No Fear in Love

No Fear

I John 4:18 (ESV) There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.

Tiptoeing as to not wake my sleeping princess and reaching down to pick up some laundry, suddenly without warning, she sits straight up in bed frantically asking, “What happened to the other girl?” Clearly distressed, I assure the other girl is fine and will text her in the morning before tucking her back in bed and stealing some kisses from her forehead. She mumbles and snuggles back in the mound of covers. Our girls all have been known to carry on conversations in their sleep and sometimes even become sleepwalkers. I chuckled as I left the room, but then as usual the Lord begins to speak to my heart.

My daughter knows my voice. When I speak to her, it calms her and relieves most of her fears. Why? She loves me and trusts me. When she called out into the darkness, she was met with an answer that brought her peace and she melted back into rest. Oh, Lord Jesus, when will I learn to cast off fear so easily? To trust you with the childlike faith that takes you immediately at Your Word as my children do mine? There is no fear in love, yet even strong believers struggle to live fearless lives full of faith. The reality of life seems to be the reality when all along the Lord offers us perfect peace because our life is full of unfailing love and sufficient grace. He will provide, protect and prosper us just like He promised yet most Christians live in fear each and every day of things that will never happen yet occupy their thoughts and overtake their heart.

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

Whoever fears has not been perfected in love. Fear is no respecter of persons. It will prey on the saved and unsaved. It will lure us into darkness or attempt to pull us from the light. It is the greatest weapon of the enemy to use our mind against us. First, there is fear of God and punishment. Fear that pushes us from the love of the Father for His Children. Once coming to the Lord – there is the constant fear that one cannot live up to God’s Expectations or Regulations. None of this is true – yet still produces the same foreboding. Fear is false evidence appearing real. It is not based on truth but a lie. God did not give us the spirit of fear. He gifted us with power, love and self-control.

Jesus Christ is the power that resides in us. Given over to His Grace, it is His Perfect Love and the Blood offered in exchange for our freedom that allows us to live fearless lives. There is no further penalty or punishment to be imputed to the believer just grace upon grace and glory to glory. Perfect love will cast out fear. It causes us to be overcome with confidence through natural and spiritual relationships. Love can make you do some crazy things. But then comes the tricky one called self-control. A fearless life is a discipline. We must learn to live apart from fear. Our body and mind are not going to work with us on this and are innately wired for survival. You are not created or called for mere survival, it is God’s Plan and Purpose that you will thrive and prosper in this life until you enter the everlasting. Fear will keep you from it, but faith will overcome fear every time.

2 Corinthians 10:3-6 (ESV) For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.

Christ lives in you. You have all of His Power and Authority residing on the inside of you. You have the perfect love that casts out fear. You are not subject to punishment and free to live a victorious life overcoming every obstacle in Jesus Name. However, do you have the self-control to turn every burden, care, worry and fear over to Jesus? Do you have the discipline to allow His Spirit to teach you to walk in love, peace and joy as a product of faith planted where fear used to flourish? We must face our fears and expose them as lies. Truth will always expose the lie and rid it of power in our life. The Word is the Truth that governs us as believer. We must learn to weed our heart and mind ridding it of all of doubt’s productivity and sowing seeds of faith from the Word to grow in its place. You must overcome fear by having a made up mind. We must destroy the arguments against God’s Faithfulness. We must refute every lofty opinion against the Knowledge of God to take captive our thoughts and making them obedient to Christ which always produces victory in our life through faith and trust. We must believe and therefore obey the Word of God completely rejecting the lie of the enemy that it is somehow lacking or lost its power.

Mark 4:40-41 (ESV) He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

The disciples who walked and talked with Jesus every day experienced fear. These men feared the storm and even questioned His Care for them. When there was no logical way to feed the masses, they brought their cares and concerns to the Teacher. At the transfiguration, yet again they melted in fear. Even on the way to the Cross, those who celebrated His Triumphant Entry calling Him, “King of kings and Lord of lords” went into hiding even denying ever knowing Jesus. Fear. Fear makes us do crazy things. Confidence in Christ requires overcoming fear. It is not a one-time effort but a lifetime pursuit of more faith to fill the voids.

When the ruler came to Jesus to ask Him to heal his sick child, someone from his house came to tell him not to bother the healer – it was too late. His daughter was dead. Jesus said, “Do not fear; only believe and she will be well.” How many times do we stop believing when encountering the impossible? Fear tells us that it’s a dead end and to go back. Today, I declare over your life that fear has to go in Jesus Name because NOTHING is impossible with God. Every chain is breakable. Every disease can be healed. Shame cannot keep you locked up anymore because grace has forced it out. God’s Word is coming alive in you. Every place in your life thought to be barren is being plowed today by the thought that the Lord can and will do the things that He has promised. Fear must go where faith abounds and it is beginning to rise up in you.

Romans 8:14-15 (ESV) For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”

Cry out to the Father today. Let Him set you free of fear today. Perfect love is not found in humanity but only in a right relationship with the Father offered to us through His Son. The Spirit of God will lead you from fear to faith but my friend you must be willing to go. Fear builds a wall around us that must be pushed through from the inside out. No one can free you from fears that you are not willing to let go. Give your burdens, cares and worries to God – He loves you. He is for you. He promises never to let the righteous fall. You must learn to rest on His Promises to experience His Peace. He will teach you. As my daughter called in the darkness and was met with mama’s voice to comfort her and answer her – your Father in Heaven has truth to dispel every lie, solutions for every problem, provision for every need, and He will be the Comforter to those who just need to hear His Voice and know they are never alone. He is a Good Father! He created you to live fearless and courageously in His Love.

Matthew 10:30-31 (ESV) But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

I Peter 5:6-8 (ESV) Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

Isaiah 41:10 (ESV) Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

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Keep Going

Keep Going

Hebrews 10:35-36 (ESV) Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.

Keep going. Just keep going. I have to tell my feet that sometimes during my workout. The limbs get all shaky and I cannot catch my breath yet I tell myself over and over – keep going. Cardio is my best friend and worst enemy. It pushes my body past the breaking point yet yields the positive results I am hoping for. When I pull up at the gym, I can feel my flesh begin rebel and make excuses for every reason to turn the car back on and leave. I am determined to live a better lifestyle through diet and exercise. It requires dedication that is greater than my desire to quit. I continue because I want the reward of a healthy body. It all seems rational until the first turn of the pedals of the elliptical or the drops of sweat make it hard to see. Someone needs to hear the words – “keep going”! Jesus is whispering to us today. Do not throw off your confidence in me. I have promised you a great reward that is an inheritance just for you. You just need to have endurance. So you will do the Will of God knowing full well that He is faithful to each promise.

There are things in life that must be sought after past our feelings and emotions. The things of God are seldom achieved in an instant but require faith exampled by endurance. You may believe that God’s Promises are true and His Plan is for you yet still feel like giving up. Perhaps, the wait is too long. The struggle too real. The trials too hard. The temptation too great. “Do not throw away your confidence…it has a great reward!” When our mind, will and emotions beg us to quit, it is usually because breakthrough is coming. Our flesh does not want to die or give way to the Holy Spirit inside of us so it balks at endurance and tries to shut us down as we strive for anything other than what makes it comfortable. Convenience leads to complacency hence just another reason I am at the gym. Confidence will kill comfort, convenience and complacency when hope becomes the anchor of our soul and mindset that is held on to.

Romans 5:1-5 (ESV) Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Faith is logical when it is based on God’s Word. We have been justified by faith which is made credible by the Word of God. Peace with God is established through His Son, Jesus Christ, who is the Word. He obtained access to God and all that He has promised when Jesus gave us grace to access a new relationship with the Father. Now because of God’s Grace, we can enter into His Presence and experience His Glory. Sounds magical. It’s really not. Magic requires a slight of the hand or illusion for the eyes. The Lord is straight forward. There is a process involved to obtaining that which is hoped for. It is not reserved for favorites but the faithful.

The process of God that leads to fulfillment is through refinement as set forth in Romans 5. Suffering produces endurance. Discipline always requires suffering. It is contrary to what comes naturally and therefore requires a forceful change of an otherwise innate reaction. The Word of God is contrary to our mindset formed by the nature and society. It must be continued consumed and digested even when it tastes like a bitter pill at first. Anytime, we introduce a new food to my grandson – his initial response is to wrinkle his nose, make a sour face and shudder. It takes a couple bites before he is readily consumes it. He tastes and sees that it is good so he begins to devour it. And so it is with God’s Word, His Will and His Way – it doesn’t always seem palatable but daily consumption, digestion and nutrition will soon change our heart and mind because we taste and see that the Lord is good!

Suffering produces endurance. Endurance produces character. Character produces hope. Hope in the Lord will never ever put us to shame. We must endure. The Bible tells us in Matthew that those who endure to the end will be saved. Luke 21:19 tells us “by your endurance you will gain your lives.” We must keep going to fully discover the hope that is to be found in Jesus Christ. God’s Plan, His Purpose and every promise to prosper holds something worth having if His People would only learn to endure.

Hebrews 12:3-7 (ESV) Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?

Endurance produces discipline within us. It is the turning point of decision each day. Do I keep going or turn back now? What is your God dream? What motivates you? Are you tired of the same old same old and reaching for new things with new goals and aspirations? Is it a new season? Or is God revealing a new chapter in life? Have you been met with the unexpected? The Lord will be your confidence, but to do that He must first teach us discipline. Discipline is not punishment. Say it again, godly discipline is never ever punishment. If God still punished us, it means that the grace given is not enough and insufficient. Jesus is the example of endurance set forth for us to follow. Hebrews 11 is the Hall of Fame of faith delineated to encourage us that ordinary men and women can do extraordinary things when they set their heart and mind on God first.

Hebrews 12 is the gunshot of the race of faith to the finish line of hope. To keep our eyes on Jesus the “founder and perfecter” of our faith. He endured the cross for us. He exhibited complete discipline and obedience to the Father on the earth as a man. We must gain encouragement and motivation from the simple truth that the struggles in our life even the very real striving to just keep going will be worth it. Christ solidified that for us. No father or mother stops pushing and prodding their child toward purpose and success. Neither would your Father in Heaven who paid such a high price just so you could have it. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Following His Example means living a life of disciplined endurance that keeps going no matter what!

Lamentations 3:18-24 (ESV) So I say, “My endurance has perished; so has my hope from the Lord.” Remember my affliction and my wanderings, the wormwood and the gall! My soul continually remembers it and is bowed down within me. But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”

When you cannot change your present situation, current circumstances or conditions, there is still one thing that is completely within your power to change – your mind! In the midst of the worst pity party imaginable, new hope and life arises from the one who calls his or her mind to order. But THIS I call to mind and therefore I have hope. The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases. His Mercies never come to an end. In fact, they are delivered each morning. Great is YOUR faithfulness. It doesn’t matter how you got it, why you are here or if it is totally your fault. Mercy says, “Hey, come with me!” God is faithfully pursuing us today with unfailing love and goodness no matter where yesterday left us – we still have His Love therefore we have hope. You just have to keep going. The Lord will be our portion. He will fill every dry and dead spot in us with new life. We must only endure the struggle so our godly character reflects the love and care of our gracious Father. He has already given us the seeds of faith to prosper. Hope will carry us to the harvest.

I John 4:16-18 (ESV) So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.

Hey Friend! You have to keep going! It will be worth it if you hold tight to your confidence in Christ for it comes with a reward. The rich and satisfying life promised by the Lord to be exceedingly and abundantly more than imaginable – it belongs to you. You must be confident in His Love so that courage will drive your heart to receive it. We cannot live in fear of failure or the bondage of daily striving, but must run the race of faith freely unhindered. It seems silly to most and that’s okay. My promise belongs to me and I intend to have it. In fact, I want all that the Lord has promised me. Discipline tells me that I am a Child of God and He has invested in me potential that will be birthed into purpose if I don’t give up but keep walking in His Footsteps and running toward obedience. It is the demonstration of trust to live like winners before the finish line is insight. We have victory. We are triumphant. We can hold our head high because help is on the way. I don’t have to get it all right, but I must keep going in Jesus Name!

I John 5:13-15 (ESV) I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life. And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.

Time of Visitation

Time of Visitation

I Chronicles 16:28-31 (ESV) Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the peoples, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength! Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering and come before him! Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth; yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved. Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice, and let them say among the nations, “The Lord reigns!”

Many Christians are preparing to attend a morning church service at the place of worship today. Some dedicated servants are already there turning on the lights, making coffee, and praying over each seat in preparation for the people. God bless them all! Pastors are fine tuning their notes while the musicians do the same all in hope that a visitation of God’s Spirit will precipitate salvation experiences and supernatural encounters with the Living God. What about you? Did you prepare to meet with Jesus this morning? Have you invited His Spirit to have His Way in your heart today? Or like many, are you just trying to get out of bed and figure out what to wear? If I can just make it out of the house, we all have those days.

There is an opportunity today for each one of us who love, desire and seek the Lord. A place in time reserved to usher Him in, invite Him to stay, and give Him space in the place of greatest need in our heart and mind. In fact, if you don’t make it to a church building today, as a “living stone” and part of the Kingdom of God – you have the uncanny ability to unite with His Church right where you are. The Word of God warns us not to forsake our fellowship with others. It is uniquely important and vital to spiritual success. Praise is the weapon of warfare. It is the prophetic voice to the worried heart. It is a reminder to the wandering mind. It is the anchor of truth that secures our soul. We must continually live a life of praise and worship to remain constantly connected to His Kingdom.

To ascribe means to credit to God as our source. It means to attribute everything in our life to His Care and Faithfulness – the things He has done and yet to do. It is the implication of our faith and allegiance to Christ as King Jesus who sits in power and authority over every instance and moment of our life. It is the ultimate declaration of Jesus is Lord. It creates a sense of belonging when applied corporately. “Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice, and let them say among the nations, “The Lord reigns!” In Psalm 95, the voice of God united in praise is the full representation of Heaven. All voices crying out as one – “The Lord reigns.” What is your declaration today?

Luke 19:36-40 (ESV)  And as he rode along, they spread their cloaks on the road. As he was drawing near—already on the way down the Mount of Olives—the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”

Worship is the opportunity to unite with Heaven in one voice. There is power in the declaration that Jesus is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The enemy wants to silence the voice of God’s People on earth in yet another attempt to keep us from connecting with the Kingdom. A Kingdom connection will always produce confidence in the faithfulness of God – but to be disconnected allows doubt, fear, and insecurity to take over. Friendships struggle with this sometimes. When one friend feels left out or isolated, and suddenly the person feels helpless and alone because one missed call or invite suddenly becomes an offense because they feel excluded. People long to be connected. They desire relationships even when in denial that they need anyone at all. We are created to be a people united as one body and thus even when our heart and mind says, “No!” our very soul longs for it with a resounding, “Yes!”

And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.” This verse has been on my heart for a couple days now. “If these were silent, the very stones would cry out.” I am a worshipper. I am not a musician or singer or can’t even dance very well. I still love praise and worship. It stirs up my spirit and has become my lifeline when I feel distance between me and my God. It is like breath to my body when I am struggling. It refreshes my soul by reminding me of His Faithfulness. It reminds me who I am and who I belong to! But there is more to the story… the complexity of God’s Word becomes simple when digested I guess.

Luke 19:41-44 (ESV) And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”

The Pharisees told Jesus to stop the ridiculous uproar surrounding His Triumphant Entry into Jerusalem. The very people who He came for rejected his person and in fact were plotting to kill him. God desired peace with His People. He wanted them to accept His Son – the Messiah and be reunited with Him. They chose differently and Jesus wept as He rode into the city. Here are the words penetrating my heart today – “And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.” Even in the midst of destruction, the stones will cry out worship and praise to the Lord. The city would be destroyed because it did not know the time of His Visitation. As we go to church and participate in services today, it is with the profound and precious opportunity to make a Kingdom connection and declare together in unison that “the Lord reigns” and acknowledge King Jesus as one people in the unity of praise. Don’t miss the time of visitation! Standing in church, sitting in a pew, welcoming visitors at the door, and even preaching a great message means nothing if Jesus is not the King of our life and acknowledged as such. We must seek to stay connected with His Kingdom in full allegiance to our soon coming King and Lord of Lords. I cannot impress the urgency in my heart today that rather than singing songs, waving hands, and participating that we become a people desperate to usher the Presence of God at every opportunity. To recognize that the King is among us and that His Desire is to be with us! You have a place in the heavenly throng to worship the King and invite Him into your midst. Do not miss His Time of Visitation! He is coming for you!

Psalm 95:1-3 (ESV) Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods.

Turning Toil into Rest

Turning Toil into Rest

Psalm 139:1-5 (ESV) O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.

Psalm 139 is one of my favorite passages in the Word of God. Like a giant soft snuggly blanket on a cold night, I can wrap myself in God’s intentional creation and determination to love and keep me in the psalmist words. It makes the chaos of life stand still in God’s Supremacy. It makes me feel important when dark shadows of insignificance creep into my heart. God has carefully scripted the details of my life including every moment before I was born. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me and far too high for me to grasp so I am get caught up in the waves of busyness and striving that are the cast nets of the enemy to trip us up in the race of faith. To think personal appearance, qualities, abilities, and achievements even when applied to discipline, faithfulness and obedience to God in some way influences the outcome is ridiculous when I am predestined for the Kingdom – including every promise, blessing and prosperous moment that God our Father already planned and prescribed for us. Excessive pride and exceptional vanity cause the believer to strive for what is already given and long for what we already have. These two traits are the very essence of frustration. Greed for more is the appetite of pride. Discontentment is the adornment of vanity. Neither will ever bring peace nor rest in our life but a constant need to seek worthless things rather than heavenly rewards. God did not call us to live in poverty or lack. He is an excellent Father and wonderful Provider. God did not call us to walk around brokenhearted, sickly and diseased. He is the Healer. God still does miracles. Just as the plan of God was foretold, the process of God lies within us. Written on our heart, it must be opened and carefully read. There is a plan and purpose within us that will lead to full satisfaction and complete contentment. It begins in our heart not in our hands.

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

I do believe the prosperity gospel. God desires to prosper us…just as your soul prospers. Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:5) One of the greatest privileges as a believer is to enter the Kingdom economy on earth before entering heaven. Peter experienced such when he was asked who Christ was to him. His response opened the Hand of Jesus who gave Peter “the keys of the kingdom of heaven.” Peter’s confession of Christ as the Son of the God established the platform of his life on which the Lord would begin constructing the church. Psalm 103 reminds us “bless the Lord, oh my soul, and forget not all his benefits.” Kingdom benefits and blessings belong to those who believe in Jesus Christ as their personal Savior and decide to make Him the Lord of their life. We must bless the Lord with the offering of submission giving Him access through salvation to our soul first and then placing the rest of our life under His Authority and Power which will release Kingdom benefits and blessings that make ordinary existence into the extraordinary life that is exceedingly and abundantly more than is humanly imaginable filling our journey with supernatural occurrences that will always point to God!

Ecclesiastes 2:22 (ESV) What has a man from all the toil and striving of heart with which he toils beneath the sun? For all his days are full of sorrow, and his work is a vexation. Even in the night his heart does not rest. This also is vanity.

Where did this journey in the Word begin? I love Saturday morning. It is the only day of the week when I do not have to wake up early. The alarm is not set for 4:30 AM as usual. This morning rather than relaxing and resting my mind woke me up. Swirling with my expectations for today mixed with others expectations of me roused me until finally I got up. Busy. What is busyness anyway? Everyone is busy. But no one is too busy. Oh, I hear you ready to lop off my head. God gives each person 24 hours in a day and the freedom to choose how to use it. All things are permissible but not all things beneficial – given all the same amount of time in any given day – it is up to us to decide how it will be portioned. The pressure I was feeling caused irritability to arise and I could feel the bristling of emotions. Walking into the study, sliding into my chair, I opened my journal and wrote the following: “How do I do it all? Lord, I need you to take control of my time.” Toil and striving for anything other than Jesus Christ and His Kingdom is the product of pride and vanity. Where do I get this from? Ecclesiastes – yes the whole entire book. We must place our priority on Kingdom first. No, I did not say “ministry” or “church” first. I did say, “Christ and His Kingdom.” It is the place of allegiance for the believer that allows all other areas of life to be successful. It somehow miraculously stretches our time and energy. The word “toil” is not a Kingdom word. It’s not. Toil means hard, continuous, and exhausting labor or effort. God calls us to rest. Jesus calls to those who “labor and are heavy laden” with the promise of rest. To rest in His Love, on His Promise and trusting in His Plan. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. However, in our toiling at home, work, ministry, church, and even in our hobbies and extracurricular activities – the enemy tells us that God is please with such exhaustive toil and really it does not bring the Father any glory because though it make a man rich it brings great sorrow with it. The blessing of the Lord does not bring us sorrow but complete satisfaction and contentment in all things. Toil is birthed by vanity which refutes the declaration that His Grace is enough for me. His Power works best in my weakness. Toil is vanity’s effort to self-assert itself over the completed work of Christ in us.

Matthew 6:31-33 (ESV) ”Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

Seek first the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness AND all these things will be added to you. It is a terrible cycle entered into by most creating a vortex that separates many from the lifestyle God intended from the beginning for each one of us. We are told to be anxious for nothing. Trust and confidence that God is our provider of all things pertaining to life. It says in His Word that God has already given us every spiritual blessing. Like the widow with one flask of oil, it is up to us to find the vessels to pour it into. Most hold that little bottle of anointing in one hand and work with the other. This is not the plan of God for our life but rather to pour out the anointing in us into every area of life. No duplicity. Faith in every approach. Giving the Lord authority in every area of our life. Instead, work becomes our priority because everyone needs to money to survive, right? So our life is poured into our job, career or climbing the corporate ladder. Seeking to acquire things becomes the focus of drive and ambition. Work gets the majority of our time. Work also makes play justifiable. There is nothing wrong with balance but soon our life is filled with busyness. Add on top of that trying to serve in church as well and what a chaotic mess develops. Why? Seek first the Kingdom of God. The filling of our life with Jesus and His Anointing makes everything we do prosper and purposeful. Trouble is most give the Lord what’s left which is a pitiful pittance rather than the extravagance of our predestined masterpiece life. We must discipline ourselves to seek the Kingdom first. Above all things and ambitious journeys. God knows every need, want and desire of your heart. It is only in trusting the Lord to do as He promises that a prosperous life is achieved.

I John 2:15-17 (ESV) Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

When our son was diagnosed with cancer, my perspective and priorities were radically changed. Not over time, but in a single moment. Funny thing is that it was not when the words rolled out of the doctor’s mouth sending my heart crashing to the floor. It was not in the two weeks of trying to reorder and reorganize our schedule to include fighting for his life. It was sitting in a parking lot waiting for him to arrive to enter treatment as I was texting the office assuring them I would be there next week. My son got out of the car and the Lord let me see with vivid clarity what death looked like. It was in that moment that the things of this world did not matter anymore. I needed Jesus. I needed Him close. I needed Him to be real. I needed Him more than anyone or anything else. I called the office in that moment telling my supervisor that I would do my best to help them but I would not be back until our son was in remission.

Friend, we must reprioritize our life. It is imperative that our heart and mind be set on Jesus and His Kingdom first. It is not an old-fashioned cry of the church but the modern day yearning of those who desire His Kingdom on earth and revival to come. The world will give as many cares, burdens, worries, fears, doubts and insecurities it takes to keep God’s People land-locked and not Kingdom-bound. The enemy knows exactly what it will take to discourage, distract, detour and dissuade you from seeking the Kingdom first. We are driven by so many drives, urges and emotions that striving just comes naturally. Comparison does not only kill our joy but chokes out contentment. King Solomon had great wealth so much so that he was able to indulge every indulgence. Nothing was kept from him yet he declares it all vanity. It’s sad because so many famous people who are envied by others end their life because of depression. I wonder if it is because when they attained what they thought would be bring them peace and happiness – they found it be an illusion of emptiness which was completely devastating. The true meaning of hopelessness, I guess, is having it all and finding it is not what you wanted. We have a hope that will never lead to disappointment. To acquire Jesus Christ and His Kingdom is to have it all. We must not get caught up in busyness. It is a prideful place of vanity that takes Christ out of the equation. Toil must be turned to rest in the peace of God that is afforded those who trust the Lord in all things. Lord, I cannot do it all. I am not supposed to. So let me do one thing and it is this one thing that I ask:

Psalm 27:4 (ESV) One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple.

Time for Release

Time for Release

I Corinthians 1:27-31 (ESV) “But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

A thought occurred to me while dying on the dreaded elliptical. As I literally prayed for my legs to keep moving and the Lord to give me the strength to continue and finish the workout routine, my thoughts suddenly shifted. I realized in that moment just how weak my body is and strong the mind can become. My brain was telling my legs to stop moving and exhaustion was taking over. I began telling myself, “Greater is He that is in me.” In an effort to overcome my flesh by discipline, I had to literally change my mind. With a lowered head watching sweat hit the pedals, I asked the Lord to overcome my flesh and move from the inside of me to surround me with His Presence. That’s when it hit me…

Many will boast “greater is He who is in me than he that is in the world.” But do we ever allow the Christ in us to become our refuge? In order to do so, one must allow the Jesus who empowers us on the inside to become the place of residence. It is an act of engagement were faith moves from the inside to the outside of us. It is a conversation with the Living God that invites Him into our present. Salvation makes a deposit in us. He gives us a Helper called the Holy Spirit to cultivate good fruit in us. God already is before us, behind us and right beside us. Jesus is the access point of connection who invites us to yoke or partner our life with Him and He in turn bear the weight of every burden, care, worry and concern turning broken lives into supernatural existences with Kingdom productivity. We must make Jesus where we live.

2 Corinthians 12:7-10 (ESV)  So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Verses in 2 Corinthians are often quoted but kept in context it reveals a stunning bit of knowledge that could empower us today. Paul said, “To keep me from becoming conceited…” Our pride would like nothing more than to keep Jesus locked up inside of us. If our faith and trust never permeates the atmosphere of life it cannot exhibit its wonder working power and supreme sufficiency. It is in our absolute weakness and complete brokenness that allows Christ to move from the inside of us to the outside. It is the very moment that the invitation to live and abide in Him truly yields its fruitful benefits. Paul, in his humanness, did not see the powerful revelation at first and continued to ask the Lord to take away his “thorn”. What is the “thorn” jabbing the tenderness of your heart, softness of your flesh or most vulnerable of thoughts today? God may not be willing to take it away. His Love too great to leave you just as you are, but rather to demonstrate the reality of Christ in you so that you might allow Him to come out.

Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. What is the boasting of your life today? Could it be confusing with complaining or a lack of contentment with God’s Care? Do you praise Him in the storm or rage on with the wind? Do you walk by faith or live in hindsight? The Lord allows us to have weaknesses to increase dependency on Him. We will stop cheering on our problems when the triumphant victor, Jesus, makes His Way on the scene. He comes at just the right moment. There will be no mistake that it is Him. Once you experience His Presence along with perfect peace – you will not want to force the Lord back into the box of a closed mind or limited expectation.

2 Corinthians 4:7-11 (ESV) But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.

There is purpose in our dying flesh, my friend. It is the breaking of our heart and death of our fleshly confidence that gives way for our faith to usher King Jesus on the scene. His Supremacy will never be compromised by our inability to believe or unwillingness to partner with Him. He remains full of power and authority. Yes, greater is He who is in you than he that is in the world. You must give your allegiance to Jesus and invite Him out into your present situation. You will never do that if you feel strong, competent and complete. It is when our insufficiencies and lack are brought into the Light of His Love that He always offers something better. You have the opportunity to live the best life ever. A supernatural existence of blessing and favor from a Heavenly Father that has nothing but love for you. The place of transition is when our boasting about Christ becomes an invitation to give up our life to let Him be Lord. To seek His Presence. To listen for His Voice. To strive for obedience in every detail. To assist in the death of our flesh with constant discipline. God has a great plan. Jesus died to give you the rights to have His Plan. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. If He is not your Way, your Truth and your Life – it is time to make the transition.

Hebrews 6:17-20 (ESV) So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.

The Lord has given us freedom. All things are permissible but not all things are beneficial. To keep Jesus locked inside of us is to allow our flesh to have supremacy by default. We need to live in His Presence to release His Kingdom from the inside to flourish in faithful hopefulness that Christ released offers. God ripped the veil from top to bottom showing that Jesus had restored access to heavenly things – not just heavenly thoughts. Light hidden under a basket does no good. So the Christ inside us must be released in order for us to live in the sufficiency of Grace and fulfill our purpose according to His Plan. Maybe the frustration you are feeling is the bubbling inside as Jesus gets ready to burst forth and offer you refuge. Or perhaps, the discontentment is the Mind of Christ telling your natural being that there is more to life than this. Take control of your rebellious thoughts and change your conversation. Overcome the enemy with the Word of God that causes Him to flee. Know what God says about you and live like it. Greater is He that lives in us but now it’s time to release Him into the rest of our lives.

Psalm 62:8 (ESV) Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. Selah

Deep Penetrating

Deep Penetration

Psalm 51:6-8 (ESV) Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice.

Thursday is cleaning day. I have taken to doing the bathrooms first thing in the morning. I purchased a new completely chemically hazardous bleaching spray to tackle some spots in the grout of the tub. Equipped like hazmat or more like in my hoodie, I saturated the places of concern and left them to soak. When I returned, the foam had disappeared yet the stains remained. Looking at the label again, I was quite disappointed. Truly, I am not sure why. I sprayed some more and this time put some elbow grease into it with a brush and abrasive sponge finally some progress. The Holy Spirit stopped me in that place of victory. How often do we desire victory yet choose to not engage or put any effort into obtaining it?

The word “purge” is not light hearted. It means to get rid of whatever is impure or undesirable. To cleanse and purify radically. It means to clear or empty. To have the promise of God for our life requires deeper penetration. Face value faith and superficial discipline will not make room for the seeds of prosperity to grow in a fertile heart. Hard hearts yield no fruit. There is no room for roots to dig in and anchor a hope so beautiful yet difficult to see and ever harder to believe. We must take the Word of God and use it. In order to use the spray, I had to buy it. Salvation is the moment believers “buy” into God’s Plan. Repentance is turning the tip of the nozzle from closed to open. Using our hand to pump out the contents is discipline and using our other hand to scrub allowing the Word to penetrate our heart and cleanse our mind. A new life emerges from such a process. Do you want to be a new creation?

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

You have been given absolute and complete freedom in Jesus Christ. You have been given the opportunity to choose who you follow and how you live. Those who desire the Will of God must choose the Way of God. This is not a forfeiture of freedom but choosing to live in love and in line with God, His Word, His Son, and His Spirit. The craziest part is it all works together to create this masterpiece from a mess. God is an awesome Father who gave up everything because He could not bear to live without us. Yet, in all His Giving, humanity still struggles to give anything back. It’s funny. We bought this house a couple years ago. It was not brand new construction but had two previous owners. The first were foreclosed upon and the second began renovations but sold before complete. I have been working to restore the bathrooms for a couple of years now. I am slowing seeing them come back to life but each week I must spray, scrub, wipe, and repeat. It is a process. I am seeing results. How much time are you worth investing? How much energy is God’s Best worth to you? Are you willing to take up a new “hobby” and grow the garden of your heart today? God never gives us offering us His Absolute best. Jesus is set on giving you a rich and satisfying life lacking in nothing and prospering in everything. The rest, my sweet friend, is up to you.

Psalm 139:23-24 (ESV) Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!

Will you allow the maker of your heart to search it today? Inspect it? Point out the things keeping you from His Promise? Will you invest time and energy in pursuing the lover of your soul rather than all those worthless things? We must allow the Word of God and His Spirit to penetrate us deeply. Spirit and truth are the way of redemption, restoration, revival and renewal. It can be a painful and exhausting battle to win over your mind, will and emotions to fully invest your heart, body and soul into the Kingdom. Well, you made it through your birth into this world just fine even though it was a difficult passage. Now the process of being birthed into the Kingdom is presented to you! Do you want it? Can you see it? Will you allow the Lord to penetrate your hard heart and break it into a million pieces? Or perhaps, are you willing to hand Him all the broken pieces and finally trust Him to make them into the best life ever? You decide.

Ephesians 5:25-27 (ESV) “…Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.”

Worthless Words

Worthless Words

Ephesians 4:29-32 (ESV)  Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths. If only our tongues were not the wayward beasts set ablaze and out of control, imagine if our words were under the control of God’s Spirit and not the rebellious heart and mind of mankind (and woman-kind). If the door could be slammed shut and the hurtful, ugly and worthless words swallowed up from whence they came but that’s just not how it works now is it? Oh for the reckless, careless tirades if only could be taken back. Images erased from those who received them and now dwell on the hurtfulness which is becoming bitterness. Using only a vocabulary to encourage, build up, fit for every occasion and full of grace to the listener, it is the desire of God for us to communicate in such a way that builds the Kingdom rather than tearing it apart person by person.

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

It says that “death and life are in the power of the tongue” and I believe that wholeheartedly. Sticks and stones will break bones but I also am convinced that words penetrate much deeper. People survive broken bones but some cannot survive a broken heart. Relationships, once strong, can be eroded by careless communication and unfiltered anger. Robust outbursts that feel so right and relevant at the time are meaningless when our partner, loved one, friend, coworker, or whoever are hurt beyond repair. What is the fruit of your lips today? I must consider mine. It is important. I was cooking dinner. Our new diet requires quite a few fresh vegetables. Though I stopped by the store, I did not purchase any because there were plenty in the fridge. However, as I pulled the packages out to prepare them for our meal, I noticed that some of them were going bad. The ones clearly soft and gross that touched others were causing them to rot, too. I ended up throwing away several packages because one vegetable went bad and corrupted the whole pack. Can we learn from this? Absolutely. The one bad vegetable did not intend to destroy the rest but it happened as its inward condition began to manifest outwardly and contaminated them all. The fruit of our lips can have the same effect. Whether intentional or not, they can pierce the heart and soul of another quickly adding our toxicity to their thoughts, feelings and emotions. I want my words to give others life. The life I have thanks to Jesus Christ has the potential by faith to produce good fruit in me that will become the offering of my lips if only I pay attention.

From the fruit of a man’s mouth his stomach is satisfied; he is satisfied by the yield of his lips. Proverbs 18:21 is the popular and well-known verse. However, God always has a promise to us in our faithful stewardship to others. Our words will satisfy our own soul first. As the soul prospers, so do we. The abundance of fruit that pours from our lips is not a fake fruit but the productivity of authentic faith. By allowing God’s Spirit to filter every single word through the Truth of His Word, the Light of His Love, and the Hope of His Glory – suddenly those unnecessary banters and tirades are softened to swallow. Being right becomes a little less important when righteousness is highly sought after. God wants to bless you. He has a purpose and promise that will meet its full potential and exceed the perceived abundance in your mind when you choose to say what He says about you, to you and for you and then decide to communicate His Message to the world.

Matthew 12:34-37 (ESV) You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

Our words are evidence of what the heart truly believes. Good people can say good things, but godly people only say good things like good fruit. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good. Jesus warns us explicitly that our words are a prime indicator of the condition of our heart. I know that when I am angry, hurt, frustrated and tired the thoughts circling in my head will form words that I cannot take back if released. I am learning to discipline my heart and mind to take those rebellious thoughts and smash them along with my pride to close my mouth tight. As they cannot to try to stir up a fire in my, I ask the Holy Spirit to stomp them out before they flare up again. It is not easy. I am not always successful. God gave us His Grace so there is always enough to share with others. True believers say, “I’m sorry” and mean it. Pride tells us the person deserved it or it was their fault. Humble hearts understand that it doesn’t matter what the other person does because my life – mind, soul, body and yes, even my tongue – belongs to Jesus Christ. End of story.

Lord, close the door to my mouth and prevent any offensive thing from spilling out of it. Teach me only to speak life and love to others. Help me to effectively communicate your love, grace, joy, peace and hope to others because what I think about other things really doesn’t matter. Humble me, God. Help me to filter every single word for kindness, relevance and truth not according to my standard but raised to Your Standard. In Jesus Name…

Proverbs 10:11-12 (ESV) The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence. Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses.

Fight for You

fight-for-me.jpg

Exodus 14:13-14 (ESV) And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”

Our middle daughter still lives at home while attending school. She is employed by a new restaurant that is just starting out. Living in the county, it is difficult to start such a business and endure the cost until patrons begin to help meet budgets. A little more than a week ago, she had the unfortunate situation arise and her paycheck was returned for non-sufficient funds. Now our daughter only works a night or two a week as she attends class Monday through Friday all day long. She contacted her employer who assured the funds would be available immediately and given to her. She is learning to adult in the safety of our home. Her father and I assisted her financially in the interim while she attempted to work with her employer. However, the limited funds impacted her social life and freedom she had come to enjoy. If mama pays, I have a say is the rule. She had been handling the situation completely until I received a call from my defeated teenager. The bank informed her that they needed a new check to process and they could not redeposit the old one. The restaurant manager disagreed so she sat on the verge of tears overwhelmed with frustration and called her mama.

Can I just say that it had been very hard to intervene from the beginning? I asked for the owner’s name and telephone number. She hesitantly obliged as she did not want to lose her job or cause a problem. I have to be honest. I was ready to burn the place down and call the Labor Department. As the phone rang, I prayed that the Lord would keep me to the point and calm. The young man who answered sounded to be about 20 years old. I told him who I was, my daughter’s name and that she needed to be paid immediately. No hesitation or wavering in my voice. He must have felt that parental authority because before I could finish – he told me his location and that if she would come to the establishment that he would honor her check. Well, my daughter was quite relieved but now concerned that due to my intervention she would lose her job as all expected cutbacks. Within 30 minutes, the message came that there would be cutbacks. Her name was NOT on the list. Isn’t God good? Yes, God!

The Lord will fight our battles for us. In fact, the victory is secure in Jesus Christ. When my daughter cried out for assistance, of course mama bear came charging through the forest. She works hard in school and maintains good grades. She is a dedicated and committed worker. She loves Jesus and tries to make good choices according to her faith. Truth is I would have helped her from the beginning, NOT because of all the former qualities and characteristics I shared, simply because she is my daughter and she belongs to me. No one will cause her ill will or come against her without facing mama bear. Just ask the Labor and Delivery nurses who attended our grandson’s birth, God bless them all. If we love our children and desire good things for them, how much more does the Father love us?

Deuteronomy 3:18-22 (ESV) “And I commanded you at that time, saying, ‘The Lord your God has given you this land to possess. All your men of valor shall cross over armed before your brothers, the people of Israel. Only your wives, your little ones, and your livestock (I know that you have much livestock) shall remain in the cities that I have given you, until the Lord gives rest to your brothers, as to you, and they also occupy the land that the Lord your God gives them beyond the Jordan. Then each of you may return to his possession which I have given you.’ And I commanded Joshua at that time, ‘Your eyes have seen all that the Lord your God has done to these two kings. So will the Lord do to all the kingdoms into which you are crossing. You shall not fear them, for it is the Lord your God who fights for you.’”

The life you may be settling for is not the one that God intended for you to have. He did not promise you poverty. He did not threaten you with enemies. He did not tell you to struggle. The Lord has given you possession. Power and authority to take over the place you occupy and vision and dreams to claim that which is beyond human reach but acquired by supernatural application. The Lord has given you protection. He will fight for you. You just have to trust Him enough in the transition. You already own the new season, position, or place that His Grace has given you. You just simply have to take the land. Finally, God didn’t tell you to go it alone. The Lord has given you His Presence. He will take out the giants, overthrow kingdoms, and give you victory in all things. You are not made to survive but to thrive. He did not create you to exist but to flourish.

You shall not fear them, for it is the Lord your God who fights for you. The Lord doesn’t need you to fight His Battles or even your own for that matter. Our position in this relationship is to trust and obey. To fall into complete alignment with His Will and His Way all laid out in fine detail in His Word (who is Jesus in human form so we have an earthly example). Do you believe that God is for you? Do you believe that He is with you? Has He made you a promise that seems too good to be true? Well its not! God is with you. He is for you. He is always good. He is always victorious. He is your protector. He is your provider. By choosing to live in the Presence of God all of these benefits belong to believers, oh there is the missing ingredient – do you believe?

Luke 11:10-14 (ESV)  For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

You are a Child of God. You must tell yourself daily, “God is good and He is for me.” You must remind your heart and mind, “I am a Child of God and exactly who He says that I am.” Your identity must be founded in the person of Jesus Christ and trust must bind us to that realization to hang on until His Glory comes and Goodness fills the vacancies and voids of our life. Too many time it is a settlement, compromise or substitution that is chosen out of doubt which produces fear and anxiety that produces an identity crisis.

I Timothy 6:11-12 (ESV) But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

In the meantime, what am I fighting for? Faith. We must fight for our faith. Faith is evident in one’s ability to cling to Christ until the promise comes rather than grabbing hold of the next best thing. It is to pray and seek the Lord’s assistance with full confidence that He is working behind the scenes. It is to entrust every single detail of our life to Him as He promises that it will be turned into good. It is to believe without a single doubt that there is nothing that can separate you from His Love so it is easy to put every expectation in Him. He promises to meet and exceed them all! We must fight the good fight of faith in order to live a life of obedience as good children who love and trust their Father. My daughter called mama because she knew she would answer. She shared her problem and frustration with me. When I asked her to trust me and give me the phone number, she was obedient. I called and they answered – praise God! The Lord was already there and the cash in hand. Not only that with favor, He gave her double for her trouble in protecting her position and giving her more shifts. God is a good Father. He is so in love with you! Why not share your burdens with Him today! He will fight for you!

Psalm 84:11-12 (ESV) For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly. Lord of hosts, blessed is the one who trusts in you!

Imitations

Imitations

Ephesians 5:1-2 (ESV) Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

On a recent visit to the doctor, a discussion developed regarding name brand pharmaceuticals versus generic medicines. Touted to be the same, he explained that while generic medication may indeed have the same benefits – there is also a risk inherent with manufacturing. Brand name medications are produced by the same company using the exact same formula. However, generic drugs are manufactured in a variety of different companies. He didn’t dissuade the use of the much more cost effective generics but cautioned to always read the label to be certain that it is manufactured by the same company each time. The consistency of dosing is important in protocol. One would assume that it’s all the same if the ingredients match, but just as in cooking this is simply not true. I can follow my grandmother’s pound cake recipe line by line and ingredient by ingredient sticking with her instructions in detail yet it still doesn’t taste quite the same.

Therefore be imitators of God…

This passage takes me back to the craze when “What would Jesus do?” became the church slogan. Plastic red bracelets embossed by Christians as a reminder to ask yourself in every situation what would Jesus do. I wonder if we really considered the question thoroughly. When people hurt, angered, wronged, betrayed or offended us – what would Jesus do? He would still walk up the hill to Calvary severely hurt, angry, wronged, betrayed and offended to be nailed to the Cross to die for the sin that caused it. He died for you. He died for me in just such a state. Now God has requested us to be imitators of God as beloved children. Prior to the death of Jesus and remission of sin, the only son in Heaven was Jesus. Now the opportunity to become sons and daughters of the living God is an option for us, and He requests us to act like His Beloved Children.

Walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

Does my life imitate God and His Son – Jesus? Or am I a cheap imitation? I am inquiring of my God to examine my heart and soul today for validity. It is easy to become a form or likeness without truly experiencing the blessings and benefits of becoming a Child of God. Do I walk in love? Real love? Messy love? Authentic love? Outstanding love? Forgiving love? All the love possible in a human. Or do I choose who to love and how to love according to my feelings and emotions? There are so many questions to ask of myself to determine if this faith I live by is real and my commitment to Christ genuine.

2 Timothy 3:1-5 (ESV) But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.

I want to be a lover of God – every day and in every possible way. I want to imitate God and follow His Instructions in my whole life. This requires careful inspection of our attitude and actions. It means discipline like most have never engaged in or experienced. However, in these last days, our primary pursuit must be one with Christ. Oneness with Jesus produces righteousness with God and affords of the Spirit of Adoption called the Holy Spirit as an identifier. There cannot be conflicted feelings. The Word of God is entirely true to the believer because it is entirely Jesus. Our performance means nothing. Our preference even less. We must test our life to be sure that our life is authentic and real according to the precedent set forth by the Word.

I Thessalonians 5:20-22 (ESV) Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.

Test everything… What does this even mean? Well looking at the preface, do not despise prophecies perhaps it means do not ignore the cries in the wilderness crying out, “Prepare the way of the Lord.” Jesus is coming back. Do I live like it? He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Do I worship like it? God is sovereign over all the earth. Do I serve like it? His Grace is enough. Do I accept it? He must increase and I must decrease. Do I have a humble heart? It is vitally important to test everything according to the Word of God and His Voice. Just like the generic drugs made slightly different from the original brand, there is a risk to diluting, compromising or ignoring the Word of God. It doesn’t matter our preference or what we believe when it comes to the Truth. To be an imitator of God – we must make Christ our example. He is the author and finisher of faith. He is the Source of Life. He is our access point to the Father. His Spirit identifies us as Sons and Daughters. Apart from Him, I can do nothing. Even if it makes me peculiar, that is who I am and how I must live. But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light…” (I Peter 2:9 KJV) Imitating the Lord will indeed make you a bit peculiar or maybe radically different from those around you. But since His First Thought is love, you will fit right in because everyone wants to be truly loved.

1 Peter 2:1-3 (ESV) So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.

Same Old Way

Same Old Way

Psalm 18:30 (ESV) This God—his way is perfect; the word of the Lord proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.

Oh how I hate stains. They are my arch nemesis. It’s funny that the older I get the more like my grandmother I become. She was a nurse back when the profession wore bright white uniforms – spotless and starched. She never used bleach yet her uniforms meticulous. She always hung out her clothes and rarely used her clothes dryer. She believed the harsh chemicals and high heat were not good for fabric. I have taken to some of her ways. So when our little grandson stained his onesie with baby food with blueberry and blackberry, I was in a frenzy to get the purple spot out. After a quick treatment and run through the wash still showed a faint mark where the bright colored stain once was – it was time for stronger measures. I tried everything I could think of while in the back of my mind I was telling myself it is probably less than $5.00 to replace it but now it was the point. Standing over the sink, surrounded by modern day cleaning solutions, and staring at my ominous opponent, I remembered my mission trip to Africa. I brought a white skirt and it was soiled in the orange clay indigenous to the area. The ladies who did the missionary’s laundry had my stained garment laying over a rock in the sun while hanging the rest on the line to dry. Applying some baking soda and a bit of lemon juice to the blemished apparel, it was now laying out allowing the sun to finish the work. The skirt was spotless by the end of the day. I tried it on the onesie minus the sun and the spot disappeared. Oh glorious day!

This God – His Way is perfect! Too many times – God’s Instructions for life are disregarded as out-of-date, old-fashioned, and impossible in this world of settlements and substitutions called compromise. We disregard the lessons that seem simple for the much more elaborate plans of society forgetting that normal will change with each turn of the calendar page. God is sovereign. He is all-powerful, all-knowing, and always present. But that’s not all – He is filled with unfailing love, unending grace, overwhelming thoughts, and forever patient with us. With all this in mind, before our first breath turned into a cry, the Lord predestined us with potential and purpose carefully handwriting the details forming His Plan. (Psalm 139) As I sit here pondering how simple removing the stain and achieving victory was a few moments ago, I cannot help but consider the missed opportunities caused by choosing another way rather than trusting and believing that He is the way! God’s Way is perfect!

Deuteronomy 32:3-4 (ESV) For I will proclaim the name of the Lord; ascribe greatness to our God! “The Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he.”

Is this the declaration of your life today? Is it the dedication and determination of your life? To declare it is just words but when it becomes our dedication and determination which turns into discipline everything changes. Our declaration turns into the prophetic voice that leads us to destiny. To ascribe greatness to God and never move from this season or exceed your current condition is evidence that though your voice says that God is great – your heart, mind and soul are yet to agree. When our soul prospers so does the rest of our life. It is a natural reaction to the supernatural response of those who choose faith and trust to back up their words. God is the immovable rock which is good news for us. We will never have to wander to find Him or wonder if He will be faithful. The Truth is His Word. The Word is His Son. Jesus always leads us from grace to grace and victory to victory.

John 14:6 (ESV) Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Jesus is the Way. He is the Truth. Both of these characters will always produce new life. Choosing God’s Way is to follow the example of Jesus. Jesus was the Word. When He came to the earth as a man, the man obeyed the Word set forth flawlessly. Since sin had separated mankind from God, Jesus died to allow us to enter the Presence of God and become His Children. The Word did not change in order to accommodate our sin but paid the penalty for our sin. The Word of God doesn’t change so it is up to us to align our life with God’s Word. I cannot have a fully functioning and flourishing life as a believer outside of obedience to God’s Way. His Word. Jesus.

Isaiah 58:9-12 (ESV) Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’ If you take away the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday. And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.  And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to dwell in.

Could it be that the Lord is calling us to be the “repairer of the breach” or “restore of streets to dwell in”. It is not our mission or the great commission to save the world. God’s Heart and Mind is set on His People. To prepare the way of the return of the Lord to bring us all together as His Kingdom. The unity and harmony called Kingdom starts with agreement to terms. The terms and conditions of our life do not change. God has set them forth in His Word. The Word is a guide to success and prosperity as a direct result of salvation. Obedience is the only requirement. It is our choice thanks to freedom. It is silly to get mad when others are blessed or prospering when it is an opportunity in our life as well. The terms of God’s Word are non-negotiable or He would be like any other man who could lie or change his mind. God is perfect in ALL of His Ways.

I cannot help but examine my heart today for obedience in all things. I must continue to study God’s Word, apply it first to my heart and make it my lifestyle. It is in such agreement that the Power of God who is Christ in me is released to change the atmosphere. I believe that it is his message to us today that it will be simple repentance and obedience to His Word that will cause the radical revival that the modern day church is desperate for. It begins in me. I am the rebuilder. I am the restorer of the breach. I must simply rely on the Rock who is my refuge and Jesus (the Word) who is the foundation of my faith.

Psalm 118:21-13 (ESV) I thank you that you have answered me and have become my salvation. The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.