Almost Home

Almost Home

Hebrews 13:14-16 (NLT) For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come. Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name. And don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God.

At this very moment, everything that we own is packed in one very big U-Haul truck, an equally large covered trailer, scattered among a number of automobiles, and our family housed with friends. It is a very distinct and odd perception to see everything that you own consolidated like that. It is humbling as well. It seems small for the investment of our life the contents and possessions that we accumulate. Furniture, once bought brand new, reveals its imperfections when emptied and moved more than a decade later. Clothes you haven’t worn in years are carried to another place in mounds. All those things that seemed so important unceremoniously stacked all around in an effort to move it to the next destination. Last night my husband reminded me for the evening that essentially we were homeless.

Transition is never. In the natural or spiritual sense, it is hard and uncomfortable. Today, an old chapter ends and a new one begins. Yet still I will not be home in every sense of the word because this place that I live is not my permanent home. I have a better more fulfilling place to look forward to. It is important in life to gain this perspective from time to time. To see our life not by where we are now, but where we are going. To see the treasures of this earth and their deteriorating state, to remember that this is only temporary so that the Lord can remind us that He has given us freedom to live for so much more.

Though moving less than an hour from our previous home, it seems like it is taking an eternity to complete this journey that began about a year ago. The day that I walked in a church and the Lord set my heart ablaze again. I cannot explain how God works all the time. I just know that when we choose to love Him that He never stops working on our behalf even when we give up, give out, or just can’t take another step. In the challenges of life, it is not always easy to offer a continual sacrifice of praise verbally but our willingness to continue this journey home even when it is uncomfortable, inconvenient, and just plain hard is praise in and of itself. We are on a pilgrimage not to a new earthly destination but we live our life in full pursuit of God and His Kingdom. Our allegiance is to King Jesus so therefore everything that I have, will have, want or discover is homage to Him as Lord of my life or at least it should be.

I am trying not to complain in my discomfort. I really do not want to balk at the inconvenience. I know that God is moving us to better things and for His Purpose. The enemy has made it clear that he wants to stop our movement and hinder all progress. To God be the Glory this is not my permanent home, therefore the temporary trials cannot stop me. Life in perspective is a good thing when we look down from where the Lord is seating and take it for what it is worth which is far more than the contents of our life that fills trucks, homes and businesses. It is the One who fills our heart.

John 1:14 (NLT) So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.

God’s People just couldn’t get it. Pilgrimages and journeys could not change their perspective on God and His Faithfulness. Unable to see the forest for the trees, God sent His Son Jesus to us so we could see His Word come to life. Jesus came to make His Home among us. To find a way from outside of us to live in our hearts. People proved to be a tough crowd. Jesus loved us and died for us just the same because God our Father and Jesus the Son could not image life without us eternally. God loves you. Do you believe that today? The perception of your life and circumstances would change dramatically if only we could somehow grasp the sheer magnitude of the Father’s Love. To live too far gone to turn back now…kind of like we are today.

The Word of God in our heart should promote our heavenward progression. In our daily determination to demonstrate our allegiance to Christ, it should always be evident that our purpose in life is God’s Word that has made His Home not just with us but in us! In this state of being unsettled that I am currently in, I am acutely aware that God is working doing more than I can think or ask. I sense His Spirit urging me gently on as the task ahead seems so overwhelming. Life is full of transitions, however; if our relationship with Jesus does not progress as His Word grows into a prospering soul – what have we gained.

John 14:23-26 (NLT) Jesus replied, “All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them. Anyone who doesn’t love me will not obey me. And remember, my words are not my own. What I am telling you is from the Father who sent me. I am telling you these things now while I am still with you. But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.

Yesterday afternoon, there were more than a few challenges associated with our move and closing on the new house. Details that could have derailed us completely. Frustrations that could have ended in defeat. Constant opportunities to throw in the towel and just give up except for one small fact – I believe that God told us to make this move. Driving to our friend’s house last night, I could feel the pity party starting and was determined to fight the urge to begin the chorus of complaints. I just did not think that after all the Lord has done for me behaving like Hezekiah would be appropriate either by reminding the Lord of all that “I” have done for Him. How could I? So instead, I just reminded the Lord of His Word both written and spoken to me. My circumstances did not change. My attitude did.

I love Jesus. I try to do what He says. I face opposition on a daily basis. The Lord has made His Home in my heart and given me the Holy Spirit as a helper. I have everything I need in this life to live like I am at home with Jesus. But that doesn’t mean that things always go the way that I think they should or how I would like them, too. Just because God said it does not mean that He will immediately do it. It is in this nomadic journey called life that I discover the true potential and fulfillment of Christ in me rather than what I have around me.

2 Corinthians 5:5-8 (NLT) God himself has prepared us for this, and as a guarantee he has given us his Holy Spirit. So we are always confident, even though we know that as long as we live in these bodies we are not at home with the Lord. For we live by believing and not by seeing. Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord.

Just like every other step closer to the Lord and His Will for me, each one is just as challenging as the one before. My life is filled with purpose and potential written by the Hand of God. His Son, Jesus has made His Home in my heart. His Spirit fills me and surrounds my life with His Fruit. In every patch of my existence surrendered to the Lord, there is prosperity. It is times like this I can dig a little deeper in my heart to find a fertile place for the Word of God to grow some more. It is in my displacement and discomfort that I see even here in the midst of chaos that He is with me, in me and working for me not against me. We must live as temporary residents faithful to a timeless and limitless God. How do we do that? By being pushed beyond our comfort to find rest in the Lord. To be moved past complacency as not to die in this place but life in His Presence for His Glory. Not a single that I have will give me greater joy and peace than Christ who lives in me but how will I know that unless I see things as they are – the reality of this life is that what we have is worthless compared to knowing Jesus and asking Him to make Himself at home in our heart.

Colossians 2:6-10 (NLT) And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ. For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority.

When our kids were smaller and we would go on trips, they would begin the chorus of “are we there yet” sometimes minutes on our way. One would ask and then another might join for good measure. I would begin my response of “almost” which continued into reaching our destination. I know that there are days I cry out to the Lord the very same thing. Challenged to trust His Timing and determined to end disbelief, I want to welcome His Way, His Word and His Will in my life. My flesh likes comfort but commitment is born of sacrifice. I am stubborn by nature but God is looking for a soft and pliant heart to welcome His Seed and let it grow in my life. I must continue to trust that the Lord is working out my salvation, making every detail for my good and perfecting my way when things are to the contrary – I choose not to be contrary but strive for commitment.

My life is all about faith. It is learning to lean on the Lord and trust Him just a little bit more each day. Days like today are challenging. Not many people can actually comprehend that our family is completely transitioning because we are taking God at His Word…but that really is the only reason. It has to be enough. It can only be enough when I allow Jesus to make His Home in my very unstable and weak heart. It is the moment I decide that the One who lives in me is greater than he who is in the world. It is in that moment you tell God you cannot go any further, yet somehow find a way to take one step more called faith. God lives in us. His Son, Jesus has made His Home in our heart. This means no matter where we are, what we are doing, what state we are in or the current conditions of my life – I am still almost home because Christ lives in me.

I Peter 2:9-12 (NLT) But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.  “Once you had no identity as a people; now you are God’s people. Once you received no mercy; now you have received God’s mercy.” Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls. Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world.

 

 

Faithful Finish

Faithful Finish

Philippians 1:6 (NLT) And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.

I am certain that God who began a good work in me will continue to work until it is finally finished. When will it be finished, Lord? Will it ever get easier? I do not believe that finishing the race of faith or any race is ever easy…if your intention is to win that is. To run the race intentionally with your eye on the prize for the one who finishes well impacts our commitment to running first and then winning second. Today will be the final Pure Devotion installment from the place it all began. The home in which the Lord laid it on my heart seven years ago to seek Him wholeheartedly in His Word and generate this daily communication in an effort to encourage others to hear the Voice of God. I had no agenda other than to believe that it was what God wanted me to do.

When I moved into this house, I told myself this was it and I was never moving again. Never say never. I have made the same declaration many times while preparing for this transition. I am exhausted. My body aches all over from a week of pushing past my physical limits. Just like this blog, I know that the Lord has divinely destined us to make this change and I am excited. However, it will take a lot of endurance to push myself over the finish line today. By the end of today, all of our belongings including kids and animals will be in a moving truck waiting until we buy our new house tomorrow morning. Looking ahead from the desk chair this morning, I have no idea how we will achieve the monumental task. It’s push time.

What are you believing God for today? Do you have an unmet expectation? Is there something that He has promised you that has not come to pass? Have you considered giving up? Well good, that means you are about to make it to the end. Every twist of fate and turn of faith will lead us to the end of self. The place where our only hope is the Lord so we turn pressing into His Presence once more. Reassure me of Your Word, Lord. Restore my depleted faith, Jesus. Renew my confident hope and blessed assurance that Your Word is true. Your Will prevails. Your Way is achievable.

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

Finishing has been on my mind a lot lately. With one more drawer to empty and cabinet to clear, it seems like the process of transition is forever. To move from one place to another is exciting until it is time to actually do something about it. The moment that excitement becomes work and anticipation produces personal responsibility, it forces you to evaluate that thing desired to make sure it is work the cost. A thousand times over, I have wanted to throw in the towel and quit. Life doesn’t stop because you are pressing on, it pushes back. It is better to finish than to start. Finishing is the fruit of endurance. It is the ticket into the race that leads to forever. Freedom does not mandate participation but rather offers us all the choice to live for this day or to live for forever. One’s ability to finish produces patience which are always better than pride.

Luke 5:3-9 (NLT) Stepping into one of the boats, Jesus asked Simon, its owner, to push it out into the water. So he sat in the boat and taught the crowds from there. When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Now go out where it is deeper, and let down your nets to catch some fish.” “Master,” Simon replied, “we worked hard all last night and didn’t catch a thing. But if you say so, I’ll let the nets down again.” And this time their nets were so full of fish they began to tear! A shout for help brought their partners in the other boat, and soon both boats were filled with fish and on the verge of sinking. When Simon Peter realized what had happened, he fell to his knees before Jesus and said, “Oh, Lord, please leave me—I’m such a sinful man.” For he was awestruck by the number of fish they had caught, as were the others with him.

Jesus stepped into Simon Peter’s boat. I wonder if this the same boat that Peter stepped out of by faith to walk on the water with the Lord. Is this the place from where he ventured out on the wind and waves to follow Jesus? Could be… At any rate, Jesus got on board and began to tell the men what to do. Jesus was born into a carpenter’s family. He was not a fisherman by profession. Nevertheless when Jesus came aboard, He immediately began instructing the fisherman how to fish. Where to find abundance. How to prosper. The men had but one choice – trust and obey God for the promise or remain in the same condition as when they began their journey. Peter obeyed and cast his nets exactly where Jesus indicated and what happened? Abundance. Such an abundance of fish that the nets were began to tear.

Peter is like most of us when presented with a heavenly option. We tend to tell the Lord why it is illogical or impossible never considering that is exactly why He is doing it. To increase our faith and bring His Glory into the world. Endurance is when we take one more step. Do it one more time. Wait one more hour. Finishing will always take us one step further from our comfort zone. It will cause us to do it one more time even though it seems futile. Finishing requires waiting always and without exception.

Psalm 119:86-88 (NLT) All your commands are trustworthy. Protect me from those who hunt me down without cause. They almost finished me off, but I refused to abandon your commandments. In your unfailing love, spare my life; then I can continue to obey your laws.

I believe finishing is summed up in the statement, “I refused to abandon Your Commandments.” Jesus is the Word of God in flesh. He is the first finisher thereby which all other victories are secured. (John 19:30) He came to the world and died for my sin so that I could be made righteous again. (Romans 1:16-17) It tells me in Revelation that the Lord will declare once again that it is finished.

Revelation 21:5-7 (NLT) And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.” And he also said, “It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega—the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life. All who are victorious will inherit all these blessings, and I will be their God, and they will be my children.

I think if we could see the race of faith as a marathon rather than sprint, it might be a little easier to understand when things do not turn out exactly as planned, bad things happen to good people, or even in our wanderings. The Lord leads us into the wildernesses of life to teach us to love, trust and depend on Him more than ever before. The finish line of faith is forever with the Lord so it is important that we see victory for what it can be here on earth versus what it will be in Heaven. I have found that most often when it comes to earthly victory that no one runs across the finish line with their hands in the air shouting, “We are the champions.” It is usually a crawl, outstretched arm, and one hand that defines my finishing. We are after live everlasting. He promises it will come. We just cannot give up and learn to endure until we meet Him on that day.

I Peter 1:6-8 (NLT) So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy.

The only good and perfect thing in our life is Jesus Christ. It is in Him and through the Lord that righteousness opens the windows of Heaven to produce abundance in our life. We must be careful not to stop or slack off in the good and easy times but continue to diligently train for the championship that is coming. Each race shows us how far reaching our faith may or may not be giving me the opportunity to muster up some more and try again. Grace is enough to continually pick us up and get us on our way again. His Plan is perfect for us but doesn’t always feel right at the time. We have His Word to go on and depend on. Those who do will never be driven to disappointment but find the Light of His Love producing His Glory in the good times and bad times of life. He makes good on His Promise to produce good in every detail of our life. He will perfect that which concerns us.

I challenge you today to think about what you may have started or even thought about doing last year for Jesus. Why didn’t you do it? What if the abundance and prosperity you have been praying diligently for is in that next move? What if the famine in your life is simple disobedience righted in repentance? What is that thing that the Lord is pressing us to do to but the change is frightening? Yes, that thing. It’s time to finish the Good Work that God has begun in you and me.

2 Timothy 4:7-8 (NLT)  I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing.

Today my body is tired. My mind racing. My heart pounding. I am exhausted beyond anything I can remember. Yet, my soul prospers in the Lord. His Faithfulness is overwhelming even when I am overwhelmed. His Goodness that Greatness that I enjoy day by day. I have crawled across many finish lines in life and I am quite certain that there will be many more. I know that through the years more faith has accompanied every finish even when I crawled. With that in mind, I will forge through today again by faith. Telling my mind to hush. My body to rest. My heart to slow down. I will endure for I know that each time I persevere a promise is produced. God is good all the time. He speaks to us every single day. Maybe you just need to move in a little closer to hear.

Jude 1:24-25 (NLT)  Now all glory to God, who is able to keep you from falling away and will bring you with great joy into his glorious presence without a single fault. All glory to him who alone is God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord. All glory, majesty, power, and authority are his before all time, and in the present, and beyond all time! Amen.

Clean House

Clean House

Psalm 19:12-14 (NLT) How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart? Cleanse me from these hidden faults. Keep your servant from deliberate sins! Don’t let them control me. Then I will be free of guilt and innocent of great sin. May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

Our family will be moving in a day or so after months of anticipation. For weeks, I have been purging this house going through every nook and cranny deciding what will stay and what will go. We have so much stuff. We are blessed. Now in the final countdown before closing, we are preparing for the walkthrough. As our belongings are packed in a trailer and furniture prepared for the moving truck, I am appalled at the dust and dirt that I have found hidden beneath things that have not moved in years. I clean my house faithfully once a week on Thursdays and require each person to pick up after themselves so how in the world did it get so gross. Dust in the closets. Debris under counters and in cabinets. And could someone please tell me what dripped down the wall of the pantry before I touch it. Crawling along the floor wiping down baseboards, I notice that though they looked pristine and white from a distance on closer inspection not so much. When the new owner walks through, I want this house to shine. I want her to fall in love with it like she did when she first laid eyes on it and decided quickly to have it. I do not want her to regret her purchase or be ashamed it is her home.

We are God’s House. His Holy Spirit lives in us. He is our Helper and Constant Companion. The Spirit of God in mean has the ability and desire to do more in me than I can ask or think but many times I do not allow the Spirit freedom to do these things restricted by sin in my life. I read the Word of God every day. I pray every day, too. I faithfully attend church and serve there as well. I try to live according to the Word of God and His Spirit, but sin still finds its way in my life despite my best attempt at godliness and holy living. I just cannot help it. It is my nature. When the Holy Spirit inspects our heart and mind, what does He find? See I don’t think we consider our holy inhabitation enough to realize that God sees everything. He knows every thought before we think it, every action before we do it and every word before we seek it. He sees our intentions. He knows our follow through. So as I continue to clean my house and prepare for our move, I am looking inside my heart today, too.

God hates sin. He cannot come anywhere near a sin-filled person or His Goodness would consume them so it is with great compassion and persistent patience that He waits for us. What is waiting for? The Lord God is waiting for His People to be overcome with love for Him that causes them to daily examine their body, mind and spirit for sin and remove it simply because they want to be close to Him for the sake of love. Love empowers us to overcome sin because it creates a greater desire in us to please our beloved. To live for God in obedience without love leads to devastation because to walk with God requires grace. Lots of it. Obedience is self-motivated. Obedience in love is different. It causes us to desire the One we love more than those things we do, want or see. Obedience to God in life will produce His Blessings. But falling in love with the Lord will satisfy the soul.

Psalm 51:9-11 (NLT) Don’t keep looking at my sins. Remove the stain of my guilt. Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me. Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me.

Create in me a clean heart, Lord. Renew a right spirit. The removal of sin allows us to move closer to God. It is the only that stands between us and His Glory. Our churches are not in revival because of sin. Our community is not redeemed because of sin. We cannot come to the Lord and seek Him wholeheartedly entertaining sin in our life. I am not the Holy Spirit. I cannot decide for you the parameters of right and wrong for you. God’s Word tells us what we ought to do. Freedom allows us to do it without the guilt and shame of sin keeping us from God’s Best. His Spirit leads us from everlasting to everlasting by faith. But if we refuse to get rid of, to the bottom of and deal with all the sin in our life – revival will not come. It is with a steadfast and loyal heart that is determined not to let anything come between it and God that we begin to see Heaven come to earth and revival sweep our churches to save, deliver and heal the land.

How can I know the sin lurking in my heart? As not to compound or complicate the issue – I will be straightforward. Read the Bible and pray. Meditate on the Word of God – chew it up and digest it fully. Pray. Pray. Pray some more. Prayer is communication with God. Partner with the Holy Spirit so that you are familiar with the nudge or red flag that signals danger ahead. This will become a mirror for your soul that allows you to see beyond acceptable to godliness.

Cleanse me from hidden faults. In Hosea, it tells us that God’s People die from a lack of knowledge. There are things in your life right now that seem fine to you but soon will be considered unworthy of God’s Beloved. Ask the Lord to cleanse you from hidden faults today. Those things you do but do not know they are sin.

Keep your servant from deliberate sins! You and I both know that there are things in our life that would be considered deliberate sin. Attitudes and actions contrary to the Word of God allowed to remain in our life. We like to think of it as human weakness which would work but greater is He who lives in me than he that is in the world. Yes, His Grace is enough. It will cover every deliberate sin carried to the cross. Deliberate sin will keep you from God’s Best every time. It will ruin relationships. It will detour divine destiny. It will never be okay in God’s Eyes. Consider this – what if each time we sin it meant one more blow of the hammer into the nail’s that pierced His Hands and Feet? What if it was one more bloody stripe across His Back? Or maybe it meant another handful of hair ripped from His Beard? What if that one deliberate seemingly harmless sin produced another agonizing torment to our Savior? Truth is…it did. Those little white lies don’t seem so small. The hot tempered explosion more than just a blowup. The things done in secret now have been brought into the Light.

Don’t let them control me. Then I will be free of guilt and innocent of great sin. With that in mind, please know and understand that every hidden and deliberate sin allowed to remain unchecked will lead to our downfall. It will soon plummet us into great sin. Sin will control your life if not dealt with severely. We must decide each day to crucify our flesh to make way for His Spirit to show us the Way into the Presence of God and live there. Sin will always be a part of our life. However, I can reduce the impact of sin on my life but refusing to allow it to remain once discovered.

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. Peace with God is created by agreement with God, His Word and His Spirit through His Son, Jesus. My mouth and my heart must agree. This forms my attitude and actions. My heart wants to please the one it loves. Proverbs 20:10 says that God hates double standards. You cannot live for self and Jesus. You cannot love evil and do that which is good. You cannot live in the Light of His Love while dabbling in darkness for long. We must be at peace with God, sealed in His Spirit and covered by the Blood of Jesus to move from death to life. If Jesus were to do a walkthrough of your heart today, what would He find? I am asking myself that today as I want only what He wants for me. I want His Kingdom to come to earth and do not want to be the one who stops it for those who are around me. Sin stops the Move of God. I don’t want to stop the next great Move of God, do you?

2 Corinthians 7:1 (NLT) Because we have these promises, dear friends, let us cleanse ourselves from everything that can defile our body or spirit. And let us work toward complete holiness because we fear God.

God has filled our life with promises. “If you will, I will” over and over again. Why do we get so mad when we don’t so He doesn’t then? To have the Will of God including every benefit and blessing promised to me in the Word of God – I can only achieve such a life by living God’s Way. Sin forces us to compromise for less than God’s Best every single time. Sin restricts our prosperity. It limits our ability to love. As I prepare for the final walkthrough, I hope the new buyer sees a home rather than a house. I wonder what might happen if we prepared our heart for the Holy Spirit to walk through each day? What if I purposed to make the Lord feel welcome in my heart and make it His Home? What are the possibilities? Limitless! Let us cleanse ourselves of everything that might keep God’s Spirit living, breathing and moving through us today. It’s time to clean house.

2 Timothy 2:21 (NLT) If you keep yourself pure, you will be a special utensil for honorable use. Your life will be clean, and you will be ready for the Master to use you for every good work.

