Beyond the Fog

beyond-the-fog

2 Corinthians 5:7 (NLT) For we live by believing and not by seeing.

“Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything in perfect clarity. All I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.” (I Corinthians 13:12) A thick fog has blanketed the streets and houses in the neighborhood this morning. It is difficult to make out the house across the street, but I know it is there. Fog is nothing more than tiny water droplets suspended in the atmosphere making it difficult to see. The same word is used to describe something that obscures and/or confuses a situation or someone’s thought process. One might say that someone is walking around in a fog.  As believers, I believe that such is a normal state of life. As what we now on the earth collides with what we are learning about the Kingdom, it causes a new state of understanding called belief. The sun will soon burn away the water that has hindered natural visibility. Lord, I ask you to clear away the foggy areas of my life so that all I see is You.

Faith shows the reality of what we hope for. It is the evidence of things we cannot see. (Hebrews11:1) It is without hesitation that in a few hours everyone will load up in the family vehicle and head to the House of God. What each person encounters will be strictly up to them? Surely as pastors all over are praying, worship leaders preparing the way to enter His Presence, teachers are studying lessons, and group leaders picking up donuts on the way to fire up the coffee pot, the Lord is waiting. He is wondering if today will be the day that the fog lifts from our faith. If it will be the moment that His People choose to believe in Him. Just the Lord, only Jesus. We have made church such a prominent production that many times it is easy to forget what really matters. It is what we believe. The things that we cannot see but trust by faith to be real and true.

Do you believe today? Yes, I believe that I will find a parking spot, be met by a greeter, find a seat in the sanctuary, hear good music, and be brought a good message but will I believe just a step farther by placing one foot into the fog where faith becomes belief. The place where new life begins. The Presence of God is where I want to go. It is the very place that I am called to be where my purpose is revealed and potential exposed to growth beyond that which I can imagine or even think. Corrie ten Boom said, “Faith is the radar that sees through the fog.”

Matthew 8:5-10 (NLT)  When Jesus returned to Capernaum, a Roman officer came and pleaded with him, “Lord, my young servant lies in bed, paralyzed and in terrible pain.” Jesus said, “I will come and heal him.” But the officer said, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come into my home. Just say the word from where you are, and my servant will be healed. I know this because I am under the authority of my superior officers, and I have authority over my soldiers. I only need to say, ‘Go,’ and they go, or ‘Come,’ and they come. And if I say to my slaves, ‘Do this,’ they do it.” When Jesus heard this, he was amazed. Turning to those who were following him, he said, “I tell you the truth, I haven’t seen faith like this in all Israel!

The first paper that I ever wrote in Bible College was about the centurion’s faith. It quickly became one of the most inspiring stories in the entire book. Immediately, I had a burning desire to have faith like He did. The kind of faith that made Jesus marvel and amazed Him. The officer made it through the military ranks because he understood authority and power. He not only recognized these two things, but his training and experience allowed him to respond with confidence and absolute trust that if Jesus spoke the word – it would be enough. I want God’s Word to be enough for me to respond to. His Word is all that I need to have all the authority and power of God’s Kingdom at my disposal. My response to God’s Word, His Will and His Way must be marked by submission and surrender. These are the very things that our pride and flesh hate. They are the acts rallied against by our mind, will and emotions as they exact the death blow to sin in our life. Which gives us a new life where there is no room for self in order to make room for all of Jesus!

Just say the word from where you are, and my servant will be healed. When the Lord told me that our son would live and not die, I had to make a choice. Trust is always a choice. It is the element of freedom that cannot be forced therefore submission and surrender are absolutely essential to step out of our natural life and secure eternal life. It is the boundary between impossible and possible that can only be overcome by faith. We must move from the place of doubt and disbelief to obtain faith and trust in the Lord to allow Him access to our now rather than waiting on forever.

Mark 9:22-24 (NLT) The spirit often throws him into the fire or into water, trying to kill him. Have mercy on us and help us, if you can.” “What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.” The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!”

“Help us, if you can…” Many people pray this way even today. “Lord, if it is Your Will – heal my _______” We must fortify our belief system with truth. Jesus met the woman at the well when she was isolated and alone. (John 4) Her past made it impossible for her to join the other woman. She was an outcast. He imparted life changing wisdom to her that day filling her heart. He said to her that there was coming a day when “true worshippers” would do so in Spirit and in Truth. To live by Spirit and Truth is to live under the power and authority of God. We have the Holy Spirit to produce spiritual fruit to nourish our faith and feed our trust so belief will be born in us. The Truth is God’s Word. We cannot know Jesus and not know the Word because they are one. (John 1) She decided to believe. When she went to tell the others, they also believed. (John 4:42) “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief, Lord!”

John 8:44-45 (NLT) For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies. So when I tell the truth, you just naturally don’t believe me!

Born in sin, it is not natural for people to believe the Gospel message. We are born judged. Acceptance of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord relinquishes our familial connection to sin that is natural to step into the supernatural realm called hope. To have all the benefits and blessings of being a Child of the King. We must make the transition from death to life in doing just one thing. We must believe in Jesus. He must be our Savior and become our Lord. Just as solider enlists voluntarily, we become good soldiers of Jesus Christ by accepting Him as our Lord. His Word becomes our authority and therefore we submit obedience. His Power becomes ours by surrendering our weakness and inability to His Power. It is not natural so it will require constant attention.

The father of lies tells us many things contradictory to the Word of God but readily accepted by unknowing flesh. Jesus did not come with a long list of demands. He did not come with an assassin’s agenda to exact punishment. He came to offer salvation. He came not to condemn but pardon. The world says that it is too good to be true. Religion adds an addendum to perfect love created fear and anxiety over one’s inability to follow them. Jesus didn’t come for all that but with one purpose in mind. Those who believe would be saved. The only sin that forces judgement over mercy is its refusal to believe in Jesus Christ. I didn’t say that the Word of God does. (John 16:9) We must believe that Jesus Christ is our Savior. We must believe that He is the Lord of our life. This belief by faith and confident hope will cause us not just to trust Him for our forever but allows Him to change our today and tomorrows, too.

John 11:23-27 (NLT) Jesus told her, “Your brother will rise again.” “Yes,” Martha said, “he will rise when everyone else rises, at the last day.” Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?” “Yes, Lord,” she told him. “I have always believed you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who has come into the world from God.”

“Then she returned to Mary. She called Mary aside from the mourners and told her, “The Teacher is here and wants to see you.” (John 11:28) Martha’s faith was limited. She could not believe beyond seeing. When Jesus arrived, she scolded Him. “If you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Jesus even revealed Himself to her directly by saying, “I am the Resurrection and the Life.” He went on to tell her that those who live in Me will never die. Though her mouth said the right thing, it revealed the reality of her faith. Martha had faith for forever, but she did not believe for that day. Martha was blind to the spiritual significance of what Jesus was saying so passed Him off to Mary. It is easy to get caught up in the rhetoric of faith without truly believing. We must be so very careful as Christians that faith is a verb and not just a noun. We must live by believing not seeing. Faith is believing without seeing and living based on confident hope not human confidence.

John 11:38-40 (NLT) Jesus was still angry as he arrived at the tomb, a cave with a stone rolled across its entrance. “Roll the stone aside,” Jesus told them. But Martha, the dead man’s sister, protested, “Lord, he has been dead for four days. The smell will be terrible.” Jesus responded, “Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believe?”

When Jesus encountered Mary, she fell at His Feet also indicating that she believed if Jesus had been there – her brother would be alive. Jesus was in the midst of them ready to give new life to Lazarus but they were caught up in their circumstance and current conditions believing that it was over. Hope arrived but they didn’t even recognize Him. It says in John 11:35 that Jesus wept. Was He weeping because those closest to Him did not believe? Do you believe that Jesus can bring even dead things back to life? ”So the promise is received by faith. It is given as a free gift. And we are all certain to receive it, whether or not we live according to the law of Moses, if we have faith like Abraham’s. For Abraham is the father of all who believe. That is what the Scriptures mean when God told him, “I have made you the father of many nations.”[ This happened because Abraham believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing. Even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept hoping—believing that he would become the father of many nations. For God had said to him, “That’s how many descendants you will have!” (Romans 4:16-18)

John 9:35-38 (NLT) When Jesus heard what had happened, he found the man and asked, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” The man answered, “Who is he, sir? I want to believe in him.” “You have seen him,” Jesus said, “and he is speaking to you!” “Yes, Lord, I believe!” the man said. And he worshiped Jesus.

Jesus healed this man of blindness. The Pharisees demanded an explanation of the miracle from the man. He recounted his experience. They continued to harass Him until they finally threw him out of the synagogue because the beggar could not give a natural explanation of his supernatural experience. Jesus came to the man and made an introduction. The man believed.

Thomas was a disciple of Jesus Christ. He was with him for all the ministry and miracles of his years leading up to the Cross. When Jesus came back to life, his close follower and disciple refused to believe without actually seeing the Lord with nail-scarred hands and the fresh scar in his side. Jesus came to Him. It is His Deepest Desire that we believe. Jesus said to Thomas, “Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!” Once Thomas finally believed Jesus said these words, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.” This is not a message for the lost but those who think seeing is believing. In the natural this is true. Spiritually faith is believing what we do not see enough to trust Him for now not just forever.

Mark 11:22-25 (NLT) Then Jesus said to the disciples, “Have faith in God. I tell you the truth, you can say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. But you must really believe it will happen and have no doubt in your heart. I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours. But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.”

True worshippers will do so in Spirit and in Truth. God’s Power and Authority is ready for you. All that is required to have faith in Jesus Christ, to believe in His Word and live according to His Way. To submit and surrender to His Word. There is an inherent danger to demanding God to do it our way or constantly give us signs in order to believe. In Mark15:31-32, the religious leaders demanded Jesus to save Himself from the Cross in order for them to believe. If Jesus Christ had done what they required to believe – no one could be saved. Life was in their grasp. Forever within an arms width away. Yet the tried to call our Savior (the Messiah) off the Cross to satisfy their doubt and disbelief. We cannot demand Jesus to do it our way but believe that His Way is perfect and live accordingly. Belief is empowered by His Spirit and His Word. They become the Truth to live by. We must rebuke the natural desire to see what God is doing and respond to what we know of Him. The Word lights our way and is a lamp to our feet. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and Life who better to guide and navigate us then the Word. The Holy Spirit is our helper. We will never walk alone if we acknowledge Him and partner with Him to discover more faith which fuels our belief. We must fan this desire to know the Lord into a passionate flame of unquenchable desire.

John 8:31-32 (NLT) Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

The tell-tale sign of belief is faith and trust demonstrated by obedience to God’s Authority and His Power. It is the very thing that allows us to experience all the benefits and blessings associated with new life and rebirth. The Resurrection Power that brought Jesus forth from the grave victoriously is in us. The key to unlock it is labeled “believe”. Do you believe? The easiest way to know if there is disbelief in us is disobedience. If we truly believe that God is always good, His Word true, His Love unconditional, His Grace powerful and His Glory better than life – we would obey Him at His Word and achieve the faith of the centurion. The kind of faith and trust that amazed Jesus! I would love for that to be the legacy of my life. To trust the Lord for more than just forever. To obey Him at His Word. Lord, help me today to walk completely by faith and not by sight. To step into the deep from which You are calling and not hesitate because I cannot see the way. I want to be where You are Jesus! Take me to that place! Be my Light when I cannot see and my comfort when fear grips my heart! Let the response of my heart in all things to follow you. I want to believe, rid me of all disbelief in Jesus Name!

