Get Over It – A Devotion

Get Over It

Hebrews 10:21-23 (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.

 

Guilt is a horrible prison that restricts the flow of God’s Grace in our life. Yet time after time, it seems to creep up in the things that we do, the words we say and how we feel. I know I struggle with “mommy” guilt quite often when I feel that I do not adequately meet the needs of our five children. This may seem ridiculous to you as three of them are grown adults but the young mother struggling to meet the need of her growing family may identify with the same emotions. We want to do all the right things. We want to be present for everything. We try to listen to every word. Meet every possible need while anticipating the next one before it is uttered. I have paid a great deal of attention to our second son for obvious reasons over the last few years. Returning home from his recent transplant, I fell headlong into wedding planning for our oldest daughter. My heart is sad that I feel as though I missed her final years at home. The enemy pounces on that telling me terrible things that make the guilt feel overwhelming. I look at our younger daughters. When we began battling cancer, they were so small and now they are both growing into young women. How did it happen so fast? How did I miss it? Why do I feel so guilty? Maybe you are struggling with other kinds of guilt about things that you can control or even those uncontrollable things in your life? I completely understand. I have decided that the enemy uses guilt as a weapon to destroy the connection we have with the Lord. He wants to eliminate God’s Power in our life by stifling His Grace. Can the enemy stop the Grace of God from flowing through our life? Absolutely not! However, we can by believing that there is any need for guilt or shame now that we know Jesus Christ. As believers, guilt and shame are washed away. The void is to be filled with joy and peace. It is time to build a bridge and get over it.

Psalm 103:11-13 (NLT)

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.

 

God’s Unfailing Love for us was demonstrated in the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus. His Love for us is far greater than human comprehension which is why we must rely on the Spirit and Truth to ever begin to understand and fathom the potential of His Love. He has removed our sins as far as the east is from the west. In the Eyes of God, we no longer are sinners which means we are not guilty. When God looks at us He sees Jesus and knows that we are no longer following our old nature but have surrendered our life to the Light of His Love. Jesus did not come to condemn the world which would make us guilty but through Him we might be saved. (John 3:16-17) Again, it was all because of love. Transgressions and trespasses produce anger. Forgiveness produces love. The overwhelming guilt of all of mankind would not allow for a quick cover-up. (Romans 3:19-23) Everyone has sinned and fallen short of God’s Glorious Standard. But God’s Unfailing Love and Tender Compassion cried out for reconciliation. His Sovereignty required perfection. The guilty could not make it to Him. Only those who were not guilty could become righteous again.

Proverbs 14:9 (NLT)

Fools make fun of guilt, but the godly acknowledge it and seek reconciliation.

 

As the parent of five children, I have many different personalities to contend with. With all these individuals that the Lord has given me to mold and shape each has required their own custom made plan of instruction and discipline along the way. I have a particular child who will remain unnamed who would rather be tortured than apologize. For example, if this person accidentally steps on your foot an apology will not be extended because they did not mean to do it. If it is unintentional, they do not feel it is owed to the other person because they did not mean to do it. I have tried over and over to explain that it doesn’t matter if you meant to do it or not what matters is the other person’s feelings about it. Our entire household is filled with jokesters. There are times when we must draw a line between good-natured ribbings before it becomes an offense. “Well, I was only joking.” Yes, I understand. The moment that joke hurt the other person’s feelings it is not funny anymore. God gave us His Word to show us the many times that we fall short of His Glory so that we will understand the sin that separates us from Him. It is not a source of guilt but a guide to His Glory for those who decide to exchange their shame for salvation and guilt for His Glory.

Psalm 19:12-14 (NLT)
How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart? Cleanse me from these hidden faults. Keep your servant from deliberate sins! Don’t let them control me. Then I will be free of guilt and innocent of great sin. May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

 

Grace reconciles us to God. Guilt removes our right standing with Him. Why? It is an act of disbelief. To live in guilt is to acknowledge that there is one sin left uncovered by the Blood of Jesus which makes us subject to the Law again. Some people live in guilt and shame long after confessing Jesus is Lord because they do not believe. Religion says we have to do something to change our life. All that God is after is a reconciled relationship with us. He didn’t say that we have to follow the Letter of the Law. He didn’t tell us that we have to feel guilty when we do not measure up to His Glorious Standard. He just said work out your salvation with fear and trembling which equates to “build a bridge and get over your sin” rather than fishing off it every day because your pride won’t let it go. Forget perfection. Just seek prosperity that begins in our soul. The Holy Spirit will cleanse our hidden faults if our heart is surrendered to Jesus. He will make sure that they no longer control our mind, will and emotions so our intentions are pure. When the words of our mouth and meditation of our heart are focused on Jesus, we will not be caught up in our guilt. It is impossible. He took our sins away.

Psalm 38:4 (NLT) My guilt overwhelms me—it is a burden too heavy to bear.

Is guilt overwhelming you today? Perhaps you are thinking but you don’t know what I did. You are right. But I know all the many things that I have done wrong, yet I still dare hope. His Mercy met me this morning and the Lord said, “Let it go! You are doing just fine! Keep wading in my Grace, Mercy and Love. You will get there.” I think He might be telling you the same thing. There are those who tread on the Grace of God living in sin and then pointing to a Savior obviously not worth surrendering one’s life to or serving day by day. They are disillusioned. The Grace of God is reserved for those who love Jesus. Those who desire to serve Him daily and try to do so. Not those who mock guilt by celebrating their sin. When I fall short of God’s Standard, or miss the mark, I feel overwhelming guilt that is washed away by amazing grace. Grace is not an excuse not to try but gives us the opportunity to successfully live in the Presence of our God!

Psalm 32:1-2 (NLT)

Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight! Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of guilt, whose lives are lived in complete honesty!

 

Yesterday I felt like a failure, today I felt guilty about it. What next. Joy and peace are on the verge of my heart beginning to flood my weary soul. His Grace is all that I need. His Grace has proven its sufficiency in my life so today I choose to let go of guilt and shame allowing it to float away with my sin as far as the east is from the west. I watch from the Bridge called Grace as it flows beneath me into a vast of ocean of God’s Loving Kindness and His Faithfulness. My disobedience though not deliberate produced doubt that has now washed away and so His Joy is beginning to overtake me. I am transparent in this process. Too often Christians do not live in complete honesty, because honestly their life is a mess. I think that is sad because other people cannot meet them where they are. The “disconnect” created has divided the Body of Christ. Everyone has fallen short of the Glorious Standard of God. Get over yourself. You are going to fail and fall short sometimes. Get over it. If you are not living in complete honesty, people are led astray by the façade of perfection that you have created behind a manmade wall. The ugly truth is better than any painted picture. When the storm comes, all is washed away and the only thing that remains is faith, hope and love. Without the Love of God, it is impossible to have faith in our life that carries us through the wind and rain. If disobedience has been forgiven then our guilt is removed and we will have overwhelming and inexpressible joy. If our record has been cleared by the Grace of God, then it is our privilege to tell others what the Lord has done for us. To live a life of fake perfection creates temporary relationships that will fall apart when truth is discovered, but to live transparently before God and mankind will lead to reconciliation. Grace allows us to live an open and honest life before the Lord and other people.

Psalm 51:7-12 (NLT)

Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Oh, give me back my joy again; you have broken me—now let me rejoice. Don’t keep looking at my sins. Remove the stain of my guilt. Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me. Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you.

 

I have wonderful news for you today! You are not guilty anymore. You have been set free. There is no penalty for missing God’s Mark now you are called to win. You do not have to live in shame any longer. Release it today. Let it go. Drop in the overflowing grace of God and watch it race away with the current of mercy and love that flows through our life as believers. Now let the Holy Spirit get to work by surrendering your heart, your day, your life to Him moment by moment and step by step. He will work out your salvation and knit you in close relationship with God the Father through care-full obedience. Suddenly, your heart will burst with joy in your salvation and it will overflow from your belly like living water and shoot out of your mouth as praise. See God is working in us and through us so we don’t have to build a bridge – Jesus did and He called it – Grace. Now we just have to walk in it and to get over all guilt and shame!

Psalm 51:16-17 (NLT)

You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one. You do not want a burnt offering. The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.

 

Epic Fail – A Devotion

Epic Fail

Epic Fail

October 30, 2014

Psalm 73:25-26 (NLT)

Whom have I in heaven but you? I desire you more than anything on earth. My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; He is mine forever.

 

Oops I did it again! Sound familiar. Despite my best intentions as a parent, I have epically failed yet again. I knew when I planned the event with the administrator of the school that it would fall right before Halloween and the Fall Festival at our church. But I knew that I would just press through it (in my own strength) and it would be alright. Two major campus events in one day, knock it all out at once with my helpers it shouldn’t be a problem. Well, it was. I came home from the Career Day Expo exhausted beyond anything I could imagine. My aching feet arguing with every other aching bone in my body, my mind completely shutdown to avoid the dispute. Surely on Wednesday, I would feel better. I collapsed into bed sleeping soundly all night only to awake to the same tired muscles now still from sudden immobility after hours of abuse. Not to mention a mind that couldn’t think straight. By the end of the day, I knew I would miss the Fall Festival and a night with my precious children. There was nothing left to give and I was completely tanked out. So they loaded up in the “family” suburban and headed off to a night of fun, candy and fireworks without me. Well, I was not completely alone my husband stayed with me and our sweet little dog followed my wandering mess around the house. Not to mention, the enemy who sat dutifully on my shoulder telling me what a terrible mother I was and rotten parent who cared more about her job than her babies. He carried a large bat as if was needed against my worn-out mind and body delivering deliberate and well-placed blows directly to my heart and soul. Lord, I have failed them again. How do I escape failure in this lifetime? When will I finally get it right? I don’t love my job! I love them and that’s why I go to work each day. Help me to find balance. Lord, point me to the lesson to be learned here so that I can move on.

Proverbs 24:10 (NLT) If you fail under pressure, your strength is too small.

 

Wow, thanks for the encouragement (written with an ounce or two of sarcasm). The Lord is not beating me up. I am allowing the enemy to do so and completely enabling him to make his target. The Lord is not critical in this statement but rather matter of fact. Look if you keep failing, your strength is too small. He is giving us the answer to our problem. We just have to look past our failure to find the Truth. God’s Word sets us up to fail in order to find His Strength and Power in our life. If I did not have something to compare my life to then how would I know my need for a Savior? I wouldn’t. Failure is not optional it is inevitable. It does not have to be fatal but will become fertile when we plant seeds of God’s Righteousness into the mix. Faith is found in our failure otherwise people would depend solely on themselves. Hope is discovered in our disappointment and need to succeed. Our human strength will always be too small. That’s the point of our failure to point us to the kind of power that never fails under pressure.

