So We’re Not Giving Up

So We Are Not Giving UP

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (Message) So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.

What a great reminder! I need to be reminded often that this life is temporary – it is not permanent yet it is all I know in terms of reality. There are days that I know God is real but wonder where He is. I know you never feel distance from the Lord so please humor my musings with me today. Despite avoiding sin, trying to make better choices, attempting to live according to God’s Word, trying to love with regard for His Command, and serving continually in church – there are still days when giving up seems like a good idea. I wonder today if for just a moment one might peer inside with quiet introspect to evaluate life from a forever standpoint. How are you today? No really strip away the façade of who the world thinks you are, what you do, and how others expect you to act and look into the mirror of your soul – who do you see? What does your life really look like to you? The authenticity of faith is the complete conviction that what is hoped for is the reality of our life. However, as Christians who often pretend, it is important to soul search and heart seek to see the truth behind our convictions.

Going with the flow can carry us away. In any pursuit, it is easy to get swept away by the current of culture or society even church. It is important that faith be the forefront of our life but not in just idea but complete conviction. To know Christ by name is not enough, it is only in our relationship with Him that there is fulfillment to be found at the end of this troublesome journey called life. Unfortunately, human nature generally only seeks the Face of God and salvation from His Son when tragedy strikes and suffering ensues. An emotional overture leads us to Him but the process is abandoned when the pressure of change and transformation begins. Fear of the unknown take the place of faith in the unseen God and suddenly what seemed like a great idea is abandoned as a fruitless endeavor. Most will give up on the verge of breakthrough because they do not believe that God is good or completely head over heels in love with them.

I Peter 2:11-12 (Message) Friends, this world is not your home, so don’t make yourselves cozy in it. Don’t indulge your ego at the expense of your soul. Live an exemplary life among the natives so that your actions will refute their prejudices. Then they’ll be won over to God’s side and be there to join in the celebration when he arrives.

People without an identity have no residency. However, God has given us His Identity and full residency in His Kingdom. Our ability to know and understand this is important in the exercising of our rights and responsibilities as Kingdom residents. I Peter 2:10 says, “Once you had no identity as a people; now you are God’s People. Once you received no mercy; now you have received God’s Mercy.” You have it all but must decide to claim it, receive it and walk it in it day by day. The Lord will not force His Love and Goodness on us but promises to pursue us without day by day. (Psalm 23) He meets us each morning with new mercy and the promise that joy comes with it. The potential of our life is in our recognition of who we are, whose we are and to become determined to live that life.

2 Corinthians 4:7-10 (Message) If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. That’s to prevent anyone from confusing God’s incomparable power with us. As it is, there’s not much chance of that. You know for yourselves that we’re not much to look at. We’ve been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we’re not demoralized; we’re not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do; we’ve been spiritually terrorized, but God hasn’t left our side; we’ve been thrown down, but we haven’t broken. What they did to Jesus, they do to us—trial and torture, mockery and murder; what Jesus did among them, he does in us—he lives! 

The ordinary life that you are currently living is not your future. There is an extraordinary one waiting for those who fully recognize that Christ is in them. The transformation process is well under way. It will take time. Time has meaning – every single second appointed by God with purpose. (Ecclesiastes 3) There is also a promise attached – “Yet God made everything beautiful for its own time.” Timing is important to God. So much so that He recorded every single moment of your life before a second was lived or a breath even taken. (Psalm 139) Why would you give up now? You are pressed but not crushed. You may be persecuted but never abandoned. You may be struck down but never destroyed. You are blessed far beyond any curse because His Promise for you is etched in time. It is your history. It is your inheritance. Let go of fear, doubt and worry today. Do not let anxious thoughts coax you from the hiding place that is our refuge. God’s Presence will keep you until His Promise overtakes you.

“Pain is temporary. Quitting lasts forever.” (Lance Armstrong) How true! When discomfort, inconvenience, annoyance, betrayal or even pain overtake us – what is the response? It depends on the foundation of faith and the conviction in our heart that makes the difference. To believe that there is nothing more to life than this would be a sad revelation to live by. If you believe deep down in your heart that there is more to life than this, you must decide to know what exactly that is or risk giving up on your passion and purpose. Life without meaning seems fruitless. Your faith will pull you through if it is credible. If when we take the time to look past the layers of self-imposed identity to our soul – we must see Jesus. He is our new identity. The life giver who can take the messed up pieces of broken hearts to make a masterpiece. He resurrects dead dreams to become our reality. He has already predestined you to live with Him forever. Jesus is waiting on you to become committed and convicted to engage in the process of building a relationship and then a Kingdom together.

Hebrews 10:23-25 (Message) So let’s do it—full of belief, confident that we’re presentable inside and out. Let’s keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps his word. Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching.

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Voice of Victory

Voice of Victory

I Samuel 17:45-47 (ESV) Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hand.”

One of the greatest stories ever told, David and Goliath. The story of a shepherd boy overcoming a mighty giant with nothing but a slingshot and smooth stone driven with precision. Armies held at bay by him yet David small in stature and unarmed but mighty in heart and full of God’s Spirit dare to stand and face the giant. A true example of not by might or by power but by His Spirit as the Word relates in Zechariah 4:6. Victory is the favorable outcome in every battle ever faced by the believer. We fight from victory to victory. Christ has already given us the win. But then there is always a pesky giant to deal with now isn’t there.

The elephant in the room often ignored doubt that deteriorates our confidence in the hope-filled promise that as believers triumph is our destiny. We win. In every possible situation by faith, victory belongs to us. It is not an act of willpower, determination or even personal strength and discipline. The power to win comes simply in believing God’s Word to be the absolute truth of our life. The Bible is quick to point out that the weapon of our warfare is not carnal or of the flesh. It is our mindset. Our thought process decides whether we will walk in victory or cower in fear when the giants come calling. We have the divine power to destroy strongholds. What strongholds? Those of the mindset that there is any other power greater or stronger than God Almighty. Strongholds are carefully constructed lies that keep us in the mental prison of fear and anxiety. Thanks be to God that He gives us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. King Jesus.

David faced quite a bit of opposition just trying to get to the battlefield that day. His father sent him to check on his brothers and take them some provisions. David wasn’t looking for a fight, but he sure found one. He didn’t expect to find the great and mighty Israelite army cowering from the Philistine army. For 40 days, the Goliath would come forward and take his stand morning and evening shouting threats and daring confrontation. All the men of Israel were afraid and fled at the sound of his voice. David’s brother questioned his sibling’s motives. Why have you come? To see the battle? He even belittled his brother by inquiring as to the whereabouts of his sheep. David asked the men around him as to the king’s reward for the one who defeated the giant. His brother was appalled. When David found himself before King Saul, he said, “Let no man’s heart fail because of him. Your servant will go and fight this Philistine.”

The king was quick to point out all the reasons David could not defeat Goliath. Too young. Too inexperienced. David recited all the times the Lord had delivered him from the lion and bear. He believed that same God would deliver him from the giant standing in their midst. His confidence was clearly in the Lord and His Power. Saul finally succumbed to David’s request, then tried to put his armor on the boy. It didn’t fit and overpowered him. So David took off the armor and headed unarmed and unprotected by conventional battle array to face the enemy of Israel. As David approached him, Goliath began to affirm the former reasons of the king and add his own indignation for Israel sending a boy rather than a seasoned warrior to face him. Little did Goliath know that it was not in David’s appearance, but in his heart that would end this battle with his massive defeat. It is right here that our passage picks up.

For the battle is the Lord‘s, and he will give you into our hand.” What is your battle cry today? What giant are you facing? Have you retreated pressed back by fear and uncertainty? It is time to change your declaration. It is time to take hold of the divine. God has empowered us to win. Christ has given us the victory. The only weapon the enemy or giant has against you is a lie. You have the truth in you. Filled with the Word, it is time to release it. You don’t need to be like anyone else and you certainly do not need their affirmation or approval. God empowered you from the moment you said, “Yes” to His Son to win every battle through Him. David did not walk out but ran to face Goliath. But note, the enemy did not engage David. He did not even draw a sword. You are God’s Child. His Anointed is in you. The enemy casts lies and hurls threats but in the end you just have to tell him what God told you. It is in the moment when our confidence becomes our declaration that praise becomes a prophetic voice of victory.

Goliath held Israel for 40 days with a lie. The same God that carried David on the field to victory was for them but they had taken hold of the enemy’s threat rather than overcoming Him with truth. Praise is the weapon that arms our mind. It is the sword of truth waved by the Spirit to refute every lie trying to create a stronghold to keep us from living a victorious life. No matter what you are facing, nothing is impossible with God. The only way this becomes our destiny is to believe it. Do you believe that God is almighty today? Do you believe that King Jesus has all power and authority over your life? If so, then remind your heart, mind and soul. Tell the enemy what God says about you. Remind the giant that God is bigger than he is. Rebuke him not by fighting with faith that fights for you. Our mind must be ready for battle or it will fall in the field of lies, threats and taunts.

I Corinthians 15:57-58 (ESV) But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

You have victory today. You win every day. Not because of you, but because Christ lives in you. It doesn’t matter how things look, how big the giant, or how impossible the odds – we must only believe it to achieve it. The battle is the Lord’s. Whether it is a personal one or outward attack, He will never leave you or forsake you. We must only be steadfast and immovable. The giant couldn’t touch David. David did not lay a finger on the giant. God is our refuge. He is our strength. He is our shield. The Sun that causes darkness to flee. You have everything you need to win. David didn’t even have a sword but lopped off the enemy’s head with his own sword. God has already provided everything you need to be victorious in every situation so we can abound in His Work knowing our labor is never in vain but always triumphant. I needed to hear that today! How about you? The lie may be big and it may seem like reality but the Truth always prevails. Jesus is the Word. He is in you. He will win for you. All you must do is believe and be the voice of victory by shouting His Praise.

Psalm 68:32-35 (ESV) O kingdoms of the earth, sing to God; sing praises to the Lord, Selah  to him who rides in the heavens, the ancient heavens; behold, he sends out his voice, his mighty voice. Ascribe power to God, whose majesty is over Israel, and whose power is in the skies. Awesome is God from his sanctuary; the God of Israel—he is the one who gives power and strength to his people. Blessed be God!

I Am the One

I Am the One

Matthew 18:12-14 (NLT) “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them wanders away, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others on the hills and go out to search for the one that is lost? And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he will rejoice over it more than over the ninety-nine that didn’t wander away! In the same way, it is not my heavenly Father’s will that even one of these little ones should perish.

Human insecurity robs us of the realization of who we really are in Jesus Christ. It is the innate and inward battle of the mind to accept in our heart that someone truly loves us without condition. Even more so, that they would die for us knowing what we have done and the depths fallen. Oh how many times I have let the Lord down with my attitude and actions. All the wandering and worrying despite the precious promises clearly outlined in His Plan. I can say that I am a Child of God but until I know and understand that I am the one nothing will change in my life. I am the one. The one who Jesus would leave ninety-nine other “perfect” people to find and carry home. I am the least of these yet still the one who He will continually pursue without ever relenting. He knows me and still loves me. Even greater than that, Jesus desires to have a relationship with me so much that He will leave His Rightness to find me in the wrong. I am the one.

It might surprise you that Jesus does not exact consequences. There is no condemnation in Christ therefore judgment is not possible but belongs to Father God. It easy to think that there is punishment or some kind of discipline when we do not do things according to God’s Word or do not follow instructions. If the Lord were to begin punish people, it would diminish the value of grace so that it no longer was sufficient and clearly not enough. Grace is enough. His Grace is sufficient in my weakness. I am the one. The one who He is always giving new mercies each morning. I am the one who He carries home. I am the one who He died for and proclaimed it is finished.

2 Peter 3:8-9 (NLT) But you must not forget this one thing, dear friends: A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day. The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. 

The Lord withholds nothing good from us. He patiently waits for us. His Kindness keeps Him ready, willing and always able to rejoice in our repentance and return. He pursues us with unfailing love and overwhelming goodness every day. The trouble is receivership is bond by insecurity which tells us the opposite. God hasn’t forgotten us. He is not mad at us. He is not given to such emotional overtures. He is absolutely sure of His Love for us and waits for us to find certainty in His Love. The kind of confidence that will begin to believe in His Love and live in it. Do you believe God loves you? No, that He REALLY loves you! If you did, you would trust Him more, wait for Him longer, and strive to be with Him! Wracked with worry, anxiety, and fear – our isolation is a hiding place.  Shame and regret become our prison because surely He wouldn’t want a failure like us. Though His Love, Grace and Mercy seem impossible, they are exactly what He prescribed and predestined for us when He recorded every moment before our birth and arrival. Before drawing a single breath, the Lord knew and paid for the price of our sin. It is unfathomable and inconceivable but does not change the Truth. The constancy and permanence of God firmly establish in who He is – the Great I Am. He does not lie or change His Mind. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever.

I John 4:18-19 (NLT) Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love. We love each other because he loved us first.

Our personal relationships will change completely with confidence in God’s Love. The realization that I am the one He chose to love and die for and the passion of His Ongoing Pursuit. I am be able to love others without expectation being completely filled with His Love. When our thoughts are backed by insecurity it embraces the lie of the enemy meant to rob us of purpose. Our purpose in life is ALWAYS connected to someone else. We are the BODY of Christ. Jealousy is hatred born of insecurity that diminishes our significance to God in our own eyes. The Kingdom is based on relationship. Our relationship to Jesus which allows us to access to the Father which overflows in love for all mankind. Not because everyone is lovable, but because He first loved us with completeness and wholeness that fulfills. Those who build confidence through faith and trust in the Lord will no longer view others as adversaries but allies. It begins in the complete understanding that I am the one Christ died for. Me, myself and I. His Love for me so complete and perfect that I lack nothing physically, emotionally or spiritually.

Are you struggling with insecurity today? Do you feel isolated? Do you feel alone and unloved? It is the enemy who sows seeds of doubt in the cracks and crevices of broken hearts and unmet expectation. The only weapon that he has is a lie. You can overcome every lie and half-truth with the Word of God. Faith is illogical outside of God’s Word. The Word brings our faith life in its credibility. The instruction is invaluable in overcoming attacks in our mind. When the enemy calls us insignificant and unworthy, we must remind him always that “I am the one”.

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.

Juggling Life

Juggling Life

Hebrews 4:1-3 (NLT) God’s promise of entering his rest still stands, so we ought to tremble with fear that some of you might fail to experience it. For this good news—that God has prepared this rest—has been announced to us just as it was to them. But it did them no good because they didn’t share the faith of those who listened to God. For only we who believe can enter his rest. 

God’s Promise for us is rest. The ultimate rest is in His Presence. To enter the Kingdom and rest forever in His Presence is our end result but too often we miss the opportunity to experience such peace in every moment of every single day. We juggle life. The image in my head so clear this morning in a moment of reflection. All the balls fall sometimes. The colorful commitments and circular schedules of life’s expectation exceed our time limits so anxiety takes over and tiredness ensues. To live life to its fullest requires not only hard work and perseverance but rest. At the completion of creation, God rested. He set an example for us yet in our pride it is human nature not to follow.

God has prepared rest for us. He has announced it to us in His Word. He has marked it as “just for them” or you. The passage says, “But it did them no good because they didn’t share the faith of those who listened to God.” Busyness is the direct result of a lack of faith. I am not talking about activities of life but rather when the things in life eat up all our time and there is none left to rest in the Lord. He designed rest for us and leaves an open invitation to experience His Peace every day. We must learn to enter His Rest.

It is in the moment when all the things being juggled fall down that our lack of rest and peace are discovered. When unmet expectation exposes the area of our life in need of careful reprioritization – the Lord is clear that rest never escaped us but rather it was our choice not to enter in. The juggling act is not only comprised of physical activity but thoughtful overtures as well. Our mind can be more active than our body at times stealing our rest as well. Lying awake when we should be sleeping or absentminded rather than present in the moment – the enemy wants to steal our rest and peace in the Lord.

I know what you are saying for I used to say the same thing, too. “I am so busy.” Well, the true revelation about time truly humbled me. The Lord gives each person the same 24 hours a day with the freedom to use it however one desires. The productivity of our time is the prosperity of our life. If choose to invest it in seeking God’s Promise including His Rest – the fruit of His Spirit will feed our soul and prosper us from the inside out. If time is sown into the world, it will produce the things of it – good or bad. We must take our “time” and examine it. Evaluate its usage. Set priorities. Determine true satisfaction in its investment or change our strategy completely.

Matthew 11:27-30 (NLT) “My Father has entrusted everything to me. No one truly knows the Son except the Father, and no one truly knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

Jesus told the people that God had “entrusted everything to” Him. Jesus Christ has all power and authority over life including every outcome. He then invites us to “come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens and I will give you rest.” I shared yesterday that our dryer had disappeared. We had called a repairman to come take a look. It was decided that it needed some parts. When they came to fix it – there was another problem so they hauled it to the shop. When I came home expecting to do laundry, there was no way to complete the task. I sat on the front porch rocking and spending time with the Lord because the dryer was gone. Now here is the irony of it – the dryer was broken in that when you turned it on it sounded like it had two tennis shoes and a large brick rolling around inside. I used it anyway. So when it was taken away – I found an alternative. I sat on the front porch in a rocking chair talking to friends and ultimately spending time with the Lord.

The yoke of Christ is faith. We must learn to rightly divide our time according to our faith in Christ which leaves little time for anxious activity and overactive minds. It means allowing God to grow and prosper our life rather than making it a diversified effort. Faith requires an exchange. You cannot live a faithful life in two places. Where is your faith today? Is it fully invested in the Lord? I am challenged to inspect the balls I juggle in life. To carefully decide if they were placed in my hands by God or I picked them up because I was afraid no one else would. Juggling is a sport that takes practice. It is all about timing. Maybe it is the same with time management and faith. Perhaps, we must practice resting. True rest is a body, mind and spirit promise. God’s Promises require perfect timing…His Timing. God is perfect in all of His Ways including His Timing. It is important to invest our faith in His Time Clock.

Ecclesiastes 3:9-13 (NLT) What do people really get for all their hard work? I have seen the burden God has placed on us all. Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can. And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God.

The beginning of Ecclesiastes 3 promises us that “for everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.” Do you believe that today? Those who do will find the peace of God called rest. It is the full investment of our life in Heaven’s economy. The fertile ground of a broken heart that has decided to give itself fully to live in the Presence of God. To rely on the Maker of Heaven and Earth in every season because He is faithful to do exactly what He promised according to His Timing. God makes everything beautiful in its time. Even broken things scattered in many pieces have the potential to become a masterpiece in the Hands of God if we would only give it to Him. God blesses our lives simply because He loves us and decided to do so. When we forget that rest is a part of it, it is human nature to take His Glory. Our lift is a Gift from God for His Glory – let’s leave the juggling to Him and choose rest today.

Hebrews 4:10-11 (NLT) For all who have entered into God’s rest have rested from their labors, just as God did after creating the world. So let us do our best to enter that rest. But if we disobey God, as the people of Israel did, we will fall.

Follow Your Heart

Follow Your Heart

Philippians 4:4-7 (NIV) Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Always. To all. Do not be. In every. The absolute terms used in this passage are often ignored. Is it really possible to always rejoice? Is it logical to be gentle to all? Can one truly live anxiety free and answer the directive, “Do not be anxious about anything”? In every situation is peace truly an achievable goal and aspiration? We have the customary response of “yes” but if it is not evident in our life is it truth we speak or simply the acceptable vernacular of Christianity. Though called a peculiar people, radical Christians are not supposed to be odd in a crazy kind of way but rather decisive in the Love of God firmly and completely established in Jesus Christ. In other words, authentic faith is radical and illogical thinking to the world, but we can be credible Christians living in the peace of God that “transcends all understanding.” Jesus Christ is the guard for our heart and mind in a world set on rebellion and an enemy bent on destruction. You have within you the power to overcome in every situation. It begins by dealing with doubt.

Doubt is the culprit. The carefully laid trap of the enemy to take the promises of God and make them seem illogical and impossible. The suggestion by him that God does not have the capacity to love unconditionally and forgive completely that leads us to believe that maybe the Gospel is too good to be true…for me. If for just a moment the enemy of the human soul can muster a tiny bit of uncertainty – it becomes a fast growing weed choking out the Truth being rooted and grounded by God’s Word cultivated by His Spirit. Our hope seems unstable in a stormy sea of stirred up emotions and overwrought feelings when God is unchanged. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. We are the ones who waver.

I John 4:17-18 (NIV) This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

Let’s face it perfection is impossible for people. Perfect love is only possible in Jesus Christ. We must place our life in Him to experience a love so profound that it transforms our life from mediocrity to magnificence just because He is perfect. Love completed in us nullifies our doubts one by one quenching fear in the fire of passionate love. There is no fear in love. Therefore, the new creation of Christ makes way for a life of peace and calm. Each worry, care and anxious thought is the product of contention with God. It is a place that His Love has not overcome our doubt and disbelief. Peace is established in us by constantly reconciling every thought, feeling and emotion to the perfect love of God given to us in His Son, Jesus Christ. God does not punish us or it would suggest that His Grace is not enough. God is disciplining (or teaching) us to live a worry-free life of careless pursuit of His Kingdom.

Luke 12:22-26 (NIV) Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?”

The title of this section in my Bible bears the heading, “Do Not Worry”. Do not worry about your life. It goes on to detail the very things that consume our thoughts on a regular basis. Our perspective is influenced by society. The key to our success as believers is our full perception to be based on God’s Word. How is God’s Word going to feed me? Cloth me? Take care of me? It already does. Look around right now. Not at what you do not have but what God has already provided you. Media heavily influences our wants, needs and desires. We keep our eyes on our neighbors rather than on Jesus and His Kingdom. To covet what someone else has keeps us from living the rich and satisfying life promised by the Lord. We must learn to set our sights higher than eye level. Walking by faith is to see and adhere to principles of an unseen Kingdom that can change our existence on the earth.

Jesus asks a very pointed question, “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?” Good point. What comes next is even better! “Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?” Worry robs us of precious time. It steals moments of joy from us. It wastes time better spent sowing faith and reaping promises. Doubt will use the same ground of heart that faith is supposed to grow from. We decide what is sown in our heart and given to its cultivation. I am not in control. You are not in control. Sometimes I have to remind myself that God has already ordered the steps of my life. He put eternity in my heart so I will never be satisfied with less than God’s Best. He gave me faith so that I can reach my full potential. I have already been provided with everything I need. Every spiritual blessing fully and firmly implanted in my life. Purpose is imbedded in me by God for a prosperous life. I have the keys to God’s Kingdom…I must simply learn to use them.

Luke 12:27-31 (NIV) “Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.

If you read Ecclesiastes 3, it makes some valid points in the logic of peace over worry. First, there is a time for everything. Second, there is a season for every activity under heaven. It goes on to list every detail of human existence. The process that comprises the little dash between our birthday and day of departure. Finally, it says, “(God) has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” It is not a promise problem but a perception problem. We must change our perspective to change our pursuit. According to God’s Word, our life is predestined and predisposed to eternity. We have a destiny. It is ordered. It is timely. We must simply seek the Kingdom and these things are given as well.

Luke 12:32-34 (NIV) “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Where is your treasure today? It is usually best determined by where you invest your life? Your time, talent and treasure are the deposits made into the earth and/or Kingdom. To give our all in earthly pursuits leaves the eternity in our heart unsatisfied. The world is subject to destruction. Fear is the natural accumulation when evaluating one’s existence according to the earth. Love is cold. Sin is rampant. Wars and rumors of wars. It is not a very hopeful place. You and I carry the Light of the world inside of us. We have the Kingdom in us and the ability to share it without worry, fear, stress or anxiety. We have been given our freedom to choose how to portion our life including our heart, mind and body. In order for our life to prosper – our soul must prosper first. Our soul prospers in the Kingdom. But as in any endeavor, we must give the time and energy in pursuing it to become our reality.

The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. (Matthew 13:44) If you want the Kingdom, you must invest your life pursuing it. To have God’s Kingdom means to live in peaceful allegiance to Jesus Christ. There is no other way to the Father. Are you willing to give up your cares, worries and anxiety to have it? Will you forfeit fear? Will you bury every doubt in the Truth that it is Your Father’s Good Pleasure to give you His Kingdom? You must only give up this worthless, dead end life to have it!

God has placed eternity in our heart. We have the potential to prosper in this life by carefully placing all of it in the Kingdom of God. Jesus came to give you a rich and satisfying life. He did it. It is finished. To claim it is to change our perspective from earth to the Kingdom. To pursue the Kingdom relentlessly will allow perfect love to overcome fear by removing all doubt. We must believe that God is good. He loves us. He will always love us. He does not punish but prospers His Beloved. If only we would follow our heart and the eternity in it.

Deuteronomy 31:6 (NIV) Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Perfect Me

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Psalm 138:8 (NKJV) The Lord will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy, Lord, endures forever; Do not forsake the works of Your hands.

I am not exactly sure when I stumbled across this scripture. All I know is that it has become one of my go-to. When things do not add up to my expectation or jive with the way I interpreted God’s Direction or Timing, this verse instantly comes to mind. When things are unraveling or the world crumbling, “the Lord will perfect that which concerns me…” I must be honest that at first it doesn’t bring the solace one might hope for. It is not easy to swallow or digest at first. How can an imperfect person achieve a perfect way?

Perfect means complete. It means having all the required elements, qualities or characteristics. When the word, perfect, is used as a verb it means to make something completely free from faults or defects. To make complete. “But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” (James 1:4) It doesn’t matter what the situation or circumstances of our life – the Word of God promises the Lord will perfect that which concerns me. His Plan for me is that I will lack nothing but prosper in all things pertaining to life and godliness. His Purpose is in me with enough faith to grow, mature and develop the good fruit that will satisfy my soul. The Lord even promises to make all things work together for good for those who love Him and to those called according to His Purpose. (Romans 8:28) This promise is just before the sweetest of godly convictions that nothing can or will ever separate us from His Love. We have been given perfect love by a perfect God who will perfect all that concerns His Beloved.

Psalm 18:30-32 (NKJV) As for God, His way is perfect; The word of the Lord is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him. For who is God, except the Lord? And who is a rock, except our God? It is God who arms me with strength, And makes my way perfect.

The egocentric nature of humanity wants to believe it plays some role in perfection. The mind, will and emotions embrace pride that can be the greatest foe against faith. Pride tells us not to surrender in weakness or to submit to God’s Authority. However, if God’s Way is perfect – it is surrender and submission is required which comes at the end of self. The Word of God is proven. No word that He has ever spoken or given breath to will return to Him empty of purpose. Jesus Christ is the Word of God who came wrapped in flesh. (John 1) To fully embrace completion and allow the Lord to perfect that which concerns me comes through the bond formed with His Son – Jesus Christ, the Word.

Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. He is the access point to God the Father. No one can enter the Presence of God apart from the Son or uninhabited by His Spirit. The Holy Spirit marks us for completion as the sons and daughters of God. The only way to achieve the promise of perfection is to trust God. We must learn to live in the process of perfection with persistence, perseverance and patience knowing and believing that His Way is perfect and His Word proven for my life.

God arms us with strength by His Grace. His Power is manifested in our weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9) Perfection is achieved only by oneness with God the Father through Jesus Christ the Son and filled with His Spirit. All three have vital roles in completion. The trinity is a partnership. When the rich, young ruler came to Jesus in Matthew 19, he had one simple question, “What good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?” Jesus told him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” The man went away sad and dejected because he had great possessions. God knows our weakness. He knows the imperfections. He sees right through us. He wants to take those things produced by doubt such as fear, worry, stress and anxiety in order to replace them with perfect peace. The kind of peace that can only be found in total trust and sweet surrender of this life for the Kingdom of God and eternal life.

Isaiah 26:2-4 (NKJV) Open the gates, that the righteous nation which keeps the truth may enter in. You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.  Trust in the Lord forever, for in Yah, the Lord, is everlasting strength.

God will keep you in perfect peace when your mind is stayed on Him. Those who trust the Lord will be able to wait on Him while He perfects or completes all that concerns them. Trust is the shelter and refuge provided by Jesus Christ, the rock of our salvation. The one who takes our weakness giving us enough grace to exude His Power despite our imperfections and weakness. God is creating a masterpiece of all the broken pieces. He takes each one and makes something good out of it. He gives us beauty for ashes. Think about that for a moment. We have a fire pit in our backyard. When our inky black Labrador retriever was a puppy – she would dig in the ashes like a sand pit. Sitting by the backdoor waiting to come in, she was unaware that she was covered in gray dust and a complete mess. Do we come to God like that sometimes? After we play in the remains of our past, broken life or tried to make something useful much less beautiful out of our mess? Have you ever tried to make a log out of ashes? Impossible. Who would even try? The Lord says that He will give us beauty for ashes. (Isaiah 61) He is perfect in all of His Ways. Trust allows God to make something beautiful out of every broken thing in our life. Not just beautiful but perfect! We must only believe enough to trust Him in His Way and at His Word.

Philippians 3:12-14 (NKJV) Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

I am not perfect. I will never experience perfection outside of complete oneness with Jesus Christ. To fully embrace and totally trust His Way by following Him every day not just some days. To believe the Lord and take Him at His Word even on those days when nothing He spoke is evident in the circumstances of my life – to hold that truth as my confident hope. To continually sow seeds of faith in the firm foundation of Jesus Christ requires more effort and energy than I have as a human and must completely deplete me of self to be completely filled with Christ. Less of me and more of Him must be my daily commitment. Otherwise the life I live is not authentic but rather a façade for others. God has promised to give me His Strength. I must be weak to receive it. He has given me His Word – I must believe it. God has given me His Son – I must follow Him. The Lord has given me His Perfection – by grace I can receive it when I learn to trust Him more. Today I press toward the goal for the prize of God’s upward call in Christ Jesus that takes me out of brokenness and worthlessness to live in complete confidence that He who began this work in me will finish it. He indeed perfects that which concerns me.

Romans 12:1-2 (NKJV)  I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Tiny Box

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Colossians 3:1-3 (NLT) Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.

Oh what if we could wrap our thoughts in a tiny box and put them on a shelf. To unclutter our mind and organize our thoughts in such a way that worry, anxiety and stress could be alleviated in such a simple gesture. Each morning when the alarm sounds at 4:30 a.m., it is easy to hit the snooze button. One would think after years it would be a habit but I still moan and groan about it most of the time. So when my mind wakes me up somewhere around 3:00 a.m., my body begins to revolt. Tossing and turning, adjusting and readjusting, from the right to the left. I often begin to pray since I believe God is the only one up at such an awful hour. Finally, it is useless to try to drift back asleep so I tumble out of the bed. Those thoughts circling in my head are the things that wake me up. If I allow my mind to start to contemplate the day yet before me, I know I have lost the battle and will give in.

Set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits… How do I set my sights on the realities of heaven, when life keeps me completely preoccupied? How does one walk by faith and not by sight in actuality? Is faith really practical thinking? Is it logical at all? If so, how do I set, put, place my mind in the realm of hope as if wrapped in a tiny box and put in the Hands of God? The challenge is often accepted in powerless situations when life is too hard to handle so you have to let it go, but what about every other day? How do I live a Kingdom life in a loud, intrusive world? To think about the things of heaven and not the things of earth seems irrational and irresponsible somehow yet it is the reminder given in Colossians 3 today.

2 Timothy 2:3-7 (NLT) Endure suffering along with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. Soldiers don’t get tied up in the affairs of civilian life, for then they cannot please the officer who enlisted them.  And athletes cannot win the prize unless they follow the rules. And hardworking farmers should be the first to enjoy the fruit of their labor. Think about what I am saying. The Lord will help you understand all these things.

We have but one enemy and a fierce adversary. He has nothing to lose. Everything to gain. So he sows weeds to choke out God’s Words, and lies to trip us up along the way. Eve was not persuaded by a boldface lie but rather a subtle half-truth. Jesus overcame every temptation by the Word of God. Jesus did not have to defend who He was instead he simply recited the Truth which is the Word of God to the enemy until he left. As believers, too often we get caught up in “civilian” affairs. Rather than fighting the good fight of faith, we fight everyone else including ourselves for things already given and promises already made. We are Kingdom kids. We have an inheritance untouched and untainted resting in the Presence of God and acquired through repentance and reconciliation to Jesus Christ. There is nothing in this world for us. We are temporary residents on a journey to eternity. Faith gets us there. The power to believe beyond what is perceived by human senses but carried in our heart. We must learn to keep our heart and mind set on Heaven. The realities of faith are given to the righteous who can do this – those who remain undaunted and undistracted by the common problems of life given to the reality that God is enough in every situation.

Philippians 4:8-9 (NLT) And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.

Last year, my husband and I were overjoyed to find out that our daughter and her husband were moving closer to home. For three long years, they had lived in the North about 21 hours away. Shortly after the news another announcement came that they were expecting their first child. I could not believe God’s Goodness and Grace in giving me the desire of my heart. Well, soon after that, plans began to unravel. The church delayed the transfer. It seemed as though she would deliver before moving. How would I get to her when the baby was coming? How could this be happening? So my daughter and I made a pact to put the situation in a tiny box and pray about it. We did not discuss it further. It literally was such a hard thing that we both just put it in God’s Hands and walked away. Well, as it turns out, God moved them as planned but closer than originally thought. Instead of four hours away, they live 30 minutes from us. Our grandson came right on time with us all gathered to celebrate his arrival. God had a plan. The Lord worked out the details. We didn’t have to worry or work it out – He did it all!

I share this with you because I am learning to live life through Christ. The new life that He promised us can only be attained by faith that becomes confident hope. Our confidence is built on trust. We must learn to trust the Lord in every situation even when it is beyond logical comprehension or even the slightest possibility. This is how the reality of heaven is discovered in an ordinary life. When the Lord opens doors, no one can close it. We have the power to bind and loose things but only by faith. We must make faith practical and intentional in our life. Everyday life not just overwhelming situations. To take each worry, care, fear, insecurity, doubt, what if, regret, and every other negative thought or idea and put them in tiny boxes sending them up to the one who relieves all fear and takes care of His Beloved Children. God did not give us the spirit of fear. Do not take hold of it. He gave us His Spirit to produce the fruit that nourishes our soul, fortifies our heart, and changes our mind.

Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT) Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

The Word of God is clear. Don’t worry about anything. What are you worried about today? What is your greatest concern? Does fear rule your life and make your choices? Do you doubt the validity of God’s Word today? Doubt is manifested in our thoughts in the form of fear, worry, stress, and anxiety. All are characteristic of insecurity. We must become firmly rooted and grounded in God’s Love through His Son, Jesus Christ. Pray about everything. It sounds crazy to whisper things to God rather than rushing off to try to them. You must tell the Lord exactly what you need and wait for Him to respond to experience the new life found only in Jesus Christ. When the impossible comes, give it to Him. When you are overwhelmed, cry out to Him. He is waiting for your call. He is ready to respond to your cries in the night. When our faith begins to wrap each impossibility in a tiny box and send it up to Heaven, it is exchanged for peace that exceeds anything we can understand. The Holy Spirit guards the faithful heart willing to trust the Lord and live life through Jesus Christ. He gives us perfect peace that goes beyond human comprehension and logic. It is the conviction that anything is possible if we just believe enough to give it all to God!

Do you have something ready for that imaginary box? A problem too great. A circumstance too overwhelming. A situation that seems to have no positive ending. Give it to the Lord today. You have tried everything else. The secret is letting it go and filling the void with God’s Word. His Promises always produce good things by faith in the heart willing to believe.

Romans 12:2 (NLT) Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

Are you Impressed?

What Impresses You

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (NLT) That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.

There were many nights that I was called from my bed by a little voice in the night. Carefully assessing the ailment, sometimes it would be a complaint of unexplainable leg discomfort. With the expert knowledge gained from my grandmother and mother far superior to modern science, I would diagnose them with growing pains. With lots of hugs and cuddles and the occasional dose of chamomile to calm or ibuprofen to alleviate persistent aches, they would drift off to sleep again. I miss those days of growing pains. Simple discomforts and inconveniences that give way to far greater growth. Why is it that for our heart to grow it must break? Why must our convenience and comfort be disrupted to fully engage in this new way of life as a new creation? Why does the temporary seem to be so influential? Keeping all this in mind, I am reminded today by the Lord and His Word, we must never give up.

We are born dying. My youngest hates when I say that. People want to live and forget that death is inevitable. Yet the greatest growth of spirit comes when the truth of natural demise is considered. What will be the day after my last breath is taken? The beginning of forever is very important yet falls at the bottom of my priority list buried by the worries and cares of a day already decided, prerecorded in God’s Perfect Plan for me complete with every provision and promise needed for complete success. This is not about dying but living for more than the temporary. Our present troubles are only temporary. Small and not eternal they demand our immediate attention. God uses these moments to break our hearts and reveal the faith hidden inside if He is allowed to do so. The things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever. How’s your soul today? It really is the only part of our life that will enter forever. It has the greatest growth potential in our life for as our soul prospers so will we.

2 Corinthians 4:7-10 (NLT)  We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.

We have a light shining in our fragile heart. It is a great treasure of valuable potential. The Light of His Love must be permitted to shine through us. His Glory inside of us is the Light to be placed on a hill for all to see. The great power of God that is given to us has the possibility of changing an ordinary life to an extraordinary existence in the Presence of God. It will require brokenness because a hard heart cannot beat to God’s Rhythm. It makes things inconvenient. Our comfort will be disrupted. Change must occur. Why? God is Sovereign. He doesn’t lie or change His Mind. His Ways are not like ours and His Thoughts consider every possibility and detail of our life for complete renewal, revival and restoration as a product of His Love, Grace and Mercy given to us by His Son, Jesus.

I Peter 2:10-11 (NLT) Once you had no identity as a people; now you are God’s people. Once you received no mercy; now you have received God’s mercy. Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls.

I am a Child of the Living God. I have only one enemy. His only weapon in his arsenal is a lie. I am fully armored by God equipped to be overwhelming victorious in every battle suited in His Love. On the days that I am overburdened by worries, cares and anxieties – I must remember whose I am. I must focus on the potential of my faith and stand on the confident hope that I have. This too shall pass because life according to this world is temporary and it is not my home or permanent residence. Have you forgotten whose you are today? Have you lost sight of eternity and become fixated on today? The faith within you does not lose its potential just because you lost focus. God takes every detail of our life and makes good on every promise according to His Word and not our strength or ability. It is all because of the sufficiency of His Grace at work in us.

Matthew 6:25-33 (NLT) “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

When my children had growing pains in the middle of the night, they would call out to me. They would sometimes even cry in their distress. I immediately would go to them. I love my children. How much more does the Father love us? The only thing that is not temporary in our life is the Love of God. He loves us. He always loved us. He will love us forever. God loves everyone even those who choose not to acknowledge or love Him back. He is a good God who has given each of His Children a valuable inheritance. We claim our inheritance including every blessing and promise by faith. Do you have faith today? All those worries cannot add a single moment to your life but instead steal precious time that can be used cultivating a relationship with Jesus Christ that releases our full potential.

The very thing that dominates our thoughts is that which rules over our heart. Fear and doubt are products of disbelief creating a disconnect that keeps Heaven from reaching us here on earth. We do not seek the Kingdom of God above all else simply because of uncertainty and insecurity that God will not come. Or maybe it will be uncomfortable? We make rash temporary compromises to gain daily security yet give up our eternal position which always leads to prosperity. The Favor of God is for His Children. Those who He created and have returned to Him. Everyone has a measure of faith to sow into the Kingdom and harvest its potential. Faith is the opportunity to realize our purpose and live in full satisfaction. Our heart must change to allow faith to grow and prosper in us. This change produces brokenness. New wine cannot fill old wine skins.

Romans 12:1-2 (NLT) And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

Are you worried about something today? Worry is an opportunity to worship. Are you plagued with a problem? Problems bring forth the possibility of praise. Are you experiencing impossibilities? Awesome, you are being set up for the miraculous. The only way our growing pains give way to spiritual cultivation is by the renewing of our mind. To allow the Lord to transform us beginning with the way we think and how we operate under pressure. The enemy wants you to think you are going under, things will never change and a win is impossible. God says, “Walk by faith not by sight.” Don’t allow worry to silence your worship. Don’t allow problems to interrupt your praise.

“Your victory beings the day you stop being impressed by the size of your problem.” (Bill Johnson)

David saw the giant but he knew the Living God. His faith in God killed the giant that day not his stature, strength or ability. He was totally confident in the Word of God acting upon it. Our words tell the story written in our heart. The power of life or death are in our tongue. What impresses you more today? The size of the problem. The weight of your worry. The solidity of your situation. The size of the obstacle. We must become so impressed with the Love of God for us and His Promises that the temporary is no longer a distraction. “The enemy lies to make the problems we face appear larger than the solutions we carry.” (Bill Johnson)

The pressure produced by pain is often faith looking for a place to grow. Let your faith move mountains today. The potential in us must find a way out of us in order to be productive. Change is inevitable. Inconveniences a must. Discomfort always part of growth. Transformation from the natural to supernatural – priceless. Do you need to change your perspective today? If you call the Lord, He will come. The brokenhearted are the ones He rushes to. God is a Good Father. He knows you and still loves you. He sees you and still wants to lavish His Goodness on you. He is impressive. Be impressed with the Love of God for you until the temporary problems become your point of praise. When worries melt off and worship emerges you will experience the breakthrough you longed for.

Acts 16:24-26 (NLT) So the jailer put them into the inner dungeon and clamped their feet in the stocks. Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening. Suddenly, there was a massive earthquake, and the prison was shaken to its foundations. All the doors immediately flew open, and the chains of every prisoner fell off!

Practice What You Preach

Practice What You Preach

Philippians 4:8-9 (ESV)  Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

I heard a voice in the darkness. “Honey, it’s after 5:00 AM. Did you set the alarm?” I guess not although I thought I did. Too late to worry about that now, I try to pull myself from deep slumber. Immediately the cares and worries I went to bed with come to greet me. Warding them off, I stumble out of bed as my husband, the makeshift meteorologist, tells me that is a whopping 26 degrees outside to which I mumble, “Of course it is!”

For just a moment, let’s pause. Let me set the scene for you. I am late. I usually get up at 4:30 AM and need every moment of that time to take care of the dogs, spend time with the Lord, make lunches for my family, and get ready for work. Today is Thursday which is cleaning day in our house. I try to get our bathroom out of the way before I head out. It is also my weekly trip to the grocery store so a list is being made simultaneously. Add to this already scheduled day, our daughter’s baby shower is in two days. Her due date in just a month. Oh, did I mention that I have been sick for almost two weeks so very behind in last minute details. My mom, sister and sister-in-law will arrive tomorrow night to stay with us. On top of all that, I have a scheduled dental procedure on Monday. To some that is no big deal just a date on the calendar – but in my mind it is a date with absolute torture. Hate the dentist as a profession although mine is very patient and kind. All of these “things” came rushing into my head this morning, I almost became entangled in worry, stress, fear, and anxious thoughts. But now it is time to practice what I preach…

What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me – practice these things…

This is not a message for the unbeliever today. This is hope for the imperfect Christian. It is a word of encouragement to put down the bat and stop trying to do everything right. It is an invitation to rest. To rely on the Lord and trust in Him. Today, there is no possible way that I can do all the things that I think I need to do. The expectation heaped on me by my own hands is just too much. The Bible says, “I can do all things THROUGH Christ who gives me strength.” I must practice putting all the details of my life including those things I call priorities into the Hands of Christ and allowing Him to hand back what I need to do, say and be in any given day. So I called a meeting inside my head…

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

The only weapon in the enemy’s arsenal is the lie. If he can change your mind about God just enough to believe anything contrary to the character and nature of God – you will question everything you know about Him. If he can somehow convince you that the Lord is not with you, for you, and in you, he will have the power to persuade you to engage in detours, distractions and delays. We must learn to practice what we preach and become consummate doers of the Word until our mind and heart align with God’s Word, Will and Way and cannot be swayed.

When I was in gymnastics, I decided that I wanted to do a back handspring. I am not athletically inclined but I really wanted to accomplish this feat. So what did I do? The instructors showed me how to do a back handspring. They instructed me on proper form and execution. They encouraged me to practice all the time. So that is exactly what I started to do. I fell countless times. I made several attempts. Time and time again, I couldn’t get my feet over my head. I was on the verge of giving up but something in me just kept nagging me to try one more time. You know what happened? I learned to do a back handspring. Can I do one today? Nope. I stopped doing them and am what? Out of practice…

2 Corinthians 10:4-6 (ESV) For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.

As believers, we must protect our thoughts. Seeds of faith planted in our heart cannot grow until our heart is made up that God is for us. He is good. Working in us. Our dependency on the Lord requires a heart and mind that agrees. We must…We Must…WE MUST destroy arguments and EVERY lofty opinion raised against the Knowledge of God and take every thought captive to OBEY Christ. Why?

To say one thing and do another is a contradiction. Once our mind is made up – our flesh must follow. To worry, stress and be anxious is to accept that lie that there is something to fear other than God alone. To decide that change is impossible is to allow pride to tell us our flesh is stronger than our Savior. Disobedience to God comes with a heavy price. Grace covers sin completely. God does not punish His Children. The discipline of God is to right our way and send us into the Promise. Disobedience is the enemy’s ploy to keep us from all God has for us including blessings, favor and prosperity.

Psalm 111:7-10 (ESV) The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy; they are established forever and ever, to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness. He sent redemption to his people; he has commanded his covenant forever. Holy and awesome is his name!  The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever!

When I woke up late today, the enemy presented me with anxiety overload before my eyes even opened. I reached my hand out until it was just beyond my grasp. But you know what else met me this morning, the new mercies of God – Jesus offered me His Hand – “Here let me take that from you.” It was definitely a standoff like an old-time western movie – I had to choose who I would give my burdens and cares in that moment. I haven’t always made the right choice. There have been many days when the things that happened this morning would have resulted in me rushing around completely overwhelmed snapping at my husband and children. I would have given up my time with the Lord in order to regain some lost moments. BUT NOT TODAY!

Today I must practice what I preach. God is love. So I will be loving even though I don’t feel very loving but agitated and stressed. God is good. He will work every detail of my life out for His Good. God is with me. Christ lives in me. The important things will be done if I keep my eyes fixed on Jesus and do what He has called me to do. We must make it a conscious effort each day to respond to the promises of God rather than reacting to the lie of the enemy. To focus on the call of God rather than the taunts of the giant. What is my purpose today? “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8) The Lord knows the desires of my heart. He knows my motives and good intentions. He will never let me down if I put my whole heart and all my trust in Him. I must not only read the Word of God but do what it says to have its promises. So today…I will practice what I preach!

Romans 8:35-39 (ESV)  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The Steadfast

The Steadfast

2 Chronicles 27:6 (NIV) Jotham grew powerful because he walked steadfastly before the Lord his God.

The view of strength and power based on human perception implies influence and affluence. One might think those who have it all are set, when in truth their souls are empty. Void of peace, looking for love, and hoping for acceptance outside of the social circle, those envied and sought after often are the loneliest of them all. Even in the church, people paint a pretty picture over the reality of a life lived in fear and insecurity. Setting up a religious order, that makes us feel comfortable in our inability and effective in human weakness. The Lord tells us His Grace is enough. He has overcome the world. We have the victory. If only we believed Him enough to stand steadfast. To wait and watch for the Lord rather than human acceptance, affirmation and acknowledgement. To order each day and every single step in accordance with the one who offers all of this one neat package labeled Jesus Christ. The One who will fill us with His Spirit to produce all the things ever longed for that will overflow from a prospering soul into our natural life. If only we became the steadfast…

To be steadfast. It doesn’t sound exciting. It really seems to be quite boring. Maybe the enemy tells us it is such to keep us from the blessing and prosperity found in walking steadfast with the Lord. To daily be loyal, faithful, committed, devoted, dedicated, dependent, steady, true and constant to our calling in Christ. What would be the impact? We would grow more powerful. It happened for Jotham, King of Judah and son of Uzziah. Though he never entered the temple built with human hands, He walked steadfastly before the Lord His God. His reign only lasted sixteen short years yet he defeated his enemies and grew in great wealth. He was a good king who walked in alignment with God’s Kingdom.

What about Enoch? He walked faithfully and steadfastly with God until he was no more because whisked him away. There is no record of his death only that God took him away. Hebrews 11:5 says that “he did not experience death” for “he was commended as one who pleased God.” Faithfulness until the end is exemplified by a steadfast and immovable heart that does not react to this life but responds to the Promises of God and His Purpose for our life now and forevermore.

I Corinthians 7:37 (NKJV)  Nevertheless he who stands steadfast in his heart, having no necessity, but has power over his own will, and has so determined in his heart that he will keep his virgin, does well.

This passage from I Corinthians is part of Paul’s letter to Corinth regarding principles of marriage particularly referencing the unmarried and widows. While this refers to the one who cares for the unmarried, I love the inspiration to stand steadfast – He who stands steadfast in his (or her) heart, having no necessity (content) but has power over his own will (self-control) and has so determined in his (or her) that he will keep ________ , does well. There is instruction in the Word of God that is to lead us to a better life. A life filled with a future and hope. Jesus has given us freedom and complete liberty to choose how we live and make our own choices. He has given us abundant grace when we choose less than His Glorious Standard or decide to sin. True repentance leads us back into the waiting Arms of God who never left us and waits for us to respond. To be steadfast is a heart decision to choose the Lord over anyone or anything else in this life. The impact of steadfastness blesses this life – it doesn’t make sense but the Grace and Goodness of our Lord seldom does.

I Peter 5:8-11 (NIV) Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.

You do not fight for victory but from victory. Jesus Christ has given us victory. We must only assert His Power and Authority in our life to secure it. The stand of steadfastness is our battle stance. The Sword of the Spirit is the Word of God which is the details of our covenant and what belongs to us as Children of God. It is not our job to oppose the enemy or even other people but rather to oppose our flesh. The inner tendency to try to do something that has already been done for us. The drive to be perfect or at least appear worthy of the priceless gift that has been given. To stand in opposing flesh demands a certain death. Will your faith die or your flesh? You decide. Day by day – a steadfast heart must stand on faith in God’s Word, His Will and His Way to overcome the thief who will try to steal from, kill or destroy you. How is your stand today? Are you unshakeable, immovable and fearless?

Psalm 112:6-8 (NIV) Surely the righteous will never be shaken; they will be remembered forever. They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord. Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear; in the end they will look in triumph on their foes.

Fear is a symptom of insecurity. Something inside of us is not convinced and unbelief exists. We must secure our heart and eliminate fear. The spirit of fear is not given to us by God and therefore can be refused. Fear rears its head in many ways. Stress, worry, and anxiety are just a few. When we experience any feeling or emotion of dread and do not have perfect peace (Isaiah 26:3) there is a trust issue that requires immediate attention. Our steadfastness is compromised and in need of immediate attention. A steadfast mind produces a peace-filled life. Trusting the Lord defies who we are as human beings. Circumstances and situations do not impact or influence our heart when set on the Lord. It is a daily pursuit of His Presence guided by His Spirit to become a new creation as He promised. It will cost us every ounce of our flesh. As more of our natural life is yielded to Christ, He fills our voids, heals our wounds, roots out insecurity and doubt to fill our life with the good things that He has promised beginning with the soul-strengthening Fruit of His Spirit.

Philippians 4:4-9 (NIV) Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!  Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Could this be the guidelines for a steadfast life? A steadfast heart is important to our spiritual success. We have a plethora of promises yet to come to pass. There is an abundant life waiting for those who desire it enough to pursue it. Our flesh wants to fight, but our spirit guided by the Holy Spirit tells us to stand fast on the Word of God and let Him complete the work that He has begun in each of us. To be steadfast is not a proud position but a humbled existence that considers God’s Word, Will and Ways before our own. Jotham grew in power because he walked steadfastly before the Lord. Enoch did not die but instead was simply swept up in the Presence of God. The lives of both men are briefly detailed in God’s Word. The message of faithful obedience and steadfastness speaks volumes. In our need to acquiesce our flesh, it is human nature to complicate things with overwhelming details and complexity. It weaves a tangled lie making the excuse that such an existence is impossible. The simple truth is a life lived in steadfastness before the Lord is powerful.

Proverbs 4:25-26 (NIV) Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways.