midst of a valley of emotions when I should be dancing on the mountaintop rejoicing? It appears that the Lord has delivered our son a fifth time from cancer. Who gets those kind of results unless God is with them? Yet I feel so alone in this melancholy. Finally, when I could thrust the weight from my shoulders no more after shifting it back and forth all day, I decided to define this emotion. There is power in knowing what you are up against so I set out to find it. “Guilt.” Was I feeling guilty for not being there for our children at home and my husband who I dearly love? I thought that was it but looking up the definition that wasn’t it “Shame.” I have done my best through this journey to glorify my God and acknowledge His Care and Faithfulness. “Regret” Now I was getting warmer, although I do not regret my own actions as I have been powerless in this fight. Regret also means grief. Grief to feel sorrow or remorse. To think of with a sense of loss, disappointment or dissatisfaction. A feeling of sorrow, to mourn or to grieve. Is this sorrow that I am feeling? Why yes I believe that it is! There is no comfort in my revelation but at least now I know where to look to find my answer. The opposite of regret, grief and/or sorrow is to rejoice or have joy. Regret is to weep in one’s spirit for that which is lost. The only grief that the Lord finds acceptable is that which produces repentance. It is not for the righteous. Restore our fortunes Lord as streams in the desert. Who needs money in a hot, dry place? They do not need more cash such a person needs one thing to survive – water. I know that the Lord has a plan to restore all that has been taken from us in this fight against cancer. But before that happens, I do not want to die in my spirit in a wasteland called grief with my faith and hope dried up due to sorrow and pain. My heart breaks for our son who has survived but now must thrive again. The Lord has promised that those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy. What do I plant? Seeds of righteousness, of course. The Words of my mouth that praise His Name according to His Word and His Promises rather than what my senses perceive. Where is the water? In the Well of His Word, that revitalizes my dry soul in the midst of a drought. There will be a harvest in the planting of these tears.

 

Proverbs 14:13 (NLT)

Laughter can conceal a heavy heart, but when the laughter ends, the grief remains.

 

This grief that I feel may be hidden from the world. It is not intentional. My sadness and sorrow are personal. It represents the things that I have lost in my suffering along the way. This is not the Lord’s doing while I wait for His Return on every heartache and disappointment experienced along the way. I know He is coming. I know that He will do what He said. The world may not agree with me so it is better to have laughter hide this broken heart than to risk the unintentional darts fired against my faith. Those who do not understand hope will not encourage me to wait, but for those who are experience grief and sorrow today while standing on their faith understand what I am saying. Grief is keen mental suffering or distress over affliction, loss, sharp sorrow or painful regret. There are not many who will not find themselves somewhere in that definition. Grief is not reserved for loss caused by death. Joseph grieved the loss of his family in the midst of prosperity. He named his son, Ephraim meaning “God has made me fruitful in the land of my grief.” Grief does not mean that you do not have faith or that our hope has drifted from the Lord. It means that we are human. We have feelings of loss, disappointment or dissatisfaction implying that something is left undone. It is. Your sorrow has meaning. Your broken heart was not in vain. Solomon said, “Sorrow is better than laughter because sadness has a refining influence on our soul.” (Ecclesiastes 7:2-4) Life or death situations causes us to stop and evaluate our lives more closely. We must decide what really matters and leave the rest behind. I am a different person after this awful ordeal. I am not the same as before. I will never be the same and that is a good thing.

 

Isaiah 53:3-6 (NLT)

He was despised and rejected—a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way.  He was despised, and we did not care. Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him the sins of us all.

 

God is all about the details of our life. He leaves nothing undone. When God completed creation, He rested because it was finished, complete and lacking no good thing. From beginning to end, every day was planned and grace already afforded for every single sin mankind would ever commit. Can’t wrap your brain around that? Neither can I really. As Isaiah points ahead to Jesus Christ, He is described as “a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief.” Jesus knows exactly how you are feeling. He provided for this when the Lord carried our weaknesses to the Cross. It is hard to see past the pain of today and praise Him for tomorrow’s promises. It is difficult to maintain joy when suffering is sucking you dry. Laughter is sometimes the best medicine but it cannot remove the grief gripping our heart and draining our spirit. Jesus can. God is not just a first responder. He doesn’t just come in access the problem, fix it and turn it over to someone else for restorative care. “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” (Psalm 56:8) Each sorrow that we bare in the good fight of faith, the Lord keeps track of. Each tear we cry while we try to hold on to hope as our heart and life falls to pieces, He collects and keeps. Not only that, He doesn’t carelessly do so but He records each one. Why? He is perfecting that which concerns you. (Psalm 138:8) He is making good on His Promise to work everything together for our good. (Romans 8:28) Jesus didn’t die just to save you. No He died to renew, restore and revive you as well. God leaves nothing half done so don’t hold too tightly to your grief or become acquainted with your sorrow! Joy is coming.

 

John 16:20-21 (NLT)

I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn over what is going to happen to me, but the world will rejoice. You will grieve, but your grief will suddenly turn to wonderful joy. It will be like a woman suffering the pains of labor. When her child is born, her anguish gives way to joy because she has brought a new baby into the world.

 

Having five children, I understand the suffering of labor pains. I can attest to the fact that once my child was born that my anguish gave way to pure joy each and every time whether they were happy to be here or not. Each time a woman has a child, she will have discomfort called “afterbirth” pains. After each child they become worse, but I cannot really remember how they felt or how long they lasted. Now if you want me to tell you about my kids, then you better take a seat because I could go on and on about these blessings that the Lord has given me… in my pain, suffering, discomfort and labor. The Lord is telling me today that I will have incredible joy after the pain is over just to hang on. Is He telling you the same thing? I hear in my Spirit the Lord telling me and maybe it’s for you too – “It’s gonna be worth it!” He overcame the world and everything in it so He has the power to restore all that has been lost. He is aware of our sorrows and also warned us to expect them. (John 16:33) We just have to get through the grief of what we think we lost, cannot handle, will never be again to give birth to our joy!

 

Job 19:25-27 (NLT)

“But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and he will stand upon the earth at last. And after my body has decayed, yet in my body I will see God I will see him for myself. Yes, I will see him with my own eyes. I am overwhelmed at the thought!”

 

You know the kind of action movies when you think the hero is dead and gone then suddenly an arm shoots up out of the rubble and he comes back to save the day. This is my thought of Job in this moment. He lost everything a man can lose in this life except his own life which sometimes I think is more brutal. To sit in the rubble of the past wondering how to step into the future because nothing is what you thought it would be. Stricken with infirmity and a disbelieving, nagging partner and friends who didn’t get it at all, the man says, “But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives!” Hold on is that an arm I see shooting up out of the rubble of a broken life to grab hold of His Promises once more.  It all comes down to what we KNOW. Genuine faith is not what we think it is what we KNOW to be true about our God. I needed to hear this Word today. I KNOW that God is faithful. He has healed our son of cancer FIVE times. If necessary, He will do it again. I KNOW God has provided for every single need in the midst of this journey! We have lacked nothing. I KNOW that our son will live and not die to declare the works of the Lord so why should I live to do the same now. See when I focus on what I KNOW rather than on what I don’t know like when this journey will end, when relief will finally come, or how God will restore all that we have lost – I am no longer grieving what is lost but rejoicing in what I KNOW is coming! Thanks Job! It was worth it for you – it will be worth it for me!

