Be the Light

Be the Light

Matthew 5:14-16 (NLT) “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.

The calendar page and it is finally December. Christmas music is now socially acceptable on every radio station. The Christmas trees at the local department store all already on sale after breezing past Thanksgiving. The days are full and nights even more so adding even more busyness to already overloaded lives. My email box is full of enticing advertisements. One particularly caught my eye today. It is a candle sale at a local specialty shop. I clicked the link and began to view their selection. The fragrances of the holiday pine, vanilla, cinnamon, apple and even desserts gave a hint of the deliciousness in each aroma. Then there were the ones for stress, relaxation, happiness, and energy. The mixture of the holiday senses all together in candles. These candles are special. Instead of one wick to burn, there are three. I stopped adding to my cart, and decided to take some time to study the Light.

The Light of the World is celebrated this season. He is evident in the atmosphere of churches but how effective are His People in taking His Light into the world. It is so easy to get caught up in our doing, cooking, wrapping, giving and celebrating that our focus shifts and distractions take from the simplicity of Christmas and the One who is honored during this busy time. Jesus did not stand alone to be the only light but went on to tell us that “you (and I) are the Light of the world. The ones to drive out darkness with radiant light that reflects our Savior and Born on that holy night. Only two people attended the party that cold and lonely night with a single star to illuminate the sky and let the world know the Messiah was born. It was a simple night in a manager filled with animals and hay. But the impact of the One born is still shedding light on the Truth that God loves us. He desires us. He sent a gift never to be given by a parent again. I know of no one who would allow their child to die for another if life is an option. Yet God did this for us so that the Light of His Amazing and Unconditional Love could fill cold dead hearts bringing new life again.

Let your good deeds shine out for all to see so that everyone will praise the Heavenly Father. The true meaning of Christmas is best expressed by the Love of God given to all mankind freely. It is not in the best party, stellar performance or even the ugliest sweater. It is to be so captivated by a baby born in a humble setting who would be the Savior of the world. The best gift to bring are the fruits produced by His Spirit. Love, joy and peace are found no other place than from Christ in us. There is no greater generosity than giving from the patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and forgiveness that Jesus has given us. When our gifts begin in our heart, they are born of the Light within us.

2 Timothy 1:6-7 (NLT) This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you. For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

Fan into flames the spiritual gift that God has given you. His Spirit identifies us light-filled children of the Living God. It is the inner beam with in us with the power to chase away darkness by entering a room. I have a shirt I wear this time of year that says, “Stay present.” I need the reminder with all the runaway lists, overloaded schedule, and holiday demands. The reminder that it is “presence” that is important more than anything else. I must continually enter the Presence of God to refuel the Light that lives inside me. He continually renews my passion and purpose day by day so that I do not forget who I am. The Presence of His Spirit is in me. He goes with me. I am never alone or forsaken even during those times I fall for the deception that I am isolated. I am always full of Christ. Finally, presence among people is of utmost importance. Relationship shares the Light of God’s Love with others as they get to know you they will see the Christ in you. They cannot see it if we are too busy to slow down or overburdened by details not meant for us to carry.

God did not give you the spirits of fear, timidity, anxiety or stress. You must decide that they are not for you and therefore, will not entertain them. Do not buy them either. Holiday giving should come from our heart with generosity from what we are able to give not according to the unmet or unrealistic expectations of others enhanced by a supply and demand world filthy from greed. God’s Blessing comes without sorrow added to it. We must master our emotions and not allow them to carry us away. It is not our job to give our children better than we had. It is not our job to meet all earthly expectation. We can burn ourselves out trying to do so, then where is the light to share with others.

Last night, my daughters and I took a late night run to the store for some extra touches for our tree. I realized walking through the store that I was actually enjoying decorating the tree this year. This is the first time I can remember in forever. Going through boxes of ornaments, my thoughts turned to our grandson not yet born. Next year, he will be here and our son will be married with a new bonus grandchild as well. Our family is growing. It is expanding with new life and new love. My heart is full. I am satisfied. God is slowly removing those feelings of insecurity, doubt, worry and stress from me. It has taken many years. His Word is forcing out the lies that overshadowed this miraculous season. His Spirit in me has been slowing adding those lies to a burn pile that is changing the darkness to light. Jesus is a life giver. He will make new whatever old things you entrust to Him. He doesn’t give us like for like but gives us so much more.

I John 2:10 (NLT) Anyone who loves a fellow believer is living in the light and does not cause others to stumble.

This Christmas will not be successful unless there is love. Love came down from a Heavenly Throne to a dirty stable so that you and I could be part of His Family. Rightness with God was made possible because Jesus came to us. The Light of His Love was given to us when He died on the Cross and sent His Spirit to live in us. The Christmas Spirit is the Holy Spirit. The Light of God’s Love flows from us when we decide to give others the gift of love and life. We do that not by expensive gifts, fancy menus or perfect parties. No, we do it when we offer someone our place in line. Give up our right of way in traffic with a smile. To help someone carry their packages to the care. Hold the door. Thank the cashier. Invite someone to church and offer to come pick them up. Pay it forward. Buy an unsuspecting friend lunch when the bill comes. Pay for the person’s coffee behind you. Sometimes we try to share Jesus without sharing His Love and find it to be frustrating and ineffective. God is love. The character and nature of God is graceful, faithful, gentle, and giving. We must love those around us with the Light of His Love to lead them to the manager and celebrate our newborn king.

Luke 11:35-36 (NLT) “Make sure that the light you think you have is not actually darkness.  If you are filled with light, with no dark corners, then your whole life will be radiant, as though a floodlight were filling you with light.”

Is your light burning out? Do you feel dim? Do you have a cloud of darkness on the horizon? Maybe the holiday blues have taken a hold of you? Are you feeling overloaded this first week of a very long month? I have wonderful news for you! The Light of God’s Love lives in you. He is ready to reignite the flame of passion to pursue Him this busy season. Jesus will break every stronghold of insecurity, fear, stress, worry and the like from you – you only need to ask for His Help. Light always chases away darkness. Let the Light of His Word brighten the path before you. Let the Light of His Wisdom show you what is important and what is not. Let your Savior and Lord – save and deliver you from unrealistic expectations and the demands of society to step into the Light of His Love all over again.

Father, Son and Spirit are the three-wick candle of His Love today given to us as a precious gift. He is the Gift that keeps on giving. His Love will never let us down. His Passion in pursuing us is resilient. Take charge of your heart and let His Light fill every dark corner. Be transparent with the Lord and His Light will reveal any darkness looming within. The struggle against our flesh including our will, desires and emotions is a constant battle. Feed your Spirit – starve the flesh. Fuel the Spirit and burn away the darkness. Make it a point before you light up the tree, wrap a single gift, prepare a holiday menu or attend a performance to fan the flame of His Spirit within you. It will change the Spirit of Christmas every time.

John 1:1-5 (NLT) In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.

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The Cleansing and Call

The Cleansing and Call

Isaiah 6:6-8 (NLT) Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal he had taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. He touched my lips with it and said, “See, this coal has touched your lips. Now your guilt is removed, and your sins are forgiven.” Then I heard the Lord asking, “Whom should I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?” I said, “Here I am. Send me.”

Everyone reading these words today are called by God. There is an express purpose which will lead to absolute fulfillment for those who answer this beckoning of God within them. The purpose you have is cultivated by faith. Faith that believes in its unseen reality and fruitfulness. What is your calling? You may think you know what it is based on the terms and conditions of natural life. However, there is a whispering of the Lord to each human heart to come closer. It is the urgency within us reminding us that there has to be more to life than this. God’s Call requires a cleansing. Righteousness is only attained and maintained by the Grace of God flowing through us. The Blood of Jesus Christ makes our offering of affection for the Living God acceptable gaining us access to His Presence. Many will hear the call of God but refuse to allow His Spirit to remove every barrier and purpose between themselves and full satisfaction. To choose something less than God’s Plan for our life in no way lessens it’s worth or potential but simply is our decision to settle for something less.

Psalm 24:3-6 (NLT) Who may climb the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? Only those whose hands and hearts are pure, who do not worship idols and never tell lies. They will receive the Lord’s blessing and have a right relationship with God their savior. Such people may seek you and worship in your presence, O God of Jacob.

Before Isaiah could answer God’s Call, he had to first enter His Presence. It was in this place of worship that the prophet encountered the Living God. The moment that one is in the Presence of the Lord there is absolutely no way to maintain our pride or prejudice. God is perfect. His Presence presses us to release sin in order to move a little closer to His Perfection. It is in this atmosphere of melting flesh that our spirit rises to answer the call. It is through the cleansing process that God prepares us.

Only those whose hands and hearts are pure… Jesus had only twelve close companions. Yet even in the close knit community of a handful of chosen men, one still managed to betray the Lord. Human nature is depraved and innately in opposition and rebellion against God and His Spirit who lives inside believers. The Presence of God offers a glimpse inside as full transparency reveals just how sinfully corrupt people really are and creates a desire to change. So often normal life and church culture are varying positions with certain acceptable behaviors, attitudes and actions based on one’s environment not their inner evolution of death to life. To integrate our personality into one being completed in Jesus Christ requires a right relationship that is constantly maintained and the focal point of life and aspiration.

There are daily requirements not set by God as a religious routine but the necessary steps to maintain a right relationship with God the Father through Jesus Christ, His Son. Studying the Word of God. Meditating on it. Doing what it tells us. Prayer. Fasting. Cultivating the Fruit of His Spirit. Using our faith to move mountains. Telling others about Him. However, none of these will ever produce fulfillment apart from true and constant repentance. Removing the barrier of sin, shame and regret are essential to come boldly before His Throne.

I Peter 2:9-10 (NLT) But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.  “Once you had no identity as a people; now you are God’s people. Once you received no mercy; now you have received God’s mercy.”

For God’s gifts and his call can never be withdrawn. (Romans 11:29) There is no expiration date on the promises and purpose of God for your life. The only limit on your potential is placed there by you. Dead dream are buried in doubt, but faith can bring them back to life again. Isaiah was changed in the Presence of God and answered the call on his life. If you read a little further in Chapter 6 you find that the message of the messenger was not a bright and cheerful exhortation but a stern warning from God of the consequence of sin and rebellion. Thank you God for grace today!

One encounter with the Living God will change you. It allows you to experience the freedom associated with your identity. How often we forget that we are sons and daughters of the most high God living far beneath the standard that He has given us. If only we believed…referring back to the disciples it is also noted that though they walked and talked with the Messiah daily some still did not believe. It is a conscious decision to answer God’s Call. It requires clean hands and a pure heart. These are not available by any other means but through Christ and His Resurrection Power inside of us. We must remove every barrier and release what is held in our hands to receive the consciousness of our calling and carry it out.

Psalm 51:9-13 (NLT) Don’t keep looking at my sins. Remove the stain of my guilt. Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me. Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you. Then I will teach your ways to rebels, and they will return to you.

One must never forget the importance and relevance of daily repentance. To continually examine our heart and ask the Lord for His Cleansing Power all over again. It keeps us close to Him. It revitalizes His Spirit and keeps the fire of passion burning within us. A loyal spirit can be challenging when the adversary continually feeds our flesh lies and substitutions. It would be easy to settle for a good life. The moment of salvation begins a process of fruitful production in every life as a form of sowing and reaping in a fertile heart. However, there are times when we allow sloppiness and busyness to keep us from the Presence of God. God is perfect. His Plan is perfect. I am not. It requires a constant process of purification to find full satisfaction.

When our daughter was very young, I noticed some developmental milestones were off. Not significantly, but enough for me to know something was wrong. Her pediatrician decided she may have some form of cerebral palsy. For ten months, they poked, prodded, scanned and tested her. There was nothing to suggest any form of disease, illness or infirmity. We were given a referral to a Neurological Specialist at a teaching hospital. The doctor came in and immediately noted that she looked “pretty good to me”. I would not define this as a stellar moment in my walk with the Lord because I lost it. I reprimanded him harshly for his flippant remark. All those months of watching her struggle in therapy, and the continual noting of muscular spasticity and pain that no one was aware of had taken its toll. He quickly examined her and left the room with hands full of all the medical records I had brought to him. Upon his return, he apologized. He told us that he saw horrible cases each day so she looked great in comparison. Then he said, “But if it was my little girl, I would not be satisfied either.”

Today as I consider the call of God on my life and the process by which it is obtained, I have reflected on that visit. We would be willing to forego the process just to accept the mediocre improvement gained by simply coming to Christ. But God is a good father. He will not allow us to settle for less than His Best. He will pursue us relentlessly with His Unfailing Love and Goodness hoping to captivate us by it one day. He will stop at nothing to lead us to a life of full satisfaction and complete fulfillment. He gave us a purpose, provided a plan, fills our life with everything needed to achieve it and then waits for us to come. I wouldn’t settle for the life my daughter was living if there was a better way. How much more God our Father feels about you and me!

Lord, create in me a clean heart today yet again. Renew a right and loyal spirit in me that pursues You. Remove every sin that I have ignored, entertained or may not be aware of. Thank you for the Blood of Jesus that covers me. I ask you Lord to show me your better way today and give me the willingness to go after it. In all things and all ways Lord – send me! I answer Your Call with a resounding, “Yes!”

2 Peter 1:5-8 (NLT) In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone. The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Unexpected

The Unexpected

2 Peter 3:10-11 (NLT) But the day of the Lord will come as unexpectedly as a thief. Then the heavens will pass away with a terrible noise, and the very elements themselves will disappear in fire, and the earth and everything on it will be found to deserve judgment. Since everything around us is going to be destroyed like this, what holy and godly lives you should live,

The unexpected can bring joy and distress. An unexpected gift or act of random kindness can fill us with excitement. An unexpected diagnosis can shatter a good life in mere seconds. People choose the known rather than unknown because fear cannot allow hope to shine through. The Light of God’s Love that chases away darkness even in our darkest hour. The day of the Lord will come as unexpectedly as a thief. Sin has made the world unstable at the return of the Lord. His Perfection will melt the earth and only those who choose holy and godly lives will live through it. Daunting I know. Yet on a daily basis, do we truly consider the unexpected arrival of Jesus Christ or live in fear of the timeline of life. Unmet expectation placed in a dying place rather than investing in a reproductive heaven. When Jesus returns for us, there will be great judgment. There are only two sides – light and darkness. The Light drives out all darkness even that hidden in human, fickle hearts. Our focus on this life overshadows our constant and ongoing awareness that the Lord will return unexpectedly.

Regret and remorse are terrible baggage not meant for us to carry once Christ inhabits our life. The permeation of His Spirit gives us constant access to the Father where it is possible to release those things that once kept us bound in our past and present. He gives us a sense of our future and hope that allows us to live bravely and fearlessly. If the perspective of our life could change to that of expectancy, it would impact how we live and the choices made in any given moment. Repentance would be the prayer language of God’s People. The Holy Spirit would be released and His Glory would surround us because we know He is coming for us and desire to be ready. There is more to the Kingdom than simple salvation. Salvation is the handle that opens a door to a storehouse of blessings, promises and the unexpected with the potential to always change our life for the better. We must access it by faith and belief that the Lord is coming like a thief to carry us away.

Matthew 25:10-13 (NLT) “But while they were gone to buy oil, the bridegroom came. Then those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was locked. Later, when the other five bridesmaids returned, they stood outside, calling, ‘Lord! Lord! Open the door for us!’ “But he called back, ‘Believe me, I don’t know you!’ “So you, too, must keep watch! For you do not know the day or hour of my return.

The Parable of the Ten Virgins is a warning. A careful indication of those who know the Lord but do not live in expectancy. Expectancy requires preparation. It is a life of endurance that maintains a state of readiness until the end. Five of these young ladies were ready. They were prepared. When the bridegroom, representative of Jesus Christ, came they were ready and waiting on him. Are we? The others got carried away with life. Rushing out to get more oil as they were not properly prepared or perhaps wasted it on lesser things. While they were wandering and searching for oil, their groom arrived but they were not there. Jesus used this parable to explain the Kingdom and proper preparation for His Unexpected Arrival. Oil is used to represent anointing in many narratives. The anointing in us is the Holy Spirit. He creates desire and discipline to become one with Jesus. His Presence in us should create expectancy that overflows into the life lived each day.

“Believe me, I don’t know you!” It is the certainty of expectancy that initiates preparation. If we believed that Christ is returning with a Kingdom prepared for us, it would impact how we live. What difference would it make? One might think that those who await Christ must be religiously prepared living a life of perfection and absolute adherence to His Commands. Our flesh will not allow it. At constant odds with our spirit, outside of His Grace there is no perfection. So it is in profound humility that absorbs God’s Grace every day that allows us to properly prepare for the return of Christ. To get our house in order is to focus on the Temple of His Spirit and wait in hopeful expectation each day. It means reserving ourselves for Christ, retrieving all the pieces of our life given to lesser things and returning them to Jesus as a careful offering of submission and surrender to His Word, Will and Way. Jesus isn’t come for religious people but those He calls “beloved” and lives in an ongoing relationship with.

I Thessalonians 5:4-11 (NLT) But you aren’t in the dark about these things, dear brothers and sisters, and you won’t be surprised when the day of the Lord comes like a thief. For you are all children of the light and of the day; we don’t belong to darkness and night. So be on your guard, not asleep like the others. Stay alert and be clearheaded. Night is the time when people sleep and drinkers get drunk. But let us who live in the light be clearheaded, protected by the armor of faith and love, and wearing as our helmet the confidence of our salvation. For God chose to save us through our Lord Jesus Christ, not to pour out his anger on us. Christ died for us so that, whether we are dead or alive when he returns, we can live with him forever. So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.

Be on your guard, not asleep as others.

When the Lord comes for you, will He know you? Marriages fall apart and couples break up in the shadow of unmet expectation. Relationships taken for granted and starved for attention suddenly crumble under the weight of ignorance. Busyness steals the attention once given to love. Selfishness devours that once surrendered heart. Pride determines it deserves better than this and goes on the hunt for yet another conquest to feed its need. We must guard our heart. It holds our greatest treasure. The very thing that draws us close to the Lord. The flames of our passion for Christ – to know Him and make Him known – cannot be left untended or it will end in divorce. Nothing can ever separate us from the Love of God. However, we can choose other loves and commit adultery with idols given a greater place in our heart than Jesus.

…Let us who live in the light be clearheaded, protected by the armor of faith and love, and wearing as our helmet the confidence of our salvation.

Believers who choose to live in the Light of His Love must be clearheaded. Our minds must be washed in His Word. Our hearts covered in His Blood. Christ who is the Author and Finisher of faith must be our focus with the rest of our life falling carefully beneath Him into place. When our priorities are out of order, the trap for rebellion and failure are set. The enemy uses many distractions to draw us into an unsafe place. He offers compromises, substitutions and settlements designed to lure us from the place of waiting expectantly for Christ. The urgency of this world is not what we think. It is not in the rat race or chasing the American Dream. The urgent expectancy is the return of Christ. Where will you be when He comes for you? At work, but you left Him at home. Living your life the way you desire, leaving your desire for Him behind. Chasing after lesser things for immediate gratification rather basking in confident hope at His Arrival. Will He even know you? When was the last time you talked to Jesus? Walked with Him? Repented? Desired His Grace? Longed for a closer proximity to your First Love? Do you spend any time with Him at all? How much of your life is given to Christ today? It is an important question to ask if your desire is His Kingdom.

So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.

Finally, our purpose in life is to build the Kingdom. Be light in the dark. Be salt. Our life a beacon like a lighthouse on the shore or city on a hill drawing others to the Lord. Encourage each other. To build each other up. We miss this sometimes. Human nature is to focus on self. The Fruit of God’s Spirit that is cultivated within us is for more than meeting our needs, wants and desires. They become our offering to a world starved for attention and affirmation. They are looking for love in a world where it has grown cold. Are we building the Kingdom with love or destroying it with selfish ambition and prideful conquests? Jesus is coming again. He expects us to be prepared living expectant lives of complete confidence that produces humility, honor and absolutely fearless love. To give our lives away in His Name expecting nothing from this world but awaiting His Return. We didn’t bring anything with us and cannot take it with us so why not live completely generous lives in the Name of Jesus. Emulating His Character, sharing His Word, spreading His Love all around, and not worrying about the everyday cares that might keep us from Him in the end.

Revelation 3:2-3 (NLT) Wake up! Strengthen what little remains, for even what is left is almost dead. I find that your actions do not meet the requirements of my God. Go back to what you heard and believed at first; hold to it firmly. Repent and turn to me again. If you don’t wake up, I will come to you suddenly, as unexpected as a thief.

The unexpected doesn’t have to be so scary. It doesn’t have to be fearful at all. In fact, expectancy in Jesus Christ is ALWAYS a good thing. His Love is for us. He has given us His Peace that should create confidence even in the most diverse situation or circumstances. There is always a reason for hope when the Name of Jesus is evident. We must wake up as believers that just because plans, schedules and routines do not add an ounce of certainty to our lives. The inspiration of God’s Spirit and His Leading cannot be ignored – where Jesus comes for us individually or corporately it will be unexpected. We must pay attention to the details of our life. We must surrender our hearts and minds to Him daily. Living moment by moment by the Word of God and for the Glory of God – not religiously but continuing to abide in a deep, loving and committed marriage and partnership with Jesus Christ.

Revelation 3:20-21 (NLT) “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends. Those who are victorious will sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat with my Father on his throne.

 

Just For You

Just For You

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.

“Don’t let your happiness depend on something you may lose.” C.S. Lewis

True godliness mixed with contentment is the catalyst of love, joy and peace that eliminates the need to compare and compromise. True godliness is not something to be attained or achieved but simply accepting our identity in God through Jesus Christ and not subjecting ourselves to a lower standard of living. It is a choice. A daily decision to be thankful and focused on the treasure inside of us that is taking over. In fact, I believe that contentment is great wealth because it cannot be taken away from us. We came into the world naked and afraid and will one day leave it the very same way. Will there be an inheritance left behind for our children? What will it be? To teach our children even ourselves to live a life of godly contentment will do far more than any amount of money, assets or investment left in their name. To be certain that they know and understand their worth outside of the earthly economy will lead them to forever with a future and hope.

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.

Paul let us in on a little secret. We must “learn” how to be content. Contentment is full satisfaction. It is happiness outside the boundaries of acquisition that allows us happiness, joy and peace even when lacking our wants, needs and desires knowing that God is our Provider. He is a Good Father. He will never let us down. Faith in God includes trusting and believing that His Goodness is for us. Right here. Right now in the land of the living. Yet, continuing to preserve unfavorable conditions, live through trying circumstances, and knowing when to wait on the Lord rather than giving into our impulsive nature. Tis the season of giving and getting and giving and getting until it everyone is all given out. Yet the Gift already given in Jesus Christ is enough to fulfill the promise that I can do all everything through Him who give me His Strength. Lord, teach us contentment today. Holy Spirit help us to learn when enough is enough.

“Contentment does not mean that I desire nothing. But rather, it’s the simple decision to be happy with what I have.” Paula Rollo, Author of Beauty through Imperfection

Matthew 6:33 (NLT) Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

How does one find sufficiency in God without ever seeking Him? To seek the Kingdom of God above all else means making thankfulness and contentment a priority in our life. It is to live righteously always pursuing a close proximity to the Lord and not letting stuff (including pride) to get in the way. Pride is the drive and desire for more to somehow exalt us rather than living in subjection and surrender to Jesus Christ who says, “I am enough!” Is He enough for you today? Busyness and business makes us think we need more to be happy and extra to live extravagantly. I find that as my life is simplified that I sleep better. My drive for success has been redirected from this world to the Kingdom. God has been faithful in our partnership. Seeking His Kingdom including our willingness to be faithful to His Word, obedient in tithing, and sowing seeds of faith even some monetary will change our perspective of worldly success. Generosity is born of humility. Trusting God that whatever source chosen to give from will be replenished to overflowing again. Psalm 34:7 is the promise that those who take delight in the Lord will be given their heart’s desire.

“If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” C.S. Lewis

Psalm 21:1-2 (NLT) How the king rejoices in your strength, O Lord! He shouts with joy because you give him victory. For you have given him his heart’s desire; you have withheld nothing he requested. 

What if the Lord is not withholding anything from us but simply waiting on what we desire to be more on His Scale? What if He desires to give us love, joy, and peace not subject to the things of this world and give us full satisfaction? The Lord has promised good to me. He has been faithful across the board in all things. To trust Him that He will never let me down, provide all I need and do exceedingly abundantly more than I could even think to ask for takes a faith in the unseen reality of what we hope for rather than in the light and momentary trinkets of today. We have been given every spiritual blessing in heaven. The ability to produce and prosper in every season. Foreigners journeying home to a Kingdom. We are sons and daughters of the King. It doesn’t matter what our life looks like here. Our lineage in Jesus Christ is to rule and reign with Him. Confidence in our identity will overcome the need to compare and compromise to someone else’s standard. It allows us to walk boldly before the Throne of God in our time of need and patience to wait as He fulfills our request according to His Perfect Will.

David was not a perfect man. He committed adultery and murder yet the testimony of his life is summed up in the statement that God had given him the desires of his heart and withheld nothing he requested. Our past does not dictate our future. The Lord is ready to make us a new creation and give us new life. We must be willing to accept it. Godliness is to step into the fullness of our identity with bold confidence that God, our Father, will never let us down and thereby produce complete contentment in our body, mind and soul.

I John 2:15-17 (NLT) Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.

What is the desire of your heart today? Are there many desires? The world offers many “things” that it believes are necessary to be successful and prosperous. Heaven offers only one. Jesus Christ is the completion of our life. To become one with Christ in this life leads us to the everlasting. There are so many distractions and deceptions as the enemy of our soul feeds our flesh with cravings for lesser than things when God has an abundance for us. We must make room for His Fullness by taking captive rebellious thoughts and guarding our eyes, mind and body from all the substitutions being offered. Are you happy today? Are you content? Love, joy and peace are products of God’s Spirit and can never be taken from us. Happiness is an emotion. It comes and goes like the tide. It can be changed with just one tidbit of bad news or the knock of unexpected trouble. The Lord has something just for you. A gift to be opened. If used it will be the greatest blessing your heart and soul has ever known – it is called contentment. You must learn to be content. Contentment is found only in Jesus Christ as He completes His Work in us. Will you accept this precious and priceless gift just for you today?

John 14:27 (NLT) “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.

“The happiness which God designs for His higher creatures is the happiness of being freely, voluntarily united to Him and to each other in the ecstasy of love…” C.S. Lewis

Cover Me

Cover Me

 

Galatians 6:1-2 (NIV) Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

There is an American hero by the name of Private First Class Ross A. McGinnis who at just 19 years old gave his life to save his brethren. He was trained to escape the deadly blast of a grenade if there is the opportunity. However, when an Iraqi insurgent threw a grenade into their Humvee, he had to make a choice. This young man had an opportunity to jump from the machine gun turret he was manning and save himself. But that is not what this man of honor and valor did, instead he dropped from the turret into the vehicle falling on the grenade to save his four comrades inside. Months prior to the incident, the same scenario occurred but the gunner followed his military training and jumped out of the Humvee. Fortunately, in the grenade was a dud. Pfc. McGinnis received a Medal of Valor and Purple Heart while his parents received a folded American flag. He gave up his life for his brothers and is an example to us all.

I am challenged by this verse today. I am also inspired by this young man’s story. As believers, there are trials and temptations each day. We face situations and circumstances that cause the superficial Christianity to give way to the truth within our heart. Sin happens. It happens to everyone. We all fall short of the Glory of God not once but daily. Religion often creates an atmosphere of arrogance as some look down on those who are transparent. Rather than reaching out to their brothers and sisters, they reach around them as to somehow prove they have no sin. You who live by the Spirit should restore family, friends, coworkers and even strangers who fall into temptation or succumb to sin. It must never be to pull them up to some invisible level but through the Blood of Jesus surround them with love and hope. When given the opportunity to cover your brother and sister in Christ, what is your response? Hero? Helper? Heretic? Hmm…

Genesis 9:20-25 (NIV) Noah, a man of the soil, proceeded to plant a vineyard. When he drank some of its wine, he became drunk and lay uncovered inside his tent. Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father naked and told his two brothers outside. But Shem and Japheth took a garment and laid it across their shoulders; then they walked in backward and covered their father’s naked body. Their faces were turned the other way so that they would not see their father naked. When Noah awoke from his wine and found out what his youngest son had done to him, he said, “Cursed be Canaan! The lowest of slaves will he be to his brothers.”

Noah was a farmer who produced a vineyard. Partaking of his choice crop, he became drunk. Succumbing to the situation, he fell asleep naked in his tent. He was not out carousing but inside his home. When his son, Ham, saw him – rather than covering his father and keeping it to himself – he decided to tell his brothers. The response of his brothers, much like Pfc. McGinnis, is a lesson of love and grace needed in the church today. They took a covering and walking backward as not to subject their father to any further humiliation – they covered him up. I cannot stress the importance of this lesson to the Body of Christ. “Bless their heart” shouldn’t be an excuse to share with every other brother and sister the sin of another. Prayer requests on behalf of another can be carefully disguised gossip sessions. The Word of God says, “There is no greater love than to lay down your life for your brothers and sisters.” We are one great big family.

Romans 8:1-2 (NIV) Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.

There is no condemnation in Jesus Christ. It doesn’t matter how many rules and regulations religion sets forth, Jesus Christ condemns no one. His Grace is enough. It is sufficient for the covering of sin. (2 Corinthians 12:9) Human insecurity threatens the sufficiency of God’s Grace. One’s inability to accept that His Grace is the sufficiency of our life. Our ability to fully accept the grace that God has given us through His Son, Jesus is based on our ability to crucify pride and humbly receive it. When will begin to boast in our own weaknesses rather than putting our brothers and sisters on blast? The life-giving power of Jesus Christ is not enhanced or any way enabled by a chance in our habits but evident in a heart change that humbly accepts outside of Christ – I am nothing. Those who condemn others by spreading rumors, gossip and even when trying to disguise it as concern will one day reap what they sow. Not my words, but those of the Bible – “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” (Galatians 6:7-8)

John 8:9-11 (NIV) At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”  “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

The woman was caught in the act of adultery. Yet, she was brought before the Pharisees alone. How many times do we cover the religious and expose the sinner? Just because someone comes to church, serves in ministry and cleans up well, does not necessarily mean that their heart is right with the Lord. In fact, the religious men all sat in judgment ready to stone the woman. Jesus said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” God’s Word tell us plainly that everyone has sinned and fallen short of God’s Glorious Standard. His Instruction to this woman on the verge of death now given a new life – “Go now and leave your life of sin.” There was another woman found in her sin at a well. Jesus didn’t expose her before the masses and make a public example but rather through quiet conversation revealed His Person to her. She became a great witness for the Messiah. I wonder how many people would finally fall in love with Jesus leaving sin behind them if the church represented the love of God rather than the condemnation of the Pharisees. Judgment belongs to God. Condemnation could have belonged to Christ but He chose grace instead. What will we choose today?

James 4:10-13 (NIV) Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?

Humility will not allow us to judge our brothers and sisters in Christ. Christ died for every single person every created to give them access to new life. The enemy uses pride to destroy sound doctrine as men and women who know God succumb to the lie of the enemy that there is a way to make us better when there is only a better way. Slander and gossip come in many forms. It will always circle back to the one for which it was intended. The grace given to us in Jesus Christ can only be accepted in humility. Religion will never be the way to Christ’s Heart but relationship. The kind of relationships that are made up of people willing to lay down their life, pride, fear, insecurity and doubt long enough to love unconditionally and give grace abundantly. Everyone sins. Everyone falls short of God’s Glorious Standard. There is absolutely positively no condemnation in Jesus Christ only constant covering of our sin with His Precious Blood giving us new life and making us a new creation. When someone falls, it is our calling to cover them. Cover them with prayer. Reach out to them in love. Don’t reach around them to share it with everyone else. Let their humiliation and violation stop with you not be cultivated by you. Give them the same grace required to keep you and me in good standing with God. It is free. We do not have to earn it and neither do they. What will you do the next time you find a fallen brother or sister who is slipping?

I John 4:16-19 (NIV) And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us. 

As believers reconcile their life to Jesus Christ – the product must be love. Always love. “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” There is no fear in love which means that if we are representing God’s love those who are lost or wandering should not be afraid to come to church. They should not be concerned that there is a kangaroo court of judges waiting to tear them down, make them feel bad, or condemn them in any way. What is your response to the downfall of another? What is your reaction? When the grenade dropped into the Humvee that day, Pfc. McGinnis did not have time to weigh his options. The true character of his heart revealed as he covered the grenade giving up his life for his friends. What will you do? We love simply because He first loved us. We give grace because He has given us grace and more grace. We are Children of God building a family out of love. Lord, create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit full of unconditional love and overwhelming grace for everyone I meet.

I John 3:16 (NIV) This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.

 

Do You See What I See

Do You See What I See

Psalm 145:15-16 (NIV) The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time. You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.

Tis the season of immediate gratification. It is easy to get caught up in the madness. Our eyes are filled with visions of new things and wants disguised as needs. I am guilty as charged. Much of my times spent perusing the plethora of advertising preparing to forge out on Thanksgiving evening among the throngs in search of deals and bargains. I will admit the Black Friday tradition is as much about fellowship as much as anything else. However, I wonder if the pursuit of such things keep us from the very thing desired most among people in life. Contentment. Satisfaction. Completion. Fulfillment.

It is hard to pass up really good deals. Like a woman’s version of hunting, it becomes sport. However, there is a dangerous flip side to the giving and receiving of the holiday season. I wonder if maybe before we start shopping, baking, partying, and “celebrating” our Savior’s birth – we should take a moment to focus on what is real worth. To take our eyes off the stuff or stuffing long enough to find the secret of the season. His Name is Jesus Christ. He came not only to save us but to give us a rich and satisfying life. During the month of December, believers will celebrate His Birth. The real invitation of Christmas is to freedom, a future, and forever. What better time for the enemy to try to steal that which Christ has given us.

Immediate gratification comes with a price. Yes. To overstep the boundaries of sowing and reaping the promises of God for our life. In order to abandon such a snare and not fall for such folly, I have decided that we must fix our focus on Jesus before being overtaken by the holiday rush. I must admit that as I have been delving into this stronghold I face of holiday anxiety mixed with a bit of depression, I wonder if the problem is not external but internal instead. Is it my inability or unwillingness to put aside my own insecurities in order to look to the mountain? To see things from God’s Perspective rather than getting sucked into Christmas’ past. The eyes of all who look to the Lord will be provided for. Those who keep their eyes on Jesus will experience full satisfaction. Don’t let the season of celebration be a setback.

Psalm 123:1-2 (NIV) I lift up my eyes to you, to you who sit enthroned in heaven. As the eyes of slaves look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a female slave look to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the Lord our God, till he shows us his mercy.

Human expectation is a dangerous snare. When I place my expectation in people rather than placing them fully in Christ, I am given to let down. I have chosen a less than perfect source to draw from when the Maker of heaven and earth is my Father. Unmet expectation is a pitfall of faith allowing doubt to trip us up. It is a snare and trap of the enemy to remove our eyes from the unseen and put them on what we can see. The flipside to the human expectation placed in others is to accept responsibility for the expectation of others. It is not our job to bring full satisfaction to another human being. The only good thing to be offered is the Christ in us. To give love, joy and peace to others requires Spirit productivity within us. We must put our expectation and that of others fully in the Sovereign God. Jesus must remain on the throne of our life even as remember his humble birth.

Psalm 121:1-2 (NIV) I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.

Are you with me? Overwhelmed as the month of November becomes December. On our foray into the night for Black Friday, my favorite purchase of the evening was a simple nativity made of wood. It has all the essential characters. I immediately put it up on the mantle. It is not ornate and no color except the golden star above the Savior. I am drawn to it. It sits right next to the television. I will admit I don’t watch much T.V. anymore. However, during this season, it is all about creating the perfect Christmas. The perfect Christmas has already come and gone. Its depiction right next to a larger than life Samsung with millions of dollars in advertising telling me what I need and creating new wants. God’s ways are higher than our ways. I wonder if He placed that little reminder right in front of me to keep my eyes on the One who created me and gave me the greatest gift of all time.

Psalm 119:37 (NIV) Turn my eyes from worthless things, preserve my life according to your word.

This is my prayer for the month of December. I want to be present. I want to stay fully engaged in celebrating the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The Wonderful Counselor, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace. I want to keep my eyes on what matters including love, joy and peace. Not the worthless things that cause so much stress and anxiety. The Lord has given me a gift worth sharing. It doesn’t matter if I throw the greatest Christmas party every thrown or have mounds of gifts underneath the tree. Who knows? My desire to meet every single want of my husband and children might be a hindrance more than a blessing as they look for lesser things rather than pursuing the Presence of God as Provider and Satisfier.

Matthew 6:21-23 (NIV) For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

As believers begin to prepare for one of the busiest seasons in the church, it would be beneficial to clean the lens of our heart. The eye is the lamp of the body. It perceives things according to light. If we fix our eyes on Jesus who is the Author and Finisher of our faith – this may be the best Christmas yet. It doesn’t revolve around a perfect presentations, plentiful parties or a plethora of presents. To fill our eyes with the Light of His Love that reveals and removes any darkness in our heart – no matter how small and insignificant. To put our full expectation in the Lord and not the “things” around us. To walk by faith means to see things through the unseen reality of faith which is only logical through God’s Word…the same word that came wrapped as a baby lying in a manger.

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. I have so much to be thankful for. God has been better to me than I could ever deserve. He has given me a loving husband who is an excellent partner and wonderful father. He has filled our house with children and even delivered them from death. When the enemy came to steal, kill and destroy us – He was our Protector, Provider and Healer. Looking around our house, we are more than provided for but abundantly blessed. The future even has promise in the birth of our first grandchild early next year. God has been faithful. His Son has given us confident hope. My treasure is in Heaven. His Blessings poured out to me on earth.

I must keep my eyes on Jesus this holiday season. To overcome years even decades of depression and anxiety during this time of year would be a declaration of faith in God and appropriate proclamation of the birth of His Son. His only son who brought hope to all mankind in his arrival. If you suffer from holiday stress, anxiety and depression, I invite you to join me. Put a tiny manger in full view. In a place, where you will see it and it will remind you that you have hope. Hope that is realistic that will produce love, joy and peace in abundance as you learn to trust Him more. God is a good father. He will never let you down those who put their faith, trust and confidence in Him. Release those heavy weights and burdens that do not belong to you and take on the yoke of partnership with Christ.

Lord, I ask you today to remove the scales from my eyes. Let the Light of Your Love permeate the darkness that threatens my heart this time of year. May those who share the same symptoms have a Saul-like experience (Acts 9:17-19) with me. Fill us anew with Your Spirit, Lord. Renew us with love, joy and peace in our salvation all over again. Let us see you in this season of rushing and create stillness in us to celebrate the greatest gift ever given – it’s You, Jesus, all you!

I John 3:1 (NIV) See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!

Adrenaline for the Soul

Adrenaline for the Soul

Hebrews 12:1-3 (MSG) Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!

Strip down, start running and never quit! I needed the encouragement this morning. A bit of adrenaline for the soul…if you will. Already ready for the holidays to end, I wonder if this year I can shirk the weight that has kept me from enjoying celebrating Christmas for most of my life. The heaviness that longs to overtake me, pull me back into the past, stop the excitement of tinsel, lights, and treats, steals joy in giving and overall leaves me totally broken and spent. I challenge the lie of the enemy who hangs lies and untruth attempting to attack. Like a lion laying in weight, latching claws into unsuspecting prey and waiting until exhaustion overtakes it and the lion can go for the kill. The enemy works very much the same. If he can just get you to give in or give up – he can take from you what you are willing to surrender. I will not submit.

Strip down…what is burdening you today? Is something weighing heavy on your heart? Examining our heart and mind today for truth is essential in releasing every weight and burden not of the Lord. Some important things to remember especially during the holiday rush will help us overcome the lie of the enemy. First, it is not your personal calling to meet everyone’s expectations. The long list of gift giving should not become a burdensome load like Santa’s sack. The menus and planning should be more about fellowship and less about perfection. Stay present. Remember our dear friend, Martha. She was lost in the preparation and missed the celebration of the Presence of Christ. She became bitter and offended by her sister’s lack of consideration as labored and Mary sat at the feet of Jesus.

Matthew 11:28-30 (MSG) “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Are you tired? Worn out? You are called to a life of endurance and perseverance for much greater promises than a perfect tree, abounding gifts, and superb celebration. Unrealistic expectations are the enemy’s offering to keep us tired and worn out trying to make everyone happy and losing our joy in the process. Come to me. Do not let busyness keep you from the feet of Jesus this holiday season. It is His Birthday and Arrival that is to be celebrated not loathed by overwhelming burdens. Walk with me. Work with me. Watch me. What an awesome reminder! We must live in the unforced rhythms of grace. Grace is enough to overcome the fact I cannot meet the worldly demands placed upon me but I am enough in Christ. Lord, teach me to live freely and lightly during the most strenuous season of the year.

I Corinthians 9:24-25 (MSG) You’ve all been to the stadium and seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win. All good athletes train hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You’re after one that’s gold eternally.

Start running. Maybe you have been running for a very long time, yet still victory seems elusive. You are still bogged down by fear, worry, stress and anxiety. God did not give you these feelings or emotions – He gave you faith. Faith to fearlessly overcome every burden once thought to be your responsibility but now set free in Christ. Don’t just start running! Everyone runs. You must run to win. It will require discipline, obedience, perseverance and endurance. This means it will be a struggle sometime to continually shed the extra weight along the way. You must be focused. The perspective of your life should be from your higher calling not the constant demands of this world and other people…even your family. The enemy uses guilt and regret to keep people locked into the vicious cycle of unmet expectation. Christ is our fulfillment. To continually pour into a bucket with a whole in it, is fruitless. Without repairing the hole, you are wasting resources. Stop trying to make everyone happy. Without Christ there is no fulfillment, contentment or satisfaction. To show others the love, joy and peace of Jesus Christ that gives way to contentment – we must possess it ourselves.

Galatians 5:7-10 (MSG) You were running superbly! Who cut in on you, deflecting you from the true course of obedience? This detour doesn’t come from the One who called you into the race in the first place. And please don’t toss this off as insignificant. It only takes a minute amount of yeast, you know, to permeate an entire loaf of bread. Deep down, the Master has given me confidence that you will not defect. But the one who is upsetting you, whoever he is, will bear the divine judgment.

From the cradle to the cross, Jesus endured everything humanly possible and overcame it all. He hands us His Victory when we choose to follow Him. Are you living victoriously? Are you running the race of faith superbly? Obedience to God including releasing unnecessary burden, unmet expectations, and unrealistic demands. This does not make you a quitter. It makes you a good runner. It makes overcoming and overwhelming victory possible. The one who cut in on you wants you to believe that these burdens, cares and worries belong to you and that if you don’t own up to them – you will let God and others down. The Truth is true repentance and radical obedience turns us from lesser things to attain greater faith, confident hope and full satisfaction.

Isaiah 9:6-7 (MSG) For a child has been born—for us! The gift of a son—for us! He’ll take over    the running of the world. His names will be: Amazing Counselor, Strong God, Eternal Father, Prince of Wholeness. His ruling authority will grow, and there’ll be no limits to the wholeness he brings. He’ll rule from the historic David throne over that promised kingdom. He’ll put that kingdom on a firm footing and keep it going
with fair dealing and right living, beginning now and lasting always. The zeal of God-of-the-Angel-Armies will do all this.

The gift given to us in the person of Jesus Christ has far more potential than any other gift given or received. He has called so many wonderful and powerful things but the one to remember in the midst of the holiday rush is Prince of Peace or Prince of Wholeness. You are complete in Jesus Christ. The need for human acceptance and affirmation creates a drive to meet human expectation. You cannot bring fulfillment to another human being other than to offer them the fullness of Jesus Christ. If you light is dim due to busyness and untended flames of His Spirit, then you really have given them nothing. If you salt loses its flavor or is wasted on preparing fancy meals, then you have not given them a taste of His Splendor. If your words have turned from blessing to cursing due to discontentment, discord, dissatisfaction or just plain exhaustion – they hold no life or hope. We must place limits and boundaries to keep us aligned with Christ during what could prove to be the best Christmas yet – the year heavy burdens of worry and stress are released and blessed peace is accepted.

The Greatest Gift every given was our Savior and Lord, it is easy to let the demands of the holidays take our eyes off of Him and pick up responsibilities that He never gave us. This year make your list simple. Strip down, start running and never quit! The Lord offers to carry those burdens. He will take everything you decide to release. He is faithful. Run the race of faith with complete confidence that victory belongs to you. Above all things, never quit. His Grace is sufficient for those times we fall short, fall down, or just feel like failures. His Unfailing Love and Goodness are always pursuing us. We just have to stop long enough to let Him overtake us, fill us and right our way! Thank you God for your Son Jesus who is the Gift who keeps on giving! Let the Lord refuel you today. Spend some time with the Lord. Let Him help you go through your to-do lists. The Holy Spirit will be your helper this holiday season. Celebrate Jesus! The greatest gift ever given. You cannot top perfection. He is the Perfect Gift.

Isaiah 26:3 (NIV)You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.

 

Most Powerful Resource

Most Powerful Resource

2 Corinthians 1:21-22 (NLT) 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.

Christ in us is the most powerful resource possessed by the believer. As the year winds down, I am challenged by the things not yet completed. Those dreams and visions of God placed in our heart to attract our faith and become the prosperity that He promised from the start. I know that God prerecorded a plan for my life marked by salvation. I am absolutely certain that the blessings He promised are for me. According to Psalm 139, I am fearfully (thoughtfully) and wonderfully (perfectly) made by the Lord. I have potential. In Jeremiah 29, He promised that the packaging of my life comes with a future and hope. I have not yet fully discovered all that it entails. As chapter 29 continues it instructs me to seek the Lord wholeheartedly and it will be mine. Over my lifetime, I have made many mistakes but in 2 Corinthians12 it tells me that His Grace is all I need to overcome the penalty of sin. All my mistakes can never amount to a blockage or barrier from what the Lord has for me because His Love is always pursuing me even in my wandering (Psalm 23). God promises that nothing can separate me from His Love and that He is working every detail of my life for my good. I have so many promises packed in my life. Now to learn how to get them out…

2 Kings 4:1-7 (NLT) One day the widow of a member of the group of prophets came to Elisha and cried out, “My husband who served you is dead, and you know how he feared the Lord. But now a creditor has come, threatening to take my two sons as slaves.” “What can I do to help you?” Elisha asked. “Tell me, what do you have in the house?” “Nothing at all, except a flask of olive oil,” she replied. And Elisha said, “Borrow as many empty jars as you can from your friends and neighbors. Then go into your house with your sons and shut the door behind you. Pour olive oil from your flask into the jars, setting each one aside when it is filled.” So she did as she was told. Her sons kept bringing jars to her, and she filled one after another. Soon every container was full to the brim! “Bring me another jar,” she said to one of her sons. “There aren’t any more!” he told her. And then the olive oil stopped flowing. When she told the man of God what had happened, he said to her, “Now sell the olive oil and pay your debts, and you and your sons can live on what is left over.”

I love the story of the widow woman with her little jar of oil. The story is an inspiration that I return to quite often. Again today, I feel like it holds God’s Hidden Secrets for me and I must squeeze the last bit of oil from flask to jar. There is meaning here for those who long to be satisfied. Unmet expectation finds new inspiration in her plight. The prophet only offered perspective with a hint on instruction. The woman put her faith in his words and obeyed. She reached fulfillment not by a miracle but in her method. Lord, help us learn from this woman who thought she had lost it all but instead found new hope.

Her Situation – Shattered Dreams

The woman is the widow of the prophet Obadiah. He is now dead and the creditors have come to claim unpaid debts or threaten to take her children. The life she once knew is now gone. She is in a desperate situation. Desperation is often born of unmet expectation and shattered dreams. The moment the life built by our human expectation gives way to desperation. When life is not what it seems and the harsh reality of it comes crashing down around us. Where is God? Why has He abandoned me? I thought He loved me, cared for me, and was with me. She went to Elisha. She was looking for some answers. She cried out the details of her distress, desolation, and desperation to the prophet. My husband is dead. I am in debt. They are coming to take my children who are all I have left. The “new normal” produced by such situations will be the transition point from destination to destiny.

Our life in Christ can produce unrealistic expectations limited by experience. We build our own vision or dream according to what we can do or produce ourselves when God has so much more in store for us. The woman had depended on her husband and maybe even built her life around serving Obadiah as he served the Lord. Wives are to submit to their husbands. They must submit to Christ first and then the man God has given them. Sometimes these orders can shift unintentionally putting faith that belongs to the Lord into a human being. Now the man is gone so she turns to the Lord. Trial, temptation and tragedy have a way of turning us back to our first love whether we are willing to admit it or not.

The enemy continually threatens the life of a believer with lies. Lies that build strongholds around us. Notice the woman said that the creditors “threatened” to come take her children. The only thing the enemy can take from you is what you willingly give to him. Think about that for a moment. What have you allowed the enemy to apprehend with a lie? You can’t do this. You cannot have this. You are not good enough. Your life is never going to get any better. I cannot change. I am too old. Too this or too that. Too broken. Too broke. Whatever the lie the enemy has threatened you with today can be overcome by the Truth! The Truth of your life is the Word of God. It never grows stale and does not have an expiration date. The door to the cell you may be living in is not locked for who the Son sets free is free indeed.

Her Solution – What Do You Have In Your House?

The prophet asked the widow, “Tell me, what do you have in your house?” I am quite sure she did not find his question amusing. She may have sighed in exasperation. Was Elisha not listening? Did he not hear her story? Did he not understand her plight? The word “house” can be translated into family, clan, building or home. It can also be translated to the word “temple”. “Tell me, what do you have in your temple?” Now this changes everything for the modern day believer who hears this story in its proper translation.

“Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God?” (I Corinthians 6) The woman did not have resources in her home but in her temple she had more than enough. We are the temple of God’s Holy Spirit who takes our faith to produce more than enough in our life. The things our hands can hold, feel and touch in the natural become abundant and resourceful when our faith is in God’s Spirit. We are anointed with the Spirit of the Living God. He produces good fruit in us that will prosper our life once our soul is properly prospering. Her desperation turned her to God. She planted her faith in God and the resources she needed in the natural came pouring out in abundance. Enough to fill the jars she collected. Do you have a flask of oil in you untapped?

The anointing of God within us can do nothing around us until it completes its work in us. She had lived a life of faith with her husband. More than likely, her faith was in her husband and according to his faith. Now the Lord is asking her what is in her “temple”, she discovered faith. How do I know? She was obedient.

Her Salvation – “So She Did As She Was Told.” 

What if the limitation on our life is self-imposed? What if everything we need to prosper is in us? What if the Spirit of God is just waiting for faithful obedience? We want God to do it our way, in our time and according to our will most of the time. But what happens when He does it His Way, in His Timing and according to His Will. Do we obey the Lord or trek off on our own merry way? When met with seasons of hardship, it is our nature to turn to the Lord for answers, explanations, gripes and even complaints. God’s Plan for us is unchangeable. Once He has blessed us with every spiritual blessing, the Lord does not take it back. He cannot lie or change His Mind. He does not withdraw His Call on our life because our faith is lacking or obedience waning. He waits on us. When unmet expectation comes or dreams are shattered, He is usually who we run to. When we do, the Lord comes close to the brokenhearted and fills us with new life. New inspiration of His Spirit and revelation for success.

When she told the man of God what had happened, he said to her, “Now sell the olive oil and pay your debts, and you and your sons can live on what is left over.” The woman put faith in God and He provided all that she needed and more. I wonder today if there is something in my temple that I put on a shelf for another day. Is it the very thing I must pour out to receive full satisfaction and live a life of fulfillment? Obedience is essential for our faith to become that which we hope for. If we are unwilling, then we will remain unfulfilled? God’s Word for our life is true. It is activated by faith in God’s Word, Will and Way. We must be willing to be faithful in hard times and drought to see the abundance of God that leads to absolute fulfillment.

2 Corinthians 1:19-22 (NLT)  For Jesus Christ, the Son of God, does not waver between “Yes” and “No.” He is the one whom Silas, Timothy, and I preached to you, and as God’s ultimate “Yes,” he always does what he says. 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.

The woman had a jar of oil. She poured it out as instructed and it filled more jars than she gathered. Abundance. God wants to fill your life with abundance today. Have you left the cap on your flask? We hold on to what we have out of fear. Doubt tells us if we empty ourselves there will be nothing left for the future. This is not the mindset of God’s People. We must change our mind. Taking our confidence and putting it fully in Christ which may mean gathering all the jars of expectation spread out among lesser things. God’s Anointing of His Spirit in us is a guarantee to prosper, but the Spirit must be poured out to every area of our life. His Promises are always “yes” and “amen”. It is our fear, doubt and security that mark them “maybe” or “probably not”. What’s in your house today? What fills your temple? What is the truth that governs the economy of your life? The principle of sowing and reaping is facilitated by obedience in the life of every believer. It is also a governing principle in our natural life. If you release it, God will increase it. Lord, increase our life. Give us the faith to release it so You can increase it. Holy Spirit align us with the Father and encourage us to have faith.

2 Corinthians 9:10 (NLT) For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you.

 

Greater Expectation

Greater Expectation

I Peter 1:3-4 (NLT) All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay.

Now we live with great expectation…does this statement reflect your life? Are you in survival mode or thriving today? Jesus Christ has saved us and come to live inside of us. Now greater is He who lives in us than he that is in the world. We are overcomes. Handed victory over death and the grave to live in the generosity of God’s Grace bringing Heaven to earth. We have a priceless inheritance. Do we live like sons and daughters of a king? Steadfast in faith and confident in hope in our identity – we live fearlessly because of our relationship with the Sovereign God. Or do we?

Rolling out of bed this morning, I head to the kitchen to prepare our Thanksgiving turkey. It is overcast and raining outside. Our son begins his shift today as a police officer so I pray for his safety. Across the bar are all the sale papers, the emphasis “Black Friday” is coming. Sharpies in all different colors representative of each kid scattered about. The ads circled and highlighted with expectation. It seems ironic to have all these wants and “needs” on a day set aside to be thankful. They have great expectation. Maybe this year, I will break the news that Santa isn’t real.

Thankfulness is the key to contentment. It is the gateway to satisfaction. If we cannot be thankful for what we have, there is no possibility that any “thing” else will bring it about. I am thankful. I am content. I am satisfied… most of the time. However, as time goes by, it may fade especially when the things I am thankful for are just things. Even graduating to people, they will not meet my expectation and require grace in order to maintain the relationship. We live in the midst of complete imperfection. Expectation placed in the world or the things of this world will always be subject to moth and decay. Our great expectation in the priceless inheritance is to somehow take our eyes off this world and stop reaching for the lesser things to obtain the life Christ died for us to have. Things are not bad. People are not the problem. Misplaced expectation will always be left unfulfilled. God is good. He will never let us down. Our expectation must be placed in the Lord to have life more abundantly as promised.

Matthew 6:19-21 (NLT) “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.”

Where is your treasure today? Most of mine are sleeping soundly. My family is a treasure. They are the desire of my heart to see them healthy, happy and blessed. However, I cannot put my expectation in my family. Material things are always a threat to our joy and peace as well. The vicious cycle of supply and demand create strongholds to the unsuspecting. During the holidays, this is the most difficult time of the year. Our desire to meet the expectations of others in our giving and hosting can rob us of the love, joy and peace that the Savior of the world came to give us. He is the Prince of Peace. Is the Prince of Peace ruling our life? Or is it a list of expectations full of demands on our time, talent and treasure that is quickly consuming us? Be careful. The enemy would like nothing more to hinder your thanksgiving and crash your celebration of the birth of Christ. He uses tools marked busyness and consumerism. He wields weapons of human expectation that creates burdens, worry and stress not produced by God’s Spirit.

Ephesians 3:20-21 (NLT)  Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.

Today, I want to be thankful. Not for what I have or who I love, but I want to be thankful for Jesus Christ alone. I know it sounds a little strange to some who don’t know Him or trust Him. My life verse this year has been Ephesians 3:20. I believe that God is able to accomplish infinitely more than I might ask or think… I do. The difficult part is that God is doing “His Mighty Work” in me. The productivity of prosperity can only reach the limits of my heart. God prospers our soul and it then manifests in our body working its way into our natural life. I must give God all of my heart today. Taking captive every rebellious thought that is desperate to meet the needs, wants and desires of others by simply trusting Him with all of my needs, wants and desires. Shoving my life across the table, giving it all back to Him again…and again if that’s what it takes until my soul is overflowing with love, joy, peace and every other good fruit the Spirit is cultivating in me. It is so easy to forget.

My life invested in Jesus Christ by faith and confident hope will prosper into absolute fulfillment and abundant life. It takes time. It requires discipline. You must endure because most of the time you must go against the flow of natural progression. It is our calling to persevere because the enemy hates contentment, satisfaction and fulfillment. His only weapon is a lie so why don’t you hurl the Truth of who you are and who lives in you right back at him. Aren’t you thankful for God’s amazing grace and infinite patience? Our Good Father guards and protects the priceless inheritance designated for us, until we follow His Lead right to it. It begins with a heart full of thanksgiving. It continues as daily we sacrifice thanksgiving to Him. Walking by faith and not by sight are a requirement which means stop grumbling, griping and complaining about your life and find the abundance hidden within it.

2 Corinthians 3:8-10 (NLT) Shouldn’t we expect far greater glory under the new way, now that the Holy Spirit is giving life? If the old way, which brings condemnation, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new way, which makes us right with God! In fact, that first glory was not glorious at all compared with the overwhelming glory of the new way.

We must expect greater glory under the new way. The Holy Spirit lives in us and is renewing us day by day with God’s Word and wisdom producing good fruit. Could it be that our expectation in Christ Jesus has set a standard too low for the living God? Are we waiting and watching for lesser things when He is ready to pour out His Glory in our life? What if the Lord really can do something glorious in our ordinary life and the only thing lacking is expectancy?

Lord, help me to have greater expectation. Eyes to see past temporary things and momentary problems. To surrender to you all my wants, needs and desires for fulfillment. Give me ears to hear you speak and lead me to Truth to overcome the lie of the enemy. Give me hands to give even when I don’t think I have anything to offer. Lord give me wisdom this season to keep focused on you and stop carrying every weight and burden offered by the enemy. He wants to steal my joy and peace but I refuse to give it away. You are my salvation. You have given me a priceless inheritance that will make its way to me in due time. Fill my heart with thanksgiving in all things and every circumstance. Let my mouth be filled with praise. Amen!

Philippians 1:20 (NLT) For I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past. And I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die.

Overwhelmed to Overcomer

A close-up shot of a broken chain

Romans 8:37-38 (NLT) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.

Overwhelmingly victorious – that’s us in Christ. Do you feel victorious today? Are you overwhelmed? Or are you an overcomer? Are you convinced? Convinced you are sinking fast? Or convinced the Lord will lift you up? Tis the season for the overwhelmed to experience the greatest of difficulties. Carefully laid traps along the way to snare our emotions, feelings and even suffocate us with exhaustion. It is time to stop defending our depression and disappointment and take a step over to the offense. We have the power to be overcomers in life. Not just in the big things, but in every detail. The Lord gives victory over our worries and cares to those who believe.

Neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow – not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s Love. The scripture seems like such a wide curve. We go from death to life straight to worries, cares, and feelings. We must overcome fear to circumvent doubt. Doubt can only exist where faith ceases to exist. If you have fears, cares, worries, burdens and stress today – you are not alone. The winter months are considered the most depressing time of the whole year. Add the holiday lists and enormous expectations put on each other and people are easily overwhelmed during a season of great celebration. The birth of Jesus changed everything. If we could only convince ourselves of that, maybe this season would be filled with overcomers not the overwhelmed.

Expectation adds weight. I expect that chair I am sitting in this morning to bear my weight. I have put my faith and trust in the cheap desk chair to hold me and not fold to the floor under the burden. During the holidays, expectations run high. Human expectation is put on one another. Impossible demands on our time. Suddenly our faith in God is displaced and put on the shoulders of ordinary men and women to make everyone’s dreams come true. Demands turn to debt in all shapes and sizes. What do you expect this holiday season? Who do you have you give your full expectation? If our full expectation is not on Jesus Christ, then the substance of our faith has been compromised. Given to a lesser thing that is not able to render full satisfaction and the abundant life promised by the Lord. What is the substance of your faith today? Or should I say, “Who?”

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

Many times, people decide only to take “big” things to a Big God. Yet, He is interested in every facet of our life. Every day, moment, second and breath – the Lord is with us turning the details into good things for us. (Romans 8:28) Our inability to give every burden, care and worry to the Lord is a detriment to us. He will perfect all that concerns us (Psalm 138:8) – our only responsibility is to trust Him more. The Lord was quite transparent – here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. I think sometimes we forget that part and jump over the “but” to “I have overcome the world.” You are an overcomer and there will be many opportunities to exercise our faith in the realm of impossibilities called trials and sorrows. You cannot find peace until you understand uncertainty. You cannot have faith until you overcome doubt. Trusting God requires believing Him at His Word.

Psalm 112:6-9 (NLT) Such people will not be overcome by evil. Those who are righteous will be long remembered. They do not fear bad news; they confidently trust the Lord to care for them. They are confident and fearless and can face their foes triumphantly. They share freely and give generously to those in need. Their good deeds will be remembered forever. They will have influence and honor.

Who? Those who fear (respect) the Lord and delight in obeying His Commands. “Such people will not be overcome by evil…) Yes, to be overcome by evil can be sin. What if it also means the lie of the enemy that leads to anxiety and fear, too? What if the Lord is warning us here of the carefully laid trap of feelings and emotions. The Word says that God is greater than our feelings. Please God take hold of my emotions, wrap them in Your Word today so that I may do Your Will at all times. The rules and regulations of the Bible are for the religious. The instructions in God’s Word are for His Children and those who live in a loving relationship with Him.

Psalm 119:133 says, “Guide my steps with your word so I will not be overcome by evil.” Feed your soul today. Give the Spirit of God something to nourish your spirit man. Fill your mouth with praise. Empty your hands long enough to lift your hands in worship. The relationship you have with Jesus Christ is not a religion it is the role of beloved. He wants to help you carry the load called life. He will take your burdens and turn them into blessings. We must only believe. Funny, that we plaster this word all over the place during the holidays but seldom take the time to truly live it accordingly.

“What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.” The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:23-24) Before getting overwhelmed in the days and demands ahead, take a moment to ask the Lord to help overcome unbelief. Jesus Christ overcame the world. (Period) There is nothing you will face today that can defeat you. There is nothing you do today that is not marked by success. God already promised to supply your need and released every spiritual blessing in your life so be generous. Confidence is born of trust. You will never be confident in someone or something left untried. Test the Lord. Try Him at His Word. Believe. He can handle it.

I Corinthians 15:57-58 (NLT) But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ. So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.

The Will of God for you is to overcome fear, stress, worry and doubt today. The Lord desires nothing more than to move you from overwhelmed to be an overcomer. To overcome means to overpower and overwhelm that which is trying to do the same to you. It means to succeed in dealing with a problem or difficulty. It means to be immovable. We must fortify our faith by investing trust as seeds of success in our everyday life. The roots of a tree do not stop growing until faced with a limitation. I have trees in pots that hardly grow because they have reached the limit set by the container. My yard is filled with trees of all kinds. The roots have been growing for years without limit as the treetops tower high in the sky. How big is your God today? Have you placed a limit on His Power by limiting the space of your heart? He wants to make you strong and immovable ready to thrive and prosper in this life. We have victory over sin, death and the grave so what is there to lose. We have been given His Promise that He has overcome the world for us so we do not ever have to be overwhelmed again! God even goes so far as to promise that we can enthusiastically work for Him and nothing we do will ever be in vain. We will always be successful.

Success in Jesus is prosperity of our soul that works its way into our life. We have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Take a deep cleansing breath. Breathe out every worry, care and fear you have been holding on to. Breathe in His Spirit. Whisper His Promises. Let the Lord love on you today. He will never ever let you down. The Lord is with you always even to the ends of the earth. We just have to get to the end of self and trust Him more.

Isaiah 61:10-11 (NLT) I am overwhelmed with joy in the Lord my God! For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation and draped me in a robe of righteousness. I am like a bridegroom dressed for his wedding or a bride with her jewels. The Sovereign Lord will show his justice to the nations of the world. Everyone will praise him! His righteousness will be like a garden in early spring, with plants springing up everywhere.