Full Communion

Full Communion

John 15:4-5 (ESV) Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

Abide in me. A personal invitation of intimacy from Jesus to us. He invites us to come closer, go deeper and live in the overflowing abundance called fruitfulness. To consider our creation is by God the Father. To remember that our purpose is for Him. To know that without full communion there is no fulfillment in the Lord. All these things are essential in achieving our purpose and acquiring all of God’s Promises for us. We must learn to abide in Him. We must learn to live in full communion with Jesus Christ.

I am the vine. You are the branches. Everything that Jesus has can be filtered to us and through us in life through virtue of relationship. To live in love with the Lord and remember to constantly pay attention to this relationship will make it thrive. Like a marriage, it must be nurtured each day and endure the storms of life through a steadfast commitment to love regardless of our feelings in that moment. The Lord has a purpose and plan to cultivate in you and me. It is only attainable by abiding in Christ on a daily basis. Those who endure for a lifetime will be saved.

The word “communion” makes many Christians think of the tiny glasses of grape juice and little wafers that taste like paper. This religious act is done in remembrance of Christ and His Sacrifice. However, I do not believe that this is the sum total of what the Lord was demonstrating to us. Communion means an act or instance of sharing. It is an interchange. It is also described as an intimate fellowship or rapport. The word “rapport” is a friendly and harmonious relationship characterized by agreement and mutual understanding that makes communication possible and easy. This is the kind of communion that Jesus desires – to live in a harmonious and intimate relationship with us. To abide in Him is an act of intimacy reserved for just two with the purpose of becoming one.

Matthew 26:26-28 (ESV) Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.

Before Jesus, the acts of religious duty were external. The sacrifice was on the altar. The blood was not to be consumed. The relationship between mankind and Creator at a distance due to sin. All that was about to change and Jesus symbolizes such a change of culture in the institution of communion. He took the bread and blessed it. Then it was broken to be consumed. He took the cup giving thanks for it and instructed them to drink the blood of the covenant. As one might imagine, the religious folks of the day were appalled this defied the rules and regulations set forth by God given to Moses. The Lord was suggesting a new relationship and new level of intimacy that would shatter religion making way for a righteous relationship between God and His People.

I Corinthians 11:23-26 (ESV)  For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

While I am a firm believer in the institution of communion and taking the symbolic sacraments in remembrance of Christ corporately, I believe that Paul is suggesting a much deeper form of service in I Corinthians. “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.” Eat the bread. Drink the cup. The Bread of Life is Jesus Christ. (John 6) He is the Word. We must daily break the bread and consume it to continue in our covenant relationship with Him. He feeds our soul. He seeds our spirit. The purpose inside of me must be broken to my way to fully claim His Way. He is the Way the Truth and the Life. Every time the bread was blessed and broken, it did abundantly more than as a whole loaf. (Matthew 14 & 15) One boy’s lunch became a banquet for thousands from this very effort. Imagine our life in the Hands of the Creator becoming the masterpiece that He promised it would be. Jesus tells us that those who partake of the Bread of Life will never hunger again. In other words, satisfaction comes in daily feasting on the Word of God and digesting each truth to allow it to nourish our soul and bring us fulfillment as only He can do.

One cannot forsake the Blood of Jesus Christ. I know the Cross was a tragic, grotesque occurrence. To see an innocent man beaten, bloodied and bruised dying a horrific avoidable death. However, to demean the Cross is to devalue our life. Jesus was on the Cross for you and me. There was no other way but the way that He took to save us. How can we who are the recipients of His Grace forego a daily sojourn to the foot of the Old Rugged Cross? I cannot. I do not plead the Blood of Jesus over my life as a beggar but proclaim it as a victor. I have victory in Jesus and He won it on the Cross, walking through death and the grave until He arose in all His Glory on the third day. I need the Blood of Jesus.

I do not find the Cross offensive, but it is my objective. To be crucified with Jesus Christ means I must go to the Cross to make to resurrection power and life. I have not arrived until I stand face-to-face with Jesus Christ. Until then, I need every single drop of the Blood shed for me. I need to crucify my flesh daily. I must receive a washing of His Word. I must experience the renewal of His Spirit. I have a purpose that required payment of a penalty that I could not afford. I must remind myself daily that my life is not my own. True repentance always turns back to the Cross. Communion is where I find fulfillment. Without it, I am empty and void. Without the Blood, there is no communion.

I Corinthians 11:28-32 (ESV) Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world.

Self-examination begins with a standard. God’s Standard of living and loving is set forth in the Word of God and demonstrated by His Son – Jesus. To understand fully the ramifications of righteousness require a standard. Communion with the Lord is not possible apart from obedience and discipline. God is constant. We must be the flexible variables reconciling our life daily to His Word, His Way and His Will to live the rich and satisfying life available through Jesus Christ. We can act out many religious rites and rituals but apart from true communion with Jesus Christ it will mean nothing in the end. Until we allow this Gospel to be fully digested and become a way of life there really is no point to following certain actions or activities because they are all labors done in vain. God is looking at our heart. He wants to see Jesus. To see the seal of His Spirit marking us as His Children. This is accomplished through a life of communion with Christ.

Galatians 2:19-21 (ESV) For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.

I was made by You. I was made for You. I am unfilled without full communion. (Since Your Love – United Pursuit)

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Fresh Springs

Fresh Streams

Proverbs 18:20-21 (ESV) From the fruit of a man’s mouth his stomach is satisfied; he is satisfied by the yield of his lips. Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.

The proverbial warning is that death and life are in the power of the tongue. It is spoken and taught on a regular basis. Cautioned that every idle word will be judged according to its fruit. Though such a small part of a large organization, the tongue is the most powerful weapon given to mankind. We can start wildfires with one tiny spark. It can also put out raging ones with just a little of its soothing calm. Communication is the sowing of many seeds. What is growing in your life today? What is the fruit of your communication today? Are you satisfied? From the fruit of my mouth, my stomach is satisfied. I am satisfied by the yield of my lips. Faith has deposited seeds of potential in full measure inside of me. They are waiting to be sown. My words are part of the process. If my words are not life giving, they will be death to my potential. Words can take the life of my dreams and seal them in dark tombs of disappointment.

Proverbs 15:4 (ESV) A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.

The gentle tongue is a tree of life. It takes a tiny seed to make a giant oak. God has called us to be “oaks of righteousness”. In our frustration, He is blamed when there is no growth or development of the promise that is in us. But maybe…just maybe… it is not God’s Lack of attention that is the problem but rather the poison flowing from our lips. Right and righteousness must be partners. I can be right about a lot of things. Righteousness is given to me only through Jesus Christ. My mouth my speak truth. Truth without love is the law and seals my fate. Each word is wrapped in the breath that God began in me and carries the fruitful potential of prosperity in my life.

James 3:7-10 (ESV) For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.

Jesus has cleansed the church by the washing of water with the Word. The same Word is declared living and flows within us as a steady stream. It is useful in cleansing our conversation and watering the fresh seeds planted in communication. Blessing and cursing cannot come from the same mouth without nullifying itself. If you bless it, then curse it – something will die. You are created in the image of God. The Spirit of Jesus Christ, who is resurrection power and life, lives inside of you. You will make declarations on the earth. You cannot choose to be salty and sweet at the same time. You cannot be living water and a stagnant stream together. You must choose to be a fountain of living water. You must decide that you desire to bring life and not cause death. The taming of our tongue and monitoring of our words is not easy but vital in living the life that God has promised us. We must speak His Word. We must let Him be the gatekeeper of our lips.

Exodus 4:10-12 (ESV) But Moses said to the Lord, “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.” Then the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.”

Moses was commissioned to set God’s People free. He was to go and speak to Pharaoh. Moses used the excuse that he was “not eloquent…but I am slow of speech and tongue.” I wonder if that was really what was holding Moses back or could it be his pride. He was in exiles tending flocks in a hillside because he was a fugitive from justice. A murderer. He was once a palace dweller, but now living in a pasture covered in the smell of sweat and sheep. Was it really his ability to speak that was holding him back? Sometimes our mouth gets us in trouble and pride keeps us from making it right. Look what the Lord tells Moses, His Servant, “Who has made a man’s mouth? Is it not I, the Lord? Now therefore go, and I will be your mouth and teach you what you shall speak?” In Psalm 139:4, it tells us that even before a word is fully formed on the tip of our tongue, God knows it altogether, fully or completely. It means that before our body gave breath to that thought or idea – God had already put life in it. He knows the potential of our words and the rebellion of our tongue which means that Jesus has already provided sufficient grace to secure it. It means that the potential inside of our words always has goodness attached to it. Even when rash, callous, heated or ugly words are spoken, at the submission of pride, He will bring about new life.

Luke 6:45 (ESV) The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

Our life is lived in seasons. God is constantly giving us the opportunity to sow and reap in a perpetual seedtime and harvest. What we sow in each season determines the harvest that will come. The great part is that our next season of life doesn’t have to yield the same as the previous one did. Because Christ lives in us – we have the promise of new life and becoming a new creation. Our words reveal the abundance of our heart. Harsh and hurtful words are often born of the same seeds planted deep within. It is up to us to filter our speech but first we must sift through the contents of our heart. A communication problem is a heart problem…at least that’s what God’s Word indicates. If the mind, soul and body agree than our words will duly reflect its unification, but if blessing and cursing come pouring out – it is time for careful examination. No one is exempt. We will be judged by the fruit of our life. The Lord is looking at our fruit. We must become fresh streams of living water to prosper as the Lord intended inside and out.

John 7:37-38 (ESV) On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’”

What flows from our mouth waters the seeds of promise in our life? Abundance is born of living water that produces a harvest in our soul that prospers our life. You have this kind of stream inside of you. Release it today – in Jesus Name.

Proverbs 10:19-21 (ESV) When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent. The tongue of the righteous is choice silver; the heart of the wicked is of little worth.  The lips of the righteous feed many, but fools die for lack of sense.

Good Fruit

Good Fruit

John 15:1-4 (NLT) “I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.”

“When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.” (John 15:8) Have you inspected the fruit of your life lately? Is it fulfilling? Is it satisfying? Are you hungry? Our alignment to Jesus Christ is vital to survival in the Kingdom of God. It is the access point of divine productivity. If pursued by Children of God, it will produce disciples. There is a certain discipline involved by virtue of title. To be a disciple will always require discipline. A branch cannot produce the fruit of the vine if separated. To be fruitful requires our connection to Christ.

Remain in me, and I will remain in you. The fruitfulness of God in our life is produced by His Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit is specific in nature to include love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23) It is important to understand the fruit of God’s Spirit to find satisfaction for our soul. The soul’s appetite must become the spiritual fruit of God cultivated by His Spirit in order for its own prosperity. As it grows, our life becomes abundant and satisfied because the soul is prospering. (3 John 1:2) The Holy Spirit is Christ in us. His Holy Inhabitation that produces intimacy between us and forms a lifelong partnership destined for eternity. We must remain in Christ and He promises to remain in us. Why not the other way around? It would violate our freedom. We choose where to invest our life. God has given us such an opportunity. His Purpose, Plan and Promises do not change and are always accessible through Jesus Christ. It will always be our personal choice.

John 15:9-15 (NLT) “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.

Our life alignment with Jesus Christ is facilitated by careful and thoughtful obedience. Proper alignment produces overflow. Obedience that follows clear direction without deviation…ideally. However, we are only human and undisciplined by nature. Selfish in our desires and passions. Pursuing lesser things for immediate gratification rather than waiting on the Living God to produce lasting fruit. There is no one who has not fallen short of God’s Glorious Standard, which is not a behavior, but a lifestyle. In Genesis 8:22, the principle of seed time and harvest was established and the promise that goes with it. Whatever you sow, you will reap. Whatever you choose to sow in your life is exactly what will be. It is science. It is truth.

Our friendship with God is established by faith in His Son, Jesus. Faith is evidenced by trust. Confident hope is secured by faith that does not waver with life’s conditions but holds tightly to the covenant promises of God through every season. God does not lie or change His Mind. The calling on our life was established during our creation and put in to motion when God gave us our first breath. He will pursue us with unfailing love and goodness every day of our life. It is up to us whether or not grace is claimed through faith and abundant life secure.

Matthew 7:18-19 (NLT) A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

When I came back to Christ almost twenty years ago, I had made a complete and total mess of my life. I chose a church completely contrary to my upbringing. As I tried to explain my rededication to my grandmother, she lovingly and gently inquired as to some of my choices especially in denominations. I had only one response for her – “Just watch and see what kind of fruit I produce.” There is no way to make excuses for our sin or fully explain the salvation that has been given to us. The best way to share the Gospel is to live the Truth. The fruit of our life will satisfy the wary hearts of others and share a story to incredible to believe. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.

Matthew 21:18-19 (NLT) In the morning, as Jesus was returning to Jerusalem, he was hungry, and he noticed a fig tree beside the road. He went over to see if there were any figs, but there were only leaves. Then he said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!”

 And immediately the fig tree withered up.

We must be very careful not to create artificial fruit. Appearances are for people. Religion paints a pretty picture and produces quite a display. To those who are hungry, thirsty and broken a perfectly composed Christian has nothing to offer. The one who has endured the process necessary to produce the Fruit of God’s Spirit will give them something of substance. Jesus has no time for fake. He is looking for faith. Those who will give up their life to have a new life. The ones who will endeavor in a relationship rather than be excited about a religion. The Lord is looking for trees planted along the riverbank bearing fruit in each season. They do not wither. They prosper in all they do. They are connect with deep roots into the Source of Life and the fruit of their life is from His Spirit. We must evaluate our life by our connection to Christ. There is nothing or no one else worthy of comparison.

Matthew 12:33 (NLT) “A tree is identified by its fruit. If a tree is good, its fruit will be good. If a tree is bad, its fruit will be bad.”

We are created to produce good fruit. Jesus makes the fruit of our life good. His Spirit is always ready to cultivate such seeds in a fertile heart. A broken heart. A ready heart. A responsive heart. A heart that passionately pursues God’s Way, His Will and His Word will produce good fruit.

John 15:16 (NLT) You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name.

The rich and satisfying life promised by Jesus Christ is cultivated and reproduced as lasting fruit. It is the kind of fruit that completes us and never leaves us lacking. It is not in a natural sense though I find the deeper into the Lord I sink the more He prospers my life. The minute I stop worrying about provision or problems – it seems that the Lord provides sustenance and solutions. I must abide in Christ. Cut away those things the rob me of time, treasure and talents to fully and completely align my life with Jesus Christ. To pursue greater intimacy with Jesus than ever before because He chose to love me. It is the only reciprocal response possible as He has already given His All for me.

Matthew 21:43 (NLT)  I tell you, the Kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a nation that will produce the proper fruit.

God is a God of order. His Design is not chaotic but confirmed. He doesn’t change His Mind simply because He got it right the first time. God produces proper fruit in our life. His Purpose is not temporary but eternal. He will not produce any kind of fruit in our life that will cause us not to hunger and thirst for righteousness. The greater our pursuit of God and passion for His Purpose the less time given to lesser and worthless things. Proper fruit includes proper timing. No farmer plows a field and sows seeds today then goes back tomorrow ready to harvest. We must learn the art of endurance, patience and timing. Pulling up the plants prematurely will end the potential harvest hidden within.

Philippians 1:11 (NLT) May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation—the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ—for this will bring much glory and praise to God.

It is easy sometimes to become caught up in natural productivity and abort the productiveness of God. To live in Christ is a decision to invest our life in Him and live in alignment with the Word. Jesus is the Word. We see things a certain way even though faith tells us to wait for something better and long lasting. We decide whether or not to trust the Lord. He has given us the freedom to do so. If upon inspection the fruit of our life is not what it should be, then it is up to us to engraft our life back in Christ. The vine cannot leave its position. We must become one with Jesus for He is the Way, Truth and Life. He is the only way to the Father. Do not compare your life to others or its productivity. They do not have your purpose or potential for it is uniquely given to you. May we be filled with the fruit of your salvation today. May the Holy Spirit produce new fruit in us and prosper us from the inside out. As my soul prospers, may this life be lived in the abundance of God given to us through Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen and amen! Lord fill us with good fruit!

Colossians 1:9-11 (NLT) So we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you. We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better. We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy,

 

Ignore the Roar

Ignore the Roar

I Peter 5:6-9 (ESV) Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.

There is an adversary prowling the earth seeking someone to devour. The word “devour” means to consume destructively, recklessly or wantonly. It is to engulf or swallow up. To absorb or engross wholly. The enemy of our soul seeks someone to devour. How does one resist the devourer? Those who remain subject to God and His Word that humble themselves under His Mighty Hand will be lifted up…at the proper time. Does it seem like you never have enough time? Or do you live from paycheck to paycheck? What are you lacking? We are people who are predestined to live in abundance. Jesus Christ came to give us a rich and satisfying life. The Lord promises to do exceedingly abundantly more we ask or think…according to His Power at work in us.

The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy. We have a good Shepherd who carefully watches the flock called the righteous. I am called righteous in right standing with God based on the salvation of Jesus Christ who opened a gate for me. To enter the Presence of God and live in peaceful surrender to the Living God. Humility is essential to the righteous remaining in the shelter and refuge of God. The roar of the lion is loud. When I was a teenager, I went to Africa on a missionary venture. Lying in bed at night, an occasional roar of a lion could be heard in the darkness. At first it was a bit frightening, however; I was safe in a compound with whitewashed walls and members of the Maasai tribe patrolled the perimeter to keep those inside safe. The lions roar was just a reminder of the dangers lurking outside the walls of the camp. Lord, help us to see that the roar of the lion that produces fear, anxiety and stress is but a veiled threat to those who live in the sanctuary of trust and peace that you provide.

Malachi 3:10-12 (ESV) Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need. I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil, and your vine in the field shall not fail to bear, says the Lord of hosts. Then all nations will call you blessed, for you will be a land of delight, says the Lord of hosts.

“And he told them many things in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them.” (Matthew 13) The Lord gives seed to the sower. You are a sower. You plant in your life every day. You decide the productivity of your life based on the quality and quantity of your investment. The potential in us is based on the Kingdom as we have been given eternity in our heart. A promise that EVERYTHING will be made beautiful in its own time. A gift of faith that is the beginning of great fruitfulness in our life. There is a thief who wants to steal, kill and destroy the hope that is given to us in the productivity of our seed. Jesus came to grow it in us and for us.

The seed of God’s Word must be pressed deep into a soft and fertile heart to grow into anything of worth in our life. Malachi 3 talks about the tithe. The tithe of our life is our time, talent and treasure. All should be considered in our giving to God. Our covenant relationship with the Father gives us the opportunity to reap Kingdom benefits and blessings in all three areas according to our level of faith and trust in Him. To partner with the Lord requires an investment. We must give to receive these things. Our position in life must be Presence. Our posture must be humility. It is under the Mighty Hand of God that we find the prosperity longed for. This is an act of submission and surrender to the Lord that gives our time, talent and treasure to Him – we must decide that God deserves our first fruits of each not what is remaining.

The promise of partnership with God is that He will rebuke the devourer. To rebuke means express sharp, stern disapproval. It also means to reprove or reprimand. The original meaning of rebuke means to beat back or hack down. The Lord will call off the devourer by His Word. We have God’s Word that He will deal with the devourer if we choose to trust Him more. When we move our life and all its resources from doubt and fear to live in full dependence on the Lord and trusting Him – the enemy can roar but he cannot move within the borders of faith and trust. He can only hurl lies and threats over the fence but they are quickly rebuked by God’s Word now active in our heart and mind. When Jesus was in the wilderness, the enemy came to him. Jesus did not argue with the devil or complain about the situation. His answer to every temptation was simple. He told the enemy what God said. The Word is Jesus and He lives in us now. His Word is the potential for our life. Do you know what God says about you? Do you know what the blessings and benefits of the Kingdom are for you? Do you believe it? When we decide to trust the Lord fully with our time, talent and treasure enough to give Him the most choice portion, the devourer must move back as he is beaten down by God’s Word. Jesus makes intercession for us with the Father and defends us by the Word.

Proverbs 21:20-21 (ESV) Precious treasure and oil are in a wise man’s dwelling, but a foolish man devours it. Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness will find life, righteousness, and honor.

Remember the widow who cried to Elisha, her husband was dead. (2 Kings 4) He was a man of God and servant of the Lord. The woman feared the creditor was coming to take her sons. Elisha asked her, “Tell me; what have you in the house?” Her response, “Your servant has nothing in the house except a jar of oil.” Oil represents anointing. Christ lives in us. The Anointed One has chosen to inhabit our heart. With faith, nothing is impossible. Faith cannot stay in our heart but must be sown in trust. What if you already have what is needed to prosper and live in the abundance of God but it is just hidden in your “house”? You have the Word of God and the faith that moves mountains but cower in fear over simple provisions of life. You have the Peace of God that passes understanding but remain in fear, worry and anxiety over the roar of the lion. The woman changed her situation when she became a vessel. Her abundance of oil in the small flask did not run out until she stopped providing a place for it to flow.

Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness will find life, righteousness and honor. Ignore the roar! Give no credence to the lion today. Jesus has rebuked the devourer. Do not let him in. He cannot touch anything resting inside the Shelter and Refuge of God’s Presence. When we plant all our expectation in Jesus Christ by faith it will be fruitful in its proper time. The Lord has promised that there is a season for EVERYTHING. He tells us that EVERYTHING will be made beautiful in its time. No seed planted today bears fruit tomorrow. There is a process and most certainly a wait time. But in the meantime, the Lord promises to the rebuke the devourer in all things given to Him.

Proverbs 3:5-6 (ESV) Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

Consider the Field

Consider the Field

Proverbs 31:16 (ESV) She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.

