2 Corinthians 12:8-10 (NLT)
Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Grace is for the weak. It is for those who are completely powerless. God can reach me and draw me closest in my time of need because it is when I am most willing to relinquish control of my life. In fact, I find the more uncertain life has become around me the more confident hope is established with in me. It is all about grace. Grace is defined as the free and unmerited Favor of God toward mankind. It is the divine assistance and power given to man in spiritual rebirth and sanctification. Sanctification is the process by which the transformation to holiness. It is to be free from sin. It means to sanction which is acceptance of the Covenant that God has offered us. To make productive of or conducive to spiritual blessing. Nothing in the definition of grace or sanctification has anything to do with our personal or natural ability but the full responsibility of God. All we do is accept it. To do so requires total humility as we can do nothing to ever earn or repay God or Jesus Christ for what they have offered us as human beings. We are completely powerless in this position. Unmerited is the same as undeserving. We can do nothing to ever earn or be worthy of God’s Grace which is also translated as “God’s Riches at Christ’s Expense.” No if we read today’s passage, it makes a little more sense. “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” Until we are willing to relinquish all power in our life, we will never experience the full favor of grace because we can do nothing to earn it. So maybe if we stopped beating ourselves up, as well as each other, for our failures and look up the definition of grace then we could begin to exercise its power in our life.
It would seem preposterous to “take pleasure” in personal weakness. Who would ever consider insults, hardships, persecutions and troubles likeable? Those who discover that “when I am weak, then I am strong” will. I have probably recited these verses more than any other scripture over the last two years. I think my heart and mind have been searching for something anything to hang on and get through this grueling journey. At one point, I thought I had lost my mind. People will say “you are so strong” and I am quick to tell them without Jesus I would never have made it and really believe these words in my heart and soul. They are not an expression of humility while my mind basks in the pride of affirmation from people. No my mind tells me just how close to the edge of discouragement, disaster and total devastation that I have come. My heart quivers and quakes at the number of times it has been broken. I have asked the Lord to remove this beast called cancer not one time, two times, three times but four times. I am so thankful to say that He answered my cry and has done so every time. However, there have still been hardships and troubles along the way. More and more opportunities for God to exercise His Favor given by His Grace in my life. But the price of grace is quite high. For God, He had to turn His Back on His Beloved Son. For Jesus, He had to give His Life – all of it. For me, I must sacrifice my pride and personal power to allow His Power to permeate my life. I have come to understand that I would never have known God’s Grace like I do now had I not struggled in my own strength and realized that I must be powerless to fully experience God’s Power in my life.
Acts 20:21-24 (NLT)
I have had one message for Jews and Greeks alike—the necessity of repenting from sin and turning to God, and of having faith in our Lord Jesus. And now I am bound by the Spirit to go to Jerusalem. I don’t know what awaits me, except that the Holy Spirit tells me in city after city that jail and suffering lie ahead. But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.
There is only one message. I must repent from my sin. I must turn to God. I must have faith in Jesus Christ. We have complicated the Call of Christ so much that many churches have forgotten what this life is all about. Once we have accomplished these three steps, we are bound by the Spirit of God in covenant with Him. Now we rely on the Holy Spirit to lead and guide our lives so others will repent from sin, turn to God and have faith in Jesus Christ. This is grace in action as we share with others what Christ has done for us, God’s Grace begins to spread and His Glory will cover the earth. The compromised bride struggles in her fidelity seeking the attention and affirmation of the world so much that she has forgot her marriage to Jesus Christ. Personal power has overtaken the House of God once more as pride rears its ugly head and religion runs rampant. Why would Paul travel from city to city knowing that only more imprisonment and suffering lie ahead? Who would do that? The prisons that he encountered were not full of the modern conveniences that we line our cells with today. There was no controlled heating and air. No bunk bed or cot. There was no running water or facilities to use. There was not sanitation just shackles and filth. The guards had no ethics as they brutally tortured inmates to the point of death. Yet Paul who left the comfort of earthly power and influence chose willingly to be led by the Spirit from place to place saying the same thing over and over. “Repent from sin, turn to God and have faith in Jesus Christ!” Paul had discovered the true potential of God’s Grace for those who are willing to become powerless to have it.
Ephesians 2:8-10 (NLT)
God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
Grace is what allows God’s Masterpiece and Plan to seamlessly mesh together. To be a good soldier, a person’s pride and willfulness must be completely broken hence they attend the “luxury vacation” called boot camp. They must be humbled to become part of something much greater than themselves and become a force to be reckoned with. To be a unit strong and secure requires surrender of person motives and agendas to fully accept and carry out the commander’s orders. We are called to be good soldiers of Jesus Christ. (2 Timothy 2:3) It requires that we are broken to sin and darkness which often requires hardship in the natural to bring us to our knees to identify this need. The greatest spiritual blessing of God is His Grace. It is the life-saving, life-changing Power of Christ coming to rest in our life to the Glory of God. “God the Father knew you and chose you long ago, and his Spirit has made you holy. As a result, you have obeyed him and have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ. May God give you more and more grace and peace.” (I Peter 1:2) God knew you and chose you long ago. He developed a complete and perfect plan for your life that is yours simply if you ask for it. He instantly will save you by grace when you believe. We have no problem asking for salvation but it seems that there is quite a bit of confusion about accepting this gift. To have the Grace of God in our life requires total surrender of our mind, body and soul to the Commission of Christ which is simple repent from sin, turn to God, and live what you believe. You can clean your life up but your heart is untouched unless covered by the Blood of Jesus Christ which is the remission of sin. You cannot have salvation, consecration, holiness or righteousness without the Blood of Jesus that gives us access to His Grace. You cannot enter His Presence in your own power but must come boldly in weakness to attain His Grace and Peace. (Hebrews 4:15-16) Weakness is impressive to God because it means you no longer are trying to make it to Him your way but have chosen to fully accept His Way. There is someone who will read this today that will be set free from the need to act like a Christian and truly believe in the Love of Jesus Christ and find freedom in weakness. You will be the one who comes boldly no longer ashamed of personal ability to live completely and fully in the Presence of God by finally surrendering all that you are to all that HE is! Two years ago in a cold bathroom on the 11th floor, I was right where you are. I thought I had it all together. I thought I was a strong person, good mother and faithful Christian because I was doing all the “right” things. But the very moment that the doctor said, “I am sorry to tell you that your son has cancer” with tears falling down his face filled with pity, I became powerless. Suddenly it was like every shackle in my life fell like heavy chains on the cold floor, my life falling apart. All those worries and cares I was lugging along like a champion nearly broke my back. Throwing ever weight aside, I realized this would be a pivotal moment in my life no matter what the outcome. After crying hysterically watching my tears splash on the checkered tile floor until all I could do was hyperventilate, my voice hoarse from crying and calling out to God – he answered. “Do you trust me?” Now you may say that is not an answer but a question and grammatically you are correct but spiritually it was a definitive point. The Lord was asking if I believed. I had to search my heart and mind for the answer as He caught me off guard. Breathlessly, I whispered, “Yes!” but inside I was weak, crushed and totally powerless. He then spoke to me in a much louder voice, “Your son will live and not die!” I have never been the same from that moment when God’s Grace and Glory reached me as I was surely going under. I had no power. I barely had any strength. Yet, I was instantly empowered by His Spirit coming to life in me.
2 Corinthians 4:14-18 (NLT)
We know that God, who raised the Lord Jesus, will also raise us with Jesus and present us to himself together with you. All of this is for your benefit. And as God’s grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory. 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.
Today I choose to live for the Glory of God so I may experience the Grace of God in every situation. Everything that I do well is a reflection of God’s Gifts in my life. (Romans 12:6-10) Everything I am horrible act exemplifies God’s Grace working in my life. (I Peter 1:3-5) God is protecting my inheritance and making sure that I will receive salvation even in my failure. Sin is now powerless in my life (Romans 6:6-11). I will rely on this truth and refuse to feel guilty or regret my past but look to the future and hope that He has given me. He is still working on me! (I Corinthians 15:10) I am now part of something much bigger than myself, I am committed and consecrated to the Kingdom of God. (I Corinthians 3:8-11) My life will now be a conduit of the Grace of God as I spread it all over the world. (Hebrews 12:14-15) People are not my competition so I will have compassion on others and extend grace to them as I receive more and more grace from the Father. (Hebrews 12:14-15) God’s Grace will bear spiritual fruit in my life because I can’t do it anymore. (Colossians 1:6) “We can say with confidence and a clear conscience that we have lived with a God-given holiness and sincerity in all our dealings. We have depended on God’s grace, not on our own human wisdom. That is how we have conducted ourselves before the world, and especially toward you.” (II Corinthians 1:12) Do you have confidence? Is your conscience clear? It is for those who live with “God-Given” holiness and sincerity that is a byproduct of His Grace not religiosity. Those who depend on God’s Grace rather than trying to force His Hand will live in the peace and joy of His Presence forevermore.
2 Timothy 1:9-10 (NLT)
For God saved us and called us to live a holy life. He did this, not because we deserved it, but because that was his plan from before the beginning of time—to show us his grace through Christ Jesus. And now he has made all of this plain to us by the appearing of Christ Jesus, our Savior. He broke the power of death and illuminated the way to life and immortality through the Good News.
