Reviving Relationships

Reviving Relationships

Proverbs 11:30 (NLT) The seeds of good deeds become a tree of life; a wise person wins friends.

It’s a girl’s weekend – Woo Hoo! My mom, sister, sister-in-love, oldest daughter and I have ventured to a women’s conference out of town. Over the years, the Lord has grown our family and knit us together beyond the commitment of family to the covenant of friendship. We do not get to choose our familial relationships. It is ordained by God and heredity. However, friends are not the same. We do decide who is allowed in the inner circle of our lives. Those who can be trusted to share life with beyond superficial communication and ordinary contact. Some people are wonderful at maintaining such connections. Thoughtful and dedicated to each relationship. Others not so much. I see it in my own family among my children. Some are social and make friends easily. Some not so much. Others gather friends easily and others move from one friend to the next.

It always happens once reconnected with these ladies. I remember how much I love them and miss them in my everyday life. We live in different places. From Missouri to New Hampshire to Florida, yet put us in a room together and the laughter begins to flow as words and stories fill the room. I love that. I cherish that. We are called to be friends and have friends. God loves relationship. He loves friendship. He created families and encourages us to be friends. Yet, the enemy attacks such a kinship daily. Strife lingers in most families deemed imperfect and dysfunctional. It’s not a people problem. It is a sin problem. The only solution for sin is the Blood of Jesus that provides us a sufficiency of grace to draw from and spread all around.

The seeds of good deeds become a tree of life. Each day our life is comprised of a series of sowing and reaping. Planting seeds for the next season and harvesting the crops of the last. Those who sow love, grace and friendship will receive the same. But if I feel alone, isolated and lacking in this area, the Lord will provide every seed I need to sow it into my future. Wise people are those who sow God’s Word in their life to allow its promises to grow will make the decision to pursue relationships and work to maintain them. Why? It fills our life with His Love, Grace and Goodness as it multiplies around us.

Luke 1:39-42 (NLT) A few days later Mary hurried to the hill country of Judea, to the town where Zechariah lived. She entered the house and greeted Elizabeth. At the sound of Mary’s greeting, Elizabeth’s child leaped within her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Elizabeth gave a glad cry and exclaimed to Mary, “God has blessed you above all women, and your child is blessed.

As many know, Elizabeth carried John the Baptist who would become the forerunner of Jesus Christ. Mary had just been told by the angel that she was carrying the Son of God. Jesus and John the Baptist were destine for friendship. Mary and Elizabeth were cousins. Mary chose to go to her cousin who must have been her friend and confidant to share her good news. When she arrived on the threshold of Elizabeth’s home, the baby inside of her swelling form leapt with joy. It says that in that moment, Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. God has made an investment in those who He predestined for relationship. The seeds in others hidden for us as a deposit to be discovered in the midst of friendship. He ordained this between Mary and Elizabeth. He also ordered it for the next generation – Jesus and John.

We must learn the value of friendship. If we understand that it is ordained by the Lord and blessed by the same, it will become worthwhile. It is essential to becoming the Body of Christ rather than a dysfunctional and barren union that lacks productivity or prosperity. Friendships should be evident in the Body – the whole Bride of Christ is to be presented without blemish or handicap to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords which is not possible if it is all torn apart. Relationships are messy. Family drama just plain foolishness. It is much easier to shake the dust off our feet and walk away then to fully engage and fight for friendship. The Lord has blessed friendship. He loves harmony above all things.

Psalm 133:1-3 (NIV) How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity! It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down on the collar of his robe. It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore.

I struggle reading the story of Job. Engaged in the good fight for faith in the midst of great tragedy and devastation, I find his friends religious and annoying. They are constantly berating him and accusing him and seemingly judging him. I wonder why Job keeps answering their knock on the door. I think as I sat scraping my sores with fragments of pottery with a broken heart and tear-stained face that I would probably respond to their intrusion with a “go jump of Mount Sinai” retort. Job continues to engage with them. It was well worth his time. In Job 42, the Lord instructs Job to pray for his friends and so he does. It is immediately following the restoration of friendship through forgiveness that “the Lord restored his fortunes. In fact, the Lord gave him twice as much as before!” (Job 42:10) Could there be a blessing that we are missing due to an unwillingness to nurture and maintain friendships in life? Absolutely! What the Lord does for others He will do for us? He has no favorites. I am God’s Favorite Child just like you are.

Matthew 18:19-20 (NLT) “I also tell you this: If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you. For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.”

Elizabeth and Mary experienced the Power of Agreement when two friends become one by faith. The Holy Spirit joined them right then and there. This is the same promise given to us by Jesus in this passage. Ecclesiastes 4:12 elaborates with A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” Relationship is God’s Security in our life as it unites the Body of Christ in to a faith-fighting machine. The enemy is powerless against God’s People standing together as one. We must seek to agree with our family and build strong bonds of friendship within each structure. Our families include those given by birth or joined by association. Any seed of potential friendship that is not cultivated is purpose left to die in the ground. Real friends have bonds closer than family ties. (Proverbs 18:24) It takes work. It requires our attention. We need the Fruit of God’s Spirit to feed and nourish godly relationships in our life to build long lasting and diehard friendships. Iron sharpens iron. (Proverbs 27:17) It smooths rough edges and breaks off hard parts especially in our hearts. We need those kinds of friends to grow, mature and develop in our walk with the Lord. They are the very ones who God uses to speak instruction, wisdom and direction into our lives. These are the ones who will be His Voice to us. The heartfelt counsel of a friend is valuable and sweet. (Proverbs 27:9) The Lord has hidden treasure in each one to be unearthed and bound in Heaven to experience blessings only given by a good, good God!

Colossians 3:12-15 (NLT) Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.

If we only knew the promise hidden in real abiding relationships called friendship, I believe it would become a priority in our life. God has given us such an opportunity to be empowered by investing our life in others if only we believe. I will admit that I have taken relationships and friendships for granted countless times in my lifetime. Allowed distance or even dispute to separate me from people who I know the Lord has specifically placed in my life. There is no such thing as a coincidence for those called by God just constant opportunity to experience His Grace, Goodness and Glory like gentle waves washing over our life. The enemy wants to make us think that people are the problem when really they are the reality of blessing in our life. No greater love for Jesus is shown than when we lay down our life for our friends. It is not all about the big things but each day giving up a little bit of my way to maintain peace and prosperity in friendship. God blesses every relationship that is harmonious and unified. He loves it. His Spirit cannot help but come in the midst of such agreement. Maybe we have missed the true meaning of revival. Maybe just maybe it will begin with the restoration of true friendship and real relationships in the Body of Christ that cause an outpouring of His Love too great to deny! We won’t know unless we try! We can start with our family and work our way out until ripples become a current that changes the atmosphere with His Love. We must revive relationships and be committed to friendship to experience the Fullness of God’s Love.

Romans 15:5-6 (NLT) May God, who gives this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other, as is fitting for followers of Christ Jesus. Then all of you can join together with one voice, giving praise and glory to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Thief Among Us

Open Window

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

There is a thief among us. He tried to climb through the window of my mind this morning and steal the joy rising with the morning sun. He tried the handle to my heart hoping to get his foot in the door. Little lies spread all around like almost unnoticeable traps carefully laid to ensnare my foot or cause me to stumble. His pursuit is relentless. He wants all that is mine. Not for himself because he cannot have it. Jesus has given me a rich and satisfying life. The enemy wants to steal, kill and destroy every good thing that God has for me. It is his purpose. It is the onslaught in each moment of every single day that there is breath in my body. Jesus has overcome the world. I have the same power that rose Him from the dead living in me. He is becoming greater as I become less yet in the moments of attack – my thoughts can be misled, deceived and even easily overtaken no matter how far I walk this journey called faith.

I am not generally given to worry. Stress is not something I easily take on. I would not classify my thoughts as anxious. My nature is contrary to such think. I relish in optimism. I believe that when the thief finds his way into my life that it is a bit more difficult to fight back because it is not a battle that I fight every day.

Psalm 127:1-2 (NLT) Unless the Lord builds a house, the work of the builders is wasted.
Unless the Lord protects a city, guarding it with sentries will do no good. It is useless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night, anxiously working for food to eat; for God gives rest to his loved ones.

From time to time, a door may be found unlocked in the morning or the garage door left open the night before and my husband is most unhappy. He is concerned that our carelessness could have allowed an intruder to easily enter and put our family at risk. I, on the other hand, possess a very different perspective on life. I thank God for His Protection and move on. I believe that while both mindsets have strengths and weaknesses that is more prudent to check doors and windows routinely to make sure each one is secure. Many years ago arriving home after a long day, I noticed the door leading from the garage inside the house was cracked open. I did not think too much about it because our little dog sometimes would push on it looking for us and if not closed tightly it would do the same. The children went on high alert immediately. I scoffed at their concern and began give them instructions for the afternoon. Well once inside, it was clear that things were not okay. Thieves had come and helped themselves to valuable contents inside the home and now our children were fearful that they were not safe inside their own house anymore. We must secure not only the doors and windows of our home for safety and security but we must close tightly the entrance to our heart and mind as well.

We become busy and distracted with life and soon the cares and worries of life become burdens to us. Dependency on Christ gives way to insecurity and soon the weight of the world falls squarely on our shoulders. How we feel overtakes what we know and overwhelming fear, worry, stress and anxiety hold us captive. God did not give us the spirit of fear but how many times do we simply take it? The Lord has given us the ability to pursue potential and passion in our natural life. However, it is to remain secure in the Kingdom that gives our potential purpose that is able to become a rich and satisfying life.  

Luke 12:32-34 (NLT) “So don’t be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to those in need. This will store up treasure for you in heaven! And the purses of heaven never get old or develop holes. Your treasure will be safe; no thief can steal it and no moth can destroy it. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.

