White Pants

White Pants

Isaiah 1:18 (NLT)

“Come now, let’s settle this,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.”

 

Yesterday, I made a bold decision and decided to wear white pants! I had purchased the cute denim capris a while ago, but just didn’t have the guts to wear them. White is intimidating. From the moment, I put them on I was immediately aware of my surroundings including everything and anything that might come in contact with my pristine pants. If I brushed up against anything, I immediately inspected the point of contact for a mark. Of course for lunch I had a tomato-based pasta brought to work by a friend, I couldn’t offend them or refuse their hospitality so I ate slowly, carefully and meticulously not to let anything drip on me. I also noticed that in white it seems that every imperfection is more defined. Ladies, you know what I mean. The bumps and curves show a little more. Why all the hoopla? Well, if anything were to get on my white pants it would be completely visible and stand out like a sore thumb. For the rest of the day, I would feel like a two-year-old caught playing in their Sunday best. Naturally as I exited the grocery store laden with food and supplies, the sky graciously decided to release a torrential downpour which made my white pants transparent. By the time I finally made it home and was able to change clothes, I was totally relieved as though my mission was accomplished.

“White pants” could be compared to righteousness in Christ. Each day should begin with repentance that strips us of the dirt and stain of sin to walk flawlessly with the Lord. Most people do not know or understand the potential of the life we have been given. When sin is removed, the blessing and favor of God can now reach us as the barrier is removed. We can walk in everything God has promised for the day because sin no longer keeps it from us. God put it there for us. He intended for us to have a good life. When we choose the filthy rags of sin over the whiteness of righteousness, we choose less than God’s Very Best. The heightened awareness that I had yesterday as I maneuvered through my day trying not to get dirty should be my approach to life without sin. What if Christians perceived their life in white? What if believers focused on righteousness and a commitment to maintaining our relationship with Jesus Christ? When we continue to walk in darkness, we don’t worry about it because we blend right in just a mark on dark pants. But when we choose to walk in the Light of His Love, we see things differently than before. Life is not the same as usual. The natural becomes supernatural.

Revelation 3:1-6 (NLT)

Write this letter to the angel of the church in Sardis. This is the message from the one who has the sevenfold Spirit of God and the seven stars: “I know all the things you do, and that you have a reputation for being alive—but you are dead. Wake up! Strengthen what little remains, for even what is left is almost dead. I find that your actions do not meet the requirements of my God. Go back to what you heard and believed at first; hold to it firmly. Repent and turn to me again. If you don’t wake up, I will come to you suddenly, as unexpected as a thief. Yet there are some in the church in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes with evil. They will walk with me in white, for they are worthy. All who are victorious will be clothed in white. I will never erase their names from the Book of Life, but I will announce before my Father and his angels that they are mine. Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches.”

 

“You have a reputation for being alive – but you are dead.” Welcome to modern day Christianity. We report that we have been saved, healed and delivered in Jesus Christ but many are not. We testify look what the Lord has done but really there is a whole bunch of people faking it until they make it in God. Our daughters went to church camp this week out in the woods with many young people. Just a few weeks ago, they went to highly promoted conference with many famous Christians who got them all pumped up about Jesus and empowered them to live openly for the Lord. Big production, loud music, light show, t-shirts, famous names – the works. They loved it. Had the time of their life. It was the first time for our youngest. When she got back she was all excited about what she experienced there. So when it came time to get ready for this camp, I asked her how she was feeling after coming back from such a big event to head out to the woods to learn quietly about the Lord. She told me that at the conference she was all excited and pumped up with energy but at this little camp she feels the Lord here and put her hand to her chest. This is the real deal. I have hardly gotten a chance to speak to my girls this week as they are having an “awesome” time (their words not mine.) We need to get back to the basics of Christianity. The church has lost its power. We no longer rely on our Strength who is Jesus but have come back to self. There is power in the Blood but only if we use it to exchange scarlet sin to be washed white as snow.

As true believers, we should live like we are in white seven days a week and three hundred sixty five days a year. It matters how we live. Our reputation is our testimony to the world. To pretend to live for the Lord is a fatal mistake. Do not be deceived. Submission to God allows us to have everything He promised. To live for Him is a commitment, just like my white pants. For that day, I avoided anything that might leave a mark. I was careful not to soil my clothing. Friends, when we live like this in righteousness things will begin to change. This is what grace and mercy are all about. Like a stain stick tucked away so if we do mess up or get a mark – we can quickly erase it just like new. The Lord warns the Church of Sardis that those who walk with Him in white are worthy… I want to walk like that. Worthy of my call the way that Jesus says I can be. It just takes a little consideration in the midst of everyday life. To remember that we love Jesus before reacting and waiting until we form the right response. To avoid those things that degrade us as Christians choosing to become believers instead. People so in love with Jesus that we do not want to do anything to offend or tarnish His Good Name. I want that to be me. Everyday. Not just the days, I choose to wear white.

Romans 3:23-24 (NLT)

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God freely and graciously declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.

 

Righteousness is a priceless gift given to us by God through His Sacrifice of Jesus. Everyone has sinned. We all fall short of God’s Glorious Standard. This standard offers us an opportunity to reclaim our birthright as God’s Children. Too often it is forsaken like Esau just for a meal. (Hebrews 12:16-17) We must live for our Father’s Blessing to have an inheritance in Him. By choosing to seek the Kingdom of God first above all other things, we choose the Goodness and Favor of God over anything this world has to offer and God meets us right there with everything we need and want right there with Him. (Matthew 6:33) So why aren’t there more Christians making an effort to have a good reputation in the Lord living right lives and seeing miraculous results? Good question.

Romans 4:2-5 (NLT)

If his good deeds had made him acceptable to God, he would have had something to boast about. But that was not God’s way. For the Scriptures tell us, “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.” When people work, their wages are not a gift, but something they have earned. But people are counted as righteous, not because of their work, but because of their faith in God who forgives sinners.

 

Why don’t I wear white more often? Because I do not have confidence in myself that I can keep them white. I am afraid that they will get stained and not come clean so I choose to wear them selectively which is silly. I have a washer and dryer. I have laundry detergent and every stain remover know to God and man. If that doesn’t work, I can always look on Pinterest for yet another stain solution. But at the end of the day, they are just a pair of pants that will get worn out over time if I don’t outgrow them first or lose them to one of my closet-shopping daughters. Fear of failure and lack of faith keep us from walking in the blessings of God which is silly. Grace and mercy are the lifeblood of our existence and supplied in copious amounts for our use. Yes we will mess up but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to live a life pleasing to God. Of course, there will be days when our faith is overcome by fear but those will become fewer and fewer the more we walk with Jesus. We don’t have to do anything other than believe that God loves sinners and forgives their every one enough to try. When we stop trying to live a life of careful repentance and conscious righteousness – we become like the church of Sardis who are warned of a rude awakening when Jesus returned. I want Him to find me in white!

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.

Raising My Standards

Raising My Standards

Ephesians 2:4-7(NLT)

But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus.

 

There are peaks, valleys, and plateaus in life. Times when we are pressing up the hard side of the mountain with the sun in our eyes desperate for relief from oppression that seems overbearing. There are those seasons of life in the darkest depths of the valley as our hope is exhausted pursing the sun. I am currently on a plateau. I know I will not be here long experience warns me not to make camp or try to build a home here, but it is a great place to reflect as well as look ahead to what is before me. When life becomes overwhelming, God leads us to this quiet place of reflection to remind us who we are and what we were made for or at least that is what I am asking. I am beginning to believe that this is how God designed it to be a training course for forever. With each challenge and new season demanding more trust than the one before, it is clear that He definitely has a plan that is beyond my comprehension and my scope of knowledge. In this moment as I stand here, the valley behind me so dark and looming surrounded by mountains so high and foreboding I am held by the quiet calm of peace and a refreshing breeze of hope brushes softly across my face. I am not afraid of the days ahead or sullen by days gone by. I am here with the Lord. As He allows me to catch my breath, His Spirit is renewing me day by day. Why such careful attention? I am so undeserving of the love that God continually pours out in my life? I am the least of these. The sin washed away in the sea of forgetfulness surely should have dammed it shut but it didn’t because each morning I am met with new mercy. In fact, the more I seek Him I always find Him.

God wants us to be an example to future ages of the incredible wealth of His Grace and Kindness. I am just that as He has covered my life in it. The only thing that God requires is that we become united with Jesus Christ. It is crazy to me that the one thing He requires only blesses us more and more. He did not ask me to become a martyr though some people will. He did not lead me to my own personal cross to die for my sin but lead me to His Son’s Cross. I think I have always valued my salvation but I did not understand its worth until now. God raised us from the dead along with His Son, Jesus and seated us with Him in the Heavenly Realms. This is our future and destiny both now and forever. Too often we focus on forever having no idea where we are now. What if ever realized that this place of dominion, power and authority does not just apply to our forever but right now? Would it change our life? Yes, it would.

Romans 3:22-24 (NLT)

We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God freely and graciously declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.

 

Everyone has sinned. Everyone. Even Christians and believers, cannot perpetuate a sinless life. It is all about the Grace of Jesus Christ. This means that we are all on a level playing field when it comes to God. When God’s Favor is evident in my life, I often joke that I am God’s Favorite. I am not really. Actually, we all are. The only thing that stands between us and the Glorious Life established for us (Jeremiah 29:11-13) is sin. God intervened knowing our inability to overcome sin and made the Way. His Name is Jesus. Jesus makes it possible to reclaim God’s Glorious Standard for our life. The word “standard” means an approved model; a rule or principle that is used as a basis for judgment; and an average or normal requirement. God has made an approved model for our life that contains a future and hope. He has provided everything we need to live a contented and satisfied life with inexpressible joy. The more I read the Word of God the more clear it becomes that disobedience has made my life much harder than it has to be as I accept less than God’s Best on a continual basis. The principle that guides my life is grace. It is sufficient for me. His Mercy is new each morning for all those struggles with sin along the way. It is all coming together by faith so that God can create a new average and normal according to His Riches in Glory rather than according to my own fear of lack.

Isaiah 43:1-3 (NLT)

But now, O Jacob, listen to the Lord who created you. O Israel, the one who formed you says, “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior…”

 

The Lord promises to go with us through every situation in life for two reasons – You are valuable to Him and He meant to save you. This is not an afterthought or second thought but predetermined by the Lord for your whole life. He is just waiting for some of your life to be committed to Him. When we go through deep waters, who do we cry out to? When we go through difficulties? That’s right, we pray. When we are oppressed, we draw closer to God than any other time. What does He do? Just what His Word says that He will do, the Lord saves us, heals us, delivers us and blesses us. Why? Because in trials we choose to be humble and obedient. It is when we plateau that we stop pressing, pushing and pulling our way deeper into the Presence of God. God says, “No don’t stop now…keep pursuing me!” Why? Why is God so interested in the likes of me and you? Because friend we cost Him everything!

The last four years have definitely taken a toll on our family. We are still unwinding from the battle fought alongside our son. It is evident in each member. When our security in life was shaken to its core, it required a change. I had to decide if I would trust God or not. I didn’t have time to think about it or weigh my options, actually there was no other option. What I found in the midst of deep waters, rivers of difficulty, and fiery oppression is that God is my God. Let me say that again, God is MY God. He is not just my son’s God who loves him, healed him and delivered him. But He is MY God who had a plan and purpose for me in the midst of it all. There are things that I know now and see differently not because the ordeal was so horrible but because in the middle of the greatest pain and fear that I have ever felt in my heart that God never left me. He was right there with me. He comforted me with an inexplicable peace that I carry with me even today. I have an inexpressible joy not born of outcomes but found in the Love of my God who is raising my standard of living from the inside out. I can’t do anything to change my life but follow Jesus. Just walking with Him…but that requires obedience. I might lose some people here.

Psalm 119:108-110 (NLT)

Lord, accept my offering of praise and teach me your regulations. My life constantly hangs in the balance, but I will not stop obeying your instructions. The wicked have set their traps for me, but I will not turn from your commandments.

 

What if the only thing standing between you and your breakthrough is you? Well, that is probably the case. What if the blessing you want is on the other side of something you have or do that you are not willing to change? We expect God to force it upon is right where we are but God cannot stand dishonesty. (Proverbs 20:23) He detests double standards. The Lord demands accurate scales and balances. (Proverbs 16:11) He sets the standard of fairness. It is called His Word. He gives us a partner to help us maintain His Word in our life called the Holy Spirit. But if we are not committed to living our life in alignment with His Word than we fall into the traps of sin set before us and fall short of God’s Glorious Standard reestablished by His Grace. The image of scales and balances imply something be traded…something of worth. What does God treasure the most? Well, it certainly is not money because the streets of Heaven are paved in gold. It’s you! He is asking you to balance your life with Jesus Christ. Living by His Example, following in His Footsteps and answering His Call – when we do it is an automatic that our standard of life will change. Sometimes we don’t even notice in our fight to choose and maintain the balance in our life of grace, love and mercy. When we obey God – we are blessed. When we do not – our standard of life falls short. It is not God’s unwillingness or inability but it is our unwillingness and inability to trust Him enough to do what He says and have what He promised.

Ephesians 4:13-15 (NLT)

This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ. Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.

I want my life to measure up to the full and complete standard of Christ. I say that without an ounce of reservation knowing full well that it may produce hardship, warfare and hell to break loose in my life but I have found Someone who is better than life. As I stand here turning my back on the past and pressing into the future, I have no idea what the Lord has for me next. As this chapter closes and another one opens, how will it unfold? As this season ends and another one comes, what will it produce in my life? People say that time heals all wounds. That’s not true. There are people who only grow bitter with time. Some will never know peace, joy and love in their life again because of the things that they have gone through. If you want God’s Standard of Life, it is found in Jesus Christ. There are a whole lot of places saying something else even the modern day church. As long as you have love you have God is not true, God has always loved you! He never stopped loving people. People stopped loving God so He sent His Son, Jesus to bridge the gap. We still try to go through deep waters to get to the other side rather than obey the Lord, trust Him and follow Him. I can be who I was and get what I deserve in life. Or I can assume a posture of faith and be saved by His Grace. In this place of total surrender and commitment to God, even when things are tough and we feel all alone, our life gets better somehow. Over and over, time after time, I find that it just gets better and better.

Ephesians 1:5-10 (NLT)

God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding. God has now revealed to us his mysterious plan regarding Christ, a plan to fulfill his own good pleasure. And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ—everything in heaven and on earth.

Re-Mission

Re-Mission

Romans 8:37-39 (NLT)

No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Remission. I keep saying it but still cannot fathom that we have reached such a place. The doctors have confirmed it. The tests show it. His body is living proof that there is a Healer and He is faithful in delivering us from sickness and disease, yet I still have a wariness in my spirit that is undeniable. Oh don’t get me wrong, I am celebrating our son’s victory over cancer. He has triumphed over death and the grave be carried in the Arms of Jesus. God is faithful. His Word is true. It will not return void if we will just hang on. Why this trepidation? The need to maintain this stance. We have won this battle but we have not won the war.

What is remission? In Biblical terms, it means pardon, forgiveness as of sins or offense. Through the Blood of Jesus Christ, we are given these precious gifts in salvation. He renews and restores us so that death no longer can put a claim on our life and the grave is not our future. In medical terms, remission is a temporary or permanent decrease or subsidence of manifestations of disease. There is no guarantee according to the medical world when it comes to this conclusion. As I try to make this word sink in, I think that the two means are converging in my life to form a sound platform on which I stand. We have celebrations, victories and may triumph in every single day. But we will never be free of adversarial opposition until Jesus returns one day or we have the privilege of standing before Him.

“No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.” Despite all these things, it is plural. We don’t want to think about such “things” once we come to Jesus. He is supposed to fix it all. Christians don’t have problems. Faithful people do not encounter opposition. They thrive and flourish in the Love of God without a care in the world, right? “No, despite all these things…” Remission is simply a re-mission in life. It is foolish to surrender our sword, put down our shield and live blissfully in ignorance. A battle is coming. Warfare is real. There are giants in the land. How do I know? Look at the list of things that cannot separate us from the Love of God, these apply to believers and nonbelievers. Just because you enlist in the Lord’s Army does not exempt you from battle, it only changes your cause. Soldiers rest between engagements but they are ready to go when the order comes. A lot of preachers don’t preach about this anymore because it is not what people want to hear. The good news is that those who read it and believe it will overcome in every situation that is faced because nothing can separate us from the Love of God that is revealed to us in Christ Jesus.

I Samuel 17:45-47 (NLT)

David replied to the Philistine, “You come to me with sword, spear, and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies—the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. Today the Lord will conquer you, and I will kill you and cut off your head. And then I will give the dead bodies of your men to the birds and wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel! And everyone assembled here will know that the Lord rescues his people, but not with sword and spear. This is the Lord’s battle, and he will give you to us!”

 

The story of David and Goliath has been read, taught and preached more ways than can be counted. (I Samuel 17:32-51) I was thinking about David yesterday. I have heard at least a dozen messages on the five smooth stones that David selected and their meaning. (Verse 40) But as I began to think about it again, I wondered why five stones. David did not exude a lack of confidence. Did he always pick five when he prepared to protect his father’s sheep? What is the significance of five stones? It is significant enough to be included in the Word of God. I think one reason among many is that there was more than one giant.

When our son was diagnosed with cancer, his only real question is how did I get it? What made it choose me? His doctor told him that everyone has something in life they go through and this must be his “thing”. I wish that were true, but it’s not. In our son’s case, a diagnosis of cancer led to four relapses and a bone marrow transplant. He is healed of cancer but his body has taken a toll in the war. Warfare in the life of the believer is inevitable. You have something the enemy wants. He wants to steal, kill and destroy our faith. It is our faith and confident hope in the Love of God and His Power that leads us from victory to victory and glory to glory. It doesn’t mean we won’t experience more of God’s Goodness than ever before because it will pour out into every orifice of a life that is surrendered to God but you will still have giants in the land and an enemy to fight so we can never be without our weapon of warfare, ready for battle and standing on a firm platform of faith.

Saul offered David his armor but wisely the boy said, “No thanks!” He strode out to that giant because his faith in God told him that he would win and that’s exactly what he did. But David’s woes with the giants did not end there. Oh no, they kept coming. (2 Samuel 21; I Chronicles 20) But David defeated the giants every single time. I am with you! I get tired of fighting for my faith. I am weary in well-doing just like the next guy. We just have to keep telling ourselves it’s worth it and keep moving toward Christ. More faith is our mission and confident hope is our cause. Trusting the Lord is the true manifestation of such things in our life. Winning or losing is the issue but overcoming all that stands between us and God’s Glory.

Deuteronomy 1:28-33 (NLT)

Where can we go? Our brothers have demoralized us with their report. They tell us, “The people of the land are taller and more powerful than we are, and their towns are large, with walls rising high into the sky! We even saw giants there—the descendants of Anak!”’ “But I said to you, ‘Don’t be shocked or afraid of them! The Lord your God is going ahead of you. He will fight for you, just as you saw him do in Egypt. And you saw how the Lord your God cared for you all along the way as you traveled through the wilderness, just as a father cares for his child. Now he has brought you to this place.’ “But even after all he did, you refused to trust the Lord your God, who goes before you looking for the best places to camp, guiding you with a pillar of fire by night and a pillar of cloud by day.

Giants are those things that are bigger than us. The only way that we overcome “giants” in our life is by trusting God. But most people would rather run away, then face the giants. It’s easier, less painful and relieves pressure. Of course, it does. The enemy is not going to fight those who are on his side. He is coming against the Kingdom of God. We have to take it back by force. It might seem in today’s society that he is winning. But need I remind you (and me some days) that GREATER is He that is in us than he that is in the world. The Lord goes before us preparing a way for us leaving everything we need to not just make it but live victoriously and thrive in every situation, but we choose our own way or not to go at all. Refusing to trust God – we give up on faith and try to fight these things in our own strength and power regaining control of our life. Suddenly void of God’s Power we fall face down in the dirt and the enemy tramples us. Thank you God for your mercy each morning that picks me up, dusts me off and starts me back on my way to follow You! No matter how many battles we win with the Lord, faith will always be our struggle. It is human nature. God has equipped us for every battle. He is our Strength!

Psalm 24:7-8 (NLT)

Open up, ancient gates! Open up, ancient doors and let the King of glory enter. Who is the King of glory? The Lord, strong and mighty; the Lord, invincible in battle.

 

Invincible means incapable of being conquered, defeated or subdued. That is the God we serve and His Son, Jesus Christ. This is the One who lives inside of us. Why do we want control when we contain such super powers? No clue but we do all the time. When we decide that the Lord is bigger than any giant that we face, His Power takes over our life because we trust Him. We allow God to fight our battles. Therefore we choose to win!

Isaiah 45:5-8 (NLT)

I am the Lord; there is no other God. I have equipped you for battle, though you don’t even know me, so all the world from east to west will know there is no other God. I am the Lord, and there is no other. I create the light and make the darkness. I send good times and bad times. I, the Lord, am the one who does these things.  “Open up, O heavens, and pour out your righteousness. Let the earth open wide so salvation and righteousness can sprout up together. I, the Lord, created them.

Am I reading this right? There tucked between verses of power and might. How can this be? “I send good times and bad times. I, the Lord, am the One who does these things. God sends good times. Yay! God sends bad times…hold on… how can this be true? Of course He does. Righteousness is not something we can achieve outside of Jesus Christ. We sin. Sin produces judgment. Jesus Christ is our Salvation that saves, heals and delivers us from such things. Without salvation, righteousness has to deal with our disobedience otherwise God has changed His Character and we are all headed to hell in a handbasket. The only hope we have is that despite all these “things” we have overwhelming victory in Christ Jesus. Remove sin from the world completely and it would be void of problems. Since that is not the case, we remove ourselves from sinful disobedience to seek and serve God choosing to trust Him above every circumstance and salvation changes the outcome for us from death to life and defeat to victory.

Psalm 144:1-2 (NLT)

Praise the Lord, who is my rock. He trains my hands for war and gives my fingers skill for battle. He is my loving ally and my fortress, my tower of safety, my rescuer. He is my shield, and I take refuge in him. He makes the nations submit to me.

 

There is coming a day when every knees will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. Until that day, be prepared to fight. There will continue to be giants in the land. There will be problems, trials and troubles along the way. Hold tight to your shield of faith – go nowhere without it. Keep the sword of the Spirit in your other hand and wield it in your life with total trust and confidence that it will make its mark every single time you speak it. Do not let your guard down ever or you will get knocked down every time. If you have chosen to seek the Lord and serve Him with all your heart – you have become prime enemy number one on the enemy’s hit list. Your faith has not only changed you but if allowed to continue will change the world. God has given you everything you need to win. Jesus handed you the victory and power to always overcome. By faith, we stand and deliver no matter what the odds look like to the world. Our confidence is not in us but the fact that Jesus in us is greater than any other power in the world. Do you believe it today? He is training you for war today so pay attention. He is developing the skills in you for your next assignment. His Presence is your refuge so run there as often as you can and despite all these things – you will overcome!

I John 4:4 (NKJV)

You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.

Fight to Win

Fight to Win

I Corinthians 9:25-27 (NLT)

 All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.

 

What a day! Yesterday was one of those days when it feels like being pecked to death by ducks just one thing after another. Nothing fatal all by itself but combined with everything else quickly it becomes an overwhelming load. Of course it did! We have been celebrating openly our son’s new birthday and one year of remission. Giving God glory and praise as loudly as possible for the miracle that He has accomplished in our boy. The enemy doesn’t like praise it brings the Lord closer. He doesn’t like when we worship God out in the open for everyone to see because it draws men and women to Christ. But what if was your child who lived and did not die, would fear keep you from giving honor to the One who did it? Yeah, I didn’t think so.

The warfare was inevitable, and oh so worth it but by Monday it was really beginning to get to me. Our youngest left for camp so I arrived to my husband wandering around our empty home which I immediately began to tidy up which is my stress reliever, I know it’s weird but it works setting my natural world back in order. As I cooked a healthy dinner for two and a loaf of banana bread (comfort food) to make use of some old fruit, I began singing under my breath – “Holy Spirit – you are welcome here. Come fill this place and change the atmosphere. Your Glory God is what our hearts long for to be overcome by Your Presence Lord…” over and over again trying to press through the wall around me. It was just one of those days.

This morning I awoke just before the alarm with my arms in the air and moving like I was lacing on boxing gloves. Odd, I know I thought so too. It was in the dream I was having right before I opened my eyes. There was no boxing ring or fight planned. Just me in a dark empty space lacing up boxing gloves and punching them into my hands to make sure they were tight. The craziest part is that I have never donned a pair of boxing gloves like that so how would I know if they were properly positioned and perfectly laced but in my subconscious I knew. Opening my eyes, I knew today would be a fight, but will it be a good fight? Will I be victorious? Will I bring down another giant?

Every day the enemy battles us to take our faith away. He was to steal, kill or destroy every good thing and the fruit of God’s Spirit cultivated to satisfy our life. It is really up to us whether or not we fight back. Will we take a stand or cower back as he roars like a toothless lion who seeks those he can devour. I am fighting back today. I hope that you will, too. Our new life in Christ is worth having and definitely worth fighting to maintain our inheritance. We fight to keep what is ours. Jesus gave it all to us. It belongs to us.

Joshua 23:9-11 (NLT)

For the Lord has driven out great and powerful nations for you, and no one has yet been able to defeat you. Each one of you will put to flight a thousand of the enemy, for the Lord your God fights for you, just as he has promised. So be very careful to love the Lord your God.

Joshua gives us some insight to how this thing works. These words should encourage your heart and boost your spirits today. First, the Lord has gone before you. There are no surprises for the Lord and He has given you the victory and everything you need to maintain the prize resulting from it. It says right here that “each one of you will put to flight a thousand of the enemy”. I bet if we counted our “enemies” or problems or troubles though they may feel like tons of pressure there are just not that many battles going on in our life. The Word of God says that each one of them could put one thousand to flight. I back that up with the statement that greater is He who is in you (and me) than he that is in the world. Jesus fought every bit of opposition in our life handing us victory. So now what…we are to very careful to love the Lord your God. Loving God is how we respond to the struggles of life effectively. Such faith and trust empower us to fight the good fight, endure and win.

Matthew 12:18-21 (NLT)

Look at my Servant, whom I have chosen. He is my Beloved, who pleases me. I will put my Spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the nations. He will not fight or shout or raise his voice in public. He will not crush the weakest reed or put out a flickering candle. Finally he will cause justice to be victorious. And his name will be the hope of all the world.

We must fight back like Jesus did. He is our example in life. But be warned, you may not like what you are reading because Jesus did not massacre people to secure our salvation. What does that mean? As we fight to keep our faith in this life, we must learn to respond as Jesus did and not as the world suggests. Life is not fair. Love has grown cold. Sin is rampant and justice perverted. There I said it, now we have to get over it because this world is not our home. We are not governed by society but by the Spirit of the Living God. Jesus did not fight, shout, or raise His Voice in public. Oh boy, here we go. He will not crush the weakest reed no matter how hard, stiff necked and unbending that person is. He will preserve the light in another even when they are wrong and hurt Him so we must do the same. He will cause justice to be victorious. We were not put here to change the rules or make this some kind of utopia. No, our mission is to bring the Light of His Love to every single person who we encounter. To show them the love of Jesus Christ even when they are totally unlovable. We are to magnify faith, hope and love to a lost and dying world even when they are fighting back.

2 Samuel 5:18-19 (NLT)

The Philistines arrived and spread out across the valley of Rephaim. So David asked the Lord, “Should I go out to fight the Philistines? Will you hand them over to me?” The Lord replied to David, “Yes, go ahead. I will certainly hand them over to you.”

 

With my new set of boxing gloves etched in my mind, I decided that I should probably learn the rules of engagement before the fight so I went directly to the Word of God that gives me clear instructions on how to live and what to do in life. The first thing that I discovered is that we have to ask the Lord is this my battle? Do I need to fight back or simply take a stand? David was a might warrior but more than that he was a man after God’s own heart. Rather than being self-confident, David knew his skill and ability as a warrior came from the Lord. So he consulted God before the battle to see whether or not it was something to fight for. What about you? We must be very careful not to develop a warring spirit that chooses to pick a fight with the devil every day even on those days that God called us to stand or to rest. Some challenges are not for us but someone else close by. We have to be sensitive to the Voice of God and obedient to what He says to live victoriously.

Isaiah 1:16-18 (NLT)

“Wash yourselves and be clean! Get your sins out of my sight. Give up your evil ways. Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows.” “Come now, let’s settle this,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.”

Are we fighting for the right things the right way? Arguments and disagreements do not win people to Jesus Christ, love does. Our ability to quickly forgive others and not take offense to their attack or actions against us will fortify our stance of faith in God. It is to decide that God is bigger than our adversaries in life and that we can count on Him to right the wrongs against us. Fighting with our hands and our words are not the weapons of our warfare. The enemy goads us to attack by telling us we are right. We are righteous. We did not become righteous all on our own but the Spirit of the Living God inside us makes it real. We cannot take credit or become self-righteous so humility must govern our life. God did something for us that we could not do for ourselves. Jesus died to hand us back our life and give us freedom. We choose whether or not we are willing to in turn give our life right back to Him. To do so is enlisting in God’s Army and follow the example of Jesus Christ. Confidence in the Lord allows us to stand tall on our faith with our head held high in confident hope even if no one else believes us.

Galatians 5:16-17 (NLT)
So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions.

 

A settled heart, soul and mind that knows the greatness it contains will live in quiet confidence because we know, trust and believe. The Holy Spirit helps us win the biggest battle of all. The one over self. This is the greatest war we fight and it comes on a daily basis. It barges in during our prayers demanding its own right. It interrupts our worship to say, “Are you really gonna take that?” It bursts out during our praise – “what have you done for “me” lately?” This is a constant engagement that demands our focus each day as we nail all our sinful natural desires to the Cross. Even that one that wants to rip somebody’s head off or tell them like it is. The same one that wants to punch someone in the face or cut them with our tongue. Sticks and stones WILL break our bones BUT words WILL also hurt us. I must align my body, soul and spirit using all my strength to align my life with what God has for me and becoming confident in what the Lord is doing in my life.

Ephesians 6:12-13 (NLT)

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

The enemy does not fight fair. He is ruthless and cunning. He works in areas of our life that he is given access to due to disobedience or sin. We must shut those doors tightly to win the good fight of faith. The devil is more powerful than us. The only hope that we have is the One who lives inside of us. Don’t forget that it is important to know before you charge the devil in your flesh rather than remaining covered in the armor of God. You need to be prayed up, praised up and acting on the Word of God before you go after the enemy. Otherwise, you are going to get your feelings hurt if not more. We win the battle when we endure. That is it. We just have to be the last man standing after the enemy has leveled his attack, raising our hands praising the One who gives us victory over sin, freedom to live in His Power and wins our wars for us.

If the enemy has been wearing you down, it’s time to inspect your armor to be sure it is holding. Gird up with the belt of Truth that is the Word of God. Find your promise and hang on to it no matter how rough things get. Put on righteousness – not by doing the right thing but doing everything you can to live in the Presence of God. Walk in humility, peace and love no matter where you are going or who you encounter. People are not the enemy even some may be manipulated by him. Hold on to your shield of faith. Keep it in front of you at all times. Decide in your mind that God has done exactly what He promised and that Jesus died just for you. Protect your mind in the knowledge of God’s Amazing Love. Start wielding the Sword of the Spirit. Release the Word of God the atmosphere. Say it out loud. Confidence tells a story. Trust keeps going when things look bad. Hope never leads to disappointment so why not embark on the journey despite the giants in the land?

I Timothy 6:11-12 (NLT)

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

 

As I get ready to begin my day, it feels like I am sitting on a bucket in the corner of the ring. My coach is in my face holding both the tightly laced gloves. This is what He is saying, “But you, Lori, are a woman of God so run from all these evil things. Pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance and gentleness. Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you!” The bell is ringing and it is time to enter the ring. I know have a battle plan. My objective is clear. I will fight the good fight of faith today and I intend to win!

II Timothy 4:7-8 (NLT)

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

Pursuing Goodness

Pursuing Goodness

John 15:4 (MSG)

Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can’t bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can’t bear fruit unless you are joined with me.

 

Those little stinkers, my children who plunder my oversized handbag, tossing aside anything that comes between them and the goodies in the bottom of my purse. Yes, those little minions of chaos. The very same ones who discarded my journal probably on the pew somewhere and moved on with the pack. Each service we hide fruit snacks so that when the littles come into the sanctuary – we can bless them. We are grandparents in training who also happen to still have a couple in the nest. So when the little ones come asking for gummies, the big kids are on a mission to grant their request. In doing so, my journal was carelessly tossed aside and left behind somewhere in the sanctuary. My journal represents my connection to Christ. I have documented this journey since 2009 compelled to write down nuggets and truths given to me personally in my pursuit of Christ. Tucked in my closet and high on a shelf are volumes of these books archiving the simple truth that God still talks to those who dare to listen. It seems ironic that in the pursuit of goodies, they have discarded such a sweet and tangible treat.

Live in me. What does that mean? Christ lives in us. He comes to us the moment that we identify Him as our Savior and Lord calling on His Name and turning our life into His Hands. Now what? Like tiny seeds planted deep in the ground changing inside the earth, the Word of God invested in us begins to grow and change us. As it does what was once an unfruitful existence begins to abound in the Goodness of God or at least it should. To bear fruit in our life requires a connection to Christ. A bond that if missing is missed. A tie if severed, one grabs for. His Absence should produce longing. I was distraught this morning to find that my journal had been left behind. Not because it is an expensive item or that anything in it is overly personal, but it represents my connection to Jesus outside of church, worship or people. It is part of that time when we sit together and converse. It is what He tells me that surely must be too important to miss. It is the “AH HA” moments when I finally get it thanks to His Spirit. It documents His Love for me and the fact that He really does care about every facet of my life.

My journal was left behind in children’s pursuit of fruit snacks. We all want such blessings in life…they just get a little bigger and more complex with age. There are so many things that we require of the Lord but forget the one thing that is required to have them. We don’t have to do anything to produce fruit in our life. Righteousness is a gift that can never be earned. Grace paid for it in full and now it belongs to you. You can choose to step in and live in it or go at it on your own. I want to bear fruit in my life. I want to live in the harvests of God. If I were planting a garden filled with wonderful vegetables, I would pay attention to those things I loved and desired. Those would be the ones that I would plant and invest time in cultivating. I wouldn’t plant things like bell peppers because I do not really care for them. If we want Jesus, we have to plant the Word of God in our lie. We need the Holy Spirit to take these seeds and cultivate them in our life and make them grow.

Psalm 34:8-10 (MSG)

Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see—how good God is. Blessed are you who run to him. Worship God if you want the best; worship opens doors to all his goodness. Young lions on the prowl get hungry, but God-seekers are full of God.

If you do not try God, you will never know if He meets your need. Taste and see that the Lord is good. We have developed a taste for the world. Society cannot satiate the deepest longing in our heart but we can see it, feel it, and touch it, so it must be real. But the Word of God says that all things are possible for those who believe. Impossibility vanishes when someone chooses to step into the Realm of Hope with confidence that there has to be more to life than this and chooses to connect with Him.

God is good. Blessed are those who run to Him. Worship God if you want the best. Worship opens doors to all of His Goodness. Think about that for a minute. We go to church because we think God will bless us and maybe that’s true if our heart is in the right place. But if this is true and we do want the Goodness of God found in worship – why wouldn’t we keep worshiping outside of the four walls of the sanctuary. When we are full of God, the Source of Life is alive in us and fills us to capacity even overflowing in abundance. This is not an overnight process just as the farmer waits so must we if we want a harvest of any kind. God calls it “harvest” for a reason. He is not a man and does not lie. He promises good things to those who invest their life in constant cultivation and sowing seeds of righteousness.

John 15:5-8 (MSG)

 I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can’t produce a thing. Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire. But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon. This is how my Father shows who he is—when you produce grapes, when you mature as my disciples.

 

Our attachment and connection to Jesus Christ should be “intimate and organic”. I like that. It is a personal connection. This allows us to draw from the source of life itself. It must be intimate. One-on-one, face-to-face without anyone else between us. Organic means that it is raw and real. This organic connection is not manmade. It is a spiritual drawing so deep that human eyes cannot perceive it that begins a process that can only be attributed to the Lord just a seed growing into a plant. We don’t really know how it happens just that when the seed comes in contact with soil, water and sunlight – it knows what to do from the inside out. Christ lives in us. When we immerse ourselves in the Word of God, converse with the Spirit of God, and plant ourselves in a firm foundation of faith with confidence enough to wait something happens from the inside out of us that is organic. We have eternity in our hearts that is trying to make its way out. On the Vine that is Jesus, where is your connection today? How long can you go on holding your breath and hoping to survive until your next encounter with God?

Our daughter loves to challenge herself in the pool. She will swim around “thinking” about it so I know it is coming but it still stops my heart each time. Holding the side of the pool, she will steady herself as she stares at the other side which is 32 feet away. Without warning, she plunges under the water and tries to swim to the other side under water holding her breath. I can tell when she begins to struggle. It stops me from breathing each time. She is expending energy but not oxygenating her blood. Why must she test herself like this? I have no clue. But I also don’t understand why most Christians leave the House of God with the Lord still in it. Locking the doors, getting back to life, and wondering where He is or why He isn’t doing anything? We have everything we need in Jesus to have a productive and satisfying life – we must only stay connected to the Source of Life each and every day rather than pushing ourselves to make it from worship service to prayer service along the way.

Galatians 5:22-24 (MSG)

But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely. Legalism is helpless in bringing this about; it only gets in the way. Among those who belong to Christ, everything connected with getting our own way and mindlessly responding to what everyone else calls necessities is killed off for good—crucified.

Each Sunday I hide treats away for all the little children to come and find. But my children, who live with me have access to the whole box along with countless other goodies tucked away in the pantry. This is life with God. We can visit church and have an encounter or experience with God or we can choose to live in Him as He lives in us with access to everything we need, want and desire in life. Satisfaction is reserved for those who abide, remain or live in Jesus. Why not take God home with you? Why not let Him ride to work with you? Why not let Him spend Friday or Saturday night with you rather than getting all cleaned up and coming to church? I’ll tell you why. Those who do not live in Jesus do not believe in His Unconditional Love and Overpowering Grace that accepts us and comes to live in us just as we are. Legalism is over. We never did measure up to the Law even when we tried. God wants to give us gifts because He loves us. He blesses us from the outside hoping we will invite Him inside every aspect of our life. All that is required to see fruit spring up into a mighty harvest is to live in the Lord. That’s it. None of those self-imposed mandates but to openly confess Jesus as Savior and Lord stepping into His Love until the connection is so strong that if you are separated – He is missed.

Philippians 3:7-9 (MSG)

The very credentials these people are waving around as something special, I’m tearing up and throwing out with the trash—along with everything else I used to take credit for. And why? Because of Christ. Yes, all the things I once thought were so important are gone from my life. Compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master, firsthand, everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant—dog dung. I’ve dumped it all in the trash so that I could embrace Christ and be embraced by him. I didn’t want some petty, inferior brand of righteousness that comes from keeping a list of rules when I could get the robust kind that comes from trusting Christ—God’s righteousness.

 

Are you connected to Christ today? Really connected. The type of connection that causes tension when stretched. Do you miss the Lord if you don’t talk to Him? Do you feel compelled to worship Him every day not just some days? My journal may be locked in the church. Although I write in it every day, it is only representative of what is going on in my heart, mind and soul as I dig deeper and deeper into the Presence of God. I don’t want any distance between me and the One who loves me most. We do not give the Lord a place in our life but rather it is knowing and understanding that He IS our life that we begin to change. Growth is mastered in surrendering all of our life to Christ as a seed yielded to good ground. We will mature and prosper in this place of full submission. Every day given to God by way of Jesus accepting who He is and what He is doing as the very best for my life. Submitting our whole life to Christ is not a sacrifice but total acceptance of God’s Plan including every blessing and bit of goodness that He has hidden away for benefit. Personally, I have not regretted a single “sacrifice” for Christ. It just means giving up less for so much more. It means loading up the Lord and taking Him everywhere we go and allowing Him to be present in everything we do knowing, trusting and believing that He is Good! Just as all those little people rush into church looking for goodies that they know I have brought, what if we approached God with the same childlike faith? Throwing away every worthless thing looking for the prize of our high calling in Christ.  What if we dug deeper and deeper into His Presence embracing Him tightly, letting go of the past, forgetting all the worthless goals and aspirations of self and calling out for more of Him than ever and refusing to let go until He blessed us with more of Him? What would happen? I don’t know why don’t we try it and find out!

Matthew 7:7-8 (NLT)

Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.

Jingle Jangle

Jingle Jangle

Matthew 21:21-22 (NLT)

Then Jesus told them, “I tell you the truth, if you have faith and don’t doubt, you can do things like this and much more. You can even say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. You can pray for anything, and if you have faith, you will receive it.”

 

Do you believe that if you pray for anything that you will receive it? Seriously think about it. Do you really think if you ask the Lord to do something, anything that He will oblige you and release the command in Heaven to complete your request? As a believer, this should be the premise of our life. Complete and 100% total dependency on God the Father for everything we need, want and desire to fulfill our life and satisfy our entire being. The Holy Spirit has been reinforcing in my spirit over the last few days that I have the power of change locked inside of me. Jesus handed me the Keys to the Kingdom so that I can unlock every door and barrier in my life by faith and see the goodness and glory of His Presence completely overwhelm my life. Why can’t I seem to unlock it in certain areas of my life?

Doubt is a faith killer. Worry is a faith destroyer, too. Anxiety is product of both that makes us think in the midnight hour or in the midst of a storm that the Lord is not with us, not aware of our plight, or simply does not care. None of this is true, but let me assure you that if we walk around jingling the keys to complete freedom in our pockets or better yet begin shaking and jangling them in the enemy’s face like we may just use them, be prepared for the war that lies ahead. Those Keys of to the Kingdom represent the Power of God that stripped the enemy of all of his power in your life. It robbed him of his victory. It ended the fight. The only hope we have of overcoming is the Authority and Power of Christ represented in our Keys to the Kingdom. We need faith to release the same power that brought Jesus safely back from death and the grave to win the war for our faith. The enemy will fight you for your keys. He will challenge the validity of them. He will make you think that they unlock nothing but heartache and disappointment for those who are foolish enough to use them. He mocks us in our waiting. He berates us as we press deeper into His Presence in our pain. He is a relentless adversary who will follow us to the ends of the earth to steal, kill and destroy us. Nothing personal, of course, he just wants those keys back. Will you give them back? Are you ready to relinquish the power in your life to live in the prison called discontent, dissatisfaction, disease and destruction? I didn’t think so. It’s time to stop waving around our authority and walk in it.

Matthew 14:27-32 (NLT)

But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!” Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.” “Yes, come,” Jesus said. So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted. Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?” When they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped.

The Power of God in our life operates in the parameters of our personal faith in Jesus Christ. It is all about Jesus and never about us. We hear of the rise and fall of men and women of God all the time. Shaking our heads in disbelief, when we should be planting our palm against our head going “I should have known better!” Why do we expect men and women of God to be perfect all of the time? Why would Jesus use them to teach, preach, heal and deliver people in His Name if they weren’t living the life? I agree that those who bear the mantle of apostle, pastor, preacher, deacon, usher and greeter and so on and so on should live a godly life. Most of them do, but sometimes they fall just like everyone else. They are people and never perfect. But when we exalt them to be “Jesus” in our life – they are destine to fail. My faith should be in Christ alone. It cannot be in the wind and waves around me. It cannot be about the church I go to or lived in the example of other believers. If I want to see the Power of God in my own personal life – I must press in deeper. I must strive to know Him more and more.

Peter had already proven that He believe Jesus was the Son of God. When the storm came, he saw Jesus walking on the water and wanted to be with Him. He wanted to walk in the footsteps of Jesus but after getting a few feet from the boat realized that the storm was greater than he thought, the waves were higher and the wind stronger. Now He no longer was paying attention to Jesus but to the world around him. What happened? Peter began to sink! Welcome to the plight of the everyday Christian who wants to follow Jesus but keeps getting hammered by life. Waking up each morning with a heart longing for God’s Presence and fully intent on living in the Power of Christ, their day smacks them down before they even have a chance to get out their Bible or get to their knees. This is a great reminder that greater is He who is in us than he that is in the world. You don’t have to read your Bible every day (oh but it helps). You don’t have to pray on your knees in your prayer closet religiously to be a “good” Christian and faithful believer. Nothing we do releases the Power of God in our life except faith in Jesus Christ. When Peter starting going under what did he do? He cried out to Jesus! When we begin each day from our bed in total darkness crying out to Jesus before we take a single step into the next day – the Lord comes rushing in. This is faith. To have nothing – to do nothing and fully accept Jesus Christ as everything we need to make it through each day.

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
.

The only way to please God is with faith. Genuine, real, tested and true faith that believes God, His Word, His Spirit and most importantly His Son without ever letting go or letting up. Faith is the tenacity to hold on to God’s Promise when it seems impossible knowing that in the impossible is the realm of hope we wanted all along. You want to get me all riled up? Tell me that something is impossible, never or forever! I dare you! I want you to! I beg of you because in that moment God steps in and says, “Not so fast!” The impossible is when God’s Power is most evident and effective because something dared to challenge His Authority. Forever is His Domain. Never is only for those who do not know Jesus. Anyone who truly believes that God exists and His Love is real knows that when all else seems to fail – He never does!

When the doctors told us during our son’s third relapse of cancer in two short years that we had now entered the “Realm of Hope” because chemotherapy was only a temporary fix. I told the doctor much to her surprise, “Thank God we made it!” I love the Realm of Hope because the impossible becomes possible in this place. People may think I am crazy! When the doctor told me that my daughter would be on a long list of asthma medication forever (even writing it on his prescription pad and underlining it) was the first time I witnessed Heaven and hell collide when the enemy overstepped his boundaries, the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords stepped in and said, “No more.” Our daughter was healed instantly and completely in that moment. Don’t believe me. I will give you her pediatrician’s number because he called it a miracle, too. But now I am challenged as our son and daughter are completely healed that I have all these other keys I am not using. My faith is not just for those big things that come along in life. Everyone carries keys every day. We have them in the natural and spiritual. I use my keys to start my car, open my house, and do my job. They work for me. I need to be equally as conscious of these Keys to the Kingdom I have been given and use them every day, too.

Matthew 17:15-20 (NLT)

 “Lord, have mercy on my son. He has seizures and suffers terribly. He often falls into the fire or into the water. So I brought him to your disciples, but they couldn’t heal him.” Jesus said, “You faithless and corrupt people! How long must I be with you? How long must I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me.” Then Jesus rebuked the demon in the boy, and it left him. From that moment the boy was well. 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.”

We know Jesus Christ and call Him our Savior and have made Him our Lord, so why are we still not seeing the miracles, signs and wonders in our life associated with such a commitment. We call Him Savior and follow the rules that make Him our Lord, but if we do not believe our life remains powerless. The enemy is not a fool. He listens to every word that we speak and watches everything we do. He is cunning and smart. He is no match for those who have faith believing fully in the Power of God for their life. Have your words told on you? Have your actions not aligned with what you say you believe? Those who truly believe that God’s Love is expressly for them making the Jesus the center of their life involving Him in every decision that is made – going where He says go – waiting when He says wait. Let me say that part again – waiting when He says wait and letting go when He says move on will see change coming. When we grab hold of those Keys of the Kingdom by faith and confidently open the door to the next level bringing us closer to God and deeper in His Presence, you will know it? How? Because in that moment you take a step of faith, inevitably all hell will break loose in your life. When you overcome the stronghold that kept you locked in fear and doubt releasing the Light of His Love, the enemy will come after you to steal your joy and rob you of peace. Faith will hold tight to confident hope in that moment.

When Jesus quantifies faith it is compared to a mustard seed which implies two things – how difficult it is to procure and how powerful it is in the smallest doses. If we focus on Jesus and continually pouring all our hopes and dreams into Him by faith, things will begin to change. We must dig deep in the Word of God to discover all of the benefits hidden there. We must consult with His Spirit inside of us to help us understand and act on what we now know. We must be committee to seeking God with our whole heart and entire life to have all of His Power.

Matthew 8:5-10 (NLT)

When Jesus returned to Capernaum, a Roman officer came and pleaded with him, “Lord, my young servant lies in bed, paralyzed and in terrible pain.” Jesus said, “I will come and heal him.” But the officer said, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come into my home. Just say the word from where you are, and my servant will be healed.  I know this because I am under the authority of my superior officers, and I have authority over my soldiers. I only need to say, ‘Go,’ and they go, or ‘Come,’ and they come. And if I say to my slaves, ‘Do this,’ they do it.” When Jesus heard this, he was amazed. Turning to those who were following him, he said, “I tell you the truth, I haven’t seen faith like this in all Israel!

One of my most favorite stories in the entire Bible is this one. This man was not a disciple of Jesus but a true believer nevertheless. He understood authority due to his position and was able to apply it to Jesus Christ. Our son is a mathematical genius and complete scientific thinker. He does not know or understand gray areas of life or the middle of the road. When he accepted Jesus Christ, it was with that complete logic that he has. He does not worry or stress like most people because his brain is not wired in the uncertainties of life. He operates in cold hard facts. Because He is able to believe with complete confidence like that and his brain logically accepted Jesus as Savior and Lord – he simply believes. This is the same kid who has fought cancer all these years and won. From day one to the end, he never believed that he would die but completely believed that God would heal and deliver him from cancer completely. The enemy fought this for years. He had five bouts of cancer. The doctors suggested a bone marrow transplant and he was denied so many times I cannot count. Through it all, our son never once has complained, worried, griped, or shown any emotion like that in this journey but just figured God was working it all out.

I think this is reminiscent of the Roman soldier. He didn’t need to be convinced or swayed, wooed or wowed. He believed God at His Word. Is it that simple? Yes friends, I believe that it is. I have seen it with my own eyes. I have felt it in my own heart. With regards to my child, what choice did I have? I am not a doctor. I did not have the cure to cancer. I did not have the money to help him when insurance kept turning him away. But God had a plan – our son would live and not die. Our faith kept us holding that promise in confident hope when there was nothing left to hang on to. Imagine the potential if we approached EVERYTHING in life the same way. Revival would come. People would want to know our God again and serve His Son. It probably wouldn’t change the world but it would touch hearts and change lives. It’s time we hoisted Jesus to His Rightful Place again. Put it right smack in the center of it all and let Him do what He promised to do rather than looking for quick fixes and easy ways out. We need to stop jingling and jangling the Keys of the Kingdom in the enemy’s face and use them effectively to unlock Heaven so it will pour out unto the earth. You have the right – you are a Child of the Living God. In you lies more potential then you could ever dream up, faith will change everything but sometimes we have to start with one thing to make it grow. What is your one thing today? That thing that you want God’s Perfect Plan, open the door to His Presence, step in by faith, hand it over to Jesus and wait confidently until it comes!

Hebrews 11:1 (NLT) Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen

Keys

Keys

Matthew 16:18-19 (MSG)

Jesus came back, “God bless you, Simon, son of Jonah! You didn’t get that answer out of books or from teachers. My Father in heaven, God himself, let you in on this secret of who I really am. And now I’m going to tell you who you are, really are. You are Peter, a rock. This is the rock on which I will put together my church, a church so expansive with energy that not even the gates of hell will be able to keep it out. And that’s not all. You will have complete and free access to God’s kingdom, keys to open any and every door: no more barriers between heaven and earth, earth and heaven. A yes on earth is yes in heaven. A no on earth is no in heaven.”

When babies are small, they are fascinated by keys. The jingle and jangle making lots of noise. They can grasp them in chubby little hands and play with them for hours. Becoming toddlers and on the move, they take those same keys and begin to see where they will fit. Hence the invention of the plug protectors that keep them from jamming keys and other small objects into electric sockets. My baby is twelve and I still find them around the house from time to time. Children grow into teenagers and those same set of keys take on a whole new meaning as they learn to operate an automobile. Holding them longingly in the same hand no longer small and chubby but now fully developed, they prepare for the responsibility of driving a car. Maturing moving into adulthood, keys are no longer fascinating but now a sign of responsibility. They represent our home, work and life in general. My key ring has a car key that represents the mode of transportation purchased that must now be maintained. It holds a house key that represents our home and mortgage. It has a key to my office that lets me into work each day. It has a key to my brother’s home where I stay when I had to take care of our son battling cancer. (I can finally give that one back – PRAISE THE LORD!) Finally, it holds a key to my mother-in-law’s house who is aging and is beginning to require extra care. Keys represent responsibility.

Have you ever looked at an overloaded key change trying to remember what all those extra keys before? We recently traded in our old clunker for a new-to-us car. As I was trading one key for the other, I noticed that there was some extra floaters on the keyring that I could not remember what they went to so I began trying them in different doors in the house discarding those with no purpose. I am happy to say that for the first time in a long time, I know what each key fits and its use…for now.

“You will have complete and free access to God’s Kingdom, keys to open every door!” What does that mean? No more barriers between Heaven and earth. How do I get this keys? You have them as a believer who has called on Jesus Christ to be your Savior. What can I do with them? It is our job to find out.

Matthew 19:13-15 (NLT)

One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could lay his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering him. But Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.” And he placed his hands on their heads and blessed them before he left.

 

Before we are born in the midst of creation, God wrote a story on our heart. It was the plan and purpose for our life that would motivate our desires for fulfillment. Our life is filled with breathes, steps and choices that lead to the cultivation of all our dreams hidden deep inside our being for self-discovery. Part of this makeup and design leads us to God, where we meet His Son, Jesus Christ. Once calling on the Lord to save us of our sins and become our Lord (or leader) in our life, now we are destined for the fulfillment that is all part of God’s Plan for us. We are empowered to succeed in that moment never making a single change. Like children, these keys are given to us before we have the understanding, knowledge or insight to use them correctly so naturally we begin trying to make them fit into the parameters of our life. We ask the Lord to do what we want, change what we cannot and fix all that we have broken.

Adolescent Christians like teenagers begin to realize that these same keys toyed with actually will take them somewhere so they begin to study the Drivers Handbook preparing to get their Learners Permit and then the actual Drivers Exam. They have a goal and they begin to work to have it. They purpose in their heart to meet all the state requirements to drive because they want to go somewhere. Suddenly the same keys they played with have new meaning and use in their life. They see freedom in the days ahead windows rolled down, music blaring without a care in the world except making curfew. Those days are short lived when it comes time to enter adulthood. Now the same keys begin to represent certain responsibilities in life. Gone are the days when mom and dad took care of everything – freedom has a price. Maturity makes a different as to how we view the keys in our life both naturally and spiritually. We all have keys to the Kingdom of God as believers. We do not have to wait to pay for them or be promoted to a higher position to obtain them. They were paid for in full and granted by the Blood of Jesus Christ. The question is are we using them…all of them.

Psalm 103:1-5 (MSG)

O my soul, bless God. From head to toe, I’ll bless his holy name! O my soul, bless God, don’t forget a single blessing! He forgives your sins—every one. He heals your diseases—every one. He redeems you from hell—saves your life! He crowns you with love and mercy—a paradise crown. He wraps you in goodness—beauty eternal. He renews your youth—you’re always young in his presence.

My brother and sister-in-law graciously gave us a set of keys to use when we were in town taking care of our son, visiting doctors as they live in the same town. They have an open door policy that whenever I had to come to stay I could stay with them. What a huge blessing! Not only did it save us financially not to have to book hotels for each visit, but it also allowed me to walk through some pretty dark times sleeping in grandfather’s bed surrounded by family. I cannot remember why our whole family was in town or what was happening with our son, but for some reason when my husband got to my brother’s house – they were not there. The girls had to all use the restroom. Everything was chaos as I texted my sister-in-law. She replied, “You have a key to the house!” I had completely forgotten about it as on most visits they are home and I don’t have to use my key to get in.

How many times do we forget the blessings of God promised for our life? How often do we hold the keys to His Kingdom within us but never use them in our life? The Lord forgives all our sins even the ones we cannot forgive of ourselves. This key is called Grace. He heals every single disease using the key called Mercy. He redeems our life with the key called Hope. He crowns us with love and mercy lifting us high above our circumstances with the key called Redemption and the other called Restoration. He wraps us in His Goodness. The key marked Blessing opens every storehouse that bears our name. He renews us with the key to His Presence. By faith, we take these keys and use them to unlock every self-imposed door and barrier between us and the life that God has promised us. Jesus paid every toll, penalty, and price associated with the freedom to enjoy a supernatural existence in the midst of what seems to be an ordinary life. We must only have enough faith to pick them up and use them. We must trust Him that what is behind each door is more than we could think to ask for enough to leave the past behind. We must follow Him in constant curiosity, wonder and awe as He leads us from Glory to Glory.

James 1:23-25 (MSG)

Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other. Act on what you hear! Those who hear and don’t act are like those who glance in the mirror, walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like. But whoever catches a glimpse of the revealed counsel of God—the free life!—even out of the corner of his eye, and sticks with it, is no distracted scatterbrain but a man or woman of action. That person will find delight and affirmation in the action.

If Jesus has set you free, you are free indeed. (John 8:36) Any limitation on life is self-imposed. Think about that for a minute, if I am not living a satisfied life – it is my own fault. When we asked Jesus to be our Savior and Lord, He gave us His Spirit. Wherever the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom. (2 Corinthians 3:17) Living in the midst of such revelation empowers us with the Keys to the Kingdom but most of the time, people remain spiritual babies who play with keys rather than using them. The mature enough to be child-like but never move beyond using them here and there without real purpose. Or perhaps like teenagers, they have an agenda to fulfill their own purpose so they focus on one thing rather than stepping into the Fullness of Christ we have by using our faith to open every single barrier between us and what the Lord has for us. I will let you in on a secret. The things of God are with God. You cannot have them without moving closer. We must assume the responsibility of faith in using our keys effectively to change the atmosphere of our life. We become the Light of the Word wrapped in the Light of His Love. People see the difference and want what we have. Using the Keys to the Kingdom effectively will open the doors and windows of our life to let His Glory pour out and spill over into the lives of others.

If you are frustrated today, maybe you just forgot your keys so instead you have been pulling and pushing doors that only faith can open. It is human nature to try to do it ourselves so the Lord provides mercy each day for a brand new start. Faith is the key that unlocks the overflow of mercy that was left for us. His Grace is always sufficient for us. His Goodness and Unfailing Love is pursuing us banging on the door begging us to open it and let His Glory flood our life. Don’t let fear be a barrier. Perfect Love will overcome every fear you will ever head. Just move closer. Try every key. Read the Word of God and let Him instruct you have to use them. Do not stop until you know what every single key on that Kingdom ring will do in your life. Release the Purpose and Power God has hidden in His Presence for your life today.

Proverbs 4:10-13 (NLT)

My child, listen to me and do as I say, and you will have a long, good life. I will teach you wisdom’s ways and lead you in straight paths. When you walk, you won’t be held back; when you run, you won’t stumble. Take hold of my instructions; don’t let them go. Guard them, for they are the key to life.

Live Victorious

Live Victorious

I John 5:3-5 (NLT)

Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome. For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith. And who can win this battle against the world? Only those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God.

 

I love it when our children sit down to play a board game or cards together. Putting away technology and communicating with each other, it warms a mama’s heart for about the first half an hour that is. I can usually sense the escalation before that actual disagreement ensues. Inevitably, lines are drawn and everyone picks aside for the battle. My sweet little darlings turn into the fiercest of rivals when it comes to winning. They each are staunch competitors who abhor losing. You win some; you lose some has never been part of their personal philosophy in life and it shows in such moments. I really should invest in a striped referee shirt and whistle or obtain a garden hose for inside the house to separate them in such moments. Taking an alpha stance I send them all to their corners, game over. They reluctantly go huffing, puffing and complaining all the way. This is not reminiscent of the past when they were all children. No friends, this is reality with my adult children (including our son-in-law), the teenager, and tweenager. Everyone loves to win. Nobody ever wants to lose. What if I told you that you never had to lose again? What if I told you that you would be victorious in all things? Would you believe me?

The most treasured parenting advice that I have ever been bestowed is to pick and choose your battles. This is a complete act of maturity that comes with experience and time. When my older three were smaller, it was my way or the highway. I was adamant about a lot of things that really didn’t matter in the long run, but at that moment felt monumental. I was young. Parenting was new. I was inexperienced. Couple that with a failing marriage, imperfect life, I needed control or at least I thought so. The marriage ended in divorce. I was a single mom. I wanted to make good choices regarding those little people despite my own faults and failures. It was a tough time. Then I met my husband! No, he is not my savior – but he expressed a desire to seek God again so I joined him on that journey and we have never looked back. My plan of attack in life has changed with my relationship to Jesus. I fight differently than before. I live in victory even on the days that look like complete flops. We achieve victory through our faith. The more faith I have the more victorious I become!

I Corinthians 15:56-58 (NLT)

For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ. So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.
Victory is the ultimate and decisive superiority in any battle or contest. No matter who your opponent or enemy is in this life – you have victory and the power to successfully overcome any encounter simply because you know Jesus Christ. He is the power in us to overcome the world and everything in it. Sin gave us a death sentence which made fighting for anything futile because we were all dying anyway. The Law only fortified the claim of sin on our life keeping us from everything God had planned and prepared for us as His Children. Christ showed ultimate and decisive superiority over death and the grave removing every other claim on our life paying every single debt we owed. We are given freedom in Jesus that allows us to win again. Not only that He already fought our battles and won the war. Now we can live from victory to victory but instead of fighting meaningless battles that have already ended – confident hope allows us to live in victory lane – the place where winners receive their prize.

We feel the need to win so much so that we decide to fight for ourselves. This is a fatal error that forfeits the Power of God in us to try to do all these things God has promised in our own strength. My kids do not fight about a clear cut winner. No it stems from cheating whether real or perceived. If they think that someone is not playing fairly, they pounce on one another. Welcome to life! Love has grown cold. Sin is rampant. I believe the statement should be added “Life is not fair” to round out the sentiment. Without love and full of sin is the absence of faith and forfeit of victory in life. We must decide if we want to win or lose. To win is the forfeiture of self to claim Jesus and His Kingdom. You are not forced to be triumphant but you can choose to triumph. If you are looking for a more perfect love outside of God’s Unfailing and Conditional Love, it is a lost cause – you will never find it. If you think you will win any other way than through the Cross – you are wrong.

Four years ago, I thought our life was as close to perfect as would ever get. We were living the dream. High on religious righteousness, I think somewhere deep down I believed that we had it all together and slowly Jesus was taking a backseat rather than remaining in the driver seat. It was subtle and quite unintentional. I was clueless that my priorities had become so out of whack. The rat race will do that to you sometimes. When the doctor looked at me with tears in his eyes to tell me that our son had cancer, EVERYTHING changed in that moment. My entire existence came crashing down around me. All those structures that I had built for security gone in an instant. My heart that I thought to be so solid shattered like glass on the concrete floor of his hospital room. Where was victory? How could death come calling? I needed Jesus. I went straight to the Cross. You think that I am kidding, but even in my wandering I know who I belong to. I know what His Word says. I know what belongs to me. I just forget sometimes…

Colossians 2:13-15 (NLT)

You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross.

 

At a point in our life when we were growing in Christ exponentially, our youngest daughter developed rapid onset and quite debilitating asthma. It was crazy how fast it came on. For months and months it got worse and worse. Coincidentally at the exact same time, we were in the process of unlocking the power of faith and confident hope through our relationship with Christ. In that moment, our life did not immediately line up with God’s Word. I wanted to know why but daily doctor visits and constant treatments leave little time to pray and study God’s Word for an answer or to find victory. Finally when enough was enough, I boldly stepped into the Presence of God and claimed healing for our daughter. Believe it or not, she was healed that moment. She has not had another dose of medicine for asthma or had another attack since then. The doctor even called it a modern day miracle based on her immediate and complete curing of the disease. Not a wheeze, crackle or rattle since that day.

The Cross of Jesus Christ is where we find constant and complete victory for our daily life. When we choose to live in the shadow of the Cross nailing every sin, sickness, problem, battle, trouble and trial – we will live in complete victory every day by faith. Faith allows us to continue living and loving while Christ works out all the details for our good. Our daughter’s ordeal lasted about four months while her brother’s lasted four years, how long are you willing to wait for the win? Taking a firm hold on faith and standing in complete confident hope that your God is doing exactly what He promised to do that you will continue to thrive in life rather than merely trying to survive. You can. You have the power to do so. It’s not you or me but His Power in us.

Romans 8:37 (NLT)

No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

 

Do you believe that you are victorious today? What about overwhelming victory like a shutout? It says we are, but it is only credible in my life by faith. I win in all situations simply because Jesus loves me.

Romans 8:38-39 (NLT)

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

God’s Power is in me. The very same power that resurrected Jesus from the dead and called Him from the grave lives inside of me. It is given to me when I ask Jesus to be my Savior and make Him my Lord. I release that power when I am totally convinced by faith that God’s Love for me is real and powerful enough to keep me close to Him no matter what happens in my life. When I do not allow fear, worry, anxiety or stress snuff out the spark of faith beginning to rise up but fan it with God’s Word and His Spirit until it is a significant force in my life. I have the victory. I will win. All I have to fight for is more faith in God’s Love along with enough hope to wait until He moves me from glory to glory and victory to victory like He promised. It may take a minute, an hour, a day, a week, a month, a year or even a lifetime to achieve winning record. The one thing that the Lord always promises is no matter how long it takes it will always be worth the wait!

I John 4:4 (NLT)

But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.

 

In the seventies, there was a show called “Sanford and Son” about an old junk dealer and his son, Lamont. Fred Sanford was quite a character. He was always involved in money making schemes that backfired and trying to get out of work even faking heart attacks. Old Fred makes me think of most people including myself at times. We want what we want when we want it. We act out when we don’t get it. Yet all along we have the victory. I belong to God. I don’t have to try to sneak a blessing out of Him or trick Him into moving on my behalf. I just have to have faith that He is in love with me and live according to that belief in confident hope.

What if we walked through life like winners? If we truly believe that Jesus won for us and victory belongs to us, then we would never face another opponent in life. Think about it. Does a racecar driver who just won a receive, was handed the trophy, covered in champagne and interviewed by media – go back on the track and do it all again? No he won! He celebrates his victory! The competition is over. There is no need to fight amongst ourselves. Our prize is an inheritance. It has my name on it. It has been planned and predestined for me so you cannot have it. You are no longer a threat to me because I am not fighting for scraps under the table but sitting at my Father’s Table enjoying the meal. There is a place there for you, too, if you want it. Faith is your ticket in. Hope will keep you there fully content until He comes!

Greater is He that is in you than He that is in the world. The tighter we grasp this concept, the closer to everyday victory we become. When we become wrapped that tightly in the Love of God, this world has nothing worth fighting for and we live a triumphant life with Jesus. I cannot show you the way just say follow Him. Victory is mine because He lives. Because He lives I can face tomorrow, the next day and the one after that if that is what it takes to win whatever I am battling today. I don’t have to fight just faith my way to victory each and every day! In the moment that we are faced with the end of this life is the place most of us to begin to really live. Don’t wait! Live victoriously today. Triumph in each moment. It is our right as Children of the King!

2 Corinthians 3:18 (NLT)

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.

Just Don’t Stop

Just Don't Stop

I Corinthians 16:13 (NLT)

Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. And do everything with love.

 

We made it! He made it! God did it! Just like He promised, our son is very much alive. Today is his new birth birthday which in the world of medicine particularly a bone marrow transplant is quite an event. Our son survived the most grueling and harrowing of treatment and survived. The finish line on the race of faith seemed to be pushed back farther and farther with each leg of this journey of hope. When it looked like we were on the threshold of victory another diagnosis would come crashing down. Each remission celebrated briefly before it was over, but not this time. God said, “No more!”

In my heart today, I am compelled to be a witness to tell you that it’s worth it. You will make it. Just don’t stop…believing, hoping, moving and breathing in Jesus. He will do EXACTLY what His Word said it would do for you. Human beings have a tendency to quit long before they are near failure. Fear robs them of victory – fear of failure, fear of lack, fear of life. Be on guard today. The enemy wants your blessing. Stand firm in the faith for it is the platform of promise – the position of those who receive. Be courageous – the greater the promise the bigger the battle. Be strong. The Lord is your strength and to remember that now will serve you well. Finally, do everything in love. Living in love with Jesus Christ is not something we do but fully accepting everything that HE wants to do, be and will in our life.

Deuteronomy 30:19-20 (NLT)

Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live! You can make this choice by loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and committing yourself firmly to him. This is the key to your life.

 

Every single day, we decide how we will live. It is called freedom. We have the right to decide if we will love God, obey Him, and commit our life to serving Him. Mercy comes each morning for all the times that we do not choose well. Life and death are in each moment. The Love of God produces life in us. Life that cannot be taken out by sickness or disease. See nothing can separate us from the Love of God. However, love can die in a marriage simply by misunderstanding. When one person or the other does not “feel” love so they look elsewhere for that which seems elusive. However, really it was not about not being loved or feeling love but rather they were not committed to love. They wanted and desired the other person but never really loved them. Love is constant. It is continual. It does not go back and forth. Real love remains for the duration and does not end. True love is eternal. We must love the Lord with that kind of love to live in His Blessing.

What is your choice today? Will you choose life? Are you willing to fight for your new life? Or is it just easier to sink back into the routine of a normal life? I tried a normal life. Reached a certain level in God and decided to stay there. It was a good place. I did the right things and reaped from meager sowing. God had something else in mind. He looked around Heaven and knew that there was more to my life than this so when the enemy came asking to test me – the Lord allowed him to try me. Why? Why would a God who loves me so much allow us to enter such a trial? To live on the edge of death for three long and treacherous years. As a mother desperate to see her child live, God knew I exactly where I would run to. He knew that I would come crashing into His Presence and demand my rights as His Child. He had been waiting for me there in the deeper depths of His Love for a long time. But comfort and complacency had built a sound structure in my life – no longer feeling the need to press in anymore and quite satisfied with life – I stopped. Or at least I thought I had, but I was drifting. My anchor of hope was loose and platform of faith getting shaky. Each day though death was being shoved down our throats, we fought for life. A new life. A new life for our son. But God’s Love didn’t stop there. He has a new life for us, too.

2 Corinthians 3:8-9 (NLT)

Shouldn’t we expect far greater glory under the new way, now that the Holy Spirit is giving life? If the old way, which brings condemnation, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new way, which makes us right with God!

 

Life is not perfect. Life is not fair. The sooner that we accept that this world does not really know how to love and sin is its driving force – the better off we will be. Bad things will still happen to good people. This does not in any way impact the Glory of God that can shine in our life. We must expect the greater glory of the new way offered through salvation and given to those who are committed to Christ. We must expect it which means believing enough to prepare for it, be sensitive to it, make room for it, and celebrate it openly when it comes.

The Holy Spirit is constantly creating new life in us but can do nothing if we are not willing to let it out. Many don’t see what the Lord is doing because they look at life with skeptical eyes that call miracles coincidence living in constant fear of waiting for the other foot to fall. The devil is a liar. There is most definitely a finish line of faith. It may take five minutes to get there, five months, five years or even the rest of your natural life. God doesn’t require us to run over it. Some will barely make it, like me crawling across it complete brokenness and total weakness before God. It doesn’t matter just don’t stop believing, seeking, hoping and loving.

Hebrews 4:15-16 (NLT)

This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.

 

Tomorrow they will scan every inch of our son’s body for cancer as they do every three months. For almost four years, I have dreaded the MRIs and PET scans. Too many times, they would be the bearer of bad news. It occurred to me last year that I have no reason to dread these things. I have heard the worst too many times to count and Jesus has come to his rescue every single time. I am completely confident that the scans are clear of cancer. Everyone has their limit. I know a woman diagnosed with stage 4 cancer who was told after one round of chemo that her tumors were responding and that there was hope, but since the therapy was so rough she decided to forego the treatment and live the rest of her days without all the negative side effects. I am praying for a girl whose heart was so terribly abused and broken that she seeks death daily in addiction and perversity because she has lost all her hope. I could share with you countless situations of people who I pray for that have given up. They just stopped living although they are still breathing. Your life is worth fighting for. Jesus felt you were absolutely worth dying for. The place where we find the love, joy and peace we need to keep going is in the Presence of Jesus Christ. I believe also that when we stop pressing in that He will allow pressure to come that pushes us closer than ever before. God’s Love for us knows no boundaries. He will fight for our life when we give up on it. He will love us when we don’t love Him or ourselves. God will work every detail of our life for good despite our unwillingness to try. It is up to each of us if we will experience the Glory that comes to those who live in such a place. Those who decide they want a new life. The ones who become convinced it is worth having.

Philippians 3:13-14 (NLT)

No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.

 

To be full of new life means to be empty of self. Athletes leave their blood, sweat and tears to win the big game. Christians do the same. Winning the race of faith means choosing life every single day even when things seem hopeless. You can never give up but must keep putting one foot in front of the other. My stress reliever was the gym. I would get on the elliptical and run. I would keep going past the timer some days. Surrounded by a room full of sweaty people, all I could see was a dusty mountain that I was climbing. With each footfall, dust would bellow out. Rocks would rise up in my path and I would jump over them. As I ran I would pray and sing songs of faith and deliverance to remind my soul, we were going to make it to the top of that mountain. I wonder if the other exercisers could see all those tears. It didn’t matter because when my run was over I would be standing on the top. My son would be standing next to me and our arms would be stretched over our heads with our hands lifted high. I had this vision countless times. I cannot ever remember looking up from the ground in my thoughts but being focused on the path I was running. Like Abraham, I was going to make it up this mountain. It didn’t move when I told it to so going over it was my only option. I didn’t know how God was going to do, but simply believed that He would. I went so far as to even think that God would raise Him from the dead if necessary to keep His Word true. He did. Today I stand on the top of that mountain celebrating the victory found in Jesus.

Was it worth it? You be the judge. My son is alive and well away at college. It took this monumental journey to change me completely. Rather than pressing for one race, I am reaching for the prize again. It feels good! It will take my entire life to complete the purpose God has for me to perfection. It will take all of my life to fit in what He has planned. I can decided to keep going today or give up completely and just walk way. I will not give up. I have tasted victory and it is sweet. His Name is Jesus. He won this battle for me. In fact, He won the whole war. I do not every have to settle for less again. My life is a culmination of a Heavenly Prize that just keeps getting better and better which each tiny step closer that I take towards Jesus. I am not taking leaps of faith but baby steps. There is more to life than this moment or your life would end right now. It is worth having or Jesus wouldn’t have made a way for nothing. No the great potential in life is for those who choose to “be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. And do everything with love.”  The key to your success is simple – just don’t stop.

Living for Jesus is anything but boring. It is full of entertainment. There is love, tragedy and triumph there is in every classic tale. As this chapter of my life closes and the book is hoisted to the shelf, I cannot help but wonder what my next great adventure in God is? Will it be like this one? Or will it be entirely new and different? I have no clue. But I fully expect the happily ever after that comes with fairy tale princes and princesses for He is my soon and coming King!

Galatians 6:9 (NLT)

So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.

Still Unfailing

Still Unfailing

Psalm 23:6 (NLT)

Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.

 

My heart is overflowing with the constancy of God today. The word “constant” means not changing or varying; continuing without pause or letup; regularly recurrent; continual; faithful; unswerving in love or devotion; steadfast; and firm in mind or purpose. This is my God concerning me I am convinced. I did not discover this in a church service or under the instruction of a mighty man or woman of God. This has been forged in my heart by experience. There is power in conviction that the God of the Universe in all His Omnipotence has such intent and purpose in His Love for His Children. To be absolutely sure that He is pursuing us with goodness and unfailing love can change the outcome of every single day of the rest of our natural life. Such faith and confident hope will open the door to Eternity allowing its blessings to reach us even now.

Forgive me now. This may not be a long or interesting post but rather sharp and to the point. I am standing right here and right now on the rock of my existence who is “constant”. It is a high plain which I can see in all directions that no matter what comes in this life He is right there with me. Tomorrow is the one year anniversary of our son’s bone marrow transplant. After five cancer treatments, it was a desperate attempt using an unconventional regimen to free him of this awful disease. These were my thoughts the night before the transplant…

Laying here tonight I am not sure how to feel. The last three years seem like the summation of my life. I can’t remember life before that day but I am so ready for it be another chapter closed. We fought so long and so hard for this moment with no guarantees. The only constant that we have is that God is Good and His Word True. He told me that our son would live and not die! He has proven faithful healing him on five occasions. I have no fear but pure hope born of faith pressed not by the moment but each step leading us this far. I guess all that I know and the reason I still have hope as I close my eyes to sleep is that He REALLY is that good to me! #TEAMUNCONQUERED

In a season that seemed would never end, I find that the year has passed quickly. God has healed our son. He has had four scans so far showing the goodness and faithfulness of God’s Unfailing Love with no evidence of recurrent or residual disease. There will be another on Friday. These mark the end of the chapter that I sought so heavily. It did not come in a moment but over four long years. God’s Word is true. Now as I move on into whatever is next on God’s Bucket List for my life, I feel more equipped than ever before. Not by my own strength but in the fact that I know that the Lord is constantly pursuing me with His Goodness and Unfailing Love. He is my Constant.

Numbers 23:18-20 (NLT)

This was the message Balaam delivered: “Rise up, Balak, and listen! Hear me, son of Zippor. God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through? Listen, I received a command to bless; God has blessed, and I cannot reverse it!”

God does not change His Mind. He doesn’t have to. He is Sovereign and Omnipotent which means He is the Highest Ranking Power in the Universe. So there is no one else that the Lord is subject to so what He says goes. When God’s Word says something or God speaks directly to us the variance is not in God but us. Will we hold on to this Truth or try something else? God does not change or vary but means exactly what He says to us. We must believe every single word God breathes to us, in us and through us. His Promises are true because God is constant and does not ever change. Such an act would render Him a liar.

Exodus 34:5-7 (NLT)

Then the Lord came down in a cloud and stood there with him; and he called out his own name, Yahweh. The Lord passed in front of Moses, calling out, “Yahweh! The Lord! The God of compassion and mercy! I am slow to anger and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness. I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations. I forgive iniquity, rebellion, and sin.

 

The Lord is not only full of unfailing love but intent on lavishing it on you and I. We give up too easily in a world where love has grown cold unable to comprehend such faithfulness. Walking away forfeits those things which otherwise belong to us by His Power and Pervasiveness in our life. All we have to do is hang on and God will make His Word come to pass in our life. His Word can never return to Him void so it circulates in the atmosphere waiting for faith to catch hold of it so that which is intended will come to pass. We have to believe the fact that the consistency of the Lord includes love that continues without pause or letup no matter what the circumstances. It is not contingent on us but rests solely in the character of God and His Love for us. We are pursued by a God who is full of compassion and mercy to meet us in our weakness and give us His Strength. He is desperate for us to have it in our life.

Hebrews 13:8 (NLT) Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

 

The only One who you can count on in this life is Jesus Christ. Your spouse will let you down. Your children will leave you behind one day. Your parents may not be perfect. Your friends, acquaintances and coworkers all have imperfection hidden within. But Jesus… He is the same yesterday, today and forever. To place Him in the center of our life is like the sun aligning the planets. Everything in our life must come to order when submitted to the power and authority of Jesus Christ. He eliminates our need for perfection in others because we are no longer dependent on other people because we have a Dependable God. He is recurrent and continual in His Love and Care for us. He is always paying attention to the details making them work out for our good. (Romans 8:28) The Lord perfects all that concerns us. (Psalm 138:8)

John 15:12-13 (NLT)

This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

 

There is no greater love. Jesus Christ laid down His Life for me. He has proven to be the One who has “unswerving love and devotion” for me. I cannot boast the same for Him. I give Him my life and take it back. Give it over and slide a few details to the side for my flesh to control. My goal in life is to give it all to Jesus. He has proven over and over that He is up to the task. The Lord is motivated in all things by love. Not just any kind of love but unfailing and unconditional love that it will take a lifetime to understand and begin to fully comprehend. I know He loves me. Most days, I am convinced that I am His Favorite. It just gets better and better.

Psalm 34:1-8 (NLT)

I will praise the Lord at all times. I will constantly speak his praises. I will boast only in the Lord; let all who are helpless take heart. Come, let us tell of the Lord’s greatness; let us exalt his name together. I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears. Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces. In my desperation I prayed, and the Lord listened; he saved me from all my troubles. For the angel of the Lord is a guard; He surrounds and defends all who fear him. Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!

There were days through our struggle that all I had was a word from God and just enough energy to put one foot in front of the other. Thankfully our son’s healing was not dependent on my ability but on God’s Faithfulness. He carried us through the years, He held my son through every treatment and covered him in every assault on his body. When the transplant came and the doctors drained the life from his body, God was there keeping him safe surrounding our kid with angels we were unaware of. If I had no other reason to praise His Name continually for the rest of my life, this whole ordeal would be enough. Our son had a 2% chance of survival instead he is thriving today. Doctors were cautious with their words but my God deliberate in His Statement – He told me from the beginning that our son would live and not die. He did not mix words. But first before that – the Lord asked me, “Do you trust me?” All I could do through anguish and desperation was whisper, “Yes, of course I do…” Little did I know just how far that weak profession of faith would have to carry me…but it did! All the way to one year of remission and still counting.

God is constant. His Love and Goodness are in ongoing pursuit of us. Sin introduced some pretty awful things into this world. Things like sickness, disease, depravity, tragedy and more. The only hope that we have of overcoming such things is Jesus Christ. He is the constant variable in our life that if placed in the center of it all will right our world and steady our course. I am not saying that life will be easy just that with faith in God it will ALWAYS be worth it. Nothing will be wasted and blessing will find you. It just takes a mustard seed of faith just a tiny speck of hope that says, “I believe you God enough to trust you!” The only thing we can do is to hang on for the ride. Refusing to give up is the acceptance of all things God has promised to us. Faith does not let go but holds tight with trust. Obedience is nothing more than a commitment to the cause. The Lord will do the rest. His Unfailing Love will capture you and you will never be the same. I am blown away today. Looking back, it was an awful time. But looking ahead, it was a growing time because now I know now even more than before that His Love never fails and I can do all things through Christ!

Proverbs 21:21 (NLT)

Whoever pursues righteousness and unfailing love will find life, righteousness, and honor.