“The abundance of our life is not determined by how long we live, but how well we live, Christ makes abundant life possible if we choose to live it now.” (Barbara Brown Taylor)

What does an abundant life look like to you? If asked what is the “one” thing you lack that would provide complete contentment and full satisfaction, what would it be? Is it a material possession? A tangible thing? Can it be counted or quantified? Is it demonstrated by a certain quality? Is it a talent? Goal? I do not believe many could answer this question with confidence? If given three wishes, would you ask for three more? Life is full of experiences. The longer it is lived the more evident the consequences of our choices – good and bad. The things I once thought would bring me contentment and satisfaction are not what I expected. But maybe that’s the point…

We are called to live an abundant life. Abundant means an extremely plentiful or over sufficient quantity or supply. It is defined as overflowing fullness. And, yes, affluence or wealth. The Bible tells us “for out of the abundance of the heart his (or her) mouth speaks”. A whining, complaining, grumbling poor mouth is not a person with an overflowing heart but a leaky sieve. We must “consider the field” of our heart before expecting a harvest to grow from it. Our life prospers when our soul does. Our soul must prosper to have abundant life. How’s your heart today?

Matthew 6:27-30 (ESV) And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?”

There is a saying, “Fake it until you make it.” Christians put a new spin on it by saying, “Faith it until you make it.” Faith is not fake. Faith is not something believers must pretend to have until they find it along the way. Faith is given to us. We come equipped with a measure of faith. (Romans 12:3) The eternity in our heart requires faith to make it so God decided to incorporate it in our design. Everyone has faith – you just have to figure out what to do with it.

Jesus came to give us abundant life. (John 10:10) There is a thief who comes to steal, kill and destroy it. He uses fear, doubt, anxiety, offense, and the list goes on. We curse the field and waste the good seed given to us on worthless efforts and stony ground. What could have been used to produce a fruitful life is devoured by the enemy as it is carelessly laid to waste. Proverbs 31:16 is not just for women, but all of us. It holds the secret to success for every believer. We must consider our field. We must buy it. We must seed it with the good seed cultivated in our life. We have a role in the provision of God. It’s called faith. There is no excuse. He has already provided seed to the sower.

Matthew 13:18-23 (ESV) “Hear then the parable of the sower: When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”

Since people are provided with a measure of faith to seed our life, this parable of Jesus applies to us all. No one is exempt from sowing and reaping. God declared seedtime and harvest in the days of Noah and it will be perpetuated until the return of Jesus Christ. What you sow you will reap. (Galatians 6:7) In the most practical manner, this is human expectation yet people only what to reap the good things not the not-so-good things in life. God cannot be mocked. He does not lie or change His Mind. You cannot sow strife, discord, doubt and fear and expect the productivity of faith including blessings, promises and prosperity.

“As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.” The Word of God is the truth that governs the life of a believer. Whatever it says about you is true. Whatever it promises you is yours. Whatever the end result is your dividend. Whatever you decide to plant by faith in your life and wait for it to grow will yield exactly what it promises – good or bad. The fertile soil of the Word is our heart. This is the place where faith yields its providence. In order for our life to prosper into abundant life, it must be broken and carefully evaluated. We must decide to buy the field and invest in it.

Matthew 13:44-45 (ESV) “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”

Are you willing to seal the deal? Make the purchase? Will you buy the field? The “hidden treasure” that is offered is full satisfaction and complete contentment which will produce abundance in our confidence that if we invest our life in the Kingdom it will be a benefit and blessing in the land of the living. Most of the time, like Martha, we look forward to the resurrection life and power on the other side of death and do not invest it in the land of the living. How can we have confidence in the God of Eternity if we do not know Him today?

The truth of these two verses will change our life forever if we can simply see the worth of a Kingdom commitment. To invest our life in the Kingdom and not in the world will give us the joy, peace and fruitfulness that everyone strives for but few find. It changes our need to survive into the ability to thrive. When the man found the treasure in the field, he did not claim it or pretend like it belonged to him with a finders keepers mentality. No this man was smart. He invested all that he has to possess it. The man decided to own the treasure. What about you? The Kingdom and all its treasure can only be obtained one way. The Way, the Truth and the Life – Jesus Christ bestows the promises and blessings of the Father to His Children. There is no such thing as blab it and grab it. The Kingdom is a deal or no deal proposition. You have to buy it, own it and work it just like the Proverbs 31 woman.

Luke 6:37-38 (ESV) “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”

Trust allows you to give. Giving is abundant. As you give so it shall be given to you. If you give with judgment, limitation, and stinginess that is what you create in your life – judgment, limitation and stinginess.” (Gary Zukav)

Our little grandson came for a visit yesterday. Still an infant, he is learning to grab hold of things especially hair. Trying to pry his tiny fingers apart is tough as he still has the grasping reflex that he was born with. His innate natural will hold more tightly if that which is held is pulled on. We hear the words “judge”, “condemn” and “give” immediately allowing human natural and instinct to interpret a humble release and begin to justify our feelings when God is inviting us to engage in an exchange. You give me your limited faith and I will turn into a fantastically fruitful future and forever. You have to give to receive. Don’t judge a book by the cover. Don’t judge a field by its present condition. Don’t condemn your life with curses born of complaining. Do not withhold any good thing because it will take the place of God’s Goodness for your life today.

If you decide you want a financial blessing but do not enter a financial relationship (tithing) with the Lord what seed will grow into the provision you desire. If you want someone to love, you must give love (real love) first. If you want peace, you must give up fear, doubt and anxiety. See we want what God has but will not give up anything to receive it. Faith requires an exchange. It means there must be good soil to grow something. It requires a full investment. What you sow you will reap. It is an infant mentality to hang on to less because you cannot trust the Lord for more. A lack of consideration will render every field barren. God has given you the seed – you must be willing to sow it.

“If you want love and abundance in your life, give it away.” (Mark Twain)

Ephesians 3:14-21 (ESV) For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

You are called to a life of abundance. Fully satisfied and completely content in Jesus Christ. I wonder what would happen if we really believed that this kind of life is possible. Would it change how we live? Absolutely. What we believe? Of course. How we love? Without a doubt. We must consider the state of our heart. Buy the field, plant the seed and wait for it to grow. Investing our life in Jesus Christ is worthwhile. It will yield every promise and blessing that His Word gives to a prospering soul. We must decide only that we want it enough to give up this life for it.

“Fear of the future makes people settle for things in the present that completely defy abundant life.” (Beth Moore)

Hungry?

hungry

John 6:34-35 (ESV) Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe.”

I am not absolutely certain what happens during a church service but immediately following my family is always hungry. As soon as the offering is taken and service dismissed, the debate begins as to where to eat. “I’m starving! Can we go to “insert restaurant”? It is clear by the appearance of my people that there is no imminent threat of demise yet one would not be so certain by their wails of distress. If I dare insinuate that there is food at home or I have prepared a meal, our girls will turn their noses up and state their preference. Now in everyone’s defense, the fellowship aspect is what they are really after. To congregate together which I strongly support and encourage. The truth of the matter is not their state of being but rather their preference.

Jesus told them, “I am the bread of life.” He went on to explain that “whoever comes to me shall not hunger.” He took it one step further in that “whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” To hunger means a feeling of discomfort or weakness caused by lack of food coupled with a desire to eat. It is a strong desire for something that produces a craving for it. Desire compels us to find satisfaction. It becomes a drive. Are you hungry today? Do you thirst? What is the object of your attention or even dare I say affection? There are few reading this who are on the verge of starvation but all will admit that there is something they crave and desire in life.

“But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe.” Full satisfaction is found when Jesus Christ becomes our source of life. Food and water are essential to natural survival but righteousness is where eternal life is to be found. We must believe that Jesus can satisfy our hunger, need and yes even wants to come to him hungry and thirsty with complete expectation. Righteousness sounds so ominous and foreboding. It sounds like a lot of hard work and habit changes. Like a manual filled with rules and regulations throwing down heavy doctrine on top of us. More baggage to lug through life. This is not the case at all – right standing with God releases the heavy yoke and burdens. Who the Son sets free is free indeed. There is life and liberty in the Spirit of God living in us that can only be experienced by those who hunger and thirst for Him.

Romans 3:21-26 (ESV) But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

Since we’ve compiled this long and sorry record as sinners (both us and them) and proved that we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives God wills for us, God did it for us. Out of sheer generosity he put us in right standing with himself. A pure gift. He got us out of the mess we’re in and restored us to where he always wanted us to be. And he did it by means of Jesus Christ.” (The Message)

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” You cannot hunger or thirst for something you have not experienced. I have never eaten lamb that I am consciously aware of. Therefore, I am not going to hunger for it. I may have a desire to try it. But hunger or desire is established by an encounter or experience with something or someone. I may meet an individual who peaks my interest and I would like to spend time with them. You cannot hunger and thirst for righteousness without knowledge and understanding of what it is and how you achieve it. Otherwise, it is an experiment. I can look up recipes and buy all the ingredients to make lamb for dinner. Then I will give it a go and see how it turns out, but until I taste it for myself – there will not be a hunger or desire for it.

Righteousness is established in Jesus Christ through faith in the Grace of God alone. End of story. It’s finished. I can add things to it, or try to make it more palatable through preference but it does not change or alter God’s Plan and Promise. The sum total of my faith is the sufficiency of God’s Gift of Grace that establishes a right relationship with Him in my life. I can do nothing to earn or deserve the Grace of God. It cost the Father everything to give His Children the Kingdom. Therefore to hunger and thirst for the Lord requires relinquishment of our pride.

Psalm 34:9-10 (ESV) Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! Oh, fear the Lord, you his saints, for those who fear him have no lack! The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.

Lions are the only wild cats that live in groups. These groups are called prides. I guess it is fitting that the “king of the jungle” would have an established kingdom. Isn’t it a bit ironic that the “young lions suffer and hunger”. There can only be up to three male lions in a pride. The younger males who reach adulthood are driven away to establish their own pride. “Those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.” What are you seeking today? Do survive in the world? Or to be part of a Kingdom? Kingdom culture is full satisfaction. Let me say it again, “Those who seek the Lord lack NO GOOD THING.” If you are not living in full satisfaction and even abundance then there is more to this righteousness thing to be discovered. We must taste and see that the Lord is good to create a hunger and thirst for more of Him. I must also mention that righteousness comes at the sacrifice of pride.

Luke 15:17-20 (ESV) “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.

There is a common misconception that God puts certain expectations on us. An expectation would be considered a condition which is not possible in unconditional love. As our drives and desires detour us, it is easy for the enemy to convince us that God will not accept us like before based on our sin or unwillingness to follow Him. This is simply not true. Every single day every single Christian believer struggles with and engages in sin. I don’t how they look, what they say or how they live. Sin is a common problem. Some are just a little more honest about it. On the same note, every single day every single person strives to contend against their flesh some with success and others in total weakness. Again, the Grace of God is enough. It is sufficient. God knew you when He formed you and provided enough grace, love and mercy to overcome judgment in our life. The only thing for us to do is live in it.

The prodigal son took his inheritance. We have an inheritance in the Lord. Sometimes we see it and other times take it for granted. Impatience wants everything right now. We do not want our control, comfort or convenience compromised so “we make it happen”. When filled with dissatisfaction, disappointment and discouragement – what happens? We turn to the Lord. Exhausted and worn out – hunger and thirst for the love, joy and peace of God send us running for home (or the altar and/or prayer closet). “When he came to himself” – it was the truth that see him free and brought him full satisfaction. He only wanted his base needs met. The young man was hungry and just wanted a nice meal. What he gained was his father’s “kingdom”? So it is with you friend, when our desperation turns to desire for the Father and His Kingdom – grace shows us that the Father was waiting with open arms and an open heart to receive us.

Revelation 3:20 (ESV) Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.

Our family friends are hunters. Our fellowship with them has introduced a whole new world of “fine dining”. I have experienced many foods in their company that I had never tried. Truth is – I have enjoyed them all. I believe that the Lord offers us “bread of life” and “living water” on a continual and daily basis. He stands at the door ready to come in and create a “meal” for us called communion. It is in fellowship and intimacy with the Lord that we experience fullness. Satisfaction. Contentment. As our soul prospers, so does our natural life with the Fruit of His Spirit. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Some may say that’s not what I want – I am praying for a partner, spouse, children, new job, new house, and more money.

The desire within us creates the drive that moves us. We do not hunger and thirst for righteousness because we have not experienced the fullness of a prospering soul, made up mind, and perfect peace. We want our preference and not His Perfection. Perfect love casts out all fear. Imagine never having a worry, care, anxious thought or sleepless night?

Happier were the victims of the sword than the victims of hunger, who wasted away, pierced by lack of the fruits of the field. (Lamentations 4:9) We are overcomers in Jesus Christ who live in the promise of victory. Every detail of our life ordained for good for those who love Him. He promises to do exceedingly and abundantly more than we can think, ask or even imagine. Yet many will die of starvation choosing fruitless fields and barren brooks rather than living in the abundance of God’s Kingdom and His Spirit’s Fruitfulness. Taste and see that the Lord is good! An invitation to experience an exquisite meal prepared to perfection by a Gracious Father free to those who will open the door to Him. If Wolfgang Puck, Racheal Ray, Emeril Lagasse, or Jamie Oliver came to your door with the intention of cooking you a wonderful meal, you might open it as they are famous chefs. Their cooking touted by the world and faces plastered on everything from television to cookware. If familiar with them, you would throw open the door and show them in. However, Jesus knocks and there is a hesitation. What if we do not like the life that He has prepared for us? What if we do not prefer His Will over our own? What if I don’t want what He has for me? A lack of belief will always foster lack in our life. To live a life of full satisfaction requires a hunger and thirst for righteousness that means believing that it is palatable for life. My hunger and thirst is individual, but when I hunger and thirst for the bread of life and living water – my life becomes a meal to be shared.

Philippians 4:11-13 (ESV) Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

 

Treasures in Heaven

Treasures in Heave

Matthew 6:19-21 (ESV)  “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Do you have a treasured possession? My grandmother’s china is very special to me. She kept it in her china cabinet only bringing it out at certain times. I remember looking through the glass at them and how they shown in the golden light of her dining room. Funny, that in the same cabinet, in the midst of all the good stuff, grandma had a plastic salt and pepper shaker in the shape of two hanging grape clusters. These were a gift from me to her. She treasured the artwork and tiny trinkets given to her by her grandchildren. They took a place of honor in her home. My birth mother passed away a few years ago. We had been estranged due to addiction for many years. When her death certificate arrived, it contained two gumball machine rings that belonged to her. Little pieces of cheap metal crafted in to plain bands that were gifts from her grandson. I have tucked them away. Tiny treasures with great significance.

We all have treasures. People or things highly valued and greatly prized in our life. Some of those things may actually be of monetary worth while others provoke precious memories. If a thief were to break in, would he be able to steal your treasure? Could moths or rusts destroy that which is most precious to you? Treasure is defined by the value or worth placed on something. It is the desired content of it that makes it so special and sought after. What do you spend your time pursuing these days? The pursuits in which our time and talent are invested generally will reveal our treasure. Priorities produce busyness but what is the purpose and motivation behind all the rushing back and forth? Where is my treasure? Where is my heart?

It would be quick to interpret this passage to dissuade us from loving things and money too much. While looking ahead, the perception of worth and wealth is based on the perspective of what we see. Faith comes by hearing the Word of God. The kind of faith that sees the Kingdom must turn its face from worthless substitutions to obtain the treasure stored for them in heaven. No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” Drives and desires become our masters. To have money, possessions and things is not bad. To love money, possessions and things allowing them to become the master of our life and that which defines our pursuits is the real trouble for believers.

Proverbs 2:1-5 (ESV) My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.

The hidden treasure of heaven belongs to you and me. We have the Word of God to invest in our life like good seed planted deep in fertile soil. The act of sowing God’s Word in our lie turns knowledge into understanding and wisdom. We must “receive“ His Word. We must “treasure” His Commands. We must be “attentive” to His Voice. We must “incline” our heart to understanding. Treasure is defined by human desire. The thing desired most defines the idea of “treasure” in our life. Who or what gets your time? Who or what gets your talent? Who or what gets your treasure? This is the person or thing valued most in your life. It will show you who or what the desire of the heart is.

Matthew 13:44 (ESV) “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”

The Kingdom of Heaven is hidden treasure. It is found when Jesus Christ is discovered. The potential of the Kingdom is in us. He has placed eternity in each heart and a measure of faith to cultivate the purpose placed within us. In order to have it, we must pursue it wholeheartedly. (Jeremiah 29:11-13) The man found treasure and covered it up. We invite Jesus to come live in our heart. What we do with our salvation is completely up to each one of us? To participate in a building a relationship with Jesus Christ means that we must go and “sell” this life to obtain the Kingdom. The man sold everything for “joy”. Less is more in the Kingdom. I must decrease so Christ can increase.

What if this passage represents moving our life from the planet to His Presence? To begin getting rid of lesser things to make room for His Abundance. To work the fields of our heart rather than toiling with our hands all the time. To build a life on faith rather than worrying about the world and its future. We are temporary residents of this place, the Kingdom of God is our forever home.

Matthew 13:45-46 (ESV) “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.

Reading these verses today, I am wondering if there is a message here. The “man” moved his life and existence on the field. He sold everything to dwell in it. Live in it. Take ownership of it. What if these verses represent our personal life with Christ and the next ones our professional life? The merchant bought and sold pearls for a living. But when he found the pearl of great price, he sold all to have it. The treasure of my life is Christ. To have the Kingdom – I must have faith in Christ. Faith in Christ is not futuristic. He invites me to open the windows of Heaven and bring it down to the earth.

The deal breaker, game changer is my participation. Will I sell out for the Kingdom? Will I place the highest priority on heaven rather than earthly pursuits? It doesn’t say that they gave everything up for the Lord. They sold everything to acquire the Kingdom. The Kingdom of Heaven offers abundance, full satisfaction and complete contentment. It is not to accept a life of poverty, but to prosper from the inside out. I find that as I continually invest more and more of my time, talent and treasure into the Kingdom – things begin to change as I do. The struggle is real. Faith relies on that which it cannot see as the vivid reality of what is true in our life. There was a rich young ruler who came to Jesus in Mark 10. He was rich. He was a ruler. He was religious. He was the total package according to the world’s economy. Jesus instructed him to sell all of his possessions, give the proceeds to the poor and to follow Him. To exchange all of his things for righteousness. To have a constant and abiding relationship with the Living God. The man walked away “disheartened” for he had many possessions.

Luke 12:32-34 (ESV) “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

If the world didn’t give it to you, then the world cannot take it away. The Treasure of Heaven is Jesus Christ. The Presence of God that wants to dwell in us, live with us, save us, heal us, and deliver us. The Prosperity of God that wants to increase us from the inside out. To create such contentment and godliness that the conditions, circumstances and situations of life cannot impact the love, joy and peace overflowing from us. It says, “it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” We cannot earn the Kingdom with all of its blessings and benefits. We certainly do not deserve it yet each day His Unfailing Love and Goodness pursues us. “Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail.” God is asking His People simply to prepare a place for the Treasure of Heaven and He will gladly do the rest. What do you treasure? Where is your treasure? Can anyone take it away from you?

God is good! He is an excellent provider. He only gives us good things. He is perfect in all of His Ways. To connect with God’s Economy – one must move into His Presence and learn to operate in godly prosperity. It doesn’t work like the world does. It operates by unconditional love, unending grace and overflowing blessing from the inside out. Tap into the hidden treasures of heaven. Reinvest your life into the potential of faith living in confident hope. He will never ever let you down. It is His GOOD PLEASURE to give us the Kingdom!

Matthew 19:21 (ESV) Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”

Break the Cycle

Break the Cycle

2 Corinthians 5:16-18 (NLT) So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him.

Just about every morning, I start a load of wash to start the day. This house produces mounds of laundry at an alarming rate. It is my personal ongoing challenge to find the bottom of the hamper though only able to glory in it shortly before it fills back up. The washer has different cycles according to that which I am cleaning. There is a delicate cycle for those things that are fragile or nice. There is a normal setting for all the average materials. Then there is a heavy duty one for those big loads like towels or really dirty loads. There is a plethora of other choices in between so many options just to get your items clean. When I visited Africa as a missionary, there were two sweet ladies that would gather up the laundry and in the sunshine of the day with a couple buckets of water work through all of it until it was pristine. No fancy machine with a bunch of buttons just two hardworking women beating the clothes on rocks, scrubbing with brushes, rubbing with lemon and hanging the product of the labor to dry. They were scheduled for twice a week to come to the missionary’s home. They were part of a cycle, too.

Are you living in a cycle? Or are you living in seasons? To live life making the same choices and expecting different outcomes is thought to be insanity. I don’t know if that’s the case, but it certainly is sad. I wonder if sometimes as believers the mistake is made to think we are living in seasons but only an ongoing cycle. Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. Am I a new person? Or am I the same person just doing different things? Hmmm… I was listening to my daughters talk about a situation with some friends. Teenage drama. The same scenario played out not too long ago. Hopeful that the cycle of hurt feelings was over yet clearly not. And that’s when it hit me…my own thoughts were filled with disappointment that was creeping in as frustration, bitterness and discord. Is Christ a concept in my life or is Christ my life? I am a new creation. I am a new person. I have a new life. It is not because of conditions or circumstances and certainly not dictated by people. It is up to me to break the cycle of sin and continually sow seeds in seasons including those intangible seeds that grow into the Fruit of God’s Spirit. One day my girls will mature into adults (I hope) that can see past immaturity and temporary circumstances. As Christians, it is our privilege in Christ to grow, mature and develop our character in every season. Too often, we fall prey to cycles.

A cycle is a sequence of changing states that, upon completion, produces a final state identical to the original one. Like my washing machine, I can operate in cycles that do nothing to grow, develop or mature my character and produce a harvest but yields the same results over and over again. If I do not break such sequences in my life and determine to plant the Word, pray in the Spirit and do something different – I run the risk of becoming like the fig tree which could produce beautiful leaves but could bear no fruit. It did not make it past an encounter with Christ. Is your life producing fruit? Are you doing all the “right” things but not experiencing the associated blessing? Are you living in a cycle? Religion often creates cycles in life. Repetitious rules and rituals that without true repentance and real righteousness will bear no harvest in us.

Romans 7:18-20 (NLT) And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.

Galatians 4:9-11 (NLT) So now that you know God (or should I say, now that God knows you), why do you want to go back again and become slaves once more to the weak and useless spiritual principles of this world? You are trying to earn favor with God by observing certain days or months or seasons or years. I fear for you. Perhaps all my hard work with you was for nothing.

Unproductive seasons are nothing more than cycles. I am now convinced that the derailment of a season turns it into a cycle. If we do not plant seeds of faith, trust and confidence and allow them to grow, develop and mature there will be no harvest. There will only be disappointment and discouragement when no blessing comes. We can endure seasons, but to get a harvest something must be sown. To reap a harvest there must be a spiritual investment. A seed in the ground must die to produce the potential within it. I wonder today if some of us have fallen into dangerous cycles rather than living from season to season. We can break these dangerous cycles by choosing to live according to the seasons.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 and 11 (NLT) For everything there is a season a time for every activity under heaven. Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. 

Galatians 6:7-9 (NLT) Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.

James 1:21-22 (NLT)  So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls. But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.

Who the Son sets free is free indeed. We get to choose how we live even after coming to Christ. It doesn’t mean that our lives will produce harvests of blessing and abundance no matter how we live but that His Mercy and Grace is always enough to save us. We must only endure to the end to be saved. Some Christians will live in cycles from here to eternity and walk right in. That’s not enough for me. I believe that Christ died to give me an abundant life and do exceedingly abundantly more than I can think or ask according to His Word. I believe that His Promise to make good of every detail of my life also is true and valid. Every spiritual blessing is given to me right along with everything I need. I am marked for success. I am prospering from the inside out. However, believing all these things are not enough. I must live according to the seasons and break every fruitless cycle that I once engaged in.

God promised that the seasons of our life would produce a harvest…if I carefully obey His Commands. (Deuteronomy 11:13-15) His Desire is for His People to thrive and produce good and lasting fruit in EVERY season even in drought or famine. (Psalm 1:1-3) Obedience will break cycles and turn them into seasons. Our heart must be broken, fertile and ready to receive that seed by faith and allow it to reach its full potential which means I cannot live by what I see but by faith as the Word prescribes. God is more concerned with the life produced inside of me than a tangible harvest. When my heart and soul prosper it will overflow into abundant life around me.

I Corinthians 13:11-12 (NLT) When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.

James 1:23-25 (NLT) For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.

The beauty of our walk with Christ is that it is individual and personal. He longs to walk with us and talk with us every day. To be yoked together as one. He knocks awaiting a personal invitation and always comes when called. He offers to be the vine with a place for branches to become engrafted and bear fruit in all seasons according to the resurrection power and life that is in Him. We have been given the opportunity as Children of the Living God filled with His Life Giving Spirit to produce good fruit. Lasting fruit. Abundant fruit. We must live each season through Christ and refuse to settle for cycles.

We must look into the mirror, not at our appearance. It is our reflection that must be determined. Sin leads to death a vicious and endless cycle. Life begets life – new life in each season. Sin is anything that is contrary to His Word, His Will or His Way. Hope never leads to disappointment. True repentance produces a love affair with Jesus so special that there is nothing of more value or worth to compare it to. It is the sweetest love that produces a desire in us for more of Him. It is produced by the seed of faith committed in trust and confident that it will be worth the wait. Are you in a cycle today? Good news! New life belongs to you. You are a new creation. You are more than a conqueror through Christ. You always win. You live from glory to glory. Anytime you would like to break an unproductive cycle – you can! Is it time to put away some childish things? Maybe it is time just to believe again. Whatever the season of your life make it productive. Find your promise. Plant God’s Word. Speak life over it every day. Wait until He comes with the harvest He promised. He will come. Will you be ready?

Isaiah 55:10-13 (NLT) “The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry. It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it. You will live in joy and peace. The mountains and hills will burst into song, and the trees of the field will clap their hands! Where once there were thorns, cypress trees will grow. Where nettles grew, myrtles will sprout up. These events will bring great honor to the Lord’s name; they will be an everlasting sign of his power and love.”

Where’s My Blessing?

Wheres My Blessing

Ephesians 1:3-5 (NLT) All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. 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.

God has blessed me with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms. I am united with Christ. Where is it? Where is the “every spiritual blessing” that is clearly indicated in the Word of God? Why don’t I see it manifested in my everyday life? His Word says also that the Lord’s Goodness is for the land of the living. (Psalm 27:13) Confidence plays a key role in accepting every spiritual blessing that is in the heavenly realms. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. (John 14:6) The access point to reestablishing a relationship with God the Father. He is the only way to the Father who has our inheritance. An access point is only as relevant as our ability to enter it. To walk through it and move in the appropriate direction. In order to receive spiritual blessing, there must be a turnaround and movement in the appropriate pathway to have what is beyond this point. Many will open the doorway to heaven, but few will enter it.

The first step of the journey is faith and confidence is the momentum that keeps us going in the right direction. Believing is not enough if trust never produces movement toward that which is desired. Demons believe in God and His Son, Jesus. They tremble at the mention of His Name. If only God’s People might do the same, given a free will – obedience is the response to such revelation. Those who choose to obey will step into every spiritual blessing reserved for them in Heaven before stepping into eternity.

Numbers 20:9-12 (NLT) So Moses did as he was told. He took the staff from the place where it was kept before the Lord. Then he and Aaron summoned the people to come and gather at the rock. “Listen, you rebels!” he shouted. “Must we bring you water from this rock?” Then Moses raised his hand and struck the rock twice with the staff, and water gushed out. So the entire community and their livestock drank their fill. But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust me enough to demonstrate my holiness to the people of Israel, you will not lead them into the land I am giving them!”

“Because you did not trust me enough…” I am convinced this is the limitation in our natural life. We do not trust God enough. Partial obedience demonstrates a lack of trust in God. God tells us to do something so controversial to what He has done in the past or that which has ever been done so we cut corners or compromise on His Word. To review, the people were complaining to Moses and Aaron (as usual) this time about their lack of water. They were thirsty. They approached the men with their complaints, whining, moaning and groaning so the two retreated to the tabernacle to seek God on the matter. The Lord gave Moses and Aaron explicit instructions to satisfy the people and demonstrate His Glory. Everything seems good so far…right? We pray to the Lord and He answers with careful instruction. The Spirit of God convicts us with nudging and urgings to trust the Lord and do what He says.

Moses went before the people just like the Lord said to do. But rather than raising His Voice which God told him to do, Moses struck the rock as he had done in the past. Ugh! Water came gushing out. Yay, God! Wait hold on! The people were satisfied. Everyone was happy. However, God was not pleased. Moses did not obey the Word of the Lord completely. He did what he had done before. He relied on his previous experience rather than stepping out in faith. He kept control and did what he was comfortable doing and God delivered to the people but Moses would pay a terrible price. The Lord told his servant, “You will not lead them into the land I am giving them.”

Isaiah 43:18-19 (NLT) “But forget all that—it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 3:18) From glory to glory – God changes us to be more like Christ through radical faith, constant confidence and absolute obedience. The Glory in us is the Light of the World – Jesus Christ. As we submit our way to Him and yoke our life to Him – His Glory resonates through us and around us including the windows of Heaven opening and pouring out spiritual blessing. He will not do anything in our life without doing something in us first. I was made for the Glory of God. I was made to give glory to God through His Son, Jesus. My life should point to God’s Grace and Goodness and nothing I do. With this in mind, the error of Moses serves as revelation to us. We can reach heaven and still miss heaven on earth.

Moses did not enter the Promised Land for which he labored in leading the people. Why? He did not obey God fully. It did not exempt him from eternity but robbed him of success on the earth in this area. God made water flow from a rock in Exodus 17. When it came time to go before the people again, Moses reverted to experience rather than the new way God had instructed. Comfort over confidence – it happens all the time. The three C’s that threaten our confidence in God and ability to trust Him are comfort, convenience and control. God is going to move you out of your comfort to experience His Glory. Faith is often inconvenient. His Glory is beyond our control. You must decide that you will obey God to the very end and in every detail to have the fulfillment attached. The promise is accepted when faith and trust overcome fear and doubt.

“For I am about to do something new.” To walk by faith and not by sight means God’s Way is not always clearly visible or humanly logical. That’s why it requires faith. We are becoming a new creation. God is always doing new things. Miracles require the impossible. God gets the Glory completely when we lose all control. When there is nothing left to do but trust the Lord – His Light shines from our life. Obedience connects us to every spiritual blessing. Why? God doesn’t lie or change His Mind. His Word cannot return to Him void or without doing exactly as He said. It will not change course or redirect for you. Therefore God’s Mind is made up long before the trial or trouble comes our way. He already made a way. We just have to trust Him enough to do what He says completely.

Deuteronomy 28:1-8 (NLT) “If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully keep all his commands that I am giving you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the world. You will experience all these blessings if you obey the Lord your God: Your towns and your fields will be blessed. Your children and your crops will be blessed. The offspring of your herds and flocks will be blessed. Your fruit baskets and breadboards will be blessed. Wherever you go and whatever you do, you will be blessed.  “The Lord will conquer your enemies when they attack you. They will attack you from one direction, but they will scatter from you in seven!  “The Lord will guarantee a blessing on everything you do and will fill your storehouses with grain. The Lord your God will bless you in the land he is giving you.

If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully keep all his commands… What if we made this the mandate of our life? God has given us this Book of Instructions like a cookbook of delicious recipes. Each one leads to spiritual blessing, increase, favor and abundance. We want the outcome but chose partial obedience. Picking and choosing those things that do not compromise our comfort, convenience and/or control but then wonder why we are not experiencing the success and prosperity promised. If you pick and choose to obey some of the steps in a recipe or substitute the ingredients you will alter the outcome. You may like what you get or maybe throw it in the garbage as inedible. The moment you decide to compromise is the same time when you decide for a differing result. A pilot must set the coordinates of the airplane with precision or risk reaching the destination. Obedience is not forced upon us, but a God-given choice every day. I don’t understand why one would pray for financial provision from God when they do not obey the Biblical mandate to tithe. That’s like going to a bank I do not have an account in and asking for my money. If you pick and choose obedience, you pick and choose your blessing right along with it.

Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NLT) For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen.  If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.

Who doesn’t want the blessing of the Lord on their life? Who would shun God’s Favor? Everyone wants to prosper in their home, church and business? Those who are serious about basking in the Glory of God will seek Him wholeheartedly which includes obedience in all things. God has promised every spiritual blessing. He is our Provider. We have an ample supply of whatever we need and the means to do it for His Kingdom. Like the widow woman, we must act obediently first with finding what we have and then using it for the Glory of God. Her supply did not run out until her jars did. Our faith is the conduit of blessing in our life. To believe will lead to obedience. Obedience always releases the full blessing of God when it is wholehearted and uncompromised. So try something new today? Go to the Lord. Seek Him in His Word. Do exactly what it says. Spiritual blessing, prosperity and abundance will follow when we take Him at His Word.

Psalm 84:11 (NLT) For the Lord God is our sun and our shield. He gives us grace and glory. The Lord will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right.

No More Mediocre

No More Mediocre

2 Peter 1:4-8 (NLT) And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires. 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.

Is mediocrity a sin? The word “mediocre” means of only ordinary or moderate quantity. Neither good nor bad. Barely adequate. Not satisfactory, inferior or poor. However, it is not a sin. You can live a mediocre and mundane life and still make it into heaven. In the warning of Revelation 3:15-16 to the Church of Laodicea regarding a “lukewarm-neither hot nor cold” life it says that the Lord is “about to spit you out” of his mouth. Detestable, undesirable and distasteful to God and its works, mediocrity is not a rejection of Jesus. It is to reject His Promises. Hebrews 6:12 warns about becoming “spiritually dull and indifferent.” Such a mentality keeps us from inheriting God’s Promises which require faith and endurance.

And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.

God is full of glorious excellence. He does not lie or change His Mind. Once He decided to save you, call you and even bless you – it became a done deal. I remember in youth as a teenager hearing the story of a man walking with Jesus in heaven. He was walking through a warehouse stacked high with many boxes both large and small. As they continued to walk, the man asked the Lord, “What’s in all these boxes?” Jesus told the man that they were filled with all the promises and blessings left unopened or unwanted in his natural life. God has given us a rich inheritance. It is already written in our life plan containing a future and hope. It is up to us if we will have them or not. He gives us precious promises according to His Glory and Excellence. We receive them in righteousness and by His Grace. It is up to us whether or not they are manifested in our life according to our desire for them.

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.

Moral excellence is to strive to have superior merit and possess the outstanding quality of morality. To live a life intent on excelling in the principles of right living. This is not the same as being right but living in right standing with God every day in every possible way. It is to sow spiritual fruit in our heart and mind so that our soul will prosper in the promises of God such as love, joy, and peace. This will produce the Promises of God in our life through His Perfect Love.

Our willingness to sow determines our ability to reap in the natural and supernatural realms. If I work with excellence in my job, those seeds of faithfulness will generally turn into a promotion or pay increase. If I sow seeds of investment, I can expect a return on the good seed. If I sow generously, I will harvest the same. Sowing and reaping is a promise of God given to us for this life, as well as eternal life. Love is the commodity of the Kingdom of God. He loves faithfulness and willingness on our part to love Him and everybody else. It is the trait that the Lord commands of us. Excellence is the quality that dictates the outcome of our sowing. To sow with excellence will reap in abundance.

Colossians 3:23-24 (NLT) Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ.

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not human masters…” (NIV) Whatever you do. What are you doing today? Will you do it as if working for the Lord? Will your effort be wholehearted? I believe that mediocrity implies a worthless god. We do not serve a God like that but one who promises us good things. So much so that His Purpose in sending His Son was to give us a rich and satisfying life of abundance. In Ecclesiastes 9:10, it tells us that whatever our hand finds to do to do it with all our might. This comes just after the promise a few chapters earlier that God makes everything beautiful in His Timing. Romans 8:28 tells us that He works all things together for our good. God has given us every spiritual blessing. We must simply seek to find them in our life.

If a bank posted an advertisement that it was going out of business, starting tomorrow morning at 7:00 AM that they were opening all the safes and vaults to give away all the cash and gold – would you go? The majority of people would go deciding it would be worth it for some “free money” if the ad was true. Some may hesitate but still join in the fun. Then there would be the select few who would get up and go to work just like every other day. The Word of God has promised us a life of abundance. What is your response?

Colossians 3:15-17 (NLT)  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. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

I am challenged today to examine each area of my life for excellence. To weed out the mediocrity and plant renewed diligence in these barren places. My desire is to serve the Lord wholeheartedly. I do not want to become spiritually dull or indifferent. Unresponsive to the Word of God, His Promises and His Blessings in my life. The Peace of God is worth having and is produced abundantly in a prospering soul. Mediocrity may not be a sin but it still keeps us from the Promises of God which became our inheritance through Jesus Christ. To live in excellence produces the harvest worthy of His Sacrifice and His Glory. I am thankful for God who provides all my needs according to His Riches in Glory. The same Lord who uses His Spirit to press upon my heart when I am setting for less and He has so much more.

Ephesians 4:1-3 (NLT) As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.