 

Psalm 119:14 (NLT)

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

 

Yes, I have been experiencing grief and sorrow the last couple of days but that only means that joy is coming. God will not leave me in this place but has given me the Holy Spirit to help me in my weakness. His Grace has proven over and over to be sufficient for me. The Word of God is the foundation of my faith. If I can find it in the Word plant it in my heart, it will grow into that Promise I am waiting for. Yes, I will water it with tears sometimes that is just a part of life but not a single tear is wasted. The Lord redeems them all. God redeems those who serve Him. (Psalm 34:22) He redeems us for no other reason than we are precious to Him. (Psalm 72:12-14) One day pain, sorrow, suffering and even tears will all be gone. (Revelation 21:3-4) But until that day, I will bless the Lord. I will tell others that I am redeemed. (Psalm 107:2) He not only has healed our son but I know that the Lord will redeem his lost time, lost life, lost friends, lost everything, too. I can be at rest. My soul can rejoice. I know that His Goodness and Unfailing Love is just about to overtake us. My sorrow is recorded with every tear that I have cried. God has not ignored them. He is using them to plant prosperity in my life.

 

Psalm 119:107-112 (NLT)

I have suffered much, O Lord; restore my life again as you promised. Lord, accept my offering of praise and teach me your regulations. My life constantly hangs in the balance, but I will not stop obeying your instructions. The wicked have set their traps for me, but I will not turn from your commandments. Your laws are my treasure; they are my heart’s delight. I am determined to keep your decrees to the very end.

Pressed Not Crushed – A Devotion

Pressed Not Crushed

2 Corinthians 4:6-10 (NLT)

For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ. We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.

 

This thought has been with me for more than a week, but each time I began to study God’s Word and pray for new meaning it just did not come together. After a week of worries, cares, burden, pressure and the like – I find myself in a place too tired to worry, too overwhelmed to be burdened, crushed beneath the pressure. It is in this place facedown before my God that His Spirit whispers “now you are ready to listen.” It makes me smile in the midst of my self-pity to think that my Father knows me so well. He is well aware of when I am listening or just praying to be heard. He knows when I am looking for His Response or just a release from it all. He waits so patiently and sweetly for my surrender. When I finally haul my heart to the altar, stop my mind in His Midst and my body can take it no longer, that He is there to welcome me into His Presence. I am knocked down but not destroyed. I feel the pressure of my problems seemingly from every side. Yet in this place that I have been driven by despair I feel relief. Nothing in this moment has changed. All the details remain the same. I am different in this place. It is called surrender. My flesh does not welcome it but my soul prospers in it.

 

“I am gently held by the Hand that could crush me. But I won’t be afraid because I know that You love me!  So I will stay here because I am safe here. Yes I will stay here.” I discovered this worship song this week called “Gently Held” by Bethel Music. Steffany Frizzell Gretzinger has been my worship leader of choice the past couple of months ever since I discovered her singing “Closer”. This young woman worships with a heart after God. She has a new project coming out called “The Undoing”. In an interview talking about the soon to be released project she said, “I realized that this life was all about process, God’s pleasure over my life was in the process, in the journey,” Steffany found herself searching out honest ways to engage with God in daily life, learning to be more “undone” before Him. The more that I more I thought about her words, the more the Spirit of God stirred within me. I keep crying out for this journey that we have been on to be over. I am tired of our son being sick. However, I am not upset when he is healed. The faith that our family has discovered in this journey has been worth every second. Life is a journey. These pressures and problems are not the journey. They are what God uses to shape and change us so we can know Him more and have His Way in our life. If we did not have a reason to seek Him would we. If we were not desperate, would we be deliberate in our pursuit. Our life is a process. God could easily crush us in His Hand and destroy us for our sin, rebellion and willful disobedience. But His Grace keeps His Hand in check, and ever so gently He surrounds us in His Love. We are pressed but not crushed.

 

Matthew 9:16-17 (NLT)

“Besides, who would patch old clothing with new cloth? For the new patch would shrink and rip away from the old cloth, leaving an even bigger tear than before. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the old skins would burst from the pressure, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. New wine is stored in new wineskins so that both are preserved.”

 

We ask God to come closer. We want His Will. We seek His Way. But we do not accept change as an option, so when our world falls apart and heart is broken there is no other way but to change. Our life in its present condition cannot contain the Goodness and Glory of God that is ours as Children of God. It cannot hold the abundance of His Grace, Mercy and Love that will change your life forever. When the enemy tries to destroy us, God laughs and empowers us. God knows what is in us. He put it there. The Lord knows the beginning from the end. I have heard many times, been sent messages, and quotes that God gives the greatest battles to His Strongest Warriors. I am not strong. I am not a warrior. But I know who fights for me – does that count? I want my life to be comfortable so change is not my first choice. We were not given a choice when cancer came calling. There was no questionnaire that said, “Are you ready to fight this fight?” Check – Yes or No. It was handed to us in a neat little package called a diagnosis. There was no “patching” the old wineskin that day. It burst under the pressure. God had new wine that needed new wineskin. This is also undoing in its greatest form. When everything changes and your life turns out nothing as you expected or planned for. The ultimate undoing comes what is your response. That is what God is after. This is what He is trying to show you. The potential that He sees in you is ready to come out whether you are ready or not is irrelevant.

 

I Samuel 17:17-19 (NLT)

One day Jesse said to David, “Take this basket of roasted grain and these ten loaves of bread, and carry them quickly to your brothers. And give these ten cuts of cheese to their captain. See how your brothers are getting along, and bring back a report on how they are doing.” David’s brothers were with Saul and the Israelite army at the valley of Elah, fighting against the Philistines.

 

David was a shepherd who tended his father’s sheep. Jesse called David one day to carry lunch to the battlefield where his brothers were camped with the Israelite Army fighting the Philistines. He was to take them lunch and bring back a report to his father of how they were all doing. His father did not tell David to join them in the fight or do anything other than deliver some food and bring back some news. David was not sent to battle or to go to war. You didn’t ask for the battle you are fighting and you did not set out looking for war.

 

I Samuel 17:26-31 (NLT)

David asked the soldiers standing nearby, “What will a man get for killing this Philistine and ending his defiance of Israel? Who is this pagan Philistine anyway, that he is allowed to defy the armies of the living God?” And these men gave David the same reply. They said, “Yes, that is the reward for killing him.” But when David’s oldest brother, Eliab, heard David talking to the men, he was angry. “What are you doing around here anyway?” he demanded. “What about those few sheep you’re supposed to be taking care of? I know about your pride and deceit. You just want to see the battle!” “What have I done now?” David replied. “I was only asking a question!” He walked over to some others and asked them the same thing and received the same answer. Then David’s question was reported to King Saul, and the king sent for him.

 

Every time Goliath would step out and threaten the Israelites, they would shrink back in fear. David heard the boasts of the giant and he was appalled that this heathen would defy his God. See David may have been a shepherd on the outside, but on the inside he was a man after God’s Heart. He called out to the Lord in the midst of empty fields with only sheep to keep him company. His brothers so no real worth in their sibling. Everyone in his life underestimated him. But all that would change…when the king send for him. You did not wander into this battle unexpectedly. This war is not about you but has the potential to bless you in the end. Has the King sent for you?

 

I Samuel 17:34-37 (NLT)

“Don’t worry about this Philistine,” David told Saul. “I’ll go fight him!” “Don’t be ridiculous!” Saul replied. “There’s no way you can fight this Philistine and possibly win! You’re only a boy, and he’s been a man of war since his youth.” But David persisted. “I have been taking care of my father’s sheep and goats,” he said. “When a lion or a bear comes to steal a lamb from the flock, I go after it with a club and rescue the lamb from its mouth. If the animal turns on me, I catch it by the jaw and club it to death. I have done this to both lions and bears, and I’ll do it to this pagan Philistine, too, for he has defied the armies of the living God!  The Lord who rescued me from the claws of the lion and the bear will rescue me from this Philistine!” Saul finally consented. “All right, go ahead,” he said. “And may the Lord be with you!”