Happy Transformation Day

Happy Transformation Day

Romans 12:1-2 (NLT) And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

July 23, 2014 will forever be a day celebrated by our family. It was on that day that our son received his bone marrow transplant. After years of cancer relapse and treatment, one desperate attempt to save his life worked. On that day, everyone who followed our son’s story and supported him in prayer wore our favorite football team’s colors and joined Team Unconquered. I was hoping for a reprieve but God blessed him with remission. The medical team told us that transplant day when they give you bone marrow to rebuild your blood and body is like a second birthday for it gives new life again. For our boy, it would best to think of it as his third birthday. The first in May when he came into the natural world, the day that he was born into God’s family, and then transplant day. Two years later, he is actively pursuing his degree in college full-time. Just an ordinary guy on an extraordinary journey loved by a God who couldn’t bear to leave him as he was but saw fit to transform him into a walking miracle.

As I think back over the last five years of our life, things have changed significantly. Down to just two kids at home, it is a whole lot quieter around here. Turning 50 has proven to be uneventful except for a new job, a new house, and new people in my life. Some of the very same people who cheered our son across the finish line are now in the battle for themselves. The most obvious difference to me is me. I am changed…for the better in some crazy way. I don’t complain as much as I used to. I notice the little things. I am way mellower than before. I have learned to wait thought I still have a long way to go. I have decided that it is in our complete undoing that we are molded and shaped by the Hand of the Lord. Broken hearts are soft hearts. Unfulfilled expectation only lead to the pursuit of satisfaction. Again just as the Lord could not bear to leave our son in his sickness, He cannot leave me in my mediocrity. When I cry out for more, He works to make room for all.

James 1:17 (NLT) Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.

I believe that is our inability to fully comprehend the goodness and perfection of God our Father that hinders us from full acceptance of His Gifts. Too many times, it is easy to compare the Lord to the other people in our life and the expectation formed on their faithfulness to us. I know that there are times when our kids want what they want but we have already purposed in our heart to do more. If there is a wait time associated or work that must be done, they become impatient. They do not want to be inconvenienced or made uncomfortable so they settle for they can see.

Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father. This passage reminds us today that God is intent on giving us His Very Best. In fact, it is His Decree over our life. The prodigal son is an excellent example. Everything his father belonged to him. He had to do nothing but remain in his father’s house to enjoy everything that was his. The son decided that he wanted to go his own way, so he took the portion that was his squandering it quickly. When he could take it no more, he decided to go home and become a servant. But his father had other plans and he was welcomed home. This is our story depicted through others.

God gave us everything in the Garden of Eden. The very thing that was kept from us was not out of selfishness but to keep us secure. We wanted more and took it forging off to journey through like making our own way. Sin proved no match for us so God gave His Only Son to repay our debt and give us our freedom again. When we come back to the Father as a servant, He molds us and shapes us into a beautiful bride to become His Children again through a spirit of adoption.

Hosea 2:14-16 (NLT) “But then I will win her back once again. I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her there. I will return her vineyards to her and transform the Valley of Trouble into a gateway of hope. She will give herself to me there, as she did long ago when she was young, when I freed her from her captivity in Egypt. When that day comes,” says the Lord, “you will call me ‘my husband’ instead of ‘my master.’

My relationship with the Lord changed in the “Valley of Trouble”. It was in complete desperation and total devastation that God was able to begin to transform my life again. New life is a lifelong process. If you are dry, thirsty, broken or done, it’s not over. He is with you. Jesus is waiting on you to come to Him. He whispers to you. Here is the thing: Freedom will not allow the Lord to force you to come closer, claim your blessing or step into your promise. It is 100% up to you. If you decide to wade in the gray and live in the middle of the road, He will wave from the sidelines trying to get your attention but He will not drag you off into His Goodness. Jesus wants to win you back but not as a servant but beloved bride.

Psalm 23:4-6 (NLT) Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.

Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will be afraid for you are close beside me. I have experienced this kind of companionship with the Lord. It is an awesome peace that I must learn to maintain outside of crisis. How? Your rod (discipline) and staff (instruction) protect and comfort me. Discipline is created by the Holy Spirit who cultivates the fruit of His Spirit including self-control. His Instruction is His Word. Jesus said that true worshippers do so in “Spirit and Truth.” Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life – no one comes to the Father except through His Son. We pass through the “Valley of Trouble” and move past the darkest valleys. In the meantime, the Lord prepares a feast for us right in the enemy’s face. Doesn’t the Word of God tell us that He came to give us a rich, satisfying life. His Goodness is to be experienced in the land of the living. You are anointed. David was as well. It took years for David to fully realize his calling and step into royalty. David had a heart set on God so he waited for Him. David made mistakes. He didn’t always make the right choice, but his love for the Lord kept him moving toward the throne.

Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life and I will live in the House of the Lord forever. The Valley of Trouble has a way of stretching the perspective of our life from here to Eternity. Heaven becomes just a little sweeter each time a loved one crosses over there. It is in that moment when we lose all control and cannot change the circumstances, conditions or complications of life into resolution when we move just a little closer to the Lord. You will never be able to pursue the Lord wholeheartedly with only half your heart. His Goodness is perfect. His Grace is enough. God works in the realm of constant purity and truth. He operates in perfection. We do not so just a little of God’s Love is so much sweeter than anything we have experienced before and changes our life for the better so we become comfortable rather than committed to the process of change called transformation.

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

During the process of preparing for the transplant, there are several meetings set to make certain that you understand the profound risk associated with destroying all your bone marrow in order to give life renewing stem cells to produce new healthy ones. There is a period of time when the patient is severely immune-deficient. We had two options – no transplant and his imminent death or do the transplant with a 2% chance at life. Where is the choice?

We are given a choice each day to serve God or not. Life or death. Blessing or curses. It is our choice to carry our cross and crucify our flesh that allows the God in us to grow into divine direction and better choices. His Grace is enough for all the times that I fail. His Mercy says, “Good Morning! All things are possible to those who believe!” I must make the choice to be my Father’s Child and live in His Presence. I must be aware of the substitutions and compromises that are offered to me each day waiting the perfect and good gifts that God has promised for me.

I don’t think a life of transformation is a much different process than a transplant. See I have the right to choose. I choose life over death each day. I have met some people with cancer who decided they did not want to lose the time they had left fighting it. There were some who fought for just enough time to walk their daughter down the aisle or hold their newborn grandchild. We get to choose if we fight the good fight of faith. We are created and called to be new people of God. We approach as humble servants, who He elevates to His Children.

2 Corinthians 5:13-17 (NLT) If it seems we are crazy, it is to bring glory to God. And if we are in our right minds, it is for your benefit. Either way, Christ’s love controls us. Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life. He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them. So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

“A new life has begun.” Are you walking in the newness of life today? Or is it just normal life? You are filled with the Living God as a believer. Your declaration today can be greater is He who lives in me than he that is in the world. Two years ago, I held my breath as people sang, “Happy Birthday” to our son just before giving him the stem cells. I didn’t know what might happen next. I couldn’t see the outcome. I didn’t celebrate in that moment. I simply said, “God Your Will be done.” God’s Will is always for our blessing and benefit. God’s Word is filled with promises that should have us racing after Him. God’s Way is Jesus who promises to ease our burden and make it light when we yoke our life to His Plan. We don’t do any of these things. Why? We don’t believe.

The medical team believe firmly as do I that part of the reason our son made it through five cancer diagnoses and subsequent treatment was his mindset. He never got mad or sad and didn’t complain. He endured. By faith, he believed that God wanted to heal his body so he was willing to just walk it out. There are a whole lot of people who claim to have faith but have never really had it tested. There are others who in the test forfeited faith as too hard. I believe that in every season of life our faith is tested so we can be transformed. What I believe in my heart will be evidenced in my life. If we could just wrap our head around the fact that God is good and His Will perfect, I believe we would see the signs, wonders and miracles that He promised. Rather than sitting in the Valley of Trouble, maybe if we forged ahead by faith instead of being held captive by fear. Today is Transplant Day another birthday for our son, it could be a new birth, new life, and new season day for you too. Happy Transplant Day, buddy! Today can be a Happy Transformation Day for you, too! Just believe! To God be the glory! Great things He has done!

2 Corinthians 3:9 (NLT) If the old way, which brings condemnation, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new way, which makes us right with God!

Just Hold On

Just Hold On

Hebrews 10:23-25 (NLT) Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.

People say all the time that God will not give you more than you can handle. Today, I would like to call that bluff because my friends the Lord absolutely positively on a regular basis give you more than you can handle. Why? He tells us in His Word that His Grace is enough for me. His Power is made perfect in my weakness. If you read and reread 2 Corinthians 12:9, it specifically says that “each time he said” that His Grace is all we need. This tells me that there are always going to be days when we run out of strength, patience, persistence and motivation. But bless the Lord, He does not leave us in a crumpled heap in a mass of defeat but whispers, “Don’t worry! My Power can work in you now.” There are many born again believers that need to be reminded that some days the best that we can do is just hold on. His Word confirms that in our surrender to our weakness and submission to His Divine Power that He will make me strong.

The Power at work in us is Jesus Christ through His Spirit. Our flesh is failing. We die day by day from our first breath to our last. A day cannot be recaptured and a moment ever remade. We must live accordingly. However, though it is human nature to stumble and even fall occasionally such failures are only fatal in our choice to give up. Having one of those pressed but not crushed, persecuted not abandoned, struck down but not destroyed weeks? Yeah, me too. Friday is here! It is not met with celebration as usual. There is no rest for the weary but there is restoration for the broken. When I take my cares, worries, burdens, stress, anxiety and human weakness laying them down to cling to Christ instead, it is then and only then that I will find new strength.

Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep His Promises. Our hope is Jesus Christ. He is the reason that His People are labeled Christians. We speak of faith and hope, but do we believe that is valid and true. Until these two things become the foundation of our life in Christ, there is no power that leads to the fullness of God given to us in Jesus Christ. We are weak and flailing – groping through darkness dimly lit. We briefly experience the tingling sensation and goosebumps as He draws closer but then we drift away.

Acts 27:39-44 (NLT) When morning dawned, they didn’t recognize the coastline, but they saw a bay with a beach and wondered if they could get to shore by running the ship aground. So they cut off the anchors and left them in the sea. Then they lowered the rudders, raised the foresail, and headed toward shore. But they hit a shoal and ran the ship aground too soon. The bow of the ship stuck fast, while the stern was repeatedly smashed by the force of the waves and began to break apart. The soldiers wanted to kill the prisoners to make sure they didn’t swim ashore and escape. But the commanding officer wanted to spare Paul, so he didn’t let them carry out their plan. Then he ordered all who could swim to jump overboard first and make for land. The others held on to planks or debris from the broken ship.  So everyone escaped safely to shore.

To set the scene, Paul is placed on a ship as a prisoner. The Lord tells Paul to warn the others that the route they are taking is dangerous. It will lead to devastation including shipwreck, loss of cargo and possibly human life. So, of course, they did what most people would do ignoring the “religious fanatic” and followed their own course. Well, shortly after leaving, the gentle breeze turned into a radical wind of typhoon strength. The men were panicked and each day went to great lengths to save their own lives, as well as the ship. Paul comes to the men again telling him that this is what he had been warning them against. He encouraged them that no one would lose their life. He tells them, “So take courage! For I believe God. It will be just as He said. But…” We will be shipwrecked.

The Lord is our Strength. In each moment of every day, we live on the brink of disaster. The enemy roams around looking for those who can be devoured. He seeks to steal, kill and destroy God’s People. When our son was deployed, I remember praying for him each day. I asked the Lord to cover Him with His Precious Blood and position angels of protection around him. Why? There was a very real enemy who wanted to kill him each day he was on foreign soil. Sound familiar? The moment a person repents and turns their life over to Jesus Christ, a giant target is painted on their back.

With this in mind, the sooner the realization that I can do nothing apart from Christ becomes my reality, the more likely I am to overpower the enemy and his vicious attacks on my life. The Spirit led Jesus to the wilderness where He met up with the enemy. As a Child of God, we have the promise that we are more than conquerors and the ability to live in overwhelming victory each day. (Romans 8:37) Faith produces confidence in the hope we have in Jesus. Without confidence in God, we will just let go and drift through life. Faith in Christ doesn’t not mean that we will ever escape brokenness but rather that the Lord will use even the most minute detail for His Goodness and Glory in our life.

Then he ordered all who could swim to jump overboard first and make for land. The others held on to planks or debris from the broken ship.  So everyone escaped safely to shore. Why was Paul on that ship? I believe Paul was placed on that ship as a beacon of light that led others to salvation. We go through things in life not only for our benefit but to help others make it safely home. Some sailors could swim so they jumped overboard making it to dry land. They were confident in their own ability to find the way and did. Others held on the ship’s wreckage and were carried to shore by the ocean’s current. The Word of the Lord came to pass and everyone escaped safely to shore.

Are you hanging on the wreckage of circumstances, an unexpected situation, overwhelming condition, or just plain done? Just hang on, Jesus is coming. Are you being swept away disappointed and confused? Just hang on, there is purpose in this test and the mess will become your message. We are not equipped to power through each situation in life. It is His Power in us that takes us across the finish line. You just cannot quit, give up or give in. You must grab hold of something and hang on for dear life. The shipwrecked sailors grabbed the debris of the ship that once kept them safe from the elements of nature and forces of life to make it shore. What are you holding on to today?

I Thessalonians 5:16-22 (NLT) Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. Do not stifle the Holy Spirit. Do not scoff at prophecies, but test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good. Stay away from every kind of evil.

Hold on to what is good. We must evaluate what we are holding on to today. It matters what we cling to in life. It doesn’t mean that the occasional or regular shipwreck may occur but it means living ready for whatever comes so we will not waver when it is time to stand. Hebrews 12:25 reminds us to “take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees.” It is time to persevere. It is time to press on. It is time to walk through your current situation into victory on the other side. Endurance is a character quality that all men and women of God must possess to be saved. The Word of God states specifically that those who endure to the end will be saved. (Matthew 24:13) Endurance is work. It will require patience…a whole lot of patience. It means letting go of human expectation the how we want it done, when we want it to happen and the way that leads to success and prosperity to take up our cross daily and follow Jesus. The cross gets heavy sometimes. Don’t you think Jesus knows that? He carried not only a physical cross but every single weight and burden associated with it. Jesus did it. He did it for me. He did it for you so we could hang on!

2 Timothy 1:13-14 (NLT) Hold on to the pattern of wholesome teaching you learned from me—a pattern shaped by the faith and love that you have in Christ Jesus. Through the power of the Holy Spirit who lives within us, carefully guard the precious truth that has been entrusted to you.

Living in Florida, when hurricane season rolls around the public is duly notified to stock up on supplies to prepare in the event of a storm. I have lived in two cities hit by hurricane like storms and conditions. Checklists are available at all the local grocery stores to get what we need to endure the conditions until help comes or the weather clears. Do you know that I never take the time to prepare for a hurricane? Even though I have been through two that hit home directly, I have never taken the time to prepare ahead of time for extreme conditions.

Living in the Kingdom of God, I am called to be ready in season and out of season. Do I prepare for the storms of life or sit idly by? I have the Power of God living and breathing inside of me. Every day God’s Spirit is ready to teach us more about the Lord, show us things that human eyes cannot see, empower us for good and show us what is evil. We ignore Him. Not to be a naysayer or negative Nancy, but the condition of your life can change radically in a single second. The moment calmness becomes chaos is not the time to fall on our knees, we should already have been there. When tragedy disrupts our carefully constructed comfort zone not equipped to keep us safe but immediate thrusting us out, what do we do?

Paul warned the men when they stepped foot on the ship that this journey was a no-go with God. They chose to go anyway. He warned them again. They did not listen. When things began to get rough and they were losing control of the ship, Paul peaked their interest with a little thing called survival. We will face tests and trials in life as the Lord produces godly character traits in us and His Spirit cultivates spiritual fruit. I just have to cling to Jesus to make it through. Such survival skills are developed in the calmness before the boat starts rocking and maintained through the journey.

I John 5:18-20 (NLT) We know that God’s children do not make a practice of sinning, for God’s Son holds them securely, and the evil one cannot touch them. We know that we are children of God and that the world around us is under the control of the evil one. And we know that the Son of God has come, and he has given us understanding so that we can know the true God. And now we live in fellowship with the true God because we live in fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ. He is the only true God, and he is eternal life.

To make it from here to Eternity requires only one thing, we must cling to Jesus Christ living in constant fellowship and relationship with the Lover of our soul. I would be remiss if I did not tell you today that sin will loosen your grip. As one reaches for something else, the intensity and strength of the other hand wanes. You cannot travel in two directions. There are only two – closer to Jesus or farther away. Freedom gives us the option to follow Jesus or remain in the dark corridors of sin, evil and darkness. Though the enemy may come close to those who love and serve Jesus, he can do nothing to destroy them. But those who reach for the Lord, often have no idea how far they have drifted.

Philippians 2:13-16 (NLT) For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people. Hold firmly to the word of life; then, on the day of Christ’s return, I will be proud that I did not run the race in vain and that my work was not useless.

Can I remind you today that the weapons of our warfare are not carnal? They are lies and manipulations of the Truth laid before us by the enemy. Mercy is provided each day for all the ways that we fail to believe and trust in God so we do our own thing and go our own way. Each day we have the opportunity who to serve and how we will do it. We are told to hold firmly to the Word of Life – it is the sword we carry in one hand. Reposition and hold more tightly our shield of faith. Pull the chinstrap of the helmet of salvation and decide you will fight for what you say that you believe. God is working in us. He is ready to do great things for us. We just have to be willing to hold on until He works it all out. The Lord promises to even give us the deep desire to do what pleases Him. Weak? Tired? Overwhelmed? There is a Hand of Grace extended to you. Can you see it? Will you take it? Let the Lord be Your Strength, Joy and Peace today in Jesus Name. Let Him overtake your thoughts and captivate your mind. He will transform your thoughts today. He gives us everything in His Divine Power to live a godly life. We must only hang on to achieve it.

John 15:5-8 (NLT) “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.

Contents under Pressure

Contents under Pressure

2 Corinthians 4:7-10 (NLT)  We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.

Stubborn, obstinate, driven, hardheaded, or persevering – you take your pick. I have been called them all. Through the peaks and valley of life, I guess I would call it survival. With a fiercely competitive nature, there is a careful balance between being all those qualities. In the flesh, they produce things like pride, arrogance, and other self-driven motivators. But in our spiritual life, it can be used to develop endurance. I guess it all depends if you use your powers for good or evil. For many years, I never realized how overbearing and unyielding my personality was. The Lord has dealt with me severely to recognize that people are my process above anything else. To serve the Lord with my whole heart and seek Him completely, I must recognize every single body along the way and find a way to love and care for them. Like a bull in a china shop, most of my life has been spent wrecking everything in my path just to find my way through. Now the Lord is teaching me patience and perseverance as I slowly make my way through this world being conscious of others as I go.

Taught from the earliest age that persistence pays off, those who learn “good” habits and develop “strong” character will be successful in this life. However, success in God’s Kingdom is on much different terms. No it is not doctrine or the traditional beliefs of the church. God looks through everything we say and do to our heart. It is the motivation and intentions of the heart that dictate the outcomes in our life. The Lord is looking for those who love Him. They are the ones who trust Him with their life – all who are in it and everything that they have. How can I know if Jesus lives in my heart? You are not going to like the answer any more than I do. The human heart expresses its contents under pressure.

I wish I could count the number of times some days that I throw in the towel to give up or say that I am not doing something anymore, only to press even harder. As a fighter and doer by nature, there is something inside me that refuses to give up. The bigger they are the harder they fall. When the pressures of life reach a breaking point, it is ugly. Those who know me become suspect because I am usually the one pushing, pulling and dragging them through refusing to allow them to give up or give in. When I am deflated, running on empty, exhausted and ready to just walk away, I hear these words – “My Grace is enough for you. It works best in your weakness.”

We are pressed on every side by troubles yet have God’s Promises to give us release. God does not want to relieve us of pressure but force us to pursue a release. The Light that lives inside of us must find its way out so our life will be fulfilled. We have treasure locked in fragile humanity. God’s Great Power lives in us and is looking for ways to manifest His Presence in our life. His Presence brings light to the dark places. It elevates us to achieve our purpose by exalting His Great Name. Not when things are good, but in the midst of all hell breaking loose in our life when we run out of human strength, patience and tact. What comes out of our mouth? What is our next move? How will we react or do we respond? The pressure felt in us is God’s Purpose fighting to get out of us. Do we quit? Give up? Or wait to see what’s really in us?

Matthew 5:14-16 (NLT) “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. 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.

You are the Light of the World. Jesus did not fill you with the Light of His Love without purpose. Comfort and complacency is the fleshly response to pressure. Our stubborn heart digs in. It is relentless when it comes to change especially the kind that requires pushing and pressing or any exertion at all. Choosing not to read God’s Word or do things His Way, many so-called Christians grope in the dark calling out His Name without the slightest inclination to follow Jesus Christ. A city is on a hilltop. It is developed on a foundation. It is not a nomadic drift but a named place. A lamp is placed on a stand. It was never meant to be carried in one hand while traveling far from home. It is to be the center of our home. The Light in our life, Jesus, came to live in us so that we could live through Him. He said, “If I be lifted up, I will draw all men to me.”

Leviticus 24:1-3 (NLT) The Lord said to Moses, “Command the people of Israel to bring you pure oil of pressed olives for the light, to keep the lamps burning continually. This is the lampstand that stands in the Tabernacle, in front of the inner curtain that shields the Ark of the Covenant. Aaron must keep the lamps burning in the Lord’s presence all night. This is a permanent law for you, and it must be observed from generation to generation.

