Life of Submission

Praying woman hands

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV) Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

What is submission? It is not a popular word. To submit means to give over or yield to the power or authority of another. It means to present for approval, consideration or decision of another. Our life is to be fully submitted to the Lord. It is the next step after repentance and the turning from sin and rebellion to righteousness and obedience before the Lord. You cannot received the fulfillment of salvation without submission to God. Trust in the Lord with all your heart means that we do not “lean on” human understanding any longer but base the decisions in our life on the knowledge, wisdom and understanding that God’s Word and His Spirit produce in us. In order to have God’s Plan and His Will for our life, we must submit to Him.

Many folks desire submission to the Lord but cannot tolerate the inconvenience, uncomfortableness, and weakness that comes with it. In order to submit my life fully to the Lord, it is to surrender my way completely. To trust the Lord with all of my heart and not the pieces that get broken off along the way. Submission to the Lord creates vulnerability as it requires more and more until our heart is fully invested. Human pride must be crucified with our flesh in order to become one with the Lord. We say that we want to trust the Lord with all of our heart but do we really mean it?

James 4:6-8 (NIV) But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Then redirects us to the statement just before it. He gives us ore grace. Who? Those who are humble have the favor of God but He absolutely opposes the proud. Is it possible to think our life is submitted to the Lord yet live in religious pride and arrogance? Absolutely. Many people do. Interested in the Power of God and His Hand they are not interested in investing their life in knowing His Heart and becoming one with Jesus. This is called doubleminded. It comes with a warning. We must wash our hands and purify our hearts as we lift them in full-submission to the Lord. In return, He releases grace and favor which are absolutely essential in our pursuit of Him.

Proverbs 3:7-8 (NIV) Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.

There is a difference in confident hope and religious pride. As believers, it is important that our wisdom is based on the Word of God and our way is directed by the Will of God. Our respect for the Lord will separate us from evil as we consecrate our life in full submission to the Lord. It actually has the power to renew us from the inside out. How can I determine if my life is submitted to the Lord genuinely? Perhaps if we inspected the spiritual fruit of our life, it might allow us to see what is feeding our life? Spiritual fruit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23) Those who are fully connected to Jesus Christ will bear much fruit but apart from Him can do nothing. (John 15:5)

Proverbs 3:9-10 (NIV) Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.

To honor the Lord with our wealth goes beyond a monetary contribution. The wealth of our life is the Fruit of God’s Spirit as listed previously. If we are not producing these very important fruits then we have nothing of worth to offer a lost and dying people in a forsaken world. They do not need a handout they need God’s Love. If we are unable to be productive in our life with Christ, what do we have to offer? I can browbeat people. I can scare the “hell” right out of them so that they change their habits and try to live the right way. Obedience is not the way of salvation. Submission is the way of salvation.

Have you ever been wandering the aisles of the grocery store to find hostesses at kiosks along the way with hats and aprons offering a sample of certain products? They will offer you a sample to taste and put a coupon in your hand to purchase the product. Genius! Whoever came up with this idea was absolutely a marketing genius. “Taste and see that the Lord is good blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.” (Psalm 34:8). The fruit of our life is the offering given to others to show them God’s Love and His Grace. We honor God with our wealth not only in our giving physically but our giving supernaturally to others. To share the Love of God we have been given.

Proverbs 3:11-12 (NIV) My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.

Submission will require discipline along the way. Our flesh will always rise up against submission and God’s Discipline or Guidance through life. It does not want to die. But if we are not disciplined, we are not loved. To be undisciplined is to be considered illegitimate meaning that we are not Children of God as once thought. He loves us too much to allow us to live without correction. He is a Good Father who loves His Children.

Proverbs 3:13-18 (NIV) Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her; those who hold her fast will be blessed.

A philosophy of life that I share with my children is that to make a mistake is not fatal. It only becomes tragic when we gain no wisdom from it. Blessed are those who find wisdom. We must gain understanding for it is the wealth of life. Wisdom gives us long life in one hand and riches and honor in the other. Her ways are called pleasant. Her pathway is peace. Wisdom is a tree of life to those who hold on to her tightly. Those who do are blessed. I wonder what might happen if our pursuit of wisdom today took us down the road called submission. What if we truly understood what it meant to fully submit and surrender all of our heart to Jesus?

Romans 8:6-8 (NIV) The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.

Submission to God is a mindset. Why do I say that? Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding in ALL YOUR WAYS SUBMIT TO HIM. Trusting the Lord with all our heart and not leaning on our own understanding to guide and direct us through life is submission. We are warned in James about “double-minded” people. Godly submission is different than religious pride. There is a fine line between confident hope and arrogance. We must daily seek to submit our heart, mind, body and soul to Jesus Christ.

How do we submit to an unseen God? Well, the Word of God is quite detailed in its explanation. True surrender and submission to the Lord is evidenced in one’s ability to submit to authority. All authority in life, good or bad, is placed by the Lord and should be honored with submission. (Romans 13:4-5) It is important to submit to one another out of reverence to Christ not worthiness of character. (Ephesians 5:21)

We must be careful not to be caught up in the Power of God but committed to the submission of heart to Jesus every single day. Religiosity will draw our focus from Jesus to things like the power manifested in a ministry or the angels all around. Where is your focus today? On the miracles, signs and wonders, or the Person of Jesus Christ? It matters. The Power of God accessible in a believer’s life is “heady” and personal. It manifests from the Spirit within us so discernment is required. If we do not live fully submitted and surrendered to the Holy Spirit humbly before the Lord, we are in danger of falling from our high place. One must remember especially in ministry that it is not that spirits submit to us but that we are surrendered to God and saved that really matters. (Luke 10:19-20) To know what we are producing, we must examine the fruit of our life. Anyone can lose their connection to Christ. His Grace allows full restoration? We must all live under this warning – “Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you. Such a person also goes into great detail about what they have seen; they are puffed up with idle notions by their unspiritual mind. They have lost connection with the head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow.” (Colossians 2:18-19)

Matthew 8:7-10 (NIV) Jesus said to him, “Shall I come and heal him?” The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith.

A long time ago, a good friend told me that I must submit to my husband. I was angry at her words. She was given me godly instruction that made my flesh really, really mad. But the Holy Spirit inside of me took that Word and began to work it through my heart and mind. Have you ever read the book, “Green Eggs and Ham”? I felt like at every turn the Lord kept offering me this thing called submission. It was not palatable. I did not like it. I did not want it. Thanks but no thanks. But just as the Dr. Seuss concluded, he just had to try it. Well, I cannot necessarily say that I always find submission palatable at first. There is a story written in Matthew 8 that is one of my favorites in all the Bible. It is about the centurion and his faith. He believed Jesus at His Word. He understood the authority of Christ because he was not only a soldier submitted to his commanders but a commander with committed soldiers. Submission is our commitment to trust the Lord with every expectation in our life. It is to surrender before we understand and work to gain wisdom. We all need wisdom, understanding, and discernment. We must understand the importance of submission to get the same response as the centurion. “When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith.” Submission is a requirement of faith. It is by faith that we are saved. Salvation requires submission.

Today I must evaluate the relationships in my life and determine if I am fully submitted to the authorities in it. I must examine my connection to everyone else to see if I am submitted to them out of reverence to Christ. A lack of submission is spiritual rebellion that demands a change to be righted. It is not lip service but life service. If I truly love and respect the Presence of Jesus Christ in my life – I must learn to live in a life of submission. To be productive in Christ and His Spirit is a submissive trait. It will require a lot of grace to get right. God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Lord, be it unto me as I learn to submit my life to you more and more each day. Jesus I want to trust you with all my heart today.

I Peter 5:5-11 (NIV) In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. 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.

In Each Step

In Each Step

Hebrews 11:1-2 (NIV) Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.

I find that in life a leap of faith is much easier than walking by faith. It requires one big jump rather than all the steps it takes to get through a single day. Yet the longer I spend following Jesus, the more that I discover His Desire for me to walk by faith and not continually keep throwing myself off mountains. Faith is confidence. It is the underlying belief in all things that hope is the primary focus of our life. It is assurance in nothing that we see but everything we cannot see. It is the thing that carries us from the natural connecting us to the supernatural. Obedience is marked out by our faith in God rather than following the customs of man. Faith is a commitment to live for the Kingdom of God though we cannot see it tangibly honoring its reality as much as we do everyday life.

When the Lord speaks to us, we want the full picture. Don’t leave any blanks. My own personal revelation is that the closer we move to the Lord and the more connected by faith we become the vaguer the details, but instead God says, “Trust me.” We want to trust the Lord. I believe that those who come to Him do so with the full intention of turning their messed up and broken life over to Him for restoration, revival and renewal. As dead dreams are resurrected and the newness wears off, when the vehicle of faith loses that “new car” smell then what? Everyone likes the goosebumps felt in an awesome church service. They like the way they feel when a friend comes to church and finds a waiting Savior. The exhilaration of taking a leap of faith that makes our heart beat wildly as Jesus catches us midair is matchless but this is not the life we are to live. If our relationship with Jesus is based more on how we feel rather than what we know, we are headed down a dangerous path.

I John 3:19-22 (NLT) Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God. Even if we feel guilty, God is greater than our feelings, and he knows everything. Dear friends, if we don’t feel guilty, we can come to God with bold confidence. And we will receive from him whatever we ask because we obey him and do the things that please him.

God is greater than our feelings. Again…God is greater than our feelings. He knows everything and yet still chose to love us and give His Only Son for us. If we are confident in this Truth, we can live with bold confidence and faith in each step. Every detail of our life is important to God. Each moment is filled with purpose and potential if offered to the Lord for fullness and completion. However, most of the time people only exercise faith when tragedy strikes or they are overwhelmed. Our inability to accept the grace of God freely and unconditionally allows our feelings to get in the way. Accept lies rather than holding on to the Truth. Compromising rather than persevering. Allowing substitutions to take the place of fulfillment. We need to live a life of faith manifested in each step and the slightest detail to please the Lord. No matter how we feel, it is time to trust the Lord.

Hebrews 11:3 (NIV) By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.