 

The heart of a warrior hidden in a shepherd boy. No one expected him to win that day. No one expected him to survive. David knew that God was with Him. He recited all the times that the Lord had rescued him so logically assumed now would be no different. He put his trust in God not man. Do you have the heart of a warrior hidden inside of you? Do you feel the pressure of change coming over you? All you know is that something has to give. This is the part of your heart that refuses to let go of the Love of God you have found to surrender to the opposition in your life. You are on the verge of victory – don’t you dare give up. There is a giant in your land, but God is bigger than any giant. David did not have the credentials of a seasoned warrior but had experienced victory in God. It was enough to empower his faith when called to the frontline. How is your faith today? It may be stronger than you think but you won’t know that until it is tested.

 

I Samuel 17:40-47 (NLT)

He picked up five smooth stones from a stream and put them into his shepherd’s bag. Then, armed only with his shepherd’s staff and sling, he started across the valley to fight the Philistine. Goliath walked out toward David with his shield bearer ahead of him, sneering in contempt at this ruddy-faced boy. “Am I a dog,” he roared at David, “that you come at me with a stick?” And he cursed David by the names of his gods. “Come over here, and I’ll give your flesh to the birds and wild animals!” Goliath yelled. David replied to the Philistine, “You come to me with sword, spear, and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies—the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. Today the Lord will conquer you, and I will kill you and cut off your head. And then I will give the dead bodies of your men to the birds and wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel! And everyone assembled here will know that the Lord rescues his people, but not with sword and spear. This is the Lord’s battle, and he will give you to us!”

 

You know the rest of the story, David sunk the first stone in Goliath’s head and the battle was over. David did not rely on his own strength, but told the giant “I come to you in the Name of the Lord…this is the Lord’s battle and He will give you to us!” Do I need to remind you today as I have reminded myself that the battle you are facing, the fight you are in and the war being waged against you belongs to the Lord? He overcame the world and everything in it for you. (John 16:33) As I read this familiar story again, I have heard many teachings about the “five smooth stones” and what others feel that they have represented when David clearly only needed one. Sometimes the trials of life require endurance. The problem you are facing may not take one stone but five stones to overcome. God will give you the strength to keep at it. Will you remain engaged long enough to win? The Lord is speaking to me today. He knows that my arms are tired and my knees grow weak. The pressure seems crushing. Victory is close. If I will just cling to Him a little longer, we will have new life.

 

Psalm 119:143-144 (NLT)

As pressure and stress bear down on me, I find joy in your commands. Your laws are always right; help me to understand them so I may live.

 

Crushing a petal will release concentrated oil so its fragrance will live beyond the flower. Crushing an olive yields oil that will live beyond the tree. God has something inside of you and me that needs to be expressed that we will live beyond our days on this earth. Faith is the very thing that allows us to be pressed but never crushed. Hope keeps us in this place of undoing knowing that it will be worth it all. Choosing to endure this pressure and stress on our life will allow me to find joy in His Commands as His Word becomes a reality in my life. The Spirit keep fanning the flame of refinement so my faith will be genuine and my hope becomes real anchoring me in this place of surrender. I find my life in this place as I am pressed not crushed.

 

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (NLT)

That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.

Finding Courage – A Devotion

2 Timothy 1:5-7 (NLT)

I remember your genuine faith, for you share the faith that first filled your grandmother Lois and your mother, Eunice. And I know that same faith continues strong in you. This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you. For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

 

Courage – the quality of mind and/or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger or pain without fear.

 

God’s Word tells us quite plainly that God does not give us a spirit of fear or timidity. When Adam and Eve hid from God after they had sinned, the couple hid from God in fear when He came to be with them in the garden. When the cool evening breezes were blowing, the man and his wife heard the Lord God walking about in the garden. So they hid from the Lord God among the trees. Then the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” He replied, “I heard you walking in the garden, so I hid. I was afraid because I was naked.” “Who told you that you were naked?” the Lord God asked. “Have you eaten from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat?” (Genesis 3:8-11) Fear became a part of our life when mankind chose to disobey the Lord. Our nature became hostile to God and His Ways in that moment. Ever since that time, God continues to call out the hearts and minds of His People who remain hidden in fear and darkness. It has always been God’s Plan for us to live in power, love and self-discipline which keeps us from accepting fearful qualities again. The only thing that separated us from God was sin. When we asked Jesus Christ to be our Lord and Savior, His Grace covered our indiscretions, rebellion and sinful nature completely reinstating us to right-standing with God the Father. We have nothing to fear. So why do we? I cannot really remember fearing anything in my life other than losing my children. God gave them to me. I take my responsibility as mother and caregiver to heart. It is the greatest privilege that I have been given here on earth other than serving Jesus Christ. They are my blessing. My greatest fear met me face-to-face on October 24, 2011. When all of a sudden, it was a life or death situation. It became crystal clear that too many times I had allowed fear to take over when there really was nothing to be afraid of but now I felt as though I had everything to lose. When the Lord spoke to me on the 11th floor of the hospital that night, my life changed for the better in an instant. It is still changing my life today even though He has not spoken to me like that since that night. The Words keep revolving in my head and manifesting in the life of our son. Yet sometimes I still fight fear. This honest admission does not seem in my mind to be what I should be telling other people, yet in my heart I feel that there are some believers fighting mega battles hiding behind a pretense of bravery and smokescreen of courage. Every believer fights fear from time to time. But very few will ever completely overcome their fears. You don’t have to be that person and neither do I! God has not given us the spirit of fear so it is up to us to secure His Power, Love and Self-Discipline.

 

Deuteronomy 31:4-6 (NLT)

“The Lord will destroy the nations living in the land, just as he destroyed Sihon and Og, the kings of the Amorites. The Lord will hand over to you the people who live there, and you must deal with them as I have commanded you. So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.”

 

Our life is designed by God for our blessing and benefit but we may still encounter giants in the land. Do you still go? Will you walk boldly though the valley to make it to the mountain? Abraham had to go the mountain by faith that when he got there that the Lord would supply an alternative sacrifice. But walking to the mountain, up the mountain, building an altar on the mountain, tying his son to the altar, and raising the knife was all by faith until the Lord stopped him and gave him a ram. (Genesis 22) I think of Abraham often in this journey. I wonder what he was thinking as he walked along with his precious boy. I do not have the faith of Abraham. I am only now learning to truly take the Lord at His Word. The Israelites were on the edge of the Promised Land. God promised to go ahead of them and conquer the armies dwelling on their property. But the people still had to go in and secure their land. Just because God told you that it belongs to you doesn’t mean that you won’t have to do something about it. God has a plan for your life. It is His Plan but still requires your participation. God promised to hand the people over to the Israelites, but they still had to go in. What does God consistently require of His People? Faith. It is the starting place of every journey this life takes you on. You decide the outcome when you decide who to trust. Faith eliminates emotions life distress, anxiety and concern. When our fears in life become greater than our faith in God, we lose our hope which leads to distress, anxiety and concern. We become immobilized by it and stop moving from the darkness to the light. Faith tells us we will possess God’s Promise. Fear causes us to lose our hope which promotes the possession of fear. (Psalm 143:4)

 

I John 4:16-18 (NLT)

We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the Day of Judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.  Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.

 

Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. We know how much God loves us… I don’t think we really do because when we do we will finally put our trust in His Love. God is love. To know God is to know love in its perfect form but our imperfect nature cannot grasp the concept. I think that there are a lot of people who profess to know the Love of God but don’t know Him at all. Afraid to get to know Him more, because what if they are right and He really doesn’t love us like that. When you trust God – there is always an out if what you desire does not happen. It is my firm belief that this is why so many people do not wait on God or try to “help Him” out along the way rather than trusting and believing until He comes. We must live in God to change our mind about His Consistency and Reliability. This will produce greater confidence in His Love. He is Constant. His Love does not change but we are afraid to put any time and energy into Him in case we are wrong. If you really knew how much God loves you, it would change your life forever. I am striving to know His Love in its purest and deepest form because I do not want to fear anything anymore. We must decide that nothing can separate us from His Love. (Romans 8:38) We can no longer allow our fears to somehow discredit our faith and begin thinking that any problem or situation is bigger or stronger than the Father’s Love. Courage comes from knowing the Father’s Intentions. (Isaiah 35:3-6) God is love. He love us. That is always is and always will be His Intention for us. We must get to His Love and have confidence in it and no longer fear His Faithfulness.

 

Joshua 1:7-9 (NLT)

“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do. Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

 

To fully understand the potential of God’s Love and experience its power requires knowing the Word and doing what it says. God has a plan alright but it is His Plan. If you want to overcome fear in your life, it will require knowing God’s Love. To know God’s Love requires knowing His Word. To have its potential you have to do what it says. What is the potential? To prosper and succeed in all you do – that’ all. It feels as though our life has been on hold for the last three years. We live seemingly from Pet Scan to Pet Scan. But one thing that I have discovered, when the word “cancer” is spoken I no longer fear the diagnosis. I hate it don’t get me wrong, but God told me that our son would live and not die. I had to choose in that moment whether or not I would believe Him or not. I chose to trust Him. Now the things that I worry and fret about are not the cancer but all the other little insignificant details of life. I keep pressing against the parameters of God’s Love asking but what about this and what about that. He just keeps pulling me closer and closer. God is with us. He never leaves us or abandons us. We will never be confident of such a thing until we decide that this is absolutely true. He can handle the majors. He took care of the minors. It’s time to put our faith in Him completely.

 

Ephesians 3:17-19 (NLT)

Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

 

Did you know that you can get lost in God’s Love for you? It is wider, longer, higher and deeper than anything that you will ever go through in this life. If we have the power to understand the capacity of God’s Love, we be those who will “not be overcome by evil. Those who are righteous will be long remembered. They do not fear bad news; they confidently trust the Lord to care for them.” (Psalm 112:6-7) We are made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God the Father when we dare to test the parameters of His Love and press in deeper. Confidence tells us that God has everything under control and we must only do what He says to be successful so we concentrate more on hearing from Him rather than escaping our circumstances. The Love of God now becomes our refuge. (Psalm 46:1-3) When we don’t understand we dive deeper rather than running for any other cover. We are His Children. God will do anything to take care of us just as we would our own babies. I have to be confident that God loves me to be courageous and live fearlessly. When I find myself facing fear, I must decide not to take it. It is not for me.

 

Zephaniah 3:17 (NLT)

“For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”

 

What are you afraid of today? Are you ready to let it go? Get back in the Word – there is a promise for every situation. If you don’t know one, cannot find one or need help, contact me and I will help you. You have to get a sword in your hand and that sword is the Word of God for your life. Second, stir up the Spirit. Your faith has been bogged down by fear so it may need a quick talking to! The Holy Spirit is just waiting on you to get all riled up again. Call Him forth to assist you. Now it is time to step out on faith and do what His Word is telling you and His Spirit leading you to do. I guarantee you it will always be something that drives us from our comfort zone – do it anyway! Tie your faith to the future and let go of the past. Decide that what you hope for is possible and with faith it will be. Most importantly, you must accept that God’s Love is for you – it is always about you! His Love is the power and driving force of your life that will overcome evil! Dear friends, we must find courage to overcome fear and doubt that will inevitably rob us of power, love and victory!

 

I Corinthians 16:13 (NLT)

Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong.

Finding Courage

August 15, 2014

 

2 Timothy 1:5-7 (NLT)

I remember your genuine faith, for you share the faith that first filled your grandmother Lois and your mother, Eunice. And I know that same faith continues strong in you. This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you. For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

 

Courage – the quality of mind and/or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger or pain without fear.

 

God’s Word tells us quite plainly that God does not give us a spirit of fear or timidity. When Adam and Eve hid from God after they had sinned, the couple hid from God in fear when He came to be with them in the garden. When the cool evening breezes were blowing, the man and his wife heard the Lord God walking about in the garden. So they hid from the Lord God among the trees. Then the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” He replied, “I heard you walking in the garden, so I hid. I was afraid because I was naked.” “Who told you that you were naked?” the Lord God asked. “Have you eaten from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat?” (Genesis 3:8-11) Fear became a part of our life when mankind chose to disobey the Lord. Our nature became hostile to God and His Ways in that moment. Ever since that time, God continues to call out the hearts and minds of His People who remain hidden in fear and darkness. It has always been God’s Plan for us to live in power, love and self-discipline which keeps us from accepting fearful qualities again. The only thing that separated us from God was sin. When we asked Jesus Christ to be our Lord and Savior, His Grace covered our indiscretions, rebellion and sinful nature completely reinstating us to right-standing with God the Father. We have nothing to fear. So why do we? I cannot really remember fearing anything in my life other than losing my children. God gave them to me. I take my responsibility as mother and caregiver to heart. It is the greatest privilege that I have been given here on earth other than serving Jesus Christ. They are my blessing. My greatest fear met me face-to-face on October 24, 2011. When all of a sudden, it was a life or death situation. It became crystal clear that too many times I had allowed fear to take over when there really was nothing to be afraid of but now I felt as though I had everything to lose. When the Lord spoke to me on the 11th floor of the hospital that night, my life changed for the better in an instant. It is still changing my life today even though He has not spoken to me like that since that night. The Words keep revolving in my head and manifesting in the life of our son. Yet sometimes I still fight fear. This honest admission does not seem in my mind to be what I should be telling other people, yet in my heart I feel that there are some believers fighting mega battles hiding behind a pretense of bravery and smokescreen of courage. Every believer fights fear from time to time. But very few will ever completely overcome their fears. You don’t have to be that person and neither do I! God has not given us the spirit of fear so it is up to us to secure His Power, Love and Self-Discipline.

 

Deuteronomy 31:4-6 (NLT)

“The Lord will destroy the nations living in the land, just as he destroyed Sihon and Og, the kings of the Amorites. The Lord will hand over to you the people who live there, and you must deal with them as I have commanded you. So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.”

 

Our life is designed by God for our blessing and benefit but we may still encounter giants in the land. Do you still go? Will you walk boldly though the valley to make it to the mountain? Abraham had to go the mountain by faith that when he got there that the Lord would supply an alternative sacrifice. But walking to the mountain, up the mountain, building an altar on the mountain, tying his son to the altar, and raising the knife was all by faith until the Lord stopped him and gave him a ram. (Genesis 22) I think of Abraham often in this journey. I wonder what he was thinking as he walked along with his precious boy. I do not have the faith of Abraham. I am only now learning to truly take the Lord at His Word. The Israelites were on the edge of the Promised Land. God promised to go ahead of them and conquer the armies dwelling on their property. But the people still had to go in and secure their land. Just because God told you that it belongs to you doesn’t mean that you won’t have to do something about it. God has a plan for your life. It is His Plan but still requires your participation. God promised to hand the people over to the Israelites, but they still had to go in. What does God consistently require of His People? Faith. It is the starting place of every journey this life takes you on. You decide the outcome when you decide who to trust. Faith eliminates emotions life distress, anxiety and concern. When our fears in life become greater than our faith in God, we lose our hope which leads to distress, anxiety and concern. We become immobilized by it and stop moving from the darkness to the light. Faith tells us we will possess God’s Promise. Fear causes us to lose our hope which promotes the possession of fear. (Psalm 143:4)

 

I John 4:16-18 (NLT)

We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the Day of Judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.  Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.

 

Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. We know how much God loves us… I don’t think we really do because when we do we will finally put our trust in His Love. God is love. To know God is to know love in its perfect form but our imperfect nature cannot grasp the concept. I think that there are a lot of people who profess to know the Love of God but don’t know Him at all. Afraid to get to know Him more, because what if they are right and He really doesn’t love us like that. When you trust God – there is always an out if what you desire does not happen. It is my firm belief that this is why so many people do not wait on God or try to “help Him” out along the way rather than trusting and believing until He comes. We must live in God to change our mind about His Consistency and Reliability. This will produce greater confidence in His Love. He is Constant. His Love does not change but we are afraid to put any time and energy into Him in case we are wrong. If you really knew how much God loves you, it would change your life forever. I am striving to know His Love in its purest and deepest form because I do not want to fear anything anymore. We must decide that nothing can separate us from His Love. (Romans 8:38) We can no longer allow our fears to somehow discredit our faith and begin thinking that any problem or situation is bigger or stronger than the Father’s Love. Courage comes from knowing the Father’s Intentions. (Isaiah 35:3-6) God is love. He love us. That is always is and always will be His Intention for us. We must get to His Love and have confidence in it and no longer fear His Faithfulness.

 

Joshua 1:7-9 (NLT)

“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do. Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

 

To fully understand the potential of God’s Love and experience its power requires knowing the Word and doing what it says. God has a plan alright but it is His Plan. If you want to overcome fear in your life, it will require knowing God’s Love. To know God’s Love requires knowing His Word. To have its potential you have to do what it says. What is the potential? To prosper and succeed in all you do – that’ all. It feels as though our life has been on hold for the last three years. We live seemingly from Pet Scan to Pet Scan. But one thing that I have discovered, when the word “cancer” is spoken I no longer fear the diagnosis. I hate it don’t get me wrong, but God told me that our son would live and not die. I had to choose in that moment whether or not I would believe Him or not. I chose to trust Him. Now the things that I worry and fret about are not the cancer but all the other little insignificant details of life. I keep pressing against the parameters of God’s Love asking but what about this and what about that. He just keeps pulling me closer and closer. God is with us. He never leaves us or abandons us. We will never be confident of such a thing until we decide that this is absolutely true. He can handle the majors. He took care of the minors. It’s time to put our faith in Him completely.

 

Ephesians 3:17-19 (NLT)

Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

 

Did you know that you can get lost in God’s Love for you? It is wider, longer, higher and deeper than anything that you will ever go through in this life. If we have the power to understand the capacity of God’s Love, we be those who will “not be overcome by evil. Those who are righteous will be long remembered. They do not fear bad news; they confidently trust the Lord to care for them.” (Psalm 112:6-7) We are made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God the Father when we dare to test the parameters of His Love and press in deeper. Confidence tells us that God has everything under control and we must only do what He says to be successful so we concentrate more on hearing from Him rather than escaping our circumstances. The Love of God now becomes our refuge. (Psalm 46:1-3) When we don’t understand we dive deeper rather than running for any other cover. We are His Children. God will do anything to take care of us just as we would our own babies. I have to be confident that God loves me to be courageous and live fearlessly. When I find myself facing fear, I must decide not to take it. It is not for me.

 

Zephaniah 3:17 (NLT)

“For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”

 

What are you afraid of today? Are you ready to let it go? Get back in the Word – there is a promise for every situation. If you don’t know one, cannot find one or need help, contact me and I will help you. You have to get a sword in your hand and that sword is the Word of God for your life. Second, stir up the Spirit. Your faith has been bogged down by fear so it may need a quick talking to! The Holy Spirit is just waiting on you to get all riled up again. Call Him forth to assist you. Now it is time to step out on faith and do what His Word is telling you and His Spirit leading you to do. I guarantee you it will always be something that drives us from our comfort zone – do it anyway! Tie your faith to the future and let go of the past. Decide that what you hope for is possible and with faith it will be. Most importantly, you must accept that God’s Love is for you – it is always about you! His Love is the power and driving force of your life that will overcome evil! Dear friends, we must find courage to overcome fear and doubt that will inevitably rob us of power, love and victory!

 

I Corinthians 16:13 (NLT)

Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong.

Am I Ready? – A Devotion

Hourglass

 

Matthew 24:43-44 (NLT)

Understand this: If a homeowner knew exactly when a burglar was coming, he would keep watch and not permit his house to be broken into. You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected.

 

I am ready. I am more than ready for this season of our life to be over and give way to the new one that we have been promised. Yes, I am talking about our immediate trial. I am sick of cancer. I am sick of hospitals, tests and appointments. I am over interruptions and separation. I am done. We have come so far with no real closure. As the days became weeks turning into months changing into years – enough is enough. Or is it? I woke up this morning with that feeling you get when you are sick and tired of being sick and tired. Praise God, I am not really sick in my body but my mind and spirit are sick of this present course it has been battling. I am tired. I am roommates with a night owl who likes to stay up all night. I am far from my comfortable bed. I am out of my element and far from home yet could not imagine begin anywhere else at the present time. Insert a very large sigh right about here. I do not like the agitation grating my nerves or the taunting in my ear to throw my hands up. The enemy wants me to give up and throw the towel in. But I refuse, I guess I am just too stubborn for that and I really hate to lose. So I have cried out to the Lord this morning to please move me, fix me or quiet me in this place so that I can fulfill His Purpose for my life. I am ready. But am I really ready?

 

“You must be ready all the time.” Jesus will come when He is least expected. I have been looking for Him. I see the signs of the times all around. Love has grown cold. Sin is now rampant. The church has fallen in love with religion forsaking real relationships with Christ. Christians are being persecuted for their faith. Oh we are in a real mess right about now. So, am I ready? The trials of my life that seem so overwhelming are being used by the Lord to make me ready. The fire of refinement burns beneath my faith forcing out the impurities. It is a difficult process. Am I ready for Jesus or ready for relief is the real question to be answered. I looked up this word “ready” to see what it really means to determine my condition. Ready means to be completely prepared or in fit condition for immediate action or use. It means to be duly equipped, completed, adjusted or arranged for an occasion or purpose. It means to be willing. It is a prompt or quick response, action or performance. My idea of ready and the world’s definition are not quite the same. God’s Idea of readiness and mine are far apart as well. He wants me to be complete. I just want to be done.

 

John 13:36-38 (NLT)

Simon Peter asked, “Lord, where are you going?” And Jesus replied, “You can’t go with me now, but you will follow me later.”  “But why can’t I come now, Lord?” he asked. “I’m ready to die for you.” Jesus answered, “Die for me? I tell you the truth, Peter—before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even know me.

 

Peter was not ready. He felt like he was ready to follow Jesus Christ to the end. But when the time came, he was not ready at all. This is not entirely his fault, God had a purpose for Peter. He was to be a founder of the New Testament church that could not begin until after the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Are you ready to die for Jesus Christ? I am not sure that I would if put in that position in all honesty. I just don’t know. It is happening today. As barbaric as it sounds, there are believers around the world being executed for failure to renounce their faith in God. I watched a video the other day of a Chinese underground church receiving a shipment of Bibles. I was completely humbled in that moment as men and women were reduced to sobbing just to hold God’s Word in their hands. Something we as a church take for granted barely citing it in our services as not to offend in our seeker sensitive congregations. We each have been given a purpose decided by God. The end result will be fulfillment and it will take our entire life to get there. So if like me you think you are ready, we should probably think again or end up next to the fire rather than right on it denying His Name.

 

Ephesians 3:18-20 (NLT)

And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.

 

I have decided that when I truly understand the potential of God’ Love through Jesus Christ, I will no longer struggle in the process of readiness. His Love is too great to fully comprehend. No one could adequately describe it with words. But as we strive to experience its true potential something happens in our life as we begin to encounter the fullness of life and power found in that place of undeserved privilege. When we decide that God is able to do a mighty work in us greater than we can think or ask, we stay grounded and locked in our position. I want all that God has planned and purposed for my life. Though every fiber of my being cries out for release and relief from this constant pressure, I refuse to move. I am ready. I must wait until He is ready!

 

Ephesians 1:22-23 (NLT)

God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made him head over all things for the benefit of the church. And the church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself.

 

Everything has been put under the authority of Jesus Christ. To be ready, I must include myself, too. Yes we have been given grace. Yes we have been set free. But if you read on our freedom is best used in complete surrender to Jesus Christ. Why? He has all power and authority in the earth. The church no longer sees surrender as fashionable. In fact, obedience is considered old fashion. We discredit those scriptures that might seem to restrict our “freedom” and call them Old Testament. The dispensation of grace was not for the proliferation of sin. Grace is not a smoke screen to hide a rebellious, sinful lifestyle. Grace is not bathwater that we use to come in and out of God’s Presence. As our authority, His Expectations are delineated in His Word. We should be buried deep in it every day. Our pulpits should be digging into the Truth every single service without fail. No sermon is complete without scripture no matter how Biblically based it may be. I challenge men and women of God to use the Bible more in their message or your people will not use it at home. I have sat through many church services where the speaker may have opened his or her Bible and even referenced it but never actually read anything out of it line by line or precept by precept. No wonder there is no obedience in the church. No wonder the Body of Christ is divorcing itself with church splits and division. I have been married a long time and I will be the first to tell you a successful marriage is impossible without Jesus Christ. It is close proximity to Christ that makes us ready. (Colossians 2:9-10)

 

Ephesians 4:13-14 (NLT)

This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ. Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth.

 

Wow, this verse stings just a bit (or a lot) today. I sound like a petulant child who wants my way. Maybe that is exactly what I am in my tirade before the Lord today. Please forgive me. Sin took away God’s Glorious Standard that He wanted for my life. Jesus Christ offers to make me measure up to the full and complete standard once again. Spiritual maturity is readiness. I must become spiritually mature. Without knowledge, people perish even believers. It is not enough to ready it in a book, but I must apply what I believe to my life to make it credible. “Don’t you remember that our ancestor Abraham was shown to be right with God by his actions when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see, his faith and his actions worked together. His actions made his faith complete.  And so it happened just as the Scriptures say: “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.” He was even called the friend of God.(James 2:21-23) Faith and action work together proving willingness. To be ready is to be willing. Are you willing today to really live for Jesus Christ? No matter what are you going to believe God? Those who do will be called His Friends. We must become mature believes who take the Word and apply it to our life daily, regularly without fail. We must become mature in our faith so that we can discern the Truth from a lie. We must continue this process from now until the end.

 

I Corinthians 9:24-27 (NLT)

Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.

 

To answer my own question, I am not ready. If I were ready, I would run with purpose in every step rather than starting and stopping on any given day. I need to continue to look to the Lord for discipline and discernment so I will keep running. There is purpose in every step that I take ordained by God (Psalm 139:16) and being worked out by His Hand. (Romans 8:28) If only I would trust Him more, I would not have days like this or least not so often. Readiness requires preparation and discipline. I have a long way to go. I will never finish the race if I refuse to run it. I will not finish the race if unprepared or unwilling to go the distance. I must train my mind, soul and body for endurance to make it to the end. Only there will I find the true prize. I must discipline my mind, soul and body that giving up or quitting is never an option. I must always follow the rules. Never getting tied up in civilian affairs. (2 Timothy 2:3-5) But keep fighting for the finish! Those who endure will be saved. (Matthew 24:13) Faith must be tested to increase our endurance. Where there is endurance, there will be completion. (James 1:2-4) I want the reward that is promised those who are saved. I want forever with Jesus so I am ready to run! (James 1:11)

 

2 Timothy 2:20-21 (NLT)

In a wealthy home some utensils are made of gold and silver, and some are made of wood and clay. The expensive utensils are used for special occasions, and the cheap ones are for everyday use. If you keep yourself pure, you will be a special utensil for honorable use. Your life will be clean, and you will be ready for the Master to use you for every good work.

 

I want the Lord to use me for every good work. Sometimes I just need to be reminded that I am not ready to submit my life to preparation in the Hands of God. His Word is my comfort place for His Promise are real. My faith is the only strength I have to keep running. It is hope that keeps me reaching past my fears, worry and doubt to know Him more. Endurance is not for the weak but the willing. Those who are willing to surrender their newfound freedom to find their purpose in Christ. I for one have to know that there is more to life than this. I must submit my life in obedience to the Lord and continually strive to do good even when I want to sit on the floor and pitch a tantrum about my circumstances humbling my life to His Greater Cause which always is for my blessing and benefit. (Titus 3:1-2) So Lord, forgive my insistence today that I am ready when clearly I am not. I have a great deal to do before I am ready for Your Return so I will focus on that while you work out the details of my life to Divine Perfection (Psalm 138:8) turning every detail for our good. (Romans 8:28) Lord, I want to be ready as in completely prepared for immediate action for Your Purpose and Plan. I long to be duly equipped, completed, adjusted and positioned to have Your Will for my life. Father, make me willing by breaking my heart to fill it with more faith as I learn to trust you more in my total weakness. Lord make me quick, prompt and ready to respond, perform or as you would have me to every day in every situation. For Jesus I now know that only then will I be ready for You!

 

Hebrews 13:20-22 (NLT)

Now may the God of peace—who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep, and ratified an eternal covenant with his blood—may he equip you with all you need for doing his will. May he produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, every good thing that is pleasing to him. All glory to him forever and ever! Amen.

My Forgetfulness – A Devotion

My Forgetfulness

Psalm 103:1-5 (NLT)

Let all that I am praise the Lord; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name. Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me. He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies. He fills my life with good things. My youth is renewed like the eagle’s!

 

It seems as though I live in a land of my own forgetfulness. After five bouts of cancer treatment all with miraculous results, one would think that I do not have a care in the world since I have not lost a single battle. I would think that there would be peace in such a revelation. But the enemy does not want me to find peace for one moment or joy in the outcome because if he can just get me to forget what we have been through and how God delivered us from it all. If I will allow him to thrust upon me the burden of escaping death rather than the renewing of life. If I can accept the worries and cares of tomorrow in the wake of supernatural provision, rather than the optimism of faith that if God did it once He will do it again. See the enemy challenges my mind to wallow in the past to argue the details that brought us to this place rather than allowing us to enjoy the victory that we made it. God has every detail under strict orders to turn out for my own good – if only I could remember that through the darkness of night until His Mercy meets me in the morning. When people undergo chemotherapy, it is not uncommon in the process to experience some memory loss. It is a temporary side of effect of losing fast growing brain cells along with all the other rapidly dividing cells it kills that include cancer. It is considered mild collateral damage considering some of the other side effects. Misplaced items and words in the context of life that will all come together with the “fog” clears after treatment is over. Although it is my son who has received the chemo, I feel that all too often it is I who loses the brain function on his behalf until I become forgetful as well. Forgetful that despite all odds the Lord has done great things in our son’s life, provided all that we need and so much more, and still promises that he will live and not die. Instead, I allow worry to overtake me about insignificant things so I am tying a rope around my hope and digging in with more faith. I refuse to keep forgetting all that the Lord has done for me.

 

“Let all that I am praise the Lord; with my whole heart, I will praise His Holy Name…” May I never forget the good things that He has done for me. I want to remember them but when life is so hard and the world a difficult place to survive, I must strive to remind myself that He has forgiven all my sins restoring the glorious standard of living that I had once forsaken. He heals all my diseases. He redeems me from death. It is not just the random rescue of a passing stranger but a God who was to wrap me tightly in His Love keeping me safe from all future danger. He has tender mercy because He knows that I will forget. In this place of undeserved privilege is from the place I choose to remember rather than forget. Faith takes me there. Hope keeps me there. If only I could remember so I could leave behind my forgetfulness.

 

Job 8:11-14 (NLT)

“Can papyrus reeds grow tall without a marsh? Can marsh grass flourish without water? While they are still flowering, not ready to be cut, they begin to wither more quickly than grass.  The same happens to all who forget God. The hopes of the godless evaporate. Their confidence hangs by a thread. They are leaning on a spider’s web.”

 

Without God, we have no hope. We cannot live separated from our Life Source no more than reeds can grow without the marsh. We require daily maintenance and sustenance from the Lord. Otherwise, we wither and die in the midst of worries, cares and burdens that He did not intend for us to bear. Rather than living when the tests come back that cancer is gone, we worry about the next test in a few months. Instead of rejoicing in what He has already provided, we act as though it could dry up. Confident hope hands on the threads of weak faith not fortified by a productive and prospering connection to the Father. We lean on a light understanding and fabricated notion of Who He is and what His intentions are rather than taking the time and energy to know Him more and worry less. We forget God when the crisis subsides maybe not so much His Person but definitely His Position, Provision and Proximity in our life. When things get better, we reveal in the moment and in the miracle forgetting that to God is what He promised to do along and not as rare as we make it. I keep forgetting that He keeps providing and working behind the scenes to perfect the details of my life and am taken by surprise when He does it again and again. I don’t want to forget. I don’t want to live in that place where miracles are surprising, manifestations are random, and supernatural seems weird. I want to live in expectancy which means that I never forget how Great His Love is for me and His Intention to overtake me with it along with all His Goodness can provide which is way more than I could ever think to ask for.

 

Isaiah 49:14-16 (NLT)

Yet Jerusalem says, “The Lord has deserted us; the Lord has forgotten us.”  “Never! Can a mother forget her nursing child? Can she feel no love for the child she has borne? But even if that were possible, I would not forget you! See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands. Always in my mind is a picture of Jerusalem’s walls in ruins.

 

Our oldest daughter will soon be married. She came to me recently excited to find out that she could legally change her name and use our last name for her middle name. This may not seem like a big deal to you or anyone born with a certain name, but to her our name is very special. She desired to be adopted by her “dad” for many year. There was a great deal of opposition that finally subsided in high school. She isn’t ready to give it up. She is ready to take another man’s name as wife, but not ready to relinquish her title as “daughter” even if in name. Would it change how her dad feels about her if she did? Of course not! But to her it is significant and she wants to keep it. God has written our name on the palm of His Hands. For those believers who have achieved intimacy with Him, this is life changing. He will never forget you – He has called you His Child. Even in your wandering, your name remained there only intensifying His Urgency to hear your cry for help. He was waiting and watching. “What is the price of five sparrows—two copper coins? Yet God does not forget a single one of them. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.” (Luke 12:6-7) How do I forget this? Time and time again when faced with opposition or challenges, how could I ever continue to wonder?

 

Lamentations 3:19-24 (NLT)

The thought of my suffering and homelessness is bitter beyond words. I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss. Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; His Mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!”

 

The Lord has even provided for my forgetfulness! He brings me a fresh dose of new mercy each day for my insufficiency of faith. His Grace is always sufficient for me. You may never forget this awful time. You may grieve your loss for the rest of your life. But it doesn’t have to steal your hope or rob your faith! His Spirit helps us in our weakness. Even when I am unfaithful, Great is His Faithfulness. With His New Mercy each day, I can make the declaration that “the Lord is my inheritance! I will hope in Him.” Those who prophesy this over their life every day will soon not forget. Reinforcing such a declaration with the Word of God will fortify your faith and add confidence to hope. He promises to renew and restore our life with His Word. (Psalm 119:92-93) His Word gives us Truth to mediate on which will always discredit a lie and the enemy of your soul is full of them. The Word of God will grant us a long and satisfying life. (Proverbs 3:1-2) We must speak the Word over our life each day. “For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.” (James 1:23-25) Finally to do the same thing over and over again expecting a different outcome is called insanity. We must live what we believe so that we do not forget who and whose we are.

 

Genesis 41:50-52 (NLT)

During this time, before the first of the famine years, two sons were born to Joseph and his wife, Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera, the priest of On. Joseph named his older son Manasseh, for he said, “God has made me forget all my troubles and everyone in my father’s family.”  Joseph named his second son Ephraim, for he said, “God has made me fruitful in this land of my grief.”

 

Joseph definitely faced heartbreak, challenges and trials in his life. This passage refers back to before the famine years (when he would be reconciled with his family) and after he had been finally promoted by Pharaoh. It seem that Joseph had decided to let go of the past and focus on the future. When the Lord blessed him with his first son, he named the boy “God has made me forget all my troubles AND everyone in my father’s house.” If you were ever wondering if this man was human, there is your proof. Though plagued by a problematic past and abandoned by his own brothers – Joseph was letting go of it and moving forward with the Lord. When Ephraim is born, we get a glimpse of Joseph’s process as well in this child’s name. “God has made me fruitful in this land of my grief.” Although he was moving forward, Joseph still in the grief process. God knows we are forgetful people when it comes to thinks like His Love, Mercy, and Goodness. But we tend to hold on to worthless baggage from our past that keep us from grabbing hold of our future. It is time to move forward in the process and let the past go. Even when we have fallen or failed, God was working on our behalf. Everything good from our past that God intends for our future will be found there. When famine did come, Joseph’s family was reunited. Anything worthwhile from your past will make it into your future and it is not your responsibility to drag it there but rather walk by faith and live in confident hope. “But forget all that—it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.” (Isaiah 43:18-19)  The Lord is WAY ahead of us, my friend. We just have stick close by our Father and we will have His Way. Let go of the past by focusing forgetfulness where needed the most, grab hold of your future for that is where the Lord is waiting.

 

Philippians 3:13-14 (NLT)

No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.

 

If you are like me, you woke up this morning with a dark cloud of worry sitting just over our head. It wanted desperately to rain on our parade. Run for cover and seek shelter in the Presence of the Lord today. Combat every lie the enemy is hurling at you with Truth. You will find it in His Word. If you don’t know what to pray, the Spirit will pray for you just bow your head and say His Name. Choose not to forget all that the Lord has done for you but let go of the past hurts and heartaches. The Lord is working on your behalf turning every detail of your life for good (Romans 8:28) and perfecting all that concerns you! (Psalm 138:8) Rejoice in the Lord today for all the great things that He has done and trust Him with what He is still doing! Press on for the end of your race. Faith is calling. Hope is reaching for your hand. Those who endure will be saved and you are well on your way!

 

Proverbs 3:1-2 (NLT)

My child, never forget the things I have taught you. Store my commands in your heart. If you do this, you will live many years and your life will be satisfying.

Life Expectancy – A Devotion

Life Expectancy

I Peter 1:3-6 (NLT)
All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. And through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see. So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while.

I could never say enough about the medical team that the Lord has put together for us. They are all amazing, caring and knowledgeable individuals in their own right but together they are masters of their profession. One thing that has become evident over the last three years is that these people focus on hope and life. I am completely surprised when someone is diagnosed with cancer and then goes on to share that their doctor has given them a quantity of time. Through our entire experience, no one has ever limited our son’s life to a matter of days, weeks or years. I am glad. I cannot imagine my response to the one who decided to step in for My God who numbered our son’s days, minutes and hours before he was even born. However, I would be remiss to say that I am not aware of the statistics. Though never formally discussed, the Law requires disclosure with each treatment and trial that we enter. I love this team. I am confident in their diagnoses and treatment so far but ever since his doctor declared us to be in the “realm of hope” that I knew God was in charge of this process no one else. What is your life expectancy? To quantify it with years is not correct. There are people who have their entire life before them yet fail to live a single day. Bound by normal expectation, daily stress, occupational overload, too many things but not enough time makes it impossible to live in each day because we are too busy trying to provide for the next one. Life expectancy is not meant to limit the days of our life but rather to fill each day with the Glory of God. How? You don’t know my situation. You are right, I do not. But I know this, until you realize that you will die one day and that time is appointed by God alone – you will not live. If you do not realize at some point that tomorrow is not promised so you pursue His Promises today – you may miss out. God has given us something to look forward to, but we can’t see past today to find it. He has even given us His Spirit to assist us. (Romans 8:24-26) We must look forward to the hope that we have been given rather than digging through the past. We must look forward to forever rather than a month, a year or decade. Live life for today and stop waiting for tomorrow. Live life for forever just in case tomorrow never comes.

Do you live with great expectation? What do you expect in each new day? Have you asked the Lord what He wants to do in you today? We get so caught up in trying to make the most out of this life that we forget all about our confident hope. Hope is that which we do not have yet but know we will have one day. It is not about this life but if we embrace it now makes this life a happier more satisfying place. My life expectancy cannot be based on what I know and see because according to the world I should be broken and devastated right now. My life expectancy must be fully encapsulated in Jesus Christ. He is the One who brings dead things back to life. We have been given a priceless inheritance but we are transfixed on the trinkets and treasures of the here and now. We demand that our daily needs be met and that the desires of our heart be granted. When that does not bring satisfaction we accuse God of not doing what He promised, when all along we do not expect Him to. His Plan and Purpose for my life include a future and hope that I must desire to obtain. It is only by faith in God that this is revealed. It is only by faith that we please the Lord. Faith is trust. Do I trust you Lord? Do I really have a genuine confidence that You are for me, provide for me, keep me safe and guide me daily? Your life will answer that question so you won’t have to. Those who have confident hope will be truly glad in every situation of life because their expectancy is in Jesus Christ the giver of life so no moment is ever wasted. Even in the midst of great trials, one can have peace and wonderful joy just knowing that their Hope will never disappoint them. We must change our expectancy in life to change our perspective. We must see that Jesus is our source of life or no matter how good life gets it will never be good enough to satisfy our starving soul.

Philippians 1:20-24 (NLT)
For I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past. And I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die. For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better. But if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ. So I really don’t know which is better. I’m torn between two desires: I long to go and be with Christ, which would be far better for me. But for your sakes, it is better that I continue to live.

My life just like yours has been remolded and reshaped countless times by my own design. Growing up I had thoughts and ideas of how my life would be one day. Those changed when I became an adult and continued to be conformed according to the circumstances and situations that I faced. We are no different. However, I believe that there comes a time in every person’s life that leads them to the end of their self. The point in time when human strength completely fails and rational logic brings no comfort. In that moment of hopelessness one of two things transpire. We find hope or dive into darkness and depression. If there is nothing more to life than the days and hours we are given on the earth what is the point of living. There are many people who seem to have everything that would make a happy, satisfied life. They have fame, fortune and influence. However, if they have no love, peace and joy which are eternal things so many take their own life missing that which they lack. I fully expect and hope in Jesus Christ. For those who have pursued a relationship with the Lord, this produces a “selah” moment. If you know the Lord, you will put your trust in Him and learn to rely on Him more and more. T expect means to regard as probable. It is to look forward to and it even means to require. God gave us a purpose. Jesus Christ makes our purpose possible again. Without the Lord, this life will always seem pointless.

What is my purpose? It is the same as mine. My life is to bring honor to Jesus Christ. Living means living for Christ. Death does not scare me. Dying without bringing Him honor is the only thing that I fear. If we do not decide to make our life expectancy line up with His Plan and Purpose, we will never find satisfaction.

Psalm 119:130-131 (NLT)
The teaching of your word gives light, so even the simple can understand. I pant with expectation, longing for your commands.

What should I expect in life? Our hope is found in God’s Word. His Spirit tells us His Way. These two partners will produce great expectation in your life. The two will never ever contradict themselves. It defies the unchangeable character of Father, Son and Spirit. Imagine you are walking through your newly purchased home at midnight. It is pitch black. You put your arms out walking slowing trying not to bump into boxes and furniture but you keep stumbling and falling into things. So you get mad and the next day, stick a “For Sale” sign in the yard. The first people who come inquire as to why you are selling such a beautiful home before fully moving in. Your answer – “It just didn’t work for me.” We do the same thing in our relationship with the Lord. The Word of God is a light for our feet to see the way we should be walking. Had I turned on a light in the house? I would have seen the obstacles and easily stepped around them. How can you know what to expect God to do for you and in you if you do not take the time to open His Word, study it, do it? If you can find it in His Word, it belongs to you. The Word is Jesus. Essentially the Word of God was wrapped in flesh named “Jesus” and sent to this world to make everything in the Word possible in your life. The “simple” can understand it because He has also given us the Spirit so when human weakness threats our hold on hope or ignorance challenges the Word – He helps us to understand it better. Together your purpose is not just your potential but becomes probable in your life. Miracles will begin to happen not because you or I are any better than anyone else – just because we turned the “Light” on in our life.

Proverbs 10:27-28 (NLT)
Fear of the LORD lengthens one’s life, but the years of the wicked are cut short. The hopes of the godly result in happiness, but the expectations of the wicked come to nothing.

Will respect for God’s Word, Will and Way lengthen our life? The obvious answer is “yes” because now we are free to live in His Kingdom forever. Will respect for God’s Word, Will and Way lengthen our life on the earth? I believe that it will. In God’s Plan that we accept when we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior, we are granted a long life. The enemy of this world has come to steal, kill and destroy. If we remain subject to God as a Servant of Jesus Christ, the enemy can roar and stalk us but he cannot touch us or harm us in any way. Evil walks close to the parameter of our life. The Blood of Jesus Christ is the only way that we are protected from his assault. When we live in the Presence of God, we have love, joy and peace that flows from the Living Water down deep in our belly. The world didn’t give it to us and so it can never take it away even though it will continually try. As long as we remain in close and constant fellowship with the Lord, this is a never-ending, overflowing resource in our life to draw from even if ever other person lets us down – we are satisfied. If faced with the unthinkable, His Love consumes our thoughts. The hope (expectation) of the godly will result in happiness. Maybe today this word meets you in the darkest valley of your life, and you feel depression close by you offering you a shoulder to cry on. It is a trap – don’t do it. But you say, I am a believer. I love Jesus. All I can say is if you draw near to Him, He will come closer to you. Do you love the Lord wholeheartedly? Each time I come to this place where darkness has dared too close, upon close examination of my heart, I find another piece to surrender to Jesus. He comes closer the moment I do. Relief overtakes my anxiety. Joy overcomes my sorrow. Peace fills the void that depression longed for. My life expectancy today can only be found in Jesus Christ. This world will not dictate how I live – faith will. It will not tell me what to expect – confident hope will.

Hebrews 11:1 (NLT)
Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.