John 10:25-27 (NLT)  Jesus replied, “I have already told you, and you don’t believe me. The proof is the work I do in my Father’s name. But you don’t believe me because you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.

 

I Must Press

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Philippians 3:12-14 (AMP) Not that I have already obtained it [this goal of being Christlike] or have already been made perfect, but I actively press on so that I may take hold of that [perfection] for which Christ Jesus took hold of me and made me His own. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider that I have made it my own yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the [heavenly] prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

“Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.” Vince Lombardi

Perfection is impossible to achieve on the earth. Those who live in pursuit of perfection will one day achieve it. Jesus Christ is perfect. Sinless. Selfless. He belongs to me. Paul said, “I have not obtained or been made perfect…but I actively press on to take hold of perfection.” (Paraphrased) There is a better life worth having. God has empowered us with all that is needed to attain. It is the inheritance claimed by repentance as one returns to His Father through Jesus Christ. It belongs to us. We just have to desire it enough to “come boldly” to get it. Jesus has given us the keys to the Kingdom. I am free to use them at any time. The door is locked to keep the enemy from taking what is designated as mine. Shaking the keys does not scare the enemy, however; when I decide to use the Keys to the Kingdom to release God’s Power in my life – he will tremble and flee. The devil’s roar is no match for the Lion of Judah.

I must press for perfect to walk in excellence. This is true in all aspects of life. When I decide to be the best in any given area, it is a mind, body and soul decision to press past every obstacle, overcome every weakness and push past every barrier that keeps me from success. Vince Lombardi was a great football coach. He coached in the National Football League. The highest award in football bears his name, The Vince Lombardi Trophy is given to the winner of the Super Bowl. Certainly, his attitude reflected in his statement was emulated in his life. What about you? I wonder what would happen if we set our heart on Heaven and Jesus as heavily as we do on natural achievements? What if I got up early to work the Word instead working my body? What if I left ten minutes early to make it to church as I do to get to the office early? What if I engaged in conversations with the Lord as much as other people? What if I sought the affirmation, acceptance and approval of Jesus Christ as much as every other person who roams the planet? What if my foremost expectation was in Christ alone? Would I press? Would I pursue perfection that is Jesus Christ?

“I press on toward the goal to win the (heavenly prize) of the upward calling of God in Christ Jesus.” The word “press” has two meanings: 1) to move by weight or force in a certain direction or into a certain position, and 2) to compress or squeeze as to alter shape or size. If our goal in life is to become a new creation and engage in transformation both of these are applicable in our life. We cannot stay as we were and become who God created us to be. We cannot remain still and not become stagnant. God is moving. I must learn to live, move and breathe with Him. His Spirit in me presses out the impure to make room for the pure through the process called conviction. Jesus invites us to become yoked to Him so we can go where He goes, say what He says, and do what He does. We want to remain the victim, but Jesus tells us no you are an overcomer. A victim is not a victor. It is moving from one role to the other where victory is achieved and the prize obtained in life.

Matthew 11:28-30 (AMP) “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavily burdened [by religious rituals that provide no peace], and I will give you rest [refreshing your souls with salvation]. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me [following Me as My disciple], for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest (renewal, blessed quiet) for your souls. For My yoke is easy [to bear] and My burden is light.”

The biggest handicap in Christianity is ignorance. In fact, Hosea 4:6 says that people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Knowledge is to know God’s Word. Wisdom is when it is applied to life. To be a true disciple of Jesus Christ means knowing the Word. Jesus is the Word wrapped in flesh. (John 1) To attempt to follow Jesus but not know the Word is to wander aimlessly without a map, compass or GPS to guide the way. To walk by faith and not by sight means there must be something to guide us where we cannot see to go. Our faith must be found in Jesus Christ. Our faith must be in the Word of God. Our faith must believe enough to follow Him.

Are you ready to press? Matthew 11:28-30 is not about Jesus picking you up and carrying you through life. Read it again. It says plainly, “Take My Yoke upon you and learn from me.” A yoke joins two together to walk as one. Jesus invites us to walk with Him. He teaches us how to live, move and breathe in Him. Our weakness is given up for His Power in grace. Grace is achieved when I humble my life to accept His Salvation and live in His Righteousness. It is when I discard the filthy rags and assume the Robe of Righteousness offered to me by His Nail-Scarred Hands. Old wineskin cannot carry new wine. (Matthew 9:16-17) With this in mind, I cannot expect a new life or to be a new creation which is absolutely necessary to claim perfection when I meet the Lord one day, if I am not willing to press today.

John 5:5-9 (NLT) One of the men lying there had been sick for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him and knew he had been ill for a long time, he asked him, “Would you like to get well?” “I can’t, sir,” the sick man said, “for I have no one to put me into the pool when the water bubbles up. Someone else always gets there ahead of me.” Jesus told him, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk!” Instantly, the man was healed! He rolled up his sleeping mat and began walking! 

The man was sick for 38 years. The woman with the issue of blood suffered for 12 years. Both had infirmities that would be healed by faith in Jesus Christ. Faith applies pressure to the possibilities in our life that will cause us to push past impossible and receive the miraculous. However, if I am satisfied with my life remaining status quo, good enough, or I settle for less to maintain comfort and complacency – the real problem is a lack of faith. Desperation will press us to step out of our weakness and infirmity. The important question here is “would you like to get well?”

To be well requires change. It will mean doing something or a series of things that you are not necessarily comfortable doing. It will require faith that is more than rhetoric but a reality in your life. The man sitting by the pool was a victim in life. When he met Jesus that day, he was faced with a choice. Do I continue to wait for someone to carry me? Or am I going to press for perfection by responding to the Word? He chose the better. He pressed past the impossible and obtained the miraculous the moment he gave up being a victim to take hold of victory. He believed. His faith changed everything once put in Jesus and not anyone or anything else.

Jesus told him, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk!” Jesus is telling us the very same thing today. Stand up. Press. Apply pressure and force to that thing called faith within you. Give it some attention. Nurture it. Feed it. Foster it. Force it to grow. Label it “purpose” and make it a priority in your life. What if the only thing keeping you from supernatural living is you? How sad would it have been if the man waved off Jesus keeping his eyes on the water and facilitating fruitless relationships hoping someone might carry him? How tragic if the woman with issues stayed home that day inhibited by the judgment of others and hindered by the crowds allowing her weakness to hold her captive forever? Jesus has given us the Holy Spirit to “help us in our weakness”. (Romans 8) He is working in harmony with God’s Will for us to achieved and succeed according to God’s Plan for our life. He is our helper which means that I must still be doing something to promote this radical change faith produces in our life.

Mark 8:33-37 (NLT) Then, calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?

In an effort to improve my physical well-being, I have engaged in a “squat challenge” for the month of February. Every day I have committed to a certain number of squats. The first day it was just fifty. Today on day 18 – it is now up to 155. On the last day of the challenge, the goal is 250. I cannot even imagine such a feat. I am disciplining my body to do the exercises every day. When I begin a set, I feel good, powerful, and have the mindset for success. About halfway through, it gets more difficult. My momentum begins to slow. I am becoming out of breath. My legs grow shaky. Sweat begins to form on my brow. Toward the end of the set is when my thoughts begin to rally against my commitment. I want to stop. Give in to the discomfort. Stop and catch my breath. I must press to complete the set. I must push past the pain in my body, the discomfort in my chest, and the thoughts in my head to finish. Why? I have made it my goal to be successful in this challenge and kick start a plan for better health and wellness. Why don’t we apply such principles in our spiritual life as well?

We would not need the qualities of patience and endurance if the walk of faith was easy. It’s not. It kills our flesh and ignores our thoughts. It presses on for something greater than our natural senses can perceive therefore needs a higher perspective obtained only through the Word of God and close alignment with His Son. I must put forth the energy. I must make a commitment. I must take responsibility for my part of the partnership in my relationship with Jesus Christ. I must decide I am no longer a victim in this life but will pursue victory in all things. I must become an overcomer because greater is He who is in me. I cannot try to drag Jesus to defeat because He will not go there, but continues to lead me to victory. I must press. I must push, I cannot give up or risk being left behind. If I submit my weakness to Jesus Christ by faith, I will be made whole. But it won’t happen if I don’t press! I will remain subject to people or clothed in my issues. I must apply weight and force to my fear. I must squeeze out every doubt. The Lord promises to help me if I just yoke myself to Him. I must press. Will you?

I Corinthians 9:25-27 (NLT) All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.

A Balanced Life

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James 2:17-18 (NLT) So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless. Now someone may argue, “Some people have faith; others have good deeds.” But I say, “How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.”

Balance is a place that I strive for and tend to fall short. I feel like I am always busy…too busy. Looking back over my life of more than fifty years, I see the places where unimportant tasks and trivial duties took the place of time better spent in different ways. Wisdom is the product of applying new knowledge and greater understanding in life. This is not easy to come by and therefore the Word of God describes it as worth more than precious metals and stones. Time stops for no one. Each tick of the clock is a second of our life that is gone forever now becoming history. Did I use it well? Do I have regrets? Do I wish I did things differently? We all have moments and seasons wasted on lesser things – immediate gratification is highly promoted in the world in which we live. Supply and demand is the current that overtakes us. The very thing purchased yesterday at such a great price depreciates in our hands the moment it is marked “sold”. My desire is balance. I am tired of being distracted with busyness. I am motivated. I am a hard worker. I am disciplined in many areas of life. It comes with age and experience for most. I have fallen many times. I have failed more than I have succeeded. However, in my heart today, I believe that the overwhelming overcoming faith that I am after will be achieved in this place called balance. The rest entered in by those who choose to be faithful and fruitful. It is an intentional place of trusting God enough to rest in our duties of life and pursue His Kingdom passionately. Not by putting our work ethic and tendencies into the production called church – but to become one with His Presence as His Body the church.

Faith is essential in our life. Without faith, it is impossible to please God. Faith is not only a noun, but its precipitation is a verb. We must produce good deeds from our faith. Trusting God is the definition of active faith. It gives us confidence that just because our activities do not prosper in our hands that it causes our soul and heart to flourish with the Goodness of God. The Holy Spirit does not produce tangible fruit in our heart to nourish our natural body – instead He produces the kind of fruit that prospers our soul instead. When our soul begins to prosper in God – our life will too. Not because of my works but by the faith and trust in God that allows me to release the worries and cares of this life to find rest in His Presence and share the Glory of His Kingdom.

“I will show you my faith by my good deeds.” Many people take this and turns it into I have to “work” for God in the sense of filling their schedule with work and church all the time. This is not the case at all. I will show you my faith by my good deeds. Let’s take a moment for an attitude check. How’s your attitude? Is your attitude like a gloriously delivered fruit basket filled with all the offerings of the Holy Spirit? Do people leave encouraged at speaking to you? Do they want what you have? Or run like it might be contagious? What about your activity? Busyness is an excuse given by those who have misspent their time and now have regrets. Everyone has the same amount of time in any given day. It is up to me how I use the 24 hours, 1440 minutes, and 86,400 seconds in a single day. If I am not satisfied and content, it is my own fault. Whom the Son sets free is free indeed. I am the master of my life. I choose where I plant it, what I cultivate in it, and the harvest from it. God has given me the seed. I must sow it. The problem is that I cannot decide where to plant, what to sow, or when to wait for the harvest. My faith is not demonstrated in my ability to work hard, be disciplined or even in earthly success. My faith is only evident when I trust the Lord no matter my condition, circumstance or situation. It is the steadfast, confident hope that no matter what Jesus is enough.

James 2:21-22 (NLT) Don’t you remember that our ancestor Abraham was shown to be right with God by his actions when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see, his faith and his actions worked together. His actions made his faith complete. 

Faith when planted properly should cause our natural life and spiritual life to become one. We achieve balance in our life by faith in God that permeates every area of it. Diversified living creates a divided heart given to too many things and mastering none. The consummation of the holy inhabitation of the Spirit in my life should be evident in every attitude and action that I take. My works should be evident of my relationship to Jesus Christ. Everything I do should resonate absolute and total trust that God is my Father who provides and protects me. My actions complete my faith. My actions will change only if the knowledge that I live by becomes wisdom found in God’s Word, His Will and His Way. Jesus Christ is the Word of God wrapped in flesh who came as a Living Love Letter from God inviting me home. He promises all that belongs to Him will be my inheritance if I just come back to Him. This must be a wholehearted endeavor. God has big plans for my life. He offers good, future and hope. They are mind for the asking. I will have them if only I seek Him with my whole heart by faith and learning to trust Him more. (Jeremiah 29:11-13)

Luke 10:38-42 (NLT)  As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.” But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”

I will be the first to admit that I identify completely with Martha. I understand what motivates her and just how she ticks. I am task oriented and responsibility driven. I used to think if I didn’t do it that it wasn’t going to get done. I used to judge those who weren’t busy, stressed out and overloaded thinking them of lazy and unmotivated. It took a tragic turn in life for me to understand that my existence is not necessary to the world in which I live. It will keep going whether I am here or not. Time stops for no one.

When our son was diagnosed with cancer, an elaborate schedule to alternate his care among family. It would be three months of every day treatment. I couldn’t leave my job. I had a career. I was responsible for three departments. It was our busiest time of the year. They needed me. You may want to avert your eyes because my pride is showing as I tell you of what a self-absorbed person I had become. How could I just stop working for three months? For two weeks, I wrestled to incorporate taking care of our son with my job thinking that is what any responsible employee would do. Or so I thought… when my son got out of the car at the hospital after two weeks of packing up his things and withdrawing from school – I believe that the Lord removed the veil from my eyes. I could see the shadow of death surrounding our son. Everything changed in that single moment. I called my boss that very moment. I am sorry I cannot leave my child. I am going to stand by him. I am sorry and I will do what I can to help long distance but this is where I need to be, I hope you understand. My passion and drive to succeed came colliding with the reality of death in a moment. Not just that which loomed so near, but the fact that tomorrow is not promised and I was wasting precious time. When our battle was over and our son rallied in the victory of remission, I ended up leaving my former career to take a much more laid back position. Work doesn’t come home with me any longer. It does not lay a trap of busyness. I work. I live. I play. I worship in all three because my heart and mind are finally free. What has you all tensed up? What steals precious moments from your family or even the Lord? Hey Martha, I think the Lord is calling to you – what will your heart say?

Psalm 27:8 (NLT) My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.” And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.”

Balance can only be achieved by proper prioritization. There is no doubt that God wants us to be hard workers. In fact, many passages in Proverbs point to the many benefits of hard work. Such as monetary wealthy (10:4, 13:11); plentiful provision (12:11, 28:19); rewards (12:14); promotion (12:24); and prosperity (13:4, 21:5). All these things can be produced by being a hard worker. If we apply the simple truths of the Bible to our lives, we will prosper in our natural life. However, to prosper in our soul requires balancing our life of work with our life of worship. When busyness overtakes us the balance is interrupted. The demands of this world creates distractions and diversions that derail faith in exchange for pride quickly and without warning. We adopt the mentality “if I don’t do it, who will?” God says, “I will because I AM.”

Ecclesiastes 3:11-12 (NLT) Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can.

The place of busyness that produces good things in life is also the point when life begins to feel meaningless. Busyness makes us feel vital and purposeful but if the things we do with our hands is not reminiscent of the Jesus who lives in our heart. They will quickly be overtaken. (Matthew 6:19-21) Don’t get all holier-than-thou on me either. Christians are the worst. We profess to believe by grace we are saved and then kill ourselves serving in the local church. The program and production of church becomes overtaken by pride. It inhibits worship. It allows religiosity to choke out new growth. We must find the balance of Spirit and Truth to connect with the eternity in our heart in order to achieve godly purpose that leads to total and complete fulfillment and satisfaction in Jesus Christ. This is the point when I begin to decrease and He increases in and through my life. When I no longer care about the packing out the moments of my life but connecting with the Lord in each moment.

The work of my hands alone cannot produce the life God has promised me. I must seek Him wholeheartedly or else risk finding no meaning in living. No matter how successfully I become working, it is meaningless if Jesus Christ is not the very essence in all things. (Ecclesiastes 2:18-19) I can work hard my whole life. I can build a good inheritance for our kids. Everything that I acquire will belong to someone else the day that I die. (Ecclesiastes 2:21-24) Every good thing have is a Gift from God. I must always remember that. Nothing I do will every produce His Goodness, Grace or Glory in my life. It is His Gift to me no matter how unworthy I may feel and there is nothing that I can do to earn it. The only thing I have of worth is eternity. Will it be enough to prosper with God in His Kingdom? Will the seeds I plant in life yield a harvest of believers? See the fruit of my life will not be evaluated by stuff even that which I generously give away. It will be amount of faith that I have when I meet the Lord. Will it be enough?

John 21:6-8 (NLT) Then he said, “Throw out your net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you’ll get some!” So they did, and they couldn’t haul in the net because there were so many fish in it. Then the disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, “It’s the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his tunic (for he had stripped for work), jumped into the water, and headed to shore. The others stayed with the boat and pulled the loaded net to the shore, for they were only about a hundred yards from shore.

His invitation so simple. Come and follow me. He met them right where they were. They stopped fishing left their careers, homes and families to follow Jesus. However, through the course of His Ministry it became clear that they really did not have a clear perspective on all that it meant. Peter was passionate and impulsive. Always the first jump in and the first who wanted back out. He fumbled with this thing called faith and exactly what it meant. He even went so far to deny the Messiah just the day before that he had promised to die for. So feeling defeated and deeming all a failure, he went back to his career. However, although his life looked the same, his heart had change. Faith had been planted and cultivated in Him. His pride crucified with Christ. All Peter wanted was Jesus. When the Lord showed up on the beach that day, his man was ready and knew exactly what to do. He jumped over the boat and swam to Jesus. He didn’t care about the net-breaking wealthy haul of fish that would supply his earthly need. He knew Jesus was all that he needed and would not be stopped making his way to the Lord. I believe that through the trials, temptations, tests, and even tragedies in life – the Lord uses them to remove those things that keep us from the rich, satisfying life that He died for us to have. It doesn’t look like worldly success. It does not come with the pressure but peace found in the Presence of God. It doesn’t require us to always be so busy. It means knowing when to stop and rest. It recognizes the still, small voice when He calls and responds immediately. There is no distance too far when it is Jesus who we are after. There is no other thing in this world that gives us fulfillment other than faith. Faith is worthless until it is completed by Christ. We plant it, others water it, but only God can increase it in our heart so it overtakes every other attitude and action in life.

It is time to inspect the nets of our life like any good fishermen would. The things that clog our net keep the fisher from being captured. We are to be fishers of men. If our life is stressed out, filled with fear, doubt and anxiety it will be all men for themselves. That is not the life you are called to. You have the Mind of Jesus Christ. He has given you the power to overcome. You are more than a conqueror in Jesus Christ. Fear robs us of such things. Faith binds them to every detail of our life. It is time to check out to-do list and mark some things off. It is time to reprioritize it. Number one must always be time spent with Jesus. Don’t let busyness disrupt the balance of your life. Set your plumb line to vertical and build your foundation of faith around it. Prosperity begins in the soul and overflows in our life.

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

Boots on the Ground

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Psalm 18:30-36 (NLT) God’s way is perfect. All the Lord’s promises prove true. He is a shield for all who look to him for protection. For who is God except the Lord? Who but our God is a solid rock? God arms me with strength, and he makes my way perfect. He makes me as surefooted as a deer, enabling me to stand on mountain heights. He trains my hands for battle; he strengthens my arm to draw a bronze bow. You have given me your shield of victory. Your right hand supports me; your help has made me great. You have made a wide path for my feet to keep them from slipping.

“Boots on the ground” is a military term. It is used to convey the belief that strategic success can only be achieved through the direct physical presence of troops in a conflict area. It is the idea that presence makes prominence. Maybe concurrent with the thought that “possession is nine tenths of the law” which further implies that ownership is easier if one has possession of something or difficult to enforce if one does not. I believe that both convey confidence. Confidence in strength and power according to that which is attained. Man of valor fight for a cause dear to heart as they are called to serve and protect the people of their country. Their mind is focused on battle and maintaining the safety and security of those who reside in the land. They fight for freedom. Even if someone uses their freedom to protect their mission, they do it just the same.

Jesus Christ died to set us free. It is our option to use our freedom to trust the Lord or continue wandering in the darkness of this world. Truly – who the Son sets free is free indeed. However, if we do not know our rights as a believer it is difficult to understand the benefits offered by obedience. To choose to live for the Kingdom rather the world is impossible if we do not see the point. We can see, hear, feel, touch and experience this life with our senses. How does one come to their senses by faith that cannot see, hear, feel or touch the Lord in a tangible sense? How does one find confidence to walk by faith and not by sight? How do we win the war of flesh versus spirit when one is intimate and the other foreign? God has given us His Spirit but we must empower Him by eliminating the influence of our flesh. In short order, every lie must be dissolved in Truth so we can fully walk in the freedom intended for us and imparted by Jesus Christ.

“God’s way is perfect.” Do you believe this is true? Think about it for a moment. Do you really believe that God’s Word is true and valid for every aspect of your life? If so, do you do what it says? Are you willing to give up your will to have God’s Will just as it is without reservation? This is the freedom to be fought for by faith. To secure our freedom in Jesus Christ and walk His Perfect Way to overcoming victory in our everyday life. It’s not easy. It is not logical. It is faithful.

He makes me as surefooted as a deer, enabling me to stand on mountain heights… You have made a wide path for my feet to keep them from slipping.” I would venture to say that if following Jesus was easy there would have been more than 12 disciples. In fact, even in the handful of men with Jesus one still managed to betray Him. I am challenged today to find purpose in my steps. (1 Corinthians 9:26) To be surefooted as a deer enabling me to stand on a firm foundation of faith in all things. I long for the wide path of obedience called the Highway of Holiness that keeps me from slipping. I want to follow the Lord walking in close fellowship with Him as Enoch did until I disappear and only God remains. Is this even possible? Absolutely. Is it logical? Not in reality only faithfully.

