No More Rivals

No More Rivals

Isaiah 61:1-3 (NLT) The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed. He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of the Lord’s favor has come, and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies. To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory.

My life has purpose. The potential of my being and existence is fully encompassed in the person of Jesus Christ. He is the Sovereign Lord. Why do I struggle to maintain His Preeminence in my life? There is no rival to the Lord. He has no equal. Yet in our everyday life – the struggle to trust and believe are real and valid battles in the heart and mind of every believer. Every step of faith is met with another challenging opportunity to take another. Following Jesus Christ in this life requires a depth perception of the Kingdom beyond that which our physical being and personal mindset can comprehend. We cry out for the Spirit of the Lord to fall upon us, restore and renew us and spark revival around us. What is stopping this from happening? Could it be the rivals in our life?

A rival is anything that competes for the same object or goal. It is the competition. A person or perception that disputes another’s superiority or preeminence. Who is like the Lord? Well, theoretically no one. There is nobody greater than Jesus Christ. His Power and Authority is unchallenged yet in our own life, one must decide if this is the case. A free will gives us the opportunity to believe anything and live the way that we choose. This does not in any way compromise God’s Power and Authority manifested in Jesus Christ, it only determines our outcomes and position in life. To ask the Lord to pour out His Spirit on us and desire His Will and His Way requires removal of the rivals in our life. To make Jesus Christ our champion, and put our complete faith and trust in His Ability as Sovereign Lord.

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord can only occupy a surrendered and submitted life. To ask the Lord to fill us with His Spirit requires laying aside something in order for holy inhabitation to be complete. I want the Spirit of the Sovereign Lord to live in me. To occupy all areas of my life beginning with my soul, moving through my entire physical and emotional being until He resonates from my life. The process began decades ago. Today, I am still a fragile work in process. However, with each new day comes the challenging opportunity to end yet one more rivalry with the Power of God in my life. It is up to me. To cry out for His Spirit is to put to death anything that comes against my faith in God and willingness to trust the Lord more and more. I must kill those giants. Overcome the enemy. He must become greater and greater and I must become less and less.

Submission is power. Grace is made perfect in my weakness. The world doesn’t operate on that belief system. In fact, to surrender is defeat according to the world. But I am only a temporary resident here, just making my way through life to eternity. Forever is a long time in comparison to a life that is only about 70 years or so on average. We must evaluate our existence for the rivalries and inconsistencies. Those areas of debilitation that the enemy has somehow convinced us hold some power over us or limit us in any way. The Love of God for us is complete. We lack no good thing in His Presence living for His Glory. He wants to take that from you. Steal your power and authority by tricking God’s People into believing that there is a limit to the Lord’s Power and Authority in our life or even a boundary to His Love. Nothing could be further from the Truth.

Luke 4:1-3 (NLT) Then Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan River. He was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where he was tempted by the devil for forty days. Jesus ate nothing all that time and became very hungry. Then the devil said to him… 

The enemy is not short of arguments when it comes to God’s Word or His Power in our life. He constantly offers shortcuts and compromises us. He tests our knowledge and understanding of God’s Word and Work in our life especially when God’s People are committed to living for the Lord. John the Baptist foretold His Coming. Jesus has now been baptized receiving the fullness of God’s Spirit and God said, “You are my dearly loved Son, you bring me great joy!” Can I just be real for a moment, I see a giant target being painted on the back of Jesus right about now! The enemy identified the Lord as his rival to contend with in that moment, and believed himself successful celebrating for about a minute before he realized the horrible mistake that he had made but I am getting ahead of myself.

Jesus immediately full of the Spirit went straight to the wilderness. Welcome to your new life in Christ! Purpose must be pressed to release full potential. Jesus responded to each temptation with the Word of God. Finally the enemy had finished tempting the Lord, he left him…until the next opportunity came. The enemy is not a true rival of Jesus Christ unless we allow him to compete for the Truth that occupies our life. The more real estate given to Christ in our life the more challenging it will be as the enemy attempts to take us out. Our potential is not just for our self, but as God’s Glory overtakes us the Light of His Love shines brightly for others to see. Immediately following Jesus’ trip to the wilderness where He overcame temptation, He entered the Temple and was handed the scroll of Isaiah to read. He read the words from Isaiah 61…God’s Power becomes our own by overcoming all rivals in our life. To submit and surrender to the Lord’s Power allows His Spirit…His Sovereign Spirit to manifest in our life. He becomes our purpose and gives us the power to overcome.

Isaiah 48:15-18 (NLT) Come closer, and listen to this. From the beginning I have told you plainly what would happen.” And now the Sovereign Lord and his Spirit have sent me with this message. This is what the Lord says—your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is good for you and leads you along the paths you should follow. Oh, that you had listened to my commands! Then you would have had peace flowing like a gentle river and righteousness rolling over you like waves in the sea.”

“Sovereign Lord” is used approximately 290 times in the Old Testament depending on the translation you are using. It only occurs 3 times in the New Testament. Why? In the Old Testament, God put His Spirit into different people. When Jesus came in the New Testament, God put His Spirit fully into Jesus Christ. When Jesus died on the Cross, He released His Spirit to His People. Matthew 27:50-52 tells us that At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, rocks split apart, and tombs opened. The bodies of many godly men and women who had died were raised from the dead.” Could this be the first documented revival? When the Spirit of the Sovereign Lord was released along with resurrection power? It was the moment that God’s Power and Authority became completely available to me and you. The choice is mine if I will submit my life to the Sovereign Lord and accept His Power in my life.