Habakkuk 3:16-19 (NLT)

Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines;
even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty,
 yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation! The Sovereign Lord is my strength! He makes me as surefooted as a deer, able to tread upon the heights.

 

Everyone has failed. That’s right even those who you think are perfect have experienced failures and setbacks along the way. They just refused to give up. How do I know that they have failed? For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” (Romans 3:23) Everyone is born destined to die as a direct result of our sinful nature. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. Our immediate failure demonstrates our need to discover God’s Grace. God gave us His Word as a mirror and sword. It reflects our need for the Lord and cuts us like a two-edged sword so His Love, Mercy and Grace can penetrate our hard heart and made up mind. We fail because our strength is too small. We begin to succeed when the Lord becomes our Strength. When we love and trust the Lord, it is then that He becomes the One who we depend on making Him the power that controls our life. Our failure is not for our demise or to our detriment. It benefits our life by evaluating our faith and trust to determine any weakness. This is vital to our salvation. It also prospers our soul as we discover not only God’s Grace but His Faithfulness. When we decide that God is our Strength and the Lord is our Salvation by committing our heart and life to Him, it is in that moment that failure is no longer a setback but becomes a catapult in our life.

Luke 1:37 (NLT) For the Word of God will never fail you.

 

When I have failed the Lord, my family, others or myself, I have learned to run to the Word of God for help. God wants my life to be better than anything that I could possibly imagine even more than I could think to ask for. (Ephesians 3:20) He is working out every detail for my good. (Romans 8:28) He is perfecting that which concerns me. (Psalm 138:8) His Word cuts my heart like a two-edged sword to reveal the credibility of my faith and what I believe. (Hebrews 4:12) My failure did not surprise God. Jesus already prescribed the Grace that I need to get back up again and step right back into right-standing with God. The Word of God will not return to Him void. (Isaiah 55:11) He cannot and will not revoke His Blessing from my life. (Isaiah 54:10) As I take the Word of God filling the void left by my personal failure, it is then that I discover that He is all I really needed. God wrote every single moment of my life before I was ever born. (Psalm 139:16) Does this mean that He knew I would fail? Of course, He did. His Grace is sufficient because not only did the Lord know that we would fail but how many times, too. He knew how far we would fall and how long it would take us to get back up. He knew what it would take to make us call on His Name and receive His Spirit. Friend, you may have fallen but the Word of God says, “It’s time to get up!”

Hebrews 12:14-16 (NLT)

Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord. Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many. Make sure that no one is immoral or godless like Esau, who traded his birthright as the firstborn son for a single meal.

 

To think that we will never fail is delusional and unrealistic, but I know that there are people who do not want anyone to know their fears and weaknesses. Everyone fails in life. The key is not to “sell your birthright” because you do not have to. I was raised in a church that told me that God had a plan for my life that was perfect. He does. But it was implied that if I “missed” His “Perfect” plan that I would have to somehow settle for the rest of my life. Where’s God’s Grace is this statement? Without God’s Grace, what’s the point? I cannot overcome my greatest failure of all without His Grace. We need the Grace of God. We fail so we can discover the true potential of God’s Love for us which is His Grace and Mercy. Just because you failed doesn’t mean you missed His Plan, but when you discover His Love in the midst of your setback than everything is going according to His Plan. The only way that we trade or sell our birthright is when we give up on God’s Grace, Mercy and Love. The Truth is many will fail to receive God’s Grace today simply because they do not want to surrender to their weakness trying to use their own strength. (Luke 13:23-25) Who told you to be the strong one? Who said that you have to be perfect? What makes you think that you are above failure? The enemy may have told you that but the Truth does away with a lie when you believe it. God’s Plan for your life takes in to consideration all of our fault’s and failures as He makes them work out for our good!

2 Corinthians 13:4-5 (NLT)

Although he was crucified in weakness, he now lives by the power of God. We, too, are weak, just as Christ was, but when we deal with you we will be alive with him and will have God’s power. Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith.

As a believer, there is only one way that we can have an epic failure. If we fail the test of genuine faith, we will be missed forever. Maybe if it were about me, my failure would matter to the Lord. But since it is all about God’s Power and the Grace of God given to me through His Son, Jesus Christ, I have discovered it is not all about me but all about Him. In fact, less of me makes room for more of Him. He must increase, but I must decrease according to John 3:30. Suddenly, my personal failure gives way to God’s Grace and now I see the things that He wants to do in my life. I have been praying about spending more time with my family. I have asked the Lord to open the door to my return home to be with my girls who are still here. Could it be that my inability to make it to the Festival with them was just another way for Him to increase my desire to obtain that goal and lead me to His Blessing that is waiting there? Of course, it is. God uses every detail of our life to reveal Himself especially our failures when we become vulnerable and willing to accept His Grace, Mercy and Love as a means of fulfillment when we have radically failed. God wants me to be found faith-full in the end. He doesn’t want to lose me. He will stop at nothing to reveal Himself to me even allowing me to fall down, skin my knees or hurt my feelings when necessary. Nothing is wasted. It will all be used to release His Glory in my life. God wants the standard of my life to match the Glorious Standard that people abandoned. Christ knows human weakness but He is filled with the Power of God. We are filled with His Spirit so we also can experience His Power in our everyday life. You are not a failure. Even if it was your fault, it is not fatal. You are not called to be perfect. You are to have faith. That’s it. In a nutshell, God wants you to be faithful. You are allowed to fail. That’s what His Grace is for. You can experience setbacks. Don’t worry new mercy will be provided each morning. Let yourself off the hook. Focus on your faith today, because He is faithful. He will forgive you when you mess up. I know this is true because I have thoroughly tested Him. Examine your heart today. Do not judge yourself by your failure but the contents of your heart. God loves you. No failure is epic except the absence of faith. You are forgiven and free to experience the Grace of God. It is more than enough! Every failure in our life is an opportunity to know Him more.

I John 1:6-9 (NLT)

 If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

 

To Know – A Devotion

To Know

Ephesians 3:16-20 (NLT)

I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.

To know. I have to know the Love of God to make any sense out of this life. Otherwise, it just seems like an endless cycle of chaos in which I am trying to establish order that will never come. There are milestones firmly set in place by my mind that are being constantly broken by change until I realize my life was made to be fluid and flexible. I like order. I am comfortable in routine. I long to lay it all out on the field of life and come home victorious but I want to contain in one day. I am all about the sprint yet feel as though lately I am being called to the marathon. Just when I think that I have it all together, it seems to come undone. Why can’t things just stay the same? Why do children grow up? Why do people suddenly change? Why do loved ones get sick? Why is life cut so short? I have so many questions that yearn to be answered. There are so many things that I do not know that it would drive me crazy to get lost in my head. But I know this. I know that God loves me.

I did not come to this conclusion by the lavish gifts that the Lord has given me. He has been very good to me. It is not because I have every problem solved or question answered. In fact, I have many questions. The Lord has most definitely turned my life around. But just when I think we have made it 180 degrees, I realize that I have so far to go to be who He called me to be, where He wants me, and doing all that He has called me to do. It did not happen overnight but in that midnight hour when all alone I called to Him and He answered. It was the moment that everything fell apart and He caught me in that place. It is the many times that my sorrow only lasted a night, but I found joy the next morning. I know the Love of God. I have no doubt that Jesus Christ loves me. I have experienced only a portion of it and I cannot forget it. I am surrounded by uncertainty yet I know that God loves me today.

John 17:22-24 (NLT)

“I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me. Father, I want these whom you have given me to be with me where I am. Then they can see all the glory you gave me because you loved me even before the world began!”

 

God has glorious and unlimited resources. His Intentions are to lavish our life with love, provision and prosperity. However, we must first fall in love with Him too. Those who love Him want to be with the Lord where He is. The problem today is that people look to religion to reconnect with God rather than through a relationship with Jesus Christ. It is like trying to lose weight on a radical diet rather than making a lifelong change. It may meet your short term goal but will never become a positive lifestyle change. The only way to be healthy is to make better choices regarding diet and exercise. It is to change the way that we think and act. To be healed and whole means that we must experience the Love of God so that we will trust the Lord enough to do what He says and ask for His Will. It is a change of heart that leads to character development in our life. It is a lifelong process not a daily fix. The Love of Jesus Christ for us is wider, longer, higher and deeper than anything that humanity can possibly totally comprehend. Our sinful, unfaithful nature cannot fully understand unconditional and limitless love. Rather than seeking to change our life, believers should be committed to discovering and experiencing the Love of God firsthand. God loved us before the world began because He loves us as much as He loves Jesus. Think about that for a moment, God loves you as much as His Son, Jesus. God loves me just like He loves Jesus who sacrificed His Life so that I could be set free to be united with Him once again. This is unconditional love. Jesus prayed that we would know this love. He died on the Cross so that we could step back into a thriving relationship with the Father. Not so much for us, but because God desired it. Why is it important to know the Love of God?

Romans 12:1-2 (NLT)

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

 

We are called to be a living sacrifice by giving our bodies to God. We have read this verse so many times that it almost becomes cliché. Give your body to God because of all He has done for you. What has God done for me? He gave His Only Son so that you could have eternal life. Forgive me for looking at this as a child, but in the midst of hard knocks and difficult trials this almost sounds like “this is going to hurt me more than you” kind of a statement especially when someone feels broken and alone. How can it hurt more than my broken heart? How can it be harder on you than me? We become acceptable by living a sacrificial life before the Lord. Humility is a jagged little pill. It is not at all liked in the world in which we live and viewed as weakness not strength. Our sinful nature thrives on pride and is fed by our will to survive. The only way that you will be willing to sacrifice yourself to God is to trust Him. You will not lay down your life if you believe that it will be the end of it.

When two people are married and become one unit, it is by sacrificing their individual life to be a corporate entity. As our daughter gets close to taking this giant step in her life, she and her fiancé are beginning to knit their life together. It will be a challenge for them as it is with any young couple who only knows singleness. If two strangers attempted to combine their life in this way, it would not work because no one would be willing to sacrifice but because these two love each other they are willing to make many sacrifices in order to become one person. The problem in most people’s relationship with Jesus Christ is that they are tried to act married to the Lord without becoming one with Him. You will never successfully sacrifice your life to Christ until you know how much He loves you. Love is not a word but action. You cannot experience His Love if you do not know that He loves you. You will not encounter it unless you commit yourself to finding it wholeheartedly. But when you do know the Love of God, you cannot live without it and will begin to lay your life before Him minute by minute, step by step, day by day and year by year just to know Him more. My daughter and soon-to-be son-in-law will encounter difficulties that will require their bond of love to get through and they will grow closer and more knit together through such experiences. Just because we are in love does not mean that bad things, hard times and unanswered questions will not arise in our life, it just means that we will never have to go through them alone.

I John 4:15-17 (NLT)

 All who declare that Jesus is the Son of God have God living in them, and they live in God. We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the Day of Judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.

Do you know how much God loves you today? No, stop what you are “doing” and think about it for a moment. Do you know HOW MUCH God loves you today? See if you did, it would change your life so you would not have to keep trying to do it yourself. There are things that would instantly fall away because you have been hanging on to them to fill the void that conditional love has left behind. The Good Work in you is to be accomplished by Christ alone through His Spirit. You cannot fix things. But if you realized how much God loves you, then you would stick around to let Him finish what He is doing in your life. Our trust should be in God’s Love. Our hope that never leads to disappointment is the fact that we have the Love of God. This allows us to do what we are called to do rather than trying to fix our life and then do it. God is love. It is His Divine Nature and Character. He loves you unconditionally and without reservation. There is nothing you can do to change it so we must change our mind about His Love.

Romans 8:37-39 (NLT)

No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.  And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

I have come to realize that if all I ever do in this life is attempt to know the Love of God – I will be a successful Christian. There is nothing that I can do outside of His Love that is worthwhile. There is nothing that I can do to change the way that the Lord feels about me. He loves me. Jesus loved me before I met Him. He loves me while I try to figure it all out. He will love me forever just as His Father does. I can’t get past it today because if I truly knew His Love in its true capacity, I would trust Him more and more. Let’s not make it about more than it really is today. Stop trying to do all the right things, say all right words and be the right person. Instead, let God be right in your life. The only way to maintain righteousness with God is to remain in His Love. Nothing can ever separate us from His Love. We have overwhelming because of His Great Love. If only we could learn to live in that Love alone and not try to make this thing called Christianity about anything other than the Love of God. To believe in the Love of God and know how much He loves us changes everything. We don’t have to do a thing expect know His Love. Today, before you sign up to volunteer for one more thing at church, take one more meal to the shut-in, pray for the sick, pay your tithe, or attempt to demonstrate the Love of God – decide to know His Love firsthand. It will empower everything you do for the Lord as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable! Know the Father’s Love today. It changes everything! Let God reveal His Love for you today.

John 3:16 (NLT)

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

The Storm-Battered City – A Devotion

The Storm Battered City

Isaiah 54:17 (NLT)

But in that coming day no weapon turned against you will succeed. You will silence every voice raised up to accuse you. These benefits are enjoyed by the servants of the Lord; their vindication will come from me. I, the Lord, have spoken!

 

On those days when my life feels like a storm-battered city, the Lord has shown me a new chapter in my life. It is Isaiah 54. I read it backwards today for the very first time and found that the Lord was talking directly through me. I wonder if that is how we see the Lord most of the time. Hindsight is definitely 20/20. The last few years of our life have felt to be a constant hammering of wind and rain. The eye of the storms small and infrequent before cast headlong into another deluge. One thing after another until it all seems like too much but then just when you think you cannot survive another moment, the clouds give way to the sun. The promise shared by those who serve the Lord is that “no weapon turned against you will succeed” but that is not all and it goes on to say that “you will silence every voice raised up to accuse you”. These words make me think about Job. The enemy of his soul pulled out all the stops in his assault on this man. His friends joined in by becoming his accusers. But in the end, Job was blessed double for his trouble as he lay completely humbled before our God. There are days that I can feel the warmth of the sun breaking through the heavy laden storm clouds that have surrounded our life, other days I am just trying to make it through the wind and rain. But for some reason, I keep going. Could it be called hope? Or just the will to survive? Today, I am a storm-battered city. But I will not give up.

Isaiah 54:11-15 (NLT)
“O storm-battered city, troubled and desolate!
I will rebuild you with precious jewels and make your foundations from lapis lazuli. I will make your towers of sparkling rubies, your gates of shining gems, and your walls of precious stones. I will teach all your children, and they will enjoy great peace. You will be secure under a government that is just and fair. Your enemies will stay far away. You will live in peace, and terror will not come near. If any nation comes to fight you, it is not because I sent them. Whoever attacks you will go down in defeat.”

 

After many years of transcribing for a living, I am often called upon to proof publications. One trick in proofreading is to read the document backwards. This is challenging, but when you do it grammatical errors stand out because you do not get lost in the read. When we read the sentences in the correct order, we get wrapped up in the content and what we expect the writer to convey. In doing so, our brain autocorrects errors and omissions for us to continue reading. I told you that I read this chapter backwards. I was not proofing it or looking for errors. I was looking at the verse, “No weapon turned against (me) will succeed.” From that point, I needed clarification. The weapons have come might close. I can feel the heat from the smoking gun. I can see the flare of it firing. I wanted to know what was the foundation of this truth that so many Christians hold on to blindly, and how can I apply it appropriately to my life. “O storm-battered city” made me think of my life. God promises to rebuild this life with precious jewels. “For wisdom is more profitable than silver, and her wages are better than gold. Wisdom is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her. She offers you long life in her right hand, and riches and honor in her left.” (Proverbs 3:14-16) God fortifies our life with wisdom. There is nothing more precious than personal and intimate knowledge of the Lord. The effects of wisdom on our life as parents flows down to our children changing generations forever. This has long been my heart’s desire for the threads that bind our family together to be free of every generational curse and bound tightly together in love. Jesus Christ is the Government of the Kingdom of God who came to be my peace. (Isaiah 9:6-7) As my life began its transition to the Realm of Hope where I now live, it transformed my position from of this world to not of this world. Although it has not been easy, and I have been broken, it definitely has been worth it as we have found peace.

Isaiah 54:9-10 (NLT)

“Just as I swore in the time of Noah that I would never again let a flood cover the earth, so now I swear that I will never again be angry and punish you. For the mountains may move and the hills disappear, but even then my faithful love for you will remain. My covenant of blessing will never be broken,” says the Lord, who has mercy on you.

 

Taking one more step back to expand my view, I see a promise long forgotten in the midst of the storm. In desperation, His Wisdom flooded me when I called out His Name. He came to me to remind me that He was right there all along. He did not abandon me or forsake me but continued to be faithful to the covenant of blessing that was established long before me. The outward conditions of the world in which I live have no impact on the Plan and Purpose of God when it comes to me. Everything in my life has the potential of blessing according to our covenant. The Lord is faithful. His Love remains true even when the wreckage seems incomprehensible and the loss of overwhelming. The Lord is working every detail for my good (Romans 8:28) even when I cannot see anything good in my details.

Isaiah 54:4-8 (NLT)

“Fear not; you will no longer live in shame. Don’t be afraid; there is no more disgrace for you. You will no longer remember the shame of your youth and the sorrows of widowhood. For your Creator will be your husband; the Lord of Heaven’s Armies is his name! He is your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel, the God of all the earth. For the Lord has called you back from your grief—as though you were a young wife abandoned by her husband,” says your God.  “For a brief moment I abandoned you, but with great compassion I will take you back. In a burst of anger I turned my face away for a little while. But with everlasting love I will have compassion on you,” says the Lord, your Redeemer.

 

Who lives on a budget until they experience need? Not too many people. For example, cutting coupons is not worthwhile until you need the extra help paying the high price of groceries. I have a friend who mastered the art when her husband lost his job and they became desperate for food. Now she teaches others the tricks of the trade, even though now they have financially recovered. Why not redeem a few coupons and get more bang for your buck? If they had not experienced the hardship, where would the blessing be? She now gets paid to show others how to budget and coupon. My redeemer lives. He sees the value and worth in my life that I have not discovered. The Lord wants more than anything for my life to be exactly as God planned it. There are times in life that we must endure hardship so we become free to live a redeemed life. Things that would be overlooked are made clear in the moment our faith is tested and hope is challenged. Do you believe? Faith must be tested to be proven genuine. (I Peter 1:7) Without genuine faith, it is impossible to please our Redeemer. (Hebrews 11:6) Fear not. Do not be afraid. Only those who discover genuine faith and choose to live on it will escape worry and stress in life because they have found a refuge from the storm. This does not mean that we will not be storm battering but that the Lord will redeem us. He will make good on every promise if we choose to remain standing on our faith and confident hope no matter what the storm.

Isaiah 54:1-2 (NLT)

“Sing, O childless woman, you who have never given birth! Break into loud and joyful song, O Jerusalem, you who have never been in labor. For the desolate woman now has more children than the woman who lives with her husband,” says the Lord. Enlarge your house; build an addition. Spread out your home, and spare no expense!”

 

Would you have allowed the Lord to renovate your life without wreckage? Change often is born of destruction. The moment that things do not turn out the way that you expected. Or the moment, you have received the ultimate letdown. In our weakness, we find new strength. Maybe you are an exceptionally strong individual and it took the storm to make you let go of your way to have His Way. You asked for it, because the Lord does not force Himself on anyone. His Affection for us does not allow the advancement of unwanted advances but when you call He comes running and overtakes you in that moment. His Goodness, Mercy and Love have been pursuing you so when we stop trying to do it our way, His Way catches up to us and we are blown away. At least this is my experience, what I thought would destroy me has only made way for more of God’s Love. I know it sounds crazy even to me the one who lives in its midst. The storm-battered city called my life does not make me sad but I am filled with hope. All things have become possible once the walls came tumbling down. In the midst of the hurricane walls of doubt and fear fell flat like Jericho, I do not feel vulnerability but potential as I survey the damage to my old life in confident expectation of the hope I have found in my new life. But I had to look backwards, not only in the Word of God, but in my life to see that this is no mistake but divine intervention.

Isaiah 57:14-19 (NLT)

God says, “Rebuild the road! Clear away the rocks and stones so my people can return from captivity.” The high and lofty one who lives in eternity, the Holy One, says this: “I live in the high and holy place with those whose spirits are contrite and humble. I restore the crushed spirit of the humble and revive the courage of those with repentant hearts. For I will not fight against you forever; I will not always be angry. If I were, all people would pass away—all the souls I have made. I was angry, so I punished these greedy people. I withdrew from them, but they kept going on their own stubborn way. I have seen what they do, but I will heal them anyway! I will lead them. I will comfort those who mourn, bringing words of praise to their lips. May they have abundant peace, both near and far,” says the Lord, who heals them.

 

You said there would be joy in the laying down… You said there would be joy in the letting go…
You said there would be joy in the giving of my rights… and now I see. (Lowest Place by Laura Hackett)
I posted the lyrics to this song more than three years ago. I thought I wanted to experience the true joy of laying my life down before the Lord. Of letting go of all that I am to embrace all that He is. I wanted my rights as a believer without truly considering the cost. Was it worth it? Yes, absolutely without reservation. Would I have asked for it had I known the cost? I am afraid that I may not have. When we decide to lay down our life before Christ, we are not interested in total sacrifice, but He is. It is not an act of punishment but prosperity that the Lord is after. The more of our life surrendered to the Lord the greater the potential for our success. It is time to rebuild the road but not as I would have it. I have been crushed so that He can restore me. I find peace and joy in that statement even though my life is not as I would have left it. God is reviving my courage to take another step of faith down the road. His Anger for me subsided when His Son released amazing grace in my life. So now I can move closer in righteousness and live in the Presence of God. But would I ask to go there or press in to live there if I truly understood the meaning of it and what must occur for me to get there? Without the storms of life, I would definitely choose complacency for it is human nature. Despite the insufficiency of my faith, the Lord still chooses to heal and restore my life day by day. I may be a storm-battered city but the potential in my infrastructure is too great to contain. My Creator is working from His Plan for my life. They were not altered by my rebellion or changed as a result of my stubbornness but construction continues as a direct result of His Mercy, Grace and Love.

Revelation 21:5-7 (NLT)

And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.” And he also said, “It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega—the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life. All who are victorious will inherit all these blessings, and I will be their God, and they will be my children.”

Is your life a storm-battered city today? I have good news. The One who is sitting on the Throne in complete control is making everything new in your life. A seed must die to give way to life and break through the bondage of its casing. You, my friend, must go through the same process to prosper. No weapon formed against you will succeed. This is His Promise for your life. You must choose not to be your own worst enemy and choose to lay down your life each day. There will be trials in your life. It is a fact of life. You have overcome them all in the Name of Jesus Christ. He knew the end from the beginning and is leaving out not a single detail for your good and prosperity. He left you with Peace so take hold of that today and wrap it all around your life. Stand strong in your faith even though the platform seems so weak and small. The Lord is working for you. He is fighting for you. He will NEVER leave you or forsake you. He is right behind you just waiting to overtake you with His Goodness, Mercy and Love. Jesus is rebuilding your life making it worthy of His Children. Be encouraged today! Look back and see His Work in progress. The best is yet to come!

Hebrews 10:23 (NLT)

Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.

The Fight – A Devotion

The Fight

2 Timothy 4:7 (NLT)

 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.

 

The world is filled with conflict. People fighting people. Countries against countries. Religion battling religion. Animosity seems to be the order of the day. Television, media and movies filled with drama. Seldom is a feel good story to find but rather constant embattlement of humanity in its world. I wonder if anyone really knows what we are fighting for. The brevity of life should call us to peace so we can live out our days enjoying this short amount of time that has been given. Everything can change in a moment. Your entire life may not turn out as you expected. I am not trying to depress anyone today but I do feel compelled to redirect our attention to what this fight is all about. I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I have remained faithful. Faith is what the fight is for. It is the coveted prize that we are after as true believers. To live this life to completion and at the end still have faith in God is the key to Eternity.

1 Timothy 6:11-15 (NLT)

But you, Timothy, are a man of God; so run from all these evil things. Pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have declared so well before many witnesses. And I charge you before God, who gives life to all, and before Christ Jesus, who gave a good testimony before Pontius Pilate, that you obey this command without wavering. Then no one can find fault with you from now until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again. For, At just the right time Christ will be revealed from heaven by the blessed and only almighty God, the King of all kings and Lord of all lords.

Paul commissioned Timothy to be a man of God. To run from evil things, pursue righteousness, live a godly life filled with faith, love, perseverance and gentleness. He told him to “fight the good fight for true faith” holding tight to eternal life. He went on to charge Timothy to obey his command without wavering so that no one could find fault with him. This seems like a tall order. Paul was not perfect. He was a murderer who for most of his life persecuted the Christians unmercifully until he encountered Jesus Christ experiencing fully His Grace, Mercy and Love. He was hooked. Who better to teach us to fight for our faith than one who fought against it? The fight we are in is not against the world or anyone in it. We are not really even fighting the enemy only claiming what belongs to us. The fight that we are facing is internal. It is our constant battle to keep our faith when our flesh wants to throw it out and take over. We are all charged with the same one issued to Timothy when we come to Jesus Christ. He asks only one thing – keep your faith. Fight for it. Hold tightly to it. How are you doing with that?

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.

 

My good friend and colleague at work has a great sense of humor. When we first began working together to say that I was caught up in my career and completely stressed out might be an understatement. One day she came in my office with a Stop sign brightly colored by highlighters and laid it on my desk as a reminder right before I would blow up that it was not worth it. We laughed but over time that little reminder has proven quite helpful making me think is it really worth it lose my cool. I laugh because as she grew more accustomed to her new job and responsibilities, she wrote “Go!” on the back. It is not my friend’s responsibility to keep my in check. The Holy Spirit has been given the task of changing my heart and mind to live in agreement with God. What a task that He has been given! The Holy Spirit has been commissioned to guide my life. However, my sinful nature or flesh is in direct opposition to such a surrender. It wants to do evil. The Spirit gives us desires opposite of this. Welcome to the fight for your life. So much for the devil or an outside adversary. We are fighting with ourselves to accept God’s Grace, live in His Righteousness and completely turn from evil to do good. When these two forces collide, we are caught up in the battle. Sometimes we win and discover more hope, others times we fall short only to discover the vast capacity of His Mercy, Grace and Love.

Romans 7:21-25 (NLT)

I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. 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.

 

To follow Jesus Christ meant Paul had to change his mind completely from everything that he was taught and all that he once stood for which made for a great deal of enemies. It also gave him a powerful witness to other people. A complete 180-degree turn will always get the world’s attention much more so than compromise and mediocrity. Paul was candid and transparent in his words when he explained the “principle of life”. I want to do what is right, but inevitably do what is wrong. Stop right there. This statement in a nutshell is why discovering the Grace of God is so very important. Rather than using it as a doormat, we must see the vast potential of God’s Unconditional Love in this statement to fall in love with Him as we should. The only way that we will ever win the battle for faith is Jesus Christ. We will never completely kill our sinful nature. It will one day be removed when we leave our body behind to join Jesus forever. This verse is not permission to sin but the freedom to get back up again when we do. We can dust ourselves off, get washed in the Word, and head off in the right direction again over and over if necessary until we win the race, find victory in our battle,  and claim our prize.

Ephesians 6:14-18 (NLT)

Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.

Please understand this world and everyone in it is not the enemy. There is one enemy and he has already been defeated by Jesus Christ. What are we fighting for then? Our faith is the only thing we are fighting for which as we now know is an internal battle. We are called to love others even those once classified as enemies. The struggle is real. It will cause friction and frustration in our life. The Spirit presses our heart to open to God as the sinful nature whispers lie after lie about the Lord to us. We will never win the battle against our flesh without God’s Armor which I have discovered does not protect us from the world but rather from ourselves. The Belt of Truth is the foundation of faith that we are given. Jesus Christ is the cornerstone of our faith. He is unmovable and unshakeable. Never changing, we must hold on to this Truth to make it the end especially when the enemy uses our own thoughts against us. Our body armor is the Righteousness of God. It is a gift. It is nothing that we could do for ourselves so sometimes it is difficult to see its true value and worth. The great potential of righteousness is that we are now in right-standing with God having everything to gain and more than ever to lose in our rebellion. We must fight to maintain our Robe of Righteousness not casting it off for the filthy rags of this world. We are Messengers of Peace. We are God’s Ambassadors to this world sent after the war to gather His People. Feeding, clothing, loving and caring for all those left in the aftermath of battle pointing the Way home. This is our mission. It’s not our job, career or profession. This is a calling of infinite worth that will consume our time if given the opportunity. The Shield of Faith protects us from the fiery darts of the enemy who challenges our commitment to Christ with his lies and constant opposition. It is the covering we need to withstand all the fiery tests that we face. The Helmet of Salvation silences the lie of the enemy that implies Jesus is not enough to cover our sin and shame so what’s the point. Our sinful nature will stop at nothing to make us quit and preserve its being. The Sword of the Spirit is the Word of God that cuts through our callous heart softening it to receive more and more of Christ until our Spirit can overtake the flesh once again. See the Armor of God does not protect us from the world and people, but protects us from ourselves.

Philippians 2:16-18 (NLT)

Hold firmly to the word of life; then, on the day of Christ’s return, I will be proud that I did not run the race in vain and that my work was not useless. But I will rejoice even if I lose my life, pouring it out like a liquid offering to God, just like your faithful service is an offering to God. And I want all of you to share that joy. Yes, you should rejoice, and I will share your joy.

 

We have been challenged to fight the good fight of faith. We have been commissioned to finish the race. We are to remain faithful. This is your battle of the day. It is not the world. It is not other people. (Philippians 1:27) The battle within us is to remain faithful. We live subject to constant attack. (I Corinthians 10:12-13) But God did not abandon us. Jesus put His Spirit right inside of us to win the battle against our flesh. Pray and ask the Spirit to rise up inside of you. Ask the Lord to lead, guide and direct you today and give you the consciousness to recognize Him. Do not beat yourself up when you fail – His Grace is all that you need. If you wake up tired of the fight – scoop up the new mercies that He left for you last night. Joy comes in the morning so claim it, grab it, hold on to it for dear life. This enemy inside of us is real. It is smart. No one knows you better than you know yourself…except the One who made you. You now have an unfair advantage so starve the flesh today and feed the Spirit! You will win the battle, finish the race and be found faithful!

Hebrews 3:13-14(NLT)

You must warn each other every day, while it is still “today,” so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God. For if we are faithful to the end, trusting God just as firmly as when we first believed, we will share in all that belongs to Christ.

By the Fire – A Devotion

By the Fire

I Peter 1:6-8 (NLT)

 So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy.

Living in Florida, residents enjoy great weather and warm conditions most of the year. In exchange for such luxury, we do not usually have a period of fall with the changing leaves and beautiful masterpiece of color painted across the trees. There may be a cool day surrounded by several warm days. However, the moment the pumpkin patch surfaces at the local church everyone breaks out boots and scarves to celebrate fall. Bonfires are a big hit not only up north but even in the south. Not meant for heat, but rather the grand display of power and light. It is still 80 degrees outside yet my kids have already participated in bonfires with their friends. We are drawn to fire. It is cozy and comfortable as long as we are beside it. Fire is not scary when contained but the thought of being doused in it is not appealing. As Christians, we would like to choose the seasons and temperature of our life. We want to be warm but God-forbid it is too hot. We want all the benefits of fire such a light, warmth and the other resourceful things that it can do. But we have no desired to feel the flames of refinement that come with our belief.

We have mastered fire and put a harness on it called electricity. Electricity takes the power of fire and uses it to produce endless energy. Light is immediately expressed by the flip of a switch. Heat is made when we turn up the thermostat. Dinner is cooked by preheating the oven. All is made possible by electricity or gas that has been channeled to produce the energy that is needed to meet our needs. It is all the product of a spark. Electricity is sparks generated by constant friction in a power plant that is funneled to your home through a power line. Gas is pumped into homes where at some point it encounters a flame or pilot light that produces the fire needed to heat or cook. We take for granted the spark because we have the fire. But you cannot have a fire without the spark. This will make more sense as we talk about life beside the fire.

Matthew 3:11-12 (NLT)
“I baptize with
water those who repent of their sins and turn to God. But someone is coming soon who is greater than I am—so much greater that I’m not worthy even to be his slave and carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. He is ready to separate the chaff from the wheat with his winnowing fork. Then he will clean up the threshing area, gathering the wheat into his barn but burning the chaff with never-ending fire.”

 

John the Baptist told his follower that when Jesus Christ, the Messiah, came that He would baptize with the Holy Spirit AND fire. Yeah for the Holy Spirit, but let’s just forget about the fire. Churches do not talk about the Fire of God promised by Jesus because let’s face it, it’s just not comfortable. So that adopt the old adage, “If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen.” So instead preachers, pastors and the like talk about the topics in the Word of God people like…but will never have. See those things are reserved for God’s Children who live by faith and confident hope that can never be found outside of the Presence of God. God identifies His Children by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit brings with Him a spark that starts a fire in our soul. God is looking for Light. Jesus told people that He came into this world to set this place on fire. He went on to tell them that He wished it was already burning indicating there was a lot of work to do. (Luke 12:49) For those who are enduring fiery trials and are concerned that they are being punished, this should bring you great hope. If fiery trials are present in your life, it should be encouraging because it means that there is genuine faith that the Spirit of God is working to move from the inside of you to the outside. He is just clearing away all those things that get in the way of the Supernatural Power of God reserved for our life.

I Peter 4:12-13 (NLT)

Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. Instead, be very glad—for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world.

 

Peter wrote a letter to the churches and this is an excerpt from one of them discussing the “fiery trials” they were going through. Mind you, the church was experiencing horrible persecution and Christians were dying every day for their beliefs. This is not the case of modern day Christians in America no matter how bad we complain about the state of affairs. Peter was one who could testify to life by the fire. It was Peter who would deny Christ not once, twice but three times before morning which he did. It was trial “by the fire” and he failed completely. Jesus had warned him but he still did it anyway. (Luke 22:54-62) This would be a terrible tragedy if that is where the story ended but it is not. After Jesus finished His Work on the Cross and was resurrected, He would visit His Disciples before ascending to Heaven to claim His Seat at the Right Hand of God. Peter had decided to return to his old life. Jesus was about to introduce this man to grace. Complete grace. Perfect grace. The spark that would light a fire so deep in one man’s soul burning away fear and doubt so he indeed would become foundational in the building of Christ’s Church. Where did Jesus meet Peter? By the fire, Jesus prepared a meal for Him there to commune with Him. It didn’t matter that Peter had denied Him three times when grace was applied. All that mattered is that Peter return to the fire to fellowship with the Lord. (John 21:7-9) Intimacy is restored when all that remains is faith, hope and love. But sometimes it takes a fire to burn away all the junk we stack on its foundation. Peter warned others not to be surprised by fiery trials they go through. Be glad. They will make us partners with Jesus Christ so we can experience the wonderful joy of seeing His Glory manifest in our life.

Hebrews 11:1 (NLT)

Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.

 

Hebrews 11:33-35 (NLT)

By faith these people overthrew kingdoms, ruled with justice, and received what God had promised them. They shut the mouths of lions, quenched the flames of fire, and escaped death by the edge of the sword. Their weakness was turned to strength. They became strong in battle and put whole armies to flight. Women received their loved ones back again from death. But others were tortured, refusing to turn from God in order to be set free. They placed their hope in a better life after the resurrection.

 

Give me faith to trust what you say. That you’re good and your love is great. I’m broken inside I give you my life. (Give Me Faith – Elevation Worship) Powerful lyrics from a powerful worship song that many churches belt out on a regular basis, but have those who sing this song really listened to the words they are singing. Do you know what you are asking for? Faith is tested by fiery trials to reveal its validity. You are in essence asking for God’s Fire to light up your heart and soul. You are telling God to bring on the heat. He is a Devouring Fire. (Hebrews 12:29) You are playing with matches without reading the warning label to ask God for faith and not expect fire. We read Hebrews 1 but need to read the entire chapter to understand what may be required. I did not know faith until I was broken. You cannot see the foundation of life until everything else is stripped away and you have nothing to stand on but that foundation. Will it survive the test of fiery trials? God will continue to test our faith if our heart’s desire to be with Him forever otherwise we may not make it. Faith is a requirement of forever. What is the foundation of your life today? If you want it to be faith, you will be tested over and over again. Anyone who builds on that foundation may use a variety of materials—gold, silver, jewels, wood, hay, or straw. But on the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done. The fire will show if a person’s work has any value. If the work survives, that builder will receive a reward. (I Corinthians 3:12-14)

 

Proverbs 27:17 (NLT) As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.

 

A true friend is one who is honest with you all the time. They do not withhold their opinion in fear it will harm the friendship. Of course, a friend is always conscious of their companion’s feelings and will stop at nothing to be gentle. When iron sharpens iron, it creates friction that will produce a spark. A spark is always necessary to create a fire. There will be two bodies that rub together and create friction. To be a friend of God will produce such a response. Abraham had faith in God that produced righteousness. Now in close proximity with God, his faith was still tested even though God called him a friend because God knew that He wanted to spend forever with Abraham. Jesus was the Light of the world while He was here.  When He left, the Lord left us with the Holy Spirit AND His Fire. (Matthew 5:14-15) So you can expect fiery trials as the Person of Christ (His Spirit) encounters our flesh (sinful nature) and works to reveal the foundation of faith that was given to us by Jesus Christ. The fire burns away everything that stands between us and God. It restores our friendship with Him completely producing everlasting and inexpressible joy even when there is pain and pressure. Don’t be afraid of fiery trials because His Glorious Goodness is revealed in the Light of His Love. You can live by the fire and survive. You can live in the fire and thrive!

Daniel 3:20-27 (NLT)

Then he ordered some of the strongest men of his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace. So they tied them up and threw them into the furnace, fully dressed in their pants, turbans, robes, and other garments. And because the king, in his anger, had demanded such a hot fire in the furnace, the flames killed the soldiers as they threw the three men in. So Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, securely tied, fell into the roaring flames. But suddenly, Nebuchadnezzar jumped up in amazement and exclaimed to his advisers, “Didn’t we tie up three men and throw them into the furnace?” “Yes, Your Majesty, we certainly did,” they replied.  “Look!” Nebuchadnezzar shouted. “I see four men, unbound, walking around in the fire unharmed! And the fourth looks like a god!” Then Nebuchadnezzar came as close as he could to the door of the flaming furnace and shouted: “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!” So Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego stepped out of the fire. Then the high officers, officials, governors, and advisers crowded around them and saw that the fire had not touched them. Not a hair on their heads was singed, and their clothing was not scorched. They didn’t even smell of smoke!

 

The Waiting Room – A Devotion

The Waiting Room

Psalm 27:13-14 (NLT)

Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living. Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.

 

Over the last few years, I have collectively spent more time in waiting rooms than I have for the rest of my natural born life. Appointment after appointment with our son has reduced my animosity over long periods of sitting, reading, texting and people watching as it has become somewhat routine. I have a good friend who works as a cosmetologist. He had a very successful salon in New York before coming to teach his craft in Florida. We were discussing waiting one day and he confessed that he will not wait more than ten minutes because in his profession time is worth money. One day after waiting for his doctor, he went to tell the receptionist that he had another commitment and would need to reschedule for another time. The woman pointed to a sign that warned patients who missed their scheduled appointment time would be billed $25.00 for cancellations or no-shows. A bit miffed, he left and the next day sent the doctor a bill for $25.00 for seeing him at the scheduled time and missing the appointment. The doctor paid the bill.

Time is our most valuable commodity. Human nature is always is a hurry to make the most of our time cramming everything and anything that it can think into an already packed and overloaded regimen. I like to be busy. I am very task-oriented. When I feel worry and stress on my heels, I run to find something to do usually cleaning. There are other people who waste a lot of time doing nothing. There is no rhyme or reason to the things they do in life without any goals or true direction so they become dissatisfied in their lack of progression. We must not only become conscious of the purpose in each moment of our life and the potential hidden there. Not only in our activity but especially in our inactivity.

Psalm 27 is one of my most favorite passages in the Word of God. David is under great pressure in his life. He is being pursued by his enemies. He feels the pressure to give up. I sense that he hears the voices of others filled with the clamor of opinions and endless advice. He is lost in the crowd yet feels all alone. David is afraid. He hears the Lord calling to his heart to come closer and talk with Him. His heart responds “I am coming” as the man is trying to find his way. (Verse 8) David knows that if he can just get into the Presence of God that everything will be okay. (Verse 27) If he can just get back that one thing, everything will fall into place. Where are you today? Are you running from the enemy? Is fear knocking on your door? Do you feel as though you are going under? Are you stuck in what feels like a perpetual waiting room? The Lord is whispering today, “Come and talk with me.” How will you respond?

2 Corinthians 12:8-9 (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.

 

Waiting is not a weakness. It is considered to be a strength. It is a quality of endurance that is often taken for granted or overlooked. To find power, we must first become weak. Why don’t we like to wait? We feel our time is important and it is. However, if I choose not to wait for our son’s doctor there could be life or death consequences. If he chooses to something else with his time, he definitely would find it more enjoyable but it might cut his life short tremendously. We must understand the importance of waiting so maybe just maybe that is why we find ourselves waiting in life. Waiting stretches and strengthens our patience. I hate to wait due to my impatient nature. There is an innate tendency at least in me that if I cannot get others to do it my way according to my timeline than I will simply do it myself. But on the other hand find it in my heart to complain that no one ever does their part or helps me. Hang on while I finish my humble pie.

The most difficult part of our son’s journey for me has been the waiting. When he has a scan, I want to know ten minutes later the results. Hey, I gave them ten minutes right? When he gets chemotherapy, I want to know his blood count immediately. When I go to pick up his prescription, I don’t want to wait for it just pick it up and move on to the next scheduled visit. When we walk in the office, I want to keep walking to the exam room not sit in the waiting room watching others come and go. Maybe some of you cannot relate to endless doctor’s appointments, exams, tests and the like. Praise God! Before our son became famous at the doctor’s office, I hated to wait in line at the grocery store. I wanted to lay on the horn when the light changed and the car in front of me chose to take a breath before moving. I grew anxious walking behind slow people. I grew frustrated with incompetent cashiers. Rush, rush, rush. Hurry, hurry, hurry. I was going nowhere fast. It was not because all of these annoying people and aggravating scenarios were taking place. I just didn’t see any value in waiting. I did not understand that when I called on His Name and asked Him to change my life that waiting would become an important part of the process of renewal, restoration and redemption in my life.

Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT)

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

 

The Holy Spirit produces love, joy, peace, patience… In my opinion, patience got top honors being listed number four on the list. When you think about it God has given us His Love, Jesus promised to give us joy and peace. Patience is a product of the Spirit of God in us and requires a process. Why? Patience is humility. (Ecclesiastes 7:8) Pride cannot exist where patience prevails. We are surrendering our time and intelligence to the Lord allowing Him to work out the details of our life rather than rushing to do it ourselves. It is as basic as allowing another person to walk in front of you in line even when you are in hurry and it not bothering you at all. Before I spent time waiting on the Lord, I would have politely informed the person of their error. But now, it is just no big deal. As we become more and more satisfied with what the Lord does with our time and the promises revealed after we have waited, we understand that He can do way more with our time than we can. Also, it is how we prove that He lives in us. (2 Corinthians 6:6)

Psalm 5:1-3 (NLT)

O Lord, hear me as I pray; pay attention to my groaning. Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God, for I pray to no one but you. Listen to my voice in the morning, Lord. Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly.

 

Do you wait expectantly on the Lord? Before you answer, consider how much time you spend in His Word each day? Do you pray throughout the day? Are you talking to God and listening to Him? Or do you talk at the Lord making consistent demands? If you do not believe that God is doing anything in your life, you will never reap the benefits of His Promises. Without faith, it is impossible to please God. (Hebrews 11:6) It is not enough to say you believe, even the demons do. But it means sacrificing your time, your most precious commodity to seeking Him in our everyday life. God knows our heart. A wholehearted commitment is required to find blessing in our wait time. Without seeds of faith planted in righteousness, there will be no harvest. Faith planted in righteousness will yield a harvest. Once we put our faith in Jesus Christ and His Righteousness alone like the farmer all we can “do” is wait. There is nothing we can add to His Word or work with our hands to change the outcome. Even if we could, it would never be better than what God has planned for us. (Ephesians 3:20)

Welcome to the waiting room? Make yourself comfortable if you can. It could be minutes or it may be years before the harvest you are after comes pouring into your life. It may be up to you to make it happen by order of cease and desist. The Lord may be waiting on you to stop trying to force His Hand and make it happen. He may be waiting for you to take your hand off of the substitution or counterfeit the enemy has handed you. God may be waiting for you to stop complaining or pull the root of bitterness out of your heart so that He can makes something beautiful successfully grow there. Maybe He just wants you to take your eyes off the clock and look at Him again. When we surrender our time to waiting on God rather than struggling when we are called to do so, maybe, just maybe our wait time will end if only for that moment.

Here are four tips for enduring the waiting room of God today -

1) Philippians 1:6 (NLT) And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. You have an appointment. You wouldn’t have gone to the office waiting room if you didn’t expect to be seen. You are certain that you have an allotted time to be there so you wait. Be confident. Be certain. You have not been forgotten. You have not been abandoned by God. This is not punishment. There is a great deal going on behind the scenes as God releases His Goodness in every detail of our life. (Romans 8:28)

2) Psalm 139:6 (NLT) You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. You are on assignment. There is purpose and meaning in every moment of our life – good or bad, happy or sad, moving or waiting. Time has been allotted according the Eternity that has been placed in our heart not the natural conditions of this dying world. (Ecclesiastes 3:1-11) When we enter a physical waiting room, we have an intended purpose for the meeting. It is important enough to spend time waiting to see the person on the other side of the door. If we just ask the Lord, He will begin to reveal the awesome and remarkable secrets about who we really were meant to be and where we are going. (Jeremiah 33:3) We must decide that the purpose and plan of God are worth waiting. We do that by discovering the secret of our life from the Creator of it. God has a plan for your life. Waiting can be all about realigning our life with that plan or working out each detail to His Perfection. (Psalm 138:8) God does not wait when we wait. In fact, it is in these times of total trust and confidence in His Plan that we move aside to give the Lord room to move in our life.

3) I Corinthians 1:8-9 (NLT) He will keep you strong to the end so that you will be free from all blame on the day when our Lord Jesus Christ returns. God will do this, for he is faithful to do what he says, and he has invited you into partnership with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. We have an attachment to Christ. We schedule appointments with certain doctors and specialists in the care of our son based on their reputation or special knowledge of the kind of cancer that he has battled. We have gone through some pretty frightening and harrowing adventures with these physicians for a very long time now. We trust them. When the hospital tried to send our son away because the next procedure to save his life was denied, it was this same team of professionals who fought to keep him in their care. They knew that they had the answer and were willing to put their careers on the line for him to be treated. We have a bond that now transcends the disease and has become personal. We must form a bond and attachment to Jesus Christ more than personal attachments to other people. We are willing to wait on the doctor but many times do not wait on the Lord. I know you cannot see Him. I know that Jesus cannot put His Arm around you and tell you it will be okay. But His Spirit lives inside of you. Rather than a pat on the back or a shoulder to cry on, I would rather have the peace and joy of the Lord any day of the week. Statistically our son should not be alive – but he is. Doctors no longer take credit but call him a miracle. They realize that what they are witnessing in this kid is nothing less than supernatural. God is our strength. He has become the One who we rely on in this situation. Now I must learn to strengthen this attachment to the Lord concerning every aspect of my life. I will only wait when I believe that I have an appointment and there is something to be accomplished. Those who endure to the end will be saved. I want that to be me. I want my husband and children to live the same way. The ripple keeps growing and growing. I want to be free from blame when I meet Jesus face to face. It says in this passage that “God will do this” through my partnership with Christ. Waiting allows me to focus on my partnership with Christ when I cannot participate in the process.

4) Finally, Isaiah 40:31 (NLT) But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. There is an achievement. Your wait time has great promise, potential and purpose that is worth all the time and energy that you are investing. God is giving you new strength. His Spirit is producing every single harvest that He promised in each moment. You are not helpless but helped. You are not hopeless but hopeful. You are not being humbled but in your humility God is honoring you. When it is your time to break free from the waiting room and soar high above, you will begin to see the workings of God and be blown away by His Perfect Plan that left not a single detail out. To leave the waiting room and look for your way will abort the process causing your dream to die. Do not leave. Grab a good book or THE Book. Talk to someone. Tell them about your God and what He has done and is doing in your life. Sometimes I listen to praise music on headphones to put my mind at ease. The waiting room is not the morgue. It is a place of healing, restoration and revival. Those who wait will be strengthened! Keep focused on the One who you are waiting for and He will reassure you that your sacrifice of time will be worth it.

Psalm 62:5-8 (NLT)

Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken. My victory and honor come from God alone.
He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me. O my people, trust in him at all times.
Pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge. 

 

As I have shared before, our daughter will soon be married. Her fiancé has already moved in their home. So each week, box by box and hanger by hanger she is moving her things into the apartment getting ready for the big day. This is her new life. She is transitioning piece by piece from one location to the other. It is a happy occasion. It is God’s Plan. We are in total agreement and have peace. It does not make the process less difficult. She is changing her life from what she has always known to the next step that God has for her. Isn’t that how it is for all of us as we begin to hand our life over to Christ? We now must learn to love and trust someone else completely. We must take our life and transition from darkness to light and from this world to His Kingdom. It can be overwhelming. It can be a little or a lot frightening but day by day, moment by moment this is what it is all about until one day we can say, “Let all that I am wait quietly before the Lord.” Welcome to the Waiting Room, enjoy your stay!

Psalm 62:1-2 (NLT)

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

Counting Joy – A Devotion

Counting Joy

James 1:2-4 (NLT)

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

 

Black Friday is just around the corner. I used to rely heavily on those great deals to fulfill the holiday wishes of our five children. Having a large family requires some fancy budgeting sometimes to make ends meet. There is nothing quite like pouring over those ads on Thanksgiving Day to develop one’s strategy, setting the alarm for some ungodly hour, bundling up to face the cold, and standing in line with countless strangers. When the hour nears for the grand opening, heart thumping, list clenched in one hand coddling caffeine in the other, it’s time to press through the crowd and claim the prize. There is nothing quite like the feeling of emerging victoriously from the store with exactly what you came for. A feeling of satisfaction warms your cold body and strengthens those tired bones. Why? It was worth it. I feel the sheer elation. Let’s review. I hate mornings. I do not like being cold. I tend to become overwhelmed in a crush of people. However, I did all this willingly to claim the reward. Just let it soak in for a minute…marinate if you will…I did something that I do not like to do….I left my comfort zone…I faced early morning willingly. Why? It was worth it. When will following Christ, doing what our flesh does not want to do, leaving our comfort zone and taking up our cross be worth it?

Pregnancy was a happy occasion in my life. My body is good at gestation. There were no evil side effects that could not be alleviated or did not quickly subside. I have “easy” pregnancies. Around the eighth month, my brain would suddenly remember that this happy and quite healthy (raging in birth weight from eight to almost ten pounds) baby would have to exit my body to enter the world. Hold that thought. Suddenly, I would get a little antsy about the whole thing. But by the time I was ready to deliver, I was ready for the hard work that would lead to another great love affair in my life. My arms ached to hold my new baby. My eyes longed to see their face. My heart ready to grow just a little more. So when labor began, I was willing to endure it so I could meet the new little person. I have no recollection of the pain but just remember that it is hard work to get them here. All were natural deliveries and three were without any medication at all. The pain quickly dissolved when love came into my life again. Why? It was worth it to know them, love them and be with each of my precious children.

The trials, troubles, hardship and difficulties that come our way in life are sometimes created by us and other times just find their way to us. There are so many things that we do in life because we want to. The severity of which is perceived, the price is calculated and effort produced simply by the worth we think we will find there. We must decide if the benefit is worth the risk. I have been this route many times in the last few years with our son’s illness. Each treatment and every single measure, the doctors must ask themselves does the benefit to his life outweigh the risk taken in each treatment. The question is then posed to us. Jesus decided a long time ago that the benefit of loving humanity far outweighed the risk. Through salvation, the same question is posed to each of us. Why did the Lord say that we must take up our cross and follow Him? Why not say something more like ‘skip through the daisies” and follow me? Why do we as believers think that God would come into our life and make it better when all along He says come to me? It is going to be work. It will be uncomfortable. It will cause you to break your will to fully discover His Will. It is worth it…to me.

Proverbs 20:25 (NLT)

Don’t trap yourself by making a rash promise to God and only later counting the cost.

