Fully Equipped

Fully Equipped

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

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

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

2 Timothy 2:3-6 (NLT) Endure suffering along with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. Soldiers don’t get tied up in the affairs of civilian life, for then they cannot please the officer who enlisted them. And athletes cannot win the prize unless they follow the rules. And hardworking farmers should be the first to enjoy the fruit of their labor.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Romans 8:37-39 (NLT)  No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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

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

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

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Let’s Be Friends

Let's Be Friends

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I Am the One

I Am the One

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Plenty

Plenty

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Juggling Life

Juggling Life

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Case of the Missing Dryer

The Case of the Missing Dryer

Proverbs 16:2 (NIV) All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the Lord.

Our dryer was in need of repair. The repairman came last week and determined the problem. He would order the parts and return this week to complete the task. Upon arriving home from work, I noticed that the laundry room rug was in the garage and dryer lint everywhere. Opening the door, there was a 100-lb Black Lab where my shiny white dryer used to be kicking up dust with her wagging tail. I called out to the girls, “Where’s my dryer?” They came out laughing. “In the laundry room…” Still giggling as they looked around for it, the two set out in search of the dryer all in jest. No seriously – how does someone remove a major appliance from my house and nobody notice? This is no laughing matter.

We do laundry every single day. The washer and dryer are full service in our house and part of the daily routine. The initial reason for the visit turned into a two-fold repair and it was easier to take it to the shop to complete it rather than try to in the very small and narrow laundry room. My watchful eyes were unavailable when they were leaving so they later called my husband to explain. No big deal right? Maybe not for you but we take our washing, drying and folding very serious around here.

All joking aside, our days are filled with activities, actions and even attitudes based on the motives of our heart. Innocent routines and schedules that can become a priority to us. Perhaps there are certain things that you do on a regular basis that others find a bit excessive. I hear it all the time. Whether it be accusations or excuses, judgment of the life or lifestyle of others based on the motives in our heart. It is important to examine and evaluate our ways to decide how to spend our time. Time is the most valuable commodity that is given. We do not know how much we actually have. It is invaluable because once it is spent and cannot be replenished. The resources in our life are time, talent and treasure. The Lord takes the human heart and weighs its motives not productivity. God doesn’t give to us based on performance but rather obedience. Obedience to God will always produce blessings and promises in our life even if it takes a bit of time.

What does any of this have to do with a clothes dryer? While some people reading this may think the loss of a dryer no big deal, others will be completely offended that the repairmen took it without asking and then some may know the feeling because they are avid launderers, the point is that no matter what we do or do not do in this life – God is weighing the motives of our heart in all things. He is checking our time table for His Timing. He is evaluating our motivation according to His Word. God doesn’t lie or change His Mind. He says that all things are permissible but not all things are beneficial. Perhaps, it we became more intent on examining our heart and motives daily – extra time or different priorities might be for our favor. I didn’t have a dryer last night. I could not continue my evening routine of putting on a load while cooking dinner and tending to it afterwards. Instead, I sat on the front porch rocking, Snapchatting friends, and then talking with the Lord. I rested for a few moments.

Psalm 26:1-3 (NIV) Vindicate me, Lord, for I have led a blameless life; I have trusted in the Lord and have not faltered. Test me, Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind; for I have always been mindful of your unfailing love and have lived in reliance on your faithfulness.

The Lord searches our heart for our motives. He evaluates our intentions. He rewards us for our actions. (Jeremiah 17:10) Is it possible to be obedient with the wrong motives? Is it feasible to be right with unjust intentions? Does God reward actions other than obedience? The Lord is looking in the human heart for one thing – love. Every other action must come from the Source of Love that is in us thanks to Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit is on a mission to produce Christ-like Love in us so that every motive and intention becomes an action based on our sole motivation to love the Lord and others. Ugh.

In our busyness, it is easy to justify good motives and intentions without ever tapping into the prosperity of God given to our soul. We perform hoping to persuade God to move for us but His Desire is to move in us. To change our heart and mind to live in full agreement and harmony with other people. He wants to break our routine to produce new relationship opportunities and increase our sphere of influence. You can be filled with faith and overflowing in anointing yet completely miss God’s Will, His Way and His Blessings in our own rightness.

The psalmist says, “Vindicate me…” which means “Free me”! Are you living a blameless life but are not experiencing the blessings and benefits promised in God’s Word? Do you trust the Lord with limits? When your life does not align with God’s Word, His Will and His Way – it is time for a test. Testing and trials give us an opportunity to examine our heart and mind for breaches. To be mindful of His Love is not enough. We must learn to trust the Lord and depend on Him in full reliance. Our purpose in life is not fulfilled until we are called home. God has placed certain things in our life that take time. Things that will require change in us that takes us out of our comfort zone and destroys complacency. To have them requires us to examine and evaluate our motives and intentions openly and honestly before the Lord and allow Him to point out any offensive way in us without becoming obstinate and offensive. Ouch! Ain’t nobody got time for that… except those who desire to live as one with Christ.

I Corinthians 4:4-5 (NIV) My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God.

My mother keeps an impeccable home. It looks as though it is the model home staged for perspective buyers at all times. She has always been that way. I am quite sure it set her into heart palpitations trying to keep up with our family as none of us were committed to the same level of clean. Over the years, I developed better habits and decided to keep a neat home. Yet, when my mother comes for a visit, I am set into a flurry of activity to clean and organize my house. When I visit my daughter, she does the same thing. She attempts to make it acceptable to me. The truth is that my mom doesn’t judge my home according to her standards. When I go to visit my daughter, I am after the chunky little hunk of a grandson not that all her laundry is done and dishes clean. We must be very careful not to judge our life according to others or we will become busy in comparison rather than in our convictions.

My conscious is clear. It doesn’t make me innocent. There will always be someone with higher or lower standards to compare ourselves to in order to feel better or worse about our life. However, the Lord is our judge. He examines our heart for love born of the faith found in Christ that releases all humans from our expectation to invest our entire life in the Hope of Glory – His Name is Jesus. He will bring to light those things hidden in darkness to expose the motives of our heart. His Convictions are not the same as the court of law but based on His Love. His Grace. His Mercy. He delights in mercy. I believe that by investing all our faith, hope and trust in Jesus that we will begin to let others live their life freely as well. It is by cultivating my relationship with Christ that allows me to let go of what I do for Him to become like Him. Lord, help me to evaluate my motives and examine the intentions of my heart today. May I only compare my life and standards to You – Jesus and the love you have placed in me with the grace to fully accept it. Let me live according to Your Standard of Love for others and even myself.

The case of the missing dryer is solved. It will be back in its proper place today ready for service. I am thankful for the mysteries in life that cause us to hear God whisper even in the simplest of things. He is always speaking – but sometimes busyness keeps us from listening and routine too busy to sit and hear.

2 Corinthians 13:5 (NIV) Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?

Oh For Grace

Oh For Grace 2

John 1:16 (ESV) For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.

I have been parenting for over 28 years now. With five children, I have experienced a variety of personalities. Each kid and relationship just a little bit different from the other. When our daughters came home from Bible study last night, our young adult chatted for a few minutes heading back to her room which is normal for her. Our youngest daughter has a friend visiting. One of them is a handful – two of them are more than anyone can handle. I should have noticed that they were not loud and boisterous upon arrival. It did not catch my attention that she was cleaning her room unprovoked when I went to check on them. In fact, I really should have been more observant because I know the potential of quiet teenagers. Well…

I woke up at 4:30 a.m. to a lengthy apology from my little suspect. She and her friend had made a poor choice and ended up with a consequence. Discussing the matter with my husband, it was decided to apply grace to the situation. When she wakes up – we will discuss the details of the decision the girls made. There will be some things they will be required to do but overall I cannot help but smile just a little inside. I am blessed that my girls love me. They cannot stand when anything comes between us. Hence the text at almost 2:00 a.m. Our relationship is important to them. It is evident that rather than hiding the truth – they come to me. Oh Lord, teach us to value and appreciate our relationship with You! To come to you as little children seeking the Father’s Love no matter how bad we mess up or constantly make bad choices. You are full of grace. You give us grace upon grace!

Matthew 18:2-4 (ESV) And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

“Unless you turn and become like children”… Reading this passage today – many may have the excuse of poor parents or even none to speak of. I have imperfect parents. I live in a dysfunctional family. If we are “perfectly” honest, there is no such thing as perfect and fully functional relationships when people are involved. Putting our expectation in a being that cannot ever be without fault or failure only sets one up to be let down. Whether our parents were great or not so great, there is still a call from Christ for us to come as children all over again. To relinquish responsibility for our life and humbly relish His Magnificent Grace. God does not punish us. I need you to hear what I am saying today – it is vitally important in understanding what to expect when you turn back to the Father. He doesn’t take anything from us or allow bad things to happen to us on account of sin. To do so would diminish the value of grace and deem it insufficient which it is not. God offers divine discipline. He teaches us better ways that lead to positive outcomes and fulfillment of potential already in us.

Romans 3:22-25 (ESV) For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.

The application of grace in our life is complete in Christ. He has given us the gift of grace. It is received by faith. We do not deserve it and certainly could never earn it. We can only accept it and live in it. God’s righteousness and steadfast love is demonstrated in divine forbearance. Forgiveness. How many times do we transgress yet God still blots it away like a father or mother when their little child presents a skinned knee? Taking a clean white cloth and soaking it in water, carefully and gingerly removing the particles of dirt and grass to reveal the bleeding wound. Then gently oh so gently applying the ointment to aid in healing then covering it with a bandage to protect it from further injury. Oh Children of God if only we could learn to live in His Grace and administer grace as the Father.

We are all in this together. Sin is a factor in everyone’s life. We can only overcome death and the grave, which is the future of sin, by humbly accepting God’s Grace. Jesus is our Savior. There was no way to save ourselves as each is born destined to die until Jesus came to pay the penalty price. Now we live in the overtures of abounding grace given to those who will simply come to Him and receive it. He gives us an abundance of grace and His Spirit produces good fruit for us to share with others…gracefully. Notice that as I shared the misfortune of our teen’s poor choice, I did not go into detail and share all the sordid details. We must learn to covers our brothers and sisters in Christ as the Lord has covered us. One sin would have required every ounce of the Blood of Christ right down to His Last Breath. We all took His Life to find our own. No one is exempt.

Psalm 103:10-13 (ESV) He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.

His Grace is sufficient. It is always enough. The Lord is ready to cover us in grace upon grace. It is not based on my faithfulness but rather His Faithfulness. It doesn’t come from any good in me but rather His Goodness towards me. Grace changes us into Children of the Living God. It’s funny how kids can fight one minute and be best buds the next. Maybe it’s because they have an inner longing for grace and therefore can administer it more freely. Experience teaches us differently. Unmet expectations create voids that can only be filled by God yet we seek out imperfect humans to meet that need. The Lord reminds us today that He doesn’t deal with us according to our sin but chooses to administer His Grace. He doesn’t lie or change His Mind. He decided to forgive you so it is His Constant and Ongoing Response when we come before Him. His Steadfast Love vast and unfathomable. He removes our transgressions as far as the east is from the west tossing them into the sea of forgetfulness. This does not allow room for regret or shame because He is rewriting our story and marking it innocent. He does so as a father shows compassion to his children. I am reminded today of the Father’s Love. His Grace that is abounding to me.

Lord, teach me to respond to Your Grace each day with true repentance. May I start each day turning back to You as my child has demonstrated today. You are a Good Father! Let me not forget that new mercy is mine each morning. You always have good things in store for me. Not because I am good but because You are Good and Your Grace is always enough!

Psalm 103:1-5 (ESV) Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

Lamentations 3:22-26 (ESV) The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.

Dig A Little Deeper

Dig a Little Deeper

I Corinthians 15:57-58 (NLT) But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ. So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.

To be strong and immovable.

God has given us victory over sin and death through Jesus Christ. This should be enough to make us fully confident and completely trusting in the Lord. Yet Christians continue to waver in faith when it comes to these things in the Lord. Still striving to convince the heart and mind that God is faithful and the grace given to us by His Son, Jesus is always enough. To be strong and immovable completely committed to the Sovereignty of God and Promise of His Plan. To never be moved by people or problems but persistent in pursuing the Purpose of God in this life. Living in a constant state of striving to please God and thriving in His Presence knowing that NOTHING done for the Lord is ever useless. Lord, teach us to dig a little deeper.

Psalm 92:12-15 (NLT) But the godly will flourish like palm trees and grow strong like the cedars of Lebanon. For they are transplanted to the Lord’s own house. They flourish in the courts of our God. Even in old age they will still produce fruit; they will remain vital and green. They will declare, “The Lord is just! He is my rock! There is no evil in him!”

God doesn’t give his hardest battles to the strongest warriors. We are all warriors. Giant killers. Evil slayers. Christ lives in us. Nothing more and nothing less. I must decrease so that He increases in me. My strength is not my own. I do not live in the afterglow of past wins, but rather in the shadow of the Most High God who gives me daily victory in Jesus Christ. To be so firmly planted in the Presence of God is the place where all His Promises prosper and purpose is revealed. We must believe in order to become invested in the realm of hope rather in the fruitless ventures of everyday life. To be strong and immovable does not come from a self-disciple but is produced by the Holy Spirit who gives us self-control. The godly will flourish like palm trees that weather storms no matter how strong the winds or pounding the rain. The godly will grow strong like the cedars of Lebanon standing the tests of time and seasons of drought. The strength of my life is God. Christ is the foundation of my life that leads to constant fertility of faith to produce exactly what God has promised.

Psalm 89:17 (NLT) You are their glorious strength. It pleases you to make us strong.

God delights in making us strong. Our strength is surrender. To give up our way to live fully invested in the Presence of God. To be rooted and grounded in Christ so that when the wind and rain come and the storms of life turn everything upside down – our faith is immovable. We find our strength in His Presence. His Promise is His Word. Everything in it is about us, for us, and given to us. We must only believe. Not just in word but every single deed done along the way. To delight in His Law and meditating on His Word, we become like trees planted by the riverbank bearing fruit in EVERY season with leaves that NEVER wither and we will prosper in ALL we do. (Psalm 1:1-3)

Colossians 2:6-7 (NLT) And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.

To be strong and immovable means digger a little deeper each day. Making room for our roots to grow down into Christ and reach the depths of His Proximity. It is this very structure of grounded trust that keeps us in God’s Strength and Power so it belongs to us. God’s Love is for us. The Lord will never leave us or forsake us. His Seed called faith is in us. His Word belongs to us and resides in us for fulfillment sake. Nothing released by God’s Breath will return to Him without first accomplishing its task. God allows to know and understand His Power through trust and obedience as we continue to pursue Him and His Power manifests in our life. We are not strong. We are not immovable. Christ in us is the foundation of faith that keeps us from moving. His Hope is our anchor that keeps us on track even in the midst of the wind and waves of change. (Hebrews 6:19) As our faith in His Love grows, develops and matures, our soul will prosper. As our soul prospers so will our life in all the good things that the Lord has already promised. Sometimes, we must only dig a little deeper. Lord, help me to grow in Your Love until I am strong and immovable with deep roots of complete confidence in Your Faithfulness and Care.

I Corinthians 16:13-14 (NLT) Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. And do everything with love.

Peacemakers

Peacemakers 2

Matthew 5:9 (NLT) God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God.

Are you a peace maker? Do you strive to maintain peace and harmony with others? Are you a relationship builder or breaker? Is the Lord really that concerned with our connections to others as long as we remain in unity with Him? How important is it? Well, God blesses those who work for peace. In some translations, it says, “Blessed are the peacemakers…” Why? They will be called the children of God. How does one find and maintain peace in the end times when love has grown cold and sin rampant as Jesus foretold? We must become peacemakers to be identified as God’s Children, so we must find a way…the Way.

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

We have been provided the Way to peace with God the Father through His Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. The Way tells us that He has already given us peace of mind and heart. It is settled within our soul to be sons and daughters of God. We must only abide in His Love to remain connected to righteousness as receivers of His Grace completely empowered to do all things through Jesus Christ. He gives us the kind of inner peace that completes us so that all expectations are met in Him. His Spirit inside of us is constantly cultivation love, joy and peace all with other beneficial and satisfying fruit to feed new relationships from a source that will never run out. We have perfect peace. It is complete. It is whole. God doesn’t give pieces of peace but in Christ we are completely reunited with Him.

I Peter 3:10-12 (NLT)  For the Scriptures say, “If you want to enjoy life and see many happy days, keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies. Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it. The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right, and his ears are open to their prayers. But the Lord turns his face against those who do evil.”

In an effort to turn from evil and do good, the instructions say to search for peace and work to maintain it. The Lord is watching us. His Ears are open when we struggle in this endeavor. But if God has already accepted the sacrifice of Jesus and given us His Peace to reconnect with the Father, what kind of peace must we search for and strive to know? Peace with all mankind. The Kingdom has to be united. Without peace, it is not possible for a country to be at rest. We must be at peace with each other. Not complacent peace that only is with those who agree with us, but even with those who constantly oppose or offend us. The commitment to peace is part of our covenant with Christ.

I Peter 3:8-9 (NLT) Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude. Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will grant you his blessing.

Peter is referencing Psalm 34 is in his letter to those he refers to as “God’s chosen people”. In chapter 3, Peter is addressing relationships. In this particular passage, he is speaking to all Christians. All of you should be of one mind (at peace). We must be sympathetic. Love one another as brothers and sisters. Not with fake superficial wordy love, but blood, sweat and tears kind of love – hands on and heart in – like Jesus loves us. We must be tenderhearted. This requires a humble attitude. We must keep our pride on the Cross daily crucifying our feelings, emotions and rightness for a constant and complete relationship with Jesus Christ AND everyone else.

Those who make peace and keep peace are Children of the living God not just in word but character as well. To love fully and completely will always produce a relationship at the price of our individuality. God has called us to live such a life and it comes with His Blessing. Paul talks about a thorn in his flesh. So many times the thorn in our flesh has a face and personality, it is one person or a group of people that create hostility. Maybe they have talked about, betrayed, offended, or hurt us in a far greater unimaginable way – how is possible to forgive them and make peace with such people knowing they will more than likely not change, not apologize and never realize just how deep our wound is? It is only possible through the peace of God that passes all understanding. The kind of relationship with the Lord that allows Him to heal our wounds, restore our joy, and revive our heart so that we are not held captives by our feelings that are contrary to His Way, His Truth and His Life that He has planned for me.

The Grace of God given to us through His Son – Jesus Christ is always enough. The unearned and undeserved favor of the Living God dispensed through the Blood of His Precious Son is sufficient for God to accept our apology and restore us for righteousness sake. Who am I to withhold such grace that is the wonder working power that restores peace among God’s People? To withhold it means there is doubt as to its potency and that is simply not true. We must become God’s Gracious Peace Makers once again to build His Church and restore His Body to become His Bride.

Philippians 4:6-8 (NLT) Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

Jesus is the Author and Finisher of faith. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. He knows exactly how you feel and the struggles in our life – yet loves us and stays right there with us anyway. We must become peace makers again. This means capturing our worries, stress, and concerns about others and sending them to Jesus. If only we could put each one in a helium-filled balloon, so it could be carried far beyond our reach. We must become intent on gracious and thankful hearts set on pursuing peace with God which means establishing it on earth within our realm of influence. It is not about how the other person reacts to us but in our obedience in responding to God’s Love appropriately and reciprocating it as He has asked us to – loving one another. We must fix our thoughts. We must focus our heart and mind on Jesus who is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, admirable and oh so faithful. He will produce love, joy and peace within us along with the other fruits needed to satisfy those around us while we are completely satisfied with His Love and Grace.

I must be honest before you today. This message is for me. I will be transparent. I am challenged by this in my own life. I must learn to make peace with all people to become a Child of God who lives in His Blessing and Favor. It must be my daily and ongoing effort to search for peace and seek to maintain it. Lord, help my wounded heart to receive peace and reciprocate it as You have instructed – In Jesus Name! Amen!

Psalm 29:11 (NLT) The Lord gives his people strength. The Lord blesses them with peace.

United We Stand

United We Stand

Romans 12:4-5 (ESV) For as in one body we have many members and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.

I loved scrolling through all the social media feeds to see red, white and blue. The celebration of the 4th of July with family and friends. Firework displays lit up the story line of each outlet. Though this was a quiet day for us – we did eat with some of our kids and the littlest firecracker – our sweet grandson. Facetiming with other family members who are out of town. We exercised our right to “Netflix and chill” as some might say which is totally out of character for me but a welcome respite for the midweek holiday.

Social media would give the illusion of unity yesterday as everyone seemed to be doing the exact same thing in America. The same feeds usually filled with political opinions and tirades were instead filled with images of family and food all in red, white and blue. Unity paints a beautiful picture. I believe it warms the heart of God when people put aside their differences sliding the soapbox under the bed to celebrate life together. Yes, I know that important causes exists and there are some things really wrong with the world. I am not delusional enough to think that ignoring them will fix them. However, I do believe that unless we come together nothing will ever change.

In Romans 12, it reminds us that we are one body with many members. It is clear that not everyone serves the same function yet still vitally important to proper operation. We are one body in Christ. Individually we are still corporately responsible for each other. The binding factor is love. Not our ability to love each other unconditionally and without fail but God’s Love demonstrated in His Son – Jesus Christ. In John 12, Jesus said, “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” The common factor in Christianity is Jesus Christ. He has called for all people to come to Him. Also in Romans 12, it begins by describing our life as a “living sacrifice” which is “holy and acceptable to God” and considered spiritual worship. It means not conforming to the social circles of the world but allowing God to transform us by the renewing of our mind into the fully formed and functional Body of Jesus Christ. This is the Will of God that is good, acceptable and perfect.

Psalm 133 (ESV) Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! It is like the precious oil on the head, running down on the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes! It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion! For there the Lord has commanded the blessing, life forevermore.

God loves unity. He blesses such a life offering. Unity requires giving up ourselves in order to become one. The completion of Christ is established in the unity and oneness of His People. He is not coming for many brides but one bride. The Bride of Christ must be complete. The Spirit and the Bride (singular) say, “Come.” I believe that if the church could tap into the real potential of unity rather than calling for diversity and doctrine – it might just experience revival. We focus on the wrong thing. The great commission of Jesus Christ was to love and be loved as one – to come together into completeness. The Lord commands His Blessing on unity and life forevermore.

Ephesians 4:1-7 (ESV) I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.  But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.

The individuality of churches and institution set forth by doctrine may be the very thing limiting revival today. The religious world is not demonstrating the relationship of Kingdom. Until we grow in perfect unity, the Bride of Christ may resemble the Bride of Frankenstein. The human soul is not clothed in race, color, gender or any other physical quality. The Lord is looking at our heart and soul. I know no coroner or medical examiner that can determine any of the physical characteristics of a person by just looking at the heart. Yet God is most interested in our heart and soul. Who we love? How we love? These are the fulfillment of the Great Commission set forth by Jesus Christ. Leading someone to Jesus is not the same as loving them like Jesus.

The basics of unity are one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God who is Father of all. That’s it. No matter how we paint it, carpet it, light it up, or make it loud – this is the basis of the Body of Christ known as the church. Religion creates diversity. Relationship says, “Whosoever will come” and lets figure this out together. It is simple. It is real. It has feelings but lives in a commitment called love. Not worldly affection or temporary lust but rather love that is “patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.” It is a love that “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, (and) endures all things. Love (that) never ends.” To immerse ourselves so completely in the Love of Christ that loving others is no longer optional but the very condition that unites us.

What can I do to unite the church?

The character of Christians must be changed, transformed, and renewed by God’s Love. Repentance, true repentance, is a turning from our way of living to totally exist in the shadow and example of Jesus Christ. I cannot love like Christ until He is the One who I am following and imitating. People are not easy to love but it is each personality that comprises the Kingdom. I cannot make them love me. But I can allow God and His Spirit to make me more lovable. The Fruit of the Spirit is “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” This is the kind of spiritual food that feeds hungry souls and waters thirsty hearts. It is to put “me” aside and allow Christ to flow through me. Religion allows us to maintain pride and position. However, to fully assume our place in the Body of Christ – we must become like Paul who declared himself to be “a prisoner of the Lord.” We must carefully put our mind, will and emotions under the careful guard of the Holy Spirit at all times. We must daily crucify any rebellious thought in contention with Christ and put it in the grave to die. We must remain prostrate in a posture of prayer and humility before the Lord daily and even on some days moment by moment. We must walk by faith and not by sight. Unity blesses God’s Heart and I believe if we get it right – it will bless us, too as united we stand.

Ephesians 4:11-16 (ESV) And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.