God’s Power and Authority given to Jesus Christ lives in me. The only reason that I am not living in it is because I have allowed rivals to take the place of my Champion. I must overcome every hindrance in the race of faith by keeping my eyes on Jesus, my champion who initiates and perfects my faith. (Hebrews 2) How is this possible when there are so many things vying for my attention? How do I keep my eyes (and faith) on someone who I cannot see when there are so many people in the way? How does a football team win the Super Bowl? Or a baseball team the World Series? How does a fighter become Heavyweight Champion of the World? One game, one series or one bout at a time. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Jesus Christ has given you His Spirit. The Greatness of God’s Son and all of His Sovereign Power lives and breathes in every believer. As we begin to overtake and oust the rivals in our life, Christ becomes the dominant factor in all areas of life. Do not despise small beginnings. (Zechariah 4:10) We begin with small increments of faith to build a larger foundation. (Luke 16:9-10) It begins by believing that Jesus is our champion. Our confidence is not in our ability to be faithful or righteous but that He is enough. His Grace sufficient to release His Power no matter how weak or weary that we may become. It all begins by believing. (John 1:49-51) Nathanael believed simply because Jesus told him that he saw him under the fig tree. Jesus told Nathanael that his simple act of believing would produce greater things. What did the man believe? The Word of God. He believed Jesus at His Word.

John 14:12-13 (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.

Do you believe? Do you believe wholeheartedly that the Lord is Sovereign and without rival? Is there anyone or anything equal to the Power of God at work in your life today? Before you answer, consider this. Your life should be prospering as your soul does in every way. Isaiah 61 clearly outlines the Power of God at work in us and through us. If my life is not being lived in God’s Power including prosperity, miracles, signs, wonders and exceptional favor, I must eliminate yet another rival. Some of the things that tempt us NOT to trust God are things like the enemy (John 10:1-3; 10:10), His lies tempt us every day. The Word of God is the only thing that will silence the lie of the enemy in our life. We must know the Word of God intimately, personally, and completely to live a successful Christian life. Jesus is the Word of God. We cannot know our Savior and Lord without it. Our flesh wants control of our life or it will die. It makes desperate attempts to challenge God’s Love, Authority and Power in our life as it does not want to submit or surrender to its own crucifixion. (Romans 7) Finally, our feelings. Our relationship with Jesus Christ must become a marriage that decides to hang on and fight for the partnership no matter how we feel on any given day or in any situation. (I Peter 5:7-9) The enemy, like Goliath, is constantly roaring his taunts and accusations at us. God is greater than our feelings. (I John 3:20) We must eliminate all rivals in our life and let Jesus be our Champion. His Sovereign Spirit will take over turning the natural into supernatural and ordinary to extraordinary.

I Corinthians 9:25-27 (NLT) All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.

Do you desire Jesus to be your Champion today? To do so requires the elimination of all rivals in our life. We live busy lives in a world that offers many distractions. Comfort is appealing and complacency creates such a place. However, I want to live the life promised in Isaiah 61. My purpose in life is that the Spirit of the Sovereign Lord be manifested in my life and overflow to the world around me. I must be disciplined. I cannot allow the things of this world to rival the championship of Jesus in my life. I have a free will. I have the right to choose the amount of my life that is sacrificed, surrendered and submitted to the Almighty. It is all up to me. I choose to run with purpose in every step. How about you? Will you say with me today, “No more rivals, Jesus! All I want is You! You are my Champion!”

Isaiah 30:15 (NLT) This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: “Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength. But you would have none of it.

Power in His Name – A Devotion

Power in His Name

John 14:12-13 (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.

 

You can ask for anything in the Name of Jesus and He will do it just to give His Father Glory. You can ask for ANYTHING. You can ask for EVERYTHING. Anything and everything in the Name of Jesus and by faith it belongs to you. So why? Why aren’t the desires of my heart happening in my life? How do you know that they are not? I am struggling. I am discontent. I am unhappy, unfulfilled and frustrated. There are days when I am overcome by any or all of these emotions as well. I find that those are the very same times when I have forgotten the Power in His Name. Anyone who believes in Jesus can do the same miraculous works that He did. In fact, Jesus said we can do greater things because He was going to the Father. Now the Living, Breathing Spirit of God lives on the inside of us. Now we know the Will of the Father and are able to do it but His Grace, Mercy and Love.

 

Philippians 2:5-11 (NLT)
You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. 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.

 

God elevated Jesus to the Highest Place of Honor in Heaven. He gave Him THE Name above all other names. At the Name of Jesus Christ every knee will bow low and every single tongue confess that He is Lord to the Glory of God the Father. The Name of Jesus is the greatest authority in all the world. He has the Power to overcome every single sickness, disease, problem, judgement and person. By faith, those who believe are given the same Power that is in His Name to do great things for the Kingdom of God.

 

Where is the power? Why don’t we have it? Where are the miracles, signs and wonders that should accompany modern day believer just as the early church? You must have the same attitude as Christ had. Though He WAS God, He did not think of equality with God as something to cling to and abandoned His Throne for obedience. Have we abandoned the Throne of our own lives to follow Jesus Christ and be His Disciple? We want the Power of His Name but have not submitted to His Lordship in our life. We are saved by His Name and not of our own doing. (Ephesians 2:8) Faith attaches us to Jesus and confident hope keeps us there. Those who catch on to this surrendering their own life to take up their “cross” and follow Jesus will be given the privilege and power of His Name.

 

Matthew 16:13-19 (NLT)

When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” “Well,” they replied, “some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.” 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[i] on earth will be permitted in heaven.”

 

The Name of Jesus is not good if we are not connected to the Source. I have a cousin who is a major league baseball player. He was named Rookie of the Year. We have spent holidays together at my aunt’s house. I know his name and if asked he would tell you that he knew me. We are familiar. But if I went to the ballpark requesting access in his name, unless I called and reconnected with him first, I would not be allowed to enter the park unless I purchased a ticket. Other family members who have attended games must contact him first so that he could leave their name at the gate. Without the connection and intimacy, the name of Jesus is not effective in our life. Faith in Jesus comes with intimacy that creates expectancy. We begin to expect certain things in our relationship to Christ based on His Word, Way and Will. Now the Name of Jesus becomes empowering to us.

 

Jesus asked His Disciples, “Who do people (others) say that I am?” They answered. But then He got to the core of His Probing when He asked them, “BUT who do you say that I am?” Many people will attempt to help you form an opinion about the Lord. They will share their knowledge, experiences and yes, even their doubt and disapproval. The only thing that Jesus is concerned with today is who do YOU say that I am. This is the important question that determines if His Name will do the things that He has promised it will do. Without faith in Jesus, His Name will do nothing. Faith is the connection to the Lord that allows His Word to impact our life.

 

Mark 5:6-10 (NLT)

When Jesus was still some distance away, the man saw him, ran to meet him, and bowed low before him. With a shriek, he screamed, “Why are you interfering with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? In the name of God, I beg you, don’t torture me!”  For Jesus had already said to the spirit, “Come out of the man, you evil spirit.” Then Jesus demanded, “What is your name?” And he replied, “My name is Legion, because there are many of us inside this man.” Then the evil spirits begged him again and again not to send them to some distant place.

 

Obviously the devil and all his demons know the Name of Jesus. When the demons in the man saw Jesus – they ran to Him screaming. Why? They are subject to the Power and Authority of Jesus Christ. When Jesus demanded the name of the demon(s) it proves a valid point to us today. There are many names to the attackers on our life. Sickness, disease, cancer, poverty, fear of lack, depression, oppression, worry, fear, doubt and the list goes on and on. Every single weakness bears a title. Every single thing that Jesus Christ died to free us from has an identity. How big is your God? How much confidence do you have in the Power and Authority of Jesus Christ today? Well, let me ask you this. Whose name are you calling on the most? Are you talking about your problem or are you considering the solution? When we talk about our problems and express worry, fear and doubt – it connects us to them. We are acknowledging that which has precedence in our belief. We must speak the Name of Jesus more. We must acknowledge Him not only with our words but in our life and how we live. We must have the same attitude as Jesus which will manifest in our countenance becoming cooperative action with Christ. This will cause the “demons” in our life to bow to Jesus who is Lord of our life.

 

Acts 3:5-7 (NLT)

The lame man looked at them eagerly, expecting some money. But Peter said, “I don’t have any silver or gold for you. But I’ll give you what I have. In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!” Then Peter took the lame man by the right hand and helped him up. And as he did, the man’s feet and ankles were instantly healed and strengthened.

 

The lame man sitting at the gate begging that day thought money would change his situation. He had long since given up on walking and working now relegated to his handicap and human weakness would sit and ask others to do something for him, to care for him, to provide for him, and to meet his needs. When Peter came by, the same Peter who made the declaration that Jesus Christ was the Son of God, something was about to change. Peter didn’t have any money to give the money but what He did have was priceless. He spoke the Name of Jesus over the man and he was healed on the spot. Now the man expected money that day, a fix to his temporary problem and today’s hunger or need. But the Lord had other plans as He wanted to heal the man not the situation.

 

Human expectation can connect us to the Lord or severe the relationship completely. In order to have the Power and Authority associated with the Name of Jesus Christ, we must put all of our expectation in Him. Otherwise, we will constantly be seeking His Face to do our will. This will not work. God will never lower His Standards to meet our insufficiency of faith but rather condition and teach us in such a way that we raise our expectations to the Lord and His Level. What do you want from the Lord today? What do you need? Are you connected? There is power in the Name of Jesus Christ that will solve any problem and meet every need! Make it yours by faith and put all your hope in Jesus! He will never disappoint you! He will always welcome you in! Stop calling on your problems and cry out to the Name above all other Names – Jesus!

 

John 15:5-8 (NLT)

“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.”

 

 

 

In the Clouds – A Devotion

In the Clouds

I Kings 18:43-44 (NLT)

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Zechariah 10:1 (NLT)

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

 

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

 

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

 

Psalm 18:6-11(NLT)

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

 

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

 

James 5:17-18 (NLT)

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

 

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

 

I Thessalonians 4:16-18 (NLT)

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

Fill Us Up – A Devotion

Fill Us Up

Romans 15:13 (NLT)

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

 

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

 

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

 

Psalm 107:6-9 (NLT)

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

 

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

 

Romans 7:21-25 (NLT)

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

 

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

 

John 17:12-15 (NLT)

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

 

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

 

Ephesians 1:22-23 (NLT)

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

Giver of Glory – A Devotion

Giver of Glory

I Corinthians 2:7-9 (NLT)
No, the wisdom we speak of is the mystery of God—his plan that was previously hidden, even though he made it for our ultimate glory before the world began. But the rulers of this world have not understood it; if they had, they would not have crucified our glorious Lord. That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.”

When I began contemplating the Word of God for me today it was the express intent to give Him glory, honor and praise for being faithful and true to His Word and His Promises. See yesterday I woke up weighed down by worries and stress. The enemy was fully assaulting my peace of mind with a long list of things to do that seemed insurmountable. In His Usual Fashion, the Lord showed me a thing or two in His Word to bring me comfort, whispered to the storm brewing with me peace be still, and reassured my wavering heart. When I got up from this quiet place to face the day, I should not have been surprised. A glowing doctor report started the day off right with a promise of discharge the very next day. A visit from the social worker solved two more “problems” in less than ten minutes. By the end of the day every single concern that I had was addressed and the need provided for just that quickly. When the Lord does such a thing, my initial feeling is of guilt for the worry, fear and doubt that comes when He does just as He promised but I failed to believe that He would. So today as I got up all I could think of was Glory to God in the highest. Full of thanksgiving and overflowing with praise for a God who is faithful even when I don’t believe to set up my life in a way that I will be blessed with everything I need and more than I could think to ask for. But when I began to review glory and honor in the Word, I discovered that it talks about God giving us honor and glory more than us giving it back to Him. God made world and everything in it for “our” ultimate glory. Say what?

Romans 8:16-17 (NLT)
For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.

The Holy Spirit is given to each us who call on Jesus Christ to be our Savior and Lord. It is not God’s Plan or His Will for us to suffer. Even when we chose something other than His Way, God still was determined that we would be His Children forever. As His Children, we are His Heirs. What belongs to God becomes ours simply because we are adopted. Why aren’t we experiencing the Glory of God every day? Why are we suffering so rather than prospering in the Lord? “And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.” (Matthew 11:12) Jesus Christ has “deprived the world of its power to harm you AND has overcome it for you.” (John 16:33) You can be an overcomer if you live as a member of the Kingdom of God. He is the Power we need to reduce the enemy to a toothless, clawless roaring lion. He can come close enough to whisper lies, shout accusation and promote fear but he can do nothing at all to harm God’s Child who is wrapped in the Robe of Righteousness that Jesus died for us to have. His Glory is intended to be a lifestyle. As we give God glory in the way that we live, He imparts His Glory in our life. It is a divine partnership.

Romans 7:21-25 (NLT)
I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.

Our struggle with sin will not end until our physical body dies. You can love God’s Word with all your heart. Pursue Him with all your mind. Give everything you have to promote the Gospel of Jesus Christ and even attend church every single time the doors are open. You will still struggle with sin on a daily basis even locked in the house as a recluse with no other influence. Why? The sinful nature you battle rests inside of you and I. The Spirit of God is our guardian put in place to make our life a living sacrifice to God as we continually lay down our life and crucify our old nature with Christ – the Holy Spirit raises us up to a place of honor where all God’s Promises according to His Plan are not only possible but probable. God’s Glory radiates around His Children. It emanates from the inside out. You will never truly experience the kind of glory that God intends for you to have apart from Jesus Christ. If we win the battle against our flesh, we will receive God’s Glory. It is a daily choice and sometimes minute by minute. But it is definitely worth fighting for when all that He is takes over all that you are.

I Corinthians 6:19-20 (NLT)
Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.

Your body is the temple of God’s Spirit. The Spirit lives inside of you. Now there are certain promises that are associated with the Temple of God from the Old Testament. When Solomon dedicated the Temple to the Presence of God, these are some of the promises that the Lord made. (I Kings 9:2-5) The Lord promised that it would set apart as holy. Your life should be consecrated to God. There are things you will set aside or walk away to get closer to Christ. The Temple was designed to watch over the Name of the Lord forever. Does your temple represent the Kingdom of God? Are you ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Do you have to “tell” people that you are a believer or can they see a difference in the way that you live? If so, God promises to watch over the temple. He also promised power and authority to those who oversaw the temple. Now stop right there for a moment…if we honor the Name of the Lord in our temple and choose to live as His Children than we have His Power and Authority in this world which will consistently produce His Glory. Honoring God is not something we say or even something that we do. (Isaiah 29:13) It is what we believe and who we are. We become “special utensils” for His Use which makes His Glory flow in us and through us. This will change every outcome in your life. I expect God to work for me. I depend on Him for what I need and the desires of my heart. When my mind rebels against such thinking, I dive right back into His Presence. Why? I tried Him. I trusted Him. He has delivered over and over again. When I tried to give Him the glory and honor due, Jesus gave it right back to me because we share it.

Romans 5:1-2 (NLT)
Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.

Why? Why would God give His Glory to me? One reason – Jesus Christ. Faith in Jesus Christ is the only reason that we will ever receive the manifestation of God’s Glory in our life. When God shines through it is because we have allowed Jesus to wash away our sin and now life transparently before the Lord. Will you sin? Of course, we will. Will you fall short? Every single day. By faith, we accept salvation and grace that gives us the undeserved privilege of His Glory. It is not something we can give back to God because that would mean that there was a separation. The Glory of God in our life is because we remain connected by faith and trust to Jesus Christ as our confident hope. Nothing can separate us from His Love. Or can it? If we allow sin, darkness, doubt or fear to become greater than our faith, we will not experience such things. Faith is the key to God’s Glory. We lift Him up by choosing to give our life to Him and live it His Way. “Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises.” (Romans 4:20-21) I want to be like Abraham so set on the Lord that I never waver from believing God’s Promise. I want stronger faith each day that brings glory to God so He can pour it right back in my life. I want to be fully convinced that God is able to do whatever He promises. This is to be His Temple and live for His Glory.

2 Timothy 2:19-21 (NLT)
But God’s truth stands firm like a foundation stone with this inscription: “The LORD knows those who are his,” and “All who belong to the LORD must turn away from evil.” In a wealthy home some utensils are made of gold and silver, and some are made of wood and clay. The expensive utensils are used for special occasions, and the cheap ones are for everyday use. If you keep yourself pure, you will be a special utensil for honorable use. Your life will be clean, and you will be ready for the Master to use you for every good work.”

I am concerned about young people today. They have been raised by a generation of parents who have tried to build perfect existences, myself included. We give them everything. I am embarrassed at the size of my daughter’s closets bursting with more clothing than they could ever wear. Grown-up kids play house rather than building homes because both sets of parents enable them to. The church suffers because of it as the new families come with a sense of entitlement but no real commitment. The Lord wants to share His Glory with us but the structure of our temple must be reinforced with faith again. The Lord knows who are His and just like parents who overindulge children, He wants to fill our life with every good and precious promise that He has. But He does not want faulty structures that cannot stand the storms of life or endure to the end. What good is God’s Glory now if in the end we have not lived as one with God’s Glory and Kingdom? The Cornerstone is Jesus Christ. He is the Word of God who was wrapped in flesh to share God’s Love for us. We must do everything in our power to be special utensils. We must teach our children to honor God with their life rather than bestowing on them entitlement. My children are my glory. They resonate my greatest accomplishment on the earth. They are a reflection of who I am. This is what we are to be to God – a reflection of who He is in our life! So today as I fail to give God proper glory and honor with mere words, I must strive to do one better and give Him my life. Over and over, day after day. As His Glory builds in my life, I will become the one who reflects the Glory of God. He is the Giver of Glory. I want to be set apart for His Glory and Honor as a special utensil. It will require my way and my will and my words. Everything I am for all that He is. The only way to glorify God is to let God’s Glory be displayed in my life.

2 Thessalonians 1:11-12 (NLT)
So we keep on praying for you, asking our God to enable you to live a life worthy of his call. May he give you the power to accomplish all the good things your faith prompts you to do. Then the name of our Lord Jesus will be honored because of the way you live, and you will be honored along with him. This is all made possible because of the grace of our God and Lord, Jesus Christ.

Command Change – A Devotion

Command Change

Daniel 9:22-23 (NLT)
He explained to me, “Daniel, I have come here to give you insight and understanding. The moment you began praying, a command was given. And now I am here to tell you what it was, for you are very precious to God. Listen carefully so that you can understand the meaning of your vision.

The moment you began praying, a command was given. That very second that you cried out to the Lord in desperation, He immediately had a response for you. There are people who have a habit of talking and not listening. They will ask a question, but not wait for a response. Many people talk at God the very same way. They will pray about their worries, concerns and burdens but walk away before they every get understanding or resolution. We forget that God has a Voice and speaks to those who will listen. But we don’t want talk, human beings want action. Immediate gratification is the only thing that will do but it doesn’t always work that way. In most cases, if we are not getting what “we” want when we pray for His Will then we move forward with our plan. Endurance grows in our ability to wait on the Lord, but He does not leave us alone to wait for change. We have the power to command change in our life. When Daniel prayed, the moment that he prayed, there was a command given in Heaven. Nothing but the best for His Children is God’s Command for us. To come boldly to the Throne of God is not about acting out, sucking up or even demanding our rights, it is an acceptance of God’s Will, His Way and His Word that has been afforded us by the Grace offered by Jesus Christ. Daniel did not have that benefit because Christ had not come yet. Yet, when He prayed as a faithful and uncompromisingly righteous man – He released a command! You can too!

When the angel, Gabriel, came to Daniel it was not to change or fix his situation. It was be bring Daniel insight and understanding. The very first thing that encouraged Daniel with was God’s Faithfulness. Do you believe that God is faithful today? Is it enough that God gave you His Word that when you pray, a command is given in Heaven? Faith in God is not only in the moment your miracle happens or your blessing arrives, it is what you do in the waiting that God sees and honors. The realization of hope ends our need for it any longer. Hope does not disappoint because when it comes we are satisfied. But are you satisfied just knowing that He is faithful? The secret to commanding change in our life is in believing in the Power of God and His Faithfulness before you ever see things begin to turn around. Do you believe today? If you are going through hell today with all its fiery trials, what is steaming from your mouth complaints or commands? Prayer issues a command in Heaven. It is a command for change.

James 5:13-15 (NLT)
“Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray. Are any of you happy? You should sing praises. Are any of you sick? You should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord. Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well. And if you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven.”

Prayer changes things. It sounds so cliché and in fact has become just a saying anymore. If we as the Body of Christ truly believed that Power of Prayer to change our circumstances, situation and overall life, we would pray a whole lot more. Prayer is not asking for something that God has not planned and Jesus provided for us. It is a command for it to be released as we accept it by faith. It is our way of telling God “yes” to His Plan and Promise for our life. Are you going through hardship? Have you prayed? Prayer offered in faith by believing in God and His Ability will produce results in our life. It sows seeds in our righteousness with God that will grow, develop and mature into all of God’s Promises. But most of the time, we do not ask the Lord for anything until we can do nothing about our current situation on our own. He is our rescue remedy rather than first defense. But what if you pray and healing does not come? Oh, if you prayed it is coming. The command was issued that moment. God has a plan for your life. It contains a future and hope. Some of us travel a great distance from His Glorious Standard of Living that requires some details to be perfected (Psalm 138:8) and other some things changed for our good (Romans 8:28). With that in mind, God issues the command for your life to line up with His Word, Will and Way but He will not allow a single detail to be wasted along the way. We want immediate relief, but the Lord wants complete renewal and restoration. He will not rescue you from your present circumstances. He wants to use them to bless you – including every single one. We have prayed for our son’s healing for almost three years now. He has had cancer five times in that time. Did God answer our prayers? Yes. Each time the cancer was gone completely. But he has had it five times? I think the biggest issue most people have with God is His Timing. The command goes out but no one waits for it to actually happen. Second would be His Way. If God doesn’t do what He promises the way that we think it should happen, too often we decide that He is not going to do it at all. Prayer changes things. Prayer releases a command in Heaven. We must learn to watch and wait until it comes God’s Way in His Timing according to His Plan.

Matthew 6:7-8 (NLT)
“When you pray, don’t babble on and on as people of other religions do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again. Don’t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him!”

Prayer is an opportunity to fully accept the benefits of right standing with God. Nothing new happens when we pray so there is no need to beg or plead with the Lord. It’s not let’s make a deal where you negotiate “I will if YOU will.” He will if you do. What came first the chicken or the egg may be a debate as long as this world exists – but the Truth is in the beginning was God. The Word (Jesus) was with God. His Spirit hovered waiting to facilitate His Word. Before you and I – there was God and He had a plan for your life. A good plan with a future and hope that He is ready to send your way! The Plan is not consistent with our life style or choices but the consistency of God. The Power of Prayer is not in our petition but in our persistence. (Matthew 7:7-8) Prayer establishes our dependency on the Lord and our desire for His Will in our life. Not my will, but Your Will God. It accepts His Best as our desire. Those committed to a life of prayer in seasons of great need or even when things are going pretty well establish a consistent need for Christ in their life as an active participant. God’s Word tells us what to pray for in alignment with His Will. His Spirit inside of us will actually pray for us when we do not have the words to say or even know what it is we need. (Ephesians 6:18)

2 Chronicles 7:14-16 (NLT)
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. For I have chosen this Temple and set it apart to be holy—a place where my name will be honored forever. I will always watch over it, for it is dear to my heart.

My eyes will be open and my ears attentive to every prayer made in this place. When God’s Temple was dedicated in the Old Testament, the Lord was pleased with the structure that they had built for His Presence. He noticed the faithfulness of His People in its construction. But here is the most important part of this promise, “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…” We want God to answer our prayer without living in covenant or committed to the Lord. This is an Old Testament Promise made possible by a New Testament Savior. Prayer works. We don’t do the work, but accept the promise by faith. Commitment to righteousness demonstrates faithfulness to God, and is interpreted as belief. When Jesus Christ died on the Cross later releasing His Spirit, you and I became the Temple of God. (I Corinthians 6:19-20) We honor the Sacrifice of our Lord, Jesus Christ by living a life of holiness which is nothing more than turning from our wicked ways and seeking God’s Face every day. This is an act of giving up our life to serve Him. It is how we humble ourselves by accepting His Plan as a better option our life despite the fact that we do not have all the details or an outline of what is to come. We accept it by faith in the Lord and the unprecedented Power of His Love. We live what we believe by praying and communicating with the Lord and remaining faithful while His Command turns into the Promise we have been waiting for. God detests the prayers of those who ignore His Law found in His Word which is His Way. (Proverbs 28:9) We must remain true to our commitment to the Body of Christ as a resident of His Kingdom and temple for His Spirit. (Psalm 17:3-6)

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

Are you ready for a change? Do you need a change in your life today? It begins with prayer. The command is issued in Heaven as God begins to work out all the details for your good. I understand just how hard it is sometimes to maintain a life of prayer when nothing seems to point to anything other than random fate. But my life is far from random and I am no longer subject to fate but a wonderful and glorious plan designed by God that is more than I could ever think to ask for. I cannot help but believe all of the trials, troubles and hardship must amount to something far greater than I can imagine in the pain and sorrow they have caused along the way. Each day I must strive to pray about everything which releases commands for change in Heaven. I can tell God what I need but more importantly I must be thankful for all He has done including the things I can see and those not yet recognized. The Holy Spirit inside of me will whisper instruction and give me understanding if I approach prayer as a conversation and not chronic complaining. Faith in God’s Word, Will and Way will blanket my life in peace that guards my heart so it will not be forever broken and mind so that I will not be distracted by the enemy’s roars. Command change in your life today by reestablishing communication with our Awesome God today. Have confidence in His Plan finding affirmation in His Word and by His Spirit. Decide to wait until your prayer for His Promise becomes a reality. God has not changed His Mind and He will not change His Way to accommodate us and our unwillingness to wait. Don’t forfeit your dream or give up on that vision but press in and pray today. Widen the boundaries of your prayer life to include the needs of others. Command change to come in your life today – it all begins with you! “As I was praying…” (Daniel 9:21)

I Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NLT)
Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

Super Power – A Devotion

Super Power

Romans 12:21 (NLT) Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.

Today our son will undergo a bone marrow transplant. It is touted to be his new birthday. After undergoing radical chemotherapy to eradicate as much of his bone marrow as possible to the point of death, today he will be given back his “life” in the form of four million stem cells taken previously from his body. Each day I meet the Lord in this place where I ask Him to tell me something new. I want to hear anything that will empower my faith and allow me to stand just one more day. Somewhere in the last three years, I have given up trying to stand on my own. This life just became too much to handle. There was not enough of me to go around so I asked the Lord to take over. I need Him more than breath to survive this adventure and thrive in its midst. So on this highly anticipated and long sought after morning, I was quite expectant. What would the Lord tell me today? How would He encourage me? How would Jesus strengthen me today? I woke up with one thing on my mind – Spiderman. Perplexed as I continued to mull around to stimulate clarity as I prepared to dive in the world, I kept mulling this figure over and over in my head. What does Spiderman have to do with any of this? Then came a verse that I had not thought of in years…”Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good!” It’s funny how I remember scripture in the New King James Version and even the Old King James sometimes. All those scripture memory verses I guess being called back into my thoughts, and to think I did it for the candy! So I looked it up in the New Living Translation which has become my go-to and look what I found. It is all about becoming a conqueror! Are you more than a conqueror today?

Romans 8:37-39 (NKJV)
Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

I am not really sure if Spiderman is our son’s favorite superhero or not. He is the tall quiet type. He does have a Spiderman shirt. On many occasions, he has told the doctors that after all the scans, imaging, chemotherapy and radiation that he and his children will have superpowers. I think he may be right. He has certainly earned them. True character is revealed in the hardships and pressures of life when it squeezes our truest potential from the deepest recesses of our heart. The heart holds many secrets. It has desires that sometimes we are not even aware of. In that moment that our heart is broken, the contents are revealed. Peter Parker was orphaned by his parents as a baby when they were tragically killed in a plane crash. He was sent to live with his elderly aunt and uncle who raised their beloved nephew as their own. Peter was a shy guy and quite the nerdy one – sound familiar. Anyone who knows our son knows that he is shy and well you get it. When Peter is bit by a radioactive spider something happened and he began to develop arachnid-characteristics that would become his superpowers. Peter tested his powers in a wrestling match and became an overnight sensation donning a costume to maintain his shy, humble existence and escape the attention. His plan was to continue to use these powers to support the people who loved him first and provide for them. At one point, he witnessed a burglary and allowed the burglar to escape when he could have apprehended him. The escape would prove fatal as a short time later the burglar turned murderer shooting and killing Peter’s Uncle Ben. Now this is the point when his heart is broken and he must decide the man that he would become with the powers he had been given. I am perfectly aware that Peter Parker and Spiderman are fictitious characters created for entertainment. However he is the epitome of the struggle of all mankind as we determine the course of our life as we live it. The bite that gave Peter his powers was painful. His future uncertain so he made the best of it. But the real decision came after his life was turned upside down and nothing was as he expected. Guilt and regret consumed him. He could have prevented this tragedy. We will never be able to prevent trials, tests, and hardships – they are a part of life. What we can work on is our heart so when it comes to such things they do not overcome us but we overcome evil with good!

What good? God is good! We become more than a conqueror when the Eternity placed in our heart (Ecclesiastes 3:11) is exposed and faith grows out of our brokenness. It is the point when we are overcome by weakness and His Grace becomes sufficient for ME! (2 Corinthians 12:9-10) It is when hope forms an anchor that keeps us firmly in love with Jesus Christ when the storms of life seem to bring every power from hell against us. It all begins by accepting the Love of Jesus Christ! Nothing can separate us from the Love of God. His Spirit comes to live inside of us and is our super power. It doesn’t matter what the enemy brings about to cause chaos in our life we can overcome in every situation. The battle has already been one. Jesus Christ overcame the world. (John 16:33) The more of our heart and mind that we give to have the same attitude as Christ the greater His Power becomes in our life. We win. In every situation, we win.

I Corinthians 15:56-57 (NKJV)
The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

What is our greatest fear? Death, of course. Oh I know – you are not afraid to die until a doctor tells you that you or a loved one may not make it. When faced with the reality of mortality, it is clear that a decision must be made. Jesus walked into hell snatched the keys to death and walked out handing them to us. What will you do with it? If Christians really believed that death has been overcome by Jesus Christ, they would live differently. They would act differently. They would talk differently. They would be different. We lack confidence in the Cross. Don’t be offended it’s true but we can change. The great thing is Jesus did not give up His Power or take it from us when we refuse to believe. No it is in us. It is part of us. Grace and mercy cover us so if we don’t get it today, we can surely figure it out tomorrow. It takes practice this walking by faith thing. It is not natural. Just as Peter Parker had to learn how to use his spidey senses, Children of God have to learn to live supernaturally. Guilt and shame are removed the law has been satisfied and your sin debt paid. The power belongs to us. Now it is up to us to use it. We have victory in Jesus Christ. Now it’s time to learn to live with super power!

Ephesians 3:16-21 (NLT)
I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.

The Lord has given you super power today. It belongs to you. There is no greater force in the universe than God’s Power. He is Sovereign. Whether we believe or not is irrelevant. The Power of God was given to you when you decided to accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. It will take some getting used to. You will have to learn how it works and the best way to use it. God’s Power is working in you to make good in every detail of your life even those things that threaten to break our heart. (Romans 8:28) He perfects all that concerns us. (Psalm 138:8) God is able to do more than we can even think to ask for. All we have to do is experience the Love of Jesus Christ which is in and of itself too great to understand. I did not learn these things growing up in church. I did not learn them in the wilderness of life. I found them to be true when my heart was forever broken and our son was diagnosed with cancer not once but four separate times. I discovered His Power when I wanted to give up after being denied by the insurance company four times. I appealed to anyone who would listen and even some that would not. When everything fell apart, I found that I had it all together. Not because I knew what to do but because of Who knew me and loved me anyway. You have the power to overcome any situation today. It doesn’t matter what the doctor said, he does not have authority over your life. The only thing you owe this world is to love the people in it. As Christ makes His Home in our heart and is no longer treated like a visitor who we invite during the hard times and ignore every other time, you will begin to understand the vastness of His Love. You will discover a fortress like no other in His Presence. You will find power that you have had all along just never really knew how to use. No weapon formed against you will prosper but you will in the midst of famine and drought. You are full of super powers today. Tap in to the Holy Spirit inside of you. Allow Him to transform you into who God created and equipped you to be. Expect the supernatural today and you will find it simply because you changed your perspective. Be super today!

Philippians 3:8-11 (NLT)
Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith. I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!

I Must Forgive – A Devotion

I Must Forgive

Colossians 3:12-14 (NLT)
Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.

As I was praying for a loved one this morning, the Lord dropped in my spirit the word “forgiveness”. Now if you are wondering how I know that it was God, if you are filled with His Spirit you know when He is trying to talk to you about something. The crazy thing is that although this word was for someone specifically, I found that before my prayer time had ended God made it about me. I must forgive. I will preface this statement with the notion that I am a very forgiving person. I am not quick to get angry or hold a grudge. Just never really was that kind of person, if you give me a little while I am over it. I just don’t hold on to it, nurture it or keep the offense. Some people are just like that for whatever reason. Then there are others who are constantly holding a grudge, mad at someone or bitter about something. The person who I was praying for this morning has every reason imaginable to be angry, mad, offended and unforgiving of the person in question. But as a born again child of God this person forfeits their right to be angry, mad, offended and unforgiving as they have accepted the Mercy of God when they asked Jesus Christ to be their Savior and Lord. As I searched my heart, I knew exactly who God was looking at, Christ was pointing at and the Spirit was guiding me to in my life. I am not amused. I will be honest. I do not want to forgive this person along with all the wife beaters, baby killers and other abusers in this world. I have no compassion for them. This is not what the Father’s Love instilled in me is for. The sad reality is that sin is sin. God does not put a hierarchy or grading system on sin. The gossiper is just as heinous as the murder. Thievery just as bad as lying. That is exactly what His Love is for – forgiveness. God’s Grace ended the need for sacrifice to pay for our sin. The laws of this land has given different values to a range of offenses. The bottom line is that sin is sin to God – it is all the same. It doesn’t matter what I think about it all that matters is what His Word says and what I do about it. But Lord what if I don’t want to forgive?

God chose me to be a holy person he loves very much. He has set me apart and consecrated me to be a special utensil for His Special Use. As a priest of the Most High God, I must clothe my life appropriately in tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience making allowance for each other’s faults and forgiving anyone who offends me. The problem is that sometimes I take grace for granted as an excuse to choose to ignore parts of God’s Mandate for my life. For example, I try to excuse the one thing I refuse to do that the Lord is leading me to do by offering up all the other things that I do right and all the things others may be doing wrong to argue my case. The problem is that my case is closed. My debt has been paid in full. I owe nothing to this world but love. I Corinthians 13:3-4 is clear when it says, “If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.” It goes on to say that “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.” Love in a nutshell. Love does not demand its own way which obviously creates division. It is not irritable so no squabbling. It keeps no record of being wronged which is unforgiveness. I do not want to forgive this person. I must forgive them.

Matthew 6:12 (NLT) “…and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us.”

When we request forgiveness for our sins, it must be understood that we are required to release the world from any transgression committed against us. Debt creates expectation. When we “expect” an apology, repayment, or recompense of any form or fashion than we forfeit our right to grace. It means that we believe that we deserve more than God expects. We have set a higher standard which is rebellion against the Kingdom of God. God’s Unfailing Love is lavished on us through the Grace of Jesus Christ. Our life is now complete thanks to the Cross. Or is it? When we decide that another person is unworthy of that kind of love, we have missed the point completely. Sin is any kind of iniquity (gross injustice), rebellion (resistance or defiance of authority) or any other regrettable, reprehensible action offensive to Divine Law. If we assess our life appropriately, it is clear that we sin every day in innumerable ways most of the time without even trying. Sin is our nature. But then again so is pride. To become the new creation and/or person possible through the transformation of Jesus Christ we must learn to forgive. Why? Because God has forgiven us. Plain and simple we forgive because He has forgiven us. That doesn’t mean that the other person’s attitude and actions were not wrong. It does not mean that they were not hurtful, harmful or heartbreaking. It just means that God’s Love is greater than anything or anyone that we come in contact with so it will cover every sin committed against us or injustice in our life. Forgiveness of my sin works in conjunction with and cooperatively with my ability to forgive other people. I must be willing to forgive those who offend me. If you are thinking, you don’t understand – “I can’t…I just can’t.” Oh yes you can, and I will tell you why…

Lamentations 3:22-23 (NLT)
The faithful love of the LORD never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, “The LORD is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!”

God’s Faithful Love for you never ends. Each morning, the Lord gives us mercy for not just our sins but to share with others. He does this every single day without fail because He knows we are going to need them that much. Forgiveness is born of the attitude that the Lord is my inheritance. He is enough. I will hope in Him. Faith placed in other people will never produce a prospering soul just many opportunities to exercise forgiveness. Faith placed in the Lord will produced hope. Hope will never disappoint you but people will. They will let you down, turn you in, turn you out, use you, abuse you, offend you and harm you – and that my friend is just your family. We must be willing to forgive because God has given us everything that we need to live a godly life including enough mercy to spread it around thick in our life and the lives of other people. Is the person who you are unwilling to forgive really worth all the time and energy that you are investing in being mad at them? Are they worth your new life in Christ? Are they more important than your soul?

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (NLT)
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.

Is the Grace of God demonstrated and made available to us through the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ enough for you? This is not a question to be taken lightly as the future of your life and confidence in your hope totally depends on your answer. Is His Grace enough for you? Does it satisfy you no matter what the circumstances around you are? Is He all that you need? If His Grace is enough for us – if it is sufficient in the remission of sin and transformation of our mind, soul and body than friend – you must forgive. There was a story just the other day of a man who caught an abuser molesting his young son who beat the offender severely until he was unconscious. He told the young man once he was in custody and came to that if he did not love God than he would have killed him. Now this story caused a lot of mixed reactions and comments to be posted obviously. This story should promote profound sadness in us. The depravity of this world knows no bounds but whether you and I like it or not the same Jesus that died for the dad and his son in this story died for the pedophile sex offender, too. I don’t understand it. I don’t want to even believe it sometimes but it is true. Grace takes over our life when we understand that His Love and Sacrifice is enough for us to extend his love and grace even to the most violent offender. We must forgive. It must become as basic as not being moved when cut off in traffic or a door slammed in our face. It means that those people who spitefully used you and abused you are given forgiveness and mercy. You don’t have to have it to give but let the Holy Spirit have His Way with your heart. You focus on loving the Lord while He continues to give you mercy and grace for those around you.

Psalm 103:2-4 (NLT)
Let all that I am praise the LORD; may I never forget the good things he does for me. He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies.

All that I am cannot praise the Lord until all that I am belongs to Him. When I choose unforgiveness, I give a stake in my life to someone who is unworthy. If I can just focus my attention on the One who loves me most, maybe just maybe I can muster up enough mercy and grace for forgive the unforgiven in my life. Forgiveness leads to healing. Healing in our life is not just physical but spiritual and emotional. Forgiveness takes back the pieces of our life give to lesser things so the Lord can use it to make us whole, complete and lacking no good thing. God has crowned us with love and mercy. Think about a “crown” which indicates power and authority. God leads us with love, grace and mercy so as members of His Kingdom we are to live our lives under the same leadership and authority. We must walk in love. You cannot do that bound by unforgiveness. Love prospers when a fault is forgiven. (Proverbs 17:9) The Lord wants to prosper your life today. Is unforgiveness keeping your promises from pouring into your lap or His Blessings from overflowing in your life?

Luke 6:36-38 (NLT)
You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate. Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you. Forgive others, and you will be forgiven. Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.

As we strive to be God-like adopting the same attitude of Jesus Christ, we will become compassionate because He is. Jesus did not come to condemn the world, so how can we be entitled to do such a thing. Jesus came to forgive. As followers of Jesus Christ, we are forgivers. Humbled by His Love, we must learn to gladly give forgiveness as much as we long to receive it. What happens next? Prosperity as it comes back to us pressed down, shaken together, running over and poured directly into our lap. You decide the love, joy and peace that flows through your life. You determine if you will be healed, restored, renewed or redeemed. Forgiveness is given to us by God with the choice to use it or not. If you forgive, you will be forgiven. If you forgive, you will be healed. If you forgive, you will prosper. Unforgiveness limits the effectiveness of prayer just like any other sin. (Mark 11:24-28) Unforgiveness is the mark of unbelief that leads to our destruction. Intimacy with God begins with forgiveness and is maintained the same way. (Psalm 86:1-5) The Holy Spirit promotes forgiveness and unity in our life. (John 20:22-23) Learning how to forgive completely and quickly empowers our life. It positions us to receive all the Promises of God given to those who believe. Jesus uses forgiveness to bless us as He works to complete us from the inside out. Is there someone you need to forgive today? It doesn’t have to be logical just do it. Say this with me right now:

“Dear Lord, I come to you today and ask you to forgive me of every sin that I have committed. I ask you to wash me in the Blood of Jesus. Lord, I forgive (insert person’s name) of their harm, abuse, insult, offense, injury or any other hardship or hurt that they have caused in my life. Lord, I ask you to break the chains of unbelief that once kept me bound to this offense. Lord, help me to maintain my friend today by holding tightly to hope. I trust you that your Grace is enough for my life. I will work to gather your mercies each morning and share them with the world. In Jesus Name I pray…Amen!”

I must forgive. You must forgive. Together as we work the Love and Mercy of God through our lives, we will be set free to experience His Prosperity brought forth when we say, “I forgive you in Jesus Name!”

Proverbs 17:9 (NLT)
Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends.