In The Stillness

In the Stillness

Psalm 46:10 (NLT) “Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.”

After spending the day with my grandson, I sent his mom a message that I felt incredibly lonely driving home. I sense of sadness that his car seat was no longer in the rear view mirror, tiny feet kicking and his little voice filling the vehicle with a mixture of sounds and babbling. Her response wise beyond her years, “Lol, I think you’re just not used to having no kids.” Ah maybe that is true, too. Of course, I miss my little chunky hunk because being a grandmother is awesome, but maybe she is right. I have been with a houseful and car full for what seems like my whole life. I have mothered for 28 years a tribe of little people. Yesterday, I dropped off my last high schooler for her first day. I probably will not have the pleasure of another drive like that as next year she will drive herself to school. Just like that and it’s over, the sleepless nights, endless care taking, selfless giving, and suddenly the house grows quieter and life begins to still.

”Be still, and know that I am God!” Quoted in the storms of life and hectic overtures of overwhelming circumstances, when adrenaline kicks in and emotions take over but I believe stillness is a sense of peace and confidence designed for every season. We must learn to be still in the Lord not only when chaos ensues but when calm produces silence that is louder than life. Parenting was certainly a part of my purpose in life but God has recorded every single day which means that they all count in my opinion. Why take note of something that is meaningless and without promise? Why not just skip to the good parts unless they all have the potential to be good either now or in the future?

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

Stillness comes with complete confidence in Christ. The certainty that God who began the good work within you will continue until it is finally finished. But do you see when that is…on the day when Christ Jesus returns. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. There are things that the Lord did in and through you yesterday. There are things that He will do with you today. There are things reserved for the future and some that will not be revealed until Jesus comes again. In a world that requires us to take hold of destiny and “make things happen”, God says, “I will complete everything that I began in you.” Do you trust God today? Do you believe that the Lord is doing good things in and through you? Are you certain?

Acts 16:25-30 (NLT) Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening. Suddenly, there was a massive earthquake, and the prison was shaken to its foundations. All the doors immediately flew open, and the chains of every prisoner fell off! The jailer woke up to see the prison doors wide open. He assumed the prisoners had escaped, so he drew his sword to kill himself. But Paul shouted to him, “Stop! Don’t kill yourself! We are all here!” The jailer called for lights and ran to the dungeon and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. Then he brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

Paul and Silas had been publicly beaten without a trial and unjustly put in prison. Not just any jail, but the inner dungeon where their feet were clamped in stocks. Around midnight, the men began praying and praising. Most of us know the rest of the story, a massive earthquake came and the doors to the prison flew open and the chains fell off all the prisoners. When the one put in charger woke up, he was ready to kill himself rather than face his superiors for he assumed all of his wards had escaped. But Paul and Silas were still there. They did not leave. Why? These men lived in the stillness of God and recognized His Presence. They did not fear for their life or what mere men could do but relied on God and His Purpose to lead them. When the jailer realized that they had not escaped, he asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” He then took the men to his house, fed them and then his whole house was saved.” The position of my life today, this very minute, has purpose in God’s Plan for my life. I can be still and know that the Lord will be honored. I must learn to live in the permanence of His Presence without mixed emotions. I must decide to stand steadfast on the firm foundation of faith where the Lord has placed me rather than getting stuck in the mud of lies and half-truths the enemy lays out for me each day. Doubt and disbelief will create detours, delays and even derailments. I must live a life of confidence and certainty so that I will be still in the Lord.

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.

Every single moment of our life has purpose and meaning when Jesus Christ lives in us. He is constantly perpetuating new life in us and shaping us into new creations. We have overwhelming victory…always. Confidence gives credibility to our faith and it becomes the example to others of just how valuable our life in Christ is to us. The validity of our faith is not revealed in the good times but in our commitment to work enthusiastically and love life all the time. Even in our sufferings, shortcomings, and season changes, the steadfastness of our heart must be that God is working every detail for our good and we are becoming the masterpiece that He promised. I have value and worth that you do not have because I am an original. You have value and worth that I do not possess and it is because you are authentic, too. There is no competition for God’s Love and Affection. Christ gave His Life for all of us.

Nothing in our life is useless when Christ is in us. Every bit our faith has potential when solely investing in God’s Plan and Purpose. All things are permissible but I must strive to obtain the benefits and blessings that belong to me therefore I must live in the stillness of God not the spin of society. You can do anything you want to do. Freedom in Christ gives you the right to choose. Choose well. Be confident in the Lord today. He will never let you or me down. Christ in us is always enough to turn our mourning in to dancing and sadness into joy. Those who sow in tears will reap a harvest far greater than those who give in to their sorrow and simply walk away. Stillness says, “Stay!” I am learning to be still in the Lord. The transition from season to season has me a bit on edge. For 28 years, mothering has been my primary purpose. Now I am entering a new season, some days in stillness and other days kicking and screaming. It is well with my soul. How about you? God is good! His Goodness is for you. It is in you. Christ is enough to be confident that through every season of life there are good things to come!

Psalm 27:13 (NLT) Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living.

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True Worth

True Worth

Luke 12:6-7 (NLT) “What is the price of five sparrows—two copper coins? Yet God does not forget a single one of them. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.

The most expensive painting sold to date is “Salvator Mundi” attributed to Leonardo da Vinci which brought a whopping $450.3 million at action in November 2017. A masterpiece no doubt but it is not a familiar piece such as the Mona Lisa. A little-known Saudi prince purchased the painting and then donated it Louvre Abu Dhabi. The worth of the creation is linked back to the creator. Leonardo da Vinci is a widely known famous artist making his work very valuable. I know a man whose mother was rummaging through a yard sale when she came across a pencil etching by none other than Salvador Dali. She immediately purchased it for a few dollars then taking it to an appraiser. It is worth a great deal now that the artist is identified. It has been moved from a garage overflowing with junk to an exquisite frame hanging as a focal point.

There is no one else like you. Created in the Image and Likeness of God, yet completely unique and individual in purpose and form. There are many men and women but if only humanity could comprehend the worth of our composition. The soul of each person ever born has a place of purpose and divine planning in the Kingdom of God. Worth more than any other created thing, God has the hairs of our head numbered. You are an original. There is no competition between you and another for God’s Love. He has no favorites. We are all His Favorites. When Jesus died on the Cross to purchase our life, it defined the true value of each one of us. Priceless and greatly desired by the God of the Universe. Science wants us to believe that human beings are a random act of nature. When two cells collide and explode to form a person, who is no different than any other species. Well, I beg to differ.

Psalm 139:13-14 (NLT) You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.

When was the last time you thanked God for making you…you? Don’t feel bad, I don’t do it either. I am thankful for my husband, children, family, friends, church and other people. However, seldom have I ever if I can remember ever saying, “Thank you for making ME so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous – how well I know it.” If most of us were honest enough to admit it, our prayers are often filled with the qualities coveted. Begging the Lord to change the distinguishing features that make us unique to be like everybody else. My daughter has a younger friend who has recently taken to copying everything she wears. I have shared with her the saying, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” She wants none of it. The societal trends prove that it is more important to most to fit in rather than stand out. Way makers are not as fashionable as those who follow the trends and gravitate to acceptable norms. Though my youngest will not admit it – she got her tastes in fashion from someone else along the way.

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

In Ecclesiastes 1, Solomon writes “History merely repeats itself. It has all been done before. Nothing under the sun is truly new.” This is true. Fashion is the same thing in cycles. Music is constantly made over. God didn’t produce you to follow suit. You are a masterpiece. God’s Masterpiece. Created by Him for a purpose and plan far greater than you can comprehend. You are valuable to the Lord. Jesus thought you were worth dying for. He paid the price for your old life and gave it back to you with the promise of a new life. However, most people live far below God’s Standard of rich, satisfying and abundant life settling for what they think they are worth. Until I decide that I am God’s Masterpiece comprised of great value and worth as His Special Treasure, I will not see the true potential of my life.

James 1:18 (NLT) He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession.

The end of comparison the worst of all joy killers begins in the revelation of our uniqueness to God. To know and understand living as a precious and prized possession rather than who we think we are or how much we value ourselves changes everything. It is not anything earned or deserved but rather who we are because of God and Christ in us. We are fearfully and wonderfully made. The Lord is taking all our rough edges and broken pieces making it into the new creation that He promised. He sees only the good in us because His Grace is covering the rest. You are chosen. God decided for you to be you. He filled you with purpose, gave you promises, and made the commitment to save you from the very beginning. Your life is not random. You are here for such a time as this – live like it. Remind yourself who God says that you are today. When the enemy casts lies and doubt throwing shade on the Light of His Love, remind Him of what the Lord has already declared about you. You are significant to the Kingdom. There is a place and space only you can fill. People who only you can touch. God loves you. Love you, too. See the awesomeness of your authenticity and walk boldly before His Throne.

2 Corinthians 5:17 (NLT) his means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

Adopted

Adopted

Romans 8:14-16 (NLT) For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children.  Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children.

When my husband and I married, I gave him the gift of three children. In fact, they were with us in the wedding and rode home to begin our new life together right from the church. He was made by God for his new role in our blended family. It was as though God predestined him for the job. Our daughter expressed a desire from the start that she wanted to be adopted. She wanted have the same name and security of the official process. Her dream would become a reality. There were papers to be signed and filed. A price to be paid. A process to follow. But I can remember how exciting it was to go before the court and finalize the adoption. Not long after – the official documents arrived including a birth certificate with her new name and her dad’s name on it. With these important papers in hand, we began to change her name in school, at the social security office, and every other place necessary to assume her new identity.

I am no longer a slave to sin. I am a Child of God. How often this is the declaration of a people who still live as orphans. Those who have Jesus Christ inside of them have been sealed by the Spirit of the Living God. You are a son or daughter of God in that moment. It is up to us to assume our new identity in Him. He adopted us to be His Own Children. We have the privilege of calling Him, “Abba, Father.” His Spirit joins with our spirit to become the confidence needed to enter boldly to Him and live in a loving and abiding relationship with Him. In 2 Corinthians 1, it tells us that God “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.” Why do sons and daughters of the Living God live in lack? Lack of confidence, faith, hope, love, joy, peace, provisions and prosperity are all signs of orphan syndrome as I would call it. If we are not confident in our adoption by God through Jesus Christ and His Spirit who seals and entitles us to every blessing and promise, how can we ever convince others of the same? It is our purpose to be fully convinced of our spiritual adoption and live out the process of showing our identity to the watching world.

Ephesians 1:4-5 (NLT) Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. 

Before… I wish it was possible for the finite human mind to fully wrap itself around the concept of God’s Omnipresence. He is everywhere all the time. He always has been and always will be. The constancy of God is the stability of His Plan. He is. He was. He will be. God is the Great I Am. Jesus, His Son, is the same yesterday, today and forever. He goes before us, falls in behind us, and is right there with us living on the inside of us. Conceptually, it is easy to repeat this but to fully understand it is crazy. Yet even before He made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ. I read it. I understand the meaning of the words. I know that it is true. Yet, I still cannot fathom knowing me how God would desire me as He does. He does because God already decided to love you. He was ready to adopt us into His Family knowing full well the sin that would plague us. He provided all the grace necessary to cover our sin and build a pathway to Him. All because He decided to love us and desired to adopt us.

Galatians 4:4-6 (NLT) But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children. And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.”

The Bible tells us that God placed eternity in our hearts along with a measure of faith. I believe at the right time the two will become one and our life will prosper when Jesus comes to reside in us. His Spirit cultivates good fruit and changes the appetite of our soul. However, it takes time to change our heart and mind healing the past experiences and working all details for our good. The Holy Spirit prompts us to call out, “Abba, Father.” Why not? I believe that if you polled your congregation asking the question, “Who have always had a good relationship with their birth father?” You would find very few who shared such an experience. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 19.7 million children, which is more than 1 in 4, live without a father in the home. These kids are more likely to live in poverty, develop behavioral problems, become pregnant as teenager, to face abuse or neglect, go to prison, to abuse alcohol or drugs, suffer obesity, commit a crime or drop out of high school. Fatherhood is a necessary role..

With this in mind, there is a fatherless generation who cannot experience the fullness of God’s Love because they do not understand His Role as Father. They cannot love or trust Him because their experience is absence, abandonment, or abuse. They do not cry out to Him for fear that He will not come because their natural fathers were not around. As the enemy works to destroy the home, he has successfully caused a separation between God and His Children based on experience. Many foreign orphanages are silent halls lined with cribs of babies who do not cry out because they know that no one will come. We must learn to lean on the Father again. Call out His Name. Allow our heart and mind to receive the adoptive spirit and live in His Love completely as sons and daughters of the Living God.

Acts 2:16-18 (NLT) No, what you see was predicted long ago by the prophet Joel: ‘In the last days,’ God says, ‘I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams. In those days I will pour out my Spirit even on my servants—men and women alike—and they will prophesy.

I do not believe that revival will come until the sons and daughters become confident in their identity. To fully assume our position in the Kingdom of God with confidence that nothing will ever separate us from the Father’s Love. To remind our heart, mind and soul that He is a Good Father and oh so faithful to His Children. We need to learn to recognize the Father’s Voice as He whispers His Love, Affirmation and Acceptance of us. To realize the full benefits of all His Promises and understand that they are not by chance but the rights of an inheritance. They belong to us because our Father has given them to us. God has poured His Spirit in us. We are free. Free to live. Free to love. Free to dream. Free to prophesy good things and God things in our life. It is only by achieving confidence that overcomes the experience of our past. To fully assume our place in the Kingdom is to complete the process of adoption by fully receiving our rights as the sons and daughters of God. He will not force you to come home but the Lord will welcome you every time. His Love for you and me established before the creation of the world. His Grace made sufficient because He knew us and desired us before time began. He is a good Father. He calls you His Child. Isn’t it time we lived like it?

2 Corinthians 6:18 (NLT) And I will be your Father, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”

Lay Me Down

Lay Me Down

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

The more in love with Jesus I become the more evident the loveless places in my life. When invited the Light of His Love shines into the deepest and darkest parts of the human heart and illuminates all the places where love is not definitive. Pride tries to brush it off in the name of self-preservation but the Spirit continues to press on the sorest part to make the change and trust the Lord. Over the years, I have developed the uncanny ability to shut off the switch of my emotions when it comes to hurt, betrayal and devastation. To become indifferent is a dangerous quality that should never be embraced but carefully extracted. Life’s experience give us certain coping abilities that are unhealthy to the spirit man and contraindicative to growth, development and maturity of the new creation. The command is to love each other as Christ has loved us. He establishes that there is no greater love than for one to lay down our life for a friends. The Lord goes on to evoke that those who master this concept will be called and considered His Friends. Faith makes us a friend of God. Love makes us a friend of Jesus. The key to laying our life down properly is love. We must get it in the right order to have the desired effect!

In Revelation 3, the Lord talks about indifference. He calls those who live in it as “lukewarm” and tells us that He will spit such people out. It goes on to say that Jesus will correct and discipline us to love everyone. It comes with the warning to be diligent in pursuing passionate love and turning away from the tendency of humanity to live in indifference. Indifference makes us disinterested, inattentive, uncaring, and self-centered. Intentional Christians cannot be indifferent but must live passionately in love with Jesus Christ. It all begins with our acceptance of His Love and commitment to learn love like our Savior. But this is not always the case. Some will come to Jesus and attempt to lay down an incomplete life for others to follow which will only lead to despair and disappointment. The beginning and end of our faith is the Love of God for us. Lord, teach us to love like you do!

I John 3:16-18 (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. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

I must lay down my life for my brothers and sisters. The Kingdom of God is reserved for every man, woman and child who asks Jesus to save them. God’s Desire is to save, heal, deliver and restore them all. Am I working with the Lord? Or working against Him? Friends work together. We give up our time, energy, resources and more to help out those who are called family and friends. But what about the rest? Oh I hear you! I give. I help. I share. I am generous. There are many philanthropists who give away their wealth. The Kingdom Economy called wealth is not measured in such things. It is our capacity to love others and from that love give our life away. We cannot get it out of order. Love is not a compulsion it is a commitment.

John 13:36-38 (NIV) Simon Peter asked him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus replied, “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.” Peter asked, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” Then Jesus answered, “Will you really lay down your life for me? Very truly I tell you, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!

Peter was probably one of the most enthusiastic, passionate and zealous Christians to ever live. He believed it when he told Jesus, “I will lay down my life for you.” How devastating to discover just hours later that the Lord was right when Peter denied Him the third time and the rooster sounded as promised. Peter already had the revelation of who Jesus was. He knew that Jesus was the Son of the Living God. I know a lot of people but I am still learning to love them. Not everyone is lovable and not everyone understands love. There are many people who have only experienced brokenness and devastation in giving love away so they give their life but withhold their heart.

In I Corinthians 13, it says “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” When Peter saw Jesus walking on the shore after the resurrection, he dove in the water and swam all the way to shore to meet Him. Peter was different now. Indifference was now filled with passionate love for the Lord and a willingness to give his life from that love. We must fall completely head over heels in love with Jesus in order to make the laying down of our life meaningful.

John 10:14-18 (NIV)  “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”

Love cannot be forced. Whom the Son sets free is free indeed. To love or not to love. It is a personal choice made each day. Jesus is the Good Shepherd. He is not distant but constant. His Sheep know Him and respond to His Voice. Why? Because they love him so. He offered His Life as a sacrifice for our sin so that our relationship with God the Father could be reestablished. He did so out of love. To properly lay our life down for others it must always be from the same love that God gave us through His Son, Jesus. It is in that capacity that our power and authority to lay our life down and pick it back up is possible. No one can take your love from you. You must choose to give it. We have the full power and authority of Jesus Christ – King of Kings and Lord of Lords – on the inside of us. Full dominion is ours because Jesus gave it to us. To lay down my life for others and fulfilling the commandment of Christ means receiving His Love. Allowing Him to teach me to love through correction and discipline. Continue to love until He comes for me or I go to Him. Lord, teach me to lay down my life properly. In Jesus Name!

Matthew 22:36-40 (NIV) “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Soulful Sowing

Young woman reading bible by stream in summer

Hosea 10:12 (NIV) Sow righteousness for yourselves, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the Lord, until he comes and showers his righteousness on you.

God has already provided for us. He has supplied every need. The Lord desires to bless us. To prosper us in the land of the living long before entering His Kingdom forever. This is the Will of God for us. It is not a contract with heavy stipulations but rather a covenant of love. Sow in the Kingdom – reap Kingdom rewards. Sow in the Spirit – reap the Fruit of the Spirit. Sow in the natural – reap in the natural. What you sow – you will reap. It is a principle set forth in the Days of Noah and a promise that holds true today. When God’s Promise suits us – it is called good. When God’s Promise delivers what it says it will but we do not like the outcome then He is not good. The promise is good if the outcome favorable. The promise is deemed a threat if it is considered unfavorable.

The Word of God is good because He is good. It is for us. It promises good things to us. God cannot contradict His Word. He doesn’t lie or change His Mind. If He has spoken it, His Word will not return to Him until it has fully accomplished what it was sent to do. It is sometimes difficult to fully comprehend the perfection of God in that He will not relent to our notions and whims. The senseless whining and ongoing pleas of a people full of doubt lacking trust and yet His Patience prevails in His Persistence to make sure that His Promise arrives right on time because He is faithful in all things.

Isaiah 55:9-11 (NIV) “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”

If only one might take the time to consider God’s Word in relation to His Promises. To sit and ponder at the wonder of His Word released to accomplish great things and not take hold of the reins to steer it, put our hand to the plow to break it, or decide that it means something entirely different. If I plant watermelon seeds in my backyard, and then tell everyone to watch and see my new zucchini plants grow. I am leading others astray for surely when the plant yields its fruit it will be a watermelon despite my declaration. We must know the Word of God including its context and content to fully understand Kingdom blessings and benefits.

In Leviticus 25, I found a passage regarding sowing and reaping that I feel is helpful. It is a command to observe the Sabbath Year. The Lord tells Moses that once the Children of Israel enter the Promised Land that they must observe a Sabbath Year. For six years, they will sow and reap from their fields. In the Seventh Year, they must not work the field. Whatever the land yields they may eat it but they cannot work it. The same account is in Exodus 23, the land is to be unplowed and unused for the whole year and not only will you and your family eat from it but others may get food from it along with livestock. An entire year of trusting God – to provide for a household. This passage ends with the warning…be careful to do everything I have said to you. What if God told you not to work for one year? To live off what you have and trust Him for the rest, could you do it? We must evaluate our sowing and determine the condition of our heart. To sow simply for the productivity of the field will not produce a rich and satisfying life. It is the sowing of God’s Word in our hearts that yield the kind of life God promised.

Mark 4:14-20 (NIV) “The farmer sows the word. Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them. Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown.”

The Lord has given us the Word to sow into our lives for supernatural productivity. However, we all fall into own of the categories described in the Parable of the Sower. I believe that many of us experience different stages of receivership according to spiritual grow and development. Spirit maturity advances us to the next level of faith that allows us to take God at His Word and trust Him a little more each time. The Word is the good seed of our life that will produce exactly what it says it will provide. We must plow through the hardness of our heart to make it fertile for the Word. Hearing the Word, it must be accepted as Truth for our life. You must believe. Believing is not enough. What you believe is of the utmost importance? We must accept God’s Word as our Truth and then do what it says. Then, a prosperous crop of what is sown will surely come up and become established in our life.

Galatians 6:7-9 (NIV) 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. Let us not become weary in doing good for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

All things are permissible but not all things are beneficial. Prudent words to live by. Desiring God’s best must be followed by a disciplined decision to do exactly what He says. We cannot have God’s Best outside of His Faithfulness which comes to those who diligently seek Him with their whole heart. Sometimes Christians get so caught up in the sowing and reaping process that they do not find the rest of the Sabbath. So God in His Infinite Wisdom and Divine Perfection allows His Mercy to prevail and the job loved more than Christ is gone. Or perhaps, our Christian service becomes a jewel in our crown rather than another one to lay at His Feet. Perhaps vain glory and puffed up pride have convinced us that we are doing is more important than what the Lord is about to do so we ignore some of His Commands as old-fashioned or unnecessary. You will reap what you sow. Sowing God’s Word in our heart will always cause our heart to prosper and soon after our life.

It is important to engage in soulful sowing. It is easy to turn what was once faithfulness to God into something fruitless in small focusing on His Hand rather than His Heart. We must focus on sowing righteousness for ourselves. Continually reaping the fruit of unfailing love. I cannot do this for myself but fully rely on God and His Word. Allowing Him to break up my habits, practices, routine, schedule and agenda to make room for the Lord and His Work to be accomplished in me and then through me. Everyone wanders off from time to time. Don’t let anyone fool you. The enemy is a formidable foe. But the Book says that we win! We live in the Triumph of Jesus Christ who is in us. We must not allow the world or other people to influence our pursuit of righteousness but live in the Word and do exactly what it says. You don’t have to but you will certainly reap exactly what you sow!

Matthew 13:23 (NIV) “But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”

Misplaced Hope

Misplaced Hope

Romans 8:18-21 (NIV) I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.

Our church is hosting a student ministries weekend, so I have pretty much been between work and church for several days. Exhausting but well worth it to see the unity of purpose and excitement among the teens and young adults. Spending most of yesterday at the church, I was returning home when I got a message from my daughter. Apparently my little grandson was being a handful so as soon as I got home, I hopped back in the car to help despite her objections. When I arrived, she met me at the door with the little guy facing front. Upon sight, a huge smile crossed his face and he began bouncing up in down in her arms. He recognized that Grammy had come to save the day. The next couple of hours were spent playing, eating, bathing, and rocking the littlest love of my life. I would not have wanted to be anywhere else.

There are so many things that crossed my mind driving home last night. I thought about my grandson when the door opened before him. His face clearly unsure of what was coming next or who was behind the door. I wonder what or who he was expecting. My heart burst at his response. Life is full of expectations. What is your response when someone knocks at the door unexpectedly? How do you respond to life’s interruptions? Are there blessings missed out on when human weakness convinces us of exhaustion, busyness, or bad attitudes? When I read this passage today, my heart turned to the Lord. He waits for us in each moment with purpose and promise yet in a life full of distractions clearly missed by lies and entanglements by the enemy of our soul.

Creation waits in eager expectation. What are they waiting for? The Children of God to be revealed. Creation is frustrated by its potential left undone by a choice not its own. The hope of all creation is to be liberated from bondage, decay and brought into freedom. Freedom cannot be explained to others until obtained through experience. You cannot share a Gospel with others until the Good News is evident in our own life. We must fill our life full of hopeful expectation in order to give it to the ones who the Lord clearly has called us to deliver. Your faith is greatly needed so your hope will be fulfilled because there are people in your sphere of influence waiting to see His Glory fill your life.

2 Corinthians 8:2-5 (NIV) In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people. And they exceeded our expectations: They gave themselves first of all to the Lord, and then by the will of God also to us.

The Macedonian churches were suffering greatly. In the midst of it their “overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity”. We do not gain the world’s attention in how we react in the midst of prosperity but what is our response to poverty. When things do not add up to the promise, what is our positon? They gave as much as they were able and beyond their ability. What in the world? Yesterday, I was tired. The last thing I “felt” like doing was going to take care of a baby for the afternoon. I wanted to nap myself. However, this was not just any baby. He is my grand baby. When I arrived at the door, I expected a whiny and cranky teething six-month old. He has nothing to offer other than smiles, giggles, laughs, cries, smelly diapers, drool and snuggles before bedtime. He can do nothing for me yet expects me to do everything for him. God’s Children are surrounded by spiritual infants who need hope full expectation that someone will come. The exchange is instantaneous. When the door of opportunity opened, I was thrilled to see him and he was excited to see me. Day made. My exhaustion turned to pure elation. This is the relationship that is available when we stop looking to God for what we think we want, need and desire all of the time and decide to live in hopeful expectation by giving beyond how we feel, what we have, and what we expect Him to do for us. The Lord is ready to be glorified through us which means it is already in us looking for a way out. Christ is in us – we have hopeful expectation that is ready to be poured out to others.

Romans 8:28-30 (NIV) And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

The Lord is not suggesting that His Children pretend to have it all together and lack for nothing. He is instructing to live outside of this moment in the realm of hope that allows us to live beyond today by faith. We have no need to pretend because we are predestined. Every good and great thing promised to us including every benefit and blessing of His Grace belongs to us and is sealed in us by His Spirit. Christ lives in us bringing together all the messy and even missing pieces of our life into a masterpiece for others to behold. This is the image of giving in Christ that comes from the conviction that God works all things together for our good because we love Him and live as His Called and Chosen People.

The measure of our giving is not in content or quantity. It is the deepest conviction to give because of the quality of life that is given to those who love and trust God. Paul knew how to be content with much and even without anything. He wrote letter after letter chained and beaten in prison yet we find those messages to be heartfelt and uplifting filling us with hope that would never be discovered in this world.

Philippians 1:20-21 (NIV)  I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.

Have we misplaced hope? I am asking myself the question today. Have believers become focused on finding hope here when it is to come? Hope will never lead to disappointment (Romans 5:5) when it is Jesus Christ. Jesus lives in us. He can be found. Yet we must eagerly and consciously expect those things that are not seen. To expect means to look forward to, regard as likely to happen, anticipate the occurrence or coming of, and to look forward to with reason. To expect requires faith. Once our faith is in Christ – we can move past the tired, busy, and unwanted places into the act of giving our life away to others confidently and completely because our conviction is that our hope is satisfied in Christ alone. If we approach the doorways of life ready to give our all, we may just find a blessing on the other side unexpected but always worth it!

Psalm 25:5 (NIV) Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.

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Overflowing Gratitude

Overflowing Gratitude

Colossians 3:15-16 (NIV) Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 

I am blessed with a wonderful work environment. It allows me to bring my grandson and even my dog some days to the office. Both can be therapeutic in their own special way. My daughter had some work duties and asked if my grandson could come spend some time with Grammy. My response – absolutely without a moment’s hesitation. Having worked at home when my kids were young, it is easy to adapt to a little helper for the day though he is quite the distraction. After a morning filled with bouncing, playing, lunch and snuggles, naptime offered a respite for me to catch up on some work. When his nap was abruptly interrupted by some unexpected noises in the lobby, he settled in on my chest to sleep. Since my job is essentially a keyboard and monitors, we all settled in quite nicely as quiet calmed the office again.

Deep in thought and contemplating the project, I became aware that my little chunk was completely relaxed draped across me in a deep sleep. Looking down at the top of his head at the hair quickly covering it, I paused at the sight of him. Overwhelmed with thankfulness, I prayed. Thanking God for this precious gift that He has given me overflowed into overtures that quickly spread in my heart as words began to form on my lips. I am truly blessed. Some days I am more focused on the yet to comes rather than those things that have already arrived. Plagued by the problem, my praise somehow silent in the midst of unfailing love and relentless goodness.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts. The peace of Christ is not manmade. We cannot create an image of perfect peace if it is not that which fills our heart and mind. Like rose-colored glasses, gratitude changes our perception in life when we stop and give thanks simply for what grace has already provided. Life is hard. It is unsettling. But I believe that might just be God’s Mercy not allowing us to settle for less or die not knowing Him. Forever is a long time. Much greater than the here and not including the sum total of our life. It is in that quiet moment holding an imperfect little man who sees so perfect for me that I am acutely aware of God’s Love and perception of me…a sinner and depraved wretch who He loves more than anything and chose to set free. Love sets free in the hope of finding it to be true. Yet the longing of God’s Heart is for us to cling to him as my baby grandchild was holding me. At complete peace and total rest in the arms of His Love in the closest possible proximity covered by His Love.

You were called to peace. Our office has been in a bit of turmoil. Our staff experienced the loss of a member to a new opportunity. The company that shares the space with us the same. People problems can disrupt us and cause us to become focused on the wrong thing sometimes. Life unexpected in many ways can be the unsettling reality that draws us out of the peaceful presence of the Love of God until we feel isolated and alone separated from the Lord and the peace that He offers us. This passage in Colossians can also be found in Ephesians. It is a call to unity in the Body of Christ. To be lovers and encouragers of one another and bind together the church that is the Kingdom of God and Bride of Christ. We must experience the perfect peace of God to ready our heart and mind to share in such an experience. Gratitude is overflowing grace too thankful for what is in our heart that we could ever want or desire anything less than Him.

Isaiah 26:3-4 (NIV) You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal.

I discovered this passage when our son was in the midst of cancer treatment. His body showing obvious signs of the fight, the doctor had just told us that we were in the realm of hope and needed godly intervention as the disease was quite aggressive. Soon after the conversation, I was talking to him with no response. Looking at his face, he was sleeping. Peacefully sleeping moments after his physician had told him that he was running out of options and had to trust the Lord for healing help. Sleeping just like that baby laying on my chest yesterday. His countenance at peace. His breathing steady. His body relaxed. The Lord WILL keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast. Those who decide to seek Him wholeheartedly will always find Him even if that means bringing Him all the broken and messed up pieces. We must learn to trust the Lord in the details of life enough to be thankful.

Gratitude is not a concession. It doesn’t mean that there are not some things that are still to come. It is not a settlement for those things not yet completed or fully satisfactory. Gratitude is a declaration of trust. Praise is our proclamation that no matter what God is in control and we are okay with that. Sometimes I must remind myself in my own heart and mind by simply stopping and beginning to thank God for even the most basic of blessings until it overtakes the negativity and bitterness building in my mind. The lie of the enemy is subtle in its penetration but lethal once inside. Faith in God requires our total trust. We cannot see Him. Faith comes by hearing and deciding to believe it. It is being consciously aware of God’s Intervention and Interaction in our life including the most simple blessing that is often taken for granted like a roof over our head, food in our belly, a job, or even the dysfunctional people surrounding us with love.

Colossians 4:2-3 (NIV) Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.  And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains.

Paul writes the letter to the church in Colossae while in chains. A prisoner of the Gospel, he still takes the time to say, “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” Lord help us when we lose sight of the true freedom offered by grace. The opportunity to be thankful in all circumstances knowing that You are working all the details together for our good. Help us to recognize that Your Love is always for us, surrounding us with us, and pursuing us. Nothing can separate us from it. When I feel alone, isolated, abused, betrayed, discouraged or even just discontent, remind me Holy Spirit to be thankful. To engage in the close proximity of Your Presence by letting my praise open the door. We must learn to devote ourselves to prayer. But not only prayer, we must learn to be watchful and thankful for what we see, hear and know about the Lord. His Purpose, Plan and Promises belong to us and are secured by faith. Not our ability to be faithful but His Faithfulness to us. That alone is enough to make the believer shout… or should be. Find a way to wander off this morning, to enter a quiet place and begin to thank God for everything around you. Let gratitude overflow and cover your heart and mind with more grace until it abounds. Let His Perfect Peace fill you at the sound of praise as you enter into His Presence. Crawling on His Lap, like a child, let His Love cover you today. This is God’s Will for you in Christ Jesus!

I Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV) Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Forgotten

Forgotten

Isaiah 49:14-16 (NIV) But Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me, the Lord has forgotten me.” “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.

Has God forgotten His Promise to you? Does it seem delayed so discouragement is the company you keep? Are you wondering if you missed Him? Somehow wandered off course into the barren wilderness? It happens. It is natural to have human expectations. The Holy Spirit produces good fruit in us that feeds our hungry soul but it takes time to change our appetite. The Water of His Word, that Living Water, will have to make it through the hardness of our heart to finally drench us deep within. Salvation begins the process of restoration and renewal. It takes time for transformation to take over as the Lord prepares us for His Purpose and to receive the Promise. Until then…

Our little grandson has an enormous appetite. He loves to eat. He is enamored by food. He gets plenty on a regular and consistent basis. However, when a bottle is being prepared or the food containers opened while locating a spoon and bib – the guy loses his mind. Either throwing a full-fledged fit or dissolving into tears, one might think that he is on the verge of starvation. He is obviously very healthy and well-cared for yet in his little mind the feeling of hunger is a desire too great to bare. He has never missed a meal. He knows mom and dad will take care of him yet still feels the need to respond to his wait time and discomfort that produces patience. His mama comforts him speaking words of affirmation to him as she hurries to get everything together. She’s a good mother.

God is a good father. He created each us with a specific plan and purpose in mind. A projected life that no one else can live. He promised to provide everything we need to be successful. He persuades us with His Unfailing Love and Kindness while pursuing us with His Goodness. He always comes to our rescue or performs a release at just the right time. Yet there are times when even strong Christians and longtime believers wonder if the Lord has forgotten…

But Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me, the Lord has forgotten me.” Do you feel like the Lord has forsaken you today? Do you think that he has forgotten you? The enemy wants nothing more than to make you believe this terrible lie of abandonment and isolation. It is simply not true. Could a mother forget the baby at her breast? Oh wow! I cannot even imagine. Before my first child was born, I remember having nightmares that I forgot I was a mother and would leave my child behind. But once I held him in my arms looking at his beautiful face, I knew that I would never forget him and love him forever. I don’t understand people who get so busy and caught up in life that they forget their child is in the car. How is it even possible? Yet they do – most of the victims die due to suffocation. What is so important that you would forget your baby? Your precious child? How could you forget? It happens all the time. Maybe it is just another sign of the times – love has grown cold and sin is rampant. There are wars and rumors of war. This world is on a downward spiral as families disintegrate in the midst of busyness and disregard. It would be easy in the chaos to believe that our existence is insignificant but it’s not.

Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me. The Lord is whispering to you and me today reminding us that He has engraved us in the palms of His Hands. We are important to our heavenly Father. The things that He has shared with us and continues to entice us with are going to happen simply because He said so. It is hard to trust anyone when life is filled with broken promises and unfulfilled oaths. When people say one thing and do another. The disregard for human life may seem to reduce us to just another species but it is not true. We have a God who loves us. He sent His Son to die for us. He desires us as His Special Treasure. He has created a Kingdom to be our dwelling place. He even says, “…your walls are ever before me.” My existence has a place in the Kingdom of God and its walls that cannot be filled by another. I am important. I am significant. I am not forgotten and neither are you.

I Samuel 16:7 (NIV) But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

Samuel was off to find and anoint the next King of Israel. He went to Jesse’s house as instructed by the Lord. Standing before him were seven likely candidates, but as each one passed by the Lord’s Hand was not upon him. The Lord had already instructed Samuel to look past each man’s appearance for He was looking at their hearts. How is your heart today? What is its condition? Have you allowed bitterness, impatience, fear, doubt or disbelief to harden it? God is always looking for the readiness of our heart and nothing else. The appearance of my heart is God’s Focal Point – therefore it should be my utmost concern.

I Samuel 16:11-13 (NIV) So he asked Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have?” “There is still the youngest,” Jesse answered. “He is tending the sheep.” Samuel said, “Send for him; we will not sit down until he arrives.” So he sent for him and had him brought in. He was glowing with health and had a fine appearance and handsome features. Then the Lord said, “Rise and anoint him; this is the one.” So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David. Samuel then went to Ramah.

God had already designated David to be the next King of Israel. He was out tending his father’s sheep as instructed. Doing what he was told to do in an isolated field with only the herd for company. He was alone but not forgotten. When it was time for Samuel to anoint God’s Chosen One, he was called from the very place that he was into the Presence of God and anointed just as God purposed. Hear me today as I speak to myself – just because your life seems ordinary today doesn’t mean that God’s Extraordinary Purpose is not coming for you tomorrow. Work your field. Hold your position. Wait for Him. He is coming.

How do I know this to be true? It is the promise I hold on to fortified by this: God is not a man that He should lie or change His Mind. The Lord told me that He would bless me so He will bless me indeed. (Numbers 23:19-20) He doesn’t withdraw His Gifts or Calling. If He called me to be here than the blessing will find me right where I am. Even if I get discouraged or disappointed and allow doubt, worry or fear to trouble me – God is still faithful to His Word. (Romans 11:29) And finally – the hard part – the purpose and plan that is designed for my life has an appointed time. God will not ever hasten His Process because it is my preference. The Vision will come to pass at the right time – God’s Time. (Habakkuk 2:3) I must learn to wait on the Lord. When I am tired of waiting, I must learn to wait some more.

I have always told my children that if they were to get separated from me to stay right where they are when they discover I am missing. In other words, if you look up and don’t see me – stop moving. If someone tries to take you away or talk to you – yell as loud as possible, “You are not my mom!” The same method should be used as Children of God. If at any point there is a separation rather real or perceived – stay where you are. Don’t make permanent decisions in temporary circumstances. We can chase preference and leave Presence. When the enemy comes offering lies and untruths, tell Him who your Daddy is. He will flee from you. God has not forgotten or forsaken you or me, friend. He is preparing and positioning us to step in the overflow of His Anointing.

I leave you with familiar words from Jeremiah 29. Recited many times yet sometimes we might forget, it was spoken to those in exile. They had a season of waiting yet to be fulfilled – seventy years to be exact. However, the promise remained even in their otherwise compromised state. God has not forgotten you. He has not forsaken you. He hasn’t given up on you either. You can never escape God’s Plan, Promise and Purpose for your life because He is constantly pursuing you. His Plan is to prosper us from the inside out! In the meantime, call to Him. He will come to you. Pray and He will listen. Seek Him wholeheartedly and He will be found!

Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NIV)  For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

Sincere Love

Sincere Love

Romans 12:9 (NIV) Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.

Have you ever heard the phrase “I love them but I don’t like them” or maybe “love the sinner but hate the sin.” “But” represents a contradiction. Our love for the Lord must be sincere. We must hate what is evil. Cling to what is good. It is a dissecting of sorts that begins in our own heart. I am challenged today to take the fruit of my heart hopefully born of His Spirit called “love” and cut it open to see if its contents are good and fit for consumption. Love is the driving force of God in His Pursuit of us. It is the very thing that held Jesus on the Cross until He gave His Very Last Breath. It is the force that rolled the stone away to reveal a risen Savior and forever Lord. Christ lives in me. His Spirit at work feeding my soul and nourishing my spirit to create a new person from the depraved wretch that I am. His Word is alive. It cuts through every lie and insignificant detail to reveal the hidden truth and potential hidden in layers of sin and darkness.

I have been “saved” since I was eleven years old. Through my teenage years into adulthood, I toyed with Christianity before finally turning over a messed up existence for a new way of life in my early thirties. Complete surrender is the only way to begin the full transformation process. It is a lengthy battle of the heart and mind. Jesus at the center of it all means there is a whole lot of “me” to get out of the way. It seems so simple when we come to Jesus. Why not? We have nothing to give but our faults and failures in exchange for a new life and forever in His Kingdom. Yet the striving and settlement of the terms of this covenant seem to continually cut away at my heart and mind as I discover it is an act of endurance that keeps us steadfast in Christ. It is not a footrace to the finish but a good fight for our faith. Could it be so simple and yet we make it complex? Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil. Cling to what is good.

I have been married for almost twenty years. I chose to give my heart to a man. He is just like me – imperfect and yet perfect for me. I love him. I am committed to loving him for the rest of my natural life. It is from this commitment or covenant that sincere love is born. It is not fancy or pretty. Sometimes it can be very raw and broken yet in all the beauty and ugliness mixed together – God has made good of every detail of our life. It just gets better and better all the time. In our marriage to Christ, it can be very much the same. Over time, I may take Him for granted. Not show Him true affection or affirm Him. There are even days that I don’t trust Jesus. Oh, I say that I do but my actions speak louder than words. Our marriage to Christ is a choice to love. In the good times and bad, when things are wonderful or wretched, and even when love is cold and insincere – this is a relationship to be worked through just like anyone else. It is my commitment to Christ that is the relationship worth having because from it comes remarkable relationships with ordinary people.

The word sincere means free of deceit, hypocrisy or falseness. It is earnest, authentic, genuine and real. It is pure, unadulterated and unmixed. This is the kind of love that the Spirit of God produces in us. It is the brand of love that is designated to bind God’s Kingdom together. Once tainted always tainted unless carried through His Blood. If we do not repent from our lack of love and return to our first love, it is impossible to love others the same way we love Jesus. He has to transform our perception and expectation of love and purify us again. Our passion for the Lord will burn away the impurities of human love and cut through the most callous heart to circumcise it consecrating it to the Lord again.

Revelation 2:2-5 (NIV) I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first.

This warning from Jesus is not for the lost or those who are seeking. This message is to the modern day Christian and believers who are giving their very life to the work of the Lord. It is for preachers, teachers, elders, and every other servant in the House of God serving the Body of Christ. Are you going through the motions today? Doing what has become a habit? Has service become the social circle you move in? It’s crazy that think that doing good things can sometimes take the place of doing God’s Thing for you. It happens. Church is made up of imperfect people. It has a hierarchy all its own. Carefully constructed doctrine meant for godly order becomes the rules and regulations of judgment and a kangaroo court of Pharisees born from it. I wonder if God is saying, “Stop…just stop for a minute.” The merry-go-round that hints at revival yet passes by it never stopping is not because you aren’t “doing” all the right things but you have forgotten for Who you are doing it? Have you forgotten to love Jesus today? Every attitude, action and reaction should be born of our true love for Him.

A couple things come to mind in closing today. First, you cannot fake agape love. It is born of something supernatural by giving our heart, mind, body, spirit and soul to Jesus Christ. When I had each one of my children, there was an instant connection and overpowering love the moment that they were born. At each birth, I instantly and completely loved them. They are my children. This is exactly how Christ loves us. The moment of creation was powerful in that His Love completely surrounded us in that moment and it never stopped but has perpetuated through life. When our daughter had our grandson, I was by her side to witness his arrival. I loved him with the same ferocity and completeness that I did his mother when she arrived. The heart of Jesus explodes the moment a new Christian is born and all Heaven celebrates. Our new life and the continual rebirths of others should reciprocate love that connects the Kingdom similar to the kind of love when a new baby arrives. After all – we are all members of the same body.

Second thought before I go, after all these years of marriage I have learned playing the part of wife, life partner, best friend and soul mate is not enough. I can do all the right things. I can serve my husband completely. I can “do” everything that is expected of me and he can still feel unloved and unwanted. There are times when he doesn’t want me to do anything but sit with him, talk to him and be with him. Life is busy. Humans are subject to emotions and feeling. We all have bad days. If I feel like I am not connecting with my husband, I must determine what is lacking. Generally, it is that I have become consumed in the tasks of marriage and not given time or attention to my true love. Jesus is no different. He doesn’t need us to do His Work – He has legions of angels who tend to be way more obedient then humans. He wants us. He desires us. Yes, there is work for the Kingdom that is our purpose and destiny in life. Yes, we are to work together and build the Kingdom and connect the Body of Christ. Yes, yes, yes to every excuse you can think of as to why you haven’t been at His Feet listening, seeking and finding His Face. All He wants and has ever wanted is you. He loves you wholeheartedly and completely just as you were the day you came to Him asking for salvation and surrendering your life. He loves that you. The same you that is searching for Him today will be met with the same profound grace and perfect love that you found back then.

Sincere love. God desires our sincere love. Jesus deserves our sincere love. Allow His Spirit to renew love in you today. Let His Love be made more perfect as you seek to know Him more. I cannot love another from a well that is dry and without loving the One who first loved me – I have nothing to offer the dry and thirsty world.

I Timothy 1:5 (NIV) The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.

Like an Arrow

Like an Arrow

Isaiah 49:1-4 (NIV) Listen to me, you islands; hear this, you distant nations: Before I was born the Lord called me; from my mother’s womb he has spoken my name. He made my mouth like a sharpened sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me into a polished arrow and concealed me in his quiver. He said to me, “You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will display my splendor.” But I said, “I have labored in vain; I have spent my strength for nothing at all. Yet what is due me is in the Lord’s hand, and my reward is with my God.”

I had this vision of an arrow sailing through the air. I could not see the archer who shot it. The target was not clear. It was simply whistling by. It was for me. Not intended to harm me but to pierce my heart. I knew that there was a message for those who are far from the beginning but cannot see the end. Endurance is a quality that God instills in us to win. Jesus said, “Those who endure to the end will be saved.” The beginning of a thing is excited with a rush all its own. The end is triumphant and often a welcome relief from the journey. However, the battle is won and target achieved in the middle. The ones who decide to continue when nothing is clear. Like an arrow, the archer has a target in sight.  A mark that is aimed for. He releases the arrow to cover the distance and when it arrives at the destination fulfill its purpose. The arrow does make a sound it just does what it was created to do. What about you? Are you in the middle of something? Wondering if you will ever make the mark or maybe feeling as though you missed it altogether? Does your life seem to be a perpetual flight with no landing in sight? Oh friend, there is purpose in your destination too wonderful to miss.

He made me a polished arrow and concealed me in his quiver. Persistence, perseverance, patience, endurance, discipline and the like are contrary to human nature. To wait on the Lord and trust in His Purpose and Plan are difficult to an untrusting people who have been tainted by disappointment, betrayal, pain, and a lack of fulfillment. How do I know that the designated purpose delineated for me will bring me the full satisfaction that is promised? Well, there is only one way to find out. A polished arrow has been through some refinement or perhaps a great deal of fires and forging to prepare it for the moment of release. It is carefully hidden in the archer’s quiver for an appointed time and destination. The waiting can be the hardest part. We miss the peacefulness of His Rest eager to see if He will be faithful. If we could only learn to overcome doubt and fear in order to embrace the Faithfulness of God – who is the mighty archer ready to release us at any moment.

But I said, “I have labored in vain; I have spent my strength for nothing at all. Yet what is due me is in the Lord’s hand, and my reward is with my God.”  Can I encourage you today that God is not finished with you yet? Perhaps, He has not even begun to show you the reward set aside for you at the end. We must stop saying that our labor is in vain just because it has not hit the mark yet. Discouragement laced with the lie of the enemy tells us that our strength is spent with nothing to show for it. Grace says that in my weakness I will have His Power as my own. To place our life in God’s Hand completely is the only way to reach the mark and claim the prize. However, it is not in our doing anything but rather submitting our life to His Hand, remaining in His Presence and going where He sends us.

Isaiah 49:5-6 (NIV) And now the Lord says—he who formed me in the womb to be his servant to bring Jacob back to him    and gather Israel to himself, for I am honored in the eyes of the Lord and my God has been my strength—he says: “It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.”

How often the words in Psalm 139 escape us! The part where the Lord reveals that every single day of our life is carefully recorded before a moment lived. The promise of Romans 8 that He works every detail of our life for good simply because of our love for Him. No matter what happens in life or what I do – nothing will ever separate me from His Love. His Grace offers power in my complete weakness. To trust Him and know Him releases the full potential in my life to achieve God’s Purpose and Plan. Not because I am worthy of any of it – but because He is good and does not lie or change His Mind. He is faithful. Someone needs to hear that today. Stop beating yourself up because of faults and failures. Don’t look back – keep your eyes fixed on the future. Reclaim your joy and peace again by positioning yourself in His Presence and waiting for the Lord to do what He promised. All things will work together when we stop trying to work it all out and figure it out as well. God has a plan. He has a purpose just for you. He will do exactly as He promised.

Philippians 3:10-12 (NIV) I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.

What is your mark today? Goal? Prize? Desire? Purpose? We all have one. The primary purpose of our life is to know Christ and be united with God the Father to become part of His Kingdom. The benefits and blessings of such a pursuit are the potential of our life and purpose. In Hebrews 12, there is insight to something that I never noticed before. “And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” Did you see it? It says, “The race marked out for us”. Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean you can’t believe it! We must fix our eyes on Jesus. He must be and remain our primary focus to persevere in the pressing for the mark. Your destination is divine. The pathway secure. You just have to keep on keeping on to make it.

There are some other things that the arrow reminds us to do. We must aim for something. (I Corinthians 9:26-27) It is said that if you aim for nothing you will hit it every time. This is true in trying to experience Kingdom life lived without expectation. We must aim for consistency. (2 Corinthians 5:8-9) We must aim for honor. (2 Corinthians 8:20-21) Honoring God in all we do will keep us steady on course. People are not the problem but each one holds potential. However, the enemy will send fiery darts towards us to cause our arrow to lose course. (Ephesians 6:16) Do not be distracted. Keep the faith. Aim to remain faithful and focused in the flight. (2 Timothy 2:4) There are many arrows in God’s Quiver each with its own purpose – we must aim for unity. (2 Corinthians 13:11-12) We are in this together. Fighting for the same faith. Trusting in the same Lord. Members of the same body. Residents of His Kingdom not at war with each other but all that comes against it.

I Timothy 1:5 (NIV) The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.

The aim of our charge or tip of the arrow must always be a deep and penetrating love that cuts through our heart to produce a good conscience and sincere faith. The only good in me is Jesus Christ. My faith is in Him as He is the “pioneer and perfecter” of it. On those days when it feels like we just keep on keeping on, it’s easy to lose sight of where we came from or where we are going. These are the days when our eyes must go back to the archer. The arrow that honors the archer stays on course and hits the target every time. It may seem like you are flying aimlessly to nowhere but if God is the One who released you – I promise that you are going places. Amazing and wonderful destinations of prosperity and fulfillment. Have faith in the Archer today. Stay the course. Hit the mark. You will be found faithful in the end and have the rich and satisfying life that He has sent you after.

Philippians 3:13-14 (NIV) Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.