Yes Lord Yes

Yes Lord Yes

Psalm 51:10-12 (ESV) Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.

There are seasons in life when it is time for a little introspection. It is important to evaluate our heart carefully to determine the proximity of Presence in our life. Relationship can easily turn into religion if our worship becomes habitual not a result of intimacy. I am here today. In this place of quiet with the Lord, the only One can truly hold me accountable by His Spirit in faith and confident hope. The words of the psalmist inspired by the Holy Spirit hold true today for all of us if our internal desire is the eternal hope of Christ. Though righteousness is found in Christ alone, it is up to us to give the Lord permission to examine us, evaluate our progress, eliminate that which is unproductive and exact growth and development in all the proper places. All we can do is say, “Yes!”

Create in me a clean heart, O God

Ezekiel 36:26 (ESV) And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

A change of heart is in its absolute breaking. God must have all the pieces of our heart in order to create a masterpiece. An artist cannot do anything with a canvas if there is no brush or paint. It is easy to withhold bits and pieces of our heart in order to preserve pride. It is difficult to surrender those parts that are painful. Depths of emptiness too vast to risk devastation. Darkness that is so recessed light has not reached it yet. All this space within us ready for holy inhabitation must be fully exposed and exchanged for the new heart, new spirit, and new mind waiting in the Presence of God offered by His Son, Jesus. Lord give me a new heart today. Remove the stony one of flesh and make it soft as promised.

Renew a right spirit within me.

2 Timothy 1: 6-7 (ESV)  For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

The Helper, Holy Spirit, who the Father gave us through the Son lives in us. He teaches us all things and brings into our remembrance that which God has ordained, decreed and spoken to us. (John 14:26) The Spirit offers us internal insight and eternal understanding not given to the world but received through Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:12) Finally, the Spirit is God’s Guarantee of every spiritual blessing in our life. The Spirit identifies us as God’s Children. This is the Gift of God when we come to Him through Jesus Christ. It is a non-negotiable part of our covenant with God as the Spirit is full consummation of our relationship to Him. Have you opened this gift in your life?

God has not given us the spirit of fear. Too often it is readily taken when offered by the father of lies as the truth that governs our life. Oh to have back all the time wasted worrying about things that never happened and carrying burdens that never came to fruition but still robbed me of peace and rest in the Lord. God has given us the spirit of power, love and self-discipline. Have you taken hold of that today? Sometimes we must exchange something we have to fully obtain what God is trying to give us. The same is true in renewal of a right spirit within me. I must examine my motives and emotions for power and love which always requires self-discipline to overcome the traps of doubt marked worry, anxiety and fear. God didn’t give us these so we must reject them.

Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me.

2 Corinthians 12:8-10 (ESV) Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

There is nothing that can separate us from the Love of God. (Romans 8:28) Do you believe that today? I mean really believe it. Sometimes even saints of God forget that the Love of God for us is constant and concrete in the Cross. There is absolutely nothing you can do to ever make the Lord stop loving you or pursuing you with unfailing love and goodness. His Mercy is new every morning according to His Faithfulness not our ability to be faithful. There are no fatal errors for those who love God. Hard times create soft hearts. It is those moments of extreme weakness (physical, emotion and/or spiritual) that the truest nature of God is discovered. His Grace. When I am weak, I am strong. The enemy tries to make us think that when our walk turns to wandering or our thoughts to wandering that we somehow become lost. The Lord never leaves us or forsakes us but waits like the father for the prodigal son. I wonder what would happen if Children of God fully understood and embraced the importance and power of God’s Grace. It would be a life changer and history maker for the Body of Christ as the fullness of His Power permeated people and steeples everywhere.

Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.

Psalm 16:11 (ESV) You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

I’ll say yes, Lord, yes to your will and to your way. I’ll say yes, Lord, yes… I will trust you and obey. When your Spirit speaks to me with my whole heart I’ll agree and my answer will be yes, Lord, yes! (Shirley Caesar)

As I sit here today in the quiet of early morning, I am offering my heart to the Lord once again. I say yes, Lord, yes to Your Will and to Your Way. Sometimes that is not an easy proclamation in our journey with Jesus. We walk by faith not by sight. Trust is the issue of greatest importance. He will make known the path of life to me and offers me a choice which is a product of the freedom afforded me by His Son. In His Presence, there is fullness of joy but I must leave myself at the doorway and enter through Jesus Christ. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. The only way to the Father is through the Son. I must give Him my heart today. I must present Him my willful and overbearing spirit with all its pride to make room for His Spirit. I must move in closer with each “yes” until I am close enough to experience His Pleasures marked as promises forevermore. I find joy in doing His Will which always starts with love. His Spirit is producing the kind of fruit in me that is worth sharing. The cost is my pruning so that more fruit will grow. The sacrifice is my hard heart and unwilling spirit. Today – I say I will say, “Yes, Lord, yes!”

2 Corinthians 5:16-17 (ESV) From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 

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Greater Than All

Greater Than All

John 10:27-30 (ESV) My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.

As I have openly admitted, I spend most of time commuting praising and praying my way into town and back home again. After a challenging week, I felt like praising was the only way to finish the week and prepare for the weekend. If you are like me, the transition into the two days set aside by the world to rest are usually filled with chores, tasks and to-do lists. Taking a deep breath, I just needed to be refreshed. Do you ever just need the tangible Presence of God to sit down beside you? Riding down the road, I came to a stretch of highway surrounded by tall trees. At this particular point though, the pines and oaks seemed to be closing in around the road producing the sensation I had been feeling all week. Overwhelmed a bit, losing sight, looking for direction, and every other emotion that comes from walking by faith and not by sight following an invisible God. Suddenly, I heard the music playing, “It may look like I’m surrounded, but I’m surrounded by You.” (Surrounded – Bethel) The Peace of God that passes all understanding met me right there in my car driving to work. I realized that I couldn’t see past the trees but God could and He was right there with me. All those impossible situations were possible to Him. All those inexplicable concerns were melting in His Understanding. Sometimes we must come back to the basics of faith and following the Lord in the one simple truth – God is greater than all. All my problems, misgivings, uncertainties, fears, doubts, bad choices, enemies, obstacles, and every other thing that proves challenging in my life. He is the Unchallenged Authority, not only over me, but everything else. God is Sovereign. He reigns supreme. All these qualities God instilled in Christ who now lives in me.

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

Jesus is the Shepherd. We are His Sheep. Those who believe in Him will follow His Voice. His Voice doesn’t always lead us where we want to go or how we would like to do it. In fact, it is my experience that when I hear the Voice of God and do what He says His Way – it is usually the most uncomfortable, inconvenient and uncontrollable way possible. It usually is marked by the impossible because God doesn’t want to give me a good life but every spiritual blessing ordained for me that is in the Heavenly Realm accessed by faith and confident trust. This is only found in trusting the Lord and becoming completely depended on Him. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. It is a challenge. It will take your all. You will have to endure. You cannot give up. The promise is victory. You will always win. Greater is Who is in You than he that is in the world.

I John 4:4 (ESV) Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. 

We Walk

We Walk

2 Corinthians 5:6-9 (ESV) So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. 

The giant step in the walk of faith is the one we take when we decide God no longer is part of our lives. He IS our life. – Beth Moore

Patience is primary in the life of faith because our walk is in a reality that is not seen. It is incomprehensible by the human eye or perceived by any of our natural senses but nevertheless relevant and profound. It causes our reactions to turn into careful responses, not to our circumstances or current conditions, but to the God living inside of us. It is a transition that takes time and transformation. It is partially a learned behavior as we take God’s Word taking it the knowledge given to us and turning it into wisdom by practical application. It is believed that certain habits can be changed in 21 days. New life begins with the introduction of Jesus Christ and takes a lifetime to achieve. Therefore, we must learn to be patient in the cultivation of faith.

The “giant step” of faith is not a leap. It may feel like such a heart-pounding moment. However, the reality of faith is in each footstep taken each day. Even when all there is to do but stand and we choose to stand for what we believe rather than what we see is a monumental victory in the realm of hope and reality called faith. For we WALK by faith not by sight. It is important to understand that it takes a lot of willpower to walk by faith rather than leaping by fear into the unknown daring the Lord to catch us. It takes time to rightly divide our thoughts and acquire the gifting of discernment. It is important to know that when we take a step it is in the right direction. To be sure we are moving closer to the Lord and His Purpose and not making Him pursue us all over again. We are to walk with the Lord each day.

Isaiah 55:8-11 (ESV) For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares 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 and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

Faith never knows where it is being led, but it loves and knows the ONE who is leading. – Oswald Chambers

So shall the word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty… This statement is vital in our journey. To understand that God’s Word and Declaration over your life is already in place and working all around you. To know that His Unfailing Love and Goodness is pursuing you and ready to take over your life may just slow you down…or at least it has me. I have a testimony. A young woman came to our church recently. An absolutely stunning girl who radiates beauty. I noticed her a few weeks ago. Instant attraction if you will. She came forward seeking prayer. The moment I took hold of her hands and began praying I knew there was a connection. A deep desire to know her and engage with her. We left the service that evening but she never left my thoughts. It was definitely a God moment so I reached out to her on social media. She immediately accepted my request. Her introduction read, “Six year cancer survivor.” Well there you go! The Lord has put many people in my life who have experienced the awful disease. It is my goal in life to equip and empower every single one of them to overcome in Jesus Name. The disease is marked for destruction in the Heavenlies and I hope God uses me to help! When the next service rolled around, there she was sitting with her mom. I thanked her for accepting my request and inquired about her journey. It is in that moment that I realized the Lord had sent her to me. She was treated by our son’s doctors at the same place using the plan developed from his care. She was alive.

Going back through all those days of praying and believing – one of my declarations was that many would be saved because of our son’s story and that we would rob hell one soul at a time. I remember it vividly during his transplant. He was sick and tired and tortured by the process and wearing the thick purple gloves used only for chemo patients, I was grabbing sheets and blankets out of the cart threatening the enemy and every demon in his army. I was coming. Hot tears of frustration, anger and pain rolling down my cheeks but a heart on fire within. We have seen this in the natural because now they are treating people particularly children, teens and young adults without risk factors differently. This particular form of nasopharyngeal cancer is very aggressive. I have been told that a child came all the way from England to be treated and survived. Thank you Jesus. Though I would not have chosen this for my child, I am so thankful that the Lord is using it to give others new life. Now this would be miraculous enough if I stopped here. But there is more to the story, this young lady gave her heart to Jesus Christ to be her Savior and Lord this week. I cannot express how my heart exploded at the faithfulness of God to His Word. The Word that seemed to take forever to arrive is here.

The illness of our son and years it took for him to find remission took a toll on me. It cost me myself. At some point, my life changed completely. I don’t know when or how but I know this – I stopped being led and started to lean. After leaning awhile, I fell hard. No longer do I have confidence in what I see but Who I know. I cannot explain it. I don’t know how it happened. Just one day, I realized that I can’t do this thing called life anymore. I was broken beyond repair so I handed Him the pieces. Do I still have temptation? Of course. Do I still fail? Every single day. Do I still struggle with situations including insecurity, fear and doubt? I am only human. The only thing I know for a fact is that God loves me, Jesus died to save me and His Spirit lives inside of me and if I just stay right here with Him – it will all be okay. The life that He has breathed in me now sustains me. How about you?

Hebrews 11:1 (ESV) Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

Basically, there are two paths you can walk; faith or fear. It is impossible to simultaneously trust God and not trust God. – Charles Stanley

Faith is assurance…blessed assurance…not in the outcome but the One who promised to make all things work together for our good. The One who promised that nothing could or would ever separate us from His Love. The One who gave His All for us. The One who will never leave us or forsake us. The One who not only provides for us but in abundance doing more than we can think, ask or imagine. To walk by faith is simply to walk with Jesus.

Process of Fruitfulness

Process of Fruitfulness

John 15:1-3 (AMP) I am the true Vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that continues to bear fruit, He [repeatedly] prunes, so that it will bear more fruit [even richer and finer fruit]. You are already clean because of the word which I have given you [the teachings which I have discussed with you].

God loves you too much to give you the promotion without the pruning. – Bob Sorge

The pruning season of life is not preferential but it is a vital part of God’s Process in our life. You know the times when things are going pretty good, not much to complain about, and then suddenly everything begins to fall apart…maybe even you. It is important to understand the process of godly pruning in order to appreciate the season right before increase. To identity the difference between God’s Hand of preparation and the enemy’s attack against us is important. It is easy to blame satan for our inconvenience, discomfort, dissatisfaction or even displacement. When life seems to be out of control, I promise God is still in control!

I believe that I am currently in such a season. As the Lord reaches deep within to snip away the undergrowth and overgrowth in my life. All the things keeping me from the “richer” and “finer” fruit that He has for me hidden away as potential. This is not just a revelation for the new Christian but a vivid reminder to the saints of God – He is not finished with us yet! As long as you are breathing – there is growth potential in your life and purpose left to discover. Do not give up on dead dreams for where there is pruning and preparation – new life begins.

God prunes us when He is about to take us into a new season of growth and expansion. – Christine Caine

Who doesn’t want the blessing of God? Who is opposed to prosperity? It is what the heart of God’s People cry out for? Revival? Restoration? Healing? All the benefits of God are the product of our “yes”. Yes to what? Preparation and pruning of the dead things that stand in the way. Jesus is the Vine. God is the Vinedresser. Jesus was pruned just like us when He lived on the earth. He went through temptations. He endured pain. He died an innocent man for those who were completely guilty. He knows and understands the cries of pain in the process and our Savior catches our tears saving them for redemption sake. To be fully engrafted in the fullness of God – one must be pruned.

John 15:4-6 (AMP) Remain in Me, and I [will remain] in you. Just as no branch can bear fruit by itself without remaining in the vine, neither can you [bear fruit, producing evidence of your faith] unless you remain in Me. I am the Vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him bears much fruit, for [otherwise] apart from Me [that is, cut off from vital union with Me] you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in Me, he is thrown out like a [broken off] branch, and withers and dies; and they gather such branches and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.

Pruning is not punishment. It is evidence of God’s Love and desire for more intimacy with His Children. He wants to give you His Kingdom but human nature is willing to avoid the process to settle for much less. God is relentless in His Pursuit of us. His Desire is a relationship of intimacy with us. He gives us His Spirit as our partner and friend to engage in life together. To prune means to trim by cutting away dead or overgrown branches especially to increase fruitfulness and growth. To cut away. To reduce the extent of something by removing unwanted or unnecessary parts. As a well-known plant killer, it is with great hesitation that I prune the plants in the flowerbed. I desire them to grow and have more blooms each season but I am afraid that with one touch from my black thumb – they will die an untimely death. I am not a botanist. I struggled in every science class I have ever taken. God created you and me. He knows us inside and out. (Psalm139) He already has recorded every single moment of our life in great detail. He has given us a measure of faith to enact the eternity placed in our heart. He has a purpose in our creation. He wants to make our life a masterpiece. (Ephesians 2) He will take every broken piece and detail to make it good and worthwhile. (Romans 8) All this because the Lord loves us! Nothing can separate us from His Love. He pursues us with unfailing love and goodness every day. (Psalm 23) He has a plan for us and it’s a good one with a future and hope. (Jeremiah 29) All of these seeds planted deep in our heart. The circumcised heart is pruned by His Hand with love to give way to the fruitfulness within. “Every living thing needs to be pruned so it can reach its fullest potential including you and me.” (Unknown)

John 15:7-11(AMP) If you remain in Me and My words remain in you [that is, if we are vitally united and My message lives in your heart], ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified and honored by this, when you bear much fruit, and prove yourselves to be My [true] disciples. I have loved you just as the Father has loved Me; remain in My love [and do not doubt My love for you]. If you keep My commandments and obey My teaching, you will remain in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and remain in His love. I have told you these things so that My joy and delight may be in you, and that your joy may be made full and complete and overflowing.

God’s Love in us produces good fruit. The Holy Spirit sees inside our heart and mind including the part in need of godly attention. He prepares us for the season yet when it comes – the human response to pain and brokenness is what have I done wrong? Maybe it’s a matter of what am I doing right. What if the current season of your life including the pain is all part of God’s pruning process? What if it is all a plan to bless and prosper your life? God is positioning and preparing you to prosper as your soul prospers. Just a new wine requires new wineskin so it is with His Fulfillment, you cannot contain the next season’s blessing retaining last season’s growth. If you are not growing you are dying. Jesus came to give you a rich and satisfying life. It is often described as abundant life. Overflowing in the blessings, gifting and prosperity that comes with His Anointing in our life. You must be ready to be pruned if prosperity is your vision. You must give up on the natural to embrace the supernatural. You must be dissatisfied with ordinary to reach for the extraordinary. Friend, God must remove the things taking the place of next season’s fruit.

Our purpose in life is to bear “much” fruit. Fruit that nourishes and satisfies our soul so that in every season of life – the godly are well-cared for. You have been given very spiritual blessing and a cultivator within. You must give the Lord permission to do His Will in your life. This requires trust. Trust even when the shears are in His Hand as He moves in to snip and clip away all those lesser things to make room for more. Is God pruning you today? Does it hurt? It will be worth it. God will do it. All you must say is “yes”!

Beautiful growth would be stunted if God didn’t remove the very things that hinder it. (C. S. Lewis)

Matthew 13:23 (AMP) And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands and grasps it; he indeed bears fruit and yields, some a hundred times [as much as was sown], some sixty [times as much], and some thirty.”

Time to Confess

Reverse the Curse

James 5:16-18 (ESV) Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and Heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.

Elijah prayed and by the power of God it did not rain for three and one-half years. When he prayed again, the Heavens opened releasing rain and prosperity again. Why doesn’t God answer the prayers of man? Why do we not see the power of God in such an obvious and vivid display? His Word says that He will open the windows of Heaven over our life. We do what it says. Try to live right. Be right. Do right. However, the results so lackluster that doubt creeps in and disbelief begins to raise some questions. What’s wrong? What is out of order that is limiting God’s Glory from creating abundance in all areas of my life. If my soul is prospering, why not my life? Well…it is the prayer of a righteous man that has great power. Elijah prayed. He walked in God’s Ways. He had obvious faith – after all look at the miracle of Mount Carmel.

Prayer is our communication with God. God is omnipresent. Wherever you are – God is right there with you. Christ lives in you. The Holy Spirit inhabits you. The words spoken in every conversation is equally as important as those in our prayer closet. I wonder if the problem is not what we say to the Lord but words scattered everywhere else.

James 3:9-11 (ESV) With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water?

A spring does not have fresh and salt water just as our words cannot bless and curse at the same time. Blessing is rebuked by the curse. Curse are rebuked by the blessing. The Bible is clear to bless those who curse you and spitefully use you. There are no enemies in the Kingdom just family. The person that causes you the greatest distress is your brother or sister in Christ. To pray for them and then talk about them stops the flow from Heaven in every relationship. The only enemy in our life is satan. He is at the root of every problem. He is the one who offers temptation. He is the one who sows division and discord. But do not discredit the power of God within you and me called self-discipline. Change the words that come from our mouth and our life will change according to what we speak. Life and death are in the tongue. Are you bringing life to the Promises of God by faith or are you causing them to die in the field because of grumbling and gossip? You have the power to speak life into every situation in life. You have divine authority over every demon and even the devil as it tries to take what the Lord has given you by faith. It is up to you and me if we will reverse the curse and establish a life of blessing. God ordained it. Christ died for us to have it. The Holy Spirit fills us with the good fruit needed to produce it. The rest is up to us.

Matthew 16:18-19 (ESV) And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

Jesus asked Peter directly, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter’s response, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” No ifs, ands, or buts. Peter knew Jesus. He believed in Him. He confessed Him as the Messiah right then and there. Then Jesus tells Peter who he really is and reveals the power of his confession. The same mouth that confessed the Lord would soon deny Him, not once but three times. Everyone struggles when the conditions of our life do not line up with the confession of our mouth. We must learn to speak from our heart. A heart full of faith and promise rather than give praise to those things that do not line up or are not yet evident. We must respond to the Presence of God in us and stop reacting to every discomfort, discontentment, inconvenience and chaotic situation in our life. We have the power to change the atmosphere but it is not in our rightness but righteousness found in Christ alone. When our tongue is bridled and led by the Spirit, it will not say what we are thinking but rely on Who we know.

Proverbs 18:20-21 (ESV) From the fruit of a man’s mouth his stomach is satisfied; he is satisfied by the yield of his lips. Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.

We have no excuse. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. The Lord has already seeded our life with the seeds of faith that produce good fruit to satisfy our heart and soul. These same things produce a confident hope that allows us to remain fearless and full even in famine and drought. Death and life are in the power of the tongue. Every lifeless situation is subject to the vocabulary of our confession. We give life to those things not of God but giving them precedence in our proverbial overtures making our problem bigger than the promise. We say that right words but then smother them with complaining. Our communication is a confession that gives life to the thing in which our faith resides – what are you talking about? What are you confessing? What is the basis of communication?

Are you satisfied? Are you content? The fruit of our mouth produces the abundance of our life. It is from the abundance of the heart – the mouth speaks. (Luke 6:45) We may think that there is growing, developing and maturing faith in our life until we carefully begin to listen to what we say. You may be surprised. Though it may be justified by the current condition of your life, the fruit of our mouth can also choke out the new life and new creation being cultivated by Christ.

When our son was undergoing extensive radiation treatment, his skin was burning from the inside out. His tumor was located inside his nasopharynx so the concentration of therapy was his head and neck. To my utter horror despite being warned near the end of his treatment, the burns began to surface. The blisters were awful. I would apply ointment that would cause him great pain and began melting off my hand before I even touched him. On one such morning, as tears ran down my face, I told him God would understand if he complained about this situation. The Lord would understand. He looked at me with tears in his eyes and said, “Now what good would that do?” Lesson learned. In the midst of the unthinkable, undergoing a treatment no one should endure along with chemotherapy which is poison coursing through his body – this young man still did not see fruitfulness in complaining when just that morning I griped about the uncomfortable bed as I rolled out of bed with a healthy body and free accommodations graciously provided to us. Perspective can often change our communication when we stop complaining.

James 3:1-5 (ESV) Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire!

Many years ago, I thought being right was all that mattered. It gave you a free license to stand on your soapbox and yell. Things are different now. The journey of faith with our so changed my life forever – in a good way – in a God way. Nothing is normal anymore. Such an ordeal takes highly regarded priorities and completely changes them forever. I am not necessarily a better person but I am definitely humbled at my lifelong disregard for righteousness. That’s right righteousness. I was right in many of my observations. But the power of my life is righteousness given to me by Christ and the access to the Presence of God that I now have – my responsibility is to sow seeds of faith and life into the world. I am to be a Light. Not one that shines on the faults and failures of others, but rather Light that attracts others from darkness to engage in the Light of His Love. My life is not attracted by harsh, bitter words. It is not influential when plagued by complaints. It is not going to cultivate fruit in barren fields of doubt and disbelief. The only hope that I have in this life and eternity is Jesus Christ. My heart and mouth must agree that He is who I boast in.

Before the change in my heart, I used to feel it appropriate to give people a piece of my mind. I did it so frequently that a co-worker made a literal “STOP” sign. When a conversation became heated, she would hold it up as a warning. On the other side, it said, “GO RIGHT AHEAD!” She was more influential than the Holy Spirit at that time. But the sign has been discarded and now I must truly rely on the Holy Spirit. The change of heart was appropriate because now rather than focusing on my pride or being right – the Lord keeps my eye on the prize. The prize and potential of the Kingdom is in people. My response to them and the situations of life is by faith. Faith in the Love of God that I can never be separated from therefore I am free to share without reciprocation because my life is full. The kind of love that is always pursuing me. It is looking for ways to bring His Goodness and Glory in my life. Yet, even now with years, I still find that there are so many areas of my life that need attention. Careless words that need to be redacted. Prayers that need to be released from bondage. Fields of foolishness that need to replanted with faith which produces good fruit. So many idle words that require repentance to be filled with life again. Lord, help me to always be sure that the meditation of my heart is You. May the meditation of my heart and the words of my mouth agree! May the greatest confession of my life always be You – Jesus!

Psalm 19:14 (ESV) Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight,Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

Rejection

Rejection

John 12:47-50 (MSG) “If anyone hears what I am saying and doesn’t take it seriously, I don’t reject him. I didn’t come to reject the world; I came to save the world. But you need to know that whoever puts me off, refusing to take in what I’m saying, is willfully choosing rejection. The Word, the Word-made-flesh that I have spoken and that I am, that Word and no other is the last word. I’m not making any of this up on my own. The Father who sent me gave me orders, told me what to say and how to say it. And I know exactly what his command produces: real and eternal life. That’s all I have to say. What the Father told me, I tell you.”

What a different world would we live in if people did not fear rejection? Rejection is the feeling of being refused. Rejection can be delivered from either party. What in the world is Christ saying in this passage? I don’t understand. “If anyone hears what I am saying and doesn’t take it seriously, I don’t reject him.” To the organized religion called church that is a preposterous notion. To hear the Word and not do it most certainly must bear a consequence. Not in the face of grace, it can’t. To allow condemnation of any kind is to reject the idea that His Grace is enough to overcome every weakness. God will never reject the repentant heart that makes its way through the Blood of Jesus Christ. Rejection is not a Kingdom principle but an earthly choice made by mankind to choose something else.

Jesus came to save us. He came to heal us, restore us and revive us again as sons and daughters of God. His Purpose was not to judge the world yet it is the heavy mantle of many to not only judge each other but themselves. There is a difference between judgment and accountability. One is terminal the other can be life giving. Throughout my lifetime, the Lord has placed many in my life who hold me accountable to the Word of God. I have also faced many judges and harsh critics. The purpose behind the pain is the determining factor. Was the point of the lesson to tear down or build up? Jesus came to build a Kingdom but in doing so He had to tear some things down and rebuild them.

John 2:18-22 (MSG)  But the Jews were upset. They asked, “What credentials can you present to justify this?” Jesus answered, “Tear down this Temple and in three days I’ll put it back together.” They were indignant: “It took forty-six years to build this Temple, and you’re going to rebuild it in three days?” But Jesus was talking about his body as the Temple. Later, after he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered he had said this. They then put two and two together and believed both what was written in Scripture and what Jesus had said.

The Jews were more than upset – they became downright irate when Jesus said that He could rebuild the Temple it took 46 years to build in three days. Thank you Jesus! That’s exactly what He did. On the Cross, the Jews recounted his words completely ignorant that He was doing just that. He was tearing down religion to make way for a relationship. A love covenant with mankind that could never be destroyed or threatened again. No more condemnation but overflowing grace that could strip down every stronghold and overcome every obstacle between the Father and His Beloved Children. Now God’s Love pursues us. There is no longer rejection but open relationship if we allow it.

So if there is no condemnation in Jesus Christ and no judgment in Him, what about sin? Accountability to the Word of God and reconciliation to Jesus Christ are fulfilled in repentance. Turning from our way to pursue Him. Religion is a change of habit. Repentance is a change of heart. One leads to a good life and a successful church. The other leads to eternal life in the Father’s House. I wonder today if the rejection felt by many is not rejection but a call of repentance. A gentle urging by the Son to come back to the Father and experience His Love. If we experience punishment – it is not of the Father. To experience permission comes when we give up our way to encounter the fullness of the Word and freedom it delivers.

Matthew 7:1-5 (MSG) “Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.

After eating with a friend, have they ever told you that you have something in your teeth? Or maybe just gestured it as not to gain attention? How do you feel in that moment? A little embarrassed. Quickly trying to dislodge the speck, leaf or pepper from your pearly whites? You may ask them, “Did I get it?” Did you get mad at them for pointing it out? Of course not! You didn’t want to go around for the rest of the day smiling and conversing with your meal on full display. How much more embarrassing would that have been?

God has placed people in each other’s lives in the Body of Christ to act as iron sharpening iron. We have many acquaintances in life but then there is that one friend the Lord sends to be our accountability partner. If you do not know who that is, then look for them. The point of our partnerships in life is beneficial. The enemy works night and day to destroy godly relationships especially the sharp and pointed ones that enable us to discover God’s Purpose and encourage us to follow His Plan. Relationship is essential for it is the currency of the Kingdom and its greatest commodity. If we do not learn to hold each other accountable, it will become judgment in our life. Those who celebrate us but never convict us to be more of who Christ created us to be will one day become our critic because the relationship is not based on the Love of God but man’s preferences. The fine line between critical people and committed people rests in their convictions. Do they serve a Savior who always accepts and loves regardless of our willingness to follow Him? Or do we have conditional love that doesn’t believe in the God of all grace? Without true repentance there is only religion. We must learn to love and learn together in the Body of Christ without judgment or condemnation but unconditional love and amazing grace.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (MSG) It’s better to have a partner than go it alone. Share the work, share the wealth. And if one falls down, the other helps, but if there’s no one to help, tough! Two in a bed warm each other. Alone, you shiver all night. By yourself you’re unprotected. With a friend you can face the worst.
Can you round up a third? A three-stranded rope isn’t easily snapped.

Am I really being rejected, condemned or judged? In most cases, yes. It is human nature. The dangerous game of comparison that feeds our pride to keep it alive. However, it is of vital importance in our spiritual life to evaluate those relationships that are rough around the edges to see if God is actually but an ironclad friend to be an accountability partner. Even the caring friend who points out the debris in our smile offers a slight sting at the revelation that our salad is on display for all to see causes a bristled reaction. It is only human nature, but in the end it produces a change. You work to right the problem and so it is with God. The commitment of our Lord at work in us with the help of the Holy Spirit is to engage in a deeper and more intimate relationship with God and then each other. When we feel rejected, we seek isolation. Remove ourselves from the haters, if you will. But maybe they aren’t haters at all but the true lovers of our soul? Food for thought and learning for life straight from the Word. Lord, show me the people who I have rejected that You have placed in my life with purpose. Examine my heart and illuminate any dark seat of judgment my pride has established. Point me in the way of everlasting life to build your Kingdom one person at a time in Jesus Name! Amen!

Proverbs 27:17 (MSG) You use steel to sharpen steel, and one friend sharpens another.

Take a Stand

Take A Stand

Psalm 18:32-34 (NLT) God arms me with strength, and he makes my way perfect. He makes me as surefooted as a deer, enabling me to stand on mountain heights. He trains my hands for battle; he strengthens my arm to draw a bronze bow.

“He (or she) who kneels before God can stand before anyone.” (Unknown and paraphrased)

Psalm 18 is David’s song to the Lord praising God for rescuing him from all his enemies particularly Saul. Who better to sing it than the shepherd boy turned mighty warrior with a single stand and monumental victory over a Philistine giant with one small pebble hurled by faith and powered by the Hand of God. David did stand in strength and power full of self-confidence and natural abilities. He was a scrawny kid surrounded by a battalion of soldiers whose heart was firmly established in the Lord. God arms me with strength. He makes my way perfect. He makes me surefooted. He enables me to stand on mountain heights. He trains my hands for battle. He strengthens my arm to draw a bronze bow. One might think this is a battle cry of a highly trained tactical fighting machine but really it is more about the human heart than any man’s ability.

Adrenaline fuels our heart and mind to react to a situation. We will either fight or flee depending on our perception of the outcome of an encounter. In the natural, it is often an assumption made after sizing up our opponent or obstacle to determine one’s ability to overcome. But with God all things are possible to those who believe. Do you believe today? Do you have faith and confidence that God is for you? Do you believe that He loves you and will never leave or forsake you? Our mind can play tricks on us especially when the enemy comes with clever traps of half-truth and deception. He cannot stop the plan or purpose of God in our life. He is successful only when we give up or give in to human temptation, weakness or emotions. Yet even still God’s Word for you will never return to Him void. What the Lord has promised – He will deliver – if we stand!

God arms me with strength. God’s Power is delivered by grace in our weakness. It is the humility of repentance when our life is turned over to the Lord and trust begins to develop that victory is secured. I know it seems preposterous that in surrender that His Power is most effective. It seems illogical. But what if this strength mentioned in Psalm 18 is not about anything our physical body can do but rather strength of spirit to trust the Lord until the bitter end. To stand in the field well sown but not growing. To believe in famine and drought that you will do more than survive but God says you will thrive. How do we find our way to the source of strength that becomes the sound foundation of a prosperous life? Tell us today David where does your strength come from? “I love you, Lord. You are my strength.” (Psalm 18:1) From beginning to end, David put his heart and soul into knowing and loving the Lord. From the pasture full of sheep to the battlefield of soldiers, God was God to David.

Psalm 139:1-6 (NLT) O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord. You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand!

He makes my way perfect. In Psalm 139, there is a glimpse of the moment of creation. An intimate encounter with God even delving into His Thoughts for us. God is greater than our emotions and feelings. When He created us it was with the full potential of purpose that would completely satisfy our life exceedingly and abundantly more than we could think or ask or even imagine. Knowing this and believing this requires a self-discipline that stands when every fiber of our being says to run. It is the hardest part of spiritual maturity. To develop an understanding that doesn’t understand everything (or anything) God is doing yet still chooses to continue following His Path. To decide God you are who You say you are and will do what You say You will do and live life with such a conviction and confidence that keeps us in place. It is hard. It is completely contrary to our education and life experience that is until we encounter the Living God and begin to experience His Promises.

It is not uncommon to come to crossroads of decision each day. Who will I trust? What will I believe? Will I consistently choose the better way? Jeremiah 6:16 talks about crossroads – “This is what the Lord says: “Stop at the crossroads and look around. Ask for the old, godly way, and walk in it. Travel its path, and you will find rest for your souls. But you reply, ‘No, that’s not the road we want!’” How many times have I made a rational choice rather than a radical commitment to do things God’s Way? I cannot count the number of times that I have taken my toys and gone home rather than continued laboring in the field God has placed me. What about you? Have you done the same? Well, I have good news. His Mercy is new every morning. His People are called to endurance so there is still time. The God who created you knows you. He had to if His Son would provide enough grace to save and empower you. You may have made a bad choice but today is a new day. The Lord inside of you is full of resurrection power and life which is yours for the asking and ready for the taking of those who surrender it all to Him.

A little knowledge of God is worth more than great knowledge about him. (J.I. Packer)

He makes me as surefooted as a deer, enabling me to stand on mountain heights. God is fortifying our feet to be surefooted. To stand on mountain heights and look at life from His Perspective requires conditioning. I could not hike up a mountain in my present condition. I am embarrassed at my unhealthy state compared to a few years ago. When I finally foray back into the gym, I will have to recondition my body. It will take time. It will require a commitment. I must ignore screaming muscles and dying fat to continue to bring my body into subjection. And so it is with our heart, soul and mind when it comes to being “surefooted” in the Lord. His Perspective is higher than our own. His Plan is naturally uncommon. His Purpose fully encompassing a life not fully lived. It is our passion to know God that keeps us engaged. Knowing about him does nothing for us. I have thoroughly researched the gyms close to my work and home. I know their hours of operation. I know the equipment offered. I have inquired as to membership fees and requirements. I have not made a commitment yet. Therefore, my knowledge is really doing nothing for me. We must exercise our knowledge of God by faith to make it wisdom beneficial in our life. It requires a commitment. It will take trust to get us there. Our confidence must be in the Living God who is not fully understood yet embraced just the same. Maybe the greatest battle in standing is not taking one but staying there until the battle is won!

“God is not what you imagine or what you think you understand. If you understand – you failed.” (St. Augustine)

He trains my hands for battle; he strengthens my arm to draw a bronze bow. The battle is the Lord’s today and every day. His Plan for you and me is in full effect. The stand to be taken is in solidarity with God. To continually walk in His Ways while training our heart and mind to trust Him implicitly. It doesn’t matter whether you think your enemies are many and your strength too small – greater is He who is in you than he that is in the world. No weapon formed against you will prosper. God is offering you His Strength today. He will be your refuge. It is all up to you. Will you take a stand against human understanding today? Will you believe past your doubt and disbelief? Will you say to the Lord forsaking all others I choose you? These are the words of warriors who win battles and overcome all obstacles in life. The warrior is you! Take a stand! The war waged against you is won in your heart not with your hands!

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NLT) Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.

Philippians 4:7 (NLT) Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

In the Trenches

In the Trenches

Romans 8:1-2 (NLT) So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.

Woke up to the sound of rain today. Not gentle droplets on the window sill but a pounding torrential downpour with rolling thunder. Turning over pulling the covers a little bit higher, I don’t want to get out of bed but rather soak in some extra sleep and surrender to laziness. Struggling to pull myself out of bed, all the inconvenience of going outside and loss of comfort keeps me cozy and in place. Blame it on the rain! I can do this. I will do this. I must do this. It’s Sunday! It’s the Lord’s Day!

Rain is a life giver. As it soaks the fresh cut grass, it is a brilliant green. All the spring pollen is washed away, and it smells new outside. Our lab thinks it is just for her. A gift from Heaven as she frolics, runs and rolls in it. She is a waterdog. Made for such a time as this, I stand wrapped in a jacket hoping it will end before our departure. Yet her enthusiasm makes me smile – she loves the rain. Maybe the rain is just for her…

There is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. The power of the life giving Spirit has freed us. I will rejoice. Sometimes caught in the trenches of service for the Lord, it is easy to forget what this thing called ministry is all about. We are ambassadors of Christ called to ministry in our once ordinary life given to extraordinary potential with Jesus. Those who are called are equipped with the Spirit of God and ability to make it rain especially in the life of those currently living in seasons of drought, despair and darkness.

I Kings 18:41-45 (NLT) Then Elijah said to Ahab, “Go get something to eat and drink, for I hear a mighty rainstorm coming!” So Ahab went to eat and drink. But Elijah climbed to the top of Mount Carmel and bowed low to the ground and prayed with his face between his knees. Then he said to his servant, “Go and look out toward the sea.” The servant went and looked, then returned to Elijah and said, “I didn’t see anything.” Seven times Elijah told him to go and look. Finally the seventh time, his servant told him, “I saw a little cloud about the size of a man’s hand rising from the sea.” Then Elijah shouted, “Hurry to Ahab and tell him, ‘Climb into your chariot and go back home. If you don’t hurry, the rain will stop you!’”

This chapter of I Kings chronicles the “contest on Mount Carmel”, the place where God poured out His Glory, Elijah overcame and killed the prophets of Baal and there was a revival amount the people. “And when all the people saw it, they fell face down on the ground and cried out, ‘The Lord—he is God! Yes, the Lord is God!’” THEN, Elijah went to pray for rain. The chapter begins by setting the scene. It was the third year of drought. The promise spoken to Elijah from the Lord – I will soon send rain! The problem in the midst of it all – disbelief. The people had given their heart and mind to serve a dead god – Baal. Yet the Living God pursued them nevertheless. The only thing standing between them and relief from the drought was repentance and revival. Life in the trenches is where we find Elijah. He did not pray for rain with expectancy until the people were revived in heart and soul.

Luke 15:4-7 (NLT) “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders. When he arrives, he will call together his friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’ In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!

Death was introduced to mankind by one man, Adam. Grace was delivered to all mankind through one man – Jesus Christ. Elijah was one man. He was sent to end drought. The contest on Mount Carmel had to be accomplished so the heart of the people would be ready for rain. More importantly, they had to align themselves with God to receive it. Elijah released God’s Glorious Grace when he overcame the prophets of Baal that day. It was not in their death but the new life and hope created when the people recognized God coming back to Him in humility.

I wonder if we forget that sometimes. When a church service doesn’t produce an altar full or maybe the response to the message seems to be nil. Do we lose sight off the greater good that is the power of grace in one person? “There is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and turns to God.” We can all pretend to be righteous or maybe a tad bit religious but when our heart repents and our soul is revived – God sends an outpouring of His Glory like never before. We can pick apart our church and all the people in it. We will miss the point altogether and live limited lives. Elijah dug trenches around the sacrifice filling them with water. It would be impossible for God to light a fire, right? No miracles happen in the impossible. If you have been praying for an abundance of rain, but seem to be living in drought – God is ready to pour out rain on your life today. Examine your heart and align your mind with His Word again. If you have been working a dry and barren land that seems impossible to bear fruit, keep digging those trenches for the rain is coming when the soil becomes broken and fertile. The rain is coming – will you be there to experience His Outpouring? God’s Word will not fail. He will do exactly as He promised. We must humble ourselves and pray with repentant hearts ready for revival. This is life in the trenches and you are in good company!

2 Chronicles 7:13-15 (NLT) At times I might shut up the heavens so that no rain falls, or command grasshoppers to devour your crops, or send plagues among you. Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land. My eyes will be open and my ears attentive to every prayer made in this place.

Wild Horses

Wild Horses

2 Timothy 1:7 (NLT) For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

If I had a dime for every time I have recited this verse to my rambling mind, rebellious thoughts and overwrought emotions. God did not give me the spirit of fear but there are days I completely own it myself. Stress and anxiety fuel doubt and disbelief. The enemy whispers, “But…” Lies that get me all hot and bothered as I try to wrestle in my flesh and take captive those thoughts that so easily distract me. God did not give me the spirit of fear or timidity. He didn’t give it to you either. Anything contrary to God in our life must go in order for us to fully embody Christ and experience freedom that is given through Him.

Yesterday was one of those days, after a week of fighting the good fight, it seemed like it was going to be a good day. I got out of the house on time – major victory for the time challenged. I had an awesome worship, praise and prayer time on the way to work. Two major victories before the morning meeting at work had me feeling pretty confident that it was going to be a great close to the long week. Well then the enemy lobbed a bomb over the fence and immediately I was on the run. I was angry, mad, stressed, worried and anxious all at the same time all of a sudden. Caught off guard, I was unsuccessful at pulling in the wild horses dragging me off fast and furiously. It’s hard to remember to never let your guard down especially on the “good” days. To think that the enemy is not lurking in the darkness just looking for a foothold. For me it came as a “misunderstanding” mixed with some “confusion” all the enemy’s tactics waging war against a confident heart and made up mind. “Are you sure? What if? Or else?” Subtle attacks that lead to devastating results if not handled immediately.

So this morning, I am going to share three tips for reining in “wild horses”? Those thoughts and notions that there is a limit to God’s Love, Power and Faithfulness in our life. I hope they help you. They are not quick fixes. It will take a lot of time and practice to instill them as habits in an emotional world that has decided God is not who He claims to be and tries to rob the finished work of Christ on the Cross. So here goes…

Power

2 Corinthians 12:9 (NLT) Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.

Matthew 19:26 (NLT) Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.

Luke 1:37 (NLT) For the Word of God will never fail.

Grace is available in our weakness. Power comes when we relinquish control of our life to the Power of God promised by Jesus and the Word of God. The problem is that our world is D-I-Y obsessed even the church. “Well, if I don’t do it – who will?” The one called and commissioned to. Giving up control is what crucifying the flesh is all about. To decide that you will fully invest your life in God’s Way through the Way – Jesus Christ means giving up your power to fully embrace His Power. How do you do that? Repentance. Obedience. Trust. Key components to full embracing God’s Power is at the end of self. We cry out for God’s Intervention asking Him to open the windows of Heaven over us and fill our life with the abundance that is promised but never really understanding the change that comes with it. We cannot live in the Presence of God unchanged. We cannot reach the depths offered without giving up our current position. There is no way to discover the vastness and limitless boundaries of His Love and Grace for us without accepting His Grace fully.

Love

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.

I John 4:18 (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.

There is no limit on God’s Love. He pursues us with unfailing love. (Psalm 23) It is endless reaching from creation, through life and into eternity. God demonstrated His Love by giving us amazing grace. The kind of grace that works best in our weakness. Christ was the example who was crucified in weakness to give way to resurrection power and new life. We have overwhelming victory in Jesus Christ who loved us. His Spirit lives in us as evidence of adoption. No longer are we exiled from God but through Christ reconciled as sons and daughters of God. Do you love your children? How much? Too much sometimes, right? How much more does God love us? Do you believe that God loves you today? Are you convinced? Love is the conviction of God’s Faithfulness to us outside of our ability to remain pure and blameless. His Love came down and rescued us in our weakness and gave us victory. We do not deserve it. We cannot earn it. We can do nothing to repay God for His Gift. The only thing we can do is believe it and live in that love fearlessly.

Fear is evidence that there is doubt or disbelief in the fulfillment of God given through Jesus Christ. It does not fully embrace the finished work on the Cross or grab hold of the “overwhelming victory” promised in God’s Word. The only hope that you and I have of living a courageous life is in our ability to completely and confidently receive God’s Love. To allow His Love to change our heart, soul and mind until it is completely convinced that there is nothing that can separate us from His Love. His Faithfulness is not contingent on anything we do other than to believe it enough to embrace it and stop running from Him.

In fact, the Word of God says those that believe in the perfect love of God live fearlessly. Perfect love expels fear. The solution to the problem does not end fear. Fear continually sows seeds when not eradicated. It is in the constant sowing of God’s Love in our life that fear has no place to grow, mature or develop into worries, cares, stress or burdens. The conviction of God’s Love is the birthplace of freedom. It is the place where ordinary life takes on an extraordinary existence. Right where you are even if nothing changes. Perfect peace takes over until God delivers.

Self-Discipline or Self-Control

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 (NLT) We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do. We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ.

Proverbs 25:28 (NLT) A person without self-control is like a city with broken-down walls.

I Peter 1:13 (NLT) So prepare your minds for action and exercise self-control. Put all your hope in the gracious salvation that will come to you when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world. 

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

Each week I make a grocery list and menu for the upcoming week. I have the best intentions of making delicious meals for my family that are often upended by busyness. Just because I have all the ingredients doesn’t mean I will follow through with my original plan. The Holy Spirit produces all the good fruit for an amazing life – but self-control is what we must use to make it all work together. My thoughts are pivotal in execution of God’s Plan. I must rein in every thought contrary to Christ and adverse to God’s Word. I cannot allow myself the opportunity to worry, stress or fear what is to come. God promised to work every detail of my life for His Good and Glory. Do I believe Him? My response to lies and taunts of the enemy will reveal the content and true conviction of my heart. Consumed by worry, I must decide to worship. I cannot give lies permission to remain but must pray and praise my way through it. I must give up every other conviction than the one that says, “God loves me and He is for me – I cannot fail!”

When I was much younger, I had a good friend who owned horses. We could go riding on Saturdays. There was one particular horse that I was riding which was a bit skittish. My friend who was a confident equestrian asked as we were headed home, “Would you like to change horses because the one that I was on was “barn sour”? I had no idea what that meant and later wish I did. Coming out of the woods when she saw the pens and barn just past it – she took off running out-of-control. I pulled the reins with all my might but she was not having it. All I could do was hang on and pray I didn’t fall off in her haste.

A “barn sour” or “herd bound” behavior is produced by anxiety. Fear of separation from the herd or physical location which it deems secure such as a pasture or barn. It is a dangerous behavior as the rider loses all control of the animal. There is no threat except the stress of the animal. The basis for this equine problem is one that many humans suffer from, too. Insecurity. According to experts, the insecurity caused by this instinct in horses is exacerbated by a lack of training which is easily overcome.  You must teach the horse to be responsive to your clues. It is the same with people who want to live a fearless life embracing fully the freedom given to us by Jesus.

Father, I ask you to flood our hearts with light today. Expose every lie that the enemy has sown in us that it may be uprooted and replanted with faith. I rebuke fear, stress, anxiety, worries and care commanding them to go in Jesus Name. Lord, I trust you. Help any disbelief in me to give way to resurrection power and life. I believe that You love me. I am convinced that nothing can separate me from Your Love even my fears, doubts and insecurities that you are removing right now. Lord, let your Spirit complete His Work in me. I give you permission to permeate every part of my life for my good and Your Glory! In the Name above all names – Jesus!

Ephesians 1:18-23 (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. I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms. Now he is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else—not only in this world but also in the world to come. God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made him head over all things for the benefit of the church. And the church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself.

 

Unlikely Opportunities

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Psalm 76:23-26 (NIV) Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

“Deny your weakness and you will never realize God’s Strength in you.” (Joni Eareckson Tada)

The unlikely opportunity of empowerment comes at the high price of the realization of weakness. The moment that mind over matter doesn’t work anymore and human inadequacy will fail the test of time and trial – this is the pivotal placement of dependency on God. Human nature demands a breaking point to lay aside pride and lean on the Lord. The mountain has to be too big. The valley too low. The season too hard. Or the darkness impenetrable for our pride to finally die. We are created in the Image of God. The bigger they are the harder they fall.

My flesh and heart may fail… is a huge understatement. My flesh will fail. My heart does fail. Those seasons of life that are just too much for our humanness so our heart turns to God. Though it is not a time called affectionately to our remembrance, those who wait upon the Lord or find Him there will never give up the strength and power of His Presence. It changes you. You are still made of flesh. Everyone has a wavering heart, but it is in the Presence and Power of our Creator that we find a new kind of strength called trust that will fill us with peace even in the midst of tremendous pressure.

God is the strength of my heart and portion forever. Is He enough? Is your faith and confidence in God enough? The Lord cannot heal unless something is broken. He cannot fill a place that is already full. Miracles happen in the midst of the impossible. You cannot find your place in Jesus until you stand down from self. Such unlikely opportunities, all the things that the world tells us to avoid. These are the primary places of true empowerment. When weariness gives way to an upset, when our strength completely fails and all that is left is to surrender to the Power and Presence of God.

When life falls apart and the world crashing down around us – chaos ensues. Our mind cannot wrap itself around the incomprehensible tragedy or loss surrounding the time and place when our normal is no longer. It happens all the time. The unexplainable time when human understanding is lost and all that is left is to look to our Lord and Savior. What will that moment look life for you? For Joni Eareckson Tada, it was the moment a freak accident forced her into a wheelchair and a life of quadriplegia. For me, the moment our son was diagnosed with cancer. The same cancer that would come back aggressively time and time again. The days of fighting for treatment in a world that puts a price on human life. The aftermath of a warrior with a body covered with battle scars. Maybe for you it was in the loss of a loved one to death or even in life. Perhaps it was a career that abruptly ended or financial disaster. Could it have been when you just couldn’t do it anymore?

Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. Such a glorious hope that we have in Jesus, a bright and shining light that sometimes requires shrouds of darkness to truly discover. The Lord is always with us. He is right there with you. It doesn’t matter if you wandering off or ran from Him. He pursues you every day with unfailing love and goodness. His Glory is ready to overtake you. He deposits new mercy on your doorstep each morning and His Grace is enough. It is sufficient for you in every situation. I will always be the place where His Strength and Power overtake us. It is the unlikeliest of places but has the most potential of all.

2 Corinthians 12:8-10 (NIV) Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Every weakness is the opportunity for God to show us His Glory and Strength. Empowerment is a benefit of grace and reward of surrender. God has given us His Spirit. The Spirit is hard at work producing good fruit in our life according to His Word. He is our helper in all things. The Holy Spirit is also our guarantee. The One deposited in us when every promise became “yes” and “amen”. He will not force us into submission. He will not demand our surrender. He waits in us for the moment it is our choice. It is in that time and space that the Presence of God overtakes us and a new strength of heart called faith emerges. The crevices of a broken heart give way to fertile soil that allows His Spirit to sustain us even in seasons of famine and drought. When nothing seems to be going right but rather coming apart. It is right then and there that something changes. We give up our way to fully embrace His Way. Thank you Lord for the days when everything falls apart that You are forever faithful in making every detail and taking every piece of my broken heart to fill with power and use for Your Glory! God is good! He is always good! His Goodness is ready to overtake you today! Max Lucado said, “I simply think God is greater than our weakness. In fact, I think it is our weakness that reveals how great God is.” I agree.

Isaiah 40:28-31 (NIV) Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

“The human experience of weakness is God’s Blueprint for calling attention to the supremacy of His Son. When miserably failing people continue to belong to, believe in, and worship Jesus, God is happy.” (Michael Spencer) Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. He provides unlikely opportunities for ordinary life to become an extraordinary existence. He turns natural consequences into supernatural experiences for those who choose to surrender every weakness to Him. The Lord did not come to condemn us. There is no condemnation in Jesus Christ. He is the Resurrection and Life. He is where dead things breathe again. He is where the terminal is no longer fatal. He is the Alpha and Omega or the Beginning and the End. It’s not over until the Lord says so. The Lord is an everlasting God. He will not give up when you do. He will not give in because you decide its time. No, the Lord will finish the good work that He began in your life. All you have to do is hope in Him. Trust Him. Believe Him.

“A sacrifice to be real must cos, must hurt, and must empty ourselves. Give yourself fully to God. He will use you to accomplish great things on the condition that you believe much more in His LOVE than your weakness.” (Mother Teresa)

I Corinthians 1:26-30 (NIV) Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.