Command the people to bring pure oil of pressed olives for light. To keep the lamps burning continually. This was a commandment for the Tabernacle to be placed right in front of the curtain that shielded the Ark of the Covenant representing the Presence of God. Reading a little bit further it says, “This is a permanent law for you and it must be observed from generation to generation. Jesus Christ did not come to abolish the law or do away with the commandments of God but to fulfill them. Every time we fall short, He applies His Grace and Power so we can still pursue God’s Blessing as we follow His Son. Therefore, the law still remains in effect that we are to keep lamps burning in the Lord’s Presence even though the dynamics have changed.

We now house God’s Presence and the Light of His Love in our very human heart. The pressures of life expose the contents of the heart allowing us to deal with those areas of our life that lack the fruit of His Spirit. The oil that is requested is the oil that is pressed. Not the superficial undertakings and tasks of religious fellowship or striving to be a good person, but allowing the Living God to express His Glory from our life. This did not change because Jesus died but now is fulfilled as we are His Temple to be filled with His Light until no darkness remains.

Hosea 6:1-3 (NLT) “Come, let us return to the Lord. He has torn us to pieces; now he will heal us. He has injured us; now he will bandage our wounds. In just a short time he will restore us, so that we may live in his presence. Oh, that we might know the Lord! Let us press on to know him. He will respond to us as surely as the arrival of dawn or the coming of rains in early spring.”

Though our relationship with God has dramatically changed since Jesus died on the Cross, it didn’t change His Mind about us, who we are and what we are called to do. The Lord invites us to return to Him. He wants to heal us. He wants to restore us. God can only take as much as we are willing to surrender. Submission to His Power and Authority is a personal choice lived day by day and moment by moment. I was sharing with a friend the other day that it had been one of those days. The kind of day that feels like exercise at that point when you cannot take another step or maybe lift another weight. The distance is too far but turning back is not an option. Broken and empty – you fight the urge to just sit down and cry. I have felt this way when exercising and pushed through. I have felt the same way right before delivering each one of my children. I actually told the midwife that fourth time around that I was done and leaving. She just laughed and waited for my tantrum and tirade to end. It was about that time my baby girl was born. My promise handed over to me. God is doing His Part to release His Blessing in our life. Are we doing our part?

Luke 8:44-46 (NLT) Coming up behind Jesus, she touched the fringe of his robe. Immediately, the bleeding stopped. “Who touched me?” Jesus asked. Everyone denied it, and Peter said, “Master, this whole crowd is pressing up against you.” But Jesus said, “Someone deliberately touched me, for I felt healing power go out from me.”

“For she thought to herself, “If I can just touch his robe, I will be healed.” (Mark 5:28) When I read this familiar story today, I cannot help but wonder, “Did Jesus really not know who touched Him?” I mean really. Of course, He did, but His Disciples missed it. I am just going to pause right here and let you think about that for a minute, too. (Selah)

Peter said, “Master, this whole crowd is pressing up against you.” Peter was trying to manage crowd control and keep His Lord from being crushed beneath the weight of the desperate and dying. Jesus was looking for faith in the heart of each one. The women had deliberate faith that when pressed produced determination in her heart. She would not stop until she found Jesus. She would not be dissuaded until she reached out and touched Him. She was convinced that Jesus had what she needed and would give it to her. Do you believe? Do you believe enough to be persistent under pressure? To ignore the insults and offenses of others to let the Light of His Love shine through you?

The disciples were more concerned with their mission and mandate rather than ministering to those around them. When pressed they conformed to natural thinking rather than supernatural believing. When Jesus’ Power left Him, He was consciously aware of its release. You have been called to be the Light of the world. The Light does not “do” anything other than to shine for all men to see. It is the city on a hill well-established by faith in the foundation of Jesus Christ. We can do nothing to earn God’s Love, Grace and Unmerited Favor other than to love Him enough to trust Him and never give up until we see His Glory come out. People will always be the priority in our life. What profits a man to gain the whole world but lose his soul? None.

The Lord knows you are pressed, but you will not be crushed. He sees the persecution coming at you from all sides, you must persevere. He knows life can be perplexing so God has given us the Mind of Christ and His Spirit lives in us. We are not abandoned but adopted. Though the enemy pursues us relentless, God is before us and behind us with His Hand of Blessing on our head. Every time God’s People are knocked down, grace meets them to help them up. His Glory is expressed when we decide to bring others with us.

2 Corinthians 9:6-8 (NLT) Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.

Freedom allows each “farmer” to decide how much seed will be put in the ground. From the days of Noah until Jesus returns, we live in the constant cycle of seedtime and harvest. You will reap what you sow. The amount of “seed” that you sow is decided completely by you. It only takes a spark to start a forest fire if the conditions are favorable. Just as the seeds we plant for produce to feed us naturally, the same is true spiritually. The Lord will never rip seed from your hand (or heart) forcing us to stick it in the ground.

The decision to give our life to Jesus is often facilitating by the pressure applied to our life. Many will not read the Word until they need something from it. They do not seek the Spirit of God for Instructions until they have completely lost their way. We do not go to church but we are the church. God expects us to sow and reap His Promises every day and provides them as such. We do not want the pressure. Well, I have news for you. You are contents under pressure and the Lord will not relent. He will not revoke His Command to bless you but freedom will not allow His Love to be forced. So there is pressure and more pressure until it can be expressed in our life.

Philippians 3:12-14 (NLT) I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.

My life is a pressure cooker currently. Yesterday was especially difficult with family, work, church and moving next week. I went into overload. Family scattered for the moment. Work filled with deadlines. Church still an hour away. The Call of God constantly pressing on my heart. Add selling one house, buying another and moving to the mix and yes, I am physically and emotionally exhausted right now. So, when it was time to head out for the midweek service at church, I had a million excuses. The first and most pressing was packing. When I pulled into the parking lot and got out of the car, it was all I could do not to crawl through the doors down the hallway into the sanctuary.

When the first note of worship began, the weight of the world fell from my shoulders. It is not about me. It is all about Him. As I decrease, His Power increases to meet its full potential. Though the pressure did not change at all, the feeling that it’s going to be worth it all overshadowed any other human emotion. See God didn’t say that there would not be pressure in this life. In fact, He warned us that it would be the opposite. I will fall down, get knocked down and lay down many times in my lifetime. It is what I do when I get back up that matters. First that I choose to use His Grace and get back in the good fight of faith. It also matters that I am conscious of others and consciously bring them up with me win each ascent. The Lord promises that as the oil of our life is pressed out to Light the Word for Jesus that it will be worth it every single time.

Proverbs 24:10 (NLT) If you fail under pressure, your strength is too small.

Open Buffet

Open Buffet

I John 3:18-20 (NLT) Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God. Even if we feel guilty, God is greater than our feelings, and he knows everything.

Life is a buffet. Full of opportunities requiring choices. When faced with many options, sometimes it becomes overwhelming. When our children were little living on a tight budget, it was a treat to head out to the all-you-can-eat restaurant. By passing the fixed menu, they wanted the buffet so they could pick and choose their food. We would walk with them and guide their choices or they would all end up with ice cream bowls loaded with toppings. My problem with such dining establishments is that my eyes are bigger than my stomach. It is not uncommon for me to overload my plate. When I get halfway through, suddenly my stomach is bloated and I am groaning with discomfort. If I choose the foods that don’t agree with me, I am digging through my purse for antacid. If I were to be completely honest, I would admit that this has been a trend in my life. Taking on too much at one time. Lofty aspirations that are humanly impossible to achieve as a person. The Holy Spirit leaning over my shoulder trying to help me choose but assuring Him that I have it under control. My plate is full today. I am not sure I will finish everything on it. Am I supposed to? Lord, how will I do it?

In case you cannot tell, this really isn’t so much about food. Gluttony by definition is practicing excess and though in most regards it refers directly to eating and drinking, I believe it defines most lives. Life exists on excess. It has become clear in packing in preparation to move that our family has accumulated too many things. Yet if you ask anyone of us there is still more that we desire. We cram and pack too many duties, tasks and responsibilities in every hour of every day and still miss the important stuff because we are busy. Our pursuit of God should be the excess of our life because He is the one who establishes order and balance out of our chaotic choices. Truth be told, He really doesn’t get the time or attention that He deserves as our Lord because we are often too busy trying to impress Him with our independence or influence Him with all that we can “do”.

For a moment, the buffet is closed. The lights turned off. In the silence of morning, surrounded by clutter, in the quiet chaos of transition, the Lord is whispering for me to hand Him my plate. Yes, He can see it is overloaded with choices good and bad. He is more than willing to take responsibility for it and “feed” me only those things that are good and beneficial. Will I surrender control? Will I let go and let God today? Of course, I will in a supernatural sense. Trusting Him with my words. Believing Him in my heart. But will I? Can I possibly? Literally? Hand everything over to Him and just love others like I am supposed to? Can I do that today? I really don’t know. I am a glutton for life. Control. Responsibility. Jesus says, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) It sounds really good, but can I really give Him all those burdens?

I John 3:19-20 tells us that “our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God. Even if we feel guilty, God is greater than our feelings, and he knows everything.” If we long to love each other as the Lord has instructed us to do, it begins with our love for Him first. Love is a commitment. The commitment is to be patient and kind. To commit to avoid jealousy, boastfulness and pride at all costs. It means to keep no record of wrong including guilt and regret within our own heart. It strives to not be irritable or rejoice in injustice but celebrate truth and righteousness in the course of every single day – good or bad. Love is the commitment to never give up. It is the decision to never give up on faith. It remains hopeful in the midst of desperation. Above all love is a commitment to remain true to our first love even when the conditions of our life are not as expected and less than desirable. The commitment to love begins with the Lord and should reflect back on me. I must love myself. I must commit to loving myself enough to trust the Lord in all things in spite of me. My feelings get in the way. So many things rise up in me as my flesh tries to take over every day. No one makes the right choice every time, but the Lord invites us to do it again. It is called grace. Grace scrapes today’s overloaded plate, grabs a clean one and invites us to try again.

It is human nature to believe for others and not accept God’s Love, Grace and Goodness for ourselves. Why? I know me. I know every fault and failure in vivid detail. I can see the loveliness in others before accepting it for myself. I believe others more deserving than I am for God’s Blessings. Today – the buffet is before us. The Lord is calling us to commune with Him and join Him at His Table. What is our response? Will we meet with the Master? Or will we continue to scrounge for crumbs under His Ample Table? Jesus is reminding me that His Grace is sufficient for me. It is certainly enough for others, but if I do not accept and understand His Grace is for me than I cannot give to others genuinely what I have not received. Lord, here is my plate with all of my choices. Lord, I give it all to You today.

I Corinthians 10:29-31 (NLT) It might not be a matter of conscience for you, but it is for the other person.) For why should my freedom be limited by what someone else thinks? If I can thank God for the food and enjoy it, why should I be condemned for eating it? So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

God has granted us freedom by accepting the Sacrifice of His Son, Jesus for our sin debt. The Blood of Jesus has paid the price for every sin that we have committed or are yet to commit. Grace is applied to the life of those who accept Jesus as their Savior. Those who make Him their Lord will endure to the end and be saved. In this passage, Paul was addressing a problem of religion in the early church. The church had become caught up in the details of doctrine instead the robe of righteousness. Who the Son sets free is free indeed! Our freedom is a gift which allows us to choose how to live once again. God will not force you into freedom. He will not require that you walk in it or shove you into it. If He did, that would violate the definition so it would no longer mean that we are free to choose. There is no such thing as forced love it is offered and accepted freely. I can choose to love you but you don’t have to love me back. We are free.

“It might not be a matter of conscience for you.” Our freedom is not limited by what another person thinks or does. We are free in Jesus Christ. How are we using our freedom? Do we use it to get wrapped up in bondage again? Our feelings most certainly can restrict our freedom. We are born into the world. Conditioned from an early age to be like the world, when Jesus comes to live in us – everything we know and understand up to that point is now challenged by faith. It is human nature to exchange one set of chains for another. We live in the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave but are we really free? What are we doing with are freedom? Arguing with one another about what we believe. Killing one another to prove we matter. Chasing the American Dream that changes every night. Living in debt financially, physically with illness, mentally in depression and depravity or spiritually due to religion. Churches are multiplying and dividing more quickly than the cells in a newly conceived baby. People are carrying heavy chains yoked to life as we know it rather than looking up to where our help comes from. You are free. Free to live connected to Jesus Christ. He will be Our Portion if we choose to trust and depend on Him rather than our own strength and point of view. But will we do it?

Psalm 121 (NLT) I look up to the mountains—does my help come from there? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth! He will not let you stumble; the one who watches over you will not slumber. Indeed, he who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps. The Lord himself watches over you! The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade. The sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon at night. The Lord keeps you from all harm and watches over your life. The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever.

The Lord has given me an amazing husband. He has granted me equally amazing and precious children who fill my life with joy. God has given me a wonderful church and surrounded me with terrific friends. I have a good job that I enjoy and coworkers who have become my friends as well. I are blessed truly. Yet there are still times when my feelings overwhelm me into thinking that I am all alone. Overloaded with tasks and responsibilities, I cannot see the forest for the trees. My plate these days is overflowing with more than usual. I know it is only for a season but right now I need grace to see it through. God have given me a purpose and plan containing a future and hope that is always more than I could think or ask so I should not be surprised that sometimes my “eyes are bigger than my stomach” and I want it all now. Gluttony for life must be exchanged for a deep desire and pursuit of Jesus in excess instead.

My help comes from the Lord – who made heaven and earth! His Kingdom is the one that I am after. His Glory is what I want more than anything. It doesn’t matter how I feel or what I want but when I surrender my life to Christ and submit to His Lordship that I discover all that I am called to be and begin to make better choices with my time, talent and even my treasures. Look what it says in Psalm 121 – Jesus will not let me stumble. He watches over me when I sleep. He never sleeps or slumbers but is always working on my behalf filling out the details with His Goodness. He watches over me. He stands right beside me. Nothing can harm me. The Lord is keeping watch over me.

I am free to live life as I choose. Have I chosen to put all my faith, hope, trust and dependence on Jesus? My life plate is a pretty good indicator of what I live for, love for and desire most. Could it use a good scraping and cleaning? Maybe I just need to rearrange it a little to make room for what is important – more time with Jesus. Life is a buffet abundant in choices. Each day there are decisions to be made. The Lord has given me a Helper whose name is the Holy Spirit. I am equipped with the Mind of Christ to choose well. Greater is He who is in me than He that is in the world. Today, I choose to live like it.

Do you feel worthy of God’s Love today? Mitigating circumstances buried me last night and so I text my husband with the details trying to find my way out. He wanted to know, “Why?” My answer was joking but convicted me instantly. “God hates me…lol” God doesn’t hate me. I just don’t always love myself enough to let go. I try to dictate the details and predict every outcome. Why would this move by anything less than driven by the Hand of God since we are moving because His Spirit led us to? Today I must evaluate the choices I am making for relevance. Will I compare them to God’s Promises or human expectation? I am free to choose how to live. I must choose Jesus. He is my example in all things pertaining to life and godliness.

Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”  If I am distracted or off course today, I promise it is me and not my Lord. If I am overwhelmed, exhausted, and desperate – it is probably because I am trying to do God’s Job. I cannot make God’s Plan come to pass in my life or orchestrate the details. I cannot “do” things that will gain His Approval. Through Jesus Christ alone, I am approved and sealed for the Day of Redemption. What do I do to change perception? Well, Jeremiah 29:13 tells us the solution – “If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.” What is your heart set on today? If it is Jesus everything is going as planned. If not, I invite you today to feast at the Lord’s Table and commune with Him and you will see. Choose only those things that He has for you and get rid of worthless things.

Psalm 34:8-10 (NLT) Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him! Fear the Lord, you his godly people, for those who fear him will have all they need. Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry, but those who trust in the Lord will lack no good thing.

Slow Leaks

Slow Leaks

Romans 15:13-15 (NLT) I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. I am fully convinced, my dear brothers and sisters, that you are full of goodness. You know these things so well you can teach each other all about them. Even so, I have been bold enough to write about some of these points, knowing that all you need is this reminder. For by God’s grace…

Today, I am celebrating my one year anniversary with my car. According to Timehop, we purchased the Honda about a year ago. It has been such a blessing and I recommend it to anyone looking for a new automobile…less I digress. Though I could go on and on about the attributes of this car, it has one feature that I really like. When I engage the engine and it runs the systems check that most new autos do, it checks the tires as well. Now I don’t know how it does it but if one tire is running low on pressure an indicator light warns me to check it. I know that the tire is slowly deflating somehow and can have it serviced before I get a flat tire. Glory Hallelujah! I hate being stuck with a flat tire, dead battery or faulty anything. Such a simple thing brings me great confidence. A nail or foreign object that punctures a tire will often cause it to flatten immediately but what about the slow leaks that occur slowly over time. Well, by now you probably realize that this is probably going somewhere other than the garage and it is…

Jesus Christ connects us to God once again which causes a source of hope to rise up and overflow in our life or at least it should. The abundance of God through Jesus should be gushing from our life in all areas – physically, naturally, spiritually and supernaturally. This does not mean that everything is going to be perfect but that you are in a constant state of being perfected. When we develop “slow leaks” in our life – areas that are not exactly flourishing according to God’s Word, Will and Way – it is human nature to become caught up in the lie that perhaps we have discovered the limit of God’s Love for us and so we run dry. This is not the case at all. We just need a little more of God’s Grace.

We forget that His Grace is sufficient or enough. It is the sum total of that which allows us to obtain freedom and initiate God’s Overflow to reach us. I cannot do anything to obtain salvation, righteousness, healing, deliverance, inheritance, abundance or any other thing from God except through His Son, Jesus Christ. Over and over again, faith falls short of recognizing one’s human inability to secure these things so our flesh tries its own way. Are you tired, thirsty, drained, sick, exhausted, overcome, overwhelmed, anxious, busy, too busy, too this or that, if you have reached an extreme other than completely satisfied – it is time to visit the Cross and discover His Grace again.

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

There is no satisfaction or contentment outside of Jesus Christ. Any area of our life operating outside of faith, trust and complete dependency on the Lord will always fall short of His Glorious Standard because sin will find its way there. The thief is the enemy of your life who wants to drain you of all resources until he can easily overtake your overburdened heart. It happens like a slow leak. You are excitedly serving the Lord one minute and unsure how you have wandered so far the next. All with good intentions but no understanding that only Jesus Christ can offer a rich and satisfying life. He is the One who rebukes the devourer for those who are faithful and obedient to His Word. (Malachi 3)

We went to Puerto Rico on a company trip many years ago. The vendors had arranged a dinner in the heart of the rain forest. Buses were rented to take us through the city to the outskirts of town. Riding along one of the passengers attempted to open a window as the small bus was overcrowded. The bus driver yelled from the front, “CLOSE THE WINDOW!” He went on to share this is a very bad part of town. It is not uncommon for robberies and hijackings to occur if we are not careful. This would probably explain his erratic driving through the area. It looked like a neighborhood like any other modest one, but it housed dangers that foreigners could not see and did not realize. The bus driver was keeping us safe.

We obeyed his instructions making it to and from the event unharmed and intact. We have been given the Word of God and the Holy Spirit as a guide for our life. Obedience saves our life because it rebukes the devourer and binds the hands of the thief against us. Obedience requires trusting the one who instructs us and believing that what they say is valid and true for our own good. There are areas of our life that are kept from God’s Word and His Spirit because we want our own way. When the devourer comes or the thief steals, kills or destroys something in our life – we blame God for not being there when sometimes it is our own willful betrayal and intentional disobedience that left the window open that he crawled through. Shut the windows of your life and lock them tight. Seal the doors bolting them shut and keeping them that way.

When a sinner is set free and comes to Jesus, sin is removed and goodness exposed. Our life is renewed. His Spirit fills us with God’s Goodness and Grace. The enemy now sees something that he wants. He desires to steal us away from the Lord. It is his revenge for the end that is coming. If we do not examine our life day by day applying mercy and grace to patch the holes in our soul, we are susceptible to stumbling, falling and leaking out that which God is filling our life with. All the good things that He is sending down from Heaven wasted…because we did not stop the leaks in our life.

Psalm 112:4-9 (NLT) Light shines in the darkness for the godly. They are generous, compassionate, and righteous. Good comes to those who lend money generously and conduct their business fairly. Such people will not be overcome by evil. Those who are righteous will be long remembered. They do not fear bad news; they confidently trust the Lord to care for them. They are confident and fearless and can face their foes triumphantly. They share freely and give generously to those in need. Their good deeds will be remembered forever. They will have influence and honor.

Psalm 112 is just a glimpse into the life of godly people made righteous by faith in Jesus Christ. Their life becomes valuable and worth something. They will begin to walk confidently in the Love of God. The constant connection to God for righteousness sake will produce an overflow of abundance in each area given over to the Lord. We will have something others want. Our trust in Jesus will cause reckless love, generous giving and a constant state of victory. It doesn’t say that we will not have battles. It does tell us that we win each one that begins by trusting God. But here is what happens…

Luke 5:36-38 (NLT) Then Jesus gave them this illustration: “No one tears a piece of cloth from a new garment and uses it to patch an old garment. For then the new garment would be ruined, and the new patch wouldn’t even match the old garment. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the new wine would burst the wineskins, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. New wine must be stored in new wineskins.

I have three daughters who all have closets full of nothing to wear. Our middle daughter went through a phase where her shorts seem to get smaller and smaller as she grew bigger and bigger. However, when she gave her heart to Jesus and decided to serve Him wholeheartedly – a whole summer wardrobe became obsolete. No longer were the shorts too short. The tops too small or tight. As she discovers more and more her worth to Jesus Christ, she decided to change her wardrobe. As women, we struggle with the clothes that we wear. Not many girls I know do not have times of personal body shaming and self-loathing in a world that sets a ridiculous standard for girls and women. I am kicking the soapbox back under the bed though I really want to drag it our really bad.

Our growth process in the Lord will develop through seasons of change. To come to Christ and think that is all there is to it is a lie that can steal God’s Glory and Blessing from our life. God promises that we will see His Goodness in the land of the living. Our confidence in God’s Word keeps us pressing to see that day come. (Psalm 27:13) Not everything is heaven-bound, we just haven’t figured out how to loose them on earth to overflow from our life. God is not going to pour out more of His Spirit on a person who is not ready to receive. First, the Lord does everything on purpose. If I am not ready to receive, it is pointless to pour things into my life. He is also not going to take that which is holding us back from us, but waits for us to let it go. That is called freedom, my friend, and God hates double standards. If you want “new wine” you need new wineskins. If you want more of His Spirit, you must make room for Him to come in.

2 Corinthians 8:1-3 (NLT) Now I want you to know, dear brothers and sisters, what God in his kindness has done through the churches in Macedonia. They are being tested by many troubles, and they are very poor. But they are also filled with abundant joy, which has overflowed in rich generosity. For I can testify that they gave not only what they could afford, but far more. And they did it of their own free will.

There are many people who will give from their surplus but few who will sacrifice. Sometimes the problem is not our ability to receive from the Lord but be obedient in our offering. The Lord presses us to give back our time, talent and treasure as a tithe to Him. With only 2% of God’s Church in America tithing, I think there may be a pressure problem here. God is filling our life with good things. Are we hoarding it for ourselves? Before you can offer anything to God – you must meet His Requirement. For example, tithing is 10% of what you get. An offering is anything over 10% or the level of obedience. We give the time we have rather instead of making time to serve the Lord, read His Word, spend it in prayer, reach out to others, and love when it hurts. We pay our bills, buy our toys, and fill our life with everything imaginable because we think we somehow earned it. Friend, those who are blessed with abundance must know that every good and perfect gift is from the Father who gave you that great job, your income and all those things you hold on to so dearly and lovingly. We must learn to give our life until it hurts. Sacrificing our way to do it His Way. What God puts in our life must be generously shared to be blessed and broken.

2 Corinthians 9:10-14 (NLT) For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you. Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God. So two good things will result from this ministry of giving—the needs of the believers in Jerusalem will be met, and they will joyfully express their thanks to God. As a result of your ministry, they will give glory to God. For your generosity to them and to all believers will prove that you are obedient to the Good News of Christ. And they will pray for you with deep affection because of the overflowing grace God has given to you.

“Lord, you alone are my inheritance, my cup of blessing. You guard all that is mine.” Psalm 16:5 We have a sweet little dog who we adopted when she was over a year old. She came with some bad habits that needed retraining. One of those bad habits came when it was time to eat. I was completely taken back the first time I fed her. I have never seen anything like it. She would slam her head in the bowl inhaling the food to the point of choking. Her anxiety was so bad that sometimes she would knock the bowl over in her haste to devour it. If anyone came close to her while she was eating, she would try even harder to get it all in her mouth. This was unacceptable. Not sure of what caused this in her, her behavior had to be modified as it was not good for her. To begin her training, I let her go for about a week just to observe that she would be fed twice a day. No change in behavior. So for about two weeks, I fed her the tiny pellets of dog food one at a time. At first impatient, she soon discovered that I was not taking it away and would sit and eat with me. When I tried her food bowl again, however; she was right back where she started. Finally I discovered a bowl that separated her food into four sections making it impossible for her to smash her face it. Poor thing almost knocked herself out the first few times she ate from it, but after a while she slowed down. She still eats somewhat frenzied but as her trust increases her anxiety seems to be decreasing.

I am in no way equating any of you or even me to my four-legged friend, or even if I am, could it be that the Lord must restrict our overflow until we trust Him more? Could it be that His Goodness is SO good that we cannot handle it so He must withhold it for our own good? What profits a man (or woman) who gains the whole world but loses their soul? God knows. He doesn’t want you to find out. So He waits on us to trust Him more, follow Him more closely and open every door in our life to His Spirit to cultivate the planted seeds of His Word and His Promises that we are holding on to with the little bit of hope that we have left.

Philippians 1:9-11 (NLT) I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return. May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation—the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ—for this will bring much glory and praise to God.

What does your meter read today? Has the indicator light been coming on but you have chosen to ignore it? Do feel dry? Are you empty? The Lord has more for you today. His Love is unconditionally overflowing from the river that never runs dry hoping to find a void in our life to fill us new. His Grace is always enough even when we fall down again and again, it is discovered in our weakness but commitment to try. We must be givers. Last night, shopping with our girls, we found an amazing sale. The cashier commented on our savings. As I began to tell her about God’s Goodness and Favor, the woman was almost shouting. She thanked us for reminding her of God’s Goodness and Love. Her whole demeanor changed and she began praising God under her breath as we left the store and she helped the next customer. You have an amazing power and love hidden in the fragile frame that forms your life. It is always looking for a way to overflow into your life for His Glory and your goodness. The Lord seeks to bless you with the inheritance that He designated for you. What are you doing to secure God’s Blessing and Prosperity in your life today? People need the person of Jesus Christ that fills us to overflowing giving us something of worth to share. The Lord will always give seed to the sower. What are you planting in your life today? Is it worthy of a harvest? He must be the Center of our life so that all things flow through Him to be blessed and broken for His Use…beginning with me!

Proverbs 11:25 (NLT) The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.

Restoring Joy

hands holding the sun at dawn

Psalm 51:8-12 (NLT) Oh, give me back my joy again; you have broken me—now let me rejoice. Don’t keep looking at my sins. Remove the stain of my guilt. Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me. Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and make me willing to obey you.

Have you lost your joy today? Does it seem like serving the Lord is tedious? Are you broken hearted and losing your faith? Sin got you down. Shame overwhelming. Life is a struggle. Darkness constantly trying to overtake the Light of God’s Love for us. We battle for happiness. Going through life like we rummage through our dresser looking for something to wear that makes us feel confident and good. Our salvation promotes freedom that allows us to be joyfully satisfied in all areas of life. Repentance and obedience should provide a refuge that gives us a place to run to rather than wrestling with the enemy and ourselves to maintain our peace and joy in Jesus Christ. As a born again believer, each new day is filled with destiny as God continues to breathe life into me and give my opportunities to do His Will. To some that may not sound appealing, but for those who take one step by faith to do the Will of God, well you know its potential.

“We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.” (Buddha) How ironic that Buddha would be quoted with such insight. I agree with him believe it or not. I do believe that human beings are shaped by their thoughts due to their higher intelligence and dominance in this world. We do become what we think. I think that I am a Child of God, therefore; I choose to live like it. I think about Him all the time. When our mind is focused on the Love and Grace poured out by Jesus, it makes us cognizant of our sin-filled and sinful condition. This will cause guilt and shame. To some it is overwhelming, eroding what they know about the Living God and contaminating one’s ability to hold true to the knowledge and understanding of God’s Compassion and Unconditional Love for us all. Maybe just maybe if we could change the way that we think, it might produce a life change that will release a wellspring of overflowing joy in our life.

“Restore the joy of my salvation and make me willing to obey you.” Is it possible that our joy left when obedience ended? The joy of the Lord is our strength. But to take advantage of another’s strength requires dependency. For example, a chair may seem to be sturdy and of a sound structure, but it is not until I actually sit on it that I can determine if my trust is valid or misplaced. The joy of salvation is found in repentance or turning from our sin to follow Jesus. It is achieved in each step we take from this world into the Kingdom of God. After all, isn’t that what freedom is all about? Stepping out of sin, shedding chains of bondage and celebrating our freedom by serving Jesus Christ.

Psalm 119:1-8 (NLT) Joyful are people of integrity, who follow the instructions of the Lord. Joyful are those who obey his laws and search for him with all their hearts. They do not compromise with evil, and they walk only in his paths. You have charged us to keep your commandments carefully. Oh, that my actions would consistently reflect your decrees! Then I will not be ashamed when I compare my life with your commands. As I learn your righteous regulations, I will thank you by living as I should! I will obey your decrees. Please don’t give up on me!

“As I learn your righteous regulations, I will thank you by living as I should.” Are you thankful for Jesus today? How do you honor His Sacrifice to obtain your life and give you back your freedom? Staying free? During our weekly youth service, I was praying for our kids. I had a vivid image of them standing in a row across the front of the church. The angel of the Lord was walking by each one. Though their bodies stood poised with their arms by their side, as the angel approached most would raise their hands in the shadows not in the natural and the angel would mark their forehead with the oil dripping from its hands. But there were some who did not life up their hands in the spirit, so the angel passed them by. God’s Prosperity in our life is a soul condition that begins to impact our life as it grows from our heart and manifests around us. We must find a way to get there from here. Are you reaching out to Jesus today? Or just going through the motions? It matters! Do not let Him pass you by! God is doing everything in His Power bound by His Word to bless you and make you succeed. But He can only give you as much as you are willing to take. That is called freedom.

Joy comes from integrity. Honesty with God doesn’t mean you are always right, faithful or true. It is not about living a sinless life. Integrity is being genuine. Joy comes from obedience. Trusting God’s Word and doing what it says in plain and simple terms. Joy comes from living in full pursuit of Jesus Christ rather than having divided interests. Joy does not compromise for temporary happiness or comfortable relief. Joy is found in consistency.

Mother Teresa believed that “joy is prayer; joy is strength; joy is love; joy is the net of love by which you can catch souls.” I do not believe that anyone can be an effective witness for Jesus Christ and not be filled with the joy that comes from His Spirit living inside of us. Where is your joy today? Peace with God allows us to live according to the Word of God and not our feelings. What an awesome relief?

Psalm 1:1-3 (NLT) Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season.
Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.

Do you delight in the Word of God? Do you read it, study it or meditate on it each day? If not, why? The word “follow” occurs a lot when it comes to Jesus. We are to “follow” Him. Follow implies that we are going somewhere. Follow me, Jesus tells us. Why? For joy sake, we must learn to live a life of repentance in full pursuit of God’s Will through His Son, Jesus Christ. But why? Because those who do will prosper. God has given us the Holy Spirit who cultivates spiritual fruit. The Kingdom of God is internal working its way externally. Too many times, people are reliant on the five senses or how something makes them feel so they avoid inconvenience or discomfort to live their life in freedom.

“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!”  (Galatians 5:22-23) The Holy Spirit is put inside of us to clean out and cultivate our heart to do the Father’s Will. Joy is the second fruit of the Holy Spirit. Understanding that the enemy wants to steal, kill and destroy anything and everything that God is doing in us and for us, he will offer us compromises such as happiness for joy. Lust for love. The list goes on. How will we ever know the difference if we don’t know the Lord and His Will for us? We will fall for the enemy’s tricks every single time.

Psalm 16:9-11 (NLT) No wonder my heart is glad, and I rejoice. My body rests in safety. For you will not leave my soul among the dead or allow your holy one to rot in the grave. You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.

“Service which is rendered without joy helps neither the servant nor the served. But all other pleasures and possessions pale into nothingness before service which is rendered in the spirit of joy.” (Mahatma Gandhi) The Word of God shows us how to serve the Lord and follow in Jesus’ footsteps and the Holy Spirit feeds us the fruit of our labor including love, joy, peace and so on. To attempt to serve Jesus only from our flesh always leads to failure. You cannot go where you have not been without a map and/or guide. We have been given both.

Our life has a place in Jesus Christ. He wants to be our refuge and strength. The Word of God says clearly through Nehemiah that the “joy of the Lord is your strength.” He was the one who facilitated the rebuilding. We are building a kingdom. We must learn to seek the Kingdom of God and live for it today from the wellspring surging from our heart rather than serving the Lord with our head. He doesn’t care what you think. It matters what who we know. Services to God offered from any other motive but love and thankfulness will be rejected. “As I learn your righteous regulations, I will thank you by living as I should!”

Psalm 30:11-12 (NLT) You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy, that I might sing praises to you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever!

The Lord will turn our mourning into joyful dancing. He will take over the clothes of mourning and replaces them with a robe of righteousness identifying us as a Child of God and the Bride of Jesus Christ. I know that somewhere along the way from sickness to healing with our son, I had to stop looking for happiness in the natural and take hold of joy by faith. I couldn’t rely on what I saw, heard or felt anymore because it all was hopeless.

God has promised me a hope that never leads to disappointment. I must invest my life in trusting and depending on my God allowing Him the opportunity to make good on His Promise that He will cause “everything to work together for the good of those who love” Him. Loving God leads to joy. It is the second fruit that is offered by His Spirit. If you do not have joy today, I have good news. It can still be found. Jesus has not left you and never forsakes us. My God has given me a future and hope that I must have faith to lay claim to. Faith that does not just sit in one place. I need follower’s faith that intends to lay claim to everything that the Lord has promised and will not stop until the wedding day comes. “I am overwhelmed with joy in the Lord my God! For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation and draped me in a robe of righteousness. I am like a bridegroom dressed for his wedding or a bride with her jewels.” (Isaiah 61:10)

Psalm 19:7-8 (NLT) The instructions of the Lord are perfect, reviving the soul.
The decrees of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The commandments of the Lord are right, bringing joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are clear, giving insight for living.

The psalmist admits “My heart is breaking as I remember how it used to be: I walked among the crowds of worshipers, leading a great procession to the house of God, singing for joy and giving thanks amid the sound of a great celebration! Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad?” Are you unhappy today? Is your heart breaking because it has lost its joy? Do you remember how it felt to praise God and worship Him but now something is missing? What is the solution?

“I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again—my Savior and my God!” Joy is a choice. It is a conscious decision to put all faith and trust in the Lord and keep it there. It is making time to open the Word of God – to read, study and meditate on it. Communing with His Spirit and making more room for Him in our heart and giving Him access to our mind freely and lovingly. Following Jesus is the only way to achieve the love, joy and peace that is promised otherwise we are living in contradiction that will not produce the Fruit we desire that can only come from the Lord like joy! Will you rejoice today? I hope so. Give the Lord your burdens. Choose to serve Him because you love Him. Live each moment of today praising God even if it means stifling some complaints. Maintain your freedom even if it means turning the other cheek or biting your tongue. Let the joy of the Lord overtake you as He revives your soul and renews your hope today!

Psalm 118:24 (NLT) This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it!

Fixin To

Fixin' To

Proverbs 4:23-27 (NLT) Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. Avoid all perverse talk; stay away from corrupt speech. Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you. Mark out a straight path for your feet; stay on the safe path. Don’t get sidetracked; keep your feet from following evil.

“Fixin’ to” is a very common term used in the South which happens to be my home. I have a slight Southern drawl but nothing like my friends and family who live in the county outside of town. “Fixin’ to” means simply about to or getting ready to do something. It can also be used as a form of procrastination meaning I wasn’t but I am now that you reminded me or avoidance when you would like help making dinner or cleaning the kitchen…maybe this is just my experience. We are fixin’ to move out to the county. I find that the more time my children spend with our family and friends in this environment that their vocabulary is changing. The word “ain’t” comes up a lot more. The conjugation of verbs is changing. Although born in the South where my dad was born and raised, my biological mom was from Maine. With two very different examples, I find that my vernacular will take on the identity of those around me depending on the speech pattern of those around me. Crazy how our mind works…

Today my heart is challenged by the Lord to be focused. To fix my heart, mind, ears, and eyes on Him. Something is coming and I believe that the Lord does not want any of His Beloved to miss out on His Grace, Goodness and Glory that is about to pour out from His Kingdom to rain on all of us. God is fixin’ to do something that is great and wants us to get ready for what He is fixin’ to do. When my eyes opened, before I could even focus or see in the dark, the Lord told me to fix my eyes and focus so I am sharing this with you.

I have no idea what the Lord is about to do. Like everyone else reading this today, there must be something in your heart that you have been waiting on. Maybe it is that thing you need release to do, relief from or restoration of that He has on His Mind. Perhaps it is for the corporate call of revival that has many churches fasting and praying to experience the Lord’s Presence in a whole new magnificent way. Whatever your solution is God has it and is desperate to get it to you… to us.

Guard your heart above all else. The call to attention in my spirit is real today. A heightened sense of awareness that the Lord is closer than before and tugging just a little tighter on my heart strings tells me that God is about to do something big. Just looking at the conversations of Jesus just prior to the Cross, He did not keep His Destiny a secret but the people around Him did not want to hear that. It was not their plan. It was not what they wanted. We all are guilty of that sometimes. Crying out to the Lord and saying, “Your Will be done…” but not really meaning it in our heart and soul. Our heart determines the course of our life.

When the Lord speaks to us, it is directly to our heart. Our mind is too perverse to truly comprehend the message that He brings so He speaks to the Holy Spirit in us who works His Way through our heart into our head. Faith is illogical. Hope seems unrealistic. It is our heart that can override our mind and fix our thoughts on Jesus. Why Jesus?

Hebrews 12:2 (NLT) We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.

Jesus is the Champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Initiate means to introduce, to begin, set going or to originate. He is the Alpha and Omega of faith. He is the beginning and the end of our faith. Faith is not a head game but a heart change. It is not challenging ourselves to trust God even when we don’t believe. It is the opportunity to know the Lord and trust all that He does as beneficial. So much so that we learn to depend on Jesus for everything.

Jesus is the Champion of faith which means He is the best at it. He won it all. The great thing about it is when He won the victory over sin, sickness, addiction, evil, death and the grave – the Lord offered it to you and me without hesitation. Even though it was completely our fault, He said, “Here this is for you!” The faith potential in our life found in completion is perfection. It comes from the Champion of Faith – Jesus Christ.

It is all in the “and”. Jesus is the Initiator and Champion of faith. We fill in the “and” with our willingness and ability to take hold of faith and allow His Love to grow deep roots in our life and solidify our connection to Christ. This allows us to take hold of hope. The kind that never leads to disappointment. Jesus did all this for the joy that awaited Him after the Cross. Too many times we look for relief in the midst of enduring but this will only set us back. God will give you respite. He will give you rest. He will restore you as you go just as Psalm 23 promises. You cannot stop holding on and pressing in because winners don’t quit.

Colossians 3:7-10 (NLT) You used to do these things when your life was still part of this world. But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language. Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds. Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him.

“Avoid all perverse talk; stay away from corrupt speech.” This is vital to the growth and cultivation of faith. Our words can be toxic if we do not have a guarded heart that takes over our rambling lips. The heart and mind must become one so that from the abundance of our heart comes pouring out when we speak. This is a full-time job for every Christian so do not think you are alone. I have to pray every single day for the Holy Spirit to cover my mouth. The struggle is real. Especially when the enemy is intent on using others to annoy us, anger us, offend us, take advantage of us, stealing our joy let alone our stuff, and so many other tactics to kill the harvest of those who dare to live by faith.

Every word must be evaluated carefully to be certain that there is no anger, rage, malice, slander or improper connotation. Our brain justifies our speech so we must bypass our brain and connect each word with the Holy Spirit in our heart. Our words should edify the body and build up souls. The best way to do that is to focus on the Word – read it, study it, and meditate on it until it becomes the pattern for our life rather than this world. We must invite the Holy Spirit to control our tongue every day and fight the urge to rant, rave and complain when things don’t go our way.

Philippians 4:6-9 (NLT) Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.

Mark out a straight path for your feet. Stay on the safe path. Don’t get sidetracked. Keep your feet from following evil. Jesus is fixin’ to return. We better be fixin’ our lives to be ready when He comes. On a serious note, it matters how we live out the “and” called our life. Fix our thoughts. What we think about dictates how we live? It is easy to get caught in the natural. Life. Love. Responsibilities. Other relationships outside of Christ. If God’s People would come to the understanding that nothing in our life should operate outside of our love for Jesus Christ and obedience to His Word in our life – it would all come together. Our heart and mind would be at peace. The fulfillment of God would overtake us. People could not touch our joy and deep satisfaction. It wouldn’t matter what they said to us or did to us. This is how we perfect our faith. It is nothing we do but our complete envelopment in the Love of Jesus.

Marking out a straight path gives hint to the fact this is what we must be willing to do. Mark means a visible impression or tangible tracing. We have God’s Word. We have God’s Spirit. Now we must surrender our way to allow His Way to take over. Thy Kingdom come…THY WILL be done requires faith that His Way is better. Enough faith to intentionally walk that way each and every day.

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you. Jesus sets us free to choose a way of life. This does not change the fact that He is fixin to come back for us. It means each individual decides what he or she is fixin’ to do. When the Lord comes it will not be to evaluate our good intentions or the things that we were fixin’ to do. Did we endure? Did we persevere? Did we love unconditionally? Did we surrender our life fully? Today I must fix my thoughts on what is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely and admirable – the only One I can think of is Jesus Christ my Champion. I must be purposeful in practicing all I have learned (from His Word) and all that I have received (through His Spirit). It is important to pray about everything and everyone in my life as I redirect my entire existence through my relationship with Jesus Christ. It is a labor of love. It is the “and” between the Initiation of Faith and its Perfection yet to come. The Lord is fixin’ to come and I plan to be ready. How about you?

2 Corinthians 4:17-18 (NLT) For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.