Psalm 91:1-2 (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.

Trust labels the steps that lead to greater faith. Without faith, it is impossible to please God. It is faith in Jesus Christ that opens the door to Him in the first place. I must protect my faith. Feed my faith. Condition my faith. It is the most important thing in my life that leads to eternal life. Without, faith I will die. It promotes perseverance and endurance in me that is far from natural and instinctual. It is supernatural. A soldier joins the army with potential. It is through rigorous training and conditioning that changes his potential into purpose. When that purpose engages in battle, the soldier becomes a warrior. I want to be a warrior of faith. I have been in some fights in my life. I have the battle scars to prove it. The Lord promises those who seek refuge in Him will have security. A place of safety. This place is secured by trust.

If we continue to read Psalm 91, it tells us of more than just a place to hide in the Lord but a place also to take a stand against sin and darkness that attempts to overtake us and invade the good things in our life. By faith, “a thousand fall at your side, thought ten thousand are dying around you these evils will not touch you.” It goes on to promise that “no evil will conquer you” and “no plague will come near to your home.” His angels are positioned to protect you. I love this part. “You will trample upon lions and cobras; you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet.” If you look at the verse right before this one, it says, “They (angels) will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.” Are you tired of stumbling? Are you sick of struggling? There is a better way. God’s Way is perfect.

Proverbs 3:21-26 (NLT) My child, don’t lose sight of common sense and discernment. Hang on to them, for they will refresh your soul. They are like jewels on a necklace. They keep you safe on your way, and your feet will not stumble. You can go to bed without fear; you will lie down and sleep soundly. You need not be afraid of sudden disaster or the destruction that comes upon the wicked, for the Lord is your security. He will keep your foot from being caught in a trap.

God’s Word is a lamp for our feet. (Psalm 119:105) Common sense and discernment must become fast friends and constant companions to make faith logical for our life. God’s Word is the Truth for our life. We must learn to walk in it every single day. This takes our common senses and applies discernment too it from God’s Perspective. His Thoughts are higher than ours and so are His Ways so it is imperative that godly knowledge counteracts stinking thinking. Common sense and discernment is logical faith defined by the Word of God applied as wisdom for our everyday life. We must change the way we think by deciding the Word of God is true and valid for today.

Hebrews 12:12-13 (NLT) So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong.

I must not evaluate my life or decide my course of action based on how I feel, what I think or the circumstances in the natural. If I do, I will have life based on fate not faith. When I set my heart and mind on achieving God’s Purpose for my life which is always by faith then I will respond to His Word rather than reacting to the daily struggles I face. This will cause me to walk in victory. The man sitting on the ground asking for handouts was limited by his ability to walk. He fell victim to his circumstance and identified with his infirmity. When Peter passed, he begged for money. Peter said (to paraphrase), “No brother I will do you one better than that…” The man was immediately healed and then “walking, leaping and praising God went to the Temple with them. I cannot give others what I have not discovered and obtained for myself. I cannot pawn fake faith that doesn’t believe enough to follow through with each day. I cannot share a truth that is not a reality in my life. So if I want to walk in victory and be boots on the ground for Jesus Christ, it is imperative that I believe. Believe enough to walk with Him and follow Him each day. Where He goes I go. Are you tired of limping through life? Have you fallen on hard times? In the Name of Jesus Christ, it’s time to get up and walk. Get those boots back on the ground. Fight for your faith. You have victory up for grabs.

Proverbs 4:25-27 (NLT) Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you. Mark out a straight path for your feet; stay on the safe path. Don’t get sidetracked; keep your feet from following evil.

Why does something simple seem so hard? Our faith must be daily fed the Word of God to strengthen it. We must continually strap truth to our feet so it protects us as we tread over lions, serpents and the enemy in life. (Ephesians 6:15) The enemy is acutely aware of our weakness because most days we complain and grumble showing him the insufficiencies of our faith rather celebrating our victory in Jesus with constant praise, endless worship and consistent gratitude for our freedom. We lose simply because we do not believe we win! Not me. Not anymore. I am tired of fighting losing battles especially when I have figured that the Christ in me is enough to always overcome if only I believe. Do you believe? If not, there is no partnership between common sense and discernment. The two will disagree making it even more difficult to find the way. Jesus is the Way. He is our Champion. The Author and Finisher of Faith. If I am willing ahead and stop living looking in the rear view mirror. If I choose to fix my eyes on Jesus who is before me. If I make a conscious and decisive effort to mark the pathway of my life with the Light of His Word. My path will be safe and secure in the Lord. The enemy will remain under my feet where He belongs. I will have victory in all things.

Romans 16:19-20 (NLT) But everyone knows that you are obedient to the Lord. This makes me very happy. I want you to be wise in doing right and to stay innocent of any wrong. The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. May the grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.

What’s the Hold Up?

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Hebrews 10:19-23 (NLT) And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water. Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. 

Trusting and believing would not be so hard if God did not insist on keeping His Own Timeline. Those days that add up to endurance and perseverance that push us past our patience. We love God. Why does He keep us waiting? What’s the hold up? I have divulged on many occasions that patience is not a personal strength but my total weakness that it seems God is intent on fixing in me. I find that each day I am presented with opportunities to wait on people, wait on traffic, wait at the store, wait at the doctor, wait on results and wait some more. My ability to wait indicates the importance of that which I am waiting for. For example, if our pantry and refrigerator are borderline empty – I will wait in a long line at the grocery store on a busy Saturday in order to buy the food our family needs. However, if I am there to pick up a few items to make a batch of cookies on impulse – I am more likely to put the ingredients back and walk out the door. It is all based on need and desire.

Waiting on God is just as important as working for Him. One does not discount the other. To plow through that which God says do but not be still when God says wait will impact our purpose. Our obedience to the Lord determines the abundance in our life. He is not rewarding us – He is releasing what He has already stored away for us. Before I get pummeled with all the scriptures that indicate God rewards good behavior and obedience. Please allow me to explain. The reward that is reserved for me in Heaven is not subject to the hands of others. My reward is labeled an inheritance because it belongs to me. It is mine by birthright as a Child of God. I am not in competition with anyone else for what God has for me. By choosing obedience, patience and stillness over the impetuous nature of my flesh, God releases that which He has reserved for me. The only thing standing between me and God’s Richest Blessing in my life is – you guessed it – me!

“Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.” What is the hold up? What is keeping God’s Word from coming to pass in my life? Well, quite frankly and not to hurt any feelings – it is me and it is you. The very thing desired of the Father begins with the promise that we cling to. The Word of God clearly outlines every benefit and blessing that He has for us. It is a careful inventory of the supplies and surplus called abundance. Do you read it as such and believe it to be so? Have you ever gone into a restaurant hungry? When you peruse the menu, everything looks good. You order more than you can eat. Our appetite and hunger must become focused on God’s Word and God’s Way. This will produce satisfaction and contentment rather than a lifestyle of trying it all in hope of finding peace and rest.

Through the temptations, trials and tests of life, believers are forced to evaluate the things held tightly in our heart and in our hands. This is not because God wants to take from us but rather pour into us. What I hold on to can absolutely keep me from taking hold of those things that the Lord has for me that only faith and hope can produce. I will not trust the Lord for more if I have no idea what is available to me. It is also important that we seek the Lord personally and intentionally outside of the preachers and teachers that spoon feed the Word. Though they are necessary and beneficial to the Body of Christ, if we do not taste and see the Lord’s Grace and Goodness for ourselves – we will never let go of lesser things to obtain all the great blessings God has reserved for us.

Hebrews 4:14-16 (NLT) So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. 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.

“Let us hold firmly to what we believe.” I am challenged in Genesis and I Kings when God asks His Children like “who told you that” and “what are you doing here”? God will ask you the same thing if you listen for His Voice. It is easy to settle for good over God. It is much easier to maintain a level of control than to give up all control to trust the Lord. The absence of personal strength allows His Grace to take over and produce God’s Wonder Working Power in our life. Who is willing to take such a chance? We didn’t have a choice when our son was diagnosed with cancer. God didn’t ask me if I was up to the challenge or interested in following Abraham to the mountain. He just said, “Do you trust me?” I charged the Throne of God reciting every promise in His Word. He did not deny me but continued to ask, “Do you trust me?” The answer “yes” was not a powerful declaration such as David charging the giant but rather a whisper from deep within my devastated and demolished heart which I no longer had the strength to even pick up. One might think such a confession was enough. But I had prayed for years for more faith, to know Him more, to trust Him implicitly – and now I was given the opportunity, yes opportunity, to do just that. I had no idea what it would require. One diagnosis, four relapses, complete denial by the insurance company for lifesaving treatment until the very end of all medical intervention and the dead-end of all financial resources. One might think it was all those steps leading up to the moment when the final denial from our last appeal came in – but that was not the end it was only the beginning.

The shaking and struggling in life is not always the enemy sometimes it is the Holy Spirit trying to get us to let go of our word, our way and our will because our prayer is for His Word, His Way and His Will. We pray for one thing but don’t necessarily know that which is requested. When we finally make it through the stronghold of self to enter boldly into the Throne Room it is usually not a grand entrance but what is left of our person crawling into the Presence of God asking for grace and hoping for mercy just to make it through. God didn’t make it like this – we do by fighting for our way first and then seeking Him when all else fails. We can change all that but it means letting go now. Surrendering our life before Him daily rather than on demand. Service to God begins with humility that begins each day with less of me and more of You, God. It is to scoop up new mercy and to let go of the idea that there is anything I can do to earn it but must come before Him boldly to receive it. Boldness is born of confidence. Are you confident in the Lord today? Do you believe that He keeps His Promises? Or do you hope for less to see Him more? Do you lower your expectation to a human level because you are not willing to wait for Him to work all details for your benefit and blessing? Guilty as charged.

Deuteronomy 11:22 (NLT) “Be careful to obey all these commands I am giving you. Show love to the Lord your God by walking in his ways and holding tightly to him.

Obedience allows all the benefits and blessings tucked away for us under the careful guard of angel armies to be released to us. It is not to punish us or force us to do anything that we do not want to do. For example, while cooking dinner last night, I had a certain dish in mind. I read the instructions and pulled out all the ingredients. I followed each one line by line and precept by precept because I wanted the dish to turn out right. I did not deviate from it because the person who wrote it was sharing a secret with me that would become a glorious meal. I wasn’t mad that I had to add salt or not add sugar. I didn’t get frustrated when I had to wait for it all to simmer and the flavors to mesh together. That would have been ridiculous right? Why do we get mad or offended at the thought of godly obedience? Taste and see that the Lord is good is an open invitation to come try the food at His Table. To sit and sup with God and enjoy all the blessings and benefits of His Kingdom. If I deviate from a written recipe the food will not taste the same and I risk failure. Heck, I am pretty good at messing up recipes I follow to the letter. Do I throw out the pots and pans? Do I stop cooking forever? Do burn all my cookbooks? No, I try again.

We must take a logical approach to illogical faith. We must be sure that in learning to walk by faith not by sight that the very thing held most tightly is God and His Word. It will be evident in the productivity in our life. Holding tightly to faith produces the many fruits of God’s Spirit including love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness and more.

Romans 12:9-12 (NLT) Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.

It is only reasonable to believe that if the things I am doing, seeking and believing are ending in frustration and dissatisfaction that I need to do something else. Insanity is to do the same thing over and over expecting different results. I had this thought the other day. My husband and I have moved to a more rural area in the county outside the city limits. When we decide to “go to town”, it usually includes a meal since options are limited in the county. I ask him, “Where would you like to go?” He says, “I don’t know, how about you?” I respond, “It’s up to you.” I am embarrassed to admit that we usually frequent the exact same places where we used to eat before we moved. In fact the last few months, it has been the same restaurant every time. Shameful when there are so many choices. Inevitably as we continue to run errands that day and pass the many other venues, one of us will say, “We should have eaten there instead.” We are all creatures of habit. The Lord offers new ways and new things but change is difficult for the flesh inside of us. We miss faith full opportunities because we live on status quo. I know the place I go has what I want. I do not try new things in fear that I won’t like the food or be willing to pay a different price. This same principle is applied to our Christian walk. We set boundaries and limitations in our life because we give up on what we first believed and limit Christ to this life rather than letting go of what we hold tightly to embrace all that He is. Greater is He who lives in me is activated by the Truth – He must increase and I must decrease. His Power works best in my weakness always.

It is time to hold tightly to what is good. All ways and every day – those who choose to live by God’s Word, His Way and His Will cannot continue to do things the same way. Love. Forgiveness. Hope. Grace. Mercy. These are the qualities that produce boldness in our walk with Jesus Christ. These are the life giving words and principles that motivate us. Just because someone doesn’t believe doesn’t mean they don’t belong. Just because the Holy Spirit convicted you of something doesn’t mean it must be their conviction too to produce unity. It means that putting all differences aside and discarding indifference in our life that the Love of God become the prevailing principle and purpose for all things in our life. Genuine faith cannot be found aside from absolute trust in Jesus Christ. The kind of trust that continues to love and serve God no matter what this life looks like. Clinging to His Robe of Righteousness, burying our face in His Presence, and intently hanging on to His Every Word until our primary motivation in all things is Jesus.

Revelation 3:2-3 (NLT) Wake up! Strengthen what little remains, for even what is left is almost dead. I find that your actions do not meet the requirements of my God. Go back to what you heard and believed at first; hold to it firmly. Repent and turn to me again. If you don’t wake up, I will come to you suddenly, as unexpected as a thief.

Juggling the responsibilities of this life and yet trying to incorporate faith that cannot be seen only experienced, we sometimes forget that if God is our priority everything else will fall into place. I challenge you today to let the balls fall where they may and enter boldly into Your Father’s Presence. Lay your life and everything you hold tightly to at His Feet. Let Jesus sort through it with you. He will carry your burdens and cares. He will relieve all worries. He will give you the strength that only grace provides. He will be Your Portion producing satisfaction is seasons of famine and contentment in moments of drought. I know that when I first came to Christ I had this fairytale in my head that the Lord would make everything better…instantly. It doesn’t work that way – trust is the avenue to all that we hope for. His Word is roadmap to the Destiny of fulfillment that is prepared for us. We are not dead men (and women) walking but charging toward victory which is our destination. Let go today of everything you thought being a Christian was and take hold of God’s Word, listen to His Voice and do what He says. He knows you. You are His Masterpiece. Don’t mark up your Mona Lisa with all the things others tell you to be – let God’s Word, His Way and His Will prepare you and place you in Your Purpose and Calling.

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

Had Enough?

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2 Corinthians 9:7-8 (Amplified (AMP))  Let each one give [thoughtfully and with purpose] just as he has decided in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver [and delights in the one whose heart is in his gift]. And God is able to make all grace [every favor and earthly blessing] come in abundance to you, so that you may always [under all circumstances, regardless of the need] have complete sufficiency in everything [being completely self-sufficient in Him], and have an abundance for every good work and act of charity. 

Have you had enough yet? Are you fed up with certain conditions, situations, and circumstances in your life? Wondering where the Lord is or what He is doing because things are simply not okay. It is human nature to get tired, overwhelmed and just plain done sometimes. Believe or not – it is an ordained condition that will produce increase in a believer’s life. It is easy to become full of ourselves even when it is our desire to be full of His Spirit. When we come to the place of “I have had enough” is the exact moment when our desperation becomes motivation. Dissatisfaction creates hunger for more. Disappointment looks for hope that is unseen in our current state of mind or being. It is the point when are willingness turns from a whim to drive. Are you there yet?

God is able to make all grace including every favor and earthy blessing come in abundance to you! Well, where is He? I am working His Plan but His Plan ain’t working for me. Oh, yes it is! The Lord has a purpose far greater than mere satisfaction. It is called complete sufficiency. It is a comprehensive plan that meets the needs and desires of our body, soul and spirit all at the same time producing peace and contentment that allows us to forge forward in faith not worrying about our future. We must find total sufficiency in Jesus Christ to move from striving to thriving. Are you ready? So am I…I have had enough.

Luke 6:38 (AMP) Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over [with no space left for more]. For with the standard of measurement you use [when you do good to others], it will be measured to you in return.”

God doesn’t need anything I have to promote His Kingdom. God doesn’t need my hands, my mouth or even my heart for that matter. There is nothing good or worthwhile in me because sin infects every fiber of my being. Christ is the only good thing about me worthy of giving to another. Every action and attitude must be filtered through Jesus Christ to make it worthy of giving away. Pride and self must be completely removed to purify my offering and make it worthy of His Name. Give and it will be given to you. We spend a whole lot of our time focused on getting. Getting to work. Getting more money. Getting to church. Getting things. Getting promotions. Getting…getting…and getting. The Word of God tells us to focus on giving and generosity instead. I am challenged today by this concept as for the first time I see that giving is not about reducing my life but expanding my faith. God is trying to press down those things that are taking the place of abundance in my life. He is shaking things up so I will reach for Him. He is ready to pour out His Spirit in my life until it is running over and ready for others to receive. The thing that He is after today is not what I have but me. The previous verse hints at God’s Plan but we skip to this verse because it seems like a recipe for success. However, the Lord tells us to give so that He can make room for more of Him not for me to get more but to be more.

I Kings 19:3-8 (AMP) And Elijah was afraid and arose and ran for his life, and he came to Beersheba which belongs to Judah, and he left his servant there. But he himself traveled a day’s journey into the wilderness, and he came and sat down under a juniper tree and asked [God] that he might die. He said, “It is enough; now, O Lord, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers.” He lay down and slept under the juniper tree, and behold, an angel touched him and said to him, “Get up and eat.” He looked, and by his head there was a bread cake baked on hot coal, and a pitcher of water. So he ate and drank and lay down again. Then the angel of the Lord came again a second time and touched him and said, “Get up, and eat, for the journey is too long for you [without adequate sustenance].” So he got up and ate and drank, and with the strength of that food he traveled forty days and nights to Horeb (Sinai), the mountain of God.

The abundance of God is produced in obedience. Obedience according to God’s Word is demonstrated by our faith in God. Faith is not a noun. Faith is a verb. It is the unseen step into God’s Reality. Faith requires movement to be relative in my life. I cannot speak by faith and stay where I am. Faith always takes one step closer to God according to His Word – not the conditions of our natural life. In fact, faith is usually the step between the boat and Jesus. The one where we let go of natural security hoping for spiritual security relying completely on God to do exactly what He says. Too many times, we keep waiting for the Lord to pull the boat up to the dock real close and reach out His Hand to hold ours and guide us without incident to the next secure step. Where is faith? If you are waiting for God to make His Word come to pass without results, consider this – the next move may be yours. The biggest step of all is using our faith to trust the Lord.

Elijah had just killed all the prophets of Baal. Needless to say, Jezebel was livid. A woman scorned who vowed to kill the prophet. I know it is hard to believe that a mighty man of God would be fearless one day and full of fear the next, but this is the place called “had enough.” Elijah had drained his faith and so fear rooted easily in his heart. He was isolated under a solitary tree. He was ready to die. His physical, emotional and spiritual strength evaporated in the events precipitating his departure. Elijah was a man of God. Elijah was just a man.

When our son was declared in remission, I decided that it was time to go back to normal life. I was certain that our routine could be re-established, my career would continue, and it would be like three years before when our life was rocked to the core. It was not the same. Slowly I came to the realization that nothing would ever be the same. I carefully wrapped up my faith in a tight little package. Set it down on God’s Altar and slowly backed away. Why? I had had enough. My self somehow lost in years of fighting for faith. I laid down the sword because I no longer could carry the weight. Maybe you feel that way today? You have fought for faith. You have tried to be obedient in all things. You have given all that you know to give. You have followed all the rules of the church and what you know of the Word to be true. You just cannot do this another day.

Your obedience today will be the abundance of your future. I know you are tired, but you must not give up. When the Lord came to Elijah – he was determined to die right where he sat. The Lord told him to eat so he ate. The Lord told him that the journey would be too long for him without sustenance. What a meal it must have been? He ate a single meal that lasted him for forty days. I can’t last 40 minutes most of the time. This is the abundance of God in full operation. It is not to give from our enough but give when we have had enough. This is when the Power of God takes over and is made known for all to see.

2 Corinthians 12:8-10 (AMP) Concerning this I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might leave me; but He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you [My lovingkindness and My mercy are more than enough—always available—regardless of the situation]; for [My] power is being perfected [and is completed and shows itself most effectively] in [your] weakness.” Therefore, I will all the more gladly boast in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ [may completely enfold me and] may dwell in me. So I am well pleased with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, and with difficulties, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak [in human strength], then I am strong [truly able, truly powerful, truly drawing from God’s strength].

I was talking to someone about transition yesterday and birthing God’s Promises. I have five children who I delivered naturally. The final stage of labor is called transition. It is marked by a desperate need to exit the process. I know it sound foolish, but trust me and those who have endured it. You are ready to get up and leave. Done with the whole thing. It is the point of giving up when the motivation God put in us as mothers kicks in. It is time to push. It is time to press. When it finally dawns on us that it is time to meet the little person who we are desperately and totally in love with already – our inner drive and motivation is to birth them into are arms. What if this season you are in is actually transition? What if God’s Promise is about to burst forth in your life? Why is it so hard? He is finally getting you out of the way. Weakness is the place where God’s Strength and Power take over our life to produce the promise and potential that is our purpose. I know what to do as a mother because God engrained it in me as a woman. As a believer all those years of planting faith and harvesting hope will be the very thing that empowers me to breakthrough transition and obtain the promise. When I have had enough allowing Jesus to be more than enough in my life.

Lessons of faithful obedience are learned along the way. Those little seeds of faith growing from the Word, walking God’s Way, and surrendering bits and pieces of our life to His Will are the very things that will sustain us when it comes time to push and press through to breakthrough. Elisha came to the woman and asked for something to eat. She was preparing the final meal for her family in anticipation of death over the enslavement of her children. Elisha didn’t stop her. He told her to go gather more jars and vessels. She did. Obediently. Faithfully. When she began pouring oil it did not stop until all the vessels were full and she ran out of space. (2 Kings 4) God is making space in us for more faith that will increase His Abundance in us to overflow around us. We must be willing to give up what we have for more of Him. Even if it is all we have, faith says it is more than enough. The Israelites were taught faithful obedience in the wilderness crying out in hunger. God gave them quail and manna instructing them as to its use. (Exodus 16) They learned satisfaction at the hand of God but that’s not all. When it was time to build the Tabernacle, an incredible miracle happened. These people who escaped from slavery with just what they could carry, wandering with it strapped to their backs, and begging God for food had more than enough to build God’s House. In fact, they supplied so much that Moses had to issue a command for them to stop. Where did it come from? (Exodus 36) Where do you think?

2 Chronicles 31:5-10 (AMP)  As soon as the king’s order spread, the Israelites gave in abundance the first fruits of grain, new wine, [olive] oil, honey, and of all the produce of the field; and they brought in the tithe of everything abundantly. The sons of Israel and Judah who lived in the cities of Judah also brought in the tithe of oxen and sheep, and the tithe of sacred gifts which were consecrated to the Lord their God, and placed them in heaps. In the third month [at the end of wheat harvest] they began to make the heaps, and they finished them in the seventh month. When Hezekiah and the rulers came and saw the heaps, they blessed the Lord and His people Israel.  Then Hezekiah questioned the priests and Levites about the heaps. Azariah the high priest of the house of Zadok answered him, “Since the people began to bring the offerings into the house of the Lord, we have had enough to eat with plenty left over, for the Lord has blessed His people, and this great quantity is left over.”

They brought in the tithe of everything abundantly. I believe in tithing. I absolutely can testify that tithing will produce abundance in our life. The abundance is limited to our giving. I don’t want to lose anyone here. This is not about money but first fruits. The Holy Spirit produces all kinds of fruit in our life. It is produced in abundance for the purpose of giving. Faith is the seed of prosperity making all other fruits in our life. To tithe our life is not in our wallets but in our heart. We must portion our life according to faithful obedience in all things including time, talent and treasure. The very thing we are withholding is where God wants to grow us the most. Where have you had enough today? This is the place God wants to infuse His Power and instill His Strength. It is usually our area of weakness that is the first place to give. But see what happened to the people in 2 Chronicles, “since the people began to bring the offerings into the House of the Lord, we have had enough to eat and plenty left over.”

Every step in our life is framed in faith and its purpose is to trust God more. To release what we have to have more of Him is the only way it works. What are you holding on to? What are you unwilling to give up? It is the chain on the door to abundance in life. You hold the key to that door. The lock will give way and the chains will fall when you apply absolute and total faith in God demonstrated by radical obedience. It is the moment we give up on our plan, our way and our self that God fills us with more of Him. His Power is made perfect in what? My weakness. His Strength works best when I move out of the way. I cannot move a mountain but my faith in God can. It is not about me but my willingness to admit I have had enough – giving my all to Jesus so He can do it through me.

Hebrews 12:1-4 (AMP) Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who by faith have testified to the truth of God’s absolute faithfulness], stripping off every unnecessary weight and the sin which so easily and cleverly entangles us, let us run with endurance and active persistence the race that is set before us, [looking away from all that will distract us and] focusing our eyes on Jesus, who is the Author and Perfecter of faith [the first incentive for our belief and the One who brings our faith to maturity], who for the joy [of accomplishing the goal] set before Him endured the cross, disregarding the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God [revealing His deity, His authority, and the completion of His work]. Just consider and meditate on Him who endured from sinners such bitter hostility against Himself [consider it all in comparison with your trials], so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

 

So Inclined

so-inclined

Romans 7:21-25 (NLT) I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong.  I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.

To be so inclined means wanting to do something or likely to do something. It is the impulsive nature of our species to give in to emotions or feelings. Usually based on habit, it is considered the “way we always have done it”. Inclination is not a fan of change as it is uncomfortable like a steady slope of the next mountain. Our faith would move mountains if trust was a factor. Our inability to trust the Lord before the mountains causes us to climb up the grade which makes maintaining a vertical position with the Father more challenging as gravity tries to pull us back to a horizontal position with the world. This place is called compromise. It is a location somewhere between who we were and what the new person that God has called us to be.

Paul summed it up in these words – “I have discovered the principle of life – that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong.” Our love affair with Jesus is established through a relationship with Him that is vertical. However, we are not born in love with the Lord but in strict opposition as sin makes it so. Through repentance changing our position by turning from sin to embrace the Light of His Love immersed in amazing grace that a robe of righteousness becomes our bride clothes and He places the ring of covenant on our finger as we become one with Christ. As in any marriage, it is giving up our way to follow one way. Marriage is compromise. Two imperfect people who try to create the perfect union. No one gets married thinking divorce is an option yet it is statistically proven that more marriages fail then succeed. The institution of marriage requires us to leave our past to secure our future. We must cut all ties of our former life and become united to our partner. Love in the early stages is footloose and fancy free. Everything our love does is cute. Once the party is over and real life begins – it quickly becomes clear that maintaining a lifelong union is work – hard work because it is our nature to give up our personal freedom for anyone else. The struggle is real.

To be so inclined in our spiritual walk is disaster. This is the realm called compromise and it is a killer. When we rely on human emotions and naturally feelings to make our way clear, it leads us straight into the wilderness. It compromises our safety and security in the Lord because we are no longer seeking the refuge of righteousness but trying out other avenues. There is but one way. Jesus Christ is the gateway to our future. (John 10) Just as He provides for us and protects us in the place of righteousness. He also keeps the thief from making his way in to plunder our goods. But the gate is open and we are free to come and go as we please. Jesus Christ sets us free to choose each day. Those who choose to wander will experience great loss. Those so inclined to inspect the fields of others rather than enjoying the lush, green grass of obedience may stray too far. It is important to determine our position in life. If we are so inclined by our behavior, it is important to examine our heart and mind to commit all areas to Christ before it’s too late.

Genesis 19:15-16 (NLT) At dawn the next morning the angels became insistent. “Hurry,” they said to Lot. “Take your wife and your two daughters who are here. Get out right now, or you will be swept away in the destruction of the city!” When Lot still hesitated, the angels seized his hand and the hands of his wife and two daughters and rushed them to safety outside the city, for the Lord was merciful.

Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19) is a Biblical story most are familiar with. A city given to sin, depravity and perversity. Abraham interceded for the cities as he had family there. God would not forsake his wrath on the community but indeed honored Abraham’s request. The Lord spared Lot and his family or at least those so inclined to leave. The angels of destruction told Lot, “Hurry!” But Lot “still” hesitated. The Lord was merciful in moving Lot, his wife and daughters from the city. However, the city was still inside of them. Lot hesitated. When the messengers of God told him to leave – he waited. When they showed where to go – Lot compromised asking to be moved to a different location. His wife directly defied the order of the Lord and looked back longing for her home. She did not make it to safety. His daughters decided to take their future in their own hands deceiving their own father to become pregnant. Their sons would become the Moabites and Ammonites who constantly were battling the Israelites. All because they were so inclined. This family was spared because of the prayers of a righteous man – Abraham. However, though they left the city of sin – they could not overcome the inclination to sin. A lack of trust inclines us to compromise. Compromise does not receive the promise but breeds compromise throughout just as a little leaven makes a loaf – it ferments and rises within us taking over the faith God planted in our hearts for salvation sake.

Matthew 13:33 (NLT) Jesus also used this illustration: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like the yeast a woman used in making bread. Even though she put only a little yeast in three measures of flour, it permeated every part of the dough.”

It is important to constantly evaluate the contents of our life. Just as the smallest seed of faith produces an abundance of God in our life, sin also can produce an abundance of doubt and fear in us that causes us to hesitate, look back, and even go back. It breeds complacency that makes us lukewarm and therefore vomit in the mouth of our Lord. It is the even the slightest inclination to do our will or accept the world’s standard that threatens us and our position of righteousness. Later in Matthew, it is clear that even religion can become an inclination if not careful to keep our heart and mind focused on the Lord.

Hebrews 10:37-39 (NLT) “For in just a little while, the Coming One will come and not delay. And my righteous ones will live by faith. But I will take no pleasure in anyone who turns away.” But we are not like those who turn away from God to their own destruction. We are the faithful ones, whose souls will be saved.

Are you looking back or looking around? It is time to look up. God has established a way of living through His Son, Jesus Christ that far exceeds anything I can think or imagine even to ask for. It is in fixing my eyes on the Lord and casting down every thought that is not in alignment that secures my vertical position. I am human. I make mistakes…every day. All have sinned and fallen short of God’s Glorious Standard. The standard of living in this world is nothing compared to our new life in Christ. Regret and fear cause us to doubt that which faith secures. Hope begins to break down as we lose our grip on the reality of faith to delve back into the things of this world. Don’t beat yourself up. Today is a new day and God faithfully provided new mercy for such a time as this. In fact, He gives us new mercy because we are so inclined.

The truth is no one can claim righteousness outside of Jesus Christ. (Romans 3) Sinfulness is the natural state of every human being. The only way to be righteous is to put our absolute faith in Jesus Christ and learn to trust Him completely in all things. The Word of God promises that there is no condemnation in Jesus Christ. He knows our weaknesses and died for every sin from the smallest to the largest. His Grace is enough for me. In fact, it becomes my strength when I can’t do it anymore. When I am weak, I am strong. The change of heart that is needed is simple. “And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil.  All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.” Do I love Jesus more than sin? This is the deciding factor that produces a life of faith, hope and love.

Romans 12:2-3 (NLT)  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. Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.

God is willing to transform you into a new person by changing your inclinations. Inclination is a disposition of the mind and will. Our mind is bent toward sin naturally deviates towards it. It is difficult to change our attitudes, actions and habits. It is important that we filter every thought and notion for inclination toward the Lord. We must be inclined to please God which defies human nature completely. Our filter must be constantly refined as we grow in the Lord. Pride will take many forms for self-preservation. We must behave as foreigners who live in allegiance to the Kingdom and not our temporary home. To move means a change of heart, change of mind and change of position as we live vertically not inclined to compromise any longer.

Colossians 3:5-10 (NLT) So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. Because of these sins, the anger of God is coming. You used to do these things when your life was still part of this world. But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language. Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds. Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him.

My latest hobby is redoing old furniture. My latest find was a dining room table left out for the trash. It has a solid pedestal with a round oak top that the previous owner no longer wanted and felt it worthy of garbage. I retrieved it as my next masterpiece. It’s funny to hear the comments of my family over my garage sale, thrift store and roadside finds. There is something completely satisfying about taking what was tossed out and turning it into a treasure. After cleaning it thoroughly removing all the grit, grime and children’s stickers that covered the bottom. I set to stripping the layers of wear and tear from the surface. After about three hours of sanding and smoothing, it was without a single blemish. This process always makes me think of God working on me. His Care to fix and refine every broken area of my life even those areas I don’t think need improvement. He continually refines and resurfaces me making me into the new creation that He promised. I am so thankful for Jesus and His Absolute Insistence on not leaving me as I was.

We contribute to this process by making it a conscious effort and total commitment to be faithful in all things. The Bible points out the obvious strongholds of sin. It is our willingness to pay attention and direct energy and effort to overcoming our feelings and dealing with such things that give us confident hope to secure our faith. We must examine and evaluate all attitudes and actions that sum up our behavior to determine if they are in alignment with Christ. This includes every word that we speak. (Ephesians 4) It is how we act in church and what we allow to exist in the Body as acceptable. (2 Corinthians) It is important that we do not become so full of self that our religious actions become a righteous platform to spew venom on the tiny seedlings in the hearts of new or young believers. If Christ did not feel it necessary to bring condemnation, why do we? The only emotion worthy of keeping and submitting to the transformation power of God is love. In fact, our love for the Lord should be the plumb line of our life. It demonstrates a vertical connection. When I can choose to love even my enemy, I am showing more than ever my complete faith in God and total trust in His Power.

I John 3:18-22 (NLT) Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God. Even if we feel guilty, God is greater than our feelings, and he knows everything. Dear friends, if we don’t feel guilty, we can come to God with bold confidence. And we will receive from him whatever we ask because we obey him and do the things that please him.

What is your greatest inclination today? What is the prevailing feeling that is dictating your course of action? Those who choose Christ will press forward rather than giving in to that which so inclines us. By faith, we become rooted and grounded in the Love of Jesus Christ. Our faith becomes sustainable and hope the anchor for our souls. By beginning to invest our expectation into this love affair, we begin to change and be transformed by God’s Love. A spark turns into a fiery passion to know Him more. Our feelings no longer will matter when faith takes over. God is greater than our feelings. He is not moved by our opinions or faults. The Lord just waits for us to change our inclination so He can change our heart. To say, “Well, that’s the way I am” is to give in to the lie of the enemy that God’s Love is not real, His Power ineffective, and the Life of Jesus Christ is not enough. You don’t mean that. It is your flesh speaking. What does God say about you? To sum it up, God loved you more than anything and proved that He thought you were to die for. Isn’t that enough to incline you to decide He is enough to live for?

I Peter 2:11-13 (NLT) Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls. Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world.

Dangerous Habits

dangerous-habits

2 Corinthians 5:16-17 (NLT) So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit. (Aristotle) Successful people are those with successful habits. (Brian Tracy) We often look to those who have achieved success that is coveted to decipher their lifestyle and habits to glean the tips and tricks needed to have the same effect in our life. What are their habits? The things they repeatedly do. Here are some examples that I discovered: Get up early (Robert Iger – Disney CEO), Have a plan (Benjamin Franklin), Stay active (Anna Wintour – Vogue Editor), Prioritize what’s important – Steve Jobs, Make time for hobbies (Warren Buffet), Practice stillness (Oprah Winfrey), Take time to reflect (Bill Gates), Give back (Richard Branson – Billionaire), and Keep up momentum (Jay Z – Rapper/Music Producer. These people are considered highly successful individuals whose wisdom is coveted by those who wish to achieve the same things in life. There is truth in their statements that can be applied to our life and effect positive change.

“You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret to your success is found in your daily routine. (John C. Maxwell) There is a myth that habits are formed in just 21 days of repeating the same behavior. This is now proven to be a myth. There is a new belief that there are actually three phases to habit formation. The first is the Honeymoon Phase – This is characterized by the feeling that this change will be a piece of cake. The “this is easy” feeling much like in marriage. The first week or two of elation ends when two people begin to actually do life together. The next phase is termed appropriately the Fight Thru Phase. It is when inspiration turns into brutal reality. A person must find the means and motivation to “fight thru” positive habit completion. The final phase is called the Second Nature when balance is achieved and the habit finds its place in our routine becoming engraved in our brain. All of this is not a bad thing, but I have decided that though good habits make for success in life that they can be dangerous to one’s spiritual success.

A habit is an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary. As I prepared a cup of hot tea this morning, I forgot to put the microwave cover back in its place. I stopped and put it back. It caught my attention. When I was a young person, I was messy. My children all but one have followed suit. Yet now, I make my bed every morning. Put things away after I use them in the proper place. I get up early each morning. I used to love to sleep until noon. There are mornings as I make the commute to work in thought or prayer that I lose track of the journey. Segments of time that I am no longer conscious of the road, lights or other drivers. These are all things that I no longer think about but just do. Some may call these good habits, I tend to agree as they suit me just fine. The part that concerns me is the word “involuntary”. Involuntary means independent of one’s will. It is not by choice. Unintentional. Unconscious. What if my pursuit of Jesus Christ has become a habit and I am no longer aware of it? What if the things I do for the Lord are no longer faith based but just something I do lacking passion and desire? Am I a creature of habit or becoming a new creation? I must examine my heart to be certain that my life is marked by intentional Christianity and not involuntary actions. If you make positive changes, you will most certainly reap what you sow. However, I am not after earthly reform but holy transformation.

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. 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.

It is comfortable to order our life according to certain behaviors and schedules that offer a level of control. Is the control over my life self-control produced by my ability to change or the Holy Spirit within me? We pattern our lives in accordance with the goals perceived as good and beneficial. At some point, most successful people will achieve some form of balance. This is not all bad, but it can cause our relationship with the Lord to become stagnant. If I judge my life according to the world’s standard, it may appear to be a good life with a fair amount of success. I have had my share of failures. Success is not defined by those who don’t fail but those who do not give up. When I experienced a failure in life, it quickly became a lesson for survival. I am not called and created to survive in this life but to thrive well beyond the 70 or so years that I am given.

With this in mind, if I become comfortable with my life serving God I am susceptible to complacency. Religiosity gives a false send of security to the believer based on good behavior and time well spent serving God that produces certain blessings. I am blessed. Is it enough for me? No, I have a deep desire and burning passion to be transformed. What if transformation doesn’t look like success to the world? It doesn’t my friend. Success in the Kingdom is selflessness that gives way to complete unity with Jesus Christ. I cannot gauge my spiritual success by a worldly standard. I must not become a habitual Christian but strive to be an intentional one.

“Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% of how you react to it.” (Charles R. Swindoll) While this is applied in both the natural and spiritual realm equally, I believe that this powerful statement holds the secret to our success as a believer. If we could focus 10% on life and become 90% fixed on responding appropriately by using God’s Word, His Wisdom and Christ’s Example to transform our heart and soul – we would be a successful, healthy and functioning Body of Jesus Christ.

Revelation 3:16-20 (NLT) But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth! You say, ‘I am rich. I have everything I want. I don’t need a thing!’ And you don’t realize that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked. So I advise you to buy gold from me—gold that has been purified by fire. Then you will be rich. Also buy white garments from me so you will not be shamed by your nakedness, and ointment for your eyes so you will be able to see. I correct and discipline everyone I love. So be diligent and turn from your indifference. “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.

Has my spiritual life become a habit? Am I serving God involuntarily? Am I lukewarm? Am I intentional anymore? Am I willing to be honest with myself? Our life in the Lord is like an onion as each season peels back another layer producing a new aroma and often many tears. What if I get used to the smell and do not give way to those tears anymore. Becoming comfortable with the process of transformation thereby giving way to complacency. How will I know? Will it be too late when my lack of newness becomes evident in the Presence of my Savior? My attitude and actions can be changed by my ability to change certain habits in my life. But if I don’t allow the Lord to expose every weakness and every insufficiency to effectively apply more of His Grace until I am a new creation – my life will be a complete failure. The Lord is offering to strip us of indifference before it’s too late. He wants to heat things up so our life is palatable again. I must be willing. It must be my choice. I must be intentional. It is my conscious decision to be successfully transformed no matter what it takes.

Galatians 6:14-16 (NLT) As for me, may I never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of that cross, my interest in this world has been crucified, and the world’s interest in me has also died. It doesn’t matter whether we have been circumcised or not. What counts is whether we have been transformed into a new creation. May God’s peace and mercy be upon all who live by this principle; they are the new people of God.

“The difference between who you are and who you want to be…is what you do.” (Bill Phillips, Author and Entrepreneur) Whom the Son sets free is free indeed. We are free to choose the life we life. The Lord will not force us into a relationship with Him or this would be void of love but enslavement. He is offering us the opportunity of unity which means I must leave “me” behind and become one with Him. All of me for all of Him. I am free to choose the type of relationship that I have with God. Each day holds 24 hours of opportunity. I am the master of my time. How I spend it? How I waste it? What I do with it? What I get out of it? My mind, body and soul can be invested as I choose to do so. However, if my heartfelt desire is Jesus Christ. It is not a habitual change that will create success in my pursuit but rather intentional surrender and submission of my life to the process of transformation called faith. I must give up my rights to claim righteousness. I must admit I am weak to secure His Strength. Hope must be the anchor for my soul not schedule or routine. I must go where Jesus goes. Do exactly what He says. Come when He calls to me. Not because I have to but simply because He is my greatest desire.

Lord, forgive me today for the lukewarm places in my life. I repent for every action that has become habit and routine lacking passion and burning desire for You, Jesus.  I want to move deeper into Your Presence. I desire You above all things. Show me the areas of indifference in my life so I may surrender them all to You, Lord. Show me the involuntary actions of compromised complacency. I rebuke religious habits and give these also to You! My greatest accomplishment will be acceptance into Your Kingdom forever. Lord, make my life so. I ask you to makeover my heart and renew a right spirit within me, Jesus. All I want is You, Lord and my full intention is to have more of You!

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.

Disappear

disappear

Genesis 5:21-24 (NLT) When Enoch was 65 years old, he became the father of Methuselah. After the birth of Methuselah, Enoch lived in close fellowship with God for another 300 years, and he had other sons and daughters. Enoch lived 365 years, walking in close fellowship with God. Then one day he disappeared, because God took him.

I am completely enthralled and intrigued by the life of Enoch. So little is said about him in the Word of God yet it says…walking in close fellowship with God, then one day he disappeared because God took him.” End of story. Disappearing in the Lord surrounded by His Glory so close that He just sweeps you away. It says that Enoch “disappeared”. How does one achieve such close fellowship with God that their entire life is summed up in walking so close with God that one day he just disappears? I want that life. Such unity with God through Jesus Christ, that my life no longer as important as the Presence of God that overtakes me. To live by faith to the point that no one really knows where I ended and Christ took over. To be one with Jesus Christ that is my goal and aspiration.

Hebrews 11:5-6 (NLT) It was by faith that Enoch was taken up to heaven without dying—“he disappeared, because God took him.” For before he was taken up, he was known as a person who pleased God. And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.

Enoch’s life earned him a place in God’s Hall of Faith – Hebrews 11. Enoch’s faith was the thing that united him to God the Father. A bond so tight that when it came time to leave this earth – he would be the only man spared a natural death. His Partnership with God so involved and consuming that there was no definite mark where Enoch’s life on earth ended and forever began. How is that even possible? It was by faith. Enoch lived by faith. He pleased God. It is impossible to please God without faith. Trust is evidence of faith.

Jude 14-15 (NLT) Enoch, who lived in the seventh generation after Adam, prophesied about these people. He said, “Listen! The Lord is coming with countless thousands of his holy ones to execute judgment on the people of the world. He will convict every person of all the ungodly things they have done and for all the insults that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”

How could Enoch have the kind of faith that leads to salvation before Jesus Christ? Well, Jesus Christ was in Enoch. Enoch is the seventh generation of Adam but the genealogy of Adam ends in Jesus Christ. Enoch was a man of God. He was a prophet. His example is noted in Jude’s letter that was intended to share the Good News yet again and encourage the recipients. However, Jude changed the content because “some ungodly people (had) wormed their way into your churches, saying God’s Marvelous Grace allows us to live immoral lives.” Such was the time when Enoch lived and prophesied. So it is even today within the four walls of the church…

I Corinthians 1:8-9 (NLT) He will keep you strong to the end so that you will be free from all blame on the day when our Lord Jesus Christ returns. God will do this, for he is faithful to do what he says, and he has invited you into partnership with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Oh Enoch, I hear you. I see your example. I am convicted to my core. I must decrease, Christ must increase. (John 3:30) I must become so wrapped up in the robe of righteousness that I disappear and Jesus is the Shining Light that resonates. I must live in partnership with Jesus Christ. I must be yoked to Him at all times. My relationship with Christ must dissolve into oneness. I must disappear to have the life that I am after.

We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. (Period) We must believe that faith is our potential in life and make our purpose to attain it at all cost. We have fallen short of God’s Glorious Standard of Living and must strive to achieve it again. God decided in advance and made a plan called grace for us to achieve it. Grace is not accomplished by my power but my weakness. It is total surrender of my entire life to live in Jesus Christ. In Him, literally not figuratively. To establish my whole personality and lifestyle including every goal and dream in the Person of Jesus Christ. The trouble is that my flesh wars against such measures. (Romans 7:21-25) I must fight the battle each day to avoid sin and be overtaken by God’s Mercy and Grace. This requires discipline. It will mean going against the flow and defying society’s norm. I know that the struggle is real but so is the Love of God manifested in Jesus Christ.

He is offering a partnership that raises my standard of living even if not evident in this life and its conditions. The purpose of our life is to become so united in faith with Jesus and others that our life measures up to the full and complete standard of Christ. Do you have faith? Do you trust the Lord? Can you find the places in your life where Christ is and is not?

It is time to erase the gray area and middle of the roads until the only thing evident in us and around us is Jesus Christ. This will produce the Fruit of God’s Spirit in us as an offering to the world. This offering is the first fruits of trust birthed in us. Without faith it is impossible to please God. We must desire such unity with Jesus Christ and completely consummated partnership so there is no longer evidence of where I end and Christ begins. We must become one.

Philippians 3:7-11 (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. I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!

We have made something so simple quite complicated with our rules, religion and doctrine. The world has created grace to be a doormat to which all are invited. My life is not dependent on what other people think of me. It doesn’t matter if I attend church, tithe, and serve in ministry every single day for the rest of my life. If I do not have faith and walk in close fellowship with the Lord my life is still compromised. My relationship and proximity to Jesus Christ is up to me. I have eternity in my heart so I have the potential to become a Child of God. I am set to inherit every spiritual blessing in Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. He is the only way that I can live, walk, breathe and be united with my Father God. There is no other way. Grace is sufficient in my weakness when I surrender my life to the Lord choosing to walk in close fellowship. This is the place where new life begins. This is the place where I disappear and Christ takes over. I cannot maintain my pride, my rights or my natural inclinations but fully surrender my way, submit to the Word in order to have God’s Standard of Living. The Kingdom door is open for those who will trust Him. Do you have faith in God today? Do you trust Him? Nothing can separate us from His Love but sin will always get in the way of our fellowship and communion with Him.

I want to know Christ today. I want to be found in Him. The only way to do this is by giving Him my all. My everything. I cannot walk in close fellowship any other way but to disappear in His Presence and His Person until all they see is Jesus. Lord, examine my life. Reveal any hidden sin, compromised faith or delayed trust in me. Have your way Jesus. I don’t want my way but to walk in close fellowship with you until I completely disappear and all they see is YOU!

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[a]—for this will bring much glory and praise to God.

Dare To Be Disciplined

discipline

Proverbs 10:17 (NLT) People who accept discipline are on the pathway to life, but those who ignore correction will go astray.

The dirty little word called “discipline.” It makes our pride buck up. Our mind comes to complete attention. The call to order within our mind, body and soul. It is the pathway to life called the Highway of Holiness. If you look around, it can be a lonely road. The destination is important. It is eternity. Forever. To cross from death to life forever with our Savior and the Lover of our souls. How I choose to live this life directly impacts my future. Do not be deceived. Without proper discipline, I will not see the Kingdom of God. I will not endure. Destination is secured by direction. Direction is heeded by discipline. I can route and reroute as much as I want because I am free to do as I please. However, if I have a particular goal in mind, a certain desired destination then I must choose a disciplined life to obtain that which I am after.

This is not just applicable to our life in Christ but all endeavors. We must set a course. Develop a plan. Decide our course. Discipline is the vehicle that carries us from point A to point B successfully. Discipline is behavior in accordance with rules of conduct. My attitude and actions must be maintained by training and control that is not natural. It is taking the knowledge given to us by God and applying it to our life. The reward of such an endeavor is called wisdom. Why? Why is this thing called “discipline” so important? Jesus has given us grace to overcome our weakness. God supplies new mercy each day to erase yesterday’s mistakes and make a way for today. Why do I need discipline?

Genesis 5:23-24 (NLT) Enoch lived 365 years, walking in close fellowship with God. Then one day he disappeared, because God took him.

Genesis 6:8-9 (NLT) But Noah found favor with the Lord. This is the account of Noah and his family. Noah was a righteous man, the only blameless person living on earth at the time, and he walked in close fellowship with God.

My deepest desire in life is to walk like Enoch. To exhibit the faithfulness of Noah in response to God’s Direction in my life. To live a life of absolute faith in Jesus Christ and complete dependence of God in all things. This is not a natural lifestyle but requires supernatural discipline. My flesh wants no part of it because it is pride’s death sentence. My mind will always create opposition to the unseen relied on by faith and confident hope because it desires knowledge that is common and logical. My heart and soul desire a connection to God so close that I disappear and all that is seen is the Light of His Love through me. I want my offering to become the sacrifice of seed in others honoring the altar Noah built after the flood. The one that produced promises for all mankind not just goodness and grace in His Life. If this is your goal to be one with the Lord, one must take hold of discipline and never let go.

Revelation 3:19-21 (NLT) I correct and discipline everyone I love. So be diligent and turn from your indifference. “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends. Those who are victorious will sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat with my Father on his throne.

Each day the Lord desires to move closer to you. His Deepest Desire is to commune with us dwelling in our life as friends. This type of relationship is not movement on His Part but acceptance on our part. To give up my way and fully embrace the Way is an act of discipline. Discipline opens the door of fellowship between the Lord and I. It allows me to partake of the feast that is set before me by the Hand of God and have His Favor in my life. The key to spiritual success is not found in religious duty or church doctrine. The door of communion with Christ is opened by relationship. Discipline rights indifference. We must become diligent in discipline to have a right relationship with the Lord.

Hebrews 12:11 (NLT) No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.

The month of February became the new January for me. My usual foray back to the gym and decision to make healthy eating choices did not start until the second month of the year. For the last couple of weeks in January, I plotted and planned my strategy. As the new month grew closer, my body loathed the turn of the calendar. My mind made many excuses as to why the timing was not right. However, come February I started. One of the changes was a “squat” challenge recommended by a friend. She faithfully followed the plan for a month with excellent results. The first couple days were tough, but by the third day – I could barely walk. My legs were stiff and every muscle in my lower extremities ached to the point of tears. These muscles had been dormant for months. I disciplined my body to endure the discomfort, press on, and keep doing it despite all these things. Now well into week two, my body is beginning to accept the new way of life.

No discipline is enjoyable. It is painful most of the time. Whether physical, mental or spiritual – our humanity is not a fan of discipline because it requires giving up our way, comfort and complacency to accept change. For forty years, the Children of Israel wandered in the wilderness. During that time, the Lord provided everything they needed according to His Plan. The people became disciplined in following the Lord and indifference was killed off never making it to the Promised Land. The Children of God were not punished during that time as some complained but rather in a training process under the strictest control by God. Their shoes didn’t even wear out during the journey. God protected them from the tops of their heads to the souls of their feet. The difference between punishment and discipline is relationship. If my child enters my house when I am not home, he or she is welcomed. My adult children all know how to get in. They are still my kids. But if a stranger comes in uninvited, well they are consider to be an intruder and the law will be called. Discipline versus punishment is defined by our relationship with God. He will not let anyone come to Him over the fence but must come through the Gate called Beautiful. His Name is Jesus and there is only one way – God’s Way. Faith opens the gate and discipline guides us through.

I Corinthians 11:27-31 (NLT) So anyone who eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord unworthily is guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. That is why you should examine yourself before eating the bread and drinking the cup. For if you eat the bread or drink the cup without honoring the body of Christ, you are eating and drinking God’s judgment upon yourself. That is why many of you are weak and sick and some have even died. But if we would examine ourselves, we would not be judged by God in this way.

If our goal in life is to be close to Christ and live in His Shadow, discipline is absolutely necessary to filter our life of those things which keep us from a right relationship. It is by paying careful attention to our walk with Christ to ensure a proper relationship. This is not about never sinning though our goal is to avoid sin. Never falling – everyone makes mistakes as part of the growth process. It is not absent of failure – it takes the pit to make the palace just ask Joseph. Failure produces humility that causes the King of Kings Face to shine His Favor on us. Discipline is a commitment to never give up making our way closer to God by allowing His Word, Will and Way to shape our behavior. We must love discipline. (Proverbs 12:1) Respect for the Lord and His Ways are the foundation of wisdom. (Proverbs 1:7) To reject discipline is harming us. (Proverbs 15:32) Discipline purifies our heart so that we come to the Lord’s Table worthily. (Proverbs 20:30) Not just during a Communion Service at church, but in our daily fellowship with Jesus Christ as friends. Discipline is not just a change in our attitude but our actions back it up. (Proverbs 29:19) Discipline must be evidenced in our deeds as well. The Holy Spirit helps us as He offers self-control to become a fruit in our life that sustains us causing discipline to thrive.

Isaiah 38:16-18 (NLT) Lord, your discipline is good, for it leads to life and health. You restore my health and allow me to live! Yes, this anguish was good for me, for you have rescued me from death and forgiven all my sins. For the dead cannot praise you; they cannot raise their voices in praise. Those who go down to the grave can no longer hope in your faithfulness.

A woman at church approached me a few years back at the gym of all places. She had discovered this blog sharing that she also felt called to be a writer. She then asked, “How do you find time to write every day?” I quickly responded, “I get up two hours early each day to spend time with the Lord.” She began shaking her head, “Well, I can’t do that. I love my sleep.” I chuckled a minute because I love to sleep, too. Mornings are not my favorite at all. Then I realized she was completely serious and my heart grew heavy for her in that moment. She gave up an hour almost every day to maintain her health but she was willing to give up her calling for a couple hours of sleep. What have you given up your calling for? What is the thing that makes you comfortable and complacent enough to become indifferent to the whispers of Jesus to come deeper? Discipline will break the stronghold of indifference in our life. It connects us with our destiny. It puts on the course to the proper destination which is eternal life. We cannot have a right relationship with God our Father and Jesus if we do not accept discipline from Him. If the goal of my life is to be found IN Christ, I must use discipline as the vehicle to get there. Faith without works is dead. Discipline is evidence of deeds worthy of His Calling. Discipline never leads to disqualification. It is the pathway to life.

I Corinthians 9:24-27 (NLT) Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.