Hobby, Habit or Holiness

hobby habit or holiness

Luke 14:26-30 (NLT) “If you want to be my disciple, you must, by comparison, hate everyone else—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple. And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple. But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of money, and then everyone would laugh at you.

In January, my husband and a group of men arranged to go duck hunting. They planned the excursion for months. Purchased mounds of hunting gear and ammunition. Planning included requesting leave from jobs, making hotel reservations and mapping out travel. Everyone paid their portion of the hunting lease and provided for meals and expenses. When the calendar finally fell on the travel date, the weather conditions took a dramatic turn for the absolute worst. It was below freezing. The lakes and ponds frozen over. Each morning they would trudge out to the field, break through the ice, set the decoys and lay in the blinds in the frigid conditions. They didn’t get a single one. They paid a high price yet got a miserable return other than the lease owner offering them a free return visit at the beginning of hunting season. This hunting hobby is new to our family.

We all have hobbies in life. It may be a variety of different things. Activities or interests pursued for pleasure and relaxation but no as a main occupation. I recently began repurposing old furniture. Reconditioning them is therapeutic to me. I was purchasing some pieces from a new acquaintance who encouraged me to sell the pieces rather than giving them away. I don’t really want to do that because I do this to escape the world and get lost in something creative. It is a hobby. Since most pieces are this side of tossing in the garbage, my investment is limited other than time spent cleaning, repairing, sanding and painting. It brings me peace. The great thing about a hobby is that I can choose how much of my time, talent and treasure that I invest in it. If I walk away for a few weeks, a month or so – it has not impact on me, my family or future other than a few choice words from my husband about the clutter in the garage. It is good to have hobbies in life.

What about habits? Those things that are not necessarily for pleasure or relaxation but driven by routine and schedule. Most adults have certain habits instilled by the values imbedded by the example of their parents or mentors. Some habits are formed by a desire to change certain behaviors, trends, circumstances or conditions. Habits can be good or bad. It is just what we do, who we are, and the choices we make. A habit is an acquired behavioral pattern regularly followed until it becomes involuntary. The word “involuntary” means independent of our will and not by our own choice. There are habits worth giving up for better health, emotional wellness, and spiritual awakening.

Church can become a habit. Religion is the routine of the church for organizational purposes. Habits and routines are comfortable. They give way to complacency in life and love. We must evaluate our habits as often as our heart to see our motivation. Do I do the things I do because I have always done them this way? Is there a better way? Is this a Christ-like endeavor or just something I do to fit in to my social group? Church is known for cliques and many times it is the birthplace of complacency as our pursuit of God is tempered by the other sheep in our fold. Is church a weekly habit? Is it an occasional hobby? If our relationship to Jesus Christ can be defined as either it is up to us to count the cost of becoming a disciple. Hobbies and habits do not produce holiness. It is not the way of those who desire God’s Kingdom and His Riches in Glory. It is just another way the enemy is keeping our churches and communities from experiencing revival.

2 Corinthians 6:16 (NLT) For we are the temple of the living God. As God said: “I will live in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they will be my people.

When Jesus died, He released the Holy Spirit. On the Day of Pentecost, the Lord made it clear that the new dwelling place of His Spirit was in His People. Those who opened their hearts and minds to Jesus Christ and desired Him as Savior and Lord would house His Spirit. The church moved from the outside world to inside God’s People. Empowering them with new purpose and new power. When Jesus told the people that He would destroy the temple that it took 46years to build and rebuild it in three days, (John 2:15-21) He was referring to His Death which destroyed religion and His Resurrection that move His Church from buildings to bodies. As believers – we are the church. Not just any church of any denomination, we are the Temple of the Living God. Holy inhabitation is the cornerstone of holiness. Holiness is not a hobby or habit. It is who we are in God through Jesus Christ. We must become holy because God is holy. (Leviticus 19:2) His Presence in us forces an evaluation of our contribution to the Kingdom. Are we mere contributors or fully committed to the Cause called Christ in us?

Proverbs 20:25 (NLT) Don’t trap yourself by making a rash promise to God and only later counting the cost.

Have I made a rash (acting too hastily without due consideration)? We all are prone to say, “Yes” to many things without proper consideration or careful contemplation. Why? Who doesn’t want the affirmation and acceptance of others? Our “yes” is often based on meeting the expectation of others rather than fully consideration what it requires or what the desired outcome may be. We must count the cost of discipleship and decide if it is the life desired. Why is this important? At the end of my life, I will meet Jesus face-to-face. If I invested in the Kingdom as a hobby, I do not believe that He will say, “Well done, though good and faithful servant!” A hobby is something I do for me. Me alone. It is for my relaxation and my personal pleasure. Is that what I signed up for when I came to Jesus Christ? Is that what He was really offering? I don’t think so.

Is my commitment to Jesus Christ a habit? Has it become just another routine and scheduled event added to the long list of responsibilities in my life? Is it my religion or a true relationship? The truest test of religion verses relationship is passion. Am I passionate about loving, knowing, serving and following Jesus for the rest of my life? Or do I just go with the flow of the local church? Is my spiritual temperature set by the thermostat of my church or is it a flame being fanned and fueled by an All-Consuming Fire and burning desire to become His Disciple? To go where He goes, do what He does, and experience His Kingdom (as promised) on the earth as it is in Heaven. Hmm… makes me think. How about you?

Luke 14:26-27 (NLT) “If you want to be my disciple, you must, by comparison, hate everyone else—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple. And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple.

Holiness is not a religious preference. It is not an organized denomination. Holiness is God’s Mandate on the life of the believer. To be wholly consumed and filled with His Spirit. To passionately pursue the Calling and Purpose found only in Christ as He calls us a new creation. To bring Heaven to earth in our own life while connecting the Body and its intricate membership and parts coming together with one heart – one mind – and one purpose. To make Him greater and greater while I disappear in His Presence. Sounds good until one begins to count the cost. We decide if we will carry “our own cross”. Jesus died to set us free to choose the life we live. To “take up our cross” is become responsible for our membership as one part of the Body of Christ. I cannot live, breathe, move or exist as an effective part of the Body unless fully connected to and directed by Jesus Christ. He must be my motivation. He must be the One Thing that I am after. I hear you. Family comes first. It does right after Jesus Christ. To be a disciple of Jesus Christ is to discipline my body, mind and spirit that in all things Jesus is first which means if anyone else makes a contrary decision that it does not influence or impact my partnership with Jesus.

Love and grace are the foundation of this wonderful relationship. I cannot have my way and live successfully in any relationship. My relationships (all of them) must have Christ as a foundation. Even my relationships to my perceived enemies, even those who are considered a threat or constant thorn in our flesh have purpose in our life. God put them there for a reason. We do not systematically cut off difficult relations or those who don’t understand our faith and marriage to Jesus. We must learn to put all our expectation in Jesus Christ and trust Him with every other relationship that we have engaged in. We must always take up our cross and follow Jesus.

What do I give my life to? Is it possible to graph the timeline of my life? Of course, it is but do I really want to. How much of my day is focused on this cross I have chosen to carry versus all the other endeavors in my life? Ignorance is not bliss but the death of the good seeds ready to be planted and harvested in our life. The secret to a successful partnership with Jesus is found in His Word. Simply because Jesus is the Word. To decide not to know releases us from responsibility is not ignorance it is foolishness when all of creation displays the Glory of God. If I refuse to follow Christ – the Word of God tells me that I “am not worthy to of being called mine.” Holiness requires shirking off the filthy rags and donning a robe of righteousness. It means picking up the full armor of God to step into a victorious life. It means to put away pride and live in humility. It means giving up my way. If I cling to this life, I will lose it. If I give my life to Jesus fully, I will find my true purpose and live in fulfillment forever. (Matthew 10:37-39) It is a daily choice. (Luke 9:23)

Luke 14:28-33 (NLT) “But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of money, and then everyone would laugh at you. They would say, ‘There’s the person who started that building and couldn’t afford to finish it!’ “Or what king would go to war against another king without first sitting down with his counselors to discuss whether his army of 10,000 could defeat the 20,000 soldiers marching against him? And if he can’t, he will send a delegation to discuss terms of peace while the enemy is still far away. So you cannot become my disciple without giving up everything you own.

Our life is comprised of three things of worth: time, talent and treasure. These are the things that we have to invest in something or someone. It is totally up to me how I invest my life. Time is the most precious commodity because it is irreplaceable. Talent is only as valuable as the realization of that potential in our life. Treasure is every tangible thing we own whether we think it’s worth anything or not. To become a disciple of Jesus Christ and live a holy life is not what so many have made it out to be. It is to live our life fully consumed by Jesus Christ. To step out of self and into Christ completely. It means investing my time, talent and treasure into His Kingdom. It is to combine our resources with the Lord completely. Giving Him all our time. All of our talent. All of our treasure. Then stepping back and letting Him use it for His Glory. The problem is that we give our hobbies and habits too much time and there is not enough to pay the price of discipleship. Divided interest and diversified investments may create natural security by not putting all our eggs in one lifetime basket but if my heart and soul are set on Eternity – I must take all my life and invest it in Jesus Christ.

1 Timothy 2:5-6 (NLT) For, there is one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus. He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone. This is the message God gave to the world at just the right time.

When Jesus handed us the Keys to the Kingdom, the first key is marked “freedom”. I am now free to choose how I live my life. I choose my master. Asking Jesus to be our Savior is not enough, we must make Him our Lord to pledge allegiance to the Kingdom of God. I choose death or life each day. I choose blessing or otherwise. I decide if today will be to the Glory of God or pursue selfish interest. I get to choose. When I do, it determines my destiny. I cannot choose one course and expect to become part of the Kingdom. There is no middle of the road or gray compromise. Is my relationship to Jesus Christ a hobby? Do I do it for my own benefit and blessing but nothing more investing what is left of my time and energy? Is my relationship a habit? Do I take Him for granted? Rather than pursuing Him do I just pencil Him in? Is He part of the schedule or a routine measure? Do I every even think about Him or just do what I do and have done traditionally? Is my life ordinary? Is it just mediocre? Where is His Glory? It is not for the hobbyist or habitual Christian. It is for the intentional believer whose one desire is to be one with Christ. To put everything second. To give God the surplus of our life trusting Him with all of it. To follow Him relentlessly and passionately from beginning to end, no matter how deep the valley or high the mountain – no matter who comes with us. Does your love affair with Jesus have passion? Do you think about Him most of the time? See we have made this thing called discipleship a production but its not. It is the process by which our life, entire existence, is reconciled to God through Jesus Christ. It is how we achieve a state of holiness. It is not a hobby. It is not a habit. It is a relationship with the One who thought we were to die for. He gave up everything for me. I must reconcile my life to Jesus Christ to live a holy life. I must use my freedom to bring every part of my life into agreement with His Word, His Way and His Will. It is personal. Am I willing to give everything to Jesus? Lord, examine my heart and evaluate my life. Reconcile everything to you, Lord.

Acts 17:28 (NLT) “For in Him we live and move and exist.”

Shake It Off

Shake It Off

Acts 16:25-28 (NLT)

Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening. Suddenly, there was a massive earthquake, and the prison was shaken to its foundations. All the doors immediately flew open, and the chains of every prisoner fell off! The jailer woke up to see the prison doors wide open. He assumed the prisoners had escaped, so he drew his sword to kill himself. But Paul shouted to him, “Stop! Don’t kill yourself! We are all here!”

 

I must admit I have been fighting off discouragement. I think as believers, we must be real with people. To act like our new life in Christ is without challenges is to boast a lie. We still face trials, tests and even tragedy sometimes. The point of our salvation is to become a new creation. There is a whole lot of flesh and baggage to be discarded along the way. Can I get an “amen”? So with that in mind, please do not judge me in my actions. This morning I woke up to a dark and cloudy day which only allowed my mood and attitude to be persuaded to be the same. I kissed my husband, took out the dog and plopped in the chair at my desk. As the computer was loading, I began looking at Facebook on my charging IPad. First world “probs” as the kids might say. Twice on my timeline I found these words, “God has perfect timing, never early, never late, it takes a little patience but it’s worth the wait.” I get tired of waiting, don’t you? Watching, wondering and waiting for the Lord’s Promises to manifest in our life. I know His Word is true. He has proven to me over and over again that He is a good God and gracious Father, yet I still think sometimes that He takes too long. When the computer finally came to life, I went to the Bible that I use for study and typed the words “shake it off” in the search bar. Surely there would be nothing. Maybe there was a hint of sarcasm in my approach.

 

Well friend, God’s got jokes. Even when I am not happy with His Timing or my current placement, the Lord somehow manages to get through to me. The Lord doesn’t deserve my bad attitude or even my tapping foot. The great thing about Him is that He is so loving that He provides plenty of mercy and lots of grace so when I do grow tired of waiting or impatient in the process, I have what I need to hang on and not give up. It’s all God. He is an everlasting God. The Creator of everything. He does not grow tired or weary and with His Unfathomable Understanding and Unconditional Love allows us these moments to catch our breath and shake off those things keeping us from His Very Best.

 

Paul and Silas were in prison. They had been beaten, battered, and bruised. Their response was to worship God in the midnight hour – praying, singing and praising God! I have never been in jail. In fact, I do everything in my power to avoid such an experience. They were in this situation not for criminal acts but because of their faith. We are not far off in the society in which we live. In the midst of it all, there was a massive earthquake. Now before we get to the good part, think about it. It was an earthquake. The prison was shaken to its very foundation. This was no joke. The doors flew open and the chains of every prisoner fell off. Why did the Lord go to such lengths rather than just skipping to the part where doors opened and chains fell off? See this our problem as believers – we see our situation, experience the pressure of change, and feel the heat of our trial but He is an everlasting God. This is not permanent. Our condition is temporary. It is small in the grand design of God’s Purpose and Plan for us. We have faith in us that could move a mountain yet sometimes in the midnight hour – we have trouble believing for the smallest thing. One other note about this story, our life is a living, breathing testament to God, His Love, Grace and Goodness for all mankind. It would take something of epic proportions to make this more than a coincidence.

 

Psalm 62:1-2 (NLT)

I wait quietly before God, for my victory comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will never be shaken.

 

There is that nagging word again “wait”. My victory comes from Him. He “alone” is my rock and my salvation and my fortress where I will never be shaken. Never is a definitive word. Standing on my faith firmly in the Presence of the Living God – I never be shaken. I must put my faith in the Almighty God and leave it there despite my contradictory nature that wants fast answers and immediate gratification. Why? Because God is doing more than I could think or ask. (Ephesians 3:20) I know this to be true. He has done this over and over yet I still do not like to wait. But in my wait time – there is promise much bigger than my current need, want or desire. It is forever. I must be firmly established by faith in Jesus Christ. I must trust the Lord to secure victory in my life. What happens when my faith is tested? What happens when my timeline challenged? What happens when I am shaken naturally? See these yield important facts that can be applied to my life successfully if I pay attention.

 

Psalm 33:10-12 (NLT)

The Lord frustrates the plans of the nations and thwarts all their schemes. But the Lord’s plans stand firm forever; his intentions can never be shaken. What joy for the nation whose God is the Lord, whose people he has chosen as his inheritance.

 

God’s Plan is not challenged or change by our expectation. His Plan and Purpose for our life is predetermined as we are predestined. The mitigating factor is our ability to have faith and trust the perfection of His Plan by faith and wait for it. Obedience is crucial to fulfillment but disobedience does not change God’s Intentional Outcome for our life. It was long time in years gone by that if you stepped out of God’s Perfect Will that you could never go back. You would never attain God’s Best. If this were true, why would Jesus have died to provide grace to God’s People? If we could never live in total agreement with the Lord and obtain right standing then what would be the point? It just doesn’t make sense. The Lord’s Plan for our life is firmly established with a future and hope for all who choose to seek Him wholeheartedly. (Jeremiah 29:11-13) Note: it says nothing about being perfect just giving God your whole heart.

 

Genesis 27:38-40 (NLT)

Esau pleaded, “But do you have only one blessing? Oh my father, bless me, too!” Then Esau broke down and wept. Finally, his father, Isaac, said to him, “You will live away from the richness of the earth, and away from the dew of the heaven above. You will live by your sword, and you will serve your brother. But when you decide to break free, you will shake his yoke from your neck.”

 

Hebrews 12:15-17 (NLT)

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

Poor Esau. First, he sold his birthright to his brother because he was hungry. Then when he went to gather the meat for his father’s final meal, his brother stole his father’s blessing. Things just went from bad to worse for him. I am not sure why Esau’s life turned out the way it did. No one knows the contents of the heart except its owner and Creator. But I have found something useful in his story as I am struggling with impatience and dissatisfaction today. As his father scrambled to bless his son, he said these words, “But when you decide to break free, you will shake his yoke from your neck” (talking about Jacob). The enemy wants to yoke me in bitterness today. He wants to immerse me in pity. He wants to trip me with discouragement and depression. If he can strip me of my joy, silence my praise, he will thwart my victory. He will cause me to be shaken rather than me shaking off the yokes that he desires to kill my faith and bring death to my dreams. He cannot stop God’s Plan for my life. But his lies can stop me if I am shaken off the firm foundation of faith I have in Jesus Christ.

 

Bitterness comes in many forms and fashions. Each one a yoke on our back or tiny hook in our flesh that keep us from standing on the Word of God by faith until it comes to pass. He whispers maybe that’s not what God said, or not what He meant. Why does he “always” make you suffer these times of waiting? God has forgotten you. He doesn’t care about you. Every single one a lie yet the flesh wants to hold on to it as a means of escape. Our flesh must die for new life to come about. If we abandon God’s Word, His Will or His Way, our flesh gets to live another day but our soul is slowing dying.

 

I Samuel 4:5-7 (NLT)

When all the Israelites saw the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord coming into the camp, their shout of joy was so loud it made the ground shake! “What’s going on?” the Philistines asked. “What’s all the shouting about in the Hebrew camp?” When they were told it was because the Ark of the Lord had arrived, they panicked. “The gods have come into their camp!” they cried. “This is a disaster! We have never had to face anything like this before!

 

The Presence of the Lord used to be in the Ark of the Covenant. It represented the fact that God was with them. When the Presence of the Lord came into the Israelites camp, they began to shout. Not just any shout, but the kind of praise and declaration that made the ground shake. What might happen if we announced the Lord’s Presence the same way? We have no excuse. Greater is He who lives in me than he that is in the world. The Presence of God moved from a box carried outside to all of mankind in the form of God’s Spirit alive and well inside of us. We can shout right where we are, no matter what we are going through, even if we are waiting for God’s Hand to become evident in His Next Move. We do not have to wait but can begin to praise Him right now.

 

What happened next is pivotal to us as believers? When they shouted, the ground shook AND the enemy (the Philistines) panicked. The Lord was with them. They did not know what to do. Fear overtook them. What do you think the enemy will do if we begin to declare God’s Promise for our life? If we shout AMEN to God’s Word, Will and Way for our life? It we sing praises to the Lord in the middle of our situation or covered by circumstance, the enemy will flee. This is the resistance believers are missing today. We must resist the temptation to agree with the enemy and celebrate the Presence of the Lord even while we wait. In the pressing together and shaking down, we give God sacrificial praise because we are about to run over. (Luke 6:38) The secret was whispered by Isaac into Esau’s ear that day, “But when you decide to break free, you will shake his yoke from your neck.” The enemy wants to rope you in, but Jesus is ready to bust you out!

 

Psalm 16:5-8 (NLT)

Lord, you alone are my inheritance, my cup of blessing. You guard all that is mine. The land you have given me is a pleasant land. What a wonderful inheritance! I will bless the Lord who guides me; even at night my heart instructs me. I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.

 

My daughter and I were riding home from a restaurant last night discussing the promise on which we wait. She said, “Mom, are you sure you heard from God?” Without hesitation, I says, “Yes!” I needed to hear that and am quite convinced it was the Holy Spirit that motivated her to ask. I know the Voice of God. He has spoken to me before. I have had to wait before, too. I know that He promises good things to me. I know that I will see the Goodness of God in the land of the living. I know that He is my inheritance and holds a cup of blessing over my life. I know all these things yet still must shake off the lie of the enemy and the chains of bondage that come with each lie. The Lord guards all that is mine. I must guard my heart and build up my faith. All of God’s Promises are fulfilled with a resounding “Yes” and “Amen” in Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 1:20) Sometimes I forget that and need a reminder. Maybe just maybe this is why my life is shaken sometimes even if ever so slightly so the insufficiencies in my faith and trust are revealed for even bigger things. So today, I shake off fear, doubt, anxiety and impatience in Jesus Name. I will respond to waiting with love, joy, peace, praise and thanksgiving with the help of my Helper, the Holy Spirit. Today, I will wait and shake off anything that tells me not to any longer. The doors are opening. The chains are falling off. I am free again.

 

Hebrews 12:26-27 (NLT)

When God spoke from Mount Sinai his voice shook the earth, but now he makes another promise: “Once again I will shake not only the earth but the heavens also.” This means that all of creation will be shaken and removed, so that only unshakable things will remain.

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.”

 

 

 

I Want to Live Like That – A Devotion

I Want to Live Like THat

Psalm 103:1-5 (NLT)

Let all that I am praise the Lord; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name. 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. He fills my life with good things. My youth is renewed like the eagle’s!

 

I love Easter! Ever since I became a Christian, it has been one of my favorite holidays. There is something fresh and new this season each year as spring revives the earth. Each year around this time, I am gathering new outfits for each of the children which has now dwindled down to two. New shirts, pants, dresses and shoes all in preparation to celebrate Jesus who is alive and well. The thought has occurred to me recently what if we lived in anticipation of each Sunday as we do Easter Sunday. What if as institutions each church prayed and prepared the same way each week? What if families focused their attention on attendance as they do right before Easter? What if we gathered together with the same expectancy? What if we talked about the Blood of Jesus the same? What if we honored His Sacrifice as we do? Easter is one of the biggest Sundays in the church. Attendance skyrockets that day. Preachers talk candidly about the sacrifice that Jesus made and His Great Success overcoming the grave. But what if we lived like that every single day of the year?

 

Let all that I am praise the Lord! With my whole heart, I will praise His Holy Name. May I NEVER forget the good things that He does for me. I forget sometimes wrapped up in what I am waiting for – I will forget all that He has done for me already. Easter is all about me. We celebrate Jesus but the Work of the Cross was most definitely all about you and me. Everything Jesus did from birth to death to resurrection and finally ascension was all about us. He did it for us. The Lord lacked nothing. He did not need forgiveness or fulfillment. He wrapped Himself in flesh to deliver the message that we could once again live in right standing with God the Father and have a life filled with overcoming victory and abundant promises. I have that life because Jesus lives. I want to live like it.

 

Isaiah 53:4-6 (NLT)

Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him the sins of us all.

 

It was my weakness that Jesus carried to the Cross. It was the weight of my sorrow that kept Him there. It was my rebellion that required repayment. It was my sin that demanded a life. It was my sickness that beat Him. It was disease that tore into His Flesh. It was all about me. As I consider this I am overwhelmed with regret that there are days that in my inability to comprehend such comprehensive love that I take it for granted, but today will not be one of those days. Could it be that we forget the benefits of the Blood because it is an unpleasant sight? Maybe we don’t want to go back to the Cross where we “first saw the Light” because it is a gruesome discovery but that is where the “burdens of my heart rolled away.” Easter forces us back to the Cross and the Blood if only for a day, but what if we learned to live covered by the Blood at the foot of the Cross. What would happen then? Revival would happen. New life restored. Miracles would be common place all because someone ventured there and chose to remain there. I am convinced. So much so that I have purposed in my own heart to live like that!

 

Exodus 12:21-23 (NLT)

Then Moses called all the elders of Israel together and said to them, “Go, pick out a lamb or young goat for each of your families, and slaughter the Passover animal. Drain the blood into a basin. Then take a bundle of hyssop branches and dip it into the blood. Brush the hyssop across the top and sides of the doorframes of your houses. And no one may go out through the door until morning. For the Lord will pass through the land to strike down the Egyptians. But when he sees the blood on the top and sides of the doorframe, the Lord will pass over your home. He will not permit his death angel to enter your house and strike you down.

 

The very first memory that I have of Sunday school is being taught about Passover which means it was probably around Easter when my family attended. My grandmother would take me to church on the weekends that I spent with her. I can remember vividly being taught about the process despite my young age. Obviously I did not understand the significance of the story but now to read it again makes me think of the Blood with the new knowledge that I have of Jesus Christ. When you read this account, it just sounds really messy and heart wrenching. I cannot imagine walking out in a field and taking a baby lamb from its mama. Much less slaughtering it, draining its blood in a bowl, taking some branches and painting our doorpost in it. Praise the Lord that we do not have to continually sacrifice animals any longer but that the ultimate sacrifice has been made.

 

It was the blood placed on that doorway that caused the death angel to pass over that home and no one to be struck down. Since we have been saved and covered in the “Blood” of Jesus, we have sent one son to fight for this country and watched another overcome cancer not once but five times. You will never convince me that it wasn’t the Blood of Jesus that covers us that saved us every single time. I cannot even imagine the near misses when the Lord averted the death angel from our family that are not even aware of. The lamb’s blood lost its power and each Passover new blood was required. However, the Blood of Jesus Christ will never lose its power so I must live like it. I must remain covered in the Blood of Jesus and speak it over my life. It is the protective covering that keeps me safe from this life to Eternity physically and spiritually just like Jesus promised.

 

Hebrews 10:19-23 (NLT)

And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water. Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.

 

When our daughter moved to New Hampshire, she went to the Department of Motor Vehicles to renew her license with her married name and change residency to her new home. She called me and asked about becoming an organ donor. We chatted for a few minutes and she decided that she would do it. Now as her mother, I do not want to even think about a day when she would make such a gift of sacrifice but am proud that she would. Not too long ago, my son and I had this same discussion as we completed his advance directive just prior to the bone marrow transplant. The thought of the death of my children is just too much to consider even though I have been faced with it. Our oldest son went over his affairs with us just before departing for the Middle East. It is not pleasant to discuss the possibility of life after the death of a loved one. We don’t want to face death. We do not want our family or friends to die. We sympathize with strangers in loss as well. The reality is that everyone will die. We are born dying. It sounds harsh but it is true. What happens after death is what makes the difference between a tragedy or triumph. We decide if it is the end or only the beginning. What if we lived in new life every day?

 

We can! Just sided to open a new and life-giving way to live in the Presence of God every single day. If only I could become committed enough to do so and remain rooted and grounded in faith and confident hope every single day of this life so that when I step into forever it is not a jump but seamless transition from death to life. We can boldly and confidently live out the Word and Way of God each day including claiming His Promises and living in His Blessing. But to do so we must live in the Blood of Jesus and at the foot of the Cross. “It is there by faith that I receive my sight and now I am happy all the day.” The old church sang about the Blood and Cross but the new, modern day church avoids the subject all together. Lord, I want to live covered in the Blood of Jesus today and every day leading up to Easter and beyond. I want to remain at the foot of the Cross because I need you to survive this life. As we prepare for Easter this year, may it mark a renewed commitment to live in anticipation of the resurrection every single day that we have breath and wakeup to meet the morning sun! Lord, I want to live like that!

 

Hebrews 13:20-21 (NLT)

Now may the God of peace—who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep and ratified an eternal covenant with his blood—may he equip you with all you need for doing his will. May He produce in you through the power of Jesus Christ every good thing that is pleasing to Him. All glory to him forever and ever! Amen.

 

Not an Option – A Devotion

Not an Option

I Timothy 6:11-12 (NLT)

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

 

Why not just give up? No really, what is it in a believer that makes them tenacious and persistent in following Christ. We cannot see Him. We cannot feel Him or touch Him in a natural sense. We can only believe the Word of God and live according to His Spirit. But when the Spirit lives inside of you it is very difficult to discern between our voice and His Urgings especially at the beginning of our walk with the Lord. What is the benefit of becoming a man or woman of God in the sense that is asked of Timothy here in these verses? Run from all these evil things. Pursue righteousness. Live a godly life with faith, love, perseverance and gentleness. Fight the good fight for true faith. Hold tightly to the hope you have been called to which is eternal life. This is a lofty aspiration for forever but what is the benefit now? How do I know that my faith and confident hope are secure? Your faith is genuine and hope secure when giving up is no longer an option.

 

2 Samuel 23:11-12 (NLT)

Next in rank was Shammah son of Agee from Harar. One time the Philistines gathered at Lehi and attacked the Israelites in a field full of lentils. The Israelite army fled, but Shammah held his ground in the middle of the field and beat back the Philistines. So the Lord brought about a great victory.

 

A few weeks ago, our pastor shared the story of one of David’s mighty men named Shammah. The Philistines gathered and attacked the Israelites in a field full of lentils. Lentils are tiny peas. The giants proved to be strong adversaries and the Israelite army retreated but no Shammah. He held his ground and beat the Philistines. The Lord brought this man great victory because he took a stand. Yesterday, I shared that I walked away the day before. A bit of bad news was the final straw that broke the camel’s back. I was done. Finished. Fed up. Tired of trying. Mad at the world and honestly at God, too. I ranted, raved, carried on and picked up my toys to go home. But something inside me would not let me make good on my intent to walk away. God let me have a fit. He even let me rant and rave. But deep inside me, I knew that I couldn’t leave. I have come too far to turn back now. I have invested my life in faith and confident hope that the things of God are just as He promised and coming into my life.

 

Yesterday rather than a feeling of condemnation for my inappropriate behavior the day before I felt comfort. God wasn’t mad at me. He soothed my aching heart. Sitting in church, it dawned on me like sunrise over Shammah’s lentil field that I have invested my life in the pursuit of faith planting my expectation in the field called hope. I have put my entire life in that place. This is my field. To walk away now is unthinkable. To do so would be to surrender my harvest to the enemy and I am not willing to do that even though right now it just looks like broken ground with careful rows of planting – this will soon sprout into a harvest of God’s Glory in my life.

 

Romans 5:1-5 (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. We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.  And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

 

I stand in a place of undeserved privilege with God that is sometimes challenged by a human sense of entitlement that tells me I don’t have to take it anymore. I have peace with God that really irks the enemy because it is a position of power when it multiples my faith producing more and more hope. Confidence keeps me here in the struggle. God’s Glory is coming by faith I receive it when I believe. I will have problems. Each time I turn a problem or situation over to the Lord it plants me in righteousness by faith increasing the potential of my harvest. I will experience trials that teach me to endure. Endurance develops my character. Not because I am strong but in my weakness, I allow the Lord to dominate my life and change me into who I need to be to cultivate more of His Blessing and Promises in me. This is the starting point of prosperity. My faith being turned into confidence. Confident hope is nothing more than full assurance that what I believe will come to fulfillment. I have a credible source. The problem is most of the time – when things get uncomfortable people leave faith and hope behind for relief. I want, need and have to have the kind of faith that produces confident hope that never leads to disappointment. He has given me His Spirit so I am never alone. He has given me a life with purpose, plan and great potential. The faith in my heart must be cultivated in my life to the extent that the seed of His Word planted in my life is far greater than anything else the world has to offer. So when my faith is challenged and hope assaulted – I am willing to stand. This is my field and I will fight for it.

 

I Corinthians 10:12-13 (NLT)
If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall. The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.

 

This world does not operate like the Kingdom of God. Your enemy is ruling this planet. So rather than endure, wait and persevere, we live in a time of modern convenience. Immediate gratification is handed to us the moment we are born. The world flashes in living color. Debt has bound our society because we do not have to wait for what we want but can go get it right now whether we can afford it or not. Could this be a work of the enemy to produce a generation of people who cannot wait on God and choose to compromise rather than wait? Absolutely. But it backfired. This new up and coming generation are crying out for authentic faith and confident hope in a real God who is not digitized or animated. They want a real encounter with the God of the Universe. I love it. Everyone faces temptation in their life. No one is exempt. Only those who will wait and endure will see the harvest that faith and hope produce in our life. The enemy does not want us to have such a reward from the Lord so he tries to motivate us to give up, give in and move on. But I declare today in the Name of Jesus that this is my field. I planted my faith right here and I am not leaving until my harvest comes. This hope I have will not disappoint me unless I choose to abandon it altogether so I will wait and fight the good fight of faith.

 

Ephesians 6:12-13 (NLT)

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

 

The battle is on. The struggle is real. Do not underestimate the enemy’s agenda against you. It is foolish to try to ignore that the spirit realm is a real place in constant war. If you don’t think you have an adversary who seeks to steal, kill and destroy you – you have another thing coming friend. He is real. He is a vital threat if you abandon faith and confidence in God. You need every piece of that armor to stand and resist. You must be firm in your stand of faith and hope at the end of the battle you are facing to have the blessing that comes with it. The harvest is not in question. God chose you. He gave you right standing that comes with an inheritance. He designated your life for His Glory. (Romans 8:29-30) It is up to us if we want it or not.

 

2 Corinthians 1:20-22 (NLT)

For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes!” And through Christ, our “Amen” (which means “Yes”) ascends to God for his glory. It is God who enables us, along with you, to stand firm for Christ. He has commissioned us, and he has identified us as his own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the first installment that guarantees everything he has promised us.

 

We have been given all of God’s Promises. They are fulfilled in Jesus Christ. He says, “Yes!” There are times when our will does not line up with what the Lord has in mind and these are the times that we must survey our life to decide if we want what is planted in the field of faith or would rather settle or compromise for something less. He gives us that choice. No condemnation. Those who choose to stand firm for Christ will soon harvest the blessings planted in that place called faith in exchange for the confident hope that kept them from leaving a long time ago. Those who continue to plant seeds of righteousness in the field of faith will look over it and decide that there is too much there to turn back now so they will fight for their faith and wait on the Lord. Where are you today? I have admitted my struggle and found that in my weakness He becomes my strength. His Grace really is enough for me. I want everything God has promised me and more importantly my family. So I am not leaving my field… it is not an option. How about you?

 

I Corinthians 16:13 (NLT) Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong.

Live Like a Conqueror – A Devotion

Live Like a Conqueror

Romans 8:37 (NIV)

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 

 

Today is the big day! Cheerleading tryouts for our middle-schooler who fancies spreading happiness and joy in football stadiums, basketball arenas, and other playing arenas across our great city. Shocked when she came to me proclaiming her interest, since I know this kid. She does not “try-out” for anything. The pressure of being chosen just too great for our little perfectionist – it is easier just not to put yourself out there than accept the agony of defeat. She is the baby in our family used to being covered by six sets of wings that move in close and wrap themselves around her at the first sign of danger and disappointment. To say the least, this week has been nerve wracking when you add the mixture of adolescent emotional development to it. I am relieved today is Friday. I am elated that she will soon know her fate. I am also a bundle of nerves wrapped in complete motherly love that does not want our little girl heartbroken in any way shape or form.

 

We have spent the week mentally preparing more than anything else. I am not a cheerleader anymore. When I was a cheerleader, things were very, very different. There were no “cheerleading” classes and it was not the high level sport that it has become but the nerves and jitters of being chosen for the team were exactly the same. I put a napkin in her lunch with Philippians 4:13 written on it to encourage her. She can do ALL things through Christ who gives us strength. She has held on to that. She told me last night that she continues to say it over and over in her head while she practices. Today she will speak it over herself and then pray right before competing. Yes, my heart swelled to the verge of tears at her admission. As we were talking this week, I have tried to explain to her that God has a plan for her life. It is a good one with an amazing future that only she can do. Her eyes are set on cheerleading, being a part of this team, and building relationships with these girls. But I have tried to explain to her that even if she doesn’t make it this time that it doesn’t mean she wasn’t good enough or that she failed but because she is trusting the Lord that He is looking out for her. When we do not get “picked” or “promoted” it doesn’t mean that we aren’t winning or prevailing in this life. It means that the Lord has other plans far too great for our comprehension.

 

Romans 8:31-34 (NIV)

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.

 

It is human nature to expect certain things in life. Depending on your upbringing and the influences in youthful development, often form the thoughts and opinions that decide what you are after in this life. Most of us just want to do a little better than the first generation to make a better life for the one who we produce. That’s awesome aspirations but not exactly how this works. When we give our heart and life to Jesus Christ, our life plan is freed into full operation again. We are no longer limited in our human strength or ability because now the Power of God lives in us and operates through us if we so desire. That’s right. It is completed up to you and I if we will live as more than conquerors.

 

I set out to teach my preteen a lesson on the Lord and find as usual the Lord speaking directly to me, too. Even on those days, weeks or months that your life seems to be put on hold, or you experience a setback or a delay, or maybe something completely unexpected happens it doesn’t ever change the fact that you are a prospering conqueror from the inside out. See we are satisfied easily with immediate gratification and comfortable compromise, but when you gave your life to Jesus that became unacceptable because His Plan is far greater than we could even think to ask for. (Ephesians 3:20) Do you believe that today? (Oh don’t worry – I am asking “me”, too.)

 

If God be for you today, who can be against you? Now you will have many problems and pressures in this life, but there is only one to blame for such trauma. The enemy seeks to steal, kill and destroy the destiny set forth by Jesus Christ in our life. He intends to have it. Now, he cannot walk up to God and take it. So where do you think he attacks? That’s right – he goes after us. If he can convince us to compromise, believe his lies or surrender our promises than even though God is for us and the Power of Christ in us then we have given our life away. But when we walk through life by faith (not by sight) and living in confident hope that if this doesn’t work out it is to the Glory of God because something else is coming then we become convicted conquerors who are convinced that nothing can keep us from the Glorious Destiny provided by the Love of God demonstrated by Christ Jesus. Jesus is alive. Easter is next Sunday and not a moment too soon to remind the discouraged and downtrodden where the Power comes from and that they win. If Jesus’s journey stopped on the Cross, we have nothing. It is the Resurrection Power of God that gives us His Promises. When Jesus came out of the grave it was only after walking into hell and taking your life back!

 

Romans 8:35 (NIV)

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?

 

How do I become more than a conqueror? It is not through training endlessly to be strong or even to develop intense courage. You know how you do it? Believe. To believe that no matter what you are facing, going through or overcoming in your life that there is NOTHING that can separate you from God’s Love or His Plan makes you a winner every time because you will never give up or give in again. You face challenges winning some in the natural and losing some too but in all things we are more than conquerors when we believe. There is nothing that can take our salvation away. His Word says that with faith nothing is impossible. But it also means releasing human expectation to accept God’s Glorious Standard of Living. As I have shared many times the last few weeks, our daughter and son-in-law have moved over 21 hours away as God called them into full-time ministry. Talk about a dilemma. I love the Lord. I am so thankful for children who know God and love Him enough to give their lives to Him in such a way. But let’s be honest, I am not overly excited that they are so far from us. We love them too. We want them with us. Who can I blame for this? In all this I am more than a conqueror through Jesus Christ. It all comes back to Jesus. Sometimes His Plan is uncomfortable, it most often requires change, and most certainly is hardly ever clear until we arrive, but if I am convinced that I am never separated from the Love of God – I will become more than a conqueror.

 

Romans 8:38-39 (NIV)

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

Just because you are “doing” all the right things today doesn’t mean that everything will turn out as you expect it to. But that’s okay because you are more than a conqueror. Jesus Christ fought the battle and won the war so stop struggling with your situation and accept the fact that nothing will ever separate you from God’s Love or His Future for you. Even when you mess up, you still win. His Grace is always sufficient and more than enough for you! His Mercy is new every morning so go for it. Although to an adult a middle school cheerleading try-out really is not that big of a deal. Winning or losing is not fatal in this area of life but to my daughter it is everything right now. My advice to her last night as we walked the dogs and talked about today was this: 1) Pray and ask the Lord to help you tomorrow. 2) Go in there and do your absolute best holding nothing back giving it all that you’ve got, and 3) Accept the results with good sportsmanship because win or lose God has a wonderful and amazing plan for your life that you don’t want to mess up with a bad attitude either way. That was not all that I told her as she walked ahead of me with her ponytail swinging back and forth – no matter what we love you and are so proud of you! You know what I believe that is how God sees us. While we beat ourselves up in failures and shortcomings and desire only perfection in our imperfection – God only sees His Love for us. No matter what you are doing today remember nothing can separate you from the Love of God. He loves you no matter how well you do today or if you fall flat on your face. His Plan for you is secured by the Blood of Jesus and Resurrection Power. You ARE more than a conqueror simply standing in His Love.

 

Philippians 4:13 (NIV) I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

 

Let’s Settle This – A Devotion

Lets Settle This

Psalm 139:7-10 (NIV)

Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.  If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.

 

Life unexpected. It happens all the time. One day we are living on top of the mountain in the Presence of God and fullness of His Spirit. But then the next day we head down into the valley and feel separated, lost and a bit confused. Maybe things didn’t turn out the way that we expected. This has been the story of our life. One day up and the next day down. I keep wondering what the Lord is doing or if it is the enemy invading our camp. The winds of change sweep through us and sometimes it is difficult (at first) to determine where exactly they come from and in what direction should we go. One thing that I am quite certain of at this point in my life is that change happens. Whether we want it or not, expect it or not, choose to participate or not – change will happen in our life. Change is a blessing when it is a God-given mandate and supernatural design. If it is true that God is working every detail of my life for good then it is absolutely necessary for the scenery in my life to change. More importantly it is absolutely essential that I change.

 

In the adventures of life in New Hampshire, I was talking to our daughter the other day about the laundry facilities at her new apartment. She had not ventured there yet because it was dark and foreboding so she was waiting to go with her husband. I asked her, “How much is it to do a load of laundry? She laughed, “It’s free.” I further inquired, “Are you sure?” I tried to make her aware that she would be paying to do her laundry but she didn’t believe me. She didn’t grow up paying for laundry service. At first, it was free. She discarded her clothes in the hamper and the laundry fairy washed, folded and put them in her room. As she grew older, she began to do her own washing and drying. The laundry fairy continued to supply the washer, dryer and supplies with free access in the comfort of a nice laundry room. When I called her the next day, she told me that she had visited the laundry room of her new apartment and was appalled to find out that she had to actually pay to do laundry. I tried to warn her but she had made up her mind there was no charge.

 

Where can I go from your Spirit? Now before you answer nowhere, think about the thought you are thinking forming the words in your mouth. Do you really and truly believe that the Spirit of God is real, alive and living on the inside of you? If you do, it will make a definite difference in how you live this life. Where can I flee from your presence? The answer is nowhere but yet when we are tired of this God-Life so many try to live another way apart from the Word and Will of God. At some point in life, we must settle down to prosper and progress in this thing called faith. Faith is absolutely necessary to be saved. Although salvation is free to us, a price had to be paid for our sins. Jesus did that. Now we live in total dependency on Him, but it should be with a made up mind. Faith is that made up mind. But we must know the validity of what we believe and live in it. Otherwise, like my daughter, we may find out on our own or in the end that the price is too much to pay.

 

Isaiah 1:18-19 (NIV)

“Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord. Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good things of the land…”

 

The Lord would like to settle things in us today so you can get on living the life that He ordained and fully equipped you to have. The problem is our stubborn human nature that decides to settle for far less than we have been promised. To settle means to place in a desired state or order. Now the difference here is will we settle for what we want or go after what God desires for us. To decide, arrange or agree with God is to settle the matter in our heart and determine to live according to His Will and Way because we will not settle for anything less. To come to rest that His Word is true and His Way is the best possible outcome for our life. It is to gather, collect and become fixed on the blessings of God rather than things of this world. To be settled in the Lord creates a calm and peace in our life that can only come from a Sovereign God who does not lie or change His Mind. If God says it, that settles it. Well, does it for you today? I want to live in complete agreement with the Lord and align my life with His Way but I will be the first to admit that when things get uncomfortable I will often try to settle for something less. The Lord invites us all the come – let us settle the matter!

 

Genesis 32:24-28 (NIV)

So Jacob was left alone and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.” But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” The man asked him, “What is your name?” “Jacob,” he answered. Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.”

 

To summarize the story of Jacob to this point in his life, he and his mother conspired for his brother, Esau’s, birthright. When he obtained what he was after, obviously his brother was not too happy so fearing his life ran to another family member’s estate to hide and seek protection. While living in this place, Jacob married two wives, built a family and accumulated wealth now he was headed home. Jacob couldn’t stay where he was due to the growing jealousy of his father-in-law but going back presented its own inherent dangers. He was stuck in the valley so to speak between the proverbial rock and a hard place. His entourage had moved on and made camp for the night so the man was alone. I believe that God places us strategically alone at times so we will seek His Face and listen to His Voice. While there is safety in numbers, God wants you all by yourself. He wants your full attention as He has important things to share with you and encourage you. He wants intimate time with His Beloved that often make us uncomfortable because we do not what to say or do when left alone with the God of the Universe. So into the night Jacob encounters God and begins to wrestle with the Angel of the Lord. Although, I have read this story many, many times. It is with new eyes that I see it today. How many times do we wrestle God for our blessings in the place where we are? We want them when we want them and where we are not always considering that there may be more in the process. The angel of the Lord touched his hip socket and from that day forward Jacob walked with a limp. Is it possible that there are times when we are headed for the Lord’s Blessing but because we are not settled that He is our God and He will do it that we fight for something we already have? Is it possible that we sustain injuries in that process as the Lord tries to perfect what concerns us but we demand it now? God had already given Jacob a new name with a future and hope that was part of a far greater plan than just surviving his return home. He didn’t have to fight for it…just keep moving.

 

Ezekiel 37:12-14 (NIV)

“Therefore prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: My people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. Then you, my people, will know that I am the Lord when I open your graves and bring you up from them. I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it, declares the Lord.’”

 

God will bring those dead dreams and dry bones back to life by His Spirit. Those things that you thought He had forgotten about have been His Plan all along. If we allow ourselves to dry up and die in the process, we will miss the blessing. We must not settle where we are but in who He is. We must decide that the Love of God is real and doing something intention in us and for us. We cannot depend on the surrounding circumstances and overwhelming situations to keep us in step with God but must settle things in our heart, mind and soul. With a made up mind, intent after what God has for us and sure that He wants to give it to us – we don’t wrestle the process or fight for the cause but rather simply live the life freely given at the Cross. When we stop to count the cost as instructed, we find that Jesus paid it all now I just have to live in His Abundance. When I get frustrated, discouraged or confused, I will often pray to the Lord asking what do I need to do, how can I change, or where must I go to see the Glory of the Lord fill my life. Every single time, I am more and more convinced that He says, “Trust me.”

 

What does the Lord tell us to do in this process? Well, we could speak life into our dry bones, dead dreams and discouraged hearts. God has given us His Spirit. We have a new life by His Spirit and the freedom to live it. What does He promise? And I will settle you in your own land. So today I must make up my mind to “seek first the Kingdom of God.” When I am on the mountain – He is there. When I must venture into the valley – He is there, too. Wherever I am – the Lord is with me. He fights for me. He is all that I need to fully assume the abundant life that I have been promised. Faith is a decision. It is a made up mind that is settled on the fact that God is God, Jesus died for us, and His Spirit lives in us. God loves me. He will never leave me. He is always for me. Such a decision will impact our attitudes and actions as we seek to know Him more. Are you settled today? Or fighting for what God already promise you and secured in your future? Rather than looking for a new place to settle, get it right in your heart as I am in mine. I must decide to not settle for less than His Best. I must get it settled that He wants only His Best for me. The word settle is truly dependent on what we settle for. Is it just enough? Or will it be more than enough. I will not settle for less than all of God’s Love for me.

 

Romans 8:37-38 (NIV)

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Losing Sight – A Devotion

Losing Sight

2 Corinthians 5:7 (NIV) For we live by faith, not by sight.

 

There are mornings when I wake up and have no idea what the Lord has planned in our conversation. But then there are mornings like today when all through the night something from His Word begins to itch my ears and become etched in my mind. Today – He is telling me quite clearly to live by my faith and not by what I have been seeing. For so long, I was living in the realm of hope with our son and all that was going on in his young life that when I stepped back into “real” life something happened. I didn’t stay in that realm in which I was living. The place where we face each day from God’s Perspective because we are discontent with man’s eye view. Our son statistically should not be alive but supernaturally he is back in school living the life of an ordinary college student. Yes, there are some reminders as there are some side effects that he must work through and the constant monitoring that comes with the label “high risk” but maybe that’s just the middle child in him needing a little extra attention. Oh come on, sometimes we have to laugh through some of life’s challenges. Nevertheless, the reality of a life completely changed requires that we continue to walk by faith after the danger passes, the need is met or the crisis over. However, when presented with ordinary life sometimes we forget that we are an extraordinary people. Or at least, this is what I think has happened to me.

 

A guilty pleasure in our home are some of the shows that involve men and women chasing gold in the Alaska “frontier”. One of the shows is based on underwater mining where divers don scuba gear grabbing a 10-inch vacuum extractor and dredge for gold in the bottom of the freezing sea. Now if one of those divers were to decide while dredging that they had grown accustomed to the water and remove their breathing apparatus then wet suit they would be in immediate danger. They would only be able to hold their breath for so long. The freezing sea would eventually cause hypothermia and die. However while they are breathing in and out of an oxygen tank in a fully insulated and heated wetsuit – the underwater realm is not such a dangerous and scary place. Being stripped of such devices, it becomes a watery grave. We are called to live by faith not by sight. To live by faith might be better considered like the scuba gear. We ask God to call us out upon the water where feet may fail. However, once out there something says, “Hey, I can do this myself” and we begin to forget about the essential life-giving force that takes care of us there. Just because your life slows down and calm comes from the peace that passes all understanding, it is not a call to abandon our faith. The Lord has taken us somewhere in this journey called life that still requires continual and constant support to survive and thrive. Those miners are after gold and so are we. We want all the blessings and promises that the Lord has granted us as our inheritance. It is found by faith not by sight.

 

Matthew 14:28-32 (NIV)

“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down.

 

If only I as a believer could remember every day to live by faith and not by sight. When faced with disaster, devastation and the possibility of death – it is denial that pushes us out of the boat into the water. We have no other choice but to believe. So we call out to the Lord and begin to rely on faith because what we see is not acceptable. However, in our daily life in our choices, attitudes and actions faith is still required to live the life that He has promised us as His Followers. The problem is that if we step out of faith back into reality – we may not have realized how far we have come. So when we try to walk on our own two feet – we begin to sink. How many times do we like Peter say, “Lord, if it’s you tell me to come…” Jesus says, “Come.” We begin to follow Him. When things get challenging or less than pleasant suddenly we look at our life again from a human perspective and everything begins to fall apart.

 

What just happened? Our life is being changed from glory to glory. We are being raised from substandard life that sin thrust us in to Christ’s Standard of Living which is His Glory. In the middle of the process things are overwhelming. It’s springtime again. Time to spring the clock forward and begin to clean up after a long winter. My husband is overwhelmed by all the yard work and getting our pool ready for the summer. I am going through closets and doing spring cleaning. When you dump out a closet, it is overwhelming. You must sort through all the stuff to determine what goes in storage for the next season, what is donated, and what goes in the garbage. The more junk you have accumulated the greater the task. The deeper you go the more intense the pile. So it is with the Lord – when we begin to look at our life in the natural after traveling by faith in the supernatural it can literally take our breath away as fear overcomes us in that we discover we are helpless in this process and have no strength left at all. Jesus asked the disciple “why did you doubt” and even called him out as the one with “little faith”. How’s your sight today? What do you see when you look at your life? What do others see when they decide if they want what you have acquired by faith?

 

John 4:28-30 (NIV)

Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” They came out of the town and made their way toward him.

 

The woman at the well discovered Jesus that day. Leaving her water jug behind which symbolizes to me her natural life and human sustenance, she ran to tell the others about the man who told me everything. Now if you recall the woman came to the well by herself with a jaded past and no one to draw water with. I am guessing that she was the talk of the town. Her shame kept her hidden away from the insults and accusations of others. Now before she could change her life for the better, Jesus convinced her heart. She ran back to tell the others- the haters, backbiters, accusers, gossipers and everyone else she knew about the Lord. What happened? They came out of town and made their way toward Jesus. How is this possible when the whole town had shunned her? She was the same woman… on the outside. But the moment she met Jesus she immediately stepped out in faith losing sight of her natural life to embrace the supernatural Lord and Savior who gave her a new life. The Samaritan woman had not even begun to live but inside new life was already unfolding. If you are like this woman and have an illustrious past then maybe you understand just what it took to face all those people, so you know it had to be something miraculous. I know that in the years since our son was diagnosed with cancer people have told me that I have changed for the better. It breaks my heart. I was a Christian believer when he was diagnosed but obviously was not living in such a way that made others want to come to know Jesus. It was doing the right things but new life needed to come from a broken heart. A broken heart produces a change that impacts our outside as well. Sometimes the discovery takes some getting used to, we live in the transformation and resurrection power that brought Jesus from the grave so of course, we live in a state of constant change and being changed. Faith allows it to be for the better.

 

2 Corinthians 3:16-18 (NIV)

But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

 

The Lord told the woman at the well that one day true worshippers would live by Spirit and Truth. The Spirit was released to all mankind by Jesus after He died on the Cross to live in the hearts of His People. The Truth is the Word of God that cuts through our heart like a two-edged sword separating the bone and marrow. See we must have a broken heart not a hard one to allow His Spirit to produce the fruit we are after. There is a presiding and overriding thing that must not be forgotten. We are free. The Lord has granted us the freedom to choose if we will live by faith or by sight. He didn’t yank Peter out of the boat. Peter wanted to be where the Lord was, do what He was doing and be by His Side so he jumped out of the boat by faith. When his faith ran out, Jesus grabbed him and they got back into the boat. We do this throughout our natural life as we learn about this thing called faith and develop endurance to take it farther and farther. When we do, we begin to become transformed. The transformation process is a constant state of change so if you are not willing to leave your comfort zone of natural life (the boat, if you will) then don’t bother. Transformation IS change. But those who are just crazy enough to want all those crazy good and unbelievable things that the Lord has promised can live by faith and not by sight. People will think your nuts but the “ever-increasing glory” that will be produced in your life will be convincing enough to draw them in. Do you want the Glory of God to take over your life? Do you want to be transformed? Do you want everything that Jesus promised you and died for you to have? You will have to live by faith and not by sight. Losing sight of the natural one must grab hold of hope and hold it tightly like an anchor so we are not tempted to go back to our old life but embrace every new moment that faith in God produces. I hear you Lord. You are coming in loud and clear. I may not see you in my current situation, but I know that you are there. Live by faith today.

 

Philippians 3:13-14 (NIV)

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

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.

Always Enough – A Devotion

Always Enough

Philippians 4:11-13(NLT)

Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.

 

Are you content today? Do you have enough? Is your life filled with balance? The equal distribution of every care, worry and burden on Jesus Christ will offer an equilibrium to our life like never before yet we strive to maintain control in the chaos of this world. Why? What is so great about discontentment, dissatisfaction and discord that causes mankind to thrive on its drama? We have a Savior and Lord who offers to carry every burden and shoulder our concerns but we feel far better suited for such an endeavor that we ignore His Offer to find rest. (Matthew 11:28)

 

I am beginning an online business. It is a clothing store. It is from this revelation that we always have enough that I am filling it with the surplus of our closets. Having three daughters and being a woman myself, I have made the claim on many days of “having nothing to wear.” This is a shameful lie if one had a momentary glimpse of an overstuffed closet filled to the brim and running over on my poor husband’s side. It is not that I do not have sufficient clothing to wear but lack satisfaction in my choices. There are some things that I cannot wear any longer because the clothing no longer fits and there other articles I choose to wear because they are no longer desirable. God is evident in every area of our life and can even be found buried in the midst of unwanted clothing in my closet. It was in this moment of revelation that I have discovered that the Lord provides everything that I need in my life if I am willing to reconcile Him with every area of my life. Yes people, even in my closet. It’s crazy how the Lord works in our life. He will take a natural need and fulfill it with supernatural revelation that opens our eyes to the real, true picture of His Provision and Promises in our life. I live in the Favor and Goodwill of God. There are times when discontentment and dissatisfaction overshadow this image of God’s Goodness and Grace so I must achieve balance in my life once more. How? I reconcile my life back to Jesus Christ because He is always enough!

 

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.

 

God’s Grace is always enough for me. It is all that I need to experience His Power working in my life. It is in my weakness that this becomes evident. I am learning to find comfort and peace when I am at the end of my rope because it is there that I finally accept His Mercy, Grace, Goodwill and Favor in my life. The moment when I decide to step out of childhood ranting of “I do it myself” to maturity speaking “all that I am is Yours Lord.” I am not sure that I will ever “take pleasure” in weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions or troubles but I know that I will take pleasure in Jesus Christ. He is my satisfaction. He is my contentment. This is not the ravings of inexperience but of someone who went faced with all these at once found that His Grace was indeed sufficient for me. The greatest part of that is once the Lord fills our doubt with faith it makes our foundation stronger. Once He comes to our rescue once, we expect Him to do it again. There are many things in my natural life that I have literally begged the Lord to take away, but what He did instead would change me forever. He gave me His Grace to endure the hardship or trouble to find full satisfaction and contentment in His Provision, Promise and Plan. The Lord offers completion when we cry out for compromise. He loves us too much to settle for anything less than our full satisfaction even when we are willing to settle for sloppy seconds. The Lord came to give us full satisfaction and He intends for us to have it. It begins with His Grace that keeps us in place until His Blessing comes.

 

John 10:10 (NLT)

The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.

 

Jesus Christ came so that we could have full satisfaction. The enemy of our soul wants to keep this from us at all costs. Welcome to the world we live in. It is driven by supply and demand that fosters envy and callous want in the heart of mankind who will stop at nothing to feed the leeches who cry more, more. My grandparents had a statute in their house. It was an antique rendering of a boy concerned over a splinter in his foot. He sat poised in a small niche carved in the wall over their fireplace for as long as I can remember. When my grandfather passed away and my grandmother was selling the house, my aunt decided to look into the value of the statue going as far as the Smithsonian for an answer. To tell you the truth, I have no idea what the worth turned out to be because for all the years that my grandparents had it and people debated his worth, the statue brought them contentment right where he was in the niche. This is a full representation of my grandparents in one simple story. They were content. Married for 70 years when my grandfather passed away – they found contentment in each other. Never having a credit card to their name or paying a single cent of interest – they were content with what they had. The basis of all this was Jesus Christ. They formed and fashioned their life together on the Lord and reaped the benefit of true contentment. They are a lesson to us all.

 

I Timothy 2:5-6 (NLT)

For, there is one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus. He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone. This is the message God gave to the world at just the right time.

 

We have just come through a long season in our life, our son who has battled cancer for three years just underwent a bone marrow transplant. It took a miracle to get him through it but God did it as He has done four times before. Cancer has not changed our family. The faithfulness of Jesus Christ that I have found every step of the way has changed me forever. Now I am looking for all those things that He has promised me that I have long taken for granted. Reassessing my life, I have discovered that I have more than enough to be satisfied and content with my life just as it is. As I look around with eyes wide open rather than blinded by discontentment and want, it becomes evident that the Lord has been with us providing more than enough for us for years and years. We live in a surplus of His Grace, Mercy and Love. True freedom is discovered in godliness not because God changes how He provides or what He is doing but rather our Spirit identifies EVERYTHING the Lord has been doing all along. Reconciling our life to Jesus Christ is full acceptance of His Total Satisfaction. Such a life on contentment offers the fruit of His Spirit to full develop and nourish our soul so that we will be complete lacking no good thing just as He promised.

 

I Timothy 6:6-8 (NLT)

Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth. After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it. So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content.

 

True godliness with contentment makes us wealthy. Such wisdom will change our life forever just as Jesus promised. Contentment comes with a price. It is called complete surrender. When we give all that we are to have all that He is – we exchange unhealthy and unbeneficial desires for the things of this world to fully embrace the joy and peace found in Jesus Christ. He is our satisfaction. But this is not an impoverished position, it is the opportunity to see the true wealth all around us long taken for granted while we pursued “more”. Jesus is more than enough. He has supplied every need that we have according to His Riches in Glory even offering us the means of acceptance by way of the Cross. Beware of anyone who implies that God’s Grace is possible ignoring Jesus, turning our back on the Cross or finding our own way. It’s a trap to keep us from full satisfaction and total contentment found only in Jesus Christ – our Savior and Lord. Let us be content today, Lord! Open our eyes in the Spirit to see the Favor you have surrounded us with. Let us not take for granted that you are a Good God who gives us more than we think to ask for available when we reconcile our life to You through Your Son, Jesus Christ.

 

Proverbs 3:1-3 (NLT)

My child, never forget the things I have taught you. Store my commands in your heart. If you do this, you will live many years, and your life will be satisfying. Never let loyalty and kindness leave you! Tie them around your neck as a reminder. Write them deep within your heart.