Never A Dull Moment

Never a Dull Moment

Ecclesiastes 10:10 (NIV) If the ax is dull and its edge unsharpened, more strength is needed, but skill will bring success.

My life in Christ has proven to be anything but dull. It has been one wild ride after another. In my younger days, I was quite impetuous. I was willing to take chances. Early on, faith jumping brought great exhilaration to my otherwise less than spontaneous nature. Survival was my goal and learning to adapt well to my surroundings created a chameleon effect. I met Jesus at an early age but did not come to know Him until much later. One might image that when things went well to God be the glory and when things went less than opportunely, I wondered where the Lord was and why did He leave me? Jesus came to give us life abundantly. His Love is extravagant in nature. However, it is only in an intimate and ongoing relationship that such intimacy affords the luxury of His Amazing Love. I cannot think of any true loving relationship that does not require a sacrifice of some sort. Yet we approach the Lord expecting all He is for just some of us. This will never result in the life that is promised in God’s Word because it is only achieved when we truly connect to Jesus Christ – body, mind and spirit.

Life on the edge. We live on the verge of something greater each new day when we choose to take God’s Mercy and live in His Love. It is a choice. We are not forced into servitude but give our life freely. It is a love affair not a forced slavery. Yet, when we approach our relationship with Jesus based on the do’s and do not’s of His Word rather than responding to His Love, it feels like a burden rather than a blessing. I guess the real question is do I want His Hand or His Heart. Nevertheless approaching the Word of God this morning it was with the thought in mind that it seems the closer I get to the Lord, the more life seems like the ledge of a tall building and I am carefully navigating along the edge. I wonder if it is the same feeling Elijah felt after the wind, earthquake and fire when he stood at the mouth of the cave in response to the gentle whisper of His Beloved, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (I Kings 19:11-13)

I am not sure what you have experienced in your walk with Jesus but for me it has been far from dull. In fact, it seems like just about the time things quiet down a new adventure in this journey called life dawns. Though it looks like an ordinary life with ups and downs and all-arounds, it feels in my heart like an Indian Jones movie or Temple Run game. My heart beats wildly with expectation. New challenges for my faith await. My hope becomes heavier with new experience. The end usually produces complete and total weakness but when He whispers to me again, I cannot help but say, “Yes!” As a divorced mother of three young, vivacious children, I had decided that this would be the end of my brood. They were perfectly wonderful and thoroughly exhausting all at the same time. That is until I met my husband. Before we married and were dating, he asked me if I would consider having more children. Without hesitation, I said, “Yes!” Knowing in my heart that had not been my declaration, but face-to-face with my earthly beloved, I could not resist so three turned to five wonderful blessings. Our relationship with Jesus Christ is to be one of complete love and surrender like our favorite fairytale but rather than happily-ever-after, we live from everlasting to everlasting.

Hebrews 4:12-13 (NIV) For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

Our relationship with the Lord is more difficult and experiences opposition when it meets with hardness and callousness in our heart. Ecclesiastes 10:10 says that if the ax is dull and unsharpened, it requires more strength or effort. It goes on to say that skill will bring success. Skill is achieved through knowledge turned to wisdom and lots of practice. Our commitment to Jesus Christ is compared to engrafting. Grafting requires that each side be cut to make a connection for the graft to take hold. Jesus made the sacrifice on the Cross to establish this connection, it is up to us to satisfy our side of covenant. Covenant requires the letting of blood. We must respond with our heart before the Lord. His Word allows us to be cut to the heart. It circumcises us in our soul and spirit so we can become connected to Christ completely. This is referred to in Deuteronomy 10:16 and 30:6, as well as Jeremiah 4:4. God’s Word is the two-edge sword that penetrates us dividing soul and spirit. It is how we can daily move closer to the Lord.

Why is the Word of God essential to our life? To be labeled as “dull” means one that is slow to think or understand; lacking in interest; lacking in perception; and lack of ability to respond. All these characteristics are lethal to natural relationships so why not to our supernatural connection to Jesus? Love is a commitment. Lust is just about every other emotion humans call “love”. True love never fails. It is constant no matter what the others condition, circumstance or situation. There is no greater love than when one lays down their life for a friend. All of this is clearly defined in God’s Word. Why is it the most credible source? Well, Jesus is the Word of God made flesh. (John 1:14) In Revelation 1:12-16 when John sees Jesus, he refers to the words of his mouth as a “double-edged” sword. In Hosea 4:6, God warns us that people are destroyed by what? A lack of knowledge. We can gain the highest degree of education with all the merits of a scholar but if we do not truly know and love Jesus Christ everything else is worthless.

I Peter 1:5-7 (NLT) In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.

My greatest desire is to “make every effort to respond to God’s Promises.” Everything that God created in me and for me comes to life in Jesus Christ. Every opportunity, advantage and prosperity is developed in my attempts to love Him more. As I move closer to Jesus, I rely less on myself which is a scary proposition. I usually press and press for the promise and just like Peter who looked at the wind and waves, my natural sight terrifies me just before it becomes a reality. Love requires a full investment if we desire a relationship. Faith is how we connect to Jesus Christ. It is our trust and dependency on the Lord that creates an urgency to move closer. The closer we get the more our heart exposes its desperate and overwhelming need for His Love, Grace and Mercy so hope begins to drag us deeper into the depths of His Love that is too wide, long, deep and high for us to every fully comprehend – all that we know is we are drowning in it and no longer wish to be saved because now we are fully invested and surrendered to this love affair with Christ. I just want to be where He is. I desire to do what He says so that I can move closer. I want to hear that still small whisper of His Words just for me. I want to please Him in all things more than anything or anyone else. It challenges me. It scares me sometimes this life on the edge of reality.

Mark 9:20-22 (NIV) Just then a woman who had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding came up behind him. She touched the fringe of his robe, for she thought, “If I can just touch his robe, I will be healed.” Jesus turned around, and when he saw her he said, “Daughter, be encouraged! Your faith has made you well.” And the woman was healed at that moment.

Many years ago, a famous preacher was coming to our church. I respected this person greatly and highly anticipated their arrival. As part of the woman’s ministry of our church, I participated in the preparations and activities of the conference. I prayed and fasted leading up to the conference. I praised and worshiped the Lord because I knew what was coming that weekend. My desperation for the Lord pressed me deeper in the Word of God those preceding days and I was determined to get my blessing out of the three days. Friday night and Saturday morning there were three separate speakers who truly were a blessing but my heart was set on hearing from my favorite one. Arriving back on the church grounds, I literally had goosebumps. When praise and worship began, it was like Heaven or at least I thought so. In the quiet moments, just before the praise team stopped, in a room full of women worshiping and basking in His Presence I realized that what I came for I already had received. Before the one I highly anticipated breathed a word, I was completely in awe that the One I was truly after had already come.

Are you the woman with an issue today? Or maybe you feel plagued by many issues? Do you feel desperate for the Lord, but don’t know where to find Him? His Word is the best place to start. It is His Love Language just for you and me. We look for love in all the wrong places. Yet to open God’s Word and fully pursue Him will change our life in far better ways that just telling us what to do. It is to unlock the door to the Promises of God including His Plan and Purpose for our life. It is the place to find healing, deliverance and full satisfaction. It will break your heart. Cut you to your very soul in exchange for a beautiful love story with Your Beloved.

Life doesn’t have to be dull. You can live on the edge of impossible every day if your heart is up to the challenge. The woman was desperate for change and knew that if she could just touch the edge of his robe that she would be healed. When we turn our desperation over to the Lord, we can trust Him to do just what He promised. You don’t know what you are missing. This thing called faith is indeed a wild ride. Hope is to live the impossible on the edge of reality. There is never a dull moment when trusting God. It is so worth it. To know and live in the greatest love that I have ever known.

John 4:23-24 (NIV) But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”

Pitfalls to Palaces

Pitfalls to Palaces

Romans 8:28-30 (NLT) And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory.

I am a dreamer. Like Joseph, I get these crazy dreams and notions from God that are real and relevant long before fulfillment. So close I can touch it, I lunge for it and just like my friend, end up face down in a pit somewhere. For today’s purposes, let’s call the process of purpose the pits. No really – my humanity hates the process of purpose that leads me to that which God has planned. I desire the results but buck my way through each step. The enemy has a purpose, too. He wants to steal, kill and destroy every good thing God has predestined for my life. He wreaks havoc in the midst of my process digging pits, creating bondage, telling lies, and moving me back and forth from the edge of fulfillment back into the realm of failure. He cannot physically move me. He creates obstacles that at times seem too high to climb. Mountains of circumstances that cannot be overcome. He release storms of situations that like waves on the beach erode our faith turning it to fear, doubt and uncertainty. Yet still when all else fails we have this promise to hold on to – “and we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to their purpose for them.”

I am a dreamer who just fell into the pit…again. I know the dream that God has placed in my heart and labeled it purpose. I reached for it. I am going after it. However, this is not the palace. The happily-ever-after that came with the vision. It has been hard. It has been difficult. It has been incomprehensible. Yet I know what God told me. I know that He is faithful. I know that no matter where I am He is the Lord to whom I have surrendered my life. I know that He has called me to do greater things than I am doing right. I know that I have greater purpose than evident in my life at this moment. I choose to live by what I know or succumb to what I see.

It’s funny as I was praying last night, I looked at the details of my life. It is a good one. God has blessed our family. If He did not do one more thing for us but only remained with us, it would be more than enough to sustain me for the rest of my days. I have a dream. I have seen a vision. It is marked with the label of purpose and defined by fulfillment that is just too intriguing to let go of. But why is it so hard to achieve? In the beginning of our relationship with the Lord, it is common to come to Him for that which is already provided. He supplies everything we need in life including that which is needed to live a godly life. We are fully cared for in our current state. However, as we begin to pursue Jesus, our desire begins to shift from those things that we can see, feel and touch to satisfaction of our soul and fulfillment of purpose. Each successful foray of faith produces a need, want and desire for more. It is intoxicating. It is addictive. His Love really is better than life. His Spirit satisfies us body, mind, and spirit when given free rein in His Holy Inhabitation. The Lord is calling us right standing to live for the Glory of God which will always result in more than we ask or imagine.

Philippians 2:14-16 (NLT) Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people. 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. 

When I get to this place, I immediately recognize the impasse that it is. My flesh wants to give up on the dream. It is too hard. It is too far. It has become impossible. However, God’s Spirit inside me relishes in the impossible for in that moment God’s Plan is set into motion. When our dreams and visions given by the Lord are challenged, we enter the process of purpose that determines the outcome. God placed eternity in our heart. He has written and recorded every detail of our life including purpose before are birth day. Now, it is up to us to find our way to the Lord, and allow His Process to release His Purpose in our life.

What is the process of purpose? It is three-fold. Preparation. Positioning. Prosperity. We all love number three but must go through one and two to arrive there. The very thing that allows us to engage in the process and remain there is faith. It is that part of us refined in the process of purpose. It attaches itself to that dream or vision called hope and hangs on. The more we know about faith and our determination to trust the Lord for our purpose, the less likely we will be to throw in the towel at each turn when challenged, opposed, or overcome by fear, doubt or worry. I know that when all options have run out, when I have nowhere else to turn, when everything turns out to be impossible and improbable that there is something inside me that says, “But God said…” It is that instant that I know I cannot give up. I just have to hang on. I have to know how it ends. I have to see if God’s Word for my life is still true.

Genesis 39:8-9 (NLT) But Joseph refused. “Look,” he told her, “my master trusts me with everything in his entire household. No one here has more authority than I do. He has held back nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How could I do such a wicked thing? It would be a great sin against God.”

When I am frustrated and don’t understand what the Lord is doing or how He is doing it. When my life does not add up to God’s Word and I cannot see the light in the distance. I usually jump in the pit with Joseph again. I have to relive his process to remind me that I am currently on track for fulfillment of purpose. He was a dreamer. He shared his vision with his brothers who did not receive it well. Throwing him into a pit with the intent to kill him, God changed their mind so they sold him into slavery. This is preparation. Joseph learned to trust God in the pit. He also learned humility in the preparation as no longer was he the cherished favorite son but just another seemingly worthless, nameless human caught in slave trade. (Genesis 37) Potiphar bought Joseph. Joseph served the Lord and Potiphar well and his household prospered so the man put his slave in charge of everything. His only consideration would be what food he would eat according to the Word. Well… the thief has a purpose in our life to steal, kill and destroy. So here comes Potiphar’s wife. Her false accusations caused by his refusal spurned her into a fit of rage and lies that would move Joseph to the prison at the pit of the palace. After God prepares us, He must position us. Joseph was moved into position and like he did in Potiphar’s house chose to serve the Lord with the same zeal in prison with exactly the same results as he was now over the affairs of the prison. He would wait there until God smoothed out all the details and made a way for him into the palace. His day would come and Joseph would step into his purpose and experience the fulfillment of all the things that God had promised him and more. Do you really think that Joseph expected full reconciliation with his family? The Lord prospered Joseph in all things – body, mind and spirit.

Reading Joseph’s story, yet again, these verses caught my eye. Joseph lived his life to God’s Glory. Whether he knew it or not, he was in a process. His success in that process was that Joseph had a dream that he knew was from the Lord and so no matter where he ended up served the Lord trusting and believing that it would somehow come to pass. Where are you in the process of purpose today? It may feel like prison but what if it is just the pit in the palace. You are moving up. Will you wait it out? Will you serve the Lord through the process? At what point will you be satisfied? I will not be satisfied until the Lord fulfills His Purpose for my life. I can’t. I have come too far to turn back now. To quit, give up or turn away means that pit had more power than the Presence of God in my life. It means that hope was not enough for me. It means that my faith was in man not a Sovereign God who promises that He “causes everything to work together for (my) good (because I) love God and (I am) called according to his purpose for (me).” My process of purpose is personal. It is hand written as a love letter to a son or daughter. It is not generic but genuine fulfillment for me – His Child. He knows what I need to attain the prosperity that He has for me and hold on to it until He comes or I am with Him. The rest is up to me.

Philippians 1:27-28 (NLT) Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ. Then, whether I come and see you again or only hear about you, I will know that you are standing together with one spirit and one purpose, fighting together for the faith, which is the Good News. Don’t be intimidated in any way by your enemies. This will be a sign to them that they are going to be destroyed, but that you are going to be saved, even by God himself.

One thing to note about Joseph, from the moment he was pushed into the pit even until Pharaoh gave him absolute power over Egypt, he was never a free man in control of his life or circumstances. He remained subject to man throughout. This is symbolic of our process of purpose in the Lord. Our purpose will never be independent of our relationship to Jesus Christ who gives us right standing with God. We live in this world. We will have people in positions over us. We will be subject to persecution the more serious we take this who idea of dreams, visions and purpose because the enemy is desperate to squelch it. Because as we live for the Glory of God rather approval and affirmation and acceleration of people, others will notice the Light of God’s Love in our freedom, love, joy and peace. They will see our life begin to prosper in adverse conditions and impossible situations and decide to this God who we serve. They want to overcome, too rather than living in bondage another day.

To know that God is working in our life is demonstrated by radical obedience in the midst of the impossible. It is saying on the day you are thinking and everyone around you is saying give up, give in, and quit – “I will trust the Lord and hold on to His Promise for one more day.” We are to live as Citizens of Heaven according to the rules that govern it in allegiance to it. We are not of this world. This world has nothing for me. My dreams are from the Lord and fulfilled by His Purpose alone. I wonder if there were days that Joseph looked out Potiphar’s House at the palace trusting and believing that he would get there one day. Or were there days that he looked through the bars of his prison cell eating cold mush that he could smell the aroma of a feast, hear the music of celebration, and think I am going to be there one day. Maybe. But more importantly than dreaming, Joseph believed. I believe that more than anything else he did in captivity the most important thing he did was to pray I will “trust in the Lord with all (my) heart; (I) do not (cannot and will not) depend on (my) own understanding. (I will) seek his will in all (I) do, and he will show (me) which path to take (that will lead me from this pit or prison to the palace).” (Proverbs 3:5-6) I don’t know where you are in your process of purpose today. I know only where I sit. I must trust the Lord beyond my feelings or emotions based solely on His Word. I refuse to move until He gets here or moves me first. You are in a process of purpose driven by your faith and desire to trust the Lord. Do not give up. No matter where you are, what you see or the circumstances you are a man or woman of purpose on a mission that is too good to give up. Wait as long as is required. He has not forgotten you even if every other person has. He is not slack concerning our promise but perfecting everything that concerns us along the way. (Psalm 138:8) You have come too far to turn back now. You are full committed. No matter what the score is – it is prerecorded as a win. Jesus overcame the world so we could have abundant life. Live it.

Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NLT) For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.

A Good Measure

A Good Measure

Luke 6:38 (NIV) Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

Who doesn’t want a good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over in our life? To give must mean that as I give financially that I can expect a return. Maybe. I believe that sowing and reaping applies to everything in our life. Living long enough to experience many seasons gives one great hindsight vision. I don’t know about you but my life has felt the pressure, shaking and running that is often associated with routine and responsibility. To God be all the glory as He has blessed our family every way possible, yet in my heart I know that there is more.

We will soon sell the house that our family has lived in for more than a decade. Our youngest daughter doesn’t remember life before it. It is filled with memories good and not so good. It is the shell of refuge where we have dwelled a long time. Labeled sanctuary many times, it is filled with the Holy Spirit because we ask Him to come in regularly and be our guest. We are settled here. (Sigh) I believe that we all would settle where we are building comfortable places and allowing complacency to fill us if the Lord would allow it. But those who seek to know the Lord, do His Will and experience His Glory live a life of being pressed and shaken. In 2 Corinthians 4:7-9, it reminds me that I am but a jar of clay filled with this treasure of God’s Power. I am hard pressed, but not crushed. I am perplexed but will not live in despair. I am persecuted but never abandoned. I will be struck down but not destroyed. This is the process of a good measure. Our lives pressed and shaken until God’s Glory spills out running into our lap.

Mark 4:24-25 (NIV) Consider carefully what you hear,” he continued. “With the measure you use, it will be measured to you—and even more. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.”

With the measure you use, it will be measured to you and even more. These words are important to those who want more out of life. We must decide what that “more” looks like and create clear objectives and goals to attain it. The earth provides opportunity to sow into the natural reproductive cycle of life. We have families. We are allowed to build finances. To commit ourselves to a better life here and now – limits one’s future and hope. The weighable substance of life in the Kingdom is faith. We must take the measure of faith (Romans 12:3) provided to us and sow it now.

We can make this life more comfortable or we can live as temporary residents now to bask in forever. We worry about what we wear on the outside rather than being clothed in righteousness on the inside. The accumulation of our life that matters to the Kingdom will never be according to the wealth of this world. However, God’s People often live below His Standards because they cannot let go of what they have to possess all He is. Faith is not just reserved for the impossible but gives us the opportunity to live according to God’s Glorious Standard once forsaken by sin. The more the pressure and shaking in our life, the more evident those things that are keeping us from fulfillment.

2 Peter 1:5-9 (NIV) For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.

Make every effort to add to your faith. Every effort put forth in the course of a day should be wrapped in faith pursuant to hope. Our life should be viewed through God’s Word for fulfillment. Each request brought boldly before His Throne before another. Before our foot falls that step considered according to the Way, the Truth and the Life that is given to us. We have His Spirit living inside of us. Is He a silent partner or closest friend? Salvation is when we turn to Jesus. Faith are the steps that form our following of Him. To call Him Lord yet still live according to selfish motivation and daily aspirations to have a better life places a limit that Christ never intended for His People to have. In fact, just before going to the Cross, Jesus prayed for us. His Disciples. His Followers. The believers who would live long after His Departure. He promised those who endured the pressure, shaking, and like would be given a full measure of joy in return. (John 17) God thoughts are always higher than our own and His Ways far exceeding. Faith is the only way to have the Promises of God through Jesus Christ. If there is no faith evident in our life, there is nothing of worth to increase.

The Word of God reads like a recipe. Take your faith and add some goodness to it. Fold that goodness into the Word of God which is knowledge until it becomes self-control. Allow self-control to sit and wait until it becomes perseverance. Now mix perseverance with some godliness until it produces love and mutual affection for everyone. God’s commodity in our life is His Love. We have faith because God loved us first and loves us best. To commit our life to faith is not necessarily to produce natural things or creature comforts but rather to increase our faith inside until the only thing we become desperate for is God alone.

Ephesians 3:16-21 (NIV) I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

As a believer, I have the Power of God working in my life to change me into the person that I was created to be. The operative power in my life is faith. It is the measureable substance that the Lord examines in me on a regular basis. He looks at my heart. He listens to what I say. The Lord weighs the Fruit of His Spirit to see if I am producing properly. All of these things lead to my fulfillment. However, rather than comparing my life to Jesus, I become distracted and begin looking around. This is dangerous because God’s Plan, His Future, His Hope and His Inheritance for my life doesn’t look like anyone else’s. If I begin to desire what others have, do or become, then I immediately begin to settle, compromise and all substitutions in my life. 2 Peter 1:9 comes with this warning, “But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.”

Luke 6:37 warns us not to judge, not to condemn, and to forgive. Leading into verse 38 which begins with the word “give”. It is human nature to be selfish. It is the character of God and Jesus Christ to give. We are called to be givers. I believe money is the easiest thing to contribute to the Kingdom and the least desired by God, maybe that is why the streets of Heaven are paved in pure gold. God wants us to have faith. Trusting Him for our life – all of it. However, when we read this verse in Luke 6, it is much easier to accept it as the giving of our personal wealth rather than the giving of our life to a higher standard. The Lord desires to open our eyes to the real value and worth of our life that only seems to come about when we are pressed or shaken. It causes us to reexamine the content of our life looking for faith. Faith is the only substance that makes hope possible. It is the commodity and currency of God’s Kingdom that leads to fullness and complete satisfaction.

“To know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” The Lord has a better way. Judgment is often born of comparison. We measure our life according to another which creates substandard expectation in our life. Our desire should be to be filled with the measure of all the fullness of God. To pursue Him with our whole life not just bits and pieces along the way. If we would take all the possibilities of our life including the probable and improbable and place it in His Capable Hands, faith will add to the substance of our life making what we hope for the impossible come to pass. Here’s the catch: God always does immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine. It is according to His Power at work in us which is represented by our faith in God alone. God wants to bless you more than you can ask or think. Are you limiting your life today? Perhaps if we dumped out our cup and allowed the Lord to fill us up, we would see that our life can be better and more satisfying than we ever thought possible In fact, the Lord guarantees it. Are you feeling pressure to give God your situation today? Do it. Are you experiencing some turbulence in life that has you all shaken up? No worries. God is just making room for more faith that will make all things possible.

Philippians 3:13-14 (NIV) Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

The Finishers

The Finishers

Hebrews 12:1-3 (NIV) Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

I have a good friend who is a runner. This is not a shared common interest. If you see me running, you should probably run too as something must be chasing me. When our son was sick, many people reached out to us in a variety of ways. My friend found a bracelet honoring our son’s cancer battle and committed every marathon to him. It was a race of faith and each footstep she made symbolic. She won many of the competitions finishing well above her class in most. I believe it was the Team Unconquered spirit that gave her such strength not in her body but her spirit and soul. Each time she finished well was a heartfelt reminder that God has promised our son would finish this race, too.

My friend would run for another woman battled the same wretched foe. Her outcome would be different as she leapt into the Arms of Jesus to finish her course. Another course with a different ending but the same Great God. Just recently I was devastated to learn that now my friend who has faithfully run the race of faith with us is now running it on her own. She has been diagnosed with cancer. How can this be? Someone who unselfishly and unrelenting in her faith offering encouragement to others now must fight the same war.

2 Timothy 2:4-6 (NIV)  No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer. Similarly, anyone who competes as an athlete does not receive the victor’s crown except by competing according to the rules. The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops.

Life is full of attachments and entanglements. Things that attach themselves to us and those things which cause us to stumble and fall. We are all running a race of faith. It doesn’t matter if you are a runner, walker and crawler. In every marathon, all the runners are similar in appearance. Shoulder to shoulder, most begin strong running together in a pact with no clear cut winner or loser just participants on a crowded road. After the first few minutes, the group thins and become a string of runners. Each one a little more defined by experience and endurance. As the journey continues some will stop, give up or fall away. The runner who has conditioned their body against the elements, nourished their bones and muscles with proper food and water, rested prior to the race, and trained for it – those are the ones who cross the finish line. Some will run across with their arms in the air, others will walk to the line collapsing on the other side, and then some will literally crawl or be carried to the end. It doesn’t really matter how you start, but your life is contingent on how you finish this race called faith.

We must not get tied up in civilian affairs. This world is ruled by darkness and influenced by the enemy of our soul. It is his dominion. It is his domain. Our mission is the great commission. We cannot and will not change the world. We are not called to do so. We have been commissioned with a direct order by Jesus who has all power and authority over heaven and earth granted by God to do just one thing – go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20) If it was our mission to take over the world, why would we be instructed to respect all authority even governmental who have effectively cut God out of every public platform possible? (Romans 13) Our focus must be on the one, the sheep that is lost. The Lord desires the souls to build His Kingdom. We are not of this world and must conform to the rules of engagement set forth by Jesus.

I believe as my athletic friend ran each race honoring our son, her feet pressed in seeds of faith for this season of life. This time the good fight of faith will be fought by her. She will have what she needs because she will reap what she has sown. What kind of provisions are you planting today for tomorrow’s battle? Will you have what you need to finish the race? Faith is compared to a mustard seed. A seed of faith cannot grow until planted. We must learn to sow seeds as we go rather than checking a barren field for a crop not yet planted.

Isaiah 35:8-10 (NIV) And a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness; it will be for those who walk on that Way. The unclean will not journey on it; wicked fools will not go about on it. No lion will be there, nor any ravenous beast; they will not be found there. But only the redeemed will walk there, and those the Lord has rescued will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.

The way of holiness is the narrow road talked about in Matthew 7:13-14 because few will ever find their way there. It is just too hard to let go of reality to take hold of faith. I think that is why is compared to roles like soldier, athlete and farmers. All of these people sacrifice. They give their all. Giving up time, talent and treasure (resources) to pursue something more, bigger and greater than themselves. I believe such a sacrifice is need to fight and win the good fight of faith. Life without limits comes when we breakdown the strongholds of fear, pain and doubt to be overcome with faith that moves mountains, heals bodies and prospers our life. There are various stages to every race. Strong beginnings, waning and whining midway but then we can vaguely see the end in sight. It is at that moment giving up is no longer an option and hope rises within us. Love, joy and peace are the fulfillment of hope. It is a place of right standing with Jesus that removes every barrier from our life. It is time to unload those things that are keeping us from finishing the race.

Matthew 19:21-26 (NIV) Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth. Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

An impossible life begins and ends in Jesus Christ. He is the author and finisher of faith in our life. He is the beginning and end of all things. Those who choose to live by faith pursuing a relationship with Jesus will come to the end of themselves at some point. A moment in time when you must lay down your life for what you believe. It will change your commitment, confession and conviction until it is all or nothing. You must believe to be saved. Jesus Christ must be the foundational thought in all your thinking to know that you will finish the race and win the war for your life. The rich young man came to Jesus for validation of faith. He was a religious person who knew all the dos and don’ts set forth by God. He worked hard to follow all the commandments…that is until it all came down to the one that mattered the most. “Go, sell all your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in Heaven.” We are good with stay, hoard our stuff, and pray for the poor but what is this give it all away stuff? My life is worth nothing until I give it all away. Nothing is possible but I remain subject to all the impossibilities until Christ becomes my beginning and end with everything wrapped up in the middle. For me to live is Christ and die is gain. He must increase and I must decrease. We read the words. We carefully repeat them. Until we live them, they are lip service that will not open doors, break chains or add to the Kingdom beginning with me.

I Timothy 6:11-16 (NIV) But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. In the sight of God, who gives life to everything, and of Christ Jesus, who while testifying before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which God will bring about in his own time—God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen.

My friend will win her race. She is a finisher. The one who has put the time into training body, mind, soul and spirit. She has laid down her life for others. It is in that moment that we lay down our life for a friend (John 15:13) or maybe even love our enemies (Matthew 5:44-45) that God’s Love can reach the innermost parts of our life and perfect those things which concern us. (Psalm 138:8) Faith expands the capacity of our existence to receive that which we hope for. Nothing is impossible for God. Nothing. By faith, we have a wonderful opportunity to live a limitless life. It is time to step down from soapboxes and move away from politics to enter the race of faith also called the Highway to Holiness. Abandoning anger and offering forgiveness making our light (the Light of God’s Love) to shine brightly in the darkness. It is time to run the race of faith to the finish rather than throwing the towel in when the Lord doesn’t do it our way, the journey seems to long or things get uncomfortable. If we would just collect all the broken and fragmented pieces of our heart and life thrusting them into the Hands of Jesus, He will make a beautiful life from that which was broken. He will fill our voids with His Presence. He will bind our wounds and heal our hearts. No longer slaves to sin or bound to the past – we will finish the race of faith with the victor’s crown as promised. Thank you Jesus that you have not placed limitations on my life but given me the power to live without limits.

I Corinthians 9:24-27 (NIV) Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.

Balaam’s Blessing

Balaam's Blessing

Ephesians 1:3-6 (NIV) Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 

I am blessed. All of God’s Promises and Blessings for my life are predestined as an inheritance based on my adoption as a Child of God. Not just some, but every spiritual blessing is available in Jesus Christ. So what’s the catch? There has to be one otherwise I would be completely content waiting on nothing else to come to pass in my life. However, I am waiting and watching for the Lord so there must be something missing. The longer there is a void the greater the longing to fill it. About the time enthusiasm turns to endurance our mind begins to play tricks on us. The enemy begins to whisper, “Are you sure that’s what God said?” Other people may begin to cast doubt on your conviction. If God truly made a promise to you, it will line up with His Word and be confirmed by His Spirit living inside of you. From that point on, it doesn’t matter what you say or do – His Goodness is pursuing you! His Word will come to pass. His Spirit is working in us to prepare us for the day.

Numbers 23:19-20 (NIV) God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill? I have received a command to bless; he has blessed, and I cannot change it.

Balaam’s statement concerning God sounds like “Hey, I am just doing what I am told.” King Balak summoned Balaam to curse the Children of Israel encamped around him. He offered him a large sum of money and sent two separate teams of messengers to encourage him to come. Balaam, the son of Beor, was an influential sorcerer. He was aware of God yet still offered his services to others. The first time, Balaam declined as the Lord appeared to him telling him not to go. Then came the next group of visitors, and the Lord allowed Balaam to go with them but only to do what the Lord told him. Seems strange that the Lord would engage with someone who knew God yet openly defied Him just the same.

When Balaam arrives in the company of King Balak, he is overtaken by the Spirit of the Lord. Instead of cursing the Israelites, he begins to speak a rich blessing upon them. Of course, the king is infuriated but each time Balaam opens his mouth it was with blessing not cursing. Although Balaam would tell Balak how to create a stumbling block for the people, he could not curse or harm them in any way. This is an important piece of knowledge and understanding that is needed as wisdom today. The kind of truth that will bless and prosper our life completely.

God is not human. He does not lie or change His Mind in any way. If He speaks something, it is immediately enacted in our life with enough provision to grow it, develop it, mature it and harvest it in our life no matter what it is – it is coming. No matter what I do – it follows me. No matter how long I wander – it waits for men. Why? Because every single blessing and promise conceived before our conception and masterminded by God during our creation is waiting to be released. It is inevitable that when we find the Lord, we gain access to these promises in life.

Here is what I find insightful and exciting in this account of Balaam’s blessing – no one and nothing can stop God from blessing my life. No one can take my blessing away or change its terms. I just have to believe that God does not lie or change His Mind. If He said it, I must believe it and that’s all there is to it. There is only one way to release the Blessing of God in our life.

Deuteronomy 28:1-3 (NIV) If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. All these blessings will come on you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God: You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country.

God’s Blessing is released in our life through obedience. The more of our life surrendered to holiness and consecrated to the Lord, the greater the blessing. “If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all His Commands…” Some of you are saying, I knew there was a catch. Of course, there is. But if you think about it logically – it only makes sense.

If I need money to make a purchase, I may drive to the bank or local ATM. Whipping out my debit card, I will insert my pin number along with other important information and soon the machine or cashier will dispense funds to me. It is my money. I know how much is in the account. I know where it is. I understand what I must do to withdraw it. However, if I choose not to get up and go but decide to sit at home praying for God to release those funds, what will happen? Nothing. The money will stand in my bank account waiting on me. God has told us exactly how to open the windows of Heaven and receive an outpouring of His Power and Promises – what am I doing about that? Am I settling for less just so I don’t have to change positions? Am I compromising to maintain my comfort zone? What is keeping me from the promises detailed in Deuteronomy 28? Me. Really and truly, it’s me. Man doesn’t control God’s Blessing on my life. God’s Plan, Purpose and Prosperity is solely based on my willingness to obey. Kind of like automatic doors, unless I move in closer and set in front of the sensor, the doors will never open.

Ephesians 1:7-10 (NIV) In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.

The promises of God for my life are based on my purpose and lead to fulfillment each time. Every good and perfect gift comes from the Father. The riches of God’s Grace begin with salvation that leads to redemption. Everything else along the way aids in our pursuit of Jesus Christ and to know Him more. Obedience is our effort to follow God’s Plan. Grace is the covering that allows me to continue when I stumble or fall. His Divine Power has given us everything we need for a godly life through knowledge of him who called us by His Glory and Goodness – not power and punishment. Those times in our life when consumed by doubt, discontentment, discouragement, depression, and despair are times when we are challenged to trust the Lord just a little more and even a little longer. The Lord desires to bring about fulfillment in our life. He does not do it with cheap fillers, costly compromise or subtle substitutions. God only gives us His Best.

Deuteronomy 11:26-28 (NIV) See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse—the blessing if you obey the commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you today; the curse if you disobey the commands of the Lord your God and turn from the way that I command you today by following other gods, which you have not known.

Barak summoned Balaam to curse God’s People. Balaam answered Barak’s Call. However, when the time came for him to do that, the Spirit of the Lord came over him and he blessed them with a rich blessing. Abraham tried to substitute Ishmael for Isaac. God’s Covenant and Everlasting Blessing would come through Isaac. Yet right up to the end, Abraham asked God to bless the blessing that He could see rather than to believe for His Promise. Have we settled? We must challenge the intent of our heart or risk missing out on the everlasting. Esau sold his birthright for a single meal. Natural wants, needs and desires can cause us to give up on perfection for immediate gratification. Life is good so we accept less when God desires to fill our life with more.

As I begin today, I have a choice to make. Will I live in God’s Blessing or settle for something far less? We decide the content of our life thanks to Jesus Christ and His Grace. Now we have the ability to follow God with purpose or choose our own way. It is important to note that this is a choice made footstep by footstep. Every situation offers a choice of blessing or cursing. It is in every exchange of time that we make. Deuteronomy 30:1-3 offers hope for those times we blow it or miss God completely succumbing to the pressures of life and lacking the patience to wait. He sets our blessings before us and waits on us to decide. If we choose incorrectly, grace allows our repentance to have meaning allowing us to reclaim the promises of God for our life. This is called restoration and an important piece of the hope we have in Jesus. Repentance means a turnaround. So when I turnaround to become obedient and committed to Christ all over again, He restores my fortunes put at risk. He covers me with compassion and love. He gathers those things thought to be lost together again.

2 Corinthians 1:20-22 (NIV) For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

All of God’s Promises for my life are “yes” and “amen” thanks to Jesus. God makes us stand firm in Christ by testing and trials so our endurance is stretched into godly character. Waiting is still tough. It is difficult to remain true to God’s Word when surrounded by doubters. It is easy to be discouraged when everyone seems to be getting ahead and prospering but you. God hasn’t forgotten a single promise that He made you. His Word confirms it. His Spirit confides it in you. We must make a commitment to be blessed to see the fulfillment of God in our life. Faith must be the main factor in our life. Hope must remain constant and steady. God has sealed you with His Love and Promise that you will succeed in everything you do if you commit to His Way.

The Holy Spirit in our hearts guarantees God’s “Deposit” in our life. He guarantees what is coming to pass in our life. Are you praying for what is already done today? Are you asking God to move mountains that you are not willing to climb? Abraham had to climb the mountain to find the ram to release the curse on Isaac. What are you doing today? It is time to take this thing called faith to the bank. To start writing checks with our mouth that confess the goodness of God and blessing in our life rather than chronic complaining which overdrafts our account. Obedience opens the door that is unlocked by faith. The keys to the Kingdom are in your right hand. Do something with them today. Your promise did not die but your faith may need some resurrection power to be resuscitated. Your dream is not crushed just in need of a revival. Your purpose did not end when your heart was broken – God is ordering your life so you will be blessed from the top of your head to the soles of your feet. He will heal your broken heart if you will give Jesus all the pieces. You are blessed. I am blessed. Balaam or whatever their name is cannot stop it, but when they come against us God will use them to bless us even more. Don’t you just love Jesus? “Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!” (Isaiah 30:18)

Psalm 128:1-2 (NIV) Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in obedience to him. You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours.

Apparently Not

Apparently Not

I Corinthians 2:9-12 (NLT) That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” But it was to us that God revealed these things by his Spirit. For his Spirit searches out everything and shows us God’s deep secrets. No one can know a person’s thoughts except that person’s own spirit, and no one can know God’s thoughts except God’s own Spirit. And we have received God’s Spirit (not the world’s spirit), so we can know the wonderful things God has freely given us.

There are so many days that would be so much easier if the Lord would allow us to see what He is doing. What’s the big secret anyway? Do you wonder why the Lord will not clue us in so that we can help facilitate certain processes in our life? Just when I think I have a glimpse of the direction things are going, how things might turn out, or what my expectation should be, something happens to show me that I have no idea what the Lord is working out on my behalf. It is a helpless and vulnerable position especially for those who waver from faith to fear. No eye has seen. No ear has heard. No mind imagined what God has prepared for those who love Him. This statement is everlasting. It does not begin when we are born and it does not end with death. It is far reaching beyond the barriers and perimeters of this sequence of events called life.

God’s Word are His Written Instructions for life. His Spirit is our tutor, mentor and guide. We cannot see what the Lord is doing, or hear Him moving, and our mind certainly cannot make out the rough image of His Companionship though He is closer than a brother. The Spirit takes the Word of God and writes it on our heart weaving it in our life until we are seamless with the Lord or at least that is His Aspiration. It is only by God’s Spirit can we know what God is doing. Yet still it is not apparent in our life in terms of the natural so we must cling to the unseen, unheard and unperceivable thing called hope.

John 14:16-18 (NLT) And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you. No, I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you.

John 14:26-27 (NLT)  But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you. I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. 

The Holy Spirit does not give us supernatural sight allowing us to see God’s Plan unfolding with vivid clarity like the sun rising in the east or setting in the west. There are some who would like us to think that the Holy Spirit manifests in such a way but that is just not Biblical. The Holy Spirit leads us into all truth. He is seeking the Word hidden in our heart and equipping us with discernment to know right from wrong. He empowers us by taking that Word and strengthening our body, mind and spirit so when temptation comes (and it will come) it becomes a weapon of defense.

The Holy Spirit works with the Word in our life. Jesus is the Word. The Spirit is the manifestation of His Spirit in us. We are now linked to God through Jesus Christ, His Written Word and His Spirit living inside of us and even still we cannot completely perceive all that God is doing in us and through us. Why not?

Ephesians 6:12-13 (NLT) 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.

Every person ever created has eternity in their heart (Ecclesiastes 3:11) and a measure of faith (Romans 12:3) to begin the growth process of a new relationship in the Grace of God through Jesus Christ. We have everything we need to cultivate a godly life and live it. (2 Peter 1:3) The Word of God is seed scattered around our heart. (Matthew 13) Our hope is that at least one, if not more, will take root and grow into a promise. All of these things occur inside of us. We are here on this earth for such a time as this so the process of seedtime and harvest can be completed in us. We are not alone.

The ruler of this place called earth is not God or Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ has full power and authority over the earth including everything and everyone in it. He chooses to wait and not exercise His Full Authority…yet. We live in the world but we are not of this world. Because the rulers and authorities are of an unseen nature, so is the battle fought day by day. The war waged against the human soul is an inward assault. We live in the natural, but our battle is of a spiritual nature. Everything we can see, hear, feel and understand is of a substandard nature compared to the supernatural Mind of Christ that we are offered to navigate life. How do I fight the unseen battles inside of me so that God’s Light can make its way out of me? Good question.

Colossians 1:15-17 (NLT) Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see—such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him. He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together.

Jesus is Supreme. His Rule and Reign secure. His Power and Authority above all others. He is everything. He puts it all together. He is the One who holds it all in place. In order to win the unseen war, we must depend on the invisible God through His Son, Jesus completely. We must trust what we cannot see and believe what is incomprehensible. This is called faith.

Hebrews 11:1 (NKJV) Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Faith grabs hold of those things that are not apparent or readily seen hanging tightly to them. Faith is the substance, it is the glue that takes all the amazing pieces that seem undone putting it all back in place. But it is a work much like trying to build a giant puzzle without seeing the picture on the box. You have to go with what you know. I know that there will be a group of pieces with one straight edge to form the border. I know that each piece has a proper place that it needs to be connected to. I can do the puzzle. The more pieces the longer it takes. I must endure the process of sorting and moving until everything is in place and it is complete. Faith is doing this in our life today. The fact that you even think about this process is wonderful to the Lord.

2 Corinthians 4:17-18 (NLT) For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.

God’s Ways are higher than our own and so are His Thoughts…with good reason. (Isaiah 55:9) The enemy operates in the here and now. His dominion is on the earth and nowhere else. The enemy cannot stomp into Heaven and take what belongs to you. He must work in the confines of this planet to entice you to give it up and follow him. God has given us His Word. Jesus gave us His Spirit. We are provided a destiny called eternity and a measure of faith that glues it all together until we are complete lacking no good thing. What’s the problem? It’s all good. We walk in victory. Yay. Apparently not but spiritually for sure.

The enemy wants to lure you into the present and out of the Presence of God. We have eternity, forever and more hidden inside of our fragile heart. The more of God’s Word that we pack around it, the more of His Spirit released inside of us, and the more we press against adversity to iron out the wrinkles and anoint our life, the more victory we will have both now and forevermore.

John 20:29 (NLT) Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.”

When my oldest son was very young, probably about 3 or 4 years old, he used to stick tiny creatures in his pocket that he came across in the yard. He believed it to be safe keeping. However, when he would pull the insect or baby frog from his pocket there would be only a lifeless form. Either crushed from his constant activity or suffocated in his clothing, the animal didn’t make it. My little boy was destroyed at the thought. One day, I went to the store and bought him a little cage made just for such little explorers. He could take his tiny captives now and put them out in the open where they could live, move and more importantly breathe.

We must find a way to take an unseen God and push Him out into the openness of life. To move Him from our heart and manifest Him in the world for all to see. We have His Word to stand on. We have His Spirit to guide us. What will we contribute? Jesus told Thomas that those who believe without seeing will be blessed. You cannot see the Holy Spirit only manifestations of Him. You cannot see God or Jesus yet you believe that Jesus died on the Cross for you. Everything we base our faith and hope in is unseen. We must have confident hope in someone whom we have never laid our eyes on. If not, we will not make it. We will be crushed by our trials. Perplexed by problems. Persecuted and abandoned left for dead by an unloving and uncaring world. The roaring lion hunts his prey relentlessly. We just want to get home.

To live by faith makes believing without seeing inevitable or we have absolutely no hope. Hope is the anchor of my soul and I must cling to it dragging it into today whenever possible. The trials, trouble and obstacles that you are facing today are temporary. They only seem like they will last forever. Grab your faith and wrap your life in hope once again. It will change everything because it allows Christ to be Lord of all. Doubt is the human response to disappointment. It makes us jaded. However, when we reach apparently not moments of life and choose to rely on faith hanging on to hope, we will overcome because Jesus overcame the world. Complaining is celebrating the enemy’s victory over our life, but praise releases us to have all Jesus promised, do all that His Word says, and become a true Child of the Living God. Just because you cannot see how all the pieces fit together does not make the picture any less beautiful. All those seemingly insignificant details have a monumental moment within them. The best is yet to come for those who walk by faith and not by sight!

2 Corinthians 5:7 (NKJV) For we walk by faith, not by sight.

Lord Help

Lord Help

Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT) Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

A sailor who has sailed the ocean blue develops sea legs along the way. As the boat moves atop the ocean waves, the gentle swaying which once thrust the greenhorn around now is absorbed. They can effortlessly walk across the deck amidst the crashing waves and rising surf unaffected. When a storm arises, they remain confident as they navigate their duties because they have confidence that the captive will warn them should a rogue wave threaten their work. He is the eyes and ears perched high above their tasks. He is watching over them. They trust the captain so that even in the midst of a raging storm they can still fill the belly of the ship with that bounty they are after. Trust is the key to a successfully run ship in this scenario. However, if the captain does not pay attention or a man is whisked into the sea – all confidence is lost. This is a problem for now nothing will get done. The men will watch over their shoulders rather than working as a team. Arguments will rise up as those who trust will clash with the lack of confidence of others. It is important that we trust our captain, our Savior and our Lord. If not, we will not make it back to shore prosperous but shipwrecked and defeated.

Psalm 107:26-31 (NLT) Their ships were tossed to the heavens and plunged again to the depths; the sailors cringed in terror. They reeled and staggered like drunkards and were at their wits’ end. “Lord, help!” they cried in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He calmed the storm to a whisper and stilled the waves. What a blessing was that stillness as he brought them safely into harbor! Let them praise the Lord for his great love and for the wonderful things he has done for them.

“What a blessing was that stillness as he brought them safely into harbor!” I love this verse and all its implications. Are you in a storm? Is the wind pushing you around? Is the rain pelting your face? Do you need some relief? Are you looking for a way out? The ship was tossed to the heavens. It plunged down to the depths of the sea. The sailors cringed filled with terror. They were tossed back and forth. They cried out to the Lord. They did not delineate the problem or propose a solution to satisfy their need. They didn’t tell God how to calm the wind, stop the rain or even tame the storm as is human nature. They were beyond pride with hearts that were humbled. Their prayer, “Lord, help!” The sentence did not end there as a loving God who hears the cries of His Children immediately responded, “And He saved them from their distress.” It goes on to say that He calmed the storm to a whisper. It doesn’t say it ended or died down, but God muted it. He stilled the waves though there was still a current keeping the ship on course for the harbor. Harbor means home. It is where we excite the vessel carrying us to live in the place of permanency to which we are called. God is taking you somewhere today. Have the seas gotten just a bit too rough? If so, have you called out to the Lord? What was your request? Was it a plea or petition? Did you just say, “Help”?

Our prayers are based on expectation. Words forming our request made know to God. We are told clearly not to worry about anything, instead pray about everything. Sometimes, I think it is in our prayers to God that our all too human heart is revealed to us if we would take the time to listen to our words. Do we pray for resolution of our trial, trouble, heartache and pain or do we ask God to release the Holy Spirit so His Will can be done. Do we ask the Lord for His Will or remind Him of our own desires. See I think that sometimes our struggles last until we give out rather than the storm ending so that the Lord can give us more than we can think or ask. He has a better way and higher plan that is often overlooked and unwanted in the midst of human desire for comfort and convenience. When the only thing we can say is “Lord, help!” It is the most powerful prayer of all as we release all of our expectation to accept His Plan and Purpose for our life.

To simply state our need and move into thankfulness touches the heart of God. Total trust in the Lord allows us to give Him our heart’s desire and expect Him to do what He promised. It allows us to live in complete and total peace that God is able and will do exactly what He has planned to do according to His Promises. How do we get to a place of “Lord, help”? We must come to the end of ourselves. The sailors in Psalm 107 were called so by profession. This was not their first voyage. It was not the only storm that they had experienced. However, this one took them past their experience and beyond their comfort zone. Voided of self-confidence and lacking in trust for the natural captain, they cried out to the Lord. He immediately responded. God responds to our weakness because our weakness makes room for His Strength and Power to take over.

Psalm 37:5-7 (NLT) Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you. He will make your innocence radiate like the dawn, and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun. Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act. Don’t worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes.

To paraphrase these verses into my life goals goes something like this – Commit EVERYTHING to the Lord. Trust God. Totally rely on His Help. Believe He is doing just that. Be still in His Presence until His Word comes to pass. Wait for Him to act in all areas of my life. I am committed to finding and living in total Peace with God. It takes effort. It is a commitment. It gets uncomfortable. However, once I experience the stillness of living in the Peace of God as it carries me through life – I can’t go back. There is a place of peace reserved for those who choose godliness and holiness as a lifestyle that allows them to step over circumstances, ignore inconveniences, settling in to wait on the Lord. Content just to be present until He comes. This is who I desire to be. “Lord, help me.”

I Kings 19:11-12 (NLT) “Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” the Lord told him. And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper.

Just to refresh, Elijah had just execute the false prophets after making fools of them all. Jezebel, the most powerful woman in the land at that time, was furious and threatened to kill the prophet. She must have been very influential and ruthless to send him running into hiding. So the Lord comes looking for His Beloved and finds him hiding in a cave. So the Lord invites Elijah out of hiding to engage in conversation. When Elijah emerges it is in to catastrophic conditions including a windstorm and earthquake with fire, too. After all the elements of nature calmed down, the Lord whispered to Elijah in a still, small voice – “What are you doing here?”

The Lord is well aware of our circumstances. He knows every detail of the situation that sent you into hiding. He has come to call you out. You will have to trust Him to take the first step. Crying out to the Lord doesn’t always stall the storm, calm the sea, or stop the wind in our life, it carries us to a new level in the Lord as we learn to trust Him more. If we could only stop looking at the conditions around us and listen for the still, small voice of God. Trust waits for the danger to pass knowing He is waiting on the other side.

Daniel 10:18-19 (NLT) Then the one who looked like a man touched me again, and I felt my strength returning. “Don’t be afraid,” he said, “for you are very precious to God. Peace! Be encouraged! Be strong!” As he spoke these words to me, I suddenly felt stronger and said to him, “Please speak to me, my lord, for you have strengthened me.”

To live in peaceful stillness in the Presence of God will always require trust. More trust is needed the higher we go as the ground seems farther and farther away. Stepping out on faith, we are carried to a plain of understanding that is too comprehensive and complex for our finite human mind to unravel so we must trust and believe. However, from time to time, when we look down in our flesh – we are completely terrorized by the details of our life once hidden in our confidence and hope in God. See without total and complete trust we will go no further than our hands can touch and our eyes can see.

Daniel had been praying and fasting for three weeks. He had a disturbing vision that weighed heavy on his heart. The Lord came to Daniel. What was the first thing that the angel told Daniel? He told Daniel that he was precious to God. (Daniel 10:11) You are precious to God. “Then he said, “Don’t be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day you began to pray for understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your request has been heard in heaven. I have come in answer to your prayer.” (Daniel 10:12) I know sometimes we don’t think the Lord hears us but He does. The moment that we humble ourselves and pray – a command is released in Heaven on our behalf. Your wait time is not reflective of His Desire to be with you. He is with you! It is all the other details of your completion and wholeness that are being called to order. The angel goes on to explain the battle engaged in just to get to him through the reigning and ruling spirits of darkness terrorizing the world. (Daniel 10:13-14) In the encounter with God through His Mighty Messenger, Daniel finds that his strength is renewed. God will renew you when you are determined to live in His Presence. If our pursuit of His Will and Way does not end when the answer to our request doesn’t come ten minutes or ten days after we pray, but by believing we choose to live in His Presence and wait until He comes.

Colossians 1:19-23 (NLT) For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and through him God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross. This includes you who were once far away from God. You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions. Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault. But you must continue to believe this truth and stand firmly in it. Don’t drift away from the assurance you received when you heard the Good News. The Good News has been preached all over the world, and I, Paul, have been appointed as God’s servant to proclaim it.

God reconciled everything in our life once Jesus paid the debt for our sin. Now we are free to live in right standing with God and daily in His Presence at the foot of His Throne. Along with the beautiful and wonderful gift of salvation, we are given freedom. We choose the life we live and how we live it. God doesn’t force His Way or Will on us. He just promises is that it will meet and exceed all our human expectations. Whether or not we believe this will impact our willingness to continue pressing when the pressure is overwhelming. It will keep us committed when compromise becomes an easy escape. It is when we continue to believe this truth and choose to stand firmly upon it that we experience God’s Peace and can live in His Stillness no matter what our situation. Our full expectation for this life and forever become firmly affixed to Jesus. It is right here in this place that one can “be still and know that I am God!” Psalm 46:10)

I Thessalonians 5:16-24 (NLT) Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. Do not stifle the Holy Spirit. Do not scoff at prophecies, but test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good. Stay away from every kind of evil. Now may the God of peace make you holy in every way, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again. God will make this happen, for he who calls you is faithful.

It is our tendency to complicate the Christian walk with unnecessary measures. Things that we choose to do for the Lord that are not His Requirement stemming from a prideful heart that needs to be vilified in the midst of its own flesh’s destruction. Peace is evidence of trust that is not misplaced. When we retrieve our broken trust dealt out in the world taking what is left and laying it all at the Feet of Jesus, he immediately responds. Trust is not what we say but how we live. Our expectation will be in that which we trust. I desire the God of Peace to make me holy in every way. I want my whole spirit and entire body to be kept blameless so that I may stand boldly and confidently before Jesus one day. Only the Lord can create a clean heart in me and renew a steadfast spirit. It happens when I utter just two words, “Lord, help” and place all of my life in His Most Capable Hands. It is not a fancy gesture or overwhelming ceremony just a daily turning over my life to the Lord. It may sound weak and unsensational but really God is after our weakness to empower us with strength so anything else just will not do.

Do you find your circumstances overwhelming today? Is the storm closing in? Just two words will change this journey you are on no matter where you are or what you are doing. The prayer that changes everything? “Lord, help.” He is waiting, watching and yearning for you His Precious One to say those words. In the meantime, we can be joyful. Keep praying. Be thankful in all circumstances. Allow the Holy Spirit to move. Why? Because help is on the way and His Hope will never disappoint.

Romans 15:13 (NLT) I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Activate Faith

Activate Faith

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NLT) Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.

So much for the leisurely stroll around the Scriptures this morning, it is clear that the Lord has something to say to us today. This really should be titled, “The Fast and the Furious.” Most mornings, my time with Jesus is peaceful and quiet. We talk. We walk through the Word. I pick up nuggets here and there to share with others. It is a wonderful way to begin each day and I highly recommend it. Some days, like today, it is a different story. As if something is being poured and I am running to catch it in a small glass, I don’t want to spill a drop. The Windows of Heaven are open today which means our prayers are being heard, mandates given, and the power of God pouring out on His People. Thank you, Lord.

It all began innocently. I was creating a spreadsheet for our pastor of the guests from our recent Grand Opening Celebration. He will be contacting these families. It is important for us to connect with one another. Haphazardly glancing through the pile in sheer exhaustion, I clearly underestimated how many new people and families who joined us that day. The growing list overwhelmed my heart as it raced with excitement. But it didn’t stop there, as I pressed send on the email – we were off. I went straight to the story in 2 Kings about the widow whose husband had died and now was in a desperate situation…until the Lord came for a visit.

2 Kings 4:1-7 (NLT) One day the widow of a member of the group of prophets came to Elisha and cried out, “My husband who served you is dead, and you know how he feared the Lord. But now a creditor has come, threatening to take my two sons as slaves.” “What can I do to help you?” Elisha asked. “Tell me, what do you have in the house?” “Nothing at all, except a flask of olive oil,” she replied. And Elisha said, “Borrow as many empty jars as you can from your friends and neighbors. Then go into your house with your sons and shut the door behind you. Pour olive oil from your flask into the jars, setting each one aside when it is filled.” So she did as she was told. Her sons kept bringing jars to her, and she filled one after another. Soon every container was full to the brim! “Bring me another jar,” she said to one of her sons. “There aren’t any more!” he told her. And then the olive oil stopped flowing. When she told the man of God what had happened, he said to her, “Now sell the olive oil and pay your debts, and you and your sons can live on what is left over.”

The widow was in a desperate situation. Her husband gone. No source of income. Her sons about to be taken into slavery. She felt like her life was slipping through her fingers. Elisha asked her, “What can I do to help you?” He asked her, “What do you have in your house?” Nothing. She had nothing but a flask of oil. Do you feel like the widow today? When you look around there is only desperation. Examining your life to find a hopeless situation. There is nothing to work with or draw from. What do you do? You turn to the Lord. We all do it. When things are good, we take over control of our life until we run dry, run out, or are used up. Then turning back to the Lord in desperation. He does the miraculous.

Elisha told her to gather as many empty jars as she could from friends and neighbors. NOTE: He did not tell her to go find jars full of any earthly sustenance which is human nature. To grab a handout if you can. He told her to go muster her faith. How big is your faith in God today? Is it possible to trust the Lord beyond your own understanding? Can you plunge into the depths of His Ways and Thinking that is so much higher than our own? Are you willing to wait for Jesus to do more than you can ask or think? Oh it’s coming. He is only waiting on you to activate your faith the moment you are filled with desperation.

I wonder what this woman was thinking at that moment. The beginning of desperation is called despair. This is usually when we are worrying, fretting, stressing, crying, complaining, moaning, groaning and miserable over the situation or circumstance we are in. Desperation comes after that. When we are desperate, we become reckless in our behavior. We have nothing to lose. The urgency of our need or desire take over good common sense. Our hope is dangerously low and the indicator light is on. What is it telling us? A miracle is about to happen. When our despair leads to desperation, it is the moment that our living condition becomes intolerable so something has to change. For those who believe filled with faith will become willing to walk by faith not by sight in that moment, they will risk anything just to be saved.

The outpouring of God in this woman’s life was limited only by her faith. When the vessels were full, the oil stopped pouring. What is the capacity of your willingness to trust the Lord? What is your level of faith? Have you cried out to the Lord and things only went from bad to worse? Good. God provides the impossible so that faith can make all things possible.

Romans 5:1-5 (NLT) Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory. We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

Faith allows us to be in right standing with God. By His Grace, we are saved by what? Faith. Faith that is lip service yields nothing but hot air. It is when faith moves from an attitude to an action that it is activated. You will not step out of comfort into faith but you will grab hold of it to pull yourself out of a fiery trial or two. We live in a place of undeserved privilege by faith. We are changed from glory to glory by faith. We must have faith to please God and remain in good standing with Him. (Hebrews 11:6) What produces faith? We run into problems and trials and get a little discouraged. Trotting along the road gets a little longer, so we must be patient and endure. Oh now we get a little disheartened. I hate to wait. God knows my heart so I find myself waiting all the time. I must endure to the end to be saved. This will require patient endurance that God is giving me in those wait times. I get it even though I don’t like it. Gotta keep moving. Endurance develops our character. Why is that so important? Character is important. It is our identity. Who we are? We are to be sons and daughters of God. We should look like it, talk like it and act like it. When our appearance and identity according to the world begins changing into who God created us to be, the fearfully and wonderfully made man or woman designed by God and masterpiece drawn by His Mighty Hand something begins to change in us. See when we cannot save ourselves – we turn to the Lord in complete desperation. The attainment of faith can be a difficult process. It is always worthwhile.

What do we find at the end? Hope that will never ever lead to disappointment. We thought that is exactly where we were headed down letdown lane, but really God was emptying our vessel to fill us up again with something more valuable than what worry, fear and doubt produced. You would have never let go of lesser things if God asked you for them. It would have been a fight to the finish. He just led you to something better that you are more than willing to take hold of and embrace.

Romans 5:6 (NLT) When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners.

Are you utterly helpless today? Do you feel wrung out like a dishrag lying on the sink? The dishes are done but so are you! God sees you right where you are and is rejoicing over you today. Great things are about to happen in your life because He has just about got you moved out of the way. Grace is pouring over you. It is feeling every void with the same resurrection power that brought Jesus Christ out of the grave.

2 Corinthians 12:8-10 (NLT) Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

The widow woman was discouraged. She felt hopeless. She became desperate. Her miracle came to pass that day. What about you? Is there a miracle in your midst today? I absolutely believe that there is. It is my experience that when our situation is labeled “impossible” or we are told that it is “hopeless” or maybe given the impression that it will be this way “forever”, that this is the moment His Grace becomes enough. This is the only time in the Word of God that Paul refers to the “thorn in his flesh”. He asked the Lord to remove it three time different times. Been there, done that. When our son was diagnosed the third time with cancer, the Lord brought this verse to mind. I read it. I got mad. I felt it was so cliché. God said, “No, really.” I thought “I wish that He would mind His Own Business.” I felt was a callous response to his brokenhearted daughter. Little did I know that my life was far from undone. It was only the beginning.

Each diagnose took a little more and a little more of my faith. I remember the day it ran out. Sitting at my desk in my office at work. All the lights in the building had been turned off except a desk lamp softly glowing. We were out of options. The final denial had come in and if God didn’t do something soon – our son would die. I have never felt so dry and desperate. The Lord has been good to me. God loves me. But I couldn’t understand why He would promise me that our son would live but it didn’t look like anymore. Staring at blank computer monitors, I felt like I was looking at a mirror to my soul. Dark, oh so dark. All I could whisper, “but I trust you God.” Dissolving into tears, I just poured out what was left of me to the Lord. I was weak, but it was in that moment of totally trusting Jesus that I found strength. He became my strength because I couldn’t do it anymore. I was done so He could step in and fill every facet of my life with His Power to finish the race of faith and claim the prize.

Matthew 14:28-32 (NLT) Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.” “Yes, come,” Jesus said. So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted. Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?” When they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped.

Jesus is doing exactly what He promised to do, but are we willing to get out of the boat. Not until our comfort zone is compromised, Peter didn’t even consider leaving the safety of the vessel until it was taking on water in danger of sinking in the storm. He was all too ready to jump in the water with Jesus when he became desperate. The moment Peter’s feet hit the water, his faith was evident. The moment his faith ran out was just as clear when he began to go under. Our faith is proportioned to our ability to trust Jesus, keep our eyes on Him and walk with Him. It is clear when it runs out.

The process of life for a believer is to attain faith in Jesus Christ and to trust God. This is the system of exchange that connects us to Heaven, blessings, prosperity and success according to the Word, Will and Way of God. We will not pursue God outside of desperation at the level necessary to secure heavenly things but just enough to remain comfortable. Comfort leads to compromise. Compromise invites complacency to live in us. This is a dream crusher, faith killer, and hope destroyer that the enemy uses every single day to cause Christians to go under. His Grace is enough. You will not know or understand its potential until His Grace is all that you have.

Matthew 17:19-20 (NLT) Afterward the disciples asked Jesus privately, “Why couldn’t we cast out that demon?” “You don’t have enough faith,” Jesus told them. “I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.”

If faith came in large quantities, it would not be compared to a mustard seed but mighty timber or giant mountain. No it is tiny and small. Hard to come by but with the greatest potential. We are impossible people. No really. In Genesis 11:5-6, God said that united people can do the impossible even apart from Him. Good luck with that huh? We cannot come together to save our souls in many instances so thankfully that is not a requirement but definitely a blessing when we get it right. We have impossible potential in us. Partnered with the Lord this becomes our purpose. It is in our desperation that we cry out to God. (Zechariah 8:6) I am not ashamed to admit that I have never ever cried out to God like I did on behalf of our son. It changed how I pray. It took my relationship with Jesus to a whole new level independent of our son and his situation. I will never be the same because of it. When we cry out to the Lord, He usually asks just one thing of us – to trust Him more. Do you trust the Lord today? The powerless become powerful just because they have the tiniest of faith.

Mark 9:23-24 (NLT) “What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.” The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!”

This father was desperate to see his son released, delivered and set free. Jesus told him that anything is possible if a person believes. Do you believe? The words of your mouth reveal the contents of your heart. Actions speak louder than words. Those who believe are at peace even in the mightiest storm. Though stricken, they do not fall but regain composure thanks to the Hand of God that holds them. They do not lack, complain or die in famine but thrive nevertheless. God has all this instore for us. He is just waiting for us to trust Him a little more. We must turn our “if you can” to “yes you can” today and be willing to wait until God works it all out.

Hebrews 11:6-10 (NLT) And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him. It was by faith that Noah built a large boat to save his family from the flood. He obeyed God, who warned him about things that had never happened before. By his faith Noah condemned the rest of the world, and he received the righteousness that comes by faith. It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going. And even when he reached the land God promised him, he lived there by faith—for he was like a foreigner, living in tents. And so did Isaac and Jacob, who inherited the same promise. Abraham was confidently looking forward to a city with eternal foundations, a city designed and built by God.

It is impossible to please God without faith. He is not asking for much just a willing, empty vessel to fill and refill over and over again. Are you that vessel today? It is easy to proclaim a faith you do not have. People do it every day. But when the entire world comes crashing down around you, will it be enough to keep our hope secure. That really is what it all comes down to – how strong is our anchor of hope? (Hebrews 6:19) God told Noah to build the ark. Noah did it even though he didn’t know what “rain” was. He just did it by faith because he believed God completely. Abraham was told to leave his home for an unknown destination. God knew where Abraham was going and what He would find there. Yet Abraham had to pack up his family and move to find it. Peter would be the rock upon which Jesus built the church. Peter had to get out of the boat first. Our faith must be activated. God uses desperation to facilitate faith in our life. Rather than looking at what you do have, get out there and find opportunities to invest your faith into impossible situations. Over and over again, God will provide the grace that promotes power, the faith that moves mountains, and hope that never leads to disappointment. The next step is up to you!

Psalm 37:3-4 (NLT) Trust in the Lord and do good. Then you will live safely in the land and prosper. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires.

Stay Free

Jail Cell With Open Door And Bunch Of Keys

A closeup of the lock of a jail cell with iron bars and a bunch of key in the locking mechanism with the door open

Galatians 5:1 (NLT) So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law.

The word “slavery” is ugly and seldom used in anything other than a negative connotation. Freedom is the celebrated term which is opposite. People desire liberty. No one cries out to return to prison except maybe those who do not know how to properly maintain freedom. For many years, I worked in Student Services for a local technical institution. My position would change my perspective about many things as I began to see more than just my life, circumstances and condition. There were many young people seeking registration as a court-ordered requirement. Many adjudications include a provision for gainful employment or education. Education is usually more accepting of those who have seen the inside of a jail than most workplaces. I encountered those who decided that they did not want to return to their former life shaped by bad choices, but would rather pursue freedom in their second chance. Well…and then there were others.

One young man had missed the deadline for registration and made an appointment to plead his case. It was my responsibility to listen to him and decide if he could enter school or must wait until the next semester. A professional judgment is made by financial aid representatives in such circumstances. Some are unable to do so due to personal illness or that of immediate family member. Others have extraordinary situations that are uncommon so therefore considered. He had been an unwilling client of the local jail due to pending drug charges. I asked if he had been exonerated or held unjustly. He said, “Yes! I explained that we would just need a copy of the court documents clearing him of all charges. He looked perplexed. See he had pleaded down to misdemeanor charges and credited with time served. He now was on probation so although he was “free” it did not remove his record just satisfied the charges. The boy was quite incredulous when he was not allowed to enter school. See in his mind, if you did not do jail time then he was innocent which was not the case according to the county court house and document of record.

Christ sets us free. It is up to us to maintain our freedom. There are many today who like this young man do not fully understand the requirements of freedom, resolution of sin, and our new life in Jesus Christ. It is important to take the time and invest energy and effort understanding freedom in Christ and working to maintain it. The fact that Jesus Christ took the Keys to the Kingdom and opened the door does not mean that everyone knows how to walk out of bondage into freedom forever. In fact, there are many people who look right, act right, talk right but do not live in right standing with God through His Son, Jesus. I don’t want that to be me. You don’t want that to be you either?

John 8:36 (NLT) So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.

First let’s talk about the process of freedom for a moment. Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one accesses the Father any other way but through the Son. It doesn’t matter how or what you believe. If you do not come to the Father through His Son, Jesus you have not arrived. “God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made him head over all things for the benefit of the church. And the church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself.” (Ephesians 1:22-23) Jesus can set you free because He all things have been placed under His Authority by God. “For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins.” (Colossians 1:13-14) This power and authority obtained by Christ through the sacrifice of His Life for us allowed the debt of sin levied against us to be completely satisfied. Our debt paid in full allows us to step into freedom. Are you with me so far?

“We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin.” Jesus Christ has given us the opportunity to live apart from sin. We are free to step out of darkness into light. Turn from evil and do good. We are no longer slaves to sin because we are no longer indebted to it. “And what was the result? You are now ashamed of the things you used to do, things that end in eternal doom. But now you are free from the power of sin and have become slaves of God. Now you do those things that lead to holiness and result in eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:21-23) Now the part the church is divided over and Christians struggle with every day…we are no longer slaves to sin BUT become slaves of God. What? What’s the point of freedom if I am just enslaved again? God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made him to be wisdom itself. Christ made us right with God; he made us pure and holy, and he freed us from sin.” (I Corinthians 1:30) We cannot earn our freedom because we cannot pay the debt of our sin. We need Jesus to do that. His Grace is sufficient for me and must be applied to my life every single time that I sin willingly or unwillingly, knowingly or unknowingly. Apart from Christ I can do nothing, I will inevitably die eternally without a constant and complete union to Jesus Christ. Since I cannot purchase my freedom, my life belongs to Jesus Christ. I am enslaved to God.

John 8:31-32 (NLT) Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Psalm 119:44-45 (NLT) I will keep on obeying your instructions forever and ever. I will walk in freedom, for I have devoted myself to your commandments.

2 Corinthians 3:16-17 (NLT) But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 

Jesus told the woman at the well that a day was coming when true worshippers would do so in Spirit and in Truth. We are that generation. We worship by the Spirit given to us by Christ. We worship by living and breathing the Word of God. The Word made flesh was Jesus. The Word of God is necessary. It is true. Living out the Word of God demonstrates that we are His Disciples. The Word of God keeps us on the straightaway called freedom. By doing what the Word says, we avoid sin that allows us to live in freedom. When we fall short, grace can be applied to regain our position of right standing once lost.

The common mistake and misconception that comes from a lack of knowledge that God deems as deadly is that because Jesus died for our sin and applied grace to our life that nothing further is required of us as God’s People. When a person commits a crime, he or she is sentenced to a penalty for their crime. When they satisfy this requirement, they are free to go back into society and live a life of newfound freedom. However, if they continue to commit crimes or break the law, they will find themselves back in the same captivity and imprisonment. They will go right back to the place they were freed from. Why? They continued to transgress against society. There are many Christians who have the same problem. They are set free but cannot seem to maintain their freedom. Each time the penalty gets steeper in an effort to dissuade the criminal from continuing to commit crimes. I know…I have a brother on his third strike. He cannot maintain his freedom because he chooses to take things that do not belong to him. Thou shalt not steal does not seem to apply to his life. If and when it does, he will maintain his freedom longer than a few years.

Galatian 5:7-9 (NLT) You were running the race so well. Who has held you back from following the truth? It certainly isn’t God, for he is the one who called you to freedom. This false teaching is like a little yeast that spreads through the whole batch of dough!

It is up to you and me to maintain our freedom in Christ. We must strive to stay free each day. The only way to successfully accomplish this task is to be completely bound to Jesus Christ. We can do nothing apart from Him. (John 15:5) God has called you free. Jesus has opened the door of captivity and swung it wide. The price. Self. All of you. Why? Because any part of our life given to sin is a place of stronghold that will be easily taken over.

Why freedom? Faith in God maintains our freedom. Trusting Him with our entire life and being. Loving Him with our whole heart. Accepting the Mind of Christ in exchange for rebellious thoughts. What is in it for me? Freedom from guilt. (Psalm 19:12-14) Freedom from fear and trouble. (Psalm 34:4-7) He frees our hands from heavy tasks that we were never intended to bear so we become successful in achieving His Purpose and Plan for us. (Psalm 81:6-7) In fact, Jesus sets us free from all captivity. He frees us from isolation. (Psalm68:5-6) What is holding your thoughts captive today? What bondage persists in your body? What is the stronghold in your mind? Jesus has the means to set all captives free. Do you want to be free?

I Corinthians 1:7-9 (NLT) This confirms that what I told you about Christ is true. Now you have every spiritual gift you need as you eagerly wait for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. 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.

My husband is not enslaved to me. We live in covenant. Yet I do lay my life down for him each day because we are life partners. I love him. I have decided to lay my life down for Jesus Christ. My partnership with Jesus indicates that I am a servant of God. We like that word better because is indicates a choice. We do have a choice. The choice is life or death. Once the choice for life is made it is an automatic acceptance of becoming bound to Jesus Christ. If I decide to keep things from Jesus – it is not different than keeping things from my husband. Marital secrets will destroy a relationship quickly. It eradicates our partnership with Christ immediately. Aren’t you thankful for grace and new mercy each day? We have every spiritual gift both in His Word and the Holy Spirit to eagerly await the return of Jesus with great expectation. To live in expectation is to exercise one’s freedom from sin. Our only success against sin is Jesus Christ. Apart from Him, sin is the authority in my life. It is one or the other. Freedom or bondage? What will your choice be today?

Psalm 116:16 (NLT) O Lord, I am your servant; yes, I am your servant, born into your household; you have freed me from my chains.

Welcoming Sorrow

Welcoming Sorrow

2 Corinthians 7:10-11 (NLT) For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death. Just see what this godly sorrow produced in you! Such earnestness, such concern to clear yourselves, such indignation, such alarm, such longing to see me, such zeal, and such a readiness to punish wrong. You showed that you have done everything necessary to make things right.

“Any mind that is capable of real sorrow is capable of good.” – Harriett Beecher Stowe. Have you experienced sorrow in your life? Are there things that just don’t make sense that cause you to live in a state of continual grieving and sadness? Sorrow is distress that can be caused by many conditions and circumstances in our life. Trials produces it quite readily. The emotions caused by loss, affliction, and even disappointments that linger in our heart and mind well past the event that precipitated such thought. I know people who live in this state of transition. It is a place somewhere between death and life. Afraid to step out of the past, but in need of the future and forever, we struggle to understand why God who loves us so much would allow such things to happen to His Beloved Children.

There is purpose in your sorrow today. Sorrow leads us from sin and results in salvation…at least the kind of sorrow that the Lord allows in life. Godly sorrow will always turn us from sin. Sin is the point in time when God’s Will is abandoned for lesser things. It is not the Lord who takes it from us but our own behavior that keeps us from the greater things that He promised. We blame God for our freedom rather than embracing it to have all that is ours as sons and daughters of God. Today we must learn to welcome sorrow especially the kind that leads us to repentance for as we turn from sin and all the less things, we can fully apprehend by faith what belonged to us from the beginning.

John 16:32-33 (NLT) But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when you will be scattered, each one going his own way, leaving me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me. I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

Trials and sorrows should come as no surprise to a believer. Jesus told us that they would be part of life on the earth. You will have seems pretty clear and apparent that there will be hard times associated with life on earth. But those things aren’t going to happen to me, right? Wrong. You will have trials no matter how saved you are. You will experience sorrow even if you heart and mind are set on Jesus. Those who serve in churches faithfully still go through hard times. The good do die young. The wicked will prosper all around you. There will be a good fight for faith. Please understand this is not the Lord punishing us or ignoring His Promise. In each of these instances, it is an opportunity for sorrow to become joy. Mourning to become dancing. Dead places to be resurrected to life. Your disappointment becomes hope when it is attached to one’s faith. See God is using those sorrows to bless you and complete you. You must be empty to be filled. Thought painful in process, it will always prosper you.

“The blessing of the Lord makes a person rich. He adds no sorrow with it.” (Proverbs 10:22) This is the promise verse for my life right now. I am learning that my wealth in the Lord does not have any sorrow attached to it if I am willing to wait on the Lord to complete every good work. The Lord promised me when our son was sick that He would cause everything to work together for my good because I love Him and am called according to His Purpose. This is kind of hard to visualize cleaning up vomit and watching your child suffer helpless to relieve his pain and suffering. It doesn’t always make sense what the Lord is doing or how He will do it. This is why faith is important. We must trust Him enough to stick it out no matter what. It is then and then that we overcome the world and step into His Promise.

Isaiah 53:3-6 (NLT) He was despised and rejected— a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care. Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him the sins of us all.

Jesus was “a man of many sorrows”. It was our weaknesses that He carried and it was our sorrows that weighed Him down. Jesus carried every single one of our sorrows to the Cross with Him. We find relief from our sorrows at the Cross when we lay them at the Feet of Jesus. He did not place the sorrows on our back. Sin is the cause of our sorrow as it leads us away from the Lord to partake of lesser things. We feel regret because the eternity hidden in our heart knows the potential of our life when purpose is fulfilled. We are disappointed because the measure of faith in us knows hope offers so much more. The Holy Spirit is given to help us in our weakness. As we surrender our sorrow to the Lord, the Holy Spirit works in its place to prosper us.

“Sorrow is a fruit. God does not make it grow on limbs too weak to bear it.” – Victor Hugo. In the midst of suffering, please do not tell the person that God only gives the toughest battles to the strongest warriors. The person fighting does not feel strong, they are being completely undone in weakness. No one knows God’s Purpose and Plan in each trial and trouble. Only the Lord knows what He is doing, the outcome and the promise. When I read this quote by Victor Hugo, I wanted to punch him. No seriously. Just haul back and pop him one, sorry Mr. Hugo. But as I let the words sink in, it makes sense. The Lord knows the potential of our life. He allows things to happen to us so He can work through us. Sorrow presses us into His Presence. Let’s face it when things are good we tend to say, “God, I got this” and keep on trucking along. God loves us to much to allow us to stray too far from His Divine Plan for those who love Him and strive to live for Him.

In I Samuel 1:10-20, we see Hannah crying out in anguish to the Lord. So grieved by her barrenness, she desperately pleads with the Lord. Her devastation leads her to a place at the altar. Her performance convinces Eli that she just may be drunk. However, after speaking with her, he knows that this is complete desperation for God. Pregnancy is often used to explain the birth of promise. Jesus says in John 16:21, it will be like a woman suffering the pains of labor. He is talking about his death and resurrection, but could the Lord also be cluing us in to the process of promise which is the birthplace of purpose. It is in our sorrow that we turn to the Lord like Hannah. She promised to return to the Lord the child she was given. She would bring Samuel back to the Temple to serve for his life. She would not share life with him but watch from afar. Would this not produce more sorrow? Life is a process of redemption offered to us by Jesus when He bore the sorrow of our sin. Our decision to love and serve Him does not end sorrow but makes it productive.

Jeremiah 31:12-13 (NLT) They will come home and sing songs of joy on the heights of Jerusalem. They will be radiant because of the Lord’s good gifts—the abundant crops of grain, new wine, and olive oil, and the healthy flocks and herds. Their life will be like a watered garden, and all their sorrows will be gone. The young women will dance for joy, and the men—old and young—will join in the celebration. I will turn their mourning into joy. I will comfort them and exchange their sorrow for rejoicing.

It says in the Word of God that He tracks our sorrows even keeping our tears. (Psalm 56:8) It also tells us that those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy. (Psalm 126:5) Sin causes pain and suffering to be a part of life. Whether you serve the Lord or not, you will go through many things in life that are difficult if not completely devastating. The difference between doing it with the Lord or on our own is evidenced in the harvest. The outcome can be life or death depending on what we believe. God wants to prosper us with all the promises that He preordained for our life. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. No one can get to the Father but through Him. (John 14:6) If we want God’s Plan and His Promise for our life, we must take our sorrow to the Lord. We have to go through Jesus to get there. Jesus has already paid for our sin so that we can make the exchange of sorrow for joy and mourning for dancing. We must only strive to live in His Presence to experience such productivity. Are you willing to plant your tears and trust the Lord to make something beautiful out of them? You must take your sorrow, regret and disappointments to the Lord and leave them there.

James 4:8-10 (NLT) Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.

“The keenest sorrow is to recognize ourselves as the sole source of all our adversity.” – Sophocles. No, don’t pick up the big bat you use to beat yourself up over and over again. Sin is the reason that there is sorrow, regret, shame, disappointment and devastation in this world. If people could avoid sin or be rid of it on their own, Jesus’s death would have been unnecessary. Sin is unavoidable. God’s Plan is inevitable. As we give up our sin, the sorrow it produces in our life is changed to purpose. We begin to prosper as the Holy Spirit uses the fertile soil of a broken heart to plant seeds from the Word of God in it. He uses our tears to water our soul and make good things grow out of the dead things in our life. Nothing is wasted when surrendered to the Lord. He will use every broken detail to bring good to us, in us and through us. Let go of your sorrow today. Let the Lord turn it into joy. That was always His Intent to turn our mourning into dancing. Sorrow is the birthplace of promise but will abort if not birthed properly. Let go of the pain and suffering when the season is over so the harvest will come. Jesus is asking you to closer. Just a little closer, let go of anything that keeps you from Him and run into His Waiting Arms. He bore every sorrow for you so that you could have joy and peace. Honor Him by taking it.

Psalm 34:18 (NLT) The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; He rescues those whose spirits are crushed.