Overwhelmed to Overcomer

A close-up shot of a broken chain

Romans 8:37-38 (NLT) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.

Overwhelmingly victorious – that’s us in Christ. Do you feel victorious today? Are you overwhelmed? Or are you an overcomer? Are you convinced? Convinced you are sinking fast? Or convinced the Lord will lift you up? Tis the season for the overwhelmed to experience the greatest of difficulties. Carefully laid traps along the way to snare our emotions, feelings and even suffocate us with exhaustion. It is time to stop defending our depression and disappointment and take a step over to the offense. We have the power to be overcomers in life. Not just in the big things, but in every detail. The Lord gives victory over our worries and cares to those who believe.

Neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow – not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s Love. The scripture seems like such a wide curve. We go from death to life straight to worries, cares, and feelings. We must overcome fear to circumvent doubt. Doubt can only exist where faith ceases to exist. If you have fears, cares, worries, burdens and stress today – you are not alone. The winter months are considered the most depressing time of the whole year. Add the holiday lists and enormous expectations put on each other and people are easily overwhelmed during a season of great celebration. The birth of Jesus changed everything. If we could only convince ourselves of that, maybe this season would be filled with overcomers not the overwhelmed.

Expectation adds weight. I expect that chair I am sitting in this morning to bear my weight. I have put my faith and trust in the cheap desk chair to hold me and not fold to the floor under the burden. During the holidays, expectations run high. Human expectation is put on one another. Impossible demands on our time. Suddenly our faith in God is displaced and put on the shoulders of ordinary men and women to make everyone’s dreams come true. Demands turn to debt in all shapes and sizes. What do you expect this holiday season? Who do you have you give your full expectation? If our full expectation is not on Jesus Christ, then the substance of our faith has been compromised. Given to a lesser thing that is not able to render full satisfaction and the abundant life promised by the Lord. What is the substance of your faith today? Or should I say, “Who?”

John 16:33 (NLT) “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

Many times, people decide only to take “big” things to a Big God. Yet, He is interested in every facet of our life. Every day, moment, second and breath – the Lord is with us turning the details into good things for us. (Romans 8:28) Our inability to give every burden, care and worry to the Lord is a detriment to us. He will perfect all that concerns us (Psalm 138:8) – our only responsibility is to trust Him more. The Lord was quite transparent – here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. I think sometimes we forget that part and jump over the “but” to “I have overcome the world.” You are an overcomer and there will be many opportunities to exercise our faith in the realm of impossibilities called trials and sorrows. You cannot find peace until you understand uncertainty. You cannot have faith until you overcome doubt. Trusting God requires believing Him at His Word.

Psalm 112:6-9 (NLT) Such people will not be overcome by evil. Those who are righteous will be long remembered. They do not fear bad news; they confidently trust the Lord to care for them. They are confident and fearless and can face their foes triumphantly. They share freely and give generously to those in need. Their good deeds will be remembered forever. They will have influence and honor.

Who? Those who fear (respect) the Lord and delight in obeying His Commands. “Such people will not be overcome by evil…) Yes, to be overcome by evil can be sin. What if it also means the lie of the enemy that leads to anxiety and fear, too? What if the Lord is warning us here of the carefully laid trap of feelings and emotions. The Word says that God is greater than our feelings. Please God take hold of my emotions, wrap them in Your Word today so that I may do Your Will at all times. The rules and regulations of the Bible are for the religious. The instructions in God’s Word are for His Children and those who live in a loving relationship with Him.

Psalm 119:133 says, “Guide my steps with your word so I will not be overcome by evil.” Feed your soul today. Give the Spirit of God something to nourish your spirit man. Fill your mouth with praise. Empty your hands long enough to lift your hands in worship. The relationship you have with Jesus Christ is not a religion it is the role of beloved. He wants to help you carry the load called life. He will take your burdens and turn them into blessings. We must only believe. Funny, that we plaster this word all over the place during the holidays but seldom take the time to truly live it accordingly.

“What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.” The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:23-24) Before getting overwhelmed in the days and demands ahead, take a moment to ask the Lord to help overcome unbelief. Jesus Christ overcame the world. (Period) There is nothing you will face today that can defeat you. There is nothing you do today that is not marked by success. God already promised to supply your need and released every spiritual blessing in your life so be generous. Confidence is born of trust. You will never be confident in someone or something left untried. Test the Lord. Try Him at His Word. Believe. He can handle it.

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

The Will of God for you is to overcome fear, stress, worry and doubt today. The Lord desires nothing more than to move you from overwhelmed to be an overcomer. To overcome means to overpower and overwhelm that which is trying to do the same to you. It means to succeed in dealing with a problem or difficulty. It means to be immovable. We must fortify our faith by investing trust as seeds of success in our everyday life. The roots of a tree do not stop growing until faced with a limitation. I have trees in pots that hardly grow because they have reached the limit set by the container. My yard is filled with trees of all kinds. The roots have been growing for years without limit as the treetops tower high in the sky. How big is your God today? Have you placed a limit on His Power by limiting the space of your heart? He wants to make you strong and immovable ready to thrive and prosper in this life. We have victory over sin, death and the grave so what is there to lose. We have been given His Promise that He has overcome the world for us so we do not ever have to be overwhelmed again! God even goes so far as to promise that we can enthusiastically work for Him and nothing we do will ever be in vain. We will always be successful.

Success in Jesus is prosperity of our soul that works its way into our life. We have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Take a deep cleansing breath. Breathe out every worry, care and fear you have been holding on to. Breathe in His Spirit. Whisper His Promises. Let the Lord love on you today. He will never ever let you down. The Lord is with you always even to the ends of the earth. We just have to get to the end of self and trust Him more.

Isaiah 61:10-11 (NLT) I am overwhelmed with joy in the Lord my God! For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation and draped me in a robe of righteousness. I am like a bridegroom dressed for his wedding or a bride with her jewels. The Sovereign Lord will show his justice to the nations of the world. Everyone will praise him! His righteousness will be like a garden in early spring, with plants springing up everywhere.

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In Every Season

In Every Season

Psalm 1:1-3 (NLT) Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.

God doesn’t call the qualified – He qualifies the called. The thorn in my flesh. Are you called to do something? Do you know that God told you to go here or do this but it is so hard that you are wondering if you missed Him altogether? Same. It seems like the more sure I am going in the harder the fight to the finish. How do I know if God called me? Oh, you know. Or at least you did going into the season, but now that the ground is dry and the river run dry – you are looking for an escape. You are not alone. The enemy is hurling lies at every person who launches out in obedience with the intent of retreat. He wants you to leave the season. He wants you to abandon the field. The only thing that the enemy can use against those called by God is a lie. He wants you to accept twisted truth so that doubt will take root and grow into disbelief. He did it in the Garden and continues today.

Those who delight in the Law of the Lord, His Word both spoken and written, meditating on it day and night are like trees. Not just any tree, but the ones planted by the riverbank always watered by His Word. They will prosper in every season because they are rooted and grounded in Christ. Their leaves do not whither even in drought, and they will prosper IN ALL THEY DO. You will prosper despite the drought, famine or harsh conditions. Your life is not dependent on your atmosphere around you but the Living God within you. He is your supply and source for life and life more abundantly. Are you tapped into the Living Water within you today? Or are you trying to survive in the dry and thirsty land?

Psalm 107:33-38 (NLT) He changes rivers into deserts, and springs of water into dry, thirsty land. He turns the fruitful land into salty wastelands, because of the wickedness of those who live there. But he also turns deserts into pools of water, the dry land into springs of water. He brings the hungry to settle there and to build their cities. They sow their fields, plant their vineyards, and harvest their bumper crops. How he blesses them!

What if God has disguised your blessing in a barren land? What if it is not the enemy causes the struggle or challenging you to believe, but the Lord God? He doesn’t tempt us. The Lord will never tempt His Children. However, God will discipline us not to be confused with punishment. Endurance and perseverance are necessary qualities for success as a believer. Only those who endure to the end will be saved. Yet when we are stretched, pressured or exhausted – it is our first reaction to look for a way out. When things get rough or life is too hard – our finger points at God rather than the other direction. Our flesh is always looking for an opportunity to avoid death. The death of our flesh gives way to the Spirit. When the Spirit is poured out on dry land there is a change. However, if there is no seed planted in that season what will grow. Faithfulness is the sowing of seed in the life of every believer. To believe when there is no reason to believe is reminiscent of the Father of Faith, Abraham who waited well into his nineties to see God’s Promise.

Isaiah 44:1-5 (NLT) “But now, listen to me, Jacob my servant, Israel my chosen one. The Lord who made you and helps you says: Do not be afraid, O Jacob, my servant, O dear Israel, my chosen one. For I will pour out water to quench your thirst and to irrigate your parched fields. And I will pour out my Spirit on your descendants, and my blessing on your children. They will thrive like watered grass, like willows on a riverbank. Some will proudly claim, ‘I belong to the Lord.’ Others will say, ‘I am a descendant of Jacob.’ Some will write the Lord’s name on their hands and will take the name of Israel as their own.”

Reading these words today, I am encouraged. Like a sprinkle of rain in the desert, it is water for my soul. Do not be afraid my chosen one. I will pour out water and quench your thirst and irrigate parched fields. I will pour out my Spirit on your family and blessing on your children. (My paraphrased version) God did not call us to survive the seasons of life – we are chosen to thrive. To thrive in God means to trust Him in every season. If He called you to a place, you must stay there until He comes or His Blessing arrives. If He called you to do something, keep doing it whether prosperity comes quickly or takes many seasons. Keep sowing even when your arms are tired and knees feel weak. Why is life so hard? It was hard before you knew Christ or you would not have been searching for a Savior. Why is it hard now? Because knowing Christ does not necessarily change the world or everyone who lives in it – the Spirit of the Living God invited to live in you is to transform you into a new creation.

My response must be to the One who called me. The One who loves me. The One who promises to never leave me or forsake me. The One who promises to perfect that which concerns me. The One who gives me perfect peace to weather every storm or wait for rain in times of drought. He is the One who promises to make good come from every detail of my life. Am I reacting to my environment or responding to its Creator?

I Thessalonians 5:24 (NLT) God will make this happen, for he who calls you is faithful.

God will not increase any part of our life apart from faith. If faith is not required, God didn’t do it. Miracles are labeled “IMPOSSIBLE” for a reason. Otherwise, we would take credit for God’s Work. Every day farmers sow seed in fields. Faithfully breaking the ground, tilling the soil, planting good seed, watering and waiting and enjoying some kind of harvest. Sowing and reaping, planting and harvest were established in the days of Noah as God promised to never flood the earth again. The rain falls on the just and unjust.

God will make it happen. How many times do we limit the Lord to our natural expectations? Our clock is preset. Our journey marked out. Our ability measured by comparison. When God doesn’t do it according to our schedule, agenda or designate path – we decide to question the Lord and his ability even his faithfulness. God didn’t tell you to force it – He said, “I’ll do it.” According to my Word, Will and Way – set out before you were born as a prerecorded (Psalm 139) plan and purpose for your life (Jeremiah 29:11) which will result in a masterpiece (Ephesians 3:20). We would settle for refrigerator art, paint by numbers, or even a sidewalk artist rendering before being willing to wait for God to make a Michelangelo or Picasso of our life. Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith. He does it. God is the Creator and ultimate designer of life. We must trust in every season that He who calls you (and me) is faithful to finish.

2 Peter 1:3-5 (NLT) By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.

According to Ephesians 1:3, God has given us every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. We have everything we need, want and desire hidden in our life for discovery. These blessings are from the “heavenly realm” so they can only be accessed by right standing with God. Salvation is only the beginning. Faith must be sown and grown in our life to keep us deeply rooted and grounded in the Love of God and His Grace which is union with Christ. Faith bores belief. The fruit of our faith is belief manifested in trust and dependence on the Living God. He has given us everything we need for living a godly life which is defined by prosperity, success and abundance according to His Word. We will only survive until our faith thrives even in the driest and barest of season knowing that He is faithful and true even when nothing we see is evidence of that.

The Kingdom of God and its fullness is available to us. We must seek the Kingdom of God above everything else which means continually searching for it, pressing toward it, and staying put in steadfast faith until the Lord reveals it, releases it or relieves us. This is only accomplished by faith in God not our senses or seasons. We must learn to respond to God’s Promises rather than our personal struggles and challenges in life. There will always be adverse conditions, unfavorable circumstances, senseless tragedy as love grows cold and sin grows rampant in this lost and dying place. But we do not rally in hope for this world, but rather press for the mark of a higher calling. To be part of a Kingdom where leaves do not wither and prosperity is the outcome of every season. For now, the Kingdom is in you. It is in me. We must trust and believe that God has given us His Glory and Excellence enough to give Him glory and excellence when times are tough and we want to quit. His Word promises it will be worth it when we learn to prosper in every season.

2 Peter 1:5-8 (NLT) In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone. The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

All of my life…in every season…You are still God…I have a reason to sing…I have a reason to worship…

 

My Holiday List

My Holiday List

I Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV) Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

It’s funny how things work. I was visiting a local discount store the other day entering through the Lawn and Garden Department through the automatic doors into a winter wonderland. How did that happen so quickly? It’s not even Thanksgiving yet. Surveying the Christmas trees and contemplating going back to a fake tree, it hit me. The holidays were here and I was fighting the blues or on the verge of depression. My poor children will attest that I am not very festive during such times. I have had to fight my entire life to find peace during this time. It begins as a mad rush to meet the expectations of so many and time which already seems short so exhausted. As I walked through the Christmas décor as if to challenge my emotions to rise up but nothing. I celebrated my small victory. It would be short-lived. Talking with another ministry leader in our church and our pastor, she began detailing my responsibilities during the holidays. Decorate the church, provide food for a fellowship, host a women’s meeting, and my mind checked out somewhere after that. Suddenly all those emotions came flooding back, I no longer wanted to decorate even our tree, celebrate the season or engage in the holiday rush. I just wanted to disappear and see everyone in January.

Now I could dig into the vast depths of such an emotional shutdown and bore you with details, I love to celebrate the Lord’s Birth. I love to worship Him during this miraculous and wonderful season of hope. But truly we all have our ghosts of Christmas past, just as Ebenezer has heralded. I don’t really care to share these things but rather offer a light given to me from the Word of God today. The Word is the weapon of our Spirit to kill the lie of the enemy, to subdue and take captive rebellious thoughts, and to overcome the bondage of expectations other than those God has for us. His Spirit takes them and uses them to combat our troublesome flesh that longs for control but uses it against us.

I read I Thessalonians 5:18 yesterday and then again today. The overture of emotions and fight for my peace is keeping me locked in this selection of scriptures. I sense that maybe they might be useful for you as well. Setting out to sermonize my symptoms, I found that many people actually suffer from seasonal affective disorder or seasonal depression largely from unrealistic expectations, financial pressure, and excessive commitments. Add in to the mix – that there is less sunlight which is known to change human behavior. With less sunlight, people are prone to eat more and sleep more. With such insight – I give you my new holiday list.

This year my holiday goals are simple. I will rejoice always. Pray continually. Give thanks in all circumstances. I will know and do the Will of God for me which are these three things. End of list. I am challenging myself not to make a list this year and give up control of all the details. I release myself from unrealistic expectations because the Greater is He who lives in me does not make me a super human. He is the Greatest Thing about Christmas. I must keep my focus clearly set on Him. It is His Birthday that we celebrate. He brought hope to a dying people of new life, rebirth, renewal and full restoration. This is God’s Will for me. I am challenged to do His Will this holiday season as I strive to the rest of the year with greater success.

I Thessalonians 5:19-22 (NIV) Do not quench the Spirit. Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil.

The Holy Spirit is our helper. The Lord gave Him to us because of our weakness. To plant seeds of faith deep into the crevices of even the most broken of hearts to grow and prosper our soul according to His Will. God’s Plan for our life does not change or stop because one chooses to disengage. The Lord is always working in us to fulfill His Work in us. I am quite sure it grieves His Spirit when the enemy is able to convince us otherwise.

In a season meant for fellowship and celebration, he pulls out an arsenal of lies, confusion and discord to wreak havoc on God’s People as we celebrate our Savior the annihilator of sin. When Jesus arrived, the enemy was put on notice. When He made it through this life as a sinless man to sacrifice His Life on the Cross, death and the grave were rendered ineffective. Those who believe in Jesus Christ have nothing to lose and everything to gain. During a time when many people go to church for the first, one and only time of the year, what better way to hinder God’s Work than to plague his people with fear, anxiety, stress, depression, and dim the Light of God’s Love that is love, joy, peace and absolute freedom.

We must strive to hold what is good and reject every kind of evil especially that which plays on our mind, will and emotions. It is a personal choice to rejoice always. It is personal commitment to pray continually. It is an absolute necessity to be thankful in all circumstances for that is the Will of God for us.

I Thessalonians 5:23-24 (NIV) May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.

In Luke 2:14 the angels declared, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom His Favor rests.” God’s Favor belongs to us. He gave it to us. He also has given us peace. Peace that can silence the demands of the world and give us absolute rest during the busiest most overwhelming season of the year. The secret is found these verses today. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless in the coming of Christ. Sometimes “blame” comes hidden in the expectations of others that we try to carry rather than fully entrusting our spirit, soul and body to Christ. It is the lie that if we do not meet the expectations of those around us to “their” full satisfaction that we somehow have “failed the Lord. God’s Will for my life is listed clearly to rejoice always, pray continually, and give thanks in all circumstances. I do not read anywhere that it is to make everyone else happy and content but to receive and live in the full satisfaction and contentment of Christ. The Lord is faithful. Our faithfulness in Jesus Christ gives us good fruit to satisfy others much more than a “perfect” holiday that is simply not possible.

John 14:27 (NIV) Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

I offer you the same gift that I am challenging myself to hold tight to this holiday season. The Peace of God has been given to us. It is His Gift upon his departure so that we can live completely resting on the faithfulness of God and His Promises through Jesus Christ – His Gift to us. Do not let the enemy have your joy. Do not give up your prayer time which is communication with the One who loves us the most and expects the least. Be thankful even when challenged with discontentment, dissatisfaction and unmet expectations that this world will readily offer throughout the next month. Gratitude will always change your attitude. The enemy wants to steal away this season of celebration of our Savior’s Birth. He wants to make you doubt the Hope found in His Arrival. Don’t let him. Use the Spirit of the Lord within you to rally against such thoughts and unfruitful considerations. Greater is He that is in you! You are an overcomer even when it is self that is the adversary. My prayer for us today is this:

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

Give Thanks

Give Thanks

Colossians 2:6-7 (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.

Thanksgiving is this week. No really, it is in just four days. How did it get here so fast? I feel the panting of the racehorse of stress and anxiety beneath me. Panting hard getting ready for the pistol shot and the gate to fall. The holidays are here…Lord help us. We also have other excitement in our family. Our son is now engaged. There is a wedding upcoming. Our daughter is expecting our first grandchild at the beginning of the New Year. Office parties some to plan others to attend. Church related activities. List making, shopping, and gift giving. I can feel the pull and stretch already.

The stores have all the fall seasonal merchandise on clearance. Rifling through a pile of placemats – I find one that says, “Give Thanks”. I pause for a moment. Looking at all the plates, platters and wall signs also marked down – it is written on many of the items. All of them hidden away on a clearance aisle. While they have been replaced with Christmas trees, ornaments, gift wrap and the like. A celebration is coming. The newborn King has arrived. Salvation is introduced to the world. Grace ready to overflow to all mankind. Hope restored for a lost world and people shrouded in darkness. We have much to be thankful for and so little of it is in this store. Hidden deep in our heart where His Spirit lives there is quiet voice reminding me – “Give Thanks. Don’t forget to be thankful. You have it all right here in Me.”

Overflowing thankfulness is not a human quality but a spiritual gift born of a made up mind and hopeful heart. To be thankful in every situation is our goal but not always the outcome. “So then” as an introduction to this passage points to a result. This has happened so then this is the result. Paul indicates that the church has shown great discipline and firm faith in Christ so then…the result is to continue to live life rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith and overflowing with thankfulness. I wonder if our hearts focus solely on living the life prescribed by the Word and continually attempting to sow seeds of faith for prosperity in all things, but we struggle with thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is a result of satisfaction and contentment. To be overflowing with thanksgiving means to live in a constant state so that it continually multiplies and cannot be contained. The result of living in Christ and firm steadfast faith should be thanksgiving. Are you thankful today?

Colossians 4:2 reminds us to devote ourselves to prayer, being watchful for the return of Christ and to be thankful. I wonder if our prayer life is stagnant and witnessing weak because we have forgotten to give thanks. Discipline is not only a spiritual trait but can be from natural habits. Religion sets forth a standard doctrine. People who comply with the demands of the doctrine exhibit discipline but it doesn’t mean they have a relationship with Jesus Christ. A relationship is formed of a different kind of discipline that changes our character and identity. Two become one making it a whole different creation. Christ promised to make us new creations. This is not possible until our attitude and actions are changed by His Word, Way and Will for us. We don’t make that change but submit to His Discipline as a disciple of Christ. Without a heart experience, an encounter with Jesus is a chance meeting. It is our heart, desires and passions that He is after to make our life fulfilled and complete. Apart from the Lord this is not possible and therefore overflowing thanksgiving the same.

Colossians 3:15 (NIV) Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.

“And be thankful.” This mandate comes after a long list of characteristics of God’s chosen people. We are holy and dearly loved to be clothed in compassion, kindness, tenderness, gentleness and patience. To bear burdens together and to be forgiving. With all these attitudes and actions – we are to do them in love. Live in peace with Christ and others. Then the statement comes almost like an add-on “And be thankful.” It’s almost as if it says, “You must do all these things and like it.” The giving of our life to Christ does not come with challenges and struggles along the way. We must wrestle our flesh for control of our mind, will and emotions in order to surrender our heart and mind to the Lord. We can do all of the conditions listed above but without thankfulness – is it really a heart change or merely a change in habits?

In Ezra 3, the builders had laid the foundation of the Temple. The reconstruction process was finally showing some results. They stopped to have a praise break. “With praise and thanksgiving they sang to the Lord: ‘He is good; His Love toward Israel endures forever.’” It goes on to say that many people did not share the same enthusiasm and joy. There were older priests, Levites, and family leaders who had seen the former temple that wept with sorrow. Change is hard. It is difficult to endure. As the Lord prepares His Church for eternity, it requires transformation which is more than just a habitual change or altering of appearance. He is molding and shaping a Body of People to fit together in unison and harmonious perfection. The foundation of our life is faith in Jesus Christ. Though all engaged in a personal process, it is with one purpose. Where are you today in the restoration and renewal process of Christ? Is it hard to be thankful because life is just too hard? Are you the one who is celebrating all the good things going on around you? Are you the one who weeps in sorrow when the praise team starts singing longing for the faith, love and hope that you are still trying to find?

Hebrews 12:28-29 (NIV) Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.”

Therefore…the world is certainly shaken. Love is cold. Sin rampant. It is a polluted place and perverted culture all around us. As “temporary residents” this is not our home or forever. Sometimes in the midst of our natural life our supernatural destination grows cloudy and dim. We forget that the details of our life are promised good outcomes. (Romans 8:28) We forget that Jesus will never leave us or that His Spirit is alive and well given as our helper. Burdened and pressured by the temptations and trials of life the unseen reality of our faith becomes elusive. Not only that tradition seldom gives easily to transformation, God is doing something new in the churches around the world. New vitality is rising up from ashes, as the Lord shakes Heaven and earth once more. Since we are part of the Kingdom of God and His Chosen People, we have confident hope that no matter what happens, our future is secure. For this reason alone, the Word of God says, “Let us be thankful.”

Give thanks. I don’t know the trials you are going through or the temptation you are facing, but for a few moments, just thank God for His Love, His Son, His Spirit, His Salvation, His Kingdom, and continue to thank Him for every single thing that is good in your life. We all have something to be grateful for especially if America is our home. The enemy wants to put out our passion and desire for the Lord by making us overly busy, consumed with lesser things, bound up in lies, falling into temptation, caught up in religion, hanging on to tradition, and so many complications. It is up to us to enter His Gates with Thanksgiving and His Courts not one day but every day if our intent is to be one with Christ. I must make the personal choice to begin each day with a grateful heart even when dissatisfied, discouraged or overwhelmed. It may begin as a habit but will lead to personal transformation. Peace with God removes all doubt and fear becomes love dispels them. God is good. He is good to us. He will do exactly what He promised that He would do. Trust produces thankfulness before the thing for which we asked, prayed and believed ever happens. It is the foundation of faith like mortar in its bricks. Don’t get caught in the holidays but being changed by His Holiness. The Lord longs to live in partnership with you. He desires to carry those burdens and teach you to live apart from them. (Matthew 11) He is the Gift that keeps on giving. Give thanks today for the greatest gift of all.

Psalm 100 (NIV) Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.

Level Paths

Level Paths

Isaiah 26:7-8 (NIV) The path of the righteous is level; you, the Upright One, make the way of the righteous smooth. Yes, Lord, walking in the way of your laws, we wait for you; your name and renown are the desire of our hearts.

There is a popular Christian saying that “God is greater than our highs and lows.” Originating from Romans 8:39 – it is a reminder that neither height nor depth or anything in all creation can ever separate us from the Love of God. The certainty of our faith and confident hope in Christ is the fact that His Unconditional Love and Unfathomable Grace belongs to us. No matter how chaotic our conditions or crazy the circumstances of life become making it possible to keep our eyes on Him and our feet traveling in His Direction. The acquisition and full possession God’s Love personally and intimately allows us to walk on level paths. It says so in Isaiah 26 that “the path of the righteous is level.” He makes “the way of the righteous smooth.” The journey of life is full of bumps, barricades and road blocks. We can overcome them all in the Name of Jesus. But how?

Glad you asked. When we walk in the way of the Word, waiting on the Lord, and make His Name and Glory our deepest desire – a union is formed between us. In Matthew 11, Jesus offers to yoke with us or become partners. Intimacy with the Lord requires many of the same things that a personal relationship in the natural would. We must learn to pay attention, invest energy, and give up our way in order to move closer to Him and become one with Christ. Christ lives in us. His Spirit is evidence of the consummation and desire of the Lord to be one with us. However, just as two people can live in the same home or be married for decades, sometimes intimacy is not achieved. Any relationship that is ignored will die over time.

With this in mind, are you walking with Jesus today? Are you aware of His Presence in you and around you right now? He goes before us, stands right there with us, lives in us and hedges us in from behind. I am just like you and cannot fully comprehend the omnipresence of God but by faith I accept it and choose to engage in a relationship because I have confident hope. The Lord has made the Way for us. He has ordered our steps and leveled our path. How do I find it?

Psalm 119:103-105 (NIV) How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path. Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.

As a teenager, I was challenged by a Sunday school teacher to learn and memorize scripture verses. She gifted me with a little packet of cards. Psalm 119:105 was one of the first verses. Why do we need God’s Word? I have heard many people express difficulty in reading, understanding and continuing in the Word of God. I get it because I used to feel the exact same way. However, the Word of God is absolutely essential to walking on level paths through life. You must know the Word to know Jesus Christ. He is the Word. The Word of God is our instruction book and map to the promises and blessings that the Lord has hidden in this life for our natural and spiritual success. It points us in the right direction. It helps us to decide at the crossroads of life and valleys of indecision. The Word of God is our weapon against the lie of the enemy which is the only thing that he has in his arsenal to use against us. The Bible tells us that people perish for a lack of knowledge. It points out that in the end times – the Word will help people identify false teaching. It is absolutely the lamp and compass for our life.

Psalm 119:103 describes the Word as “sweet” to the taste. It’s funny that sometimes it seems like a bitter pill going down but as we begin to feast on His Word, chew it up, and fully digest it something remarkable happens. The Holy Spirit takes the Truth and begins to feed and nourish our soul with it. He uses it to combat all our rebellious thoughts and contrary nature. As we grow stronger in the Word, it develops and matures us from the inside out. When I eat a green bean, I do not immediately feel full. I do not experience the process going on inside of me as my body takes all the nutrients out of the vegetable. It begins a digestion process with in me. I also don’t immediately feel the effects of white chocolate macadamia cookies when I eat them – I just know I really like them until I cannot button my jeans. The Word of God is not always a quick fix. It is an ongoing investment in intimacy with Christ as we get to know Him more and more. We eat (or at least are supposed to) three meals a day. Some of us may do a little snacking, too. This keeps our body strong and healthy. The Word must be partaken just the same to build a strong and healthy soul that will prosper.

Psalm 18:32-36 (NIV) It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he causes me to stand on the heights. He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You make your saving help my shield, and your right hand sustains me; your help has made me great. You provide a broad path for my feet, so that my ankles do not give way.

David killed a lion and a bear before facing the giant that day. God ordered his steps to train him for one of the biggest challenges of his life. He spent countless hours tending sheep. During that time, it is clear that he spent time with the Lord. David is called a man after God’s Own Heart. His Love for us unquestionable in the giving of His Son, Jesus. His Commitment undeniable as evidenced by His Spirit entrusted us. God gave us the Word to make our paths level, but that doesn’t mean to smooth out all the bumps in the roadway of life. It is not about making this life and the world a better place. He has given us His Word and provided the way for level paths by faith and confidence. God is greater than the highs and lows because He carries us high above them.

The Lord has provided a wide path, a spacious place, an open heaven in our midst. Walking in it doesn’t always mean there will not be challenges, struggles or battles otherwise there would be no need to train us or give us a shield. We wouldn’t need His Help if perfection possible. He causes me to stand on the heights but that means I am going to travel up some mountains out of some pretty low valleys. BUT…it says He keeps my way secure…whatever that way is…God has already been there to make a way where there was no way, provide everything I need to get through it and most assuredly will give me victory in due time.

Hebrews 12:12-13 (NIV)Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. “Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.

Make level paths for your feet. Our active participation and dedication to intimacy with Jesus Christ is to pursue Him in the Word. By doing so, we level the way before us because our life is no longer defined by words, opinions or lies. It is bound by Truth. Truth will produce more faith and confidence in the Lord. Confidence that will keep on keeping on even when the mountain seems high or the valley too low. His Love will carry you above your situation to see things as He sees them and give you hope that keeps you in the good fight of faith. Be encouraged today. God loves you. No height or depth or anything in all creation will ever separate you from His Love whether naturally occurring or self-imposed. His Grace is ALWAYS enough. The Lord will never ever let you down. You have to believe that to receive it otherwise your life will be wasted reacting to the change of scenery rather than responding to His Promises and flourishing in faith. You have His Word. You have His Spirit. Christ is in you. Make level your path today. Fill your insufficient faith with the Word and watch it grow into all the good things He promised.

Hebrews 4:12 (NIV) For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

Peaceful Partner

Peaceful Partner

John 14:26-27 (NIV)  But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Oh the Peace of God, I wouldn’t trade it for anything this world has to offer. Those precious moments when something clicks and I remember to give my cares and worries mixed with all those heavy burdens to the Lord. We have been given a partner, advocate, and indwelling Presence of the Living God to go with us. Wherever I choose to allow my feet to wander today, the Lord is with me. Sometimes I do not feel Him, acknowledge Him or even remember this precious gift that I have been given. So today if it is one of those days for you – let this be your reminder – you have a life partner who is with you even to the ends of the earth.

Luke 4:1 (NIV) Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness…

There is a common misconception that salvation is perfection which is simply not true. The moment of repentance is the turning and embarking on an incredible life journey of transformation. To become something new just like Jesus promised requires change. It means losing control sometimes. It is uncomfortable as our dead dreams become handfuls of hope. The Presence of God in us does not necessarily change the footsteps of our life but definitely gives them hope in the outcome.

Jesus was full of the Holy Spirit. As a matter of fact, immediately after being filled with the Spirit – the same Spirit led Him into the wilderness to fast and pray for 40 days and nights. Just as he always does, the enemy would come to tempt Jesus in his humanity. Jesus answered the enemy of his soul with the Word of God – the Truth called to his remembrance by none other than the Holy Spirit. How do I know that? John 14:26 tells us that is exactly what the Spirit does. He teaches us and reminds us of everything Jesus said to us. He then guides us to opportunities of obedience that lead to great blessing for Children of God.

Romans 5:1-5 (NIV) Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

Spiritual acceptance by the Lord and steps to maturity are all facilitated by God’s Spirit living in you and me. He is our guarantee that God has heard our heart cry out in true repentance and has responded with His Spirit. The Holy Spirit is also the Spirit of Adoption that gives us a new name. He establishes our peace with God through Jesus Christ. Now at peace with God, though our circumstances and conditions may not change radically, our choices and consequences begin to change as we decide to avoid sin and seek the Savior day by day. Not only on the good days, but in our sufferings the Holy Spirit takes seeds of faith planting into the crevices of our broken heart. He cultivates love, joy, peace and more in the hearts of those who remain broken before the Lord. I wonder today with a new insight and perspective of usefulness of this partnership that maybe we might capitalize on the commitment Christ made to us when He invested His Spirit in us. The Spirit of God produces intimacy with God that is only possible by living at peace with Him.

Titus 3:4-7 (NIV)  But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.

I wonder what would happen if we believed that God has partnered with us in such an intimate and radical way. To give us the very essence of His Identity in order to teach us and remind us that as love grows cold and sin more rampant to have confidence in the unconditional love and overwhelming grace of a good, good Father. A Father so recklessly in love with us that He would send His Perfect and Undefiled Spirit to live in such a sin-ridden state of a human. See if we could understand the value, worth and potential of the Spirit of God enough to acknowledge Him, accept His Guidance, and affirm Him as He does us our life would suddenly and dramatically prosper in the Fruit of His Spirit. Peace would define our existence even in the most violent storm. Love would prevail as we fully accept the grace given to us as more than enough.

The Spirit washes us as a newborn baby is tenderly and gently cleaned and then He renews us from the inside out. He sees our broken heart and heals it. He sees our unmet expectation and redirects it to the One who is able to do exceedingly and abundantly more than ask, think or imagine. He would lead us from confident to wide open spaces full of opportunities. The Spirit encourages us to release lesser things to embrace fulfillment as only God could give it. When our faith in God and partnership with His Spirit begin to flourish – our natural life will follow suit.

Jude 1:20-21 (NIV) But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.

Christians have made the Spirit so spooky and unrealistic with crazy claims and even crazier behaviors. My experience with the Holy Spirit is a little different. Growing up as a Christian different religions gave the Spirit of God varying and differing personalities, qualities and characteristics. I had to become acquainted with His Spirit on my own. Intimacy is not a public event but a private matter. If you do not have a partnership with God’s Spirit, I encourage you to form one. To seek an intimate relationship with the Holy Spirit that is personal. I have discovered the most valuable asset that keeps me from wandering and that is peace. When things are going great, I know God is good and live in peace. When everything is falling apart, I still know God is good and can remain in the same restful peace. Peace is the defining of God’s Spirit as He teaches us to remain constant in our faith and confident in our hope personally and individually. We can form opinions about certain people based on the account and perception of others but it is only in a real relationship or encounter that we experience who they really are and who they will be to me. With this in mind, ask the Lord to reveal Himself through His Spirit to you today. The Lord told the woman at the well that true worshippers must do so in Spirit and Truth. Don’t miss the opportunity to be a true worshipper of the Living God. Discover the life-giving, life-changing and love-altering purpose of partnering with the Living, Breathing Spirit of God – the Christ in you.

There’s nothing worth more that could ever come close no thing can compare You’re our living hope
Your presence, Lord… I’ve tasted and seen of the sweetest of loves where my heart becomes free and my shame is undone, Your presence, Lord… Holy Spirit, You are welcome here, come flood this place and fill the atmosphere, Your glory, God, is what our hearts long for to be overcome by Your presence, Lord…

Mountain of Sacrifice

Mountain of Sacrifice

Genesis 22:1-2 (NIV) Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied. Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”

What does God require of you? What is it that God desires of you? Does He require a sacrifice? Yes. Does He desire an offering? Yes. It is important to understand exactly what God requires and desires of us to walk in alignment with His Word, Will and Way. Does such a thing mean that there is not freedom in Christ or an obligation for God’s Love? No, God loves you. He definitely desires you and has expressed His Love and Desire through the sacrifice of His Only Son to live in unity with you. However, communion and partnership with the Lord is no different than a bond of friendship or marriage. If there is not a giving of one’s way there cannot be harmony in a relationship. Giving to form a relationship is called grace. We must give up our way in order to form a new way. To surrender wants, needs and desires to be with someone else is commonplace. So why do we struggle so hard when it comes to doing so for God?

God’s Love for us is established in His Identity. God is love. (I John 4:8) To know God is to understand that the Love given to us is complete and unconditional. Our relationship of righteousness offered in the acceptance of the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus allows us to return to such a position and enjoy a relationship with God the Father again. Sin separated us from God. Our chosen defiance of His Word and Way caused us to rebel from it and therefore step out of unity with Him. Repentance in the form of pouring our faults and failures before the Lord and admitting to our insufficiencies may not be all that hard, but when it comes to true repentance even strong Christians are at a loss. Picking and choosing the parts of scripture found appealing or doable but bypassing those things that conflict with our flesh including our deepest desires.

Complete confidence in the Love of God will produce true repentance not just lip service. The confession of our heart is our deep desire to serve the Lord but when it comes time to go to the mountain of sacrifice many compromises are offered in lieu of absolute obedience. Why would God summon Abraham to the mountain? Why would He torture a father in such a manner especially one who waited a lifetime for his promised son? Now Abraham is tested by God and sent to the mountain. “Take you son, your ONLY son, whom you love – Isaac…” Why would the Lord even suggest something so cruel? The Lord wasn’t after Abraham’s son, God desired his servant’s heart.

Psalm 51:16-17 (NIV) You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.

The beauty of brokenness is that it draws us closer to the Lord and He is able to come closer to us. It allows us to live in intimacy with Jesus. His Spirit has freedom within the broken heart that is open and exposed for seeds of faith to be planted and given a place to grow in our life. Abraham was not a madman or out of his mind when he gathered up supplies for sacrifice and took his son to journey to the mountain. He knew exactly what he was doing, but more importantly Abraham absolutely and completely trusted God. He was confident that at the end of the day God would do something miraculous. He believed in the One who brought dead things to life. He believed and his faith saved his son.

You do not delight in sacrifice…

Are humans being truly able to sacrifice their all to the Lord? I believe it is our heart’s desire but follow through the issue. True repentance is turning our natural life over for eternal life. It is to turn from sin and embrace righteousness. Grace does not afford perfection but allows us to experience a thriving relationship with the Father through the giving of His Son. His Grace is enough therefore sacrifice is unnecessary. The sacrifice acceptable to the Lord is a broken spirit. A spirit no longer driven by the flesh but by the Holy Spirit. Abraham had one son. It was in the giving of that son that he obtained the many generations of children born of his faith. God does not delight in our sacrifice. He delights in the heart willing to give its all even when giving all is not what we want to do but we use our freedom to do so anyway.

Deuteronomy 30:8-10 (NIV) You will again obey the Lord and follow all his commands I am giving you today. Then the Lord your God will make you most prosperous in all the work of your hands and in the fruit of your womb, the young of your livestock and the crops of your land. The Lord will again delight in you and make you prosperous, just as he delighted in your ancestors, if you obey the Lord your God and keep his commands and decrees that are written in this Book of the Law and turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.

God has recorded our lifetime before we were born. (Psalm 139) We are fearfully and wonderfully made with great potential. His prerecorded order promises future and hope. (Jeremiah 29:11) The Lord promises to make good from the details of our life and nothing will ever separate us from His Love. (Romans 8) He also promise to partner with us and help us carry our burdens giving us rest. (Matthew 11) He will perfect that which concerns us. (Psalm 138) What’s the catch? We must search for Him wholeheartedly. To desire the Lord and His Goodness as our heart’s longing. Those who desire the Lord will seek Him and find Him in the Word. Finding Him they will then pursue Him wholeheartedly. God wants us to desire Him more than the things of this world and more than any human being. In exchange for our faithfulness and obedience, God promises success to His People. He promises to make the work of our hands prosperous. Why then does He require things of us as He did Abraham? A sacrifice and offering much greater than a tangible object or animal of some kind. Why does the Lord require our heart and everything in it?

Faith grows in a fertile and broken heart. Doubt hardens our heart keeping us from finding, following and pursuing the Living God. It tells us that His Word is not for us, His Way may not satisfy us and His Will may kill us. All the while, the Lord whispers come to the mountain and give your all. What am I giving? I am giving God my heart piece by piece – day by day – until my sacrifice is complete and satisfaction fills its void.

Small children will grab hold of things sometimes that are not necessarily good for them to have. As a parent, I had two choices to snatch if from them or to offer them something better in exchange. Either way as their parent the thing they were holding would have to be released. They made the choice to willingly release it or forcefully give it up. Throughout their childhood, I tried to instill the knowledge, wisdom and discipline to make good choices. In fact, many days dropping them off at school, my parting words would be I love you and make good choices. Life is all about choices. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. God gives us choices each day. Life or death. Blessing or cursing. Bondage or deliverance. Captivity or freedom. Settling or full satisfaction. Sickness or healing. Poverty or prosperity. We make the choice the realm in which we live – reality or hope. See there is more to life than this but we are given the opportunity to decide which life we live. Faith is the substance of things hope for and evidence of their reality. How we live decides the productivity of our faith. We all have faith. The question is have we provided a place to plant it?

Romans 2:29 (NIV) “Circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code.”

The spiritual significance of circumcision is to purify spiritually. It is to cut away something. Today I wonder if the sacrifice God is asking of us goes deeper than the things we do or don’t do but is actually a surrender of our heart to the Lord. The mountain of doubt which we seek to overcome keeps us from doing that so when we go to the mountain and give the Lord all we can for that moment or season, He honors it. As our heart breaks open before Him, the Lord pours into us renewal, restoration and revival. A little at a time as we give Him bit by bit and piece by piece. Do not despise small beginnings for the Lord uses them to complete us and fulfill us. To produce purpose begins with a single seed of faith that grows, develops, matures and reproduces in us and through us. The Light of our love must begin as a burning passion for the Lord on the inside before it will ever be bright enough to reach or influence the people around us.

Ezekiel 36:26 (NIV) I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.

Could it be that the Lord is not calling us to sacrifice anything of worth but everything we have? He desires us. God wants to share His Kingdom with us. He gave the ultimate sacrifice for us. His Son, Jesus. When we struggle on the subject of sacrifice it is not because what God has for us and is promised to us is not desirable but rather the overwhelming nagging doubt that keeps us fixated on the mountain not the Mountain Mover. The Lord wants to give us a new heart in exchange for the stony heart that keeps us bound up in tight places with limited resources and chaotic emotions. He wants us to come give Him that heart of no use and allow His Spirit to work in us.

Lord, I give my heart to you again today. With each new day and each new mountain, I ask you to take my heart as a sacrifice and smash it until it is soft, pliable, moldable, and shapeable. I want to give my all. Will You take this small piece today and we will work on the rest tomorrow? Back to the mountain we go…

Psalm 34:18 (NIV) The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

 

Mountains Out of Molehills

Mountains Out Molehills

Hebrews 4:16 (NIV) Let us than approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. Faith is the confidence that a believer has in God’s Word for their life. God’s Word came to us – His Name is Jesus Christ. The Word of God wrapped in flesh to demonstrate God’s Love for us in living color. He died for our sins, tore the veil giving us access to His Presence so that it is our privilege to approach “God’s Throne of Grace” with confidence. Faith without confidence is not faith at all by definition. To attempt to become a Child of God outside of faith is futile. You must believe. You must do away with the doubt that creates insecurity, fear and anxiousness about our relationship with God. Christ cannot live, breathe, move in us somehow miraculously changing us into a new creature outside of faith that believes, trusts and therefore obeys the Word. We could stop there and have enough meat to chew on for a week in our Christian walk. However, the Lord will not leave us with leftovers but always provides new manna and fresh water for His People.

With this in mind, I was listening to a brief video sent to me on Twitter. The mentor referenced the report of the ten spies who went to survey the Promised Land before the Israelite people would enter. The word given to me sunk deep in my heart and began to take root. The spies came back affirming that God had indeed led them to the land of milk and honey – the Lord did exactly as He promised so far but…there were giants in the land. Acquisition would be a problem. They would have to overcome them to take the promise. What giant are you facing today? Is it doubt? Fear? Anxiety? Insecurity? Low self-esteem? A lack of faith? No confidence? Pride calls doubt so many lesser names but the reality of doubt is that it stops faith completely because faith must have confidence to be faith at all.

Numbers 13:30-33 (NIV) Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.” But the men who had gone up with him said, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.” And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, “The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size. We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anakcome from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.”

Caleb and the others brought back fruit from the land and confirmed it was plentiful and prosperous. Then they added the word that nullifies everything beforehand…”but”. The people who live there are powerful. They were referring to the Nephilim. Nephilim were giants. Not just men of tall stature but believed to be fallen angels who created a race of super humans in that time. Not only were these guys big, but powerful beyond their physical strength in the eyes of the Israelites. The bad report spread more quickly than the praise report that God had brought them to the place of promise. Definitive words in their reports such as “we can’t”, “all” were of great size, and probably the most damaging…”we seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes and we looked the same to them.” Their self-confidence shattered by comparison revealed a trust problem far greater than the giants they would face. In fact, it was their own report that made a mountain out of a molehill and raised up giants all around them.

There is always one crazy believer in God’s success stories in the Bible. The one man or woman who says not on my watch. Not today, devil. I believe God. I am going to trust the Lord. And it usually a solo effort. Moses, Noah, Jacob, Daniel, David, Peter and Paul just to name a few. Not the mightiest men or those of the greatest integrity – God called them because they believed. Caleb silenced the people when he spoke these words of faith, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.” As usual, the bad report spread much faster than his report.

Whose report do you believe today? God brought you through the fire unharmed, the rough waters just fine, and has led you up to your promise – will you go for it? What do you have to lose? So many times, when the journey is long and hard the moment of truth comes and the lie of the enemy keeps us on the verge of breakthrough because somehow we forget it was never about our power, strength or energy. It was God’s Plan from the beginning and He will carry us through to the end. The Children of Israel had taken their eyes off God and began evaluating their progress and promise through natural eyes. They obviously couldn’t do it. Confidence in self will not produce the purpose God put inside of you to be accomplished by faith. It is by faith that our life pleases God and makes His Plan successful.

I Samuel 17:45-47 (NIV) David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.”

Are you a giant builder or a giant killer? Do you make mountains out of molehills? The whole Israelite army had been camped on the side of the mountain enduring the taunts and threats of Goliath. He was backed by an army but one man held them at bay. Who will kill the giant? There was a reward. David came with a directive from his earthly father – take your brothers food and bring me back a report of their welfare. David did not set out on the journey to kill a giant but simply to do the will of his father. When he arrived, he saw the cowering soldiers and heard the threats of the giant. His response to the report he received was not like most people. David had faith in God more than man even a giant man. What about you?

David didn’t realize that what seemed like a mundane task would be a defining moment in his life. His brothers mocked him. Saul tried to change him into a soldier. In the end, David stayed true to himself. His confidence not in his stature, strength or prowess but simply in God who He loved with all his heart. “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the Name of the Lord Almighty.” By faith, David killed the giant that day with a slingshot and smooth stone. He did not build the giant with fear or add mass to the mountain of doubt, but simply came against his adversary with total and complete faith in God. His victory that day was with purpose that would flow into today. The battle belongs to the Lord. He will give it all into your hands. If you believe this enough to receive it, nothing will ever be marked impossible in your life again.

Zechariah 4:6-7 (NIV) So he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty. “What are you, mighty mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become level ground. Then he will bring out the capstone to shouts of ‘God bless it! God bless it!’”

By comparison, you may feel like a grasshopper but there is a giant slayer in all of us. Confidence in God begins by believing His Word and trusting His Spirit. Faith is confidence. It cannot be changed or redefined according to our willingness or ability. Faith is confidence in the unseen reality of the Promises of God for His People beginning with salvation moving forward to prosperity. Miracles must be marked impossible. Healing comes through illness and infirmity. Deliverance is packaged in bondage. Freedom is for the captive. Faith grows when our trust in God becomes greater than the “giants” and “mountains” in our life. Not by might, not by power but by my Spirit – the Spirit of the Living God lives in us. He is the giant killer and mountain leveler in us who gives us overwhelming victory and glorious triumph when we walk by faith and not by sight. Is there a giant before you today? Is the mountain too big? Faith and confidence in the Living God who lives in you will knock both of these down in your life if you choose to believe. Don’t let the give the giant the strength of your confidence. Do not let doubt in your heart become words of discouragement adding to the substance of the mountain. Instead, grab hold of the Word of God for your life. Speak it over your life, dead dreams and far off future. Seek to do His Will. Plan on His Promises being the reality of your life. Stop believing every bad report and spreading it around. Stand your ground. You have overcoming power and overwhelming victory locked inside you. Let it out.

I John 4:4 (NIV) You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.

Mud Slinging

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Philippians 2:14-16 (NIV) Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain.

When I was a little girl, my family spent a great deal of time at the beach. My grandmother and I would sit on the edge of the surf where the water’s edge would almost reach us and the sand was wet to build sandcastles. It was there she taught me to create “drip” castles. Taking a handful of saturated sand, holding it up and letting it drip – you create a sandcastle by moving your hand around to create a monument. It almost resembles a mountain with tall peaks resembling turrets. I have been thinking lately if our words may be the very essence of some of the mountains in our life. Words thoughtlessly released or aimed directly at another that hardened into doubt or even offense. I wonder if the dripping sarcasm or biting dissatisfaction is weighting down the very thing that we are requesting the Lord to remove.

Do everything without grumbling or arguing” is a tall order. Our life is built around convenience, comfort and control. When one of these three are threatened, our pride and selfishness quickly work to construct the foundation as to not interrupt these “vital” necessities of life. Crying out to the Lord to move a mountain, but then firmly packing it in place with words thought to be idle and careless maybe just a release only to stand in frustration before the insurmountable thing which we cannot seem to overcome. What does your mountain look like? Is it made of grumbling, complaining and constant whining?

Pure and blameless” faith comes from a heart that is confident in God’s Salvation and Sovereignty. His Ability to now only save you but sustain you in life. Faith, even in the smallest measure, will move any mountain. I wonder if our faith is being choked out or suffocated by a barrage of worthless banter. If I am complaining about my life as a Child of God, I am telling the world that He is simply not enough. I am confirming their doubt that He is not a saving God full of unconditional love and amazing grace. I am actually feeding the darkness rather than creating new light.

You will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life.” Jesus is the Light of the world. The Light of the world now lives in us. Is He shining brightly today? Are you confident that He lives in you and works through you? Do you believe that the Lord is working every detail of your life for good as the Word of God tells us in Romans 8:28? Reading just a little further, are you confident that nothing can ever separate you from the Love of God and that you have overwhelming victory in Jesus Christ? See if we believed, our conversation would change. Our way of conversation would shine brightly with confidence that His Love is enough to overcome the mountain of doubt rather than constantly fortifying doubt with mud-slinging words and negative connotation. We give our God and His Son a bad reputation when our words and heart are out of alignment.

Luke 6:45 (NIV) A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.

Jesus said, “I tell you that everyone will give account on the day of Judgment for every empty word they have spoken.” What is your daily conversation? Do you listen to the words coming out of your mouth each day? God does. He judges us for the abundance of idle and worthless words that are empty. God has filled us with good fruit. His Spirit gives us the ability and abundance to pour out for others. Love, joy, peace, forgiveness, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and, of course, self-control. Did you think it was for you? The generosity of God is poured into us to be released into the darkness of this world and fill it with the Light of His Love. To feed the hungry physically, emotionally and spiritually with the Word of our testimony. Seed left in the silo will not grow it must be put in fertile ground to grow, develop, mature and reproduce. What is your testimony today? In Revelation, it tells us that we overcome by the Blood of the Lamb AND the Word of our testimony? What are you saying about the Lord? Grumbling, complaining, and negativity are born of a hard heart that has not discovered the satisfaction born of faith and hope. Has fear, doubt and anxiety filled your heart with negativity and doubt?

Ephesians 4:29-32 (NIV)  Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

“Do not let ANY unwholesome talk come out of your mouths…” It is my responsibility to monitor the words flowing from my lips. Fresh water cannot come from a salty or even stagnant pond. My words should build and not destroy. Build others up. Build my faith in God. Build a solid foundation of faith rather than adding weight the mountain I am trying to overcome. Faith-full words speak things not yet seen into existence welcoming God’s Spirit to do His Work, not grieving Him, but rather moving “me” out of the way. Bitterness is the root choking out the goodness God is doing in us and through us when we decide that His Word, Will or Way is not for us. It is absolutely for you. Faith makes the unseen hope we have a reality. It moves mountains of doubt out of the way so that we can become one with Christ enjoying all of His Benefits, Promises and Prosperity.

Psalm 19:14 (NIV) May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Today I must consider the conversations I will have and monitor closely my communication with others. Every word I speak is important as it tells of the contents of my heart. I have some mountains still to be removed. I have some doubt that must be washed away with the Word. When building drip castles on the beach, I did not see the significance of the lesson the Lord would teach me in that moment. “When I was a child, I talked like a child. I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man (woman), I put the ways of childhood behind me.” (I Corinthians 13:11)

My grandmother is in Heaven with Jesus now. I miss her every day. Soon it will be my turn to build drip castles on the beach with my grandson, I want my conversation be filled with faith that will build him into a mighty man of God – full of life and favor. I must first build that kind of heart in me. I cannot share a faith I do not own for it is not mine to give. My Gram introduced me to Jesus and I hope to have the same privilege with him one day building sandcastles on the beach. Until then, it is up to me to take captive every thought contrary to faith before it leaves my mouth and cast it back where it came from. To allow the Water of the Word to wash away fear and doubt just as high tide melts sandcastles along the beach. It is important in overcoming the fears, doubts and insecurities that compromise my faith and hinder my hope to take make sure my heart and mouth agree on a daily basis. It is no easy task but always well worth the effort. Mud-slinging words filled with complaining and grumbling feel way better leaving me but then harden into yet another weight keeping my mountain from budging an inch much less melting in the sea. We must put away childish conversation and speak the words of our Father each day.

Lord, let every word I speak be pleasing to you. Pull out every root of bitterness and plant a new seed of faith in the void left behind. Strengthen my heart and remind my soul that you are my confident hope. I have new life in you, Jesus and Your Promises are for me. I give You my heart, mind, soul and body to you again. Lord, use me and my words to bring You glory today. You are worthy of it all.

Revelation 12:10-12 (NIV) Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death. Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them!

When Mountains Move

When Mountains Move

Psalm 46:1-3 (NIV) God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountain fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.

“The mountains quake with their surging…” I wonder what our response might be to the moving of the mountain beneath us when the Lord starts to break apart the foundation of doubt that once was our security as pride kept us in complete control. The smallest step in faith will produce a profound rumble in the ground beneath our feet. Faith is not logical. It is the substance of things hoped for and evidence of the unseen which makes it intangible. In fact, sometimes the smallest movement of faith in our life produces an avalanche of circumstances as the enemy fights to keep us from attempting another. Fear is a fortress with an unlocked door. It binds us in the dreadful expectation of something that may not ever be a reality. Faith produces a refuge in the Presence of God that endures the moving of our mountain as the earth gives way to eternity.

It seems as though the more I desire to live by faith the more uncertain life becomes. God is an ever-present help in trouble because His Spirit lives in us. The reality of God’s Love shines from those who encounter it, engage it and somehow endure to the end. It is up to me to fan the flames of His Spirit and keep the light shining brightly even on the darkest days. I must feed my faith the Word of God to continually nourish and strengthen it. I must water it with the Word to keep it supple and growing. I must protect my seed of faith from the things that want to choke it and kill it such as fear, anxiety, stress, worry and cares. Life is hard. There is no question that everyone faces difficulties in life. The outcome is determined by our response to adversity. Do I run for cover or run to my refuge. God is with us. He is working for us. He will never let us down. He must be the place of comfort and rest when the mountain starts moving.

Psalm 46:4-7 (NIV) There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day. Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts. The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Faith displaces fear in our life but doesn’t stop the world from turning. The world is headed for destruction. There are wars and rumors of war just as the Lord predicted when He was with us. Just because you have faith doesn’t change the current conditions or natural consequences in the world, it changes us. It conditions our soul, mind and body to respond to God’s Word and His Faithfulness rather than reacting to the situations faced on any given day. I didn’t realize until today that the words, “God is within her, she will not fail” were actually words of encouragement tucked in the Bible. I needed some encouragement today. If God lives in you, you will not fail. It’s true. If we could only believe that His Word is true and relevant in our life – we just might wait to see what happens.

Haggai 2:6-9 (NIV)  “This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘In a little while I will once more shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. I will shake all nations, and what is desired by all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory,’ says the Lord Almighty. ‘The silver is mine and the gold is mine,’ declares the Lord Almighty. ‘The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,’ says the Lord Almighty. ‘And in this place I will grant peace,’ declares the Lord Almighty.”

Why shake things up? I believe that the shaking is to keep us from settling. Comfort and complacency produce a sense of control that is contradictory to allowing God’s Spirit to work in us and through us. God is determined to give us His Very Best. He doesn’t cut corners or compromise. We must press and push to stay in the Presence of God even in the midst of violent storms or shifting sands. In Luke 6:38, it talks about being “pressed down, shaken together and running over.” The giving of our life in full surrender to faith produces this kind of movement in our life. It is not a bad thing. It reveals the true wealth of our life. We have the opportunity to become refined and purified as gold.

Psalm 46:8-11 (NIV) Come and see what the Lord has done, the desolations he has brought on the earth. He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth. He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire. He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Is the ground beneath you moving? Are the winds of change blowing like a hurricane through your life? Do you feel unstable? Could it be that your faith is producing some movement in the mountain of doubt you have been climbing? Faith moves mountains even in the smallest form. The changes and conditions that seem to be threatening you might be the very things moving you from complacency to confidence and producing the hope from the ashes of unmet expectation. You cannot expect to be transformed and not moved. It would be contradictory. Stagnancy is not a Kingdom condition as His Spirit flows through our life. Changing us and the outcomes of each trial. The Lord is moving us into a refuge of faith that produces confident hope that in the midst of shaking all around us – it produces a stillness just knowing that He is God. He is Good. His Love for us is unending and unconditional. He will stop at nothing to show you how much He desires you. If the mountain is moving today, do not let it move you. Keep the faith. Remain committed to confident hope. Hold on to Him with both hands. The Lord is for you. You will not fail!

Psalm 62:8 (NIV) Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.