Unpardonable Sin

Unpardonable Sin

I Peter 5:7-9 (NLT)

Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are.

 

I read the testimony of a porn star who left the industry to become an activist against human trafficking. As I read her account of fame and fortune in the depths of despair, she was the number one “Googled” actress for many years one who rose from the darkness and secret corners to be recognized in public. Drugs and alcohol with a deep longing for a peaceful end called suicide ended when she was indicted as the head of an escort agency becoming an active participant in the degradation that had put her in this pit. Naturally, my flesh thought of course she wanted out. She was now about to lose her freedom and be carted off to prison. Until I read a little further, she was a preacher’s kid. Raised in the church, she became a youth pastor going into the high school’s teaching abstinence and purity. She was raped. At that point, she believed that she was now worthless and entered the industry on a fluke when someone asked her to “model” for their website. With each act, she felt was her punishment for what had happened to her. Lord, forgive me for being so judgmental. Have I forgotten where I came from? The depths of the pit that once held me. How it felt to be locked in self-condemnation? The ongoing punishment of self-inflicted pain for sin that could be so freely forgiven? In my repentance, I am reminded that the greatest and most effective lie of the enemy today is that any sin is unpardonable.

Unpardonable sin is the result of a hierarchy of pride in human hearts. Society has determined that there are levels to sin and the church has not helped in this endeavor. To imply that God still punishes the redeemed of sin is a lie. Jesus Christ is the answer to all sin. Those who call on Jesus to be their Savior and Lord though they sin will never be condemned again. But when our relationship to the Son of God somehow gets wrapped in religion, it is sometimes difficult to separate the sinner from sin. One sin was enough to nail Jesus to the Cross. A variety of depravity was not necessary to cause the torture and murder of an innocent man. Just a single law broken. A lie would have done the trick. Any act of obedience no matter how large or how small is a step that can become a fatal turn for those who do not understand the magnificence and magnitude of God’s Grace for humanity. All of humanity.

When I was in my late teens, I was very active in church. Returning from a mission trip to Africa, I was offered a position at our church which had over 25,000 members. It was my dream. However, I made a mistake that I somehow believed was too big for God to forgive so I walked away from it all. My church, my family, my life and my calling. For years, I wandered. Marriage ended in divorce. Three little people who now had imperfect lives because of me. I was a life failure in my own eyes not worthy of God’s Grace. How could He love me? I knew Him and still managed to mess up so horribly. In the midst of my downward spiral, I met my husband. On our second date, we were talking about the future. The kind of life we one day hoped for. He said, “If I get married, whoever my wife is will have to love God.” Given our positions in life at that time, this could only have come from the Holy Spirit hidden in us both trying to get out. I knew from that moment on that he would be my husband. When I look at my life now, how can I not serve God? In the last sixteen years, God has proven over and over again that He never wanted to punish me but has done nothing but lavished His Love and Affection over my life over and over again. It only takes one stumble, one fall, one disappointment and one devastating turn for the enemy to take over with a single lie.

God’s Grace is ALWAYS sufficient for me (2 Corinthians 12:9) …and you! To think that it is not is the moment that we become vulnerable and easily devoured by the lie of the enemy. We must give all of our worries and cares to the Lord as an act of faith and trust so that moment we do make that one mistake or create a terrible mess that we are not easily overtaken. There is no unpardonable sin just one big lie that there might be.

I Samuel 12:19-22 (NLT)

“Pray to the Lord your God for us, or we will die!” they all said to Samuel. “For now we have added to our sins by asking for a king.” “Don’t be afraid,” Samuel reassured them. “You have certainly done wrong, but make sure now that you worship the Lord with all your heart, and don’t turn your back on him. Don’t go back to worshiping worthless idols that cannot help or rescue you—they are totally useless! The Lord will not abandon his people, because that would dishonor his great name. For it has pleased the Lord to make you his very own people.

The Children of Israel had asked for a king. Rather than allowing the Lord to lead them, they wanted a man. When they realized their mistake, they asked the prophet, Samuel, to pray for them because they had sinned against God and now expected punishment for their actions. Samuel told them, “Don’t be afraid, you have certainly done wrong but make sure now that you worship the Lord with all your heart.” This is the moment when tragedy is turned to triumph and the most challenging step a person must make. To turn back to the Lord immediately or just give up. The Lord will not abandon His People…ever. Even when we bring dishonor to His Name, reject His Son’s sacrifice or bring sorrow to His Spirit – His Love is still unfailing and His Grace never-ending.

How do we get this message across to the world? How do we help others see that God’s Love and Forgiveness is greater than any sin every committed? It begins with us. Believers must come down off the high horse of condemning others. A lack of forgiveness has drained love from the Body of Christ and now the world sees the church as condemning rather comforting. There is no unity in the Body of Christ. With churches splitting and dividing when one pastor divorces another and form two new bodies, I know four pastors who once worked together each with their own church today filled with people who love one another from afar because of the differences of men. There is no unpardonable sin. Love covers a multitude of sin.

Romans 3:23 (NLT) For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.

Everyone has sinned and will sin falling short of God’s Glorious standard. Everyone. Every single person drawing breath will sin at least once if not multiple times in the course of the day. We are all on the same plight. We try not to sin but do any way. The only hope we have is in Jesus Christ. (Romans 7:19-21) I read an article after the “Ashley Madison” leak that estimated more than 400 pastors, teachers, deacons and elders would resign from their church. No 4, 40 but 400. Sin is rampant. Love has grown cold. What are we going to do about it? It is heartbreaking to think that many will tumble into the depths of despair and darkness never to return to the Light of His Love because their hidden sins are revealed when there are many who are thankful it wasn’t them yet fail to embrace those who are victims.

Hebrews 9:14-15 (NLT)

Just think how much more the blood of Christ will purify our consciences from sinful deeds so that we can worship the living God. For by the power of the eternal Spirit, Christ offered himself to God as a perfect sacrifice for our sins. That is why he is the one who mediates a new covenant between God and people, so that all who are called can receive the eternal inheritance God has promised them. For Christ died to set them free from the penalty of the sins they had committed under that first covenant.

 

We need the Blood of Jesus to permeate our hearts and minds once again. His Grace is not only sufficient for me but everyone who Christ died for. He died to set all of mankind free from the penalty of sin. Sin is part of who we are. Every person struggles with sin the same way. The only way we overcome sin in our life is to love God more than sin. To seek Jesus over our own way which leads to sin. To avoid the darkness and choose the Light of His Love. Jesus has given us grace but now we learn the meaning of Grace and the worth of His Mercy given to us new each morning. (Lamentations 3:22-23)

I John 5:18-21 (NLT)

We know that God’s children do not make a practice of sinning, for God’s Son holds them securely, and the evil one cannot touch them. We know that we are children of God and that the world around us is under the control of the evil one. And we know that the Son of God has come, and he has given us understanding so that we can know the true God. And now we live in fellowship with the true God because we live in fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ. He is the only true God, and he is eternal life. Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your hearts.

This world is under the control of the evil one. You may not believe in the court rulings or the glamorization of sin. We have redefined “hero” to mean anyone who is willing to bring their secret life out in the open. Christians are voicing their opinion on social media and being beat to death with their own Bibles in commentary. However, I do not believe that godly men and women should be labeling one sin more heinous or depraved than another and be very careful when speaking on the matter. To make fun of someone in sin is not what we are called to do. We are to show love and compassion for all mankind leading them by love and forgiveness. The church cannot require people to change to come to church but be so filled with God’s Power that they cannot help but want to change when they encounter His Presence in that place.

There is one true God. His Son, Jesus Christ, died to release every man and woman that He created from sin’s penalty. Who are we to decide that their sin is any worse than our own just because we think it is worse? Sin is vile to God! Every single one. He made sure that not a single sin was unpardonable it is time we do the same. Sin is always going to be wrong. I am not advocating that preachers stop calling it what it is and warning against it. What I am saying is that we must open our hearts and minds to love God with such abandon that we understand just how wide, deep, long and high His Love is for us so we can give it to others. Everyone else even those we find the most vile and repulsive. It only takes one sin to turn someone from seeking God to becoming the person we deem unfit. Just one.

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!

 

The Lantern and Compass

The Lantern and Compass

Psalm 43:3-5 (MSG)

Give me your lantern and compass, give me a map, so I can find my way to the sacred mountain, to the place of your presence, to enter the place of worship, meet my exuberant God, sing my thanks with a harp, magnificent God, my God.

Worship is the most awesome privilege that we have as believers who have put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ. It is a moment of detachment from every care, worry and burden in this world releasing every title and responsibility into the vastness of who He is and His Great Love for immediate abatement. Worship is a premeditated process. It is deliberate. Praise is more spontaneous. Rising up through our emotions and stimulated by excitement, praise usually has a precursor of some sort. However, worship is all about Jesus. It is all about Who He is. It is defined by nothing we have experienced other than His Love and Grace.

Today is Sunday. In a little while, we will load up our family and head to church for a morning worship service. However, the outcome of that service has already been predetermined by those who are preparing to go. Psalm 43 says, “Give me your lantern and compass, give me a map, so I find my way to the sacred mountain to the place of Your Presence to enter worship.” Just as we must decide what to wear, when to leave, and how to get to church there is a process to prepare to worship the Lord. Many will be too busy bundling up their burdens and carrying their problems to truly encounter the place of His Presence that worship takes us. My hope and prayer today is that they will read this and see that to abandon all that and make the choice to prepare to worship the Lord making their way into His Presence will take care of all the rest of our needs, wants, problems and situations.

All week lives are dedicated to meeting needs, solving problems, responsibilities, fighting up the corporate ladder, or just trying to get by. The enemy will provide as many distractions as it takes to keep people from spending time with God each day. He will make it seem like we are too busy for the Lord when in reality it would impact all those other things we strive for. In worship today, it will be clear the men and women of God who made the journey and those who are uncomfortable during worship. As the Presence of God enters the room, how will you respond? Will it matter what the musicians are doing? Will you be conscious of what those around you might think? Or will it be like David how told his wife it didn’t matter what she thought and he would get even more undignified than this? Worship sacrifices all that we are, want, need and desire for just a moment in His Presence to absorb all that He is. It will change the course of your life from that moment on even if it doesn’t solve a thing.

John 4:24 (NLT) For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”

 

John 4:23-24 (MSG)

“It’s who you are and the way you live that count before God. Your worship must engage your spirit in the pursuit of truth. That’s the kind of people the Father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before him in their worship. God is sheer being itself—Spirit. Those who worship him must do it out of their very being, their spirits, their true selves, in adoration.”

 

We are to worship in Spirit and in Truth. Jesus said it so it must be true, right? God is a Spirit. When Jesus died, He released His Spirit. He gave us poured out His Spirit on people during Pentecost and does even today. The Spirit of God is pivotal to worshipping God because He makes sense of the Truth for us. The Truth is God’s Word. Without God’s Spirit which identifies us as His Own (Ephesians 1:13; Ephesians 4:30) and guarantees every promise (2 Corinthians 1:22) – the Word holds nothing for us because sin kept it from us. When we accept Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, His Spirit becomes our helper. We need His Help. To ignore the Holy Spirit or pretend He doesn’t exist because we are uncomfortable or doctrinally forbidden will hinder our walk with Jesus Christ. You cannot walk in God’s Perfect Will without Him. The Word of God becomes our book of endless promises once we have been called Children of God and guaranteed such by the Holy Spirit. He is our Lantern.

Joshua 1:7-9 (NLT)

Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do. Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

 

The Word of God is your title and deed to everything that God has promised you. When the enemy comes and says, “No, that’s mine.” You can pull out a promise and shut him up immediately, if you know the Word of God. Too many Christians walk through the battle for faith weaponless. Without a clue of the power and authority given to them in Jesus Christ, they just let the enemy toss them back and forth. Faith and fear are constant opponents. Joshua told the people, “Do not deviate from them (God’s Instructions)… you will be successful in EVERYTHING you do. Study the Book of Instruction continually.” The Word of God helps us understand the Will and Way of God. It defines His Character introducing us to who He really is. It is the pure unadulterated truth. How can we know if what our pastors, teachers and mentors are saying is true, if we have nothing to compare it to? Their teaching should open new conversations with God or confirm that which God is speaking directly to us. Men and women of God are people. We do not go through people to get to God anymore. The Word of God is our compass directly into the Presence of God giving us access by truly knowing Him.

Ephesians 4:21-24 (NLT)

Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.

 

To have the Holy Spirit (the Lantern) and know the Word of God (the Compass) but do nothing with it would be such a waste. It is armed with these two necessities that we live a righteous live in the Grace of God to the Glory of God. Righteousness obtained through Christ should be demonstrated in obedience. Faith in action is obedience. It is representative of the trust we have in the Word of God and lead by His Spirit to walk daily according to God’s Plan. It is an act of love and commitment to Christ that is not impacted by the five senses but a heartfelt response to His Spirit and His Truth. We know that He is good and His Way better so we walk in it. This is the map. Righteousness demonstrated in following Christ no matter where it leads knowing you will be an overcomer and victorious on the other side. It is a place of joy. Those who know they can win will always fight the hardest because they feel they have nothing to lose. Every day there is a call to worship by God but not many will enter in. When they finally make it to a church service – it feels foreign and unfamiliar so they fall for the lie that it is somehow not real. But those who carry the lantern, compass and follow the map each and every day will make it into the Presence of God and will succeed in all they do.

Acts 16:25-26 (NLT)

Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening. Suddenly, there was a massive earthquake, and the prison was shaken to its foundations. All the doors immediately flew open, and the chains of every prisoner fell off!

 

Be encouraged today! It doesn’t matter how hopeless your situation seems to be or how buried you are in problems. Worship will break every chain on your life. It will open doors that you thought were barricaded and locked for life. It begins now in the middle of you darkest night, lowest valley, rough side of the mountain, ready to give up, or in the midst of a raging storm. When you have nothing left to hold on to, abandoned by all and clinging to your last string – yet you decide to seek God anyway. The Presence of God is available anytime we see fit to enter in. Sometimes it requires getting past our situation, being uncomfortable, and the way we think things should be. Saul was a religious man. He knew the Word of God front to back. He followed it to the letter of the law. He benefited from it by living among the elite and highly religious. When he met Jesus, he became Paul. Now plunged to the depths of humility in the same jail cell where he placed so many Christians, he dared to worship God in that place. The doors opened. Chains fell off. Not just his, but every other prisoner in that place. Your worship will make you effective in sharing the Love of God with the world.

Psalm 89:15-17 (NLT)

Happy are those who hear the joyful call to worship, for they will walk in the light of your presence, Lord. They rejoice all day long in your wonderful reputation. They exult in your righteousness. You are their glorious strength. It pleases you to make us strong.

 

Our strength comes from the Lord. To live empowered by the Lord, one must live in His Presence remaining connected to the Source of Life every single moment of every single day. It is possible. The problem is it means evaluating and changing our way of life to make room for more of His Spirit and His Truth. We must live what we believe rather than having alternate identities that are donned only for church services. To live in the Presence of God means walking a different way. It is foolish to think that it is possible to travel in the same direction and reach a different destination. We need to remap our life using the Holy Spirit and the Word of God as our Lantern and Compass through life. God promises those who answer the call to worship will be happy! They will be successful and live in victory every day! To live in God’s Power is to worship Him each day. It is obvious the Lord has equipped us well to do so!

Psalm 100

Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth! Worship the Lord with gladness. Come before him, singing with joy. Acknowledge that the Lord is God! He made us, and we are his. We are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation.

Death of Religion

Death of Religion

Philippians 3:12-14 (NLT)

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

I am not a religious person. Organized religion is church business. It is built by man, maintained by the same, and I have yet to be the member of a perfect organization. I believe in the corporate body of believers that meet on a regular basis to minister to one another, share their lives, fellowship and grow the Kingdom of God. I am a church member. I attend regularly. I believe in tithing. But my motivation over the years has changed from being committed to a building filled with people to living in total abandon to the One who built it. This is not going where you think it is so bear with me especially those of you employed by the church or in full-time ministry who may be offended. This is not a call to leave the buildings and evacuate the people but a swift reminder from the Word of God before the massive revival that is coming arrives. We have played church. We have tinkered with religion. We have dated Jesus. Now it is time to be committed or make the best of the life we have.

I feel the pressure to change more than ever before. The Holy Spirit is moving among God’s People motivating a true and in-depth evaluation of faith and it shows in worship. God is stirring up the atmosphere around us and even the earth quakes in his close proximity. More than ever before there is an undeniable increase in seismic activity. Look it up. I know I know God really started this shift three years ago when my entire existence was turned upside down when our son was diagnosed with cancer not once but five times in three years. It changed my whole life. I was shaken from the inside out and all around. The sudden impact of the brevity of life with the realization that God is real and His Word completely true caused every fiber of my being to shift to high alert. Hours and hours of waiting, thinking and praying sometimes in silence helplessly watching over our son and other times with only the chiming of monitors breaking the isolation, I conversed with the Lord. It became an ongoing conversation as He took every single piece of my broken heart and began to piece it back together. No longer hardened by what I thought He wanted but softened to see that He had something better all along. Cancer lost. The lie of the enemy silenced. Our son has been in remission for a year now. Life is not normal. It will never be normal again. What the enemy meant to crush us only destroyed my religion.

Philippians 3:7-9 (NLT)

I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith.

 

What does Paul say is garbage? Religion. Yikes. What does that mean? Do I stop going to church? Do I stop doing “good” things? Do I stop tithing? (Ha! That’s a good one.) No. To do the permissible will of God and live according to the Word will benefit your life based solely on sowing and reaping. You will always reap what you sow, if you plant good stuff, you will harvest the same. So anything we do to promote the good things that God outlines in His Word will result in blessing. You can live your whole life religiously by going to church, doing good things, hanging on every word of the pastor, serving on the board, giving to the poor, helping every single widow and living a completely righteous life AND still miss the point. Every deed, every action, every word that we speak has the potential to solidify our place in the Kingdom of God. If we discipline ourselves as Christians, we still run the risk of missing the final cut.

There are two components in life that turn religion into true righteousness. These are the essentials that change our religion into a relationship with Jesus Christ. He is looking for true love and true faith. All the details outlined in the law really are not necessary according to the Law of Grace but according to love and faith they become our heart’s desire. If every single church member in the world gave up the pursuit of religion and participation in religious activities making their one goal to engage in a thriving and committed relationship with Jesus Christ the Body of Christ and His Church would absolutely explode. Yes, the church houses would be overflowing. The altars would be flooded. Why? Because without love and faith in Jesus Christ – there is no power to change for the better just feeble attempts to live a little better. Love overcomes a multitude of sin. Religion chooses to overlook it not conquer it. Faith makes the impossible possible. Religion pacifies us to accept that it might now. I want the same power that raised Jesus from the dead to be active in my life so that when I pass from this life through death’s door and step into Eternity – that my Lord and Savior will know me not only as one who He died for but one of those who loved Him enough to make Him my friend!

Revelation 2:2-5 (NLT)

 “I know all the things you do. I have seen your hard work and your patient endurance. I know you don’t tolerate evil people. You have examined the claims of those who say they are apostles but are not. You have discovered they are liars. You have patiently suffered for me without quitting. 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. If you don’t repent, I will come and remove your lampstand from its place among the churches.”

Do you remember when you found your first love? The first person that changed the way you saw life just in knowing them. I experienced it with my husband and all five of my children. I have friends that I love that way. It is almost instant and overwhelming all at the same time. The kind of love that you know that you must have them in your life. Those are the people who are still in my life today. Those who I love unconditionally – warts and all who love me the same way. Those are the ones that I must remain in contact with or feel a void in my life. Do remember what it was like to discover God’s Love and Sacrifice for you? Never in a single moment did you feel so alive. But then you got on with life, busy with work, running a household, chasing kids, paying bills and maybe even playing church until you became lukewarm about your love. Those who approach any relationship without commitment and unending grace will be disappointed. People will always let you down in their imperfections. But what about Jesus? Did you mistakenly decide that He was human too? Well, He’s not. He never left you. He kept His Eyes and Heart on you the whole time. He has been all in this relationship from the very beginning. He sees all the “good” things that you are doing. He knows your church attendance and tithing record. He even sees that you have “suffered” for Him. But what He really wants to know is if you still love Him like you did before?

First love is a quality of righteousness representative of a relationship with Jesus Christ that forsakes religion as the way to His Heart. Everything we do. Every word we speak. Everything we sacrifice and surrender in the Name of the Lord is meaningless if we do not do it in the name of passionate love, affection, devotion and commitment to Jesus Christ. All these good people who in a moment realize that somehow their love has turned to religion. Religion is based on our own abilities and forgets that none of that matters when Christ becomes our strength. Those who rely on the Lord and put their heart into living for Him will never feel the pressure of religious conformity but the desire to serve God wholeheartedly which will always make change a reality and His Perfect will possible in their life.

Hebrews 3:12-14 (NLT)

Be careful then, dear brothers and sisters. Make sure that your own hearts are not evil and unbelieving, turning you away from the living God. You must warn each other every day, while it is still “today,” so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God. For if we are faithful to the end, trusting God just as firmly as when we first believed, we will share in all that belongs to Christ.

 

“If we are faithful to end, trusting God just as firmly as when we first believed.” Faith is a requirement of any relationship. I have to trust my husband to remain married to him. My commitment to him is trust relationship. The Lord requires that we trust Him and we believe as we did when we first came to Him. Remember how you felt that day? The potential and promise rising from the ashes of former life and hope that your life would become the beautiful image that He promised. Nobody comes to Christ with the idea that there life is going to be terrible but too often they come with the idea that He is going to snap His Fingers and change everything in an instant. But what happens when there is a process? What if things don’t come out the way that we have decided that they should? What then?

We are to be faithful to the end trusting as when we first believed. Our hearts are easily persuaded by society and religion. We decide that we must do something to make God release His Power, Blessing and Potential in our life. We must give more, do more, speak up more and somehow work cooperatively with God to change His Mind and open His Hand. Well, they were wrong. We are wrong. Grace opened the Hand of God to us. To live by faith means trusting the Lord in every area and with every aspect of our life. Deciding what He says and believing it to do nothing but what He says until it comes to pass. It is to relinquish fear, stress and worry to accept joy, love and peace in the midst of oppression, pressure and adversity. To praise God in every storm because you know that He is in control and He is always good. See this is what this thing is all about. A relationship with God through Jesus Christ. (PERIOD) I can do nothing to facilitate that which means religion is dead. My salvation, my righteousness, His Promises and every blessing they hold are a direct result of what Christ accomplished on the Cross and to have them requires putting ALL of my faith and trust in the Lord and nothing else.

Romans 12:1-2 (NLT)

And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.[b]Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

 

I am not religious anymore. Religion is dead and resurrected in a relationship with Jesus Christ. We tried religion and it failed. It did not comfort me in my crisis. It did not help me through the storm. It did not provide for my every need. It did not strengthen me up the mountain. It did not bless me in the valley. When medicine failed my son, Jesus healed Him. Eternal life is based solely on our connection to Jesus Christ. What we do to make this life better is considered garbage. If we simply go to church to make things more comfortable and easier today, it is not living in confident hope. We must love Jesus. We must have faith in the Lord that is ever increasing and never subsiding gaining more momentum each day. Rather than reaching in it begins by delving deep within our heart, mind, body and spirit pulling them together in agreement wrapping them in true love and faith. Committing, sacrificing, surrendering and submitting all that we are into a relationship with Jesus Christ. He must be our motivation. He must be the reason that we do everything we do just because we love Him and trust Him. We must each evaluate our intentions when it comes to Christ and let religion die to make way from a loving relationship with the One who loved us first and will always love us the most! This is the death of religion. Lord, make my life a response to the love and faith I have in you! Let all that I say and do show others how much I love YOU!

I Peter 1:5-8 (NLT)

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

Broken Branches

Broken Branches

John 15:4-5 (NLT)

Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.

During the week, our family thrives on routine. Our schedule is set. Work/school, chores/homework, family dinner and rest. Repeat. This week has been a little different adjusting to the end of summer and the reimplementation of our regular schedule. My husband and I have been fasting so the usual dinner routine interrupted. As darkness made its way, I noticed that my husband was not in the house. Venturing out into the yard, there was a mound of branches, bushes and the like piled high by the flowerbed in front of the house. My “master gardener/expert yardman” had been at work. I was surprised as this would usually have been a weekend project. When I inquired about this sudden need for pruning, he said four of my favorite words. “Let’s go to Lowes.” He wanted new bushes to take the place of the ones he had uprooted. How is this significant you ask? At first, I had no idea until today.

God is so good! His Word sheds light on our life in ways that take a little digging and contemplation but will produce a blessing in our life if strive to discover the Truth. My prayer this week has been for spiritual renewal and release. The last chapter of our life is closed and a new one beginning. I want it to count. I want to make a difference in my house, my church, my community, my nation and the world for Jesus Christ. I want to share His Love on new levels to new people and in new ways. The only way that I will be successful in this endeavor is to have more of Him. I believe that was the very thing driving my husband, the constant and powerful intercessor, to outwardly begin pruning and cleaning that flowerbed. It was his humanity reacting to the Holy Spirit working within him during this week of godly focus. We want all of what God has for our family and our home.

Jesus said, “Remain in me and I will remain in you!” A severed branch will never again produce fruit. There are many things that cause brokenness in life. In that moment of uncertainty and change, we must decide who or what we will cling to. We may grow in certain situations but to produce fruit one must be connected to Christ completely. Apart from Jesus we can do nothing. When we allow other gods (work, family, friends, money or anything else) to come between us and the Lord – it effects our connection and limits our resources. Sin severs the connection even if it is a slow death. Sometimes we need to take time to evaluate our partnership with Jesus Christ and decide if there are some things being tolerated, substituted, accepted and compromised that are threatening our prosperity and growth. God’s permissible will allows to have a loose bond to Christ and live in His Grace. God’s Perfect will is what I am after. It requires radical obedience that is uncomfortable, uncompromising and totally committed to the repentance, restoration, renewal and revival process of growth in God.

Matthew 7:16-18 (NLT)

You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles?  A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit.

A good tree produces good fruit. A tree is identified by its fruit. Simple science that we can apply to our walk with Christ. Christians have made many hybrid forms of plants with fruits that are not created by the Lord. An apple tree in a hidden grove in a dense forest will still produce fruit when no one is tending its needs. The root of the tree is so deeply embedded in the ground it is constantly drawing its hidden nutrients. Its branches reach up to the sky to grab the sunshine and rain for more sustenance. Mighty storms come with forceful winds hurled by the Hand of God to shake the tree and naturally remove the old dead branches and dry leaves to make room for new growth and new life in the coming season. Season after season it produces apples because it is an apple tree firmly rooted and prospering right where it has been planted.

Every single person created by God has a purpose and plan with a future and hope. (Jeremiah 29:11) The only requirement is that people seek the Lord with their WHOLE heart. (Jeremiah 29:13) We live in a world of minor blessing and so-so prosperity. The church house is broke because the body has become a pile of broken or partially-connected branches. We have the Source of Life who wants us to become rooted and grounded in His Love, covered by His Grace with the opportunity to live in righteousness in the Kingdom of God. This is good ground. It is fertile soil. It requires planting and pruning that is characterized by obedience, endurance and discipline. For those who choose to strive to thrive, they will make it through the planting and pruning to prosperity – true prosperity. The kind of blessing that is not from money or power but submission – absolute and total surrender to the Source – Jesus Christ.

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!

 

The Holy Spirit produces the fruit in us that identifies us as believers. Love, joy and peace are the top pick for most people. However, when it comes to patience, most of us will agree that is not our favorite thing because it is produced by selflessness and waiting. Kindness, goodness, faithfulness and gentleness are what we desire from others but most often are not willing to give of ourselves. Self-control is the battle we fight every day to allow the Spirit of God to work in us and through us in spite of our flesh and need for immediate gratification and total comfort.

John 15:16-17 (NLT)

You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name. This is my command: Love each other.

 

Spiritual prosperity produces natural prosperity. This is not about blabbing it and grabbing it. It has nothing to do with stuff. Remembering that God looks at the intention of our heart before anything else we say or do, if you are seeking God for the things of this world you will be disappointed even if you have every”thing” that your heart desires. Without satisfaction, contentment, and fulfillment – there will still be a void in your life that cannot be filled by anything other than the Love of God and Fruit of His Spirit. God chose us to prosper. Jesus handed us the Keys to the Kingdom. We get so caught up in trying to open the doors of what we want or what we think we need that we do not understand that to remain in Jesus and cut away everything that hinders our connection opens the entire Kingdom to our disposal. When all we want is Jesus, our life will become full.

The Lord said, “I have appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit.” Why? “So that the Father will give you WHATEVER you ask for using my name.” We have to become of a like nature to be blessed. We must produce good and lasting fruit to be part of His Kingdom. We have been commanded to do so beginning with our love for one another.

John 15:7-9 (NLT)

But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father. “I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love.

 

God’s Word is the seed that grows our heart. It is the thing that changes the productivity in our life. But like a good recipe, if we do not follow the steps it will not turn out like the picture. It will not taste the same as the one who first prepared it. I cannot blame the recipe’s author when I refuse to do what it says with the outcome of my meal. When we take the Word of God into account in how we live – the productivity of our life will change. We see the promised results. It cannot be a half-hearted attempt but a wholehearted commitment to have God’s Fruit manifest in our life. We must have self-control and discipline that is a sacrifice of self to yield the produce of His Kingdom.

Colossians 2:6-10 (NLT)

And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ. For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority.

Just as you accepted Jesus as your Lord…is Jesus our Lord is the question? If so, He becomes the Master Gardner of our life. We are trees planted in His Garden. A tree cannot walk away from the pruning shears. It does not have an opinion. It does not have a choice when it comes to bearing fruit from season to season. It is rooted in the soil. It is its purpose to grow, mature and bear fruit. We are promised to prosper in life when we produce God’s Fruit. If we are not seeing this fruit or our fruit keeps going bad, it is a definite call to be pruned and prepared by the Lord. Fasting is one way we can talk control of our bodies and make way for His Spirit to move. Prayer is a necessity to know God’s Plan and live it. The Word of God is the seed that makes all His Promises grow and develop in our life. Without obedience and commitment to the growth process even when it is pruning, we will never be satisfied, content or fulfilled because outside of Jesus it is impossible. In Christ lives all the fullness of God in the human body. Can you only imagine what it would be like if every believer let Christ take over their life? The revival would be massive. Altars would be full. The world would be ready for His Return. God uses broken branches as the sacrifice for change. It is the very thing that allows us to grow and prosper again according to His Word. Father, today the one thing I ask and all that I seek is to be complete through my union to Your Son, Jesus Christ. Make Him the head and ruler over my life that I may produce every fruit that is whose seeds are buried with in me. Amen!

Philippians 1:11 (NLT)

May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation—the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ—for this will bring much glory and praise to God.

After This

After This

Revelation 19:1 (NIV)

After this I heard what sounded like the roar of a great multitude in heaven shouting: “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God…

Hallelujah! Praise the Lord! It is said to be the highest form of praise. Acknowledging the Supremacy and Power of God. While hallelujah is found many times in the Old Testament, it does not resurface in the Old Testament until Revelation 19. It is a praise that celebrates the Lord just as He is exalting Him above all other gods in our life and the universe. Hallelujah is not for everyone. It is for those who have made a choice. Those who have called Him Savior but more importantly those who know Him as Lord. There is power in this declaration because it is decisive. It is produced by the part of those who know God – love Him – need Him and serve Him as such. We should be singing hallelujah today! Every day this should be the declaration over our life no matter what the circumstances simply because we know the ending from the beginning. Confidence in God’s Ability and Power to make it come to pass is the key to unlocking faith that will lead us to the Cross with certainty that all given is received. What is your declaration today? Is it hallelujah or God I hope so? There is more to life than this and hallelujah (praise the Lord) will take us there. We must live for life after this.

I find that many times I use the word “hallelujah” casually as a sign of relief. Sometimes my life is a surprise to me, when things turn out just as the Lord said it would rather than what it looked like it might. Why am I so surprised? There are areas of my life where faith has not taken over fear yet and confidence must destroy doubt. My response to every problem, stressor, circumstance, bad report, and sudden change should be hallelujah. Any other response would be human in nature – but a true Child of the Living God knows the outcome from the beginning. Victory! We walk in total completeness in Christ by faith. We must make praising God the sustenance of our life rather than a sign of relief at the outcome. How we praise now determines what happens after this.

Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NIV)

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

 

Walking through life with the Lord, it becomes clear evident that there is something more than fate operating in the life of God’s Children. Too many coincidences in one’s favor and unnatural outcomes begin to form a picture of One who is well cared for or at least it should. Obedience opens the door to righteousness that release the Blessings of God. It is not a dramatic overture of some radical event but the commitment of our life walking daily step-by-step in the Light of His Love. It may be filled with high highs and low lows but the one thing that remains will be consistency in one’s commitment to Christ. Suddenly, we realize that things are not ordinary in our life so hallelujah will move from after this to in the midst of it all.

God has a plan for our life that requires one thing. Obedience. But it doesn’t say that…? Oh yes it does. Obedience is the discipline requires to seek God with all of our heart. Those who do will find the Lord. Giving up the pursuit will limit one’s access. We must decide that we want the plans that God created for us along with the future and hope enough to commit our lives to having it. It is a “now” thing so our praise should be in the present.

Judges 20:18 (NIV)

The Israelites went up to Bethel and inquired of God. They said, “Who of us is to go up first to fight against the Benjamites?” The Lord replied, “Judah shall go first.”

 

Zechariah 12:7 (NIV)

 “The Lord will save the dwellings of Judah first, so that the honor of the house of David and of Jerusalem’s inhabitants may not be greater than that of Judah.

Judah means praise. When Leah gave birth to her last son, she called him “Judah” (this time I will praise the Lord). She was in a loveless marriage clearly not favored by her husband without affection, love or affirmation. With the birth of each child, she longed for her partner to fall in love with her but he did not. Finally, she decided to praise the Lord regardless of her earthly situation. Judah – the favored one of God as clear by his consideration of Judah.

Who goes first in battle? Judah to herald the Lord’s Ability and Victory. In every situation or circumstance in life that faith is applied to, the impossible is suddenly possible. Not because of anything we are doing but because it is an invitation for God to take control of the situation. God what should I do in this moment? His Answer will always be “Judah shall go first!” Confidence in God’s Power and Authority is exemplified by faith. To declare victory before the fight is to sing hallelujah before the battle is over. It all comes down to our heart. What do I believe? Is God powerful enough? Does He love me enough to fight my battles and win my wars? To sing hallelujah walking into battle ensures us victory after victory in this life. The walls of Jericho fell after seven days of continuous praise. (Hebrews 11:30) The people didn’t do a thing but praise God. That’s it. No battle. No axes. No sweat and labor. Just faithful praise of a God who can flatten every wall and barrier in our life. It means stepping out of our weakness into God’s Power.

The Lord favors Judah. It gets His Attention because there is faith to work with in the words of those who sing hallelujah through life. Psalm 84:11 says that the Lord God is our sun (shows us the way) and shield (protects us as we go) and that the Lord bestows favor and honor. It goes on to say that He will withhold no good thing from those who walk blameless. Before you go marking yourself off the list, let me encourage you. Sin is going to happen and His Grace is enough to cover it. Those who decide to live blamelessness are those who choose to live in the Light of His Love rather than returning to darkness. It is a life of simple but radical obedience to the Word, Will and Way of God. It is a learning process because His Thoughts are not like ours and neither are His Ways. But if we are confident in the hope that we have and its security, praise will be our precedent. The Lord favors the ones who praise.

Psalm 150:1-2 (NIV)

Praise the Lord. Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens. Praise him for his acts of power; praise him for his surpassing greatness.

There is ordinary praise and then there is “hallelujah” praise. It is important to discover the difference. In the Old Testament, “hallelujah” praise is found in the Psalms. Not all of them, but some specifically. It is the highest form of praise exalting God in His Supremacy which has nothing to do with us but is focused completely on who He is. It defines Him as Good. (Psalm 106) It acknowledges Him through exaltation – lifting Him above all things and putting Him before everything and anything in our life no matter what. (Psalm 111) It calls Him all-knowing. (Psalm 112) It celebrates His Constancy and Consistency. (Psalm 113) It speaks of His Greatness. (Psalm 135). It declares Him worthy of all praise. (Psalm 146) It tells of the vastness of God’s Love and His Permeation of our entire life. (Psalm 148) Hallelujah creates renewal and restoration as we move all of our confidence and hope into Who He is. (Psalm 149) But then as quickly as it came it went and hallelujah became silent until the end. After this…

Revelation 19:6-9 (NIV)

Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: “Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.” (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God’s holy people.) Then the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” And he added, “These are the true words of God.”

 

After this…in Revelation 19 marks the end of tribulation and beginning of Armageddon – the fight to the finish. In the moments preceding it in the silence of Heaven that hallelujah breaks out. We know how it ends, it only matters what side you are on. Those who choose to live a life of praise and honor Jesus Christ will be victorious. Does this make you uncomfortable today? Who wants to think about the end of the world anyway?

The world is in the throes of the end times. I am convinced that a revival is coming because the Lord said there would be one. Love is cold. Sin is rampant. Rumors and rumors of war whispered even shouted all around us. Senseless murders and the forsaking of the value of human life from the unborn to the elderly. Just the other day a young man was discovered in the parking lot of our daughter’s high school with a ski mask around his neck and a loaded 22 caliber rifle on the floor of his car. Nobody knows his intentions but praise God for the protection of our children by the Lord. Yesterday, two reporters gunned down live mid report by a disgruntled former coworker. Don’t tell me that Jesus isn’t coming.

What will our declaration be as we see the Bible and the Book of Revelation unfold? It must be “hallelujah”! We must put every bit of our being into the Authority and Power of Jesus Christ to endure to the end. We must stop praising Him for what we need, want or think we should have but celebrate in each moment with every breath that we are invited to the Wedding Supper of the Lamb! It is time to step up our praise to a hallelujah course that carries us from now into Eternity. It is all about Him. Today I must move my praise from “after this” into all things signing hallelujah for Who He is! He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords – today I must make my words reflect that!

Revelation 19:11-16 (NIV)

 I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: king of kings and lord of lords.

When Silence is Golden

Shhhhh

I Peter 2:15-17 (NLT)

It is God’s will that your honorable lives should silence those ignorant people who make foolish accusations against you. For you are free, yet you are God’s slaves, so don’t use your freedom as an excuse to do evil. Respect everyone, and love the family of believers. Fear God, and respect the king.

 

Silence is golden. I am learning. It took half my life and a whole lot of Jesus but silence is indeed golden. The Bible actually compares the value of wisdom to gold, silver and other precious gems. (Proverbs 3:14-15) Wisdom is a “tree of life” to those who hold on to her. (Proverbs 3:18) People are zealous and enthusiastic about God often extreme and fanatical in nature but it takes some time to know and understand the nature of our relationship with a Father Supreme and Perfect. As we gain understanding of who He is and what He desires, it becomes clear that His Way of making us right looks nothing as we assumed. Suddenly, we discover that maybe just maybe our life was religiously overcome with misdirected zeal rather than proper understanding. (Romans 10:1-3) God’s Will is for me to live an honorable life that should silence “ignorant” people. I am free to live however I choose. I choose to be a Servant of the Living God which means that most often silence is golden.

Facebook and social media is a love-hate relationship. I love how it can put us in touch and keep us connected with others. But it often becomes a catapult for escalated debates that lead to no good. The beauty in such a platform for most is that you do not ever have to face those with whom you engage so one is stripped of fear and given a false sense of courage to say what might not otherwise be said. We all have opinions. What matters is the truth. Over the summer, I requested an alternative reading assignment from my daughter’s high school. There was only one book assigned. The book was not appropriate for our child. We did not demand its removal or ask for it to be banned. Simply asked the principal to assign an alternative for those who chose not to allow our children to read R-rated profanity. The principal sent those concerned parents an alternative assignment. I was satisfied. Apparently, when the rest of the world caught wind of it – they were not. It became a media circus calling it censorship. I made the mistake of reading another news article and the comments that followed. Infuriated seems too weak a term for the anger I felt rising up with me. The world cannot even see its own hypocrisy. Pro-choice only applies if it meets one’s own agenda. I choose to serve God, but that is not a viable option. No surprise, Jesus said it would be like that. Liberals who support unrestricted development of all human endeavors believing the government should support individual rights and civil liberties backhandedly think it is right to “force” my family to live and engage in something which is offensive. I believe that everyone has the God-given freedom to live as they believe. It is Biblical. I don’t have to agree with you. Changing the world is not my job but living and loving others with the Love of God extended to me through the Cross is my lifelong endeavor. As I read the comments berating the Body of Believers and their parenting skills, I got really mad. Anger rose up in me. I began to wonder. Where is the church? The Bible is the only book censored at school, why isn’t anyone fighting back? I closed Facebook and dove into the Word of God.

Psalm 4:4-5 (NLT)

Don’t sin by letting anger control you. Think about it overnight and remain silent. Offer sacrifices in the right spirit, and trust the Lord.

 

Anger must never control how we respond to the world and its many attacks against God’s People. We are to be controlled and motivated at all times by love. “Think about it overnight and remain silent” proved to be sage advice. I believe that this ties in to the next verse and to “offer sacrifices in the right spirit.” Anger is an emotion. Emotional reactions are a sign that someone or something other than God has control. I believe in God. I serve God. It is a personal choice based on the knowledge and understanding that I have derived from the Word of God. I have a relationship with God that is not defined by people. It has taken time to develop along with a whole lot of faith and trust. It doesn’t matter to me what anyone else thinks because He is MY God. I do not need to defend my personal belief because it belongs to me and I am justified having it by Jesus Christ. Our relationship to the Lord is personal when it doesn’t matter if anyone else believes and you still do. This is ownership. To uphold my covenant to love others, I must sacrifice my emotions sometimes to get the job done.

Isaiah 30:15 (NLT)

This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: “Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength. But you would have none of it.

 

In quietness and confidence is your strength…but you would have none of it. Confidence in God does not need a debate. Those who wait quietly for the Lord do not lash out in anger but live in love. My flesh is always ready with a sarcastic retort when someone brushes up on my pride. It is a flawed characteristic that has taken a great deal to overcome. Faith and confident hope has loosened my hold on public opinion and softened my response when offense tries to rear its ugly head. As believers, we must learn to live in quietness and confidence with our God. Great revival is coming but it will not change the world. The enemy will continue to use others to goad us into reacting in anger and frustration rather than responding in love and mercy for all people. Don’t let him lure you away like that.

Isaiah 32:17-18 (NLT)

And this righteousness will bring peace. Yes, it will bring quietness and confidence forever. My people will live in safety, quietly at home. They will be at rest.

 

When Peter confessed that he believe Jesus was the Messiah, Son of the Living God, it was in that moment of personal revelation that he was made right with God. Nothing he did from that point on was more important than his personal decision to accept Jesus as Savior and Lord. Jesus told Peter that he was the rock (foundation) that the church would be built on. Peter was not perfect and went on to make many mistakes just like every other person does. But he was made right with God and stepped into righteousness in that moment. Righteousness brings us peace. It quiets the warring need to be right accepting the position of righteousness we are granted by God through Jesus Christ. Such a position, should bring “quietness and confidence forever” to us. We don’t have to fight for it. It belongs to us. We don’t have to debate faith just merely possess it. Our confidence in God quiets every argument and ends every debate now all that is left to do is rest in His Presence and share His Love with the world.

Mark14:60-63 (NLT)

Then the high priest stood up before the others and asked Jesus, “Well, aren’t you going to answer these charges? What do you have to say for yourself?” But Jesus was silent and made no reply. Then the high priest asked him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?” Jesus said, I am. And you will see the Son of Man seated in the place of power at God’s right hand and coming on the clouds of heaven.” Then the high priest tore his clothing to show his horror and said, “Why do we need other witnesses?

Jesus did not debate who He was. He did not argue for His Life when the High Priest interrogated Him. Jesus was silent and made no reply until the man asked a life changing question. “Are you the Messiah…?” Jesus answered, “I Am!” When the world wants to argue our choices in how we live to serve God, it really is not up for debate. We live our life according to the Word of God or at least try to. There is no need for discussion as Jesus is our example. The only time it is prudent to respond is when they ask who He is and want to know Him. But notice what happened when Jesus confirmed His Identity to the High Priest, the man became so infuriated that he tore his clothing. Not everyone is going to embrace our commitment to Christ – so be it. If we need other people to accept and believe like us to make our choice to follow Him credible – it is time to look within to examine our heart and evaluate our faith.

The angel of the Lord came to Zechariah with wonderful news. Zechariah was a priest serving God in His Temple. The Lord had blessed him with a child in his old age. He did not believe so the Angel of the Lord made him silent until the birth of John the Baptist because he lacked faith. (Luke 1) We must learn to live by faith in all things and keep our mouth shut until we respond the same way. Our words must affirm the work God is doing in our life. We are told to “to ‘do’ what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with our God!” (Micah 6:8) This is not up for debate and does not allow us to argue about our faith.

Proverbs 17:27-28 (NLT)

A truly wise person uses few words; a person with understanding is even-tempered. Even fools are thought wise when they keep silent; with their mouths shut, they seem intelligent.

 

Jesus warned us that we must give an account for every idle word that we speak. (Matthew 12:36) Bearing this in mind, every conversation we have right or wrong should be covered in grace, mercy and love. My need to argue with all the people who I feel are personally attacking me is not a godly response but a human reaction. To keep my heart and mind right, I must immediately take insults and offenses to the Throne of God and give them straight to Jesus. If I begin to tell others exactly how I feel, I am in danger of spreading words that hinder God’s Work in my life rather than making a way for it. A quiet spirit can overcome many mistakes. (Ecclesiastes 10:4) Proverbs tells us that it is foolish to vent anger. (Proverbs 29:11) It also is clear that belittling others is foolish. (Proverbs 11:12)

Psalm 115:16-18 (NLT)

The heavens belong to the Lord, but he has given the earth to all humanity. The dead cannot sing praises to the Lord, for they have gone into the silence of the grave. But we can praise the Lord both now and forever! Praise the Lord!

 

What am I supposed to do in a world that hates Christians? How do I live in an environment that embraces every other person’s rights but that of the Believer? I have one life. Contrary to popular opinion, you may only live once but after that there is Eternity. My words should attach me to forever and never be limited to today. Anger is misplaced zeal. Wisdom and understanding allow us to rise above man’s opinion and take hold of righteousness found only in the Lord. God has turned my mourning into dancing and sorrow into joy now that is something to talk about. He wants me to sing His Praises and not be silent. (Psalm 30:11-12) I should use social media as a platform to shout the Goodness of God and when I am tempted to do anything else close it down and find refuge in Him. My life is designed to give Glory to God. He is Good! He is Faithful! He is True. His Love is Unconditional. It is Constant and Unending. If no one else believes it, I do! Let confidence in the Lord be the quiet strength of your soul today. Let Jesus be our example who chose not to respond until they asked the right question. Do not be detoured and sidetracked by meaningless debates and stupid arguments. Just because some people do not believe in God doesn’t change His Character and Person. He is the Great I Am! It is with this confident hope that we know when silence is truly golden!

Psalm 62:1 (NLT) I wait quietly before God, for my victory comes from him.

As For Me

Rustic clay jar with water

2 Timothy 4:6-7 (NLT)

As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God. The time of my death is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.

 

“My life has already been poured out as an offering to God.” When my life is coming to its natural end and eternity is close, I want this to be my confident declaration. I have fought the good fight. Did I? What was I fighting for? To prove that I was right or live in righteousness? I have finished the race. Did I walk in victory or live in defeat? I have remained faithful. To be faith full, one must learn to be self-less. Moving into the next chapter of our life, the Lord tugged on my heart that it was time for a fast. Nothing fancy with a lot of rules and regulations just some time to get my mind, soul and body altogether on the same page. Fasting is a powerful resource in the life of a believer. Self-denial is a must to live the life God promised that we could have. I have decided that I want that life. It doesn’t make me anything special or super religious. It makes me needy and desperate for the Love of God to fill every part of my life. Freedom allows us to choose what fills our life. It gives us the opportunity to decide if we will choose God’s Way or our own way. My faith belongs to me. My hold is in my hands. My relationship with Jesus Christ is a personal and intimate endeavor. My belief in God is not based on whether anyone else on this planet feels the same way, because I have experienced His Love and know that I cannot live without it.

As for me…these are the words that draw me to this verse. In a world that keeps its eyes on each other rather than looking in the mirror and comparing that image to Christ. Other people form our opinions by how they live. Judgment is immediate and swift. Doubt rises up when our life does not match up with societal norm. What’s going on with the Jones’ demands our utmost attention? But this verse is so telling of how it should be…as for me! I cannot speak for anyone else. I cannot and will not tell you how to live. Once my children reached adulthood, my role in their life changed from parent to friend and mentor. If they want my opinion, they will ask for it. If not, I will probably give it anyway. But ultimately once they reach the age of accountability – each one of them must decide what they will invest their mind, soul and body into doing. They will make goals. They will go in different directions. Again, this is freedom. The Gift God gave us in His Divine Mercy in the hope that we might find our way home.

Malachi 3:9-11 (NLT)

You are under a curse, for your whole nation has been cheating me. Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test! Your crops will be abundant, for I will guard them from insects and disease. Your grapes will not fall from the vine before they are ripe,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.

 

You want to lose a crowd in church, ask them to open their Bibles to Malachi 3. Purses are zipped and pockets closed tight as people fear that God is going to take more than they are willing to give. I am not going to begin to testify about tithing because after sixteen years there is not enough time or words to describe the blessing it has released in our life. So for a moment, let’s pretend that Malachi 3 is not about our money. “You are under a curse, for your whole nation has been cheating me.” You decided the ultimate betrayal and fill in the blank. Decide the 10% of your life that God requires and you do not want to give. It could be your time. It could be your talent. It could be any good thing in your life that you are not willing to give up for God.

The Lord says that if you bring your “tithe” or His Portion of that sacrifice to the Storehouse that He will “open the windows of Heaven for you.” He will “pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in.” Then He offers a simple solution to ease your mind and calm your doubts, “Try it!” What exactly is the Lord asking for here? Money? Do you really think God needs our money? No, the Lord is asking for obedience. Obedience does not start out big. It can be in the smallest of things. However, it yields a lifelong reward when we decide to obey God. Obedience is not a power kick of God. It does not change His Mind about us. Obedience is the discovery of God’s Way and the acceptance of all the blessings that He predestined for our life. It is simply accepting all of His Promises and doing what is necessary to walk in them. Obedience doesn’t change God’s Plan for our life but chooses to have all that it implies.

2 Kings 4:1-7 (NLT)

One day the widow of a member of the group of prophets came to Elisha and cried out, “My husband who served you is dead, and you know how he feared the Lord. But now a creditor has come, threatening to take my two sons as slaves.” “What can I do to help you?” Elisha asked. “Tell me, what do you have in the house?” “Nothing at all, except a flask of olive oil,” she replied. And Elisha said, “Borrow as many empty jars as you can from your friends and neighbors. Then go into your house with your sons and shut the door behind you. Pour olive oil from your flask into the jars, setting each one aside when it is filled.” So she did as she was told. Her sons kept bringing jars to her, and she filled one after another. Soon every container was full to the brim! “Bring me another jar,” she said to one of her sons. “There aren’t any more!” he told her. And then the olive oil stopped flowing. When she told the man of God what had happened, he said to her, “Now sell the olive oil and pay your debts, and you and your sons can live on what is left over.”

This is one of my favorite stories in the Word of God. The woman’s husband is gone and so was her livelihood. Now the world was pressing in to take all that she had left – her two precious sons. The woman had one flask of olive oil. The prophet told her to collect as many empty jars as she could find and she did. Obedience. Then he told her to begin filling those jars with the oil, pouring until there was no more. So she did. Sacrificial obedience. She filled every single jar until she ran out of jars to fill. That is when the oil stopped flowing. How big is your faith? How many jars do you have? Are you willing to give everything you have to the Lord? Oil represents the Holy Spirit. Jesus gave us His Spirit to fill us, guide us, direct us, help us and lead us through life. The more of our life surrendered to God’s Will and determined to obediently follow His Way, the more of His Blessing that will be distributed. Not because He is doing a new thing, but rather because obedience is access to His Kingdom and every bit of potential hidden within. The oil kept flowing until she ran out of jars. How much of our life are we willing to pour out to make more room for God’s Spirit to fill our life with His Grace, Goodness and Love?

Titus 3:4-8 (NLT)

But—when God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior. Because of his grace he declared us righteous and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying, and I want you to insist on these teachings so that all who trust in God will devote themselves to doing good. These teachings are good and beneficial for everyone.

 

Our flask inside us is filled with the Holy Spirit. He comes with the package of salvation. To make Jesus Lord of our life requires releasing God’s Spirit to do His Work in our life. Joel 2:28-32 tells of this outpouring and it was confirmed in Acts 2:16-20 on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came into our lives. God revealed His Kindness and Love when He gave His Son, Jesus to die for our sins. New birth and new life come by His Spirit. Grace opened the door to Heaven for us again and righteousness allows us to have all of its contents in our everyday life if we are willing to obey. We are free to choose Heaven on earth but it will not be forced upon us. His Love will not allow such a molestation. It is love. It is patient, kind, not jealous, boastful or proud. It does not demand its own way. It keeps no record of wrong. Love never gives up and never loses faith. It is unconditional enduring through every circumstance. In I Corinthians 13, this is how we are instructed to love because that is EXACTLY how God loves us. He will not demand His Way in our life but offers us the opportunity to walk in obedience and have every blessing hidden in Heaven.

I Corinthians 15:10 (NLT)

But whatever I am now, it is all because God poured out his special favor on me—and not without results. For I have worked harder than any of the other apostles; yet it was not I but God who was working through me by his grace.

 

We attended a youth service in a tiny building in the middle of the woods. Teenagers were leading worship singing “Fill Me Up, Lord”. As I stood in the back while the young people worshipped, I realized that the Spirit of God was rapidly descending on that place. The kids were doing their best not of the caliber of Jesus Culture, but I could sense the sincerity in their cry. They were giving their all and God was responding. I remember as a young person more than thirty years ago crying out for more of God asking Him to fill me and use me, I had no idea what I was asking for. So I kept asking sometimes quietly and other times much more demanding. Now as I look back I see that to do so is to pour out me to make room for Him, it means giving something up to have something more. Paul said, “Whatever I am now, it is all because God poured out His Special Favor on me…” He then says, “I have worked harder than any of the other apostles…” Hmmm. That always came across boastful to me until today. What I hear now is a man dragging huge clay jars into the Presence of God over and over. I can hear the stone scratching the dirt as he takes all his strength to bring something in for God to use. For Saul to become Paul and follow Christ was a life-threatening decision. He killed Christians so why would they accept him? He was a murderer for the Jews so why wouldn’t they send someone to take care of him? But rather than hiding – Paul just obeyed God. In freedom and in chains, Paul just kept dragging his life to the altar of sacrifice to the Lord saying here is some more – fill me up Lord. Over and over again, the dragging of his life left marks that created a trail for others to have all God promises and live completely abandoned to our faith. It is impossible to live such a life without obedience.

God’s Grace works in us through sacrifice, surrender and obedience. We sacrifice what we have, surrender all that we are, and work in accordance with the Word of God to do the Will of God walking in the Way of God every single day and in each moment. This is radical obedience that causes an outpouring of Heaven to fill our life. It is the life I choose. It is my heart’s desire. As for me, fill me up Lord.

2 Corinthians 4:7 (NLT)

We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.

Though They Stumble

Though They Stumble

Psalm 37:23-24 (NLT)

The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand.

 

Relapse is every cancer patient’s worst nightmare. Every single day away from the dreaded disease in a huge victory. But lingering in the back of the mind is the thought what if it returns one day. When I was twenty-six years old, I was pregnant with my second child when I received the diagnosis. Stage IV melanoma – how could this be? I was so young. I was the mother of a toddler with another little one on the way. I can remember holding the phone and sliding down the wall for support as the gravity and weight of the words pressed upon my shoulders. I did not have a thriving relationship with the Lord but still dared to call on His Name. After two surgeries, I was told that there was nothing else they could do until after the baby was born. He was my first priority. I was quite surprised to learn afterwards that there was “no residual disease” and the Lord had healed my body and protected my child. When I was in my mid-forties, I heard the word “cancer” again. This time it was my son, ironically the same child I was carrying when I was diagnosed all those years before. One might only imagine where my mind gravitated at that moment, did I give him this awful disease? Had it been hidden in the cells of his body all these years? It would take more than a year to determine the source of the disease in our son. It was caused by his immune system’s malfunction when it allowed the Epstein-Barre virus to slip past and live when it should have died. Over time, it would become a cancerous tumor manifesting in his pharyngeal cavity. For a solid year, I felt guilt and shame that I had somehow caused my child to contract this dreadful disease. But that was not the case, just a lie from the enemy meant to destroy me. Although I had been in remission for almost twenty years, it caused a relapse in my mind to the bondage I felt all those years before wondering if the disease was still lingering. Sitting on the exam table every six months for ten long years, watching and waiting to know it was really gone. The Lord wants us to live in freedom. He has released us from worry, doubt and fear associated with the complications and hardships of life. The enemy is calling for relapse but the Spirit of God invites us to be released from such things in the Name of Jesus Christ.

Relapse means to fall or slip back to a former state or condition. Release is to be freed from confinement, bondage, obligation or pain. God gave us the opportunity to be released from every burden in our life while the enemy of our soul constantly tries to wrap us up in relapse reminding us of our former condition hoping to push us into doubt and fear that the deliverance of God did not happen and what has been experienced through Christ is not real. To receive from God requires belief in God. It is the acquisition of all that He promised even when we cannot see a thing. That is what hope is. To claim the Word of God and dare to receive it when it seems illogical and impossible.

The Lord directs the steps of the godly. Does this mean that we will never have heartache, struggle or stumble? Of course, not. Read what it says. Though they stumble, they will never fall for the Lord holds them by the hand. God is not going to let you fall. He is holding our hand daily if we will walk with Him. It is truly our choice. When we do it says that He directs our steps. Whoa! Does that mean that the Lord has given us all these trials and tribulations such as sickness and disease? No! It means that Jesus knows the way to overcome them if we will just trust Him enough to go where He goes, say what He says and do what He does in spite of the overwhelming fear of relapse. This is to be released.

Psalm 91:1-7 (NLT)

Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him. For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease. He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection. Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night, nor the arrow that flies in the day. Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness, nor the disaster that strikes at midday. Though a thousand fall at your side, though ten thousand are dying around you, these evils will not touch you.

 

Fear will always put our faith in bondage. When we accept the spirit of fear in our life, it wreaks havoc on the heart and mind until our soul is assaulted and soon overtaken. God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, love and self-discipline. (2 Timothy 1:7) Why do we so easily accept it in our life? The world that we live in is desensitized to bloody violence. Fear is sold in the media and people actually pay to be afraid. From the roller coaster at the amusement park to the horror flick in the local theater, it is a thrill ride. Whatever we entertain will manifest in us over time. This not condemnation but simply a message of conditioning. Whatever you entertain you become familiar with and can fall victim to its charm or even deception. When I was young, I watched movies like Jaws and Friday the 13th just like every other kid. I am still afraid to be in the ocean to deep and since experiencing the reality of the enemy and his forces will not even watch a commercial for a demonically influenced movie. This is my choice and it bears no condemnation. I must preserve the Holy Spirit in my life as the dominating and discerning voice that leads me to the acceptance of all God’s Promise and deliverance from all evil. We all have been given freedom. Who the Son sets free is free indeed without a stipulation. All things are now permissible BUT not all things are beneficial. As we work out our salvation with fear and trembling, we must decide what can live in our life and what must go to keep us daily walking in the Shelter of the Most High God.

It is hardest to get there when you need it the most. His Shelter is always available to us. We can walk in God’s Presence every single day for the rest of our life. In fact, God prefers it that way. We cannot drag our sin into our new destination. It requires a commitment to radical obedience to have all that He promised. To accept God’s Way is to be completely broken of the need for our own. Those who live in the Shelter of the Most High God will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. Do you trust the Lord today? Do you have some doubts?

“For He will rescue you from EVERY trap and protect you from deadly diseases.” If this was the only promise you knew, would you believe it enough to receive it? Or would you think of all the reasons that the Lord should abandon you? Would you consider this to be the consequences for your negligent behavior and endure it rather than rejecting it to receive the Glory of God in your life? When I was diagnosed with melanoma, I knew why I had it and how I got it. My childhood and teenage years were spend basking, playing and living on the sunny beaches of Florida before skin cancer became a poster child for the use of sunscreen. I was exposed to the sun for years somewhat unprotected.

His faithful promises are your armor and protection. Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night, nor the arrow that flies in the day. Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness, nor the disaster that strikes at midday. Though a thousand fall at your side, though ten thousand are dying around you, these evils will not touch you.” I did not “deserve” cancer it was a consequence of life. We have to stop accepting things back in our life because of the past or even present condition of our heart and soul. Grace does not allow God to condemn us or even punish us without refusing Jesus as the total sacrifice. Just as the Lord released me from cancer and now has done the same for our son, He wants to release you from those things causing you to stumble. He doesn’t want you to fall. He is lifting you up trying to hold your hand and keep you safe as any good parent does a wandering child who is close to traffic.

Psalm 145:13-18 (NLT)

For your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom. You rule throughout all generations. The Lord always keeps his promises; he is gracious in all he does. The Lord helps the fallen and lifts those bent beneath their loads. The eyes of all look to you in hope; you give them their food as they need it. When you open your hand, you satisfy the hunger and thirst of every living thing. The Lord is righteous in everything he does; he is filled with kindness.  The Lord is close to all who call on him, yes, to all who call on him in truth.

We must know the character of God to understand His Intentions. God is always motivated by His Great Love for us. Even when things don’t seem to be in our favor, His Favor is working its way to find us right where we are and to lead us into the everlasting. He helps the fallen. He lifts those bent beneath their loads. The Lord is an excellent caretaker for those who trust Him otherwise He seems like the opposing force. When one considers that every single day of our life is prerecorded, therefore every need met and blessing already provided according to our needs and wants in that day. (Psalm 139:16) We are predestined. God knows exactly what we need to do when we need to do it to be victorious. His Plan and Purpose is to work everything together for the GOOD of those who love Him. (Romans 8:27-30) We live our life just as Proverbs 16:33 says that we throw the dice but the Lord decides where they land. By truly accepting the Grace of God in our life, we are indicating that we trust His Will and His Way. This means like Joseph even if we fall face down in a pit – it may just be how we get to the palace. (Genesis 37 – 41) It took years of character development and endurance but when Joseph got there I think he would be the first to admit it was worth it. I remember reaching the ten-year mark of my remission and finally breathing. I remember just last month reaching the one-year mark for our son after three long years, five relapses and all of his care and treatment battles along the way and finally breathing again. Now as I look to the future and how my life will be, I must decide will I celebrate my release or live in fear and bondage of relapse. This principle can be applied to every area of our live.

Psalm 55:22 (NLT)

Give your burdens to the Lord, and he will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall.

 

How will you live the rest of today? Will you celebrate freedom? Will you live in the Presence of the Most High God way above the world’s problematic threat wrapped tightly in God’s Promises? Or will you live with one hand on the prison door ready to slam it shut at the first threat that comes against your life? You determine how you will live once Jesus is your Savior. To make Him Lord puts every trial, trouble, trauma and tragedy of life in His Realm of Authority which means its all going to be okay. He is working it all out in our favor. You will not know this if you do not know the Character of the God who you have decided to serve. God is always good! His Intentions toward us filled with unfailing love and kindness no matter how far we stumble – He cannot bear to see us fall. I refuse to let my heart and mind relapse to the events of yesterday or even yesteryear. Today I choose to reject fear and only accept what God says about my life that I have power, love and self-discipline to lead me away from those things meant to bar my progress and hinder my life. I will have everything the Word of God says that I will have and do all it infers by the Power of God working in and through me. What about you?

Psalm 139:23-24 (NLT)

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

Giving Up Weakness

Giving Up Weakness

Isaiah 53:4-6 (NLT)

Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him the sins of us all.

Weakness is ownership of that which makes us weak. It is to take that quality or attribute holding tightly to it. Everyone experiences weakness. The difference comes in what we do with our weakness. Just being human, we possess the natural propensity to sin. It is in our DNA. From birth a person desires personal satisfaction and demands their own way. As the individual grows, develops and mature with proper discipline and guidance these qualities are subject to their own self-control. For example, my quietest child becomes a raging bear when she is hungry. She was almost the perfect baby and toddler as long as she was fed. But should she become hungry, watch out. I would keep snacks hidden away in her diaper bag as not to be caught off guard. She is now a teenager. She eats when she is hungry and still will hide away a snack in her backpack or purse so she doesn’t get “hangry”. The other day – we had a girl’s day with her sister. In the car, I noticed she was getting grumpy and being short. She couldn’t answer a question and got mad if you asked. I knew she was hungry and asked her, “Did you eat something this morning?” In our rush to leave, she admitted she did not. So to save our experience, I immediately fed the emerging beast and true to form it transformed back into my precious child.

Everyone has weakness. Some just hide it better than others. Whatever it is that makes us weak is an opportunity to experience more of Christ in our life. When Jesus went to the Cross, it was with our weaknesses. He carried them to the hill along with every sorrow that hurts our heart. He was tortured for us and every sin that we should have received punishment for to make a way for us to approach our Father, God again. He was beaten so that the sickness and disease associated with our sin would be dealt with as well and that we could be whole again. By His Stripes lashed into His Back, we are healed. I am humbled at the thought and sad that with all of His Sacrifice that I will never be perfect. I am weak. He makes me strong. I must learn to take every single weakness and allow His Grace to cover them. No more carrying that which makes me weak and calling it “my weakness” but surrendering everything that makes me weak to the foot of the Cross.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (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. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness. When I am weak, then I am strong. How humbling? Truly. Perfection does not need grace. Weakness needs a pardon. The Power of Christ will only work in me if I am insufficient otherwise why would I relinquish power? But once we accept Jesus Christ into our heart and His Spirit in our life, it is easy to become confused. Some of those things that once kept us from being right and doing right quickly melt away in the Presence of God and the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Human nature is to assume that a little goes a long way but God’s Way is all or nothing. The “good things” happening in our life are always God. If our entire life is recorded before we are born as the Word of God indicates, then none of it is our idea or doing. (Psalm 139:16) The only choice we have is to obey God or continue to disobey Him. Do what God says and have all His Blessings! End of story. Except we have this thing that makes us weak called sin. Everyone sins and falls short of God’s Glorious Standard of Living. (Romans 3:23) Grace is a requirement for all those times we allow that which makes us weak to become our weakness to be covered by His Blood and put back on Christ’s Shoulders and nailed to His Cross.

Comparison is our enemy as we evaluate our strengths and weaknesses through the eyes of man. We look at our friend, neighbor, fellow church member or even a common stranger and immediately judge the book by its cover. We decide how we are doing by comparing our life to their life. What about when they are not on display? What are they like then? Do you know? Can you see their heart – the very thing that God examines each and every day? We cannot but still feel that they are worthy of comparison as we evaluate our life for flaws. To have God’s Glory fill my life requires a comparison to His Standard of Living. Outside of God’s Grace provided by Jesus Christ – I will always fall short. I am weak. He makes me strong. Surrendering my weakness begins by comparing my life to God’s Word and deciding to strive to live like that. This is what it means to truly accept the Grace of God for our life. This openly sacrifices weakness for His Strength and Power. I will always be weak but I do not have to own it.

Hebrews 4:15-16 (NLT)

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

Our weakness should not keep us from the Presence of God but push us deeper into His Presence to find more grace. When we allow weakness and sin to keep us from drawing near to God is when we take ownership of our weakness and hold on to sin. It can be a pride thing. It can be a trust issue. There can be a number of reasons that people withhold weakness from God. The church of modern society doesn’t like to talk about the Cross or the Blood. It is messy. It makes them uncomfortable. Seeker sensitive congregations keep people from the Grace of God because it is only accessible at the Cross and through the Blood. It is not a feel-good story but a battle to the death. The Good News is that Jesus won. We can live in God’s Glorious Standard but there will always be only ONE WAY to get there.

Jesus is our High Priest. We do not need the help of anyone else to get through life. He is our example to follow and will show us how to do it. He did it – flawlessly. Through His Grace, we have access to the same power that kept the Lord from sinning or falling short during His Life on the earth. “Every high priest is a man chosen to represent other people in their dealings with God. He presents their gifts to God and offers sacrifices for their sins. And he is able to deal gently with ignorant and wayward people because he himself is subject to the same weaknesses.” (Hebrews 5:1-2)

 

Romans 8:26-27 (NLT)

 And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.

 

The Lord has given us His Spirit to help us in our weaknesses. I love the Holy Spirit. I tried Christianity without an active relationship with the Trinity of God including His Spirit and failed miserably time and time again. When I made the Holy Spirit my partner and stopped ignoring His Presence, it all came together just like that. I still sin and make a lot of mistakes but He helps me through each one. To try to live for God without His Son and His Spirit is to not be fully equipped and let’s face it – we need all the help we can get. Love is cold. Sin is rampant. No one is going to condemn you for going with the flow but try to live for God and all hell breaks loose in life.

The Holy Spirit is a gentleman. It’s true. He will not wrestle with you to take your weakness and bless you but waits for you to decide you want His Help. He knows God’s Will for your life. He knows the Way to get there. He knows what the Word of God means and how it incorporates in you to express God’s Blessing through us. He knows what is stopping you. He knows what is hindering your progress. But until you want to know enough to give all your weaknesses to the Lord rather than hiding them or hoarding them – He waits.

2 Corinthians 13:4-5 (NLT)

Although he was crucified in weakness, he now lives by the power of God. We, too, are weak, just as Christ was, but when we deal with you we will be alive with him and will have God’s power. Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith.

 

Jesus was crucified in weakness. He was covered in our weaknesses that were nailed to the Cross with Him. He now lives by the Power of God. The grace that is offered by way of the Cross through the Blood of Jesus allows us to live by the Power of God, too. It is all about the grace. There is no do over. We all have sinned. Grace doesn’t make us strong in our own right but extends God’s Power to us. Weakness is not a trophy of the Cross but a sacrifice on it. When we say “His Grace is sufficient” and “when I am weak than I am strong” – it is never a personal strength but commitment of ever weakness to the Lord for His Power to take over. All things are permissible but not all things are beneficial. To live with one hand on the Cross submitting some of our life but have the other in the world with those things we just don’t want to give up is to live in mediocrity and compromise that will limit the Power of God in our life. We are all weak. But to live in weakness taking ownership of it is opposition to the Cross and refusal to accept the Power of His Grace. His Grace is enough for me. It is a faith decision that gives Jesus all of our weakness holding nothing back. There is no “I’ll do it myself” in faith or hope. It is totally reliant on the Grace that was enough for me. Each day I must examine my heart and life to see if my faith is genuine. Testing my attitude and actions for complete and total surrender to Christ. If I do, I will have all of God’s Power in my life just for giving up my weakness.

Psalm 136:23 (NLT) He remembered us in our weakness. His faithful love endures forever.   

Let Your Praise Out

Let Your Praise Out

Psalm 33:1 (NLT) Let the godly sing for joy to the Lord; it is fitting for the pure to praise him.

It is “fitting” for the pure to praise the Lord. Fitting means suitable, appropriate, proper and becoming. Praise is not a natural response for the inward man. Praise is the act of expressing approval, admiration, and commendation born of a satisfied heart and grateful spirit. Are you satisfied today? Are you content? What if I told you that even if nothing changed in your life it is possible to live in total satisfaction and complete contentment – would you believe me? We are raised in a culture of immediate gratification. It is a dog-eat-dog world where trust is considered a weakness not a strength. Society is driven by supply and demand so attainment never leads to fulfillment because a new “thing” is introduced. This need for newness. This need for now. This lack of fulfillment has created a culture that does not know how to praise in the midst of constant pressure to conform to a standard that is always changing. The church is not immune. We have the opportunity to live in complete satisfaction and total contentment right here right now with exactly what we have and who we live with. We just have to figure out how to release it in our life.

Psalm 47:7-8 (NLT)

For God is the King over all the earth. Praise him with a psalm. God reigns above the nations, sitting on his holy throne.

Praise puts God back on the throne of our life. When we voice our concerns over problems, troubles, trials and even enemies, they take the place of the Lord as the center of our life. It is boasting the power of the adversary than that of our Lord and Savior. It is perfectly natural to voice discontentment but not advantageous in the battle lived in. It tells the enemy of our weakness. It shows that the spirit of fear has overtaken the rightful place of the Holy Spirit our Helper in the midst of every storm. Jesus is our Savior. Call His Name and He most definitely will answer. BUT do you call Him Lord?

The economy has been tough. Layoffs and workforce reduction is common place. Companies force our workers before their retirement is vested to cut costs. Slash hours to keep from paying benefits. So naturally people talk about fear that they might lose their job or what will happen if they do – this confession tells the enemy that a person does not trust the Lord to provide for them so what happens? You lose your job. Of course! The enemy knows it is your weakness because you told him. But to those who know that God as Provider, it is not a pleasant thought to think of losing the job that produces income and pays the bills but considering God is in control – you just keep praising Him and thanking Him for your job that day and in that moment. We have to use our words to thwart the enemy’s advances on our life by constantly praising God throughout each day. Our God reigns. As long as I keep Him at the center of my life on the throne of it, I am going to have good outcomes and celebrate victory. Even if I did lose my job, it would not mean that I am not well-cared for. It means that if I am faithful and truly confident in the hope that I have – something better is coming.

Psalm 54:6 (NLT)

I will sacrifice a voluntary offering to you; I will praise your name, O Lord, for it is good.

Praise is a voluntary offering. It begins with sacrifice. To abandon the five senses and go with what you know about God rather than what you feel in your gut is where it all begins. Life doesn’t change overnight for a believer. Yes, there may be immediate deliverance from some things but after that is a daily walk of faith that requires endurance for a reason. Some days are long and hard – just like that of an athlete training for victory or a soldier preparing to win a war. It is a fight to the finish against self that seem harder with each step. At some point maturity begins to kick in and people try out faith and decide to trust the Lord. With each small step closer by faith, when hope becomes confident and weighty enough to keep us standing when every falls apart, defiance holds on to that Word God gave us refusing to let go until it comes to pass, when the rubber hits the road – it is the time of turnover in our life. The moment that we decide to put our money where our mouth is and praise God like He is for real. It is in that moment that we become consumed by His Love and overpowered by His Goodness and our heart is totally apprehended by the awesomeness of God. In the natural, it looks a hot mess. But inside, the Lord is putting our heart, mind, body and soul in order preparing us for forever with the tiniest offering.

Psalm 9:1-2 (NLT)

I will praise you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all the marvelous things you have done. I will be filled with joy because of you. I will sing praises to your name, O Most High.

Praise is not naturally occurring but personally produced. We decide if we will praise God. This goes all the way back to Deuteronomy when God gives us the choice of blessing or cursing – life or death. “I WILL praise you Lord with all my heart!” I have to remind myself to praise God. I have monitor my words carefully especially considering that I exhaust more than 10,000 a day allotted to women. I must be conscious of my words and how they impact my harvest. If I want to the grass in my yard to grow – I would spray water and fertilizer on it not gallons of bleach.

Praise is always a choice. When our son was diagnosed with cancer, I had to decide if I would trust the Lord. With each relapse, I had to continue to decide if I would trust the Lord. Around the third time, I began to feel something settle in my spirit. We often withhold our praise not to make God look foolish if He doesn’t do what we think He is going to do. I told the world that God was going to heal our son according to His Word. I was committed to it. At some point, I went from saying to believing it. Praise confesses God’s Word over our life but we still have to wait on Him. Praise effects our heart and mind. It changes the outcomes of our life.

I have a friend whose marriage fell on hard times around the same time our son began his fight. We agreed to pray together in faith. My son was healed. The around the same time our results came in this week – her divorce became final. She loves her husband. She wanted to continue to be married. Now what? Did her faith fail? Did her praise fall on deaf ears? Why didn’t she win? Who’s to say that she didn’t? God hates divorce but He loves her. His Faithfulness did not stop. His Love is still real. Our outcomes do not determine our praise. Remember that third time I talked about just a minute ago when everything changed, it was the moment that I decided no matter how things turned out that I would still praise God for the rest of my life. I didn’t tell God that I would praise Him or serve Him or love Him IF He healed our son. I told Him I would praise Him, serve Him and love Him no matter what because He is my God! Sometimes this is the only thing we can do when we do not understand why our life doesn’t seem to be manifesting what we think God has for us. Trust me! He has forgotten and is still moving Heaven and Earth just for you!

Psalm 30:4-5 (NLT)

Sing to the Lord, all you godly ones! Praise his holy name. For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime! Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.  

Praise does not mean that there will not be weeping, sorrow, pain or heartbreak in our life. It means it will not last forever and that all things will work together for our good because we love Him enough to trust Him, wait for Him and follow the Lord no matter what! Joy is coming! Favor belongs to you! It is ushered in our life through praise that says to the Lord, “You have my approval, admiration, and commendation.” It tells God you want His Will and His Way for your life. Praise fills the atmosphere around you with faith and hope that changes the environment in which we live making it prosperous as it begins producing all the good things that He has promised. Don’t abandon your field. Stop through acid on your crops. Fill it with good seed. (God’s Word) Cover it with fresh fertilizer. (Praise) Cultivate it with love. (Good Works) Flood it with His Spirit.

Psalm 5:11-12 (NLT)

But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them sing joyful praises forever.
Spread your protection over them,
 that all who love your name may be filled with joy. For you bless the godly, O Lord; you surround them with your shield of love.

The walk of faith takes us farther than our natural ability. It is a place that feet may fail. Strength will wane. Hearts get weak. It requires something greater than self to endure this challenge to stand strong to the end. Praise becomes our refuge. It wraps our entire being all of our humanity incorporated with our spirit in the Love of God. His Love becomes our shield. Praise produces an impenetrable force field around our life that silences the mockers who think we are nuts, engages the saints to pray us through and memorizes the masses who are looking for a Savior who really saves. They want a real God with real purpose to make real changes in the dead and broken life. Trust me – it is not a place for those who care what others think. People think I am crazy and live in a pseudo reality. That’s fine. My question to them is how many mom’s do you know who have children who have had cancer five times, chemotherapy, massive doses of radiation, and a bone marrow transplant who one year later are alive and well in college. God has cured his cancer. He is continuously healing his body of the aftermath. He has provided everything this kid has needed along the way continuing even today. He had a 2% chance of survival. God said, “He would live and not die” on October 25, 2011. It has been confirmed on August 21, 2015. Do you think I am going to praise Him? I have been since the very first day. How do you think I made it through my heart being shattered all those times?

Psalm 34:1-3 (NLT)

I will praise the Lord at all times. I will constantly speak his praises. I will boast only in the Lord; let all who are helpless take heart. Come, let us tell of the Lord’s greatness; let us exalt his name together.

Praise is not about who I think God is or what I want Him to do for me. It is about WHO He is and what He is doing in my life. I will praise the Lord at all times. This is easy when things are going well but when we decide to trust and believe that God is faithful enough to continue to speak His Praise in every situation – change will come, turnaround will happen and victory will come. What is your confession over your life today? I did not decide to praise God at all times until I had nowhere else to turn. How happen would it make His Heart if you decided to do so before tragedy strikes? My decision to praise the Lord was an act of survival. I needed the Lord to keep me standing and keep me breathing through the awful ordeal we faced. I was desperate. I was broken. I hate that our son ever had to experience such an awful disease, but I am not sorry for the brokenness that let my praise out!

Constantly and continually speak the praises of God over your life. Find your answer in His Word and speak it until it comes to pass. It has to come to pass because God does not lie or change His Mind and His Word NEVER returns void. It only fails if we abandon our post and don’t wait for it to come. God perfects our way and praise invites that change. You are not helpless – we have a Helper. Call on Him today? Rather than complaining and griping – thank Him for the solution that God is sending you today! God is faithfully pursuing you with unfailing love and goodness –praise opens the door and lets it come pouring in!

Psalm 103:1-5 (NLT)

Let all that I am praise the Lord; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name. Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me. He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies. He fills my life with good things. My youth is renewed like the eagle’s!