Are you weak today? Do you feel powerless? Are you experiencing hard times? Have you accepted God’s Grace? Where will you be when weakness overcomes you? Build an altar where you are. Worship God and ask for His Grace. You must come just as you are! He doesn’t expect you to be the strong one who has it all together because that’s His Job! He just expects you to come as you are and then get out of the way so His Way takes over. Grace will allow you to give when you think you have nothing to give. It will allow you to live generously the life you have been given as God cultivates seeds of righteousness that will bear much fruit. Harvest is coming out of your hardship if you will simply accept God’s Gift of His Grace today! You may feel weak but actually you are a winner because greater is He who is in you than he that is in the world. Yes, you are an overcomer even if it is pride that is your biggest obstacle. Open the door and step into the freedom of God’s Grace! Stop trying to do it all and let the Lord do it all through you!
Titus 2:11-14 (NLT)
For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed. He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds.
2 Timothy 4:6-8 (NLT)
As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God. The time of my death is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing.
This is the most wonderful time of the year, but not necessarily as one might think. I love Christmas from the standpoint of giving and being together with family and friends. But my favorite part about December has always been that a New Year is just around the corner. A new beginning with new opportunities to live a new chapter in our life while closing tightly the old one with hope and certainty that God will do a new work in the heart and mind of every believer. When I was younger, it was to think that I survived another year and that the next one would have to be better. The struggles of my youth are no different than many of you. January marked a new thing and I always seem to be ready for such a time as this. But this year has been exceptionally difficult to traverse the race of faith as the road traveled resembled no new territory but the same journey as the year before. We continued to fight the good fight of faith and put one foot in front of the other in the hope that one of them would cross the finish line soon. Life is a series of mountains and valleys full of highs and lows. This is not because a person has necessarily wandered from the Lord or missed His Will completely, but rather if we look closely it becomes apparent that our new life in Jesus Christ is not a sprint but a marathon. One must remain faithful from the start to the finish and sometimes the course is extremely long and brutal nevertheless God has called us to finish the work that He has begun in us. What if I told you to win the race you are in all you have to do is finish? Would that put a little pep in your step? You are an overcomer. You will be complete lacking no good thing. You will be the head and not the tail. Blessed and not cursed, full of life escaping death completely IF you make it to the finish. The prize is a crown of righteousness that marks you as one who made it to the day of redemption standing in the Favor of God by the Grace of Jesus Christ. Each person has the ability to attain such a crown and be a winner! Few will remain faithful to the journey and abandon the Call because they did not count the cost before they began to run.
The word finish is all about completion. Nowhere in the text of its definition does it talk about winning or losing. To finish is to complete. It is to come to the end of the course of something. To use completely. It means to overcome completely. To be complete and perfect in detail. This is God’s Will for your life to finish. He made you to be complete. He prepared you to make in to the end of the course. He plans to use you completely if you will surrender your life to Him so He can fill you up again. Jesus made you an overcomer when He overcame the world. God’s Plan for your life is complete and perfect in every detail and He has left nothing out. So why are there so many distraught, distracted and defeated Christians today? Why is the Body of Christ fragmented and disjointed? Why are ministries falling apart rather than bonding together to secure souls for the Kingdom of God? Why aren’t we finishing anything that we have started? Good question…the problem is no-one is making it to the finish line. Giving up on faith, they are chasing a lie. It’s time to get back in the race. This time intent to finish it. You win if you make it to the finish.
Galatians 5:16-17 (NLT)
So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions.
Our greatest opposition is not the enemy of the world as one might think, but the stubborn sinful nature that now has been set free by grace to choose. The Holy Spirit works to convince us to choose faith and righteousness while our sinful nature wants to fight and rebel. With these two forces constantly fighting each other, we are not free to carry out our good intentions. They are going in opposite directions. The Holy Spirit prods us to do the Will of God and be complete. While our sinful nature and pride pull us in the other direction to go our own way and make a better life. This struggle is not uncommon and best described by Paul in Romans 7. We want to do what is right but something keeps making us fall. I want to do what is right and inevitably do what is wrong. How will I ever advance in the right direction if I am always stumbling over my own feet? Paul tells us plainly, “Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.” (Romans 7:24-25) If we allow our sinful nature to remain in control, we will never finish the good work that God has begun in our life because it is always hostile toward God with good cause. (Romans 8:6-8) With sin in control of our life, we will never be able to please the Lord because it always contradicts faith. We must allow the Holy Spirit to circumcise our heart (Colossians 2:11) and cut away the flesh that is holding us back from freely loving God as Christ intended. (Galatians 5:13) “But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to him at all.) And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God.” (Romans 8:9-10) Jesus Christ is familiar with our struggles and even our weaknesses. He bore them on the Cross so we could fully overcome them in life. (Isaiah 53:4) So stop beating yourself up, shake off guilt which is your flesh holding you back again and keep moving toward the finish line by faith in Jesus Christ.
John 10:30 (NLT)
When Jesus had tasted it, he said, “It is finished!” Then he bowed his head and released his spirit.
Our finish relies solely in our ability to believe by faith that Jesus Christ finished His Work on the Cross. Do you believe? Without faith it is impossible to please God. (Hebrews 11:6) If you don’t believe, you will never be intent on seeking God and His Righteousness because you do not think they are worth having. You must believe that eternal life exists and is only possible by faith in Jesus Christ. Furthermore, it must be a prize worth having. Why? The world is certainly not cheering you on when it comes to faith in God but rather shaming Christians every day for being so “close-minded” to think that there is only One Way to be saved. The Great Cloud of Witness cheering us on is relatively silent in the world today and must be discovered in the Word and Whisper of God. “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.” (Hebrews 12:1) Hebrews 11 is full of men and women who lived by faith and made it to the finish. But they are not much comfort or consolation when all hell is breaking loose in our life. So it is up to us to strip off every weight that slows us down including doubt and disbelief so that we are free to keep going and not get tripped up in human foolishness.
2 Corinthians 8:10-12 (NLT)
Here is my advice: It would be good for you to finish what you started a year ago. Last year you were the first who wanted to give, and you were the first to begin doing it. Now you should finish what you started. Let the eagerness you showed in the beginning be matched now by your giving. Give in proportion to what you have. Whatever you give is acceptable if you give it eagerly. And give according to what you have, not what you don’t have.
“Let us run with endurance the race God has set before us”…if this were a sprint we wouldn’t need endurance but faith is for the long haul there life is a marathon that requires discipline and self-control. My sister struggled with her weight for many, many years. Just over a year ago, something in her mind changed and she decided that it would no longer have control in her life. She began to strive for proper nutrition rather than a radical diet. She started exercising routinely rather than random activity. An amazing transformation occurred. My sister lost over one hundred pounds. Like many people, she tried to do it fast and in a hurry. But found out it did not work until she made a life change. Are you carrying around some extra baggage today? Is it slowing you down? Most often even obesity is the result of a head problem rather than a body imbalance. Our emotions take control and so we punish our body or compensate comfort by filling our body with things that are not good for us. A life change is the only long lasting adjustment that will change the course of your destiny. You must make that change. How? “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.” (Romans 12:1-2) There is no point in giving your heart to Jesus if you are unwilling to surrender your life, too. The struggle between mind, soul and body will be too great. God wants perfection for your life, but your flesh will settle for anything rather than being inconvenienced or uncomfortable. To finish the race of faith requires a mind, body and soul investment that few are willing to make but must to make it to the finish line.
Luke 4:12-13 (NLT)
Jesus responded, “The Scriptures also say, ‘You must not test the LORD your God.’ ” When the devil had finished tempting Jesus, he left him until the next opportunity came.
While we are on the subject of proper diet, what are you taking in each day? Jesus Christ overcame the temptations of the enemy with the Word of God. Whenever the enemy challenged the Lord, He just shot back more of the Word until the enemy finally left the Lord alone. But don’t stop there read on…”he left him until the next opportunity came.” The enemy will use every weakness you have to destroy you. He will pop up every time you fall or become distant from the Lord in order to “steal, kill and destroy” your Destiny. He is not going to let up so you can’t either. If the only time you spend any real time devouring the Word of God is in the midst of a struggle you will never make it to the end. Jesus Christ told His Disciples that His Nourishment came from doing the Work of God and finishing it. (John 4:34) You will never make it to the end of the race of faith without God’s Spirit inside you warring against your flesh and the Word of God as a two-edged sword to defend you against the enemy’s lies. You need to know the Truth. It is what sets us free! (John 8:32) Your daily diet must be the Word of God. Your daily activity must be routinely doing what it says. Faith is what strengthens us to do this as we learn to lean and trust on the Lord more and more until we develop confident hope that allows us to endure. This allows us to count the cost and find enough to finish building our life and body to be the Temple of God. (Luke 14:26-29)
Romans 1:16-17 (NLT)
For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes—the Jew first and also the Gentile. This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. As the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.”
Unlike so many years before, I find that for the first time in many, many years that I am enjoying Christmas. Jesus came to save me. He came to redeem my life which is the culmination of my faith when I meet Him face-to-face. God makes me right in His Sight by faith. It is a start to finish accomplishment that is not complete in a minute, day, hour or year. It requires my whole life. So if the challenges our family have faced graciously are complete and over in 2014, it does not mean that there will be new opposition as the enemy looks for another opportunity to tempt us. God is completing the Good Work that He planned and predestined for our life made possible only through Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:6) His Spirit is alive and well on the inside of me dealing with my flesh as long as I feed Him the Truth and strength Him with my faith. It is through this faith that I find life. It is this faith that allows me to stop wondering so much about what lies ahead and simply put on foot in front of the other. I will reach the finish line. I will make it to the end. I am an overcomer. I will win. When I put my faith in Jesus Christ all I have to do is make it to 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! 2All 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.