Do you believe that God created the heavens and earth? Do you believe that He made mankind in His Image? Do you believe that God made you with a purpose and plan that includes a future and hope? Do you believe that Christ can and will complete you? Faith must be practical and applicable to our life. We cannot be all that God created us and predestined us to be without it. It is contrary to this world. You will not see eternity until you arrive there. You know Jesus the Word and confirmed by His Spirit that lives in you, but to reach out and physically touch Him is impossible. We must believe and live by what believe. It is faith in the supremacy of God that confirms our need for Him. It is our desire to reach Him that calls us for righteousness sake. It is the assurance there is something more to hope for than life has to offer that will give us confidence enough to continually walk by faith rather than constantly looking for the next cliff to jump from.

2 Corinthians 5:7-10 (NIV) For we live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.

Freedom is evidence of God’s Love for us. How we use His Gift of Freedom is an indication of our love for the Lord. There is a quote by Kahlil Gibran used to describe this quite well. He said, “If you love somebody, let them go, for if they return, there were always yours. If they don’t, they never were.” This has been morphed into many variations but the truth is the same. Love cannot be held captive or enslaved. Love is freedom. What we do with this freedom demonstrates who or what we love. Love for God will produce a life of faith because faith is the very thing that pleases Him. Faith in Who He is and what He has promised that forces us to be transformed because our desire is to be with Him more than anything else this world has to offer. The steps of our life are ordered by God. He leads us with love. He gives us freedom from our sin releasing us to decide how we will live in our new liberty. Those who love the Lord will use it for His Glory.

Hebrews 11:4 (NIV) By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead.

Abel died because of his faith in God demonstrated by obedience. If put to the test or on trial would the evidence of our life convict us of faith. Both Cain and Abel brought offerings to the Lord. But Cain brought “some of the fruits of the soil” and Abel brought “fat portions from the firstborn of his flock.” Cain gave some. Abel gave his best. He laid down his life for the Lord and Cain took it in response. Faith in God will cost us our life. We must be crucified with Christ. (Galatians 2:20) I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life that I live in my body, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave His Life for me. To live by faith requires us to lay down our life and take up our cross to follow Jesus. Why? We love Him. We want to be where He is.

What is the offering of your life today? As I examine the offering of my own, it is evident that I could always give a better offering. There is more of my life to lay down in order to have more of Christ in me, working through me, completing me so that I can give more. We cannot live by faith without offering every facet of our life to Jesus Christ. That which is withheld is the very thing that condemns us. Will I give the best of my first fruits today? Anything less than our absolute best just will not do.

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

To offer one’s life as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God is consider according to this passage as “true and proper worship”. What is my anthem? Can others hear a life song that sings of the Goodness and Greatness of my God? The true worship of my life is demonstrated not in what I say, but how I live. It begins with a renewing of my mind so that I will be able to test and approve God’s Good, Pleasing and Perfect Will. My mind must find confidence in Christ so that I can lay my life before Him. I must become fully assured not that God can but that He will do everything that He has promised.

Hebrews 11:5 (NIV) By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death: “He could not be found, because God had taken him away.” For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God.

“Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.” (Genesis 5:24) So you want to know something kind of ironic? Do you know who Enoch’s father was? It was no other than Cain. (Genesis 4:17) Our life is not defined by our past or present, it is based on a future Kingdom that knows no end. The new life in Christ given to us called freedom is a clean slate. We do not have to live in the past or just look to the future. Enoch desired God. He walked with God. He walked faithfully. One day, God just took him body, mind and soul. The Lord just swept him Enoch off the earth to be with Him. I want to walk with the Lord like Enoch. Seamlessly. Completely. Fully. I want His Love to overshadow me so that all they see is Jesus.

We are told to walk by faith. Peter didn’t run on the water, he walked on it. Each morning when I put the first foot over the side of my bed, I want it to be like Peter stepping out of the boat. As I stand, may the foundation of my life be faith in Jesus Christ. The only foundation worthy of building on. Lord, teach me today to walk by faith not by sight. Allow me the grace that is sufficient for every weakness in my faith so that I can be strong in you. Lord, may I fully embrace and embody the “greater that is me” more than fear of the roaring lion who wants to devour me with doubt and overtake me with his lie. It is impossible to please God without faith. I must learn each day and in every detail of my life that faith applies. It is the very thing that will produce an acceptable offering of my life and it will bring us to complete unity. Lord, I want that same kind of testimony as Abel and Enoch today and every day in each step.

John 17:20-24 (NIV) “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.  “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.

Thorns of Life

 

Thorns in Life

2 Corinthians 12:8–10 (NIV) Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

God’s Grace is enough for you today and every day. Let me say it again, God’s Grace is enough, sufficient, complete and intended for you today and every day. Why does God require weakness to manifest His Power and Strength in us? Why must Christians endure hardships in order to be saved? The Word of God in no uncertain terms tells us that one who endures or stands firm to the end will be saved. Jesus was warning His Disciples of the days to come and left encouragement for those who live for Him long after these men were gone.

To better answer our question, why do roses have thorns? In God’s Design could it be that the thorns protect the fruitful production of beautiful yet delicate roses. The aroma of fragrance given off by the rose could very well please God so much that He places thorns along the stems to give it solitude and protection as it grows. God allows thorns in our life, too. Paul asked the Lord repeatedly to remove “the thorn in his flesh” but God didn’t do it. Why? What is the purpose? To make us uncomfortable. To bring about change. To increase productivity. To manifest growth. All these things are true. Yet in the midst of the pain of the thorn and pressure of the messenger – His Grace is enough for me.

When I am weak, then I am strong. Our flesh hates this statement. It balks at it. Finds ways around it. Works to avoid it in every way. Weakness is submission. It is surrendering fully to the Lord before we overcome and see victory. When a believer takes God at His Word, and peacefully, prayerfully and full of praise chooses to keep walking in God’s Power rather than relying on human strength. Lord make me strong in you today. Help me to apply Your Word to my life. May Your Will be done in my family, church, and life.

2 Corinthians12:8-10 was the scripture that God gave me in response to my petition following our son’s third cancer diagnosis. At first, I thought I had grabbed it rather than the Lord sharing it because of the “third” thing. God has jokes. He finds ways to keep me guessing, entertained and intrigued enough to pursue Him daily. When the doctor shared the gravity of his condition and the invasion of cancer which was much worse and widespread than before, I literally fell to my knees and said, “God, I cannot do this anymore.” Well, His Response to me in prayer the next day was this verse. I loathed it at first. Where is the hope in “my power is made perfect in weakness”? It doesn’t say anywhere that the Lord ever took this “thorn” from him. God’s Grace was not only enough for that round of cancer but two more before our son was healed.

Matthew Henry’s Commentary of the Whole Bible was written by Matthew Henry who was a “nonconformist” of the Puritan church in England. This body of believers was considered the “free church” because it did not conform to the states mandate on uniformity of religion. They were church rebels like the early believers. I use Mr. Henry’s commentary many times when I study God’s Word. When I read his thoughts on this familiar passage, I couldn’t read it, digest it, or note it quickly enough. I will share some of his thoughts with you today.

2 Corinthians 12:1-5 (NIV) I must go on boasting. Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord. I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows— was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell. I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses.

Saul was the Pharisee who met Jesus on the Road to Damascus – no doubt to slaughter more Christians. Saul thought he was on a mission from God. He believed that he was honoring God in his actions. When the Lord spoke to Saul, he was stricken with blindness. Maybe it is during this time that he saw visions of the third heaven also known as paradise, heaven of the blessed and the place where God manifests His Greatest Glory. This is when Saul became Paul through the saving knowledge found in repentance. Saul turned into Paul. The Pharisee turned into an apostle. I wonder how many Pharisees are hidden in today’s churches believing they are doing God’s Will but headed toward a Damascus-moment when Jesus reveals the truth to them.

Though Paul received these revelations and had this experience 14 years before – he chose not to share it. Paul kept it to himself. These images and inexpressible words shared by the Lord to this man where not public knowledge until this passage. Why? I think Paul believed that revelations from God should be tested by time and God’s Word, protected in our heart until just the right time. We talk too much. The church as a whole is a big chatterbox not talking about the relevant but constantly debating things that really don’t matter. What if we stopped talking and began to savor God’s Insight, Words and Revelations before making them public fodder? Could it be that our loose lips are sinking the ships?

“It is an excellent thing to have a lowly spirit in the midst of high advancements and those abase individuals shall be exalted.” – Matthew Henry. Lowly means humble. Abase means to lower or humble also. Humility is important to God and the standard of elevation in Heaven. Spiritual growth is not upward but downward. The more of our life humbled to the Lord identified in our weakness can be infused with His Power and Strength. One might call Paul a super apostle. Did you know that you are an apostle? One who is sent to share the message of Jesus Christ to the world? You are. I am, too. To share Christ and our experiences as believers humbly will always be identified by those who use the world “we” not “you”. We all fall short of God’s Glory on a daily basis. No one is perfect. Not a single one.

2 Corinthians 12:6-7 (NIV) Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say, or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.

***Spoiler Alert*** Salvation does not exempt us from thorns in life. Trials and temptations will come. Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. (Matthew 4:1) We will experience thorns in life. Things that bring pressure and pain. Some will be easily removed and others will linger but stay tuned this is good news much better than it sounds. Jesus wore a crown filled with thorns. Perhaps this was a message to us that He bore these weaknesses of ours on the Cross. The enemy meant this for the Lord’s humiliation. But God had different plans that in His Submission to God’s Power just three days later Jesus would emerge from the grave victorious over death which is the hope we live for. Did you see it was “three days”? Jesus prayed to God in Gethsemane – three times yet still made His Way to the Cross. “Father your will not my will.”

The messenger of satan could use some discussion. Every time we mess up – the devil does not deserve the glory. When we make a bad choice – he didn’t make you do it. We are free to choose and we make that choice. There are two distinctly different voices that we must discern. There is demonic influence and then there is fleshly influence. They are different. Demonic influence was exhibited in the wilderness when Jesus was tempted by the enemy. However, many times it is our flesh acting up rather than the enemy to avoid crucifixion. Romans 7:15-25 is a transparent commentary by the apostle of his struggle with sin and his flesh. “Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me.” The enemy has ill-intentions for us. He seeks to “steal, kill and destroy” us. (John 10:10) But God uses these challenges both external and internal with a purpose. He uses every detail of our life for our good and His Glory. (Romans 8:28) God uses these “thorns” and “messengers” to reveal just how weak we are so that His Power can be manifested in this revelation.

