Principle of Life

Principle of Life

Luke 24:5-7 (NLT)The women were terrified and bowed with their faces to the ground. Then the men asked, “Why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive? He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! Remember what he told you back in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be betrayed into the hands of sinful men and be crucified, and that he would rise again on the third day.”

Waking up to the smell of field peas cooking in the crock pot, I remember what today is. I need to get up as there are a few extra things to do before heading out to church. As I hesitate, my husband whispers in the dark as if not to chase it away, “Happy Easter!” I love this day. It has become my favorite of all days. A day to celebrate life and all the opportunities released the day it was clear that Jesus was no longer in the grave. He was alive. He is alive. The Living Christ lives in me. Works through me. Changes me. Challenges me. Pushes me. Presses me. Everyday strengthens me delivering mercy in the morning and more grace throughout the day. I am promised His Power because He is omnipotent. Death could not hold Him. The one thing that is feared the most by all humanity had absolutely no control over our Lord and Savior who is life.

People struggle with the concept of the Risen Christ. The Christ who exists on paper and in theory must be encountered to exist in us, impact our life and change us. It is one thing to say, “I believe in Jesus Christ” yet quite another to make this our principle of life. Ray Dalio, a hugely successful investor and founder of Bridgewater Associates who is one of the world’s largest hedge funds, said, “Principles are what allow you to live a life consistent with those values. Principles connect your values to your actions.” A principle is the fundamental truth from which all others are derived. An applied principle is to take that truth or belief and base all other attitudes and actions upon it. It is our accepted rule of conduct. Do you live like Jesus is alive? Do you truly believe that His Life influences your existence? Will today be the day that you do?

John 1:1-4, 14 (NLT) In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone.

So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.  

Jesus is the creative power behind every living thing. He is the Word of God which once released must do exactly what He promised it would do. It cannot return void. It is impossible. When God breathed life into Adam – Jesus was that one breath that perpetuated all life. Think about that for a moment. Jesus is life. He is the essence of life from God that enables us and empowers us to live up to the Glorious Standard set for us that people abandoned for sin. His Blood is the life giving power that washes us clean and allows us to apprehend such a life again. The Word of God wrapped himself in flesh to come demonstrate love for all people so that it would be vividly clear that God loves us and desires us above all things. Even with a Living Color Lord, they did not believe Him. Don’t beat yourself up. The men and women who walked with Jesus did not get it either.

The women were coming to the tomb that day to give Jesus a proper burial. They did not expect to find life but finalize His Death. They called Him the Messiah but did not believe it to be so. They expected to find Jesus trapped in a tomb, but that’s not at all what happened that day. Jesus was alive. They ran to tell the others and still no one really believed. The enemy had already begun to perpetuate lies and accusations. The body was stolen. He did not come back from the dead but was hidden by his followers. The enemy always tries to hide the truth with a lie.

John 10:9-10 (NLT) Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” (John 3:16-18) Jesus came to give us a rich and satisfying life. In the New King James Version, it is called an abundant life. For God so loved the world that He gave His Son so that whoever believes will have everlasting, eternal and forever life. Often this is projected forward and put into a futuristic setting. Jesus did not come to judge people. He did not come to condemn them, but that through Him that they would live. Live now. Live tomorrow. Life this life. Life forever. It is all about believing. It has nothing to do with one’s ability to change their life, make better choices or even do good things. It is all about what you believe and our ability to live that belief. The principle of life for the believer begins with the empty tomb and continues from that point throughout all eternity. If just for today, as we celebrate Easter and honor the Resurrection of Christ, we could for a moment inspect our life.

John 11:21-27 (NLT) “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

Lazarus was dead. Jesus appeared to be delayed and upon His Arrival everyone was in mourning. Martha met the Lord and said, “If you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Then she went on to say, “I know that even now Go will give you whatever you ask.” Martha was conflicted. Her heart and mind at odds. She said that she believed and oh how she wanted to believe but she struggled with disbelief just the same. Jesus told her, “I am the Resurrection and the Life.” He is saying the exact same thing to us today. The same Jesus that came barreling out of the tomb, visited many people, and ascended into Heaven is alive and well today. He is still the Resurrection and Life. The same person who called Lazarus to come up out of his grave and he did. This is the Jesus who lives in you and me today. We have the power to see dead dreams come to life and the Glory of God to fill our life. But just like Martha, we struggle to truly believe.

Romans 8:10-11 (NLT)  And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God. The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.

What if it is true? What is Jesus Christ really is alive in us? What if His Spirit is trying to give us new life every single day? What if grace really is enough to release God’s Power, His Resurrection and Life-Giving Power, to every single dead thing? What if it is my unwillingness or inability to believe that is holding the doors and windows of blessing shut? What if it is my stubborn foot standing over the seeds of faith attempting to produce good things and harvests in my life? What if my words are poisoning the good fruit that His Spirit is attempting to grow in me? What if I am aborting the birthing of my promises? What if it is me? Today changes everything!

I challenge you as the Lord challenges me today – if you are headed to church, just got home, running late or not doing anything at all but hunting some eggs with the kids and spending time with your family – look for Him today. Not the dead Savior hanging on a Cross, but the Powerful Lord who came alive with the keys to every locked door in your life, heart and mind. Jesus is alive and well. The Living Savior ready to break every chain, release your burden, heal your body and release every other forgotten benefit that marks the new life that He promised. His Promise still stands. God’s love for you cannot be taken or shaken from you. He loves you! He always loved you! He paid the highest price for you – not to make you a performer but a producer of His Love. Your dead dreams are only sleeping. Your potential is not lost just hidden in the soil of your heart. Once fertile, it will explode with life again. Every blessing and promise for your life is safe and sound. Your inheritance is secure. It is your heart that Jesus is after. Do you believe? It is impossible to please God without faith. Faith makes all things possible…we must only believe. Jesus is the principle of life. He is life. He gives life and power to those who love and trust Him. Apply this principle to your life and you will live in peaceful prosperity both now and forevermore. Living for Jesus Christ should be a satisfying life not filled with disappointment. Hope never leads to such a thing. If my life is less than I expected, then I need to let Christ increase in me. He promised to do more than I can think, imagine or even ask. This is the principle of life to be satisfied. To apply Jesus Christ who is alive and well in all areas of my life. Christ is the One who completes this process in us. He gives new life. We become new creations.

John 14:6 (NLT) Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.

Hunger Games

Hunber Games

2 Corinthians 9:10-11 (NLT) For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you. Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God.

The Hunger Games trilogy is a futuristic novel set in post-apocalyptic times. The Capitol society is marked by extreme wealth and power over the twelve Districts who are the product of past rebellion live in extreme poverty. As entertainment, each year one boy and girl from each district is chosen by a lottery system to fight to the death in the public arena which is broadcast for all to see. The winning participant and their district will be supplied with food, supplies and riches. The Capitol continued to exhort its power over the Districts this way. I cannot imagine. How horrible to think that a child would be selected as a sacrifice for that which is freely given to us in the earth? This was the inspiration for the writer after reading Greek mythology’s account of Theseus and Minotaur – as punishment for past crimes, Athens were required to sacrifice seven boys and seven girls. Even as a child, she was stunned by the cruelty. Her writings are also influenced by society’s public display and entertainment called reality television. We make sport and competition in the name of entertainment. Yet the reality is that cruelty and poverty are rampant in a world inhabited by a Kingdom of more than enough. Sons and daughters of the Most High King who join the numbers of impoverished ones of the districts rather living in the life their Father has given them.

Though the concept of The Hunger Games is futuristic, it can be compared to the reality of life. The rich get richer and poor get poorer is a frequently used statement. Dependency is created by need. Those in need of something must find a source to provide it if they cannot produce it themselves. The Districts had rebelled against the Capitol and were now being punished with poverty. Kept in a perpetual state of need, it would take a rebellion to obtain their freedom. In the subsequent books of the series, this is exactly what would happen. I am not promoting the trilogy called The Hunger Games. I am only aware of the books and concept of the series. I am challenging the impoverished mindset of God’s People that keeps us captive and stagnates our purpose to set the captive free.

“For God provides seed to the farmer and then bread to eat.” Our family has been committed to tithing for almost twenty years now. For eighteen years, it has been our commitment to pay God the 10% that He requires up front as an act of obedience. Before I lose you, this is about you tithing but a personal testimony of harvest and favor. In all those years, there has not been an unmet financial need in our family. Every bill paid, lights that turn on, transportation and of course, food on our table. The kids all had diapers and clothes. Not a single natural need has not been met. But wait there is more, we have also been able to help others giving to missions, feeding the hungry and other noble efforts. I hope I haven’t lost you yet. Giving the Lord His Requirement and also sowing seed (yes, seed) in offerings has also produced a hidden abundance in our life. During spring cleaning and organizing closets, I always find things that we no longer need, want or use. Some of it, I give away to those in need. The rest of it, I post in online resale sights or set up a garage sale. I cannot think of a time when the Lord has not supplied our needs, or given us more than enough. I do absolutely believe that two Biblical Truths are in full operation. Tithing, as well as, sowing and reaping. God’s Abundance is hidden in our life from the devourer. But it is often the “hunger games” of life that allow us to connect with the Source of Life.

In Luke 15, we visit the home of loving and wealthy father with two sons. He loved both of them exactly the same and cared for them equally. There was no favoritism in him and all that he had was to be their inheritance. As you may already know, one son chose to take his inheritance and leave his father’s home losing everything. Ready to eat slop with the pigs came the realization that even servants in his father’s house were well-cared for so he would go back, beg his father’s forgiveness and serve him. You may also know that the son who remained true to his father and home was overtaken with jealousy for his brother. He had done both of their jobs while his brother was out carousing. When his father welcomed his lost son home, the brother refused to come to the celebration. He was mad. He couldn’t understand the grace of his father. See the estate and wealth did not mean as much to this man as his precious and dear children. This is the Father’s Love that is given to us as His Children.

Luke 15:17-20 (NLT)  “When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, ‘At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger! I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.”’ “So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. 

Our Father is the Source for our life. Nothing can separate us from His Love for us. His Compassion longs for our safe return. Jesus promised to prepare a place for us. (John 14:1-3) I have a home in His Kingdom that is mine. It is an individual inheritance not offered to anyone else. A place in His Presence just for me with my name on it. There is no need for insecurity and doubt because God does not have favorites. There is no competition for a place in God’s Kingdom. It has been given to you when you accepted the Keys to the Kingdom from His Son, Jesus Christ. All that is to be done is follow Him home. Humility accepts God our Father as the Source of Life and lives according to His Standard of life. It takes us out of the rat race, fighting our way up the corporate ladder and no longer subject to the dog-eat-dog world. We are given more than enough according to His Riches in Heaven.

Luke 15:28-32 (NLT) “The older brother was angry and wouldn’t go in. His father came out and begged him, but he replied, ‘All these years I’ve slaved for you and never once refused to do a single thing you told me to. And in all that time you never gave me even one young goat for a feast with my friends. Yet when this son of yours comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes, you celebrate by killing the fattened calf!’ “His father said to him, ‘Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours. We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!’”

The son who stayed with his father did not feel that his brother was worthy of celebration. His jealousy overtook him so that he did not see the obvious. “You have always stayed with me, and everything I have is yours.” As Christians, it is human nature to fall in the trap of the other brother. To have it all but lose sight of it. Pride robs us of satisfaction with the weapon of comparison. We cannot see the blessings and promises coming to pass in our life and the abundance hidden in our closets blinded by envy. When those who have been used and abused by the world show up on our churches, we tell them of God’s Great Love, His Grace and His Compassion but do we show it or even share it with them? Or like the jealous brother set requirements based on our willingness or unwillingness to welcome them home just as they are. I am a Child of God. My inheritance is secure in my relationship with my Father through Jesus Christ. I do not have to compete with anyone for His Attention, His Supply, His Provision or even His Abundance in my life.

Like 12:16-21 (NLT) Then he told them a story: “A rich man had a fertile farm that produced fine crops. He said to himself, ‘What should I do? I don’t have room for all my crops.’ Then he said, ‘I know! I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I’ll have room enough to store all my wheat and other goods. And I’ll sit back and say to myself, “My friend, you have enough stored away for years to come. Now take it easy! Eat, drink, and be merry!”’ “But God said to him, ‘You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get everything you worked for?’ “Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.”

It is important to have a rich relationship with God. Who wants to serve a Father who does not have enough to care for all of his children? The richness of our Father should be filtered through us His Children. It is called generosity. We have seed to be put in the ground that is stored in silos of fear and greed that mark the impoverished mindset. Like the widow who kept her “oil” sealed in a bottle for a “rainy day” found that there was more than enough to care for her family for the rest of their life, we have more than enough but it is hidden behind fear of lack and no trust in the Father’s Love and Resources. The prodigal son had to lose it all to realize the resources in his father’s house. His failure humbled him and he returned to his home. The woman lost her husband who she perceived as her source only to find that God had already provided her with more than enough.

A rich relationship with God through Jesus Christ amply supplies our life with favor and resources. Seeds of potential are hidden away tucked in the dreams and desires of our heart. Rather than building bigger barns to house God’s Surplus in our life living in fear that His Grace, Love or Mercy might run out – what if we built bigger windows and doors to let it all come pouring out? A rich relationship with God is marked by trust that He does have a Kingdom with streets paved of pure gold and that He is a Good Father who cares well for His Children.

Matthew 15:32-34 (NLT) Then Jesus called his disciples and told them, “I feel sorry for these people. They have been here with me for three days, and they have nothing left to eat. I don’t want to send them away hungry, or they will faint along the way.” The disciples replied, “Where would we get enough food here in the wilderness for such a huge crowd?” Jesus asked, “How much bread do you have?” They replied, “Seven loaves, and a few small fish.”

Jesus did not just believe in feeding people the Word. He believed in feeding their bellies, too. Unmet need creates desire. When we send the hungry and hurting off with a kind word and hug around the neck when what they really need is food or their utility bill paid, what message are we sending? Are we Children of the King or kids on welfare? I do not have to participate in hunger games. I am a Child of God who has supplied all that I need and desire in abundance. As my soul prospers, so will I. I am ordained for increase, multiplication and reproduction in this life. I have access to the riches in Glory. In fact, obedience stores it up for me according to God’s Kingdom. Generosity is my opportunity to give it my life away. To let go of this world and claim His Kingdom.

Man’s economy is based on supply and demand. Creating desire so it can make something to fill it. It does not want you to be satisfied or content but always leaving you wanting more. Buy a new cellphone and before you can run the battery down there is a newer and shiner version being hawked as the best. We have more than enough. An endless supply flowing from the windows of Heaven, it is accessed by generosity and giving. How? Generosity is good seed. If we give to others expecting nothing in return, it is a seed of faith that says, “I believe my God supplies all my needs according to His Riches.” It will grow into a harvest in our life. Seed left in silos will also die, rot and decay. Its purpose is unfulfilled. It is destine to be nothing. When sowing good seeds of faith not just in word but in our works, it becomes a harvest of abundance in our life. There is an equal and personally identified inheritance for each child of God individually. It cannot be earned. It is our birthright. To tithe protects us from the devourer but it is our offering that demonstrates faith and confidence in God who is more than enough.

I John 3:16-18 (NLT) We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters. If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person? Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.

Had Enough?

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2 Corinthians 9:7-8 (Amplified (AMP))  Let each one give [thoughtfully and with purpose] just as he has decided in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver [and delights in the one whose heart is in his gift]. And God is able to make all grace [every favor and earthly blessing] come in abundance to you, so that you may always [under all circumstances, regardless of the need] have complete sufficiency in everything [being completely self-sufficient in Him], and have an abundance for every good work and act of charity. 

Have you had enough yet? Are you fed up with certain conditions, situations, and circumstances in your life? Wondering where the Lord is or what He is doing because things are simply not okay. It is human nature to get tired, overwhelmed and just plain done sometimes. Believe or not – it is an ordained condition that will produce increase in a believer’s life. It is easy to become full of ourselves even when it is our desire to be full of His Spirit. When we come to the place of “I have had enough” is the exact moment when our desperation becomes motivation. Dissatisfaction creates hunger for more. Disappointment looks for hope that is unseen in our current state of mind or being. It is the point when are willingness turns from a whim to drive. Are you there yet?

God is able to make all grace including every favor and earthy blessing come in abundance to you! Well, where is He? I am working His Plan but His Plan ain’t working for me. Oh, yes it is! The Lord has a purpose far greater than mere satisfaction. It is called complete sufficiency. It is a comprehensive plan that meets the needs and desires of our body, soul and spirit all at the same time producing peace and contentment that allows us to forge forward in faith not worrying about our future. We must find total sufficiency in Jesus Christ to move from striving to thriving. Are you ready? So am I…I have had enough.

Luke 6:38 (AMP) Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over [with no space left for more]. For with the standard of measurement you use [when you do good to others], it will be measured to you in return.”

God doesn’t need anything I have to promote His Kingdom. God doesn’t need my hands, my mouth or even my heart for that matter. There is nothing good or worthwhile in me because sin infects every fiber of my being. Christ is the only good thing about me worthy of giving to another. Every action and attitude must be filtered through Jesus Christ to make it worthy of giving away. Pride and self must be completely removed to purify my offering and make it worthy of His Name. Give and it will be given to you. We spend a whole lot of our time focused on getting. Getting to work. Getting more money. Getting to church. Getting things. Getting promotions. Getting…getting…and getting. The Word of God tells us to focus on giving and generosity instead. I am challenged today by this concept as for the first time I see that giving is not about reducing my life but expanding my faith. God is trying to press down those things that are taking the place of abundance in my life. He is shaking things up so I will reach for Him. He is ready to pour out His Spirit in my life until it is running over and ready for others to receive. The thing that He is after today is not what I have but me. The previous verse hints at God’s Plan but we skip to this verse because it seems like a recipe for success. However, the Lord tells us to give so that He can make room for more of Him not for me to get more but to be more.

I Kings 19:3-8 (AMP) And Elijah was afraid and arose and ran for his life, and he came to Beersheba which belongs to Judah, and he left his servant there. But he himself traveled a day’s journey into the wilderness, and he came and sat down under a juniper tree and asked [God] that he might die. He said, “It is enough; now, O Lord, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers.” He lay down and slept under the juniper tree, and behold, an angel touched him and said to him, “Get up and eat.” He looked, and by his head there was a bread cake baked on hot coal, and a pitcher of water. So he ate and drank and lay down again. Then the angel of the Lord came again a second time and touched him and said, “Get up, and eat, for the journey is too long for you [without adequate sustenance].” So he got up and ate and drank, and with the strength of that food he traveled forty days and nights to Horeb (Sinai), the mountain of God.

The abundance of God is produced in obedience. Obedience according to God’s Word is demonstrated by our faith in God. Faith is not a noun. Faith is a verb. It is the unseen step into God’s Reality. Faith requires movement to be relative in my life. I cannot speak by faith and stay where I am. Faith always takes one step closer to God according to His Word – not the conditions of our natural life. In fact, faith is usually the step between the boat and Jesus. The one where we let go of natural security hoping for spiritual security relying completely on God to do exactly what He says. Too many times, we keep waiting for the Lord to pull the boat up to the dock real close and reach out His Hand to hold ours and guide us without incident to the next secure step. Where is faith? If you are waiting for God to make His Word come to pass without results, consider this – the next move may be yours. The biggest step of all is using our faith to trust the Lord.

Elijah had just killed all the prophets of Baal. Needless to say, Jezebel was livid. A woman scorned who vowed to kill the prophet. I know it is hard to believe that a mighty man of God would be fearless one day and full of fear the next, but this is the place called “had enough.” Elijah had drained his faith and so fear rooted easily in his heart. He was isolated under a solitary tree. He was ready to die. His physical, emotional and spiritual strength evaporated in the events precipitating his departure. Elijah was a man of God. Elijah was just a man.

When our son was declared in remission, I decided that it was time to go back to normal life. I was certain that our routine could be re-established, my career would continue, and it would be like three years before when our life was rocked to the core. It was not the same. Slowly I came to the realization that nothing would ever be the same. I carefully wrapped up my faith in a tight little package. Set it down on God’s Altar and slowly backed away. Why? I had had enough. My self somehow lost in years of fighting for faith. I laid down the sword because I no longer could carry the weight. Maybe you feel that way today? You have fought for faith. You have tried to be obedient in all things. You have given all that you know to give. You have followed all the rules of the church and what you know of the Word to be true. You just cannot do this another day.

Your obedience today will be the abundance of your future. I know you are tired, but you must not give up. When the Lord came to Elijah – he was determined to die right where he sat. The Lord told him to eat so he ate. The Lord told him that the journey would be too long for him without sustenance. What a meal it must have been? He ate a single meal that lasted him for forty days. I can’t last 40 minutes most of the time. This is the abundance of God in full operation. It is not to give from our enough but give when we have had enough. This is when the Power of God takes over and is made known for all to see.

2 Corinthians 12:8-10 (AMP) Concerning this I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might leave me; but He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you [My lovingkindness and My mercy are more than enough—always available—regardless of the situation]; for [My] power is being perfected [and is completed and shows itself most effectively] in [your] weakness.” Therefore, I will all the more gladly boast in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ [may completely enfold me and] may dwell in me. So I am well pleased with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, and with difficulties, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak [in human strength], then I am strong [truly able, truly powerful, truly drawing from God’s strength].

I was talking to someone about transition yesterday and birthing God’s Promises. I have five children who I delivered naturally. The final stage of labor is called transition. It is marked by a desperate need to exit the process. I know it sound foolish, but trust me and those who have endured it. You are ready to get up and leave. Done with the whole thing. It is the point of giving up when the motivation God put in us as mothers kicks in. It is time to push. It is time to press. When it finally dawns on us that it is time to meet the little person who we are desperately and totally in love with already – our inner drive and motivation is to birth them into are arms. What if this season you are in is actually transition? What if God’s Promise is about to burst forth in your life? Why is it so hard? He is finally getting you out of the way. Weakness is the place where God’s Strength and Power take over our life to produce the promise and potential that is our purpose. I know what to do as a mother because God engrained it in me as a woman. As a believer all those years of planting faith and harvesting hope will be the very thing that empowers me to breakthrough transition and obtain the promise. When I have had enough allowing Jesus to be more than enough in my life.

Lessons of faithful obedience are learned along the way. Those little seeds of faith growing from the Word, walking God’s Way, and surrendering bits and pieces of our life to His Will are the very things that will sustain us when it comes time to push and press through to breakthrough. Elisha came to the woman and asked for something to eat. She was preparing the final meal for her family in anticipation of death over the enslavement of her children. Elisha didn’t stop her. He told her to go gather more jars and vessels. She did. Obediently. Faithfully. When she began pouring oil it did not stop until all the vessels were full and she ran out of space. (2 Kings 4) God is making space in us for more faith that will increase His Abundance in us to overflow around us. We must be willing to give up what we have for more of Him. Even if it is all we have, faith says it is more than enough. The Israelites were taught faithful obedience in the wilderness crying out in hunger. God gave them quail and manna instructing them as to its use. (Exodus 16) They learned satisfaction at the hand of God but that’s not all. When it was time to build the Tabernacle, an incredible miracle happened. These people who escaped from slavery with just what they could carry, wandering with it strapped to their backs, and begging God for food had more than enough to build God’s House. In fact, they supplied so much that Moses had to issue a command for them to stop. Where did it come from? (Exodus 36) Where do you think?

2 Chronicles 31:5-10 (AMP)  As soon as the king’s order spread, the Israelites gave in abundance the first fruits of grain, new wine, [olive] oil, honey, and of all the produce of the field; and they brought in the tithe of everything abundantly. The sons of Israel and Judah who lived in the cities of Judah also brought in the tithe of oxen and sheep, and the tithe of sacred gifts which were consecrated to the Lord their God, and placed them in heaps. In the third month [at the end of wheat harvest] they began to make the heaps, and they finished them in the seventh month. When Hezekiah and the rulers came and saw the heaps, they blessed the Lord and His people Israel.  Then Hezekiah questioned the priests and Levites about the heaps. Azariah the high priest of the house of Zadok answered him, “Since the people began to bring the offerings into the house of the Lord, we have had enough to eat with plenty left over, for the Lord has blessed His people, and this great quantity is left over.”

They brought in the tithe of everything abundantly. I believe in tithing. I absolutely can testify that tithing will produce abundance in our life. The abundance is limited to our giving. I don’t want to lose anyone here. This is not about money but first fruits. The Holy Spirit produces all kinds of fruit in our life. It is produced in abundance for the purpose of giving. Faith is the seed of prosperity making all other fruits in our life. To tithe our life is not in our wallets but in our heart. We must portion our life according to faithful obedience in all things including time, talent and treasure. The very thing we are withholding is where God wants to grow us the most. Where have you had enough today? This is the place God wants to infuse His Power and instill His Strength. It is usually our area of weakness that is the first place to give. But see what happened to the people in 2 Chronicles, “since the people began to bring the offerings into the House of the Lord, we have had enough to eat and plenty left over.”

Every step in our life is framed in faith and its purpose is to trust God more. To release what we have to have more of Him is the only way it works. What are you holding on to? What are you unwilling to give up? It is the chain on the door to abundance in life. You hold the key to that door. The lock will give way and the chains will fall when you apply absolute and total faith in God demonstrated by radical obedience. It is the moment we give up on our plan, our way and our self that God fills us with more of Him. His Power is made perfect in what? My weakness. His Strength works best when I move out of the way. I cannot move a mountain but my faith in God can. It is not about me but my willingness to admit I have had enough – giving my all to Jesus so He can do it through me.

Hebrews 12:1-4 (AMP) Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who by faith have testified to the truth of God’s absolute faithfulness], stripping off every unnecessary weight and the sin which so easily and cleverly entangles us, let us run with endurance and active persistence the race that is set before us, [looking away from all that will distract us and] focusing our eyes on Jesus, who is the Author and Perfecter of faith [the first incentive for our belief and the One who brings our faith to maturity], who for the joy [of accomplishing the goal] set before Him endured the cross, disregarding the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God [revealing His deity, His authority, and the completion of His work]. Just consider and meditate on Him who endured from sinners such bitter hostility against Himself [consider it all in comparison with your trials], so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

 

Ready for Rain

ready-for-rain

Psalm 65:9-11 (NLT) You take care of the earth and water it, making it rich and fertile.
The river of God has plenty of water; it provides a bountiful harvest of grain, for you have ordered it so. You drench the plowed ground with rain,
 melting the clods and leveling the ridges. You soften the earth with showers and bless its abundant crops. You crown the year with a bountiful harvest; even the hard pathways overflow with abundance.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow said, “Into each life some rain must fall.” He is absolutely right. Before planting a single seed in the ground or one’s heart, it is important to understand the importance of rain. Rain is necessary. It has purpose. When the ground is broken or even the heart, it is ready to receive the seed promised by the Lord for grow into its potential and fulfill its purpose, but if we do not understand the relevance of rain in our life – the seed will die. Just as the ground must be plowed or the heart softened to receive, it is equally important to know that into each life some rain must fall.

Looking at the weather for the next week, it indicates rain will fall on five of the seven days. Ugh! Living in the South, we do not experience snow, blizzards or the like but rain glorious not so glorious rain. Rain is essential to the earth but mighty inconvenient when it comes to routine and scheduling. I am convinced that people have no idea how to drive in it so the commute is longer. There is nothing worse than damp clothes, wet feet or mud puddles unless you are five years old playing in the rain. It is just one big discomfort unless you are a farmer watching your field. Suddenly it becomes a blessing. To those without running water, it fills their water barrels and swells the streams from which they drink. See it is all about perspective. There is someone somewhere today praying for rain. We all should be.

Genesis 2:4-7 (NLT) When the Lord God made the earth and the heavens, neither wild plants nor grains were growing on the earth. For the Lord God had not yet sent rain to water the earth, and there were no people to cultivate the soil. Instead, springs came up from the ground and watered all the land. Then the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground. He breathed the breath of life into the man’s nostrils, and the man became a living person.

Eden was created a civilization completely dependent on God. He created the heavens and earth. Divided land and sea. Springs came up to water the land but there were no crops or grains or people to cultivate the earth. Rather than glancing over the words to make it to the desired text, look closely again. If you ever wonder if God knew people would sin, it says so right here – “there were no people to cultivate the soil.” Cultivation became a requirement outside of Eden after the fall of mankind. God knew. He planned and prepared for our rebellion ahead of time. It was not an afterthought. God did not send rain yet because at this point creation relied solely on Him.

Genesis 6:9-13 (NLT) This is the account of Noah and his family. Noah was a righteous man, the only blameless person living on earth at the time, and he walked in close fellowship with God. Noah was the father of three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Now God saw that the earth had become corrupt and was filled with violence. God observed all this corruption in the world, for everyone on earth was corrupt. So God said to Noah, “I have decided to destroy all living creatures, for they have filled the earth with violence. Yes, I will wipe them all out along with the earth!

Well, that didn’t take long before people managed to get evicted from Eden and run the entire world into the ground. What a mess! Only one person could be found in all the earth to be righteous, blameless, and in close fellowship with God – Noah. God revealed a crazy plan. He would flood the earth and wipe it clean all except one man and his family. He would be required to build an ark all on his own. Fill it with two of every kind of animal. Get his family and herd to enter the boat and God would close the door. He would be required to live there for 40 days and nights while it rained. It had never rained before. Mankind’s first experience with rain was destruction. As the water receded, everyone remained on the stinky, smelling ship until the ark came to rest and the door opened.

Genesis 8:20-22 (NLT) Then Noah built an altar to the Lord, and there he sacrificed as burnt offerings the animals and birds that had been approved for that purpose. And the Lord was pleased with the aroma of the sacrifice and said to himself, “I will never again curse the ground because of the human race, even though everything they think or imagine is bent toward evil from childhood. I will never again destroy all living things. As long as the earth remains, there will be planting and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night.”

Genesis 9:12-17 (NLT) Then God said, “I am giving you a sign of my covenant with you and with all living creatures, for all generations to come. I have placed my rainbow in the clouds. It is the sign of my covenant with you and with all the earth. When I send clouds over the earth, the rainbow will appear in the clouds, and I will remember my covenant with you and with all living creatures. Never again will the floodwaters destroy all life. When I see the rainbow in the clouds, I will remember the eternal covenant between God and every living creature on earth.” Then God said to Noah, “Yes, this rainbow is the sign of the covenant I am confirming with all the creatures on earth.”

There is significance in the events following the flood. Noah built an altar to the Lord and sacrificed a burnt offering. Noah did not fear a lack of provision. He offered an offering from the supply on the ark because the earth and all its contents were destroyed. Noah had faith. He trusted the Lord even in lack. His family and supply would populate and fill the entire earth again. What a responsibility – what an amazing God!

The first thing the Lord did was bless the ground. He promised to never curse it again. He ordained seedtime and harvest so that what is planted will grow. It was not because sin was gone but because grace would abound. He even admitted that “everything they think and imagine is bent toward evil from childhood.” God’s Blessing on the land to be cultivated is not based on our ability to plant and harvest but on His Word. I will bless the land and as long as the earth remains there will be planting and harvest. Potential. Our life always has potential even in the natural.

The second thing the Lord did after the flood was to give us a covenant. Yes, the rain witnessed brought destruction. God didn’t want us to fear the rain, storms or even floods of life. So he placed a rainbow in the clouds. When our son was diagnosed with cancer, I had about ten days to prepare for his treatment and make my way back to Gainesville from our hometown. I had to trust God to save him. As I drove the interstate, I cranked up the praise music and worshipped the Lord at the top of my lungs with tears streaming down my face. It was raining off and on which I didn’t mind as it was reminiscent of how I felt. I have never encountered what happened that day before or since that drive. There was rainbow after rainbow after rainbow along the way. By about the fifth or sixth one, I was laughing through my pain and sorrow whispering, “I get it God! I hear you!”

Never again will I destroy all life. God does not send rain, storms, floods, sickness, pain, trials, or tests to destroy us. He wants us to be broken and ready to receive His Blessing. His Unconditional Love and Amazing Grace are literally pouring out of heaven each day but am I ready to receive it? God promised in that moment with Noah that He would always remember His Eternal (Forever) Covenant. Jesus was coming. The Lord would come and give us all the opportunity to live. God knew that people were given to rebellion and sin yet still in that moment He prepared them for life eternally. His Covenant that day remains today. Better than before because the Way has been made and now we can be in right standing with God thanks to Jesus!

Psalm 135:6-7 (NLT) The Lord does whatever pleases him throughout all heaven and earth, and on the seas and in their depths. He causes the clouds to rise over the whole earth. He sends the lightning with the rain and releases the wind from his storehouses.

Rain is essential to abundance. It comes from abundance. Psalm 135 tells us that these natural elements are released from his “storehouses.” Storehouses are made to hold abundance. No one builds a silo to keep weeds or rocks, but to be full of good things. So it is with God. Rain is good. Rain is needed to produce in our life. The Lord does whatever pleases him. His Good Pleasure and Precious Treasure is His People. When God releases rain the purpose is prosperity. However, you can only reap what is sown in your life. You cannot grow corn from tomato seeds. With this in mind, it is important to note that you rain does not produce a godly crop from a sinful heart. If God’s Abundance is being released, why is there no prosperity in the church today? Why are ministries failing and falling apart? Why is the Body of Christ not growing? We need rain to permeate hard ground and find good seed.

Hebrews 6:7-8 (NLT) When the ground soaks up the falling rain and bears a good crop for the farmer, it has God’s blessing. But if a field bears thorns and thistles, it is useless. The farmer will soon condemn that field and burn it.

You reap what you so is evident in the productivity of our life. When rain comes and makes it into our heart to make the seeds found there grow, what is produced? The productivity of our life is not always what God planted in us but most often what we decided to sow instead? Rain falls on the just and unjust alike according to Matthew 5:45. God is watering the potential in our life. God rains down provision in our life every day, but often it is not enough to satisfy the desire of our heart. (Psalm 78:21-29) We place our expectation in this world and the things of this world so when the condition or circumstance of our natural life does not change in an instant – we abandon the field and curse the rain. Freedom allows us to choose our way and the pathway of life. He never leaves us without evidence of His Goodness – he sends rain, gives us good crops, and blesses us each day with new mercy (Acts 14:16-18) but is it enough?

Matthew 7:24-27 (NLT) “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.”

My life must be built on a firm foundation of faith. Not proverbial faith that talks a good talk, but logical and literal faith that knows God’s Word and acts upon it. Faith is our future. Rain often is the test. When rain falls on us, do we respond with faith that accepts it as a promise of abundance in the end? Or does it cause everything known and believed about the Lord to wash away so that fear and anxiety takes over? In Deuteronomy 32:1-4, it says, “let my words fall on you like rain.” God is raining His Blessings and Abundance in your life. Are you uncomfortable? Is it inconvenient? Does it interrupt your schedule or prevent our plans? Rain brings change washing away the temporary in our heart and mind to reveal what is permanent. Seeds of faith are small for a reason. They are hard to find and even more difficult to grow because it requires full attention and complete focus on the Author and Finisher of Faith to acquire it.

Job 36:26-28 (NLT) “Look, God is greater than we can understand. His years cannot be counted. He draws up the water vapor and then distills it into rain. The rain pours down from the clouds, and everyone benefits.”

God has given us an internal watering system to irrigate our heart and soul called the Holy Spirit. Just as Eden was well-supplied so are we, but in the meantime as while faith is cultivated it is human nature to rely on the world, too. God is greater than we understand. He takes the offering of our life the “vapor” if you will, and in turn releases abundance. The only thing of worth in my life is Jesus Christ. How much of my life is surrendered to Him? This is the amount of heaven I am able to receive and achieve in my life. God opens the windows of heaven and pours out blessing on His People and everyone benefits.

Jeremiah 5:23-25 (NLT) “But my people have stubborn and rebellious hearts. They have turned away and abandoned me. They do not say from the heart, ‘Let us live in awe of the Lord our God, for he gives us rain each spring and fall, assuring us of a harvest when the time is right.’ Your wickedness has deprived you of these wonderful blessings. Your sin has robbed you of all these good things.”

Sin will always stop us from receiving the benefits of rain. It creates a hard heart that cannot receive rain to water that seed of faith and potential hidden there. What about grace? Grace is only accepted in true repentance. Grace is not a “get-out-of-hell-free” card. It does not give us permission to sin. It is the understanding that my sin separates me from God and I don’t want anything to keep me from Him. Sin violates our covenant. He gives us new mercy each day to overcome sin each day. To fall in love with Jesus Christ is to not want to sin anymore because it creates separation from the One our heart desires. Falling in love with Jesus Christ is consummated by accepting seeds of faith to be grown for righteousness sake. To give up our wants and desires to receive blessings believing they are better than anything I can produce in my own life. It takes time, it takes tests, and it takes rain to wash away every fear and insecurity and reveal this in our life.

Hosea 6:1-3 (NLT) “Come, let us return to the Lord. He has torn us to pieces; now he will heal us. He has injured us; now he will bandage our wounds. In just a short time he will restore us, so that we may live in his presence. Oh, that we might know the Lord! Let us press on to know him. He will respond to us as surely as the arrival of dawn or the coming of rains in early spring.”

Sowing and reaping in the natural will always produce something. If I put seed in the ground, cover it, nurture it and watch over it – something will be harvested. Rain is essential for seed growth and development in our life. It is the very thing that waters the ground and feeds that seed. However, if we are not sowing for the Kingdom – God’s Abundance is not possible. For example, our family made the decision to tithe according to the Biblical Standard more than a decade ago. God has provided abundantly for us in this area. Dollar for dollar – I cannot figure out the math of obedience. However, I have found that the greatest blessing of tithing has not been found in a dollar figure but rather the favor of God evidenced in our life. There are times when money cannot fix it and I know it is the Favor of God that did it.

When believers decide that the Hand of God is not enough, they will seek His Heart. I was once a very religious person. I had a strict set of rules and regulations that governed my life. I was blessed, but not satisfied. When doctrine did not produce deliverance, I started digging again. There had to be more to this thing called prosperity and blessing in the Lord. When my heart was completely broken and my life torn apart…when I lost control and the world was crashing down around me…it was in that moment of being torn to pieces that His Grace finally reached the seed called faith in my heart. The connection complete something changed in me and is growing through me. True repentance can only be discovered at the end of self. When you have nothing left to give but still choose to come to Your Savior. His Grace is suddenly sufficient in that moment. A place nobody wants to arrive.

Are you living in the abundance of God? Just as sure as the forecast is for rain next week, the windows of Heaven are open over our everyday life. Faith is the seed that produces satisfaction and contentment in our life. It may take our whole life to find it. It may be discovered after the storm. Whatever it takes to get there. God knew people were given to sin. Yet He still sent the rain and marked the sky with a rainbow. He knew our stubborn, rebellious heart and reprobate mind would make us till hard ground for every day blessings. Rain falls on the just and unjust every day as God keeps up His End of the bargain. The Lord is always faithful even when we are not. He waters every seed committed to the ground and gives it increase. What about you? What about me? Am I faithful? Am I willing to really repent? To call Him Savior and make Him the Lord of our life requires true repentance and lifelong change. His Blessings are falling but some are not properly positioned to receive. The next time it rains remember that God is showering the earth with His Goodness including blessings, provision, promises, purposes and power on each of us every single day in each tiny raindrop. Am I ready to receive is the real question?

Joel 2:22-24 (NLT) Don’t be afraid, you animals of the field, for the wilderness pastures will soon be green. The trees will again be filled with fruit; fig trees and grapevines will be loaded down once more. Rejoice, you people of Jerusalem! Rejoice in the Lord your God! For the rain he sends demonstrates his faithfulness. Once more the autumn rains will come, as well as the rains of spring. The threshing floors will again be piled high with grain, and the presses will overflow with new wine and olive oil.

 

Slow Leaks

Slow Leaks

Romans 15:13-15 (NLT) I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. I am fully convinced, my dear brothers and sisters, that you are full of goodness. You know these things so well you can teach each other all about them. Even so, I have been bold enough to write about some of these points, knowing that all you need is this reminder. For by God’s grace…

Today, I am celebrating my one year anniversary with my car. According to Timehop, we purchased the Honda about a year ago. It has been such a blessing and I recommend it to anyone looking for a new automobile…less I digress. Though I could go on and on about the attributes of this car, it has one feature that I really like. When I engage the engine and it runs the systems check that most new autos do, it checks the tires as well. Now I don’t know how it does it but if one tire is running low on pressure an indicator light warns me to check it. I know that the tire is slowly deflating somehow and can have it serviced before I get a flat tire. Glory Hallelujah! I hate being stuck with a flat tire, dead battery or faulty anything. Such a simple thing brings me great confidence. A nail or foreign object that punctures a tire will often cause it to flatten immediately but what about the slow leaks that occur slowly over time. Well, by now you probably realize that this is probably going somewhere other than the garage and it is…

Jesus Christ connects us to God once again which causes a source of hope to rise up and overflow in our life or at least it should. The abundance of God through Jesus should be gushing from our life in all areas – physically, naturally, spiritually and supernaturally. This does not mean that everything is going to be perfect but that you are in a constant state of being perfected. When we develop “slow leaks” in our life – areas that are not exactly flourishing according to God’s Word, Will and Way – it is human nature to become caught up in the lie that perhaps we have discovered the limit of God’s Love for us and so we run dry. This is not the case at all. We just need a little more of God’s Grace.

We forget that His Grace is sufficient or enough. It is the sum total of that which allows us to obtain freedom and initiate God’s Overflow to reach us. I cannot do anything to obtain salvation, righteousness, healing, deliverance, inheritance, abundance or any other thing from God except through His Son, Jesus Christ. Over and over again, faith falls short of recognizing one’s human inability to secure these things so our flesh tries its own way. Are you tired, thirsty, drained, sick, exhausted, overcome, overwhelmed, anxious, busy, too busy, too this or that, if you have reached an extreme other than completely satisfied – it is time to visit the Cross and discover His Grace again.

John 10:10 (NLT) The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.

There is no satisfaction or contentment outside of Jesus Christ. Any area of our life operating outside of faith, trust and complete dependency on the Lord will always fall short of His Glorious Standard because sin will find its way there. The thief is the enemy of your life who wants to drain you of all resources until he can easily overtake your overburdened heart. It happens like a slow leak. You are excitedly serving the Lord one minute and unsure how you have wandered so far the next. All with good intentions but no understanding that only Jesus Christ can offer a rich and satisfying life. He is the One who rebukes the devourer for those who are faithful and obedient to His Word. (Malachi 3)

We went to Puerto Rico on a company trip many years ago. The vendors had arranged a dinner in the heart of the rain forest. Buses were rented to take us through the city to the outskirts of town. Riding along one of the passengers attempted to open a window as the small bus was overcrowded. The bus driver yelled from the front, “CLOSE THE WINDOW!” He went on to share this is a very bad part of town. It is not uncommon for robberies and hijackings to occur if we are not careful. This would probably explain his erratic driving through the area. It looked like a neighborhood like any other modest one, but it housed dangers that foreigners could not see and did not realize. The bus driver was keeping us safe.

We obeyed his instructions making it to and from the event unharmed and intact. We have been given the Word of God and the Holy Spirit as a guide for our life. Obedience saves our life because it rebukes the devourer and binds the hands of the thief against us. Obedience requires trusting the one who instructs us and believing that what they say is valid and true for our own good. There are areas of our life that are kept from God’s Word and His Spirit because we want our own way. When the devourer comes or the thief steals, kills or destroys something in our life – we blame God for not being there when sometimes it is our own willful betrayal and intentional disobedience that left the window open that he crawled through. Shut the windows of your life and lock them tight. Seal the doors bolting them shut and keeping them that way.

When a sinner is set free and comes to Jesus, sin is removed and goodness exposed. Our life is renewed. His Spirit fills us with God’s Goodness and Grace. The enemy now sees something that he wants. He desires to steal us away from the Lord. It is his revenge for the end that is coming. If we do not examine our life day by day applying mercy and grace to patch the holes in our soul, we are susceptible to stumbling, falling and leaking out that which God is filling our life with. All the good things that He is sending down from Heaven wasted…because we did not stop the leaks in our life.

Psalm 112:4-9 (NLT) Light shines in the darkness for the godly. They are generous, compassionate, and righteous. Good comes to those who lend money generously and conduct their business fairly. Such people will not be overcome by evil. Those who are righteous will be long remembered. They do not fear bad news; they confidently trust the Lord to care for them. They are confident and fearless and can face their foes triumphantly. They share freely and give generously to those in need. Their good deeds will be remembered forever. They will have influence and honor.

Psalm 112 is just a glimpse into the life of godly people made righteous by faith in Jesus Christ. Their life becomes valuable and worth something. They will begin to walk confidently in the Love of God. The constant connection to God for righteousness sake will produce an overflow of abundance in each area given over to the Lord. We will have something others want. Our trust in Jesus will cause reckless love, generous giving and a constant state of victory. It doesn’t say that we will not have battles. It does tell us that we win each one that begins by trusting God. But here is what happens…

Luke 5:36-38 (NLT) Then Jesus gave them this illustration: “No one tears a piece of cloth from a new garment and uses it to patch an old garment. For then the new garment would be ruined, and the new patch wouldn’t even match the old garment. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the new wine would burst the wineskins, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. New wine must be stored in new wineskins.

I have three daughters who all have closets full of nothing to wear. Our middle daughter went through a phase where her shorts seem to get smaller and smaller as she grew bigger and bigger. However, when she gave her heart to Jesus and decided to serve Him wholeheartedly – a whole summer wardrobe became obsolete. No longer were the shorts too short. The tops too small or tight. As she discovers more and more her worth to Jesus Christ, she decided to change her wardrobe. As women, we struggle with the clothes that we wear. Not many girls I know do not have times of personal body shaming and self-loathing in a world that sets a ridiculous standard for girls and women. I am kicking the soapbox back under the bed though I really want to drag it our really bad.

Our growth process in the Lord will develop through seasons of change. To come to Christ and think that is all there is to it is a lie that can steal God’s Glory and Blessing from our life. God promises that we will see His Goodness in the land of the living. Our confidence in God’s Word keeps us pressing to see that day come. (Psalm 27:13) Not everything is heaven-bound, we just haven’t figured out how to loose them on earth to overflow from our life. God is not going to pour out more of His Spirit on a person who is not ready to receive. First, the Lord does everything on purpose. If I am not ready to receive, it is pointless to pour things into my life. He is also not going to take that which is holding us back from us, but waits for us to let it go. That is called freedom, my friend, and God hates double standards. If you want “new wine” you need new wineskins. If you want more of His Spirit, you must make room for Him to come in.

2 Corinthians 8:1-3 (NLT) Now I want you to know, dear brothers and sisters, what God in his kindness has done through the churches in Macedonia. They are being tested by many troubles, and they are very poor. But they are also filled with abundant joy, which has overflowed in rich generosity. For I can testify that they gave not only what they could afford, but far more. And they did it of their own free will.

There are many people who will give from their surplus but few who will sacrifice. Sometimes the problem is not our ability to receive from the Lord but be obedient in our offering. The Lord presses us to give back our time, talent and treasure as a tithe to Him. With only 2% of God’s Church in America tithing, I think there may be a pressure problem here. God is filling our life with good things. Are we hoarding it for ourselves? Before you can offer anything to God – you must meet His Requirement. For example, tithing is 10% of what you get. An offering is anything over 10% or the level of obedience. We give the time we have rather instead of making time to serve the Lord, read His Word, spend it in prayer, reach out to others, and love when it hurts. We pay our bills, buy our toys, and fill our life with everything imaginable because we think we somehow earned it. Friend, those who are blessed with abundance must know that every good and perfect gift is from the Father who gave you that great job, your income and all those things you hold on to so dearly and lovingly. We must learn to give our life until it hurts. Sacrificing our way to do it His Way. What God puts in our life must be generously shared to be blessed and broken.

2 Corinthians 9:10-14 (NLT) For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you. Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God. So two good things will result from this ministry of giving—the needs of the believers in Jerusalem will be met, and they will joyfully express their thanks to God. As a result of your ministry, they will give glory to God. For your generosity to them and to all believers will prove that you are obedient to the Good News of Christ. And they will pray for you with deep affection because of the overflowing grace God has given to you.

“Lord, you alone are my inheritance, my cup of blessing. You guard all that is mine.” Psalm 16:5 We have a sweet little dog who we adopted when she was over a year old. She came with some bad habits that needed retraining. One of those bad habits came when it was time to eat. I was completely taken back the first time I fed her. I have never seen anything like it. She would slam her head in the bowl inhaling the food to the point of choking. Her anxiety was so bad that sometimes she would knock the bowl over in her haste to devour it. If anyone came close to her while she was eating, she would try even harder to get it all in her mouth. This was unacceptable. Not sure of what caused this in her, her behavior had to be modified as it was not good for her. To begin her training, I let her go for about a week just to observe that she would be fed twice a day. No change in behavior. So for about two weeks, I fed her the tiny pellets of dog food one at a time. At first impatient, she soon discovered that I was not taking it away and would sit and eat with me. When I tried her food bowl again, however; she was right back where she started. Finally I discovered a bowl that separated her food into four sections making it impossible for her to smash her face it. Poor thing almost knocked herself out the first few times she ate from it, but after a while she slowed down. She still eats somewhat frenzied but as her trust increases her anxiety seems to be decreasing.

I am in no way equating any of you or even me to my four-legged friend, or even if I am, could it be that the Lord must restrict our overflow until we trust Him more? Could it be that His Goodness is SO good that we cannot handle it so He must withhold it for our own good? What profits a man (or woman) who gains the whole world but loses their soul? God knows. He doesn’t want you to find out. So He waits on us to trust Him more, follow Him more closely and open every door in our life to His Spirit to cultivate the planted seeds of His Word and His Promises that we are holding on to with the little bit of hope that we have left.

Philippians 1:9-11 (NLT) I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return. 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.

What does your meter read today? Has the indicator light been coming on but you have chosen to ignore it? Do feel dry? Are you empty? The Lord has more for you today. His Love is unconditionally overflowing from the river that never runs dry hoping to find a void in our life to fill us new. His Grace is always enough even when we fall down again and again, it is discovered in our weakness but commitment to try. We must be givers. Last night, shopping with our girls, we found an amazing sale. The cashier commented on our savings. As I began to tell her about God’s Goodness and Favor, the woman was almost shouting. She thanked us for reminding her of God’s Goodness and Love. Her whole demeanor changed and she began praising God under her breath as we left the store and she helped the next customer. You have an amazing power and love hidden in the fragile frame that forms your life. It is always looking for a way to overflow into your life for His Glory and your goodness. The Lord seeks to bless you with the inheritance that He designated for you. What are you doing to secure God’s Blessing and Prosperity in your life today? People need the person of Jesus Christ that fills us to overflowing giving us something of worth to share. The Lord will always give seed to the sower. What are you planting in your life today? Is it worthy of a harvest? He must be the Center of our life so that all things flow through Him to be blessed and broken for His Use…beginning with me!

Proverbs 11:25 (NLT) The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.

Is It Worth It?

Is It Worth It

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

When looking for a new home, the buyer may only see a few places or tour hundreds before they find a place that they are willing to invest and live in. They must see the potential if renovation is needed. Envision their life in the new place even if it empty or occupied by another. There are many factors in the decision. When we found our new home, we knew it. We love it. We are ready to move, but first must undergo the process. Our current residence had to put on the market for sale which meant cleaning up and staging it for potential buyers. Our financial information had to be provided to the bank to be fully examined and deemed worthy of loan approval. Savings had to reflect our ability to pay the necessary closing costs and fees after the sale of our home. Of course, a new house had to be found. Inspections and appraisals done for the bank to approve our purchase. All parties now are packing and preparing for closing so that at the right moment on the appointed day all three families will move to new locations. It is a process. The process is facilitated by value and worth. Not only the monetary steps but the dream or vision that made us want to move in the first place. Is it worth packing our life and moving to a new place? Is it worth giving up this life to save our soul? I think its time to take a practical look at pursing God’s Kingdom. If we do not deem His Kingdom worth the sacrifice and investment, what’s the point?

Seek the Kingdom of God above all else. Live righteously. He will give you everything you need. Seek the Kingdom of God first, but will it be worth it? We must appraise the Kingdom’s value to us and decide if it is worthy of our life investment. In this world filled with many open doors called religion, one must make the choice to enter and engage in a right relationship with God through Jesus Christ. The world shows us many doors with shining “open” signs and “welcome” mats leading to a hipster coffee shop, padded theater seats, gigantic “jumbotron” screens, elaborate sound systems, and great presentations marked as “the way” as an access point to the Kingdom of God. I wonder sometimes if we get lost in the hype. If we miss the true value and worth of the rich and satisfying life that Christ died for us to have because our economy of life does not change with our movement toward the Living God?

When we moved into our current home over a decade ago, I pledged before God and my husband that I was never moving again. Moving takes work. It is not an easy task. We had five small children at the time. Seven people relocating is exhausting and a bit overwhelming. We have lived a good life in this house even with some of the stress and heartaches along the way. God has filled with this place with love, joy and peace just like He promised. His Holy Spirit has ruled the atmosphere with grace and mercy as we have learned to love the Lord along the way. But now, it’s time to do and the driveway declaration doesn’t mean much knee deep in boxes and packing tape. It is the Lord that pressed our hearts to make this change. I know that He has a plan and purpose in it. My investment is faith that believes it will be worth it. Only by believing in God’s Plan will we invest in it.

Matthew 5:3 (NLT) “God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.”

God blesses those who are poor in spirit. It is in our desperate condition that one seeks to know God more. If we have it all together, all our needs are met, our dreams fulfilled and desires satiated, would we really continue to go after God? Let’s be real. It is in our disease, discomfort, dissatisfaction and displeasure that we seek the life that God has promised. It is when the bank account empty or full cannot pay the full price of freedom that we seek the One who sets the captive free. We must realize our need for Jesus in order to inherit His Kingdom. To decide that it is worthy of inconvenience to step into His Glory forever will change how we live and what we long for. I believe the Lord allows us to become agitated, frustrated and desperate so that we will move our natural life from this world into His Kingdom. Otherwise it would be too late.

Matthew 19:23-25 (NLT) Then Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, it is very hard for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. I’ll say it again—it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!”  The disciples were astounded. “Then who in the world can be saved?” they asked.

My concept of wealth has changed dramatically over the years. I lived in a single wide mobile home as a very young child. My grandparents lived in a modest home which seemed like Heaven to me so I decided that if I could have a house without wheels, brick walls and wood floors that I would be satisfied. When we bought our first house, I thought that was it. It was wonderful. A lot of late nights and elbow grease went in to preparing that palace as it was a foreclosed property in need of some TLC but we knew it would be worth it so invested our time and energy.

Not long after, the market was booming. We decided to move again. So, we built a house. It was glorious and new. It did not need renovations like the first one. Several years later, we installed a swimming pool. Who would have thought that from modest beginnings there would be a home with a pool? I sure didn’t. However, over time what I discovered is that though wonderfully blessed, everything lost its luster. Don’t get me wrong I am thankful for the things that the Lord has given us, but they are require upkeep and maintenance. They are responsibilities. But if Jesus came to me today and said, “Sell all your possessions and follow me” it would be a struggle. Why? I am rich in the natural. I am blessed with many things. My life is comfortable. Even though people find things to grumble and complain about most of the time it is in vain. We are rich enough to not want to give up what we have to have what is His – that is until we decide it is worth it.

Mark 4:26-29 (NLT) Jesus also said, “The Kingdom of God is like a farmer who scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, while he’s asleep or awake, the seed sprouts and grows, but he does not understand how it happens. The earth produces the crops on its own. First a leaf blade pushes through, then the heads of wheat are formed, and finally the grain ripens. And as soon as the grain is ready, the farmer comes and harvests it with a sickle, for the harvest time has come.”

In Genesis 8:22, the Lord tells Noah that as long as the earth remains, there will be planting and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night. In other words, there will be consistent sowing and reaping in the seasons of life for all mankind. Our sowing will always dictate the harvest. Sowing in this world will result in earthly harvests subject to the destroying organisms in the natural and deadly forces in the spirit. We must sow in the Kingdom. Also, our life is subject to seasons – a whole lot of them. Here in Genesis 8, natural seasons are described. In our spiritual life, as well as physical life, we will endure other seasons listed in Ecclesiastes 3. Some we encourage and embrace while there are others we might just as well do without. Nevertheless, the Lord is telling us to be alert to the seasons and sow generously throughout.

I wonder today if I am investing my life in the most beneficial way. Am I scattering seeds in the Kingdom sealing them with faith watering them with the spirit so they will grow? Or am I continuing to waste my time by seeking the natural rather than living for the supernatural? There are some days when I am tired of fighting the good fight, the wait on the watchtower seems to long, and the impossible doesn’t seem to budge, that I hear the Holy Spirit whisper – “It’s gonna be worth it. It’s gonna be worth it all.” This is where I am given the opportunity to believe one more day for that which seems elusive and sow more seeds of faith in the Kingdom rather than returning to the world.

Mark 4:30-32 (NLT) Jesus said, “How can I describe the Kingdom of God? What story should I use to illustrate it? It is like a mustard seed planted in the ground. It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of all garden plants; it grows long branches, and birds can make nests in its shade.”

Heaven will become a priority when it possesses something you want. If there is no hope, then who needs Heaven? In the most simple form of repentance and obedience to the Lord, He comes rushing in and our life is better. Whether He delivers us, heals us, or sets us free each action and attitude that draws us closer to God through Jesus Christ will impact our life in the natural. For example, when my husband and I returned to Christ many, many years ago, we decided to tithe. It was a choice. Not an easy one at first as there were six of us at that time to care for on one meager salary. God blessed us. We never missed a meal. Always had utilities. Clothes to wear. Gas for our automobiles. Automobiles. We sowed in the natural and God produced favor and financial covering in our life. Tithing is obedience. There are many other things in the Word of God that are labeled the same. We transition from the natural blessings of God to the supernatural when we begin to operate in His Commodity. What is God’s Most Valuable Asset? Well, He calls us His Prized Possession. His Treasure. Could it be that we are the very thing that makes Heaven so rich? The most valuable possession to God is the human soul. You are of infinite worth to God because His Son died for you. I am precious in His Sight because when He sees me – it is through His Son.

It is like a mustard seed…that mustard seed of faith planted in our heart will grow into a life of true discipleship if planted in the Kingdom and not this world. You cannot be who God predestined you to be outside of Jesus Christ. The Kingdom of God is where we sow and reap with the greatest reward but seldom immediate gratification. We must endure to the end to be saved. Are you willing to plant seeds of faith along the way? We plant in people. We invest in love. Jesus made a way for us to regain right standing with God. We must come to Him like children. (Mark 10:15-16) It is not an intellectual pursuit but a child’s surrender and subsequent return. For every small investment of the spiritual fruit in our life, it will yield a great return. (Luke 13:20-21) But the Kingdom must be valuable to you. It must be worth everything you have. It must be worth giving up all that you own. It is must be worth giving up your life to save your very soul. (Matthew 16:26)

It must be worthy of finding that which is lost. If I lose a penny in the bottom of my enormous purse, I would not spend much time looking for it. It is only worth a single cent clearly not worth my time or effort. Now if there is a twenty dollar bill lost in my handbag, it would be game on until I discovered its whereabouts. Twenty dollars is worth something to me. The Bible says that Jesus leaves the 99 to find the one. He talks about lost coins and lost sheep to get the point across to us that we are what matters most to the Lord. (Luke 15) In all our rebellious imperfection, God wants us. We are worth it to Him. The truth of the matter is that souls matter to God the most. They are the commodity of the Kingdom. Our soul and every other one every created.

Matthew 13:44-46 (NLT) “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field. Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant on the lookout for choice pearls. When he discovered a pearl of great value, he sold everything he owned and bought it!

Is God’s Kingdom your treasure today? I am asking myself the same. I must not only examine my heart but evaluate my life to determine where I am investing myself. Is it for personal profit? I am blessed just knowing Jesus. My feeble attempts to walk with Him produce natural and supernatural blessings in our life. His Faithfulness keeps me following Him. Am I fully invested? I want to know for a fact without a shadow of a doubt that my faith is fully vested in Kingdom business not just earthly exchanges. I can have family, friends and coworkers. Do I love them? Do I love God enough to invest my life in the one and only commodity that is worthy of investing in His Kingdom? I am challenged by this thought today.

When our son was sick, it came to a point where there was only a slight glimmer of hope. Reality challenged my faith to one fateful night when I asked myself, “If God chooses to take him home, will I still love and trust Him?” The answer shook me to my core. “Yes.” How could I say such a horrible thing? It’s not horrible. It just means that somewhere in my complete devastation and undoing, the Lord gave me a tiny seed of faith to keep the process of transformation going. Heaven becomes more important when there is something there we want. The Kingdom of God becomes more inviting when the investment yields a favorable return.

The Pharisees tried to trick Jesus into civil disobedience by asking whether or not they should pay taxes. Jesus responded, “When they handed it to him, he asked, “Whose picture and title are stamped on it?” “Caesar’s,” they replied. “Well, then,” Jesus said, “give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God.” (Mark12:14-18) We have a free will. We are Children of God who live as foreigners in this world. We render to Caesar that which bears his mark. We honor God by living a righteous life filled with faith, hope and love generously given to all mankind. Thus increasing our investment in Heaven, making it totally worth the wait.

Acts 20:24 (NLT) But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.

 

Practical Gifts

Practical Gifts

2 Corinthians 9:15 (NLT) Thank God for this gift too wonderful for words!

Giving gifts to loved ones and friends is my favorite. It brings me great joy. I am more comfortable as the giver than the receiver. When selecting a perfect something for someone else, there is tremendous pressure to please that individual. It requires knowing them. The more important the person is to us the more crucial it is to find just the right thing. Longing to see their expression when they open it, there is much anticipation until finally the moment comes. It is in the first thirty seconds that we discover if our gift is acceptable or not. It doesn’t matter what words come after the initial reaction. A person cannot hide their feelings most of the time. There is no worse feeling than a gift left unused or unwanted. I would rather the receiver tell me that they have one, don’t like it or need it so that the item can be exchanged for something of use. These are tangible gifts and not the one that is referenced in 2 Corinthians.

As believers who the Lord has invested His Spirit into there are gifts that come from the Father deposited directly inside of us. When allowed to grow and develop, it turns into generosity. A giving spirit in the natural is limited to our financial situation. The Holy Spirit cultivates a whole new kind of giving inside of us that allows us to literally give our life away. There are many famous people who have died over the years very wealthy people who had wasted souls. Feeling no love, value or worth these talented individual have numbed their pain and self-medicated to death, sadly for some an eternal death. The Gift of Love and Grace imparted to us by Jesus Christ is too wonderful for words. It is a call to action.

2 Corinthians 9:10-11 (NLT) For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you. Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God. 

God is very thoughtful and practical when it comes to processes. He is very straightforward though many times man complicates it. God provides seed for the farmer and bread to eat. The Word of God is the seed sown in our life. It hits our heart and is either received or rejected. When good seed comes to rest on a fertile heart, obedience is produced. The Lord grows that seed with the help of His Spirit into something that satisfies us. Not only enough for the person, but more than enough to give away. God operates in abundance that is only limited by our willingness to continue the process of sowing and reaping in our life. You will always harvest what you plant. God enriches those who give by giving more to share. Generosity is a calling on our life that must not be ignored. It is representative of Jesus Christ.

2 Corinthians 9:12-14 (NLT) So two good things will result from this ministry of giving—the needs of the believers in Jerusalem will be met, and they will joyfully express their thanks to God. As a result of your ministry, they will give glory to God. For your generosity to them and to all believers will prove that you are obedient to the Good News of Christ. And they will pray for you with deep affection because of the overflowing grace God has given to you.

Two things are accomplished by giving – it supplies our life and it benefits the life of others which brings Glory to God. Obedience in giving is essential to express our deep affection for Jesus because of the overflowing grace God has given us. We must give our life away. Our faithfulness in giving allows God to give us what He promises in this process. If our resources natural, physical or spiritual are limited, it is time to evaluate our offering. The things we give above what we are required. For example, the tithe is 10% of what you get. Our giving begins in our offering which is anything more than 10%. You cannot give God an offering until you are willing to be obedient. Our life is our ministry. Every single day. Every single moment. Every single breath yields an opportunity to give something away for the Lord.

Luke 11:36-42 (NLT) Then the Lord said to him, “You Pharisees are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy—full of greed and wickedness! Fools! Didn’t God make the inside as well as the outside? So clean the inside by giving gifts to the poor, and you will be clean all over. “What sorrow awaits you Pharisees! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore justice and the love of God. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things.”

Obedience to the rules and regulations of the Word of God are easy. If one takes the time and self-discipline to change certain habits, our life is better simply through our own pursuit of change. Religion versus relationship. Outward change does nothing for our heart though. We can look different, act different and be different but until our heart is changed through a thriving relationship with Jesus – all we have is a religion.

When our son was fighting cancer, the insurance denied his bone marrow transplant. Not once but six consecutive times until all appeals were exhausted. We needed about $350,000 for the hospital to consider the procedure without insurance. I begged and pleaded with every entity that would listen. In the midst of this battle to secure financing for his treatment, the headlines reported that a mega ministry had been robbed. The thieves took more than $650,000 from their petty cash fund. I was speechless.

I believe that church culture is changing from building big fancy cathedrals dripping in gold to evangelist ministries that are taking it to the streets. The remnant church is rising of men, women and young people who are desperate for a move of God and know it will not happen until they take the Gospel outside the church evidenced in generosity to the waiting, watching and dying world. Small groups are on the rise. Church growth is planting rather than hoarding. In other words, rather than building bigger buildings or adding more services, they are developing leaders to move to where the people are rather than waiting for them to come to us. One of my favorite values of our church is the commitment to do anything short of sin to share the Gospel. We must have giving hearts to be an acceptable church.

Ephesians 4:7-10 (NLT) However, he has given each one of us a special gift through the generosity of Christ. That is why the Scriptures say, “When he ascended to the heights, he led a crowd of captives and gave gifts to his people.” Notice that it says “he ascended.” This clearly means that Christ also descended to our lowly world. And the same one who descended is the one who ascended higher than all the heavens, so that he might fill the entire universe with himself.

Salvation gives us the gift of the Holy Spirit. Through baptism, the Spirit is ignited and released in our life. The Holy Spirit is not our personal assistant to do our missives but rather our partner of power to facilitate the growth that is needed to give our life away. He is the One who cultivates the gifts and callings from God in our life. These gifts and callings cannot be withdrawn. (Romans 11:29) If this were the case it would challenge the sufficiency of God’s Grace which is more than enough. Paul exhorts us to desire the best gifts in I Corinthians 12 and then goes on to say, “…but now let me show you a way that is best of all.”

I Corinthians 13 is considered the love chapter of the Bible. This is the heart of giving. Love. Love is a commitment not a feeling. I don’t always feel loving towards my husband when we are at odds but I am in love with him always. Love is not emotional but devoted no matter how we feel in that moment. Love is the basis of generosity for the believer. Our giving can never be because we have to but because we love Jesus. If my giving were able to facilitate the Hand of God, I would not need the Lord but that is not the case. You cannot buy God’s Gifts. They are produced from our heart even when facilitated by our hands. (Acts 8:18-21) Every good gift in our life is from the Lord. Everything I have can be used for His Glory.

Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT) But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

I am challenged in my heart today to reconsider giving in my life. I can write a check, lend a hand or even pray with another person. But how can my life impact the Kingdom in every exchange? Could it be so simple? We pursue the gifts of the Spirit that result in signs, wonders and miracles. But the Word of God indicates that those who believe without seeing are blessed. The Holy Spirit promises to produce an abundance of “fruit” in my life contradictory to human nature. In Romans 12:6-18 many of these things are listed as “gifts”. I can choose to share the fruit of my life in every single interaction by choosing to be loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, and gentle while maintaining self-control that gives good fruit even when it is underserved or unmerited. The abundance of grace that I have received allows me to give getting nothing in return. Could it be that these the gifts that the Lord desires of us to? Lifestyles of generosity that extend from the heart not our hand?

I Corinthians 1:4-9 (NLT) I always thank my God for you and for the gracious gifts he has given you, now that you belong to Christ Jesus. Through him, God has enriched your church in every way—with all of your eloquent words and all of your knowledge. This confirms that what I told you about Christ is true. Now you have every spiritual gift you need as you eagerly wait for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will keep you strong to the end so that you will be free from all blame on the day when our Lord Jesus Christ returns. God will do this, for he is faithful to do what he says, and he has invited you into partnership with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Each day the Lord provides opportunities for us to plant and harvest Kingdom blessings in our life. One day I was walking into the grocery store just as a woman was leaving. Though her cart had just a few bags, it could’ve have been overflowing with the amount of energy she was exerting just to push it. Clearly struggling, it began to rain. As she passed, I turned and fell into step with her extending my umbrella over her. She told me she was sick and having a horrible day. I shielded her from the rain and helped her unload her cart and she was on her way. I thought about praying for her but as the rain got heavier it was clear she just wanted to go home so as I turned back on my errand I began praying for her.

I believe that this is the generosity that Christ is talking about in sharing our gifts. People don’t need us to tell them how to live. They don’t need the Bible force fed. What they need is to encounter people who are genuinely in love and committed to Jesus Christ. More than how we feel or what we have, totally trusting and believing that He supplies all our needs (physical, emotionally and spiritually) so we can give to others even strangers and enemies without a second thought. These are gifts of love that touch hearts beyond any other “thing” we could give away. Love must always be the foundation of giving. I Corinthians 12:6-7 puts it like this, God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us. A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other.

James 1:16-18 (NLT) So don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters. Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession.

“Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.” To fully understand Luke 6:38 is to know and understand the currency of God. The commodity of the Kingdom always has been and always will be love. There came a point in my life when money could not solve my problem. The price tag on our life demanded a sacrifice of self. Jesus paid the price that I could not pay in my sinful condition so I am now free to live in His Kingdom. I have the ability to bring His Kingdom to earth. I have the keys. Jesus gave them to me. Until I know and understand how the Kingdom operates, I will remain subject to the world’s system of giving and receiving which is limited and lacking. As I learn to give more of my life to the Lord, He will show me how to give His Love away appropriately. His Spirit will recreate my heart so that giving is an immediate response rather than forced action. I must commit myself to giving of the love that I have received.

Yes, I have a gift too wonderful for words. There are many “good” things in my life. Even more that the Lord is perfecting by faith and trust, He will see them come to pass. My role is to participate in the sowing and reaping process. To give practical gifts to everyday people. To plant love and sow souls for His Kingdom by sharing this gift too wonderful for words that can only be expressed in the generosity of offering our life to others freely. It is in the slightest gesture of sharing from the Fruit of His Spirit. It is offering a helping hand desiring nothing in return. It is to give a kind word in response to a violent verbal assault. It is to hold the door for another. It is take the Good News to the world rather than waiting for them to come to us. Our generosity is representative of Jesus who gave His All. Lord, show me where to start, what to give and how to perfect generosity in my life!

I Peter 4:10 (NLT) God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.

Little By Little

Little By Little

Psalm 8:3-6 (NLT) When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers—the moon and the stars you set in place—what are mere mortals that you should think about them, human beings that you should care for them? Yet you made them only a little lower than God and crowned them with glory and honor. You gave them charge of everything you made, putting all things under their authority—

Just over a year ago, our family adopted a new member. A teacup chihuahua whose name is Izzy. She is four pounds of ferocity. Bold and vivacious bounding through life in a tiny body with mighty heart. Not the cowering timid creature who came to our house looking for love and security. Upon arrival, it was clear our newest addition had issues. She would attack her food bowl not eating but inhaling the contents as if it were her last meal. She would draw back if approached too quickly. Izzy did not trust us. She clearly had not had consistent care. The vet was ecstatic to learn that she had found a new home. It was clear that we had some work to do with her.

Izzy had an accident just before coming to live with us. One of her paws is scarred. The previous owner indicated that it was a burn of some kind. The vet could not tell me the specifics but indicated that she had been attacked. To put her appendages into perspective, her paw is no bigger than the pad of your finger. In an attempt to give her a doggy pedicure aka trim her nails, Izzy bit me. Not hard, she held my hand in her mouth fighting to get all her paws safely under her body. This was the first indication of any aggression in her. We had an immediate come-to-Jesus about the error of her ways. I put away the clippers and for about a week just took every advantage to touch her paws no matter how bad she fought me. To do nothing more than to touch them, hold them and gently rub them. We would continue this for weeks on end until finally I was able to trim her nails even though she was quite reluctant. As I sit her today, Izzy is sleeping in my lap as she does many mornings during this time. As I read and study, I realize that I am touching her outstretched paws without any hesitation from the comatose dog in my lap. Izzy trusts me. It took time. It could not be forced. With simple steps, I was able to lead her to faith in her new owner.

Why this talk about a dog? Human beings do not compare to mere animals. People are created in the Image of God and made just a little lower than Him. It says so in His Word. The thoughts of the Lord are consumed by His People. He desires our love, faith, trust and devotion. However, sin has tainted love and many are lost in the darkness of this world looking for it. It is human nature to trust no one and take care of ourselves. We learn this behavior through unmet expectation and failed relationships along the way. God has crowned us with glory and honor that most people have not yet assumed simply because of doubt, disbelief and distrust. He longs to give us charge over everything but we must know who we are and who He is before authority and dominion can operate in us and through us. How do we get there from here? Moment by moment. Step by step. Little by little.

Matthew 13:31-33 (NLT) Here is another illustration Jesus used: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed planted in a field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of garden plants; it grows into a tree, and birds come and make nests in its branches.” Jesus also used this illustration: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like the yeast a woman used in making bread. Even though she put only a little yeast in three measures of flour, it permeated every part of the dough.”

Small seeds grow into big trees. A little yeast will permeate every part of the dough. God is looking for big things but relishes small beginnings. Too many times, impatience aborts God’s Growth process in us because we cannot see the forest for the trees. There is a bigger picture and much larger plan underway in your life than the simple daily tasks performed. Each day holds a hidden treasure that is accomplished by faith. The kind of faith that causes a farmer to plant a seed and wait for it to grow. We must constantly be cultivating faith by allow God’s Seed or His Word to be pressed into the fertile soil of a heart turned over to the Lord. As long as the earth remains there will be seedtime and harvest. No matter how bad things seem to get, God is always in control. As long as you are willing to plant, you will harvest because that is what His Word tells us. However, you cannot reap what you have not sown.

Faith is our investment. When we take the things of this world turning our life over to God as residents of His Kingdom, supernatural change takes over that is not always evident in the natural right away. But it makes sense because when a farmer plants a seed, he cannot see what is going on underground as the seed begins to grow. Faith is nothing more than a farmer picking up a handful of seed, believing it will grow so he plants it on his property. No, he doesn’t walk away but tends the tiny plants that surface and cares for them as they grow. When those seeds die, grow and reach full maturity, they will produce the desired fruit. Faith works the very same way. We plant God’s Word in our heart by faith. We wait for it to grow in us until it manifests in fruit coming out of our life.

Proverbs 16:8-9 (NLT) Better to have little, with godliness, than to be rich and dishonest. We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.

People plan but the Lord determines our steps. We want to take a leap of faith but the Word of God tells us to walk by faith. (2 Corinthians 5:7) What’s the difference? Well, if we always leap valuable steps may be missed that are the very details that God promised to work out for our good and His Glory. (Romans 8:28) We like dramatic and climatic finishes but the Lord warns against despising small beginnings (Zechariah 4:10) Our life of faith is to be lived step by step. Moment by moment. Little by little. The Lord operates in full satisfaction and completion while our very human flesh cries out for immediate gratification, comfort and compromise.

Peter’s first step of faith is found in Matthew 14 when he stepped out of the boat to meet Jesus on the sea. It lasted a few steps and down he went. Throughout the account of his life, Peter had many mishaps on his way to fulfillment. One might even call them failures. He just kept walking it out. When Peter decided to return to his old life, he was tired and weary. Jesus was gone or so he thought. In his final moments, Peter failed the Lord and Jesus knew it. His love for the Lord hidden inside a broken man. When Jesus arrived on the beach, Peter no longer needed an invitation to come to the Lord – no the man jumped in the water swimming all the way to shore. (John 21) This is cultivated faith in action. Every step of his walk conditioned Peter to fulfill his calling of the rock on which the church would be built.

Luke 16:10-12 (NLT) “If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities. And if you are untrustworthy about worldly wealth, who will trust you with the true riches of heaven? And if you are not faithful with other people’s things, why should you be trusted with things of your own?

Faith is a practical application of God’s Word to our life as a daily exercise. We must track our steps of faith just as one might use a Fitbit to count their natural footsteps each day. Consciousness of God comes with knowledge of God. Mark 4:24-26 tells us that the more we listen the more we will hear. In I Kings 18:43-45, Elijah sends his servant to look for the rain cloud more than seven times. Would the rain have come anyway? Yes. Obedience allowed the man of God’s servant to be part of a miracle. By what? Faith. Just before that in I Kings 17, Elijah asks the woman preparing her final meal for her and her son for bread to eat. He knew her intentions and that she was set in her way. But he asked her, “Don’t be afraid! Go ahead and do just what you’ve said, but make a little bread for me first.” The Lord knows us. He sees our heart. He meets us right where we are waiting for us to come to Him. What did God do? In her faithfulness, He provided an abundant supply of the very thing she lacked. Step by step. Moment by moment. Little by little. The giving of our life and faith to the Lord are met with His Abundance.

Revelation 3:8-12 (NLT) “I know all the things you do, and I have opened a door for you that no one can close. You have little strength, yet you obeyed my word and did not deny me. Look, I will force those who belong to Satan’s synagogue—those liars who say they are Jews but are not—to come and bow down at your feet. They will acknowledge that you are the ones I love. Because you have obeyed my command to persevere, I will protect you from the great time of testing that will come upon the whole world to test those who belong to this world. I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take away your crown. All who are victorious will become pillars in the Temple of my God, and they will never have to leave it. And I will write on them the name of my God, and they will be citizens in the city of my God—the new Jerusalem that comes down from heaven from my God. And I will also write on them my new name.

In the message to the church in Philadelphia, it says “you have little strength, but you obeyed my word and did not deny me.” In our weakness, He becomes our strength. This is faith. This is trust. This is God’s Deepest Longing and Greatest Desire for our life. In that moment when our strength fails, bodies grow weak, and human thoughts overwhelmed, this is the precise moment that Jesus becomes all that we want and need. One must be emptied to be filled with His Grace which is the one thing that allows faith to be active in our life. The power of perseverance is to be positioned in the Kingdom of God. A place of residency that allows us to reclaim Christ’s Power and Authority binding things on the earth and releasing Heaven in the form of God’s Will and Way. The Lord tells these people that He knows what they are doing and it has opened a door that no one can close. He will do the same for you. He will do the same for me. This is not a one-time acquisition or perseverance would not be indicated. This is a lifelong pursuit without beginning or end. It’s funny that these are the words spoken over the Church of Philadelphia known as brotherly love.

Philippians 4:11-13 (NLT) Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.

In the movie a few good men, Tom Cruise cross examines Jack Nicholson. Jack Nicholson says, “You want answers?” Then Tom Cruise says, “I think I am entitled to them!” Nicholson says again, “You want answers?” to which Cruise replies, “I want the truth!” Then comes the famous movie line, “You can’t handle the truth!” I believe this applies to the Goodness of God’s Grace in our life. If He poured out His Love on us in one quick toss, I am afraid that it would be so overwhelming that it might consume us entirely. If the Truth was revealed about our life and God’s Love, it would be very difficult to move from our current position. We would not want to go through those things that allow weakness so we can obtain His Strength. Avoiding the process and thereby aborting the process of growth, development and maturity that is the Work of God in us and how we cultivate His Word. So the Lord works in us little by little.

God is good. He is consumed with love and compassion for His Children. He cannot lie or change His Mind. All great qualities. His Love for us is made complete and unconditional in Jesus Christ who meets our need and becomes our strength in all things. Our faith invested in the Kingdom of God is complete surrender of our way, our will and our wants to His Will, His Way and His Plan. The Plan of God for me incorporates a series of steps from here to Eternity. I navigate them with faith because they are not always visible and clear. The important thing is that I remain committed and continue to obediently follow Jesus. Step by step. Moment by moment. Little by little until my life, my body, my mind, my spirit, and my soul are fully invested in His Kingdom alone.

Psalm 37:16-19 (NLT) It is better to be godly and have little than to be evil and rich. For the strength of the wicked will be shattered, but the Lord takes care of the godly. Day by day the Lord takes care of the innocent, and they will receive an inheritance that lasts forever. They will not be disgraced in hard times; even in famine they will have more than enough.

Not Good Not God

Not Good Not God

Romans 14:17-18 (NLT) For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. If you serve Christ with this attitude, you will please God, and others will approve of you, too.

Are you living a life of goodness, peace and joy in the Lord? The Holy Inhabitation of His Spirit allows us to live in the midst of these three qualities each and every day regardless of our present circumstances, momentary troubles or even a completely broken heart. The most tragic night of my entire life although my mind perplexed, spirit crushed, soul devastated and heart completely broken, laughter could be heard resonating from our son’s hospital room as within a brief moment the Lord turned our sorrow into joy. The road to remission would be long with many peaks and valleys but in that moment of turning to God for healing, strength and power – He delivered. He always delivers to those who come to receive. When we serve Christ with an attitude that whatever I do, let it be pleasing to you Lord – it is at that moment, His Goodness reaches us. It doesn’t mean everything changes or we are delivered from our problem but when the Peace of God takes over it really doesn’t matter.

God’s Goodness is His Will for our life. If that “good thing” in your life causing you discomfort, discontent, discord or even distracting you is not good then it is not God. We must learn to differentiate from worldly goodness that always comes with a compromise or substitution and God’s Goodness that is His Glory. God is perfect. His Love complete. There is nothing for us to add to God’s Complete Perfection but to put our whole life in His Presence and strive to remain there. As believers, if we can learn to live a life of goodness, peace and joy in the Spirit than others will approve. Not only will they approve, they will seek Him, too.

Psalm 27:13-14 (NLT) Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living. Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.

My grandmother was a wonderful cook. My favorite thing that she made was her melt-in-your-mouth pot roast with mashed potatoes and green beans. When I had a family of my own, I wanted to make the same pot roast for them. Gram’s recipe didn’t require any fancy spices or secret recipes, but it did require one thing I never seemed to have enough of. Time. Each epicurean failure, I would call Gram to consult her expertise. Every time she would tell me the exact same thing. You don’t have patience. See the roast required cooking low and slow all day. Who has time to tend a pot on the stove all day? Not me. Well, the result is until I made the time to cook a roast all day – we ate tough meat. There is a lesson to be learned in this – I promise.

God’s Goodness is not for a moment – it is for a lifetime. Faith in the Lord requires faith in His Timing. I still am not great at it but have learned to identify my weakness and try continually to be patient. I can now cook a pot roast because I am willing to wait the many hours it takes to cook away the toughness, melt the fat and let the flavors come out of the meat. It is a process and time is an element that cannot be overlooked.

Psalm 27:13 is such a great and awesome promise for those who love the Lord. I am confident that I will see Lord’s Goodness while I am here in the land of the living. Faith takes our confidence in forever moving it to the here and now. We futuristically look forward to Heaven and living in the Presence of God forever, but faith makes it possible now while we live on the earth with all its problems and impossibilities. Yes, hope is assurance of what we cannot see but by faith His Goodness becomes available right here and right now. We don’t have to settle for less. We are not called to compromise. Avoid cheap substitutions.

Genesis 1:31; 2:1-2 (NLT) Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good! And evening passed and morning came, marking the sixth day.

So the creation of the heavens and the earth and everything in them was completed. On the seventh day God had finished his work of creation, so he rested from all his work. 

When God completed creation, He looked over all that He made and saw that it was “very good.” So on the seventh day, the Lord rested from all of His Work because it was finished. We all know that it did not take long for mankind to mess up the good thing God had created. Sin entered the world. Humanity now were slaves to sin and needed a Savior. When Jesus came and died on the Cross, He also declared that “it is finished!”

John 19:30 (NLT) When Jesus had tasted it, he said, “It is finished!” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

The Father and the Son have both finished their work and it is very good. Now it is up to you and I to become vessels of God’s Goodness and learn to live in it. When Jesus said, “It is finished!” He released His Spirit. His Goodness. His Glory was now free to come live in us and free us from slavery to sin. Now we could return to the Father and live in His Love. God’s Glory is His Goodness. (Exodus 33:18-19) How do I get God’s Goodness in my life? It really is not so much as difficult as it is a decision. God has set us up to live in His Glory and Goodness before we were born, through our natural life, and forevermore. But…

Nehemiah 9:34-37 (NLT) Our kings, leaders, priests, and ancestors did not obey your Law or listen to the warnings in your commands and laws. Even while they had their own kingdom, they did not serve you, though you showered your goodness on them. You gave them a large, fertile land, but they refused to turn from their wickedness. So now today we are slaves in the land of plenty that you gave our ancestors for their enjoyment! We are slaves here in this good land. The lush produce of this land piles up in the hands of the kings whom you have set over us because of our sins. They have power over us and our livestock. We serve them at their pleasure, and we are in great misery.

These verses in Nehemiah paint a clear picture of where humanity is today. We were given a perfect life in a perfect world with a perfect God. We chose something else. Nobody forced us into sin, it was simply offered and Eve quickly obliged. Everything went downhill from there. Even after Jesus came to release us from the debt of sin and open the windows of Heaven for us, we still choose lesser things on a regular basis so much so that most refuse to trust and wait on the Lord beyond the first fifteen minutes of faith. However many times do we pray and when the Lord does not immediately and miraculously move in our life, we give up and settle for less.

We are slaves in the land of plenty that God created for our enjoyment. We are slaves here in this good land. We serve this life and world because of our sins living in bondage to disobedience and rebellion of God’s Word and His Way wondering where God is and why He won’t come? God already finished His Word and Jesus, too. The rest is up to us. If my life doesn’t measure up to God’s Glorious Standard – it is up to me to find it. Repentance is the beginning. Determination to know the Lord and commitment to His Word is next. (Hebrews 6:4-5) Followed by an introduction and partnership with the Holy Spirit who produces God’s Goodness in our life is essential. (Galatians 5:22-23) Finally those who engage is such a lifestyle of careful obedience will be patient and wait on the Lord confident that they will see His Goodness in the land of the living – or present day. (Psalm 27:13) Why? Why wait? Lord, why not now?

Romans 8:28-30 (NLT) And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory.

The good things that God has planned for us include past, present and future. He cannot just give you what is left after sin eats away and erodes the goodness that God had planned for us. No, the Lord causes everything to work together for the good of those who love Him. He is getting things in order. Every detail must be in place. Every prescribed blessing is perfect and requires God’s Seal of Approval. You cannot rush the Lord. Too many times our unwillingness to wait causes our blessing to be left incomplete. When we are not satisfied – it is easy to blame somebody else even the Lord. The Lord only wants His Best for our life according to His Glory. If we don’t look good – He don’t look good!

James 1:17-18 (NLT) Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession.

Whatever is good and perfect in our life is from God. I find that when I am not looking at the Lord or living according to His Standard, it seems I cannot find satisfaction in any area of my life. I lack in patience, love, joy, peace and contentment. I just want more of everything and seldom seem to notice that I am blessed. It is when I decide that I want to see the goodness of God now rather than settling for something else that He opens the windows of Heaven and begins to pour out His Blessing. I have a good life. I can have a God life if I just turn around (repent) regularly and allowing His Goodness and Unfailing Love to catch and flood my life with His Glory over and over again.

Psalm 63:1-3 (NLT) O God, you are my God; I earnestly search for you. My soul thirsts for you; my whole body longs for you in this parched and weary land where there is no water. I have seen you in your sanctuary and gazed upon your power and glory. Your unfailing love is better than life itself; how I praise you!

God established a glorious standard of living for us from the beginning. He even called it very good. Sin stripped us of that glorious standard creating hardship, sickness and turmoil. (Romans 3:23) God’s Standards were not created to enable us but to supernaturally bless us and complete our life with the good things that He has already provided for us. When we repent of our sin, and decide to change our attitude to that of Christ, we will begin to earnestly search for the Lord. His Spirit will become active in our life turning worry into peace, doubt into belief, stress into satisfaction and we will live with the Mind of Christ saturated in the Presence of God. There is where we find God’s Unfailing Love that is better than life. We can live this life in His Goodness for His Glory in that moment. Are you weary today? Come find rest in the Lord. Are you dry, thirsty and discontent with your life? He will fill your life with His Goodness and Unfailing Love saturating your soul and permeating your life making all things new. God is good. Life with the Lord is good. He has given us good things that only grace will allow. If your life is not good, it’s not God! He has done everything He can to get His Glory to you. Just turn around and step in it. His Love truly is better than life. God is good. All the time God is good.

I Peter 2:9 (NLT) But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.

Never A Dull Moment

Never a Dull Moment

Ecclesiastes 10:10 (NIV) If the ax is dull and its edge unsharpened, more strength is needed, but skill will bring success.

My life in Christ has proven to be anything but dull. It has been one wild ride after another. In my younger days, I was quite impetuous. I was willing to take chances. Early on, faith jumping brought great exhilaration to my otherwise less than spontaneous nature. Survival was my goal and learning to adapt well to my surroundings created a chameleon effect. I met Jesus at an early age but did not come to know Him until much later. One might image that when things went well to God be the glory and when things went less than opportunely, I wondered where the Lord was and why did He leave me? Jesus came to give us life abundantly. His Love is extravagant in nature. However, it is only in an intimate and ongoing relationship that such intimacy affords the luxury of His Amazing Love. I cannot think of any true loving relationship that does not require a sacrifice of some sort. Yet we approach the Lord expecting all He is for just some of us. This will never result in the life that is promised in God’s Word because it is only achieved when we truly connect to Jesus Christ – body, mind and spirit.

Life on the edge. We live on the verge of something greater each new day when we choose to take God’s Mercy and live in His Love. It is a choice. We are not forced into servitude but give our life freely. It is a love affair not a forced slavery. Yet, when we approach our relationship with Jesus based on the do’s and do not’s of His Word rather than responding to His Love, it feels like a burden rather than a blessing. I guess the real question is do I want His Hand or His Heart. Nevertheless approaching the Word of God this morning it was with the thought in mind that it seems the closer I get to the Lord, the more life seems like the ledge of a tall building and I am carefully navigating along the edge. I wonder if it is the same feeling Elijah felt after the wind, earthquake and fire when he stood at the mouth of the cave in response to the gentle whisper of His Beloved, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (I Kings 19:11-13)

I am not sure what you have experienced in your walk with Jesus but for me it has been far from dull. In fact, it seems like just about the time things quiet down a new adventure in this journey called life dawns. Though it looks like an ordinary life with ups and downs and all-arounds, it feels in my heart like an Indian Jones movie or Temple Run game. My heart beats wildly with expectation. New challenges for my faith await. My hope becomes heavier with new experience. The end usually produces complete and total weakness but when He whispers to me again, I cannot help but say, “Yes!” As a divorced mother of three young, vivacious children, I had decided that this would be the end of my brood. They were perfectly wonderful and thoroughly exhausting all at the same time. That is until I met my husband. Before we married and were dating, he asked me if I would consider having more children. Without hesitation, I said, “Yes!” Knowing in my heart that had not been my declaration, but face-to-face with my earthly beloved, I could not resist so three turned to five wonderful blessings. Our relationship with Jesus Christ is to be one of complete love and surrender like our favorite fairytale but rather than happily-ever-after, we live from everlasting to everlasting.

Hebrews 4:12-13 (NIV) For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

Our relationship with the Lord is more difficult and experiences opposition when it meets with hardness and callousness in our heart. Ecclesiastes 10:10 says that if the ax is dull and unsharpened, it requires more strength or effort. It goes on to say that skill will bring success. Skill is achieved through knowledge turned to wisdom and lots of practice. Our commitment to Jesus Christ is compared to engrafting. Grafting requires that each side be cut to make a connection for the graft to take hold. Jesus made the sacrifice on the Cross to establish this connection, it is up to us to satisfy our side of covenant. Covenant requires the letting of blood. We must respond with our heart before the Lord. His Word allows us to be cut to the heart. It circumcises us in our soul and spirit so we can become connected to Christ completely. This is referred to in Deuteronomy 10:16 and 30:6, as well as Jeremiah 4:4. God’s Word is the two-edge sword that penetrates us dividing soul and spirit. It is how we can daily move closer to the Lord.

Why is the Word of God essential to our life? To be labeled as “dull” means one that is slow to think or understand; lacking in interest; lacking in perception; and lack of ability to respond. All these characteristics are lethal to natural relationships so why not to our supernatural connection to Jesus? Love is a commitment. Lust is just about every other emotion humans call “love”. True love never fails. It is constant no matter what the others condition, circumstance or situation. There is no greater love than when one lays down their life for a friend. All of this is clearly defined in God’s Word. Why is it the most credible source? Well, Jesus is the Word of God made flesh. (John 1:14) In Revelation 1:12-16 when John sees Jesus, he refers to the words of his mouth as a “double-edged” sword. In Hosea 4:6, God warns us that people are destroyed by what? A lack of knowledge. We can gain the highest degree of education with all the merits of a scholar but if we do not truly know and love Jesus Christ everything else is worthless.

I Peter 1:5-7 (NLT) In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.

My greatest desire is to “make every effort to respond to God’s Promises.” Everything that God created in me and for me comes to life in Jesus Christ. Every opportunity, advantage and prosperity is developed in my attempts to love Him more. As I move closer to Jesus, I rely less on myself which is a scary proposition. I usually press and press for the promise and just like Peter who looked at the wind and waves, my natural sight terrifies me just before it becomes a reality. Love requires a full investment if we desire a relationship. Faith is how we connect to Jesus Christ. It is our trust and dependency on the Lord that creates an urgency to move closer. The closer we get the more our heart exposes its desperate and overwhelming need for His Love, Grace and Mercy so hope begins to drag us deeper into the depths of His Love that is too wide, long, deep and high for us to every fully comprehend – all that we know is we are drowning in it and no longer wish to be saved because now we are fully invested and surrendered to this love affair with Christ. I just want to be where He is. I desire to do what He says so that I can move closer. I want to hear that still small whisper of His Words just for me. I want to please Him in all things more than anything or anyone else. It challenges me. It scares me sometimes this life on the edge of reality.

Mark 9:20-22 (NIV) Just then a woman who had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding came up behind him. She touched the fringe of his robe, for she thought, “If I can just touch his robe, I will be healed.” Jesus turned around, and when he saw her he said, “Daughter, be encouraged! Your faith has made you well.” And the woman was healed at that moment.

Many years ago, a famous preacher was coming to our church. I respected this person greatly and highly anticipated their arrival. As part of the woman’s ministry of our church, I participated in the preparations and activities of the conference. I prayed and fasted leading up to the conference. I praised and worshiped the Lord because I knew what was coming that weekend. My desperation for the Lord pressed me deeper in the Word of God those preceding days and I was determined to get my blessing out of the three days. Friday night and Saturday morning there were three separate speakers who truly were a blessing but my heart was set on hearing from my favorite one. Arriving back on the church grounds, I literally had goosebumps. When praise and worship began, it was like Heaven or at least I thought so. In the quiet moments, just before the praise team stopped, in a room full of women worshiping and basking in His Presence I realized that what I came for I already had received. Before the one I highly anticipated breathed a word, I was completely in awe that the One I was truly after had already come.

Are you the woman with an issue today? Or maybe you feel plagued by many issues? Do you feel desperate for the Lord, but don’t know where to find Him? His Word is the best place to start. It is His Love Language just for you and me. We look for love in all the wrong places. Yet to open God’s Word and fully pursue Him will change our life in far better ways that just telling us what to do. It is to unlock the door to the Promises of God including His Plan and Purpose for our life. It is the place to find healing, deliverance and full satisfaction. It will break your heart. Cut you to your very soul in exchange for a beautiful love story with Your Beloved.

Life doesn’t have to be dull. You can live on the edge of impossible every day if your heart is up to the challenge. The woman was desperate for change and knew that if she could just touch the edge of his robe that she would be healed. When we turn our desperation over to the Lord, we can trust Him to do just what He promised. You don’t know what you are missing. This thing called faith is indeed a wild ride. Hope is to live the impossible on the edge of reality. There is never a dull moment when trusting God. It is so worth it. To know and live in the greatest love that I have ever known.

John 4:23-24 (NIV) But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”