Revelation 2:4-5 (NLT)
“But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first! Look how far you have fallen! Turn back to me and do the works you did at first. If you don’t repent, I will come and remove your lampstand from its place among the churches.”
Does God have a complaint against you today? Are there unresolved issues between you and the Lord today that keep you from church, worship and prayer? The biggest problem is not sin as one might think because it is easily washed away by the Blood of Jesus Christ and His Immeasurable Grace. The biggest problem in the Body of Christ today is that people simply do not love God. Coming to the altar in search of relief and leaving feeling somewhat gratified, they missed the point of such an encounter and now are left confused. Repentance is turning from the world, being cleansed of our sins, so that we can live in the Presence of God as the Bride of Jesus Christ. We become betrothed to the Lord in that moment of transparency when we accept all that He is for all that we are. But when most people leave the altar in a church they turn and walk away from the Lord never really knowing the blessing of a right relationship with God and its many blessings. God expects fiery passion in this love affair between you. Not as the world does which is the lust for another encounter, but as a covenant relationship requires which is consideration in every single encounter. Like marriage, I honor my love and commitment to my husband not only when we are together but everywhere I go in everything that I do. However, look how far we have fallen when it comes to our relationship with the Lord! Jesus paid the ultimate price so that we could live in fellowship with God both now and forever. Salvation is an eternal choice. But righteousness, holiness and willingness to love and serve the Lord is a covenant choice that we make today. We must come closer to the Lord now! Turn back to me is His Invitation today…will you come closer?
Exodus 20:18-21 (NLT)
When the people heard the thunder and the loud blast of the ram’s horn, and when they saw the flashes of lightning and the smoke billowing from the mountain, they stood at a distance, trembling with fear. And they said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen. But don’t let God speak directly to us, or we will die!” “Don’t be afraid,” Moses answered them, “for God has come in this way to test you, and so that your fear of him will keep you from sinning!” As the people stood in the distance, Moses approached the dark cloud where God was.
People have always feared close proximity to the Lord. When the Presence of God descended, the Children of Israel were terrified. They insisted that Moses go into His Presence and they would do whatever God said as long as they did not have to face Him believing that they would die. Maybe this is just coincidence but if God had wanted to kill the Israelites, the Red Sea would have been the perfect opportunity to do so. Or He could have left them to starve in the wilderness rather than supplying quail and manna. Or perhaps, they would have died of thirst save God made water flow from a rock. Yet after all this, they still feared God and His Presence. However, when they were in bondage and captivity with no way out – they did not hesitate to run through the Red Sea. When they were hungry, they ate the manna and quail. When they were thirsty, they drank the water from the rock. But when it came time to worship the Lord, they sent someone else. (Sigh) Is this not the story of life today? We want what God has and His Power to change our life, but we cannot commit to worshipping the Lord in Spirit and Truth as is required per our covenant with Him. (John 4:23) These are the times that the Lord told the woman at the well about. We have had the Truth (His Word) for a very long time. Jesus Christ gave us His Spirit to empower us, strengthen and guide us from the inside out. Yet many continue to stand at a distance rather than coming closer to the Lord.
Exodus 3:4-6 (NLT)
When the LORD saw Moses coming to take a closer look, God called to him from the middle of the bush, “Moses! Moses!” “Here I am!” Moses replied. “Do not come any closer,” the LORD warned. “Take off your sandals, for you are standing on holy ground. I am the God of your father—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” When Moses heard this, he covered his face because he was afraid to look at God.
There is a difference between fearing the Lord as respect and being afraid of God due to ignorance. When God called to Moses, Moses acknowledged the Lord. When He warned Moses not to come any closer that is exactly what he did. When the Lord told him that he was standing on Holy Ground and identified Himself as God Moses heard this and recognized the Lord’s Voice indicating a relationship and familiarity with the Lord. When Moses bowed before God it was out of respect and honor. He knew God. However, the Children of Israel were given many opportunities to know God intimately yet chose to send someone else in namely Moses. After that, they were only permitted to follow at a distance. Only Moses was allowed to access His Presence until the order of priests were established. (Exodus 24:1-3) When the Presence of God filled the Ark of Covenant, again the people were instructed to follow at a distance. (Joshua 3:3-5) Not many people grasped the concept of intimacy with God in the Old Testament despite the Lord’s many attempts to reach them. (Job 36:22-25) Job had intimacy with God but his three friends seemed to only know the Lord at a distance. But even in the New Testament, we find characters who turn and walk away or follow at a distance. When Jesus was arrested, Peter followed at a distance. Becoming distant in his heart, he would deny the Lord three times just as Jesus had said. (Matthew 26:57-58) Before the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, people could only follow God at a distance. But after Jesus Christ, everything changed. Now we can come closer again! (Hebrews 11:13)
Psalm 23:1-6 (NLT)
The LORD is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name. Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the LORD forever.
I knew the words that comprise Psalm 23 before I ever really comprehended the Promise of Psalm 23. God desires to walk through life close beside me. No matter where I go or what I do. He wants to provide for, protect, and prosper me in this life on my way to the everlasting. Enoch lived 365 years walking in close proximity to God. When he left this world and stepped into Eternity – there is no record of his death. It was as if he simply vanished. I believe that living life in unison with the Lord is like that as we humble ourselves to walk in His Way when it is our time to be with the Lord there is no regret or mourning just a simple passage from everlasting to everlasting. These verses depict highs and lows of life as we walk peacefully through the chaos of life living in the Presence of God. Grace has allowed us this opportunity. But it is up to us whether we will come closer or remain distant from the Lord. The only thing that generally will keep us from knowing God more and entering His Presence is sin and our love of darkness more than the Light.
James 4:4-10 (NLT)
You adulterers! Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God. What do you think the Scriptures mean when they say that the spirit God has placed within us is filled with envy? But he gives us even more grace to stand against such evil desires. As the Scriptures say, “God opposes the proud but favors the humble.” So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.
Come close to God. He will come close to you. God is just waiting for you to take one step of faith in the right direction and He will overtake you with His Goodness, Mercy and Grace. He wants to love you, care for you and guide you to His Very Best. It has been His Plan all along that you would live in His Presence. It was humanity that chose to walk away from His Love and choose something else. We do it every day in the choices that we make. God says, “Come closer…I want to talk to you!” We say, “No, I am just too busy or too tired today.” The Lord calls to us, “Come closer…I know a better way!” We say, “No, I want my way!” The Holy Spirit tells us, “Come closer…get out of that mess!” We say, “No, I love my mess!” The problem is not God or His Calling but His People and our lack of willingness to spend 365 days walking in close fellowship. Forget about Enoch and His 365 years, our pride wants none of that old time religion but the new age of grace that was created by people to allow us to trod back and forth the Blood of Jesus whenever we want making a mockery of God much less the Cross! To those Jesus is calling today, “Come closer. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first! Look how far you have fallen! Turn back to me and do the works you did at first.” What will our response be? Will we remain distant like the Children of Israel or repent like Children of God running for home? God is tired of lip service and is looking for full service Christians. (Matthew 15:7-12) Those who will accept His Grace as the opportunity it is to live in His Presence both now and forevermore. “For His Unfailing Love toward those who fear Him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth. He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west. The LORD is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him.” (Psalm 103:11-13)
Ephesians 3:11-12 (NLT)
This was his eternal plan, which he carried out through Christ Jesus our Lord. Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence.
God’s Plan all along has been to be your Father. He created you to be His Child. He placed humanity in a nurturing garden with everything we could ever need, want and desire. We chose something else. We wanted our own way. Now we must turn back to the Lord through the Blood of Jesus Christ and step back into the Presence of God. You must leave the world and the things of this world especially sin and darkness behind. Otherwise, you step right back into the world and remain subject to it. God is after your heart. Words mean nothing. Your actions equal the Truth by which you live and what you believe. Faith is the only thing that pleases God. Confident hope is the fruit of our faith. It allows us to come boldly to the Throne of God without fear because our sins are forgiven now we are fee to live for Jesus…not excused to continuing living for ourselves. Humility is an act of surrender. When we lay down our life along with pride to enter a covenant with the Lord much like a marriage that is honored in everything we do, say, think and feel. The Lord invites us to come close and listen to His Voice. (Isaiah 48:16-18) He has something to tell you that is special and only for you! He invites us to come boldly and expectantly as is our right through Jesus Christ. (Hebrews 4:15-16) Will you come closer today?
Hebrews 10:21-25 (NLT)
And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water. Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.
Ezekiel 37:4-6 (NLT)
Then he said to me, “Speak a prophetic message to these bones and say, ‘Dry bones, listen to the word of the LORD! This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Look! I am going to put breath into you and make you live again! I will put flesh and muscles on you and cover you with skin. I will put breath into you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the LORD.’”
This time of year can be very overwhelming for people in general. The holidays perplex many a human heart with the rigorous pace at which it happens. It seems like it begins earlier and earlier each year. However, people are overwrought as schedules are changed and routines upended. Money becomes the primary focus as budgets are busted with entertaining and gift-giving. Lost in the crowds of holiday shoppers, my heart begins to race, lighted headedness sets in, and the room begins to spin as the loud blaring Christmas music fades. Is it really the most “wonderful time of the year”? Add trips to doctor visits and chemo treatments two hours away every other week to the mix and it is an instant prescription for physical and mental overload. Where do I find the joy and peace boasted about in the holiday madness and Christmas crush? How in the world will I catch my breath? I think I need to sit down for a minute. Hold on! I am sitting down so maybe I just need to breathe…
I am speaking “a prophetic message to these (weary) bones” today! “Dry bones, listen to the Word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Look! I am going to put breath in you and make you live again!” A prophetic message is not based on anything we necessarily see, know or comprehend in the natural. It is divine revelation directly connected to faith and confident hope in the Lord therefore it will never come to pass by natural means. What are you speaking today will certainly influence your mind and change your attitude. But positive words and optimism is only as good as our natural breath and ability to breathe. Prophetic words tell of God’s Plan and Power that is about completely change our mind and soul from the inside out so that it will impact our body as well. Prophecy is always backed by the Truth that is the Word of God. It comes to pass by the Spirit which is the Power of God working on the inside of us. We must learn to breathe in the Spirit since our natural breath will one day pass away. Living in the confident hope produced by flourishing faith will never be found in the things of this world as it is strictly guarded as the inheritance of God’s Children. To have it, we must learn to live where He is according to His Word which is the Breath of Life for every believer.
Genesis 2:7-8 (NLT)\
Then the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground. He breathed the breath of life into the man’s nostrils, and the man became a living person. Then the LORD God planted a garden in Eden in the east, and there he placed the man he had made
Bible 101 on the creation of man tells us that God formed humanity out of the dust on the ground. He breathed the breath of life into the man’s nostrils and the man became a living person. This is different from every other living breathing thing God created. He then took the man and put him directly in the place and plan that the Lord had created for mankind in His Presence. For this moment in time, man stood in right standing with God. Breathing 101 from a scientific perspective tells us that when our diaphragm expands we take in air that has oxygen in it. Our body takes the oxygen and uses it to strengthen and renew our blood cells. Then as our diaphragm contracts it pushes out the carbon dioxide that is harmful yet produced in the regeneration of each cell. If we can take what we know in Bible 101 using it to effectively achieve Breathing 101, we might learn something of real use. We know how to breathe but cannot control the process from within it occurs naturally. We can hold our breath until we pass out and then the brain takes over making us breathe again in self-preservation. When fear takes over, it is a natural response to interrupt the breathing process. Exercise can do the same thing. It is in such occurrences that we must remind ourselves to breathe in order to continue living. It matters what we breathe in as well. If we exhale carbon dioxide then inhale it again, it will lead to suffocation as we cannot continue in the natural life cycle without oxygen to feed and renew our blood. The same can be said of our spirit, if we do not breathe in God’s Breath which is His Word – there will be no renewal of the mind or transformation in our life. Slowly our flesh takes over which will only lead to death. Anxiety causes us to panic as our body, mind and spirit are deprived of natural and spiritual renewal. Cut off from the Lord, you will die. God formed man. He breathed life into the man. He put the man in His Presence. If this were the end of the story, we would live forever with God. We would never panic, fear or be anxious. But this is not the case, man decided to try life his own way and seek the things that are not of God. Suddenly, no one can seem to catch their breath whisked away in the rat race called life.
Psalm 104:28-30 (NLT)
When you supply it, they gather it. You open your hand to feed them, and they are richly satisfied. But if you turn away from them, they panic. When you take away their breath, they die and turn again to dust. When you give them your breath, life is created, and you renew the face of the earth.
We were created to live in the Presence of God. He promised to supply our needs. Faith and trust would allow us to be satisfied by the Lord and need nothing more. We chose to reach out for the things God did not intend for us. God will never withhold anything good from His People. In fact, if it is good and perfect, He is sending it to you like any good father would. (James 1:17) However, sin caused us to take our breath away from the Source of Life. Now human beings are subject to death making each breath we take of great importance because it could very well be our last. When we turn away from God, we have reason to panic. We are dying. But when we give our breath back to God beginning with our whole life lived to be in His Presence, something miraculous happens. He gives us new breath. Life is created (as we gain forever). We are renewed from the inside out. You will never catch your breath separated from God. Sin always has and always will separate God from His People. Righteousness spared Noah and his family when God could take no more of man’s sinful ways. (Genesis 7:21-23) Righteousness saves us, too. Grace allows us to step back into the Presence of God and remain there. It allows us to leave the brevity of natural life behind and step into the certainty of forever. You will be able to breathe again – both now and forever. “LORD, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered—how fleeting my life is. You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand. My entire lifetime is just a moment to you; at best, each of us is but a breath.” (Psalm 39:4-5)
Daniel 10:15-19 (NLT)
While he was speaking to me, I looked down at the ground, unable to say a word. Then the one who looked like a man touched my lips, and I opened my mouth and began to speak. I said to the one standing in front of me, “I am filled with anguish because of the vision I have seen, my lord, and I am very weak. How can someone like me, your servant, talk to you, my lord? My strength is gone, and I can hardly breathe.” Then the one who looked like a man touched me again, and I felt my strength returning. “Don’t be afraid,” he said, “for you are very precious to God. Peace! Be encouraged! Be strong!” As he spoke these words to me, I suddenly felt stronger and said to him, “Please speak to me, my lord, for you have strengthened me.”
Even though I am a believer who strives to live by faith, I am still a human being who struggles in my humanness many days. It seems like when I think I have uncovered more faith and taken a tighter grip on confident hope everything begins shaking all over again and I am struggling to hang on again. Daniel had an encounter with God’s Messenger after a horrible vision of what was to come that left him weak physically, emotionally and spiritually. He simply looked at the ground unable to say a word. Daniel was discouraged. Are you discouraged today? Is every other breath you take a sigh as if to say, “God, what’s the point?” Even in his disappointment, Daniel’s feet remained in the Presence of the Lord. In that moment, the angel of the Lord touched his lips so Daniel could speak from his heart. Daniel professed what many people feel in the holiday rush or maybe you feel like this most days, “My strength is gone and I can hardly breathe.” Then the one who looked like a man touched me again and I felt my strength returning. He began to speak to Daniel, “Don’t be afraid. You are very precious to God. Peace! Be encouraged! Be strong! As Daniel heard these words, he was instantly stronger. He asked the angel to keep speaking as his strength was renewed. It is time for us to ask God to speak to us once again and be in position to hear from the Lord.
Psalm 78:36-39 (NLT)
But all they gave him was lip service; they lied to him with their tongues. Their hearts were not loyal to him. They did not keep his covenant. Yet he was merciful and forgave their sins and did not destroy them all. Many times he held back his anger and did not unleash his fury! For he remembered that they were merely mortal, gone like a breath of wind that never returns.
When a human being breathes out, they expel carbon dioxide every single time. You can never breathe out oxygen. Your last breath is poison. Think about it. Once air is sent through our blood system all of the oxygen is removed and it is released as carbon dioxide. No wonder we make promises to God and others, they we have no intention of following through. To do so takes the truth and turns it into a lie. When we break promises to God then we break our covenant with Him. Grace and mercy are accessible through the Blood of Christ that removes our impurity (sin) allowing us to enter close proximity with the Lord once more. When the Lord speaks to us, He moves through us. Our strength is renewed. But if we choose to remain distant from the Lord, His Breath cannot reach us like it will in His Presence. Like the childhood game called Telephone, we want God to speak to our pastor, parents or friends and send it our way expecting the same result as a close, personal encounter with God. If my husband tells others how much he loves me, but never whispers it intimately in my ear, it is not the same. God wants His Breath to touch you again. He wants it to flow through you as it did in the beginning when you were formed by Him, breathed into by Him and placed in His Presence to continually love, trust and depend on Him. You cannot have intimacy with God from afar. You cannot have His Breath in your life and in your body without a righteous connection with the Lover of our Soul! We must stop wasting our breath on idols. Those things that do not breathe or give us life. (Jeremiah 10:14-15, 18:12) Instead it is time to purpose in our heart that I will praise God (Psalm 104:33, 146:2) even with my last breath. Rather than continually giving lip service to the Lord, I will pray and ask Him to strengthen me to remain righteous or in right-standing so His Breath will continually renew my life until my last breath on the earth. (Psalm 116:1-2) The common man will die when he breathes his last breath, but those who remain in the Presence of God filled with His Spirit will escape death and enter Eternity. (Psalm 62:5-8) I want to live in the peace and joy of God’s Presence. I want each breath I take to renew and restore my soul rather than bringing about fear and anxiety of what is to come!
John 20:19-22 (NLT)
That Sunday evening the disciples were meeting behind locked doors because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. Suddenly, Jesus was standing there among them! “Peace be with you,” he said. As he spoke, he showed them the wounds in his hands and his side. They were filled with joy when they saw the Lord! Again he said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you. Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”
Jesus was dead. With Him, the life of every disciple now hung in the balance. They gathered in fear to discuss what to do next, when Jesus appeared standing among them. He said, “Peace be with you!” The Lord then showed them His Nail-Scarred Hands along with the mark in His Side from the sword to confirm that it was indeed the One they were longing for. There were instantly filled with joy! Again, He said, “Peace be with you!” But this time, He breathed on them giving them His Spirit – the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit produces spiritual life. (John 3:6) He identifies us as Children of God. He is our Advocate, Teacher and Reminder of everything pertaining to living a life in the Presence of God. (John 14:26) He leads to all Truth. (John 14:17) He is the Voice of God in us that tells us where to go, what to do, to dare to dream and how to do what pleases God along with the ability to actually follow through and do it! When we turn to God and repent of our sins, He gives us His Spirit. (Acts 2:38) The Spirit of God enables to do the Will of God! (Romans 8:5) The Holy Spirit fills our heart with the Love of God. (Romans 5:5) He helps us in our weakness. (Romans 8:26) Our body is the temple of God’s Spirit. (I Corinthians 6:19) He is the guarantee of every single promise that God ever made us. (2 Corinthians 1:22) The Holy Spirit will guide your life allowed and produce spiritual fruit that will satisfy your soul. You won’t have to panic, fear or be anxious for anything when filled with the Breath of God that is the Holy Spirit! To catch my breath, I must live by the Spirit of God that extends my life from here to Eternity. Fear focuses on limitation but life by His Spirit empowers us to live expectantly rather than self-dependently. You cannot add a single day to your life and neither will your worries! (Matthew 6:27) But when we live and breathe in the Presence of God by filling our life with His Word, doing things His Way and living according to His Will – we will find new strength! We will be renewed from the inside out. I can breathe when I remove the burdens that do not belong to me and give them back to God. I can catch my breath – the Breath of Life – His Spirit living and breathing on the inside of me!
