Ripe Fruit

Ripe Fruit

John 15:16-17 (ESV) You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another.

I stopped at the grocery store to pick up a few items last week. Passing through the produce section, there was sign marked “tree-ripened fresh peaches”. Reaching for them expecting soft and supple fruit, the peaches were still a bit hard and not at all what I expected. However, this did not stop me from filling a bag anyway. An elderly gentleman in a riding wheelchair came up to the table and asked if the fruit was any good. He also felt the peaches and declared them not ripe but firm to the touch. I shared the secret to delicious juicy peaches. If you take some home and put them on the counter for a couple of days, the fruit will ripen and soften to perfection. He chuckled and said that earlier in the week that the employee stocking the fruit told him the same thing. The man is on a fixed budget and was afraid to splurge on the fruit only to be disappointed. He didn’t trust the worker so he didn’t buy any that day. He told me his story as he selected some peaches to take home.

We are called to bear fruit as disciples of Jesus Christ. To abide in the Vine so fully and completely that His Fruit begins to blossom and ripen in us. His Spirit cultivates the kind of fruit that satisfies our soul and is worth sharing with others. The man did not buy what the market was selling but he decided to lean on my personal experience that day. People relate to a Gospel that is shared like a good meal. They prefer an authentic relatable experience over a chance encounter that may not go as expected. It is not my “job” to share Christ but my privilege to offer others the abundance of goodness produced by having Him in my life living in me.

It is important to note in John 15 that the Lord has chosen us. We did not handpick him from a plethora of other gods but rather God created us as Children in His Image. Christ in us restores and rebuilds our relationship with God the Father through righteousness. I have seed worth planting and fruit worth bearing inside of me. What I do with the seeds of faith given to me in measure is up to me. Pursuing His Kingdom is a promise of reaching eternity that is already set within my heart but will I consider the cost worth paying for the privilege of the everlasting is truly up to me.

Luke 8:11-15 (ESV) Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. The ones along the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away. And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.

God’s Word is the seed that produces every good thing in our life. Jesus is the Word. We hear the Word and must decide what to do with it. There are several choices. There are some who hear the story of Jesus and cannot comprehend such a gift or fathom the depths of His Love so they deem it unbelievable and decide to choose this life. The enemy comes and takes the seed easily discarded. There are those who hear the Word of God and believe it…at first. Like the sign on the peaches boasting “tree-ripened fruit”, they are interested until reaching for it and finding it hard. Rather than taking it home and allowing it to ripen on the kitchen counter until it is just right, they pass by the opportunity to taste and see that it is good. We are encouraged to taste and see that God is good yet do not engage in the process because it takes too long or too much energy so we take a shortcut or substitution instead. We must let the Love of God given to us through Jesus Christ take root in our heart so when tests and trials come we overcome the temptation to abandon our effort and let go. There are those who hear the Word and believe it, yet they are too busy to take the time to really meditate on it and allow it to sink in and produce its potential. The Word blossoms and good things start to happen but the process is again abandoned for the good rather than waiting on the God Fruit that is coming. Our seed (the Word) must be sown in fertile broken hearts and given time to grow, develop and mature into the Fruit it is supposed to be. The seed will always produce its potential.

Isaiah 55:10-11 (ESV) “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

God’s Word always produces its potential. The promise will always come. He gives seed to the sower. Those who decide to cultivate God’s Word for themselves will find new promises every single day. The fruit produced in their life becomes enticing to others who will want to know how it happened, where it came from, and how you got it. The influence in our life increases when abundance becomes our experience. The seed always produces its potential in us. It prospers our soul which in turn spills over into our life. Others will want and desire what you have suddenly opportunities will arise to share the good fruit of God’s Spirit with others time and time again because success becomes our experience.

Colossians 1:9-12 (ESV)  And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.

For Mother’s Day, our church gave all the mom’s succulent plants. I have the orphans sitting in the window in the dining room. I have been honest in my admission that I have a history of plant killing. I am a homicidal horticulturist or at least I was… I have painstakingly cared for the handful of plants and they are beginning to grow and thrive. I am amazed at the miracle before me. I think sometimes we decide who we are and what we will be based on our past experiences and history. God promised to give us new life. He gave us His Word with the promise of an inheritance to those who begin by sowing it in their heart and mind. Those who decide to try it out and trust Him little by little with the broken pieces of our messed up life will begin to see subtle productivity that will one day become our success. His Word is our promise that cannot return to Him without absolute fulfillment. To walk in a manner worthy of the Lord is not a religious exercise but a daily experience of sowing His Word and sharing its productivity. We have been given the opportunity to bear fruit in every good work even a simple encounter with someone at the grocery store. Many sermons will be preached. Teachings shared. Insight given. It will spread seeds of God’s Word all around but it will be those who take the time to sow it, stay with it, wait for it and then share it that will see its good fruit.

Psalm 34:8 (ESV) Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!

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When I Want to Fight

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Exodus 14:13-14 (ESV) And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”

A church leader shared this passage in Sunday service last week. It was good then…but this morning, I wasn’t sure I liked it quite so much. The Lord told Moses and the people to fear not…stand firm and see the salvation of the Lord – He will work for you today! The enemy in their sights would be gone forever. This is the good part. Now comes the struggle in certain situations – “the Lord will fight for you and you have only to be silent.” There are situations in life when one might prefer to wage war against other people or vilify themselves and seek revenge in order to give the other person what they have coming to them. When facing the giants in this world, it is much easier to let the Lord have His Way and slay them. But when the foe that is faced is of a sizable match – it is up to us to let the battle be the Lord’s and to remain silent.

I Timothy 6:11-13 (ESV) But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 

There is only one fight that I am called to as a believer. I am ordained to fight the good fight of the faith. Faith is confidence in the Lord and putting all expectation in Him. It is an act of trust that causes us to stand and wait rather than pursue and overtake. We must fight the battle within our flesh to let the Lord fight our battles, win our wars, and even to be silent while watching and waiting. As believers, the encounters and engagements with the enemy become more and more unjust as our life is aligned to Jesus Christ. To hold on to eternal life rather than prideful rightness is so hard when right. Our good confession in the presence of many witness is always faith in God through His Son, Jesus Christ. We must stand in victory because Christ lives in us and not fight amongst each other.

As believers, our lifelong pursuit is righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, and gentleness. Ugh! Sometimes these qualities and characteristics of the Lord that He is attempting to create in me cause a war in the flesh. I must stand on the Word of God and walk in His Ways even when the enemy knocks on the front door, meets me at work or even shows up in the church parking lot. The struggle is real. It is an everyday battle of our mind, will and emotions to remain in partnership with Jesus Christ. To maintain our relationship so that it is thriving, growing, maturing and constantly developing into an inseparable bond both now and forever.

Hebrews 12:1-2 (ESV) Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Is it a coincidence that the great cloud of witness are mentioned immediately after the great hall of faith in Hebrews 11? A reminder that faith is not easy. Trusting God is hard. When the enemy comes throwing his weight around, trying to stick sin on us, and attempting to trip us with lies, we must continue to run the race of faith to the prize that waits before us. It will require endurance. You will get tired of turning the other cheek. Standing doesn’t release the adrenaline that fighting for your right will, but righteousness comes from living as one with Christ. We must keep our eyes fixed on our Champion. The One who is the Founder and Perfecter and Author and Finisher of our faith in the first place. The Lord will fight for you today. He will fight for me. I must be silent and wait on the Lord even when it hurts. To know whose I am and who I am in Christ must lead me down a pathway of peace in life so that others will entertain His Presence through my influence. Peace lives in me. The war waged in my mind and heart are against flesh and blood that seeks retribution. My flesh is called to die so new life will take its place. Lord, help me to be confident and silent as you fight my battles today. Help me to stand firm and having done to stand firm. In Jesus Name…

Ephesians 6:12-13 (ESV) For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.

So We’re Not Giving Up

So We Are Not Giving UP

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (Message) So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.

What a great reminder! I need to be reminded often that this life is temporary – it is not permanent yet it is all I know in terms of reality. There are days that I know God is real but wonder where He is. I know you never feel distance from the Lord so please humor my musings with me today. Despite avoiding sin, trying to make better choices, attempting to live according to God’s Word, trying to love with regard for His Command, and serving continually in church – there are still days when giving up seems like a good idea. I wonder today if for just a moment one might peer inside with quiet introspect to evaluate life from a forever standpoint. How are you today? No really strip away the façade of who the world thinks you are, what you do, and how others expect you to act and look into the mirror of your soul – who do you see? What does your life really look like to you? The authenticity of faith is the complete conviction that what is hoped for is the reality of our life. However, as Christians who often pretend, it is important to soul search and heart seek to see the truth behind our convictions.

Going with the flow can carry us away. In any pursuit, it is easy to get swept away by the current of culture or society even church. It is important that faith be the forefront of our life but not in just idea but complete conviction. To know Christ by name is not enough, it is only in our relationship with Him that there is fulfillment to be found at the end of this troublesome journey called life. Unfortunately, human nature generally only seeks the Face of God and salvation from His Son when tragedy strikes and suffering ensues. An emotional overture leads us to Him but the process is abandoned when the pressure of change and transformation begins. Fear of the unknown take the place of faith in the unseen God and suddenly what seemed like a great idea is abandoned as a fruitless endeavor. Most will give up on the verge of breakthrough because they do not believe that God is good or completely head over heels in love with them.

I Peter 2:11-12 (Message) Friends, this world is not your home, so don’t make yourselves cozy in it. Don’t indulge your ego at the expense of your soul. Live an exemplary life among the natives so that your actions will refute their prejudices. Then they’ll be won over to God’s side and be there to join in the celebration when he arrives.

People without an identity have no residency. However, God has given us His Identity and full residency in His Kingdom. Our ability to know and understand this is important in the exercising of our rights and responsibilities as Kingdom residents. I Peter 2:10 says, “Once you had no identity as a people; now you are God’s People. Once you received no mercy; now you have received God’s Mercy.” You have it all but must decide to claim it, receive it and walk it in it day by day. The Lord will not force His Love and Goodness on us but promises to pursue us without day by day. (Psalm 23) He meets us each morning with new mercy and the promise that joy comes with it. The potential of our life is in our recognition of who we are, whose we are and to become determined to live that life.

2 Corinthians 4:7-10 (Message) If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. That’s to prevent anyone from confusing God’s incomparable power with us. As it is, there’s not much chance of that. You know for yourselves that we’re not much to look at. We’ve been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we’re not demoralized; we’re not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do; we’ve been spiritually terrorized, but God hasn’t left our side; we’ve been thrown down, but we haven’t broken. What they did to Jesus, they do to us—trial and torture, mockery and murder; what Jesus did among them, he does in us—he lives! 

The ordinary life that you are currently living is not your future. There is an extraordinary one waiting for those who fully recognize that Christ is in them. The transformation process is well under way. It will take time. Time has meaning – every single second appointed by God with purpose. (Ecclesiastes 3) There is also a promise attached – “Yet God made everything beautiful for its own time.” Timing is important to God. So much so that He recorded every single moment of your life before a second was lived or a breath even taken. (Psalm 139) Why would you give up now? You are pressed but not crushed. You may be persecuted but never abandoned. You may be struck down but never destroyed. You are blessed far beyond any curse because His Promise for you is etched in time. It is your history. It is your inheritance. Let go of fear, doubt and worry today. Do not let anxious thoughts coax you from the hiding place that is our refuge. God’s Presence will keep you until His Promise overtakes you.

“Pain is temporary. Quitting lasts forever.” (Lance Armstrong) How true! When discomfort, inconvenience, annoyance, betrayal or even pain overtake us – what is the response? It depends on the foundation of faith and the conviction in our heart that makes the difference. To believe that there is nothing more to life than this would be a sad revelation to live by. If you believe deep down in your heart that there is more to life than this, you must decide to know what exactly that is or risk giving up on your passion and purpose. Life without meaning seems fruitless. Your faith will pull you through if it is credible. If when we take the time to look past the layers of self-imposed identity to our soul – we must see Jesus. He is our new identity. The life giver who can take the messed up pieces of broken hearts to make a masterpiece. He resurrects dead dreams to become our reality. He has already predestined you to live with Him forever. Jesus is waiting on you to become committed and convicted to engage in the process of building a relationship and then a Kingdom together.

Hebrews 10:23-25 (Message) So let’s do it—full of belief, confident that we’re presentable inside and out. Let’s keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps his word. Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching.

It’s a Setup

It's a Setup 2

Ephesians 1:3-6 (ESV) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.

The blessing of God in our life is a divine setup. God decided to impart every spiritual blessing to us before He created us. Not only that, God the Father also had already purposed to adopt us into His Family before the realization that sin had orphaned us ever came into play. God knew you and me and yet still had already made the decision to love us no matter what the cost. I don’t think that many Christians know and understand just how profound predestination is and what a great factor it plays in life. When God decided that He would make us holy and blameless, He already knew the cost and was willing to pay it. Jesus Christ was always part of God’s Magnificent and Perfect Plan for us because God knew about our sinful nature from the very beginning. You can have the perfect Will of God because our life is a divine setup.

The Perfection of God is not compromised by His Love for imperfect people but rather He has chosen to secure the debt so there is no penalty. He gives us His Grace instead. Therefore, no matter what a depraved wretch I was before I met Jesus Christ and invited Him into my life, I am still made holy and blameless by the Perfect Will of God that He already planned and paid for. Persistence, patience and perseverance are required by us because of our rebellious nature and raging flesh that must be dealt with and put to death on a regular basis. We must learn to let the Lord’s Grace and Mercy cover our imperfection and live in His Perfect Will. It was never possible for you and me to be perfect but rather step into His Righteousness and be perfected by Christ.

Shame and regret attempt to turn our head from the possibilities of God in our life to the past that once kept us from them. Doubt keeps our neck locked in a backward position when God’s Promises whisper “just turn around”. If we believed in the sufficiency of God’s Grace, it would lead us to conclude that He is always good. We are blessed not because of our personal abilities but completely in the fact that God is good and full of grace. He has a plan that will lead to fulfillment of purpose. He is worthy of my praise simply because His Grace is always enough. It is all because of Jesus so there is no performance pressure or assumption that I can or ever will be perfect – but can fully rest on His Plan, Purpose and Promises just the same.

Ephesians 1:7-10 (ESV) In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

In Christ alone fulfillment is possible, outside of Him our attempts to have a fully satisfying life are impossible. Jesus fills the void that sin left behind. Habits can be changed. Discipline achieved. Schedules shifted. New life can be demonstrated in human behavior but it must begin in the heart to become the new person who can have fulfillment and prosperity in God’s Perfect Plan. We must accept His Grace by being covered in His Blood, its messy process. Yet God “lavishes” grace upon us in copious amounts knowing full well that our nature is otherwise corrupt and self-seeking.

Keeping our eye on the prize is beneficial. My daughter, who six months ago had her first child, sent me a picture of an extremely healthy woman who was in excellent shape. She claimed this to be her in a few months. She is dieting and exercising. It takes self-control not to indulge in all the good food that is permissible but not beneficial. She looks at the physique she would like to achieve and it inspires her to make better choices and do the workouts on the plan. It is our nature to desire immediate and even constant gratification but what if we could see past the process to the outcome. Looking at the prize certainly justifies the price. Why do we as believers expect God to just wipe away all the consequences of our past and pave a path to our future without the suffering born of transformation? There must be a death to achieve new life.

Ephesians 1:11-14 (ESV)  In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

Growing up in the Southern Baptist Church, I was taught that God had a perfect will but that sin kept us from it. In other words, each sin committed cost us something from God’s Plan. I am convinced now that is impossible. God prerecorded every single moment of our life before our creation. (Psalm 139) He must have considered every single detail including our sin and shortcomings – otherwise God would be considered delusional. He knew beforehand that every person created would sin. Therefore, His Grace is sufficient in the price fully considered and paid completely. It is by His Grace that I am saved through faith. Faith is the confidence and blessed assurance that I am blessed with every spiritual blessing in advance as an inheritance. It means that though I fell short – Jesus (precious Jesus) filled the gap and voids in my life that once kept me from God’s Perfect Will. Jesus is enough to secure righteousness for me.

Does this mean that sinning will not keep us from God’s Perfect Will? No. The only way to receive the fulfillment of God is to be united with Christ. What relationship will ever survive if taken for granted? If I am unfaithful to my husband, surely he would want to end our marriage…I know that I would. True love doesn’t seek after itself but perfect unity with its Beloved. Christ died because of my sin. He endured awful torture and horrendous pain to see me completely forgiven and fulfilled. To engage in willful sin and rebellious behavior would clearly show that I was only attempting to use Jesus for my own personal interests without any regard for the relationship of righteousness to be formed so there is no salvation without a personal commitment to Christ deeper than the surface.

Psalm 139:15-18 (ESV) My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you.

I have lived more than 50 years now. Long enough to see the Goodness of the Lord in the land of the living as prescribed in Psalm 27. I share this with you because it still blows me away when God works all the details of my life for my good and His Glory. The Lord was with me as I was intricately woven. Intricately woven does not imply a careless conception but rather careful creation with divine attention. He saw my substance. Not who I was but who I might become in Him. The Lord recorded every single day of my life before I ever lived it. God’s Thoughts concerning me are precious. He is always looking to perfect my way so I am living the best possible life because His Plan for me leads to full satisfaction and complete fulfillment. He is a Perfect God who loves the most imperfect people. He predestined you for a prospering life that begins in the innermost part of our soul and works its way out. Not because we are perfect, but simply because He is.

Psalm 139:23-24 (ESV) Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!

Slow Leak

Slow Leak

Psalm 34:4-7 (NLT) I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears. Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces. In my desperation I prayed, and the Lord listened; he saved me from all my troubles. For the angel of the Lord is a guard; he surrounds and defends all who fear him.

My vehicle comes equipped with a tire pressure sensor. It is very sensitive to the amount of air in each tire. Recently, I noticed that when the systems did the initial ignition check that the warning light would come on. It indicated that one of the tires was registering low on pressure. Upon inspection, it did not look any different than the other wheels. Yet each time, the light would consistently come on. I took it to the mechanic on the way to work for a manual pressure check. He looked at the tire agreeing that it did not look low but his pressure gauge showed it was indeed low on air. Over the next few minutes, he did a quick look to see if there was a nail or sharp object protruding but nothing. I made an appointment for the next day. To find the source of escaping air, the shop filled the tire with air and then slowly ran water over the tread until sure enough a little puncture was found. Thankfully the tire was under warranty and with the new one in place, I was on my way.

I have noticed lately that my heart feels a little empty, my soul just a bit dry, and I have been wondering if maybe I sprung a slow leak like my tire. Even strong Christians have days when they feel weak and tired for no apparent reason. There is usually a reason but since life is good – we focus on the good things and ignore the nagging in our spirit and warning signs that something is a bit off. That’s what believers do, right? Faith it until we make it. Recite memorized scripture and spout Christianese? Pretend it is hope that we hold on to rather than the fear, doubt, anxiety, and worry that develop into disappointment, devastation or depression? Everyone has fears. Everyone has certain doubts. Everyone worries about something. Even the strongest Christian has disappointments. We are called not to perfection but perseverance and persistence. To keep pressing past the challenges of life to grab hold of the possibilities of faith. It is messy. It can be ugly. There will be a lot of tears. We must deal with those slow leaks in our heart that cause our love, joy and peace to be emptied.

Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT) But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

In the believer dwells the Holy Spirit, the very essence of Jesus Christ. He is always busy producing good fruit for soulful consumption such as love, joy, and peace. These are the fruits that allow us to thrive. Living water flows in and out of us. Jesus said that He is the Bread of Life. We have everything needed to live a rich and satisfying life full of abundance. The Kingdom belongs to us. We are connected to it so if we feel like less than enough, failures or fruitless – it warrants our immediate attention. A thief is among us.

Ephesians 6:16-17 (NLT) In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

In John 10:10, there comes a warning that there is a predator of our soul who seeks to steal, kill and destroy God’s People. You can choose to ignore him but that will not keep him from firing fiery arrows at your heart and soul. If the lie of the enemy can make it past our shield of faith and penetrate our mind, it will produce a leak in us. We must be deliberate and vigilant in our faith holding it tightly and protectively over our heart and mind. While salvation is the helmet to protect our thoughts, it is important to be on the lookout and constant defense for the enemy and aggressor the believer’s body, mind and spirit. He is always aggressively attacking seeking who can be devoured.

Ephesians 5 tells us about natural relationships such as husband and wife. It refers to Jesus who loves the church. Christ loved us so much dying was not a second thought but His Sheer Determination to have us. We are offered the Mind of Christ. To allow Him to transform our mind from the inside out. I love the illustration in Ephesians 5 where Jesus washes the wounds of His Bride with His Word. He is the Word. The Lord had to pour Himself out to wash, bind and heal our heart and mind. To make us holy and whole. To cleanse us. To restore us. To renew us. To refresh us. To revive us. Do you need to be restored, renewed, refreshed or revived? Let the Lord wash you in the water of His Word to find the leaks where love, joy and peace are escaping.

Psalm 34:17-20 (NLT) The Lord hears his people when they call to him for help. He rescues them from all their troubles.  The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed. The righteous person faces many troubles, but the Lord comes to the rescue each time. For the Lord protects the bones of the righteous; not one of them is broken!

Oh friends, do you feel dry, thirsty or a bit empty today? The Lord is ready to heal you. He is ready to fill you to capacity with the abundance promised to you as His Beloved. God does not forsake His Children even when we are broken. In fact, the Word of God says just the opposite. He rushes in to the broken. Grace turns to power in our weakness not personal strength. Faith is a shield meant to protect our heart not to be a logical defense but the powerful force that keeps us standing under pressure and pressing when on the verge of giving up. Life in Christ is not always easy but promised to be work it. Psalm 34 invites us to taste and see that the Lord is good. Allow Him to change our appetite and productivity in life. Yet know and understand that even strong lions sometimes go hungry…oh but those who trust the Lord will lack no good thing which means the current situation or condition is temporary. Oh if only our natural eyes could see life from the spiritual realm – we are always living half full and never half empty. God is constantly producing good things and pouring out every spiritual blessing. Lord, show me the leaks. Come in close and heal them so I may overflow with love, peace and joy again.

Ephesians 3:17-20 (NLT) Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.

At the Carwash

At the Carwash

Psalm 19:7-8 (NLT) The instructions of the Lord are perfect, reviving the soul. The decrees of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The commandments of the Lord are right, bringing joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are clear, giving insight for living.

Thankfully my to-do list for Saturday was not too long, but on it was the task of washing the car. I believe that if I take care of the vehicle that I have that the Lord just may bless me with the vehicle I want. My minivan turned into a Suburban which turned into a Honda so who knows… I was all set to wash it in the driveway when my sweet husband suggested the carwash. Living in Florida, it is near 100 degrees before midday. One of our daughter’s friends chimed in that there was a free vacuum and other amenities included so why not? Armed with my list of errands, I drove to the brand new establishment. It was definitely busy as others lined up for services. Pulling in there are a series of arrows guiding cars through the area to the actual car wash line. There is a virtual cashier to select a level of clean and pay the fee. Pulling forward a host of service folks, tape down wipers scrubbing windows and bumpers. One of the attendants guides you forward to engage your vehicle in the machine until your wheels lock into place. At that point, she points to three simple instructions: 1) Put the car in neutral; 2) Take your foot off the brake; and 3) Let go of the steering wheel. Once I had done all these things, my car went through the cycles of the wash until I was depositing back into the glaring sunshine. One last choice, do I turn right and head out or left to finish the job. Choices. Life is full of choices. Each day we must determine whose instructions to follow.

Two or three minutes doesn’t seem like a long time to think but the hamster on my wheel runs really fast. My thoughts were flooded as soapy water covered the car. As an adult, there are countless decisions in a single day. We choose the life we live according to those choices and the consequences of each action. My husband did not force me to use the carwash yesterday. He simply suggested it as an option. I chose to take his advice. I was not disappointed. I was able to choose the cleaning level and pay for the service. I was satisfied. At the end of the carwash, I turned left to wipe off the leftover water and vacuum the car. I made those choices. Now my vehicle is shiny and smells good. How many times that the Lord offers simple instructions for life that I choose to ignore? Each new day comes with mercy and probably simple instructions like “put it in neutral and let me lead you”, “take your foot off the brake and move into what I have prepared for you” or “take your hands off the wheel, I’ve got this”. Simple instructions for life that will refresh and revive even the weariest soul. Our heart and mind would get a much needed rest if only our daily dedication was to seek the Lord’s Instruction and do what He says.

The decrees of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. Though it looked complicated with all the arrows, directives and barriers as I made my way through the process of the carwash. It really is a simple system. The end result was exactly as I expected. The decrees of the Lord are simple. It is our sinful flesh that longs for control that complicates our life and drowns out His Voice. I can trust the Lord in all things. Faith isn’t about seeing it’s about hearing the Word of God and doing it with full assurance. The Lord is faithful it is our own fickle heart that struggles.

The commandments of the Lord are right, bringing joy to the heart. One of the greatest fears of a Christian is the doubt that what the Lord has planned is better. Will I like it? Love it? Want it? Fear of disappointment overshadows the Light of God’s Love revealed in His Instructions that produce new hope and never leads to disappointment. Inexpressible joy is found in Jesus Christ. He is the Word. He is giving us good instructions and sound wisdom to live the best life possible now and forevermore. The commands of the Lord are clear, giving insight for living.

Psalm 119:17-18 (NLT) Be good to your servant, that I may live and obey your word. Open my eyes to see the wonderful truths in your instructions.

Open my eyes, Lord. Yesterday, at the car wash inside the machine, I simply sat in the air conditioned comfort of my automobile as it was cleaned for me. I did not have to drive or steer just ride along. The car was cleaned. Tires shined. I didn’t even break a sweat. We work so hard to please the Lord. Finding new ways to serve Him. Trying to impress people. Doing, doing and doing some more. As I sat there, it hit me. Maybe all the Lord really wants us to do is what He says. God is good. He is good to us. He pursues us with unfailing love and goodness all the days of our life. Yet, we keep trying to do it our way. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Jesus is the Word. To find life, it is Jesus who must know us. To know Him is to simply know His Word and trust Him enough to perfect it in our life. His Word is perfected in our life through obedience. Just doing what the Lord tells us to. It is not a big deal. It is very simple. Obedience begins with a choice. To choose to trust Him in each step…moment by moment…day by day!

“Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus… just to take Him at His Word…just to rest upon His Promise…just to know thus saith the Lord!”

Psalm 119:164-165 (NLT) I will praise you seven times a day because all your regulations are just. Those who love your instructions have great peace and do not stumble.

In The Stillness

In the Stillness

Psalm 46:10 (NLT) “Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.”

After spending the day with my grandson, I sent his mom a message that I felt incredibly lonely driving home. I sense of sadness that his car seat was no longer in the rear view mirror, tiny feet kicking and his little voice filling the vehicle with a mixture of sounds and babbling. Her response wise beyond her years, “Lol, I think you’re just not used to having no kids.” Ah maybe that is true, too. Of course, I miss my little chunky hunk because being a grandmother is awesome, but maybe she is right. I have been with a houseful and car full for what seems like my whole life. I have mothered for 28 years a tribe of little people. Yesterday, I dropped off my last high schooler for her first day. I probably will not have the pleasure of another drive like that as next year she will drive herself to school. Just like that and it’s over, the sleepless nights, endless care taking, selfless giving, and suddenly the house grows quieter and life begins to still.

”Be still, and know that I am God!” Quoted in the storms of life and hectic overtures of overwhelming circumstances, when adrenaline kicks in and emotions take over but I believe stillness is a sense of peace and confidence designed for every season. We must learn to be still in the Lord not only when chaos ensues but when calm produces silence that is louder than life. Parenting was certainly a part of my purpose in life but God has recorded every single day which means that they all count in my opinion. Why take note of something that is meaningless and without promise? Why not just skip to the good parts unless they all have the potential to be good either now or in the future?

Philippians 1:6 (NLT) And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.

Stillness comes with complete confidence in Christ. The certainty that God who began the good work within you will continue until it is finally finished. But do you see when that is…on the day when Christ Jesus returns. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. There are things that the Lord did in and through you yesterday. There are things that He will do with you today. There are things reserved for the future and some that will not be revealed until Jesus comes again. In a world that requires us to take hold of destiny and “make things happen”, God says, “I will complete everything that I began in you.” Do you trust God today? Do you believe that the Lord is doing good things in and through you? Are you certain?

Acts 16:25-30 (NLT) Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening. Suddenly, there was a massive earthquake, and the prison was shaken to its foundations. All the doors immediately flew open, and the chains of every prisoner fell off! The jailer woke up to see the prison doors wide open. He assumed the prisoners had escaped, so he drew his sword to kill himself. But Paul shouted to him, “Stop! Don’t kill yourself! We are all here!” The jailer called for lights and ran to the dungeon and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. Then he brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

Paul and Silas had been publicly beaten without a trial and unjustly put in prison. Not just any jail, but the inner dungeon where their feet were clamped in stocks. Around midnight, the men began praying and praising. Most of us know the rest of the story, a massive earthquake came and the doors to the prison flew open and the chains fell off all the prisoners. When the one put in charger woke up, he was ready to kill himself rather than face his superiors for he assumed all of his wards had escaped. But Paul and Silas were still there. They did not leave. Why? These men lived in the stillness of God and recognized His Presence. They did not fear for their life or what mere men could do but relied on God and His Purpose to lead them. When the jailer realized that they had not escaped, he asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” He then took the men to his house, fed them and then his whole house was saved.” The position of my life today, this very minute, has purpose in God’s Plan for my life. I can be still and know that the Lord will be honored. I must learn to live in the permanence of His Presence without mixed emotions. I must decide to stand steadfast on the firm foundation of faith where the Lord has placed me rather than getting stuck in the mud of lies and half-truths the enemy lays out for me each day. Doubt and disbelief will create detours, delays and even derailments. I must live a life of confidence and certainty so that I will be still in the Lord.

I Corinthians 15:57-58 (NLT) But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ. So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.

Every single moment of our life has purpose and meaning when Jesus Christ lives in us. He is constantly perpetuating new life in us and shaping us into new creations. We have overwhelming victory…always. Confidence gives credibility to our faith and it becomes the example to others of just how valuable our life in Christ is to us. The validity of our faith is not revealed in the good times but in our commitment to work enthusiastically and love life all the time. Even in our sufferings, shortcomings, and season changes, the steadfastness of our heart must be that God is working every detail for our good and we are becoming the masterpiece that He promised. I have value and worth that you do not have because I am an original. You have value and worth that I do not possess and it is because you are authentic, too. There is no competition for God’s Love and Affection. Christ gave His Life for all of us.

Nothing in our life is useless when Christ is in us. Every bit our faith has potential when solely investing in God’s Plan and Purpose. All things are permissible but I must strive to obtain the benefits and blessings that belong to me therefore I must live in the stillness of God not the spin of society. You can do anything you want to do. Freedom in Christ gives you the right to choose. Choose well. Be confident in the Lord today. He will never let you or me down. Christ in us is always enough to turn our mourning in to dancing and sadness into joy. Those who sow in tears will reap a harvest far greater than those who give in to their sorrow and simply walk away. Stillness says, “Stay!” I am learning to be still in the Lord. The transition from season to season has me a bit on edge. For 28 years, mothering has been my primary purpose. Now I am entering a new season, some days in stillness and other days kicking and screaming. It is well with my soul. How about you? God is good! His Goodness is for you. It is in you. Christ is enough to be confident that through every season of life there are good things to come!

Psalm 27:13 (NLT) Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living.

True Worth

True Worth

Luke 12:6-7 (NLT) “What is the price of five sparrows—two copper coins? Yet God does not forget a single one of them. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.

The most expensive painting sold to date is “Salvator Mundi” attributed to Leonardo da Vinci which brought a whopping $450.3 million at action in November 2017. A masterpiece no doubt but it is not a familiar piece such as the Mona Lisa. A little-known Saudi prince purchased the painting and then donated it Louvre Abu Dhabi. The worth of the creation is linked back to the creator. Leonardo da Vinci is a widely known famous artist making his work very valuable. I know a man whose mother was rummaging through a yard sale when she came across a pencil etching by none other than Salvador Dali. She immediately purchased it for a few dollars then taking it to an appraiser. It is worth a great deal now that the artist is identified. It has been moved from a garage overflowing with junk to an exquisite frame hanging as a focal point.

There is no one else like you. Created in the Image and Likeness of God, yet completely unique and individual in purpose and form. There are many men and women but if only humanity could comprehend the worth of our composition. The soul of each person ever born has a place of purpose and divine planning in the Kingdom of God. Worth more than any other created thing, God has the hairs of our head numbered. You are an original. There is no competition between you and another for God’s Love. He has no favorites. We are all His Favorites. When Jesus died on the Cross to purchase our life, it defined the true value of each one of us. Priceless and greatly desired by the God of the Universe. Science wants us to believe that human beings are a random act of nature. When two cells collide and explode to form a person, who is no different than any other species. Well, I beg to differ.

Psalm 139:13-14 (NLT) You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.

When was the last time you thanked God for making you…you? Don’t feel bad, I don’t do it either. I am thankful for my husband, children, family, friends, church and other people. However, seldom have I ever if I can remember ever saying, “Thank you for making ME so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous – how well I know it.” If most of us were honest enough to admit it, our prayers are often filled with the qualities coveted. Begging the Lord to change the distinguishing features that make us unique to be like everybody else. My daughter has a younger friend who has recently taken to copying everything she wears. I have shared with her the saying, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” She wants none of it. The societal trends prove that it is more important to most to fit in rather than stand out. Way makers are not as fashionable as those who follow the trends and gravitate to acceptable norms. Though my youngest will not admit it – she got her tastes in fashion from someone else along the way.

Ephesians 2:10 (NLT) For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

In Ecclesiastes 1, Solomon writes “History merely repeats itself. It has all been done before. Nothing under the sun is truly new.” This is true. Fashion is the same thing in cycles. Music is constantly made over. God didn’t produce you to follow suit. You are a masterpiece. God’s Masterpiece. Created by Him for a purpose and plan far greater than you can comprehend. You are valuable to the Lord. Jesus thought you were worth dying for. He paid the price for your old life and gave it back to you with the promise of a new life. However, most people live far below God’s Standard of rich, satisfying and abundant life settling for what they think they are worth. Until I decide that I am God’s Masterpiece comprised of great value and worth as His Special Treasure, I will not see the true potential of my life.

James 1:18 (NLT) He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession.

The end of comparison the worst of all joy killers begins in the revelation of our uniqueness to God. To know and understand living as a precious and prized possession rather than who we think we are or how much we value ourselves changes everything. It is not anything earned or deserved but rather who we are because of God and Christ in us. We are fearfully and wonderfully made. The Lord is taking all our rough edges and broken pieces making it into the new creation that He promised. He sees only the good in us because His Grace is covering the rest. You are chosen. God decided for you to be you. He filled you with purpose, gave you promises, and made the commitment to save you from the very beginning. Your life is not random. You are here for such a time as this – live like it. Remind yourself who God says that you are today. When the enemy casts lies and doubt throwing shade on the Light of His Love, remind Him of what the Lord has already declared about you. You are significant to the Kingdom. There is a place and space only you can fill. People who only you can touch. God loves you. Love you, too. See the awesomeness of your authenticity and walk boldly before His Throne.

2 Corinthians 5:17 (NLT) his means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

Adopted

Adopted

Romans 8:14-16 (NLT) For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children.  Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children.

When my husband and I married, I gave him the gift of three children. In fact, they were with us in the wedding and rode home to begin our new life together right from the church. He was made by God for his new role in our blended family. It was as though God predestined him for the job. Our daughter expressed a desire from the start that she wanted to be adopted. She wanted have the same name and security of the official process. Her dream would become a reality. There were papers to be signed and filed. A price to be paid. A process to follow. But I can remember how exciting it was to go before the court and finalize the adoption. Not long after – the official documents arrived including a birth certificate with her new name and her dad’s name on it. With these important papers in hand, we began to change her name in school, at the social security office, and every other place necessary to assume her new identity.

I am no longer a slave to sin. I am a Child of God. How often this is the declaration of a people who still live as orphans. Those who have Jesus Christ inside of them have been sealed by the Spirit of the Living God. You are a son or daughter of God in that moment. It is up to us to assume our new identity in Him. He adopted us to be His Own Children. We have the privilege of calling Him, “Abba, Father.” His Spirit joins with our spirit to become the confidence needed to enter boldly to Him and live in a loving and abiding relationship with Him. In 2 Corinthians 1, it tells us that God “has identified us as His Own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the first installment that guarantees everything He has promised us.” Why do sons and daughters of the Living God live in lack? Lack of confidence, faith, hope, love, joy, peace, provisions and prosperity are all signs of orphan syndrome as I would call it. If we are not confident in our adoption by God through Jesus Christ and His Spirit who seals and entitles us to every blessing and promise, how can we ever convince others of the same? It is our purpose to be fully convinced of our spiritual adoption and live out the process of showing our identity to the watching world.

Ephesians 1:4-5 (NLT) Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. 

Before… I wish it was possible for the finite human mind to fully wrap itself around the concept of God’s Omnipresence. He is everywhere all the time. He always has been and always will be. The constancy of God is the stability of His Plan. He is. He was. He will be. God is the Great I Am. Jesus, His Son, is the same yesterday, today and forever. He goes before us, falls in behind us, and is right there with us living on the inside of us. Conceptually, it is easy to repeat this but to fully understand it is crazy. Yet even before He made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ. I read it. I understand the meaning of the words. I know that it is true. Yet, I still cannot fathom knowing me how God would desire me as He does. He does because God already decided to love you. He was ready to adopt us into His Family knowing full well the sin that would plague us. He provided all the grace necessary to cover our sin and build a pathway to Him. All because He decided to love us and desired to adopt us.

Galatians 4:4-6 (NLT) But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children. And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.”

The Bible tells us that God placed eternity in our hearts along with a measure of faith. I believe at the right time the two will become one and our life will prosper when Jesus comes to reside in us. His Spirit cultivates good fruit and changes the appetite of our soul. However, it takes time to change our heart and mind healing the past experiences and working all details for our good. The Holy Spirit prompts us to call out, “Abba, Father.” Why not? I believe that if you polled your congregation asking the question, “Who have always had a good relationship with their birth father?” You would find very few who shared such an experience. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 19.7 million children, which is more than 1 in 4, live without a father in the home. These kids are more likely to live in poverty, develop behavioral problems, become pregnant as teenager, to face abuse or neglect, go to prison, to abuse alcohol or drugs, suffer obesity, commit a crime or drop out of high school. Fatherhood is a necessary role..

With this in mind, there is a fatherless generation who cannot experience the fullness of God’s Love because they do not understand His Role as Father. They cannot love or trust Him because their experience is absence, abandonment, or abuse. They do not cry out to Him for fear that He will not come because their natural fathers were not around. As the enemy works to destroy the home, he has successfully caused a separation between God and His Children based on experience. Many foreign orphanages are silent halls lined with cribs of babies who do not cry out because they know that no one will come. We must learn to lean on the Father again. Call out His Name. Allow our heart and mind to receive the adoptive spirit and live in His Love completely as sons and daughters of the Living God.

Acts 2:16-18 (NLT) No, what you see was predicted long ago by the prophet Joel: ‘In the last days,’ God says, ‘I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams. In those days I will pour out my Spirit even on my servants—men and women alike—and they will prophesy.

I do not believe that revival will come until the sons and daughters become confident in their identity. To fully assume our position in the Kingdom of God with confidence that nothing will ever separate us from the Father’s Love. To remind our heart, mind and soul that He is a Good Father and oh so faithful to His Children. We need to learn to recognize the Father’s Voice as He whispers His Love, Affirmation and Acceptance of us. To realize the full benefits of all His Promises and understand that they are not by chance but the rights of an inheritance. They belong to us because our Father has given them to us. God has poured His Spirit in us. We are free. Free to live. Free to love. Free to dream. Free to prophesy good things and God things in our life. It is only by achieving confidence that overcomes the experience of our past. To fully assume our place in the Kingdom is to complete the process of adoption by fully receiving our rights as the sons and daughters of God. He will not force you to come home but the Lord will welcome you every time. His Love for you and me established before the creation of the world. His Grace made sufficient because He knew us and desired us before time began. He is a good Father. He calls you His Child. Isn’t it time we lived like it?

2 Corinthians 6:18 (NLT) And I will be your Father, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”

Lay Me Down

Lay Me Down

John 15:12-14 (NIV) My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.

The more in love with Jesus I become the more evident the loveless places in my life. When invited the Light of His Love shines into the deepest and darkest parts of the human heart and illuminates all the places where love is not definitive. Pride tries to brush it off in the name of self-preservation but the Spirit continues to press on the sorest part to make the change and trust the Lord. Over the years, I have developed the uncanny ability to shut off the switch of my emotions when it comes to hurt, betrayal and devastation. To become indifferent is a dangerous quality that should never be embraced but carefully extracted. Life’s experience give us certain coping abilities that are unhealthy to the spirit man and contraindicative to growth, development and maturity of the new creation. The command is to love each other as Christ has loved us. He establishes that there is no greater love than for one to lay down our life for a friends. The Lord goes on to evoke that those who master this concept will be called and considered His Friends. Faith makes us a friend of God. Love makes us a friend of Jesus. The key to laying our life down properly is love. We must get it in the right order to have the desired effect!

In Revelation 3, the Lord talks about indifference. He calls those who live in it as “lukewarm” and tells us that He will spit such people out. It goes on to say that Jesus will correct and discipline us to love everyone. It comes with the warning to be diligent in pursuing passionate love and turning away from the tendency of humanity to live in indifference. Indifference makes us disinterested, inattentive, uncaring, and self-centered. Intentional Christians cannot be indifferent but must live passionately in love with Jesus Christ. It all begins with our acceptance of His Love and commitment to learn love like our Savior. But this is not always the case. Some will come to Jesus and attempt to lay down an incomplete life for others to follow which will only lead to despair and disappointment. The beginning and end of our faith is the Love of God for us. Lord, teach us to love like you do!

I John 3:16-18 (NIV) This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

I must lay down my life for my brothers and sisters. The Kingdom of God is reserved for every man, woman and child who asks Jesus to save them. God’s Desire is to save, heal, deliver and restore them all. Am I working with the Lord? Or working against Him? Friends work together. We give up our time, energy, resources and more to help out those who are called family and friends. But what about the rest? Oh I hear you! I give. I help. I share. I am generous. There are many philanthropists who give away their wealth. The Kingdom Economy called wealth is not measured in such things. It is our capacity to love others and from that love give our life away. We cannot get it out of order. Love is not a compulsion it is a commitment.

John 13:36-38 (NIV) Simon Peter asked him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus replied, “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.” Peter asked, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” Then Jesus answered, “Will you really lay down your life for me? Very truly I tell you, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!

Peter was probably one of the most enthusiastic, passionate and zealous Christians to ever live. He believed it when he told Jesus, “I will lay down my life for you.” How devastating to discover just hours later that the Lord was right when Peter denied Him the third time and the rooster sounded as promised. Peter already had the revelation of who Jesus was. He knew that Jesus was the Son of the Living God. I know a lot of people but I am still learning to love them. Not everyone is lovable and not everyone understands love. There are many people who have only experienced brokenness and devastation in giving love away so they give their life but withhold their heart.

In I Corinthians 13, it says “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” When Peter saw Jesus walking on the shore after the resurrection, he dove in the water and swam all the way to shore to meet Him. Peter was different now. Indifference was now filled with passionate love for the Lord and a willingness to give his life from that love. We must fall completely head over heels in love with Jesus in order to make the laying down of our life meaningful.

John 10:14-18 (NIV)  “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”

Love cannot be forced. Whom the Son sets free is free indeed. To love or not to love. It is a personal choice made each day. Jesus is the Good Shepherd. He is not distant but constant. His Sheep know Him and respond to His Voice. Why? Because they love him so. He offered His Life as a sacrifice for our sin so that our relationship with God the Father could be reestablished. He did so out of love. To properly lay our life down for others it must always be from the same love that God gave us through His Son, Jesus. It is in that capacity that our power and authority to lay our life down and pick it back up is possible. No one can take your love from you. You must choose to give it. We have the full power and authority of Jesus Christ – King of Kings and Lord of Lords – on the inside of us. Full dominion is ours because Jesus gave it to us. To lay down my life for others and fulfilling the commandment of Christ means receiving His Love. Allowing Him to teach me to love through correction and discipline. Continue to love until He comes for me or I go to Him. Lord, teach me to lay down my life properly. In Jesus Name!

Matthew 22:36-40 (NIV) “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”