Never Too Far

Never Too Far

Ephesians 3:14-19 (NLT) When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

Today I will drive a little over four hours to get on an airplane. The plane will take off and fly about another three hours to Boston, Massachusetts. At the airport, our beautiful daughter and son-in-law will pick me up to drive another hour or so to New Hampshire arriving at their home. Thankfully this will probably be my last trip to visit her as she and her husband will soon turnaround and drive 21 hours or more back to our hometown. It seems like a long journey will all the driving and flying today but it really doesn’t seem like much to me. The thought of spending the next few days with her makes it all worth it. As I contemplated the time and distance which may seem like a crazy investment for a long weekend, I began to think about the Father’s Love. That’s really what is making me embark on this journey. Other than these two kids and the little one on the way, there is nothing that New England has that would make me want to sacrifice time and money to seek out.

This beautiful prayer of the apostle, Paul, reminds me today that God’s Love for me goes the distance. He has used every bit of His Glorious and Unlimited Resources not even withholding His Own Son to show His Love for me. He has pursued me with unconditional love, amazing grace and overwhelming goodness for more than fifty years whether I was aware of it or not. As a parent, it is easy to feel taken for granted sometimes. Imagine how our Father must feel when His Beloved Children wander off, rebel, settle for lesser things or fall for the enemy’s lies. His Grace empowers us to know the power of His Love and live in it each day. Though it feels as though we are drifting in busyness, trials or even weariness, Christ in us working through us to convince us according to His Spirit that He loves us. The Holy Spirit produces fruit in us that nourish our soul and strengthen our bond with Jesus. The ultimate goal is that the Lord can convince us of the vastness of His Love. To know and understand the width, length, height and depth of His Love and Affection for us. To experience such love exceeds all understanding. To know such love transcends time, trouble, and even tragedy. The Father is going the distance to show His Love for us.

Psalm 23:6 (NLT) Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.

As I prepare for my trek to visit our daughter, I am wonderfully aware of God’s Unfailing Love today. It pursues us. His Goodness is always within arm’s reach just a whisper away. The Lord lives in us because He desires intimacy with us. Romans 5:7-9 tells me that while I was still a sinner that Christ died for me so we could become one again. There is no condemnation in Christ. (Romans 8:1) When I don’t get it right or fail due to human weakness, His Grace is ALWAYS enough to cover the distance I have created. (2 Corinthians 12:9) Maybe, just maybe, the distance between us and our Heavenly Father can be foreclosed if we would simple turnaround to find Him right there behind us. God’s Love and Goodness is not based on my ability to perform but complete in the performance of Christ which provided the grace I needed to receive it. Nothing more and nothing less. The Father loves you. He loves me. Just like the dad of the prodigal son, he waits and watches for our return. He wants to embrace us. Fully restore us. Spend time with us. Do life with us. He is a Good Father. There is no distance too far that the Cross cannot reach. You will never be too far from Him for God is always closing the distance with His Mercy. It is new every morning as an invitation to those who will respond.

Luke 15:20-24 (NLT) “So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.’ “But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began.

 

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Those Who Prosper

Those Who Prosper

Psalm 25:12-14 (NKJV) Who is the man that fears the Lord? Him shall He teach in the way He chooses. He himself shall dwell in prosperity, and his descendants shall inherit the earth. The secret of the Lord is with those who fear Him, and He will show them His covenant.

To dwell in prosperity and good fortune. To be successful. Who doesn’t want to live in such a condition? The Christian life is marked by prosperity. It is found in the teachings of God’s Word and discovered by those who choose it. Who is the man that “fears” the Lord? The Gift of God is eternal life. The Favor of God is prosperity. To prosper is often equated to success financially. Many people believe that money would make them secure. Money is a magnifier. It is a magnifying glass that allows freedom to reflect the inner most longings and desires of the human heart. The Prosperity that God delivers to His Children is different. It begins with a restored relationship that begins to prosper us from the inside out. It doesn’t change our outward condition or current situation but somehow changes us in an incredible and intangible way. Paul put it best when he wrote, “For I have learned in whatever state I am to be content…” (Philippians 4:11)

Genesis 26:12-14 (NKJV) Then Isaac sowed in that land, and reaped in the same year a hundredfold; and the Lord blessed him. The man began to prosper, and continued prospering until he became very prosperous; for he had possessions of flocks and possessions of herds and a great number of servants.”

“I can’t find my (insert something)!” The shouting begins across the house soon to be amplified by a frustrated teenager convinced that her sister took her beloved something and she wants it back. Most of the time, it is simply misplaced and no injustice has been performed. When the irate one comes to me, I begin to ask them of various places it could be. “Did you look here? Did you check there?” This only seems to incite them more until finally exasperated from trying to deal with an irrational human – I join the hunt searching for misplaced item until it is recovered.

“Him shall He teach in the way He chooses.” The Lord has ordered the steps of our life leading to soulful prosperity which does not mean that God is not going to prosper you externally but that His Primary Motivation and Intention is for you to become one with Him. Therefore, until our soul is in a prosperous state, it would be contraindicated to give us everything under the sun or who would seek the Son. My children come yelling and screaming for what they are missing because they know that if they do – I will find it to keep the peace. I am only human. There comes a point to maintain my relationship with the girls that I must relent and end the strife. I am not God. God will not bend in His Way to relieve our discomfort, restore convenience or in any way, shape or form give us control. We are free. Free to choose the life we live. God calls us blessed. We are favored and have everything needed to prosper. I wonder if like my own children, too many times we don’t want to look for it, work towards it, or be committed to the process because it is uncomfortable, inconvenient and beyond our control?

Isaac prospered. There are lessons to be learned in Genesis 26. There was a famine in the land. God told him not to return to Egypt. Why not? The metropolitan city would have resources. Government assistance to get by during this awful time. The Lord told him to “dwell in this land and I will be with you and bless you. So Isaac stayed put. Isaac was not perfect but perfectly human and even though the Lord was with him sinned. God blessed Isaac in spite of it. I think people struggle with their imperfection more than our heavenly Father does. The fact that despite our best effort – obedience, commitment and avoiding sin are daily if not momentary struggles. Continuing to read Genesis 26 – there is jealousy, opposition, adversity and dysfunctional family issues to round out the fun in this account of prosperity. That’s right. Isaac lived a prosperous life. His life was not perfect. The Lord was perfecting Isaac in the process.

Ecclesiastes 7:14 (NKJV) In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity consider: surely God has appointed the one as well as the other, so that man can find out nothing that will come after him.

There is a farmer who spends days preparing a field for planting. When the time is right, he purchases seeds to fill the straight rows that he has created. Smooth, fertile soil awaits the seed as he has tirelessly removed all the rocks and weeds that might threaten their growth or choke out the potential harvest. He spends all day until his task is complete. The Lord blesses the farmer and a gentle rain follows watering the ground and cooling his sweaty brow. After a good night sleep, the farmer goes to inspect the field the next morning. When he does not find a signal sprout, he sets fire to the field, packs up his family and moves on. Farming is not for him. He decides to try something new. This story sounds ridiculous. What person in their right mind would think a seed would turn into a sprout overnight? There is no more joy than when prosperity comes and harvests are ready. But in the meantime…what do you do? What is your behavior before the harvest? Do you wait or wander? Do you decide this isn’t for me and walk away leaving your harvest for another? Jesus is the Lord of the Harvest. The Word of God is direct – you will reap what you sow. How many fields have been left for others?

God’s Perspective of prosperity is not what the world considers it to be. The definition of prosperity is a successful, flourishing and thriving condition. Man usually equates these three things with monetary endeavors and financial success. God defines it as a soulful condition that overflows into our natural life. Prosperity, success, flourishing condition and thriving state are the characteristics of a godly life.

3 John 1:2 (NKJV) Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.

Our natural life prospers when our spiritual life does. As our soul prospers, our perspective of life, love and happiness change as well. No longer driven by the things of this world, we become Kingdom Kids reliant on our Father in Heaven and His Resources to bring satisfaction, fulfillment and contentment in our life. As “things” gain their proper placement, our life aligns with God’s Ordained Steps for us. This is not an action that opens God’s Hand but rather we decide to seek His Kingdom and find what it has for us. His Provision, Blessing and Favor already belong to us as believers. We must have to believe enough to seek Him.

Psalm 1:3 (NKJV) 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.

Has you grown tired of waiting on God? Perhaps, you have tried everything and nothing good ever seems to happen? Maybe you don’t believe God’s Goodness and Prosperity are for you at all? God forbid you are thinking – this is how it’s been and will always be. God is planting you today to be a tree not a weed. A mighty oak of righteousness able to sustain high force winds and raging storms. A place of refuge for those in need. Your resources flow deep beneath the view of others. You are watered by His Word. Your heart nourished by the Bread of Life. You have everything you need to prosper in every season. Do you believe? To God be the Glory on the good days. To God be the Glory on the not-so-good ones. To say, “It is well with my soul” with complete confidence that it really is will offer the peace that passes understanding. There will be days of opposition and adversity in your trek from here to eternity. Do not make permanent decisions based on temporary circumstances. You are a tree planted by the rivers of living water. You will bring forth fruit in every season if you do not leave the field. Your leaf does not wither but thrives and flourishes in the Son. Whatever you do WILL absolutely prosper when it flows through your heart into your life. You must be willing to wait on the Lord. Trust Him. Depend on Him. Agree with His Word. That’s really all there is to do. Obey the Lord and you will prosper from the inside out.

Deuteronomy 29:9 (NKJV) Therefore keep the words of this covenant, and do them, that you may prosper in all that you do.

And I Know

And I Know

Romans 8:28 (NKJV) And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

Do you know? Are you sure? How sure? Certain? Full of confidence? And we know… What do we really know about God and His Plan for us? We have been given His Spirit and Truth to build foundational knowledge for our faith. Faith when sown in our life becomes blessed assurance and confident hope that carries through the ups and downs of life into eternal glory. It all sounds good. Maybe even causes a moment of elation, but then life happens. How can God be good when bad things still happen? How can He be for us when it seems the whole world is against us? Who is this God we serve and what are His True Intentions for us?

And we know…

True confidence in God’s Plan and Purpose for our life will produce a sound relationship built on trust, dependence and reliance. How do I build a relationship with someone who I cannot see, feel or touch? How will I know when I find Him? I have been seeking the Lord for many years now. Truly, diligently and intentionally digging deeper and deeper in His Word while wandering farther out into the depths following His Voice to find more faith. I have failed more times than I can count. I have fallen short of His Glorious Standard time and time again. I want to live His Word, do His Works (the greater ones that He promised) and I want to hear the Lord say, “Well done!” My flesh fights me every step of the way and my pride refuses to be crucified. It just won’t die. The thing that keeps me close and constantly engaged is the desire to know… and we know that all things work together for good to those who love God.

To be confident in God’s Love, Grace and Goodness will always give way to trust. We must try the Lord. Test the boundlessness of His Word and deepest fathoms of His Grace. To seek Him while He can be found not giving up until the Kingdom is found. He must be our treasure. One highly sought after and daily pursued. The Lord told the woman at the well a day was coming when true worshippers would do so in “Spirit and in Truth.” Friends, today is that day or at least it should be.

Romans 8:29-30 (NKJV) For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.

God is not surprised by our mistakes. He is not taken back by our blatant disregard. The Lord is well aware of human tendency to rebel and seek its own way. He understands being taken for granted. For whom He foreknew…God knew you before you were anybody at all. He thought about you before you were created and thoughtfully carried out His Creation of you. He molded and shaped you with purpose and a plan to carry it out. He gave you a measure of faith and put eternity in our heart as a primary desire. God, the Father, did not stop at creating you. To only sit back and see how things turned out, but continually pursues you each day. The ones who He predestined…He called. When we accept Jesus as our Savior and decide to make Him our Lord, every barrier between us and the Father is dissolved and immediately melts away. Any perceived hindrance is on our part. Those who He predestined, conformed to Christ, who He is constantly calling to because in the Lord’s Eyes you are justified. His Perception of those who are His People is just as if you never sinned. Those who can somehow find a way to wrap their head around this valuable truth and allow His Spirit to lead you to the everlasting promises paving here to forever will live in His Presence in His Glory.

To know Romans 8:29-30 helps us better understand the verses ahead calling us “more than conquerors” all the way to the perception that nothing can ever separate us from God’s Amazing Love again. If it could, it would render the sacrifice of Jesus and power of His Grace as useless which is simply not the case at all…God’s Love for us is unchangeable. Nothing can stop it from coming after us and completely consuming us. It is our own willful refusal or ignorant dismissal of His Love, Mercy, Grace and Power that keep us from His Promises.

Psalm 61:1-4 (NKJV) Hear my cry, O God; attend to my prayer. From the end of the earth I will cry to You, when my heart is overwhelmed; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For You have been a shelter for me, a strong tower from the enemy. I will abide in Your tabernacle forever; I will trust in the shelter of Your wings. 

The more I know Jesus the less I seem to know at all. His Ways are higher than mine as are His Thoughts. Therefore, I must trust Him when I walk by faith and not by sight. To believe that His Truth sets me free should produce a desire to know what the Word of God says about me. To know Jesus – I must know the Word who He is wrapped in flesh. To understand Him at all requires an intimate and ongoing relationship with His Spirit. I cannot live a separated or differentiated life but totally surrender my body, mind, will and emotions to spiritual development.

On those days when my trials weigh me down, trouble overwhelms me, or the bad report gets the best of me, I come back to Romans 8:28. And I know… the knowing is not found in that moment of tribulation but it is the foundation that keeps us from falling or being buried. Faith in the Word must have some substance. It sandbags my heart keeping it firmly established in God’s Word while I wait for my life to line up with His Plan. Is your heart overwhelmed today? Are you thinking I can’t handle one more thing? Are you weary in well doing? Let the Lord lead you to the Rock that is higher. Access the Presence of God that is a strong tower and shelter for those who seek refuge. God has a plan. All the pieces are falling into place. Everything had to fall apart to become the Glorious New Thing that He promised. It is not your job to do it but simply endure the process. In due time, His Time – it will all come together according to His Plan for our good and His Glory.

Isaiah 55:8-11 (NKJV) “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and do not return there, but water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.

Worth the Fight

fight for it

I Timothy 6:12 (NLT) Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have declared so well before many witnesses.

Life is hard. It’s a battle every day. There is no rest for the weary. If it’s not one thing, it’s another. Responsibilities. Busyness. Problems. Bad reports. Unexpected. Is this really what being a Christian is all about? This is the plight of humanity. Where is the peace and comfort promised by Christ? How does one attain it in a world gone crazy and a chaotic life? It is available. It is attainable. It is for you. You must fight for it.

Let’s talk about Jesus for a minute…

Matthew 10:34-36 (NLT) “Don’t imagine that I came to bring peace to the earth! I came not to bring peace, but a sword. ‘I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. Your enemies will be right in your own household!’”

The prevailing force in the world is contrary to God and His Premise of Love. The enemy of our soul seeks to steal, kill and destroy the very essence of life, love, peace, and joy as prescribed by God brought through Christ for our life. God’s Goodness is for us. He lives in us. But the world is not going to get any better, in fact it is daily worsening. Jesus did not come to save the planet. He did not come to bring world peace. Jesus came to give people a choice. An opportunity to have everlasting life, healing, prosperity and more. He promises a rich and satisfying life marked by abundance. He never forces this life on us but rather gives it as a gift. There must be a choice. There is no compromise. Choosing between darkness and light is the privilege given to us by the Lord and is our daily endeavor.

Luke 12:49 (NLT) “I have come to set the world on fire, and I wish it were already burning!

Jesus came to set the world on fire. He came to stir the pot and turn up the heat. The choice is between this life and eternal life. We want a better life but God is ready to give us the best life. See we would settle for less to escape the process because walking by faith and not by sight is tough. It is easier to give in to our mind, will and emotions rather than crucifying our flesh day by day. Jesus called Himself the Light of the World. A beacon of hope to a dying earth. He came to illuminate the darkness and expose every lie so that people could make a credible choice and escape the bondage of sin, death and the grave to have resurrection power and life. We get to choose each day who we serve and the life we live. What is your passion today?

John 14:27 (NLT) “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.

The gift of peace of mind and heart is from Jesus. He gave us peace. It is not like the peace and security of the world and all its treasures. It is a promise that no matter what – God loves us. He is for us. He wins our battles. He heals our body. He has made a place for us in forever. He will never leave us or forsake us. We need only one thing – faith.

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.”

Jesus overcame the world. We have victory in Jesus Christ. In every battle, there is an opportunity to triumph by faith in the Living God. I cannot serve two masters. I must decide each day whether my life, my choices, my attitude and actions will serve the Lord or my flesh. I make that choice. I can do it well-informed by God’s Word which makes faith just a little more logical or I can ride blindly through life carried by the current of emotions or every storm that rises up. You will fight for what you believe.

Fight the good fight for the true faith.

Fighting the good fight for true faith is intentional living. It is not a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants attitude. God’s Word is very clear in His Instruction and His Spirit uses it to guide us in our decision making and action taking in this life. The mindset of the believer must be that of a soldier. One enlisted in the Kingdom must live in allegiance to Heaven rather than the earth. Soldiers do not shirk from battle but engage in warfare. To align with both sides would make them a traitor. To commit high treason is a crime. Choice is a benefit. We choose each day who to serve. It is in this choice that our outcome is determined. Faith is contrary to what the world thinks, knows and believes. We must walk by faith. It is a daily battle to overcome fear, doubt and anxiety. Confident hope is born of such battles – the ones given to believing rather than seeing. Total trust and reliance on the Lord does not come without a battle. Pride falls hard. Weakness is not a chosen state but necessary for a power shift in our life from mediocre and mundane to marvelous and miraculous.

“When a child learns to walk and falls down fifty times, he never thinks to himself – “Maybe this isn’t for me?” I read this on social media and completely identified. How many times in our Christian walk do we give up when all hell breaks loose in our life? Or maybe even before that when things get uncomfortable, inconvenient or uncontrollable? God created and called you. He loves you. He made the Way for you. He provided everything you need. He even gave you every spiritual blessing. You have an inheritance. He even goes so far to indicate that He will do more than you can even think to ask for. We do not fight from the place of victory that is given because we do not believe we win. The never-say-die bravado linked to our pride will give until it hurts and fight to the end. Why do we give up so easily when it comes to our faith? Faith is complete reliance and total trust on someone other than ourselves. Soldiers fight together for a cause. Soldiers become brothers and sisters banded together. They lay down their lives not only for each other and those thankful for their freedom but nameless and faceless people who take advantage of and abuse the liberty offered and hate them for what they do. I am reminded today that without faith it is impossible to please God. I must live by faith. I must fight for my faith. It is important. It is relevant. It is a game changer. It is a life giver. Though I may fall fifty times, I must get up fifty-one.

2 Timothy 2:3-4 (NLT) Endure suffering along with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. Soldiers don’t get tied up in the affairs of civilian life, for then they cannot please the officer who enlisted them.

Jesus told us that the one who endures to the end will be saved. Faith must endure to the end in order for us to be victorious. We must learn to walk, live and breathe by faith in all things. There will be suffering. There will be bad days, hard times and enemies along the way. The Lord promises to prepare a table before them for us. We are in this world but not of it so we must not get tied up in “civilian life” but strive for eternal life. The Goodness of God for this life is ours for the taking. We walk in victory so no lying down on the job. God is for us and no weapon formed against us will be successful. We must believe to succeed at this thing called faith. It is worth fighting for. Jesus overcame the world and so can you – by the Blood of the Lamb and the word of your testimony. So do it! Faith is worth fighting for every day in every way.

Hebrews 11:1 (NLT) Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.

Walk Uprightly

Walk Uprightly

Psalm 84:11-12 (AMP) For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows grace and favor and honor; no good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly. O Lord of hosts, how blessed and greatly favored is the man who trusts in You [believing in You, relying on You, and committing himself to You with confident hope and expectation].

No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.

What do you expect? Hope for? Long for? Believe to be true? I wonder today. Expectation is the premise of progress in our life. We will pursue possibilities but feign away from the impossible. We give in to the inevitable. I believe the hardest thing to change in church culture and the mind of Christians is expectation. We base God’s Ability and Willingness on our own ability and willingness which is not the case. God is Good. He is withholding no good thing from those who walk uprightly. Oh I get it…you know you. You make mistakes every day. So do I. You fail on a regular basis. Me, too. Gods grace, favor and honor have nothing to do with you or me. The Lord decided to bless and prosper us. Every good thing given to us is a gift from Him. We cannot earn it and certainly don’t deserve it, yet it is within His Intent and Mindset to do it just the same.

Walk uprightly…

Grace

Ephesians 2:8 (AMP) For it is by grace [God’s remarkable compassion and favor drawing you to Christ] that you have been saved [actually delivered from judgment and given eternal life] through faith. And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [not through your own effort], but it is the [undeserved, gracious] gift of God…

The Amplified Version of the Bible is wordy. I love how it spells out all the finite details of the scripture. Grace is God’s remarkable compassion and favor drawing us to Christ. His Grace is enough in every situation to position us in righteousness. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10) His lovingkindness and mercy are more than enough and always available regardless of the situation. Like His Love, His Grace is unconditional. If you want it, you got it. His Power is perfected in our weakness. When we cannot do it anymore and choose to seek Him – the Lord can always be found by those who seek Him, call to Him, and come after Him. To walk uprightly means to accept God’s Amazing Grace.

Favor

2 Corinthians 9:8 (AMP) And God is able to make all grace [every favor and earthly blessing] come in abundance to you, so that you may always [under all circumstances, regardless of the need] have complete sufficiency in everything [being completely self-sufficient in Him], and have an abundance for every good work and act of charity. 

With the manifestation of God’s Grace comes favor. Favor is a product of grace which is spiritual and earthly blessing. We are liberally supplied everything needed according to His Riches in Glory in Jesus Christ. (Philippians 4:19) Relying on grace, favor comes in to fill ever void in our life. The Lord did not stop by simply meeting our needs but does so in super abundance. Jesus has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the Heavenly realm. (Ephesians 1:3) We literally have the Keys to the Kingdom. The ability to unlock the heavens so it rains down on the earth. You have all sufficiency in you to have full satisfaction which will produce contentment. As if that were not enough – the Lord promises to carry out His Purpose and do superabundantly more than all that we dare ask, or think and infinitely beyond our prayers, hopes or dreams according to His Power (grace) working in us. (Ephesians 3:20) To walk uprightly is to live in unlimited favor.

Honor

John17:22-23 (AMP) I have given to them the glory and honor which You have given Me, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected and completed into one, so that the world may know [without any doubt] that You sent Me, and [that You] have loved them, just as You have loved Me.

Jesus Christ lives in us. He is one with us. His Spirit is consummation of the Son of God’s holy inhabitation of ordinary human beings. This is the honor given to us by God through the sacrifice of His Son. He wanted us. He desired us. He wanted to honor us and exalt us to be with Him forever. In the humble acceptance of His Grace and movement into His Favor, we have His Honor. It is the very thing that moves us from the natural to supernatural place of His Presence that allows us to walk with the Lord, speak to Him directly and hear His Voice as He responds to us. God honors us by inviting us to be one with Him through His Son, Jesus. It is an honor, a privilege and undeserved position granted by His Love and Grace for us. To walk uprightly is an honor given to those who have no right to do so.

Lord of hosts, how blessed and greatly favored is the man who trusts in You [believing in You, relying on You, and committing himself to You with confident hope and expectation].

The groundwork is laid for a supernatural life with more than enough grace, favor and honor to establish an upright life that leads to promises, blessings and prosperity in superabundance for our life. Why don’t we live like it? What’s the disconnect that keeps all of Heaven’s Resources and the Kingdom’s Supply from reaching our mediocre life and transforming it into a miraculous existence? Blessed and greatly favored is the man (or woman) who trusts in You! To walk uprightly requires only one thing of us. To trust the Lord is good and absolutely able to do all these things without our help or intervention. To continue to believe even when nothing in our life aligns with the truth God has laid on our heart but continuing just the same to live as one with Christ.

We must believe the Word of God is true. It must be the validity of our life. It must be as relevant to our existence as breathing is to our body. Being contrary to our nature and in direct contradiction to our flesh, it will require daily attention not weekly visitation. To fully accept God’s Grace requires repentance – not conversationally but by complete conversion. We must turn from our way to fully embrace God’s Way. This is not a religion but a relationship. It is an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. We go where He goes. Do what He does. Converse regularly. Honor Him in our walk. Trust Him with our life. In other words, I align my life with the Word because Jesus is the Word who came in the flesh.

Proverbs 3:5-7 (AMP) Trust in and rely confidently on the Lord with all your heart and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know and acknowledge and recognize Him, and He will make your paths straight and smooth [removing obstacles that block your way].

To trust in and rely confidently on the Lord with all your heart is a change of character that takes time. A leap of faith is really only a single step in the right direction. It feels like a leap because it may not be logical in the earthly realm or seem like a radical maneuver to the rest of the world. However, God will take your life just one step at a time. He made you. He knows you. The Lord knows exactly what it will take to satisfy your soul and lead you to redemption and fulfillment of purpose. He is loving, gracious and oh so patient with us. His Grace is enough. His Power works best in our weakness. His Mercy meets us each day waiting on our doorstep for careful collection. He will never ever let us down. It is our ability to accept all of God’s Love, Grace, Goodness, Favor and Honor that completes us in Jesus Christ. It is a life time accomplishment that begins with your very next step. Will you trust Him today? Will you pursue Him? Will you allow Him to fill just one more void in your broken heart? Will you take just one more step in His Direction? I hope so because if you do the best is yet to come for you! To walk uprightly is not a human condition but a spiritual revelation accepted by a humbled heart and surrendered life to be one with Christ in all things.

Psalm 27:14 (AMP) Wait for and confidently expect the Lord; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for and confidently expect the Lord.

Catch 22

Change

 

 

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

Christians live in a daily process of change. Those who truly believe and turn to Jesus Christ cannot remain the same and in a relationship with Christ. The evidence of Jesus in us is that we become a new person. The old life is passing away giving way to the new lift that has begun. To be yoked to the Lord means accepting His Way. Therefore, in order to become one with Christ, we must be the ones who accept the new way of life and thinking because He cannot and will not change to conform to our way. There is not a believer out there who would openly admit that they do not want all of Christ but few engage and endure the process necessary to be successful in such an endeavor. When change begins to take place, it usually produces inner turmoil, discomfort, inconvenience and things appear to be out of control. Our flesh and inner being is not okay with it and rebels against it. The human tendency is to escape rather than fully engage in the process of revival, restoration and renewal that the Lord is producing in us to secure the conditions of our present environment. There are many reasons that the church is not thriving mostly intrinsic. The Presence and Power of God is available to us but the catch 22 is called change.

Romans 7:22-24 (MSG) It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge. I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question?

The paradox of humanity is the war within our bodies. The inner being called our flesh likes to have its own way and preserve its place of control. God’s Spirit moves in and begins mixing things up. The flesh dies a little each day. It must give way to the change God is producing unless we allow it to maintain full control. Mind, will, emotions and even our body chime in against what the Lord is doing in us. The rebels rise up and if our heart does not stand strong against them – our process remains incomplete. Frustration and discouragement set in.

The Lord uses a process called transformation. He does not use conformation but we must be transformed by Christ. This means change. Change so comprehensively complete that it changes who we are, how we think and what we do. There is no compromise in God’s Vocabulary. He is God. God is not human. He is eternal. He is sovereign. He is constant. He does not lie or change His Mind. (Numbers 23:19) God is everlasting. He is the Creator of all things. He does not grow tired or weary. His Understanding is endless. (Isaiah 40:28) His Thoughts and Ways are nothing like a human being. He is perfect in all of His Ways. When He speaks, His Words are on a mission and will not return to Him until that command is complete. (Isaiah 55:8-11) The ordination of our life including His Plans (Jeremiah 29:11) handwritten before our birth (Psalm 139:16) even the calling the Lord has placed on our life cannot be withdrawn or recanted. (Romans 11:29) He said it and He meant it.

Finally, I would be remiss in not mentioning God’s Unconditional Love and Affection for us is eternal. The constancy of God includes His Great Love for us. God is Love. (I John 4:8) He loved us first. (I John 4:19) He loves us most. He will love us always. His Mercy given to us each new day is evidence of this very thing. (Lamentations 3:22-24) He pursues us through life with goodness and unfailing love all the days of our natural life. (Psalm 23:6) His Son, Jesus, bears the same qualities and traits. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8) His Example is set and clearly delineated in the Word of God with an invitation to yoke our life with Him. (Matthew 11:28-29) Every detail of our life has the potential to turn out for our good and God’s Glory based on all these foundational truths and promises concerning God’s Unchangeable Character. (Romans 8:28) He does not change like a shifting shadow. The sun casts a shifting shadow moving according to the natural conditions. However, the Son never changes. God has sent good and perfect gifts for His People including the ability to have a new life and become a new creation. Our flesh dies in the process therefore tries to abort it quickly to save itself.

I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question?

Romans 7:25 (MSG) The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.

Change is inevitable to achieve a new life, become a new creation and experience godly fulfillment that leads to full satisfaction and contentment in Jesus Christ. Our flesh creates a paradox. Our body, mind, will and emotions are sinful and contradictory to God’s Way. The problem is that God will not change. He will not compromise for you, me or anyone else. He will settle for nothing less than His Best for us. He refuses to leave us in our current state or condition but must see our purpose and potential fulfilled. This is all because of His Love and Goodness. We are His Passion, Prize and Treasure. He will stop at nothing to bless and prosper our life. Even when we whine, complain and give in to the flesh when our body doesn’t like the change the Holy Spirit is producing in us – God will not relent. He will continue to work in us as long as Christ is in us.

Romans 5:1-2 (MSG)  By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us—set us right with him, make us fit for him—we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. And that’s not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise.

Faith will always be a catalyst of change. To trust God moves us from glory to glory which is a conduit of change. Change is also a crucible which burns away at the things keeping us from experiencing all of God’s Goodness. It is hard to see the forest for the trees as the saying goes. We forget that our life is a comprehensive plan set into motion that will lead us from victory to victory. We are overcomers in all things because Christ lives in us yet fall subject to light and momentary troubles allowing them to stop the momentum of change. Salvation made us right with God. Repentance is the turning each part of our life over to Him. As we do so, change is inevitable. We must embrace change each day or risk hindering the process of full consummation in a thriving relationship with a jealous God who is reckless and extravagant in His Love for us. He stops at nothing to give you His Absolute Best in full abundance.

Romans 5:3-5 (MSG) There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!

Every single man and woman of God has days when they question God’s Motives and Intentions. Pressure, pain, and problems make us wonder is God’s Promise really for us. In pregnancy – we wait for the baby to grow, develop and mature into a viable little human. During the birth process, anticipation of fulfillment is close but the real work begins. Right before the baby is born, the woman’s body enters a phase of labor called transition. This is generally marked by the mom’s sudden change in her demeanor. She will say things like “I can’t do this” or “I don’t want to this”. She becomes frenzied and irrational. Usually within minutes, she is holding her precious baby in her arms. If she quit or gave up in that moment, refusing to push her newborn into the world, what would have happened? Maybe you are in transition right now in your spiritual life? Perhaps the Lord is finally birthing that promise that He has grown and developed in you all this time, but it is too hard so you are just want to quit. Impossible is the birthplace of miracles. Does it seem impossible? Does it feel like it’s never going to happen? Are you expecting today?

The Lord is calling out your name today. Like Elijah on the mountaintop, He is asking, “What are you doing here?” The enemy wants you to disengage in this process called change and take the easy way out. It is the moment that he will take fulfillment, contentment and soul satisfaction from you. The moment you give it up to compromise for comfort, convenience or control. Don’t let him do that to you. Jesus came to give us a rich and satisfying life. Not just forever, but in the land of the living too. You must push, press and endure stopping at nothing to have it. There is no catch 22 for the one who is sold out completely by absolute faith, total trust and confident hope. God will do it. He is able. He is true. The rest, dear one, is up to only you. No more catch 22 or contradictions allowed. Be confident that the Lord who has begun this great and glorious good work in you will complete it!

Philippians 3:12-14 (MSG) I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.

Walk By Faith

Walk by faith,

2 Corinthians 5:5-7 (Amplified)  Now He who has made us and prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave us the [Holy] Spirit as a pledge [a guarantee, a down payment on the fulfillment of His promise]. So then, being always filled with good courage and confident hope, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord—for we walk by faith, not by sight [living our lives in a manner consistent with our confident belief in God’s promises]

I will be the first to admit that I forget who I am and whose I am sometimes. I get caught up in ordinary life and forget God’s Extraordinary Promises that are for me. I become busy with temporary things and forget I am an external creature in Christ. I forget that impossible is not the end but only the beginning of the miraculous. When life gets a little chaotic it is easy to become overwhelmed by certain circumstances and lose sight of the fact that we are victorious overcomers in Jesus with ordered steps to be triumphant marathon believers who make it to the end.

We walk by faith, not by sight…

Life is good. No really, life is really great right now. Yet deep inside I have a yearning for more. More faith. More hope. More love. More… Jesus has promised us abundant life. He is offering rich, deep and complete satisfaction to those who dare to believe and trust Him at His Word. He has given us His Spirit to boldly pursue a higher calling that transcends small and trivial earthly maneuvers into the heavenly realm of more than enough and greater things. The trouble is that life no matter how good is filled with distractions and detours along the way. There are rest stops called comfort, compromise, convenience and the worst of all control. Pride loves the last one and lives on our eventual sojourns into the place of trying to earn or deserve what is absolutely free.

Now He who has made us and prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave us the [Holy] Spirit as a pledge [a guarantee, a down payment on the fulfillment of His promise].

The irritant inside the pearl is the conduit of change. The thing that keeps us from settling is the very thing that will produce substance in our life. We are called to walk by faith. According to the Amplified Bible, faith is the assurance (title deed, confirmation) of things hoped for (divinely guaranteed), and the evidence of things not seen [the conviction of their reality—faith comprehends as fact what cannot be experienced by the physical senses].” Faith requires rewiring our thinking when uncertainly arrives or the unthinkable happens to recognize God is at work in us and through us. The Holy Spirit begins working in us immediately. To know and understand that God is too good to every leave us as He found us means that as grace abounds and Christ expands in our life it leaves little room for our mind, will and emotions to have their way. God made us. He prepared us for “this very purpose”. He is an intentional God who created you and me with a handwritten, specific plan. He knows our strengths and weaknesses. He works in us and through us for our good and His Glory. He is always good. This is hard to understand when living in a world that everything glittery is not gold. We do not have to be suspect of the Christ in us but the enemy around us who wants to steal and stop the Glory of God from pouring out of His People illuminating a dark and devastated world.

Faith comprehends as fact what cannot be experienced by the physical senses. Faith is assurance. Are you sure today? Are you certain God is for you? He is with you? He is good? He will never let you down? These beliefs are essential when nothing is going right, when everything is falling apart and you are at the end of self. It produces the hope that is the knot at the end of all ropes when faith overtakes fear and one dares to believe that God really is doing all that He promised enough to be still and steadfast – it is the platform of the watchtower of waiting.

To extract a pearl the shell must be broken open so the expensive product is revealed. The purpose and plan of God will be exposed in brokenness. It is bigger than you. It is greater than your present form. It is worth having. You must believe enough to let God finish the good work that He has begun. A seed must die to its present form to release its full potential. (I Corinthians 15:37) While trying to hold it all together, perhaps we miss the point that the Lord is waiting for everything to fall apart so that He can take all the pieces and make it a new creation. A masterpiece just as He planned. Grace is complete in our weakness. It is the moment of letting go of all that we are to become all that He has promised.

Matthew 13:45-46 (Amplified) “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, and upon finding a single pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.

Like the pearl of great price, God’s Purpose, Plan and Promises will cost something. It will cost you everything to follow Christ and experience all that He has for you. It means giving up the substitutions to have full satisfaction. Forgoing the mediocre to have the miraculous. His Love for us is extravagant. It is overwhelming. It is reckless. Fully consuming. The merchant who searched for fine pearls found the one of great value. He went and sold all that he had to buy it. What will you give up of your ordinary life to become one with Christ today?

So then, being always filled with good courage and confident hope…

Romans 5:1-5 (Amplified) Therefore, since we have been justified [that is, acquitted of sin, declared blameless before God] by faith, [let us grasp the fact that] we have peace with God [and the joy of reconciliation with Him] through our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed). Through Him we also have access by faith into this [remarkable state of] grace in which we [firmly and safely and securely] stand. Let us rejoice in our hope and the confident assurance of [experiencing and enjoying] the glory of [our great] God [the manifestation of His excellence and power]. And not only this, but [with joy] let us exult in our sufferings and rejoice in our hardships, knowing that hardship (distress, pressure, trouble) produces patient endurance; and endurance, proven character (spiritual maturity); and proven character, hope and confident assurance [of eternal salvation]. Such hope [in God’s promises] never disappoints us, because God’s love has been abundantly poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

Grace truly is a remarkable state. It is not a “get out of hell” free card or just getting by but rather positions us fully into rightstanding with God and in full-fledged favor. It means that whatever is found and documented in the Word of God applies to us. Unconditional love, unfailing grace, and every over-the-top promise that He has given us belongs to us. We have the title deed to it by faith in God through Jesus Christ. However, our faith must give way to hopeful confidence. Confidence that overcomes a lack of persistence in the Body of Christ. We have not because we asked not. We have not because we didn’t wait. We have not because we do not believe it belongs to us. We have not because we gave up. We have not because when the going got rough – we stopped going. We access every promise by faith. Faith that endures. Faith that perseveres. Faith that does not give up. Faith that is our foundation of everything we do in life.

And not only this, but [with joy] let us exult in our sufferings and rejoice in our hardships, knowing that hardship (distress, pressure, trouble) produces patient endurance; and endurance, proven character (spiritual maturity); and proven character, hope and confident assurance [of eternal salvation]. 

The divine extraction called purpose comes with some hardship, distress, pressure and trouble. It produces patience in us that leads to endurance which is a salvation requirement. God will not produce a single promise or blessing in our life if it compromises our salvation. Think about that for a moment. It is by proven character that leads to spiritual maturity that can handle our blessings that allows them to manifest in our life. Proven character is marked by a lifelong commitment of faith and confident hope that transcends the good days and ordinary life to fully embrace every single promise and hope tightly to the end of it without wavering. God’s Favor flows from the inside out. Until our soul prospers and our character is evident of spiritual maturity every day will be a battle with our flesh until it dies and faith is born.

Friend, God is good. He is good to us. Every good and perfect gift is from Him. He loves you. He is for you. Every promises is for you. The Lord has a plan for your life that contains a future and hope way better than you can think, imagine or ask for. It is exceedingly abundant. You just have to be ready to handle it when it gets here. There is a reason that the majority of lottery winners lose everything in the first three years. They do not know how to handle or manage finances properly. They win enough money to live comfortably for the rest of their life but squander it in a few short years.

The Lord came to give us a rich and satisfying life. Life from the natural to supernatural meeting all our needs and providing a superabundance to His People. Living beneath His Standard is our choice. I choose today to walk by faith and not by sight. In fact, when my life is turned upside down and out of control, I find peace in knowing it is the exact moment that I will relinquish my life to Jesus because I cannot do anything else. I wonder what my life might be like if in every day and with every decision I chose to make this my first choice and not the last resort. To believe and seek His Face. To live for His Glory even though I must be broken to release it. To walk by faith and not by sight right into the Presence of God, His Goodness, and His Glory today and forever. AMEN!

John 10:10 (Amplified) The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance [to the full, till it overflows].

Ephesians 3:20-21 (Amplified) Now to Him who is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly more than all that we dare ask or think [infinitely beyond our greatest prayers, hopes, or dreams], according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations forever and ever. Amen.

 

Set A Guard

broken-gate

Psalm 141:2-3 (NKJV) Let my prayer be set before You as incense, the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice. Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips.

If only the Holy Spirit had a hand to carefully yet firmly put over my mouth day in and day out. To keep me from releasing commands into the atmosphere. Oh the idle words that never need to be spoken. Words hold power. Life and death is in the tongue. It is the most difficult to restrain. Caught in the crosshairs of our mind, will and emotions as our heart tries to edit each one spoken before it is released. Lord, set a guard over my mouth. Keep watch over the door to my lips.

James 3:4-6 (NKJV) Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell.

Everyone has words that they wish they could take back. Tiny sparks released into a dry atmosphere if withheld would have stopped mass destruction. The tongue is such a small part of our body yet the hardest to control. It is important that our tongue remains under our strict control. Each world carefully weighed and contemplated compared to Christ. We must speak His Word. Say what He said. Otherwise, there is a real danger of destroying people or causing them to turn away rather than embrace the Love of God evident in His Word. His Word is sweeter than honey. It is desirable. It is good for you. Communication is for edification. Lord, set a guard over my mouth. Keep watch over the door to my lips.

Proverbs 18:20-21 (NKJV) A man’s stomach shall be satisfied from the fruit of his mouth; from the produce of his lips he shall be filled. Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.

The fruit of our mouth feeds our mind, will and emotions. The words that flow from our lips are evident of the abundance of our heart. Our heart must agree with our words and our words should be in alignment with the meditation of our heart. The things spoken in private should be our declaration in public. We must feed our heart and mind good things in order to produce good fruit. The Word of God nourishes our mind. It feeds our thoughts. It produces the kind of speech and communication that God desires of His People. The power of death and life are given to me as Christ lives in me. I bind heaven and earth with the words that I speak and if not carefully chosen they can have a dire effect. Therefore…Lord, set a guard over my mouth. Keep watch over the door to my lips.

Ephesians 4:29 (NKJV)  Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.

It is my personal responsibility to filter the contents of my speech. It is my soulful duty to control my tongue. I will be held accountable for every single word released from my person. (Matthew 12:36) The words that come flowing out are for my good or can be to my detriment. The Word of God is clear. Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth. Lord, forgive me for all the times that rotten fruit came flowing out. People are people. They are just as imperfect as I am. Father forgive them and please Lord forgive me for all my faults and failures. Make me conscious of the words that I speak right down to those I say to myself when no one else is listening. You are always listening. My words are for edification of others and to impart grace. My tongue is not a weapon of mass destruction. It should be used to build others up not tear them down. It should always give freely grace, love, mercy and kindness as a reflection of the same that I have received from you. Lord and on those days when I have nothing nice to say, let me take the advice of my elders who told me, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, then say nothing at all.” Lord, set a guard over my mouth. Keep watch over the door to my lips.

Isaiah 6:5-8 (NKJV) So I said: “Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.” Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth with it, and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your iniquity is taken away, and your sin purged.” Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.”

God has a plan and purpose for our life. One written from the beginning that began with our birth. It is a good one with a future and hope. I wonder how many times it is hindered by unfiltered words and unworthy mandates released in our life fortified by pride or driven by bitterness. His Grace is enough even to cover all the idle, careless or harmful words released each day. It is up to me to apply grace to the words that I speak. Lord, I am undone. I am a woman with unclean lips. I have seen the King, the Lord of Hosts, and the King of Glory. Lord, I ask you to cleanse my lips today. Lord, forgive me for idle or angry words released carelessly around me. I long to fulfill your purpose for my life. It is not dependent on other people. It is solely according to living my life in alignment with you, Jesus. My mouth is for your praise and glory. Remind me of that today. Lord, set a guard over my mouth. Keep watch over the door to my lips. In Jesus Name. Amen.

Psalm 71:8 (NKJV) Let my mouth be filled with Your praise and with Your Glory all the day.

 

Highly Favored

highly favored

Luke 1:28-30 (NIV) The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God.

You are blessed and highly favored. From the beginning of your life to the last day, your life has been handwritten by the Lord with a wonderful plan. The culmination of which is a future and hope far exceeding the temporary circumstances or conditions surrounding you today. When the angel came to Mary, she was a young girl engaged to her betrothed preparing for marriage. She was a good girl. When the angel came to her it was with the words, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you!” He went on to proclaim her “blessed among women.” She feared the awesome appearance of the angel before her but that would not be the end. It was only the beginning.

For just a moment, let’s talk about some of God’s Favored Ones. Those who He proclaimed favor over in their lifetime. Abel who was murdered by his brother, Cain. Noah, who singlehandedly built an ark and rebuilt from scratch after enduring the flood. Jacob who was tricked and taken advantage of by Laban. Joseph thrown in a pit, sold into slavery, falsely accused, wrongly imprisoned and completely forgotten. Moses risked life and limb to lead God’s People out of captivity and died never reaching the Promised Land. Hannah prayed for God’s Favor in the form of a son who upon weaning would be given back to serve in the House of God. David had to kill a giant. Daniel was cast into a lion’s den not to mention his friends, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego who had to walk through fire when they would not bow down. Esther was enslaved as a virgin given to the king. Just to name a few…and what about Jesus favored by God, His Only Son, nailed to a Cross for our sin. All considered favored by God and there are more. I am favored by the Lord. Living in favor is not the end to my trials or temptations but the power by which to overcome them all in Jesus Christ.

Psalm 84:11 (NIV) For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.

What is favor? How does it work? Favor is something granted out of goodwill rather than justice. It is to be given something better than that which is deserved. It is the excessive and unfair partiality of God and His Preferential Treatment given to humanity despite their sinful condition. Grace makes favor possible in our life. Grace alone is the conduit to God’s Favor. Faith in God is to believe grace is possible outside of human ability. To accept the Gift of God given by His Son, Jesus and live according to His Word (Jesus is the Word who came in the flesh).

The Lord withholds no good thing from those whose walk is blameless. Now, you and I both know that we need God’s Mercy every morning and grace all day long just to make it through. Our salvation is assured through faith alone because if were based on our obedience and willingness – we would all be doomed. The Lord God is our sun and shield. He bestows favor and honor to us. Back to young Mary, she could not possibly know the life laid before her as the mother of Jesus. God knew that no matter what Mary would love and trust Him. All the way to the Cross watching her son be brutalized and murdered – God already knew the substance of her human heart. She was blessed and highly favored but that did not exempt her from the test called endurance.

Proverbs 16:15 (NIV) When a king’s face brightens, it means life; his favor is like a rain cloud in spring.

In the New King James Version, this verse says, “His Favor is like a cloud of the latter rain.” Let’s talk about that for just a moment. We live in a world marked by immediate gratification. We want it all right now. Unwilling to wait for anything and everything this thing called endurance is a challenge. The Promise of God is not yet evident in our life but His Favor is assured. What if the problem is the latter day rain is coming in the form of a storm cloud over our life, but unwilling to wait for the harvest – we keep leaving the field? What if God’s Favor is shining upon you but you are not willing to wait and watch for it? What if the problem is not God or His Word but our inability to be inconvenienced, uncomfortable or out of control? God has made us blessed and highly favored. His Word cannot and will not return to Him void. He has already given us every spiritual blessing with the promise that He will make good in every detail of our life. We must only believe. The Favor of God belongs to me. It belongs to you. It comes with a process. The process of endurance which means that when the going gets tough – the favored stick to God’s Word, watching and waiting for Him to come. The Lord will not pass you by.

Psalm 30:6-7 (NIV) When I felt secure, I said, “I will never be shaken.” Lord, when you favored me, you made my royal mountain stand firm; but when you hid your face, I was dismayed.

“Then the Lord said, “There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.” (Exodus 33:21-23) What if the truth of the matter is you and I could not handle the Glory of God dispensed in our life right now? What if God is preparing you for a blessing you cannot contain but you keep leaving the process for man’s favor, personal promotion and lesser things? What if God is preparing you to be the next great man or woman of faith but you don’t trust and believe enough to receive it?

Do not make permanent decisions based on temporary circumstances. This is probably some of the best advice that I have ever been given. It was by a pastor. The choices of our everyday life should be as God’s Children not the sons and daughters of man. To believe that He is working in us and through us just as He promised. To believe in His Blessing. To respond to the call of “highly favored.” What if God is moving and shaking up your surroundings so that you will look to Him? Our life is changed by the Presence of God in it. To step “in Christ” in every area and facet of living. To be unmoved and unaffected by the daily changes that are the molding and shaping of our heart and remodeling of our life to be filled with His Glory. You are blessed. You are highly favored. What if God is just making room for it today? How can I be more than a conqueror when I run from every battle? How can I live from victory to victory when I don’t believe I win? How can I experience God’s Favor when I cannot believe that His Grace is enough? Whatever the thing challenging your acceptance of God’s Favor today – let it go. You are a Child of God. You are blessed. You are highly favored. I see a cloud. It is filled with latter day rain. It will burst over those who are ready and waiting for His Glory to come.

Psalm 5:11-12 (NIV) But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them that those who love your name may rejoice in you. Surely, Lord, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield.

Psalm 30:4-5 (NIV) Sing the praises of the Lord, you his faithful people; praise his holy name. For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.

Psalm 90:17 (NIV) May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us— yes, establish the work of our hands.

Soul Wellness

Soul Wellness

Psalm 131 (NKJV) Lord, my heart is not haughty, nor my eyes lofty. Neither do I concern myself with great matters, nor with things too profound for me. Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with his mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, hope in the Lord from this time forth and forever.

Psalm 131 describes the heart of one who fully and completely trusts the Lord. The words are not eloquent painting a picture of divine intervention and a perfect life. It is more a surrender and submission of the psalmist’s heart, mind and soul to the Sovereignty of God. It is simple truth about simple trust. My heart is not haughty or my eyes lofty. Pride crucified. Completely convicted of its own inadequacy and inability to be effective on its own. The first step to trusting the Lord is humility. Grace is accepted in our absolute weakness. It is the moment the Power of the Living God is manifested in us…not necessarily around us. The expectation that Jesus came to change our situation and save the earth is false. He came for one thing. He died for a single cause. It was for me. It was for you. His Desire for us so great that He set aside His Throne to come and live a humble life as our example and to be crucified as a sacrifice for us. My heart is humbled at such a thought. The idea that a perfect and sinless man would lay down his life for me is overwhelming in the first place, but to add that it is the deity of God who took my place is incomprehensible even to those who believe.

As I write these words today, there is a hurricane headed in our direction. The sky is growing darker and the wind beginning to pick up. It is midmorning and the neighborhood is eerily quiet as the community waits, watches and wonders what will happen next. Fully prepared with food and supplies, the unpredictability of nature and the weather is still unnerving. Standing outside it is clear even the birds, squirrels and animals that live in the trees around our house have gone into hiding. Vivid images being broadcast from the center of the hurricane make it clear things are destined to change. In the stillness, I am reminded – the will of God is stillness for our soul no matter what the situation. I do not understand the nature and condition of the world in which I live. I am not entirely sure why bad things happen to good people or why the innocent die young. The more I think I know the less I seem to understand many things. However, I have come to know a few simple things – God is good. He loves me. He is for me. Christ lives in me. His Spirit helps me. In the Lord, I will trust.

Psalm 46:1-3 (NKJV) God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, even though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; though its waters roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with its swelling. Selah

Yesterday, the wind began to pick up just a little bit. A tree fell in our yard. There was only a gentle breeze. How could it cause such damage? On closer inspection, I found that the tree was completely rooted on the inside. Though it looked fine from the exterior, the interior was fragmented and crumbling easily picked apart with my bare hands. It wasn’t the wind that knocked over the tree and caused it to fall but rather the tree was dying on the inside already. When the breeze came along it could not stand anymore. An object lesson for me, I believe. Maybe it Is not the problems in life that cause us to stumble or fall crying out to the Lord, but rather out inward condition of distrust and disbelief that push us over when things start moving and shaking around us. Rather than trusting our Good Father, Loving God, Savior, Redeemer, Protector and Friend, our inward condition causing outward consequences. I want to trust the Lord. I want to be welcomed into the Kingdom of God. I must be unshakable and immovable in my faith which is evidenced by trust.

What if the situations and circumstances that come with life are not the cause of our fall, fail or future? What if it is just the conduit that causes us to see our current condition? The tree was on the verge of falling already. It was deteriorating rapidly on the inside. The first brisk breeze that came along knocked it over. Could it be that it is not the things that happen to us that are the problem but rather reveal the contents of our heart? Psalm 131 says, “Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul…” The security of our heart, mind and soul are manifested by trust. To trust the Lord making Him our refuge and strength. This means letting go of the three “C’s” (comfort, control and convenience) to fully embrace Christ in all things.

Psalm 46:10 (NKJV) Be still, and know that I am God…

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” God is our refuge. He is our strength. He is a very present help in trouble. The humble heart knows this and puts trust in the character and divine nature of our loving, faithful Father and Friend. We must trust the Lord. Trust is reliance on the integrity, strength, ability and surety of the Lord with full confidence. It is the confident expectation or hope given to us as an indication of faith in our life. Hope is futuristic. It is intact whether our natural circumstances or condition indicate its relevancy. God is God with or without our belief. Our belief does not fuel His Power but aligns us within it. Miracles are made up of impossibilities. It is such times that God becomes our hope and security. Without impossible situations there would be no signs, wonders or miracles. It is the shaking of our heart, mind and soul that reveal the contents of our heart and soundness of our trust. It is when we can be still in just knowing that He is God when simple trust becomes evident.

Psalm 62:1-2 (NKJV) Truly my soul silently waits for God; from Him comes my salvation. He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be greatly moved.

There is a great deal of uncertainty in the city and surrounding area. Our lives may change dramatically in the next 24 hours depending on the intensity of the hurricane when it reaches our area. More than 20 people have died in its wake. We have prepared to the best of our ability for the storm. Our home is well-constructed and completely insured. There is a generator with a fresh supply of gasoline and plenty of food and water if needed. Now we wait… If tomorrow tragedy strikes what will be my response? Will I be able to say, “It is well with my soul”? Where we wait is the tell-tale sign of the outcome in moments such as these.

Triumph over tragedy is found in the Lord and in God alone. It is the peace that passes understanding that allows us to draw our next breath when it is all we have left. His Love is the place where shattered pieces of broken hearts find healing. The Refuge called Presence is the hiding place for God’s People. His Grace is our strength yet only evident in our complete and utter weakness that causes us to humble our heart before Him.

Today as I wait for the storm to pass, I am challenged to examine my heart and listen for the inner voice of my soul. Will I wait silently before the Lord knowing that He alone is my salvation? Will I be moved? Will I stay put in my faith and simple trust believing that no matter what tomorrow holds that He holds me firmly in place? We put so much emphasis on what we can see, feel, hold and touch in this life that sometimes it is the moving and shaking of those things that cause us to inspect the contents of our heart and soul. My deep desire is that when morning comes – the voice that I hear will say, “It is well with my soul!”

When peace like a river, attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say, “It is well, it is well, with my soul”.

Romans 15:13 (NKJV) Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.