I Peter 5:6-10 (NLT)
So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your Christian brothers and sisters all over the world are going through the same kind of suffering you are.
In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation. All power to him forever! Amen.
Luke 4:17-21 (NLT)
The scroll of Isaiah the prophet was handed to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where this was written: “The Spirit of the LORD is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the LORD’s favor has come.” He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the attendant, and sat down. All eyes in the synagogue looked at him intently. Then he began to speak to them. “The Scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day!”
The time of the Lord’s Favor has come! No seriously, it is here right now for those who believe it and are willing to receive it. Isaiah, the prophet, foretold of His Favor making its way to His People. (Isaiah 61:1-3) When Jesus Christ came to this world, lived a sinless life, died on the Cross, raised back to life on the third day, defeated the enemy, overcame the world, washed away our sin and filled us with His Spirit – God’s Favor is upon us! We are anointed Children of the Living God with an inheritance. Our inheritance is Eternal Life but as Children of the King, there are certain benefits available to those who live in close proximity to God.
What is favor? Favor is granted from good will so it cannot be earned simply received. (Galatians 4:10) It is excessive kindness that goes beyond all that we can think or ask. (Ephesians 3:20) It is unfair partiality that comes from a life in Covenant with God. It is not anything that we can do for ourselves and it solely at the discretion of the giver. The Spirit of the Lord is upon me. Are you saved by faith and by believing in your heart? (Romans 10:9-10) If so, the Lord has graciously given you His Spirit to identify you as His Child. (Romans 8:15-16) God saved us to live a holy, consecrated and separated life according to His Plan by His Grace basically giving us everything we need to prosper and be blessed. (2 Timothy 1:9) The Provision and Prosperity of God is in His Plan and inherited. The world didn’t give it to you and cannot take it away. If you will bring the Good News, you will have the Favor of God. Your life should be a living map that sets the captive free – from worry, fear, anxiety, distress, despair, devastation and so on. Blind will see. Oppressed will be set free. All because you live in the Favor of God manifested by His Goodness and Glory filling your life. But just as the Lord experienced in Nazareth is the state of the Body of Christ and church of today – nobody believes in the Favor of God. Well, we are going to change that today – you are going to find God’s Favor and live in it from now on.
Testimony Time! I could never delineate the many ways that our family has experienced the Favor of God. I have been nudged by the Lord to do things that have resulted in tremendous blessing over and over again in our life. On Thanksgiving night, many of the department stores opened for the much anticipated “Black Friday”. After spending the day holed up in the house eating and lounging around, the girls thought it would be fun to head out with so many others. Waiting in the cold line for about an hour, I began to second guess this idea when I lost the feeling in my nose but stayed never the less. There was nothing in the store that I could not live without truthfully, it was all for sport. When the doors opened and people filed in each was handed a gift card for their time and trouble, slipping it into my pocket I embarked on my mission for a new Christmas tree and some small items for Christmas. The boot tables piled high with deeply discounted shoes looked like a shark encounter of the worst kind. Boxes and lids flying around, pushing and shoving, so I checked it off my list and moved on securing a wayward pair of boots for one daughter, high tech gadget for another and last but not least our new Christmas tree. Within minutes, we were checking out ready to hit the road to find more bargains. I thanked God for the tree and that we were ready to leave handing the cashier the forgotten gift card from my pocket. She scratched off the code on the back and said, “Congratulations, you won $100 toward your purchase!” Praise God! That is His Favor, and I told her so giving her a high five. I cannot tell you how many times this happens in my life. Later that night, I purchased two more pairs of shoes and after discounts and cashback paid only about $2.00. (Don’t judge me, I have three daughters and babies needed some shoes.) I do not say it to boast, because it is all about a Father in Heaven who will do anything to get His Goodness to me for His Glory. I told everyone who would listen for the rest of the night about God’s Favor even posting it on Facebook. I believe in the Favor of God! I look for it each day in my life. I follow closely to my Father to find it. I listen for His Voice and do what He says. God will go with you everywhere you go if you let Him. He will clear the way before you if you wait on Him. He will make the Way for His Favor to find you if you will keep your eyes on Jesus the Author and Finisher of Faith. Yes, faith is a requirement for God’s Favor.
Genesis 6:7-9 (NLT)
And the LORD said, “I will wipe this human race I have created from the face of the earth. Yes, and I will destroy every living thing—all the people, the large animals, the small animals that scurry along the ground, and even the birds of the sky. I am sorry I ever made them.” But Noah found favor with the LORD. This is the account of Noah and his family. Noah was a righteous man, the only blameless person living on earth at the time, and he walked in close fellowship with God.
Noah found favor with God. Let’s begin with the word “found”. Found is the past tense of find. To find means to discover or obtain something that is sought after or happened upon. Favor is something that you must look for and accept. It is there just like salvation. It is all part of the characteristics of God meant for our life. But just like freedom, some will never choose to open the unlocked door of the things that keep them from moving on. Just like healing, some will never believe it is for them and remain subject to disease. It has nothing to do with God’s Unwillingness to do good things in the life of His People. It is our unwillingness to believe the Lord enough to do what He says and obtain all His Promises. In the days of Noah, God was done with mankind. He was ready to destroy every living thing. BUT Noah found favor with God. The fact that he was not a sinless man is evident in that God’s justice would have required sparing him if so. No, the Lord describes him as a righteous or right standing man meaning he was in covenant with God. He was blameless because Noah served the Lord despite his sinfulness as a human being. He walked in close fellowship with God which requires repentance, humility and worship of God. Who doesn’t want favor when it comes to life or death? We all fight to live one more day on the earth. Nobody in their right mind, asks to die unless seeking release from a broken heart, mind or body which is not the Will of God. God wants you to find His Favor in all areas of life beginning with salvation which is what saved Noah and his family when the rain finally came. Will you find God’s Favor?
Proverbs 3:1-6 (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. Never let loyalty and kindness leave you! Tie them around your neck as a reminder. Write them deep within your heart. Then you will find favor with both God and people and you will earn a good reputation. Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.
A life surrendered to the Lord in proper order will always find His Goodness, Grace and Glory which produces His Favor every single time. Looking for God’s Favor is not looking for things but rather looking for His Way of doing things. He begins by calling us His Children. “Store my commands in your heart.” His Word is the success story of your life. By doing what it says, you will discover the rich and satisfying life that Jesus Christ died for you to have. Before going any further let’s not ignore the elephant in the room. Tithing. Yes, I believe the Favor of God in our life specifically effecting our finances and acquisitions is directly connected with the fact that we believe and faithfully participate in the Biblical Principal of tithing. It is up to you whether you do or not. But I will share this…time and time again God has made a way in our life not only in our time of need but before we needed a thing to protect us, prepare us and provide for us before the famine or storm came. It is ridiculous to even begin to call such occurrences coincidences because there are just too many. We are not lucky. We are blessed. Those who choose to trust the Lord with all your heart will find favor because He is a good dad who gets no glory in our lack or suffering. Those who stop trying to do it themselves and do not depend in their own understanding will be blessed. Seek His Will in ALL YOU DO and He will direct your path. The biggest reason God’s Kids do not know His Favor is that they are rebellious children trying to do it their way rather than continually turning their life toward home. “So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. 21 His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.’ “But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began.” (Luke 15:20-24) And so it is with the Lord when we turn and head toward home. He meets us along the road unwilling to wait another moment to receive us and bless us. Once the prodigal son realized his mistake, he went home. God is waiting for you to stop depending on your earning potential and come back into His Presence. He wants to show you how to prosper. God wants to provide for you. He wants to release His Blessings which are your inheritance. He longs for you to walk in His Promises. He wants you to acknowledge Him in all you do and He will direct your path to His Favor.
Genesis 39:20-22 (NLT)
So he took Joseph and threw him into the prison where the king’s prisoners were held, and there he remained. But the LORD was with Joseph in the prison and showed him his faithful love. And the LORD made Joseph a favorite with the prison warden. Before long, the warden put Joseph in charge of all the other prisoners and over everything that happened in the prison.
Lean not on your own understanding is probably the most pivotal advice to take in finding God’s Favor. It is hardly ever as we expect. Joseph found God’s Favor in a pit and then prison before he ever made his way to the palace. God is working every single detail of our life for good. (Romans 8:28) This can take some time and requires patient endurance that may require some long wait times. One hour in the cold was forgotten when the cashier gave me a $100.00 gift card. Joseph would remain faithful to his calling in prison. He asked two men to remember him. (Genesis 40:13-15) People forget many times as did these men. (Verse 23) But that does not exempt us from doing good just as Jesus did, loving other people, giving our lives to them in humble service. God never forgets His Promises! It would take two full years before His Release would come. (Genesis 41:1) Two years is way longer than most people are willing to wait on the Lord, most won’t make it two full minutes before distracted along the way. God’s Plan is perfect but we are not. We experience many setbacks simply because we do not believe, have enough faith and not enough confident hope to wait on the Lord. Joseph waited and was blessed.
Exodus 33:12-14 (NLT)
One day Moses said to the LORD, “You have been telling me, ‘Take these people up to the Promised Land.’ But you haven’t told me whom you will send with me. You have told me, ‘I know you by name, and I look favorably on you.’ If it is true that you look favorably on me, let me know your ways so I may understand you more fully and continue to enjoy your favor. And remember that this nation is your very own people.” The LORD replied, “I will personally go with you, Moses, and I will give you rest—everything will be fine for you.”
Even strong Bible characters like Moses needed God’s Reassurance from time to time. He reminded the Lord of all that He told His Servant – and then asked, “Show me the way!” The Lord said, “I will personally go with you”, “I will give you rest” and “everything will be fine!” God will do the very same for you if you depend on God more than other people and focus on His Voice over that of the crowd! It is okay to ask the Lord to show you signs of His Favor. (Psalm 86:16-17) But foolish to do so if you are not willing to listen to His Voice! (Proverbs 8:34-35) When you expect God to speak, you will listen. If you think there is real benefit to following the Lord, you will stick close by Him in faithfulness, righteousness and obedience. (Psalm 30:4-7) You will only go your way when you decide it is better than God’s Way. Yes it may get you out of the pit or release you from your prison, but will your way promote you to the palace to live according to Kingdom Principles which include love, joy, peace and complete satisfaction? Moses asked God to show him His Glory and the Lord did just that because Moses glorified God with His Life. He will do the same for you! How do I know?
Romans 2:11 (NLT) For God does not show favoritism.
God does not show favoritism. God shows us His Favor. You are not in competition for God’s Love, Provision or Prosperity with anyone else just like my children to not have to complete for our love and attention. We love them equally. We care for them equally. But I do not meet my oldest son’s daily needs because he no longer lives at home. He is welcome to come eat, hang out or use whatever he needs because he is our son. He has access based on our relationship. If he needs our help, he will ask. But he is not our favorite any more than any of our other four children can claim such a position. We share God’s Special Favor with every one of our brothers and sisters in Christ. (Philippians1:3-7) This means there is no competition. We can love them without measure. We can give without fear. We can everyone to go before us knowing God has saved what is ours for us. There is no need for jealousy among us. If God will do it for me, He will do it for you – His Way and in His Timing. “For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind. But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.” (James 3:16-18)
This is tough in the world in which we live. We are acutely aware of other people and tempted to judge them at every turn. The Word of God tells us that “jealousy and selfish ambition” are evil. It eats away at our confidence in God based on limited details. You can know just about everything about another person but no one really knows another person’s thoughts or heartfelt motive but the Lord. He is working overtime to get His Favor to you – all of it. But it is up to you whether or not you will find His Favor – it will not happen if you are constantly looking at other people because then you will lose sight of the Father! “The older brother was angry and wouldn’t go in. His father came out and begged him, but he replied, ‘All these years I’ve slaved for you and never once refused to do a single thing you told me to. And in all that time you never gave me even one young goat for a feast with my friends. Yet when this son of yours comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes, you celebrate by killing the fattened calf!’ “His father said to him, ‘Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours. We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!’” (Luke 15:28-32) Don’t be “that guy (or gal)” who misses out celebrating the Favor of the Father because you are jealous of your siblings.
Proverbs 16:15 (NLT) When the king smiles, there is life; his favor refreshes like a spring rain.
The Favor of God operating in our life is so much more than money. In fact, many times it is not apparent when we are sitting on a full bank account as much as when we have just enough. Why? We do not trust God or look for His Favor until we cannot do it ourselves any longer. When everyone else fails us and there is no one else to put our hope in. “If you search for good, you will find favor; but if you search for evil, it will find you! Trust in your money and down you go! But the godly flourish like leaves in spring.” (Proverbs 11:27-28) The problem is too many times our heart is set on money rather than the Lord, so we do not see His Blessing and Prosperity if it is not financial. If we didn’t love and desire money so much, tithing would not be an issue in the church today. The most basic obedience ignored because we simply love money more than God. (Malachi 1:6-9) No wonder not many people are finding God’s Favor! You will find only what you are looking for. God’s Favor can be found if you are willing to look for God’s Presence and Prosperity over anything else. “Whatever is good and perfect comes from God our Father.” (James 1:16-17) When was the last time you acknowledged God for His Goodness, Grace and Love? If you will simply look for God’s Favor and walk in His Way – it will become a way of life! If you see me out exercising the Favor of God, please stop me and let’s have a cup of coffee so I can share with you more of God’s Favor demonstrated that He has demonstrated in our life. But make sure you have some time…it will definitely take a while. I have chosen to position my life in the overflow of God. His Word is in me. I choose to seek His Face. I will wait until He comes! I live in the Favor of God!
Psalm 30:1-5 (NLT)
I will exalt you, LORD, for you rescued me. You refused to let my enemies triumph over me. O LORD my God, I cried to you for help, and you restored my health. You brought me up from the grave, O LORD. You kept me from falling into the pit of death. Sing to the LORD, all you godly ones! Praise his holy name. For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime! Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.
Psalm 100 (NLT)
Shout with joy to the LORD, all the earth! Worship the LORD with gladness. Come before him, singing with joy. Acknowledge that the LORD is God! He made us, and we are his. We are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name. For the LORD is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation.
After shaking off the first inclination to be mad about waking up before the sun, I sense the Presence of God surrounding me. He wants to be with me this morning before challenged for my attention. Today is a busy day for many moms – it’s Thanksgiving Day. While dads dream of football and feasting and kids envision the big parade, it’s the moms that are planning the course of the day in most cases. This year, it will be a quiet Thanksgiving with just our immediate family spending the day together. When our son was diagnosed with cancer, knowing the uncertainty of his strength after multiple rounds of chemotherapy, we opted to stay home and quietly celebrate the Goodness of God together. Our oldest son called yesterday to tell us that he had to work today so a co-worker could spend time with his children. Our oldest daughter will spend half the day with us and then journey to her boyfriend’s house to enjoy more family time. Our middle daughter will more than likely ignore us for most of the day as it is the stage she is in while our youngest skips over the turkey and straight for the tree welcoming Christmas which is right around the corner. Now my heart is racing a little at the prospect of time and how to manage it wisely yet still the house is dark and His Presence looming close by. It is Thanksgiving. I am thankful. No, really I am. I am determined to come with Thanksgiving today rather than just coming to another dinner of turkey and trimmings. I have decided to be joyful on this day even though it is supposed to be cold and cloudy with many uncertainties in the days ahead. I will worship the Lord today beginning right now. The enemy was quick to jump into my thoughts but I rebuke Him right now. This is the day that the Lord has made and I will be glad in it. This is the day designated by Americans to stop and be thankful so I will render to Caesar what belongs to him.
Enter His Gates with thanksgiving puts into perspective the life of praise. It is how we acknowledge God yet so difficult to do with so many ways and distractions. Before Halloween turned into Thanksgiving, advertisers and merchandisers compete for our attention attempting to wrangle our dollars by creating a demand for things. The enemy is demanding our attention by wrapping up our thoughts in stress and worry. How will I ever get it all done? Will there be enough money to meet my family’s demand? Will there be enough time to celebrate sufficiently especially with work and racing across the state to doctor’s appointments? The psalmist encourages us to acknowledge that the LORD is God! I interrupt your wayward thoughts and overwhelming introspections to declare what I have discovered in the midst of a sleeping household. The Lord is Good! His Unfailing Love continues forever! His Faithfulness continues past this generation so it is sufficient for the long haul. It is time to prepare for Thanksgiving. It is to come with thanksgiving.
2 Samuel 24:18-25 (NLT)
That day Gad came to David and said to him, “Go up and build an altar to the LORD on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.” So David went up to do what the LORD had commanded him. When Araunah saw the king and his men coming toward him, he came and bowed before the king with his face to the ground. “Why have you come, my lord the king?” Araunah asked. David replied, “I have come to buy your threshing floor and to build an altar to the LORD there, so that he will stop the plague.” “Take it, my lord the king, and use it as you wish,” Araunah said to David. “Here are oxen for the burnt offering, and you can use the threshing boards and ox yokes for wood to build a fire on the altar. I will give it all to you, Your Majesty, and may the LORD your God accept your sacrifice.” But the king replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on buying it, for I will not present burnt offerings to the LORD my God that have cost me nothing.” So David paid him fifty pieces of silver for the threshing floor and the oxen. David built an altar there to the LORD and sacrificed burnt offerings and peace offerings. And the LORD answered his prayer for the land, and the plague on Israel was stopped.
