Better Life or Eternal Life?

Better Life or Eternal Life

Luke 21:25-28 (NKJV) “And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.”

 

On the days when I am fortunate enough to keep my head above water, my heart from wandering, my thoughts from worthless things, and intent on following Jesus completely, I see things from a perspective of faith and hope that calms all fear and provides great peace. It is a challenge. A battle fought daily with mind, body and spirit. If anyone were to tell you differently, it is only a lie. The truth is many have stopped fighting. Giving up on God’s Glory and all that goes with it because they have not experienced it for themselves so it must not be true. Getting wrapped in today with total disregard for tomorrow much less forever, it is human nature to live for today because it is all we have left. Are you discouraged today? Are you a bit confused? Are the outcomes in your life not adding up to the Word you hold on to? Where are His Promises? Where is hope? If the intention of our heart is to know Him, the enemy will give us every opportunity to give up. See he wants our heart, mind, soul and desires to twist them, turn them and pervert them so we will be overtaken. Today, the Lord is reminding us to take a step up. Look at life from His Vantage Point taking on His Perspective. God has a plan with a future and hope. Jesus is definitely coming back and there will be a Day of Judgment. Whether or not we believe is inconsequential.

 

For those who call themselves believers, the return of Jesus Christ is a day that is longed for. For those who follow the Lord, it will be a great relief like coming home after years apart. It will be a time of celebration. We not know when it will happen, or exactly what it will be like yet still we can prepare. The Bible does not tell us when Jesus will come back just simply to be ready. When an evangelist, pastor, preacher, apostle or prophet gives a specific day, I am pretty certain you can rule that day out completely because only He knows the day and hour. What I do know is this? According to this passage in Luke, there will be atmospheric changes precipitating the Return of Jesus. Can we all agree that there is definitely changes in the weather, more frequent earthquakes, and other things that are not normal? Men’s hearts will fail them with fear. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, from 1999 to 2012 the percentage of Americans on antidepressants increased from 6.8% to 13% nearly doubling. A report released in 2011 by the National Center for Health Statistics, the rate of antidepressant use in this country among teens and adults (ages 12 and older) increased almost 400% between 1988-1994 and 2005-2008. The federal government’s health statistician’s figure that one in every ten Americans are takes an antidepressant. Yes, I would say that the human heart is filled and failing in fear. Heaven and earth are being shaken. The Lord is moving as if pacing back and forth. He sees the condition of the earth and the plight of His People. He is ready to move. But are we?

 

“Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.” I do not share these viewpoints or statistics to beat anyone down or produce more fear than already looming, but to say this…we are about to see God’s Glory. The first three checklist items are already happening. The church is crying out and calling out for revival. There is a generation that is sparking a renewal in the previous one for Jesus. I desire, passion and longing is stirring. It says right here, “then they will see”. I believe that the Glory of God precedes His Arrival. It is coming. Are we ready?

 

Psalm 85:9-13 (NKJV) Surely His salvation is near to those who fear Him that glory may dwell in our land. Mercy and truth have met together; righteousness and peace have kissed. Truth shall spring out of the earth, and righteousness shall look down from heaven. Yes, the Lord will give what is good; and our land will yield its increase. Righteousness will go before Him, and shall make His footsteps our pathway.

 

You haven’t missed it. It doesn’t matter what we have done but what we do now with this knowledge that Jesus is coming back. Do you believe it? Our chosen lifestyle tells more than our lips ever will as it reveals what we believe in our heart. When God waits, it is on us. When He tarries, it is by His Grace for us. He rumbles the world around us upsetting the environment as if saying, “Ready or not, here I come!” He allows are heart to be pressed so that the innermost contents are expressed so we know where we stand and have the opportunity to repent and turn back to Him. The Heavens and earth shake as His Glory begins to pour out. We are crying out for revival because though our brain may not comprehend, His Glory is coming to pour out on all mankind because right after than Jesus comes back. A call to righteousness proceeds His Arrival. It is here. It is now.

 

Matthew 24:5-13 (NKJV) “For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.  For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved.

 

When I was a teenager, our church would go through the Book of Revelation at least once a year along with the Book of Hebrews. It’s a good combination don’t you think? Now, they would show us films depicting what it would be like in the “end times”. One of the things it showed was the mark of the beast. How creepy, right? We would all watch slowly shaking our head vowing never to get the mark. One of those movies showed it to be a branding of some sort with the numbers “666”. Not to make fun of anyone, but do you really think the enemy is dumb enough to come right at us? Seriously. Didn’t think much more about it until more recently. First, the AMA now requires that all health information be entered into a world system so that no matter where a human being is in the world that their medical records can be accessed. This new innovation is introduced as public safety. Fair enough. The next step is to inject tiny chips in our hands so that it can be scanned to obtain the information. Coincidence? The banks and financial institutions caught the drift and feel this would be a wonderful way to increase security and stop identity theft, etc. So to begin with a chip is now on credit cards. When you receive your new card, it will have the chip. The long-term goal is to “allow” users to have a microscopic chip implanted for ease of use and security. This is all in the news.

 

We hear wars and rumors of wars. There are famines, violence and even earthquakes all over the world. Just because it does not affect you, doesn’t mean it is not happening. Christians are facing tribulation and persecution. Who do you think ISIS hates? They are at war against Christianity. People are offended just ask someone what they think about Target’s new bathroom rule and be prepared. Betrayal is everywhere even the church. People hate one another. False prophets…there are more than a few touting Jesus is not the only way and grace requires nothing from us so do what feels good. P.S. God still hates sin but loves the sinner. Sin is rampant. Love is cold. We must endure all these things to be saved. We must not be consumed by the things going on in the world around us or become distracted trying to change the world for the better. We are not called to change the world but to be the Light in the Darkness showing others the love and grace given to us by Jesus.

 

Hebrews 12:1-2 (NKJV) Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

 

Hebrews 10:35-37 (NKJV) Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise: for yet a little while, and He who is coming will come and will not tarry.

 

The word “therefore” means in consequence of that, as a result, or consequently. The Lord has told us what it would be like and equipped us to make it to the end. It is important that we do not give up or cast away our confidence in the midst of the circumstances of life and daily pressure around us. We must not be overcome by the challenges of life but keep our eyes on Jesus who is the Author and Finisher of our faith. You don’t have to go it alone but so many times we do. Religion tells us to do things for the Lord. He only wants a relationship with us. He wants to welcome us home to be with Him forever. The enemy wages war to keep us from that day. We have a great reward. We must endure. We need faith and confident hope to do that. It says, “Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.” I believe with all my heart that revival is coming as His Righteousness proceeds His Return and a final outpouring of His Spirit and dispensation of His Glory like never before. Do not be discouraged today but look up and life up your head. He is coming closer than ever before. Jesus loves you. He wants you. His Grace is for you.

 

John 17:20-24 (NKJV)

“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me. Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.”

 

Jesus prayed for us. He knew these would be tough times. He desires to be one with us just like He is one with the Father. It is very easy for the stress and worries of this life to overtake us. Matthew 6:25-30 tells of overwhelming worry and fear driven by survival. We do not have to survive but can thrive in a life surrendered to Jesus as He completes and gives us a rich and satisfying life. “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” The Lord offers to carry our burden as we “yoke” our life to Him walking His Way, and allowing His Will to take over. The need for control is a fear response. In fact, worry, fear, and anxiety are all born of doubt and disbelief which disqualify faith. We must daily turn every single one over to the Lord in order to walk with Him. Freedom is given to those who by faith put their trust in Jesus. How about you? Is it time to unload? Are there some things weighing you down that you have chosen to carry rather than trusting the Lord with them? They will keep you from His Glory if you do not let them go!

 

Matthew 19:27-30 (NKJV) Then Peter answered and said to Him, “See, we have left all and followed You. Therefore what shall we have?” So Jesus said to them, “Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.

 

“See, we have left all and followed You. Therefore what shall we have?” I can only imagine in the days leading to the Cross that the disciples were perplexed. What do you want from the Lord today? Is it a temporary fix? What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul? (Mark 8:36-38) Are we really seeking Jesus for eternal life or a better life? Don’t answer that…just yet. If our mindset is not forever, we are bound to today. Hope is for the future and found in Jesus Christ. If we can see it, we can have it. If we can touch it, we can do it. I think about the rich young man who came to Jesus. He was really confident in what He was doing by following the letter of the Law and “doing” all the right things. But then Jesus took it up a notch requiring him to sell all his possessions, give the money to the poor and follow Him. What did the young man do? He turned away because he had a pretty good life here on earth with many possessions. He could not give up now for forever. What’s holding you back? What is keeping you from entering the Presence of God? What is keeping you from His Glory? It is always a “me” thing because His Offer always stands, “Whosoever will let him come.” (Mark 8:34) As we deny ourselves – our comfort, convenience, complacency and control – God’s Glory will resonate in our life and we will see the greatest revival of all time. It will be the one that proceeds Christ’s Return.

 

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (NKJV) Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

 

Do not lose heart today. Friend, Jesus is closer than you think or feel. He is pressing in and drawing near to your broken heart and ravaged soul that has been severely taken advantage of by the loveless and brutal world. Circumstances and conditions may not change in the earth, but the Lord will make peace in your heart. He will cause that measure of faith that you were born with to begin to grow and seek to connect with the eternity in your heart. This is not the life you were created to live. You have purpose. Your life has real meaning that is not found in what you do here but who you are in Christ. The Lord promises to renew our inward man day by day. He is ready to release a far exceeding and eternal weight of glory in our life. If we will just set aside the weight that holds us back, release the worries and cares that keep us bondage and step into His Glory. The Lord loves you today. He desires you. He calls you His Beloved. If you will just wait a little longer, go a little farther and press in a little deeper – there will be a happily ever after. The King is most definitely among us. His Glory surrounds us. We are victorious. Revival is rising in His Name. Will you take part in it? Or will you allow it to pass you by caught up in these temporary things? It’s up to you. I say lift your head up and look – Jesus is closer than every before.

 

Psalm 119:33-38 (NKJV) Teach me, O Lord, the way of Your statutes, and I shall keep it to the end. Give me understanding, and I shall keep Your law; indeed, I shall observe it with my whole heart. Make me walk in the path of Your commandments, for I delight in it. Incline my heart to Your testimonies, and not to covetousness. Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things, and revive me in Your way. Establish Your word to Your servant, who is devoted to fearing You.

Finding Peace

Finding Peace

John 14:26-27 (NKJV) But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

 

Peace I leave with you. Are you at peace today? Is your heart settled and still? Do you walk in confident quiet and peaceful authority? Peace of mind is priceless. Peace in our heart is coveted. Peace changes our state of being from chaotic to calm in just one second. Are you looking for the elusive component of a well-balanced life today? Are you having trouble finding the peace that Jesus promised He left for you? Maybe just maybe God’s Children are going about it all wrong. Like the old country song that says, “Looking for love in all the wrong places, looking for love in too many faces, searching their eyes, looking for traces of what I’ve been dreaming of, hoping to find a friend and a lover, I’ll bless the day I discover, another heart looking for love.” Everyone is looking for love but until we discover God’s Love it will never satisfy or bring the peace everyone is looking for.

 

I believe we all are looking for love. Our natural inclination is to look to other people and certain things putting our expectation that something earthly can satisfy a spiritual longing. Trouble is that eternity is hidden in our heart which will never be content or fulfilled by temporary things. So we try counterfeits and substitutions along the way gladly offered by the enemy of our soul in an attempt to cause us to search for something not found outside of perfect peace. I have nothing to offer another human being until I have peace with God. Otherwise, I will always try to make them like God to me with unrealistic expectations of an imperfect human. God has given us the Holy Spirit to help us find peace today.

 

Matthew 10:32-34 (NKJV) “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven. “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword.”

 

Jesus made a bold statement that is not dwelt upon too heavily. He said, “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword.” Jesus is the Word of God that came to this world wrapped in flesh. The Word of God is a sword that cuts to the bone removing all things that are superficial and erroneous to expose the Truth in our life. (Hebrews 4:12) Why do you think so many people use it sparingly? We want peace on earth never realizing that is not what Christ gave us. This world will never be at peace with God. Darkness will never welcome the Light. Jesus did not bring peace to the world but offered me the privilege of peace with God again.

 

“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) There will not be peace on earth until Jesus comes again and reclaims what is rightfully His Own. Until then, there will be tribulation, heartache, tragedy, brokenness, assaults and persecution. The good will die young. The wicked will prosper. Love will grow colder each day. Sin will be (already is) rampant. It is exactly how Jesus said that it would be. Trouble is most people to not dig deep enough into His Word, pray long enough, or search out His Spirit so they have unrealistic expectations based on half-truth, lack of communication and separation from the Will of God because they do not pursue Him. This world will drive you nuts. You will be overwrought and overpowered without Jesus Christ. He has overcome the world and we can to when we find peace.

 

Ephesians 2:14-18 (NKJV) For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.

 

Sin puts us in enmity with God. Enmity is the condition of hostility, hatred, ill will and animosity against God. Sin will never be okay in the Kingdom of Heaven. The Lord will not abide where sin is welcomed or clearly overlooked. There is a difference between willful and mindful sin and those not yet discovery. To entertain and allow sin to have a place in our life is to live in enmity with God. Grace does not change God’s Opinion of sin. Would it you if you watch your child beaten, bloodied and tortured for it? Would you overlook the very thing that took your child from you in such a vicious way? Nah, me either. When we ask Jesus to become our Savior, it means to turn from our sin 180 degrees and walk the other way. To maintain peace with God requires seeing Jesus as our Lord and respecting His Authority and Power in our life. We do not have such things when we live contrary to God’s Kingdom or a life of double standards. Jesus Christ is our peace. He broke down every barrier between the Kingdom of God and mankind becoming the Way, Truth and Life so we can come boldly and confidently to the Father again. It is the moment that we choose to live in the Presence of God that we begin to discover what peace really is.

 

Psalm 34:11-14 (NKJV) Come, you children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord. Who is the man who desires life, and loves many days, that he may see good? Keep your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking deceit. Depart from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.

 

Peace is a non-warring state of mind, soul and body. It is freedom from commotion and strife. Peace is a mindset on the Lord that is free from annoyance, distraction, anxiety and obsession. It is to live absent of war. To have peace we must pursue it. Peace has a Name. His Name is Jesus. We cannot have any kind of peace without Him because He is the Way of peace, Truth about peace, and produces a Life of peace for us. The world will continue to rally and war nation against nation right down to hand-to-hand combat one against another. Jesus did not come to bring peace to earth. He came to hand deliver it to you and me. We must learn to pursue peace at all costs and stop allowing ourselves to get caught up in changing the world. We are not here to bring peace on earth. Our mission, or commission, is to give others the precious gift of grace that has been given to us and pursue peace with God and man stopping at nothing until it is secure.

 

To be at peace is an occupied place. To live in peace is to make it inclusive. How do I do that every day when problems, trials and tests pummel me? The Holy Spirit produces peace in us. (Galatians 5:22-23) I cannot make peace a provision in my life. It is given to me by the Lord. The Lord is our gladness. (Psalm 4:7-8) He gives peace and rest when we decide that He is our happiness and joy rather than looking for love in all the wrong places. We must choose to dwell in God’s Love and allow Him the time to develop something beautiful in the barrenness of our broken heart given to too many who acted carelessly with it. The world cannot take away this joy in the Lord because it didn’t give it to us.

 

The pursuit of peace is marked by repentance and obedience that hates sin as much as God does and turns from it willingly and readily to face the Lord more and more each day. As we turn our eyes to Jesus, we will begin to follow Him in obedience that will release peace like you have never known as one aligns their heart and mind with Him. (Psalm 37:37) Religion does not give us peace but a true relationship with Jesus Christ allows us to live there free from offense, judgment or condemnation. (Romans 14:16-19) Our relationship with the Lord allows us to live in peace with God and at peace with others. God’s Word produces peace in us. (Psalm 119:165) Through knowledge and understanding, it keeps us steadfast and strong. God keeps in perfect peace those whose mind is set on Him. (Isaiah 26:3) He must place our thoughts and attitude on the altar each day for His Careful Inspection in order to allow His Peace to flow in us and through us.

 

Finally, meekness produces peace in our life. As we lay down our life for others, His Peace rises up in us as we live like Jesus. Giving way to others and thinking of them before ourselves allows us to experience a peace that passes understanding that comes directly from the Father’s Love. By transferring our expectation from the earth and all its many people to Jesus Christ alone allows us to have that peace that passes all understanding. (Philippians 4:6-7) The kind of crazy peace that is not depended on our circumstances or the current condition of our life but remains confident in the hope that we have in the Lord. (Romans 15:13)

 

James 3:17-18 (NKJV) But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

 

Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the sons (and daughters) of God. Does peace prevail in your life today? Are you stressed out? Overwrought? Worried? Are sick and tired of being sick and tired? If so, the answer is no peace is not prevalent in such an existence. We have been given peace that passes all understanding in Jesus Christ. It is our gift from God produced plentifully by His Spirit in us along with very other spiritual fruit that we allow (yes allow) to be cultivated in our life.

 

You can have perfect peace today. It will cost you some things though. We must yield our way to the Way of Christ. Open our hearts and minds to His Will. He is our life. He will give us a rich and satisfying life that completes us if we will just give Him the mess that we have made of it. You are not going crazy. You have just lost your peace. It is easily regained the moment we repent and choose to make Jesus Lord of our life again. Peace with God is the only way to live a content and whole existence. It is our heart’s most inner desire to have freedom from all the stressors, worries and cares of life. Our confidence must be in Christ so that hope will allow joy and peace to rise up in us now and forevermore. That means that there will be some things that we do not understand and still must go through knowing that Jesus Christ is our Source of Life and has everything under complete control working all the details for our good! (Romans 8:28)

 

Are you pursuing peace today? You will find it when you pursue Jesus. I have heard it all before whose going to do it if I don’t? Or the reality is… The reality is that Jesus Christ is our peace…if we want Him to be. He will not force it on us but rather we accept it when we make Him our Savior and Lord. Jesus, please be my perfect peace as You have promised. Again, I put my trust in You!

 

Hebrews 13:20-21 (NKJV) Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

Go Therefore

Go Therefore

Matthew 28:18-20 (NKJV) And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

 

As a Christian, born-again believer and follower of Jesus Christ, we have one primary purpose that can be carried out any number of ways. We are to “go therefore and make disciples”. No really don’t laugh, shake your head or think that’s not me, because friend that is exactly the Call of Christ for each one of us. You don’t have to be a pastor, evangelist, priest, apostle, elder, deacon, teacher, usher, greeter or servant to apply. If you believe in Jesus Christ calling Him Savior AND Lord, it is your profound privilege to be a disciple and to disciple others as you have been.

 

The word “disciple” as a noun obviously points back to the original twelve who followed Jesus. In a broader sense, it means a person who is a pupil or an adherent of the doctrines of another. It means to be a follower. The word “disciple” as a verb means to teach or train. According to Barnhart and Klein, the word origin and history of disciple comes from the “discipere” meaning to grasp intellectually, analyze thoroughly or to take apart. I think this truly captures the difference between casual Christians and true disciples of Jesus Christ. Those who desire to tear about religion to get to the basis of a real and genuine relationship with Jesus. It does not stop there. We are to take this new and improved understanding of who Jesus is and share it with the world discipling others along the way.

 

The passage above is referred to as the Great Commission which means that it is not purely suggestive but a directive from Jesus after the Cross when He had assumed all authority over Heaven and earth. No longer in the flesh but fully in form of God – He commands us to “go therefore”. A commission is an authoritative order, charge or direction. He is granting us His Power for success if we fulfill His Direct Command. We must operate fully under the authority of Christ in order to live in alignment with Him and experience His Glory in our life.

 

Matthew 8:8-10 (NKJV) The centurion answered and said, “Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed, “Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!

 

The very first paper I ever wrote in Bible college was about the centurion. I love this story. It tells of a man who had all earthly authority but recognized an even greater power in his midst. He heard the stories of Jesus who carried God’s Authority. Sickness could not remain in His Presence, darkness had to flee in the Light of His Love, death was powerless against His Word, many sought after His Miracles but this man, the centurion, understood the Man. He could see the power in Jesus Christ and His God-Given Authority. The centurion respected it. He feared it. He understood how it worked and chose to operate in it.

 

After His Death, Burial and Resurrection, God gave His Son all authority over Heaven and earth. Jesus had overcome. Greater is He who lives in me than any other power or driving force in the world. There is not a king or kingdom greater than our Savior and Lord. He has given us this same power that brought Him out of the grave to do but one thing – “Go therefore…” The centurion did not need Jesus to “come” to his house, make a big show and dramatically “heal” his servant. No, he said this, “Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” Though not considered a disciple of Jesus Christ, this man understood God’s Authority. He was a man of earthly authority. His full understanding of authority made it possible for the soldier to take Jesus at His Word.

 

Do I take Jesus at His Word? Am I constantly seeking signs and wonders to supplement my weak faith? Do I understand, acknowledge and submit my life to Jesus Christ as Lord? See this is the very thing that allows us to be successful in accomplishing the Great Commission that Jesus has given us. I have been asked before how I find the time to write every single day. It really is simple. I set my alarm about two hours before I need to get ready for the day. It didn’t start out like that first it was thirty minutes but I began to run late so it was forty-five minutes and so on. I am now at a point where I am battling my flesh because truthfully I need a little more time. When I tell people what I do to make time, I have been told I could never do that. This breaks my heart. It reminds me of the kid who came to Christ asking what he must do to have eternal life. Jesus said first that he must obey all the commandments of the Law. He was religious and super excited to say that he had done that. Then Jesus asked him to sell all his possessions, give it to the poor, and follow Him. The young man left sad because he had so many things. What is keeping you where you are and locked in position? You know there is more and you want it, but have you decided the price of discipleship too high? Have you turned and walked away from Jesus unknowingly, selfishly saying, “Oh, I can’t do that.” To be a man or woman of faith and a disciple of Jesus Christ means that we must go therefore and make disciples.

 

Acts 2:36-39 (NKJV) “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”

 

We all have encountered the men and women who stand on the corner professing that “Jesus Saves” but seldom portraying the Lord as a Savior defined by love, mercy and grace but rather condemning each sinner as they pass by. Burdening them more with their sin than offering a solution. Jesus saves. He wants to be every man, woman and child’s Savior. He loves everyone even those with unimaginable and seemingly unpardonable sin. Sin is sin to God. It all required the life and blood of Jesus – His One and Only Precious Son. Our message to the world must never be that of condemnation or implication that their sin is any greater than our own. What I have to offer is a Savior and Lord because by His Grace I am saved! I have nothing to offer except Christ alone. Our message if of the Lord will “cut to the heart”. The Word of God is a two-edged sword. It is not our job or responsibility to save others just to go and disciple them.

 

What is the message of your life today? I am evaluating mine. Is the message of my mouth in alignment with God’s Heart? Do I speak words of love, grace and mercy to others? Am I a Light in the darkness or the one shoving them deeper? Our attitude and actions must affirm the Love that we have found and unearned grace that we are given in Jesus Christ. Baptism is nothing more than cold water and simple words unless a love worth changing for is found. You are God’s Ambassador to the earth. Are you truly representing His Kingdom or earthly religion? Does your message draw people to Christ or cause them to back away? Sobering. Defining. Cutting. To think about my representation of Christ every single day leaves much room for improvement, at least it does for me.

 

Matthew 5:18-20 (NKJV) For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.

 

There are many men and women today in pulpits around the world hosting mega ministries that will not allow people into their hula-hoop or the perimeter of their personal space. They are escorted in by a security team and covered by so-called armor bearers. They do not participate or interact with the congregation. People send in piles of money to these so-called teachers. There are many who hang on their every word. Some may even call them idols but less I digress and mettle just a little too much… However, when these poor helpless and ill-equipped people are home trying to live out their salvation and make Jesus the Lord of their life – they flounder and fall short. God is not working for them like the big-shot told them so they continue to struggle with disbelief, doubt, depression, discouragement until finally they are dissuaded and dissolve in the nameless and faceless crowd. We are not called to be lord of anything – Jesus called us to be disciples, teachers, leaders and lovers of mankind. This is not an elevated status but a total commitment to serving others now until His Kingdom comes.

 

“But whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” Are we teaching others? Are we instructing them properly? Is the message of our mouth consistent with the steps of our feet? Do we walk in God’s Love constantly aware of those around us and completely in the grace that we have been given? The Law has been fulfilled by Jesus Christ. We do not have to be perfect but patient in the process of redemption daily giving the Holy Spirit more real estate in our life and claiming Kingdom territory on the earth. Unless our righteousness is from Christ and not a form of religion, we will by no means enter the Kingdom. It matters how we live. Our message matters. Our lifestyle matters. Our purpose matters. Our calling matters. What we do with the blessing that God has given us in His Son Jesus Christ is absolutely influential in our entrance into His Kingdom!

 

Matthew 25:34-46 (NKJV) Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’ “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You?  Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’ “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’ “Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

 

“Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison and did not minister to You?” The King answered, “Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.” So what if…just what if? As we journey through life in an attempt to endure to the end and see Jesus face-to-face, perhaps indulge me but what it really isn’t all about me…what if it really is all about Jesus? Have I missed it? Have I walked right by the Lord in the hearts and minds of the hurting? Has the Holy Spirit nudged me to reach out and I have kept my arms folded? Have I missed my calling by ignoring all the people along the way? I can pray for those I love, like and even an enemy or two but if I do nothing to reach them am I really honoring Jesus, my Savior, Lord and soon coming King?

 

Discipleship is not a message from a pulpit, a teaching in a class or even a fancy production on television. It is a cup of coffee with someone who is struggling. It is holding the hand and hugging those who are hurting. It is telling them Jesus loves them when betrayal has broken them. It is consistently and committedly using our life and very existence to “go therefore” into the world to “make disciples”. In a world where texting replaces talking, communication is strictly on the computer, and all forms of interaction are being snipped and cut daily by the enemy, it is time to change all that.

 

Acts 2:44-47 (NKJV) Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.

 

I have been given authority by Jesus Christ. He is my Savior and I call Him Lord. What am I doing to follow His Command? I can find any number of righteous acts to follow in the Word of God beginning with the Ten Commandments. When Jesus died on the Cross, He stood in the gap for me and my inability to be perfect and sinless. I have been covered completely in His Grace with just one mandate – go therefore. Am I doing it? I want to be. I desire to live out the calling on my life as it leads to complete satisfaction. I must walk by faith and not by sight which means when others follow that they will find faith, too. The early church became filled with the Holy Spirit in Acts 2 and what happened next was not by mistake. They sold everything. They shared everything they had and met the needs of all people. They continued in one accord. Church – one accord. Together not tearing each other apart. They fellowshipped and shared life including the ups and downs together. The lived in freedom from religion in a relationship bound together by Jesus Christ. The Lord added to their church daily. How is your church today? Don’t blame them if you are not growing. We are the church not the building or group that we attend. Until we believe the Word of God enough to live God’s Way, nothing will change. When we do decide to give our Savior our whole life, He becomes our Lord. Things change when we begin to take God at His Word. What it doesn’t say in this passage is just how persecuted the early church was. Christians were beaten, tortured, and murdered for professing Christ to others. It didn’t stop them. They had a job to do. They were on a mission. They had a mandate. It was worth their life. How much is your relationship with Jesus to you? What is that thing that is just too much to give up to follow Christ? We all have it. By choosing to surrender all to Jesus Christ, our lifeless existence becomes a limitless life. Perhaps if we chose to go therefore instead of asking Him to come hither, we might get somewhere. Revival might break out. Our message might just be listened to when genuinely wrapped in true love and devotion to those we encounter every day. Miracles would happen just because someone…anyone chose to take God at His Word again. Come on. Get up. Become aware of your surroundings and the people around you. Make today the day that you say, “Send me, Lord.” Or perhaps just realize He is waiting for us to “go therefore.”

 

Ephesians 4:11-16 (NKJV) And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

Greater Things

Greater Things

 

I John 4:1-4 (NKJV)

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world. You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.

 

“He who is in you (and me) is greater than he who is in the world.” Do you believe this statement to be true? Before you answer, stop and think for a moment. Is God the Greatest influence in my life? Is the foremost thought in my head? Is He the One who I consider first? Go to first? Remain with until the bitter end? The power in our life is wrapped in freedom. The Lord has given us the right to decide how to live our life and who will be in control of it. To some this is a welcome comfort…at first. Until the struggle of faithful obedience in the midst of opposition and overwhelming opinions get the best of us. Maintaining one’s freedom in Jesus Christ is a full-time job. The beginning of this passage begins with the word “Beloved”, you are God’s Beloved. Jesus calls us “beloved”. We are loved. Love does not force itself on another but is offered and received. When I was not a believer given to Christ, I tried not to sin because I wasn’t supposed to. It was against the “rules” or the “Law”. Now that I am a born again believer completely in love with the Lord, I try to avoid sin because I love Him. I love Jesus and it was sin that nailed my One True Love – my first love – my Perfect Love to the Cross only after brutally torturing and abusing Him.

 

If there wasn’t some kind of struggle or even the smallest deception, these verses would not be necessary for our instruction. But in fact, they are more than needed in the Body of Christ today. We must believe God is Greater again. It must move from the Word of God into our heart and make its way back out of our mouth until our mind is convinced and soul assured that God is the Greatest Power and Influence in our life. He must be greater than every circumstance and problem. He must be greater than the lie of the enemy handed to us on a silver platter and perfect utensils. Even men and women of God in pulpits around the world have allowed the spirit of the antichrist to sneak into their churches. They say things completely contrary to the Word of God with people shouting, “Amen.” The man of God has been deemed greater than God himself. They twist God’s Word into a personal agenda that allows them to jet all over the world in fancy jets when men and women are dying in their sin while starving in poverty. I am not preaching a message of poverty or prosperity in the natural but pointing out the poverty of soul and prosperity that is purposeless. God is greater than all things. He is the One who we serve in love.

 

Mark 12:29-31 (NKJV)

Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.”

 

Having nice things is not a problem? Having a hard heart is most definitely problematic? Prospering financially is not a sin. Not at all. You reap what you sow. Those who are careful with their planting will be copious in their harvest – no matter what that may be. Honor the Lord obediently tithing and giving offerings to Him – your barns will increase and silos overflow if generosity opens your heart to do so in love. See it’s not what we have or do not have in life that affords generosity but the condition of one’s heart.

 

The first commandment is to love the Lord God with all my heart, my soul, my mind, and my strength. The second one is to love others as I do myself. These are the two greatest commandments. We can do nothing apart from our love for God and other people. To properly love the Lord requires unconditional and gracious love for others beyond what is humanly capable. We think it is okay to wait until they “deserve” our love rather than showing “unearned grace” to them. When we love God – He fills our life with His Grace so we can love others like ourselves. We cannot love others from the empty silo of self because the Love of God is covered with His Grace. So you see to love God justly is to love others. To love others properly requires full acceptance and assurance of God’s Love.

 

John 15:12-13 (NKJV)

This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.

 

Yesterday afternoon, I was sitting on the couch conversing with our kids via text message, when another text popped up from a young lady we know. Her husband and our oldest son are best friends. He is deployed currently. She is a young mother with a precious little one who feeds my grandma need until my own children are ready to give me some. She was not feeling well and wanted to know if would like some “toddler time”. At first, I sighed on the inside. We had a busy weekend. The week had already proven challenging. However, I could feel my heart tugging to give her some rest. I love these kids. I am thankful for the sacrifice that he makes to ensure my ongoing freedom and national security. How could I say no? Not to mention, their little boy is precious and awesome. Driving home, our daughter was singing praise songs with him in the backseat as he sang and clapped his hands, too. My heart began to burst within me. What a blessing!

 

This was a small sacrifice of my time that would yield a full and satisfied heart. Loving others is not verbiage but action. To offer help without hands is a lie. To give your life without your heart is not complete. See we must learn to love others with our life to experience the greater things that God has promised us. Greater love has no man than this to lay down his life for his friends. Is the Greater in you making it into the world today? Are you filled to overflowing but afraid to release it? To have the greater things of God we must be filled with the Greatness of God. His Glory. His Spirit. His Son Jesus Christ who is our example laid down His Life so we would be free to give our life away to others without any expectation other than that which comes from the Greatest Love of all.

 

John 10:28-30 (NKJV)

And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and My Father are one.

 

Could it be that we are not experiencing the Glory of God because we do not believe in the Greatness of God? I give them eternal life. Awesome. But do we believe it? Do I believe that even in death God is still greater? Good question. The fruit of my life demonstrates the God in me. To live out in the open as a living sacrifice means giving my life away. I can only do so if I believe that “no one is able to snatch” me from God’s Hand. My guard goes down when confidence in God’s Love and Grace goes up. How can I be sure that there is more to life than this? How do I stretch my faith to assume my identity as a Child of God full of love and grace to be poured out as Light to a dark and dying world? You must believe that God is greater than anything you come against in this life.  John 15:19-20 tells us that those who decide to follow Christ are asking for it! The world will hate you immediately. People will persecute you for loving unconditionally. Demonstrating the weakness that releases God’s Power will make you a walking target. Are you ready for that? You can be. God is greater. His Power over sin and darkness complete. All you and I must do is believe it and live in the Greatness of God.

 

Mark 4:30-32 (NKJV)

Then He said, “To what shall we liken the kingdom of God? Or with what parable shall we picture it? It is like a mustard seed which, when it is sown on the ground, is smaller than all the seeds on earth; but when it is sown, it grows up and becomes greater than all herbs, and shoots out large branches, so that the birds of the air may nest under its shade.”

 

To believe one must have faith in God. We must know God more to invest more faith in His Character and Promises. God’s Word is the seed that must be continually and consistently sown in the life that is ready to give itself away or we have nothing to offer. God’s Word is the seed of life that bears the promise of unconditional love and unmerited favor in our life. Jesus is the Word of God who wrapped Himself in flesh to carry out the requirement of love to hand us forever. When we take the Word and bury it in our heart and wrap our mind up in it, there is a transformation subtle but steadfast. We begin to recognize that God is in us and that He is with us. His Power begins to rise up in us and those willing to live will experience it. Fulfillment of faith creates a resting place for others in our life. The giving of our love is made complete in faith as other “birds of the air may nest under its shade.”

 

I John 3:19-21 (NKJV)

And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him. For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God.

 

Faith must grow in our heart. Our heart and mind must become convinced that God is the greatest driving force of all time. We must believe. God is greater than our heart. Our heart is a fickle organ that loves the Lord one day and loves self more the next. It is truthful to say that our lives are inconsistent because one day we love God perhaps we could call that Sunday and the occasional Wednesday then love ourselves the other five days of the week. We wonder where God’s Power is hiding in our life. It is hidden under the lack of commitment and ignorance of God’s Character that we are hidden in. The secret holding cells of life who can’t decide who is greater.

 

Haggai 2:9 (NKJV)

‘The glory of this latter temple shall be greater than the former,’ says the Lord of hosts. ‘And in this place I will give peace,’ says the Lord of hosts.”

 

Hebrews 9:11-12 (NKJV)

But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.

 

It is time to decide that God is greater. In the book of Haggai, the people are foretold of the glory of the latter temple. We are that temple made up of living stones. Christ is the cornerstone. There are a whole lot of criminals with the tattoo, “God is my judge.” People declare it when making poor choices to avoid the condemnation of others. I agree with every one of them. But I also concur that if they truly believed what they were saying that fear alone would cause them to change their attitude and actions in this life to prepare for eternal life. God is our judge. Jesus is the Grace I need to escape the punishment that I deserve and the One to whom God defers His Judgment. (John 5:19-23) I can find peace in that statement when I live according to my belief that the Lord is my judge and Jesus He is my escape from prosecution. I am delivered by believing God’s Word is true and living according to my faith. You will live what you believe. We have been given the promise to build the greatest temple ever known. By faith I commit my life to this process, only fear can drive me away. Fear comes when I doubt God is greater than anything or anyone I encounter who challenges my faith that is not securely attached to my belief that God is definitely greater than anything I may face. He is. It doesn’t matter if I believe in His Greatness or not – God is the Great I Am. My whole role is what I am willing to do with the gift of Grace that I have been given. Will I allow the Lord to take my life and build it into something greater?

 

John 14:12-14 (NKJV)

“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask[a] anything in My name, I will do it.

 

Do you believe that God is greater than anything else in your life? Do you believe that He is bigger and stronger than any giant that you face? What we believe is the conduit of what we live! If you live in fear and doubt, then disbelief is apparent. God is greater than how we feel. Knowledge of God will kill ignorance and allow us to grow in the Grace and Love of God through understanding. This understanding turned into wisdom allows us to be built into the latter day temple promised in Haggai. It has not arrived yet. The sanctuaries are beautifully filled with stagnant life. We must open the doors and windows to allow the Love of God to pour out and illuminate the world otherwise we have nothing to offer. I believe that we can do greater works. I believe that God’s Purpose for the latter day church is immeasurable outpouring of love, care and concern that will promote the acceptance of God’s Unconditional Love and Unending Grace. It will produce fruitful lives rather than the barren orchards all around us.

 

In Zechariah 12:7-8, it talks about Judah. Judah means “praise.” It says that the Lord will save the tents of “Judah” first. Why? So the Glory of God will be great. I want to experience greater things and this happens when I praise. When I remind my heart that God is greater and can put it back together each time it is broken to be bigger, stronger and better than before. It tells my mind that I have the Mind of Christ so that nagging problem threatening to spark worry and despair is quenched by the watering of God’s Word. I must remind my soul daily that God is greater than anything I can say or do to offend and hurt my Lord. I just have to remember that God is greater and learn to live like it. Test the spirits in your life. Compare each thought to the Word of God and weed out the lies being sown in your life. God is greater. Greater is He who is in you. You will overcome just by believing in and living according to the Greatness of Your Father wrapped in the Love of the Son guided by His Spirit from glory to glory until forever comes!

 

I Chronicles 29:11 (NKJV)

Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, the power and the glory, the victory and the majesty; for all that is in heaven and in earth is Yours; Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and You are exalted as head over all.

Priceless Pearls

Priceless Pearls

Matthew 13:45-46 (NKJV)

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.”

 

There are those days when irritation seems inevitable. Our patience are tried by people and every other process and production of life. Even in our Christian walk, there are those moments when the pressure seems too great a price and the pain too much to bear to take another step. Just before breakthrough is the time when the enemy offers the most opportunities to quit, give in or walk away just to have some relief. The idea of throwing up our hands turning and walking away seems so inviting yet deep within us there is that still small voice telling us to watch, wait and pray. There was a merchant seeking beautiful pearls. He was not just looking to turn a quick profit. His intent was to find the most expensive and exquisite pearl. The pearl of great price. He was looking for the most priceless pearl to be his treasure. When he found it, he didn’t balk at the price but committed everything to have it. He went and sold ALL THAT HE HAD and bought it.

 

The Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant, not the pearl. It is the passionate pursuit of Christ as our treasure not just to gain entrance into Heaven that we are after…sometimes we forget. We desire the things of Heaven rather than the Kingdom itself. God’s Glory fills the Kingdom. It is illuminated by Jesus. He is the treasure of Heaven. Eternity is hidden deep in our heart so that we may pursue Him with passion and purpose. The Lord desires us. We are God’s Treasure. He seeks us with every bit of passion if not more implied in this parable of the Pearl of Great Price. Jesus paid it all to have us. Will we do the same for Him?

 

James 1:2-4 (NKJV)

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

 

The process of pearl production is not elaborate in nature. In fact, I can absolutely relate to the process. It is much like the process of patience born within us during times of perseverance and persistence beyond the pressure, pain and problems of life. An oyster is not a complex creature by any means yet produces a valuable treasure. As an oyster grows, its shell must grow also. The “mantle” within the shell secrets the substance that enlarges the shell to accommodate the growing and changing mollusk inside. If a foreign substance becomes lodged between the mantle and shell, the oyster will begin to produce nacre to cover the offensive intrusion. It is like a thorn or splinter that becomes lodged in it causing irritation and as the oyster works to stop the irritation a pearl begins to form. The average pearl takes about two years. A pearl of great price takes about five to seven years to mature. It is through a process of irritation that a masterpiece and treasure is formed inside an otherwise basic organism.

 

Count it all joy when you fall into various trials. What is irritating you today? No, seriously what is the thorn in your flesh or splinter in your finger that is not killing you but nagging at you day and night. The Lord allows us to be irritated on purpose. I knew it – you say. Not because He is mad at us or punishing us in any way. God created us with purpose. He has a plan with a future and hope that we cannot produce naturally but must be instigated in us. God allows discomfort to produce the purpose hidden under comfort, complacency and compromise. Ever say, “Why me?” Because God loves you too much to allow you to be anything less than the masterpiece that He designed you to be. He will produce pressure in our life to motivate us to move from our current situation into His Glory. The testing of our faith produces patience. The Lord does not gauge our process by our cries and complaints, it is all based on the purpose hidden in our heart trying to get out. The perfect work of patience is completion. Jesus will not leave you lacking or incomplete. He designed us to be perfect and complete lacking nothing. Is that you today? Are you completely satisfied with your life? Are you lacking nothing? If not, press in, be patient, and by all means do not give up due to the minor irritation.

 

Matthew 7:6-8 (NKJV)

“Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces. “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.”

 

Are you casting your pearls before swine today? There is only one source of complete validation and purpose in our life. It is Jesus Christ. The Word of God planted in our heart must have time to couple with purpose and grow into God’s Plan. The world demands immediate gratification but Jesus said, “The one who endures to the end will be saved.” Do I want it right now or do I want forever? It is our choice if we live for today or if pursue forever. God does not force His Plan and Purpose on us but simply gives it to us along with enough grace to see it come to pass despite our human weakness and natural inability to finish what “we” start.

 

Ask and it will be given. When our son needed a bone marrow transplant to beat cancer, the insurance company denied us more than Peter did Jesus. Door after door slammed in our face. Rejection letter after rejection letter crumpled in the trash. I heard “I’m sorry” more than grieving widow or Catholic priest. But that didn’t cut it for me. My son was dying. Jesus told me that he would live and not die. The world was not lining up with God’s Word. I had to choose who I believed. Was there ever really a choice? I knocked until knocking turned to pounding over and over again. When I had exhausted every effort, I went to the Throne Room of God boldly yet broken. I remember it like it was yesterday. My strength was gone. I had done everything I could possibly do. I had exhausted all effort. All I had was this teeny, tiny promise given to me on my knees in a filthy bathroom. It started like a banner announcing the Grand Marshall of a parade. Now it was as small as a tiny fortune from a Chinese cookie held in desperation. I said, “You said that he would live and not die. Jesus, I am still holding on the promise. The rest is up to you.” End of prayer. End of me. Everything on the line for Jesus.

 

Have you stopped reaching? Are you no longer knocking? Have you forgotten His Promise? Have you walked away from purpose? Are you irritated? A bit agitated? Downright done? Do you have a thorn in your flesh today? If so, I have awesome news.

 

2 Corinthians 12:8-10 (NKJV)

Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My Grace is sufficient for you, for My Strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

 

The world abhors weakness as it represents dying flesh. The Spirit flourishes in our weakness. Paul says in verse 7 right before this famous passage, “A thorn was given to me, a messenger of satan to buffet me…” Can the “thorn” in our flesh really be God’s Way of producing “priceless pearls” in us? Absolutely. If a pearl is purpose, it will require some irritation in order to produce patience in us. The mantle over us is our spiritual covering in Christ available by His Grace which is freely given to us. As it begins to cover those irritants and by choosing to wait for God’s Process to be complete, we allow something priceless to emerge. The masterpiece eluded to in Ephesians 2:8-10 that is created by His Grace when He saved us and grows by faith and confidence in His Plan and Purpose for us. It is not something we can do or build but is the working of God in us by His Spirit and the Truth. It is this mantle of grace that takes every grainy irritant in life and allows the Lord to makes something marvelous and beautiful out of it. This solidifies the truth that all things work together for our good. (Romans 8:28) Our mantle came from the Father and was handed down to the Son just like Elijah gave Elisha his mantle with the warning that Elisha had asked a hard thing in requesting a double portion of God’s Power. The more of the Kingdom that you desire the greater the irritation and pressure it will cause in our life. Those who press in, press through and are patient under pressure will produce something of great worth with a life that was ordinary making it extraordinary.

 

Ephesians 2:8-10 (NKJV)

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

 

You are God’s Workmanship, His Handiwork and His Masterpiece. He created you with purpose, a future and a hope that sin tried to strip from you. He gave us grace in His Son, Jesus Christ who saved us when we put all our faith, hope and love into pursuing Him. I can do nothing to make my life any better than what it is outside of Jesus. I am capable of making better choices but have no idea how to be complete lacking no good thing. Anything good or even great that I can do or be is because of Christ in me. It means there will be pain, pressure and problems in order to create the irritation that I need to motivate change. Otherwise, I would gladly remain in the comfortable place of compromise and complacency because I am human. God loves me too much to leave me like that…

 

The largest naturally formed pearl ever found is the Pearl of Lao Tzu. It measures 9.45 inches and weighs a whopping 14 pounds. Put that on your necklace and wear it. It is worth $3.5 million. If you look at it, it is not round or perfectly shaped and suited for jewelry. Yet it is the pearl of greatest price in the world today. I wonder if sometimes we look at ourselves according to the world’s superficial standards rather than understanding it is the work within us that makes our life successful. I am a bit irritated today as I watch and wait for the next phase of God’s Promise to unfold. He gave me His Word yet again, and I am gripping it in my hand refusing to let go. I cannot judge my process by the world’s projections. It is not up to anyone else or even me to complete me – it is the work of grace becoming the mantle of my life. If I refuse to give up, press in and persevere, every promise will be mine. I will have the pearl of great price. I will find my treasure. He will fulfill my purpose and make me His Masterpiece. His Name is Jesus.

 

2 Thessalonians 3:5 (NKJV)

Now may the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the patience of Christ.

Head Games

Head Games

Psalm 61:1-4 (NKJV)

Hear my cry, O God; attend to my prayer. From the end of the earth I will cry to You, when my heart is overwhelmed; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For You have been a shelter for me, a strong tower from the enemy. I will abide in Your tabernacle forever; I will trust in the shelter of Your wings.

 

It happens in an instant. Without any fanfare or a grand announcement, running the race well and then we trip and stumble falling headlong into fear becoming overwhelmed. At least, this is how it works in my life? O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified?” (Galatians 6:1) Sometimes when I find myself suddenly overwhelmed by a decision or problem, I begin to pray and hear this verse in my head. O foolish _________! You can put your name in there too if you would like because no matter how strong we are as a person or deeply one abides in Christ without carefully and constant focus on Christ – anyone can be a victim of becoming overwhelmed.