2 Corinthians 12:8-9 (NIV) Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 

“Prayer is the salve to every sore, a remedy for every malady, and when we are afflicted with thorns in the flesh, we should give ourselves to prayer.” – Matthew Henry Trials and temptations lead us to pray and seek the Face of God. When our life is contrary to His Word and His Way, we seek answers to our questions from the source of life. The thorns in life should lead us to prayer, teach us to pray, and guides to continue in instant prayer even if we find relief. We learn to persistently pray through pain and pressure in life. The very things that force us out of the way make room for more of God’s Grace and Glory in our life. There will be one of two outcomes when we pursue God through prayer. The Lord will change us or our situation. I find the first to be the prevailing factor.

What do we do when the thorn is not removed? Grace in our life signifies two things. The good will of God and the good work of Christ. Grace is the good will of God is enough to enlighten (give us wisdom or discernment) or enliven us (with power and strength as to renew and revive) us as the Lord proves the sufficiency to strengthen and comfort us in All afflictions and distresses. God’s Will is His Word active in our life no matter our current conditions. It is His Word, His Promise that we hold on to.

Grace is the good work of Christ in us is that allows His Fullness which is full of authority and power. Jesus gives us grace that is suitable and seasonable and sufficient in all things. “Jesus knows us, knows our need, and will proportionate the remedy to our malady, and not only strengthen us but GLORIFY HIMSELF. Nothing I can do will ever match or exceed what Jesus Christ is working in me and through me. He gives me grace to survive this change.

2 Corinthians 12:10 (NIV) That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

“The Christian paradox – when we are weak in ourselves, then we are strong in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ – when we see ourselves weak in our ourselves, then we go out of ourselves to Christ and are qualified to receive the strength from Him and experience most of the supplies of divine strength and grace.”

Jesus Christ’s strength is made perfect in our weakness. Weakness is not just a physical state, but mental, emotional and spiritual one. Pride lies to us and robs us of the power that God’s Grace is ready to administer in our life. We cannot grow spiritually when prides refuses to bow down to Jesus. Pride makes it into the church in the hearts that refuse to accept God’s Grace. To never admit our weakness, pain, trials and temptations is to send the message that God’s Grace is not needed and not enough. I need the Grace of God every day. I fall short every day. Through the illness of our son over three long years, yes three, God changed me. It started with a completely broken heart. I had allowed pride to overcome my spiritual growth. Not knowingly and unwillingly. It changed me completely. I am weak. Any strength that eeks its way out of me is Christ in me. I promise. I am nothing without Him.

“God gives us grace sufficient for us, we haven’t reason to complain, nor to say that He deals ill by us. It is a great comfort to us, whatever thorns we are pained with that God’s Grace is enough.” Matthew Henry

Give Me Grace

Give Me Grace

Hebrews 4:15-16 (NLT) This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.

Everyone has bad days. Even strong Christians have moments of becoming overwhelmed, voicing discontentment, lashing out in frustration, stumbling and some even fall. I had that kind of afternoon yesterday. By the end of a day that began with exhaustion, it got the best of me. You ever notice how quickly a bad attitude can go from bad to worse pretty quickly. Well, it did. Thankfully there was no one present to witness my tirade or rant. Ears could not hear me slamming things down and throwing things about. Stepping over the mess of teenagers, walking past the unfolded clothes, seeing the dishes in the sink, and not finding the check in the mail – I was done. So as I carried in the groceries, I voiced my displeasure. I let the Lord know in no uncertain terms exactly how I felt in that moment but rest assured I was not pouring out my heart to the Lord but rather my wrath upon Him. I am a believer. I call myself a Christian. I go to church. I am a leader and Sunday School teacher who faithfully serves and supports ministry of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I share the Word of God in this blog each day. I still need God’s Grace.

As most mornings after such a moment, guilt hung heavy in my heart. I had to get away and talk to my Jesus. Oh, I quickly apologized right after I got things off my chest. I am only human and that irritates me greatly most of the time. Repentance is worthless until one can accept God’s Grace. Such an act is humbling because there is nothing I can do to earn or reciprocate it. I tend to get tangled up in lesser things more than I care to admit. Give me grace, Lord.

Ephesians 2:8-10 (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. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

Grace can be defined as “God’s Riches at Christ’s Expense.” Got it! Not really, what does that mean really? Since grace is the basis and foundation of our relationship with God through Jesus Christ, we must learn what grace is to apply it to our life. God saved us by His Grace WHEN you believed. You must believe in the Grace of God to experience salvation. Grace is uncomfortable. It creates a debt that cannot be repaid for those who have trouble receiving it for free. What can I do to earn the grace of God? Absolutely nothing. If I give every second of the rest of my life to serving the Lord, selling all my possessions to give to the poor, traveling from city to city around the world sharing God’s Love, and never ever committing another sin – I still cannot earn or deserve God’s Grace.

This is so difficult for our flesh to accept. Jesus understands every single weakness that I have. He bore the weight of my sin on the Cross so He knows exactly what I am capable of. Jesus knows what it is like to be tempted and tested in this world – yet He never sinned…not once. His Sacrifice allows me to come boldly before His Throne with confidence that His Grace is enough for me especially all the times I fall short of God’s Glory and stumble in life.

Salvation will never be based on anything I can do but completely on who Jesus Christ is and what He gave us. The Gift of Grace is offered to us but will we accept it. God planned to give us all grace, orchestrated it and carried it out on our behalf. Indebtedness is uncomfortable. It challenges our pride for control. We must accept God’s Grace for what it is and live in it all our life to “endure to the end” and be saved. We are all saved the same way. It is the undeserved grace of the Living God. (Acts 15:11)

Romans 3:23-24 (NLT) For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.

Everyone has sinned. We will all sin again and again no matter how hard we strive not to. Let that sink in for a moment because this startling revelation will change your life forever. Don’t let anyone fool you. No matter how self-righteous they may act or religious they come across they sin just like us. We all fall short of God’s Glorious Standard of Living. I wonder if the Lord allows me to stumble or even fall sometimes to make me aware His Grace that perhaps I have forgotten. Those times when I have allowed pride and self-indulgence to overtake the Truth that His Grace is all I need.

Every good thing from God intended for you can be limited by disobedience, rebellion and sin. Sin is the very thing that keeps us from our inheritance in God. Obedience allows us to live in those blessings. However, when we finally meet Jesus face-to-face is the only time we will truly understand His Glorious Standard of Living which is absolute and complete satisfaction of our soul. In the meantime, we must strive not to sin and live in the Glory of God by His Grace.

2 Corinthians 12:8-10 (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. 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.

“My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” God’s Power is our strength and power as believers. We cannot ignore God’s Grace and still enter or impact His Kingdom. Grace is the key that unlocks the door to all Heaven has to offer and facilitating it here on earth. If we are not experiencing God’s Power in life – there is a very good chance we must revisit the Cross and accept more of His Grace. Where sin abounds, grace abounded more. I know that when I am struggling His Grace will get me over the hump, but there are many times I must be reminded that it is not about me or what I can do but Jesus Christ who lives in me.

Romans 5:20-21 (NLT) God’s law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were. But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful grace became more abundant. So just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God’s wonderful grace rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

In Ephesians 2:10, it declares us to be a masterpiece that God planned from the start. He created us with a plan and purpose that sin interrupted. Jesus came to renew and restore our life by His Grace. The Word of God was a not a new set of laws or limitations but a mirror to reflect the impact of sin in our life. It tells us what we miss out on when we allow sin to be our master. Every morning I receive new mercy from the Lord because He already knows the tests, temptations and trials that I will face in the day. He wants me to overcome them all by His Grace. I can choose to live the brand new life given to me by the Lord or remain enslaved by sin.

Sin is bondage but God’s Grace is freedom. (Romans 6:14-16) We cannot treat the Grace of God as meaningless and continue in a right relationship with God. Religion adds new mandates to an already complete gospel. (Galatians 2:20-21) Grace gives us the right to choose who we will serve. (Joshua 24:15) True freedom always allows one to choose. You cannot have your cake and eat it to. If you choose sin as the master of your life – it will always lead to death. To choose grace is to choose eternal life. Grace is never an excuse to sin but freedom to serve God and live with Him forever. If we choose to sin, it is willful. Without true repentance, no one can have the grace of God. You cannot serve two masters for you will love the one and hate the other. (Matthew 6:24) Do you love Jesus today? Are you on a mission to eradicate sin from you existence? His Grace is sufficient for you, my friend. It is enough for me, too.

Colossians 1:6 (NLT) This same Good News that came to you is going out all over the world. It is bearing fruit everywhere by changing lives, just as it changed your lives from the day you first heard and understood the truth about God’s wonderful grace.

I believe that part of the salvation that the Lord works out in our life is the full assumption of His Grace. It is hard to accept something that is absolutely free but came at such an enormous price. I creates a feeling of indebtedness. I believe many people cannot fully accept God’s Grace because of the responsibility that comes with it. Even if it is not real and perceived by the flesh as a restriction of our freedom, we are not slaves of God but His Children. This is absolute freedom to live apart from sin and have a new life. Don’t let the enemy lie to you by telling you that God’s Grace is just another form of slavery because its not. It is the Gospel. The Good News of unconditional love must be wrapped in His Grace to operate in us. We cannot ignore grace and continue to willfully sin or we have made another choice entirely. The Good News that bears fruit in everyone’s life is that while we were yet sinners – Christ died for us. To accept God’s Grace knowing we can do nothing to earn it and simply to live in it. This is God’s Power and Strength manifesting in our life.

Romans 12:6-8 (NLT) In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.

It’s funny how we overlook the smallest details. In His Grace- God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. I find that when I am not able to see the Fruit of His Spirit or even the spiritual gifts that I am aware of operating in my life that I have somehow strayed from grace. How are God’s Gifts working for you right now? Have you stalled? Stuck in a rut? Not feeling it lately? The warning light is on that maybe, just maybe, His Grace is no longer enough for you. This is when it is imperative that we get to the heart of the matter.

What will you find there? The only foundation worthy of building our life is Jesus. (I Corinthians 3:10-11) It is human nature to put our personal touch on things. Religion likes to add to this foundation with more rules and regulations as if we could make grace any better. Salvation is consummated in my full belief that God’s Grace is ALL that I need to reach the Kingdom of Heaven and life with Him forever. Faith in God requires believing that His Grace is always enough. When we try to “do” things for God, it must be to honor His Gift because we cannot earn it. Any other foundation will crumble and fall.

I need God’s Grace. Lord, give me more grace today. Grace to overcome the sin that quickly overtakes me. Help me to refine the message of my life so that others only see your love and grace – Jesus. Grace is our message. Grace allows us to overlook their sin and shortcomings to hand them God’s Love. Grace seals the way of repentance for the genuine heart. Don’t you love Jesus today? Thank Him, yet again for His Amazing Grace. Look for it in your life today. I encourage you to ask the Lord to give you more grace so that we may be gracious to others sharing the Gospel effectively as it spreads throughout this world.

I Corinthians 15:10 (NLT) But whatever I am now, it is all because God poured out his special favor on me—and not without results. For I have worked harder than any of the other apostles; yet it was not I but God who was working through me by his grace.

Good Advice for Friday

Good Advice for Friday

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NLT) Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.

At the end of a race, the runner often will stop and lean over putting their hands on their waist or knees trying to catch their breath. I am not a runner but I know the feeling. It’s Friday! The glorious day that makes way for the weekend is finally here. It has been a long strenuous week. My husband returns from his final training trip which has only added to the pressure of the last five days. For months now, a week has been devoted to company training far from home while mama kept the home fires burning. I feel like that runner today who cannot stop their lungs from burning or hold in enough oxygen to gain back any strength. Even in our best effort to trust and lean on the Lord, we still get tired and overwhelmed sometimes. Marching for the Lord’s Army is a lot of responsibility on any given day. There is opposition. There is responsibility. There is temptation. For those who live in this world but are not of this world, there are two forces battling for our attention. Could it be that there is purpose in our inability to keep going sometimes? When our mind, soul and body begin to shut down to rest? Of course there is.

Can I encourage you a little bit today? I need to do so for myself so let’s do it together. We put way more responsibility on our shoulders than Jesus ever would. We try to run faster, harder, and farther than anyone else as if in some competition. When the Lord tells us to trust Him and lean on His Understanding. Is that enough for us? To be more specific, the Word of God says to trust the Lord with ALL your heart. Wow, that’s a lot. Do you trust the Lord today? I know this is always good advice but we will move forward to practical steps once we take in this simple truth which is good advice.

To trust the Lord with all our heart requires a true dependency on Him. Most of the time, we expect supernatural results in our life without applying any faith to the matter. Faith is how we trust the Lord. It is to take His Word and do exactly what it says without looking to the world to satisfy it but just doing it anyway. Seek Him in all you do! Do you look for Jesus in every single aspect of your life? I mean right down to making your grocery list – you can ask the Lord for discernment and He will honor that request. We serve a practical and logical God if we apply the right understanding and wisdom to our cause. I know that you are tired and it has been a long week – but stay with me just a little longer. Let’s walk out this Friday together. Like a walker pacing the other side of the finish line in order to normalize breathing. We must breathe in the understanding that we must seek His Will in all we do and He will show us His Path.

I Corinthians 9:24-26 (NLT) Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing.

The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. (Psalm 37:23) Think about this for a minute. I know you are running late. It’s your turn to bring donuts to the office. Your kid just remembered a project is due this morning resulting in pandemonium. The dog just threw up. Are you ready to give up? Call this day a bust. Why is life so hard? No matter how hard I try to do what is right – why do I always seem to end up right here – facedown and on my knees asking for just a little more mercy and grace to make it to the weekend. Oh wait, will that be better? It’s packed with commitments when I could not say “no”. Keep walking. Keep a steady pace. Why? There is purpose in every step you take. God takes pleasure in every detail of our life. He perfects that which concerns us. (Psalm138:8) He works all things together for the good of those who love Him. Do you love the Lord today? Well, He loves you more. Every step you take today whether walking in sunshine, strolling on the mountaintop, battling the storm or the valley of death – God is with you. He loves you. He is working on your behalf. Your job is just muster up enough faith to take one more step no matter how hard it seems because of the promise hidden in each one.

2 Timothy 2:4-6 (NLT) Soldiers don’t get tied up in the affairs of civilian life, for then they cannot please the officer who enlisted them. And athletes cannot win the prize unless they follow the rules. And hardworking farmers should be the first to enjoy the fruit of their labor.

As we consider ourselves part of the Lord’s Army, we must constantly evaluate our weaponry. David would not wear Saul’s Armor because it was too big and heavy for the boy. God had not ordained him to be king yet so the mantle was not for him. Is it possible that we get to big for our britches sometimes and try to take on things that we are not ready for or called to do? God’s Armor for our lives is specific – the helmet of salvation, breastplate of righteousness, shield of faith, sword of the spirit, gospel of peace, belt of truth. See God gave you enough protection to make it through the fight to step into victory today even though you are mentally, physically and spiritually exhausted, overwrought and overwhelmed. Actually, you have fallen into the place that He desire most for when I am weak – His Grace becomes sufficient for me.

Soldiers of God’s Army – have you gotten tied up in civilian affairs. His Ways are not our ways. His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. Are you soaring with the eagles? Or are you roosting with the turkeys who never leave the ground? It really is up to you where you live. In the Presence of God or at the mercy of people, opinions and this life – soldiers desire peace and prepare for war. They do not get distracted by the common problems all around them but keep their eye on the horizon watching for the enemy’s advances. Sometimes we must get off by ourselves and get washed in the Word, covered by the Blood and back in line with our Commander and Chief to fulfill our commission which is not bickering and fighting among ourselves.

Athletes follow the rules. The Word of God is our directions for life. His Spirit takes the Word and gives us divine discernment and understanding so that it can be applied to life as a whole. When we forsake reading the Word of God – we fly blindly. You might as well close your eyes and start walking. We must be committed to the race of faith. We must fight to win by faith not function. Today are there areas of your life not fully surrendered. If a runner runs every single day and exercises faithfully but eats terribly – will they win? I mean the race is determined by how fast we run. Not always. If it is a marathon, it is based on distance not speed. Life is a marathon. How do I know? The one who endures to the end is saved.

Finally – the farmer bless his/her heart. Works from morning ‘til night caring for his seeds as they sprout and grow into a harvest. When the harvest comes, the farmer is encouraged by the Lord to “enjoy the fruit of their labor”. Me-time is not a bad thing. To enjoy life is part of the fullness of Christ. To live your life miserable and exhausted just getting by is not the standard of living that Jesus died to give us, but a rich satisfying life. Do you enjoy the fruits of your labor? If no, you should.

I Thessalonians 5:14-24 (NLT) Brothers and sisters, we urge you to warn those who are lazy. Encourage those who are timid. Take tender care of those who are weak. Be patient with everyone. See that no one pays back evil for evil, but always try to do good to each other and to all people. Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. Do not stifle the Holy Spirit. Do not scoff at prophecies, but test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good. Stay away from every kind of evil. Now may the God of peace make you holy in every way, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again. God will make this happen, for he who calls you is faithful.

I find that many times when I look back at why I am overtired or have run out energy but still have some week left, that it is usually my own dumb fault. Today, for example, I stayed up too late finishing a painting project in our new house. Knowing that I would still get up at 4:30AM, I didn’t go to sleep until well after midnight. Seeking the Lord today, I need strength to make it through today. Lord give me direction on how to get through this weekend rested and refreshed when it is just as full as this week has been. When I read this passage today, I find that He is reminding me of how to live each day not just the one’s I am too tired to invest in but rather showing me solid steps to victory in each moment of every day. They are practical, applicable and will keep me on the right track. Good advice for Friday…well actually good advice period.

It is no surprise that the first step is to keep our eyes on others. It is amazing that as I learn to invest in others I get better at taking care of myself or maybe it is in my obedience and commitment to love others as Christ loves me that I am renewed and refreshed by God so I can pour out more of His Love on others. I am enjoying the fruits of his labor as I labor for Him. Sometimes we gain a better perspective of our life when we look at life through the eyes of others.

We must become grace full. Each day the Lord leaves us new mercies to scoop up and use freely. Do we share that grace with others? To do so is to trust in the Lord because we remove all expectation from other people, this world and this life placing it firmly and completely in the Father’s Hands. Everyone desires grace. I don’t know a person who is not pursing love, affirmation and acceptance from others. I find that what I give then I receive. Give love get love. Give grace get grace. Give Jesus get Jesus!

Always be joyful. Jesus is our joy. We must maintain our relationship with the Lord all day, every day. We do so by talking to Him. Communicating on His Level which is prayer. It is good to maintain an ongoing conversation with the Lord and keeps His Presence tangibly next to us which will result in making better choices along the way. We must be thankful in all circumstances which is a declaration of faith and trust in God alone. We must no stifle the Holy Spirit our guide, teacher, companion and advocate in life. He is not a silent partner, we just tend to stifle him sometimes by ignoring his conviction or convincing in our heart. Do not scoff prophecies. It is easy to study God’s Word and congregate with believers. If we truly believe the knowledge obtained and whispered to us in God’s Word and by His Spirit – it must change our life.

Jesus IS coming back. We must be prepared. Test everything. Do not walk randomly through life but label things good and evil. Choose well. Is what you are doing of the Lord or for Him? If not, walk away. Hold what is good with both hands. Stay away from EVERY KIND OF EVIL. We know the difference. Yet many still entertain dark things in life. It matters what we watch and listen to even in the name of “entertainment”. The very thing that we choose to entertain will dwell with us. God will make you holy if you commit to these things.

It is the surrender and submission of our life that allows Him to meet us in the place of overwhelming exhaustion and lift us up. Last but not least keep your eyes on the prize. This world has nothing for you. He has promised you eternity in heaven. It is worth chasing after and finding your way home even on days like today when you don’t feel as though you can take another step. Sure you can.

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

One night over dinner, our teenage son challenged his not-teenage dad to a foot race. I looked at my husband and reminded him that he had nothing to prove to the boy. My husband insisted otherwise. So after a full meal, the two headed outside for a little competition. I tried to dissuade my husband from engaging in the sprint as he had not run in a while not to mention just eating dinner. He insisted he was fine and they were off. Well, father did beat his son…though barely. It is a heavily disputed finish and our son insists that his dad cheated. Nevertheless, walking back inside I found my husband sitting in our room with trying to catch his breath. His face was blood red. I really thought he was about to have a heart attack and I am pretty sure he did, too. He had no business running up and down the road full speed like that but his pride made him do it anyway. How many times do we spend our life, waste our time, and expend our energy on things that don’t really matter because our pride will not allow us to walk away? God has supplied everything we need to live a godly life. In fact, He supplies all our needs. The Lord directs our steps which are sufficiently supplied so we just walk them out. But we run ahead, jump around, get distracted or decide to do things ourselves removing the yoke of faith from Christ to embrace the words, “I will do it myself.” When we allow ourselves to become overwrought and exhausted it is a clear sign that we have engaged in activity that is not from God but of ourselves. When we adopt the philosophy as Children of God that “if I don’t do it no one will” then we have allowed pride to take the place of faith that says, “With God, all things are possible.” There must be balance in our life to run the race and fight the good fight of faith. We must live in this world but remember we are not of it. We must stop engaging in “civilian affairs” because greater is He who lives in me then he that is in the world. It is written that no weapon formed against me can prosper so my wounds must be self-inflicted by disobedience. All those times that I impatiently chose my way rather than allowing God to work it all out. We are more than conquerors in Jesus Christ. Isn’t it time we started living like it? Good advice for Friday. Good advice for life.

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

 

Make Me Happy

Make Me Happy

Philippians 2:1-2 (NLT) Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.

In our pursuit of happiness, I wonder if it is ever really a consideration of what makes God happy. I believe that the Lord finds joy in His Children. I love my children. I know that I feel complete when they are all together under our roof. I know that when they first come together it is all laughter and love. However, the longer they remain in one place it quickly can turn to bickering. Since there are now six of them counting our son-in-law, it can go from reunion to revolution with just one well-fired potshot at another. They are hard on one another but should you make the mistake of coming against one of their siblings be prepared for a fight. When our son was ill, the dynamics shifted as they circled their wagons around their ailing brother. No longer was their picking on or fighting one another but grave concern over his health. Our oldest son became very conscientious of the younger son and after 19 years of making his life as terrible as possible, he became the doting big brother. His younger counterpart did not know how to handle the newly acquired attention and became very weary. When he was in remission about a year, he voiced relief when his brother began picking on him again as before and the banter of communication began that he was used to. I wonder if the Lord looks at us the same way. He loves for us to be together. Sharing life. Worshipping His Name. Doing what we are called to do together. I wonder if it grieves His Heart as it does mine when His Children wander off, get lost, lose their way, argue, and bicker amongst one another. Of course it does, how could it not?

Psalm 133:1-3(NLT) How wonderful and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony! For harmony is as precious as the anointing oil that was poured over Aaron’s head, that ran down his beard and onto the border of his robe. Harmony is as refreshing as the dew from Mount Hermon that falls on the mountains of Zion. And there the Lord has pronounced his blessing, even life everlasting.

Harmony is as precious as the anointing oil that was poured over Aaron’s Head. Harmony is refreshing. I wonder if this is why church fellowship is so strained. We do not have harmony among brothers and sisters in Christ. We must find a way to come together, not just within congregations but corporately as a body no longer divided by doctrine and religion to take hold of this thing called harmony. The Lord blesses the life of those who strive for harmony and unity among all mankind. Is that you? Do you want harmony? Do you live united? It requires self-sacrifice just like the priesthood of Aaron. They were the ones who lived in the Presence of God tending to the temple. Are we also sacrificing our wants, needs and desires to be One with the Body of Christ and dwell in the Kingdom of God? What makes God happy will inevitably make me happy if I will sacrifice my life to live in His Presence.

Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? I Thessalonians 4:17-18 levels up our thinking if we consider these words – “Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. So encourage each other with these words.” The encouragement of the church and bride is the return of Christ. To live for the Lord will make our life better. Our fellowship with one another should do the same thing. We are to encourage each other. Not religiously but relationally to be ready for Jesus’ return as we prepare to join Him in the Kingdom of God forever. There is more to life than this. Say it with me – there is more to life than this. We must think higher thoughts. We must assume higher ways in order to be more like Him every day. I cannot think of myself all the time and be a good partner in any relationship that I maintain.

Any comfort from His Love? Anything done outside of love is apart from Jesus Christ. The Lord does everything for us, in us and through us because of His Great Love for us. Therefore, as ministers of the Gospel not by profession but ordination through the Great Commission, it is our profession and privilege in life to love radically. It is to follow Christ’s Example and Mandate on our life. Love one another. If we do not learn to love and accept others unconditionally, expecting Christ to change their heart, mind and life rather than trying to do it ourselves, we will never see the unification of Christ. There is a God who loves us and created a plan for us. Therefore, He does not need me to point the way but rather for me to lead others to THE WAY. The only way to the Father is through His Son, Jesus. I cannot do anything to make my way to Him outside of the grace given to me by Jesus. We are to comfort the lost leading them to the Light with love.

Any fellowship with the Spirit? When Jesus died on the Cross, He released His Spirit to live in us. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you. No, I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you.” (John 14:16-18) This is NOT the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. But rather when you ask Jesus to be your Savior and Lord, He gives you His Spirit which identifies us as Children of God. With this in mind, we must rely on the Holy Spirit as we learn to put our expectation in Jesus Christ and NOT other people. Anyone who knows me will tell you that when it comes to relationships, ALL RELATIONSHIPS, my first comment will be that you need the Lord to maintain any relationship long term. Marriage without Jesus is impossible. Two imperfect people with unrealistic expectations and selfish hearts will always need an advocate. Relationships are giving opportunities. A successful relationship requires enough trust to give 100% of ourselves to it or it is not a true relationship.

Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins. Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay.” (I Peter 4:8-9)We must love each other with the depth and magnitude of the love given to us by God through His Son, Jesus Christ. His Love is complete and unconditional full of grace, tenderness and compassion. It is not harsh and unyielding but completely merciful and forgiving. Have you examined your heart lately? When I feel anger towards another, or find myself pulling away – I find that if I examine my heart I will find things not like the Lord. I must deal with them quickly and efficiently as not to cause bitterness and strife. We must have tender hearts. No matter how many times we have been hurt in this world, by the people, if we cannot remain compassionate the fire inside us will soon go out. Passion will no longer rule us but pride quickly takes over.

“Make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.” I believe if we focused on nothing else but this one concept that we could truly bring pleasure to God. I think that when His Children agree wholeheartedly putting all differences aside and love one another working together to share His Love with one mind and purpose that it puts a smile on His Face. When the King smiles on His People, His Favor comes pouring out along with His Glory. We want God’s Favor. We cry out to see His Glory. Where is the Lord? Is He happy with us? Or has our bickering driven Him away? Has the hardness in our hearts for one another kept us from His Presence? I want to make the Lord happy…don’t you? Lord, it makes me happy to make you happy. Show me the way.

Philippians 2:3-5 (NLT) Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.

Humility is absolutely essential in successfully uniting the Body of Christ. No one is 100% right in their pursuit of God – of that you cannot convince me. I know that I have visited several churches and been members of many congregations. Nobody is perfect in their fellowship because people are involved. I do know this. We are called to put aside our pride and selfishness to take up our cross and follow the example of Jesus Christ. What is that example? Even though He was God, He did not relish in equality with God but decided to give up His Divine Privileges to take a humble position as slave and appear in human form. I do not think a single person who has entered Heaven would ever consider coming back. Jesus did.

Philippians 2:6-11 (NLT) Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Have you ever been accused on doing something that you did not do? Or maybe saying something that you never said? Do you remember how that made you feel inside? The wronged feeling of being completely innocent yet falsely accused. Imagine if you were the God of the Universe. Jesus died even for the ones who hammered the nails into his hands and feet. He passionately loved those who spit in his face and tore chunks of hair and flesh from his bearded face. So you tell me, does it really matter if we are right or wrong? To be like Jesus means we must put away our own pride and take up our cross. The cross has many marks on it. The first is unconditional love. The second forgiveness and grace. There are others that must define our new life in Jesus. What matters is most is that we are to have the same attitude as Christ.

What did God do for Jesus? He elevated Him to the place of highest honor and gave Him the Name above all names. Hold that thought.

Matthew 16:15-19 (NLT) Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “You are blessed, Simon son of John, because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being.  Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it. And I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven.”

But wait…there is more to this amazing offer…

John 14:12-14 (NLT) “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it!

Let me end the confusion if there is any. When we decide to sacrifice our life for harmony in our home, church, work and world – we activate the Keys to the Kingdom and the Name of Jesus in our life. When Jesus laid down His Life – God gave Him all power and authority in Heaven and earth. He obtained them through humility and sacrificing His Life for others. When we follow this example, Jesus hands us the Keys to the Kingdom and the Power of His Name to use to build the Kingdom of God. If our life does not have open doors, the keys are not being used such as faith, hope and most importantly love. If we are using His Name without much results – it is time to reevaluate our pursuit of happiness. Joy and peace that lead to full satisfaction come when we sacrifice our life to Jesus Christ to have the life that He died for us to have. We die to self when we choose to live for others just as He did. It is the moment that their salvation and freedom drives us to avoid be offensive or defensive but to wrap our arms around them in love, speak to them in love, and captivate them with His Love until they come. This is the greatest work we can do is to do and makes God happy. It will make us happy, too. As God’s Love unites us and our differences dissolve in the Sea of Forgetfulness. We can walk together on the Highway of Holiness which is paved in love and sacrifice.

If only for just one day, we could all put aside our differences to walk together into the Presence of God. To stop looking left and right judging those who we find there by appearances and conditions, but just grabbed them to come along to worship God with us. What if we kept our eyes on Jesus instead of other people? What if making the Lord happy with harmony became more important than being right or religious? What if? I believe that if we ever truly discover harmony in the Body of Christ that we will experience favor like never before and His Glory will fill His Temple again. It would produce the rich and satisfying life that seems elusive for now. Love each other today. Forgive one another. Pray fervently for each other. Work for harmony in the House of God and it will pour out into your life. Make God happy and you will be happy, too!

Psalm 89:14-16 (NLT) Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne. Unfailing love and truth walk before you as attendants. Happy are those who hear the joyful call to worship, for they will walk in the light of your presence, Lord. They rejoice all day long in your wonderful reputation. They exult in your righteousness.

Could It Be Me?

could it be me

Ephesians 4:1-4 (NLT) Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future.

Always be humble. How is this possible with a hope that must remain confident? Confidence and humility seem to be contradictory qualities. Maybe it is not so much the traits themselves but how they are applied that determines if they conflict. Jane Austen said, “Nothing is more deceitful than the appearance of humility. It is often only carelessness of opinion, and sometimes an indirect boast.” To say that I am a humble person often reflects a heart that is not humble at all. Humility is the opposite of pride and arrogance. In fact, it is often marked by the feeling of insignificance, inferiority and complete subservience. Called to have confident hope, it is in Christ alone and never ourselves. The moment that one believes anything they do or say is more significant than the work of Christ within them, the threshold has been crossed. If reading this you think, this does not apply to me, it most certainly does. Pride does not find itself in the Word of God. It lies to its owner that there is no need to pay attention or look any farther than the surface. Today I must inspect my heart to determine the places that pride have placed its stake. These are the areas of my life in need of full repentance in order to right my way with the Lord.

2 Chronicles 7:13-15 (NLT) At times I might shut up the heavens so that no rain falls, or command grasshoppers to devour your crops, or send plagues among you. Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land. My eyes will be open and my ears attentive to every prayer made in this place.

Ephesians 6:12 tells us that we are not fighting against flesh and blood enemies, I agree completely. It identifies the evil rulers, authorities and mighty rulers of darkness along with evil spirits in heavenly places as the opposition in our life. Again, I agree wholeheartedly. But not every battle that we face is external. There are many conflicts to be resolved internally. Romans 7:18-20 tells of another force to be reckoned with in life. Paul reveals that “nothing good lives in me, that is in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t what to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not the one really doing wrong; it is the sin living in me that does it.” Not every battle that encountered in life is spiritual oppression but sometimes it is God putting pressure on that thing inside us keeping us from His Better Way.

“If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves…” I want to stop here for a moment today. Prayer is not the problem. People pray every day. In fact, in some cases, prayer is an excuse not to do what the Lord has already told us to do tricking believers into ignoring outright disobedience. Pride is the problem. We do not want to humble ourselves before the Lord. Because to truly do so means to humble ourselves in the world as well. Are you facing a trial in your life today? Are you experiencing too many obstacles to overcome? When this happens, it is important that rather than giving the enemy all the credit in a successful attack to humble ourselves and consider this – could it be me?

Matthew 5:5 (NLT) God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth.

What is the most valuable commodity on the earth? It is the human soul. Nothing is more valuable to God than those who He created in His Own Image. With this in mind, humility is the very quality that will release revival on the earth. Why? Because if we inherit the “whole earth” the worth of the world it’s people. Pride hinders our ministry. Oh, we all have a ministry. It is the footsteps that comprise our life and define our walk with God. We don’t have to have a fancy pulpit or sanctuary filled with stadium seats. In fact, the loudest message preached is the life that we lead outside of church.

Pride is the opposite of humility. Pride keeps us from following the Lord completely and doing right. (Psalm25:8-10) Compromise on any level keeps us from our inheritance. Humility is absolutely necessary to fully surrender our life to Christ. We must follow Jesus. The moment the thought takes hold that there is anything that the Lord “needs” us to do is the moment pride has planted a seed in our heart and mind that will kill our harvest. The world doesn’t need us. His Grace is sufficient. The Lord is all-powerful. Our service to Jesus Christ is our deep desire to honor His Sacrifice with our life. We add nothing to it. Pride says “if I don’t do it nobody else will.” Oh how find the fine the line between confidence in Christ and the pride of life.

Pride distances us from God. (Psalm 138:6) That’s just fine with the enemy, because the closer he can come when we are far from the Lord. Do you feel isolated and alone? Pride is a joy killer. (Isaiah 29:18-20) It causes us to lose the joy of our salvation that is always Jesus. People cannot touch the joy of the humble as they live wrapped in a robe of righteousness in the Presence of their Savior. It is well-protected by the close proximity of Christ in us. Human pride will be revealed and brought low on Judgment Day because there is only one throne and it belongs to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. (Isaiah 2:11)

The Book of Proverbs gives several warnings about pride. It is that which comes before a fall. (16:18) To be saved, we must swallow our pride. (6:3) The Lord hates pride and arrogance. (8:13) Pride leads to disgrace. (11:2) Pride leads to conflict. (13:10) Pride ends in humiliation. (29:23) Pride is problematic. To consider every opposition and obstacle in our life as a spiritual attack and not consider pride as the source is to say that I am too good to repent. Repentance is the constant turning of our heart over to the Lord. To evaluate any and all situations and not consider it to be the product of pride is to deny oneself of the Grace of Almighty God offered to those who live in humility before Him.

Matthew 23:11-15 (NLT) The greatest among you must be a servant. But those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted. What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you shut the door of the Kingdom of Heaven in people’s faces. You won’t go in yourselves, and you don’t let others enter either. What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you cross land and sea to make one convert, and then you turn that person into twice the child of hell you yourselves are!

To serve Christ means humbling our life before Him and doing what He requires not what religion tells us to do. Religiosity is the pride of the church. It will produce sorrow in the sower and division among the people. We must humble ourselves before the Lord in all things. Right standing with God is never based on my ability to perform but my willingness to submit my life to Jesus. Religion gives Christians an environment to “feel good” about themselves which will always produce pride. No one is exempt and all the servants of God must crucify their flesh daily to stay in step with the Lord. Especially those who gain influence and attention in the church, one’s position can develop a sense of pride that prohibits a life of repentance due to the expectations of others and our own expectation of self. We are afraid of what others think so we do not humble ourselves as we should. We do not answer the call to the altar because we must “work” it. This is all wrong. Are we too religious to be righteous? Is pride keeping me from the Kingdom to just build the church?

Matthew 11:28-30 (NLT) Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

I am humble and gentle at heart. To be like Jesus, we must adopt these two qualities and develop them in our life. Perhaps you are thinking, I am humble. I am gentle. I have been a Christian for a very long time. Let me tell you a little secret. There is pride in all of us looking for a way out. I was a Christian for many, many years. I thought I was “doing” all the right things. I believed I was sharing the Good News with those around me. God had blessed me with a great job that I was good at so I was pouring a whole lot of time into it and prospering. We served God in our home and church. Faithfully “doing” the things His Word called for. I had it all under control. I assumed God was happy with me because we were blessed and prospering in all things. Life was good.

When our son was diagnosed with cancer, it forced me to reevaluate some things in order to survive. I couldn’t bear the burden of my life alone. The mirror that I had been looking at myself in was shattered on a hospital room floor along with my heart. I could not go back to my “normal” life. I was devastated at what I found. Pride had consumed me. Once forfeited, I could take Christ’s yoke upon me. I was humbled in a moment. It was ugly. It was painful. It was necessary. It wasn’t the enemy who invaded my heart, mind and life. It was the lie that I was capable of anything good outside of Jesus Christ. What followed was a whole lot of repentance, many apologies, some mending of ways, and a whole new life. I could not go back to my normal life again. Pride comes before the fall for sure. The bigger they are the harder they fall is so true. I am so thankful for the lesson that was learned in the midst of tragedy. What the enemy used to harm me actually gave God the opportunity to change me.

Are you overloaded today? Do you feel isolated or maybe even under attack? Have you asked yourself today, could it be me? I find that when peace and joy are elusive it is not an external attack but my flesh rises up for superiority over the grace that has been given to me. Pride is a performer. It will not give up its place willingly and must be ripped out by its roots. It will choke out every good deed our faith attempts to do to honor our Father. Jesus wants to take His Rightful Place next to us and carry our burdens. But He will not share the load with you – He exchanges it for His Burden which is easy and light. Ask the Lord to examine your heart today as I do mine. Ask Him today – “Could it be me, Lord?” I assure you that He will answer. He always does.

Psalm 69:32(NLT) The humble will see their God at work and be glad. Let all who seek God’s help be encouraged.

 

 

The Ripple Effect

The Ripple Effect

I John 4:17-19 (NIV) This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the Day of Judgment: In this world we are like Jesus.  There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us.

Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance. (Robert Kennedy)

If you drop an object in water, as it sinks to the bottom, the water it displaces creates a ripple effect that can be seen on the surface. Ironically, or not so much, the farther down it goes the greater the continuation of those ripples throughout the water above. This ripple effect is not only recognized in the natural world but in the psychological realm as well. It does not matter who you are – what you do – or your position in life – you cause a ripple effect by your very existence. God created us all with a plan and purpose. It is the reaction of those around us that we determine whether or not our life is successful. Huh? Am I serious? Absolutely. God’s Plan and Purpose for our life is simple – we are to love others as He first loved us. Once saved and filled with His Spirit our everyday life should create a ripple that emanates love to those around us and continues to be far reaching. What impact does your life have on others? Are you pushing them toward the Kingdom of God or driving them away? The ripple creates a current, like in water, that moves those things in its midst. Have you ever been in swimming in a lake or the ocean when a boat passes by? Waves are created in its wake that manifests in a ripple effect. No matter how hard one tries – they will be moved by the water. The Lord created you for such a time as this. We are carefully planned masterpieces filled with value and worth that manifests in potential. What is our potential? Love. To love. Just because He first loved us.

In this world of mixed religion, I am challenged to cut through all the hype, doctrine, rules and regulations – all the other things called worship that are manmade and get to the heart of the matter. God loves me. Jesus died for me. His Grace is enough for me. I am to take up my cross, crucify my flesh and follow Jesus. What will I do in this journey called life? Love other people like Christ loves me. Could it be that our gospel has become diluted and displaced by lesser things? Has our passion for the Lord been compromised for the sake of comfort? Are we complacent in our efforts to reach a lost and dying world? Could it be that we have been unsuccessful because the ripple created by our being does not represent the change we proclaim in our heart? Lord, I ask you today to create in me a new heart and a steadfast spirit. Open my eyes to what you are showing me and let my ears hear Your Word for my life today. In Jesus Name, AMEN.

Robert Kennedy is quoted as saying that “each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot (or life) of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope. What do I stand for? Well, I think it is Jesus Christ. However, I must consider the ripples that form when I walk into a room, stand in line at Walmart, or do any other “thing” I do in life. What is the effect? Perfect love. This truly is our mission in life. There is no greater cause than to show others the Love of God that we have experienced through Jesus Christ. It is not something we “do” but who we are so when we take a step, it should resonate from each one as we follow Jesus. Does my life promote hope in others? Do I stand up for those who lost, dying, broken or do I judge them, try to change them or ignore them altogether? Do I strike out against the injustice levied against other people? The energy produced by my life must always be love. Sin should be avoided at all costs yet it is unavoidable due to my own rebellious nature. I can pretend like I am perfect but the truth is no one really is. The only hope that I have is the grace I have been given by God through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ. If I can somehow accept this and learn to live like it, I will learn to love others more perfectly each day.

Micah 6:8 (NIV) He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

Of course, God honors our obedience. He set forth His Word to lead us to full satisfaction and completion. We are to act justly. When we do not, through repentance His Grace is enough to cover it. To love mercy is our challenge in life. The power in us is heady and strong easy to misconstrue as personal success when we owe it all to Jesus. This creates a lack of humility that has permeated the four walls called church and is destroying the assembly of the Body of Christ. To love mercy is to be compassionate and show kindly forbearance to all offenders. It means that we have pity on those who are hopelessly lost enough to lay our life down to show them the way to Jesus which is always His Love. Mercy is kindness and forbearance in all things. Forbearance is forgiveness. To walk humbly with our God requires us to lay down our life for other people. There is no greater love than this.

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.

Jesus never dealt harshly with those who were lost. He was sarcastic and somewhat rude to the religious people who pretended to know God but did not recognize Him in the flesh standing before them. When Jesus came through a city, the ripple effect was men and women crying out His Name, bringing the sick and dying, asking for salvation from their sins and all seeking His Love and Compassion that produced miracles, signs and wonders. The Pharisees and Sadducees stood in the shadows mocking Him and plotting to extinguish this unsettling, uncomfortable twist on their precious religion. He loved everyone. I believe with my whole heart that if we do not get back to the basics of Jesus’ ministry which was to lay down His Life and love all mankind – we will miss the next great revival or only hear about it from afar. Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one other than to lay down one’s life for their friends. Those who do the Will of Jesus will step over the boundaries of doctrine to love others and create ripples in life that draw all men and women and children to Jesus Christ.

I Corinthians 13:1-8 (NIV) If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.

I belong to a full-gospel church. We believe in the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. I share that to say that in I Corinthians 13 it begins with manifestations of God to His People. It is easy for churches to get caught up in their doctrine and defending their faith and religion. But ultimately this is not what we have been called to do. It is perfectly fine if you and I do not completely agree on things like the Gifts of the Spirit or how the other worships. This has long caused division in the church and will continue until Jesus comes. It doesn’t matter if you speak in tongues or not. It doesn’t matter if you prophecy or praise and worship louder than anyone else. What matters to God is how we love. What is important to Jesus is that we follow His Example and lay down our life for other people. We lose sight of this sometimes but the ripple effect shows clearly the effectiveness of our witness. Are we drawing people to Christ or pushing them away?

What is love? Love is patient. Love is kind. Love does not envy or get jealous. Love does not boast and is not arrogant and prideful. Love honors other people. Love does not seek its own gain but the exaltation of others. Love does not get angry. Love keeps no records of wrong and forgives as Jesus does tossing the offense in the Sea of Forgetfulness. Love does not delight in evil or things like revenge. It rejoices in the Truth. Love always protects other people no matter who they are. Love always trusts that God has everything under control so we are free to love without obligation. Love always has hope in every hopeless situation even when those in fall seem hopeless, too. Love always perseveres and endures hanging on until the bitter end. Love neve ever fails. Church will end. This world will, too. If we have not accepted God’s Love, we will die too. If we have, it is our mission to spread it as far as we can to the world around us.

Revelation 2:4-5 (NIV) Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.

Has the church lost its first love? Do we love Jesus like we used to putting His Agenda before our own? If the ripple effect of every single believer who called themselves a Christ was absolute and complete love, laying aside religious traditions and personal doctrines to take hold of His Word and Truth that asks us simply to love others as Christ loves us, what might happen? Revival. Without love, we are just another cause. With the Love of God, we are powerful to change the world by the ripple of hope sent forth from our life. The ripple effect is when an event causes a series of over events to happen. What if every believer evaluated their life and changed the current for the better? What if rather than judging other people and setting standards much too high for imperfect humans, we simply decided to love one another? It is so simple, yet we have made it so hard. We cry out for revival but are we willing to pay the price? What is the cost of revival? True love.

I John 4:9-12 (NIV) This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

A young man sharing his testimony in a youth service told the young people, the greatest transition in worshiping God and our relationship with Christ is when we no longer avoid sin because it is wrong but because we love Jesus. The Love of God found in Jesus Christ will change the most vile or hard heart. It will transform hateful people to lovable ones. Jesus told us – He commanded us to love others – it is easier to serve in church, give to the poor and do all the right things rather than to give our heart to other people especially those we find underserving. Well, the truth of the matter is that I do not deserve the love, grace and mercy given to me by Jesus. Not at all. I have never committed a crime other than speeding. I have tried to be a good person even before I knew the Lord, yet my sin still condemned me. I am nothing without the Love of Jesus Christ. Absolutely nothing. If I do not use my life to share His Love which is the Gospel with others, I am a spiritual failure. I must constantly evaluate the ripple effect of my life for validity and truth which is to love others. My love for them should cast out all fear of judgment or rejection and create a catalyst for salvation and repentance with confidence that the Love of God is real and completely unconditional.  This won’t happen if my love for others is conditional.

When a stone is dropped into the water, it sinks to the bottom. As it begins to fall, the water around it is pushed up. When it reaches the surface, the ripples form. John 3:30 says, “He must become greater; I must become less.” I wonder if today this is deep crying to deep. The Lord is calling us to the depths so that in our decent others will be lifted high enough to grab hold of His Love, Salvation, Deliverance, Healing and Kingdom.  I must humble my life to His Love so that His Love is the ripple effect around me. Amen and amen. I believe a church whose heart is set on His Love above any other thing and that has decided to love everyone as Christ loves them will soon feel the fire of revival arise from their passion for Jesus.

I Corinthians 13:13 (NIV) And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Bird’s Eye View

Birds Eye View

Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV) “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

At the closing table signing papers for our new house, the previous owners told us about the hummingbirds. They had left a hook on the front porch for a feeder in the place that theirs had been and told us that if we replaced it the hummingbirds would come. I have never had a bird feeder in my yard before or hung nectar for hummingbirds. Funny that of all the things they could have shared about life in this house it would be about the little fluttering creatures. On a supply run, I decided to buy a feeder and some red nectar and give it a go. Sure enough not one but three hummingbirds drained it quickly. The feeder is hung outside the windows to the study so in the early morning sunlight or late as the sun finally sets, they are there flittering around it. In the flowerbed just outside is a two-prong hook, it is also for bird feeders. I think I will try my hand at some feeders for the other winged friends in our yard. Don’t laugh at me for my enthusiasm. This is a different life for me. God has brought me to a place that I have never been before and a lifestyle I didn’t even know would be appealing – His Ways are higher than my ways.

“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Adjusting to my taste of country living has made me reevaluate some things in my life. God has a plan for us. Sometimes it seems unclear and elusive. In fact, most of the times that is the case. What if we looked at life from a bird’s eye view? What if rather than focusing on what we see right in front of us, we were able to fly over our current condition to see the bigger picture from the heights of the heavens? Birds have that unique ability. They can fly. If danger approaches, they can fly away quickly. If the storm rolls in, they can rise above it or use the wind to lift them higher. The birds clearly have the advantage it seems. Looking through God’s Word, I find several examples given to us by a fine feathered friends to remind us that we serve a God who has ways and thoughts higher than our own. We cannot see all that the Lord is doing so like these creatures who depend on the Lord for everything – we must learn to do the same.

Matthew 6:25-27 (NIV) “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

If I forget to refill the nectar in the feeder, the hummingbirds will still be just fine. The Lord provides the nectar they need in flowers. They do not need me. I enjoy caring for them and watching them come near. “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet the Father feeds them.” Did you know that no matter how hard you work, toil and labor that God is our provider? He gives us the ability to go to work and earn income but it is not according to the hours we put in or one’s ascent up the corporate ladder that determines our prosperity. No, it is God’s Blessing and Favor that gives us the good things that we enjoy. If I stress and worry my life away, I have wasted precious time. It does not impact God’s Faithfulness in the slightest. God supplies our needs. Birds do not worry, stress or fret over food – they trust the Lord.

Before moving on, I would like to point out that birds also understand sacrifice. They were called by God as a sufficient sacrifice in the Book of Leviticus. In Genesis 8, birds were part of the covenant sacrifice bringing together God and Abram (who would become Abraham). Then the word of the Lord came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son who is your own flesh and blood will be your heir.” He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness. He also said to him, “I am the Lord, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to take possession of it.” But Abram said, “Sovereign Lord, how can I know that I will gain possession of it?” So the Lord said to him, “Bring me a heifer, a goat and a ram, each three years old, along with a dove and a young pigeon.” (Genesis 15:4-9) We must sacrifice our life for Jesus Christ. We must give up our way to follow His Way… the only way. You cannot head in two directions at the same time. One way must be conceded. I am crucified with Christ now I live.

Matthew 13:31-32 (NIV) He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.”

Birds know that their provision rests is found in the Presence of God. By faith, they continually look for what they need with complete confidence that the Lord will supply. I am quite certain that our winged friends are not plagued by emotions and feelings that distract and detour them along the way. We must stop relying on what we feel and experience becoming completely dependent on the Lord and taking Him at His Word.

Matthew 10:28-30 (NIV) Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.

God is our protector. We have no reason to fear. If a sparrow cannot fall to the ground outside the Father’s care, how much more important are you to the Lord? He knows the number of hairs on our head and dares the enemy to touch just one of them. I rebuke fear from your life in the Name of Jesus. In order to maintain one’s courage, we must believe that God is our protector and continually seek His Refuge.

My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young—a place near your altar, Lord Almighty, my King and my God. Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you.” (Psalm 84:2-4) The sparrow and her friend, the swallow, choose to make their nest in the Presence of God. They have decided that He is everything they need and desire so they live right there with the Lord. Too many times we live double lives – one way in church and another in life. Wondering why we do not live up to God’s Glorious Standard by settling for substitutions and compromises. We must learn to wait on the Lord living in His Presence while “He perfects that which concerns you (us).” Psalm 138:8.

I Kings 17:3-6 (NIV) “Leave here, turn eastward and hide in the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan. You will drink from the brook, and I have directed the ravens to supply you with food there.” So he did what the Lord had told him. He went to the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan, and stayed there. The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook.”

Ravens represent those who choose to obey the Lord. When God wanted his prophet to be fed, He instructed the ravens to do so and they did. What do I do when God instructs me to do something? Is obedience my immediate reaction or an afterthought? Do I miss opportunities to take God at His Word? Am I even listening at all?

Matthew 3:16-17 (NIV) As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

The dove represents the Holy Spirit. The Mind of Christ given to us by the Father to help us in our weakness and to give us understanding of God’s Ways. The Spirit of God descended “like a dove” on Jesus after He was baptized. We are given the Holy Spirit when we accept Jesus as our personal Savior and Lord. He is our partner in life who guides and instructs. The dove made an appearance in Genesis 8 when Noah released the dove over and over again to find the place God had sent them. To know it was time to open the arc and make their home in that place. We should use the Holy Spirit as our guide as well. He is in us. He is active. The Spirit of the Living God is essential in explaining God’s Word to us, revealing His Secrets and giving us complete understanding that can be turned to wisdom.

Isaiah 40:30-31 (NIV) Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Everyone loves the eagle. He reveals God’s Renewal and Restoration to us. His Promise to renew our strength when we grow weary and restore our hope when all seems lost. It says that those who hope in the Lord will “soar on wings like eagles.” Are you able to rise above your circumstances today? Have the burdens of life weighted you down? In Job 39, we find the ostrich which is a flightless bird. She is referred to as a bird who God “did not endow with wisdom or give her a share of good sense.” I don’t want to be like an ostrich who buries her head in the sand when trouble comes. I want to be like an eagle who soars above this finite view of life to see things as God sees them. I want to know His Ways that are higher than my ways. I want confidence in the Lord’s Provision and Protection living in His Presence all the days of my life. It requires a new perspective and not one that is based on the ground. I must take a bird’s eye view of life to live as they do.

Psalm 103:1-5 (NIV) Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits—who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

The Chameleon

The Chameleon

I Corinthians 9:19-23 (NIV) Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel that I may share in its blessings.

As a child, I loved to run around my grandparents yard exploring. So many things packed in a small lot, a garage filled with “treasures”, a basement spooky and dark, an earthworm pile to dig in, and lots of other discoveries to be made. The girl behind the house, Ann, and I would climb into a cumquat tree while my grandmother brought us water to wash the fruit that we were content eating right off the limbs. On good days, we would find lizards called chameleons hiding up there. I am pretty sure looking back that while we were only “playing” with them that these tiny creatures were quite certain it was torture leading to death. We would move them from place to place to watch their skin change to camouflage them. It was an involuntary reflex given to them by God to allow them protection from predators. With no other defense, they could just become one with whatever was closest to them by blending in. Too bad it didn’t work for them when it came to two curious girls.

Paul expressed his freedom in I Corinthians 9, “though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible.” If we are free, and Christ has set us completely free (John 8:36), then why does Paul tell us that he made himself a slave to everyone. Why do we call ourselves “slaves” when Christ has set us free? He goes on to admit “I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.” What is the point of following Jesus if we are not free at all? Freedom is offered to us by the Grace of God through Jesus Christ. When we are born again, it is the opportunity to choose who we will serve. Our life is bought with a price. It belongs to Jesus Christ. Or we can give it to anything else we choose forfeiting eternal life.

I choose to follow Jesus Christ. In doing so, this passage is of the utmost important to understanding exactly what I am called to do. It is not what many people think. No one comes to Jesus out of obligation but in desperation. The realization that I cannot save myself and death is imminent for starters. Once I encountered God’s Love, there really was no other logical choice. How do I make this logical to others? The same way that Jesus offered it to us. In love. In relationship. Patiently. He relentlessly pursued me with unfailing love until I turned around to receive Him. This is how we win the heart of others for Jesus. I must become all things to all people in order to express the Love of God to them. They don’t need fancy programs. They aren’t looking for a place to go or fit in on Sundays. They are looking for satisfaction, peace, joy and hope. I happen to have that hidden in my heart. I must learn to express it more.

Our church has a set of values that we are committed to. They are one of my favorite things about this body to believers. Challenging us to pursue others with the same intensity, commitment and relentlessness that God overtook us with. Value #4 is my focus today. Actually it has been for a number of weeks now, and then I found I Corinthians 9. Value #4 is that we will do anything short of sin to reach people who don’t know Christ. To reach people who no one is reaching we will do things no one is doing. Talk about stepping out of your comfort zone. This will shove you out of it completely if it becomes one’s own personal value. To reach others exactly where there are rather than waiting until they come to us is challenging enough. It is humbling to strike up a conversation with a stranger and mention the Lord. However, our lifestyle of love requires reaching out to others. All others. Showing them the love that we have found. We must learn to blend in a little better with those around us. We are not called to be separate from people just sin.

Galatians 5:1-6 (NIV) It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.

What is your reaction when a person comes to church in what you deem inappropriate clothing? What is your response when someone doesn’t know how to act in the House of God? What if a homeless man came into your facility and sat right down next to you? Or what if “God forbid” he “took” your seat? What if the person next to you reeked of smoke and alcohol? What if they were covered with tattoos, had a nose piercing and a formidable set of gauges in the ears? What would you do? Could you speak to them convincingly that you were truly glad that they came? Would you be able to make them comfortable outside of any conviction of God’s Spirit on them? Could you check in a gay couple’s baby in your nursery without judging them? See God not looking to build a church but a bride for His Son. The Body of Christ is the Bride of Christ. Until we stop hacking off body parts, revival will not come because we are not facilitating life.

Ephesians 5:29-32 (NIV) After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church—for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.

“Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” (Ephesians 5:1) Paul is instructing Christian households in this passage, but I feel it applies to all our relationships. We must submit to one another. Before you point out that it is specifically talking about husbands and wives, let me assure you that it is relevant in all relationships as the Body of Christ.  For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” (Romans 12:4-5) We must stop looking at ourselves as a church with four walls and air-conditioned comfort and perfect programs and see ourselves joined together as a living breathing body. All of those different people referenced above are parts of our body – like it or not. Jesus died for each and every one of them just like you because He loves them equally! If our body is hurting, broken or suddenly becomes weak we will seek immediate attention to alleviate the problem. Why? We need our arm, hand, leg, or any other body part. We must see others the very same way. They are part of the body. They complete the Bride. If we truly long for the return of Christ, we must get in physical shape as the Body of Christ and complete the transformation into His Bride.

Galatians 5:13-14 (NIV) You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

The connection between the Body of Christ is simply – it is the Love of God that pulls us all together. To keep in mind that all sin is repugnant to God eliminates the hierarchy of pride that makes us feel a little more godly and just a bit more holy than others. It was my sin that nailed Jesus to the Cross. It was His Love for each of us that kept Him there. One sin demanded total sacrifice. There is no one who is righteous. It is His Grace that is sufficient for me not anything I will ever do for the Lord. With this in mind, it is up to me to share this love with every other human being that I come in contact with. They don’t need my religion. My opinion. I don’t need to tell them how to dress, how to speak, how to live, or what to do. I need to show them the Love of God in all its perfection, completeness and fullness so that they will fall in love with Jesus, too. It is then that His Love will transform their life just as it has mine and perhaps yours, too. Come on church! We must stop crying out for revival until the doors of our heart are opened as wide as the ones to our buildings. We must stop calling for the return of Jesus until His Bride is fully prepared to meet Him in the air. We have a lot of loving to do! We have a lot of humility to find! We must do a better job of spreading His Love to everyone! We must do anything short of sin to show others the Love of God. I must use my freedom in Christ not to become a slave to anything but God’s Love. Otherwise, I too am in need of the freedom that I first found in the Lord. To maintain our freedom will always be walking in love in the midst of the lost, sick, addicted, unwanted, and neglected in life. It will mean humbling ourselves in all situations and in every situation proving our allegiance to Christ. This means things like insults, offenses and harsh words bounce off the shield of faith and breastplate of righteousness that covers us. We need Jesus. We all need Jesus. He loves you. He loves me. He loves us all! The chameleon can blend in with whatever their surroundings are. It doesn’t make it that think it is close to. It is still a chameleon. When the Love of God fully transforms us into His Children and we become true believers – I believe that we will be able to understand Paul’s Instructions and be like a chameleon, true to our beliefs and who we are in Christ no matter what our environment or situation yet doing anything short of sin to reach those around us.

I Corinthians 13:1-3 (NIV) If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.