I promise I am not crazy and this is going somewhere although when the Lord dropped this passage in my spirit, I wasn’t sure. There was a plague on Israel due to the sin of David. David didn’t trust the Lord and now Israel paid a great price. David petitioned the Lord as it was not the sin of the people but of David that had caused His Anger to burn. The Lord commanded David to go up and build an altar. There are many people today who will wake up overwhelmed by the holidays. It could be emotional. I have struggled since a child with depression over the holiday season. It may very well be financial a common thread among many people this year. It may be spiritual. Are you feeling hopeless today? No matter what it is, it is time to make a sacrifice. In just four easy steps, everything changed that day. The Lord requested that David “go up” and “build an altar”. You are going to move to a higher plane of thinking in order to get out of your current situation. His Thoughts and Ways as so much higher than our own. (Isaiah 55:9) It is time to wake up and make some better choices. The first is obedience which comes in to play next. David went up. To most building an altar and worshipping the Lord did not seem like the thing to do in the midst of a plague. But when the Lord said, “Go up!” David went up. “My heart is breaking as I remember how it used to be: I walked among the crowds of worshipers, leading a great procession to the house of God, singing for joy and giving thanks amid the sound of a great celebration! Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again—my Savior and my God!” (Psalm 42:4-6) It is not enough to remember how things used to be to change your situation. It is decision time. I will put my hope in God! I will praise Him again! He is my Savior and my God! Now our heart and head are moving in the right direction, good stuff is on the way. Now comes a most pivotal revelation that will catapult your faith. No one can pay your offering or give your sacrifice – it is up to you! Most people are waiting for the check to come in the mail to be thankful. They are waiting for their bank account to overflow to find joy. They want all their bills to be paid, needs to be met and wants to be provided in order to worship the Lord. Praise is a sacrifice. It is our faith producing confident hope that allows thanksgiving to overflow. (Colossians 2:6-7) Hang on and we will come back to that! Araunah offered to give David everything that he needed to build the altar and make the sacrifice. David refused to take it and paid the price to do the service. The Lord will meet you in such a place. “Make thankfulness your sacrifice to God and keep the vows you made to the Most High.” (Psalm 50:14) As I look over at our son’s senior picture that seems like forever ago, I say with all honesty that thankfulness is a sacrifice sometimes. After two years spent in and out of the hospital over the holidays, I got mad when I walked down the hall and they were again putting up Christmas decorations. “God, why again?” But I am choosing to make the sacrifice and pay my offering by coming to this new day with thanksgiving. I will bless the Lord today!
Psalm 56:11-13 (NLT)
I trust in God, so why should I be afraid? What can mere mortals do to me? I will fulfill my vows to you, O God and will offer a sacrifice of thanks for your help. For you have rescued me from death; you have kept my feet from slipping. So now I can walk in your presence, O God, in your life-giving light.
Thanksgiving is not only an act of obedience but it is a manifestation of trust in the Lord. I trust in God. Oh really, do your words and actions line up with such a declaration. I will fulfill my vows to you, O God…what vows? I will offer a sacrifice of thanks for your help. Huh? I don’t get it. “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.” (Hebrews 11:1) Thankfulness as a sacrifice is faith manifesting out of our mouth as a product of confident hope. “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved.” (Romans 10:9-10) Thankfulness confirms belief in the heart of a believer. It can be a sacrifice when all hell is breaking loose in your life. But those who put their faith in the Lord will be confident in hope and overflow with thanksgiving at the darnedest times. Like this morning, nothing in our life has changed. There are still more rounds of chemotherapy and a very full holiday schedule. My oldest kid still has to work and will not be with us. I still must share my daughter with others. Everything is not perfect! But the Lord is perfecting all that concerns me (Psalm 138:8) so I will gladly come with thanksgiving into His Presence.
Psalm 118:1 (NLT) Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.
God is good because His Faithful Love endures forever! His Love endures. Endures means to undergo hardship or strain without yielding. It is to permit or tolerate. (That’s what grace is all about.) It lasts and continues even in our wandering and rebellion. God’s Love for us is faithful and lasts forever. It is enough to be thankful for even when we wake up distracted by disbelief knocking on the door to our heart. Thankfulness slams that door shut by faith knowing with confidence that our hope is secure because His Love will out live us, out love us and out last us. Psalm 118 points to Jesus in the future. (Verses 22-29) In the beginning, it tells of hardship in that “the Lord has punished me but did not let me die.” (Verse 18) We do not live in the same covenant as the psalmist. Jesus Christ paid the ultimate sacrifice so that we would not have to pay the penalty of all of our weaknesses and shortcomings. Now we have nothing to fear and no one to hide from but to come boldly before the Throne of God WITH thanksgiving knowing that He who calls us is faithful. “God will make this happen, for he who calls you is faithful.” (I Thessalonians 5:24) Now rather than hauling a bunch of wood and such along with several unwilling animals to an altar somewhere, I simple step into His Presence through the Blood of Jesus Christ. I love Psalm 136. I just noticed today that after every single verse it says, “His Faithful Love endures forever!” It doesn’t matter how many times I lose my way into His Presence or am enticed to go the other way. His Faithful Love endures forever holding open the door for me to come back! “The LORD is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. The LORD is good to everyone. He showers compassion on all his creation. All of your works will thank you, LORD and your faithful followers will praise you. They will speak of the glory of your kingdom; they will give examples of your power. They will tell about your mighty deeds and about the majesty and glory of your reign. For your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom. You rule throughout all generations. The LORD always keeps his promises; He is gracious in all he does. (Psalm 145:8-13)
Colossians 2:6-7 (NLT)
And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.
Thankfulness is a product of faith turned into confident hope that overflows from our life. We follow Jesus Christ by faith because we obviously cannot see Him. He has given us His Spirit which we cannot see either. Therefore faith is required to obtain confident hope. Confident hope is what roots us in Christ unwilling to be moved because we believe in His Unfailing Love that endures forever. We build our lives on what we believe so if Christ is the foundation our hope is secure. As our faith grows stronger by trusting and knowing the Lord, you WILL overflow with thankfulness. You just cannot help it, it just comes out! People who live in light of this revelation will have joy and peace. It just comes with thankfulness. You are free to be satisfied and content just knowing the Lord if you will allow faith and confident hope to take hold of your life. (Colossians 1:11-14) “Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. (Colossians 3:14-16) I believe that thankfulness is an act of worship and highest praise. It tells of a heart rooted and grounded so deeply in faith and confident hope that it does not matter what happens in this life – this believer knows that “His Faithful Love endures forever!” Peace comes when Christ rules our heart. Belief gives Him the Power to do so in our freedom of choice. Thankfulness comes in the Peace of God knowing it is all going to be alright because “His Faithful Love endures forever!”
Colossians 4:2 (NLT) Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart.
When you believe by faith, you become hope full. Confident hope makes thankfulness less of a sacrifice and more of an offering. As the Peace of God and Joy of Jesus begin to take over your life, thankfulness begins to overflow. You can give from your abundance. This is an offering. We are to give thanks in everything. (Ephesians 5:20) Like tithing, we must give from what we have even when we think we have nothing to give. This is called obedience. We are to be holy, obedient Children of the Most High God! “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7) Do not let worry or stress rob you of your worship. Come to Thanksgiving with thanksgiving today. “Come, let us sing to the LORD! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come to him with thanksgiving. Let us sing psalms of praise to him. For the LORD is a great God, a great King above all gods.” (Psalm 95:1-3)
I Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NLT)
Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.
Psalm 37:23-24 (NLT)
The LORD directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the LORD holds them by the hand.
I am a firm believer that the Lord directs the steps of the godly. In fact, I believe that the Lord has laid out a pathway for every single person that He ever created. He then gave us the freedom to choose which avenue that we are willing to take. If we are walking according to His Way and following the Truth, we inherit every blessing and promise that He predestined for us. If we choose to walk in our own way, then we obtain what the world offers. God definitely has a plan for our life. It holds a future and hope that is good. (Jeremiah 29:11) He did not leave one moment out of this plan so every minute that we spend chasing the things of this world there is a risk that we have missed something God had hidden in His Way to bless us. (Psalm 139:16) The problem is that most people believe what they see more than what they hear. Faith comes by hearing the Word of God. (Romans 10:17) Faith produces confident hope. (Hebrews 11:1) To walk in the steps of the One who delights in every step that we take requires faith and hope so that we will trust what we cannot see in order to obtain it.
Have you ever read a book that is so good that you are compelled to skip ahead to the end to see what happens? I have. It takes a tremendous amount of self-control to continue to read each page when all you want to know is the final outcome. The Word of God is filled with many blessings and promises. We skip ahead to as well ignoring the details that lead up to full renewal and restoration as we step into righteousness with God all over again. The Lord does not catapult us into His Plan but steps us through it. He delights in every single detail therefore it would seem only right to continue in the way. A good friend of mind became suspicious that her boyfriend of many years was preparing a proposal. They were traveling to New York to celebrate the union of friends and he had begun to act a bit strange and secretive. By chance, she discovered that he indeed had purchased an engagement ring. Now she could have called him out on the acquisition, but instead walking out his carefully laid plan all the way to the top of the Empire State Building where he proposed! It is time that Children of God stop getting ahead of themselves. Unfortunately, when we do it is our plan not the Lord’s and there is a potential to miss many blessings and benefits along the way! Just as my friend’s fiancée delighted in preparing the perfect moment for her to say, “Yes!” God is working out every detail of our engagement to Christ in preparation for the Marriage Supper of the Lame when the Bride of Christ is claimed. We will not fall and fail but we must follow.
Proverbs 20:24 (NLT)
The LORD directs our steps, so why try to understand everything along the way?
The Lord is directing my steps. I must remind myself of this constantly. Through the first diagnosis, second diagnosis, third diagnosis, (come on God) and the fourth one, how can this be the Will of God for our son’s life? In the beginning, he asked “How did I get cancer?” Nobody can answer the question with no risk factors and no family history. “Why?” Nobody knows that either. What we do know is that God has said, “Your son will live and not die to declare the Works of the Lord!” This has been a very long journey spanning two years so far. The first time after extensive radiation and chemotherapy, he was declared in remission…until the pain in his hip revealed metastasized disease. Chemotherapy and some more radiation which he did without incident and complete resolution. Praise the Lord! Hold on there is a small growth coming up visible via MRI. Another tumor… (groan) another dose of radiation and he is good! Surely Lord this is the end and it is finished. No one could prepare us for the PET scan results revealing aggressive cancer surrounding many major organs untreatable by radiation due to permanent destruction of same organs so chemotherapy… again. I must admit I was overwhelmed and completely discouraged. We have trusted the Lord every step of the way. We followed His Truth and stood on His Word. We were all done at this point. After just four rounds of chemotherapy, it was time to take a look. The doctor prepared us for the results. No change was the best possible result and some resolution a gift. I asked if total resolution of all five tumors was possible and she said, “No, it is impossible at this point.” Well, she doesn’t know my God. We prayed for the impossible and got just that yet she maintained that we should continue his current regimen. The problem has not been putting the cancer in remission but keeping it gone. Just when I think we are pedaling along just fine and cruising to the finish line, it happens. As if God is sweeping His Hand to pull me closer and keep me in line, the doctor is suggesting a bone marrow transplant. We talked about it early in this cycle, but I had assumed she changed her mind when the impossible happened. Our first conversation resulted in complete and overwhelming fear, trembling faith and convulsing hope. But the Lord told me then what He is telling me now… He is directing our steps. Worry and doubt means I have wandered past today into tomorrow which He is still working on for my good. I must not get ahead of myself or the Lord but fall back in line walking His Way, in His Word. Now that we are almost finished with this round of chemotherapy and a second set of scans revealing still no residue disease, now strongly encouraging consideration of a bone marrow transplant even going so far as to reach out to transplant teams across the nation for their opinion. But this time, I will not get ahead of myself into the Realm of Hope dominated by My God who is perfecting that which concerns me. (Psalm 138:8) Okay, at least I am trying not to so I must remind myself of a few things to keep me in step with God, following Jesus and being led by His Spirit.
Psalm 25:4-10 (NLT)
Show me the right path, O LORD; point out the road for me to follow. Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you. Remember, O LORD, your compassion and unfailing love, which you have shown from long ages past. Do not remember the rebellious sins of my youth. Remember me in the light of your unfailing love, for you are merciful, O LORD. The LORD is good and does what is right; he shows the proper path to those who go astray. He leads the humble in doing right, teaching them his way. The LORD leads with unfailing love and faithfulness all who keep his covenant and obey his demands.
We must learn to ask God to show us His Way. Request of Him the road that we are to follow. God will show you the right path as if leading you to a party in your honor. He will point the way every single time that He is asked and we wait for an answer. He will lead you in Truth but to do so you must stop living a lie. To proclaim faith and trust in the Lord yet never do what He says is to do just that. It is to live a lie. You will live what you believe. If you believe that God has a plan for your life and is working every detail for good, then you will do what He says. It would be foolish not to. However, we get ahead of ourselves assuming that God is pointing the way rather than walking every step with us. He goes before us and remains behind us with His Hand of Blessing on our head. (Psalm 139:5) We must learn to walk in the footsteps God has ordered for our life rather than racing ahead every chance we get. “We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps.” (Proverbs 16:9) You will never have God’s Will doing things your way. It is impossible. Even during times of testing, faith is proven by our willingness to stick to God’s Plan even when adrenaline is telling us to fight or flee, hope encourages us to rest in the Lord. (Job 23:10-12) As we learn to follow God’s Lead, something amazing happens. Our faith and trust in the Lord causes Him to remember His Compassion and Unfailing Love for those who walk humbly in His Way no matter what kind of hell is breaking loose in their life. They are renewed and refreshed by His New Mercy each day as they make their way to the finish line of faith ready to claim His Reward and settling for nothing less than God’s Very Best. If you are struggling to find your way today, simply ask God to show you. He will! “Because of your unfailing love, I can enter your house; I will worship at your Temple with deepest awe. Lead me in the right path, O LORD, or my enemies will conquer me. Make your way plain for me to follow.” (Psalm 5:7-8)
I Peter 2:21-25 (NLT)
For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps. He never sinned, nor ever deceived anyone. He did not retaliate when he was insulted, nor threaten revenge when he suffered. He left his case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly. He personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By his wounds you are healed. Once you were like sheep who wandered away. But now you have turned to your Shepherd, the Guardian of your souls.
It is not enough to want God’s Way, but we must walk in His Way. You cannot have the benefits of the Cross unless you make your way to the Cross. You will meet Jesus at the Cross. At this point, He becomes your Shepherd. You must become familiar with His Voice and learn to walk in through life His Way. He is the Way, Truth and Life. He is the only Way to the Father and all that He has for you. (John 14:6) You cannot make whatever you want of Grace. You cannot call your desired location righteousness. You cannot create a gray area or middle-of-the-road comfort zone and expect the blessings of faithful obedience which requires following Jesus Christ. We do it all day every day by giving little attention to our walk with Christ and building a comfortable, compromised life and calling it blessed. Jesus died so that you could be freed from your sinful nature and being drug back into the darkness on every whim. How’s that going for you today? He carried every single sins penalty on His Body so you and I my friend would never feel the fury or retaliation of God for our rebellion (which is every time we have lived life on our own and not followed the Way of God). Not only that, by His Wounds we are healed. Healed means not sick anymore or in pain. But like sheep we have wandered from the Cross and are now crying out for our benefits in the midst of the wilderness. It is time to follow Jesus Christ. You are called to do good which means turning from our own sinful nature and laying down our life for Jesus Christ. It includes a wonderful benefit package of blessing found only at the Cross.
John 10:1-5 (NLT)
“I tell you the truth, anyone who sneaks over the wall of a sheepfold, rather than going through the gate, must surely be a thief and a robber! But the one who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice. They won’t follow a stranger; they will run from him because they don’t know his voice.”
There is a thief and robber who is trying to get to your heart, steal your faith, rob you of hope and destroy your joy. The only way to avoid such an assault is to live in close proximity to the Guardian of your soul – Jesus Christ. You must know His Voice to be lead from trouble into safekeeping. He calls you by Name. Will you follow Him? He leads you out of harm’s way and into peaceful, rest but only if you are willing to go. He walks ahead of you. Jesus is the Beginning and the End. Just like God, His Hand of Blessing is upon you if you will remain in step with the Lord. Those who do are given this promise. “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me…” (John 10:27-28) You can never be snatched away, but it is possible to wander away. We must follow Jesus. “Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity. Anyone who wants to be my disciple must follow me, because my servants must be where I am. And the Father will honor anyone who serves me.” (John 12:25-26)
Isaiah 48:16-18 (NLT)
“Come closer, and listen to this. From the beginning I have told you plainly what would happen.” And now the Sovereign LORD and his Spirit have sent me with this message. This is what the LORD says—Your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is good for you and leads you along the paths you should follow. Oh, that you had listened to my commands! Then you would have had peace flowing like a gentle river and righteousness rolling over you like waves in the sea.
You are not alone in your journey today. The Lord has left you with His Spirit to lead and guide you in which way to go. Jesus said the day would come when we would worship in Spirit and in Truth. The Truth is the Word of God. Those who long for and expect God’s Word to come to pass will strive daily to walk through life God’s Way to find it. His Word will guide every step because it takes them where they want to go except that darn sinful nature that fights to hold us back. (Psalm 119:130-133) So when Jesus ascended and was no longer here physically to lead the way, He gave us the Holy Spirit to be our guide. (John 14:17-19) The Holy Spirit leads to Truth. They are partners always joined together to empower our worship. The way that we live our life is worship to God. Everything we do and say is revelation of what we believe and who we serve. Jesus freed us to follow the Truth and be inhabited by His Spirit. (Galatians 5:7-8) Following Jesus is an act of freedom not force. You are free to choose life over death and blessing over cursing, but it is up to you the steps you take. “Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.” (Galatians 5:25)
Ephesians 5:1-2 (NLT)
Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.
When my husband and I were dating, I worked on the other side of town with a thirty minute lunch break each day. Most evenings, we had dinner together and spent all our time on the weekends together as well. But many days, I would leave work and drive all the way across town to spend five minutes with him and rush back barely making it on time because I loved him so very much. I still do today. What sacrifice are you willing to make just to spend time with the Lord? He wants to walk with you every single day through every single detail of your life. As we learn to imitate God in everything we do and live a life of worship believing His Word and guided by His Spirit, we will follow the Lord wherever He goes rather than rushing ahead and leaving Him behind. Confidence in God is demonstrated by one’s willingness to wait on the Lord to provide what we need, make our dreams come true and finish His Work. Faith tells us that every promise is true and we can be sure it will happen if we simply walk in His Way. The enemy will use every tactic of deception and distraction to lure us from the Presence of God to overwhelm us with fear and doubt so we will compromise for anything and everything less than God’s Best and His Perfect Plan. I will not be sidetracked in my mission. I will not be lured from peace and joy into fear and doubt. We will present all options to God and let Him tell us which way to go! I will not keep trying to understand everything God is doing because His Thoughts and Ways are so much higher than mine, but I do know that His Plan is good with a future and hope. I know that He is perfecting all that concerns me. I know that if I reflect His Decrees by living what I believe and know (Psalm 119:1-5) that His Word will be a lamp for my feet. (Psalm 119:5) As I follow Jesus every single day, I will walk in the Light of His Great Love leaving darkness behind. (John 8:12) What about you? Hey up there? Fall back in step with the Lord today! Don’t run ahead and miss the delightful details that God has planned for such a time as this!
Colossians 2:6-8 (NLT)
And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ.