Every Blessing – A Devotion

Every Blessing

James 1:16-18 (NLT)
So don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters. 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. He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession.

 

Whatever is good. Whatever is perfect. It is a gift straight from the Hand of God in Heaven into our life. He created the universe and everything in it. It all belongs to Him. So when that thing which we desire that is good or something perfect happens – it is all God. He never changes. He does not cast a shifting shadow. In other words, God does not do the old bait and switch. He does not promise you one thing only to mislead you by offering something less. This is a good thing even though sometimes we become frustrated and challenge the goodness of God in our frustration and unwillingness to wait on this thing called perfection. He chose us. He created us. He simply spoke us into existence. His Word is in us. It is the fiber our being. If only believers could see themselves as His Children and most prized possession perhaps one might plainly see every blessing.

 

The overall consistency of God is overwhelming. It is too much for my humanity to fully wrap its brain around hence I cannot always seem to stay focused on the fact that He is always good. His Glory is His Very Countenance and constantly trying to make its way into my life even when I am frustrated, angry, confused or doubtful – God is right there trying to find a way to make good things happen in my life. The world wants you to believe that luck and random acts of kindness are the reason these things occur but I do not believe that anymore. I wonder what might happen if rather than focusing on things that are not going as we expected or the “things” that have not made their way to us yet, what if we could turn our focus on every blessing along the way to this perfection that we so desire. What if every time something good came our way – we simply blessed the Lord and said, “Thanks!”

 

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.

 

I have tasted and seen that the Lord is good. I am beginning to think this might be my problem in seasons of dryness and drought is that I know just how good God can be and has been in my life and so now in times of testing and pressure – I am looking for what I know God can do. Believers, even strong ones, experience seasons of hunger and drought. This makes us hunger and thirst for more and more of God. It is vitally important that we never refine our taste for the Lord but constantly try each and every possible way to connect with Him more. There is joy for those who live in the Presence of God that is a definite loss if we drift from this place. Those who fear the Lord and respect His Place in their life will have ALL they need. We have never done without. I take that for granted so many times. I look in the pantry and think we have nothing to eat but when I begin to make meals from the same closet it yields an endless supply. I look in my overflowing closet and say I have nothing to wear yet I could clothe several people for several days without anyone going naked. I have everything I need day after day, month after month, and year after year yet I become discontent wanting more rather than being thankful for every single blessing that we have been given. Those who trust the Lord will lack NO good thing. I have more than I need and most of what I want. Now God invites me to this place called contentment promising it will yield peace and joy like I have never known. To live in the Presence and Provision of God finding the fulfillment I have longed right where I am.

 

Psalm 145:8-13 (NLT)

The Lord is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. The Lord is good to everyone. He showers compassion on all his creation. All of your works will thank you, Lord, and your faithful followers will praise you. They will speak of the glory of your kingdom; they will give examples of your power. They will tell about your mighty deeds and about the majesty and glory of your reign. For your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom. You rule throughout all generations. The Lord always keeps his promises; he is gracious in all he does.

 

The Lord is compassionate and merciful so my mistakes do not impact His Overall Willingness and Desire to bless my life. It is not about me but His Desire to release His Glory in my life for all the world to see. God is good to everyone. Everything we need has already been provided but most people do not know what contentment or satisfaction feel like so thankfulness never grants them such a thing as fulfillment. I have met people who are never thankful. They live wrapped up discontentment, dissatisfaction and pity themselves. They love the Lord. They give Him honor and praise with their mouth, but to truly exemplify the Goodness of God requires actual confidence in it. You cannot say the Lord has blessed me more than I deserve and then turn around constantly complaining about what you don’t have. It is contradictory testimony that kills your witness to the world. It is obvious to others that what you have found in Christ is not different than what they are experiencing in the world so why bother? God is Good. He is faithful. He is true to His Word even when we are not. He yearns to release His Glory into our life so we may be examples of His Power to the world. I believe this begins when we step into the Presence of God and begin to count our blessings one by one rather than listing our problems in great detail. The Lord ALWAYS keeps His Promises even long after you give up or forget that which you were waiting for. He is gracious in ALL that He does. Even the smallest detail that turns out for our good is from God and He is so worthy of being praised for it. The Character of God is that of Loving Father. It is His Desire to bless us so He does.

 

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.

 

Satan, the devil, or the enemy, whatever you choose to call him, will never ever be able to stop God’s Goodness and Glory from emanating from our life. He is powerless when it comes to the Blood of Jesus that covers us. When Jesus walked into hell, He snatched the power from the enemy’s hand. You and I are now free to live in the Presence of God again as our sins have been washed away. We can walk in the Power of God as His Confident Children without a care in the world. Always be joyful does not sound like a suggestion but a direct request. Be thankful in all circumstances is a confident declaration rather than a “make-the-best-of-things” statement. God’s Will for you as a believer who has accepted Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord is to live in the joy, peace and confidence of God Kingdom. He has given you His Spirit to help us produce these things in our life.

 

Do not scoff prophecies. This is not only talking about those given to you by a man or woman of God as a means of encouragement but it is more importantly talking about those things that the Lord has put in our heart that we consider abandoning when it takes a little more time or too much effort to obtain. Test everything that is said. Compare the Voice you hear with the Word of God given to you. When it is genuine and truly a Promise of God, hold on to it. Do not let go of it. It will come to pass. We live in the blessing of God moment by moment to identify what He promises and hold on to it is called hope. It anchors our soul. (Hebrews 6:19)

 

Psalm 119:37-40 (NLT)

Turn my eyes from worthless things, and give me life through your word. Reassure me of your promise, made to those who fear you. Help me abandon my shameful ways; for your regulations are good. I long to obey your commandments! Renew my life with your goodness.

 

God is good. His Goodness is permeating our life today whether we are conscious of it or not. If only we could turn our eyes from the worthless things including all the worries that we have given precedence over praise and worship of the God who not only can but will bless us as much as we will are able to receive. To acknowledge God for His Goodness removes those things we have settled for to make more room for His Glory in our life. God’s Word gave us life so there is no better resource to renew our thoughts, attitudes and actions. As we align our life with His Kingdom, His Glory spills into our life until it is overflowing. It is not dependent on anything we do just our willingness to live in His Presence. His Blessing is not questionable but constant. The only real question is will we recognize His Blessing. He keeps every promise but our stubbornness in having our way sometimes keeps us from seeing all that He has done.

 

Lord, today turn my eyes from worthless things. Give me life through this Word you have given us today. Lord, reassure me of those promises that I gave up on but you are still working out for my good and your glory. Help me abandon shameful things like complaining, griping, and impatience to live by faith and confident hope not only in my heart but conversation. I ask you to renew my life with your goodness and give me the grace to see each blessing and thank you for it.

 

Philippians 3:7-8 (NLT)

 I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ.

I Want to Live Like That – A Devotion

I Want to Live Like THat

Psalm 103:1-5 (NLT)

Let all that I am praise the Lord; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name. Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me. He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies. He fills my life with good things. My youth is renewed like the eagle’s!

 

I love Easter! Ever since I became a Christian, it has been one of my favorite holidays. There is something fresh and new this season each year as spring revives the earth. Each year around this time, I am gathering new outfits for each of the children which has now dwindled down to two. New shirts, pants, dresses and shoes all in preparation to celebrate Jesus who is alive and well. The thought has occurred to me recently what if we lived in anticipation of each Sunday as we do Easter Sunday. What if as institutions each church prayed and prepared the same way each week? What if families focused their attention on attendance as they do right before Easter? What if we gathered together with the same expectancy? What if we talked about the Blood of Jesus the same? What if we honored His Sacrifice as we do? Easter is one of the biggest Sundays in the church. Attendance skyrockets that day. Preachers talk candidly about the sacrifice that Jesus made and His Great Success overcoming the grave. But what if we lived like that every single day of the year?

 

Let all that I am praise the Lord! With my whole heart, I will praise His Holy Name. May I NEVER forget the good things that He does for me. I forget sometimes wrapped up in what I am waiting for – I will forget all that He has done for me already. Easter is all about me. We celebrate Jesus but the Work of the Cross was most definitely all about you and me. Everything Jesus did from birth to death to resurrection and finally ascension was all about us. He did it for us. The Lord lacked nothing. He did not need forgiveness or fulfillment. He wrapped Himself in flesh to deliver the message that we could once again live in right standing with God the Father and have a life filled with overcoming victory and abundant promises. I have that life because Jesus lives. I want to live like it.

 

Isaiah 53:4-6 (NLT)

Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him the sins of us all.

 

It was my weakness that Jesus carried to the Cross. It was the weight of my sorrow that kept Him there. It was my rebellion that required repayment. It was my sin that demanded a life. It was my sickness that beat Him. It was disease that tore into His Flesh. It was all about me. As I consider this I am overwhelmed with regret that there are days that in my inability to comprehend such comprehensive love that I take it for granted, but today will not be one of those days. Could it be that we forget the benefits of the Blood because it is an unpleasant sight? Maybe we don’t want to go back to the Cross where we “first saw the Light” because it is a gruesome discovery but that is where the “burdens of my heart rolled away.” Easter forces us back to the Cross and the Blood if only for a day, but what if we learned to live covered by the Blood at the foot of the Cross. What would happen then? Revival would happen. New life restored. Miracles would be common place all because someone ventured there and chose to remain there. I am convinced. So much so that I have purposed in my own heart to live like that!

 

Exodus 12:21-23 (NLT)

Then Moses called all the elders of Israel together and said to them, “Go, pick out a lamb or young goat for each of your families, and slaughter the Passover animal. Drain the blood into a basin. Then take a bundle of hyssop branches and dip it into the blood. Brush the hyssop across the top and sides of the doorframes of your houses. And no one may go out through the door until morning. For the Lord will pass through the land to strike down the Egyptians. But when he sees the blood on the top and sides of the doorframe, the Lord will pass over your home. He will not permit his death angel to enter your house and strike you down.

 

The very first memory that I have of Sunday school is being taught about Passover which means it was probably around Easter when my family attended. My grandmother would take me to church on the weekends that I spent with her. I can remember vividly being taught about the process despite my young age. Obviously I did not understand the significance of the story but now to read it again makes me think of the Blood with the new knowledge that I have of Jesus Christ. When you read this account, it just sounds really messy and heart wrenching. I cannot imagine walking out in a field and taking a baby lamb from its mama. Much less slaughtering it, draining its blood in a bowl, taking some branches and painting our doorpost in it. Praise the Lord that we do not have to continually sacrifice animals any longer but that the ultimate sacrifice has been made.

 

It was the blood placed on that doorway that caused the death angel to pass over that home and no one to be struck down. Since we have been saved and covered in the “Blood” of Jesus, we have sent one son to fight for this country and watched another overcome cancer not once but five times. You will never convince me that it wasn’t the Blood of Jesus that covers us that saved us every single time. I cannot even imagine the near misses when the Lord averted the death angel from our family that are not even aware of. The lamb’s blood lost its power and each Passover new blood was required. However, the Blood of Jesus Christ will never lose its power so I must live like it. I must remain covered in the Blood of Jesus and speak it over my life. It is the protective covering that keeps me safe from this life to Eternity physically and spiritually just like Jesus promised.

 

Hebrews 10:19-23 (NLT)

And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water. Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.

 

When our daughter moved to New Hampshire, she went to the Department of Motor Vehicles to renew her license with her married name and change residency to her new home. She called me and asked about becoming an organ donor. We chatted for a few minutes and she decided that she would do it. Now as her mother, I do not want to even think about a day when she would make such a gift of sacrifice but am proud that she would. Not too long ago, my son and I had this same discussion as we completed his advance directive just prior to the bone marrow transplant. The thought of the death of my children is just too much to consider even though I have been faced with it. Our oldest son went over his affairs with us just before departing for the Middle East. It is not pleasant to discuss the possibility of life after the death of a loved one. We don’t want to face death. We do not want our family or friends to die. We sympathize with strangers in loss as well. The reality is that everyone will die. We are born dying. It sounds harsh but it is true. What happens after death is what makes the difference between a tragedy or triumph. We decide if it is the end or only the beginning. What if we lived in new life every day?

 

We can! Just sided to open a new and life-giving way to live in the Presence of God every single day. If only I could become committed enough to do so and remain rooted and grounded in faith and confident hope every single day of this life so that when I step into forever it is not a jump but seamless transition from death to life. We can boldly and confidently live out the Word and Way of God each day including claiming His Promises and living in His Blessing. But to do so we must live in the Blood of Jesus and at the foot of the Cross. “It is there by faith that I receive my sight and now I am happy all the day.” The old church sang about the Blood and Cross but the new, modern day church avoids the subject all together. Lord, I want to live covered in the Blood of Jesus today and every day leading up to Easter and beyond. I want to remain at the foot of the Cross because I need you to survive this life. As we prepare for Easter this year, may it mark a renewed commitment to live in anticipation of the resurrection every single day that we have breath and wakeup to meet the morning sun! Lord, I want to live like that!

 

Hebrews 13:20-21 (NLT)

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

 

Not an Option – A Devotion

Not an Option

I Timothy 6:11-12 (NLT)

But you, Timothy, are a man of God; so run from all these evil things. Pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have declared so well before many witnesses.

 

Why not just give up? No really, what is it in a believer that makes them tenacious and persistent in following Christ. We cannot see Him. We cannot feel Him or touch Him in a natural sense. We can only believe the Word of God and live according to His Spirit. But when the Spirit lives inside of you it is very difficult to discern between our voice and His Urgings especially at the beginning of our walk with the Lord. What is the benefit of becoming a man or woman of God in the sense that is asked of Timothy here in these verses? Run from all these evil things. Pursue righteousness. Live a godly life with faith, love, perseverance and gentleness. Fight the good fight for true faith. Hold tightly to the hope you have been called to which is eternal life. This is a lofty aspiration for forever but what is the benefit now? How do I know that my faith and confident hope are secure? Your faith is genuine and hope secure when giving up is no longer an option.

 

2 Samuel 23:11-12 (NLT)

Next in rank was Shammah son of Agee from Harar. One time the Philistines gathered at Lehi and attacked the Israelites in a field full of lentils. The Israelite army fled, but Shammah held his ground in the middle of the field and beat back the Philistines. So the Lord brought about a great victory.

 

A few weeks ago, our pastor shared the story of one of David’s mighty men named Shammah. The Philistines gathered and attacked the Israelites in a field full of lentils. Lentils are tiny peas. The giants proved to be strong adversaries and the Israelite army retreated but no Shammah. He held his ground and beat the Philistines. The Lord brought this man great victory because he took a stand. Yesterday, I shared that I walked away the day before. A bit of bad news was the final straw that broke the camel’s back. I was done. Finished. Fed up. Tired of trying. Mad at the world and honestly at God, too. I ranted, raved, carried on and picked up my toys to go home. But something inside me would not let me make good on my intent to walk away. God let me have a fit. He even let me rant and rave. But deep inside me, I knew that I couldn’t leave. I have come too far to turn back now. I have invested my life in faith and confident hope that the things of God are just as He promised and coming into my life.

 

Yesterday rather than a feeling of condemnation for my inappropriate behavior the day before I felt comfort. God wasn’t mad at me. He soothed my aching heart. Sitting in church, it dawned on me like sunrise over Shammah’s lentil field that I have invested my life in the pursuit of faith planting my expectation in the field called hope. I have put my entire life in that place. This is my field. To walk away now is unthinkable. To do so would be to surrender my harvest to the enemy and I am not willing to do that even though right now it just looks like broken ground with careful rows of planting – this will soon sprout into a harvest of God’s Glory in my life.

 

Romans 5:1-5 (NLT)

Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory. We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.  And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

 

I stand in a place of undeserved privilege with God that is sometimes challenged by a human sense of entitlement that tells me I don’t have to take it anymore. I have peace with God that really irks the enemy because it is a position of power when it multiples my faith producing more and more hope. Confidence keeps me here in the struggle. God’s Glory is coming by faith I receive it when I believe. I will have problems. Each time I turn a problem or situation over to the Lord it plants me in righteousness by faith increasing the potential of my harvest. I will experience trials that teach me to endure. Endurance develops my character. Not because I am strong but in my weakness, I allow the Lord to dominate my life and change me into who I need to be to cultivate more of His Blessing and Promises in me. This is the starting point of prosperity. My faith being turned into confidence. Confident hope is nothing more than full assurance that what I believe will come to fulfillment. I have a credible source. The problem is most of the time – when things get uncomfortable people leave faith and hope behind for relief. I want, need and have to have the kind of faith that produces confident hope that never leads to disappointment. He has given me His Spirit so I am never alone. He has given me a life with purpose, plan and great potential. The faith in my heart must be cultivated in my life to the extent that the seed of His Word planted in my life is far greater than anything else the world has to offer. So when my faith is challenged and hope assaulted – I am willing to stand. This is my field and I will fight for it.

 

I Corinthians 10:12-13 (NLT)
If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall. The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.

 

This world does not operate like the Kingdom of God. Your enemy is ruling this planet. So rather than endure, wait and persevere, we live in a time of modern convenience. Immediate gratification is handed to us the moment we are born. The world flashes in living color. Debt has bound our society because we do not have to wait for what we want but can go get it right now whether we can afford it or not. Could this be a work of the enemy to produce a generation of people who cannot wait on God and choose to compromise rather than wait? Absolutely. But it backfired. This new up and coming generation are crying out for authentic faith and confident hope in a real God who is not digitized or animated. They want a real encounter with the God of the Universe. I love it. Everyone faces temptation in their life. No one is exempt. Only those who will wait and endure will see the harvest that faith and hope produce in our life. The enemy does not want us to have such a reward from the Lord so he tries to motivate us to give up, give in and move on. But I declare today in the Name of Jesus that this is my field. I planted my faith right here and I am not leaving until my harvest comes. This hope I have will not disappoint me unless I choose to abandon it altogether so I will wait and fight the good fight of faith.

 

Ephesians 6:12-13 (NLT)

For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.

 

The battle is on. The struggle is real. Do not underestimate the enemy’s agenda against you. It is foolish to try to ignore that the spirit realm is a real place in constant war. If you don’t think you have an adversary who seeks to steal, kill and destroy you – you have another thing coming friend. He is real. He is a vital threat if you abandon faith and confidence in God. You need every piece of that armor to stand and resist. You must be firm in your stand of faith and hope at the end of the battle you are facing to have the blessing that comes with it. The harvest is not in question. God chose you. He gave you right standing that comes with an inheritance. He designated your life for His Glory. (Romans 8:29-30) It is up to us if we want it or not.

 

2 Corinthians 1:20-22 (NLT)

For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes!” And through Christ, our “Amen” (which means “Yes”) ascends to God for his glory. It is God who enables us, along with you, to stand firm for Christ. He has commissioned us, and he has identified us as his own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the first installment that guarantees everything he has promised us.

 

We have been given all of God’s Promises. They are fulfilled in Jesus Christ. He says, “Yes!” There are times when our will does not line up with what the Lord has in mind and these are the times that we must survey our life to decide if we want what is planted in the field of faith or would rather settle or compromise for something less. He gives us that choice. No condemnation. Those who choose to stand firm for Christ will soon harvest the blessings planted in that place called faith in exchange for the confident hope that kept them from leaving a long time ago. Those who continue to plant seeds of righteousness in the field of faith will look over it and decide that there is too much there to turn back now so they will fight for their faith and wait on the Lord. Where are you today? I have admitted my struggle and found that in my weakness He becomes my strength. His Grace really is enough for me. I want everything God has promised me and more importantly my family. So I am not leaving my field… it is not an option. How about you?

 

I Corinthians 16:13 (NLT) Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong.

I Walked Away – A Devotion

I Walked Away

Isaiah 42:9 (NIV)

“See, the former things have taken place and new things I declare; before they spring into being I announce them to you.”

 

As winter turns into spring, the bare trees around our house are beginning to bud and bloom. The birds have returned and serenade whoever ventures outside. Walking around the pool this morning, the usual chirping continued but I heard something a little different in their usual banter. When your smallest fur baby only weighs about three pounds, one must be alert to the birds of the air especially hawks and owls. But when I looked through the branches, a bright red bird caught my eye. All the other ones were now quiet as he continued to sing his morning song. I had to smile at his pride and projection as if he knew the world around him was watching. He had a new song and he was going to sing it loud enough to be heard. As I type today, I can still hear him outside on the tree.

 

As seasons change in life it is not always an easy transition, moving from how you expected things to be to how they actually turned out sometimes is very difficult. The barrier between us and that which we hope for is often human expectation. We want what the Lord has promised but cannot accept the changes necessary to obtain them. We rely on the image of former things and human experience rather than fully embracing the power and plan of God. God has declared new things for everyone who accepts Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord. It is an immediate impartation but a lengthy process. God’s Plan for our life is fully comprehensive including every detail even that which we give up or have forgotten. Not the Lord, He never forgets a single promise. The Lord is moving our family into a new season. I wish I could give you the highlights but I really have no idea myself. I just know that He is changing us and moving us around to do something more wonderful than I could ever think to ask for. I am ready!

 

Ephesians 2:14-16 (NIV)

For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.

 

When Jesus died on the Cross for our sins, God set aside the law and its commands and regulations so He could now be at peace with His Children once again. He destroyed any barrier between God and man making a way for us to have all the promises of God and live with Him forever one day. His Purpose was to recreate a new humanity no longer divided by sin and selfish interest to make peace and reconcile them all to God through Christ. This means that God is no longer in hostile opposition with anyone who has asked Jesus to be their Savior and Lord accepting the full benefits of the Cross. Now what? He becomes our peace. Now this is very, very important to our faith developing confident hope. There are just some things that don’t add up and will never make sense on this journey we are on. Hard times and devastating losses that demand confidence in the Word of God and His Way over what we see, hear and feel in the natural.

 

Psalm 98:1-2 (NIV)

Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things; his right hand and His holy arm have worked salvation for him. The Lord has made his salvation known and revealed his righteousness to the nations.

 

The cardinal is singing because spring is finally here. The morning temperature was much cooler than it has been reminiscent of the winter that has passed. Sometimes when seasons are changing, the weather will bounce back and forth until the transition is complete so some days are warm, sunny spring but then the temperature will drop with a cold snap. Yet the cardinal hops around from branch to branch in readiness for the new season happily singing his new song. I wish that I could have the confidence of a cardinal ready for spring. Day after day doing what I know I should do rather than being reactive to the atmosphere and environment around me.

 

In fact, this is not today’s word for my life. It was actually yesterday’s bread on the table of God for my use. But I got up and walked away… the details of why I removed myself from His Presence is not as important as the grace and mercy I found in my return. I have blogged these daily encounters with God for more than six years now. In season and out of season sharing my innermost thoughts and revelations discovered in the Presence of God to encourage others that He will speak to us, guide us and encourage us in this life. We have been in a difficult season. It has lasted longer than I like. It has been more than I could bear. It is nothing short of God’s Miracles that I am still standing from the inside out. I know of others who feel the same way. Perhaps this is the purpose of this struggle that I have been in, maybe the Lord just needed someone who would tell others that the struggles in this life are real. He doesn’t expect us to know it all, do it all or work it all out. God has promised to do all of that. He just wants us to hang on until He’s finished and sing His Praise in each season.

 

2 Timothy 4:1-2 (NIV)

In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.

 

Be prepared in season and out of season. What does this mean? Most people attribute it to the preceding “preach the word”. I agree with that but I do not believe it only applies here. I believe that in the life of every believer that the Lord is not looking for us to run out to change the world, go to faraway countries and covert other religions. That too is only part of it. Going to church on a regular basis, serving as a volunteer, or even teaching Sunday school are all very beneficial and helpful things but the bottom line is this…the Lord is looking for confident and consistent Christians who no matter what live by the Word, walk in His Presence and act on what they know. Your actions do not matter as much as the attitude behind each action. Because when you cannot do anything at all, you must know what you believe to hang on. Our lives preach louder than anything we will ever say. Pretending ends when pressure bears down on us.

 

Galatians 6:7-9 (NIV)

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 

 

When I walked away yesterday, I was in a prayerful tirade as I began to argue my point with God. As I began to relentlessly pound the Lord with my dissatisfaction and complete exasperation of the current season that we are in, I walked by the dining room window and something caught my eye. It was the little cardinal. He was sitting on the step by the backdoor where we come and go. He was looking in the house and it seemed like right at me. Surely God did not tell this little creature to stop me in my tracks. I mean the dogs were barking and house full of activity yet it just sat there looking in. Throughout the day, as I tried to make the best of things I kept hearing the Voice of God repeating His Word, replaying praise and worship songs that would begin to creep out of my mouth until silenced by my horrible attitude. But I couldn’t get the words above or the image of the bird out of my head.

 

The Lord knows every single thing that we have been through. He is well aware of all the tears as He has captured them in safekeeping. I know that God loves me. I know that He is good. But I don’t see the harvest that He has promised in our life just the tireless planting of the last few years. It seems like the world around us moves from season to season and continues to sow and reap happily but all I see right now is a well-tilled and broken field that has been planted without a sprout in sight. If I abandon this field, I have nothing. If I wait it will yield a harvest. See the justice of God cannot be mocked. Righteousness makes me in a position to receive it. So now that I am covered by the Blood of Jesus and His Grace, I will reap what I have sown. No one can stop it not even me. I only control whether or not I will be there to receive it.

 

Isaiah 40:25-26 (NIV)

“To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One. Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.”

 

If you are feeling like I have been feeling lost in God’s Plan, bound by faith but holding on by a thread called hope this Word is for you today. Those promises that you have held on so long for and believe to coming, yes those things so precious that you cannot let go of. The Lord says today, “Not one of them is missing…”

 

2 Corinthians 12:8-9 (NIV)

Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

 

If this blog is how I boast of weakness, so be it. I am definitely weak in my waiting today. I am sick of winter and ready for spring. When our son was diagnosed for a third time, this was the verse I relied on so heavily. I asked the Lord to heal Him of cancer then and two more times since then. Why didn’t it work the first time, Lord? I think that is a relevant question. The Lord’s Response – “My grace is sufficient for you.” What does that mean to us? Like in real time not in the world of “blab it and grab it” but real life with genuine expectation and devastating problems. God, why do we need this thing called grace. One reason that stands out today is so that we will not abandon the field we have been planting and even when we do walk away return to see it through. God understands our weakness. Jesus is quite familiar with our humanity. Real Christianity requires faith and confident hope not met by immediate gratification and constant compromise. God’s Love is perfect just like His Plan. It is only the best for His Children. So if you have to walk away and get your head together – the Lord has already provided the Grace for your return but He will never give up the blessing and prosperity of each promise for your life even when you do. The seasons of our life do not need our participation to move and change. It is the Hand of God operating in our life. We just need His Grace to see it through. Are you thinking of walking away? I hope you don’t. But if you do, know that He is waiting for you to run back home after you get it out of your system and He will protect what is yours until you do!

 

Luke 15:20-24 (NIV)
So he got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. The son said to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.” But the father said to his servants, “Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

Live Like a Conqueror – A Devotion

Live Like a Conqueror

Romans 8:37 (NIV)

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 

 

Today is the big day! Cheerleading tryouts for our middle-schooler who fancies spreading happiness and joy in football stadiums, basketball arenas, and other playing arenas across our great city. Shocked when she came to me proclaiming her interest, since I know this kid. She does not “try-out” for anything. The pressure of being chosen just too great for our little perfectionist – it is easier just not to put yourself out there than accept the agony of defeat. She is the baby in our family used to being covered by six sets of wings that move in close and wrap themselves around her at the first sign of danger and disappointment. To say the least, this week has been nerve wracking when you add the mixture of adolescent emotional development to it. I am relieved today is Friday. I am elated that she will soon know her fate. I am also a bundle of nerves wrapped in complete motherly love that does not want our little girl heartbroken in any way shape or form.

 

We have spent the week mentally preparing more than anything else. I am not a cheerleader anymore. When I was a cheerleader, things were very, very different. There were no “cheerleading” classes and it was not the high level sport that it has become but the nerves and jitters of being chosen for the team were exactly the same. I put a napkin in her lunch with Philippians 4:13 written on it to encourage her. She can do ALL things through Christ who gives us strength. She has held on to that. She told me last night that she continues to say it over and over in her head while she practices. Today she will speak it over herself and then pray right before competing. Yes, my heart swelled to the verge of tears at her admission. As we were talking this week, I have tried to explain to her that God has a plan for her life. It is a good one with an amazing future that only she can do. Her eyes are set on cheerleading, being a part of this team, and building relationships with these girls. But I have tried to explain to her that even if she doesn’t make it this time that it doesn’t mean she wasn’t good enough or that she failed but because she is trusting the Lord that He is looking out for her. When we do not get “picked” or “promoted” it doesn’t mean that we aren’t winning or prevailing in this life. It means that the Lord has other plans far too great for our comprehension.

 

Romans 8:31-34 (NIV)

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.

 

It is human nature to expect certain things in life. Depending on your upbringing and the influences in youthful development, often form the thoughts and opinions that decide what you are after in this life. Most of us just want to do a little better than the first generation to make a better life for the one who we produce. That’s awesome aspirations but not exactly how this works. When we give our heart and life to Jesus Christ, our life plan is freed into full operation again. We are no longer limited in our human strength or ability because now the Power of God lives in us and operates through us if we so desire. That’s right. It is completed up to you and I if we will live as more than conquerors.

 

I set out to teach my preteen a lesson on the Lord and find as usual the Lord speaking directly to me, too. Even on those days, weeks or months that your life seems to be put on hold, or you experience a setback or a delay, or maybe something completely unexpected happens it doesn’t ever change the fact that you are a prospering conqueror from the inside out. See we are satisfied easily with immediate gratification and comfortable compromise, but when you gave your life to Jesus that became unacceptable because His Plan is far greater than we could even think to ask for. (Ephesians 3:20) Do you believe that today? (Oh don’t worry – I am asking “me”, too.)

 

If God be for you today, who can be against you? Now you will have many problems and pressures in this life, but there is only one to blame for such trauma. The enemy seeks to steal, kill and destroy the destiny set forth by Jesus Christ in our life. He intends to have it. Now, he cannot walk up to God and take it. So where do you think he attacks? That’s right – he goes after us. If he can convince us to compromise, believe his lies or surrender our promises than even though God is for us and the Power of Christ in us then we have given our life away. But when we walk through life by faith (not by sight) and living in confident hope that if this doesn’t work out it is to the Glory of God because something else is coming then we become convicted conquerors who are convinced that nothing can keep us from the Glorious Destiny provided by the Love of God demonstrated by Christ Jesus. Jesus is alive. Easter is next Sunday and not a moment too soon to remind the discouraged and downtrodden where the Power comes from and that they win. If Jesus’s journey stopped on the Cross, we have nothing. It is the Resurrection Power of God that gives us His Promises. When Jesus came out of the grave it was only after walking into hell and taking your life back!

 

Romans 8:35 (NIV)

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?

 

How do I become more than a conqueror? It is not through training endlessly to be strong or even to develop intense courage. You know how you do it? Believe. To believe that no matter what you are facing, going through or overcoming in your life that there is NOTHING that can separate you from God’s Love or His Plan makes you a winner every time because you will never give up or give in again. You face challenges winning some in the natural and losing some too but in all things we are more than conquerors when we believe. There is nothing that can take our salvation away. His Word says that with faith nothing is impossible. But it also means releasing human expectation to accept God’s Glorious Standard of Living. As I have shared many times the last few weeks, our daughter and son-in-law have moved over 21 hours away as God called them into full-time ministry. Talk about a dilemma. I love the Lord. I am so thankful for children who know God and love Him enough to give their lives to Him in such a way. But let’s be honest, I am not overly excited that they are so far from us. We love them too. We want them with us. Who can I blame for this? In all this I am more than a conqueror through Jesus Christ. It all comes back to Jesus. Sometimes His Plan is uncomfortable, it most often requires change, and most certainly is hardly ever clear until we arrive, but if I am convinced that I am never separated from the Love of God – I will become more than a conqueror.

 

Romans 8:38-39 (NIV)

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

Just because you are “doing” all the right things today doesn’t mean that everything will turn out as you expect it to. But that’s okay because you are more than a conqueror. Jesus Christ fought the battle and won the war so stop struggling with your situation and accept the fact that nothing will ever separate you from God’s Love or His Future for you. Even when you mess up, you still win. His Grace is always sufficient and more than enough for you! His Mercy is new every morning so go for it. Although to an adult a middle school cheerleading try-out really is not that big of a deal. Winning or losing is not fatal in this area of life but to my daughter it is everything right now. My advice to her last night as we walked the dogs and talked about today was this: 1) Pray and ask the Lord to help you tomorrow. 2) Go in there and do your absolute best holding nothing back giving it all that you’ve got, and 3) Accept the results with good sportsmanship because win or lose God has a wonderful and amazing plan for your life that you don’t want to mess up with a bad attitude either way. That was not all that I told her as she walked ahead of me with her ponytail swinging back and forth – no matter what we love you and are so proud of you! You know what I believe that is how God sees us. While we beat ourselves up in failures and shortcomings and desire only perfection in our imperfection – God only sees His Love for us. No matter what you are doing today remember nothing can separate you from the Love of God. He loves you no matter how well you do today or if you fall flat on your face. His Plan for you is secured by the Blood of Jesus and Resurrection Power. You ARE more than a conqueror simply standing in His Love.

 

Philippians 4:13 (NIV) I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

 

Let’s Settle This – A Devotion

Lets Settle This

Psalm 139:7-10 (NIV)

Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.  If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.

 

Life unexpected. It happens all the time. One day we are living on top of the mountain in the Presence of God and fullness of His Spirit. But then the next day we head down into the valley and feel separated, lost and a bit confused. Maybe things didn’t turn out the way that we expected. This has been the story of our life. One day up and the next day down. I keep wondering what the Lord is doing or if it is the enemy invading our camp. The winds of change sweep through us and sometimes it is difficult (at first) to determine where exactly they come from and in what direction should we go. One thing that I am quite certain of at this point in my life is that change happens. Whether we want it or not, expect it or not, choose to participate or not – change will happen in our life. Change is a blessing when it is a God-given mandate and supernatural design. If it is true that God is working every detail of my life for good then it is absolutely necessary for the scenery in my life to change. More importantly it is absolutely essential that I change.

 

In the adventures of life in New Hampshire, I was talking to our daughter the other day about the laundry facilities at her new apartment. She had not ventured there yet because it was dark and foreboding so she was waiting to go with her husband. I asked her, “How much is it to do a load of laundry? She laughed, “It’s free.” I further inquired, “Are you sure?” I tried to make her aware that she would be paying to do her laundry but she didn’t believe me. She didn’t grow up paying for laundry service. At first, it was free. She discarded her clothes in the hamper and the laundry fairy washed, folded and put them in her room. As she grew older, she began to do her own washing and drying. The laundry fairy continued to supply the washer, dryer and supplies with free access in the comfort of a nice laundry room. When I called her the next day, she told me that she had visited the laundry room of her new apartment and was appalled to find out that she had to actually pay to do laundry. I tried to warn her but she had made up her mind there was no charge.

 

Where can I go from your Spirit? Now before you answer nowhere, think about the thought you are thinking forming the words in your mouth. Do you really and truly believe that the Spirit of God is real, alive and living on the inside of you? If you do, it will make a definite difference in how you live this life. Where can I flee from your presence? The answer is nowhere but yet when we are tired of this God-Life so many try to live another way apart from the Word and Will of God. At some point in life, we must settle down to prosper and progress in this thing called faith. Faith is absolutely necessary to be saved. Although salvation is free to us, a price had to be paid for our sins. Jesus did that. Now we live in total dependency on Him, but it should be with a made up mind. Faith is that made up mind. But we must know the validity of what we believe and live in it. Otherwise, like my daughter, we may find out on our own or in the end that the price is too much to pay.

 

Isaiah 1:18-19 (NIV)

“Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord. Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good things of the land…”

 

The Lord would like to settle things in us today so you can get on living the life that He ordained and fully equipped you to have. The problem is our stubborn human nature that decides to settle for far less than we have been promised. To settle means to place in a desired state or order. Now the difference here is will we settle for what we want or go after what God desires for us. To decide, arrange or agree with God is to settle the matter in our heart and determine to live according to His Will and Way because we will not settle for anything less. To come to rest that His Word is true and His Way is the best possible outcome for our life. It is to gather, collect and become fixed on the blessings of God rather than things of this world. To be settled in the Lord creates a calm and peace in our life that can only come from a Sovereign God who does not lie or change His Mind. If God says it, that settles it. Well, does it for you today? I want to live in complete agreement with the Lord and align my life with His Way but I will be the first to admit that when things get uncomfortable I will often try to settle for something less. The Lord invites us all the come – let us settle the matter!

 

Genesis 32:24-28 (NIV)

So Jacob was left alone and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.” But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” The man asked him, “What is your name?” “Jacob,” he answered. Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.”

 

To summarize the story of Jacob to this point in his life, he and his mother conspired for his brother, Esau’s, birthright. When he obtained what he was after, obviously his brother was not too happy so fearing his life ran to another family member’s estate to hide and seek protection. While living in this place, Jacob married two wives, built a family and accumulated wealth now he was headed home. Jacob couldn’t stay where he was due to the growing jealousy of his father-in-law but going back presented its own inherent dangers. He was stuck in the valley so to speak between the proverbial rock and a hard place. His entourage had moved on and made camp for the night so the man was alone. I believe that God places us strategically alone at times so we will seek His Face and listen to His Voice. While there is safety in numbers, God wants you all by yourself. He wants your full attention as He has important things to share with you and encourage you. He wants intimate time with His Beloved that often make us uncomfortable because we do not what to say or do when left alone with the God of the Universe. So into the night Jacob encounters God and begins to wrestle with the Angel of the Lord. Although, I have read this story many, many times. It is with new eyes that I see it today. How many times do we wrestle God for our blessings in the place where we are? We want them when we want them and where we are not always considering that there may be more in the process. The angel of the Lord touched his hip socket and from that day forward Jacob walked with a limp. Is it possible that there are times when we are headed for the Lord’s Blessing but because we are not settled that He is our God and He will do it that we fight for something we already have? Is it possible that we sustain injuries in that process as the Lord tries to perfect what concerns us but we demand it now? God had already given Jacob a new name with a future and hope that was part of a far greater plan than just surviving his return home. He didn’t have to fight for it…just keep moving.

 

Ezekiel 37:12-14 (NIV)

“Therefore prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: My people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. Then you, my people, will know that I am the Lord when I open your graves and bring you up from them. I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it, declares the Lord.’”

 

God will bring those dead dreams and dry bones back to life by His Spirit. Those things that you thought He had forgotten about have been His Plan all along. If we allow ourselves to dry up and die in the process, we will miss the blessing. We must not settle where we are but in who He is. We must decide that the Love of God is real and doing something intention in us and for us. We cannot depend on the surrounding circumstances and overwhelming situations to keep us in step with God but must settle things in our heart, mind and soul. With a made up mind, intent after what God has for us and sure that He wants to give it to us – we don’t wrestle the process or fight for the cause but rather simply live the life freely given at the Cross. When we stop to count the cost as instructed, we find that Jesus paid it all now I just have to live in His Abundance. When I get frustrated, discouraged or confused, I will often pray to the Lord asking what do I need to do, how can I change, or where must I go to see the Glory of the Lord fill my life. Every single time, I am more and more convinced that He says, “Trust me.”

 

What does the Lord tell us to do in this process? Well, we could speak life into our dry bones, dead dreams and discouraged hearts. God has given us His Spirit. We have a new life by His Spirit and the freedom to live it. What does He promise? And I will settle you in your own land. So today I must make up my mind to “seek first the Kingdom of God.” When I am on the mountain – He is there. When I must venture into the valley – He is there, too. Wherever I am – the Lord is with me. He fights for me. He is all that I need to fully assume the abundant life that I have been promised. Faith is a decision. It is a made up mind that is settled on the fact that God is God, Jesus died for us, and His Spirit lives in us. God loves me. He will never leave me. He is always for me. Such a decision will impact our attitudes and actions as we seek to know Him more. Are you settled today? Or fighting for what God already promise you and secured in your future? Rather than looking for a new place to settle, get it right in your heart as I am in mine. I must decide to not settle for less than His Best. I must get it settled that He wants only His Best for me. The word settle is truly dependent on what we settle for. Is it just enough? Or will it be more than enough. I will not settle for less than all of God’s Love for me.

 

Romans 8:37-38 (NIV)

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Losing Sight – A Devotion

Losing Sight

2 Corinthians 5:7 (NIV) For we live by faith, not by sight.

 

There are mornings when I wake up and have no idea what the Lord has planned in our conversation. But then there are mornings like today when all through the night something from His Word begins to itch my ears and become etched in my mind. Today – He is telling me quite clearly to live by my faith and not by what I have been seeing. For so long, I was living in the realm of hope with our son and all that was going on in his young life that when I stepped back into “real” life something happened. I didn’t stay in that realm in which I was living. The place where we face each day from God’s Perspective because we are discontent with man’s eye view. Our son statistically should not be alive but supernaturally he is back in school living the life of an ordinary college student. Yes, there are some reminders as there are some side effects that he must work through and the constant monitoring that comes with the label “high risk” but maybe that’s just the middle child in him needing a little extra attention. Oh come on, sometimes we have to laugh through some of life’s challenges. Nevertheless, the reality of a life completely changed requires that we continue to walk by faith after the danger passes, the need is met or the crisis over. However, when presented with ordinary life sometimes we forget that we are an extraordinary people. Or at least, this is what I think has happened to me.

 

A guilty pleasure in our home are some of the shows that involve men and women chasing gold in the Alaska “frontier”. One of the shows is based on underwater mining where divers don scuba gear grabbing a 10-inch vacuum extractor and dredge for gold in the bottom of the freezing sea. Now if one of those divers were to decide while dredging that they had grown accustomed to the water and remove their breathing apparatus then wet suit they would be in immediate danger. They would only be able to hold their breath for so long. The freezing sea would eventually cause hypothermia and die. However while they are breathing in and out of an oxygen tank in a fully insulated and heated wetsuit – the underwater realm is not such a dangerous and scary place. Being stripped of such devices, it becomes a watery grave. We are called to live by faith not by sight. To live by faith might be better considered like the scuba gear. We ask God to call us out upon the water where feet may fail. However, once out there something says, “Hey, I can do this myself” and we begin to forget about the essential life-giving force that takes care of us there. Just because your life slows down and calm comes from the peace that passes all understanding, it is not a call to abandon our faith. The Lord has taken us somewhere in this journey called life that still requires continual and constant support to survive and thrive. Those miners are after gold and so are we. We want all the blessings and promises that the Lord has granted us as our inheritance. It is found by faith not by sight.

 

Matthew 14:28-32 (NIV)

“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down.

 

If only I as a believer could remember every day to live by faith and not by sight. When faced with disaster, devastation and the possibility of death – it is denial that pushes us out of the boat into the water. We have no other choice but to believe. So we call out to the Lord and begin to rely on faith because what we see is not acceptable. However, in our daily life in our choices, attitudes and actions faith is still required to live the life that He has promised us as His Followers. The problem is that if we step out of faith back into reality – we may not have realized how far we have come. So when we try to walk on our own two feet – we begin to sink. How many times do we like Peter say, “Lord, if it’s you tell me to come…” Jesus says, “Come.” We begin to follow Him. When things get challenging or less than pleasant suddenly we look at our life again from a human perspective and everything begins to fall apart.

 

What just happened? Our life is being changed from glory to glory. We are being raised from substandard life that sin thrust us in to Christ’s Standard of Living which is His Glory. In the middle of the process things are overwhelming. It’s springtime again. Time to spring the clock forward and begin to clean up after a long winter. My husband is overwhelmed by all the yard work and getting our pool ready for the summer. I am going through closets and doing spring cleaning. When you dump out a closet, it is overwhelming. You must sort through all the stuff to determine what goes in storage for the next season, what is donated, and what goes in the garbage. The more junk you have accumulated the greater the task. The deeper you go the more intense the pile. So it is with the Lord – when we begin to look at our life in the natural after traveling by faith in the supernatural it can literally take our breath away as fear overcomes us in that we discover we are helpless in this process and have no strength left at all. Jesus asked the disciple “why did you doubt” and even called him out as the one with “little faith”. How’s your sight today? What do you see when you look at your life? What do others see when they decide if they want what you have acquired by faith?

 

John 4:28-30 (NIV)

Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” They came out of the town and made their way toward him.

 

The woman at the well discovered Jesus that day. Leaving her water jug behind which symbolizes to me her natural life and human sustenance, she ran to tell the others about the man who told me everything. Now if you recall the woman came to the well by herself with a jaded past and no one to draw water with. I am guessing that she was the talk of the town. Her shame kept her hidden away from the insults and accusations of others. Now before she could change her life for the better, Jesus convinced her heart. She ran back to tell the others- the haters, backbiters, accusers, gossipers and everyone else she knew about the Lord. What happened? They came out of town and made their way toward Jesus. How is this possible when the whole town had shunned her? She was the same woman… on the outside. But the moment she met Jesus she immediately stepped out in faith losing sight of her natural life to embrace the supernatural Lord and Savior who gave her a new life. The Samaritan woman had not even begun to live but inside new life was already unfolding. If you are like this woman and have an illustrious past then maybe you understand just what it took to face all those people, so you know it had to be something miraculous. I know that in the years since our son was diagnosed with cancer people have told me that I have changed for the better. It breaks my heart. I was a Christian believer when he was diagnosed but obviously was not living in such a way that made others want to come to know Jesus. It was doing the right things but new life needed to come from a broken heart. A broken heart produces a change that impacts our outside as well. Sometimes the discovery takes some getting used to, we live in the transformation and resurrection power that brought Jesus from the grave so of course, we live in a state of constant change and being changed. Faith allows it to be for the better.

 

2 Corinthians 3:16-18 (NIV)

But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

 

The Lord told the woman at the well that one day true worshippers would live by Spirit and Truth. The Spirit was released to all mankind by Jesus after He died on the Cross to live in the hearts of His People. The Truth is the Word of God that cuts through our heart like a two-edged sword separating the bone and marrow. See we must have a broken heart not a hard one to allow His Spirit to produce the fruit we are after. There is a presiding and overriding thing that must not be forgotten. We are free. The Lord has granted us the freedom to choose if we will live by faith or by sight. He didn’t yank Peter out of the boat. Peter wanted to be where the Lord was, do what He was doing and be by His Side so he jumped out of the boat by faith. When his faith ran out, Jesus grabbed him and they got back into the boat. We do this throughout our natural life as we learn about this thing called faith and develop endurance to take it farther and farther. When we do, we begin to become transformed. The transformation process is a constant state of change so if you are not willing to leave your comfort zone of natural life (the boat, if you will) then don’t bother. Transformation IS change. But those who are just crazy enough to want all those crazy good and unbelievable things that the Lord has promised can live by faith and not by sight. People will think your nuts but the “ever-increasing glory” that will be produced in your life will be convincing enough to draw them in. Do you want the Glory of God to take over your life? Do you want to be transformed? Do you want everything that Jesus promised you and died for you to have? You will have to live by faith and not by sight. Losing sight of the natural one must grab hold of hope and hold it tightly like an anchor so we are not tempted to go back to our old life but embrace every new moment that faith in God produces. I hear you Lord. You are coming in loud and clear. I may not see you in my current situation, but I know that you are there. Live by faith today.

 

Philippians 3:13-14 (NIV)

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

In the Clouds – A Devotion

In the Clouds

I Kings 18:43-44 (NLT)

Then he said to his servant, “Go and look out toward the sea.” The servant went and looked, then returned to Elijah and said, “I didn’t see anything.” Seven times Elijah told him to go and look. Finally the seventh time, his servant told him, “I saw a little cloud about the size of a man’s hand rising from the sea.” Then Elijah shouted, “Hurry to Ahab and tell him, ‘Climb into your chariot and go back home. If you don’t hurry, the rain will stop you!’”

 

During our son’s bone marrow transplant, I lived in the hospital with him. There was a fold out couch in his room and so there would be days on end that I never left the facility caring for him. I would not have been anywhere else. However, at one point, when he was sleeping most of the time and interaction with the world seemed limited, the four walls of our room seemed to close in around me. I was not confined as he was but felt imprisoned. Finally as if a new notion that I had never thought of before I decided to venture outside for some fresh air. As I took to the stairway my decent became more rapid and before I knew it I was running down the stairs headed for the nearest door. The air in my chest constricted as my heart beat rapidly gave me the sensation of a diver coming up for air. When the door flew open, I could feel the world around me. No longer was it stifling or restrictive but I felt free at last. The sun was not shining but the sky overcast filled with clouds. It didn’t matter. In that moment, I felt alive so I plopped on a bench, closed my eyes tilting my head to the sky and began to bask in the fresh open air. The truth is that I was not held prisoner in this facility and that I could leave at any time. There was not requirement that I stay at our son’s bedside other than love.

 

What holds you captive today? If only in our thoughts or imagination, there are days when this thing called faith appears at bit constricting and hope seems so very far away. How do we cope? Is it real or perceived? Whom the Son sets free is free indeed. We can live any way that we choose to live. We can believe what we want to believe. The grace provided by Jesus Christ allows us to live without the rules and regulation but dominated only by love. Sometimes we forget or at least I do. Love is a choice. Serving Jesus is our privilege and right but not a requirement. My relationship to Christ should never be a burden or taxing but always promote freedom and possibility. Sometimes we just to get our head in the clouds to see where He is and what He is doing.

 

Genesis 9:12-16 (NLT)
Then God said, “I am giving you a sign of my covenant with you and with all living creatures, for all generations to come.
 I have placed my rainbow in the clouds. It is the sign of my covenant with you and with all the earth. When I send clouds over the earth, the rainbow will appear in the clouds, and I will remember my covenant with you and with all living creatures. Never again will the floodwaters destroy all life. When I see the rainbow in the clouds, I will remember the eternal covenant between God and every living creature on earth.”

 

Three years before as I was driving over for our first official cancer visit, I did not know what to expect. I now had the role of mother of a cancer patient. Who knew? I never expected to be thrust into such a position. How could I? I loved the Lord. I serve Him with my life. I am dependent on His Promises and try to live by faith not by sight. So how could it even be possible that our son was close to death? By the time the cancer was discovered, it was moving into Stage 4 and spreading in his body. I knew that God had spoken. Our son was to live and not die. But God, this was going to be a tough one. As I drove the two-hour commute that would become so familiar it was an overcast day with patches of rain along the way. How fitting I thought as it rained outside, I was raining on the inside. Afraid to cry because I might not ever stop I rode in the same numbing shock that I lived in for ten days ever since we found out. The craziest thing happened as I traveled along the interstate. I kept seeing rainbows. Now I know that from time to time you will see more than one along your way on a rainy day. I have even seen some double rainbows but to see that many in one day is something that I had never experienced before or since that day. Even when I switched from I-10 headed east to I-75 headed south – they just kept popping up. Was it God? Was He trying to remind me of His Promise that day?  I believe that He was.

 

When Noah and his family exited the ark they immediately made a sacrifice before the Lord. God found pleasure in the aroma of their worship and promised never to flood the earth again. He promised that rainbows would be evidence and a reminder of this promise. It would be His Eternal Covenant. Oh, that we fully comprehended the meaning of His Promise to love us. We would stop worrying about all the rainclouds and begin looking for the rainbows.

 

Zechariah 10:1 (NLT)

Ask the Lord for rain in the spring for he makes the storm clouds. And he will send showers of rain so every field becomes a lush pasture.

 

Who asks for rain? Those in a season of drought who might need it do. We are in the beginning of spring here in the south. Pollen is public enemy number one. The rain washes away the pollen and clears the air. But it also means not enjoying the pleasant weather or swimming so one must choose. But when it comes to a spiritual drought who wants a storm in their life anyway? I was listening to Pandora and heard the old Jesus Culture take on “Let it Rain”. I forgot just how powerful that song really is. It made me think of when I first heard it a long, long time ago before cancer came calling. I used to sing it praying God send the rain into our life. Was I asking for storms to come? Let me put your mind at ease, storms of life come whether we ask for rain or not. Your faith will be challenged and tested at some point so don’t evaluate your words that way. However, what do you do when you see the cloud?

 

Elijah was praying for rain. He kept sending his servant out to look for it because he knew it would eventually come. When the servant saw a tiny cloud, Elijah was not afraid but sprang into action. What do you do when you see the clouds? Do you run for cover? Grab an umbrella and head on your way? What is your response to thunder and light of the approaching storm? That day in the hospital when I needed to get out, it would not have mattered if the sky was literally falling from the sky I would have sat right there in the rain. When you need the Lord, it doesn’t matter what is going on around you – you are desperate for Him. So when you see the cloud, it is not the storm you see but the coming of the Lord.

 

Psalm 18:6-11(NLT)

But in my distress I cried out to the Lord; yes, I prayed to my God for help. He heard me from his sanctuary; my cry to him reached his ears. Then the earth quaked and trembled. The foundations of the mountains shook; they quaked because of his anger. Smoke poured from his nostrils; fierce flames leaped from his mouth. Glowing coals blazed forth from him. He opened the heavens and came down; dark storm clouds were beneath his feet. Mounted on a mighty angelic being, he flew, soaring on the wings of the wind. He shrouded himself in darkness, veiling his approach with dark rain clouds.

 

This vivid image of God descending is actually David’s account from 2 Samuel 22. The ominous Presence of Almighty God as He comes down to rescue His Children who have cried out calling His Name. It is a fearsome and overwhelming image of a God too big to control and force too strong to be reckoned with. Such an uncontrollable power makes Him seem intimidating in that moment and for those who have not experienced His Great Love will wonder if He comes to rescue or destroy. This is the ferocity of God’s Love for you and I, my friend. His Presence would wreck us completely if not covered in the clouds of life. We must come to Him and embrace Him as we are ready to. I have found that the closer I get to the Lord and the more I desire to know Him the more undone that I am. The weaker I feel. The less I know. It is in this vulnerability that we must learn to press on. Not to fear the storm but know that our Rescuer and Redeemer are well-known by the wind and rain. This storm you may be facing is not to destroy but fulfill God’s Purpose and Plan for our life. He is in the clouds, wind and rain you are facing. We live better when we look for Jesus in the clouds and stop running from the rain.

 

James 5:17-18 (NLT)

Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for three and a half years! Then, when he prayed again, the sky sent down rain and the earth began to yield its crops.

 

We live in sunshine and rain. It is another promise given to Noah that day. (Genesis 8:22) As long as the earth remains, there will be seedtime and harvest. This is not only in the natural but also in the spiritual. To harvest in the natural, you plant you seed and water it with rain. In the spiritual, we must do the same thing. There will be seasons of life when everything seems to be going our way and it is easy to serve the Lord in our surplus. But then there will also be days when we must fight to see past the clouds, winds, and rain of the storm to see the Lord coming to our rescue. We must keep our head in the clouds. Our prayers hold power. We can pray for the rain to stop and do it if we believe. The problem is not too many of us believe in the Power and Presence of God anymore. I have been challenged in the past three years to see the Lord in every situation. I have fought myself and others for what I believe. But what I have found on the other side of many storms is that He is always faithful. God is always fighting for me and found in every storm of life that we have faced. Now we wait for the harvest that is coming. It is not in the ground but in the clouds where our help comes from!

 

I Thessalonians 4:16-18 (NLT)

For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the believers who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. So encourage each other with these words.

Useful Utensils – A Devotion

Useful Utensils

2 Timothy 2:20-21 (NLT)

In a wealthy home some utensils are made of gold and silver, and some are made of wood and clay. The expensive utensils are used for special occasions, and the cheap ones are for everyday use. 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.

 

I have a confession to make. I am not proud of it but would feel better if I made this disclosure. I am jealous of my daughter’s kitchen. As a friend and I spent the afternoon packing my daughter’s little apartment for her big adventure to New Hampshire, it became apparent that probably 75% of the packing was kitchen utensils. These kids were blessed with so many things from Bed, Bath and Beyond – the company could shoot a commercial in their house. Most of the small appliances, cookware and every other gadget you could think of still in the box – we oohed and awed over them as we carefully packed them away. As wives, mothers and family cooks, my friend and I could appreciate all the different items they had been given. Now one must consider that the lucky couple are just 21 years old and not exactly tied to the kitchen yet, so they had stacked most of this away for a future home or time. One day they will fully appreciate the value and worth of all these things when they begin to prepare nightly meals and set a family table but for now as long as nothing gets in the way of the coffee pot and microwave – its’ all good!

One might say it is a waste to have given these two all of the kitchenware when they are so young and just starting out. I might agree that perhaps in the day and age we live that showers should be thrown after the three to five year mark of marriage. I might also suggest that expensive honeymoons are given to the parents of the bride and groom after a year of planning, executing and paying for such a soiree. But that is just my opinion, the items contained in my daughter’s home are valuable in life but she does not see the worth yet. It might be possible that they take for granted a little bit just how useful all these utensils will be one day when they are ready to use them. I am definitely going somewhere with this so just hang on. I am a bit envious of her kitchen because I cook dinner almost every night. Preparing the meals for my family on a daily basis allows me to know and understand how each gadget saves time and energy when I am cooking or would allow me to make something I haven’t made because I need that certain item to do it like the amazing and wonderful Emeril Lagasse Cast Iron Two-Sided Griddle – she is a beaut! If you were to look in my kitchen, it is full of utensils and appliances but they are not shiny and new. Nothing remains in the box with a gift receipt attached. They are used and abused from service. It’s not pretty but it works to produce over and over a home-cooked meal for the ones I love. The only difference between her kitchen and mind is use.

I want to be a special utensil for honorable use. Though I am an expensive utensil paid for with blood and a life, I want to be used by the Lord but I should know first what I am asking before I dare ask for it. We ask the Lord to do things in our life without really knowing what is required to make it happen. When the kids went to Bed, Bath and Beyond to register for gifts along with other department stores, they really didn’t know what all they needed because they had never really lived outside of their parent’s home. Now they had to establish their own place and fill it with items they needed. Who could possibly know what is needed without any experience? Even though I have cooked many meals, I have discovered cooking items in my daughter’s kitchen that I had no idea existed. These kids were blessed beyond words when they married. Now to figure out how to use what they have been blessed with. We have been blessed with everything we need the day that we asked Jesus to be our Savior and Lord. The vast potential hidden in our creation now unlocked and fully probable – it is through experience that we discover the potential of our faith and possibilities hidden in our hope. However, experience comes at a price.

2 Corinthians 4:6-7 (NLT)

For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ. 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.

 

When the kids decide to use one of the new items that they have been given for the kitchen, they must first open the box. They can look at the box. Read all the fancy writing on the outside and look at the enticing pictures with no real benefit. But when they get serious, they remove all the elaborate packing to find the utensil or appliance. Now you and I both know that out of the package sitting on the counter, it is really nothing more than a pot or appliance. The glamour is gone now it is time to get down to business. The item will get dirty or marked when we begin to use it. Years ago, they made glass cookware. Not a good choice for a new cook who is just learning. There were five piece of glass pots called Visions cookware because you could see things inside while they cooked. Pretty cool until whatever was in the pot began to burn due to my inexperience and novice as a chef so what would I do take it off the stove and chuck it in the sink to avoid a fire. What would happen about the time it hit the hard bottom of the sink – you guessed it. I broke all but one pot. The lids were spared. Well, until I threw four away and sold the forth with the surviving pot at a garage sale.

We are given this light in our heart when Jesus comes to live there. He gives us the faith to begin this journey and it is our job to cultivate faith and confident hope in our life with the help of His Spirit. Faith works its way through our everyday life at least that is the plan form the beginning. When things are good following God is great. The challenge comes when we begin to live by faith and incorporate it daily. When we came to Jesus, we expected everything to change but when it begins the process suddenly we are uncomfortable and begin to question our decision. God has given us a great light in our heart. The purpose is to reflect His Glory in our life that we have been given by Jesus Christ. We are fragile vessels too human to adequately contain such glory in our present state. It is in our complete surrender, brokenness and undoing that we begin to see the vast potential of this gift called salvation. Though these kids may treasure all their beautiful wedding gifts until they use them they will not see the true value and worth of all they were given. We have been given great gifts with massive potential by Jesus that until we open up and use them will never know the treasure we have been given in Christ.

2 Corinthians 4:8-11 (NLT) 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. Yes, we live under constant danger of death because we serve Jesus, so that the life of Jesus will be evident in our dying bodies.

 

I cannot survive the judgment of God in my flesh. You cannot stand before God and survive outside of Jesus Christ. Keep that in mind. We cannot do anything in our own power that will benefit the Kingdom of God or express His Glory in our life. If you can do it, it does not require faith. If you can see it, it is not reliant on hope. Let that sink in for a minute. You are powerless to express God’s Glory in your life just like a pot cannot cook dinner with a human hand. When our son was diagnosed with cancer, I had an intense conversation with God. I mean on the borderline of downright disrespectful My child’s life was being threatened. What mother wouldn’t barge into the Presence of God in such desperation? I remember saying to the Lord, “Why? You know no matter what I love you. You know that I am going to serve you no matter what the outcome? Why this test? Why now?” I continued to repeat things like this over and over again in my grief and devastation. I love the Lord. Nothing would ever change that. He asked me back just one question, “Do you trust me?” My response, “Of course, I do!” He then replied, “Your son will live and not die.” End of discussion. I stopped crying and choked a little at the revelation that only recently I am beginning to understand. God does not want any child to go through something as horrible as cancer or a person to suffer disease. Sin introduced such atrocities to the world now we must learn to live through them by faith, hope and trust. God was not testing us but preparing us to release His Glory and Light into this world. From day one, I felt compelled to share the story of our son with others. More and more people became involved as we have faced many challenges medically and even when trying to seek treatment. Our son has had cancer five times in three years. According to worldly statistics, he should not be alive. God said, “Because I trust Him, our son will live and not die.”

What does that mean? As believers, we cannot fully express the Glory of God it must be expressed by the Hand of God from our life. The hardships we endure successfully and trials we complete expose the Light that lives in us. It is in our human weakness and inability to “fix” things that we become useful utensils and willing vessels used by the Hand of God to reflect His Glory. It is nothing we do but that we trust Him to do it. The true test of my faith did not come until I was fully invested. God knows I love Him. He knew that this test would not detour me from His Way or His Will but would cause me to press in deeper. He had been preparing me for the challenge so that when it was my time to be used I would not bend and break but fully yield. It is in our weakness that we are made strong. It is in our brokenness that He makes things beautiful. In our present human state we cannot fully express the magnitude of the Glory of God hidden in us, but in our undoing it cannot help but leak out.

2 Kings 4:1-7 (NLT)

One day the widow of a member of the group of prophets came to Elisha and cried out, “My husband who served you is dead, and you know how he feared the Lord. But now a creditor has come, threatening to take my two sons as slaves.” “What can I do to help you?” Elisha asked. “Tell me, what do you have in the house?” “Nothing at all, except a flask of olive oil,” she replied. And Elisha said, “Borrow as many empty jars as you can from your friends and neighbors. Then go into your house with your sons and shut the door behind you. Pour olive oil from your flask into the jars, setting each one aside when it is filled.” So she did as she was told. Her sons kept bringing jars to her, and she filled one after another. Soon every container was full to the brim! “Bring me another jar,” she said to one of her sons. “There aren’t any more!” he told her. And then the olive oil stopped flowing. When she told the man of God what had happened, he said to her, “Now sell the olive oil and pay your debts, and you and your sons can live on what is left over.”

 

I love this story of the woman with the jars. It is one of the most inspiring stories in the Old Testament. Her husband dead. Her creditors beating down her door. Where was God? She went to Elisha the closest person to God she knew to plea her cause. They were going to take her sons. They were precious to her. Elisha didn’t reach into his pocket and hand her some cash. He asked her, “What do you have in the house?” Her response, “Nothing at all except a flask of oil.” She was told to borrow as many jars as she could find and then begin pouring that little flask of oil into them. The oil did not run out until the jars ran out. Oil represents the Spirit of God in our life. You have been filled with His Spirit when you asked Jesus to come in your heart. If you don’t use it, you don’t lose it. But if you don’t allow His Spirit to begin to overflow into all areas of your life, you are holding on to everything you need to prosper and be blessed. Satisfaction and contentment belong to you. Christ gave them to you but you are looking around rather than within. We have a treasure in us that most often we must be broken to discover because it destroys our humanity so we hold back. It makes us uncomfortable so we retreat. It calls us from what we know into the unknown so we will not go until the door to the past is closed. We seek the familiar. To cry out God use me is the same as requesting to be emptied of self to be filled with His Spirit – do you really want that? When you do, He will answer you. He will use you. You will be pressed but not crushed. His Glory will overflow in our life. The Lord is not looking for clean and perfect vessels. (John 2:1-10) The very first documented was turning water into wine. Did He use the vessels designated for drinking? No, Jesus chose the ones used for ceremonial hand washing. The enemy wants you to think you must “do” the right thing. He wants you to believe that until you are stronger the Lord will never use you for His Glory. But the truth is that Jesus will use anyone who yields their life to Him fully surrendering to be a useful vessel for the Kingdom of God! Lord, thank you for making me a useful and used vessel for You and a representative of Your Kingdom. I yield the withheld parts of me to You Lord to be changed and transformed into something useful. I trust you Lord. I need you Jesus. Let me be useful for you today!

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.

Fill Us Up – A Devotion

Fill Us Up

Romans 15:13 (NLT)

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

 

Our daughter first heard the strange noise when she took the dogs outside one last time for the night though we didn’t think much of it at the time. But while brushing my teeth the loud sound could not be denied and it was coming from the pool pump next to the house, so my husband went to investigate further. He had cleaned the filter earlier but as he was putting it all back together the sky fell through leaving him in a torrential downpour. Seeking shelter inside it was not evident there was a problem until the automatic timer switched on the pump hours later. The valve on top of the filter was not secure so it became spraying water out rather than recycling it through. The water level in the pool began to drop to a dangerously low level which thankfully my husband caught right in the nick of time. Isn’t that how the Lord works in our life as His Beloved? I can think of so many times that something inside us moved or time aligned perfectly to avoid complete disaster and make every work out for our good just as the Word of God says! I believe that this is a direct result of biblical obedience as tithers but that is another message for another day.

 

The pool pump draws water from the pool filters it sending it back into the pool. It is a simple filtration system. The only thing it needs is water. However, without water it would cause the pump to overheat and burn out. There are only two options here. No, this is not about our pool or how it works or how much work owning one can be – this is about when we forget to shut off the valve and allow our water to run dry. It is about us. See the Lord speaks to us any way possible. He is all things and in all things if we will just open our spiritual eyes rather than looking at everything naturally. This world is a rotten, stinking place filled with horrible news, unfavorable endings, devastation, perversion and no love. We are in this world but do not have to be of this world. When we begin to feel dry and thirsty despite doing what we know to do as believers, it is time to investigate further as my husband did last night. He found the problem and fixed it. But that’s not enough either, today he drug the hose around the house (God bless him) and stuck it in the pool to fill it up again. It is not enough to fix ourselves but we gotta let the Lord fill us back up! We were not created to operate in lacks and deficits but overflowing abundance.

 

Psalm 107:6-9 (NLT)

Lord, help!” they cried in their trouble and he rescued them from their distress. He led them straight to safety, to a city where they could live. Let them praise the Lord for his great love and for the wonderful things he has done for them. For he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.”

 

What if I can’t find my problem or fix it? You don’t have to. Can you say “Lord, help!” These two words can change your entire life. To be completely honest, the pool is my husband’s business. I don’t do much to care for it other than occasionally go to the pool store to pick up supplies or have the water tested. He does all the maintenance for it. I didn’t have a clue what the problem was or how to fix it. So when I heard it making a horrible noise I said, “Honey, help!” He heard it and came to my rescue. This is all we need to do to get the help we need to overcome whatever is keeping us from being filled to overflowing with all the wonderful fruits of God’s Spirit including love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, goodness, and self-control. Who better to find and fix us than our Creator? The Lord wants to satisfy our thirst and fill our hunger with good things. At no point in time do we ever outgrow or mature past our need for Jesus as Savior and Lord so stop beating yourself up when you make a mistake, do not feel happy all the time or make a bad choice. It is all working together for those who love Him. (Romans 8:28)

 

Romans 7:21-25 (NLT)

I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.

 

The struggle is real. Let me say that again – the struggle is real. I don’t care how put together the person sitting next to you in church looks or how much they proclaim their faith on Facebook. They are having the same struggles in life that you are. The only difference is that they may be handling it differently. Rather than trying to fix it themselves or pretend everything is alright, they may actually be consulting the professional people fixer – Jesus Christ. There are only two kinds of Christians in this world – faithful ones or fake ones. The only way that the Power of God is possible in our life is by faith. So you decide who you want to be. Being real does not mean telling everyone your struggles or living on full display all the time, it means that you live transparently, candidly and intimately with God the Father through Jesus Christ. It is a willingness to live by His Spirit and constantly battle your own flesh. No one has this thing all figured out but Jesus. He is the ONLY ONE who can complete the good work begun by faith. The Lord knows you want Him and need Him. He hears you crying out to Him. He is not made at you because you may have blown it…again. His Grace is more than enough. His Blood covered it ALL. He will never leave you or forsake you. Now that you are at the end of yourself and feel empty and exposed, ask Jesus to fill you up again. Yes, you have that right to go back for more continually and on a daily basis. Why else would His Mercy be knew each day? (Lamentations 3:22-23) The Word of God makes provisions when “me” wins over “Thee”. He knows that I am not perfect. He knows that my flesh is constantly trying to trip me up. The Spirit of God is constantly flowing – we just need to be a willing and open vessel.

 

John 17:12-15 (NLT)

During my time here, I protected them by the power of the name you gave me. I guarded them so that not one was lost, except the one headed for destruction, as the Scriptures foretold. Now I am coming to you. I told them many things while I was with them in this world so they would be filled with my joy. I have given them your word. And the world hates them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one.

 

Jesus knew before He even went to the Cross that there would be days like this. Days when we forget to “tighten the value” on our heart and allow some of His Power to leak out. He knew that we would need His Spirit to constantly refill us and revive us again. He gave this to us willingly and unselfishly. The only way that things do not work out for the best and our good is if we allow the dryness to become deadness. You don’t have to live like that. Just keep pumping God’s Word into your life. It feeds your soul. Just keep praying in the Spirit, He will water your soul. Just do good and trust the Lord. Not to sound cliché but “let go and let God today!” We work so hard trying to fix us that we burn out. We try so hard to be someone who we are not that we forget that He knows us best. We are in this world not of it. The more of our life invested in Christ the less the things around us make sense. We cannot survive as Children of God without a constant connection to the Kingdom of God. Check your connection today. Make sure that every facet of your life is surrendered to Jesus Christ. Jesus is constantly interceding before God for us. He is working with us. He is always helping us even when we try to help ourselves. Be filled with God’s Love today. Don’t do anything just let Him fill you with water that never runs dry. He loves you. He died for you. The Lord will help you even when you cannot help yourself!

 

Ephesians 1:22-23 (NLT)

God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made him head over all things for the benefit of the church. And the church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself.