Always Good

Always Good

Psalm 27:13-14 (ESV) I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living! Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!

God is good, therefore; I am good. This contemplation in my head today consists of every shortcoming I can think up. All my faults. Failures. Inconsistencies. The bat of self-deprecation is often the tool of destruction in a believer’s life. The notion that my inability to do and be all that God’s Word calls me to is my own fault. The innate component of sin given over to the overwhelming overtures of grace should be enough to flood us with His Love and Goodness but it often runs over us like water on a rock. It is hard to understand and believe that a God so good filled with loving kindness could desire me. The Lord loves me. He loves you. He desires us above all things. Each one of us.

Praise is the prophetic voice of victory. There are times when the words we sing are really not what we believe but only hope for. Nevertheless by releasing these words into the atmosphere the Lord begins to change our mind and perspective from us, our abilities or inabilities to the truth that all things are possible for those who dare to believe. Believing does not increase the power of God or move Him but it gives Him permission to access to us. He set us free so the Lord cannot come and take over but we must surrender. To surrender our life, hopes, dreams and its entirety cannot be accomplished outside of trust. Trust waits on God. Trust holds steadfast when the situation is hopeless and conditions unfavorable. It is the moment our heart takes courage not in us but the Lord Almighty. It is a place of vulnerability. It is our weakness given to His Strength. Human nature balks at such a notion and pride persuades us to stand tall. If we believe that God is good and His Goodness is for us – faith will become the foundation of our life. This life. Here in the land of the living.

Genesis 1:26-27 (ESV) Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

Genesis 1:31 (ESV) And God saw everything that he had made, and behold it was very good.

God created the heavens and the earth along with creatures to fill it and then called it good. With the introduction of humanity and order set forth, it was then that God declared creation “very good”. You and I are created in the image of God after His Likeness. God is good. Sin kept us from becoming like our Father – God. When Jesus declared His Work on the Cross finished, He gave our life and purpose back to us when He took back the keys to death and the grave. It means that there is nothing keeping us from all of God’s Goodness. He is good. We are good. It is Christ in us that achieves. There is nothing I can do to earn or deserve grace. His Grace is completely sufficient in establishing goodness in me again.

I know what you are thinking. You don’t know me. You don’t know what I have done or maybe not done. The depths of human depravity in a godless culture is no match for the boundless love of God who continually offers us the promise of becoming a new creation from the broken pieces of our past. So while I may not know you or those things hidden in your heart, God knows it all. There is nothing about you that God is not privy to. In fact, Psalm 139 tells us that our life is prerecorded. God wrote it all down. How can grace be enough if the debt not yet calculated? God knows you inside out and upside down and chose to love you and pursue you. Those who accept Jesus Christ into their heart and love Him just love Him are restored to righteousness with God. You don’t have to do a thing except love Him and accept to be your Savior and Lord. This establishes us as good people in God’s Eyes.

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

Ecclesiastes 3:1&11 (ESV) For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven…

He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. 

We are God’s People and that makes us good people. Our value and worth is not established by who we once were, who we are now or who we might be becoming, but complete in Christ alone. Christ established our worth on the Cross when He gave His Life for us. Those who believe this will begin to see with new eyes the coming together of life’s details in the masterpiece the Lord promises in Ephesians 2. What you see as broken, God calls beautiful. What you decide is flawed, He declares it fixed. What you see as impossible, God has already decided is a miracle. If we could only see ourselves as He sees us, maybe just maybe rather than abandoning promises, cursing seasons, wasting time, and running from Him – we would wait for His Goodness to come to pass and catch up with us. His Unfailing Love endures forever. His Goodness is constantly pursuing us. The person who once was lost now is found and received into a Glorious and Prestigious Kingdom. You have dominion and power over the earth God ordained it and Christ restored it. We must walk in it with confidence.

Regret and shame bar the doors of opportunity opened for the redeemed. Guilt keeps us from full restoration and the blessing of the believer. Performance doesn’t impress the Lord – persistent faith and preserving hope catch His Attention. Religion tells us to do this and don’t do that. Relationship tell us that all things are permissible but not all things beneficial in achieving oneness with our Beloved. Faith is not logical. Unconditional love is confounding. How is it even possible? But it is. God’s Love for us is without question and His Goodness without end. We must only believe to receive. Not only believe that He is good but that He has made us good, too!

I Timothy 4:4-5 (ESV) For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.

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In the Shadows

in the shadow

Psalm 91:1-2 (ESV) He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”

A shadow is only possible in the presence of light. Without light there is no shadow. This may seem completely obvious to those who live according to this world, but to a believer this could be an incredible revelation. When the groundhog emerges from winter hibernation, it looks for a shadow which would indicate a longer winter and later spring. If there is no shadow, spring has arrived and so his long wait is over. This is the tradition that Americans observe on February 2nd called Groundhogs Day.

I was listening to a worship set with Darlene Zschech who spoke these words. Shadows only exist in the presence of light. This is such an encouragement. Sometimes you have to live it to fully experience it. She talked about her husband who walked with her through her battle against cancer. This was truly his revelation as they traveled through the “valley of the shadow of death”. His fight against fear brought him through the valley to the mountaintop. If we dwell in the shelter of the Most High – we abide in the shadow of the Almighty. Every trial and tribulation is overshadowed by the Presence of His Light and His Love.

“My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” There is a difference between dwelling in darkness and living in the shadows. Everyone faces trials, tribulation, pain, and betrayals in life. No one is exempt from hardship. There is always a struggle. We must endure to the end to be saved. When the shadows of fear, worry, anxiety and even death linger around us rather than dwelling on the darkness – it is important to trust the light. Light always drives away the darkness. Darkness cannot exist in light. The brighter the light the farther the darkness must recede. To know and trust that God is the Light of our life and see Him in every situation will eliminate fear of darkness and allow us to bask in His Glory in every season and situation of life. There is purpose in every occasion. We walk with ordered steps. If only we could learn to trust the Lord to drive out all darkness and stop being afraid of our own shadow.

Psalm 107:12-16 (ESV) Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and burst their bonds apart. Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! For he shatters the doors of bronze and cuts in two the bars of iron.

To live in the shadow of the Almighty is a place of constant trust and pursuit of God’s Presence. It is to think less about the cares and burdens of this life and focus intently on the purpose hidden within us and derived by God. Walking through time, there will be good times and not-so-good times but the promise is that the Lord makes good of every detail in our life when we love and trust Him. There are times when the conditions and circumstances entice into the bond of doubt that keeps us locked up in the darkness when we have access to glorious light. We must call on the Light to break us free from the darkness. He comes every single time. He is just waiting for us to call to Him. His Love is steadfast and nothing can ever separate us from Him. We must only desire to be with Him and call His Name.

The limits on our life are humanly placed. God has promised abundance to us. Jesus came to give us a rich and satisfying life. The enemy comes with his only weapon – a lie and tries to take what the Lord has already given to us and is prospering in us. Light reigns supreme and darkness must flee from it. He chases away the darkness and it is only a shadow in the Presence of the Living God. We must turn our eyes from the shadows in life and keep them squarely on the Light. The Light of His Love is the promise that no matter what battle we face – we win!

Psalm 84:11-12 (ESV) For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly. O Lord of hosts, blessed is the one who trusts in you!

The Lord is our sun and shield. The presence of shadows is not evidence of darkness but the existence of light. He surrounds us and bestows his favor and honor to us. No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly rather than cowering in fear. You can be bold and courageous no matter how low the valley goes because His Shadow is covering you. No labor of faith is in vain. Your trust is not without reward. You just have to keep moving. The higher the sun the less likely a shadow. When we choose to exalt the Lord and keep King Jesus in control of our life – He drives out all darkness. We must exalt the light over darkness which means trusting the Lord rather than wallowing in fear and doubt.

Thank you Lord for your promise. You will be our sun and shield. Drive out every dark corner and shadowy place today King Jesus. Let me not fear the shadows but recognize that it only means you are with me. You never leave me. You will never let me down. I give you all power and authority over my life and relinquish complete control. I trust you God with all my situations and circumstances. I will not give in to my condition but continue to exalt you with the highest praise. My desire is to live only in the shadow of the Almighty.

Psalm 27:1-3 (ESV) The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? When evildoers assail me to eat up my flesh, my adversaries and foes, it is they who stumble and fall. Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, yet I will be confident.

None Should Perish

None Should Perish

John 3:16-17 (ESV) “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”

It is probably the most well-known verse in the entire Bible – John 3:16. For God so love the world that He gave His Only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. Sometimes familiarity breeds contentment satisfying our soul with salvation, but missing the life that comes with it. The life God has designed for us is complex and complete. It does not eliminate any details due to indiscretion but takes the imperfect form of humanity and filling its voids with Christ. The new creation promised for those who choose it is not a redesign but recreation and restoration of the original. God is perfect. He does not make mistakes. He created us recording every single moment before our arrival. God has a plan and no matter our involvement or acceptance, it is still continuing in our life. God loves us. Each one of us. His Goal in sending Jesus was not for a designated few but that whoever believes wouldn’t die but live forever with Him. A true and abiding relationship as a father to a child is what God desires of you. A loving and living together that steps over the grave into the Kingdom.

“For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him.” To stop at John 3:16 would be enough to save us but not necessarily grasp the scope of God’s Massive Project. It was never His Intent to divide the people of this planet but to bring them back together in one Body centered on His Son. Condemnation is not a quality of God for mankind and should not be characteristic of His People. Mercy triumphed over judgment at the sacrifice of Jesus giving up His Life to secure ours forever with Him. How is it our place to crawl into the vacated seat when it comes to each other? It is God’s Plan and Purpose that none should perish. It is pointless. Salvation is a free gift. It did not cost me anything of worth. It is easy to give the grace and mercy given to me away because I didn’t earn it. I should be of the mindset of Christ. He is always thinking about compassion. His mindset is life and never death. He is a builder of the Body not a condemner of people.

The Bible says that His Grace is enough. It is sufficient which means that if the love, grace, mercy or compassion of Christ can be exhausted than it was never an ample supply. This is the basis of forgiving seventy times seven, turning the other cheek, loving our enemy and laying our life down for others. He is giving us an opportunity to participate in the Kingdom economy and reap its heavenly reward which is always relationship. God owns it all. Everything belongs to Christ. The Lord has complete authority and power in every situation. The freedom of others does not always produce the benefits of Heaven. It is our opportunity to be the traders of grace who bring the message of the Gospel to others not just in word and deed but in our dedication and commitment to the mission that none should perish.

Jonah 4:1-4 (ESV) But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry. And he prayed to the Lord and said, “O Lord, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster. Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.” And the Lord said, “Do you do well to be angry?”

To bring everyone up to date in the story, God sent Jonah to Nineveh. He was to share God’s Message of repentance to the people. Jonah did not like God’s Plan so he tried to run away to Tarshish. On his way a great storm arose, Jonah was cast into the sea to satisfy the wrath of God and that the others on the ship might be saved. Once overboard, Jonah was swallowed by a whale and lived in its belly for three days until vomited on the local beach. He repents and goes to Nineveh. The people of Nineveh repent and cry out to God. The Lord acknowledges their repentance and relents. He did not bring disaster to the city or its people. In other words, God spared them and did not give them what they deserved. Jonah got mad. He was “exceedingly displeased”.

In Jonah 4, we find Jonah in the midst of a fit mixed with a good old-fashioned pity party. Sitting and stewing the sun arose and he was baking in it when the Lord appointed a plant to come up over Jonah to give him shade while he sorted things out. Jonah was glad when the plant covered him and protected him. The next morning, God appointed a worm to kill the plant and when the sun rose once again Jonah was subject to its heat and discomfort. Through the course of the day – he grew faint and decided it would be better to die. Why? He was disappointed that God had spared the people. He allowed his anger to separate him again from the Presence of God.

Jonah 4:9-11 (ESV) But God said to Jonah, “Do you do well to be angry for the plant?” And he said, “Yes, I do well to be angry, angry enough to die.” And the Lord said, “You pity the plant, for which you did not labor, nor did you make it grow, which came into being in a night and perished in a night. And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?”

God owns it all. Every living breathing creature is a product of Him. You and I are His Most Beloved Creation. How many times do we forget His Mandate that none should perish? How often do we get mad when God saves, heals, delivers and blesses those sorry sinners? Comparison will always be a joy killer. No sinner is too far gone for the Lord’s Arm to reach them. We are the ones who decide the limit of sin or depravity when there is no such thing in the eyes of Jesus. His Grace is always enough. I wonder if the separation, isolation or frustration that we feel is often generated by our own jealously and insecurity in the Lord’s Unfailing Love and Acceptance for me. Working hard for him yet He showers sinners and evil doers with the blessings I thought were reserved for me. Who are they to step in front of me in order to get what He is offering? They must do their time like the rest of us. Serving, giving and striving for the promise. Right? Wrong. When we can do anything for Him or feel pressure to perform for the promise, we have missed the point altogether. I can do nothing for God. He is my fulfillment. He is my purpose. Everything I am and ever hope to be is in Him and offered through Him. I can do nothing apart from Jesus Christ.

2 Peter 3:8-10 (ESV) But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.

“For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.” God delights in mercy. He gives it to us each morning. When our eyes open, it is waiting for us and the basis of salvation. God’s Desire to show us mercy so that we can receive His Grace. We must be ever so careful that our heart for people remains soft and merciful. There is no competition for the Love of God. It is for everyone. Jesus came so that none should perish but have eternal life which means there is more than enough grace for everyone. Have you written someone off? Maybe you walked away because they were just too hard to love. I will let you in on a little secret. Limited love is a product of unaccepted grace. To restrict our love, compassion, kindness and forgiveness to others based on their attitudes and actions is the opposite of the kind given to us by Jesus. If we truly receive His Love, it satisfies our soul. It fills us with hopeful expectation that cannot and will not be met by other people therefore we can love freely and unconditionally because they have no impact on God’s Love for me, His Plan, or His Promise. All of this is individually designed for me but His Grace is for all the world. Lord examine my heart, mind, spirit and soul for compassion. Show me where I have allowed condemnation to take the place of mercy. Soften my heart Lord even if that means breaking it so that I will not miss my purpose in passive judgment. Lord, you are not slow to fulfill your promise to us. You are waiting that none should perish. Be that me or those around me subject to my influence. Lord, let me always choose mercy over judgment and live a triumphant life.

Micah 6:8 (ESV) He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

True Bliss

True Bliss

Psalm 119:1-5 (NLT) Joyful are people of integrity, who follow the instructions of the Lord. Joyful are those who obey his laws and search for him with all their hearts. They do not compromise with evil, and they walk only in his paths. You have charged us to keep your commandments carefully. Oh, that my actions would consistently reflect your decrees!

“Where ignorance is bliss, ‘tis folly to be wise.” (Thomas Gray) Is ignorance truly bliss? Is it true that what you don’t know won’t hurt you? This is not a new thought. In fact, the saying goes all the way back to the eighteenth century. It is valid that not knowing something may often be more comfortable than knowing it, but that doesn’t make it harmless. In fact, true bless comes in knowing and understanding the Love of God which gives us the capacity to receive it. To know the Word is to know Jesus and that changes everything in our life. Knowledge must become wisdom to be effective in our life. It must form our thoughts, guide our steps and determine our actions. God has given us careful instructions to follow. To ignore them may give us some level of comfort but will not lead us to the joy and fulfillment that all are seeking. In fact, to live a random life without purpose will only lead to disappointment. We were created with destiny in mind and eternity in our heart. Faith pushes the limit of human expectation to the realm of hope. There must be more to life than this. To pursue the knowledge of God and find His Way will always lead us to true bliss.

The word “bliss” means supreme happiness, utter joy and complete contentment. It is also described as the “joy of heaven.” A state of nirvana defined by freedom from and oblivion to pain, worry and the pressures of the external world to find internal inexpressible joy and overwhelming peace. To know the Lord and seek His Wisdom brings us such fulfillment in life. There will be trials and temptations in life. We will experience suffering, sorrow and even betrayal. There will be attacks and abuse. The unexplainable events that destroy good people while evil prospers. The world will not change because revival comes. People will change and the Kingdom will expand through the hearts and minds of God’s People who decide to live in the joy of the Lord and His Bliss rather than choosing to remain ignorant and call it bliss.

To desire God’s Hand with no interest in His Heart will never lead to anything of worth. It may fill our homes with things and give us influence to those around us but it will never cause our heart to know contentment, our mind to experience perfect peace or create steadfast hope in every situation. Less of me and more of Him is the only way to fill those voids in us. The cracks and crevices of broken hearts that only the healing balm of the Anointed One can ever make whole again. Our convictions will not change until faith becomes logical. The logic and legitimacy of faith is found in God’s Word. Jesus is the Word.

Hosea 4:6 (NLT) My people are being destroyed because they don’t know me. Since you priests refuse to know me, I refuse to recognize you as my priests. Since you have forgotten the laws of your God, I will forget to bless your children.

When social media came into being, my oldest son wanted an account. My only stipulation was that I was added as a “friend” and that I had his password at all times. Complete invasion of privacy…no it’s called parental privilege. The rules have carried on through all five kids regarding social media. As long as I am paying for the phone, device and/or data, I have the right to go through your accounts. I had a colleague who was having struggles with a teenager. He was seeking advice. I was privy to the social media accounts of his children and suggested that he do the same. Without sharing a single detail, he and his wife would see all they needed to see to know the challenges of their children. He quickly objected as it would be an invasion of their privacy. Kids will be kids and some things are better unknown. A few years later one of his children perished in a car accident due to intoxication. People are destroyed because of a lack of knowledge or as translated here “because they don’t know me.” We must not put our heads in the sand with an ostrich approach to life because the present dangers are all around us.

Proverbs 2:1-8 (NLT) My child, listen to what I say, and treasure my commands. Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding. Cry out for insight, and ask for understanding. Search for them as you would for silver; seek them like hidden treasures. Then you will understand what it means to fear the Lord, and you will gain knowledge of God. For the Lord grants wisdom! From his mouth come knowledge and understanding. He grants a treasure of common sense to the honest. He is a shield to those who walk with integrity. He guards the paths of the just and protects those who are faithful to him.

We must treasure God’s Word. It is more valuable than any precious gem or metal. The Word of God changes our heart and mind to align it with God. If fills the voids, making us whole again so He can fill our life with good things just as He has promised. We must search for the valuable nuggets of truth. Sow seeds of knowledge to grow, develop and mature into wisdom. We must do so as though our very life depends on it because it does. The Lord grants us wisdom. He has given us His Spirit to teach, guide and mature us with complete understanding. This is the common sense that keeps us honest. Integrity becomes the shield that allows us to keep walking head up and eyes facing front when nothing in the natural lines up with the supernatural. The pathway of truth is the Word. You cannot follow Jesus and not know the Word. The two are one. He protects the faithful not the faithless.

Psalm 119:6-8 (NLT) Then I will not be ashamed when I compare my life with your commands. As I learn your righteous regulations, I will thank you by living as I should! I will obey your decrees. Please don’t give up on me!

Proverbs 18:15 says that “intelligent people are always ready to learn. Their ears are open for knowledge.” God is always speaking to His People. Constantly calling, wooing and reminding us of His Love and Faithfulness. He pursues us with goodness. Our life must be lived in comparison to Christ in order to become with Him. Why? Quite simply, Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. He doesn’t change therefore to become one – knowledge and understanding must come together to form wisdom that completes our union with Him. I must decrease so that He may increase in my life for fulfillment’s sake. In order to be, have and do all that He promised means that I must compare my life to His Commands and learn His Righteous Regulations. This will give weight to the anchor marked hope that keeps me steadfast in the storm. The greatest thing about God is that He already knows me inside and out yet still loves me with unconditional love and purity.

Ephesians 1:7-9 (NLT) He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding. God has now revealed to us his mysterious will regarding Christ—which is to fulfill his own good plan.

The Lord has showered us with kindness along with “all wisdom and understanding.” God gave us faith and then a way to apply it. Trusting God is to accept a carefully constructed plan that is already prescribed for us. It is to receive an abundance that will give us a rich and satisfying life from the inside out. As our soul prospers so will every other aspect of our life. Our soul prospers as faith grows into absolute confidence and total trust in the Lord. Our life has amazing possibilities. It is full of potential. We were created on purpose with a purpose that no one else can accomplish. Our truest sense of being is fully described in God’s Word. He tells of His Unfailing Love. He reminds of the sufficiency of His Grace. He promises to give us new mercy each morning. He has already provided everything we need. He is making a masterpiece of all the broken pieces of our life. All of this and so much more belongs to us. It can only be discovered by those who value wisdom more than anything else and seek it out. Ignorance is not bliss. It is death for the soul. A lack of knowledge is a dream killer. Those who know the Lord will find it easier to trust Him more and more. We must carefully evaluate our life. Do away with ignorance. Everyone has areas of their life left alone out fear or doubt. These are the strongholds, obstacles and barriers of blessing. God tells us if we lack wisdom in any area of our life that all we must do is ask Him for it and He graciously pours it into our heart and mind for application. Truth is bliss to those who know Jesus. It is the freedom source to those who know and love Him.

Ephesians 1:18 (NLT) I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance.

His Faithful Love

His love endures forever. Psalm 136 Scripture art by StudioJRU.

Matthew 24:12-14 (NLT) Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come.

Today marks 19 years of wedding bliss to my precious husband. Sitting down to spend time with the Lord today, I am drawn to the words, “His faithful love endures forever.” No one enters a marriage contemplating a divorce date. It is a covenant of hopefulness for a future of passion and devotion. A life of constant affirmation and affection. The honeymoon is a celebration of love that is found and now secure. However, as anyone can tell you, a marriage requires all of you. It is hard work. It is not an easy road to navigate and requires our full attention. It doesn’t always meet our expectation. On my desk, I found a gift bag from a favorite store with a simple pink bow. Inside it, a dainty ring of twirling hearts with intermittent sparkle creating a band. It is perfect. The ideal representation of almost twenty years of a life invested in loving and growing together. Even in the imperfection of each heart, the design works together to create a unique and beautiful piece of jewelry. There are so many wonderful memories mixed with days of great trial and difficulty. Striving to come together and walk one path.

Marriage is a representation of our relationship with Jesus Christ. He is the Bridegroom and we are called His Bride. In a world where sin is certainly rampant and love has grown cold, the promise is that the one who endures to the end will be saved. Clinging to Christ with complete desperation and dedication to continue as one until the end is equally as challenging most days. Not because the Lord is not faithful – His faithful love endures to the end. I must rely on the faithfulness of His Love for me to find my way to the end. The Good News is preached by a life of love and kindness. To live in love with Jesus fills us with a special love for others that allows us to experience trials and temptations yet still love Him and others the same. Love is a commitment. Christ made that covenant with us when He gave His Life to have us. No relationship is one-sided both must agree. He has already approved and affirmed me with His Grace the day that He decided to love me. Now I must learn to do the same…

I Corinthians 10:12-13 (NLT) If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall. The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.

I am not perfect. I did not marry a perfect man. We have weaknesses, faults and insecurities just like everyone else. Over the years, there have been disagreements and full blown arguments as two people fight to come together. The temptations in life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. We expect too much from fragile and flawed humans. The level of faithfulness that exceeds our expectation is found in Christ alone. When we got married, my husband and I invited Christ to join us. He is the One who held it all together over the years.

Are you tempted to leave your first love today? Are you at odds with people? Are you struggling in relationships? Are you headed for divorce? There is powerful potential for those who choose to endure. To give our expectations fully to Christ and stop looking for love in all the wrong people. No one can fulfill you but Jesus. You have eternity in your heart which requires full satisfaction. Nothing and no one can fill that space but the Lord. His Faithful Love for us endures forever and is the very thing that carries us to the end. We must release people from any expectation to experience the full satisfaction that is promised by God.

The enemy will always tempt us to leave love behind. He will threaten us with disappointment, dissatisfaction and discouragement. He will direct our attention to people and problems to lure our focus off Christ. Doubt and insecurity will always create strongholds trapping us in the present rather than projecting us to the promise. People are part of the plan that God prepared for our life. Relationship is the Kingdom economy as the Lord values souls more than anything else. He has everything else. When we live and love together fighting for agreement and harmony, God calls it precious. Successful relationships are messy. They are hard. They are worth it in the end. To reach the end requires love. Love for the one whose love faithfully endures forever will fill every void left by human love in all its messy imperfection.

Revelation 2:3-4 (NLT) “But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first! Look how far you have fallen! Turn back to me and do the works you did at first. 

The personification of Christ in our life is love. To be loving, to give love, to accept love. This is the interworking of relationships. The complaint against the church was “you don’t love me or each other as you did at first.” It is human nature to grow bored with monotony. The mediocrity of life loses our interest. We must find passion for our first love again in order to learn to love others like perhaps we once did. Experience is a hard teacher and must be filtered through the Word of God for clarification. There must be full repentance at all times to constantly turn us back to love. All relationships requires grace, forbearance and forgiveness. Christ has given us that time and time again as each morning there is mercy waiting for us. Who are we to withhold that which is so freely given? We come to Jesus full of hopeful expectation and then heap it on people when His Timing doesn’t suit us or His Way seems too hard or long. Love must endure to the end to bring salvation. I must learn to love like Jesus to make this a reality in my life.

I Corinthians 13:7 (NLT) Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

Love becomes a masterpiece through endurance. Love never gives up. Love never loses faith. Love is always hopeful. If the emotion of affection you are feeling does not have these characteristics, it may not be love but a secondary emotion. We cannot rely on our feelings. Life is hard. Sin is rampant. Love has grown cold. Most Christians live in a lukewarm state. We must decide in our own heart to love. Love must be patient and kind as Christ is with us. It must not be jealous, boastful or filled with pride and self-seeking. It cannot be irritable. Stop recording all wrongs. It cannot rejoice in others failures or shortcomings but rejoice in truth and the good of others. If I live my whole life calling myself a Christian, yet never strive to endure in love – I am nothing. I will not make it to the destination that I am seeking. To live in love with Christ is to live in love with others.

The tiny twisted hearts that make up the band on my right hand are a true representation of how love works in our life. It does not always start out as we expected or turn out as we would like, but the promise is that God makes all things beautiful in His Timing. It is worth sticking it out when it comes to love – all kinds of love. It is worth forgiving one more time. Trying even when you don’t feel like it or maybe they don’t deserve it. The best kind of love is the hardest fought for because the enemy sees it’s potential. Don’t’ give up on love. Never give up on people. Always remember His Faithful Love endures forever so there is always a fresh supply!

Psalm 136:23-26 (NLT) He remembered us in our weakness. His faithful love endures forever.  He saved us from our enemies. His faithful love endures forever.  He gives food to every living thing. His faithful love endures forever. Give thanks to the God of heaven. His faithful love endures forever.

Fully Equipped

Fully Equipped

Hebrews 13:20-21 (NLT) Now may the God of peace—who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep, and ratified an eternal covenant with his blood—may he equip you with all you need for doing his will. May he produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, every good thing that is pleasing to him. All glory to him forever and ever! Amen.

Did you know that you are fully equipped to win every battle you may be facing today? You have victory in Jesus Christ that overcomes every adversarial force and defeats all opposition in your life. Christ in us is always enough to walk in triumph. The old adage “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never break me” is attributed to Alexander William Kinglake written in 1830. The enemy of our soul has only lies to lure us from the position of power into the entanglement of the untrue. To somehow convince us that Christ is not powerful enough to sustain us or doesn’t love us enough to care. He must convince us to step out from under the shield of God moving out of His Light to live in the dangers of darkness. Thankfully Jesus will always leave the ninety-nine to seek out the one.

The Lord has fully equipped us to do His Will. To live a life in love with Him and allow His Goodness to overtake us. It is a submissive and humble roll that does not jive with pride and self-motivation. It is a discipline discovered in His Word and through trusting the Lord day by day until our life is fully invested in His Will. It is an act of repentance that turns us from worthless things to live the Kingdom life. Every battle is won by the peace of God that keeps us firmly rooted and grounded in His Love and confident in the sustainability of His Truth. Our sword is the Word of God that tears down every lie which becomes the strongholds in our heart. To know the Truth sets us free from the lie that so easily trips us up.

2 Timothy 2:3-6 (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. And athletes cannot win the prize unless they follow the rules. And hardworking farmers should be the first to enjoy the fruit of their labor.

Endurance is required. Called to be a “good soldier” of Christ Jesus indicates there will be battles in this life. Need I remind you that Jesus won the war? It is easy to get “tied up in the affairs of civilian life”. However, those who cannot please the One who enlisted them due to divided allegiance. You cannot fight for both sides and be a traitor to both. The enemy doesn’t care if you play both sides of the fence. Compromise is the name of the game. If he can tempt you with substitutions or settlements – he has enough of your attention to keep you from victory. Athletes cannot win a prize unless they follow the instructions and rules of the game. Each sport has a different set of rules and rewards. Finally, hardworking farmers will enjoy good fruit for they labor not in vain. How do we go from fighting to farming in this illustration? The battle is the Lord’s.

I Samuel 17:46-48 (NLT) Today the Lord will conquer you, and I will kill you and cut off your head. And then I will give the dead bodies of your men to the birds and wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel! And everyone assembled here will know that the Lord rescues his people, but not with sword and spear. This is the Lord’s battle, and he will give you to us!” As Goliath moved closer to attack, David quickly ran out to meet him.

The shepherd boy, David, was not man enough to face the giant that day. The man after God’s own heart and soon-to-be King of Israel was not only read but willing. He didn’t don the armor of King Saul but rather with just five smooth stones and a slingshot a man who held the entire Israelite army at bay. The battle belonged to the Lord. The weapon that brought the enemy down was not the stone that fell the giant but faith found in the heart of a helpless young man who loved God with an undivided heart. David declared, “This is the Lord’s battle and He will give it to us!”

Ephesians 6:10-11 (NLT) A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. 

If you are facing a battle or in the midst of a war today, I must remind you that God will not take you to it if He has not made a way through it. We walk in victory. We fight from the winner’s circle. The problem is not in the outcome but in our mindset from the beginning. Be strong in the Lord and in His Mighty Power.

Trust. Dependence. Discipline. Devotion. The strategy of the enemy is to somehow dissuade your from believing God at His Word. If he can make you doubt, then faith will be overcome and fear takes over. If you continue in Ephesians, the armor of God is belt of truth, body armor of righteousness, boots soled in peace, shield of faith helmet of salvation and sword of the spirit. The armor is not designed to protect you as you fight, but to help you stand when the enemy pursues you. Why are you fighting your own battles when Jesus won the war? Every piece of armor represents confidence in Christ and His Victory. You are fully equipped to walk in victory. This is fully accomplished by faith and trust that Christ is triumphant in all things. He has power and authority to do exactly as He promised and give you a rich and satisfying life full of His Abundance.

Psalm 33:15-18 (NLT) He made their hearts, so he understands everything they do. The best-equipped army cannot save a king, nor is great strength enough to save a warrior. Don’t count on your warhorse to give you victory—for all its strength, it cannot save you. But the Lord watches over those who fear him, those who rely on his unfailing love.

As Goliath moved closer to attack, David quickly ran out to meet him. The engagement between the giant and David that day was won with a single blow. David did not even come in contact with the giant but one stone took out the enemy of Israel. When the stone was rolled away, it crushed the enemy. He is powerless because Jesus is completely victorious. The power of God for us is found in His Grace. It is always enough to overcome our weakness but must be humbly accepted. Pride wants to fight its own battles and win its own wars but it has no access to Kingdom coffers. God has promised us good things. Jesus hands us victory and says, “Go get it!” We have nothing to fear and no reason to doubt only an opportunity to take the land beginning with each step along the way.

Isaiah 45:4-6 (NLT) “And why have I called you for this work? Why did I call you by name when you did not know me? It is for the sake of Jacob my servant, Israel my chosen one. I am the Lord; there is no other God. I have equipped you for battle, though you don’t even know me, so all the world from east to west will know there is no other God. I am the Lord, and there is no other.”

The Lord equipped you when He called you. When He created you and decided to love you, He prepared you beforehand for every single day of your life. (Psalm 139) You have everything you need through Jesus Christ to walk in victory even the faith needed to invest your body, mind, spirit and soul. To live fully invested in the Kingdom is to stop getting caught up in civilian affairs. As long as you are alive, there will be an enemy to tempt you. He can only use lies to persuade you but He cannot push you from the protection of God’s Will or His Way. You are free to decide this day who you will serve and what you will believe.

Romans 8:37-39 (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. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

A couple years ago, I traded in my old SUV and purchased a new-to-me smaller SUV. For months I searched until I found the “one”, and finally upgraded. I chose the make of automobile based on consumer reports and crash testing. I wanted a safe and reliable vehicle that would run until the wheels fell off. I was looking through the manual the other day to find out if it had a certain option and how to use it. I found that my vehicle came equipped with many features I was not aware of simply because for two years I drove around with the owner’s manual in the glovebox. We have an owner’s manual. It is detailed and full of useful information for us. It is the strategy for our life that gives us overwhelming victory. No matter what and despite all things, we have been given victory in Jesus Christ. If we are not living a victorious life, it is time to read the manual and ask the Lord to show us.

You are fully equipped to overcome and walk triumphantly through life. It begins with the conviction that nothing is impossible for God who loves us with inseparability. Nothing can ever take us from that place in His Presence as People of His Kingdom if we choose to dwell there in the shadow of the Most High. It is our privilege to love and trust Him back and His Promise that in every situation there is overwhelming victory in His Son – Jesus Christ. It is not our position to fight the battle but to stand confidently knowing that we can overcome and win by the Blood of the Lam and the word of our testimony. David yelled at the giant as he ran on the field that day. He told Goliath exactly what the Lord had told him. The giant fell that day. Your giant will fall too and you will walk in victory not in your power but by His Spirit who has fully equipped you! Christ inside of you has made you unstoppable and nothing can stand in the way of His Plan or His Promise.

Zechariah 4:5-7 (NLT)  “Don’t you know?” the angel asked. “No, my lord,” I replied. Then he said to me, “This is what the Lord says to Zerubbabel: It is not by force nor by strength, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. Nothing, not even a mighty mountain, will stand in Zerubbabel’s way; it will become a level plain before him! And when Zerubbabel sets the final stone of the Temple in place, the people will shout: ‘May God bless it! May God bless it!’”

Let’s Be Friends

Let's Be Friends

Romans 5:10-11 (NLT) For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.

In life, there are people who are acquaintances and then those who become friends. An acquaintance is someone we know but is not invited into the intimacy and inner circle of relationship reserved for friends. To be acquainted with someone is to be casually familiar. There is a common misconception about “friends” due to the influx of social media with friends and followers, etc. Maintaining contact at a distance. Communication have changed from conversations to text messages. An inner circle now a bubble to preserve our space and guard the heart. Culture is changing the definition of friendship into more of acquaintances. The church can do the same without careful and thoughtful intervention.

For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son… Jesus reintroduced us to the Father and His Love through His Sacrifice. God becomes our acquaintance through repentance. His Love for us is pure and passionate as He continues to pursue us with unfailing love, goodness and faithfulness. He never changed His Mind about us. His Heart has always been for us. We decided to go our own way and seek something different. Through Christ we are given the opportunity to have a right relationship with God the Father once again. It is up to us if we will remain acquaintances or become friends of God.

So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God. To celebrate a new relationship with God requires becoming one with the Father through the Son. The covenant of relationship must be established. Friendship requires mutual giving of ourselves. It is challenging to keep the bonds of friends within the confines of time – life is busy. However, in order to become friends with God there must be an investment. We must give ourselves to the careful cultivation of righteousness in a once rebellious heart and contrary mind.

James 2:21-23 (NLT) Don’t you remember that our ancestor Abraham was shown to be right with God by his actions when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see, his faith and his actions worked together. His actions made his faith complete. And so it happened just as the Scriptures say: “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.” He was even called the friend of God.

Abraham was called the friend of God. Abraham proved his relationship with God when he offered his son, Isaac on the altar that day. It was evidence of his faith in God demonstrated by his actions. He showed that he trusted God with his past, present and future represented in his only son. His past disappointments and failures. His present joy as the boy was a long awaited promise and his most precious treasure. His future and the next generation that would become like the sands on a beach and stars in the sky. Abraham lived out before us a foreshadow of God the Father and His Friend who would ultimately give his child’s life so that we would not perish and die but live life to the fullest and enter the everlasting. God has proven His Great Desire to have a relationship with us. He gave us access through His Son, Jesus. Now it is up to us to decide if whether our journey will be as acquaintances or we will choose to be friends of God.

A friend is a person attached to another by feelings of affection and personal regard. The one who gives assistance to and supports each another. People who remain on good terms and are not hostile. The origin of the word “friend” is not casual in nature but includes friend, lover and relative. God wants to have a right relationship with us that becomes a friendship. Friendship is forged by trust. It is giving ourselves to others and allowing them to engage with us far closer than arm’s length. It can get messy. It can be a struggle sometimes. It takes time and energy to maintain. When faith in God turns to trust taking hold with hopeful expectation the fragments of our broken heart shattered by disappointment and even friendships over time will become something beautiful. God will never let you down. He is the most faithful of friends. Oh, what a friend we have in Jesus. All our sin and shame to bear. What a privilege to carry – everything to God in prayer. We must focus on becoming friends with God.

Colossians 3:12-15 (NLT) Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.

We have the mind of Christ. Just as the Father and Son are one so it is God’s Desire to achieve such a relationship with each of us. In John 10:30 when Jesus made this declaration, it incited a riot and the people wanted to stone him. How dare He infer that He and God were one person? Yet this was the purpose and promise of His Arrival and Mission, Jesus came to give us acquaint us with God so that we could become friends with Him again. To become the Body of Christ means becoming interactive with other people beyond our comfort zone. It means to create relationships and bind our hearts together as one. How many churches are divided? How often do congregations split? Strangers and acquaintances fill churches each week and leave to the isolation of ordinary life. Relationship is the goal of God’s Heart and mind. It begins with Him and overflows to His People. We cannot become one body until we have one heart and mind. The beginning of such a work is in each person becoming friends with God.

Friendship change the relationship. It changes the level of commitment. A young man came to us seeking approval to date our daughter. We were reluctant but agreed. He was not just any boy but the son of our best friends. Our hesitation was not in him but what might happen if the relationship did not work out. When our kids decided to end the relationship, it began a very difficult thing. We love our children. We love our friends. Our lives completely intertwined. The value of our friendship proved a source of loving kindness and forgiveness. It forced the call to breakdown the wall of awkwardness being built quickly by the enemy. The true commitment of friendship bind people together. A friendship with God ups the ante. When we have a real and true friendship with the Lord – it will always be our heartfelt desire and constant to overcome every barrier and obstacle that would attempt to disrupt it.

When the storms of life come – they hold each other. When the unexpected happens – they help each other up. We must choose friendship rather than living this life as acquaintances beginning with our relationship with God the Father, Jesus the Son and His Spirit within us. When there is a friendship with God – certain things become avoidable and sin not so inviting if it hurts the One we love or separates us from each other. Relationships are always messy even our relationship with God. Love is a commitment. Jesus died on the Cross giving us access but the altar is still unavoidable and the smell of dying flesh. I cannot live as an enemy of God and be His Friend. Friends are not hostile or adversarial but committed and true. The enemy of our soul hates relationships especially the one forged in friendship so he attacks it constantly. To be friends with God will always be a challenge when love has grown cold and sin rampant.

We must examine the triple-braided cord of friendship in our life. Are we invested in our relationships? Are we friends of God? Am I friend to others? A person standing alone will be attacked and defeated. God will be our shield to those who live in His Presence. It is a place for His People, Children and those He calls friend. But the Lord didn’t stop there but declared it to be a bond of three – I must work on personal relationships with others just as diligently as I seek Him. It will take more than the click of a button or hitting send on the next text message. It will be worth it.

I John 4:7-12 (NLT) Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love. God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us.

I Am the One

I Am the One

Matthew 18:12-14 (NLT) “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them wanders away, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others on the hills and go out to search for the one that is lost? And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he will rejoice over it more than over the ninety-nine that didn’t wander away! In the same way, it is not my heavenly Father’s will that even one of these little ones should perish.

Human insecurity robs us of the realization of who we really are in Jesus Christ. It is the innate and inward battle of the mind to accept in our heart that someone truly loves us without condition. Even more so, that they would die for us knowing what we have done and the depths fallen. Oh how many times I have let the Lord down with my attitude and actions. All the wandering and worrying despite the precious promises clearly outlined in His Plan. I can say that I am a Child of God but until I know and understand that I am the one nothing will change in my life. I am the one. The one who Jesus would leave ninety-nine other “perfect” people to find and carry home. I am the least of these yet still the one who He will continually pursue without ever relenting. He knows me and still loves me. Even greater than that, Jesus desires to have a relationship with me so much that He will leave His Rightness to find me in the wrong. I am the one.

It might surprise you that Jesus does not exact consequences. There is no condemnation in Christ therefore judgment is not possible but belongs to Father God. It easy to think that there is punishment or some kind of discipline when we do not do things according to God’s Word or do not follow instructions. If the Lord were to begin punish people, it would diminish the value of grace so that it no longer was sufficient and clearly not enough. Grace is enough. His Grace is sufficient in my weakness. I am the one. The one who He is always giving new mercies each morning. I am the one who He carries home. I am the one who He died for and proclaimed it is finished.

2 Peter 3:8-9 (NLT) But you must not forget this one thing, dear friends: A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day. The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. 

The Lord withholds nothing good from us. He patiently waits for us. His Kindness keeps Him ready, willing and always able to rejoice in our repentance and return. He pursues us with unfailing love and overwhelming goodness every day. The trouble is receivership is bond by insecurity which tells us the opposite. God hasn’t forgotten us. He is not mad at us. He is not given to such emotional overtures. He is absolutely sure of His Love for us and waits for us to find certainty in His Love. The kind of confidence that will begin to believe in His Love and live in it. Do you believe God loves you? No, that He REALLY loves you! If you did, you would trust Him more, wait for Him longer, and strive to be with Him! Wracked with worry, anxiety, and fear – our isolation is a hiding place.  Shame and regret become our prison because surely He wouldn’t want a failure like us. Though His Love, Grace and Mercy seem impossible, they are exactly what He prescribed and predestined for us when He recorded every moment before our birth and arrival. Before drawing a single breath, the Lord knew and paid for the price of our sin. It is unfathomable and inconceivable but does not change the Truth. The constancy and permanence of God firmly establish in who He is – the Great I Am. He does not lie or change His Mind. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever.

I John 4:18-19 (NLT) Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love. We love each other because he loved us first.

Our personal relationships will change completely with confidence in God’s Love. The realization that I am the one He chose to love and die for and the passion of His Ongoing Pursuit. I am be able to love others without expectation being completely filled with His Love. When our thoughts are backed by insecurity it embraces the lie of the enemy meant to rob us of purpose. Our purpose in life is ALWAYS connected to someone else. We are the BODY of Christ. Jealousy is hatred born of insecurity that diminishes our significance to God in our own eyes. The Kingdom is based on relationship. Our relationship to Jesus which allows us to access to the Father which overflows in love for all mankind. Not because everyone is lovable, but because He first loved us with completeness and wholeness that fulfills. Those who build confidence through faith and trust in the Lord will no longer view others as adversaries but allies. It begins in the complete understanding that I am the one Christ died for. Me, myself and I. His Love for me so complete and perfect that I lack nothing physically, emotionally or spiritually.

Are you struggling with insecurity today? Do you feel isolated? Do you feel alone and unloved? It is the enemy who sows seeds of doubt in the cracks and crevices of broken hearts and unmet expectation. The only weapon that he has is a lie. You can overcome every lie and half-truth with the Word of God. Faith is illogical outside of God’s Word. The Word brings our faith life in its credibility. The instruction is invaluable in overcoming attacks in our mind. When the enemy calls us insignificant and unworthy, we must remind him always that “I am the one”.

John 10:10 (NLT) The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.

Plenty

Plenty

Philippians 4:11-13 (NLT) Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.

The word “plenty” means a full or abundant supply. It is the open invitation when unexpected guests arrive at dinner time. Here in the South, the surprised host might say, “Please stay…there is plenty” knowing full well it will be a scramble in the kitchen. Somehow it always works out though. I wonder if the food in our pantry mysteriously doubles in the invitation to others. Could it be the meat in our freezer magically grows and expands to meet our hospitality? Who knows…but all I know is that there always seems to be more than enough.

God has promised us an abundant life. Jesus came to give us a rich and satisfying life. The Word of God tells us that He has already supplied all that we need. There are many stories of plenty in the Bible. The key to plenty in the Kingdom of God is obedience. To give with the full expectation that God is enough and Christ in us is sufficient as our Source and Supplier. When Moses built the tabernacle in the wilderness, somehow the Children of God left Egypt with a rich supply for their pain and suffering. So much so that Moses had to tell them to stop giving. In the Book of Exodus, an opulent design is set forth for the Tabernacle’s construction and design including the wardrobe for the priesthood. Rich and luxurious lacking nothing completely extravagant. When the time came to build it, the people began bringing in the offerings. In Exodus 36, Moses commands the people to stop bringing gifts because “their contributions were more than enough to complete the whole project.” They fled Egypt with only what they could carry yet still make it out alive. They had enough. In fact, they had more than enough. How is it even possible?

What about the widow woman in 2 Kings 4? Her husband, a man of God, has passed away and the debt collectors are threatening to come take her sons. She seeks out the prophet, Elisha who inquires, “Tell me, what do you in the house? The woman replies, “Nothing at all, except a flask of olive oil.” Oil often represents anointing. We are anointed. Christ, the Anointed One, resides inside of us. It is in her obedience to the prophet’s instructions that the flask of oil becomes barrels of oil. Watch this – the woman does as instructed. The oil stops when the vessels are full. She had enough to pay her debts AND to live on the leftovers. God is ready to pour out plenty in our lives. In fact, the Great Multiplier is already inside of you and me as believers. It is in obedience that plenty becomes the abundance that we are looking for and satisfaction is discovered.

Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. The secret to satisfaction is contentment. Not that God would ever prescribe us to settle for less than enough or living in lack but to learn to be content. This requires setting our full expectation on God the Father and depending on Christ in us for everything. Our needs, wants and desires are important to the Lord. His Spirit cultivates good fruit in us to feed our hungry soul the kinds of things that lead to satisfaction. As our soul prospers, our life will prosper in the expansion. God loves a cheerful giver. How much of your life are you willing to give to God’s Cultivation called prosperity? It begins in our heart. We must learn to trust in God’s Perfection and Planning. He makes everything beautiful in its time!

Matthew 14:15-21 (NLT) That evening the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away so they can go to the villages and buy food for themselves.” But Jesus said, “That isn’t necessary—you feed them.” “But we have only five loaves of bread and two fish!” they answered. “Bring them here,” he said. Then he told the people to sit down on the grass. Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, looked up toward heaven, and blessed them. Then, breaking the loaves into pieces, he gave the bread to the disciples, who distributed it to the people. They all ate as much as they wanted, and afterward, the disciples picked up twelve baskets of leftovers. About 5,000 men were fed that day, in addition to all the women and children!

Church folks love fellowship! You cannot get into the local restaurants on a Sunday around one o’clock where we live in the Bible belt. Everyone is ready to eat and commune together in the local diners and buffets. The crowds came to see Jesus. To hear what He had to say, and now it was dinnertime. The disciples weren’t about to make a fast food run, but rather send the folks away. Jesus told them to feed them. Say what? The men had a borrowed lunch of five loaves of bread and two fish to feed thousands of people. Jesus took the meager meal and blessed it. He thanked God for it. Then He broke it into pieces and gave it away. In the end, everyone was full and there was more left over than what they started with.

Do you feel pressure today? Are you dissatisfied? Are you wondering why you do not have plenty but barely enough to survive? You want to give your life away but I dare say that until it is blessed and broken on the inside – there is nothing in our hands or homes worth giving. What is meager in your hand becomes mighty in God’s Hand! What seems mediocre in life becomes magnificent in the Kingdom! What seems impossible to you right now is miraculous when Jesus takes over! Maybe the pressure is your ordinary life about to give way to something extraordinary. All these stories seemed like not enough but became more than enough through obedience. Godly obedience will always include giving because that is how He supplies us.

2 Corinthians 9:7-8 (NLT) You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.

Lord, I have all that I need today to live in the land of plenty and to experience the abundant, rich and satisfying life that you promised. It is here in the now. Bless it, God. Break it. Use it for your good and glory in my life and to those around me. In Jesus Name, AMEN!

 

Juggling Life

Juggling Life

Hebrews 4:1-3 (NLT) God’s promise of entering his rest still stands, so we ought to tremble with fear that some of you might fail to experience it. For this good news—that God has prepared this rest—has been announced to us just as it was to them. But it did them no good because they didn’t share the faith of those who listened to God. For only we who believe can enter his rest. 

God’s Promise for us is rest. The ultimate rest is in His Presence. To enter the Kingdom and rest forever in His Presence is our end result but too often we miss the opportunity to experience such peace in every moment of every single day. We juggle life. The image in my head so clear this morning in a moment of reflection. All the balls fall sometimes. The colorful commitments and circular schedules of life’s expectation exceed our time limits so anxiety takes over and tiredness ensues. To live life to its fullest requires not only hard work and perseverance but rest. At the completion of creation, God rested. He set an example for us yet in our pride it is human nature not to follow.

God has prepared rest for us. He has announced it to us in His Word. He has marked it as “just for them” or you. The passage says, “But it did them no good because they didn’t share the faith of those who listened to God.” Busyness is the direct result of a lack of faith. I am not talking about activities of life but rather when the things in life eat up all our time and there is none left to rest in the Lord. He designed rest for us and leaves an open invitation to experience His Peace every day. We must learn to enter His Rest.

It is in the moment when all the things being juggled fall down that our lack of rest and peace are discovered. When unmet expectation exposes the area of our life in need of careful reprioritization – the Lord is clear that rest never escaped us but rather it was our choice not to enter in. The juggling act is not only comprised of physical activity but thoughtful overtures as well. Our mind can be more active than our body at times stealing our rest as well. Lying awake when we should be sleeping or absentminded rather than present in the moment – the enemy wants to steal our rest and peace in the Lord.

I know what you are saying for I used to say the same thing, too. “I am so busy.” Well, the true revelation about time truly humbled me. The Lord gives each person the same 24 hours a day with the freedom to use it however one desires. The productivity of our time is the prosperity of our life. If choose to invest it in seeking God’s Promise including His Rest – the fruit of His Spirit will feed our soul and prosper us from the inside out. If time is sown into the world, it will produce the things of it – good or bad. We must take our “time” and examine it. Evaluate its usage. Set priorities. Determine true satisfaction in its investment or change our strategy completely.

Matthew 11:27-30 (NLT) “My Father has entrusted everything to me. No one truly knows the Son except the Father, and no one truly knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

Jesus told the people that God had “entrusted everything to” Him. Jesus Christ has all power and authority over life including every outcome. He then invites us to “come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens and I will give you rest.” I shared yesterday that our dryer had disappeared. We had called a repairman to come take a look. It was decided that it needed some parts. When they came to fix it – there was another problem so they hauled it to the shop. When I came home expecting to do laundry, there was no way to complete the task. I sat on the front porch rocking and spending time with the Lord because the dryer was gone. Now here is the irony of it – the dryer was broken in that when you turned it on it sounded like it had two tennis shoes and a large brick rolling around inside. I used it anyway. So when it was taken away – I found an alternative. I sat on the front porch in a rocking chair talking to friends and ultimately spending time with the Lord.

The yoke of Christ is faith. We must learn to rightly divide our time according to our faith in Christ which leaves little time for anxious activity and overactive minds. It means allowing God to grow and prosper our life rather than making it a diversified effort. Faith requires an exchange. You cannot live a faithful life in two places. Where is your faith today? Is it fully invested in the Lord? I am challenged to inspect the balls I juggle in life. To carefully decide if they were placed in my hands by God or I picked them up because I was afraid no one else would. Juggling is a sport that takes practice. It is all about timing. Maybe it is the same with time management and faith. Perhaps, we must practice resting. True rest is a body, mind and spirit promise. God’s Promises require perfect timing…His Timing. God is perfect in all of His Ways including His Timing. It is important to invest our faith in His Time Clock.

Ecclesiastes 3:9-13 (NLT) What do people really get for all their hard work? I have seen the burden God has placed on us all. Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can. And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God.

The beginning of Ecclesiastes 3 promises us that “for everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.” Do you believe that today? Those who do will find the peace of God called rest. It is the full investment of our life in Heaven’s economy. The fertile ground of a broken heart that has decided to give itself fully to live in the Presence of God. To rely on the Maker of Heaven and Earth in every season because He is faithful to do exactly what He promised according to His Timing. God makes everything beautiful in its time. Even broken things scattered in many pieces have the potential to become a masterpiece in the Hands of God if we would only give it to Him. God blesses our lives simply because He loves us and decided to do so. When we forget that rest is a part of it, it is human nature to take His Glory. Our lift is a Gift from God for His Glory – let’s leave the juggling to Him and choose rest today.

Hebrews 4:10-11 (NLT) For all who have entered into God’s rest have rested from their labors, just as God did after creating the world. So let us do our best to enter that rest. But if we disobey God, as the people of Israel did, we will fall.