Seasonal Change

seasonal-change

Psalm 1:1-3 (NKJV) Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.

The cool crisp air is whispering a seasonal change is taking place. Walking in the backyard, it feels wonderful. A hint of pumpkin spice is wafts by if only in my imagination. The old fire pit in need of renovation seems a bit more urgent. The drying woodpile leftover from hurricane season is almost ready to burn. I am ready for a seasonal change. I welcome the shift in the atmosphere naturally and spiritually that is coming. Surveying our newly acquired property, I notice a tree that looks dead and lifeless. My first inclination is to get some assistance in cutting it down. However, as I continue to evaluate its condition it comes to mind that I have not seen it in all seasons yet. Perhaps it is not dead just observing its own seasonal change. If it doesn’t change at all in the coming seasons, it is more than likely dead and should be cut down. Patience. I need patience when it comes to seasons in life. Seasonal change even when welcomed will always bring change. Sounds redundant but seldom considered when we cry out the Lord for something new and different. Our heart cries change when our flesh says, “Let’s just stay the same.”

I love Psalm 1:1-3. I want to be like a tree planted by the rivers of water than brings forth its fruit in its season. Or do I? It all sounds wonderful on paper. That is until I must undergo the required process. When the pressure to change, suddenly pushes me out of my comfort zone making it impossible to be satisfied and yet still stay the same. We are to be “planted”. We prefer to live in the temporary. We can see it, feel it, and react to it naturally feeling some control over that which we have none. The Bible tells us to walk by faith and not by sight which I have come to realize involves a whole lot more standing than moving around. We must wait on the Lord. We must be aware of each season. Those who do will bring forth its fruit. What does that mean? You will fulfill your purpose and find full satisfaction in a prospering life. I want that kind of life. I am ready for a seasonal change.

Proverbs 21:21 (NIV) Whoever pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor.

Psalm 1:1 talks about three kinds of people. I never really took notice of the differentiation noted here until now. There are those who “walk in step with the wicked”. I believe these are the people who know God on Sunday but live without regard to sin every other waking moment of the day. They bless your heart at church and cuss you out in any other setting. Blatantly disregarding the way of God yet call themselves Christians just because they know His Name. I cannot live like this and expect God to prosper my life.

The second person is the one who lives a comfortable and complacent life in Christ. They look, act and speak like true believers but entertain sin in their life. The Word of God says, “stand in that way that sinners take.” They act innocent but in their heart are just as guilty as the rest. Grace is sufficient for them but rarely taken advantage of. They want the benefits and blessings of life in Christ today not forever.

Finally there are the most dangerous Christians of all. The ones who “sit in the company of mockers.” This is the day and age of false prophets and skewed religion. There are a whole lot of people that truly believe that in that day they will say, “Lord, Lord” and Jesus will know them when He will not. They have been preached a Gospel other than Good News and have taken hold of it as the Truth. I have always feared that this would be me. How do I make sure that the foundation of my life is Jesus Christ? How do I know that I am rooted, grounded and planted in His Love alone?

Jeremiah 8:6-7 (NIV) I have listened attentively, but they do not say what is right. None of them repent of their wickedness, saying, “What have I done?” Each pursues their own course like a horse charging into battle. Even the stork in the sky knows her appointed seasons, and the dove, the swift and the thrush observe the time of their migration. But my people do not know the requirements of the Lord.

When I read this verse today, I was overcome. I know that I am not always sensitive to the seasons that the Lord leads me to and through. Many, many times I am the “horse charging into battle.” I don’t want my way. I want His Way. Ecclesiastes speaks of God’s Promise that He will make everything beautiful in its time. He carefully details all the many seasons in Ecclesiastes 3. I don’t like all those seasons especially the ones that require pain and parting. The ones that produce discomfort or distance. I love spring and fall but I am not a fan of summer and winter. Why? Spring and fall are comfortable, but summer and winter are extreme.

I must learn to observe the seasons properly. The Lord says that people do not know the requirements of the Lord. I do not believe this was just a Word for His People then but a glaring declaration for us now. We must return to the basic requirements of God to facilitate the change called revival. For Heaven to come to earth requires repentance on the part of God’s People. The windows have closed because sin always separates us from the Lord. When we openly engage in it unashamedly a window slams closed. When we entertain it on any level, God must look away. When church is about religion and not a relationship with Jesus Christ, it is not open to the Holy Spirit. It’s time to repent. It’s time to return to the Lord. It is time to be like a tree. To live like the stork, dove, swift and thrush carried on the wind of change. Sensitive to the change in the atmosphere and obedient to migrate when it’s time. If you want this life, it is yours. If you want the Kingdom of God, it is time for a change.

Deuteronomy 30:15-16 (NIV) See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.

Every day comes with a choice. Will I choose life and prosperity or death and destruction? You may be thinking that sounds brutal. It may very well be to you. God is Sovereign and does not change. It is His Character and the one thing that makes Him different from anyone else. He is perfect in all of His Ways. It doesn’t matter what I think or my opinion. This is the God who created me and prepared a plan for my life. It comes with a future and hope. (Jeremiah 29:11) It is absolutely mine when I am perfect. No, that’s not what it says. It says I can have it when I seek Him wholeheartedly. (Jeremiah 29:13) Do you know what the Word says about your life? There are way more promises than requirements for me. I am promised prosperity and success in life completely. What must I do to attain life and prosperity? Love the Lord God. Walk in obedience to Him. Keep His Commandments. When I try and fail, His Grace is enough for me.

Here is the catch. Not only does the Lord give us a choice every waking, breathing day but He gives us new mercy to overcome every fault, failure and weakness that I may face. If I simply choose to commit my life to serving the Lord wholeheartedly, He gives me everything that I need to be successful even when I fall flat on my face. His Word also says that He works every detail of my life for good. God wants to bless you today. He loves you with His Whole Heart. He is pulling for you not looking for a reason to punish you. If you think anything different, you may not know Him. To know the Lord is to love Him.

Colossians 2:6-9 (NIV) So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ. For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority.

I know that seasonal change is coming thanks to the cool breeze in the morning air. I know that supernatural seasonal change is coming by the stirring within me. Like leaves caught up in the air and circling all around – change is coming. When I felt the chill this morning, I immediately thought I should probably gather some of my warmer clothing out of the guest room and maybe put away the summer clothing. I believe that I must also prepare for the spiritual change that I am sensing. Repentance will always be first and foremost in change. To clean out my heart and examine my life for things not useful in the coming season.

A tree constantly remains in the same place. When the cold comes, it does not change locations but remains in the same place. It may shed its dying leaves and the bark may peel away, but the roots stay firmly in place and grab hold of the ground. We are to be like a tree. Rooted and built up in Jesus Christ alone. We are strengthened by our faith in Him that must stand through the seasons rather than running for cover. We must know His Word – Jesus is the Word. He is our foundation. By doing so, we will not be carried away by the winds of change but learn to prosper in every season no matter what natural conditions it brings – we will thrive. Christ is our fullness. He is all we need to prosper in every season. With every change, our faith grows stronger, roots go deeper and confidence becomes bolder. Change is a requirement. It should always be welcomed as we seek Him wholeheartedly.

Proverbs 16:20 (NIV) Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord.

I hear the song, “It’s a new season, it’s a new day, a fresh anointing is flowing my way, it’s a season of power and prosperity, it’s a new season coming for me.” (Israel Houghton) Lord, prepare me for this new season. Examine my heart and remove anything that is not of you. Out with the old and in with the new. Equip me with the strength and stamina to stand and see it through. I want to be where You are and nowhere else. I want to experience Your Presence like never before. I want to encounter Your Love all over again. Open the Windows of Heaven in my life as I prepare to stand in the wind of your change. I invite you to have Your Way in my life. Make me like a tree today, Jesus.

Isaiah 63:1-4 (NIV) The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor. They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations.

For the Joy

 

for-the-joyPsalm 89:14-17 (NLT) Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne. Unfailing love and truth walk before you as attendants. Happy are those who hear the joyful call to worship, for they will walk in the light of your presence, Lord. They rejoice all day long in your wonderful reputation. They exult in your righteousness.  You are their glorious strength. It pleases you to make us strong.

George Orwell said, “Happiness can exist only in acceptance.” We must learn to accept and reject certain things in our life to maintain our emotional state of wellbeing. Those who allow their circumstances, situation or current condition to touch that part of our heart where happiness lives will never be satisfied. Life is hard. It is not fair. Society is perverse and twisted. It is heart wrenching to read the news. How do I keep happiness in my heart when it keeps being broken? How do I maintain joy when there is so much pain and suffering all around? To remain constant in the Lord by faith will produce joy in us that is not impacted by trials but maintained by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the one who produces real joy in our life. (Galatians 5:22)

Bitterness is a root that chokes our spirit and crushes the human soul. The idea or thought that captures our heart and begins to overtake the seeds of life sown in the Spirit. Hurt left unhealed. Offense allowed to survive. Doubt not dealt with turns to disbelief and suddenly we become discouraged. Where is God? When darkness compromises the Light in our life, it is not because the Light has somehow moved like the sun setting, but rather we have moved away from it. Sin will create darkness in a once illuminated life. How do we combat it? Perseverance takes its toll even on the strongest Christian and most dedicated follower of Jesus Christ.

“My heart is breaking as I remember how it used to be: I walked among the crowds of worshipers, leading a great procession to the house of God, singing for joy and giving thanks amid the sound of a great celebration!” (Psalm 42:4) David goes on to say, “Why am I so discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? Then He bounces back with a solution, “I will put my hope in God! I will praise Him again My Savior and My God!” We all can get discouraged. It is hard not to be. The state of affairs whispers, “He is coming!” but still produce tragic circumstances as the earth quakes at His Close Proximity. Jesus is coming! I am happy that He is! Lord, help me to live for the joy!

Hebrews 12:2 (NKJV) Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Jesus Christ sits at the right hand of the Throne of God. He earned this position because “for the joy” that was set before Him endured the Cross. Any idea what that joy was? You and me. He looked past the torture and complete disrespect to see us and decided it was worth putting down His Crown and taking up the Cross. Thank you Jesus that you thought I was worth it! In Psalm 89, it says that the foundation of His Throne are righteousness and justice. Both are big problems for people due to inherited sin and the fact that God is Sovereign. Let’s talk about that for a minute. We do not understand the concept of a Sovereign God because we live in polluted justice. There is no one who is righteous other than Lord. We have never encountered such a presence therefore do not understand the gravity of our situation. God does not consume us because He is mad at us or hates us. It is the sin that causes our destruction because God is that good. He does not lie or change His Mind, but if I do it causes a problem because He cannot change. He is absolute and constant. Take that in for a moment.

God has a plan and purpose for our life. (Jeremiah 29:11) We can only obtain it by seeking Him wholeheartedly. (Jeremiah 29:13) To do so required Grace from God because He could not give up His Perfection. The foundation of His Throne are still righteousness and justice which will never change but we can change because there are attendants around the Throne called unfailing love and truth. Unfailing love says that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. I have been given His Unfailing Love accompanied by His Grace. The Truth is that God so loved the world that He gave His Only Son that we would not die in His Presence but have everlasting life. There should be joy the fact that I will not die but live eternally. Where is my joy? Why do I get discouraged? When I move from the Presence of God, I feel the separation from the Source of Life. I cannot be righteous or get justice because I am a sinner. God hates sin. I need His Unfailing Love and the Truth to prevail in my life to allow His Spirit to produce joy and happiness in my life that is not conditional. To live in the Presence of God allows me to look beyond this life – for the joy set before me.

Proverbs 3:13-18 (NKJV) Happy is the man who finds wisdom, and the man who gains understanding; for her proceeds are better than the profits of silver, and her gain  than fine gold. She is more precious than rubies, and all the things you may desire cannot compare with her. Length of days is in her right hand, in her left hand riches and honor. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her, and happy are all who retain her.

Jesus is the Word of God wrapped in flesh who came to bring us unfailing love and truth. Truth is the Word of God. The Word formed the world. The Word is wisdom. We must find wisdom to be happy. Worldly wisdom is the truth according to sin that always leads to death. The introduction of Jesus Christ gives us new truth. New wisdom. New understanding. When we try to fill our old life and way of doing things with new truth, it bursts like an old wineskin. We must put on new ideas, habits, attitudes and actions to accept happiness in our life and allow the Holy Spirit to do His Work producing joy. Joy and happiness are not a way of life but only found in the Source of Life. We must take our expectations from this life and put them in everlasting life.

To know God is to love God. To know Jesus is to desire the Lord. The more I know Him – the more I want to know. Faith is like riding a bicycle. At first, there are training wheels. We ride up and down the road without a care in the world because we know there is extra support that will keep us from falling. But then comes the day when it is time to learn to ride the same bike without the comfortable assistance that we have become accustomed to. We must learn to keep going on just two wheels. I still remember my dad teaching me to ride a bike. We lived in North Carolina and I was maybe six years old. There was a dirt road behind our house that sloped downhill. His brilliant idea was to put me at the top of the path and let the momentum carry me down sure that I would not fall. Well, he didn’t consider that I may not be able to stop the bike. What a scary ride! What a dramatic ending! Faith feels like that sometimes. I didn’t want my training wheels off and cried when dad took them off. But can you imagine how ridiculous it might be for a grown person to be riding around with training wheels. We walk with them sometimes.

I Peter 1:7-9 (NLT) These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls.

Inexpressible joy is found in faith. Jesus Christ is the author and finisher of our faith. Our decision to love and trust the Lord in all things allows His Spirit to produce this joy that cannot be described in our life. But like the child who likes keeping those training wheels rather than risking a fall, we do not take the steps according to our purpose in fear of failure. Faith is tried and tested. As we learn to love and trust Jesus, we begin to live by faith and not by sight. This perspective begins to produce happiness and joy in our life. The kind of joy and happiness that is not impacted by ordinary life but based solely on the unfailing love and truth who is Jesus Christ. We have been given a gift that can be opened daily in our life. We can choose joy by choosing to trust the Lord. We can live a happy life in the most devastating circumstances by believing the Word of God and not the opinion of man. I can trust the Lord because God is Sovereign. He is constant. He remains the same. He cannot lie or change His Mind or God wouldn’t be God. I can put my whole life in His Hands and in return, He fills my life with joy!

Psalm 51:10-12 (NLT) Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me. Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you.

Create in me a clean heart. Why do you think it says “create” in me a clean heart? It is only through repentance that we can have a pure heart. I need Jesus to scrub my heart each and every day. To remove every impure thing that keeps me from coming to the Throne of God boldly. His Grace is enough for me. I need the Word of God to renew my spirit – to feed and nourish my soul so I can remain steadfast and loyal in my pursuit of the Lord. I need the Holy Spirit to produce inexpressible joy and complete happiness as He satisfies my life with all the good things that God has in store for me. I am ready to receive the Joy of the Lord when I start each day this way.

Do you need the Lord to restore the joy of salvation today? Does happiness escape you in the midst of trials and temptation? Every single morning the Lord leaves you new mercy in the hope that you will take full advantage of His Gift. He wants to wash your heart, rejuvenate your spirit and stir up the Holy Spirit in you. Do you want Him to? We cannot have the joy of the Lord and prevailing peace any other way but to live in Jesus Christ! It is just not possible. To accept anything less is a tragedy. We choose happiness. We decide to have joy. It is released in our commitment, obedience and devotion to Jesus Christ. He gives it to us freely. He applies it to our life generously. If we do not have it, maybe we just need to move a little closer. We find joy when we find ourselves in His Presence basking in the Light of His Love. The Lord invites us to come to Him today. He will never pull us or shove us into His Glory and Goodness but whispers our name day by day. Those who answer the call to worship will find true happiness and inexpressible joy!

Lamentations 3:21-23 (NLT) Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: the faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; His mercies begin afresh each morning.

Just Disappear

just-disappear

Hebrews 13:1 (NLT) Keep on loving each other as brothers and sisters. Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it! Remember those in prison, as if you were there yourself. Remember also those being mistreated, as if you felt their pain in your own bodies.

There are many stories popping up from time to time about ordinary people who find themselves in extraordinary circumstances. These men and women do what they do and then the news article reports and “they just disappeared”. Every day heroes, modern day saints, just regular people who could not walk away. There was a terrible car accident. A drunk driver slammed into the car of a young woman. It was a horrible wreck. Despite ongoing efforts, her condition was worsening and they could not extract her from the mangled automobile. A priest came upon the scene. He anointed her with oil and prayed for her. He then told the first responders to try again. When they did, she miraculously was removed and they were able to save her life. The man just disappeared. Some touted him to be an angel and others mocked those who would hope. One commented on the story, “so now angels come dressed as priests.” I have to laugh a little because there is irony in ignorance because angels do come in all shapes and forms. Yes, even as a priest.

After much hoopla, ABC News found the priest. The angel’s identity known, suddenly no one focused on the miracle but the man who “produced” it. Sadly this is the case most of the time. People do not chase after God who is the Miracle Maker, but rather those who He uses. How do we just disappear so all they see is Jesus? How do we keep the spotlight on Jesus and not all the wonderful things that He does? I want God to get all the Glory for my life. How do I make sure that the spotlight remains on the Lord? There are many preachers today who have forgotten how to do that. They didn’t mean to step into such a role. Humility is tough. Humans come with pride. The Power of God in us is strong and indisputable. Those who tap into it must daily crucify flesh as not to be overcome by pride and self-righteousness.

We have the opportunity each day to “entertain angels without realizing it.” God supplies all of our needs. He gives us an abundance so that it can overflow into the lives of other people. He fills us with everything that we want, need and desire to fulfill His Divine Purpose and live for His Glory. The question is not can we, but will we? Will we choose to stop looking for ways to blessed and become a blessing? I am challenged by this today. I decrease, You increase. It’s all about you, Jesus – it’s not about me. (John 3:30)

Matthew 25:34-40 (NLT) “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’ “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’”

We must become socially challenged as the church to meet the needs of a dark and dying world. It is easy to be caught up in the order of worship, production and weekly services. God is looking for those who will take heavenly hospitality out to those trapped in the bondage of life. We walk by angels unaware on our way to church. Those who lay down their life for a friend, please Jesus. But getting involved with people is messy, especially those who live in terrible conditions or complicated circumstances. It may require giving something that we do not want to give. The priest may have been running late for mass that day. Sitting in his car in traffic backed up due to the horrible accident, maybe something compelled him to get out and see what was going on. Perhaps, and this may be pure speculation, he wandered upon the scene compelled by the Holy Spirit. His actions in that moment did not go unnoticed but he didn’t want to wait for recognition for he had a church of people waiting. In one moment, he just did what he knew to do and went about his business.

See miracles, signs and wonders are not really for those who believe, but for those who walk by sight. Those who believe just want to be in His Presence to live in that secret place where they know that He is close. Knowing by His Word that God can AND will, such people are so in love with the Lord that they just want to please Him. Their compassion is not based on anything other commitment to Jesus Christ and a deep desire to be where He is. What if we just disappeared in the Presence of God rather than basking in His Glory? What if we gave and walked away? To love Jesus and let Him be the One in the spotlight again. What if? I wonder. Notice what the “righteous ones” replied when blessed by the King, “Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?” The Lord’s Response – when you did it for the least of your brothers or sisters – that is when you did it for me. How we respond to people when we think no one is watching matters. The way we live when it is not required is the point. The Lord is looking for those people who will give their lives away without looking for immediate blessing or glorification. Those who will just lay down their life day by day.

Matthew 6:1-4 (NLT) “Watch out! Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven. When you give to someone in need, don’t do as the hypocrites do—blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I tell you the truth, they have received all the reward they will ever get. But when you give to someone in need, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.”

What can I do for the Kingdom and just disappear? How can I learn to live in such a way that the focus is not on me only Jesus? To be a good steward of our life is to tithe our time, talent and treasure to Jesus Christ. If I gave away just ten percent of my time, talent and treasure to others what would it look like? Tithing is the easy way out if it only means writing a check when we get paid by our employer. It is the percentage of our life given to God that nobody knows about that blesses His Heart. The time we give to others whether they know it or not. The things we do when nobody is watching that result in His Glory. “But when you give to someone in need, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.” Hmmm, so when I give my life away it is best to just disappear. We can learn from the actions of the priest that day. He walked right in the middle of things – did what the Lord told him to do – and attempted to disappear. What can I do to bless God today and then just disappear? Do I need people to recognize my good works or am I okay waiting on the Father to bless my life? Your Father who sees everything will reward you when serving Him is a private matter that speaks a consistent message in our life. We do not need the attention or affirmation of others when we become confident in the Lord and His Ability to validate our life through genuine faith. It is better to give than receive. We must give our life away day by day moment by moment to please the Father without looking for personal praise. After all – it’s all about Him and not about me. Our mission today is to “keep on loving each other as brothers and sisters”. We must remember those in bondage. It is up to us to experience the pain and plight of others as if it were firsthand… and then just disappear. We are the hands and feet of Jesus today. Everything we have and can do is from the Father with Love. Let all we do today be wrapped in Love for the Glory of God.

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

Basic

Slice of fresh white bread

Hebrews 6:1-3 (NLT) So let us stop going over the basic teachings about Christ again and again. Let us go on instead and become mature in our understanding. Surely we don’t need to start again with the fundamental importance of repenting from evil deeds and placing our faith in God. You don’t need further instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And so, God willing, we will move forward to further understanding.

American pop culture uses the term “basic” to describe anyone or anything lacking originality. It could mean the predictable nature of certain people. Those who are plain or normal lacking individuality who rely on trends to tell them who they are, what they like and dictating what they do. In many connotations, it is a derogatory term used as a slight against another person. It is a popular term used among high schoolers and I see it among posts of young people. Though it is usually not meant with malicious intent, I cannot help but wonder if we label ourselves with words that limit us in the end. I am not basic. I am a masterpiece created by God with a purpose that no one can accomplish but me. I am His Treasure and no one can replace me in His Coffer. I am His Child. As a mom, I can attest. I have five children. I could not bear the thought of losing one of them and just because I have more doesn’t make one of the replaceable. I believe that when the Lord looks at us – He does not see who we are in this life but what we can become immersed in His Presence and according to His Kingdom.

Let us stop going over the basic teachings about Christ again and again. Basic. There is that word again. Could today’s church be labeled “basic”? The “church” is the Body of Christ which we are a part so does that mean we are basic, too? Basic is fundamental. Are we stuck on fundamentals and missing out on future promises? I don’t want to remain basic, but I desire fulfillment in the Lord. We must evaluate our life and the simplicity in which we live it. People engage in that which is most important. Investing time and energy into our marriage, children, families and friends it is obvious the importance of those around us by the contribution made to them. The same may be said of further our influence and advancement in one’s career, earnings, and socioeconomic status. Great attention is given to the appearances in our life. It matters to us what other people see and how they perceive it. With all this in mind, do we give any portion of our life to become mature in our understanding when it comes to Jesus Christ or are we basic Christians?

Hebrews 6:4-6 (NLT) For it is impossible to bring back to repentance those who were once enlightened—those who have experienced the good things of heaven and shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the power of the age to come— and who then turn away from God. It is impossible to bring such people back to repentance; by rejecting the Son of God, they themselves are nailing him to the cross once again and holding him up to public shame.

Fundamentals. God gives us grace. He understands second chances. I believe when He evaluates our life it is according to the intent of the human heart and not necessarily the outcomes along the way. He is looking at the fruit of our life not the bush that surrounds it. Seeds must die to their original form once planted in the cold, dark ground. The tiny seedling must push back against the pressure of the earth holding it down to emerge in the sun and begin to change form. As it grows tiny buds form both leaves and blossoms. The leaves will cover the newly forming buds that will one day produce fruit. Many plants take many seasons to perfect the fruitful reproductive plan and purpose that God created them for. We are no different.

It is impossible to bring back to repentance those who were once enlightened. Some make this verse the premise of the doctrine once saved…always saved. However, it is not that easy. I was saved at eleven years old. I wanted Jesus Christ to come live in my heart and be my Savior and Lord. I did not fully understand what it meant or how to become who God created me to be, but my heart was in the right place. I would foray back and forth from wilderness to wonder until I “experienced the good things of heaven and shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the power of the age to come.” Once it all came together, I can never go back. It doesn’t mean that I am perfect. I sin all the time reluctantly. I don’t want to hurt the Lord – honestly it just happens sometimes. We must move past basic Christianity and fundamentally functioning to walk in the Glory of God. It is His Desire for us to experience the “good things” of His Kingdom. He wants us to share intimacy with the Holy Spirit. The Lord wants us to taste His Word savoring its sweetness. In His Presence there is power of the age that is coming. How do we get there from here? Are you stuck in a rut? Is your life predictable? Is your praise, worship, prayer time and service the same? Is it basic?

John 10:9-10 (NLT) Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.

Are you living a rich and satisfying life? Right now. Today. Is there an abundance overflowing in your home, job and church? Is there a surplus for others? I didn’t think so. Most of the time this is not the case so we pour over the Word of God and return to the fundamentals over and over again looking to make this life better. Faith is for the unseen reality of God – it is not for today. The Lord has released us into “good pastures”. He has supplied all our needs. He has even given to us divinely what we need to serve Him wholeheartedly. God gives us a measure of faith to get started but what we do with that faith determines the harvest in our life. We must not give in to the temptation to continually turn the soil or till the ground but wait until it grows into God’s Plan for us.

Religiosity, tradition and overbearing doctrine are comfort zones that breed complacency as we become basic Christians rather than world changers and history makers. We do not plant seeds of faith that grow into righteous oaks but are artificial plants with pretty but inedible fruit. Who wants to bite into a fake apple or consume a plastic banana made in China? The Lord is looking at our hearts today. He is looking for those who are tired of the fundamentals and are ready for His Kingdom to come. God’s Kingdom is anything but basic. It is complex and complete. If we could just step over the boundaries of basic Christianity to enter the “good pastures” through Jesus Christ and keep walking – things would change. The enemy would stop messing up your life because He cannot enter what is dominated by Christ. You will begin to prosper in such a place. Your life will become rich and satisfying right where you are because Jesus Christ is in you.

Ephesians 3:19-21 (NLT) 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. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.

I don’t want to be basic in life especially in my walk with Jesus Christ. I want every promise that He ever made me even if it means being tried and tested repeatedly. I want to be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from knowing God and becoming a part of His Kingdom forever. It is going to require some pushing and pressing until I feel the Son shining on my face. I must stop looking at life, love and happiness through the eyes of people and see with the Eyes of Christ. The Love of Jesus Christ is too great to fully understand, but I must at least try. The Lord is working in me and through me to accomplish through His Mighty Power INFINITELY MORE than (I) might ask or think. Meditate on that for a moment. Is the Power of God moving in your life today? I am not asking if all your problems are solved, ailments healed, or attitudes changed, but do you believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that His Promises are “yes” and “amen” for you here and now? What we do will never motivate God to open His Hand and release His Blessings. It is and has always been all about Jesus Christ. He must be the Center of my Life. He must be the place I dwell each day to receive His Fulfillment. Life with Jesus is not basic. It is beautiful. Our life is a process. It should show progress. Today may not be the day of completion but it still holds the very thing we need to be successful. Let God be God. Be you. Love Him wholeheartedly. Seek Him with all your might. Wait until He comes. God has made everything beautiful in its own time. Timing is everything. Use that eternity (faith) in your heart today to connect with the Source of Life again. No season is wasted. It takes them all to produce fruit.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NLT) Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.

Have You Asked?

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John 14:12-14 (NLT) “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it!”

My girls are known for strategically asking and making requests from us. They know what is more than likely a yes and then the odds of no for certain things. When it comes to the things that they want, they will be quick to tell you ask dad. He is much easier then mom who is often referred to as the “hammer”. I am commonly referred to as the “hammer” because I am able to say, “No”. My husband has such a soft heart for these kids. Despite the burly guy with the full beard, behind the façade of strength and toughness, there is a giant soft, squishy teddy bear. There are times when they will come straight to me and ask for what they want but when the stakes are high, they try to bypass me making it dad first. He is more likely to say, “Yes!”

Our Father in Heaven wants to bless us. He wants His Goodness to overflow as abundance in our daily life. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. He is the one who allows us access to the Father’s Love and all its benefits. God has always loved us. He is constantly trying to make His Way closer to us bringing heaven to earth to connect with His Children. Do you believe that today? What we believe about God as a Father is often formed by our experience with our natural caregivers. Those who have experienced disappointment in natural parental relationships will extend these traits and characteristics to the Lord. There is a reason why we need the Holy Spirit to renew our thoughts day by day. We need Him to change our mind so that we will approach the Throne of God with confidence and boldness as He has invited us to through Jesus Christ.

Hebrews 4:15-16 (NLT)  This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.

I am overcome almost daily by a Savior and Lord who knows my weaknesses yet invites me to continually come boldly into His Presence asking for those I want, need and desire with full confidence that He will open His Hand and grant these pleasures evermore. (Psalm 16:11) The Holy Spirit points us in the right direction so we can walk in the Goodness of God. But sometimes we shrink back from God’s Hand fearful of the consequences of our failure and inability to live the perfect life. Afraid of disappointment – we avoid the Father and His Presence altogether.

Our youngest daughter is not limited by doors or partitions. When she was very young, she learned that she could unlock the door to almost any room in our house with a butter knife. So if someone locked her out, she would go to the kitchen and grab a “key”. She assumed she was welcome and the locked door did not apply to her. One morning while getting ready for church, my husband locked our bedroom door and our bathroom door to avoid interruption during while getting ready. He was just getting out of the shower when the door flew open. I caught it mid swing to close it quickly as our daughter shrieked. Thankfully my husband’s dignity was preserved and our youngest was only startled by my abruptness. As I comforted her in the other room, she asked me why I didn’t tell her that dad was in the shower. I informed her that we had closed and locked not one but two doors which she had opened uninvited and unannounced to which she replied, “I didn’t know you were trying to keep me out.” She is a persistent one. She doesn’t like being separated from us. She doesn’t believe a locked door applies to her even today.

What if we as God’s Precious Children began to believe the same way? What if we decided that God really is a Good Father? What if we believed that He really does want good things for us? Would we ask more? Would we see more? Would we begin to knock? Ephesians 3:12 reminds us today that “because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s Presence.”

Matthew 7:7-8 (NLT) “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.”

I wonder how many things in life that we have settled for out of fear of asking God to intervene. Maybe afraid that He will not come? Perhaps we do not believe that His Power is available to us? Persistent prayer has given way to comfortable compromise. What if that which we are asking for takes a little too long? Do we stop waiting and move on? Yes, I am sliding my hand up. It is hard to wait on the Lord sometimes…okay a lot of the time. Our circumstances, conditions and crises are real. We feel the pain and frustration in each trial yet must walk by faith not by sight. This is our plight. It is the true test of our faith. Are we willing to hang on to the promise even the pain until Jesus comes? Keep asking. You will receive. Keep seeking and you will find. Keep knocking and the door will open. It sounds so simple. It is caught up in just two verses. It can take a lifetime to understand the true meaning of pursing God and His Promises.

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.”

Earning the prestigious title of “hammer” in this group of comedians did not come because my children are not blessed or spoiled to say the least. It came because I do not just give them anything on a whim. To whom much is given much is required. I am not just going to hand disobedient and unfaithful children anything, it would be like handing a loaded gun to a toddler. I must teach my kids how to live and responsibility along the way. I must teach them how to live in receiving just as giving.

There are two reasons that we do not ask the Lord for certain things. The first is disbelief. We doubt God will do what we ask Him to do for us. The disciples could not cast out a demon. They were perplexed. Jesus told them the problem, “You do not have faith.” Without faith, it is impossible to please God. Why? Because it is by faith in Jesus Christ alone that we are saved. Without faith, we cannot access the Father. We ask. We knock. We seek. But until we ask by faith. Knock by faith. Seek God by faith. We will continue to be frustrated.

There are also times we do not ask the Lord or even seek Him because we become distracted. We want natural relief when God wants to give us supernatural release. Trials and temptations are a part of our life. They are unavoidable. The Lord knows the plans that He has for you. He has made them good with a future and hope. We are ready to settle for lesser things when the journey takes a turn for the worse. In the depth of the darkness or bottom of the valley, we abandon our promise and run from the pain. We must know what we believe and keep our eyes on Jesus to obtain those things we want, need or desire in life.

Psalm 2:7-8 (NLT) The king proclaims the Lord’s decree: “The Lord said to me, ‘You are my son. Today I have become your Father. Only ask, and I will give you the nations as your inheritance, the whole earth as your possession.”

In Mark 6 is the story of Herodias, the daughter of King Herod Antipas. She danced for her father at his birthday party and he vowed, “I will give you whatever you ask, up to half my kingdom.” Her mother hated John the Baptist who had been imprisoned by the king at her request. When she inquired of her mother what to ask for, she told her to request the head of John the Baptist on a platter. The girl petitioned the king for her mother’s request and it was granted that very day. I wonder if we do not know what to ask for sometimes. We limit our scope of vision to the present. Whatever it is that will give us relief rather than release? We cry out to God in the natural and overlook what He is doing supernaturally in our life.

As if the voices and opinions of others is not enough, the enemy questions God’s Word and His Faithfulness. This is the voice that caused sin to be introduced into the world in the first place. The enemy questioned the woman about the scripture. She fell for it. Will you? Will I? Temptation comes in the form of a question. If we can answer the question with truth, we will make an informed choice. However, since most people to not read, study or know the Word of God, they fall for it all. We can have everything the Word of God says we can have and obtain it exactly as the Lord instructs through His Word and His Spirit. By faith, it is received. We must decide who and what we believe or prayers will remain unanswered.

Matthew 18:18-20 (NLT) “I tell you the truth, whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven. I also tell you this: If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you. For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.”

To see Heaven come to earth and miracles to happen again requires agreement in the Church. We must decide to have faith in God together that overcomes ever relationship obstacle that has been built. If we can learn to agree, God’s Kingdom will come and touch the earth again. The Lord will live in the midst of our disagreement. He must wait for us to decide to come together and agree. Though we confess with our mouth that despite all our differences that we are united in purpose – we are not. Agreement will permeate relationships and solve those differences in order for the Lord to live among His Followers. My faith in God will impact my relationships. The more I know Him the more I trust Him. The more I trust Him the greater my expectation is in Him removing it from people.

The woman at the well came to satisfy her thirst in the natural and was offered the supernatural. She did not immediately understand exactly what Jesus was offering her because she was caught up in the natural. (John 4:9-14) Jesus broke her hard heart and living water came pouring out of her. How many prayers might be answered if we stopped worrying about what other people thought and decided to ask, seek and knock together wholeheartedly? What if we stopped looking around when offered the opportunity to come and pray at an altar and pressed into His Presence once again? Is your life perfect? Mine is not either. Are you still falling short? Me, too. Do you want the Lord with all your mind, soul and body? You are not going to find Him sitting on pride and self-righteousness but must go through the Son to get to the Father.

My kids will work hard to get to dad when it comes to “good gifts” and even “unreasonable requests”. They know that their daddy wants to bless them. He will do everything in his power to make their dream a reality. What if we have some of that confidence in God our Father? Would it make a difference? Yes, we would continue asking not stopping as long as we have breath. We would keep knocking until our hand or the door falls off one. We would keep seeking until we find Jesus never settling for the lesser things just to know Him more. Have you stopped asking today? Have you stopped knocking? Are you tired of seeking? Do not give up. The Father is waiting to bless you. Continue to walk by faith and not by sight. He will answer. He will open. He will be found. He will grant your requests if you do not give up. Ask one more time, knock again, and take one step deeper by faith. This just might be the day! If you don’t, then you will never know.

John 16:23-24 (NLT) At that time you won’t need to ask me for anything. I tell you the truth, you will ask the Father directly, and he will grant your request because you use my name. You haven’t done this before. Ask, using my name, and you will receive, and you will have abundant joy.

Moving Into Greater

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I John 4:4 (NLT) But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.

How do we walk from victory to victory? Do we really win? If the Spirit who lives in me is greater than why does it seem like the one who rules the world is winning? The news around the world wreaks of turmoil, death and destruction. How do I keep my hand to the plow and my eyes on Jesus? I know a man who had a difficult childhood that gave way to many bad choices as a young adult. After attending a rehabilitation program, he met a girl and they made a beautiful family together. They raised their children in the admonition of the Lord. Went to church. Seemed to do all the right things to be in the Will and Way of God. I got word recently that the two are in the middle of a nasty divorce. One of their precious babies overdosed on heroin, died and was brought back to life by her father and paramedics. One is selling the stuff that almost killed a sibling. Another lost in an identity crisis trying to figure out who and what is real. How can this happen? How can Christian families who know the Lord fall apart so completely? They are not the only ones. I know a pastor whose family engaged in the same battle our family did at the exact same time. His sister battled cancer and won. Her victory was secured in Heaven with Jesus, not as they had hoped. We experienced a different kind of victory. Why do I feel guilty sometimes? Why do I feel like life is so unfair? Every day as I pray, I plead the Blood of Jesus over my husband, babies, church and friends. The battle for them is real and the adversary is ruthless. How do I take my eyes off all the fires burning around me? How can I not be distracted by the disturbing images to see the view from God’s Perspective and walk in it? I must learn to move into “greater”.

“You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.” The people referred to in this passage are the false prophets. There may even one or two still circulating in this world (written with a hint of sarcasm). The Spirit who lives in me is greater. Jesus is greater than any other power or authority. (Period) The Sovereignty of God is passed down as power and authority to Jesus Christ in honor of His Sacrifice for all mankind. If the Spirit of God lives in us based on our decision to ask Jesus to be our Savior, to repent of our sins and turn from our own way, and make Him the Lord of our life – we have the Power of God and His Kingdom hidden inside of us. We can speak to mountains and they will move. We can cast out demons. We can drink poison and it will not harm us. We can do anything in His Name and for His Glory because He has given us His Victory. So why am I not winning? Are you fighting the right fight?

We engage in “civilian matters”. 2 Timothy 2:4 reminds us that “soldiers don’t get tied up in the affairs of civilian life for then they cannot please the officer who enlisted them.” Our civilian life are all the “things” we do to survive in this world. Kingdom business is the life we live for the Lord outside of our daily routine and scheduled activities called living the American Dream or running the rat race depending on who you are and the given day. We get caught up in too many things that don’t really matter. I get caught up in too many things that don’t really matter. People are complicated. Circumstances are messy. Complications are inconvenient. I have feelings you know? Yes, God knows how we feel yet cannot leave us all emotionally caught up but tries to loose us because He is greater than our feelings. The Lord is fighting for our freedom. The battle begins inside of you and me.

John 3:30 (NLT) He must become greater and greater and I must become less and less.

If only I could get past how I feel some days, and live only in the greatness of who He is. I know my life would be greater. Yet, I struggle with people and purpose every day. Less of me will always make room for more of Him. As I yield my body, mind, will and emotions to the Holy Spirit – He moves in and fills me with love, peace, joy and satisfaction allowing me to walk by faith and not by sight for that moment. I find that once I completely yield my broken heart or spirit to the Lord that He is faithful to fill up and secure it in me. Yet there are those areas that I give Him and before He can get there snatch it back. I want the greater things of God and to live for His Glory. Lord, move me into greater today by moving in and taking over more of me.

John 14:11-13 (NLT) “Just believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me. Or at least believe because of the work you have seen me do. I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father.”

I have seen modern day miracles. I have seen the Hand of God touch human beings and supernaturally change their condition. Yet, there were times that I still did not believe. I believed in God the Father, of course. I believed in Jesus Christ and the fact that He died to save me. I also believed that His Holy Spirit lived inside of me. The struggle was for the greater things. I would give up to avoid disappointment. I did not fully believe or accept God’s Intervention in my life or my ability to do the same works that Jesus did. I do not believe that anymore. I absolutely believe that God is moving me to greater things. Miracles, signs and wonders. Sharing a message that will be received by many.

The confidence and boldness that I have found did not come the way I assumed that it would. It arrived at the end of me. Complete and utter brokenness. The days that I thought I could not move another step in faith and the “mustard seed” seemed too small. I found it when not a single thing in my life added up to victory, when everyone around me did not see a win and on that day when all I had left was His Word. He made me a promise. The ruler of darkness had done everything in his power to make me relinquish it. I did not wail. I did not beg. I did not plead. As I recall, it was in a quiet and calm voice that I reminded the Lord – this is what you said.

As Christians, we are always trying to “make things happen” in the Body of Christ to promote repentance and revival. I am wondering if it’s possible that we are taking the wrong approach. Am I trying to win a victory already won rather than going through the Victor? What do I mean? King Solomon called life meaningless because he believed there was nothing new under the sun. While I agree with him that there is nothing new under the natural sun, I concur with him that God has placed eternity in the heart of mankind. It is that seed of faith that changes everything in our natural life to the possibility of supernatural outcome. God put divine purpose in each heart for harvest. We must allow it to become greater than us in order to reap the reward.

John 15:19-21 (NLT) “The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you. Do you remember what I told you? ‘A slave is not greater than the master.’ Since they persecuted me, naturally they will persecute you. And if they had listened to me, they would listen to you. They will do all this to you because of me, for they have rejected the one who sent me.”

Jesus was abundantly clear that the world pretty much hated Him and everyone associated with the Gospel. “A slave is not greater than the master.” If you think that the world is ready for the gospel, you are wrong. Christians have not helped our own cause. The Word of God tells us “students are not greater than their teacher” and that “slaves are not greater than their master.” (Matthew 10:24-25) We must be like our teacher. (Luke 6:39-40) The messenger is not greater than the one who sent the message. (John 13:15-17) Mega church is big business. Pastors reside in mansions and fly around in private jets. The world sees church as just a big business endeavor. I hear people refer to preachers and podcasts every day but don’t hear them recite the Word of God at all. If the world embraces you and celebrates me, am I serving God or man? The Love and Grace of God are wonderful. Those who experience them will be forever changed. However, they have the Gospel message when preached appropriately leads to opposition. If not, we must compare our life and our message to our Teacher, Master, Savior and Lord – Jesus Christ. He healed people. He helped the community. He did nothing wrong. He did not defend His Innocence but went to the Cross. John 15:13 says “there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Jesus laid His Life down for us all. We must be willing to lay our life down for Him to attain the greatness offered to us in His Word.

On Shark Week, the Discovery Channel shows men and women who will put blood in the water to summon sharks. They will then take a video camera, jump in a steel cage and be lowered in the water to film the shark’s frenzy. Some of the sharks will ram the cage. Others grab it with their razor sharp teeth and shake it with all their might. Those crazy, yes crazy, scientists though narrowly escaping with their life will do it again and again for their love of science and species. No thank you! I believe that as believers set their heart on revival and allow the Lord to remove lesser things to make room for greater things, they will encounter the same. We will go into the world with a message of love, peace and joy some days feeling as though we barely escape wrath.

I John 3:19-20 (NLT) Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God. Even if we feel guilty, God is greater than our feelings, and he knows everything.

Winston Churchill is credited with the statement, “If you are going through hell, keep going.” Good advice. If you want to get to Heaven, you are going to “go through hell” to get there. The enemy is not going to sit lightly by and watch you pass content with those who he has already apprehended. His hatred for Jesus is too great. His demise is too eminent. He will fight tooth and nail to pull you out of God’s Best to settle for lesser things in life even if that lesser thing is religion over a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Our actions must be based on the fact that we belong to the Truth and absolutely believe the Promise of God is for us and worth having. Why? It will cost all of me and every ounce of pride in me to attain it. We have been promised “far greater glory” (2 Corinthians 3:8-9) and friends we are not living in it so there must be more to it. I must believe that the God in me is greater than everything outside and around me. It will take all of me to get there. The greater ones desire to see the greater things of God and experience the Greatness of His Kingdom, the more that will be required. Are you willing to give God all of you for a higher view? A new perspective comes when we get out of the way along with our feelings about our faults and failures. We must move past our pride, insecurities and doubts that cause conflict and division in the Kingdom to work love, grace and mercy in and through our life. I want to move into greater things today. I must get past me to do it. He must increase and I must decrease not just today but every day!

John 14:12-13 (NLT) “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father.”

Learn To Run

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Hebrews 12:1 (NLT) Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.

Not really sure how it happened, I guess I was just one bowl of ice cream away from a binge. After working for a long time to establish a good diet and consistent exercise routine, I just stopped. The workout was the first to go. Three or four days at the gym turned to one here and there, which constituted good stewardship and ending our relationship. I quit the gym. But that’s okay, I still had a “good” diet right. I ate healthy for the most part. Well, I did anyway. It did not take long for old habits to come creeping in and late night snacking to take over. Now as I like to joke with others, I have noticed a waist line that resembles a “busted can of biscuits” so it is time to bet disciplined again. It is important to be a good steward in life and that includes our health. I will never be a 5’10” super model with abs of steel. In fact, as I shared with someone yesterday, I am not so sure this model came with abs. I believe that balance in life is mind, body and soul. We cannot be healthy in our soul and it not impact our mind and body. As my soul prospers, so will I in health and other things. (3 John 1:2)

It is with this thought that I am embarking on the journey once again to get my body back under control. I am not a runner. I aspire to be one day just because I believe it to be the ultimate endurance. If you see me running right now, should probably do the same because something is obviously chasing me. However, as I gain endurance, I have learned that running becomes a little bit easier. As my heart gets stronger and lungs learn to breathe under pressure, I am able to go longer and farther without stopping to catch my breath or ease a cramp. Hebrews 12:1 offers excellent advice to those who want to run a marathon or continue in the race of faith. I am interested in both.

“We are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to (our) life of faith…” If I profess with my mouth to be a Christian, the folks around me will immediately place new expectation on me as a person. They will indeed judge me. I know God is our judge, but if we use His Name I believe that to honor Him – we must be conscious of those around us just like Jesus. Jesus was always aware of those around Him. He took notice of the weak. He looked past infirmity to find their purpose. He did not discard those clothed in darkness and filled with hatred. He reached out to them – dismissing that which was hindering them to remind them who they really were. It is easy to build walls of righteousness around us. It is even easier to “work” ourselves in a frenzy in the Name of the Lord. But until we love others like crazy…we have missed the point. Yes, they are watching. Yes, they are evaluating. And yes, they are more than likely judging you. But does it really matter what they “think” as long as in the end they find that the love that never fails. We must be aware of the huge crowd of witnesses – it is every face that we encounter in life.

“Strip off every weight that slows us down…” Our life was very chaotic during the time it took to sell our old house and move into our new home. Our church life is very busy now too as we have become more involved than we were able to be in the past several years. Our kids are on the go. The transition period completely wrecked our schedule and routine. The ordered fell into disorder. When we finally began to establish a new routine, a hurricane came blowing through our community. Now as it all settles, it is time to examine our life and place new priorities on certain things.

I believe it is easy to become undisciplined in areas that once were under strict control. Discipline is not welcomed by our flesh so if we let our guard down it is easy to become distracted. We start eating bad again because fast food does not equal healthy diets. We stop exercising because there are too many other “things” we need to do. We stop reading the Bible because work is overloading us. The prayer closet door remains closed because there is not a moment for ourselves. Church is the last thing on our mind when home is the last place we go. If we do not check the weights in our life and seek the Lord to remain in good order, we will become overloaded, weary, and weak so we give up. People experience burnout not because the burden in their life is too heavy. They burnout because they do not balance their life according to God’s Word and His Way. You can have it all but are not called to do it all.

“Especially sin…” Sin is in everyone’s life no matter how hard one tries to avoid it. No one will ever be without sin. It is human nature. We escape sin only when fully redeemed. The perception of innocence is false. It is by grace we are saved by faith because we will never overcome our battle with sin without Jesus Christ. I find that if I focus on other people’s problems with sin that I somehow fall into it myself. If another person does wrong, and I choose to discuss it with other people – I am a gossip and I have sinned. If a new person comes to church who doesn’t look like a believer, act like a Christian, or dress like the rest of the religious folks, and I look down on them or think of ways to change them OTHER than introducing them to Jesus Christ, well then I sinned again…in church no less. Comparison with anyone or anything other than Jesus Christ will always open the door to sin and darkness. He is our example.

Finally, “run with endurance the race God has set before us…” I aspire to run the marathon at Disney one day called Disney Princess Half Marathon. It supports the Children’s Miracle Network. Participants don tutus and mouse ears running for an excellent charity. Why? I have no idea other than I feel like it is impossible for me to run that far. In order for me to successfully complete the event held in February each year, I must train and run for the other months in order to be prepared. When I (notice my optimism) arrive at the event, they will give me a map of the course and mark it out so that I can follow it. God has set a course for my life. It is in each step from the moment I am born until I leave this world behind and step into eternity. Nothing is wasted or forgotten. He makes good of every detail of my life. (Romans 8:28) There are days when I fall or fail but that is not the end. It is in the rising again that I discover a little more character where my flesh used to be. It is when I push and press against adversity that I discover the overcomer who lives in me. This life is a marathon. It has a clearly marked course. We find it in the Word of God. We work to claim the Will of God. Jesus is the Way of God.

Hebrews 12:2 (NLT) We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.

“Keeping (my) eyes on Jesus…” I am good at getting distracted…the Good Lord only knows. I am surprised that He never put blinders on me. If He did, I would never develop faith. We are called to walk by faith not by sight. A word of warning needs to be interjected here. This is not just about fellow believers or those living in sin and darkness around us. We must be very, very careful not to look at preachers and teachers as our example either. I have heard people quote famous preachers from Billy Graham, Jentzen Franklin, Steven Furtick, and Joel Osteen. I have heard young people quote their leaders, teachers and the like. I challenge you to quote Jesus. To make His Word the authority in your life. To make His Spirit the guide for your life. To stop listening to what everyone else says about Jesus and experience Him one-on-one for yourself. Our encounter with Jesus Christ must be personal to be credible.

“The champion who initiates and perfects our faith.” We are in a process. This process is not a sprint but a marathon. It will always require patience and endurance whether you have them or not. Jesus is the Source of all faith. He is the only way to God the Father. (John 14:6) We cannot bypass faith and collect grace. It is by grace I am saved THROUGH faith. I must believe. I must believe that Jesus Christ has given my victory or how will I ever sell my soul on commitment. What’s the point if the end is uncertain? I can certainly find ways to entertain myself until I die if there is no relevance to Heaven.

“For the joy awaiting Him, He endured the Cross…” We are the joy that awaited Jesus Christ on the other side of the Cross. Do we joy enough in Jesus Christ to endure this life to reach Him on the other side? He gave up everything just to be with me. Yet, on some days, I struggle to give up small things just to be with Him. We will never be committed if find no joy in Jesus Christ. He is ready to satisfy our soul. We must believe that to engage and endure in the marathon of life called the race of faith.

I Corinthians 9:23-26 (NLT) I do everything to spread the Good News and share in its blessings. 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 must run with purpose in every step. My life has the potential for constant victory. I can live each day in full satisfaction without disappointment. It requires a discipline in faith that I have not yet achieved but have the potential to do if I give my life to Jesus in each step. My life is recorded by God moment by moment. (Psalm 139) Nothing escaped His Immediate and Divine Attention. It is my inability to remain disciplined and committed that keeps me from fullness and completion in Jesus Christ. He demands my full attention yet I constantly find myself looking to lesser than things and giving them what belongs to God including my energy and time. Thank you Jesus that your Grace is enough for me to get back on track again and again and again. You have a prize for me worth having if I will just discipline myself and devote this life to You.

Philippians 2:13-18 (NLT) For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. 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.  But I will rejoice even if I lose my life, pouring it out like a liquid offering to God, just like your faithful service is an offering to God. And I want all of you to share that joy. Yes, you should rejoice, and I will share your joy.

Are you stuck in a rut? Is there a certain part of your life naturally or spiritually that has become a place of discontentment? Are you tired all the time? Do you feel weak and weary? Do you feel like God has moved away from you? Or that Jesus is no longer with you? That’s God. He is working in us giving us the desire and power to do what pleases Him. He will never force us to change but encourages us from deep within. How do I know? You came with a measure of faith that is purposed to grow. When we pray and seek the Lord, it nourishes that seed and it begins to press back against every oppressive thing in its way from full realization. We become discontent. We feel isolated. It seems like we just can’t get ahead. What happens? We begin to dig deeper in His Word, seek out His Face, call on His Name and He comes rushing in to lead us, guide us and direct us to better things. It is God’s Love moving inside of you telling you to get up, dust yourself off and start running again.

“Do everything without complaining and arguing.” Do not speak against the promise that is putting pressure on your life for change by griping all the time. Such conversation is a curse on that promise and alignment with the enemy’s declaration on your life. You are an overcomer. You are a winner. You are a runner. You are a mover. You’ve got things to do that require messing up your routine. You have a purpose that is not on the corporate ladder. You have people to reach so your arms must be emptied of all that extra weight and unnecessary burdens you picked up along the way. God is rearranging our lives to make room for the discipline and commitment that leads to revival and full redemption. “Hold firmly to the Word of Life.” You cannot give up! It is those who endure to the end who are saved. Most mamas want to give up in the process of labor just before the baby is born. It hurts. You are tired. You don’t think you can give any more to the process. It is with that last push something wonderful and perfect emerges in your life. The promise you have waited for all this time is here. God is doing the same in you, my friend. He is birthing a promise more wonderful than any child ever born. It is called faith. It is the one thing that can take you into Eternity to live in His Love forever. We must learn to run and not grow weary. Walk and not fall. We run this race of faith with purpose. Never giving up until we win!

Isaiah 40:30-31 (NLT) Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.

Life Quote

life-quote

Philippians 2:5 (NLT) You must have the same attitude as Jesus Christ.

Facebook recently circulated an application by Nametests.com that allows users to generate and post a life quote. The user clicks on a friends “life quote” are redirected to the website with the question, “What is your life quote?” Logging in with your Facebook account it generates a “life quote” for you. Many of my friends have posted the results on their timeline. The truth is the application takes the posts from your personal page analyzing the key words used in posts. It takes the key word and puts the quote associated with that word or words assigning it to you as a “life quote”. As I read these quotes posted by others, I began to wonder what my life quote might be.

As I am writing this, Jenn Johnson is singing in the background. The words “I once was lost but now I am alive in You!” This pretty much sums up my life. Is it the impression I leave others is the question. I can post what I want people to see on Facebook. I can dress a certain way, act another way, and say all the right things and still not be living life to the fullest in my Lord Jesus Christ. I want to be an authentic and genuine believer who not only tells the world that Jesus is my Savior and Lord but am believable. I have found a love bigger than life itself yet if I do not share God’s Love is my testimony credible. We are all bound by the Great Commission but if we do not have the right attitude behind all these words – we will never effectively share the Love that is found in Him.

Another quote from Facebook today – “When the church feels like it must become like the world to win the world, it has not won the world, the world has won it.” I don’t disagree with this but I think there is also truth that the church has tried to create its own realm of reality. The religious realm that makes it about anything other than the Unconditional Love and Amazing Grace of Jesus Christ given to us as a Gift from God. (Period) Religiosity is like the security gate at Walmart that sets off an alarm. It was put into place as a theft deterrent but in most cases just scares the heck out of unsuspecting shoppers when the cashiers fail to deactivate the security tag. We invite people to the House of God and into our sanctuaries under false pretense offering a “come as you are God” yet offering conditional love, terms of doctrine and other religious traits that God does not impose on us. If we care more about how they look, the way they live and how quickly they look like, act like, talk like and live like us, we missed it. There are alarms going off and to many they are silent. When the church feels like it is “better” than a single sinner it encounters it has become like every other social club. It is by grace I am saved through faith. No matter how long I live I will struggle with sin. The only thing that I have of worth in my life to offer is Jesus Christ. Jesus didn’t reject anyone on their appearance or actions. He accepted everyone who came to Him and met their need. Only twelve were invited to follow Him, the rest came just as they were and followed Him all the way to the Cross. Masses and crowds of people left their homes, business and “churches” to sit on waterfronts and mountainsides just to hear what Jesus had to say! Why are buildings and sanctuaries empty if our message is clear? The world was just as sinful then as it is now. The enemy just as ruthless. People need love more than ever before. Where is it? What is my life quote today Jesus? What is the testimony of my life?

Philippians 2:1-4 (NLT) Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose. Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.

These verses precede the key verse. Am I an encouragement? Do I comfort others with His Love? Do I fellowship with others in the Spirit? I believe to do so means that the Fruit of His Spirit will be produced in such relationships. Is my heart tender and compassionate for all people? The Lord is coming for one bride, one church, and one body. He is not a polygamous god but one Savior and Lord who is one Bridegroom coming for One Beloved. People, friends, brothers and sisters – we have got to get our act together. We must have the same attitude as Jesus Christ. One mind and purpose to be like Jesus more and more every day. Love. Love. Love. More love. Putting all of our expectation in Jesus Christ to change hearts and transform lives while trusting Him enough to do it that we put aside what we think people should live in order to let Christ’s Creative work be manifested in their life.

Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Do I think of others as better than myself? What if they don’t love Jesus like I do? What if they don’t serve Him like I think they should? What if they don’t believe the same doctrine I do? Are they worthy of laying my life down for? Jesus thought so. What makes me any better? Revival has become stalled by personal agendas as we try to make Heaven look like us and our idea of church. Revival comes from the Resurrection Power of Jesus Christ when Heaven comes to earth and makes us love and look like Jesus Christ. Otherwise, we do not truly want the kind of revival that comes when the Presence of God falls upon us. Let your Kingdom come, let your Will be done will never look like we have made it – it will always be the Love of Jesus sweeping people away who are not the same but want the same Savior.

Romans 14:17-19 (NLT) For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. If you serve Christ with this attitude, you will please God, and others will approve of you, too. So then, let us aim for harmony in the church and try to build each other up.

There is no religion in the Kingdom of God. Heaven is not filled with churches of every denomination. Denominations create division. Doctrine are articles of organization put into place because people do not yet know how to live in one accord so we need order to continue in the midst of different opinions and individual ideas. If we devoted our life to having the same attitude as Christ – to simply walk in His Way. Do what He did. Say what He says. Love like He loves. Be who He called us to be. There would be no more walls of division as there are today. The Kingdom of God is living a life of goodness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. To serve Christ with this attitude. God I just want to please you today. Let us live in harmony, Lord. Let us build each other up. Let us be an encouragement to others Lord. Help us to be humble in our approach. Forgiving in all things whether intentional or not that no one is offended. The attitude of the Kingdom is and has always been a building process. How far we have fallen by tearing it apart…

I Peter 3:8-12 (NLT) Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude. Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will grant you his blessing. For the Scriptures say, “If you want to enjoy life and see many happy days, keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies. Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it. The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right, and his ears are open to their prayers. But the Lord turns his face against those who do evil.”

My heart is grieved today. As I retreat to my prayer closet, I am asking the Holy Spirit to renew my thoughts and attitude today. My heart’s desire is revival. The more I pursue Jesus Christ the more I have come to realize that so many principles and precepts that I have applied were incorrect. When I have looked down on others only to realize it was an attempt to appease my own performance insecurities. I cannot gain my own salvation. I cannot earn the Grace that God has given me. I can never repay Him for His Goodness. I will never be perfect and to act like I have it all together is a lie. The very lie that is killing our churches today. At the end of the day, when all is stripped away and we stand before God the only thing that will save us is the Blood of Jesus that covers us. Not a single deed will be accounted in that moment. I cannot be perfect. God does not need me – He desires me. Jesus will never make me love Him – but His Love for me is unconditional and unending. His Spirit will not shove me but draws me closer each day that I say, “Yes, Lord.” To ask the Lord change others will not bring the Kingdom of God any closer. To preach a loveless, hard message is not the Gospel of Love that changed my life. The Love that I have found in Jesus Christ is indescribable. It is complete. It is absolute on the days I do great and the ones I fail miserably. To offer anything less to another living, breathing soul is hypocrisy. To recount the sins of others along with every fault and failure is to renounce the grace that I have been so freely given. Revival comes when I invite Jesus to change me. To transform me. I don’t want to conform to the world or the church. I need a new heart and new mind. I need new thoughts and a brand new attitude. I must be one with Jesus to be one with every other human ever created. This is the Will of God for our life. This is the Kingdom of God. Lord, I want my life quote to be by your design not my own. Lord, make the words I speak and the mediation of my heart be pleasing to you. I will be saved by the Blood of the Lamb and the word of my testimony. Let my testimony be “I once was lost but now I am alive in You!” Lord, make me like you today. I want to love like you Jesus. Let your Kingdom come. Let your Will be done. Send Heaven to earth!

Psalm 19:14 (NLT) May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

Perfecting Praise

perfecting-praise

Psalm 92:1-2 (NLT) It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to the Most High. It is good to proclaim your unfailing love in the morning, your faithfulness in the evening…”

Thank God it’s Friday! I don’t think I could have made it to one more day of this week before the weekend. It has been a busy week. It is already shaping up to be a busy weekend. If I am not careful, I will get wrapped up in my to-do list and all the “things” I need to finish at work, the “things” I want to do at home, and the “things” I have to do at church until I no longer am doing what I should be doing the most. My life is very busy. Yours probably is, too. It is human nature to think that we are too busy for certain things and get our priority list out of whack but truly if I do nothing else today – I need to praise the Lord.

My commute to work is about 45 minutes one way each day. I have about an hour and a half blocked Monday through Friday with nothing to do but drive to town and back. I was concerned when we moved that I might get tired of the daily drive. This is not the case. It has become a designated praise break. After I drop our youngest off at school, I have about 40 minutes of uninterrupted Jesus time. This time is so important. I love to praise the Lord. Worship is my favorite part of every church service. I am not a musician. I cannot play an instrument. I am not able to carry a note. However, when I am alone in the car worshipping my Lord and Savior – it is as if no one is there but me and Jesus so I sing at the top of my lungs. Right about now would be a good time to thank the Lord that you do not carpool with me.

It is good to give thanks to the Lord. Are you thankful today? Do you have something to sing about? God loves you. His Love never fails. It is enough to sing about each morning. His Faithfulness is relentless and enduring. The Lord never gives up on us. It is work singing through the night. No matter how this day shapes up or falls apart, I have a reason to praise the Lord.

Psalm 42:4-5 (NLT) My heart is breaking as I remember how it used to be: I walked among the crowds of worshipers, leading a great procession to the house of God, singing for joy and giving thanks amid the sound of a great celebration! Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again—my Savior and my God!

Is your heart broken today? Are you discouraged? Overwhelmed? Weak or weary? A bit burned out or completely give out as we say in the south? Do you remember when you used to walk with the worshippers? Lead a procession of praise? Sing for joy? Be thankful? What happened? Life happens. We come to the Lord with great expectation but it is not solely based on truth and understanding so when the first storm blows in or trouble comes knocking – it takes our breath away. We begin to complain, grumble or murmur rather than praising, worshipping and singing praise to the Lord. Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart sad? When we take our hope from the Lord and place expectation in anyone or anything else, it is misplaced. He is our Rock and Salvation. He is our only Hope that does not lead to disappointment. We were created to give Him praise. It is the very reason there is breath in our body today. To do anything else is out of character. Our soul fights for its voice in the midst of our discouragement. It is ready to praise. We must learn to let it out!

Luke 19:36-40 (NLT) As he rode along, the crowds spread out their garments on the road ahead of him. When he reached the place where the road started down the Mount of Olives, all of his followers began to shout and sing as they walked along, praising God for all the wonderful miracles they had seen.  “Blessings on the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven, and glory in highest heaven!” But some of the Pharisees among the crowd said, “Teacher, rebuke your followers for saying things like that!”  He replied, “If they kept quiet, the stones along the road would burst into cheers!”

Jesus does not need my praise. He doesn’t want it. Jesus is worthy of all praise. If I choose to withhold praise, worship, honor or glory from my Lord, “the stones along the road would burst into cheers!” Sometimes, we need a humble perspective. God did not have to save us. He is God. He is Sovereign. Yet in His Complete and Utter Perfection, He still loved us and decided to send His One and Only Son to die for us and give us life again. By asking Jesus to be our Savior and Lord is to accept this gift so graciously given. We cannot earn it or attain it any other way than the acceptance of Jesus Christ. So what makes us think in our depleted human state when the only good thing in us is the Grace of the Living God that we can withhold thankfulness, praise and adoration from Jesus for a single moment? But we do it every day.

When I choose to complain about my situation? It tells the world that my God cannot satisfy my soul. When I gripe, grumble and gossip, it expresses a void that the capacity of my Savior’s Love cannot fill so I am empty and dry. The confession of my life speaks from the inner most depths of my heart. It is not what we say in church or in the presence of other believers that tell on us, but when our love is put to the test in discomfort or inconvenience. This tells the Source of our hope and our confidence in Him. The Lord is good. In every season, He is faithful. He gave us a new life, voice and breath so that we could join in the course all around Him.

Revelation 5:11-13 (NLT) Then I looked again, and I heard the voices of thousands and millions of angels around the throne and of the living beings and the elders. And they sang in a mighty chorus: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slaughtered—to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing.” And then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea. They sang: “Blessing and honor and glory and power belong to the one sitting on the throne and to the Lamb forever and ever.”

There are three voices in Heaven singing blessing, honor, glory and power filling the atmosphere with praise. The angels sing. The souls sing. The creatures sing. Everyone is singing to the Lamb. This is Heaven. This is the greatest praise break of all time that will last forever and ever because He is worthy! God has given you and me a song to sing! (Psalm 40) Are we singing it? In the Disney movie, “The Little Mermaid”, Ariel exchanged her beautiful singing voice for her sweet prince. She left the sea to live in his world. However, it was her voice that drew the prince to Ariel in the first place. What have we given up our praise for? Is there anything so precious that it would be more important than worshipping the King of Kings and Lord of Lords? He is our soon and coming King. Is our allegiance to His Kingdom clearly being expressed audibly in our life? It is our voice that unites us with the declaration of heaven that Jesus is Lord. Is this our confession? Is our life filled with praise?

Psalm 150 Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heaven! Praise him for his mighty works; praise his unequaled greatness! Praise him with a blast of the ram’s horn; praise him with the lyre and harp! Praise him with the tambourine and dancing; praise him with strings and flutes! Praise him with a clash of cymbals; praise him with loud clanging cymbals.  Let everything that breathes sing praises to the Lord! Praise the Lord!

We must protect our praise today. We cannot sit back silently and let creation take our place. When you wake up each morning, it is because the Lord has provided the breath to make it through one more day. The breath in our body is given to us to express the Glory of God by following His Word and fulfilling His Purpose in our life. Dead people cannot praise God. (Psalm 6:5) Life gives us the opportunity to worship one more day. To give Him thanks. To bless His Name. Each day should begin with praise. Each night should conclude with it. Praise is the perpetual confession of faith and hope in Jesus Christ. If we grow silent, it is a reason for concern because even the rocks will cry out in His Name.

Wednesday night after church, a new mama was holding her infant son. He is just old enough to respond to his mother’s voice. She would speak to him softly and a smile would break across his face revealing a toothless grin. As she continued to engage with him, he began cooing in response to her voice. His adoration of his mama was clear. He was responding to her. Praise is our response to the Lord. It is how we express our love and gratitude for the grace we have been given and new life discovered in Jesus. Can the Lord hear our response to His Goodness today? Is He able to weed through our words to extract some glory, praise and adoration? Many will come to Jesus on “that” day telling him all the “things” they did for him and in His Name, but Jesus will say, “I never knew you!” Praise is the voice of our relationship to God through Jesus Christ. We must make it clear. Praise is our expression of salvation. Paul said, “And they praise God because of me.” (Galatians 1:24) Lord Jesus, let that be my testimony today! Let my praise be with expectation. My hope is secure in you, Lord. I will make you known today Jesus. I will not let a rock cry out in my place. Amen and amen!

I Peter 1:3-5 (NLT) All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. And through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see.

 

 

 

 

Counter Pressure

counter-pressure

Philippians 3:12-14 (NLT)  I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.

Newton’s Third Law of Motion is “to every action there is always opposed an equal reaction; or the mutual actions of two bodies upon each other are always equal and directed to contrary parts.” It is commonly described as “for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” I am not a scientist or physicist and do not claim to be yet I see this in operation daily both physically and spiritually. To explain the third law of motion simply – whatever presses another is as much pressed by the other. For example, if I hold a stone or rock in my hand pressing it with my finger, my finger is also pressed by the object. It is counter pressure. It is this law of motion that can also be applied to our spiritual life. As we press into God – He will not relent or move but presses back.

Counter pressure is to use pressure in the opposite direction. It is how one applies pressure in the opposite or opposing direction. If a wound is bleeding, it is recommended to apply pressure to it which should cause the blood to clot and stop the flow. We must learn to apply counter pressure in our life in order to exhibit change. When pressed by circumstances or conditions rather than giving up, believers must learn to press in. Press in to our Bible, press in to our prayer closet, press into His Presence, press into the Spirit – the church must learn to press again.

“I press to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me.” It is not easy to go against the flow. The current of society is hard to overcome to live in a place of totally trusting the Lord and living for His Purpose. You will not achieve such a thing in giving up but rather pressing in. We come to Christ with certain expectations and once any kind of hardship or pressure is encountered – we give up on perfection and decide to give in to maintain our comfort. We accept what life hands us rather than pushing back on compromise to receive the promise. God gave His Only Son for me so I could have His Perfect Plan. By grace I am saved through faith with a promise. There is purpose hidden in my life that must be expressed by pressure. It has to make its way past my emotions, feelings, pain and exhaustion to be birthed in my life. The birth process is a response to pressure. As the baby moves from the womb to the world, the mother labors and yes, there is pain but more so there is pressure. Right before her travail is over, she feels the need to push as hard as she can. It is innate. It is primal. It is built in her DNA to continue to push until she hears the baby’s first cry.

I am a firm believer in natural childbirth. I do not think pregnancy is a sickness. Delivering five babies was not fun, and yes, it hurt very much. I would do it all over again to have these precious and wonderful people in my life. What I discovered through my different experiences is that the less intervention the more effective the process. The three times I was able to deliver outside the hospital with little to no intervention, the more quickly the baby came. It was when I diluted those natural hormones with saline IVs and pain medication that my body slowed down. Why would I do such a thing? Afraid that my body could not do what it was created to do maybe and obviously looking to avoid pain, of course. What I have found after successfully delivering healthy babies is that when I did not accept outside intervention, I was able to press and push more effectively.

Could it be that in our avoidance of pain and discomfort, the Body of Christ, His Church has forgotten how to press through? We do not like to wait or be inconvenienced so we skip the steps in the process seeing them as unnecessary. God has ordered each step of our life. It is filled with blessing, provision and purpose that will ultimately lead to fulfillment. If a baby is born on the first push, the mother’s body has no time to prepare the way and open to release her child. What would happen? The mother would be harmed. The baby would not go through the process needed to press all the fluid from its lungs. There is purpose in our pressure today. We must learn to press back.

2 Corinthians 4:7-11 (NLT) We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies. Yes, we live under constant danger of death because we serve Jesus, so that the life of Jesus will be evident in our dying bodies.

“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.” (Romans 5:5) The hope given to us by Jesus Christ never ever leads to disappointment. To believe this one truth will allow you to press through. Disbelief and doubt will keep us from exerting energy and investing time into pressing through and overcoming. We would rather work for now than wait until then. We have been filled with the Light of His Love and it is driving away the darkness giving way to fulfillment of purpose as His Promises are revealed to us and desire rises up to know Him more. To get that light out of us, there is tremendous pressure. What did you think your flesh would die without a fight? You have fed and nurtured it your whole life. What makes us think that when we attempt to live for Jesus and crucify our flesh that it wasn’t going to fight back? We are going to experience hardship as Christians. (PERIOD) The days of blab-it-and-grab-it ministry has proven false. Yes, the Lord wants to prosper your life. It begins with your soul. We must be broken to expose the light hidden inside our soul and connect with forever. We must learn to press again.

Matthew 9:17 (NLT) “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the old skins would burst from the pressure, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. New wine is stored in new wineskins so that both are preserved.”

As the church cries out for Jesus to come closer and for revival to break out, it is important to note that there is an equal and opposite reaction created by pressing God for more of Him. You cannot move closer to the Lord without yielding your way, giving up your ideals and pressing into Him. We ask for more of Jesus but fail to make room so when brokenness comes it is perplexing. If you want more of Jesus, it will always require less of me. He must increase, I must decrease. (John 30:30) New wine will not work in old wineskins. The response of the Lord as we cry out for more of Him is to prepare for the outpouring. Pressure. There will be pressure. What is our response to that pressure? Do we look for relief or choose to respond?

Hosea 6:1-3 (NLT) “Come, let us return to the Lord. He has torn us to pieces; now he will heal us. He has injured us; now he will bandage our wounds. In just a short time he will restore us, so that we may live in his presence. Oh, that we might know the Lord! Let us press on to know him. He will respond to us as surely as the arrival of dawn or the coming of rains in early spring.”

There are some women who endure one pregnancy and go through one birth and decide that is enough for them. The pain is too great so they decide not to go through with it again. Or maybe there were complications throughout culminating in a traumatic birth or early delivery. We often tease our youngest that if she had been the first, she would have been the last. Endless nights of colic almost did this mama in. We pressed through. As we walk through life with Jesus, we must take the time to know His Word (Psalm 119:143) and His Way. The narrow road is filled with heartbreak and brokenness but not disappointment or despair. For every curse there is a blessing. For every problem there is a solution. For every sin there is a Savior. For every failure there is grace. You cannot achieve such things if you do not trust the Lord enough to keep pressing through the pain to find the healer. You must apply the counter pressure of praise when perplexed by circumstances and adverse conditions. It only works if we press on to the perfection we are called to. Jesus is perfect. God’s Way is flawless. The giving comes from us. We must know that in calling on His Name and crying out for change – it is to invite pressure into our life. Revival will come when we get out of the way so when we ask for it – understand you will be moved by it. Such movement causes discomfort and it is inconvenient so we press into the Lord so in our weakness, He becomes our strength.

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

If our heart’s desire is truly Jesus Christ, we must expect pressure in our life. Pressure to change. Pressure to move. Pressure that keeps us from settling for the lesser things and compromising for now rather than enduring to obtain forever. We will settle for less if allowed the convenience. God is pressing us today because we are asking for more of Him. His Automatic Response to our cries is to give us that which we ask for. If in fact we are crying out for revival or Christ’s eminent return, then we can expect lots and lots of pressure. It is time to press back. Get in the Word. Close the door to your prayer closet. Find your way into His Presence again. Jesus is all I need to endure the pressures of life. I must learn to press in. As I am pressed, He is released in my life. He never grows weak and weary. The Lord wants to be my refuge and strength – I must learn to keep pressing.

Psalm18:1 (NLT) I love you, Lord; you are my strength.