 

I know that I am a Child of God. I know that God loves me. I know that Christ lives in me. I have faith that I am actively trying to grow into a mustard seed and hope that is being refined and hammered into a mighty anchor for my soul. I am crucified with Christ striving to live in Him and become a new creation. There are many things that I know and believe about the Lord. The enemy hates that about me. Every thought turned to the Lord, every idea that He is all I need, and every single grain of truth no bigger than a piece of sand, God is creating a pearl of wisdom that will be my wealth is coveted by the enemy. The more I want to know Jesus and be like Him, the more the enemy will look for a way into my mind. He tries to wiggle into my thoughts. He wants to overtake me pulling me from meditating on Jesus to worrying about his next attack. Greater is Who is in me than he that is in the world. Help me Lord when I am overwhelmed.
It happened in an instant. I didn’t see it coming. It hit me hard. To be overwhelm is to overcome completely in mind or feeling. To be overtaken is for that thing to actually catch up with us. There is a difference. We must identify those things that tend to overwhelm us and deal harshly with them to protect our heart and soul. When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock that is higher than I. Lead me to THE rock. Jesus is THE rock. He is the rock or cornerstone of one’s salvation. Lead me to THE rock that IS higher than I. Sometimes if we can just step up on something higher than we can see a little more or a little farther.

 

2 Corinthians 10:4-6 (NKJV)

For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.

 

We are equipped in warfare for pulling down strongholds. Casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against what – the Knowledge of God. Thoughts and feelings. As Joyce Meyer has identified clearly the battlefield is our mind. What we think and know about Christ makes all the difference in our success and failure pursuing the Lord. Carnal means flesh. It is merely human. The mind is powerful in our pursuit of Christ. To know Him and make Him known relies on one’s complete conviction and utter commitment to the Truth and Word of God whose Name is Jesus. Jesus is the Word of God wrapped in flesh to live among us.

 

I must bring every thought into captivity and obedience to Christ in order to escape becoming overwhelmed and quickly overtaken. The enemy is subtle in his approach. He is powerless against God’s People and cannot use force. He must simply offer a lie. We choose whether or not we accept it or allow it to permeate our thoughts, consume our mind and infect our heart.

 

Psalm 55:3-5 (NKJV)

Because of the voice of the enemy, because of the oppression of the wicked; for they bring down trouble upon me, and in wrath they hate me. My heart is severely pained within me, and the terrors of death have fallen upon me. Fearfulness and trembling have come upon me, and horror has overwhelmed me.

 

Because the voice of the enemy…the enemy is constantly offering God’s People shortcuts, substitutions, options, and lies. Baiting God’s People with so-called truth that is nothing more than a bold faced lie. Fear causes us to become overwhelmed. Fear is created by a lack of knowledge of the Truth that makes a lie seem possible and probable in our life. Even those who live in love with Jesus bound to His Truth must work diligently to keep ahead of the enemy and his agenda. What is the voice of the enemy telling you today? Jesus said that His Sheep know His Voice. We know His Voice by listening to Him speak, reading His Word, meditating on it, studying it and allowing the Holy Spirit to write it on our hearts. We must know who is talking to us to know how to rightfully respond.

 

Psalm 143:3-4 (NKJV)

For the enemy has persecuted my soul; he has crushed my life to the ground; He has made me dwell in darkness, like those who have long been dead. Therefore my spirit is overwhelmed within me; my heart within me is distressed.

 

Fear is a head game that overwhelms our heart and mind. It tells us things that are contrary to God’s Word, Will and Way yet appeals to our base nature and commanding flesh. Hence why it is important to crucify our flesh daily dragging it to the Cross and into submission. I Peter 5:8 tells us to “be sober and be vigilant.” Sober means to be habitually temperate or self-restrained. Discipline is absolutely necessary to maintain a solid connection to Christ. The Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness and produces self-control in us which aids in our sobriety. To be vigilant means to be keenly watchful and to keenly detect danger. Why? Because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Your enemy is seeking those who he “MAY” devour. It is not a can or will here but may. The enemy is looking for an access point in your thoughts, ideas and feelings to come in and offer you fear rather than faith or hope. When you take that thought or idea and wrap it up in feelings, suddenly you find a heavy oppressive weight of bondage. Once inside our mind, it wreaks havoc on our thoughts producing in our mind things that are contrary to God’s Word that we allow to come into our heart until we are overwhelmed and not it begins to chip away at our heart.

 

John 12:35-36 (NKJV)

Then Jesus said to them, “A little while longer the light is with you. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you; he who walks in darkness does not know where he is going. While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.” These things Jesus spoke, and departed, and was hidden from them.

 

The same thing you see in the light exist in the dark. The only difference is when there is light you can see and avoid certain things. I, for one, am not a proponent of those things that go bump in the night. I do not like the things that swim under my legs and around my feet in the ocean either just to keep the record straight. We are Children of the Light. (Ephesians 5:8) Jesus is the Light of the world who promised that those who follow Him will never walk in darkness again. (John 8:12) We are to be the Light of the world. (Matthew 5:14) So therefore, the darkness cannot overtake us (I Thessalonians 5:3-4) but it can overwhelm us if we are not careful.

 

Psalm 91:1-9 (NKJV)

He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.” Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the perilous pestilence. He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler. You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, nor of the arrow that flies by day, nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday. A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand; but it shall not come near you. Only with your eyes shall you look, and see the reward of the wicked. Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge, even the Most High, your dwelling place…

 

Those who dwell in the secret place of the Most High will live in the shadow of the Almighty. When we decide to trust the Lord rather than listen to the lie of the enemy – it is a truthful response. It is not always an easy one. It means moving just above how we feel or what we think to stand on His Promise even though we cannot see it. We are fully empowered by God. He has given us weapons to combat the enemy and be victorious. However, we are our own worst enemy sometimes…

 

Perfect love is supposed to cast out all of our fear. (I John 4:18) Why do we still fear? God has not given us the spirit of fear but of a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7) Fear is bondage that makes us forget who we are and the power we possess. (Romans 8:15) My children are not afraid of me because they are scared that I will harm them. No, of course not. The respect me as their mom and would not want to cause strife or separation in our relationship by doing things they know are wrong. Now what they believe for themselves and what I believe may be different, the Truth will prevail. Most people will strive for a relationship before being right all the time. But bondage and slavery does not represent any kind of familial relationship at all. God has not given His Children the spirit of fear so when it comes it is to be discredited and disregarded as not from the Father at all. We are given the privilege of living in our Father’s Presence victoriously in His Love. Do not let anyone or anything convince you of something different or the lie will overtake you and you will be overwhelmed. If we do not discard doubt and anxious thoughts, we will soon be overtaken by a senseless worthless lie. It’s all a head game created by the enemy to convince us that God is not a good father and does not love us at all.

 

I John 3:19-21 (NKJV)

And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him. For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God.

 

Jesus tells us that if we know the Truth that it will set us free. Jesus is the Word of God. We must know Jesus. Not of Him, but know who He is and allow Him to be that to us right here and now. It matters how we live. The life we live represents our belief system and moral values. To live in depression, anxiety and despair is evidence of hopelessness rather than the hope that doesn’t disappoint. God is greater than how we feel. God’s Purpose in us is much larger than we are and takes us higher than we are comfortable going. If we take a moment even a second to glance down, we are in danger of being overtaken because we become overwhelmed.

 

Many years ago, my husband and I went on a vacation. We went parasailing. They pulled us behind a boat with a large balloon attached. Soon we were high above the water and could see for miles and miles. It was breathtakingly beautiful. Then the boat slowed down as we began our descent. Fear overtook me instantly as I saw the deep blue sea and realized that once I hit the water for several minutes I would be helpless in the ocean until the boat could circle around to get us.  I don’t like the ocean. I have seen Jaws one too many times. It wasn’t what I could see that frightened me but what I could not see. Following Jesus with our eyes firmly fixed on the Lord, we go higher, farther, deeper and even wider in His Love until the moment that we look down, ahead, behind or all around and begin to see the “reality” of things. It sucks the life and hope right out and we become overwhelmed by worry, fear and anxiety as if the Lord somehow lost control. The quick remedy is to turn your face, heart and mind back to Jesus. We can only win the head games of life if we know the God we serve and love. We must study and mediate on God’s Word so when the enemy twists and turns into a lie – we immediately know because we know God’s Voice.

 

Are you overwhelmed today? God is greater than your feelings, emotions, and circumstance. Are you afraid? Dive deeper in His Love today and your fear will dissipate. Step into His Presence if the enemy has you on the run. Your God is greater and stronger, He will take care of it. Ask the Lord and He will give you His Mind. The peace that comes with it is far from understanding and will guard your heart forever. Amen.

 

I John 4:18 (NKJV)

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.

 

I Corinthians 2:16 (NKJV)

For “who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

Latter Days

Latter Days

Proverbs 19:20-21 (NKJV)

Listen to counsel and receive instruction, that you may be wise in your latter days. There are many plans in a man’s heart, nevertheless the Lord’s counsel—that will stand.

 

The big 5-0 is finally here. Would it be safe to say that I am entering my latter days? The reality of it truly hit me last night at my surprise party. My husband and children along with sweet friends managed to pull one over on me. They really did an amazing job. So well, in fact, that I think I must keep a closer eye on all of them in the future. The reality of it all came last night looking at the beautiful birthday cake that turned out to be divine. Getting ready for everyone to sing the “Happy Birthday” song, I read the message on lavish icing. “Happy 50th Lori!” I am not senile or suffering from any form of dementia. I did not forget the day or my age. But in that moment, it all became real. I am fifty years old. How did it happen? Where did half a century go? What will I do with the rest of my days? My thoughts were drowned out by several renditions of well wishes. My ponderings tucked away in my fully overflowing heart. Until today…as I begin the latter days.

 

Lord, let me be wise in my latter days. Who has regrets about the past? Who has ever looked back at years squandering hoping for restoration? Time is the most precious commodity that we are given. Once a moment passes, it cannot be regained or relived. This makes it valuable and worthwhile. Listen to counsel and receive instruction. No longer a child yearning for freedom, I have freedom in Jesus Christ. This is a beautiful freedom hard won and everlasting. Jesus paid the ultimate sacrifice for my life. In Him is the counsel and instruction that I need to be wise in my latter days. Lord, give me wisdom in each step and revelation in each breath. Let knowledge of you blossom and bloom into a deeper relationship with you. Jesus, help me to enter the promise of latter days today and every day for the rest of my life.

 

Job 42:11-12 (NKJV)

Then all his brothers, all his sisters, and all those who had been his acquaintances before, came to him and ate food with him in his house; and they consoled him and comforted him for all the adversity that the Lord had brought upon him. Each one gave him a piece of silver and each a ring of gold. Now the Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning…

 

Job 42:16-17 (NKJV)

After this Job lived one hundred and forty years, and saw his children and grandchildren for four generations. So Job died, old and full of days.

 

What have I learned in all these years? The Lord is good. He is worthy of my praise. He is a good, good Father just like the song says. His Grace is more than sufficient for me. I am weak but He is strong. I have felt the peace that passes all understanding and the inexpressible joy that cannot be explained. I found these golden nuggets of wisdom in the rough terrain of life. Whether I was struggling up the rough side of a mountain or crawling through the valley, the Lord has been with me. Life is hard. People change. Nothing in life is dependable but my God is faithful. Tomorrow is certainly not promised so we must live out each day. I have discovered that most of the “majors” really are minors vying for too much time and attention. The good do die young. Not every story has a happy ending. There is heartache in every happy ending. Experience is the very best teacher and it is okay to taste and see that the Lord is good. I could keep on with these bits and pieces of revelation but the truth is that each one applies to me and my understanding of life.

 

Life is filled with ups and downs – days we do and days we don’t understand the Plan and Will o God but must choose to remain in His Love. There is a harvest of hope that comes from great hardship. I have desired wisdom that comes in waiting even though I have never been a proponent of patience. Job endured a great hardship in his life losing everything of earthly value in a single day. The “things” that made him successful in man’s eyes quickly evaporated with the breath of each messenger. What did Job say? “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the Name of the Lord!” Today, it is my sound conviction and active confession that “blessed be the Name of the Lord forever.” The Word of God tells us that Job lived a long life, upon his departure that he was old and full of days. Filled to the uttermost is how I like to think of it. The Lord produced double for his trouble and it was according to God’s Glorious Standard right down to the details including things like his daughters being the most beautiful in the land. God fulfilled His Promise and Prophecy over Job’s life.

 

Job 8:5-7 (NKJV)

If you would earnestly seek God and make your supplication to the Almighty, if you were pure and upright, surely now He would awake for you, and prosper your rightful dwelling place. Though your beginning was small, yet your latter end would increase abundantly.

 

As I read this today, something inside my heart grabbed hold as if reading my own diary written before time began. The words of Bildad the Shuhite to his good friend, Job. His friends were convinced that Job had sinned against the Lord inviting wrath to destroy his life. Not the case at all, but rather God’s Plan painfully yet beautifully unfolding like the wings of a butterfly set free from the cocoon. I believe that Bildad’s words are prophetic to Job and even whisper now to my own heart. The message is simple and clear as I prepare to step into my latter days of life.

 

Seek God more earnestly than ever before. Pray more. I need to pray first. I need to pray often. I must not stop praying until I receive answers. Be pure. Take everything I know about the Lord and how I apply it to my life and run it through the Word of God one more time. Compare my life to His Example to imitate God more and the world less. I need to wake up and take notice that while I am not getting any younger – Jesus is definitely moving closer and coming sooner. I bloom where I am planted. Going after God is not a forward propelling motion but a deeply rooted love that is not moved in stormy weather and does not dry up in the midst of famine. Why? What’s the point? I’m over the hill. My life is halfway over. My youth is in the past. Not exactly.

 

Today, I hear these words so clearly. “Though your beginning was small, yet your latter end would increase abundantly.” It took 50 years for the Lord to mold and shape me for the days called latter. The harvest of hope that comes after long periods of waiting are just within my reach if I continue to lay hold of Jesus. Ecclesiastes 7:8 tells us that “the end of a thing is better than it’s beginning.” Just as Bildad prophesied his friend’s future, the Lord is speaking to me… or maybe to us that it is time to end starting and stopping. Stop excusing our youth, living in the past and forgetting about the future. Those who endure to the end are saved. The Lord has declared the former things from the beginning. (Isaiah 46:10) It is time to take hold of each promise and bind it to our life as a reminder that the best is yet to come. As we ready in Job 42, Job lived a full life. The best is yet to come.

I Corinthians 13:9-13 (NKJV)

For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

 

I have lived long enough to see that good things really do come to those who wait. Well placed expectation mixed with patience and perseverance pays off in prosperity and the fulfillment of God’s Promises. Looking back over the last fifty years at least as far as I can remember, I have felt this nudging in my heart that constantly keeps me on the verge of the sentiment that “there must be more to life than this”. This has been the drive of most of my spiritual walk. My salvation must produce more than I can see. My hope is just the tip of the iceberg. Hidden beneath is the magnitude of God’s Love for me. Every promise for my life is “yes” and “amen” in Christ Jesus. Not a single one has passed or is forgotten just waiting for its proper place in time.

 

I guess now would be as good a time as any to put away childish things, unimportant endeavors, and emotional interludes to take hold of God’s Plan and Purpose for my life. I believe that God is not only good but that He is good to me. He loves me. He would never set me up to fail. His Hope never ever leads to disappointment. Lord, thank you for your promises today every single one. The ones that I can see and the ones that will be coming. Let faith lead me into a future of boundless expectation and limitless purpose just because I believe. Nothing is ever wasted. God let all the seeds planted in my life give way to an abundant harvest. I know that I am stepping into my latter days. Thank you Lord! I see how far we have come together. Bind me to Your Side, humble me at Your Feet, keep my hand upon Your Heart and may my feet fall in step with You, God. Let me put away childish things for clearly I am no longer a child. Lord, let my life be so covered in love that all others see is You, Jesus. This best is yet to come. It is the latter days.

 

Ecclesiastes 3:11-13 (NKJV)

He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end. I know that nothing is better for them than to rejoice, and to do good in their lives, and also that every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor—it is the gift of God.

Law of Kindness

Law of Kindness

Proverbs 31:25-26 (NKJV)

Strength and honor are her clothing; she shall rejoice in time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and on her tongue is the law of kindness.

 

I love the Proverbs 31 woman. (Proverbs 31:10-31) For many years, I have completely identified with her due diligence. This woman sounds driven, motivated and hard working. Fiercely attentive to her family and a dedicated friend. She is socially minded and given to goodwill. She sounds like a Martha kind of gal who works from dawn until dusk caring for her family, maintaining her household and providing financial support. I think it is strangely ironic that as the passage progresses at verse 25 something begins to change. Like in life, it seems that with age she begins to mellow. She has knit a garment of strength and honor in the course of life and now she can rejoice in the rest that comes with such confidence. She opens her mouth that is now filled with wisdom. Experience can do that to a person. It takes all the ideas and notions that a person once had and wraps in the truth of reality and hopefully genuine faith. As I read about the virtuous wife today, I stopped at this quality “on her tongue is the law of kindness.” I hear my grandmother’s voice when my brother and I would argue and fuss. She would say, “Lori, you must be kind to your brother.”

 

Be kind to your brother…and sister. Is the Law of Kindness on the tip of my tongue today? I am challenged by this character trait as I desire to be a Proverbs 31 woman, wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend. Truth is kind when one is referring to Jesus. He is always kind. Am I? It has taken a great deal in life to slow me down my Martha-mentality. I desire to have a heart that is soft like Mary’s who would sit at the feet of Jesus even when life is crazy and chaotic. A co-worker came into the office obviously distraught. Her pain deep and raw with an unruly rebellious teenager. She had exhausted all efforts and now must lean toward drastic measures to insure the safety and well-being of her child. Sitting at her desk, her heart broke and I was there to listen. But as she began to release the built up sorrow and strong emotions, her words were filled with harsh profanity. As she continued, my heart absolutely broke for this young woman. She has overcome many challenges in life. She believes in God but does not know Jesus. I was that girl at one time. I knew of God but had not experienced His Love and Kindness so when my mouth opened – it was not the Law of Kindness that came tumbling out either. My heart is broken for this young woman and I know that there is a reason she is in my midst. I do not judge her for her words, but have become more aware of the change and sudden shift that Jesus has made in me. I am aware that many times I have lacked kindness and therefore withheld love in my vain attempts at right-standing with God. Choosing to do the right thing and say the right words, I missed it. Lord, take a coal from your altar today and touch my tongue. Holy Spirit, fill my heart with kindness so it reaches the tip of my tongue.

 

Galatians 5:22-23 (NKJV)

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

 

It is my firm belief that if it falls within the Fruit of the Holy Spirit that is not a naturally occurring product of life. We think that there is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control but humanly manufactured it fails quickly. To be completely satisfied in Jesus Christ, we must live a life of prosperity. Our prosperity is not financial but fruitful. Kindness is on the list. Therefore, I can be a good person and try to be kind but without the Lord it will not be a law that governs my life. I will choose who to love and have compassion for but that is not what Jesus asked us to do. He said to, “love one another.” It is not defined or specified even reaching as far as our enemies. How can we show loving kindness to the people we do not like when we cannot love the ones who we are with?

 

2 Peter 1:5-8 (NKJV)

But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.  For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Godliness produces kindness and kindness produces love. Without kindness in our heart and life, there is no love. Oh, I know what you are thinking…the truth hurts. No sin hurts and destroys. But love changes all that. It says that love covers a multitude of sins. “Covers” think of Noah when he became drunk and “uncovered” in the field. (Genesis 9) What did his sons do? They took a garment and walking backward him up. Their faces turned away so that they would not see their father’s nakedness. This is how the Lord covers us with His Love. He doesn’t come and remind us of our sin but covers it in compassion, kindness and love. Do we keep our head turned from those who sin and wander from the Lord? Do we “bless their heart” as a means to share their shortcomings and indiscretions with others? Or do we take the opportunity to “cover” them as Christ has covered us? Though our sins were once as scarlet, they are now as white as snow. I am challenged today by this law of kindness. I want to love others like Jesus. Kindness is an important part of my pursuit of a godly life.

 

Ephesians 2:4-7 (NKJV)

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

 

I have forgotten many times that the work of salvation and promise of change in me is nothing that I have facilitated. In fact, it was in complete brokenness that I discovered that only in my weaknesses do I find strength in Christ. The realization that I can do nothing apart from Him and that I cannot even love without His Spirit helps me to recognize that I am made alive in Jesus Christ. All my hard work, motivation and even all those good intentions did nothing to establish the righteousness that I live in and faith I have found. It is Jesus who raised me up. Not to look down at others but to share His Loving Kindness so they will be lifted up as well.

 

Titus 3:3-7 (NKJV)

For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

 

“For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.” (James 1:23-24) As I read the verse in Titus 3, this passage in James came flooding into my thoughts. This happens even to the strongest Christians sometimes. We forget. Plain and simple. I do not think it begins with maliciousness but certainly ends up there quickly. We see the masterpiece that the Lord is making of our life. The chains of bondage like fear, doubt, regret, shame and remorse fall off but if we are not careful the ugly face of pride will consume our humility. We speak the Word from our mouth but do not love others with our heart. It doesn’t matter what I say or do if it is not with kindness and love like Jesus loves me. We were “once” foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving lusts and worldly worthless pleasures like pride and conceit, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. But God… but Jesus… but the Holy Spirit covered me in love and kindness, saving me by His Grace. He is renewing me, restoring me and regenerating life through me or is He? Have I forgotten? Did I look in the mirror and somehow go back to the person who I used to be? The world establishes a hierarchy of sin that is simply not so. One sin nailed Jesus to the Cross and demanded every ounce of His Precious Blood. Just one. The one you committed and the one I committed even if done in the name of being right.

 

Jonah learned a hard lesson about kindness in the belly of the whale. Mad about the sins of others, he did not want to go and tell them of its destruction because he knew in his heart that the Lord would show them grace, mercy, love and kindness just as he had been given. It made him mad. (Jonah4:1-3) Do you get upset when you work so hard but others don’t yet still are blessed? Do you envy your brothers and sisters in Christ? Do you watch others sin and feel like they do not deserve the same grace because you try hard not to? Friends, it is because of the love and kindness that we have experienced in Jesus Christ that we choose not to offend our First Love with sin and betrayal. It has nothing to do with anyone else. The enemy wants us to fall back into the sin of unforgiveness and disregard for the state of others so He can rob us of the rich and satisfying life Jesus is giving us. Do not fall victim to his lies and deception. Allow the Lord to produce loving kindness in you today!

 

Colossians 3:12-13 (NKJV)

Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.

 

I am the elect of God. I am holy and beloved because Jesus showed me tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering with total and complete forgiveness. I must show these same qualities to others if my goal is to show them His Love and be His Light to the world. Have we forgotten just what the Lord has done for us? We have if we approach another human being with anything less than absolute love and kindness. If the words of our mouth do not come with the conviction in our heart that God’s Love can only be responded to in like kind. I have to give what I have been given to maintain it. To whom much is given much is required. Jesus died for me.

 

2 Corinthians 6:3 says, “we give no offense to anything, that our ministry will not be blamed.” You and I are ministers of the loving kindness that Jesus Christ has given us. When you look at the long list of violations against the early church, it is quite humbling considering we as believers have not undergone such volatile attacks. It gives a long list of “marks of ministry”. Tucked within these verses is the reminder that “by purity, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Spirit, by sincere love, by the Word of Truth, by the Power of God… and the list goes. We have been given so much. We must give it back in equal measure. I must not give offense to the Cause of Christ but bear the mark of ministry called kindness in each interaction. God has promised that His Kindness will be mine forever. (Isaiah 54:9-10) Whenever I turn to the Lord, I am always met with His Loving Kindness and nothing less than Unfailing and Relentless Love. What about those who come in contact with you? What is the offering of your life today? When people come to you, what is the gift that is given? Is there any sacrifice at all? We cannot slay others with truth because that is not what we have been given. Our patience cannot run out without questioning our own forgiveness in Christ. His Grace is enough… is ours for other people. Truth about God cannot be spoken without love and kindness or it is not the truth but a lie. Forgive me for all those times that I tried to deliver it outside of its intent to love and embrace others. Thank you Lord for reminding me today the important of kindness. Loving kindness is essential to be like you. Let the law of kindness be on my tongue, in my heart and radiate from my life today in Jesus Name.

 

Isaiah 54:9-10 (NKJV)

“For this is like the waters of Noah to Me; for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah would no longer cover the earth, so have I sworn that I would not be angry with you, nor rebuke you.  For the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed, but My kindness shall not depart from you, nor shall My covenant of peace be removed,” says the Lord, who has mercy on you.

Prisoner of Hope

Prisoner of Hope

Hebrews 6:17-20 (NKJV) Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath, that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.

 

Yesterday, I received a wonderful gift in the mail along with a small package wrapped in shiny paper with a bow. It was a packet of pictures from my grandmother’s 90th birthday party with a note “didn’t want to make you cry but knew you would want these.” How true! They are a treasure. As I looked at her smile as she is surrounded by her children, grandchildren and even great grandchildren – I cannot believe more than ten years have passed. I am just a couple of days from turning 50 years old myself and Gram would be 100 years old right now. I miss her today but not rob her the beauty and blessing of being with her Savior where she longed to be worshipping with her husband of 70 years on earth.

 

Among the pictures of my grandmother, there were some pictures of our kids. The little guy who would defend his country as an American soldier. The other little man who would battle a relentless disease before stepping into remission. The sweet little girl who would marry her prince riding off to a faraway place to win souls for Jesus Christ. The cute little beauty with her smiling face who has somehow blossomed into a radiant and godly young woman who will soon graduate high school to pursue with a passion the purpose hidden in her heart. And finally the baby who is not a baby anymore. I can feel her soft curls on my face, taste her chubby cheeks on my lips and feel the warmth of her little body falling asleep in my arms. She is now a teenager, too. Time passes too quickly. I am a bit nostalgic looking back over time. I have no shame or regret other than not falling in love with Jesus sooner and living for Him sooner. The passage of time brings tears to our eyes but for those who live in hope – it brings double.

 

The hope that anchors my soul is forged by fire into iron. Years of testing and trying have revealed it to be strong and immovable when I attach my life to it. The words regarding hope are “sure and steadfast”. It requires making an entrance into “the Presence behind the veil” to encounter Jesus. This morning as I pondered the fact that Gram would be double my age, I consider the place she is now. As I turn 50, I cannot help but ponder the future and hope of the next 50 years of my life or how ever there may be. What’s next? God says, “Double.” What? “It’s time for double for your trouble.” “Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath, that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us.” I am heir to a promise. The Lord has made an oath to me. In covenant with Jesus, it belongs to me. If I can find my way to hope, I will have it. No one can take it from me, if I refuse to let go. The Lord wants me to have strong consolation. Such a big word that means comfort and peace. Hope is the very thing that anchors our soul to the abundance of life that Jesus promised us.

 

John 10:10 (NKJV) The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

To every young person who is reading this today, your failure is not fatal and falling is not futile. Everyone makes mistakes and there is enough mercy to cover it by choosing to live in covenant with Jesus Christ. Put down the stick you are beating yourself with called guilt, shame and the worst of all regret. The Lord knows our plan and purpose along with every fault and weakness that we have. He has given us His Spirit as our advocate. He identifies us as Sons and Daughters of God giving us access directly into the Presence of God. Jesus came to give us life AND that we might have it abundantly. We obtain it be faith which is the substance or material evidence of hope. When we discover the hope that we have in Jesus, we become like prisoners who cannot be free outside of its full potential. We know that there is more so will endure to have it.

 

Zechariah 9:11-12 (NKJV) “As for you also, because of the blood of your covenant, I will set your prisoners free from the waterless pit. Return to the stronghold, you prisoners of hope. Even today I declare that I will restore double to you.”

 

During our son’s battle with cancer, I had to step into the realm of hope to survive because the reality of life surely would have killed me. In essence, I slowly but surely retreated into the Stronghold and Refuge called God. Only those who have had to go there understand this and even to those of us who do – it doesn’t always make sense. When life gets too hard is the moment people seek someone greater than themselves to give them hope and peace. For me, it was Jesus. It had to be the Lord. Naturally, it felt like I was losing everything. Time was passing by so quickly like wind through the pages of an open book. Treatment after treatment followed by diagnosis after diagnosis made the clock spin faster but the world did not wait for my son to win but rather took years of time that I cannot get back. I was exactly where I wanted to be, needed to be, and longed to be yet feeling like the price was so high and cost great. When one child crossed the finish line, another bird would fly from the nest. Lord, redeem my time. I prayed this so many times. His Answer just four short months after her beautiful wedding, our daughter would move 21 hours away. Lord, this is not the life I expected. This is not how your Word said that it would be. Where is the abundance of peace and joy that you promised? Where is the satisfaction? Yet in those moments of quiet inspection, slipping into a vortex of sadness and depression, firmly in my right hand I held an anchor called hope. It would make me endure. It would cause me not to quit. It would yield the greatest promise of all as I became its prisoner. Lord, there has to be more than this…

 

Job 42:8-10 (NKJV) Now therefore, take for yourselves seven bulls and seven rams, go to My servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and My servant Job shall pray for you. For I will accept him, lest I deal with you according to your folly; because you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has.” So Eliphaz the Temanite and Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite went and did as the Lord commanded them; for the Lord had accepted Job. And the Lord restored Job’s losses when he prayed for his friends. Indeed the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before.

 

Abraham had to leave his home and go to the mountain of sacrifice with his son. Joseph was betrayed by his brothers, left for dead, sold to slavery, and falsely accused. Moses was a murder and never stepped foot into the Promised Land yet he led the people to it. I can go on and on but you get the picture. God’s people are not exempt from hardship but are called to endure. Job was innocent yet put up for consideration by the enemy who would try to kill his heritage, plunder his wealth and attack his body. What was his response? “Naked I came from my mother’s womb and naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the Name of the Lord.” Job became a prisoner of hope. Just like so many before him from Daniel to Paul waiting on the Promise of God while facing terrible adversity yet never backing down or letting go.

 

In the middle of the journey with our son’s illness, I decided to get a tattoo. It was sometime after his first relapse around the first year mark. Another young man who we knew had just passed away, his family together went to get memorial tattoos honoring the life of their son and brother. It was at that point I decided that I would never get a memorial tattoo. The Lord had given me the promise that he would live and not die. But the world was beginning to wonder, so I began praying. Now I know that the church and religion still has a jury out about such things, but I know that the Lord allowed me to do this because there were days that I needed to see what this was all about again. I had to be reminded that it was by faith alone that he would make it to hope. When I look at my right wrist, I see the word “faith”. I am ashamed to admit that there were some tearful nights when I tried to rub it off vigorous as devastation tried to take my hope away. When you look at my wrist, you will see the word “hope”. Faith and hope are forever etched in my skin and written on my heart. I cannot live, breathe or survive outside of them.

 

When the trial in our life became lengthy, many people who walked with us would wander off. It’s hard to face something with another without fearing it will someday touch you. I am not sad and bitter that in the end only a few were still standing. No, not at all. I am not entirely sure it was not of the Lord’s doing as I read about Job and his friends. His annoying friends who gave him worthless advice and cast judgment all in the name of love. The Lord convicted them. They returned to Job. The Lord asked Job to forgive his farfetched friends and he did. Here’s what happened next – the Lord restored Job’s losses when he prayed for his friends. Indeed the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before.” Job received double for his trouble. The Lord is longing to do the same thing for all those who have struggled and strived to endure remaining faithful to the end. Theirs is the gift of abundance.

 

Isaiah 55:1-3 (NKJV) “Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance. Incline your ear, and come to Me. Hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you—the sure mercies of David.”

 

Exodus outlines the promise of double in our life as it talks about repayment. When a thief steals from the Children of God, the retribution is outlined in this chapter which says, “He shall restore double” (vs. 4), “he shall pay double” (vs.7), and “for any kind of trespass…he shall pay double. (vs.9) The thief owes you double for all of your trouble today. In I Samuel 1:4-6, it tells of Elkanah who loved Hannah and saw her abuse and mistreatment due to barrenness. The Word of God tells us that he gave her a double portion. When Elijah knew that the end of his days were nearing, he asked Elisha (his faithful follower) what he desired of his master. Elisha requested a double portion of Elijah’s anointing. The prophet told Elisha, “You have asked a hard thing.” (2 Kings 2:9-10) Do you see what is happening here? All of these people faced tremendous hardship yet still put their faith in the Lord and dared to hope beyond the reality of their life and natural condition in which they lived. They reached in deeper and grabbed on tighter refusing to let go. Even Jacob when he wrestled with the angel of the Lord received a handicap with his blessing. God loves you. He gave His Son, Jesus so that you and I could be called and identified as Children of the Living God. It takes faith to receive it and hope to maintain it. Hope that never leads to disappointment requires a process by which we endure yet dare to believe. This is what it means to be a prisoner of hope. When there is no natural reason to believe, we still cannot release the anchor of hope that holds tight to our soul.

 

Isaiah 61:6-7 (NKJV) But you shall be named the priests of the Lord, they shall call you the servants of our God. You shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, and in their glory you shall boast. Instead of your shame you shall have double honor, and instead of confusion they shall rejoice in their portion. Therefore in their land they shall possess double; everlasting joy shall be theirs.

 

Is your faith being tested today? Is your hope being challenged? Are you considering giving up as the wait has been too long? Welcome to the realm of hope, glad you made it because for some reason deep in your soul you haven’t given up or you wouldn’t be reading this right now. You are a Priest of the Lord. (I Peter 2:9) You are God’s Elect. You are a servant of God if Jesus is the Lord of your life. Do you cry out for His Kingdom to come on earth as it is in Heaven and mean it? Those who step into these important roles have provisionary promises that are coming directly to them as God works together every detail for our good and His Glory. (Romans 8:28) The Lord is working in us and through us to secure us to His Side forever. He is removing all guilt, regret and shame to fully restore and renew us. As our soul prospers – so will we. He has promised double honor and that we will possess double in their land. That is right here and right now. Do you believe it today? If things seem impossible than you are close to the breakthrough that you have been waiting for because the moment it is impossible – God makes it possible. All we have to do is believe. To become a prisoner of hope only released when His Goodness and Glory release us in fulfillment and satisfaction.

 

Hebrews 6:9-12 (NKJV) But, beloved, we are confident of better things concerning you, yes, things that accompany salvation, though we speak in this manner. For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister. And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

 

I love the word “beloved”. It makes me think of the intimate passage in Song of Solomon, “My beloved is mine.” The word “beloved” means greatly loved. My beloved is what Jesus calls us. He desires to have an intimate relationship with us. One that is ongoing and everlasting. Earthly relationships are not formed the same way. When love grows cold is customary to leave and find something or someone else to stir our passion and fan the flame of desire. Love is not that way in the Kingdom. It is called commitment. God loves us and committed His Son’s Life as testimony to it. Jesus loves us and endured a torturous death and entered the grave for us. All so that we could have hope of eternal life. The concept of double for your trouble is preached in many churches in regard to money and possession. Gold is walked on in Heaven. Wisdom in God is of the utmost worth. To know His Love, believe it and live in it as His Beloved offers us the full assurance of hope that He offers us. It gives us something to attach our faith to so that when we are tired, weary, worried and all alone – He becomes our comforter. Promises come by faith and patience. Tribulation produces perseverance (or patience), perseverance produces character, and character produces hope. (Romans 5:1-5) The hope produced in this process is promised to never, ever disappoint us. This is why I choose to live as a prisoner of hope knowing who the Son sets free is free indeed. Jesus promised a rich and satisfying life and I intend to have it. The blessing of the Lord makes us rich and adds no sorrow with it.

 

Psalm 36:7-8 (NKJV) How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your Wings. They are abundantly satisfied with the fullness of Your House, and You give them drink from the river of Your pleasures.

Good Deeds

Good Deeds

Matthew 5:15-16 (NLT)
No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.

There is a saying, “No good deed goes unpunished.” It means that people can try to do good things and still end up in a mess because quite frankly life is not fair. What we do and how we act is influenced by two factors: our flesh and the Holy Spirit. The outcome of our good deed is not always manifested in the earth and in fact can turn around and bite us. Hence there is a reluctance of people to get involved anymore. Several years ago, our home was invaded by thieves who helped themselves to whatever they wanted. The police officers began knocking on doors and speaking to all or our neighbors. One particular woman who lives across the street is a homemaker. My hopes that she had seen something during the robbery was immediately dashed when the officer indicated that she had not. Later, her husband arrived home and escorted his wife to our home where law enforcement was still investigating. She had witnessed the robbery and gave a description for the report. I can remember being aggravated with her for not coming forward before. She didn’t want to get involved. How many times does this happen in life simply because people believe that “no good deed goes unpunished.”

Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me. To understand the role of good deeds in our life is to first understand that they are important. The Fruit of the Spirit include kindness and goodness. How do we, as believers, effectively let (our) good deeds shine out for all to see SO THAT everyone will praise (our) Heavenly Father? Read it again. Let your good deeds shine out for all to see SO THAT everyone will praise your Heavenly Father. I love to do good things for other people. Even when I am warned by the people around me not to get involved or it’s no use, I still have to try. We all should do good deeds with it in mind that everything good comes from the Father (James 1:17) and apart from Jesus Christ there is nothing good in us (Romans 7:18).

Psalm 112:1-4 (NLT)
Praise the LORD! How joyful are those who fear the LORD and delight in obeying his commands. Their children will be successful everywhere; an entire generation of godly people will be blessed. They themselves will be wealthy, and their good deeds will last forever. Light shines in the darkness for the godly. They are generous, compassionate, and righteous.

We all start out with good intentions. True joy and delight come from respecting the Lord and demonstrating such regard through obedience. This allows the blessing of God to flow to us, through us and overflow from our life. We become successful as do our children. Generations will be blessed. Wealth will come and we will be rich without sorrow added to it. (Proverbs 10:22) Their good deeds will last forever. Light shines in the darkness for the godly and they are generous, compassionate and righteous.

Everything we do for the Lord should be wrapped in His Love and Grace. It must be born of generosity, compassion and according to our right relationship with the Lord. It is nothing we do but the goodness and favor released to us that improves our life. This does not mean that our good deeds will go unpunished as the saying goes for as we read further in Psalm 112, the truth is revealed. Those who fear the Lord and are obedient will still get bad news. (vs. 7) However, they do not have to fear it. They will still face frightening situations but they can remain fearless expecting victory. (vs. 8) The enemy and evildoers around us will be infuriated at the blessing of God in our life so we can expect opposition but know that nothing will come of them. (vs. 10) My life should reflect the goodness that I have found in the Lord – I can only do that effectively by living a life of respect before the Lord and obeying His Every Word to the best of my ability with the help of the Holy Spirit.

Matthew 6:1-4 (NLT)
Watch out! Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven. When you give to someone in need, don’t do as the hypocrites do—blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I tell you the truth, they have received all the reward they will ever get. But when you give to someone in need, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.

There is a Turkish tradition that became a rule of etiquette that says to never return an empty plate. When someone gives you a cake, pie or any other full plate – it should be returned in the same manner. This tradition resonates in the south and my grandmother shared it with me long ago. While this is an act of courtesy, it is also reciprocal in nature. Some people hate to feel like they owe something to someone or have been one up by another. When someone blesses us, we immediately desire to do the same for them either out of kindness or reciprocation. The truth is we can never reciprocate the love found in the Father and received through the Son. Our good deeds affect only humans. (Job 35:7-8) Every good deed is born of intent. What is your intentions today? It matters.

Do I want my good deeds to bring attention to me or to Jesus? We all must take the time to examine our heart throughout our Christian walk. If there is anything that we decide that God needs us to do or that Christ depends on us for, we have made a tragic mistake and our good deeds will not last forever. They will only reap earthy attention and worldly rewards because pride has taken over where faith once had been. This is the difference between the Martha’s and Mary’s in life. We can do nothing apart from Jesus Christ. He is our strength. His Spirit produces the goodness and kindness that shines out as generosity in our life. Give your gifts in private. When we serve the Lord in our homes, jobs and churches, it is important to inspect these acts of kindness for authenticity. If we seek public attention, praise or affirmation, we have fallen from grace and now operate in fear and pride. Every deed done outside of Christ is of no value or use in our life. It is just another worthless attempt to gain grace already given and love already obtained. When I try to reciprocate God’s Love, it is not what I do but what I allow Him to do through me. It is my offering.

Matthew 19:16-22 (NLT)
Someone came to Jesus with this question: “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” “Why ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. But to answer your question—if you want to receive eternal life, keep[b] the commandments.” “Which ones?” the man asked. And Jesus replied: “‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. Honor your father and mother. Love your neighbor as yourself.’” “I’ve obeyed all these commandments,” the young man replied. “What else must I do?” Jesus told him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” But when the young man heard this, he went away sad, for he had many possessions.

Almost two years ago, my birth mother died. As many others in today’s world, I have a birth mother and God-given mom. I had just returned from caring for our son during his transplant and just a week before my daughter’s wedding. It was a crazy time. My aunt called to tell me my mother had passed away. We had been estranged for more than a decade. I lost my mother to addiction. Alcohol devastated our relationship and ultimately took her life. At that time, I really didn’t have time to think about it just went through the motions which was pretty much how I lived during that time. I was empty. Completely poured out. Lately though, I have been thinking about her. I decided at a very young age that I would be nothing like my mother. I would devote my whole life to my children. Sounds noble, yes. It is not what the Lord calls us to do as believers. Yet, it is a good thing… a good deed if you will. Well, when death came calling for our son, I could not do anything in my power to overtake it. I could not make cancer go away. I could not take away his suffering and pain. I could not heal his body. I failed. My good deeds were not enough to save my dying son…but Jesus was.

It was never my intent to disobey the Lord in raising my children or allow them to take His Place. But sometimes our best intentions unravel when this world comes into play. The young man came to Jesus with good intentions. He wanted to do something to have eternal life. Jesus offered him religion and he gladly scooped it up. He could do that. When Jesus told him how to be perfect, it required a total sacrifice – the man went away sad. I spent my whole life trying to be different from my mom. It was not until I decided to be like Jesus that it changed. Life hands us a plate. How we return it is up to us? God gives us grace. Will we give it away? He gives us goodness. Can we reciprocate? My mom was human. She did her best and fell short. I do the same every single day. My life cannot be about undoing wrongs and changing my heritage. My life must be a living sacrifice to Jesus Christ for anything I do to be worthy of His Kingdom.

Matthew 26:6-13 (NLT)
Meanwhile, Jesus was in Bethany at the home of Simon, a man who had previously had leprosy. While he was eating, a woman came in with a beautiful alabaster jar of expensive perfume and poured it over his head. The disciples were indignant when they saw this. “What a waste!” they said. “It could have been sold for a high price and the money given to the poor.” But Jesus, aware of this, replied, “Why criticize this woman for doing such a good thing to me? You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me. She has poured this perfume on me to prepare my body for burial. I tell you the truth, wherever the Good News is preached throughout the world, this woman’s deed will be remembered and discussed.”

There is a profound difference between obedience and sacrifice. Obedience is the tithing of our life by giving God what He requires. However, an offering is sacrificial giving above and beyond that which is required. The woman came to Jesus with an alabaster jar of expensive perfume. It represented her worth and value on the earth. She poured it over his head. The disciples were mad because they saw the worth of the offering in earthly terms, but Jesus saw beyond her offering inside her heart. She poured out everything to Jesus. She did not do it publicly but in a private home. She did not say anything that is noted. Her action would speak for itself.

Let me ask you something. Do you feel unappreciated? Do you think no one notices all your hard work? Are you waiting on a “thank you”? If we expect such things, it is not the kind of good deed that plants seeds in Heaven because we are doing it for earthly recognition and reward. The attention of others should make us uncomfortable because we want our good deeds to shine before men but make them praise Jesus. I am challenged today to inspect my intentions and examine my heart. Do I want men to notice? Or do I want Jesus to? Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we do not see. (Hebrews 11:1) The woman who anointed Jesus could see with her heart what His own disciples could not see with their eyes or hear with human ears. Jesus was going to die and become a sacrifice.

It says in the word of God that Abraham was found righteous because he believed. His good deeds got him nowhere only faith allowed him to regain right standing with God. To have confident hope means we see beyond today into forever and can live for that place even when it yields no earthly benefit. Obedience is not the offering of our life in sacrifice, but to do so expecting only Jesus makes it so. Abraham had nothing to boast about yet the entire Jewish nation still calls his name. Our boast can only be Jesus Christ. Nothing we do or say can add make us more worthy of God’s Love.

Titus 2:11-14 (NLT)
For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed. He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds.

Do not grow weary in well doing my friend! (Galatians 6:9) Weariness and resentment come with misplaced expectation. The enemy wants nothing more than to discourage God’s People and persuade them to stop doing good deeds for the Kingdom. God gives seed to the sower. So if you are doing and doing but feel drained and empty, it is probably because somewhere along the way it became your efforts and not Christ’s sufficiency that was carrying you. In 2 Corinthians 9:10-12 it talks about God providing for those who are generous. It also gives us two good things that should come of our efforts for Christ. The needs of believers should be met. They will joyfully express thanks to you…no wait that’s not what it says, but rather “and they will joyfully express their thanks to God.”

The grace of God is revealed to us as we are given the gift of salvation. No we can live in right standing with the Father as sons and daughters of God. We must evaluate each step that we take to make sure we stay in alignment with Jesus because the enemy will try to lie and deceive us. Pride rises up to preserve our flesh. No one wants to die for Christ but it is the death of our flesh giving way to the Spirit that allows us to see that it’s really not about me anymore. For me die is to live in Christ. When I do good deeds, it should be as seed sown in Heaven. To desire earthly reward and attention is to pluck that seed from God’s Hand and put it into someone else’s. I don’t want that. I want to endure to the end and be saved. I don’t want my children to think I am a great mom anymore and nothing like my biological mom, but see the attributes of my Heavenly Father as should everyone I run into in every day. Good deeds can be a tree of life. It just depends on where you plant them.

James 2:17-20 (NLT)
So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless. Now someone may argue, “Some people have faith; others have good deeds.” But I say, “How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.” You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror. How foolish! Can’t you see that faith without good deeds is useless?