It gives God happiness and exceeding pleasure to give me the Kingdom. He wants to give it to you, too. The Lord promises that He will “accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” That is a lot by anyone’s standard. He wants to restore the glorious standard of living that sin and the enemy stole from us. Jesus is giving us back our birthright. It says, “So don’t be afraid…” As believers – there is an opportunity to give up this life and secure the Kingdom. Not just futuristically but practically – even today. It begins with peace of mind. The kind of peace offered in Isaiah 26:3 – perfect peace. The Holy Spirit is our helper who teaches us and instructs us. (John 14:26-27) He takes God’s Word and inscribes its meaning for us on our heart until all that we know is the Love of God and Grace of Jesus Christ which will change how we think about life in general. Do you believe that Jesus Christ overcame the world? (John 16:33) Do you believe that He has given you the Keys to the Kingdom for your security and use? Faith is the first step to perfect peace. It is the gateway to a secure place in life where confident hope leads to complete trust lacking no good thing. With met expectations taking the place of those unmet by other people, it is the freedom to pursue God wholeheartedly without divided interest.

Luke 12:25-26 (NLT) Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? And if worry can’t accomplish a little thing like that, what’s the use of worrying over bigger things?

Worry, stress, fear and anxiety are all byproducts of insecurity. I know I don’t like to hear that word any more than you do but it is true. When I worry about a situation or stress over life, it is an immediate red flag or alarm that the thief is attempting to break in. The most precious commodity given in life is time. You cannot replicate or reproduce it. Once a single second is gone, it is gone forever never to be reclaimed. Worry cannot add a moment to our life but rather wastes it completely.

The cares of life – food, shelter and clothing are all covered for the creature by their Creator. Yet, we think that it is up to us to do something when He already did it all. We worry about the minutest details of life especially what we do not have so much that sometimes it keeps us from seeing clearly all things that we do have. To worry, stress and fear over our well-being is characteristic of limited faith. Faith that only goes so far in need of conditioning. The enemy is always willing to offer a lie for the Truth. It is tempting to take it. However, then with his foot in the door, he will quickly fill our heart and mind with countless fears and many worries in an attempt to steal our peace, kill our faith, and destroy our life. Faith must lead to confidence in God’s Ability and Willingness to do infinitely more than we can think or ask. However, doubt tells us that God’s Promises are not good enough and it is up to us to add to it.

Hebrews 12:15-17 (NLT) Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many. Make sure that no one is immoral or godless like Esau, who traded his birthright as the firstborn son for a single meal. You know that afterward, when he wanted his father’s blessing, he was rejected. It was too late for repentance, even though he begged with bitter tears.

The enemy pounced on my thoughts last night, continued in my dreams and I awoke fighting fear and worry this morning. I am willing to admit my humanness. Are you? There are days when faith carries us and other days it is a fight just to keep it. Faith must overcome insecurity every single day. People are at an extreme disadvantage because I have nothing to offer God to reciprocate His Love and Generosity of Grace in my life. Nothing. In fact, before the day is over, I will most certainly fail Him several times. I have no reason other than faith and trust to believe that I am somehow worthy of limitless and unconditional love that leads me from victory to victory and glory to glory. Jesus is the only reason I have any kind of real purpose and potential in my life. With that being said, I cannot help but wonder if it is not always the thief stealing from us but sometimes us. Do we give up our birthright for a single meal as Esau did? In Genesis 25, Esau was “starving” so he offered his brother, Jacob who was an excellent cook, his birthright for one meal. One might think Esau was either really hungry or Jacob an even better cook than described or could it be that Esau did not value his birthright? I know…stung my heart a little (or a lot) to think that rather than the enemy stealing what God has given me that it might just be my own doubt and insecurity giving it away. Leaving the door to my heart open and the windows to my mind unsecure, allowing the enemy to come into my life and steal what God has so graciously given me or promised to come.

In Genesis 27, Isaac is nearing death and giving his final blessing to his children. Esau wept bitterly before him as it is clear Jacob has received the blessing. Jacob duped him again. Or did he? Finally, Isaac, shares these words with his devastated child, “You will live away from the richness of the earth, and away from the dew of the heaven above. You will live by your sword, and you will serve your brother. But when you decide to break free, you will shake his yoke from your neck.” Read that last sentence again with me…”But when you decide to break free, you will shake his yoke from your neck.” What if it is me? I have been given a birthright. I am a Child of the Living God. I have Christ living in me. He overcame the world. Could it be my own doubt and insecurity causing the limitation of faith and prosperity in my life because I do not believe or understand the value and worth of my birthright so I give it away?

We give ourselves to worrying about people. (Matthew 7:2-4) We stress out about our position in life. (I Corinthians 7:20-22) Fret about what might or might now happen. (I Peter 3:13-15) We allow bitterness to take the place of forgiveness. Our heart is driven with desire for more and a hunger for this world rather than satisfaction and contentment in Christ. Crying out for His Word, Will and Way in our life – we leave the doors and windows of our heart and mind open so the moment God pours it in the enemy quickly snatches it out. I am asking the Lord today to “search my heart – point out anything that offends Him – and to lead me to the everlasting – not temporary and worthless. (Psalm 139:23-24)

Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT) Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

The Lord has created and called us to live peace-filled and satisfied lives. If that is not reminiscent of your life today, it doesn’t mean it cannot be. It is up to you and I to take hold of our birthright as Children of God, secure it with faith, fasten it like an anchor called confident hope to our life and decide to trust the Lord each day. Trust is a choice. Faith is an investment in the Kingdom of God not useful in this life. If you can do it, you don’t need faith to have it. We must decide the new life in Christ is worth having and invest our whole being in becoming the new creation that He promised. We must secure the door to our heart and fasten the windows of our mind to ensure that every thought and motivation are subject to the Gate Keeper, our Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ. (John 10) There is nothing left for Jesus to do. The rest is up to you and me. Will we choose to let the thief in or shut him out of our life for good? There is a thief among us. He wants to stop us. Our faith is his death and defeat. Jesus has given us the victory now it is up to walk in it confidently and consciously each day. Securing our life with more faith and confidence in God than ever before so every stronghold of insecurity is smashed by it. True freedom in Jesus Christ produces a rich and satisfied life that begins in our heart and mind. It is called peace. Peace leads to everlasting life and hope that will never cause us disappointment.

Philippians 4:8-9 (NLT) And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.

Wrestling with God

Wrestling With God

Ephesians 5:21 (NLT) And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

The struggle is real. To learn to submit is a far greater discipline than most. I remember the first day I heard the word “submission”. Preparing for a women’s conference at church, in the copy room. My husband and I had a rift the night before and I was looking for support from a close friend. Expressing my frustration about the situation and, of course, HIS stubbornness causing me great aggravation, I didn’t hear her careful footsteps coming up behind me. Turning me mid-packet with her hands gently on my shoulders, she lovingly yet firmly looked me in the eye and said, “You must learn to submit to your husband.” Say what? My gaping jaw slammed shut and my mouth became dry. I know that there was fire in my eyes that gave away the fury in my belly about that time. Had she not been listening? How could she say such a thing? Like a basketball thorn unsuspectingly, her words hit me in the stomach and bounced on the ground at my feet. To be honest, I stewed for the rest of the day. I avoided conversation and contact with her immediately following that conversation. I had no response. Oh, I was reeling and ranting in my head and the filter right behind my mouth – but nothing.

The Word of God is clear. Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Submit from its earliest Latin conception means to yield, lower, let down, put under or reduce. It means to yield to the power or authority of another. To be subject to certain influence. To present for approval or consideration of another. The Lord has spoken on submission and it remains clear that our reverence for Jesus Christ should promote such behavior. He is not asking us to become human doormats or accept abuse at the hands of an oppressor but rather to give up our way to embrace the humility demonstrated by Jesus for others. It means giving up our rightness to maintain righteousness according to the Grace of God given through the Love of Christ and the ability to effectively demonstrate unconditional love and overwhelming grace. It is forgiveness. Not once, but constantly forging deeper and stronger relationships through the release of self.

It is the “and further” moment in life when our soul longs for satisfaction. It is often representative of human interaction rather than any other opportunity. We are called to submit to others as a form of worshipping Christ. We wrestle with that. The struggle is real. To give up our way, wants, needs and desires to experience the fulfillment of Christ seems appealing on paper, but completely overbearing in life. It is, however, the beginning of the giving our life away described as acceptable offerings by the Lord.

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

Sacrifice is against human nature. Our instinct is for survival. Our flesh rebels against daily crucifixion with Christ. It rebukes the nails that hold our passions and desires to the Cross. Yet, in our heart, we long to worship the Lord in Spirit and Truth. Therefore, something must give. Will it be my way or God’s Holy Highway? It is foolishness to think that going my way that I can have His Way. It is naturally impossible. Impatience and lack of endurance makes us think that we are capable of deriving God’s Best from our own perpetuated imperfect plan. We give up on waiting and watching while living a disciplined and purpose-filled life of faith, hope and trust in the Lord, but instead do our own thing and balk at the results. To be a living sacrifice requires giving up or it is only an offering. Such a giving limits the increase and abundance of God in our life by boundaries set by self.

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. I know how you feel right now. I felt the same way when my dear friend introduced me to submission. I thought she was crazy to tell you the truth. I didn’t believe in the power of submission but could only see its weakness. I couldn’t perceive its reward just the risk associated with such behavior. To submit to the Lord by submitting to others is NOT what you may be thinking. It is to release yourself and humanity from your expectation and putting all our faith, hope and trust in the Love of God and His Caregiving of us. The world will tell you that submission is weakness. I will testify today that submission to the Lord is power. Submission to the Lord is to submit to all mankind.

2 Corinthians 12:7-10 (NLT) So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud. Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

What if the very thing that you think God is using to break you is really an attempt to remake you? What if the giving up of your way is essential to claiming His Best for your life? Are you convinced now? Of course not. The risk seems to outweigh the reward. How many times have I heard I will forgive them but not forget what they did to me… Our stubbornness and unwillingness to submit certain areas of our life creates boundaries to God’s Grace reaching those areas. I must submit my life to grace in order to receive it. I must sacrifice my life by submitting it to the Lord through careful and complete submission of each area day by day.

Submission to God’s Way is all the way. When Samuel approached Saul about his disobedience, Saul insisted that he did obey God. The Lord told Saul to completely destroy the Amalekite nation including “men, women, children, babies, cattle, sheep, goats, camels and donkeys.” They won the battle but Saul chose to spare the life of Agag the king, and some choice animals for sacrifice. Saul kept everything that appealed to him. When Samuel arrived, Saul boasted his obedience. The Lord pointed out the error in his way. “What is more pleasing to the Lord: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams. Rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft, and stubbornness as bad as worshiping idols. So because you have rejected the command of the Lord, he has rejected you as king.” Partial obedience is disobedience. Deviance is rebellion. Submission is sacrifice anything less is an offering. If my desire is to sacrifice my life in obedience to Christ, it will require me to submit my way. Give up what I want and fully embrace the Lord’s Desires and Design for my life. The Lord is clear. His Word is the same today. Still true in every way…Obedience is better than sacrifice. Submission is better than an offering. To have God’s Plan means giving up our way to fully pursue Him.

Genesis 32:24-31 (NLT) This left Jacob all alone in the camp, and a man came and wrestled with him until the dawn began to break. When the man saw that he would not win the match, he touched Jacob’s hip and wrenched it out of its socket. Then the man said, “Let me go, for the dawn is breaking!” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” “What is your name?” the man asked. He replied, “Jacob.” “Your name will no longer be Jacob,” the man told him. “From now on you will be called Israel, because you have fought with God and with men and have won.” “Please tell me your name,” Jacob said. “Why do you want to know my name?” the man replied. Then he blessed Jacob there. Jacob named the place Peniel (which means “face of God”), for he said, “I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been spared.” The sun was rising as Jacob left Peniel, and he was limping because of the injury to his hip.”

Are you wrestling with the Lord today? Jacob wrestled with the Lord. He left his home long before this night to save his life. He had stolen his brother’s birthright. He had manipulated his way to the firstborn position. He fled for his life. He served Laban well, marrying his two daughters, bearing eleven sons, and building a powerful estate. It was time to go home. I cannot imagine the conflict within him that night as his family waiting on the other side of the river. I think everyone comes to this point at some juncture of life. The turning point when control is surrendered to submission. It is a breaking process that releases the breakthrough promise. He had every right to march back into his homeland with his head high. He left with nothing and came back a successful man. He had been given the birthright. The land and honor belonged to him. He was right, but Jacob wanted God’s Blessing. He desired righteousness first.

The Lord gave Jacob a new name. He would no longer be the “supplanter” who had to overthrow others for his position in life. His new name would be “Israel” which means “triumphant with God.” No longer at odds with the Lord, Jacob now Israel had chosen the better way. He didn’t have to fight his way through life or struggle for success. God gave Him victory in his relenting to the Lord. Submission is always the best way. Note that as he left that place of victory, he was limping because of the injury to his hip. Submission marks a changed and transformed state to the believer. The transition point when all of me is given to all of Him through giving my life as a living sacrifice. It is not what I can or cannot do but my willingness to do it all for the Glory of God.

I cannot tell you the many blessings and benefits in my marriage as a result of submission to God first and then my husband. Giving up my strength and reveling in human weakness that allows the One who is greater to live through me. It is called submission and smacks of all things unpalatable to people. It is fragrant aromatic worship to the Lord. He desires it more than anything else. To give less to God who has given it all for us to live in His Love seems so senseless, yet we do it every day. God – teach me to submit to all people in reverence to You today. May I find the fullness of Christ in pouring out my life as a living sacrifice – the kind that is holy and acceptable to You, Lord!

Psalm 51:16-17 (NLT) You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one. You do not want a burnt offering. The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.

Expert Witness

Expert Witness

I Timothy 2:1-4 (NLT) I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth.

In many court cases, attorneys will call on expert witnesses. Doctors or specialists in a variety of fields to testify on behalf of their client. These individuals are retained by either side – plaintiff or defense in order to sway jurors in their favor by proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Human reasoning can be a dangerous thing. People are bias. Objectivity tainted by a subjective perspective of life. Emotional impact causes us to feel rather than rely on the facts or truth sometimes. It can impair our judgment at times. The more influential the witnesses in a case the more likely it is for a ruling in your favor. These individuals called to testify are highly paid based on their qualifications. While the counsel may give passionate statements, these folks just speak the truth. Their words hold conviction as they relay what education and experience have given them. They have no side to take other than that of truth. No need to be emotional because at the end of the day they do not win or lose but continue about their daily life.

Each of us is called to be a witness. To share the Gospel of God’s Love and illuminate the dark world in which we live as temporary residents journeying to our forever home. Are we expert witnesses? I wonder. During the past election, my Facebook Friends list grew a bit smaller. I had to unfollow many people who I have kept on my timeline for years. The debate grew ugly. The arguments became less about truth and more about agendas. Hate began to fester. There was no encouragement or kindness as brothers and sisters in Christ began to wage war amongst themselves. Please do not judge me for one click of the button. I did not want to get drawn in or begin to have bitterness in my heart so I disengaged instead. I do not have a dog in the fight as they say. Yes, I live in America. I pray for my country. Yet, I am just a temporary resident. My home is a Kingdom far greater than this place that I live. I have a purpose in my travels. It is to be an expert witness. I must decide who I am in Christ and assume my identity as Child of God to represent Him well.

I Timothy 2:1-4 is a great reminder of real worship. One of my very best friends is a worship leader. My son-in-law the same by profession and trade. When the Bible talks about “instructions about worship”, this is the description given. To pray for each other. Ask God to help them. To intercede on behalf of others. To give thanks for them. Pray for all who are in authority. To live peaceful and quiet lives personified by godliness and dignity. This is good. It pleases our Savior. He wants everyone saved and to understand the Truth. In the words of Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men, “You can’t handle the truth.” I wonder if we can really handle the Truth appropriately. It is not about my rightness but God’s Righteousness. His Grace that is all too sufficient needing nothing from me. Will my pride allow me to be an expert witness?

Revelation 12:10-12 (NLT) Then I heard a loud voice shouting across the heavens, “It has come at last—salvation and power and the Kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters has been thrown down to earth—the one who accuses them before our God day and night. And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony. And they did not love their lives so much that they were afraid to die. Therefore, rejoice, O heavens! And you who live in the heavens, rejoice! But terror will come on the earth and the sea, for the devil has come down to you in great anger, knowing that he has little time.”

There are two things needed to defeat the enemy in our life. The Blood of the Lamb shed by Jesus Christ and accepted by us. The word of our testimony or truth by which we live. These two things are the essentials to overcoming. The Blood of Jesus is for the remission of sin. Everyone sins. Everyday people sin and no one is exempt no matter how they act or good they pretend to be. God’s mercy is new every morning because it is a daily requirement. The testimony of our life is displayed in our attitude and actions. Those who are confident in the Truth will live by it and through it each day. This is not to be confused with the Law which condemns but the Truth of God’s Love and Salvation who is Jesus Christ. The Word became flesh. He came to live out God’s Love for us and die to pay the bounty for our sin. Now we are free to live and love like Jesus without regard for the outcome. We know how it ends. We win. We overcome. Victory is in Jesus Christ. Or is it?

We are overcomers because Jesus Christ overcame the world. However, there is a very real enemy. He cannot threaten us because he has no power over us but he can spend “night and day” before the throne accusing us. Jesus is on the throne next to Father God so each venomous slanderous word is consumed by the Grace of God given to us by Christ who faithfully intercedes for us each day. The enemy cannot snatch us from God’s Hand or harm us in any way. Christ lives in us and we live in the Presence of God. However, his constant attacks and thoughts on our mind can destroy confidence in Christ if our faith foundation is not solid. We must live to solidify our faith in Jesus Christ. We must cast down every thought contradictory to Christ. We must not join the accuser or cast more stones at God’s People. This is not the kind of testimony that the Lord is referring to. I don’t need you to tell me everything I do wrong. I know the heaviness of my sin as I lug it to the Cross each day. People need to know is the gravity of God’s Grace and potential of His Great Love.

John 8:4-11 (NLT) “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?” They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust. When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” “No, Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”

Unfortunately, religion can sometimes skew one’s perspective. The woman caught in the “act” of sin and thrust before her accusers was dead wrong. The Law was clear. Her sin demanded her life. Jesus is life. He stood over the woman interceding in the flesh as He does now in Heaven. Let the one without sin cast the first stone. I am an expert witness. My sin left me naked and afraid exposed to a life of disappointment, discouragement, defeat and ultimate death. But God! Jesus came to my rescue standing between me and my accuser. He wrapped me in a robe of righteousness. He has been compassionate, caring and concerned each day continually showering me in His Love, Grace and Mercy. Helping me up when I fall. Holding my hand so I do not stumbling. Whispering truth to silence the lie of the enemy in my life. Who am I to do anything less for others? To be a constant source of compassion and encouragement. To love them unconditionally. To drop all the stones labeled with my expectations of them to fully embrace the grace God has given me to share with others. This makes us an expert witness. Not our rightness but His Righteousness that covers our living breathing soul for redemption sake.

Hebrews 7:24-26 (NLT) But because Jesus lives forever, his priesthood lasts forever. Therefore he is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf. He is the kind of high priest we need because he is holy and blameless, unstained by sin. He has been set apart from sinners and has been given the highest place of honor in heaven.

When Jesus was on trial, he did not defend himself. He went to the Cross completely innocent saying very few words – he endured the torture and horror of a brutal death…quietly. In Acts 24, Paul is brought before Felix by his accusers. He did not riot or raise a ruckus. He was brought to Felix because of lies and accusations that were not true. Paul shared the truth but did not argue or cry out for justice. He remained imprisoned instead. Jesus does not need you or I to defend Him. He doesn’t need us to argue His Case. Jesus commanded us to love one another. It is not my role or position in life to point out other’s sin or dissuade them from it. It is certainly not my job to tell them how to live. The testimony I have is simple – I once was lost but Jesus found me. He loves me. Now I am going to love you like Jesus does. Look in your hand – are there stones with people’s names on them? If so, release them and ask God to fill your heart right now with overflowing love and overpowering grace for that person in Jesus Name.

I Peter 2:11-17 (NLT) Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls. Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world. For the Lord’s sake, submit to all human authority—whether the king as head of state, or the officials he has appointed. For the king has sent them to punish those who do wrong and to honor those who do right. It is God’s will that your honorable lives should silence those ignorant people who make foolish accusations against you. For you are free, yet you are God’s slaves, so don’t use your freedom as an excuse to do evil. Respect everyone, and love the family of believers. Fear God, and respect the king.

Are you an accuser or affirmer? The expert witness offers love, grace, and encouragement based on our faith in God’s Love for us. Envy, bitterness and accusations come from insecurity in our own heart concerning His Love for us. I can fill a bucket with water. However, I cannot share it with others if there is a hole in it. By the time, I get to them the water has run out. We do not live in competition for anything but as God’s Children our inheritance including every blessing and promise is secured for us in Jesus Christ. His Sacrifice set me free to love without condition or consequence because His Love overpowers every other force. It brings fulfillment and contentment in me that results in overwhelming satisfaction allowing me to love other people without any expectation of reciprocation. It draws my attention from self to serving others. My life should not be controversial. It should relay the confidence I have in Jesus Christ, the Power of His Blood and Testimony of His Love lived out before others. I must be an expert witness. To do so requires more of Him and less of me.

I John 5:5-8 (NLT) And who can win this battle against the world? Only those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God. And Jesus Christ was revealed as God’s Son by his baptism in water and by shedding his blood on the cross—not by water only, but by water and blood. And the Spirit, who is truth, confirms it with his testimony. So we have these three witnesses— the Spirit, the water, and the blood—and all three agree.

…When these three agree…it leaves no room for me.

Birthday Thoughts

Birthday cupcake against a blue background

Proverbs 16:31-33 (NLT) Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained by living a godly life. Better to be patient than powerful; better to have self-control than to conquer a city. We may throw the dice, but the Lord determines how they fall.

Happy Birthday to me. Today marks my fifty-first year of life. I say it, but cannot truly feel it. Age is really just a number. It has never really impacted me like some of my friends. But the idea of fifty-one has made me slow down a bit and take a look at the scenery. I am pretty sure my nose-to-the-grindstone, press-thru-the-pain, and get-the-job-done attitude has caused the last decade of my existence to pass by in a blur. In our ladies Bible study, we talked about our lifetime estimated in the Word to be about seventy years. Seems like a long time and maybe even endless to a teenager, but I took that number and broke it down into days. If I live exactly 70 years, it means that I was born with 25,500 days of which I currently have about 6,935 days left as of today. To some it may be an instance of glass half empty, but to me it is a glass full of possibility. I am not worried so much about my life running out as it ending without fulfilling my purpose.

Gray hair may be a crown of glory for some but as long as my hairdresser will schedule another appointment – not on my head. However, in the Word of God, it is called our crown of glory just the same. I have gray hair carefully hidden under hair dye but that doesn’t keep them from popping up from time to time. Proverbs says – it is gained by a godly life. Perhaps the point is that if we make it in life long enough to have gray hair that it is an accomplishment. Mine mark years of survival. It is representative of a life given to pursuing the Lord and missing Him a lot. It shows that there is grace to overcome our mistakes and misgivings. It marks me as one who should have something more to give for it is the crown of glory that should be woven with wisdom and good common sense that has led me through impatience and impetuousness to the place I am now. The truth about my place in life is that it is usually a crossroad. The place where many decide to dig in or give up on their dreams and inspirations. Is it folly to think that at this age dreams really do come true? Is it possible that we have buried seed meant for planting in the barren field of hopelessness marked with the sign called unmet expectation? It happens all the time. We left life get ahold of our perception and make it into a harsh reality absent of faith, hope and even trust until believing in what we see overshadows the truth of what we know to be true.

“Better to be patient than powerful; better to have self-control than to conquer a city.” The final fruit of the Spirit is self-control. Perhaps patience and self-control are not possible in our youth because endurance and perseverance are necessary to find them. Seeds don’t grow overnight. You may be full of potential that just hasn’t been given enough time to grow, develop and mature into the purpose that God intended it to be. Too often, like the fig tree, it is human nature to cover up a lack of fruit with a plethora of leaves and foliage. Hiding behind a well-constructed façade, no one is as they seem. But God knows…He sees inside of our heart. He knows our deepest desire and while we try to bury it, get over it and move on. The Lord whispers wait a minute. It is part of my plan. Hold on. Don’t be so impatient. You have to live a little more life in order to produce the harvest. Waiting is not a bad thing. It is part of God’s Timing and vital to His Process. If you compare the older me to the younger version, it is clear that I have developed patience. They came at a high price – through difficulty, lack of control, waiting and more waiting and helplessness. I am finally beginning to see small hints of patience in my character. Praise God – it only took five decades to achieve. Self-control. It has been a tough one. I have always been a great starter but horrible finisher. I lacked the self-control to remain engaged when the “woo-hoo” wore off and the process grew tiring. There is the ever so slight but definitely noticeable change in my character to hang on, wait for it, and stay put. All this is to the Glory of God. None of this is human nature, but godly influence. It didn’t come through personal victory but daily defeat. As I sit here this morning, I finally see His Glorious Plan coming together. Though the pieces are definitely spread apart, His Hand is carefully aligning them into a beautiful picture that I am excited to see even in my fifties.

Proverbs 16:1-4 (NLT) We can make our own plans, but the Lord gives the right answer. People may be pure in their own eyes, but the Lord examines their motives. Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed. The Lord has made everything for his own purposes…

The Lord has blessed our family. I spent Saturday with our youngest daughter. She is the only one who is still bound to us as she will not drive for a couple more years. Her oldest sister lives in New Hampshire and will arrive today for a visit. Her middle sister has a full agenda and a flourishing social life. So, it was just the two of us for a day of birthday shopping. As we wandered from store to store, she became very agitated with my lack of ability to share something I wanted that was not practical. It is your birthday, she told me. It is a big deal! My husband and I had more humble beginnings. I will admit that we have spoiled our children with love and things. They do not know the difficult times that shaped both of our childhoods. They only know the security and structure of family. I am so very thankful for that. However, walking with her, I feel a nudge inside. The Lord is pressing for my attention to this thing called dreams and desire.

We make our plans. BUT the Lord gives the right answer. When I was a little girl, I decided that I would be a professional mom with just two kids. I wasn’t interested in being a stay-at-home mom much less have a handful of children. Well, when the first one came, I knew my purpose. It was to be a mom. I wanted it more than anything else. I ended up with not two babies, but five of them. There were many times in my life that my priorities set a regulatory standard for my life which has fallen apart. I had good intentions but the Lord was moving in my heart. He has a much higher standard of living for us than we could ever plan or execute. Truth is most days – we don’t believe it any more. Fairytales and fantasies are for children and fools. Reality is adulting. Day dreaming is for the lazy. However, sitting here at fifty, I hear the Lord whispering why not believe? Why not go for it? Why not think my love is extravagant? My power limitless again. Why not?

Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed. The Lord has made everything for his own purposes. Is it possible that at my age, I am only beginning to see the harvest of years of planting and sowing in life and people? Could it be that there has been unseen purpose and greater potential in the ordinary steps of my life leading to an extraordinary finish? The Word of God tells us to commit our actions to the Lord AND they WILL succeed. What have you done for Jesus over the last days, months or years of your life? Do you know that there is purpose in each footstep to be discovered? The Lord determines our steps according to His Plan. (Proverbs 16:9) Those dreams and desires in our heart are a product of the eternity and faith hidden there. To bring them to fruition. In Proverbs 16:20 is the promise that those who listen to instruction will prosper and those who trust the Lord will be joyful. Prosperity and joy are found in fulfillment as the Lord brings to completion the work that He began in you before you were born.

Joel 2:28-29 (NLT) “Then, after doing all those things, I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your old men will dream dreams, and your young men will see visions. In those days I will pour out my Spirit even on servants—men and women alike.

When our son was diagnosed with cancer, I handled it better than I thought it would. I began slinging the Word of God like a sword at it and held up my shield of faith against it. Fighting the good fight, I never considered it would take many years to accomplish. God gave me His Word that our son would live and not die. I had no idea it would be a seed that took many years to grow. This summer marks remission times three years. However, after the battle was over, I found myself dry, empty and done. How could it be? How is it possible? Victory is not always easy that’s why defeat can be so agonizing. Laying it all on the field means that if winning doesn’t happen you have nothing left to fall back on. After three long years of fighting to keep the faith and finish the course, the reality was that my life would never be “normal” again. It would not be as I had expected. The reality of life’s brevity and uncertainly loomed over me like a tiny black raincloud. The numbness in my limbs from fighting traveled to my heart. Some days, I felt like it was barely beating. I had finally come to the end of myself. It was not pretty. She was no longer in control of her life, family and destiny. For those of us who have control issues, pride barriers and any other type of fear or insecurity – this is not a fun place. It is a realization that demands a choice. It requires a change. The only good part is that finally the Lord has the opportunity to lead us to fulfillment. Grace works best in our weakness. His Power takes over when we step out of the way.

Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11) God takes our brokenness and makes it beautiful. When the battle was won, our son declared cancer free. I rejoiced, but it was not as I expected. Three months later, more scans and still clear. I became depressed at my lack of enthusiasm. I felt very guilty because many had not been so fortunate. This would be a turning point in my life forever. I walked around in a daze for about a year. Clueless as to hold to operate outside of my overdriven and constantly controlling personality. These waves of emotions carried me yet I had no idea what to do next. That’s when Joel 2:28-29 was introduced to me in a different way.

Your old men will dream dreams, and your young men will see visions. In those days I will pour out my Spirit even on servants—men and women alike. What if brokenness and undoing is the point when potential finds its way into purpose? What if it takes reality and life to break our hearts to the point where God can reach the bottom? What if our best days really are hidden in the rest of them following our arrival at the end of self? Is it possible that the dreams and visions promised to the “old men” is really where the potential lies? Could it be possible that the course of my life is exactly as God planned it before I was even born? Yes. Yes. Yes. You are exactly where God planned for you to be. He orders our steps for His Destiny not necessarily our desired destination. He is not transporting you to the Magic Kingdom, but transforming you for His Kingdom. We want a better life, but the Lord is preparing us for eternal life. It takes time. It is a process. It will require years to yield harvest. You will have to wait. You must endure. It requires persistence. You will be remolded and reshaped – broken and more. But you know what? It will be worth it all.

Romans 8:28-30 (NLT) And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory.

So what if it’s true? What if God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His Purpose for them? It means that every dream I have dreamed should be dug up from its grave and given a careful and thorough examination according to the faith and hope that I have. Possibility is hidden in every detail of my seemingly ordinary life so I must be careful not to dismiss bad days and mess ups as experience but decide if there is something to be gleaned in that moment. A lot of people my age life in regret, shame and guilt over the not-so-productive choices that they “think” they made when the reality is it is all working together for their good! To God’s Glory! What kind of God would He be if He only showed up for emergencies? He is definitely the First Responder to those who call on Him, but why do we put our God, faith, hope and trust in a glass case to be of emergency. He wants to work every detail of our existence with His Power, Potential and Purpose. He’s not holding back…we are.

As I celebrate with my family today, I am thankful for every one of those fifty-one years. Lord, help me to remember all the seed planted and remind me to continue to sow in the coming year. Age is just a number. My potential is not in my days but how I choose to spend them. Time is the only commodity that cannot be bought but you restore all things. You are a miracle working God who will multiply purpose and yield promises in the time offered to You. Whether I have one more day, 6,935 days to seventy or even more than that, may I give them completely and wholeheartedly to You – Jesus. Keep my heart soft and pliant in Your Hands even it means I must stay broken. Keep my eyes on You Jesus – focused on the future never on the past. Keep my ears open to hear Your Voice, value your instruction and apply it daily to my life. God, I truly believe that the best is yet to come. Thank you for life. Thank you for your promises. Thank you for a purpose and plan worth having a lifetime of lessons to see it come to pass. This is not the end of my life – it is only the beginning. I am thankful to report… He’s still working on me… To make me what I ought to be…It took Him just a week to make the moon and stars, the sun and the earth and Jupiter and Mars. How loving and patient He must be… He’s still working on me!

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

Time to Shine

Time to Shine

2 Corinthians 3:16-18 (NLT) But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.

Mama always used to say, “Be careful what you wish for…” I completely agree. Our words hold power and should be released thoughtfully and completely filtered despite my fourteen-year-old who insists that people need to know the truth. I concur. People do need to know the truth. Who am I to give it to them? Do I really know the truth about life, love and happiness? Contentment, peace or joy? I used to tell people that I wished I could break open my heart and let people see the real Jesus who lives inside. Who He is? The Living God who I have experienced. They would have to love Him, too. Well, as I sit here this morning, I still hope that I can share Jesus with others. Tell them of His Love, Goodness and Faithfulness in a believable and acceptable way. However, I can feel the little sting of those words running through the broken pieces of my heart. The hard places of pride and stubbornness now rubble in the Hands of God as He gently and lovingly molds and shapes them into the kind of heart He desires. The tiny shelter where His Glory resides. Did I ask the Lord to break my heart? No, I just invited Jesus into it. Just like old wineskins will burst when filled with new wine, my heart in its previous condition could not contain the fullness that the Lord had for me. He had to make room for His Presence to fill me. I have to be broken for it to come spilling out.

2 Corinthians 4:7 (NLT)  We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.

We have the Light of His Love shining inside our hearts. The Presence of God, His Spirit lives in us. He came by invitation but is He truly an honored guest. A question for another day, I guess. I think that the error in our way as believers is the through that the holy inhabitation of God in us is another layer to the armor in our life when it is not like that at all. Yes, we have the full armor of God available to us but it requires leaving the old armor behind. Who can stand in fight in such a condition? The Great Power of God living in us must find its way out of us for the Glory of God to ignite a revival that will wrap around the world.

Exodus 34:29-32 (NLT) When Moses came down Mount Sinai carrying the two stone tablets inscribed with the terms of the covenant, he wasn’t aware that his face had become radiant because he had spoken to the Lord. So when Aaron and the people of Israel saw the radiance of Moses’ face, they were afraid to come near him. But Moses called out to them and asked Aaron and all the leaders of the community to come over, and he talked with them. Then all the people of Israel approached him, and Moses gave them all the instructions the Lord had given him on Mount Sinai.

One person. Moses. Though His Children were all around Mount Sinai, only one person dared go into the Presence of God. Moses remained their fasting and communing with the Lord for forty days and nights. When he came down, in his arms were the Ten Commandments, and on his face was a tangible radiance so bright that the people were afraid. In Exodus 40, these tablets were placed in the Ark of the Covenant and hidden behind a heavy curtain or veil in the Tabernacle. No one could come in contact with the Ark except the high priest after undergoing proper repentance and cleansing. The Ark of the Covenant represented the embodiment of God’s Presence among the people. The atonement cover or mercy seat – God’s Throne. (2 Samuel 6:2) God’s Presence was above it. (Leviticus 16:2) If a person approached the Ark, it was entrance into God’s Presence. Sin is consumed in the Presence of God so those who attempted entrance without proper remission of sin would die. Sin prohibits life. (Psalm 5:4-6) In Numbers 11:16-17, it tells us that God administered His Spirit to people individually according to His Will and Purpose for them. It all started with one person. Moses was the only one willing to go into God’s Presence and he came out changed.

Matthew 27:50-53 (NLT) Then Jesus shouted out again, and he released his spirit. At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, rocks split apart, and tombs opened. The bodies of many godly men and women who had died were raised from the dead. They left the cemetery after Jesus’ resurrection, went into the holy city of Jerusalem, and appeared to many people.

I promise this history lesson is almost over. It is vitally important in our understanding and utilization of God’s Power and Presence in us. When Jesus was baptized by John in the Jordan River, God identified Him as His Son and placed His Spirit in Him. The Spirit descended from Heaven as a dove. Now the Son of God is crucified as a sacrifice for the sins of all mankind. He is an acceptable sacrifice and so now God releases His Presence (His Spirit) to all mankind. The first thing the Spirit does is rip the curtain from top to bottom so that God’s Presence is available to us all. The Spirit didn’t stop there but then began breathing life into all the dead. Resurrection power released in a moment that immediately perpetuated life.

Acts 2:1-4 (NLT) On the day of Pentecost all the believers were meeting together in one place. Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm, and it filled the house where they were sitting. Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them. And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability.

Here we go! Wee! This is where the Pentecostals start shouting, Baptists are cringing and Catholics are like “what in the world”. For just a few moments, take your doctrine in one hand and the nametag of your church in the other – put them aside. Just listen… The Holy Spirit is absolutely essential. He is the identifier of those who believe. He is the guarantee of all God’s Promises. You cannot experience Christ and not encounter the Holy Spirit. However, it does not mean that every person will manifest these gifts the same way nor does it mean that we have to. Religion demands the context of doctrine not God. The Presence of God is not some performance or show. It is not defined by certain procedures. Jesus did away with every condition. His Grace is enough to access God’s Presence without my ability to do a single thing.

Now then…moving on.

Acts 2:42-47 (NLT) All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer. A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity— all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.

In Acts 2:1, “on the day of Pentecost, all the believers were meeting together in one place. Hmm… Believers meeting together in one place. What did they believe? They believed in Jesus Christ. (period) Agreement. Unity. Harmony. Nothing is more pleasing to the Lord. These believers had been through the ringer. They were hiding because the “church” wanted to kill the idea of a risen Savior and missed Messiah by murdering the people. They were praying for their very lives. God’s Presence with all the Power and Majesty of Heaven descended on that place. It doesn’t matter if you believe in the manifestation of the Holy Spirit in tongues or any other spiritual gift. Do you believe in Jesus Christ?

Now that everyone here is looking at Jesus Christ. In His Presence, the first manifestation of His Spirit is to love each other. Care for one another. Create a community of communion with God and each other. (period) Signs and wonders are birthed in this connection of believes as they agree and meet together in “one place”. Speaking in tongues is for our own gratification. It is a prayer language. I do very much believe in it but I do not believe that you have to speak in tongues to be saved or live in the Presence of God. What I do believe is that the Glory of God available to us in His Presence has been put behind a curtain and covered in clothes because we fail the first test – to love others like Jesus loves us.

We can share the Gospel, preach the Word of God, and even demonstrate every gift eluded to in the Bible, but the absence of love. Self-sacrificing and pride-killing kind of love that puts everyone else before our need to have, do, or be right. We all have the Presence of the Living God inside of us. He is waiting to be pressed down, shaken together and run over every blessing that He has in store for us. However, if we choose not to let God break our heart enough to love others and care for each as a community of believers – the Word will fall on deaf ears like water on a rock.

2 Corinthians 3:7-11 (NLT) The old way, with laws etched in stone, led to death, though it began with such glory that the people of Israel could not bear to look at Moses’ face. For his face shone with the glory of God, even though the brightness was already fading away. 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! In fact, that first glory was not glorious at all compared with the overwhelming glory of the new way. So if the old way, which has been replaced, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new, which remains forever!

The very first fruit of the Holy Spirit is love. (Galatians 5:22) We do not have the privilege of defining what love really is – it is clearly stated in God’s Word. I Corinthians 13:4-7 tells us all the qualities of true love. Patient, kind, no jealous, boastful or proud, giving and forgiving. It never loses faith or hope. It does not give up. It endures all circumstances. It goes so far as to comment in verse 8 that “prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever.” Jesus told us that there is no greater love than to lay our life down for another. (John 15:13) I wonder if the Glory of God is not producing revival because the church does not know how to love? I am concerned that His Presence is somehow stifled by our routine and religion hindered by a lack of real relationships among believers including me…

If the old way, which has been replaced, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new, which remains forever! The only thing that lasts forever according to God is His Love. Love remains when all else fails. It is the glue that holds together the believers as one to make the body of Christ who will be His Bride. To cry out for revival is to ask God to show us how to love. Love will break your heart every time. It will crush rebellious spirits as two become one. With the new covenant, there should be boldness and confidence that is not demonstrated in most churches today. (Verse 8) If the Word is not watered down, it is hidden behind a wall of religious values and doctrine that no one really can endure. Grace removed the sin that kept me from Jesus. Who am I to place a condition on a love so freely given? Who am I to condemn others when Jesus refused to do it? Who am I to withhold my life from anyone else when it is no longer mine at all? Who am I? I am a Child of God. I am filled with His Spirt. His Spirit is the very essence of resurrection power and life that will spark the next revival. The same spirit that lives in me as a believer lives in you. We all must be broken of our prideful, stubborn and selfish ways to let His Glory escape from us and become the radiance in our life that attracts others.

Let me ask you something. Are you frustrated in your walk with the Lord today? Are you disappointed because your ordinary life is not the extraordinary promise you thought He would make it? Has the monotony of your walk and the mundane existence got you thinking that there has to be more to life than this? Friend, sin stole the glorious standard of living from us but Jesus gave it back and more. He promises us a rich and satisfying life. Love produces that life. Plain and simple. The kind of love that builds up community and bonds together people. Religion points out differences. Relationships overcome them. God’s Glory is available to all of us. In fact, it dwells within us. It radiates from our life in our ability to love unconditionally. It’s time to remove the veil and let the Love of God shine through us again. Busting through doubt, fear and insecurity to put our life out there like a city on a hill again. You were meant to be the Light. It begins with love and ends the same way. Let God out of the box today. Take the next step in putting yourself out there. Stop hiding behind the curtain. There is nothing there anymore. His Spirit is alive and well in you! It’s our time to shine! For His Glory…

John 8:12 (NLT) Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”

 

 

The Power of Relationship

The Power of Relationship

Ruth 1:16-17 (NIV) But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.” 

My sister stopped in last night for a quick visit. She lives in Missouri. We live in Florida. Seven years apart seems like forever as children but now as women – we finally connect. Early this year, we spent a great deal of time together when our mom had open heart surgery. In those days, years melted into moments and the reality of relationship decades in the works gently unfolded. The Lord was working in my heart on His Next Great Set Up for my life. How could my sister who lives miles away know the details? With busy lives, there is little time for conversation yet she gave insightful words only possible through a Living God who lives in us. It’s funny how the Lord starts at the beginning and works things to the end when we live unaware and incognizant lives so “independently” only to discover that He has been working it all the time.

Our family would be considered a blended family. A small version of the “Brady bunch” with a man and his two children meets a woman and her two children and from there the rest is history. Messy and difficult – yet by the Power of God seamlessly sewn together into something of value and worth. There is power in relationship. Jesus came to restore our relationship with God the Father. He did so by grace because apart from it – our flesh and sinful nature would not ever allow such a union. In an age of hook-ups, break-ups and make-ups with quick marriages and even quicker divorces resulting in broken lives and if we are blessed blended families, I wonder if people are truly experiencing the power of relationships.

Walking through the quiet house knowing that my sister is sleeping in our guest room, I am thankful. Thankful that in spite of us, God had an amazing plan. The story of Ruth and Naomi replayed in my mind. Naomi and her husband took their sons to Moab to escape the famine. Her husband died in Moab. His sons married two Moabite women, but both of her boys died within ten years. Naomi and the two women were now helpless in their culture. They had no one to care for them and Naomi felt there no other choice but each to return home to the care of their family. She blessed both women to return to their families. They were reluctant. Naomi finally convinced Orpah to leave and she kissed her mother-in-law and departed. But Ruth would not go. Ruth was committed to the relationship. She would go where Naomi went even if it meant dying there.

John 15:12-14 (NIV) My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.

The command of Jesus Christ for my life is this – Love each other as I have loved you. He wants me to develop long-lasting and committed relationships with all people to form the Body of Christ. Build the Kingdom Of God. I wonder what might happen if the church and all of its people really followed the commandment of Christ for us all. It is not in the religion or even proper doctrine. No, it is in the messy and complicated thing called love. Not just any love but love that follows through in a relationship. To lay down our life for our friends. This is the power of relationship. Love is the power that fuels relationship. Love and all that it is defined clearly in I Corinthians 13 is the only thing that is required of us. However, it is easier to give all else but keep our self. It is difficult to love anyone else if our love for Christ is incomplete. If His Grace is not sufficient for me, I will never be able to love another because of unmet expectation. It is not until I find completion in a linear connection to the Lord that is vertically kept that I will ever be able to give my life to a friend let alone all of them.

Romans 13:8 (NIV) Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.

As children, my sister and I lived in constant competition for love that already belonged to us. My father was absent for many years of my life and when he resurfaced it was with another child. What I didn’t realize was that some of the difficulties between my sister and I were because of my unmet expectations. I couldn’t love her the way I should because of the hurt in a young girl’s heart. However, as Christ healed my heart over many, many years and mended my relationship with my dad by His Grace, I have found that this person who is my sister is a treasure. A blessing hidden in my life by God who the Lord has placed on a very similar path. It took years to bring us together and form the union of sisterhood that is evident now. I wonder how many of us are willing to admit that maybe the lack of longstanding and fulfilling relationships in our life is not because other people left us but rather our inability to let other people into our hearts and lives. Hearts hardened by betrayal. Emotions devastated by unmet expectation. Empty soul spots reserved for another that truly belong to Jesus. Once filled with the Love of God, we will love others as Christ loves us. However, until we experience the Grace of God to fill our hurts and heal our hearts – there is the danger of living and striving for a love that already belongs to us and cannot be earned only discovered.

Let no debt remain outstanding except the continuing debt to love one another. The only obligation in life that God identifies is our purpose to love. Love is a commitment. It is not a shallow emotion. To love is to lay down our life including our mind, will and emotions for another person. God does not limit the sphere of relational influence to just our family and acquaintances. No the truest test of love is to love even our enemies.

Matthew 5:4348 (NIV) “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

What would happen if the Body of Christ truly became a New Testament church? A body of believers who truly loved each other according to God’s Word and not personal expectation. Religion is easy. It’s a list of do’s and don’ts that make us feel better about our ability to earn a little bit of grace. It is the opportunity to maintain our own pride and peace of mind by retaining a piece of self. It is toxic. Religion excludes. The Spirit of Jesus Christ tore the veil in the Temple from top to bottom. His desire was clear. He wanted a relationship with us. He desired a place in our hearts. A love so deep and overflowing that it would pour out on others. We must rediscover the power of relationship to fulfill our commitment to Jesus Christ. He has promised to never leave us or forsake us. Go where we go. Make a way for us. The list goes on and on. When I decide to love others or at least to try to as Christ loves me beginning with absolute and abundant grace, I am about to experience the most powerful breakthrough possible as Child of the Living God. Such bonds of love produce agreement that make miracles possible.

Jesus said, “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” To release the life-giving and full empowering Spirit of God in the form of revival will start with relationship. One relationship at a time. I believe that our greatest miracle may just be hidden in our most impossible and difficult relationships. We must rediscover the power of relationships to see the Glory of God fall all around us again. He promised He would be in the midst of just two people who agree.

Come on church! We can do so much better than that when we decide His Grace is enough for me to let go and love. Forgive or forge the way with love glorious love. It is all about love. Thank you Jesus for the important reminder that it is all about love. Look around. Who do you find it most difficult to love? Find that person. Pray for the restoration of the relationship or creation if there has never been one. Tell them, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God”. In the beginning – it may just be you telling you under your breath. The person the enemy fights the hardest to keep you from loving is usually the one who is the key to your miracle. The secret of revival is the power of relationship. Lord fill us with your love today. Give us more of Your Grace to forgive and forgive some more. Let your new mercy fall on  us like rain that washes away hurt and insult to allow new hope to spring up in the cracks and crevices of broken hearts. Lord, bind us together in the Light of Your Love for Your Glory. Amen and amen.

John 13:34-35 (NIV) “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

To Be Steadfast

To Be Steadfast

Psalm 51:10 (NIV) Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Oh for the grace of God that gives me a clean and pure heart each day. Mercy provided at the first of each day to cover all the faults and failures before they even come to pass. Such a great God, so loving and compassionate, faithful and true, yet I struggle to remain steadfast. Do you? Are there days when it just doesn’t seem like life is going as expected? Caught in the abyss of waiting and going through the motions of “walking by faith and not by sight” yet still wondering if this is the way? Indulge me, please if I am the only one who finds herself on the edge of reality and verge of faithful possibility teetering on the edge. God’s Word seems so distant and faint as the taunts of the enemy resound in my head. “Did God really tell you that? Are you sure? I think you should go back, step own, or move on.” All lies meant to lure me off course. So in the wee hours of morning, sitting in this place, and asking for a new heart. One that is pure, true and solely devoted to staying the course, finishing the race, and fulfilling my purpose, I wonder if what I need more than that today is to be steadfast. What if my heart is not the problem, but rather the doubt in my head?

Let me be the first to admit that I am impatient. It is one of my greatest character flaws that require more grace than I am willing to admit. Long lines and slow people drive me crazy. Waiting rooms are like prison cells. Waiting is the exercise needed to produce endurance. I must endure to the end. I must remain true to my faith and stay the course. One might think my stubbornness might work in my favor and maybe sometimes it does. However, most of the time it is the very thing I must overcome just to keep moving in this direction. The further you go the less you know. It is the truth about faith. Trust requires me to wait and watch for the Lord and not waver in my trials. Lord, teach me to be steadfast today.

Proverbs 4:23-27 (NIV) Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Keep your mouth free of perversity; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.

Visiting Proverbs for some wisdom and insight, simple steps are offered to keep us along the way. Above everything else, I must guard my heart today. How do I do that? I am told to give my life away. To love without expectation or obligation of another human being. To live as Light in this world with His Love shining from the broken crevices of my heart. The heart that I am guarding is broken. God is creating a new heart in me. It will take some time. I am not guarding my heart from being broken more but rather making sure that it stays soft and pliable in the Hands of God today. Not hardened or calloused by doubt, fear or even regret. Why? For everything you do flows from it. Good intentions become godly influence when our life is wrapped up in love.

Keep your mouth free of perversity; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. From the abundance of the heart, our mouth speaks. So maybe if I listen to what I am saying today, I will find the error of my ways. What is the contents of my communication? Do I speak life, faith and love throughout the days no matter my situation? To be free of perversity is to be willfully determined to remain on the desired and expected course and not contrary to the Word of God. Perversity is to say something other than what is believed to verbally live a contradictory life. Faith produces praise. Truth produces possibility. Hope is relayed in confidence. Confidence is evident in our words. Our conditions should dictate our communication but our faith and hope manifested in trust should make our words fruitful bearing the produce of seeds of truth planted and grown in our heart. What are you saying? Complaining and grumbling is not the kind of talk that demonstrates a heart full of faith but instead implies discontentment and dissatisfaction with God’s Care for us.

Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Comparison is a joy killer. The grass will always seem greener on the other side. Wandering eyes lead to a wondering heart. You cannot see the details leading up to this moment for others so do not evaluate their outcome by what you see now. The price paid may be more than you are willing to give. We must focus. Many days, I must refocus. What did Jesus say? What did the Lord tell me to do? Where did I step off course? The moment I took my eyes off Jesus and starting looking for something to ease my impatience or relieve the pressure of change. Jesus is the Author and Finisher of faith. I need Him to finish the work that He began in me. He is my Champion. He is my victory. I must remain steadfast in my pursuit of the Lord for all His Promises and His Purpose to come to pass in my life. Have I looked away? Have I wandered off? Is my mind wondering about the Truth? He is a good Shepherd who calls out to sheep and comes looking for the ones who wander off. Here I am Lord – thank you for calling out to me!

Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil. Think about it. In Joshua 1:8, it says, “Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” Who doesn’t want to be prosperous and successful? I do. Not only in my spiritual life, but my natural life, too. I want the world to see what a Good and Great God that I serve. He has a plan for my life with a future and hope. One that will produce everything I need to have the rich and satisfying life that Jesus Christ died to give me. His Word is pivotal to living that life. I cannot hear it a couple times a week at church or on a podcast and think that this will be a roadmap for success. I must meditate on the Word of God every day and find new ways to implement it. The Bible is the Greatest Love Story ever written. If I break it apart and consume it day by day, tiny seeds of His Love will sprout in my worn out, tired and broken heart to produce life and life more abundantly. When my life begins to produce godly fruit, I will become a little more satisfied and a bit more content. This will produce a desire for more. One foot in front of the other in faith is simply planting a seed and waiting for it to grow. To not leave our field but work it real good. It is to know God. We cannot know the Lord without reading, studying, eating and digesting His Word. Why? Jesus is the Word of God wrapped in flesh. To know Jesus – I must know the Word. To know my way – I must know the Word.

Philippians 4:4-7 (NIV) Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Steadfast is our staying power. It is the decision to stay on course and maintain our heading even when the storms of life blow like a mighty wind all around us. To be still and know that He is God. He is Good. He is working on my behalf. When everything is falling apart, yet remaining right there because you know He will never let the righteous fall. Steadfastness produces a precious commodity called endurance. It is the moment when our eyes cannot see and our footsteps are simply by faith. Keeping a fixed direction when everything points to running in the other direction. To be firm in our purpose, resolution and faith. An attachment to Christ that is unwavering. Being yoked to the Lord, and refusing to go anywhere that He is not. Lord, make us steadfast today. Give us immovable faith untouched by the wind and rain of life. Let the condition of my heart and spirit reflect Your Faithfulness and Love rather than the conditions or situations that I may be facing right now. This too shall pass…

Lord, make me steadfast in spirit today. When I am about to complain, remind me to rejoice. May the fruit of your Spirit abound in my life today. Let be my offering to others. I want to be loving, kind and gentle as You are to me. Do not let my anxiousness turn into anxiety. Lord, remind me that You will carry each care and concern that I am willing to give to you completely. I will be prayerful. I will be thankful. Lord, I will place all my expectation in you and not people. You are faithful and I will try with all my heart to be the same. Jesus, I want to be steadfast and immovable in all things pertaining to life and godliness. Create in me a clean heart today Jesus and renew a steadfast spirit within me. May the offering of my life be pleasing and acceptable to You!  Amen and amen.

I Peter 5:10-11 (NIV) And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.

Overwhelm Me

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Isaiah 61:10 (NLT) I am overwhelmed with joy in the Lord my God! For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation and draped me in a robe of righteousness. I am like a bridegroom dressed for his wedding or a bride with her jewels.

Life can be overwhelming. Circumstances, conditions and even change can overcome our mind, run rampant through our emotions, and stir up anxious thoughts and feelings. I would rather face an issue in my body then to deal with my mind. Sickness in our body, in my opinion, is much easier to overcome than weakness in our mind holding us captive in our mind, will or emotions. Physical ailments are one thing, but mental impairment is twice as debilitating. Our spirit, mind and body must work together in our pursuit of Christ and all that He promises, but it is our flesh that fights for its life. It is our will that refuses submission and clings to stubbornness. There will always be things that overwhelm us in this life. We choose who holds us captive. Will I live in bondage to negative thinking and limited vision or will I be captivated in the inconceivable yet always perceivable love of God? Lord, overwhelm me with Your Love today!

2 Corinthians 4:7-8(NLT) We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair.

The pressures of life are inevitable. There will always be something attempting to weigh you down, block your path, pull you back or divert you altogether. The enemy is relentlessly and ruthlessly attempting to quench that tiny fire burning inside you. He wants to make sure that it does not become a bright and shining light representing God’s Love, Goodness and Faithfulness that will lead others from the dark and dying places in the world. He is after that seed of faith. If he can just pluck it out of you or maybe overcome the Word in you with the weeds of problems, troubles or trials – you will stop this foolishness called faith, hope and love.

The word “overwhelm” means to load, heap, treat or address with an overpowering or excess of anything. The word itself is not negative. How one responds to it determines the meaning? How do you respond to pressure in life? Do you press in? Do you give in? There will always be pressure. There will always be something that is trying to overwhelm you. Whom the Son sets free is free indeed! We have the freedom to choose that which overwhelms us today! Will it be the great load of temporary things that threaten us in this moment or will it be God’s Faithful and Abiding Love that is greater than death and the grave? Will it be the sufficiency of His Amazing Grace that empowers me when I am weak and flailing? There will always be a “master” in our life. Jesus gives us the right called freedom to choose who it will be. I choose the King of Kings and Lord of Lords! How about you?

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

Generally, it is not the problem that brings the pressure but our perception of the problem. Have you ever looked in the side mirror of the car? There are words written on it that warn us – “OBJECTS IN MIRROR ARE CLOSER THAN THEY APPEAR.” We look back rather than looking ahead. Our focus should be on the future but the past is bearing down on us. It seems like the enemy is hot on our heels. Out of breath. Losing hope. Wondering if today is the day. Will I fall? Will I fail? Oh Lord, I am so overwhelmed! The Lord says to us today, “Look again!”

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

What if that “thing” you think is after you is really the Lord? Is it Him who is the one pursuing you and positioning you for an outpouring of His Goodness and Unfailing Love? When I was in fifth grade, I had an unwanted suitor. He would taunt me at the bus stop at school every afternoon. Rocking back and forth poised on his bike. He would push me to run away threatening me with the most heinous and horrendous threat – a kiss. I didn’t want to kiss him. I didn’t want him to kiss me. He would chase me around in circles until a teacher came along or the bus arrived. One kiss – it was harmless but to an unsuspecting child an unwanted advance. Fast forward forty years to now, I will chase my husband around or let him catch me just to steal a quick kiss. It is all about perception. It is all about possibility. What if the seemingly impossible situation is just a divine set up for the Lord to catch us and keep us just a little closer? After all, His People are His Bride. His Heart longs to connect with us. His Spirit to remain intimately acquainted with our soul. Jesus is pursuing you and me with His Goodness and Unfailing Love.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 (NLT) We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do. We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ. 

We are human. I wish for just a moment even the strongest Christian would be transparent enough to admit this is true. Everyone sins and falls short of God’s Glorious Standard every single day. The message of the Gospel is not good news that sin is completely extracted from us making us flawlessly perfection but that in our absolute and complete imperfection that His Grace is enough to cover me in His Love. We must use God’s Mightiest Weapons to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and destroy all the false arguments arising between humans. All humans. All people. God desires every single one who He created. Jesus died for them just like you and me. The Spirit of the Lord full of His Faithfulness, Goodness and Unfailing Love is after them equally. We must destroy every prideful obstacle IN US until our complete and total focus is on Jesus Christ. We must capture the religious and rebellious thoughts that give us some kind of superiority. The truth is that I fail in my attempts to be faithful every day, but God never fails at being faithful. In fact, He overwhelms me with His Love and Commitment to me even when I fall, fail or quit.

No matter how hard I try, I will mess something up today when it comes to my good fight of faith. (Romans 7) I will find myself off shadowboxing rather than doing what I know to do and resting in the Peace that God has offered me. Like a toy – wound too tightly – bumping into the wall with wheels still spinning but getting nowhere at all, I will get distracted and caught up in temporary troubles or momentary weakness. I am human. So are you? The true character of Christ is His Love. The identity of God is He is love. Love is the challenge that I am given. To accept His Love and then distribute it throughout the world. This is a far cry from religion, but a genuine invitation to a real relationship with the Living God. Obedience to Christ is not in one’s ability not to sin. It is in my ability to love the Lord and His People. It is that simple even though we make it so hard. It begins with allowing God to overwhelm the strongholds in our mind. Releasing us from every fear, doubt and insecurity and drowning us in His Love. This is what allows us to become real light in this world. The kind of light that attracts others to Jesus rather than driving them farther apart.

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.

Despite all these things, every situation, problem, people, trial or circumstance, overwhelming victory belongs to me. I win. No matter what the weapon is I am victorious. I believe it. Do you? The Power of God is made available to me by His Grace. His Love provides all the grace that I need to endure this life. He has made us more than conquerors. If I find my place in Christ, I will never now the agony of defeat again. I will always have the opportunity for the impossible to be made possible in my life. It is all according to what I believe, and my ability to hold on to that hope.

There is absolutely nothing in heaven or on earth that can or will every separate me from the Love of God. Nothing. No sin. No shame. No regret. Nothing in my past. Nothing in the present. Nothing in the future. Even if I wander off or wonder more, God is still pursuing me with His Unfailing, Unconditional Love. So today if a care or concern begins to overwhelm you, overwhelm it instead. Tell it what the Word of God says about. Remind the enemy who your Daddy is. Take captive every single thought that is contradictory to God’s Word and hold it subject to His Promises. Praise, praise and praise some more. Protect that little light inside you until it burns passionately. Fan the flames until the whole world can see it burning again. The Spirit of the Living God lives in you and me, too. Every detail in our life works for our good and His Glory according to His Plan that is unfolding. We must only wait and watch because God will make it happen for those who believe. Let your mind be totally overcome and your heart fully apprehended by the Love of God today. Nothing can ever separate us from Him or snatch us from the folds of His Mighty Hand. His Love is overwhelming. Lord, wash over me today and overwhelm again with Your Amazing Love.

John 16:33 (NLT) I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

The End of Insecurity

End of Insecurity

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

We know…or do we? Sharing with the women’s group on Tuesday night, I am overtaken by the realization that although our confession is total reliance on grace that if it were really true – there would be a far greater bond among us. Relationship. We know…begins the verses in I John 5. As God’s Children, we do not make a practice of sinning…and so on and so forth. However, before charging off into life, one must stop for a moment and consider am I God’s Child? No, I am not questioning your salvation or even my own. I am thinking about relationship. My relationship to God is as a child. I am His Offspring through Jesus Christ. One must consider the relationship before doing all the things associated with it. Do I act like God’s Kid? Do I live in the confidence of our connection? Do I truly believe that I am His Child through spiritual adoption that allows me the privilege of His Presence and fortune of His Favor?

We know or do we? Do I fully recognize that although the enemy has control over the world that my Father has control over me? What loving parent would forsake their child to danger? The relationship that I have with God the Father through Christ the Son is of a parental nature. He doesn’t just save us and leave us until the end of our life. He is with us. Christ lives in us. However, compromised trust and disbelief make it difficult to live in such a relationship. Common sense tells us this is too good to be true. We must preserve some of our independence. Our sinful nature is born desiring its own way. What child doesn’t pitch a tantrum when restricted? What toddler does resist restriction? We know that we are Children of God but live like orphans sometimes.

We know that the Son of God has come. Of course, we celebrate the Messiah, King of Kings and Lord of Lords, who is the Savior. Right? We praise Him in church. Worship Him with our life. Try to stay true to His Word. What does all this mean if we do not “KNOW” that we are His Children? Nothing really…nothing at all. The relationship between Jesus Christ in us and the God around us must connect and form a union that bears confidence. Otherwise, our insecurities will overtake us even in the midst of serving God.

Psalm 63:8 (NLT) I cling to you; your strong right hand holds me securely.

Do you know today? I am asking myself the very same thing. Is His Grace enough for me today? Grace is not just for the forgiveness of sins but allows us to give ourselves away to others freely in return. Every seed God plants yields a harvest. Grace is Christ’s investment of us. It is the security that fills my insufficiencies. He offers power for my weakness that only works when I submit. Give in. Give it all to Jesus. Grace is my full assurance that God’s Strong Right Hand holds me securely.

Everyone thinks that their dad is the strongest, smartest and bravest without rival. If there was a father or father figure in our life – he automatically has super hero status. I believe that it is our desire for God that creates a need to put such a label on the men folk in our life. We desire the Father’s Blessing. The eternity in our heart searches for it. Yet even those who live for years nurturing and cultivating the seed of faith in their heart will struggle with acceptance and security in the Father’s Hand. Relationship comes first. We must come to know and understand and agree that Christ is enough to secure our righteousness and restore our relationship with God our Father. Living in such a relationship allows our faith to grow into true confidence in the hope that we have freeing us from any and all insecurity in life.

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.

There are many who claim Christianity as their religion. However, religion sometimes can lend to insecurity in our overzealous attempt to secure something that is found in Christ alone and given sufficiently by grace. Spiritual maturity is defined by security. His Grace must be enough to become a Child of God. Grace is defined by favor that cannot be earned or obtained any other way but as a gift. We must accept God’s Grace. In doing so, it fills us with free love. Love that is no longer self-produced but overflowing in copious amounts from God the Father. When my children walk in the room and I catch a glimpse of them, I can feel my heart swell, a smile creeps across my face, and I long to reach out to touch them. They are my children. I love them. I cannot spend enough time with them. I desire to bless them. I do not want them to want or need anything. I long for them to live long and satisfied lives. I am only human. Imagine how the Father feels about us?

It is the Will of God and purpose of Christ in us that the unity of faith and knowledge of God’s son will produce spiritual maturity that allows us to measure up to the full and complete standard of Christ which is love and security. Nothing can separate us from God’s Love. (Romans 8) No one can snatch us from His Hand. (Isaiah 43) Am I secure in the Father’s Hand? Hmmm. Insecurity is defined as a lack of confidence. It is self-doubt. To be insecure means fearful, anxious, uneasy, and not firmly or reliably placed. It is in essence to “be tossed and blown about” every time the wind changes, situations rise up, circumstances happen, or conditions change. It is to evaluate ourselves according to other people and appearances rather than examination of our heart. How do I know if I am insecure or bound by insecurity?

I Samuel 16:7 (NLT) But the Lord said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

Who has the greatest influence on your thoughts today? Is it God or man? Let me help you. When Samuel came to find the next King of Israel, Jesse lined up his “best” sons. As Samuel made his way down the line, it was clear none of these fine young men were the one. He asked, “Are these all the sons you have?” No, there was still the youngest out tending the flocks. So Jesse sent for David, and when he walked in – “the Lord said, ‘this is the one; anoint him.”

We are all judges. We judge people every day based on personal or even public appearance. Once a judgment is formed, comparison begins. It is human nature. It is just what people do. Clearly instructed not to…it is still just a basic instinct.

Luke 6:37-38 (NLT) “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you. Forgive others, and you will be forgiven. Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.”

Sharing time with the girls at our Bible study last night, I looked around the room at those beautiful faces. Each one representing a life of found grace and growing faith. For a moment, just a second, I realized that the judgment of others is not the most debilitating condition but it begins by judging ourselves. Insecurity begins by the lie that God’s Grace is not enough to cover my sin, regret and shame. To put some things under the Blood of Christ and allowing them to be caught up in the sea called forgetfulness but holding on to others as our cross to bear. His Grace is enough. I can’t do a single thing to earn or quality my life to receive it. Jesus chose to give it to me – free and clear. I can only accept it. If I am successful in doing so, my insecurity will begin to give way to full assurance that Christ is enough for me. My need to “do” more and “be” more to prove my love will dissolve in the true revelation that He is enough and all that I need to be free to love and be loved without reservation. I will not need to judge others. I will not condemn them with my words. I will be able to forgive the deepest offense because it cannot take root in my grace-filled heart. Such a gift, God’s Grace will return to my lap as His Favor takes over my life with all the bountiful fruits of His Glorious Spirit. The Bread of His Body will heal all the breaks in my heart mending every relationship until the Body, His Bride becomes one. I must give all my heart to this thing called grace to know is sufficiency and experience full security in God’s Love for me. The end of insecurity is the fulfillment of God’s Grace.

Hebrews 13:8-9 (NLT) Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. So do not be attracted by strange, new ideas. Your strength comes from God’s grace, not from rules about food, which don’t help those who follow them.

2 Corinthians 12:8-9 (NLT) Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.

Ephesians 2:8-9 (NLT) God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.