 

This is a common problem among believers…I will give you a minute to quit looking around because I did the very same thing. I don’t make rash promises to God spewed in instant denial, hissed in great offense, and then it hit me. I have done this many times. I ask for the Will of God but still want it my way. I pray for God to take all of me but then refuse to God. I surrender my heart to Him but withhold those lesser things that are so dear to me but clearly my detriment. Every time I surrender my life to the Lord but expect anything less, I have made a rash promise. The only way I can continually live in a position of surrender is to continually give up bits and pieces until all my life belongs to Him. I must decide if the risk of sacrifice is worth the benefit of blessing enough to do something about it. Why? Because asking the Lord to follow Him means suffering sometimes. It requires an investment of faith to return a harvest of hope. The promise to follow Jesus Christ will cost you your life are you willing to give it to Him. Really? Listening to my playlist last night, I decided to find something “new” or even “renewed” meaning old music that I haven’t heard in a while. I came across the band “Worth Dying For” and their song “Closer”. The chorus goes “I don’t want to walk away from this place… unless I know I’ve given you all of me.” It occurred to me that I had asked this of God so many times in my life and He kept bringing me back to certain places until I get it. People have a big problem with commitment and keeping promises but not our God. He keeps all His Promises. He does not lie or change His Mind. When we cry out to God, a command is released immediately in Heaven to answer that prayer. You cannot stop it even if you change your mind because God already did it. We must evaluate what we are asking of God before we ask it. We must be willing to do it or need to stop crying out to Him the way that we do choosing appropriate words for an acceptable return.

Luke 14:27-29 (NLT)

 “And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple. But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of money, and then everyone would laugh at you.

The world is laughing at Christians and the church today. Just to bring some clarity to the issue, ISIS the radical Muslims who are attempting to take over Syria and Iraq. Yes, the ones beheading people on a regular basis. They are religious extremists in what they believe to be a holy war. They are doing it for their god. This is sobering.

A true believer is the person who believes that following Jesus Christ is worth any pain, suffering, hardship or discomfort that they may face. They are the ones who decide to take up their Cross and be His Disciple because they have weighed the risks and benefits. Christians who do nothing to build a stronger relationship with Jesus Christ do not want the Will of God or to walk His Way. They are robbers who want the Blessings of God and the Grace of Jesus Christ giving nothing in return. You cannot earn it but those who understand the true value and worth of believing in Christ know that it is worth it. The sacrifice will never outweigh the blessings of joy and peace found in a surrendered life. When I decide to go Black Friday shopping, I have decided that the great deals I will find are worth giving up sleep and comfort to find. When I decided to yield my body to pregnancy and have another child, I decided that it would be worth it, talking care of my body while the baby grew and submitting myself to the pain to get them here. I was not mad at them for causing it but just thankful they made it. We must count the cost of following Christ before making the commitment. Once we are committed to the Lord, it is up to us to never give up.

Luke 15:8-9 (NLT)
“Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Won’t she light a lamp and sweep the entire house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she will call in her friends and neighbors and say, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost coin.’”

 

I have friends who think Black Friday is ridiculous. The crush and craziness just too much. But everyone has something in their life of value and worth. These are the things that we invest our life in looking for a return. We determine what will make us happy and go for it. When hardship comes or even pain, we are forced to evaluate those things we hold on to for validity or worth. Some things must go when we shift into survival mode. The Kingdom of God is like the woman who loses one of her ten silver coins and must find it. Again, let me stop here.

Today is the three-year anniversary of our son’s diagnosis, it has been hard the past couple of weeks leading up to this moment. For the last couple of days, I can feel the Lord tugging me closer as He sees my lip quiver and my heart shake. He knows my heart. He has been with me through the long days and even longer nights. The Lord sees right through me to my weakest part. It has been a long walk. Endurance is building. But today when the date finally hits the calendar, I can say without a single reservation that it has been worth every step to know His Love like I do now. I have no idea what tomorrow will bring or the scans will show at the end of this month, but today as I sweep the floor and move the cushions and dig in the drawers of my heart – I have found the faith, hope and love that produce peace and joy no matter what the occasion. Maybe that is why I have struggled so in the past several days as the Lord continues to reveal His Glory and Grace. This battle has been hard and very, very long. The Word of God says that those who make it to the end will be saved. (Matthew 10:22) He promises that every detail will turn out for our good and there are a lot of things that are still undone. (Romans 8:28) He promises to perfect all that concerns me and well, things are not perfect yet either. (Psalm 138:8) So we must endure. Today I count it all joy! I seize the opportunity to surrender more of my life to Christ and experience more peace and joy than I ever thought possible and certainly not with circumstances like this in our life. God told me from the beginning that our son would live and not die. Today, three years and four relapses later – God’s Word for my life remains true. He is alive. Has it been hard? Yes. Has it seemed endless? You bet. Has it been worth it? Absolutely! For today I decided to begin counting my joy!

James 5:10-12 (NLT)

For examples of patience in suffering, dear brothers and sisters, look at the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. We give great honor to those who endure under suffering. For instance, you know about Job, a man of great endurance. You can see how the Lord was kind to him at the end, for the Lord is full of tenderness and mercy. But most of all, my brothers and sisters, never take an oath, by heaven or earth or anything else. Just say a simple yes or no, so that you will not sin and be condemned.

 

Today I encourage you rather than making rash promises to the Lord and trying to map everything out your way, simply say “Yes, Lord.” Whatever it is. Whatever you are facing or wherever you want to go just say “Yes, Lord.” You will not invite troubles, trials and hardship in your life with such an approach but rather learn to walk in step with God. Endurance this is a marathon not a sprint. Be conscious of what you asking the Lord to do in your life and be willing to do it His Way. It will be worth it in the end. He promised.

I Corinthians 10:12-13 (NLT)

If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall. The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.

 

True Love – A Devotion

True Love

John 15:13 (NLT) There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 

 

William Shakespeare said, “The course of true love never did run smooth.” I stand in agreement with Mr. Shakespeare. Without being tested, how does one ever know that the love they have is valid, real and credible? It is the test of time that measures best as the winds of change come and go but the constant that remains is love. This is not always the case. The love stories that draw the greatest attention are those that contain a mix of tragedy. The struggle is real to that place called love but for those who ever really find it – there is nothing like it. I have found true love in my partner. My husband is my best friend. Love indeed covers a multitude of sins. It is the one thing that remains when everything else falls apart in our life. Faith, hope AND love are all that will remain. We must be sure that these things are in us to ever learn to depend on them. I can never love another until I truly discover that I am loved. God loves me. I am His Child. He created me to be this although I chose something else. Jesus loves me. He demonstrated His Love when He laid down His Life to die for my sins. The Word of God says that this is the greatest love of all. In His Desperate Need to be one with me, the Lord has given me His Spirit. He now lives inside of me. But is it true love?

In an effort to find the definition of true love, I “Googled” it. I came across an article that listed “21 Ways You Can Know What You Are Feeling is True Love.” I will not cover all 21 that were delineated but a few caught my attention:

  • You see something and instead of thinking how happy it would make you, you think about how happy it would make them.
  • You do not desire other people.
  • Their happiness means more than your own.
  • You are willing to give in on things that you would normally not compromise on.
  • You always want to listen to them.
  • Even when you do disagree or even fight, you don’t want to be mad at them.
  • They can come at you with anything and you won’t judge or condemn them.
  • You wake up happy just because you get to see them that day.

My husband makes me feel that way. My children make me feel that way, too. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. I have a few friends that I feel the same way about too. It’s sad to think that the Lord intends all of our relationships to be true love yet we settle for just a few.

I John 4:18-19 (NLT)

Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love. We love each other because he loved us first.

 

Three years ago, I was wrapped up in my life. Stressed out and overcome by all the minute, insignificant details of life – I was a ticking time bomb. My priorities were out of place and I didn’t even know it. A friend of mine who coincidentally is a co-worker and I were discussing the first day that we met. It is so sad. I was completely consumed by my job and totally disappointed that the “new hire” was not one of the qualified candidate that had been interviewed and carefully selected. Instead, her department had been closed and at the last minute her position changed so that she would not lose her job altogether. There was no easy letdown. I was buried in work and now the light at the end of the tunnel blocked by this textbook editor who would now be immersed in the darkness of federal funding that loomed over my head. I didn’t even know if she could count and quite frankly didn’t care lost in my own world. Over the years, she not only has become my right hand at work, but one of my very best, closest and dearest friends in life. Long after I employment ends, we will still be friends. To hear her talk about how awful I treated her in the beginning breaks my heart. I am not the same person she met that day and she has been with me through the transition as ugly as it has been at times. She was there when our son was diagnosed and my world fell apart. It was her who has helped me keep my job even with prolonged absences due to our son’s illness. I truly love this person and I know she loves me. How does this happen when people can be such unlovable and selfish people?

I changed the day that I discovered perfect love. It wasn’t at the altar or even in a church. It wasn’t when I fell in love and got married. Even when I have fallen in love five times over with my precious children, my love for them is not perfect. I found perfect love in the greatest tragedy of my life and it has rebuilt my life into a beautiful love affair. When everything fell apart? Only faith, hope and perfect love remained. No one else could help me. No one else could fill that void of fear. No one else could soothe my pain or hold all the pieces of my broken heart. No one else could heal our son or heal me. Perfect love expels all fear. This will never happen until we discover how perfect the Lord’s Love for us really is. Many times it is in the revelation that no matter how much love we have in life, it means nothing until we find the true perfection of His Love for us. This is the kind of love that completes us so when natural love that we call true falls short, it will always remain.

This love that is called perfect can and will reshape every other relationship in our life. It is through this love that I see the potential of all other relationships in my life even those that my sinful nature could have driven apart, but perfect love kept its place until I was ready to allow the Lord to change my heart forever. Looking back, I cannot believe who I was back then or the validation I felt as that person when all along perfect love was calling me to greater relationships and friendships that my pride and ignorance almost wasted.

John 3:16-17 (NLT)

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

 

The concept of Eternal Life is based on three things – faith, hope and love. We have faith in Jesus Christ. We put all of our hope in Him and therefore live for the Lord. His Love encompasses our life completely perfecting every other relationship we have. God loved us so much that He gave His Only Son for us to have His Love. He wants us to live forever not limited. We are limited by our lack of love because His Love for us is unfathomable. This passage is not about escape but entrance. To simply use our salvation to escape death is pointless, when the potential is entrance to the Presence of God where perfect love really does exist. I cannot explain how it will change you because words cannot give it proper due. You have to experience the kind of faith, hope and love that exist forever to understand its true potential. However, we must lay down our own life to discover it.

Romans 8:28-29 (NLT)

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

There is a teenage girl who is currently undergoing treatment for the same kind of cancer that my son has been battling. Her family was already experiencing hardship as her mother was ending an abusive relationship with her father when she was diagnosed. When I first contacted her mom, the woman seemed so fragile and broken not just because of her child’s diagnosis but with life in general. But since that time, I am sensing a transformation. In the midst of what should be a vast wasteland a desert bloom is rising from the cracked hard ground of disappointment and devastation as a new confident and transformed creation blossoms in the Love of God by faith and confident hope that comes along with it. I recently have been in contact with another couple who are facing disastrous natural odds but choose to live in the supernatural. Newly married, the husband has been battling a brain tumor that in man’s eyes is winning. However, never before have I seen two people more confident in God’s Love for them even in the possibility that he may be going home soon. Their faith is God and His Plan not their own. It is amazing. It is love. It is true love convinced that nothing will ever separate them from God’s Love. What about the young couple whose bucket list for the baby gained national attention? Baby Shane came in this world for only a few hours. His entire life on the earth celebrated by loved ones. Due to anencephalic state, he probably never was able to process sensory perceptions of pain or the like, but this baby knew love! His family never put him down in the four hours that he lived loved ones poured constant love over this tiny baby. He came into this world surrounded by love and left it the very same way. Tragedy turned triumphant in love. I get it. I have experienced it the moment that I discovered the Love of God and its true potential and genuine reality in my life. It has changed me forever. I am convinced that nothing can every separate me from God’s Love. Death, life, fear and worry have no hold on my heart because the Love of God has consumed it entirely. I do not expect the circumstances of my life to change but I expect His Love to change me in my circumstances to move me closer, deeper and more aware of His Amazing Love.

Ephesians 3:17-19 (NLT)

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

 

What will it take to find true love? Rest assured you will never find it in another person until you understand the perfect love that has been given to you by Jesus Christ as a Gift from God. When will I know it that I have found true love? I guess that really depends on you. I am a stubborn and prideful person who is intent on doing it all myself. It took a situation where I became powerless for His Grace to finally reach me. Once I discovered that there was more to His Love than I was experiencing – it became the ocean that Hillsong sings about. It is wider, longer, higher and deeper than anything that I could have ever imagined. Just when I think I have figured it out, His Love overwhelms me all over again. When I lost myself, His Love began to perfect my life. I am more satisfied now than ever before. I am happier than I have ever been. I am at peace even in the midst of great uncertainty and it is all because of His Love. Yesterday was our midweek church service, I didn’t go. I went to the gym instead. Don’t judge me. Sometimes you have to clear it out before you can clean it up. I usually listen to Pandora and some fast beat workout jam but “for some reason” the station would not load. After repeatedly trying, I laughed oh I get it now. I changed over to my playlist and found my favorite worship music. I realized in that moment that the Lord wanted some alone time with His Beloved (that’s me). My true love wanted to reaffirm His Great Love for me. He wanted to wipe away all those worries and fears that were accumulating on the doorstep of my mind pressing to come in. An hour seemed like minutes as faith, hope and love surrounded me. I am loved. I have found perfect love. It is true love.

I John 4:7-8 (NLT)

Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

Forget Me Not – A Devotion

myosotis

Psalm 103:1-4 (NLT)

Let all that I am praise the Lord; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name. Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me. He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies.

 

To be totally honest, I just want to forget the sorrow, hardship and grieve the last three years of our life. I don’t want to talk about it anymore. Most days I try desperately to push it to the farthest recesses of my mind. But the moment I see his picture sitting across my desk or on my dresser, it all comes flooding back. When I try to remember something I should know, only to realize I wasn’t here when it happened it is clear. Dates on the calendar like a wave building in the sea, I stand on the shore watching and waiting for it to crash over me. I know how to swim. I have figured out how to float to the surface when the current is too strong. It is not a matter of survival. Why is this anniversary proving to be so difficult? The only thing that I can think of is that it is the first one passing that our son is not in active treatment. It will be the first time since he was diagnosed with cancer that I will not be Christmas shopping with the infusion nurses while he gets chemo. Praise God! But it does not change the fact that as each day moves closer to the three-year mark, I feel such a heaviness in my heart. Why can’t I forget Lord and just move on? Why does it have to continuously play in my mind or minimally distracted by life? I don’t want to be in this place any longer. We survived this ordeal. Can we please just move on?

Lamentations 3:19-23 (NLT)

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

 

Each day as I reflect on the status updates posted on Facebook, I cannot help but remembering the suffering. Our son was so sick, but never ever did I think or imagine that it would turn out to be something as horrible as cancer. This is not what God meant when He promised to do more than I could ever think or imagine, and the enemy was quick to question my beliefs in that moment. Believing has not been the issue. Though quite small, my trust had potential that God knew that was there. The thought of suffering is bitter for sure. I will never forget this awful time but I want to desperately. When I was young, my parents divorced. They were just children themselves. My brother and I endured some very difficult thing while in the care of others that have all been erased from my memory. Some surfaced later in my life, but for the most part I only remember bits and pieces of my elementary years. The fog clears giving way to clarity somewhere around junior high and high school when things began to settle down and change for the better. I believe it was the Holy Spirit and a buffer that God put around me so I would survive those years with my faith intact. So many situations that could have turned out terribly, when God delivered us. I know that He saved us but I cannot remember the details vividly just abstractly. The trauma of our son having cancer seems to have left an indelible mark on my heart, mind and spirit. I have asked the Lord to use His Grace to remove it, but it still remains vivid and quite clear. I still grieve the loss of my so-called normal life. YET! I kind of like that conjunction. It is my constant reminder. Yet means at the present time. It also means up to that time AND in the time still remaining. Before this happened, while it was happening and long after it is over…yet (though, still and nevertheless) I still have hope…when I remember this… There is purpose in my remembrance and a reason that the Lord will not let me forget. His Faithful Love remains forever. His Faithfulness is forever. His Mercies never cease. I must remember so that I will not forget.

Isaiah 43:18-20 (NLT)

“But forget all that—it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.  The wild animals in the fields will thank me, the jackals and owls, too, for giving them water in the desert. Yes, I will make rivers in the dry wasteland so my chosen people can be refreshed.”

 

When I read this verse, it begins by saying forget all that. Doesn’t that mean to move on, get over, go past it, and press on because that is exactly what I am trying to do Lord. I want to survive this situation and just get on with my life. There are no hard feelings. I am not upset. I give glory, praise and admiration for you have indeed heal and delivered our son. I am thankful that you provided everything that we needed along the way to make it. You are a good God. You are faithful, loving and true. Surely these are not words from a hard heart or devastated soul, just a thankful servant. But the Lord did not create me, call me or save me to just survive. I was made to prosper and succeed. Is there something that I am missing in my hurry to get through? Something so impressive that only God can do but I must still pick up on.

The Children of Israel are reminded frequently not to forget all that happened in the wilderness. God led them through the wilderness with all its poisonous snakes and scorpions yet they were not harmed. He provided manna (a food they had never eaten also called angel food) that just fell from the sky all around them as God began to change their hunger so they would crave a relationship with the Lord. (Deuteronomy 8:15-16) How could they forget the Lord their God in all His Goodness? Oh don’t worry they did. God was showing them His Mercy. He wanted them to see that He would never abandon them even in the wilderness. (Deuteronomy 4:31) The purpose – so that each generation would set their hope anew in God. (Psalm 78:1-4) I get it. I do have faith that has born confident hope. I do believe. I know that God is good and His Faithfulness is forever … but Lord can I please just forget this awful time.

Isaiah 54:9-10 (NLT)

“Just as I swore in the time of Noah that I would never again let a flood cover the earth, so now I swear that I will never again be angry and punish you. For the mountains may move and the hills disappear, but even then my faithful love for you will remain. My covenant of blessing will never be broken,” says the Lord, who has mercy on you.

 

God’s Mercy has allowed me to enter a covenant of blessing with Him. In that covenant, He has promised to make good out of every detail of my life. (Romans 8:28) Rushing out of this season or erasing if from my memory could prevent me from having all that God has purposed to give me after the storm. We survived. That is enough for my soul who knows all of its faults and imperfections that humbly accepts what the Lord has done because I know me. But the Lord says, “Forget the past…all that mess that was washed into the Sea of Forgetfulness and focus on me today.” I am not finished yet. My Mercy is not done. The Covenant of Blessing not satisfied. My son died for you to have it…

Mercy is God’s Kindness, Compassion and Favor. Not just any favor, but Divine Favor that can only be imparted by our Creator. It means Divine Blessing. His Compassionate and kind forbearance of all my sin allows me to be satisfied according to the Covenant of Blessing. While I focus on surviving the Lord presses for me to thrive. Though I long to forget the past, as I want to press toward the mark of the High Calling of God. The Lord is reminding me today that I must finish the race to receive the prize. (Philippians 3:12-14) I want to be all that He purposed and planned for me to be and that includes accepting His Mercy, Kindness and Favor. I am a Child of God who chooses to serve Him. Not a child forced into servitude. I know me and have a hard time accepting more when He has done so very much. I want to forget and just move on but God wants to bless me. Rather than moving away from the mirror and forgetting, He invites me to step a little closer and see what He is doing in me so I can reflect His Love to all. (James 1:24-25) I may never forget all that has transpired as much as I think it would be a relief. There is purpose and meaning here yet to be discovered as painful as it may be.

Psalm 116:4-9 (NLT)
Then I called on the name of the
 Lord: “Please, Lord, save me!” How kind the Lord is! How good he is! So merciful, this God of ours! The Lord protects those of childlike faith; I was facing death, and he saved me. Let my soul be at rest again, for the Lord has been good to me. He has saved me from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling. And so I walk in the Lord’s presence as I live here on earth!

As I continue to reflect all that has happened in the last three years, it still is difficult. I know now there is a reason why I cannot make myself forget. Rather than struggling to do so, I must strive to know Him more and be receptive to all that He is showing me through this painful process. My life will never be the same. I have come through the wilderness and now live on the other side. I must learn to prosper in this place although it seems unnatural and a bit foreign at times. God is changing me each day to live in His Presence forever. It may be uncomfortable. Some days it even produces tears. But it will be worth it to live and never forget all that He has done for me and accepting all that He wants to do because of it. I will never deserve all that God has done for me. But I am so very thankful that His New Mercy meets me in each morning. It was there before trouble came. It stayed with us in the darkness. Now it gives way to new light! God is good all that time and all the time He is good. Today He is whispering – “Forget Me Not!”

Psalm 28:6-7 (NLT)

Praise the Lord! For he has heard my cry for mercy. The Lord is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.

Psalm 123:1-2 (NLT)

I lift my eyes to you, O God, enthroned in heaven. We keep looking to the Lord our God for his mercy, just as servants keep their eyes on their master, as a slave girl watches her mistress for the slightest signal.