The Yard Sale

The Yard Sale

Mark 8:34-35 (NIV)

Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.

 

How do I get myself into things like this? Why would I ever agree to set my alarm on a Saturday way before dawn? How could I do this? I don’t want to get up let alone load a bunch of junk in my truck and head to my mother-in-laws house. But I agreed to do it, she is counting on me. My daughters are certain this will be the motherlode of wealth that they need to overhaul their summer wardrobe. I really just want some sleep and to unload some of the stuff from my home office. I have a new job. I just need some space and quiet to do it. It does not require getting up before the sun. Nevertheless I promised, so I must deny myself. I will not be so dramatic as to compare getting up to do a yard sale to taking up my cross to follow Christ yet it is the little things in life that often speak the loudest.

There was a time in my life when I would have come up with a great excuse not to attend such as the fact that it is supposed to rain midmorning, but I can’t do it anymore. Just like yesterday I wanted to call in “sick” and take a mental health day to dive into my new part-time work, but just couldn’t do it. Something inside me keeps saying do the right thing and finish strong. My life is no longer my own. Christ lives inside of me. There is a purpose in every task that I take on as it is my job to do all things to the Glory of God now. I made that choice when I decided to follow Jesus Christ. It was that moment, point in time that everything changed or at least should have beginning with my motivation in life. Now I live to please no one, but God (and that includes me, myself and I). When I am considering a choice that is not what the Lord would have for me, His Spirit will give me the urge to do the right thing and I must deny myself to follow the Lord. This is the greatest message of the church. Men and women of God who deny themselves to follow Jesus. Sadly, in most cases, it is a forgotten one.

James 3:13-16 (NIV)

Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.

 

We have been given the “mind of Christ.” (I Corinthians 2:15-16) We do not judge things according to man but must evaluate and compare them to Christ. It is important how we live. His Spirit lives in us to do the work of God in us that Christ died to do. There should be a change in us with the knowledge of Christ. Who is wise? Who has understanding? Let them show it by their good life. Deeds done in humility as we lay our life down for Christ by loving other people, doing the right things and in many instances denying our flesh to follow the wisdom of Christ that is given to our heart and mind by His Spirit. You know exactly what I am talking about today, it is your selfish man inside that is causing you right now to act like it has no idea what this all means. When we make a choice contrary to God’s Word, we feel it. It is on the inside trying to work its way out as our flesh battles to have its own way. As believers, we do not begin to see the kind of results we are after until we learn to deny ourselves for others and live that good “God” life. To have the wisdom of God and live contrary to it is considered to be “earthly, unspiritual, and demonic.” Don’t get mad at me. James wrote it under the Power of the Holy Spirit that is voicing His Opinion inside of you right now. We must live wisely. We must live by the understanding placed in us by God called the Holy Spirit. Ignoring Him, doesn’t change the truth but rather keeps us from the promises that we are after.

2 Timothy 2:11-13 (NIV)

Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure,
we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself.

I love this. Even when we mess up and don’t get this whole God life and deny-myself thing right – God is still faithful. The Lord does not change just because we refuse to sometimes. But rather each morning, He deposits new mercy for me to try again and see if I can get it right. (Lamentations 3:22-23) He still keeps working His Plan just waiting for me to get on board wholeheartedly. (Jeremiah 29:11-13) He keeps working every detail of my life for good even when I am doing nothing good for Him. (Romans 8:28) It is in that moment that we begin to deny ourselves and turn to follow Christ that we see that nothing changed. His Love is faithful. He is true. He never leaves us or forsakes us. See because even though we can deny Christ, He can never deny who He is.

Romans 6:18-20 (NIV)

You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. I am using an example from everyday life because of your human limitations. Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness. When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness.

We choose how we live our life. We decide the ambition of our heart by deciding what or who we are after. If we want to remain subject to our sin forever, the Lord will not deny us although I know it breaks His Heart. Righteousness, right-standing or even right living are a privileged choice offered to the sons and daughters of God by faith. It allows us to live according to the hope we have rather than the ordinary circumstances and consequences of life. I have a half-brother who is currently incarcerated until 2032. He was convicted of his third strike a few years ago. He was in prison twice before. For some reason, when he got out of prison he only returned to the life that he had before his freedom was taken away. Following his flesh has cost him his marriage, his child, even our mother who recently passed away while he has been there. I believe as Christians that we decide if we remain imprisoned day by day. Just as he had a choice to repent and enter society a changed man, my half-brother decided that he wanted his old life back. The Lord allowed him the freedom to do so. He has paid the price for that choice.

I have decided to follow Jesus. He did not force me, but invited me to deny myself and follow Him. I have to make the choice that I want what the Lord is offering me and change the way that I live to have it. The Lord, thankfully, does not change. He waits for me to have a change of heart and want what He wants for me. We offer ourselves to the Lord by repenting and choosing righteousness. But if our choice does not result in change especially in our everyday, ordinary life then was there ever really a change of heart or commitment in the first place. Chasing God for His Stuff is nothing new. Chasing God with our heart is where we find everything we ever wanted and never where we were before.

Romans 12:1-2 (NIV)
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

 

The word “sacrifice” is not as dramatic as people make it out to be. It is simply giving our life, day by day, moment by moment and choice by choice to Jesus Christ. The norm is to conform to this world. A lot of people go to church on Sunday in full agreement that they want what Jesus has to offer but refuse to come to Him to get it. I do a lot of buying and selling on online “yard” sales. I love them because you can shop without getting up at ungodly hours and driving all over town. If someone likes what I am selling and wants to make a purchase, I have two locations on either side of town to meet that they can choose from. If they do not show up to get what they want from me, then how can they be mad when they don’t have it. We do it all the time. We pray for things or about certain situations but do nothing to seek the Lord for it. Sometimes we are not seeing results because God is not doing anything but because the Lord is saving us from ourselves. It is in following Christ that our lives are transformed and we begin to see our life through His Eyes. So-called missed opportunities and unanswered prayers may actually be the answer in disguise but because we did not deny ourselves we missed the answer when it came to us. Now as we learn to live in alignment with Jesus and the wisdom of His Spirit, our life begins to make sense. I must test and approve every attitude and action in the course of a day to deny myself and follow Jesus IF all I want is Him.

I am headed out to gather my belongings and two grumpy girls who hate mornings to go help my mother-in-love spread out her wares and make some extra money. The time spent with her will bless her heart because the greatest joy in her life are those two attitudinal adolescences who I may actually price and try to sell too. Thank you Lord for this day even if the rain washes away our profits the wealth of this good deed will sow seeds of righteousness in our life. May we bless someone today if they are in need whether with our words of encouragement or the items they need but could not afford. May we do your “good, pleasing and perfect” will in all we do today, Jesus as we deny ourselves to follow you!

Colossians 3:23-24 (NIV)

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

 

Colossians 1:9-12 (NIV)

We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. 

Wilderness and Wastelands

Wilderness and Wastelands

Isaiah 43:19 (NLT)

For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.

 

The delivery man has been busy the last couple days. Last week, I ordered items for my “new” home office that I hope to one day make my full-time place of employment. I want to come home. Be with my children more. Do the things that I used to do free from the hectic schedule of an employer. It has been a long road getting back to this place in my life. I was here about eight years ago as our youngest prepared to go to kindergarten. What would I do with my time? That’s when I got the call from one of my very best friends, “Don’t you want to come back to work?” I remember thinking as I was visiting my parents – not really. But as time went on she became relentless in her pursuit until I finally agreed. The job would turn out to be a blessing as the economy suddenly shifted leaving us in need of two incomes. I had no idea. BUT God knew and had already made a way. But now God is doing something new. The last few years have been a wilderness. No one ever expects their life to come so close to the edge of Eternity not once but five separate times. When it is your child, your world is shaken and turned upside down. Instantly my priorities changed, my desires with them.

So back to my shopping spree, I am determined to start this new chapter in my life. This new thing that needed some “new things”. Since we now have a vacant room in our house for the first time ever, there is space to be filled and a place to work in our home other than my bedroom. When the first glimpse of an opportunity to come home revealed itself, it has been a light at the end of a dark tunnel. The details of this show all the markings of God just enough to get me interested and motivated but not enough for me to blow it. Last night, I couldn’t wait to open the boxes and assemble the new furniture. My husband offered to help but I was so motivated it was not necessary. As the chair and desk took shape, I could feel the excitement rising up inside of me. It’s close. The new thing is so close I can feel it coming with heavy anticipation. God I am ready. I want it. I am ready to see the pathway in the wilderness. I want the river to flow through my wasteland. I am not entirely sure how it will all play out this wonderful Plan of God but I am completely confident that I want it.

It’s funny how the Word of God changes as our heart does. It remains the same itself but through understanding and wisdom we see what we did not see before. Two words stuck out to me today as I read this – wilderness and wasteland. I am all too familiar with the dry and empty feeling at the end of such travels. It is that place where we become barren, desolate, devastated, deprived, destitute or lonely. This can affect us physically, emotionally and spiritually. Everyone has peaks and valleys in life. Wilderness and wastelands even Jesus.

Matthew 4:1 (NLT)

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil.

 

Jesus experienced the wilderness in this life. He was led by the Spirit to know exactly what mankind was going through so He could show us how to do it and empower us to make it through. Jesus overcame the enemy with the Word of God. The Word of God is working in our life even when we get lost in the wilderness and wastelands. There is purpose in your struggle. There is meaning in the change. The wilderness of life is that place when God takes you from the old things and delivers you into the newness of life that He planned. It is a place of challenging each human heart to trust the Lord and not the world. It exhausts human strength and ability so we become reliant and dependent on Jesus. There are certain powerful things that happened in the time of wandering between what you thought life would be like and what God really had planned.

Exodus 14:13-14 (NLT)

But Moses told the people, “Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again. The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.”

 

The Children of Israel had left Egypt with Pharaoh holding open the gate but then the man had a change of heart. He sent his army to pursue the slaves and bring them back to serve him. What was he thinking in letting them go? What caused such a lapse in judgment? As the people saw the chariots coming, they were afraid. Sure that they were going to die in the wilderness, they panicked. But God had a message in the madness for His People. Stay calm. The Lord himself will fight for you. The hardest part of change is overcoming the desire to go back. Leaving our comfort zone always produces discomfort at first. God is doing a new thing, but it will require a change in you. Do not expect the enemy to let you step freely into the next new thing that the Lord has for you but know this. He is fighting for you!

Deuteronomy 2:7 (NLT)
For the Lord your God has blessed you in everything you have done. He has watched your every step through this great wilderness. During these forty years, the Lord your God has been with you, and you have lacked nothing.

 

God provides in the wilderness and wastelands of life just like He does in the harvest. You are blessed in everything you do because you have accepted Jesus as Savior and Lord making you righteous sons and daughters of God. It is our inheritance that sustains us until we can thrive again. It may not be comfortable. You may not notice. The Lord allows us to lack nothing because He is with us. We must be careful and thankful consumers of the Goodness of God so we see His Provision and Faithfulness. It is there – always even in our wandering.

Joshua 24:17 (NLT)

For the Lord our God is the one who rescued us and our ancestors from slavery in the land of Egypt. He performed mighty miracles before our very eyes. As we traveled through the wilderness among our enemies, he preserved us.

 

God has preserved the integrity of you. Who you were created to be? The very thing that you are purposed to accomplish is all part of God’s Word for your life and cannot return to Him void. Bear this in mind when you are going through the fire of refinement for you will not be consumed. Remember this in the flood that seems overwhelming because you are not going under.  Even when the storms of life wreck every aspect of your plan or what you thought you were going to do – always remember the Lord preserves us for His Will and His Way for His Glory which fills our life with His Goodness every single time. The Lord is working every detail of our life for our good. (Romans 8:28) He is perfecting that which concerns us. (Psalm 138:8)

Psalm 63:1 (NLT)

O God, you are my God; I earnestly search for you. My soul thirsts for you; my whole body longs for you in this parched and weary land where there is no water.

 

The wilderness and wastelands of life are the very place that we learn to hunger and thirst for God. It is the moment that this God-thing becomes personal. It is when we intensify our pursuit of Him. We earnestly search for the Lord in our emptiness, weakness, barrenness, devastation and desolation. It is a good place yet uncomfortable and unyielding. In the end, it gives way to something far greater than we could even think to ask for when we tough it out making it to the end of our journey for more faith as we surface with confident hope that is leading us closer to Him.

Isaiah 35:8 (NLT)

And a great road will go through that once deserted land. It will be named the Highway of Holiness. Evil-minded people will never travel on it. It will be only for those who walk in God’s ways; fools will never walk there.

 

The Highway of Holiness is a road less traveled because it requires a total release of self to fully embrace God’s Will and Way. I used to think that this was something we did in a moment of great emotion and a trip to the altar but what I have discovered is that in moving us from glory to glory it is a lifelong pursuit. No one arrives overnight. Many will abandon the effort in the pain, heartache, hardship and struggles called change. But then there are those in their brokenness who still consider God worth having and holiness worth chasing who keep walking even when nothing makes sense or everything seems to be falling apart. They see the potential of brokenness in the Healing Hands of Jesus. They understand that price of repentance and true salvation that requires an inward change the impacts our direction in life. It says in Isaiah 35:1-8 that this is the place where the wilderness and desert are glad as new life arises from them. This is the truth that strengthens tired hands and weak knees. It is the word that strengthens us when we want to give up but know God is doing something far greater than we can see. It is the confident hope achieved by faith that says no matter what I know that what God is planning is far better than anything I could ever accomplish. It is this determination that makes the impossible suddenly possible even in the most barren of places.

Psalm 51:7-12 (NLT)

Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Oh, give me back my joy again; you have broken me— now let me rejoice. Don’t keep looking at my sins. Remove the stain of my guilt. Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me. Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and make me willing to obey you.

Wilderness and wastelands always lead to repentance. Repentance is simply turning more of our heart over to Jesus Christ. I can tell the Lord I am sorry for my sin but unless I am committed to living for Him and trying not to sin – I will never escape barrenness in life. There is something so freeing in pouring our heart out to Jesus. Even if you cannot come up with anything else but to say Lord give me back the joy of my salvation. Just to be more thankful for Jesus begins to make a positive change and impact our life even more. Joy and peace flow for those who are willing to come to Jesus for everything. I want a loyal spirit. I am desperate for the Presence of God in my life. I am willing to obey Him…now.

It took a lot of “stuff” to get me to this place. As I stood in the home office that is now coming together in the middle of the night when a sensible person would be sleeping, I was overcome by joy and peace that I have not felt in a long time. I was confident that this is God and we are moving in the right direction even though other than a desk and chair nothing else has really changed yet. So I began thanking the Lord by faith for what is coming with each word, I could feel more faith rising up and my hope fortified with confidence found only in the Presence of God. God is doing something new. It is coming. Though it is not here just yet, I can rejoice because I know it is coming because the Lord said that it was. His Word cannot stop until it accomplishes that which it was set forth to do. God is changing the atmosphere of my life. He wants to do the same for you.

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.

Please, Show Me Your Glory

Please Show Me Your Glory

2 Corinthians 5:17 (NKJV)

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

 

All things have become new. Old things have passed away. I did not remember this verse being quite so definitive but as I read it here – there is no ifs, ands or buts included. All things HAVE become new. Old things HAVE passed away. So why do I feel trapped in the same old same old rut of life rather than experiencing new and exciting things the Lord has promised. Maybe the Lord has given you a glimpse of what He has for you and it simply terrifies you to leave this season and start again. What if you fail? Oh, but what if you fly?

If anyone (that means you and me) is IN Christ, He (or she) IS a new creation. When you acknowledge Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, you are exchanging your old broken dead life for something brand new. It is like any other gift received. You must use it to appreciate it. All things become new in that moment, but if I don’t rip off the paper, open the box, pull out the parts and actually use what the Lord has blessed me with – it sits uselessly inside of me. A box came for me in the mail yesterday. It has an office desk chair inside. I am doing a great deal of typing and spending longer hours in my home office, so I ordered a more suitable ergonomic chair to replace the hard wooden dining room chair that I have been using. I looked at the box thinking I will put it together tomorrow and chose to spend almost three hours typing the old way. My back is wondering why I didn’t take the time to put the chair together rather than sliding back into the old chair. My heart wants to know why so many times I choose the old way rather than allowing the Lord to do his thing that new thing in my life. Me too, Lord, me too. The moment that I said “Yes!” to Jesus – God released my purpose back to me that sin withheld from me. Now God is doing things behind the scenes even when I am clueless to the process I am in. His Purpose – to get His Glorious Goodness working in my life.

Galatians 6:14-15 (NLT)

As for me, may I never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of that cross, my interest in this world has been crucified, and the world’s interest in me has also died. It doesn’t matter whether we have been circumcised or not. What counts is whether we have been transformed into a new creation.

 

The new creation inside of us is often taken for granted but instead we grab hold of God attempting to pull Him into our mess rather than stepping out of our mess into the Glory of God. We want life our way not God’s Way. Like insolent children refusing to move from what could potentially harm us into that which will bless us – we challenge God in the name of faith to change our situation rather than allowing Him to change us. Too many times, we come to the Cross in the best interest of this life rather than surrendering this life for something better. We want God to bless our compromise. We want Him to accept our substitutions. A lack of faith and trust will not allow us to take hold of what the Lord is offering and letting go of the lesser things that fill our hands and time.

2 Corinthians 3:16-18 (NLT)

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

 

Let me ask you a question that I had to ask myself recently, “Do you feel free?” Are you free to enjoy your life? Are you experiencing the Glory of God? Do you fell Him in the midst of what you are doing? Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom. Always. When we get bogged down with stress, worry, and anxiety, it is time to look for our freedom again. We may experience pressure. We may have some hardship and even heartbreak but that doesn’t mean we must live bound to these things by tying in emotionally. Faith dissolves into fear that things are never going to change. You begin to shake under the burden and stress of all the pressure in your life. We are to reflect the Glory of God producing the Fruit of His Spirit which are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. None of these exhibit fear or worry just confidence in the Lord and all His Ways.

Isaiah 43:6-7 (NLT)

“I will say to the north and south, ‘Bring my sons and daughters back to Israel from the distant corners of the earth. Bring all who claim me as their God, for I have made them for my glory. It was I who created them.’”

 

God created you for His Glory. If you believe in God and call Him Your God, then you will receive His Glory it is part of your creation. He is our Grace and Glory and withholds no good thing from us. (Psalm 84:11) Godliness leads us straight into His Glory which resonates from our life. (Isaiah 58:8) So where is the Glory of God in my life? Why am I not living like a new creation?

Psalm 8:3-8 (NLT)

When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers—the moon and the stars you set in place—what are mere mortals that you should think about them, human beings that you should care for them? Yet you made them only a little lower than God   and crowned them with glory and honor. You gave them charge of everything you made, putting all things under their authority—the flocks and the herds and all the wild animals, the birds in the sky, the fish in the sea, and everything that swims the ocean currents. O Lord, our Lord, your majestic name fills the earth!

 

Sometimes we have to stop right where we are and decide who we are! I am a Child of God. If my life doesn’t not resemble it, then it is up to me to adjust my life because the seeds of life are already in me. The Holy Spirit is ready to catapult me into freedom if I am willing to go. If you are not happy, unproductive, depressed, overwhelmed or just plain stuck in a rut – it is up to you (and I) to ask God to show us His Glory in our life again. We are the ones who moved away not Him. He wants to reveal His Goodness and Glory in every facet of our life. It may be time to make a change. Are you willing to do that? You cannot continue to do things the same way but expect different results. That is called insanity. As a new creation, we are constantly changing and developing our new life in Christ. We are a new creation, but it is totally up to us if we live as one. Will I be that new thing? Will I do that new thing? Will I walk in the Glory of God today or settle for something far less? We make this choice in how we live out each day. God created us and gave us dominion over this world. When Christ died, He handed us the keys to His Kingdom and now all of His Power is available to us. To live like it reflects God’s Glory!

Exodus 33:18 (NKJV) And he said, “Please, show me Your glory.”

 

God has big plans for you today. Plans that you cannot even think to ask for. They are good with a future and hope designed with you in mind. Will you experience God’s Glory by living out His Plan for your life… that is completely up to you! Moses asked God to “please, show me Your Glory!” God did just that and passed right before His Servant on the mountain that day. God will pass through your life too if you will only ask. If we spend all our time complaining about our current situation but do nothing to change it – we are not living in His Glory. When we accept that life will never get any better than this – we have stepped out of His Glory and now live according to the world. Faith is essential in allowing God’s Glory to overtake our life. Confident hope keeps us pressing in deeper wanting more of Him. He is faithful and true to always deliver to those who come to Him. A simple prayer releases a command in Heaven on our behalf. For those who want to move from glory to glory in Christ, constant change is inevitable. Don’t run from it but embrace it wholeheartedly. Ask the Lord today. Please, show me Your Glory!” He will…it will be better than you ever imagined.

Isaiah 60:19 (NKJV)

“The sun shall no longer be your light by day, nor for brightness shall the moon give light to you; but the Lord will be to you an everlasting light, and your God your glory.

Pressing Onward

Pressing Onward

Philippians 3:12-14 (Message)

 I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.

 

The end of a season is more difficult than the beginning. In the beginning, you are excited by the new possibility filled with wonderful ideas and goals. In the midst of it, you get caught up in the doing and activity of the process. But it is most definitely in finishing a season moving on to the next that absolute grace is required. How will you leave it? Will you close the chapter or abandon the book? Pressure to finish well rises up within me but my flesh has thrown in the towel declaring it is done. I do not have it all together. I do not have it made. I am simply reaching out for Christ as He wondrously reaches out to me. He is pulling me closer. The Lord is moving me on. What about the people in this time? What about the work that seems unending? God has a plan. It includes every detail of my life in this season and the one that is coming. I am no expert in this whole God-Like lifestyle but I know this…I have my eye on the goal and it is God calling me onward. I am off and running unwilling to turn back.

When God moves us from one season of life to another there are many details that hold us making it difficult to transition and not feel pressure from both sides. I am ready for change. But I also desire to finish well. When the Lord gives me a glimpse of the new thing that is coming, I want it. I try to run for it but am learning that sometimes that little light at the end of the tunnel is meant to give me enough hope and resolve to finish where I am before stepping into what is coming. Our life is defined by seasons. Some chapters like spring are new and exciting. Others are like winter as old things die to make room for the new. Whatever the case – God is with us. He is in control. His Fierce and Demanding Love consumes us as we yield our life to Him. He is a jealous God bent on giving us His Absolute Best. Timing is everything to Him but tends to be our downfall. Who wants to wait for what is coming? No we want it right now. Today, I hear the words “keep pressing”! God wants me to finish well so that I can move productively into what is coming. How about you?

 

Habakkuk 2:2-4 (Message)

And then God answered: “Write this. Write what you see. Write it out in big block letters so that it can be read on the run. This vision-message is a witness pointing to what’s coming. It aches for the coming—it can hardly wait! And it doesn’t lie. If it seems slow in coming, wait. It’s on its way. It will come right on time. “Look at that man, bloated by self-importance—full of himself but soul-empty. But the person in right standing before God through loyal and steady believing is fully alive, really alive.

 

The Lord’s Purpose has always been and will always be to give me new life. Not just in the life that I will find after death, but now in my everyday life even when I hang on to the way I think things should be or the way that we have done them before. He gives us dreams and visions. Lord, give us the foresight to write them all down. Taking note that God is speaking and each word is the promise that it will not ever return to Him void of its purpose. The Lord is always pointing to what is coming to build our faith into confident hope that keeps us going, moving and pressing for what is yet to come. This pressure keeps us from staying in the same season all of our life.

About two years ago, I stopped walking in our neighborhood and headed to the gym. But recently, when winter turned to spring I decided to walk again. Exercise is what I am after, but what I have found is that there is peaceful conversations had with God as I walk in the new season that has come. When I walked before, I would watch the joggers and runners pass me by and think to myself – I want to run. I used to joke that if you see me running that you should run to because something is chasing me. The other night it was beginning to get dark so I decided to jog to make the trip faster. As I was running, I passed the point that I would usually run out of energy but found that I just kept going and going. I was totally and completely shocked. We never really know the strength of our endurance until it is tested. The Lord is always working and shaping the life of His Children to receive more and more of His Glory even when we do not think that He is doing anything at all. His Faithfulness will not allow Him to stop or let up even when we want to quit or give in. He is always doing something good in those who believe. It is a faith work.

James 1:2-4 (Message)

Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.

 

When we are pressed, the contents of our heart pour out. Pressure for a believer will always produce more faith especially when we discover that there is not enough to make it through. My flesh is the first to give up. It is the first to want to blame the Lord the bad things in addition to the good. But what I am discovering in this whole process called life that pressure produces what I need to have the Glory of God and all of His Goodness pass before me. It is that very thing that pushes me from my comfort zone into the realm of hope that produces in me the strength and endurance called faith that I need to have the Promises of God. God is always good. Do you believe that today? It is essential that you grab hold of this truth and never let it go. He is always taking every single detail of our life to make good on His Promises. Tests and challenges break down our defenses and consume our flesh so that the Lord can move closer, pulling us deeper into that thing He is doing which is more than we could even think to ask for. Without pressure, hardship and struggle, we would never leave our comfort zone to enter that wonderful new life that God has planned for us. We would settle. We would compromise without even knowing it. God is way too good to let that happen!

James 1:12-15 (Message)

 Anyone who meets a testing challenge head-on and manages to stick it out is mighty fortunate. For such persons loyally in love with God, the reward is life and more life. Don’t let anyone under pressure to give in to evil say, “God is trying to trip me up.” God is impervious to evil, and puts evil in no one’s way. The temptation to give in to evil comes from us and only us. We have no one to blame but the leering, seducing flare-up of our own lust. Lust gets pregnant, and has a baby: sin! Sin grows up to adulthood, and becomes a real killer.

 

Those people who are loyally in love with the Lord are rewarded with life and more life – abundant life just as He promised. We just have to hang on, keep pressing, and finish each season to move to the next. The temptation to quit is our flesh crying out for release. It wants to stop us because close proximity to God is the death of our inner man to give way to the new man the Lord is shaping us into. In our strong belief and deep conviction that God is always good, we are able to see things through to the end which is far better than the beginning.

Ecclesiastes 7:8 (Message)

Endings are better than beginnings. Sticking to it is better than standing out.

 

God is looking for finishers. Those who do not succumb to the pressures of life, the pain of transition or the hardship of exhaustion but choose to finish what they start time and time again. God leaves no thing undone and neither should we. Moving from one season to the next should not leave barren fields and broken fence. Each new thing should be preceded by a successful finish. God would rather we stick to it than run from it. We live in an incomplete world that thrives on compromise. We are not the same as the people of this world – in fact, we are no longer of this world which places a much higher standard on our life not an excuse to bale when times get tough or more than we can handle. God wants us to finish. God loves those who race for the finish line. (Proverbs 15:9) Remember what mama always said, “Quitters never win!” There is truth to this statement. Our life is a perpetual process of sowing and reaping, if we do not invest enough in this season – there will be famine in the next.

Philippians 3:15-16 (Message)

So let’s keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision—you’ll see it yet! Now that we’re on the right track, let’s stay on it.

 

Lord, I ask you to make me a finisher today. Give me the same spirit that was in Jesus Christ when He became the Champion of our faith. (Hebrews 12:2) Keep my eyes on Jesus today and not the passing faces as I press on to finish well. Make me mindful of each seed planted that I will press it deep into the ground to produce that harvest that is coming. Keep me focused on the goal. I want everything that you have promised me and even those things I have not even thought to ask for. Change me into a runner who does not stop until the finish line. Help me to run this race of faith well and settle for nothing less than victory each time I run. I am committed Lord. I want what you want and will stop at nothing less. Thank you for a glimpse of the future, now give the wisdom and understanding to transition well. Strengthen those reading this today with Your Victorious Spirit. Lift those who have fallen. Give rest to those who are tired and weary. Give release to those bent over in burdens and pressure. Lord, I ask you to do all of this in the Name of Jesus. Everything we need, want and desire is found in that Name. Lord, keep us focused. Keep us on track. Keep us moving in the right direction that we may never ever give up!

Hebrews 12:2-3 (Message)

Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. Thatwill shoot adrenaline into your souls!

 

Psalm 138:8 (Message)

Finish what you started in me, God. Your love is eternal—don’t quit on me now.

 

Life Estimate

LIfe Estimate

Luke 14:33 (Message)

“Simply put, if you’re not willing to take what is dearest to you, whether plans or people, and kiss it good-bye, you can’t be my disciple.”

 

In the past couple of years, our yard has shown signs of erosion. Living in this home for more than ten years, there are obviously some things that are in need of repair. We called a friend who is a professional landscaper to come and assess the problem. After wandering around the backyard for an hour, he described a solution to our problem that would be a wonderful addition to the existing pool deck. Solving the erosion issue, it would still create lovely living space for our family. We trust this young man. Not only is a long-time friend, but he has built a thriving business in his profession and his work is superb. When he left, my husband and I also departed on our nightly walk. The new renovation was obviously the main topic of our conversation. Of course, at some point, we began to consider the cost. I honestly have no idea what it will cost to do this repair and renovation. We must wait for the estimate to be completed. Like any other home improvement project, the estimate must be compared to the other priorities in our life as we budget to make the change. In life, we must constantly evaluate our priorities and determine what is most important. This will lead to a well-balanced life. When we impulsively jump from here to there, not considering the steps that we take, it can be disastrous.

I have read Luke 14 many times and rely heavily on the Words of Jesus as He tells His Disciples that in life they must count the cost to follow Him. However, there are many times that I do not fully count the cost and jump rather than waiting on God’s Direction and Guidance in my life. If I am not willing to take what is dearest to me including people and plans willing to walk away to follow Jesus – I cannot be His Disciple. Surely Jesus does not mean that I have to leave my husband and children to follow Him and be His Follower. Jesus Christ must be the highest priority in my life. (Period.) He must be the One who is dearest to me to live in proper order and experience the life that God created me to have. But I don’t always get that. What if… for just one day – I consider the price of being a true follower as I have the rebuilding of our backyard and the new renovation. How would I do that? Jesus paid the price. All I have left to give is my life. Am I doing that today?

Luke 14:28-30 (Message)

“Is there anyone here who, planning to build a new house, doesn’t first sit down and figure the cost so you’ll know if you can complete it? If you only get the foundation laid and then run out of money, you’re going to look pretty foolish. Everyone passing by will poke fun at you: ‘He started something he couldn’t finish.’  “Or can you imagine a king going into battle against another king without first deciding whether it is possible with his ten thousand troops to face the twenty thousand troops of the other? And if he decides he can’t, won’t he send an emissary and work out a truce?

I am a bargain shopper. My mother used to be an extreme bargain hunter and instilled it into me. My own children have adopted such tendencies. There was a time in my own adult life when it was a necessity. The Lord has blessed our family and although there are things we still want – God has supplied every single need. However, when I go into a store let’s say looking for a dress – I already have decided in my mind what I am willing to pay for it. I have disciplined myself over time and now if I do not find what I want at the price I am willing to pay – I will walk away. Drives my kids crazy when I do it, but I just can’t bring myself to pay full price for anything. When it comes to money, most people are quite protective of this valuable resource. In Heaven, it means nothing but to the world’s economy it is everything. Obviously, the world in which we live puts a high priority and value on money. What about our time? We tend to protect our time as valuable and consider how we use it. We plan vacations, trips and outings to use our time the way that we want. We pick and choose our battles weighing the cost of losing to determine if we are willing to absorb collateral damage in our life. So many things that we think about, stress about and worry about all day long – but when it comes to Jesus – the Lover of our Soul – our Savior – our Healer – Deliverer – Provider – Protector – I could go on and on – we seldom factor Him into our daily lives but reserve Him for Sundays, Wednesdays, certain holidays and when we are out of other options.

Matthew 16:24-26 (Message)

Then Jesus went to work on his disciples. “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself? What could you ever trade your soul for?

 

“Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You are not in the driver’s seat; I am.” Plain and simple. We must surrender control of our life to the Will, Way and Word of God every single day to get where Jesus is going. No longer can Jesus be our last option, He must become our top priority. All our decisions in life should be considered and compared to the Lord and His Word. We must consult with God in prayer and in connection with His Spirit on the inside of us. We must count the cost of our life not to the opinions of this world but to the longing that Jesus has placed in our heart. Our desire to follow Jesus must become greater than any manmade plan or human being who we know. The enemy will use both to distract us. He will use any method that works to keep us from following Jesus Christ.

Colossians 1:15-18 (Message)

We look at this Son and see the God who cannot be seen. We look at this Son and see God’s original purpose in everything created. For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible, rank after rank after rank of angels—everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him. He was there before any of it came into existence and holds it all together right up to this moment. And when it comes to the church, he organizes and holds it together, like a head does a body.

 

Those who seek to fulfill God’s Purpose for their life find that purpose in Jesus Christ. He is the Word of God wrapped in flesh. He came so that men and women could identify with that purpose and made the way for total and absolute fulfillment. You cannot be fulfilled if you do not surrender all of your life. Like a glass with a rock in it, water cannot fill every space because something else has taken its place. When we empty the glass of everything, it can be filled to the top until it overflows. We pack so many things in our life and call ourselves “Christians” but to be a true disciple and follower of Christ means emptying everything out of our life and comparing it to Christ. Every facet of our life must be reconciled to Christ to properly count the cost and make the true decision to follow Jesus.

Matthew 26:39-41 (Message)

Going a little ahead, he fell on his face, praying, “My Father, if there is any way, get me out of this. But please, not what I want. You, what do you want?” When he came back to his disciples, he found them sound asleep. He said to Peter, “Can’t you stick it out with me a single hour? Stay alert; be in prayer so you don’t wander into temptation without even knowing you’re in danger. There is a part of you that is eager, ready for anything in God. But there’s another part that’s as lazy as an old dog sleeping by the fire.”

The time had finally come. Jesus was headed to the Cross. He had gone to the garden to pray. One last uninterrupted conversation with His Father before they would be separated for a time. He asked His Followers to stay alert, on guard, and pray. As Jesus poured out His Heart to the Father, the disciples fell asleep. Unaware of the urgency or desperation in that moment, the Lord came back to find them all asleep. The Lord asked Peter, “Can’t you stick it out with me a single hour?” I find that in the midst of desperation or danger I can pray endlessly. Tirelessly I pour through His Word searching for His Way until the trouble passes, then I still love Jesus but my desperate pursuit becomes a distant wandering. Jesus went on to tell Peter look there is a part of you that is eager but another that is lazy. Is what I am missing out by not staying close to Christ worth losing? Not at all. I am counting the cost today. I am reconciling my life back to Jesus looking for the inconsistencies that have promoted compromise. I want all or nothing. How about you?

Last night as we walked and talked, I left the conversation with my husband getting lost in my own thoughts. I was counting the cost for our project in my head. I continued to think about our budget and how we would save to do it. I kept working out the plan in my head with my own timeline in mind. It was then I realized I was worried about something that in the grand scheme of things didn’t matter that much. That is how fast we get sidetracked in our thinking and begin to focus on unimportant things rather than those things that promote eternal life such as becoming close followers of Jesus Christ. No, I do not think that God wants me to struggle in life. I do not think He wants me to forget about having nice things or the things that I want. All He is asking is to take over the driver’s seat again. Jesus wants to be the number one priority in my life above all people and all things. I must count the cost of my life and see if I am willing to surrender it. I am.

All to Jesus, I surrender;
All to Him I freely give;
I will ever love and trust Him,
In His presence daily live.

I surrender all, I surrender all,
All to Thee, my blessed Savior,
I surrender all.

(I Surrender All – Judson W. Van DeVenter)

 

The Impossible

The Impossible

Luke 1:37 (NLT) The Word of God will never fail.

 

One of my favorite worship songs of all time is called Healer. For those who have never heard it these are the lyrics:

You hold my every moment
You calm my raging seas
You walk with me through fire
And heal all my disease

I trust in You
I trust in You

I believe You’re my Healer
I believe You are all I need
I believe You’re my Portion
I believe You’re more than enough for me
Jesus You’re all I need

My Healer, You’re my Healer

Nothing is impossible for You
Nothing is impossible for You
Nothing is impossible for You
You hold my world in Your hands

Healer – Planetshakers

We sang this simple but powerful song yesterday in our morning worship service. As the praise team began to sing it, my heart swelled in my chest. But it was obvious that to many people around me it was just an old song that they had sung a thousand times before. Nothing is impossible for You. Nothing is impossible for God. Shaken by the reality of faith once more, I began to pray that the Lord by His Spirit would shake off the doubt that has so many people bound up and release new faith to me, as well as those who filled the seats today. The more we sang the words the deeper they penetrated my heart until the only voice I heard singing was my own combined with instant encouragement from the Holy Spirit. Do you believe? Am I that to you today? Do you trust me? I believe…the Lord is my healer. I have seen Him do miraculous things in our life when it comes to our health. I have no doubt that He is our healer. I believe Jesus is all I need. He has filled the void left by others who I once depended on for self-worth, affirmation and love. Now I have the Lord, so I can accept the love of others with al its limitations because He is all I need. I believe that the Lord is my portion. You are the source of all my wants, needs and desires – physically, mentally and spiritually. It has taken me a long time to understand that He has already provided all those things and it is up to me to find them by faith. I believe that God is all that I need. He is more than enough for me. Jesus is all that I need but like most of you – I forget it sometimes in the midst of overbearing and interfering life that demands my time and attention drawing me out of the Presence of God plunging me into the reality of the seen versus the unseen claimed by faith and confident hope. I must remember today as I make my way out of the peaceful quiet of our home into the busy, stressful world that nothing is impossible for you Lord. You hold my entire world in Your Hands. The majors, the minors and everything in between is not only in your hands but being worked together for my good. Your Word will never fail me.

Hebrews 6:17-19 (NLT)

God also bound himself with an oath, so that those who received the promise could be perfectly sure that he would never change his mind. So God has given both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary.

 

I have witnessed many times in my walk with Christ that when the world labels things with terminal consequences using words like impossible, forever or never that the Lord takes offense to interference in His Realm. The impossible all comes back to God’s Inability to lie or change His Mind. When the Lord makes a promise, it circulates in the Heavenlies until you and I are willing and ready to receive it. During our son’s third bout of cancer, it was by far the worst attack on his body. Cancerous nodes filled his body from his neck down to his abdomen. Around the third treatment, it was time to do a full scan to see if the treatment was effective. Now the doctor had already declared that our son was in the “realm of hope”, so I knew that God might be up to something at this point. She explained that during this scan they were simply looking to make sure that the cancer had not gotten any worse. If we saw any reduction at all, it would be a resounding victory. I asked her innocently but pointedly, “What if it is gone?” She assured me that it would not be gone and to remain optimistic. I kept pressing her, but what if it is completely gone? She finally after many attempts said, “It is impossible. If it happens, it would be a miracle.” One week later, the PET scan revealed that the cancer was completely gone. She laughed and cried when she told me. This hope that we have is strong and trustworthy but if we do not anchor our souls with it – it does us no good. Nothing is impossible when it comes to God’s Word if you can find it – it is strong enough to hold on to until He comes again. He is my healer. He is our son’s healer. He miraculously healed our youngest daughter of asthma instantly. We know that He is our healer. We can trust Him. Unless we forget…

Zechariah 8:6 (NLT)

This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: All this may seem impossible to you now, a small remnant of God’s people. But is it impossible for me? says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.

 

God’s Word will never fail. Once it is released in the atmosphere, it will not return to Him void without effect. It is mandated by God to accomplish all that He released it to do. (Isaiah 55:11) I can only wonder how many promises are circulating in my life that are just waiting for me to trust and believe to receive. What I did not mention before that I will share with you now is that when our son was diagnosed the third time, it caught me completely off guard. There were no signs. There were no symptoms. We were rejoicing in the Goodness of God evident in remission. Even the health care professionals that care for him were absolutely devastated. Their hope took a huge hit. His prognosis plummeted in that third diagnosis in less than two years. But it was in that moment when impossible things began to happen, when we entered that realm called hope. All “this” may seem impossible to you now, BUT is it impossible for me? The Lord is asking us today – do you trust me? Do you believe? Are you willing to put your “whole world” in My Hands? You make the decision to trust the Lord by faith or continue to live life in your own strength. It usually occurs to me when I am worn out, exhausted, and overloaded that maybe just maybe I forget that nothing is impossible for My God.

Luke 18:27 (NLT) He replied, “What is impossible for people is possible with God.”

 

What is impossible for people is possible with God. Read it again. What is impossible for people is possible WITH God. Faith is living in agreement with God’s Word by trusting what we cannot see but know about Him. Nothing is impossible for God. Nothing is impossible for us when we live WITH God. There are many people who think they are living for God by doing what they think the Word is telling them to do, or by the advice of their pastor, or according to the doctrine of a church. But the vivid and stark reality is that until people begin to live in God with a strong connection of faith and trusting the Lord – the impossible will remain just that – impossible.

Genesis 11:5-6 (NLT)

But the Lord came down to look at the city and the tower the people were building. “Look!” he said. “The people are united, and they all speak the same language. After this, nothing they set out to do will be impossible for them!

 

There is a definite power shift in our life when we connect with God through Jesus Christ. It is not enough to live as a bystander of faith and wary of hope. We must grab hold of hope by faith and refuse to let go no matter what. When we don’t see the possibilities of God as a reality in our life, we claim them by faith until they come. Agreement is the secret to our success. The more we align our life with God’s Will, His Plan and His Purpose which are all clarified by His Word and defined in us by His Spirit suddenly the impossibilities become probabilities in our life. Nothing is impossible for the Lord. You can say that and remain hopeless. It is by faith that every impossible becomes possible in our life. When we choose to give our life to follow His Way – we are unto something far greater than we could ever even think or imagine let alone ask for. I have seen it happen with my own eyes.

Matthew 17:19-20 (NLT)

Afterward the disciples asked Jesus privately, “Why couldn’t we cast out that demon?” “You don’t have enough faith,” Jesus told them. “I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.”

When the disciples could not cast out the demon, they went to Jesus. Something wasn’t working like He said and they wanted to know what it was. Jesus responded, “You don’t have enough faith.” Human nature has issues with trust. It is a battle to be fought day by day. When faced with uncertainty and impossibility it challenges our belief system. Our flesh is desperate to end our pursuit of Christ as it means the death of me. There is nothing beneficial to my flesh in my connection to Christ so it works to end it. When God’s Word is not working as it should be, it is never a God problem but a “me” issue. I have somehow disconnected from faith, hope and trust in the Lord. I must reestablish agreement and alignment with God’s Word, Will and Way which is always surrender. I am weak. I will never be strong enough to survive this life without Jesus. He is my everything – the One thing that I cannot do without. I know that but sometimes forget alone the way. Today I am reminded that God’s Word never fails me. I must remain connected by faith and confident hope which is how I believe. By believing, nothing is impossible for me anymore.

Hebrews 11:6 (NLT)

And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.

Live Like It

Live Like It

Luke 9:23-25 (NLT)
Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but are yourself lost or destroyed?

 

Yesterday, my husband and I embarked on a unexpected but wonderful adventure together. As I prepared to go for a morning walk, I wandered around the house looking for companions and found no one except my little four-legged friend. I think my husband felt sorry for me and agreed to go. As we walked and talked, we randomly chatted about life in general. It occurred to me during our conversation that some things I do in life had become work. One of those things was going to the gym. On the days when I had other things to do or just wanted to do, I had begun to feel guilty for not donning gym clothes and trudging over to workout. It had become a chore. I want to exercise. I want the benefits of it, but it had become a burden. Another thing that I felt that I had to do. In the last few weeks, I have broken the monotony by walking with the family, dog or even by myself. Doing exercises by the pool while our daughter was swimming. And sometimes with shocking horror, I have chosen to do something else and remarkably survived. What about the fee I pay to use the gym each month? Doesn’t that mean I have to go? No. I have the right to choose how I live my life. We walked about five miles yesterday. Leaving the house on our usual route, we continued passed the turnaround into a greenspace at the end of the main road. Venturing down a trail into a beautiful park, we continued until the storm clouds loomed and home seemed maybe a bit too far for our worn out legs not to mention our tiny friend. We definitely got in our workout. But what strikes me the most is that I felt free and unencumbered in doing so.

There are many times in our life that we allow structure, scheduling, routine and worldly expectations to create burden and bondage in our life. Stress builds as we feel confinement and monotony take over. We become dissatisfied because we are created and designed by the Lord to live in freedom. Even our walk with Christ can become religious making us more concerned about the rules and regulations rather than maintaining the freedom given to us by the Lord. Obviously we are not to use our freedom to continue to sin but it is also not the exchange of one form of bondage to another. Whom the Son sets free is free indeed. (John 8:36)

Matthew 19:20-22 (NLT)

 “I’ve obeyed all these commandments,” the young man replied. “What else must I do?” Jesus told him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” But when the young man heard this, he went away sad, for he had many possessions.

 

How many times we find ourselves in this same situation as believers? “Whoever wants to be my follower…” (Luke 9:23) Following Jesus is a choice. He does not make us follow Him or do what He does. The Lord invites us to follow Him and have the rich, satisfying life that He died for us to have. But the most important element in all of this is our freedom to choose. You cannot make someone love you. There has to be an inclination of the heart, otherwise it is not love but manipulation. I heard a group discussion about soul mates on the radio. The question was asked, “Is there really such a thing as a soul mate?” I believe that there is. If God went into great detail creating a life plan for each one of His Children, I am absolutely convinced that He embedded the qualities necessary to connect on that level with our one true partner. I have been married before. I can make the comparison and there is none. Until you connect with someone with your mind, body AND soul – you will never know true love. This is the same with Jesus Christ. You have an option. The choice to follow Christ or remain subject to the world is entirely up to you. But in the end, only those who choose to follow Jesus will have eternal life.

Jesus told the rich young man that if he wanted to be perfect that he must sell all his possessions, give the money away, and follow Him. What did the young man do? He walked away sadly. It is hard to compare the known with the unknown. Faith requires it every day in just about every single choice we make as believers. We choose to follow Jesus or walk alone. Like this young man, I am a pretty good rule follower. I am not interested in “or else” when it comes to life. When Jesus looked into this person’s heart, He could tell that his stuff meant more to him than God did so the Lord challenged his heart. The choice was made. We choose things we value in our life and give them precedence. This begins to accumulate in our heart and become desire. We can say that we want to follow Jesus Christ. Isn’t that what we are supposed to say? We “do” all the right things, learn the right lingo, go to the right church but if our heart is not in it…there is no point.

2 Corinthians 4:7-9 (NLT)
We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed.

“You must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me…” The biggest battle that I face as a believer who is trying to follow Jesus Christ is myself. My flesh is constantly battling for control. Paul said, 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.” (Romans 7:21-23) We have the Light of God’s Love in our heart now. It is chasing away the darkness hidden there. The flesh is fighting for its life. It doesn’t want to die now because this is the only life it knows. Once gone, it is gone forever. The struggle inside us is real and becomes evident all around us. True followers who have committed their hearts to following Jesus will live in a constant state of change. It is always for the better but who like being pressed, perplexed, hunted down, and knocked down all the time? No one only the strong in heart committed to change will ever survive the process of renewal, revival and revitalization that Christ gives those who give up this life to follow Him. Are you committed to change?

Romans 8:1-3 (NLT)

So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins.

 

For a very long time, my husband and I have been season ticket holders for the local college football team. When our team won the National Championship, ticket prices increased significantly. However with our son’s battles with cancer, the kid’s social life, workdays becoming more hectic and many other reasons, it is a struggle sometimes to make every game. We pay a lot of money for the tickets so when something comes up and we cannot make it, there is obviously a burden. We feel pressured to go to every single game. This year we decided not to renew our tickets and for the first time in a long time, I am excited about the idea of football I can enjoy rather than feeling obligated to watch. I do not feel in bondage to a seat but can freely decide whether or not we will be able attend. No pressure. No commitment. There is freedom now to enjoy it unencumbered. We become in bondage to those things we feel forced to do due to obligation. I love the football team. I love to go the games. I do not like to feel condemned when I don’t make a game.

Jesus has given us His Spirit. His Spirit works to set us free from every obligation so we are free to love the Lord and follow Him. When we feel guilty about doing or not doing something, it is not a Spirit emotion. We are working in the Law again. Jesus came to set me free so that I am free to follow Him living a rich and satisfying life. (John 10:10) The enemy of my soul wants me to get caught up in obligations, bondage and become subject to the things of this world. It is up to me to allow the life-giving, chain-breaking Spirit of the Living God to have His Way in my heart and live in the freedom I have been given. Sin has no control over me unless I give it the right to. By choosing to live by the Spirit, I choose to live apart from sin and free from condemnation. If I sense such an emotion, I can choose to release it from my life. I have the power to overcome guilt, shame, and regret by the Power of God living in me. I have the right to follow Jesus every single day. I just need to put more of Him in it and less of me.

John 6:63 (NLT)
The Spirit alone gives eternal life. Human effort accomplishes nothing. And the very words I have spoken to you are spirit and life.

Sometimes as I study the Word of God and then relay it here, I think these people must think I am some kind of crazy, weak and weird Christian. How can I struggle in things like this but I do? I cannot be the only one who feels condemned in my walk with Christ. I must not be the only one who wanders off course in the midst of it all. The more I read His Word – the less I seem to know. The more I follow Him – the less certain I am of where we are headed. The only thing I really know for sure is that I love Jesus. I want to follow Him every day even on those days I lose my way. Today I have discovered that even when I think I have thoroughly missed the mark, there is no condemnation. His Grace, Mercy and Love have me covered as He is making good on every promise. His Spirit in me means I have eternal life. I am off the hook. My effort accomplishes nothing. His Word is spirit and life that once accepted are the very things I will sow just by planting them in my heart. Jesus is leading me to life. (John 8:12) I don’t have to do anything but put my mind, body and soul (heart) into following Him wherever He may lead me. I will have a rich, satisfying life by living in the freedom found in Christ. I have it all.

Galatians 5:1 (NLT)

So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law.”

 

Jesus Christ has set us free from every obligation. Our only regulation in this life is to love. To love God. To love Jesus. To love others. I believe we are even to love ourselves enough to accept God’s Love, Grace and Mercy. Today if you are feeling overwhelmed or condemned, it is not a godly emotion so it doesn’t belong in your life. You have overcome by the Blood of the Lamb and the Word of God that is our testimony. No weapon formed against us can prosper unless we use it on our self. Stop beating yourself up for faults and failures. It’s because you are trying to do it yourself and failed. Be free today in the Name of Jesus and stay free by His Spirit. Release every earthly obligation that has become a soul tie and focus on love. That’s it. I know it is uncomfortable and requires more than we are willing to give but it is all that Jesus requires. Once you decide to step into freedom, you will never be satisfied in bondage again. You are free in Jesus so it’s time to live like it.

Galatians 5:13 (NLT)

For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love. 

Dream Unfolding

Dream Unfolding

Proverbs 13:12 (NLT) Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life.

 

My dream is unfolding. I have had a dream for quite some time. It seemed so impossible just a couple weeks ago. Trapped and imprisoned in the present, not really sure how such a thing might come to pass. Hope was deferred and my heart felt it just as Proverbs notes. But in a day, a moment, it is beginning to make sense. I am a dreamer of that there is no doubt. Optimism born of moments in my life that just did not add up blossomed into the hope that there was more to life than what I was experiencing. When I met Jesus Christ, suddenly dreams started becoming a reality. Not right then in a magical sense, but more of a miraculous journey. It takes time. Like most believers, I want everything that the Lord has for me but I do not want to wait to have it. I want it now. The moment I think it, dream it or imagine it and I getting the feeling of agreement in my spirit – it is go time as far as I am concerned. But I have discovered something that I hope will encourage you today to not only dare to dream but be diligent enough to wait for its careful unfolding.

Joseph 37:18-19 (NLT)

When Joseph’s brothers saw him coming, they recognized him in the distance. As he approached, they made plans to kill him. “Here comes the dreamer!” they said.

 

Here comes the dreamer… The story of Joseph is about the dreamer. Joseph was his father’s favorite and all his siblings knew it. Animosity born of jealousy did not help when Joseph began to dream daring to share them with his brothers. Joseph clearly was oblivious to the fact that these ideas only added fuel to their hatred. It was also clear that Joseph saw the end from the beginning but did not understand the details that led to his destiny. If he had known that he would go from being the favorite, thrown in a pit, sold into slavery, falsely accused, locked in prison, surely forgotten until finally making it to the leadership role that he dreamed of do you think he would have pursued it at all? We all are born with a plan and purpose put in our hearts by the Lord. (Jeremiah 29:11) Those who dare to seek the Lord with their whole heart will find their destiny but it is not always a straight shot to the top. (Jeremiah 29:13) Remember your dream is God’s Plan for your life. It will require a thorough renovation of your mind, body and spirit for complete fulfillment. Are you ready?

Here comes the dreamer… suddenly what seems so promising turns our life upside down. Now what? Jesus came so we would have an abundant life. He wants us to be successfully according to His Perfect Plan. As imperfect people covered by His Grace, it takes time to change us into who we need to be to meet the qualifications, responsibilities and character necessary to be successful in our new position in life. We also face adversarial opposition in that the enemy seeks to steal, kill and destroy everything that God is working in and through our life. (John 10:10) If you have a dream, are you ready? Are you ready to fight to hold to it even when it is all that you have left? Seems so brutal and violent and it is – Heaven and hell collide when men and women of God dare to accept their position in the Kingdom of God becoming empowered to do all that they have been called to do! (Matthew 11:12)

Romans 8:28 (NLT)

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

Joseph’s brothers threw him a pit. (Genesis 37:23-24) A cistern with no water that would be his prison for a day. I wonder if the moment he hit the hard ground, tasting dirt mixed with blood from his fall did he think my dream has ended. Was his heart broken at the thought of such rejection? Was he surprised by the determination of their hatred? How could this be? Was Joseph naïve in thinking that they might share his enthusiasm about his future, when they were stuck watching sheep in a field? Well, he really didn’t have much time to continue his pity party because they hauled him out of the pit and sold him into slavery. (Genesis 37:28) How ironic? The one who dreamed of ruling now must be a servant. It is the way God works. He humbles us to ready us for authority every single time. If you look at the story of Joseph as a whole, it all makes sense. There is a happy ending despite his struggles and hardship along the way. But if you were Joseph living the story, then you would experience the highs, lows, heartaches and struggles as he did. See we know it was worth it, but I am sure that Joseph had to wonder along the way. Throughout the last few years, the Lord continually has impressed this in my mind and imprinted it in my spirit. He is working everything together for my good because I love Him. I am called according to His Purpose. But there have been many days that I feel down in that pit or sold into slavery like I am getting nowhere fast, stuck in a rut, and wondering will life ever change for the better…will it always be this hard…but now it is happening. The dream is unfolding…

Proverbs 13:19 (NLT)

It is pleasant to see dreams come true, but fools refuse to turn from evil to attain them.

When Joseph finally gets to Egypt, he is purchased by Potiphar an Egyptian officer who is captain of Pharaoh’s guard. Coincidence? Of course, not. The Lord was with Joseph giving him success in everything he did. (Genesis 39:2) God was with him. He prospered. Joseph adapted. Slavery must have been very different for the free-spirited teenage baby of the family who was dad’s favorite. The baby of our family would struggle since she has been coddled by six of us her entire life. Think about it. But rather than rebel and cause a problem, it is clear that Joseph decided to do the right thing and trust the Lord. He became a servant. A good one at that so much so that Potiphar soon put Joseph over his entire household. (Genesis 39:1-5) It was a good gig. But it was not God’s Plan for Joseph who was destined for the palace.

Potiphar’s wife took a liking to Joseph. So much so that she began to make advances on the boy until one day he had to run from her. A woman scorned she told her husband that it was Joseph who was the aggressor and like any good husband – he came to the defensive of his wife and Joseph was sent to prison. (Genesis 39:19-23) What about the injustice of that? How could God let His Guy be falsely accused like that? Well, for one thing – Jesus was falsely accused. Secondly, as if it was needed, God had a plan and objected for this man. Our destiny defines us not the accusations and opinions of others. Oh how I wish I had learned this lesson about twenty years ago. Anyway, God was faithful in His Love for Joseph in prison as well and the warden took immediate notice of Joseph. (Genesis 39:21) He quickly becomes the warden’s favorite and is placed in charge of all the other prisoners. The warden didn’t have a care in the world because Joseph took care of it. Joseph demonstrated excellent leadership skills each step of his journey showing hints of the destiny taking its form in his life. He learned humility in his hardship that would develop his character making a person with leadership skills a true leader.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NLT)

Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. 

 

My least favorite part of dreams unfolding is the time that it takes to happen. I am not a good “waiter” but oh how the Lord has been giving me ample opportunities to learn to be more patient. In Genesis 40:1, it says, “Sometime later…” So after Joseph is in prison for a while Pharaoh sends his cup-bearer and baker to prison where they meet up with Joseph. Both having dreams that need interpretation, Joseph obliges and asks the cup-bearer to remember him when he is with Pharaoh again. No need to expect anything of the baker because he dies three days later. Well, the cup-bearer forgets. Two FULL years later – he remembers. (Genesis 40:1) I bet those were years full of questions, concerns, tears, heartache, and other varying emotions for Joseph. It is clear that he maintained a relationship with the Lord all this time and that God’s Hand was on him. (Genesis 41:16) But Lord, why all this? And then it happens – his dream is finally fulfilled. (Genesis 41:37-44) It took around thirteen years for Joseph to go from the pit to the palace. How long have you been waiting for your dream to come true? Have you remained faithful (not perfect) just daring enough to believe? No one controls your destiny but the Lord. He uses people we interact with to open doors of opportunity along the way and close the ones that are not for us. But one thing is certain, God has made everything beautiful in its time. He planted Eternity in our heart and that is why anything less than His Plan will satisfy us!

Psalm105:17-20 (NLT)

Then he sent someone to Egypt ahead of them—Joseph, who was sold as a slave. They bruised his feet with fetters and placed his neck in an iron collar. Until the time came to fulfill his dreams, the Lord tested Joseph’s character. Then Pharaoh sent for him and set him free; the ruler of the nation opened his prison door.

 

The Lord tested Joseph’s character. True love for the Lord is not revealed in the good times when everything is going as we planned or expected, but in those moments of uncertainty when we must choose to take a step of faith or remain fettered to our doubts. Pharaoh set Joseph free in the natural but in the place it really counts – the heart – Joseph was never apprehended. Every step of the way, he trusted God as evidenced in God’s Word. We don’t have to have it all together. We are not expected to be perfect just faithful to His Love. If we simply believe by faith enough to endure those tough character-building sessions of life, the door will swing wide to our destiny. We don’t have to push, pull or fight for it. I see this happening in my life right now as the pieces of this puzzle called life begin to find their place in the perfect Plan of God. He has given me a dream. I want that dream. I can only find it in trusting Him. I cannot make it happen – it’s not my plan. I cannot force the timing – it’s not my schedule. My purpose is to live the dream. Thank you Jesus for my dream that is unfolding and every difficult step leading to this place.

Psalm 37:23-24 (NLT)

The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall for the Lord holds them by the hand.

Pray for Mercy

Pray for Mercy

Psalm 86:2-4 (NIV)

Guard my life, for I am faithful to you; save your servant who trusts in you. You are my God; have mercy on me, Lord, for I call to you all day long. Bring joy to your servant, Lord, for I put my trust in you.

 

In the stillness and darkness before dawn after the alarm had been silenced and lounging as long as we could, my husband says, “Hey, we should probably get up.” I laughed, “Why you want to ruin my morning like that? Give me some good news!” His response, “It’s Friday!” Throwing the covers off and swinging my legs over the bed, I quickly jump up to get moving. “Well, in that case…” And so we start our day!

It’s Friday. Each one seems more wonderful than the last at least to me. Surviving a difficult week at work, I am relieved to know that I only have a half day left to endure. When I left the office last night, I was drained. Running in the grocery store, I grabbed a box of chicken as my brain was too fried to cook. Walking past the discounted candy leftover from Easter, I grabbed a bag of jelly beans to drown my sorrow. Please don’t judge me. The carts of candy were next to the wine. It could’ve been worse. After dinner, my husband headed for the gym but I craved some alone time just me and the Lord. Popping in the earbuds and blasting my brain with praise, I grabbed the little dog and headed out on my way. God, I need you. I must finish this season to begin a new one. Why is it so tough right now? Why am I fighting so hard? I need you, Lord! You ever have days like that. It seems that when we are in true crisis, human nature releases every other care and worry for the moment of true danger. But when living ordinary life, it is more difficult to bear the load of each day. When placed in a position where trusting God is our only option, it is easy to choose. But in just living life absent of such desperation, the transition is more difficult. I am a Child of the Living God. My life is subject to His Plan, His Will and His Design. If I choose to live in His Unfailing Love and Mercy each day, I win!

When I came across Psalm 86 this morning like so many other times, it seems brand new. As if in all the other times that I have read God’s Word, this one eluded me. Guard my life for I am faithful to You, Lord. It is an honest plea. Faithfulness is not perfect – it just means that we believe in Him enough to try. He guards me from the abundance of His Love not my ability to always to the right thing or have a good attitude. It’s all about Him and I can place my life there if I choose. Save your servant who trusts you. Why must we be saved over and over again? Salvation comes one, but the process is lifelong. Some believe in one and done. This is complicated to explain but I believe that true salvation comes with a change. Not a change that you or I can master but salvation that includes surrendering our life to Christ so He can change us. We have to trust Him enough to give a part of our life to Him. It is that part no matter how small that He demonstrates His Great Love and Faithfulness to us and we give Him a little more. You are MY God! God has already proven His Love for you and me. It is in this very declaration that we make the connection necessary to have all we have been promised. Have mercy on me, Lord! Now we are finally getting somewhere…

What is mercy? By definition, it is something that gives evidence of divine favor. Divine favor is the abundance of God reserved as an inheritance for His Children.

Lamentations 3:22-24 (NIV)

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”

 

I have often thought that if people could just see Jesus like I see Him, if they could know Him like I know Him. But then comes the realization that it has not been an easy process. The things that I have gone through that broke the barrier of self that kept me from fully knowing and trusting Jesus have been heartbreaking and hard. I have some scars. Faith comes at the price of self-crucifixion. The bigger they are the harder they fall. Though I have endured some real struggles, because of the Lord’s Great Love (I) have not been consumed for His Compassions (mercies) never fail. Yes, they are new each morning. From time to time, I use them up before noon. Those are the days that it is perfectly within my right to go Jesus and ask for more. His Faithfulness is that great. His Unfailing Love is that vast. He just waits on us to step out of our pride and self-absorption to say, “I can’t do this anymore, Lord. Will you?” It is in that moment that He becomes our portion. It is when we decide this life will no longer do so I will wait on the Lord.

Psalm 30:8-10 (NIV)

To you, Lord, I called; to the Lord I cried for mercy: “What is gained if I am silenced, if I go down to the pit? Will the dust praise you? Will it proclaim your faithfulness? Hear, Lord, and be merciful to me; Lord, be my help.”

 

Our youngest child was born with something to prove following four siblings. She was born being told what to do. Most people have a set of parents but she sometimes feels like she has too many to count especially because three of them are much older than her. She has had a few accidents that have landed us at the orthopedic clinic. Most of them prefaced by the words, “I do it myself”. It’s human nature. We are born with selfish pride that makes us want to assert power and control over our life. But when life gives us more than we can handle, it is then we call out to the Lord for help. Sometimes the mercy we grabbed like a giant cup of coffee that morning is used up halfway through the day, we can ask for more. When mercy runs out, it is not a call to stand and fight but rather to retreat.

Psalm 40:11-13 (NIV)

Do not withhold your mercy from me, Lord; may your love and faithfulness always protect me. For troubles without number surround me; my sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see. They are more than the hairs of my head, and my heart fails within me. Be pleased to save me, Lord; come quickly, Lord, to help me.

 

The Lord is not withholding His Mercy from us. His Love surrounds us like a shield. Retreat? Is the Lord telling me to run? Is He implying giving up? No, but when we become overwhelmed in our circumstances it is time to react or respond. To act on the situation is to react, but to act on our faith is the kind of response that allows us to see our situation change. The enemy wants us to rise up in our flesh and begin to speak out of fear, worry, stress or doubt which causes our faith to deteriorate. It complicates things. But when we learn to “retreat” into the Presence of God and regroup before tackling our troubles – it is then we find new mercy to get us through the battle so we will win the war. The Lord will help you in every situation that you surrender to faith not fear!

Psalm 51:1 (NIV)

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions.

 

Mercy is not about how many times we mess up, but how much God loves us. Think about that for a minute. If His Mercy is equated to His Love, there must be more than enough to cover my present situation. There must be more than enough to get me through each day no matter how difficult and trying. I guess it is not a matter of is there more mercy but how do I get it?

Psalm 69:13-16 (NIV)

But I pray to you, Lord, in the time of your favor; in your great love, O God, answer me with your sure salvation. Rescue me from the mire, do not let me sink; deliver me from those who hate me, from the deep waters. Do not let the floodwaters engulf me or the depths swallow me up or the pit close its mouth over me. Answer me, Lord, out of the goodness of your love; in your great mercy turn to me.

With all that is within me, I do not understand our daughter’s fascination with her white converse. When I bought them I cringed knowing that they would never be this white again once they left the box. But since her adult sister got hers she wanted them too so I relented. Now I do not picture her sister running all over the school or trudging through the soccer field that is red clay with a little grass on top or doing all the other things a 12-year-old might do, but I knew that is exactly what our youngest would do. I found the filthy shoes in the corner of her room. They were forgotten because they were dirty (can’t imagine how that happened). I took them to the laundry room covered them with a combination of every toxic chemical I could find until I am convinced they were steaming a bit and threw them in the wash. I washed them twice before some of the white could be seen. I then had to take a toothbrush dipped in some Pinterest concoction to work on the tough spots until finally after what seemed like hours of painstaking labor – they looked almost new. I left them on the washer to dry. Haven’t seen them since.

I did not spend all that time cleaning those shoes because I loved them or paid too much for them. I painstakingly labored over them because I love my daughter. I had asked her several times to bring me her shoes to wash them but too busy being a preteen she never did. Sometimes I think we act the same way. So caught up in life, we get covered in the world. God keeps calling us to come closer but we are too busy to relent. But then He finds us tossed aside or hiding in a corner, He carries us into His Presence and begins gently working on us until we are clean and new again. Don’t you love Jesus? This is the time of God’s Favor in your life. It may not feel like you. Things may not look like it but it is nevertheless and in spite of you and me. God sees in us who He created us to be before this world got a hold of us. He is working to renew us, restore us and revive us to that Glorious Standard of living that sin robbed from us. He is ready to rescue us today from whatever has us drowning. Just put up your hand and say Lord out of the goodness of your love – give me more mercy. He will. He’s been waiting for this moment a long time. Your simply request for Him to pour out His Love on you. He will answer. He will give you peace before your position change. He will give you joy in the midst of your situation. But all the while, He will be working all the details of your life according to His Goodness. (Romans 8:28) Oh, what a friend we have in Jesus! Happy Friday!

Titus 3:4-7 (NIV)
But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit,
 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.

Maxed Out

Maxed Out

Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV)

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

 

Completely maxed out. That is where I am today, how about you? Looking at the calendar for the next five weeks, I am not exactly sure how everything listed will ever get done. Work is crazy right now. Have you ever heard of the “Kevin Bacon Theory”? Based on the six degrees of separation theory which states that anyone on the planet can be connected to any other person through a chain of acquaintances that has no more than five intermediaries, the idea is that this applies to Kevin Bacon (actor) consistently. It has become a game to link people by this theory. Well, I can promise you when it comes to my work-life this applies because any given task at any given time results in a call to my desk or a knock on my door. This is not a case of popularity just the result of being in the same place too long. We are currently doing a major software implementation, responding to a federal review, preparing for our reaccreditation as an institution, our principal has been removed for misconduct, not to mention our daily tasks of serving students and the general public. I work in the hub of these activities. I am at maximum capacity. My right hand in the office and one of my best friends in life was offered a new position just the other day. She was torn to even consider it because of our friendship and my impending burial in our workload. I encouraged her to do what was best for her. She argued that she feels obligated to help me complete these tasks or I would be overwhelmed. I promised her it was okay because at this point I already am overwhelmed. Life gets busy. Juggling a career, family and everything that goes with it can be a constant struggle. Some days I must remind myself as a believer that Jesus promised that His Yoke is easy and His Burden is light.

Lord, what does this mean to us? The everyday believer who cannot hide in a prayer closet or remain barricaded in the church. How can I experience the rest that you promised the weary? Where is the yoke that is gentle? I want rest for my soul today. She’s tired. Keeping on keeping on works but I know that I have been called to live in His Light. I was created for a plan and purpose called freedom that I am not experiencing in the bondage of worry, anxiety and doubt. Call it what you will but that is exactly what it is. When we worry, we have a void in our faith. When we become anxious, there is a hole in our hope. When we doubt God, we begin to be overloaded as the enemy sees the insufficiency and works to destroy us in weakness. Are you with me today? Running as fast as you can to keep up? Are you swimming and swimming but get nowhere afraid you might drown? Are you the subject of six degrees of separation with everything coming back to you? That’s a lot of responsibility for a mere human and not what the Lord has intended for you. Come to me. Jesus is saying it but are we listening. I am.

Ecclesiastes 3:10-11 (NIV)

I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.

 

See I knew it! I knew this “free” salvation was too good to be true! Hang on! It’s not. God has given us a burden. We are to discover the Eternal Power placed inside our heart. He wants us to know Him. He wants us to see His Active Intervention in our life and embrace it. Jesus offers us a yoke which is servitude. We are slaves to sin before Jesus but become slaves to righteousness after we accept Him as Lord and Savior. (Romans 6:17-19) Freedom comes in knowing the Lord…really knowing Him. We are set free by Jesus but as humans it takes some time to understand true freedom and walk in it. If I unlock the door to the kennel our dog sleeps in, she will not get up and come to it until I open it. When she was smaller she would try to dig her way out, but now she knows better so she waits. I can unlock the door and she will remain in the crate until I slightly open it for her. We are like that as believers. Caught up in sin for so long – it takes some time to discover the freedom that we have in Jesus Christ.

Galatians 5:1 (NIV)

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

 

We are free to live any way that we choose. When we surrender our heart and life to Jesus, it is a choice to live for righteousness rather than to remain tied to the death sentence called sin. The problem is that too many times we try to live for Jesus tied to our sin. You cannot have it both ways. It is like be pulled in two totally opposite directions at the same time. You are caught in the midst of a tug of war. Something has to give or you will be torn apart. Jesus has set us free. There is no limitation on our life except that which is self-imposed. We can stand firm by faith and we will have the victory. Whoever Jesus sets free is free. (John 8:36) As we learn more and more about this Truth called freedom, we will learn to live like it. (John 8:31-32) The problem that cripples and confines most Christians is doubt. If we really believed that Jesus is who He says He is and did what they say that He has done, we would have enough faith to escape the burdens of life to live in the freedom set before us.

Matthew 6:31-33 (NIV)

So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

 

After my friend shared her new opportunity with me at work, she kept telling me over and over again not to worry. She gave me a million reasons why she “probably” would not take the job. But truthfully between you and I – I was not worried either way. At first I thought to myself, “Oh great! You have lost your mind!” But the more I thought about it I realized it was the Peace of a Loving God seeping through the endless banter in my mind. I really don’t have to worry about life. I am free to walk with Jesus every single day enjoying the benefits and blessings of my salvation. My only concern and burden that I have is to seek the Kingdom of God above all other things. Did you hear that? I just crumpled up my “to-do” list and threw it on the floor. I have one job today. One burden. Only one care. That is to know Jesus more. To allow Him to swing the doorway to freedom wider and convince my heart by faith to step right in. There is freedom in knowing Jesus today even for all those maxed out stress monkeys like me. Thank you Jesus that I do not have to worry until I meltdown, stress to the point of overload or be anxious for anything. Thank you for once again collecting my burdens and adjusting my yoke so I am free to follow you and you alone!

Psalm 55:22 (NIV)

Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be s