To Desire, Believe and Trust

To Desire, Believe and Trust

Psalm 33:20-22 (NLT)

We put our hope in the Lord. He is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. Let your unfailing love surround us, Lord, for our hope is in you alone.

 

What is hope? I get very frustrated with myself when I am sure of the direction that the Lord is sending me but a few steps in uncertainty begins to tug at me. I want to live in the hope that I have been given by the Lord but life is really hard sometimes. Too many questions and not enough answers in my opinion. I am not a face value kind of girl. I want to know all that there is to know about something. This is not well received by everybody. I am not questioning what you do or how you do it, I am simply trying to fully understand. I understand their frustration as it appears my youngest is her mother’s child. How do I hope in someone or something that I cannot see? Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen giving us assurance in things that cannot be seen. (Hebrews 11:1) So let me get this straight… I am supposed to put my confidence in the unseen reality of God and live according to this hope. This can prove quite challenging.

One definition of hope is to desire, believe and trust. When I read this definition, I felt that this is exactly the process by which hope is discovered. We need or want something that becomes our desire. We begin to believe that it just might be possible. Finally, we begin to put our trust in the development process as it comes to fruition. In theory, this is how our faith in God should become hope, too. We desire the Will of God. We believe in the Word of God. We trust in the Way of God. This is hope… if only it were that easy.

I recently resigned from my current position at work to take a new position that I am very excited about. Every single step to finding this new opportunity is designed by God. I true testimony in and of itself. It took about a week for my current employer to accept my leaving and I am not sure that they really have. Now as I finish my last few weeks, I began feeling a bit of uncertainty. I know that this new thing is a God thing. There is no doubt. I have been very excited about what is coming and felt the Peace of God like never before. I know that I know this is the next step. Faith would be much easier if it was fast. Hope would be a sure bet if we could see Him. But instead, we face people and their opinions. We encounter opposition and adversity. There is struggle, hardship and pain in the process sometimes that can cause us to experience fear and doubt that begin to chip away at our faith and destroy our hope. Now as others try to dissuade me, I must put my hope (all of it) in the Lord. He is my help. He is my shield. My heart can always rejoice just because I trust His Name. In doing so, I invite His Love to surround me because I hope only in Him.

Romans 5:3-5 (NLT)

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

 

If only faith and hope were as easy as they sound rolling off the tongue in Christianese as if so simple. We struggle to have faith in the things we do see and trust people we know. Faith is difficult given our suspicious nature and distrustful mind. I want to trust the Lord. I want to live by faith. I want to have confident hope. But the whole process is exhausting, it just doesn’t come that easy in the battle against myself. Do you rejoice in every problem and trial? We should. Do you submit to the marathon of endurance? Heck, I don’t even like to walk to the mailbox to get the mail. Strength of character is important not just acting the part of Christian but living as a Child of God in every situation, no matter what you are facing, it is the part when we take the lemons and make lemonade. You still have to work at it. You have to squeeze the lemons, remove the seeds, mix in some sugar and water, and then pour it over ice. The lemon doesn’t do that to itself. We must participate in the process as well. The Lord is reminding me that my uncertainty comes from inside of me and is not anything that He put in me. I must take His Spirit and work things out.

Hope never leads to disappointment. My desire may not be what I originally thought that it might be but that’s on me for not full examining my motive and intent from the start. I may not fully believe that it will happen delaying my process. Bu tin the end if I trust and continue to hope, that desire will come to pass in the natural, as well as supernatural processes in life. We must be committed to that thing we desire and believe that it is possible or we will never have enough faith (trust) to see it through. Like the lemon I spoke of before, we must see the potential to go through the process. What do you hope will happen in your life? Have you looked in the Word of God to see if it has the potential to bring you love, joy or peace?

Romans 15:13 (NLT)

I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.

 

I know that the Lord has closed a door and opened another in my life. When I waver in the process by which I close this chapter to begin a new one, I must rely on the Source of my Hope. God cares about every single detail of our life. He recorded each one before you and I were born. (Psalm 139:16) Good and bad… He has a plan for our life with a future and hope (Jeremiah 29:11) but He also knew that we had a sin problem. The recorded moments included the grace and mercy necessary to get us over that so by faith we could have that which we hope for. We just have to believe that God is our Source for Hope to be filled with the joy and peace of those who trust Him. We must believe in His Unfailing Love. Who else captures each tear saving them? (Psalm 56:8) I want to overflow in confident hope every day. I get so frustrated when knowing how good and faithful the Lord has been to me that I still struggle to maintain constant faith and confident hope. I am all too human and sometimes it stresses me out.

Ephesians 1:16-20 (NLT)

I have not stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly, asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God. I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance. I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms.

Faith and hope will never seem to make sense in the natural. They are supernatural activities. Once you can see something, you do not have to have hope anymore. There are many promises in my life that have not come to fruition. It is taking some time. I must decide if I will believe and trust the Lord or simply move on. When I am preparing a new recipe, I want (or desire) it to turn out like the picture and meet my expectation. I follow all the directions and believe it will turn out well. Trust is when I collect the ingredients, follow the instructions and put it on the table. We have this wonderful knowledge of God found in His Word. We are given careful instructions on how to access His Kingdom and live in His Presence yet we still sit in our mess without enough faith to leave our comfort zone. Faith is not blind you just cannot see it with your eyes. Hope is not a dream it is a reality for those who choose to base their expectation on Jesus Christ and nothing else. Again – this is no easy task. Jesus didn’t say that it would be easy just worth it.

We must increase our knowledge of the Word and Way of God to overcome the voices we hear in the world. Our heart and mind will line up in agreement as we begin to accept this knowledge as the Truth and apply it to our life. This is not a “dos and don’ts get saved quick mentality” of doing all the right things and pretending to be perfect. No, this is called fully accepting the Love of God and living completely in His Grace. It is the act of daily taking hold of His New Mercy and applying it to our life. Falling in love with Jesus changes us from the inside out impacting our natural life as well. The process of hope is to develop a love affair with Jesus. Nothing more and nothing less. Accepting that His Love for us is so complete and comprehensive that it is worth risking everything for. After all, He gave His All for us. You will never desire Jesus until you love Him. You will not believe in Him until you encounter Him and experience His Love. You will not trust Him until the Light of His Love produces confident hope not based on what we can do with what’s left of our life but committing all the broken and imperfect pieces to Jesus one by one. He gives us the peace to continue when all hell is breaking loose. He gives us the joy to laugh through tears and smile through the pain. His Grace is truly sufficient for me. He is always good. These are thoughts that remind me why I desire Him, believe in Him and trust the Lord. How about you?

Psalm 62:5-6 (NLT)
Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken.

Controlled Cravings

Controlled Cravings

Philippians 2:13(NLT)

For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.

 

I have a confession to make. After years of monitoring my diet and eating “good” food, I have completely fallen off the wagon over the last few weeks culminating in a “horrible” food binge this weekend. With each new year added to my age, I have tried to consciously monitor my intake to create a healthy body and solid metabolism. Hello, my name is Lori. I am addicting to carbohydrates and sugar. Sunday morning for the first time that I can remember – my husband and I were all alone. The two youngest were with friends so on our way home from church we decided to go out to lunch. Riding in the car, I began to read the menu of a new hip restaurant that we had wanted to try out. Our mouths were watering in the car. Every menu item was a dietary disaster but appealed to every fiber of our flesh. Within minutes, I was looking at a deep fried Monte Christo plated with mounds of sugary-cinnamony-salty sweet potato fries and a glass of syrupy sweet tea. I was quite sure that heaven was next. I ate until I could eat no more. I felt terrible. Physically ready to explode, emotionally beating myself up for indulging and spiritually for caring so much about food. Barely making it home, I fell into a two-hour food coma (or Sunday afternoon nap). Now it would not be so bad if the cravings stopped there but what I found was over the course of the last few weeks my carb/sugar intake has peaked. It started with a little candy during appreciation week at work. I had to try the Birthday Cake Oreos that I bought for the kids. My daughter came to visit and it was game on. This weekend was a holiday weekend. I have lots of excuses – good ones, too.

Cravings, desires and appetites drive our life. Tough call considering everything and anything we do is covered by the Blood of Jesus and wrapped up in His Grace. This makes it all the more difficult as there is no inherent danger. Or is there? My body needs carbohydrates for fuel along with protein and fat. Carbs and sugars are the same chemically speaking. By maintaining the right carbohydrate and sugar intakes, we are able to use them properly for food. Complex carbohydrates take the body time to break down and give us lasting energy including a feeling of fullness. These are naturally occurring in cereal, grain, legumes and starchy vegetables. Simple carbohydrates are more of a synthetic nature and do not have a source of protein, fiber or fat so the body burns them fast and quickly crave more sugar. Why all the talk about carbs and craving?

God is doing a good work in each us that began when we asked Jesus to be our Savior and Lord. He has a purpose and plan for our life that is a good one with a future and hope. (Jeremiah 29:11) The only thing that is required is that we seek the Lord with our whole heart. (Jeremiah 29:13) There are a great deal of folks who do not embark on this journey of a better life because they do not like change. Change is work. Change is sometimes hard. It is most always uncomfortable. But in order to have all the wonderful things that Christ died to give us – we must accept His Amazing Grace and use it to change for the better. I have to change my eating habits in order to regulate these new cravings for my old lifestyle of food or risk my body going back to its old condition and unhealthy habits. I must change my cravings.

2 Corinthians 3:17-18 (NLT)

For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.  So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.

 

My family blessed me with a Fitbit for my birthday this year. I love it. It helps me track my diet and exercise as an accountability partner of sorts. A friend won hers in a drawing and asked for my help in setting it up. As we discussed the little bit of technology, how it works and what it does I felt compelled to go ahead and warn her that when she tried to make bad food choices or had enough to eat that it would not lock her arm to the table. I also felt the need to share with her that it will not pull you out from in front of the television or Facebook to go outside and exercise either. She laughed and said, “Well then what good is it?”

Where the Spirit of the Lord is – there is freedom. When we come to Christ, He puts His Spirit inside of us as a guide and accountability partner kind of like my Fitbit. While the Holy Spirit has the power to change us from the inside out, He will never force us to change because we are set free. He will guide us to make better choices. He will work in us when we do to prosper us in the positive change. The Holy Spirit aligns us with God’s Heart, His Plans and Aspirations for our life. Too often, we have the Holy Spirit but do nothing with Him. We simply keep Him tucked in our heart but of no effect in my life. My friend is not using her Fitbit. It sits in the box not even opened. She does not understand how it works or how to use it. The Fitbit only works if we are willing to change and committed to the process of diet and exercise. Otherwise it becomes a source of condemnation like mine has been for three weeks reminding me of all the less than stellar choices I have been making so I stopped recording my progress. Now my pants are too tight, my stomach feels bad and it’s time for radical reformation. We treat the Holy Spirit the very same way when we want me time, our own way and to live in the moment rather than forever. Some will get back on track and others will continue wandering. My Fitbit is charging now. My Spirit is getting amped up in the Word to reflect the Glory of God and stop the cravings that are pulling me down.

I Corinthians 10:23 (NLT)

You say, “I am allowed to do anything” —but not everything is good for you. You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is beneficial.

 

I am embarrassed to admit that I was actually wearing the fitness tracker when I was gorging on my battered and deep-fried lunch the other day. I was hoping that some siren might go off and a mechanical voice yell, “Step away from the heart attack, lady!” But it didn’t. I am also ashamed to admit that I could barely get out of the chair because of squat exercises I had done the day before, yet I had sabotaged these efforts burying them in bad food choices. Some of you will relate in this message, while others will simply judge me. Those people who desire changes in their own lifestyles but are too afraid to do anything about them. Let me encourage you today. Open your heart and mind to what the Lord is telling us today. It is a universal message to His Children that change is possible and begins in us. I am allowed to do anything that I want to. The Blood of Jesus covers my transgressions and His Grace allows me to keep enjoying His Goodness. God does not lie or change His Mind. (Numbers 23:19-20) This is very, very important. God decided to bless you before you were born. He cannot change His Mind because He is not human. He is God. He does not life. He is the Truth. So we are the ones who are subject to change. God never makes us. His Spirit is a gentleman. Stick with me on this one – going somewhere. Every good gift comes from God who pours out His Goodness just as promised. (James 1:16-18) It is all about positioning our life in His Goodness and making better choices about how we live. Not everything I do is beneficial, let me confess that on the same menu that I found all the horrible food choices was a healthy menu including wraps and veggies that I completely ignored. Life in moderation is fine. But if you want the best, you have to be the best. His Spirit is working in us to align our life with our goals for prosperity. If we want to prosper in God, we must live in alignment with His Will, Way and Word. To go our own way but expect to end up where He is would be ridiculous. To do the same thing over and over again expecting different results is called insanity. So, with that I challenge you (as I am) to evaluate everything in your life to see if it meets God’s Standard. If not, change your appetite, craving, habit to have the goodness provided to His Most Precious Possessions. There is no law that prohibited me from eating all the bad food that I have been consuming. I just want more out of life than heart disease and obesity. I must also decide that I want my soul to prosper. If I do, I must decide what is good and beneficial before doing them.

Galatians 5:16-17 (NLT)

So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions.

 

Well, it’s time to brew some detox tea and get this party started. Out with the old and in with the new again. It is also time to let the Holy Spirit guide my life and the choices I am making. Some days I let my flesh take over again causing a ruckus inside of me. Like Paul, I try to do what is right but inevitably do something wrong. (Romans 7:21-23) Thank God for His Grace that abounds when we struggle in our battle against sin. (Romans 5:20) Daily I must taste and see that the Lord is good and continue to partake in His Goodness by learning to trust Him more. The more of my life I put in His Presence the more satisfied that I will be as my fleshing cravings are reduced and managed by His Spirit. (Psalm 34:8-10) I am going to blow it. I am going to “fall off the wagon” and occasionally “lose my way”. His Grace is sufficient for me. It is in my weakness that I fully accept His Strength. (2 Corinthians 12:9) Did you blow it this week, month or year? The Lord is with you. He did not leave you. He never changed His Mind about you. His Love for you is just as secure today as the first time you called on His Name. His Love did not stop when yours did. His Grace never runs out. His Mercy is new each morning. His Spirit is in you just time to acknowledge Him, feed Him and release Him to do His Work in your life. There is no need to feel guilty, ashamed or rejected just repent and come home! The very fact that you woke up this morning with breath in your body is enough to confirm that He’s not finished with us yet! Be encouraged today. You are not condemned. Let the Lord be your accountability partner and choose to change your appetite today. It takes time to change our habits so give yourself a break – just try. One day at a time – step by step – or for some breath by breath – you will get there! Just don’t give up!

Philippians 3:20-21 (NLT)

But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior. He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control.

To Live Free

To Live Free

2 Corinthians 5:17 (NLT)

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

 

Today is Memorial Day. The day that we remember those men and women who gave their all their life their entire being and summation of time so that we can live in a free country. It is the freedom that allows us to worship God freely and openly without restriction. Now before we get into a debate about religious freedom in America, stay with me for a moment. What better way to honor those who gave their life so that we could be free than to walk in that freedom. I believe that when Jesus gave us our life back and called it new life it was because that rather than in bondage to the Law – people were free to love and serve Him despite our inability not to sin. My father was in the military during the Vietnam War. My son has engaged in the war on terror in the Middle East. Both returned safely to me, thanks be to God. But there are many other men and women who did not make it back and gave their all. This is not a guilt trip but a call to live your life according to the sacrifice made for it.

Jesus Christ gave His All so that we would have a new life. Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone. A new life has begun. It will be what you make of it. What does this mean? How do I change the condition of my life? Well, there are few essentials to the resurrection of your being. We should probably start there.

Luke 7:11-15 (NLT)

Soon afterward Jesus went with his disciples to the village of Nain, and a large crowd followed him. A funeral procession was coming out as he approached the village gate. The young man who had died was a widow’s only son, and a large crowd from the village was with her. When the Lord saw her, his heart overflowed with compassion. “Don’t cry!” he said. Then he walked over to the coffin and touched it, and the bearers stopped. “Young man,” he said, “I tell you, get up.” Then the dead boy sat up and began to talk! And Jesus gave him back to his mother.

 

It would seem all was lost that day. The widow with one son, her only child, walked behind the coffin carrying her entire life. How could she go on without him? He was her everything. I cannot imagine how this mother must have felt. When our son was diagnosed with cancer, the Lord told me the very first night that he would live and not die. I believed it. I couldn’t wrap my head around anything else. The loss of a child is incomprehensible to me. I don’t even think those who have endured it fully understand the ramifications of such a loss as they fight to live with a fractured heart. When Jesus saw the woman, “his heart overflowed with compassion.” Your new life has nothing to do with who you are, where you have been, or how far gone you think you might be. The Love of God is unfailing and unconditional. When He meets you in that place of complete brokenness, He has to move. He has to right the wrong and fix the injustice. That day Jesus gave the boy back to his mother. Now I know this doesn’t happen every day, I have lived the last few years in the Oncology Unit. But I can tell you one thing…when you walk that close to death and eternity it will change you. I have seen it turn entire families around in a heartbeat. Suffering through one of the most heinous and ugly diseases, there is more laughter on the Pediatric Oncology unit than any other place I know. Why? We view the time we have differently when it might be taken from us. The thought of losing a lifetime that we thought we had changes everything. One encounter with Jesus Christ can make the rest of our life count differently. The Lord gives us a new life simply because He loves us. What we do with that life is really up to us?

Mark 5:35-43 (NLT)

While he was still speaking to her, messengers arrived from the home of Jairus, the leader of the synagogue. They told him, “Your daughter is dead. There’s no use troubling the Teacher now.” But Jesus overheard them and said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid. Just have faith.” Then Jesus stopped the crowd and wouldn’t let anyone go with him except Peter, James, and John (the brother of James). When they came to the home of the synagogue leader, Jesus saw much commotion and weeping and wailing. He went inside and asked, “Why all this commotion and weeping? The child isn’t dead; she’s only asleep.” The crowd laughed at him. But he made them all leave, and he took the girl’s father and mother and his three disciples into the room where the girl was lying. Holding her hand, he said to her, “Talitha koum,” which means “Little girl, get up!”  And the girl, who was twelve years old, immediately stood up and walked around! They were overwhelmed and totally amazed. Jesus gave them strict orders not to tell anyone what had happened, and then he told them to give her something to eat.

 

The unfailing and unconditional love of Jesus is how we are given new life, but it by faith that we receive it. The people at the house had already gone into mourning. They had decided that she was dead. Jesus told Jarius that she was only sleeping. Now who do you believe? That’s a tough call. There is no back and forth. You have to pick a side. There are no half living and half dead zombies walking around. You have new life or you don’t. Jesus told Jairus, “Don’t be afraid. Just have faith.” This could apply to just about every single situation in our life. Faith is the very thing that changes everything. Don’t believe me – try it. When our son had his third relapse of cancer, it was very bad. Cancer was evident from his neck to his abdomen. The optimism previously noted in his medical team was now more of conscious quiet as not to get our hopes up in this grave situation. His cancer was resurfacing more quickly and aggressively. The doctor told me, “We are in the realm of hope now!” That statement was life changing for me! I knew in that moment that God was telling me I have taken over now. Things are about to change just keep your faith solely in me. Boy oh boy was that tested by every fire imaginable and unimaginable. To get to his little girl, Jarius and Jesus had to walk home, go through a crowd of people wailing and crying reminding him that his baby was gone, and walk through a house full of memories to her dead lifeless body. How far will you have to walk by faith to receive new life? Friend, I don’t know. But it’s worth it…oh so worth it. Our son is approaching a year of remission. They told us that with the bone marrow transplant his odds were still only 2% that he would survive. That’s what faith can do.

John 11:32-39 (NLT)

When Mary arrived and saw Jesus, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping and saw the other people wailing with her, a deep anger welled up within him, and he was deeply troubled. “Where have you put him?” he asked them. They told him, “Lord, come and see.” Then Jesus wept. The people who were standing nearby said, “See how much he loved him!” But some said, “This man healed a blind man. Couldn’t he have kept Lazarus from dying?” 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.”

 

When Jesus arrived in Bethany, he was told that Lazarus had been dead for four days. Martha rushed to meet her dear friend, Jesus along the way. Their conversation indicative of other conversations at funerals and wakes amongst believers. Everything was past tense, but when Jesus came that would all change. “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?” Of course she agreed in the past tense but not in the present. We live with Jesus in the past tense rather than bringing Him into our present. Of course, those who believe will live forever in Eternity. The Word of God doesn’t say that we have to wait for it, but we choose to. We cannot believe that the Lord can take this tired, broken, and ruined life and make something better because we know our self. But that is not the case. When Jesus went to Lazarus, Martha grew quite concerned about opening the tomb of a man dead and buried for four days. The stink would be terrible.

This is what stops us from reclaiming time and allowing the Lord to work out every detail for our good. We are so concerned with the condition of our life that we are afraid to let Jesus in to do His Good Work. Jesus answered her disbelief, “Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s Glory if you believe?” Our belief is not an act for the future but holds hope for today. We honor those who died to give us freedom by taking back the time stolen from us by bad choices or moments of indecision wrapping in the grace given to us called time.

Matthew 27:51-53 (NLT)

At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, rocks split apart, and tombs opened. The bodies of many godly men and women who had died were raised from the dead. They left the cemetery after Jesus’ resurrection, went into the holy city of Jerusalem, and appeared to many people.

 

When Jesus died on the Cross, He gave His All so that I could live again. I believe it. I have seen the Resurrection Power of God work for His Glory in my son’s battle against cancer. When we sing about the fact that Jesus is alive, I can goosebumps every time because I have seen resurrection power in action. No one will ever change my mind regarding its validity. I still do not understand why children die or even adults for that matter before their time. I do not understand the deep depraved evil that permeates the earth. I cannot identify with life takers only the life giver. God loves me. His Intentions for my life are always good. I just need faith to live a new life and make the most of my time in transition. I have to believe and trust the Lord with my life to have the new life that grace wraps me up in. I honor the Lord by living that new life rather than returning to the comfort of my old one. When He died, His Spirit was set free to live in each of us which fills us with resurrection power that doesn’t just empower us physically, but spiritually, mentally and emotionally too. We honor men and women of service today. If they could come for one day and spend it with you, would they feel they died for a good cause or was it all in vain? What about Jesus? Would He feel you are making the most of the life you have been given? Today I live free to love the Lord and honor God with my life because men and women have defended my freedom as an American. This time I have been given and secured with great potential because Jesus gave me my life back – I intend to honor them both by living my life to the fullest and making the most of each moment in faith, hope and love – the things that are eternal!

I Corinthians 13:12-13(NLT)

Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely. Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.

Get the Message

Get the Message

Ephesians 1:11-14 (MSG)

It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone. It’s in Christ that you, once you heard the truth and believed it (this Message of your salvation), found yourselves home free—signed, sealed, and delivered by the Holy Spirit. This signet from God is the first installment on what’s coming, a reminder that we’ll get everything God has planned for us, a praising and glorious life.

 

I have a horrible memory. Recollection of names, dates and places seem to be a difficult challenge. Some of this lack of recall, I believe to be God-Inspired as there are things in my life that I do not want to remember. I absolutely loathe the question, “Do you remember me?” If a person walks up to me and poses it, I break out in a cold sweat. There are those it is obvious want me to remember them as they look longingly at me hoping to make a connection. I probably won’t until you help me along a bit. There are others who will say, “Aren’t you so-and-so” who I know must be marveling at the change in me which means they are probably from a time in my life that I do not want to remember. I am an ordinary person just like you living an ordinary life. The only thing about my life that is extraordinary is Jesus Christ. I got the message, but now how do I get the message out to the world?

Christ defines who I am. He is what I am living for. He is my overall purpose. He is working everything out in me and working on everyone else around me. The Christ in me is worth having. He is worth knowing, loving, and serving. How do I let others know? How can I do so without cracking open my chest and pouring out the contents of my heart? On the outside, I just like you or any other daughter, sister, wife and mother. But inside of me is the Power of God working its way out. I want others to know Christ, so how do I preach this message with my life?

I preface this by saying that I used to think we “preached” the Message by sharing the Gospel with others. We had to know every verse. Have all the answers? Answer every call for help. We had to do, do, do for the Kingdom of God. I used to look at my life from the outside looking in and try to make it what others should see to identify with Jesus. I am different now. The trials of the last several years have refined me. Refinement is a painful yet worthwhile process. Some people may even think you are a little bit crazy especially when you are still happily in love with Jesus. I look at my life from the inside out now. I have to examine my heart and put it on display for all the world to see. Because it is that very place that the Lord begins to evaluate my message.

2 Corinthians 8:10-15 (MSG)

So here’s what I think: The best thing you can do right now is to finish what you started last year and not let those good intentions grow stale. Your heart’s been in the right place all along. You’ve got what it takes to finish it up, so go to it. Once the commitment is clear, you do what you can, not what you can’t. The heart regulates the hands. This isn’t so others can take it easy while you sweat it out. No, you’re shoulder to shoulder with them all the way, your surplus matching their deficit, their surplus matching your deficit. In the end you come out even. As it is written, nothing left over to the one with the most, nothing lacking to the one with the least.

 

Our heart must regulate our hands. If you read nothing else today, read and understand what the Lord is saying to you in this valuable piece of knowledge. As you apply it to your life, it will become wisdom that will change your relationship with Jesus Christ completely. Each time I have rededicated my life to Christ, it was always with a string of rash promises that became my stumbling blocks along the way. Anything that I do to try to complete my life FOR Christ is in direct opposition to His Grace that is the only thing that makes my life worth living. My heart has been and will always be the primary focus of God’s Love. Why? It motivates my attitude and actions every single day. To preach the Message entrusted to me, it must always be something that comes from my heart and not a feeble attempt to act like I know Christ.

I Corinthians 9:19-23 (MSG)

Even though I am free of the demands and expectations of everyone, I have voluntarily become a servant to any and all in order to reach a wide range of people: religious, nonreligious, meticulous moralists, loose-living immoralists, the defeated, the demoralized—whoever. I didn’t take on their way of life. I kept my bearings in Christ—but I entered their world and tried to experience things from their point of view. I’ve become just about every sort of servant there is in my attempts to lead those I meet into a God-saved life. I did all this because of the Message. I didn’t just want to talk about it; I wanted to be in on it!

 

When Saul became Paul and dedicated his life to Jesus Christ, he voluntarily became a servant. He had everything to lose when he decided that Jesus was the Messiah and defied his own culture. He shared the message with everyone who would give him audience BUT he “didn’t take on their way of life”. He kept his “bearings in Christ.” He tried to experience life from the eyes of each person living that way. Paul says, “I have become just about every sort of servant there is in my attempts to lead” others to a God-saved life. He lived his life as the Message not just talking about it. He wanted to be the message.

There is a lot of talk about the Lord. People think they know God. Christians think that just because they “do” they know Him. Sadly, many will fall short one day never knowing they missed the mark until it is too late to do anything about it. Even more depressing is that they will have dedicated their whole life to religion thinking they had a relationship that was nonexistent. I don’t want that to be me.

Matthew 7:21-23 (MSG)

“Knowing the correct password—saying ‘Master, Master,’ for instance—isn’t going to get you anywhere with me. What is required is serious obedience—doing what my Father wills. I can see it now—at the Final Judgment thousands strutting up to me and saying, ‘Master, we preached the Message, we bashed the demons, our God-sponsored projects had everyone talking.’ And do you know what I am going to say? ‘You missed the boat. All you did was use me to make yourselves important. You don’t impress me one bit. You’re out of here.’”

 

Jesus made a bold statement in “what is required is serious obedience.” I shudder that I might become so engrossed in doing all the right things that religion dictates that I forget to be the one who is obedient. What is obedience if it is not following all the dos and don’ts set forth in God’s Word? “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37-40) Jesus added that loving our neighbor as much as we love us rounds out God’s Expectation of our life. Loving the Lord passionately and completely is all that He requires. It is the bond that takes all of our feeble efforts to please Him and makes them worthwhile! We think saying and doing the right things will motivate God but that only works with people. God looks directly at our heart and examines our motives in each word and deed we do. If it is based on our love for Him and nothing more or less – it passes the test of obedience no matter the outcome. Theology blown. Doctrine destroyed. Heart broken. It is all about love. Every action, attitude, word and deed must be wrapped in the Love of Christ for us and others.

Matthew 26:9-13 (MSG)

When Jesus was at Bethany, a guest of Simon the Leper, a woman came up to him as he was eating dinner and anointed him with a bottle of very expensive perfume. When the disciples saw what was happening, they were furious. “That’s criminal! This could have been sold for a lot and the money handed out to the poor.” When Jesus realized what was going on, he intervened. “Why are you giving this woman a hard time? She has just done something wonderfully significant for me. You will have the poor with you every day for the rest of your lives, but not me. When she poured this perfume on my body, what she really did was anoint me for burial. You can be sure that wherever in the whole world the Message is preached, what she has just done is going to be remembered and admired.”

 

How many times do we do our best to live like Christians? Speak the Word of God. Do all the right things? How many times have we “done” all the things but not gotten the message across? We must first get the message to share the true meaning of His Love. Faith, hope and love last forever. They are the only eternal things in this world. They all revolve around Jesus Christ. When the woman came to Jesus and poured the expense oil on Him, it was because she understood grace. She was not a good girl. She did not do everything right. If you dig a little deeper into her past, you might just discover that she gave her “all” for that oil. It represented her security in this life. It was her livelihood. It was her all. She poured it on the feet of Jesus and the “church” was appalled. This woman blessed the heart of Jesus because her heart was in the absolute right position. There was nothing wasted in that moment but everything gained. She may have given up everything she had in this world, but she gained forever with Him. Jesus said, “You can be sure that wherever in the whole world he Message is preached, what she has just done is going to be remembered and admired.” I get the message. Do you?

2 Corinthians 4:7 (MSG)

If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. That’s to prevent anyone from confusing God’s incomparable power with us. 

 

Today

today

Psalm 118:24-28 (NLT)

This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it. Please, Lord, please save us. Please, Lord, please give us success. Bless the one who comes in the name of the Lord. We bless you from the house of the Lord. The Lord is God, shining upon us. Take the sacrifice and bind it with cords on the altar. You are my God, and I will praise you! You are my God, and I will exalt you!

 

The Lord made today just for you. It is perfect in every sense of the word full of potential and purpose. It also happens to be Saturday which makes everything just a little bit better. I love Saturday. No alarms. No cares. No worries. In our house, it is our day of rest. Sundays are good too but you still have to get up at a certain time and be somewhere even if it is awesome to worship the Lord with our church family. When I was a little girl, my brother and I often spent the weekend at our grandparent’s house. It was an important and relevant time in our life as our parents had divorced and there was a great deal of transition going on around us. I remember waking up in my grandmother’s bed on Saturday morning with the sun peeking through the billowy white curtains and listening to the birds chirping in the old oak trees that surrounded their house. Those moments represented a refuge for us. I would live for that time on Saturday with two of my favorite people ever. I would just lay there and listen thinking that it was heaven to me. Fast forward to today, decades later, grandma and grandpa are now with Jesus. As I lay in my bed, the sun is still peeking through the blinds on our window and I hear the little redbirds chirping in the trees surrounding our house. It takes me back to grandma’s house and the feeling of refuge and peace that I associated with it. Things have definitely changed I am now a wife and the mother of five beautiful and wonderful people. The peace in my heart today is reminiscent of the past present today extending into the future.

Hebrews 13:8 (NLT) Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

 

Jesus Christ is the same every single day of our life from when we are born until the day that we die – the Lord never ever changes. We can rejoice in the fact that He remains the same. Though it may seem sometimes to be a bit intimidating, that is not the point of the Lord’s unbending personality but rather it is confirmation of His Absolute Perfection. Life is not perfect. Jesus is. If we can learn to bring Him into every single day, He will perfect those things concerning us. (Psalm 138:8) With this same thought in mind, we must consider that God is working and reworking every detail of our life for His Good. (Romans 8:28) At some point in our conversation today, I hope that you will understand and accept the fact that God is always good and it is the very reason that He doesn’t change. He doesn’t have to. If we can just bring His Goodness into each day, we will have a peaceful and prosperous life.

Luke 12:24-28 (NLT)

Look at the ravens. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for God feeds them. And you are far more valuable to him than any birds! Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? And if worry can’t accomplish a little thing like that, what’s the use of worrying over bigger things? “Look at the lilies and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?

I was scanning Facebook the other day and came across a local news story that was developing. There had been a shooting at a local apartment complex. It caught my eye because I thought I recognized the place. When I opened the link, my heart sank because the ambulance and police cars were all around the very building that my daughter and son-in-law just moved out of a few short months ago. In the middle of the day, two people got in an altercation at the mailboxes right outside the building they lived in and one shot the other five times killing him. They did not know each other. The man just didn’t like how the other young man had looked at him and in a heated exchange a mother lost her son. I have hemmed and hawed ever since our kids were called up north by the Lord to serve Him in a growing church. Is it possible that part of the reason that the Lord moved these kids was to keep them safe? Coincidence? Divine intervention? I am simply stating the facts. When I read this story, I cried and thanked the Lord just at the thought of them being kept safe from danger. I have learned in life when we give God a little time to work – we discover that He was doing way more than we ever anticipated.

I do not believe in coincidences any more. I have seen the Hand of God too clearly in most of my mishaps and mistakes to believe that my life is a random event. Today is the day that the Lord has made. He made it with a purpose. No matter if I worry and stress over every detail of today – it does not change what God is doing and how He will do it. In fact all the anxiety and fear that we lose in the course of a day steals precious time never adding a single moment so why not choose to discover faith today instead? Letting go of control of our life is hard. But did we really have control in the first place? I thought I did until the doctor lowered his head and whispered, “I am so sorry to tell you that your son has cancer.” See in that moment I realized that I had to decide who I would give the final say over my life and every one in it. Random consequences are the devils lie to excuse the plan and purpose of God working in our life that requires only our faith to obtain. Why do you have so little faith? Don’t worry – you are not the only one. We all struggle with faith on a daily basis. Do you worry about anything? See that’s a faith problem! Do you work feverishly to make things happen? That’s a trust issue! God knows we don’t understand His Love, Mercy or Grace so today is just another opportunity to discover it. God cares for you and I so wonderfully regardless of whether or not we believe. But when we do finally discover the power of putting our faith and trust in the Lord today and every day things begin to change for the better.

Romans 8:38-39 (NLT)

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.

 

Use today to become convinced of God’s Love for you! Nothing can separate us from the Love of God. Nothing. Neither death nor life and so on and so on. Read it. Do you believe it? There is nothing more powerful and life changing than the moment that you discover God’s Unfailing and Unconditional Love. We have never known love like this so it will take time to unravel its mystery and accept it as true. I was married once before. The marriage ended horribly. The only thing that came from it were my three beautiful children. When I married my husband, I was jaded. I had a thick barrier around my heart that it would take years to tear down. That is not because my husband is not perfectly designed by God for me, but because the world had changed my expectation of love. The same happens to people when we fall in love with God. We apply every single exception and flaw to His Love. We do not expect God’s Love to be unfailing and are quite sure that our very first sin will mess it up. We cannot wrap our head around unconditional love because every other love that we experience has them. Are you convinced today of God’s Unfailing and Unconditional Love for you? If not, today would be a good day to start.

Luke 23:39-43 (NLT)

One of the criminals hanging beside him scoffed, “So you’re the Messiah, are you? Prove it by saving yourself—and us, too, while you’re at it!” But the other criminal protested, “Don’t you fear God even when you have been sentenced to die? We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.” And Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

Today would be an excellent day to discover God’s Grace. God’s Grace allows Him to love us just as we are. We can do nothing to earn the Grace of God all that we can do is accept it. When these two men were dying next to Jesus, one represents how most people approach the Lord. If you are who you say you are, then get us out of this mess. But the other guy is a powerful depiction of God’s Grace humbly accepted. He was dying on a cross. There would be no do over or second chance to “DO” anything for the Lord. He could not walk down to the altar. He could not get baptized. He could not serve as a deacon or youth leader. He could not apologize to all those he had wronged or right his life in any way. All that he could do was ask the Lord to save him and accept His Grace. He did. Now he lives with Jesus forever in His Kingdom.

This is grace. We strive so hard to make things right that we miss the point of God’s Grace all together. We can do nothing to earn it just learn to accept it. Have you accepted the Grace of God today or are you still trying to work it all out?

Matthew 6:9-13 (NLT)

Pray like this: Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy. May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us today the food we need, and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us. And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one.

Pray like this. When was the last time that you had a conversation with the Lord? Prayer is an essential part of our relationship with Jesus. We should talk with Him every single day. I talk to my husband every single day. He is my partner. I love him. I want to know everything about him. I don’t want to miss a moment of his life. What if we approached earthly relationships as we do our relationship with the Lord? Long moments of silence or meeting up just once or twice a week, it would not do. We would drift apart. Jesus gave us a concise prayer model that opens the lines of communication so that we can build an intimate relationship with Him. Prayer opens the door to another important part of daily communication with the Lord…

Psalm 95:6-7 (NLT)

Come, let us worship and bow down. Let us kneel before the Lord our maker, for he is our God. We are the people he watches over, the flock under his care. If only you would listen to his voice today!

Almost six years ago, I was challenged to sit down with the Lord each day and listen for His Voice. I wanted to hear Him talking to me, sharing His Secrets and guiding me verbally. He has. Pure Devotion is an account of each conversation. I have posted every single day except one when I finished writing and the computer rebooted for updates and I lost it all. Every single day – the Lord has spoken to me. I have studied and journaled in some pretty crazy places. A couple years ago, I began thinking no one really reads these posts and since they are for my benefit maybe I should just stop. But the thought of not spending time with the Lord each day or journaling His Word to me made me so unbearably sad that I just couldn’t stop.

We must listen for His Voice today! God still speaks if we are willing to listen. I am no one special. I just choose to listen each day. I pray and then just listen. Sometimes I have to wait for it and other days, the Holy Spirit shoves me out of bed. Listen for the Voice of God – He lives inside of you. We have to quiet the other things shouting for our attention, close the door and get on our face before the Lord to hear His Still Small Voice. It’s in there just waiting to be heard.

Hebrews 3:12-14 (NLT)

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

 

Let’s us examine our own hearts today so that the life that we live will proclaim the Unfailing and Unconditional Love of God, His Amazing Grace and His Holy Inhabitation of His People. God is in you just waiting to take over this day and make it your most successful one yet. There is no need to worry that you are too far gone or have a long way to go because that is not the case. God loves you today. He made today great. His Grace brought you up to speed let it finish the Work that He has begun in you. You just have to communicate with the Lord for His Plan. We have been given today. Just today. We are not promised tomorrow. We decide what we do with today and how we will spend it. I am trying to decide if I will work out or take a rest. I may go the craft store to buy canvas and paint or the home improvement store to pick out paint for the girls’ rooms. I am not sure how the rest of the day will go. But at least for the first part of today, I spent it with the One who matters the most. The rest will go according to His Plan! Live for today! God gave you this day! He is going to do great things in it!

Today is significant because it is Saturday. The day our family designated to rest. Every day is significant when we use it to grow closer to the Lord and discover His Ways!

Proverbs 22:17-19 (NLT)

Listen to the words of the wise; apply your heart to my instruction. For it is good to keep these sayings in your heart and always ready on your lips. I am teaching you today—yes, you— so you will trust in the Lord.

Peaceful Pursuit

Pursuing Peace

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.”

 

More than three years ago when our son was diagnosed with cancer, I was a very different person. Quite ambitious and competitive by nature, the little job I had taken to pass the time from when I dropped the children off at school to when I picked them up had become a fast-paced career. Promoted many times in the first couple of years, I was the supervisor over three departments. Normal work hours began to stretch from drop off and pick up to early until well after five. It didn’t stop there. Work began to make its way into my home life. Notifications on the phone, checking and returning emails, topics of discussion, I didn’t even realize it was slowing taking over my life. Stress went from mental to physical as hives and indigestion plagued my life when the burden on each day didn’t remain at the office but followed me home. I couldn’t sleep at night so I began to take melatonin to escape my overwhelmed mind. It’s sad how we become so wrapped up in this life that many times we abandon things like peace handed to us by the Father to work harder not smarter.

All of that changed shortly after our son was diagnosed with cancer, he went to pack up his life and withdraw from school as I began to figure out a schedule to care for him. I assured my employer that this would not be an “issue” and I would alternate his care with other family members. For two weeks, I tried to figure out a way to maintain my work load AND care for my child. We needed the income. I couldn’t let them down. When I met him at the hospital the day before treatment would begin, I watched my over six-foot emaciated child stand up and when he turned to look at me my heart broke into a million pieces. I couldn’t leave him. I had to stay with him. My love for him shattered my hardened heart. I picked up the phone and called my boss. “I can’t leave him. I’m sorry!” I will never be thankful for cancer. I loathe it with every fiber of my being. But I am so very thankful for Jesus who takes horrible moments like that as an opportunity to pour His Love all over us. I was changed in an instant and it has lasted until now.

Back to normal began about ten months ago, our son’s bone marrow transplant was a success and as usual the Lord showed up and showed out as his recovery was nothing less than miraculous. Returning to my job, I was sure things would finally go back to normal. But they didn’t, now that I was back and things better on the home front it was time to get down to business. As much as I tried, it just wasn’t in me. I began to pray asking God to show me what was next for our family. I didn’t have the same thing to give this employer that would meet his previous expectation and I was not willing to forfeit the peace I had found in this journey. Family was my top earthly priority as it should have been all along. I can now share that the Lord has given me a new job. It is an exciting new adventure. I know it is God because I have amazing peace.

Most people do not leave state or county jobs for private industry. It’s hard to break in unless you have family there or know someone. They have good benefits and other things. It’s hard to get fired from such a position if show up every day and make your eight. So I should not be surprised that it has taken me a week for them to understand, I want nothing from them I am simply leaving to pursue something new. I have spoken personally with the administration one by one and it seems hard for them to understand that I am not mad, disgruntled or the slightest bit agitated just saying, “Goodbye!” I will work hard up to the last day. Finish as many projects as possible and help them transition as much as I can. Why am I sharing all of this with you? Probably because the Lord wants to remind us all today that He has given us peace. We can live in peace. We do not have to worry or stress. We do not have to succumb to the dog-eat-dog, step-on-everyone up the corporate ladder to have the security we need in life. All we need is Jesus. All we have to do is walk in love.

Since I made this decision to pursue peace rather than a paycheck, God has once again outdone Himself. My new employer has given me a raise without a day in the office. I have all the benefits that the state offered. I will be able to accrue leave time so that I can spend time with my children and even take a vacation. Every natural need has been met, but wait here is the really cool part. I feel free again. The inner struggle is gone. I am walking in the Peace of God. How do I know? I sleep at night without assistance. I don’t get stressed out and covered with hives anymore. I am free to walk in love and do what I was called to do in this life. Do you need to be free again? Do you have peace that passes all understanding? If not, it is time to pursue it. It’s yours! It belongs to you! Jesus gave it to you and the world cannot take it away! Only you decide who can have it and how much it will cost?

 

Matthew 11:28-30 (NLT)

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.”

 

Come to me all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens. We come to Jesus all the time with our burdens AND expectation of how He will relieve them. Most of the time there is a price tag attached. The Lord goes on to tell us to “take my yoke upon you.” The yoke that is offered here is peace. It is free. The only hitch is you have to release your cares, worries, and burdens – physical, mental, financial and otherwise – to the Lord. You got to let it go. We come to Jesus but tend to keep holding on to the burden rather than taking the yoke of peace offered by totally trusting Him with our life. Money ain’t everything. In fact, the sooner money takes its proper priority in our life the quicker God can do something above and beyond anything that we could think or ask. Money ties us to the world’s economy but favor locks us into Kingdom economy!

2 Corinthians 12:9 (NLT)

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

 

The Grace of God given to us through Jesus Christ is all we need. Peace is coming to terms with the grace that God gives us and living in it. I love the passage in Luke that says God’s Tender Mercy broke upon us and gives us light to guide us to His Peace. (Luke 1:78-79) The Favor of God that allows us to live in peace is not because we are able to anything of worth for the Lord. It is not for those who work the hardest but those who love Him the most. I love my husband. I trust my husband completely with my life. Trust is an act of intimacy. We have a thriving relationship because we have become one life. Peace is the product of accepting God’s Grace and living in His Favor knowing that it is and always will be enough. It is contrary to human nature that says only the strong survive and if you want it you have to work for it. Faith is not what we see but what we know about the Lord. His Grace is always enough to keep us in covenant agreement with the Lord so we can have His Peace if we want it.

Galatians 3:3-5 (NLT)

How foolish can you be? After starting your new lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort? Have you experienced so much for nothing? Surely it was not in vain, was it? I ask you again, does God give you the Holy Spirit and work miracles among you because you obey the law? Of course not! It is because you believe the message you heard about Christ.

As I begin the process of taking the next step, even though I know it is what the Lord has for me, it will not be easy. I have formed relationships with co-workers. I feel responsible for certain things. But the peace that I feel in my heart, mind and body make it worth the difficulty of letting go. Are you in bondage to your job? Do you feel hindered by your current situation? Have things suddenly taken a difficult turn? Are you struggling to find peace where you are? We must decide in our life what the most important thing is. I cannot decide for you what your top priority will be in each day. I can promise you this. Tomorrow is not certain. While you are chasing the American Dream, those kids are growing up. If you are giving your all at work, there will be nothing left to build your home. Without Jesus, no amount of money will ever give you the peace that is missing from your life. His GRACE is always, always enough. In fact, there may come a day when His Peace is all you have to make it to tomorrow. Will you have that peace when you need it most?

Philippians 4:6-7 (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.

 

Well, I am about to head out and try once again to convince my employer that as wonderful as the experience has been it is time for me to move on. I have decided that my strongest desire is to pursue and preserve my peace that belongs to me. If you feel like you are going under, drowning in the sea of life, grab a bucket and start bailing. Just begin to cast those cares on the Lord. He cares for you! He is listening. In fact that moment that you make your request for God to reorder and right your life – He will immediately send forth the command in Heaven. Don’t stop praying until you have laid it all out to Jesus now turn and walk away. Don’t pick up anything just take His Peace and run with it. When I ran out of options in this life, I found that He is more than enough for me. I want to live like that every single day of my life so with that I am off to pursue peace!

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.

Clear My Thinking

Clear My Thinking

Proverbs 3:21-26 (MSG)

Dear friend, guard Clear Thinking and Common Sense with your life; don’t for a minute lose sight of them. They’ll keep your soul alive and well, they’ll keep you fit and attractive. You’ll travel safely, you’ll neither tire nor trip. You’ll take afternoon naps without a worry, you’ll enjoy a good night’s sleep. No need to panic over alarms or surprises, or predictions that doomsday’s just around the corner, Because God will be right there with you; he’ll keep you safe and sound.

 

“My child, don’t lose sight of common sense and discernment. Hang on to them for they will refresh your soul.”  Lord, today I need discernment and wisdom. There are no wrong steps for the Lord can use them all to benefit and bless His People as long as whatever step we choose to take is one step closer to Him. But there are times in life when it seems critical and overwhelming trying to navigate this life to the everlasting promises. The first and foremost thing that I am trying to remember in my life that every positive outcome and good thing has absolutely nothing to do with me and everything to do with the Love of God and His Amazing Grace. This seems to take the pressure off of me to performance and emphasizes my relationship with Jesus Christ. Common sense and discernment are powerful partners in our life one is a natural quality and the other is a supernatural privilege. Both are important in our successful travels and adventures in life.

Common sense and discernment or clear thinking as the Bible explains it are both derived from wisdom. Common sense is the knowledge and understanding gleaned from our experiences in life such as if you touch a stove burner that is hot – you will get burned. Or if you step out in moving traffic – you are probably going to get run over by a car or truck. Knowledge made into action is wisdom. It is what we do with the things that we experience in life by taking what we find to be true and applying it to our life. Common sense should not be taken for granted. I know a whole lot of adults who have been through a bunch of stuff and still seem to have very little of it.

Discernment and clear thinking is a little different from common sense. Common sense is just as it applies and in a vast commodity. But discernment is not. Discernment is the intelligent response to life and God. It takes the knowledge and understanding we obtain in life to see the world through it. In most cases, it will eliminate the cause and effect most people live. To discern means to perceive by sight or some other sense or even by intellect alone. It is to distinguish mentally what can be not so common knowledge. We live by faith not by sight. The Holy Spirit is God’s Gift to His People so that we can discern spiritual things in a natural world. He allows us to see clearly what is only partially evident. I need discernment. I long for it in each step that I take in life as I am desperate to encounter the Lord in every facet of my life.

Psalm 119:65-68 (MSG)

Be good to your servant, God; be as good as your Word. Train me in good common sense; I’m thoroughly committed to living your way. Before I learned to answer you, I wandered all over the place, but now I’m in step with your Word. You are good, and the source of good; train me in your goodness.

 

While common sense is based on life’s experience, spiritual discernment comes from reading God’s Word, studying it, and applying it to our life. By infiltrating our heart with God’s Word, we begin to walk in His Way aligning our heart and life with His Kingdom. It opens a door to understanding that is not of this world. We begin to experience a new realm of knowledge and understanding that many times has nothing to do with what we see but completely based on what we know about God. This is the platform of faith that holds us up when we step out into the unknown. It is discernment that keeps us going in an unnatural direction as we move closer to Jesus and step into His Plan.

I Corinthians 13:12-13 (MSG)

We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us! But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.

 

Faith comes by hearing the Word of God. (Romans 10:17) Faith is what pleases the Lord. Who doesn’t want the kind of faith that allows us to walk on water and experience supernatural blessing? Don’t lie…we all do! Even people who do not know God or understand the meaning of His Love want that kind of thing in their life. We all hope for the best… and prepare for the worst. Discernment allows us to stop always focusing on what could go wrong and become fixated with what is right in our life – Jesus! I can’t see what lies ahead. I know that the days ahead will be challenging as I end one adventure to embark on a new one. I can’t tell you what things will look like around me in a week, a month or a year. What I do know is that God is good. He is faithful. He is worthy of all my trust. I use this knowledge mixed with good common sense to discern that His Way is always the best way. The point of this life is to know God through Jesus Christ. End of story… the rest is just God’s Opportunity to bless His Children.

Romans 8:26-28 (MSG)

Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.

 

Discernment is the sight of our hope. It allows us to look past what is in the natural and grab hold of what the Lord is doing in our life. We cannot see Him, but we know that He is there. His Spirit given to us helps us. He gives us discernment to see those things through God’s Eyes rather than always taking the human point of view. When we do not know what to pray or even how to pray the Holy Spirit takes up the slack in our communication making sense of it to God and calming us in our lack of knowledge. Those who are willing to keep digging in the Word, praying in the Spirit and rely on the Lord will see every work together for our own good. It happens every time not because we can use common sense or make anything decent out our life but simply because God’s Love produces goodness for us time and time again. Discernment keeps me focused on that good thing that God thing and not on all the other things in life.

Hebrews 8:10-11 (NLT)

“But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel on that day, says the Lord: I will put my laws in their minds, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. And they will not need to teach their neighbors, nor will they need to teach their relatives, saying, ‘You should know the Lord.’ For everyone, from the least to the greatest, will know me already.”

 

We are new covenant Christians. The Lord has given us His Spirit and now we have the ability to know God’s Heart and every secret in it. (I Corinthians 2:9-11) Intimacy is the acceptance of such knowledge that allows us to have supernatural discernment. It is the very thing that allows us to do things that we didn’t even know that we knew how to do. The thoughts, dreams and visions that pop in our heart and we have no idea where they came from until we find out that they are straight from the Lord. Daniel was a man of discernment. We can all live the life of Daniel if we really want to. Daniel was not different than any other person except that he was intent in knowing the Lord on the deepest level no matter what the cost. He did. Daniel tapped into God’s Wisdom. I need God’s Discernment today. It is the thing that guides me when life gets crazy and chaotic.

Matthew 13:11-12 (MSG)

He replied, “You’ve been given insight into God’s kingdom. You know how it works. Not everybody has this gift, this insight; it hasn’t been given to them. Whenever someone has a ready heart for this, the insights and understandings flow freely. But if there is no readiness, any trace of receptivity soon disappears. 

 

God has given me clear direction in my heart but the world around me is resistant to His Plan. I must rely on the discernment given to me by His Spirit to make the right decisions in the coming days. I want God’s Best for my life. It requires spiritual wisdom born of knowledge and understanding that only the Lord can give me. I need to rely on Kingdom Insight written on my heart and invested in my soul to keep moving in step with God each day. I want more of Him in my life until I am so consumed with Jesus that nothing of the old me remains. I want my heart to beat in alignment with His Heart so I will do and say all the things that faith tells me. I need, want and desire discernment today to walk in His Ways – the secret things of God too precious for the world. Lord, clear my thinking today. The kind that comes only from you!

Daniel 2:19-23 (MSG)

That night the answer to the mystery was given to Daniel in a vision. Daniel blessed the God of heaven, saying, “Blessed be the name of God, forever and ever. He knows all, does all: He changes the seasons and guides history, He raises up kings and also brings them down, he provides both intelligence and discernment, He opens up the depths, tells secrets, sees in the dark—light spills out of him! God of all my ancestors, all thanks! all praise! You made me wise and strong. And now you’ve shown us what we asked for. You’ve solved the king’s mystery.”

Let’s Talk About It

Let

Luke 6:44-45 (NIV)

Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thorn bushes, or grapes from briers. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.

 

Oh, if I could only tame my tongue. I have every intention of saying the right things but thank God for His Grace and Mercy for all those times that I don’t. We all bear fruit in our daily life. The fruit that we offer others is our attitudes and actions. We are the Kingdom of God sent forth into the world by the Lord to provide that very thing we once needed to others – life and love. So how are we doing in this endeavor? Let’s talk about it.

I want the world to identify with Jesus Christ based on the fruit of my life. The contents of my heart makes its way to my mouth. Sometimes I am fine with the words I speak but there are many times when I wonder where in the world they came from. Those words that are harsh, unyielding, unforgiving or worse. Am I the only one? There once was a mother in our church with more than a handful of children. Each Sunday they would arrive and as she dropped some of them off in our class, she would stroke their head or speak a kind, loving word to them individually as if they were her only one. I began to judge my own parenting by her example as there were some Sundays we barely made it out of the car alive. So one morning, I pulled one of the older children aside for my own personal validation and asked him if his mother was always like this? Did she ever have a meltdown? Did she ever raise her voice? He then proceeded to shatter my image of the perfect mother and I quickly said, “Enough! Enough! I feel better now.” She is still one of my favorite mom’s in the whole world because even though she loses it just like the rest of it – her love and affirmation of her children is clear in her words.

I Corinthians 13:1-3 (NLT)

If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.

 

We emphasize the power of our words but do we empower our words. Hmm… now that’s food for thought today. I want my words to be powerful and draw others to the love and grace I have found in the Lord but is that what I am saying? I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels but if I don’t love others I would just be making noise. How do we wrap our words in love empowering them to share the Gospel that we have in our hearts with a lost and dying world? It is way more simple than we make it.

Ask me about my husband. Go ahead. I dare you. My husband is my best friend. Partner. Wonderful father. Amazing man. The love that I have in my heart for him is overwhelming. I can tell you all about him. Ask me about my children. If you do, you better take a seat. My children are amazing individuals each within their own right. I will gladly tell you all about them. Each word is wrapped in the love that I have for them. I admire them. I appreciate them. I respect them. I know everything there is to know about them. We have relationships. They are not chance encounters but the very ones that I experience life with so I can tell you about it effectively. What if we took the time to have a relationship with Jesus Christ as we do our family and close friends? Such an experience would fill our hearts with real love for the Lord that we could express to other people. It would wrap our words in love rather than those things that pollute the well of our heart. We would speak life because we could identify with it.

John 6:63 (NLT)

The Spirit alone gives eternal life. Human effort accomplishes nothing. And the very words I have spoken to you are spirit and life.

 

The Spirit of God lives in us. When we accept Jesus Christ, it is His Spirit that gives us life. Shortly after we say “I do” to the Lord, we begin a covenant relationship. I have been married to Jesus for more than 35 years. Yet, I am only now beginning to fully accept His Partnership in everything I do in life. I have been with my husband for more than 15 years and I have a close, intimate bond with him even in our imperfection! Imagine the potential of the relationship that I have to Jesus Christ if I invest an equal amount of time pursuing my relationship with Jesus. Jesus is the Word of God wrapped in flesh. Words. As the Spirit turns the dead things in me back to life, it will change the way that I communicate with everyone else. The Bible tells us to speak things that are not as though they were and I believe that. But you have to believe in the One who you get those things from! I can say that my husband is a mechanic. I can let him under the hood of the car and ask him to fix the transmission with total faith that he could do it even though he has no idea how to do it. But I know my husband and know that is not something he does, so I wouldn’t ask him to do it for me. Our words must line up with the Truth to be empowered by God for fulfillment or they will accomplish nothing. Human effort accomplishes nothing. The Word of God is filled with His Spirit and His Life. These are the words that will impact and change me from the inside out and teach me how to love God, Jesus and His Spirit so that I can effectively love others, too.

Proverbs 18:21 (NLT)

The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences.

 

I love to talk. (I can hear my husband snickering already.) Talking has consequences that I have reaped over and over. I have learned that there is time to talk and be silent. If you love to talk, God will use it for His Glory. You just have to make the right choice before you open your mouth and let your tongue start moving. The tongue has the power of life or death hidden in it. Each day the Lord grants us the freedom to choose life or death in how we live. (Deuteronomy 30:19-20) The content of our words is not as important as the intent of them. When we love the Lord with all of our heart, it is filled with His Word. When we speak – lives saturated in the Word of God committed to pursuing Him wholeheartedly will pour out life to others, but those who are only giving God lip service (Psalm 78:35-37) cannot even help themselves. Blessing and cursing cannot flow from the same heart. You have to pick one. Fresh water will always be contaminated by salt water. You cannot separate the two so we must flush our heart with living water to get rid of all impurity and speak life in each moment to each person based on the life of love that we have discovered that changes our intentions in each word.

Matthew 15:10-11 (NLT)

Then Jesus called to the crowd to come and hear. “Listen,” he said, “and try to understand. It’s not what goes into your mouth that defiles you; you are defiled by the words that come out of your mouth.”

 

Shut up! Religion tells us what to do, what to say, how to act. Our relationship with Jesus Christ is confessed by our tongue and demonstrated in how we live. Now, hang on. It sounds like Jesus is telling us that He would rather hear our heart saying the right words more than acting all religious. We have a long list of do’s and don’ts that are supposed to keep us lined up with the Lord but it seems to me like Jesus is back to “who do you say that I am”? (Matthew 16) When our revelation of who Jesus is and what He came to do overrides any other need, want or desire, our words will begin to change. As we learn to trust Him more, we will need less religious doctrine to govern our life but will speak truth and live life in love with Him! What do your words say about Jesus? What do they imply about the Greatest Love you have ever known? Perhaps if we would spend more time getting to know the Lord than working on our speeches about someone we do not know – we could set the world on fire with His Love all over again!

Proverbs 13:3 (NLT)

Those who control their tongue will have a long life; opening your mouth can ruin everything.

 

Christianity does not produce a new vocabulary. It simply wraps our words in the love and affirmation that we have found in Jesus Christ. It allows us to love others and make it evident in the words we speak each day. If you have asked Jesus to be your Savior and Lord, but don’t know Him then it will be really difficult to relay that information effectively to others. To read the Bible from cover to cover without experiencing God’s Love first hand is useless. Good information but it cannot save your soul. God’s Word wrapped itself in flesh and has a name – Jesus. You have to “KNOW” that Name to be saved. You have to believe that the Word is true. You have to accept His Love and Grace before offering it to anyone else or it is not yours to share. We are granted long life in knowing Him. It flows from the abundance of our heart. What is in your heart? Be sure that I am evaluating mine. Listen to the Words you speak and it will give you a glimpse of what lies inside your heart. Gentle words are a tree of life. (Proverbs 15:4) I love that. The Lord is offering us more of Himself today as always so that our words will be once again inspired and empowered by His Love!

Psalm 19:14 (NLT)

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

Let’s Finish

Let's Finish

2 Corinthians 8:10-11 (NLT)

Here is my advice: It would be good for you to finish what you started a year ago. Last year you were the first who wanted to give, and you were the first to begin doing it. Now you should finish what you started. Let the eagerness you showed in the beginning be matched now by your giving. Give in proportion to what you have.

 

Life is full of starts and finishes. We begin things all the time that never are completed. I am guilty as charged. There are many projects throughout my house that I began with good intentions but have not got around to putting on the finishing touches. A few months ago, I painted our youngest daughter’s room. I purchased gray paint at a discount hoping it would work for her modern tastes but it was too dark so I proceeded to mix it with white until we were certain that it was the perfect shade. Well, not so much. It is still too dark but my stubbornness to use the treasured bargain would not allow me to just go have the paint store mix the shade she liked and bite the bullet to buy it. So I have not finished painting over the medium gray with the lighter one she desires. In an attempt to make it more feminine, I grabbed some cool glitter paint that we applied to an accent wall. Now not only must I repaint the room, but find the time to scrape off the glitter affixed to one wall. I have to finish the task. I want to finish it. I love to paint and change up their rooms. But I am kicking myself because I really have put myself in a predicament because of my stubborn, bargain-hunting nature. So for now, the pictures are off the wall. The desk has no chair. There are many details left undone until summer comes in a couple weeks and I can paint again.

What’s the big deal about my undone project? Well, there really isn’t one other than the fact it is one more thing that I need to buckle down and finish in a long list of needs, wants and desires. God put purpose in the heart of mankind. Eternity is our purpose and is attained in our daily life as we finish those things that are our destiny. Painting is not my purpose in life but making our children happy is one of them. The Word of God says, “It would be good for you to finish what you started a year ago.” Paul was talking about giving, but this could relate to just about anything in our life. Our relationship to Jesus Christ is based on love. He first loved us. We love Him now. Love is a commitment. When we love someone, we are to honor that commitment with our life. It is represented in everything we do. God is a completer. Jesus is a finisher. It is our purpose to be one, too.

“Let the eagerness you showed in the beginning be matched now.” I am in the process of finishing something that I began more than seven years ago. It has been a long hard process of self-discovery that the Lord has used to mold and shape me as a person. My season in my current position is ending. I know it is God’s Will. It would be easy to just check out and walk away. Eagerness and excitement are in the beginning, but not the long haul. We are anxious to start that new thing finding exhilaration at first that soon becomes monotony. Over the years, the Lord teaches the value of commitment and matures us but when we see the finish line everything changes. Most of the time, people will cut bait and run but I believe that it is more important how we finish than if we ever started in the first place. The Bible says that the one who endures to the end will be saved. Jesus said that so does it mean that we are born to finish our tasks and complete all missions. Friend, I believe that’s exactly what it means.

John 4:34-35 (NLT)

Then Jesus explained: “My nourishment comes from doing the will of God, who sent me, and from finishing his work. You know the saying, ‘Four months between planting and harvest.’ But I say, wake up and look around. The fields are already ripe for harvest.”

 

Okay, maybe I am reading too deeply here or seeing something that is not there but I don’t think so. Jesus said that His Nourishment came from doing the Will of God AND finishing His Work. Got it. I believe that is true. Prosperity on all levels is an inside process that forces its way outside manifesting in our life. Without divine purpose, there is no blessing. Jeremiah 29:11 says that God has plan for our life that is good with a future and hope. All I must do to have it is seek the Lord wholeheartedly. (Jeremiah 29:13) I am not a preacher or missionary so how do I do the Will of God. I do it by seeking the Lord wholeheartedly in EVERYTHING that I do. I honor the Lord by finishing everything that I start because I love Him, trust Him and I am committed to fulfilling His Purpose in my life. Faith and confident hope are evidenced in my willingness and ability to see things through not necessarily knowing the outcome but by trusting the Lord for the harvest.

God will finish every single “work” that He has begun in you. (Philippians 1:6) Every good work that you begin has the potential to be finished by you because it is God’s Will for our life to finish. That is where the prize awaits at the finish line. To all my frustrated friends, what if the only reason that you have not experienced God’s Glory in your life is because you failed to take the last step over the finish line? John 4:35 goes on to say, “You know the saying, ‘Four months between planting and harvest.’ But I say, wake up and look around. The fields are already ripe for the harvest.” Are you getting the picture yet? We get so wrapped up in doing that we fail to see that God has already provided the blessing associated with obedience and calls it a prize. We just have to do the Will of God which is seek Him wholeheartedly. It is provided by His Grace not one’s ability to perform. So do good, do your best for the Lord in all things, and you will receive the prize because it has already been provided.

2 Timothy 4:7-8 (NLT)

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing.

 

The world does not dictate my outcomes. Do you believe that today? I do. The world does not decide if I am a success or failure. The only thing that matters at the end of each day is that I make it through with my faith in God intact and confident hope. I must remain faithful to the Lord in every task. Why? People are associated with the things that we do in life. God loves people and our mission field is where we work, the places we go and the way what we do impacts other people for the Kingdom of God. We want to be found righteous when we meet Jesus nothing else will get us into Heaven. This requires training.

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.

 

We must become disciplined when it comes to finishing those things that we start in life. Not just crawling over the finish line, but running the race of faith with a new level of commitment that allows us to finish with the eagerness and excitement that we had in the beginning. I must run with purpose in every step. This is tough when I am carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders so I must learn when I need to drop a few pounds and release my burden to the Lord.

I have decided that I am going to run/walk my first 5K in October. I have often said that I am not a runner. I want to be a runner but my body and I are at odds. Over the last couple of years, I have been working out and spending a great deal of time on the elliptical at the gym. I am finding that my endurance is better and I am able to run longer distances without passing out. I want to cross the finish line of a 5K race just to prove that I am a runner or at least can run. I must continue to work on my endurance and “train’ I use the term lightly for my real running buddies. It is a personal goal that I believe God is honoring in my heart. I must train my body. I must discipline my heart and mind to get on board to meet this goal. I must live intentionally for that purpose of completing this desire. I am a runner hiding in a walker’s body. I am a finisher who just needs to take one more step. I am complete in the Eyes of Christ so I must see myself that way, too.

Ecclesiastes 7:8 (NLT) Finishing is better than starting. Patience is better than pride.

 

Today, I will turn in my resignation to a job that I love. I know that my season in this workplace is ending and God has opened a new door. I am ready to step through but before I do I must finish the things that I have started here. I will talk to my administration. I will make a list of the tasks that I need to complete before I officially leave my position. I could write a volume of reasons why I am going now but there is no point because the only real valid one is that the Lord released me into my next season. Otherwise, I would have kept pressing on in this one. There are many things that I will not be able to complete as I would like to before I go and that really chafes my pride. As I read the wisdom of Solomon, I embrace it. Finishing is better than starting. I understand. Patience is better than pride. This is probably the hardest thing for us as humans to grasp and execute in our life. The Lord establishes the starts and finishes in our life according to His Plan for us not our own goals and aspirations. He is marking out His Will and Way that is the very best. I must be committed to finishing today the race of faith not my own person satisfaction. I will run the race of faith leaving my pride behind. I want what the Lord has for me which is secure by the position that His Grace has afforded me called righteousness and not anything I am capable of doing. I run for the eternal prize which always means finishing that which we start. So what are we waiting for today, let’s finish!

Acts 20:24 (NLT)
But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.

Stay Planted

Stay Planted

Psalm 1:2-3 (NLT)

But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.

 

Like trees planted along the riverbank, I love the depiction of faith growing my life into a majestic oak tree swaying in the wind along a quiet peaceful lazy river. You can almost see it like a Thomas Kinkade original. But the truth is life is not always so perfect. To look at life and all of its seasons through the eyes of God according to His Plan is a challenge. Some days I look back and see my past sure that it destroyed my future. Other days I look to the left or maybe the right and comparison gets me every time. There are those days when I look to the future and wonder if I have the patience to wait it out. Planting is tough. But the harvest is always worth it.

Many years ago, a friend shared what they felt to believe God’s Word for my life. He said, “The Lord was planting me like a post so that I would be immovable one day.” He went on to describe how in his mind he could see the Lord just “hammering” me into the ground. He thought it was funny. I wasn’t quite so amused. Who wants to hear such a revelation? God playing “whack-a-mole” with my head was not what I had planned. He was right. Over the last several years, God has planted me “like a tree by the riverbank”. I see the fruit that He is bearing in my life with each new season. I want to prosper in all that I do so I must be planted so deeply in Him that I tap into that which allows me to delight in Him even in seasons of dormancy or drought waiting for the next harvest to come.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 (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.

 

Yes, even you. Whether you are a believer, not a believer, agnostic or atheistic – you have eternity planted in your heart. Unfortunately, not all seeds will grow. This is unfortunate when you consider all seeds are made to prosper. God makes everything beautiful in its own time according to His Plan and Purpose for our life. No one is born to fail or not succeed. Sin stifles and interrupts the process in our life. His Grace is sufficient for me and simply by believing that Jesus is more than enough for me, I open my life to the prosperity of God and tap into the river of living water hidden deep in my soul.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-2 (NLT)

For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest.

 

There a season for every production in our life. A baby takes nine months to grow and develop in its mother’s womb if born too early or too late it may not survive. When you plant a seed in the ground it takes time to germinate and grow into a plant. If the plant is fruit bearing, it takes time for the fruit to blossom and mature to be edible and tasty. We don’t want to wait on the Lord or endure the seasons it may take to have all that God has promised. Impatience is human nature. We all struggle with such things. Whatever dream or vision that continues in your heart and mind is there for a season – maybe this season or perhaps another one. Waiting will always be a part of our process whether we are aware of it or not and whether we choose to or not. Everything has a season in our life even birth and death. We live by planting and harvesting. This is the act of prosperity that we long for. Too many times we plant nothing, yet still watch over a barren field wondering what went wrong. Or plant the wrong seeds and are bewildered by the harvest in our life. Today God wants us all to know and understand what He is doing because His Harvest is His Blessing that He is desperately trying to cultivate in our life. We must plant ourselves in His Presence so that we will prosper in every season just as He promised we would do.

Genesis 8:21-22 (NLT)

And the Lord was pleased with the aroma of the sacrifice and said to himself, “I will never again curse the ground because of the human race, even though everything they think or imagine is bent toward evil from childhood. I will never again destroy all living things. As long as the earth remains, there will be planting and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night.”

Anyone and everyone has the ability to prosper. Believers and nonbelievers alike can prosper in any season. Seed time and harvest will occur as long as the earth remains despite the human race’s sinful condition. God promised this to Noah for all earthly generations. Some people have a natural understanding of how the process works and will prosper as if it is from the Hand of God. All good things are from God, but not always acknowledged. But the very same person who seems to have it all, may not have a prospering soul. They are never satisfied or content just really good “farmers”. You and I as believers have far greater potential in sowing and reaping because we are not affected by earthly seasons as some people are. The source of our life is Jesus Christ so we have the potential to be successful in everything we do. Success is not always immediate. It often requires us to wait but when you consider that the Lord is working every detail in our life for good – it seems that it might be worth the minor inconvenience.

Isaiah 32:16-20 (NLT)

Justice will rule in the wilderness and righteousness in the fertile field. And this righteousness will bring peace. Yes, it will bring quietness and confidence forever. My people will live in safety, quietly at home. They will be at rest. Even if the forest should be destroyed and the city torn down, the Lord will greatly bless his people Wherever they plant seed, bountiful crops will spring up. Their cattle and donkeys will graze freely.

 

Wherever you plant – there you will harvest. Say it with me, “Wherever I plant there I will harvest.” If you only plant at church, you will only harvest in church. If you plant seeds at work, you will harvest at work. If you plant seeds at home, you will harvest at home. If you plant seeds throughout your life, you will harvest in life. What kind of seeds? Seeds of righteousness! Doing the right thing whether others do or not, having the right attitude, working for the Lord in every task you carry out. Putting the Lord first in every activity will cause His Prosperity to water those seeds and produce a harvest in that area.

Galatians 6:7-8 (NLT)

Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit.

You will reap what you sow. I have heard that a thousand times in my life. When I gave my heart to Jesus Christ, He wrapped every seed in my life in His Grace so that I will not reap the consequences of my sin but I may have to take responsibility for past plantings. I can do this with confidence knowing that as long as I am alive I can continue planting the right kind of seeds in my life.

Leviticus 26:4-5 (NLT)

I will send you the seasonal rains. The land will then yield its crops, and the trees of the field will produce their fruit. Your threshing season will overlap with the grape harvest, and your grape harvest will overlap with the season of planting grain. You will eat your fill and live securely in your own land.

 

The storms of life should not be unexpected. The Lord told us that He would send seasonal rains. Prepare for them by making sure that your faith is attached to confident hope in the Lord so it will be an anchor for your soul. (Hebrews 6:19) The storm may come unexpectedly but we must always be prepared. Know this my friend, nothing is wasted with God. He takes the water in each raindrop and uses it to water our harvest in Him.

Isaiah 61:3 (NLT)

To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory.

 

Oak trees take a long time to grow. It is not an overnight process. Seeds in the field do not bear fruit overnight. Good things DO come to those who wait on the Lord. He is doing a mighty work in our life so be ready and willing to wait on the Lord.

 

Psalm 126:4-6 (NLT)

Restore our fortunes, Lord, as streams renew the desert. Those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy. They weep as they go to plant their seed, but they sing as they return with the harvest.

 

There will be tears in your process. Planting can be painful. It is sacrificial taking what you do have and giving it up for the possibility offered in Christ. We do not see the harvest but sacrifice in planting anyway with no guarantee just a promise. Those who weep in their planting will sing in the harvest. Those who plant in tears will harvest in shouts of joy. Those who give their all will have a bountiful harvest that works its way from the inside out just because they chose to trust the Lord with all of their heart holding nothing back. There is pain in the processes of life. It is hard sometimes in the midst of a long wait. But it is always worth it when God finally sends the increase you have been waiting for.

Genesis 26:12-15 (NLT)

When Isaac planted his crops that year, he harvested a hundred times more grain than he planted, for the Lord blessed him. He became a very rich man, and his wealth continued to grow. He acquired so many flocks of sheep and goats, herds of cattle, and servants that the Philistines became jealous of him. So the Philistines filled up all of Isaac’s wells with dirt. These were the wells that had been dug by the servants of his father, Abraham.

 

Isaac harvested a hundred times more than he planted because the Lord blessed him. What did his neighbors do? They filled up his wells with dirt. Do not expect others to support you in the process of prosperity. They will not encourage you to wait. They will not always celebrate your victory and become will be jealous of your prosperity in Christ. This did not stop Isaac. He just moved on digging new wells. You must be ready to move when God says move even if it means leaving some people behind to live in the fulfillment that the Lord has for your life. Do not live on the affirmation and acceptance of men because they will turn on a dime when success finds you. Dig your roots deep into the love, affirmation and acceptance of the Lord so that people take their proper place in your life. When your life is transplanted to the riverbank, you can love others needing nothing in return because you are completely satisfied in Him!

Psalm 107:33-38 (NLT)
He changes rivers into deserts and springs of water into dry, thirsty land.
He turns the fruitful land into salty wastelands, because of the wickedness of those who live there. But he also turns deserts into pools of water, the dry land into springs of water. He brings the hungry to settle there and to build their cities. They sow their fields, plant their vineyards, and harvest their bumper crops. How he blesses them! They raise large families there, and their herds of livestock increase.

One of the most important thing that I have learned about sowing and reaping in the Lord is not to evaluate my field from a human perspective. What do I mean? I used to think that God would move me to prosper me. What I have found is that He is ready to produce a harvest right where I am! We must look at our life through the omnipotent power of God that can literally create something out of nothing at all. When we begin to turn every field in our life over to God no matter what state it is in – God uses it to produce His Blessing. Nothing is ever wasted when it comes to the Lord. He can produce a harvest in every area and aspect of our life surrendered to Him. Not every day will look like a Thomas Kinkade or Norman Rockwell original but it is a masterpiece of God designed just for you! Take full advantage of every resource you have and turn it over to God. He will increase it. The potential for greatness is not in the size of your field or condition of the soil just in our willingness to surrender it all to Christ. He will increase you today! Just keep planting…and stay planted!

2 Corinthians 9:10 (NLT)

For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you.