Wrestling with God

Wrestling With God

Ephesians 5:21 (NLT) And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

The struggle is real. To learn to submit is a far greater discipline than most. I remember the first day I heard the word “submission”. Preparing for a women’s conference at church, in the copy room. My husband and I had a rift the night before and I was looking for support from a close friend. Expressing my frustration about the situation and, of course, HIS stubbornness causing me great aggravation, I didn’t hear her careful footsteps coming up behind me. Turning me mid-packet with her hands gently on my shoulders, she lovingly yet firmly looked me in the eye and said, “You must learn to submit to your husband.” Say what? My gaping jaw slammed shut and my mouth became dry. I know that there was fire in my eyes that gave away the fury in my belly about that time. Had she not been listening? How could she say such a thing? Like a basketball thorn unsuspectingly, her words hit me in the stomach and bounced on the ground at my feet. To be honest, I stewed for the rest of the day. I avoided conversation and contact with her immediately following that conversation. I had no response. Oh, I was reeling and ranting in my head and the filter right behind my mouth – but nothing.

The Word of God is clear. Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Submit from its earliest Latin conception means to yield, lower, let down, put under or reduce. It means to yield to the power or authority of another. To be subject to certain influence. To present for approval or consideration of another. The Lord has spoken on submission and it remains clear that our reverence for Jesus Christ should promote such behavior. He is not asking us to become human doormats or accept abuse at the hands of an oppressor but rather to give up our way to embrace the humility demonstrated by Jesus for others. It means giving up our rightness to maintain righteousness according to the Grace of God given through the Love of Christ and the ability to effectively demonstrate unconditional love and overwhelming grace. It is forgiveness. Not once, but constantly forging deeper and stronger relationships through the release of self.

It is the “and further” moment in life when our soul longs for satisfaction. It is often representative of human interaction rather than any other opportunity. We are called to submit to others as a form of worshipping Christ. We wrestle with that. The struggle is real. To give up our way, wants, needs and desires to experience the fulfillment of Christ seems appealing on paper, but completely overbearing in life. It is, however, the beginning of the giving our life away described as acceptable offerings by the Lord.

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.

Sacrifice is against human nature. Our instinct is for survival. Our flesh rebels against daily crucifixion with Christ. It rebukes the nails that hold our passions and desires to the Cross. Yet, in our heart, we long to worship the Lord in Spirit and Truth. Therefore, something must give. Will it be my way or God’s Holy Highway? It is foolishness to think that going my way that I can have His Way. It is naturally impossible. Impatience and lack of endurance makes us think that we are capable of deriving God’s Best from our own perpetuated imperfect plan. We give up on waiting and watching while living a disciplined and purpose-filled life of faith, hope and trust in the Lord, but instead do our own thing and balk at the results. To be a living sacrifice requires giving up or it is only an offering. Such a giving limits the increase and abundance of God in our life by boundaries set by self.

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. I know how you feel right now. I felt the same way when my dear friend introduced me to submission. I thought she was crazy to tell you the truth. I didn’t believe in the power of submission but could only see its weakness. I couldn’t perceive its reward just the risk associated with such behavior. To submit to the Lord by submitting to others is NOT what you may be thinking. It is to release yourself and humanity from your expectation and putting all our faith, hope and trust in the Love of God and His Caregiving of us. The world will tell you that submission is weakness. I will testify today that submission to the Lord is power. Submission to the Lord is to submit to all mankind.

2 Corinthians 12:7-10 (NLT) So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud. Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

What if the very thing that you think God is using to break you is really an attempt to remake you? What if the giving up of your way is essential to claiming His Best for your life? Are you convinced now? Of course not. The risk seems to outweigh the reward. How many times have I heard I will forgive them but not forget what they did to me… Our stubbornness and unwillingness to submit certain areas of our life creates boundaries to God’s Grace reaching those areas. I must submit my life to grace in order to receive it. I must sacrifice my life by submitting it to the Lord through careful and complete submission of each area day by day.

Submission to God’s Way is all the way. When Samuel approached Saul about his disobedience, Saul insisted that he did obey God. The Lord told Saul to completely destroy the Amalekite nation including “men, women, children, babies, cattle, sheep, goats, camels and donkeys.” They won the battle but Saul chose to spare the life of Agag the king, and some choice animals for sacrifice. Saul kept everything that appealed to him. When Samuel arrived, Saul boasted his obedience. The Lord pointed out the error in his way. “What is more pleasing to the Lord: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams. Rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft, and stubbornness as bad as worshiping idols. So because you have rejected the command of the Lord, he has rejected you as king.” Partial obedience is disobedience. Deviance is rebellion. Submission is sacrifice anything less is an offering. If my desire is to sacrifice my life in obedience to Christ, it will require me to submit my way. Give up what I want and fully embrace the Lord’s Desires and Design for my life. The Lord is clear. His Word is the same today. Still true in every way…Obedience is better than sacrifice. Submission is better than an offering. To have God’s Plan means giving up our way to fully pursue Him.

Genesis 32:24-31 (NLT) This left Jacob all alone in the camp, and a man came and wrestled with him until the dawn began to break. When the man saw that he would not win the match, he touched Jacob’s hip and wrenched it out of its socket. Then the man said, “Let me go, for the dawn is breaking!” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” “What is your name?” the man asked. He replied, “Jacob.” “Your name will no longer be Jacob,” the man told him. “From now on you will be called Israel, because you have fought with God and with men and have won.” “Please tell me your name,” Jacob said. “Why do you want to know my name?” the man replied. Then he blessed Jacob there. Jacob named the place Peniel (which means “face of God”), for he said, “I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been spared.” The sun was rising as Jacob left Peniel, and he was limping because of the injury to his hip.”

Are you wrestling with the Lord today? Jacob wrestled with the Lord. He left his home long before this night to save his life. He had stolen his brother’s birthright. He had manipulated his way to the firstborn position. He fled for his life. He served Laban well, marrying his two daughters, bearing eleven sons, and building a powerful estate. It was time to go home. I cannot imagine the conflict within him that night as his family waiting on the other side of the river. I think everyone comes to this point at some juncture of life. The turning point when control is surrendered to submission. It is a breaking process that releases the breakthrough promise. He had every right to march back into his homeland with his head high. He left with nothing and came back a successful man. He had been given the birthright. The land and honor belonged to him. He was right, but Jacob wanted God’s Blessing. He desired righteousness first.

The Lord gave Jacob a new name. He would no longer be the “supplanter” who had to overthrow others for his position in life. His new name would be “Israel” which means “triumphant with God.” No longer at odds with the Lord, Jacob now Israel had chosen the better way. He didn’t have to fight his way through life or struggle for success. God gave Him victory in his relenting to the Lord. Submission is always the best way. Note that as he left that place of victory, he was limping because of the injury to his hip. Submission marks a changed and transformed state to the believer. The transition point when all of me is given to all of Him through giving my life as a living sacrifice. It is not what I can or cannot do but my willingness to do it all for the Glory of God.

I cannot tell you the many blessings and benefits in my marriage as a result of submission to God first and then my husband. Giving up my strength and reveling in human weakness that allows the One who is greater to live through me. It is called submission and smacks of all things unpalatable to people. It is fragrant aromatic worship to the Lord. He desires it more than anything else. To give less to God who has given it all for us to live in His Love seems so senseless, yet we do it every day. God – teach me to submit to all people in reverence to You today. May I find the fullness of Christ in pouring out my life as a living sacrifice – the kind that is holy and acceptable to You, Lord!

Psalm 51:16-17 (NLT) You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one. You do not want a burnt offering. The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.

No More Rivals

No More Rivals

Isaiah 61:1-3 (NLT) The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed. He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of the Lord’s favor has come, and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies. To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory.

My life has purpose. The potential of my being and existence is fully encompassed in the person of Jesus Christ. He is the Sovereign Lord. Why do I struggle to maintain His Preeminence in my life? There is no rival to the Lord. He has no equal. Yet in our everyday life – the struggle to trust and believe are real and valid battles in the heart and mind of every believer. Every step of faith is met with another challenging opportunity to take another. Following Jesus Christ in this life requires a depth perception of the Kingdom beyond that which our physical being and personal mindset can comprehend. We cry out for the Spirit of the Lord to fall upon us, restore and renew us and spark revival around us. What is stopping this from happening? Could it be the rivals in our life?

A rival is anything that competes for the same object or goal. It is the competition. A person or perception that disputes another’s superiority or preeminence. Who is like the Lord? Well, theoretically no one. There is nobody greater than Jesus Christ. His Power and Authority is unchallenged yet in our own life, one must decide if this is the case. A free will gives us the opportunity to believe anything and live the way that we choose. This does not in any way compromise God’s Power and Authority manifested in Jesus Christ, it only determines our outcomes and position in life. To ask the Lord to pour out His Spirit on us and desire His Will and His Way requires removal of the rivals in our life. To make Jesus Christ our champion, and put our complete faith and trust in His Ability as Sovereign Lord.

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord can only occupy a surrendered and submitted life. To ask the Lord to fill us with His Spirit requires laying aside something in order for holy inhabitation to be complete. I want the Spirit of the Sovereign Lord to live in me. To occupy all areas of my life beginning with my soul, moving through my entire physical and emotional being until He resonates from my life. The process began decades ago. Today, I am still a fragile work in process. However, with each new day comes the challenging opportunity to end yet one more rivalry with the Power of God in my life. It is up to me. To cry out for His Spirit is to put to death anything that comes against my faith in God and willingness to trust the Lord more and more. I must kill those giants. Overcome the enemy. He must become greater and greater and I must become less and less.

Submission is power. Grace is made perfect in my weakness. The world doesn’t operate on that belief system. In fact, to surrender is defeat according to the world. But I am only a temporary resident here, just making my way through life to eternity. Forever is a long time in comparison to a life that is only about 70 years or so on average. We must evaluate our existence for the rivalries and inconsistencies. Those areas of debilitation that the enemy has somehow convinced us hold some power over us or limit us in any way. The Love of God for us is complete. We lack no good thing in His Presence living for His Glory. He wants to take that from you. Steal your power and authority by tricking God’s People into believing that there is a limit to the Lord’s Power and Authority in our life or even a boundary to His Love. Nothing could be further from the Truth.

Luke 4:1-3 (NLT) Then Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan River. He was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where he was tempted by the devil for forty days. Jesus ate nothing all that time and became very hungry. Then the devil said to him… 

The enemy is not short of arguments when it comes to God’s Word or His Power in our life. He constantly offers shortcuts and compromises us. He tests our knowledge and understanding of God’s Word and Work in our life especially when God’s People are committed to living for the Lord. John the Baptist foretold His Coming. Jesus has now been baptized receiving the fullness of God’s Spirit and God said, “You are my dearly loved Son, you bring me great joy!” Can I just be real for a moment, I see a giant target being painted on the back of Jesus right about now! The enemy identified the Lord as his rival to contend with in that moment, and believed himself successful celebrating for about a minute before he realized the horrible mistake that he had made but I am getting ahead of myself.

Jesus immediately full of the Spirit went straight to the wilderness. Welcome to your new life in Christ! Purpose must be pressed to release full potential. Jesus responded to each temptation with the Word of God. Finally the enemy had finished tempting the Lord, he left him…until the next opportunity came. The enemy is not a true rival of Jesus Christ unless we allow him to compete for the Truth that occupies our life. The more real estate given to Christ in our life the more challenging it will be as the enemy attempts to take us out. Our potential is not just for our self, but as God’s Glory overtakes us the Light of His Love shines brightly for others to see. Immediately following Jesus’ trip to the wilderness where He overcame temptation, He entered the Temple and was handed the scroll of Isaiah to read. He read the words from Isaiah 61…God’s Power becomes our own by overcoming all rivals in our life. To submit and surrender to the Lord’s Power allows His Spirit…His Sovereign Spirit to manifest in our life. He becomes our purpose and gives us the power to overcome.

Isaiah 48:15-18 (NLT) Come closer, and listen to this. From the beginning I have told you plainly what would happen.” And now the Sovereign Lord and his Spirit have sent me with this message. This is what the Lord says—your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is good for you and leads you along the paths you should follow. Oh, that you had listened to my commands! Then you would have had peace flowing like a gentle river and righteousness rolling over you like waves in the sea.”

“Sovereign Lord” is used approximately 290 times in the Old Testament depending on the translation you are using. It only occurs 3 times in the New Testament. Why? In the Old Testament, God put His Spirit into different people. When Jesus came in the New Testament, God put His Spirit fully into Jesus Christ. When Jesus died on the Cross, He released His Spirit to His People. Matthew 27:50-52 tells us that At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, rocks split apart, and tombs opened. The bodies of many godly men and women who had died were raised from the dead.” Could this be the first documented revival? When the Spirit of the Sovereign Lord was released along with resurrection power? It was the moment that God’s Power and Authority became completely available to me and you. The choice is mine if I will submit my life to the Sovereign Lord and accept His Power in my life.

God’s Power and Authority given to Jesus Christ lives in me. The only reason that I am not living in it is because I have allowed rivals to take the place of my Champion. I must overcome every hindrance in the race of faith by keeping my eyes on Jesus, my champion who initiates and perfects my faith. (Hebrews 2) How is this possible when there are so many things vying for my attention? How do I keep my eyes (and faith) on someone who I cannot see when there are so many people in the way? How does a football team win the Super Bowl? Or a baseball team the World Series? How does a fighter become Heavyweight Champion of the World? One game, one series or one bout at a time. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Jesus Christ has given you His Spirit. The Greatness of God’s Son and all of His Sovereign Power lives and breathes in every believer. As we begin to overtake and oust the rivals in our life, Christ becomes the dominant factor in all areas of life. Do not despise small beginnings. (Zechariah 4:10) We begin with small increments of faith to build a larger foundation. (Luke 16:9-10) It begins by believing that Jesus is our champion. Our confidence is not in our ability to be faithful or righteous but that He is enough. His Grace sufficient to release His Power no matter how weak or weary that we may become. It all begins by believing. (John 1:49-51) Nathanael believed simply because Jesus told him that he saw him under the fig tree. Jesus told Nathanael that his simple act of believing would produce greater things. What did the man believe? The Word of God. He believed Jesus at His Word.

John 14:12-13 (NLT) “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father.

Do you believe? Do you believe wholeheartedly that the Lord is Sovereign and without rival? Is there anyone or anything equal to the Power of God at work in your life today? Before you answer, consider this. Your life should be prospering as your soul does in every way. Isaiah 61 clearly outlines the Power of God at work in us and through us. If my life is not being lived in God’s Power including prosperity, miracles, signs, wonders and exceptional favor, I must eliminate yet another rival. Some of the things that tempt us NOT to trust God are things like the enemy (John 10:1-3; 10:10), His lies tempt us every day. The Word of God is the only thing that will silence the lie of the enemy in our life. We must know the Word of God intimately, personally, and completely to live a successful Christian life. Jesus is the Word of God. We cannot know our Savior and Lord without it. Our flesh wants control of our life or it will die. It makes desperate attempts to challenge God’s Love, Authority and Power in our life as it does not want to submit or surrender to its own crucifixion. (Romans 7) Finally, our feelings. Our relationship with Jesus Christ must become a marriage that decides to hang on and fight for the partnership no matter how we feel on any given day or in any situation. (I Peter 5:7-9) The enemy, like Goliath, is constantly roaring his taunts and accusations at us. God is greater than our feelings. (I John 3:20) We must eliminate all rivals in our life and let Jesus be our Champion. His Sovereign Spirit will take over turning the natural into supernatural and ordinary to extraordinary.

I Corinthians 9:25-27 (NLT) All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.

Do you desire Jesus to be your Champion today? To do so requires the elimination of all rivals in our life. We live busy lives in a world that offers many distractions. Comfort is appealing and complacency creates such a place. However, I want to live the life promised in Isaiah 61. My purpose in life is that the Spirit of the Sovereign Lord be manifested in my life and overflow to the world around me. I must be disciplined. I cannot allow the things of this world to rival the championship of Jesus in my life. I have a free will. I have the right to choose the amount of my life that is sacrificed, surrendered and submitted to the Almighty. It is all up to me. I choose to run with purpose in every step. How about you? Will you say with me today, “No more rivals, Jesus! All I want is You! You are my Champion!”

Isaiah 30:15 (NLT) This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: “Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength. But you would have none of it.

Beyond the Fog

beyond-the-fog

2 Corinthians 5:7 (NLT) For we live by believing and not by seeing.

“Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything in perfect clarity. All I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.” (I Corinthians 13:12) A thick fog has blanketed the streets and houses in the neighborhood this morning. It is difficult to make out the house across the street, but I know it is there. Fog is nothing more than tiny water droplets suspended in the atmosphere making it difficult to see. The same word is used to describe something that obscures and/or confuses a situation or someone’s thought process. One might say that someone is walking around in a fog.  As believers, I believe that such is a normal state of life. As what we now on the earth collides with what we are learning about the Kingdom, it causes a new state of understanding called belief. The sun will soon burn away the water that has hindered natural visibility. Lord, I ask you to clear away the foggy areas of my life so that all I see is You.

Faith shows the reality of what we hope for. It is the evidence of things we cannot see. (Hebrews11:1) It is without hesitation that in a few hours everyone will load up in the family vehicle and head to the House of God. What each person encounters will be strictly up to them? Surely as pastors all over are praying, worship leaders preparing the way to enter His Presence, teachers are studying lessons, and group leaders picking up donuts on the way to fire up the coffee pot, the Lord is waiting. He is wondering if today will be the day that the fog lifts from our faith. If it will be the moment that His People choose to believe in Him. Just the Lord, only Jesus. We have made church such a prominent production that many times it is easy to forget what really matters. It is what we believe. The things that we cannot see but trust by faith to be real and true.

Do you believe today? Yes, I believe that I will find a parking spot, be met by a greeter, find a seat in the sanctuary, hear good music, and be brought a good message but will I believe just a step farther by placing one foot into the fog where faith becomes belief. The place where new life begins. The Presence of God is where I want to go. It is the very place that I am called to be where my purpose is revealed and potential exposed to growth beyond that which I can imagine or even think. Corrie ten Boom said, “Faith is the radar that sees through the fog.”

Matthew 8:5-10 (NLT)  When Jesus returned to Capernaum, a Roman officer came and pleaded with him, “Lord, my young servant lies in bed, paralyzed and in terrible pain.” Jesus said, “I will come and heal him.” But the officer said, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come into my home. Just say the word from where you are, and my servant will be healed. I know this because I am under the authority of my superior officers, and I have authority over my soldiers. I only need to say, ‘Go,’ and they go, or ‘Come,’ and they come. And if I say to my slaves, ‘Do this,’ they do it.” When Jesus heard this, he was amazed. Turning to those who were following him, he said, “I tell you the truth, I haven’t seen faith like this in all Israel!

The first paper that I ever wrote in Bible College was about the centurion’s faith. It quickly became one of the most inspiring stories in the entire book. Immediately, I had a burning desire to have faith like He did. The kind of faith that made Jesus marvel and amazed Him. The officer made it through the military ranks because he understood authority and power. He not only recognized these two things, but his training and experience allowed him to respond with confidence and absolute trust that if Jesus spoke the word – it would be enough. I want God’s Word to be enough for me to respond to. His Word is all that I need to have all the authority and power of God’s Kingdom at my disposal. My response to God’s Word, His Will and His Way must be marked by submission and surrender. These are the very things that our pride and flesh hate. They are the acts rallied against by our mind, will and emotions as they exact the death blow to sin in our life. Which gives us a new life where there is no room for self in order to make room for all of Jesus!

Just say the word from where you are, and my servant will be healed. When the Lord told me that our son would live and not die, I had to make a choice. Trust is always a choice. It is the element of freedom that cannot be forced therefore submission and surrender are absolutely essential to step out of our natural life and secure eternal life. It is the boundary between impossible and possible that can only be overcome by faith. We must move from the place of doubt and disbelief to obtain faith and trust in the Lord to allow Him access to our now rather than waiting on forever.

Mark 9:22-24 (NLT) The spirit often throws him into the fire or into water, trying to kill him. Have mercy on us and help us, if you can.” “What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.” The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!”

“Help us, if you can…” Many people pray this way even today. “Lord, if it is Your Will – heal my _______” We must fortify our belief system with truth. Jesus met the woman at the well when she was isolated and alone. (John 4) Her past made it impossible for her to join the other woman. She was an outcast. He imparted life changing wisdom to her that day filling her heart. He said to her that there was coming a day when “true worshippers” would do so in Spirit and in Truth. To live by Spirit and Truth is to live under the power and authority of God. We have the Holy Spirit to produce spiritual fruit to nourish our faith and feed our trust so belief will be born in us. The Truth is God’s Word. We cannot know Jesus and not know the Word because they are one. (John 1) She decided to believe. When she went to tell the others, they also believed. (John 4:42) “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief, Lord!”

John 8:44-45 (NLT) For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies. So when I tell the truth, you just naturally don’t believe me!

Born in sin, it is not natural for people to believe the Gospel message. We are born judged. Acceptance of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord relinquishes our familial connection to sin that is natural to step into the supernatural realm called hope. To have all the benefits and blessings of being a Child of the King. We must make the transition from death to life in doing just one thing. We must believe in Jesus. He must be our Savior and become our Lord. Just as solider enlists voluntarily, we become good soldiers of Jesus Christ by accepting Him as our Lord. His Word becomes our authority and therefore we submit obedience. His Power becomes ours by surrendering our weakness and inability to His Power. It is not natural so it will require constant attention.

The father of lies tells us many things contradictory to the Word of God but readily accepted by unknowing flesh. Jesus did not come with a long list of demands. He did not come with an assassin’s agenda to exact punishment. He came to offer salvation. He came not to condemn but pardon. The world says that it is too good to be true. Religion adds an addendum to perfect love created fear and anxiety over one’s inability to follow them. Jesus didn’t come for all that but with one purpose in mind. Those who believe would be saved. The only sin that forces judgement over mercy is its refusal to believe in Jesus Christ. I didn’t say that the Word of God does. (John 16:9) We must believe that Jesus Christ is our Savior. We must believe that He is the Lord of our life. This belief by faith and confident hope will cause us not just to trust Him for our forever but allows Him to change our today and tomorrows, too.

John 11:23-27 (NLT) Jesus told her, “Your brother will rise again.” “Yes,” Martha said, “he will rise when everyone else rises, at the last day.” Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?” “Yes, Lord,” she told him. “I have always believed you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who has come into the world from God.”

“Then she returned to Mary. She called Mary aside from the mourners and told her, “The Teacher is here and wants to see you.” (John 11:28) Martha’s faith was limited. She could not believe beyond seeing. When Jesus arrived, she scolded Him. “If you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Jesus even revealed Himself to her directly by saying, “I am the Resurrection and the Life.” He went on to tell her that those who live in Me will never die. Though her mouth said the right thing, it revealed the reality of her faith. Martha had faith for forever, but she did not believe for that day. Martha was blind to the spiritual significance of what Jesus was saying so passed Him off to Mary. It is easy to get caught up in the rhetoric of faith without truly believing. We must be so very careful as Christians that faith is a verb and not just a noun. We must live by believing not seeing. Faith is believing without seeing and living based on confident hope not human confidence.

John 11:38-40 (NLT) Jesus was still angry as he arrived at the tomb, a cave with a stone rolled across its entrance. “Roll the stone aside,” Jesus told them. But Martha, the dead man’s sister, protested, “Lord, he has been dead for four days. The smell will be terrible.” Jesus responded, “Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believe?”

When Jesus encountered Mary, she fell at His Feet also indicating that she believed if Jesus had been there – her brother would be alive. Jesus was in the midst of them ready to give new life to Lazarus but they were caught up in their circumstance and current conditions believing that it was over. Hope arrived but they didn’t even recognize Him. It says in John 11:35 that Jesus wept. Was He weeping because those closest to Him did not believe? Do you believe that Jesus can bring even dead things back to life? ”So the promise is received by faith. It is given as a free gift. And we are all certain to receive it, whether or not we live according to the law of Moses, if we have faith like Abraham’s. For Abraham is the father of all who believe. That is what the Scriptures mean when God told him, “I have made you the father of many nations.”[ This happened because Abraham believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing. Even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept hoping—believing that he would become the father of many nations. For God had said to him, “That’s how many descendants you will have!” (Romans 4:16-18)

John 9:35-38 (NLT) When Jesus heard what had happened, he found the man and asked, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” The man answered, “Who is he, sir? I want to believe in him.” “You have seen him,” Jesus said, “and he is speaking to you!” “Yes, Lord, I believe!” the man said. And he worshiped Jesus.

Jesus healed this man of blindness. The Pharisees demanded an explanation of the miracle from the man. He recounted his experience. They continued to harass Him until they finally threw him out of the synagogue because the beggar could not give a natural explanation of his supernatural experience. Jesus came to the man and made an introduction. The man believed.

Thomas was a disciple of Jesus Christ. He was with him for all the ministry and miracles of his years leading up to the Cross. When Jesus came back to life, his close follower and disciple refused to believe without actually seeing the Lord with nail-scarred hands and the fresh scar in his side. Jesus came to Him. It is His Deepest Desire that we believe. Jesus said to Thomas, “Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!” Once Thomas finally believed Jesus said these words, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.” This is not a message for the lost but those who think seeing is believing. In the natural this is true. Spiritually faith is believing what we do not see enough to trust Him for now not just forever.

Mark 11:22-25 (NLT) Then Jesus said to the disciples, “Have faith in God. I tell you the truth, you can say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. But you must really believe it will happen and have no doubt in your heart. I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours. But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.”

True worshippers will do so in Spirit and in Truth. God’s Power and Authority is ready for you. All that is required to have faith in Jesus Christ, to believe in His Word and live according to His Way. To submit and surrender to His Word. There is an inherent danger to demanding God to do it our way or constantly give us signs in order to believe. In Mark15:31-32, the religious leaders demanded Jesus to save Himself from the Cross in order for them to believe. If Jesus Christ had done what they required to believe – no one could be saved. Life was in their grasp. Forever within an arms width away. Yet the tried to call our Savior (the Messiah) off the Cross to satisfy their doubt and disbelief. We cannot demand Jesus to do it our way but believe that His Way is perfect and live accordingly. Belief is empowered by His Spirit and His Word. They become the Truth to live by. We must rebuke the natural desire to see what God is doing and respond to what we know of Him. The Word lights our way and is a lamp to our feet. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and Life who better to guide and navigate us then the Word. The Holy Spirit is our helper. We will never walk alone if we acknowledge Him and partner with Him to discover more faith which fuels our belief. We must fan this desire to know the Lord into a passionate flame of unquenchable desire.

John 8:31-32 (NLT) Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

The tell-tale sign of belief is faith and trust demonstrated by obedience to God’s Authority and His Power. It is the very thing that allows us to experience all the benefits and blessings associated with new life and rebirth. The Resurrection Power that brought Jesus forth from the grave victoriously is in us. The key to unlock it is labeled “believe”. Do you believe? The easiest way to know if there is disbelief in us is disobedience. If we truly believe that God is always good, His Word true, His Love unconditional, His Grace powerful and His Glory better than life – we would obey Him at His Word and achieve the faith of the centurion. The kind of faith and trust that amazed Jesus! I would love for that to be the legacy of my life. To trust the Lord for more than just forever. To obey Him at His Word. Lord, help me today to walk completely by faith and not by sight. To step into the deep from which You are calling and not hesitate because I cannot see the way. I want to be where You are Jesus! Take me to that place! Be my Light when I cannot see and my comfort when fear grips my heart! Let the response of my heart in all things to follow you. I want to believe, rid me of all disbelief in Jesus Name!

John 10:25-27 (NLT)  Jesus replied, “I have already told you, and you don’t believe me. The proof is the work I do in my Father’s name. But you don’t believe me because you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.

 

Civilian Affairs

civilian-affairs

Romans 13:1-2 (NIV) Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.

The much anticipated Election Day has finally arrived. The day touted as the one where America chooses the lesser of two evils. Honestly, one debate was enough. This campaign was not one of issues but continue character bashing and political assassination. Many voted early fearful that there would be social unrest and possible violence in light of freedom of choice. I, for one, am glad that this day will come and go finally. Tomorrow is a new day. No matter who becomes the next president of the United States of America, the Word of God is clear. We become subject to the new governing authority, for there is NO authority expect that which God has established. Before you become offended and form an objection, may I offer this gentle reminder? There is more to life than this. Could this election possibly be a test? The world is not going to get any better. It will continue to degenerate as the time of Christ’s return draws near. There will be an increase of wickedness. The love of most will grow cold. But the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.

Before pulling out a soapbox and offering an opinion to others about who they should vote for and why? Or if you are considering a political discussion with another who is clearly voting for the wrong person, I encourage you as a believer and Christian to refrain from entering the endless fodder of careless and unfruitful conversations. Yes, we need to pray for America. We must pray for those in authority. However, our actions today at the polls go beyond who we choose to vote for. I encourage you to vote your heart, vote your convictions and leave with a clear conscience. Leave it all in the voting booth, and then get back to life.

Romans 13:6-7 (NIV) This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

We have a social responsibility to pay taxes. It doesn’t stop there but also includes revenue, respect and honor. The Bible indicates that the authorities over us are God’s servants. What if they do not openly serve God or make good choices considering His Word, Will and Way? Two things: they are the individual’s held accountable for how they govern. Secondly, all throughout the Book of Exodus – it is stated several times that the Lord changed Pharaoh’s heart. God influences authority over His People’s lives. If this is the case, which I believe it is, no matter who is in office – the One True Sovereign God remains in control and Jesus maintains all power and authority in Heaven and on earth.

Matthew 28:17-20 (NIV) When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

“All authority and power has been given to me. Therefore…” It is important today to move past the present day and step into the future. We walk by faith and not by sight which means living for a future hope rather than present situations. I do not believe in many things one the candidates today. I do not trust either one completely. I do not approve of the blatant disregard of one candidate for certain people or their crass words and condemnation of others. My role in this life is to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. I don’t live to change the world but build a Kingdom.

In Daniel 7:13-14 (NIV), Daniel had a vision of the Son of Man. He said, “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.” Today is the day to elect who you will serve. In the polls, you will vote for your choice as the next president and elected governing officials but this does not change the power and authority governing our life. Jesus lives inside of us. All the glory shown to Daniel now resides in us. Are we applying it to the right place? Is our energy being wasted on civilian affairs that promote arguments and dissension among believers? If a candidate offends you, vote for someone else but leave all malice at the booth and be ready to go do your Father’s Business.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. He has given His Power and Authority to those who choose Him as Savior and make Him their Lord. Who is the power and authority over your life today? I know you just said, “Jesus!” under your breath. Remember that when faced with dumb arguments and those little rifts caused by the enemy used to catch you off guard. You have chosen to lay your life down for Jesus Christ. Jesus laid down His Life (John 10:17-18) for you and me so we don’t have to engage in civilian affairs but live through His Power and Love. In fact, the Word encourages us not to get tangled up in them. (2 Timothy 2:4) My orders have been given to me. I am to share the Gospel of Love with all mankind even those who vote for someone else and choose a different government than me.

Romans 13:8-10 (NIV) Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:36) Get out and vote today! Exercise your freedom to choose. It is a privilege that not everyone is afforded. Do so with a confident heart and clear conscience. God is Sovereign. Christ still lives on the Throne. Our debt to society is one thing – love. To love others more than ourselves. All others. It doesn’t matter who they are, what they look like, how they live or who they choose today. Your opinion is just that. It belongs to you. It doesn’t mean anyone else wants it, needs it or should have it. What God has called us to do is love each other and build His Kingdom. Do not let today get in the way of your mission called the Great Commission. Do not let the enemy lure you into arguments and disagreements today. Refuse to take offense. Guard your heart above all things. Jesus is coming back. This world is only going to get worse. Love is still going to be cold. Darkness is permeating this planet. The Light of the World will soon dawn. On that day it will not matter how you voted today, only if you honored the Living God.

Proverbs 4:23 (NIV) Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.

The Lion’s Roar

the-lions-roar

Psalm 91:9-13 (NLT) If you make the Lord your refuge, if you make the Most High your shelter, no evil will conquer you; no plague will come near your home. For he will order his angels to protect you wherever you go. They will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone. You will trample upon lions and cobras; you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet!

Ever wonder why lions are referred to as king of the jungle? For centuries, lions have been called the king of beasts (not of the jungle). Due to their majestic appearance and position as a top predator, they are the assumed “king” of the beasts due to their raw power. They are the only wild cats who form a community called a “pride” where they live and hunt together. Male lions are the protector of the pride. They defend their territory and protect their cubs from invading males. Human kings were once perceived to play the very same role and do the same things. Where are all the kings now?  Kings are for fairy tales and folklore or are they?

As I read about the King of Kings today, the Lord has promised me a place of refuge. He gives me shelter from evil so I may not be conquered by it but live in His Grace. Nothing can come close to the home I have found in the Lion of Judah – the King of all kings. He promises His Angels will protect me as I go – holding me up with their hands so I will not stumble or fall. I will trample upon lions and cobras. I will crush fierce lions and serpents under my feet. All of this is promised for those who “those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him.”  (Psalm 91:1-2)

Shortly after graduating high school, I felt a tug on my heart to pursue full-time ministry. The College and Career pastor and I were talking about the many aspects of ministry. He offered an opportunity to travel to Africa and spend the summer with missionaries. Lying in bed in Nairobi, Africa in a villa just outside of the city, in the still of the night lions would roar in the distance. I was completely in awe that I could hear lions in the wild roaring. I was not afraid safely tucked in bed. The home was secure. Men of the Masai tribe in Kenya were employed to patrol the perimeter of the property for protection as well. I was safe in my refuge yet I could still hear the roar of the lion.

God promises us power over the enemy but there will be many times that he roars at us. The lies hissed by the serpent are shouted by the lion painted in false power and fake authority. The enemy has no power over us when our faith and trust is safe and secure in the refuge of God in His Presence. Do you trust the shelter of faith built around your life today by the Most High? Do you run when the lion roars? Have you fallen for the whispered lie of the serpent? Today is the day to get back on your feet. The roar of the lion is inevitable but the Power of God manifested in you through Jesus Christ is the greatest authority of all. Greater is He who lives in you than he that is in the world. Do you believe that today? The roar of the lion is silenced by the Power of God for those who choose to love and trust Him.

I Peter 5:6-11 (NLT) So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are. In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation. All power to him forever! Amen.

“Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” As a true believer in Jesus Christ, it is imperative to live battle ready. The enemy is ready to engage from the moment your feet hit the floor. He will keep your mind awake through the night with fear, anxiety, worries and care that are nothing more than lies taking up real estate in the human mind. Faith and trust cannot exist in occupied space. Faith can only come when fear is given up. Trust is the act of expecting God first enough to make room for Him to be our expectation. If you do not trust the structure, you will not live in the house. If you do not trust the Lord, why would you live in His Presence?

On the other hand, there are those who do not believe that here is an enemy who seeks to overtake them. Remember the story of the three little pigs who set out on their own in the great big world. Two of them built shelters that would not withstand danger. The wolf easily toppled the homes they had constructed. The huts built in haste to get back to living life and entertaining the world. The two fled to their brother’s home who had taken the time and expended the energy to build a sound structure that would not fall down when the enemy arrived. His faithfulness and obedience saved his family from being devoured by the big, bad wolf. Friend, there is an enemy out there that wants to steal you from the Lord. But I have good news…

The enemy is walking around like a “roaring lion” looking for someone to devour. Those who stand alert, watch out for him, stand firm against him, and remain strong in faith cannot and will not be overtaken. It is up to you and me who to believe. The lie of the enemy may sound like a powerful lion who is about to attack but the truth of the matter is “you will trample upon lions” and “you will crush fierce lions.” It is the Word of God so it is true. The only power that the lion has over us today is that which is allowed. The truth of the matter is there is no power in his roar. It is but a kitten’s mew in the ears of a believer.

Daniel 6:16-23 (NLT) So at last the king gave orders for Daniel to be arrested and thrown into the den of lions. The king said to him, “May your God, whom you serve so faithfully, rescue you.” A stone was brought and placed over the mouth of the den. The king sealed the stone with his own royal seal and the seals of his nobles, so that no one could rescue Daniel. Then the king returned to his palace and spent the night fasting. He refused his usual entertainment and couldn’t sleep at all that night. Very early the next morning, the king got up and hurried out to the lions’ den. When he got there, he called out in anguish, “Daniel, servant of the living God! Was your God, whom you serve so faithfully, able to rescue you from the lions?” Daniel answered, “Long live the king! My God sent his angel to shut the lions’ mouths so that they would not hurt me, for I have been found innocent in his sight. And I have not wronged you, Your Majesty.” The king was overjoyed and ordered that Daniel be lifted from the den. Not a scratch was found on him, for he had trusted in his God.

The king could not defy his own order. If he did not put Daniel into the lion’s den, it would be to go back on his word and subsequently cause a ripple of uncertainty to ripple through his kingdom. His power and authority would not allow him to go back on this decree even to save the man of God. Sound familiar? God is not a man. He cannot lie or change His Mind. It would compromise His Authority and make His Power invalid. His Perfection is what makes Him Supreme and Omnipotent. He is Sovereign. This is why Jesus had to pay the ultimate price as the Sacrifice for our sin.

God sent an angel to shut to save Daniel. The king fasted and prayed all night for his servant’s safety. He wanted to believe that Daniel’s God would save him from certain death. I believe the King of Kings is always pulling for us, too. Hoping that this will be the day our trust in Him is secure. The moment that our faith keeps us firmly positioned in His Presence. There was not a scratch on Daniel when he was taken from the den that day. Not a proverbial “hair out of place.” God didn’t promise that we would not hear the roar of the lion or even find ourselves sleeping in his den, but He did promise that in His Presence, in the Shadow of the Almighty, that He would be our Refuge. He is our Protector and Defender. Psalm 91 says “for he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease. He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection.”

Psalm 34:9-10 (NLT) Fear the Lord, you his godly people, for those who fear him will have all they need. Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry, but those who trust in the Lord will lack no good thing.

Do you hear the roar of the lion today? Is fear creeping in that you will be overtaken? Do you feel forgotten in the lion’s den sure to be consumed? Do not fear. Have faith today. God is with you. He is in you. He is working for you. The roar of the lion is based on his hunger not his power. In fact, the lioness are the real huntress in nature. The king of this world may be asserting his power but it is temporary and will soon be destroyed. His breath is filled with lies. He walks with his “pride” which is the small realm of influence that he has. The enemy is desperate. He cannot overtake anyone who dwells in the refuge called God’s Presence. Those who trust the Lord will not only survive but thrive lacking no good thing.

Proverbs 28:1 (NLT) The wicked run away when no one is chasing them, but the godly are as bold as lions.

I believe that based on Proverbs 28:1 – the Lord does not want us to cower in His Presence but become filled with boldness and confidence because He who is greater lives in me. When will the church start roaring back at the world? When will our voice shout to the victim running from the lion to come with us where you are safe from harm? When will the church become the refuge that Christ ordained us to be? When we stop running from the lion’s roar and come back roaring! Praising His Name. Trusting His Word. Having faith in His Kingdom enough to live there now and invest in our future with hope.

Psalm 91:14-16 (NLT) The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name. When they call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honor them. I will reward them with a long life and give them my salvation.”

Lying in bed in the middle of a foreign country surrounded by the jungles of Africa, I did not feel one ounce of fear when I heard the lion’s roar. Why? I knew that I was well-protected. I could hear the sounds of the night and felt the darkness surrounding me but it did not cause me to fear or worry that I was in any danger. God wants His Presence to be that profound in our life. So that when the enemy shouts at us, we are not afraid. When darkness is foreboding, the Light of His Love comes shining through. During the tests and trials that are inevitable to develop our faith and trust in Him, the Lord has given us freedom that no man or beast can take from us. The only weapon the enemy has to use against us are his lies. Once you know the truth, you will no longer believe the lie. With all this in mind, how loud is the lion’s roar now?

Come into His Presence today with boldness and confidence. The Lord wants to be our refuge and strength. It is up to us if we will rest in the Shadow of the Almighty with peace that passes understanding and inexpressible joy or will we live on the run? I choose you today Lion of Judah. Give me back my voice. Fill my mouth with Your Promises today to dismiss every lie the enemy offers. I trust you today! Let the lion’s roar.

Hebrews 4:16 (NLT) So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.

Yard Sale Diaries

Yard Sale Diaries

Jude 24-25 (NLT) Now all glory to God, who is able to keep you from falling away and will bring you with great joy into his glorious presence without a single fault. All glory to him who alone is God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord. All glory, majesty, power, and authority are his before all time, and in the present, and beyond all time! Amen.

For weeks, I have been preparing for a yard sale to get rid of all the clutter and superfluous items that have accumulated while preparing to move. Every nook and cranny of our home has been emptied and explored. Those things of use, worth or want packed carefully in boxes to make it to our destination. Unceremonious piles of stuff that is no longer needed piled high in boxes in various places around the house. The mass accumulation of all the “stuff” became overwhelming until the day of our moving sale finally came. The old adage rings true that one man’s junk is another man’s treasure as people loaded up these items and paid me to take them away.

Toward the end of the morning, my friend and I began to go through the leftovers deciding what to do with the rest when a woman approached me. I recognized her as her parents were unfortunately with us in the care center where we stayed during our son’s cancer treatment. After a sweaty embrace and quick inquiry about the parents, she said her mom had sent her to find items as they were helping a family rebuild their life. I told her she was welcome to whatever she could find free of charge. She insisted on paying for it and of course, it was refused. So we went through all the items that were left and filled her truck with those things of use.

This was not a sacrifice. I didn’t want the remaining items and in fact we were developing a donation strategy when she walked up. But I wonder if the Lord does not allow us opportunities to give our life away each day that go unrecognized? Times when we consider the cost too much or do not see that Christ is standing before us offering us more or better for our less and worthless? The sale was a success. Now I want to work on the sacrifices in my life.

2 Samuel 24:21-23 (NLT) “Why have you come, my lord the king?” Araunah asked. David replied, “I have come to buy your threshing floor and to build an altar to the Lord there, so that he will stop the plague.” “Take it, my lord the king, and use it as you wish,” Araunah said to David. “Here are oxen for the burnt offering, and you can use the threshing boards and ox yokes for wood to build a fire on the altar. I will give it all to you, Your Majesty, and may the Lord your God accept your sacrifice.”

There was a terrible plague. King David had come to realize through godly revelation that is was because of his sin and he had to make things right with the Lord. The Lord told him what to do and David, a man after God’s Heart, set out to do what was requested of him and repent. Before Jesus came and covered us with grace, repentance required sacrifice. When he approached Araunah, the man recognized the king. When David requested the items for his sacrifice, the man said to the king – “Take it, my lord the king, and use it as you wish…I will give it all to you, Your Majesty…” David could not take it from this man or it would not be a sacrifice. He had to pay the price which he did.

Araunah recognized David’s Majesty and responded the moment that he gave his all to the governing power and ruling authority in his life. He took what he had and was willing to give it all away in response and acknowledgement of his allegiance to the king. I think of the number of times that I have come to God and given Him my life thinking that I was offering something of worth. I consider those feelings of regret and remorse, like the rich young ruler, when the things of this world held more value than Kingdom blessings. Now I realize everything I am and everything that I have belong to Jesus. When I offer the Lord my life it can only be in response and acknowledgement of Who He is and nothing I am or have done. I’ll wait while you think about that for a moment… and I do, too.

Hebrews 1:2-4 (NLT) And now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son. God promised everything to the Son as an inheritance, and through the Son he created the universe. The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command. When he had cleansed us from our sins, he sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven. This shows that the Son is far greater than the angels, just as the name God gave him is greater than their names.

The sacrifice of Jesus Christ allows Him to be my Savior. It is the Lordship of Christ which is the Resurrection Power that robbed the grave and the Authority bestowed to Him in direct response to His Obedience in overcoming death that allows me to give my life back to Him. The sacrifice was made for my life by Jesus Christ. I cannot earn or repay the Lord for this gift. He holds it in His Hands. It is how I respond to His Authority and Power in my life that allows me to be saved. Without sacrifice there is no remission of sins, Jesus didn’t give me a sacrifice. He is the Sacrifice so unless I become one with the Lord and live in allegiance to Him – I have nothing to give back to God.

Matthew 8:7-10 (NLT) Jesus said, “I will come and heal him.” But the officer said, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come into my home. Just say the word from where you are, and my servant will be healed. I know this because I am under the authority of my superior officers, and I have authority over my soldiers. I only need to say, ‘Go,’ and they go, or ‘Come,’ and they come. And if I say to my slaves, ‘Do this,’ they do it.” When Jesus heard this, he was amazed. Turning to those who were following him, he said, “I tell you the truth, I haven’t seen faith like this in all Israel!

Shortly after we opened shop for the day, a very pleasant woman was wandering around surveying our wares. After a hearty “Good Morning”, we struck up a conversation over our coffee. She noticed a tall vase sitting on the table. She stopped midsentence and said, “You aren’t selling that are you?” I followed her pointing finger to the vase clearly marked for one dollar. She went on to tell me that the piece looked to be “depression glass” which is of some kind of worth. Furthermore, it is very old and that I she keep it or at the very least do some research. Removing the sticker, I put it away for safekeeping. I applaud the woman for pointing out this to me. I also revel in her honest since most people would have paid the dollar to have the valuable piece to resell or keep for themselves. She is a collector. She recognized its worth.

The centurion came to Jesus because his servant was sick. He pleaded with the Lord to heal his ailing helper. Jesus said, “I will come and heal him.” The centurion refused as he too was a man of authority. A centurion was of one of the highest ranks in the Roman guard. His title implied that no less than 100 men were under his direct command and he was responsible for the comings and goings of each one of them. These men were of the highest paid officials in Rome. Yet when Jesus offered to come to his home and heal his servant, the centurion refused. Why?

The centurion understood authority and power from both sides as one who was under the command of others and the one who “was” the commanding officer of many. The officer recognized, understood and acknowledged the authority and power of Jesus Christ. “Just say the word from where you are, and my servant will be healed.” Faith. The centurion had faith in the authority and power of Jesus Christ. So much so that he didn’t need Jesus to come lay hands on the man. He didn’t have to see Jesus do anything or a change in his immediate circumstances but if Jesus just spoke the word than he knew that everything would be alright and the order would be carried out.

I want the centurion’s faith. I want to believe the Lord at His Word every single time. I want to recognize the things in my life that need change and trust the Lord to do it – sight unseen. The woman at the yard sale recognized the great worth of the vase I was selling for one dollar. She acknowledged it to me and now I know that what I have is worth something. May the faith of the centurion speak to all of us today and show us the great worth of surrender to the Power and Authority of Jesus Christ when we put our faith in His Word. By virtue of the Roman officer’s position of power in this country, he could have commanded Jesus to come and heal his servant. I don’t think it would have happened. The healing was in response to this man’s absolute faith in God’s Complete Authority and Power invested in Jesus Christ.

Hebrews 1:3 tells us that Jesus Christ sustains everything by the mighty power of His Command. Jesus must only speak the Word and new life begins. Things change. Mountains move. Walls crumble. His Authority and Power is nothing to me until I accept Him as Savior and make Jesus my Lord. It is under his direct authority and complete power that I have access to all His Kingdom has to offer.

Hebrews 13:14-16 (NLT) For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come. Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name. And don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God.

Our life is an offering that must be given through Jesus. His Sacrifice is our only hope of salvation. It is through our acknowledgement and allegiance to His Sacrifice that we are able to offer acceptable gifts to God of things like praise, worship, commitment and obedience. We cannot sacrifice anything worthy. Jesus paid the ultimate price and is our sacrifice. The only hope that I have is my faith in Jesus Christ as I surrender to His Authority and Power in my life. It is the only thing that I have to give back. This world is not my permanent home. I thought this house was the last place I would live. I made a declaration when we moved in that I would never move again. But then the Holy Spirit moved on my heart and the Lord whispered in my ear. Now we are moving again. My life is not my own, to you I belong, I give myself, I give myself to you. The things of this world will be destroyed down to the last red cent. It will be the prosperity of our soul that is our currency into Heaven. The only thing there of worth is Jesus. I owe Him my life. Why not give it all to Him? It is crazy that the Lord showed me these things through my experiences at a yard sale. Life is not about what we have but Who we know!

Ephesians 1:19-23 (NLT) I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms. Now he is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else—not only in this world but also in the world to come. God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made him head over all things for the benefit of the church. And the church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself.

Beyond the Thorns

Beyond the Thorns

Luke 8:14-15 (NIV)  The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.

As I have shared before, our family is selling our house and moving to the county close by. After accepting an offer on our existing home, it was time to write a contract on the new house. Leaving, I noticed rosebushes in the flowerbed along the walkway leading to the driveway. These bushes have been here awhile as they are mature and beginning to bloom. I love roses. I have noticed that the bigger the blooms so are the thorns. Thorns are the rosebushes defense system developed to protect its fruit. Each bud turns into a magnificent flower beauty to the eye, fragrant to the smell, and even sweet to taste. If a rose did not have thorns, it would be extinct by now quickly consumed by all living creatures. It has survived because just beneath the leaves hidden from view are sharp barbs warding off the unwanted attention and immediate destruction of others. The thorns on roses are a defense mechanism to keep them from being harmed.

Song of Solomon 2:1 (NIV) I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys.

Jesus is the Rose of Sharon. Did you know that of all the flowers in God’s Creation that the rose is considered the loveliest and sweetest? It has three qualities of pure perfection – shape, color and fragrance. The rose is the most common flower. It doesn’t matter where you travel, the rose is there. It is universal. It belongs to everyone. Jesus Christ died for everyone. His Love is universal.

Matthew 27:28-31 (NIV) They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand. Then they knelt in front of him and mocked him. “Hail, king of the Jews!” they said. They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again. After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.

The process of sacrifice that Jesus endured in the giving of His Live universally for all humanity has many aspects and elements that define the benefits of salvation. It is multilevel in acquisition. It is multifaceted in its complete beauty. During his torture before being nailed to the Cross, the soldiers ruthlessly twisted together a crown woven of thorns and put them on His Head. They were mocking His Lordship and majesty. They put a staff in His Hand with which they would take back from Jesus to strike his head wearing the crown of thorns again…and again. All this before the people who continued to cry for His Death by crucifixion. Jesus remained silent and endure this punishment for us. Our faces were on His Heart replaying in His Mind as He underwent such physical pain on our behalf.

“The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures…”  Reading today’s passage again, the thorns look a little different especially when tinged with the Blood of Jesus. The seed in the story is God’s Word. God’s Word is Jesus once wrapped in human flesh subject to die for our sins but who would not just set us free, but allows us the opportunity to live in right standing with God the Father all over again. Our life is a beautiful masterpiece much like the creation of the rose. It cannot be duplicated in its perfection and purpose. A rose without thorns is defenseless yet much less painful to touch. We are called to have hearts of rich soil and to grow these seeds invested in us. We are to grow, develop, mature and produce fruit. Some may say this is impossible due to all the thorns. I say that is only possible because of the life’s thorns.

2 Corinthians 12:7-10 (NIV) “…Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Hugh Miller, a Scottish geologist, writer and evangelical Christian said, “Problems are opportunities with thorns on them.” When we face challenges and difficulties as believers in Christ, we have a promise attached to each. Because of His Great Love for us, we can count on all things working together for our good. However acceptance of Christ is not enough. We must make Jesus the Lord of our life. In Numbers 33:51-55, God saved the Children of Israel and now is releasing them into the Promised Land. They are take possession of the land. They have full authority and power to do so as the Lord has ordained it to them. He has gone before them preparing the way and all they have to do is step into it and take it over. They were to drive out the other inhabitants or risk them becoming “barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides.” Could this be a message to the modern day believer? When we do not walk in the Blessings and Prosperity of God’s Purpose and Plan that there will be thorns in our life? Hmm…

In Joshua 23:12-14, there is a similar warning when we decide to yoke ourselves with the “inhabitants” of the land. Again, Jesus Christ has given us His Power and Authority on the earth. It is enshrouded by His Love but is not weak and helpless. We are empowered by His Spirit to take dominion in our life by the power invested and evident in me of the Holy Spirit. However, when we cease to force out the unwelcome inhabitants in our life…they become snares and traps, whips on our backs and thorns in our eyes. Not a single promise God has given you has failed, it just may be hidden behind some thorns.

Thorns in our flesh make us uncomfortable. At times they are an annoyance and other times quite painful. The purpose in the thorns is to keep us from become comfortable and complacent in a place of compromise. Just about the time pride and arrogance rise up creating vain glory, it is dissolved in a shortcoming. When disbelief or doubt threatens our resolve, a thorn rises up to nudge us closer to Jesus for His Careful Assistance and Heartfelt Comfort. It in that very moment that the sufficiency of God’s Grace is discovered all over again. In times of weakness, His Power comes to life in us. The greater our weakness the more significant His Power released as we no longer hinder or restrict it. I concur with Mr. Miller that indeed our problems are nothing more than opportunities covered in thorns.

Luke 6:43-45 (NIV) “No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thorn bushes, or grapes from briers. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”

The fruit of our labor indicates the condition of our heart. God examines the production of our life seeking the Fruit of His Spirit. It is not the same thing produced by those who belong to this world. It is the harvest of soulful qualities. The Fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. These are not naturally generated characteristics in human beings. The Spirit of the Lord takes those areas of our life surrendered to Christ and plants seeds of right standing there for a fruitful harvest. It is when we encounter unexpected thorns or problems that we begin to really inspect the contents of our life to ensure it is worthwhile. Worth the struggle. Worth the pain. Worth the investment of our life in Christ. It is then and only then that we discover the power of His Sufficient Grace working in me and through me to produce the harvest that saves my soul and becomes the Light of the world.

Hebrews 6:7-8 (NIV) Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned.

A life overgrown with thorns and thriving thistles is not the life that God has prepared for us. Our purpose is not to be a problem or produce thorns but by faith to navigate through life in the midst of the thorns. You will have tests and trials. There will be hardship and heartbreak in life. What we do to get through such times makes all the difference. Thinking about the rosebushes at the new house makes me happy. I know that there will be beautiful flowers for us to enjoy. But if I were afraid of getting poked or stuck by a thorn and fearful of the pain, I would probably ask my husband to cut them down. See faith without works is dead. Jesus told us that there would be struggles and difficulties in life but they would come with purpose. To refine our faith making it genuine so we can live in confident hope. I can choose to settle for less beautiful and enduring flowers without thorns. Why should I settle when Christ to give me all of His Power and Potential now and forevermore? The Lord is handing me the Keys to the Kingdom to open every door closed by doubt and disbelief to release the beauty of fulfillment and complete satisfaction to me. It is up to me if I risk discomfort to have true freedom just as He promised.

Pope Francis said, “Although the life of a person is in a land full of thorns and weeds, there is always a space in which the good seed can grow.” I believe he was speaking of our heart. When we take God’s Word to heart, believing it enough to live by it making Jesus Christ the Lord of our life, there is a shift in our life that allows us to have all that God promised and prepared for us from the beginning. Just as the soldiers did, this world mocks the authority and power of Jesus Christ. Nameless and faceless gods have popped up all over. We know that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. There is no greater power than that in the Name of Jesus Christ. Today we claim that power by looking at the thorns around us as opportunities to experience God’s Grace just a little more and be filled with His Power. His Power allows meek Christians to become mighty warriors in the Kingdom of God and soulful acquisition. We must not settle for comfort but reach past the thorns in life to claim the Rose of Sharon. His Name is Jesus Christ.

John 16:33 (NIV) “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Inconvenient Life

Inconvenient Life

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.

 

The week of “what next” is what I would call it. Just one thing after another, nothing terminal. My life has felt as though I am being pecked to death by a brace of ducks attacking feet. One annoyance after another. Sick children topped the list. One trip to the doctor will now turn to two. Missed work going on day three and wondering if it is piling up on me. My left eye is twitching so now I am wondering if I have pink eye, too. Schedules interrupted. Routines broken. I think I need to disinfect my entire house all over again. Do I have bleach? Wait work. I need to focus on work. Will I get caught up today? What about the house? Why isn’t it selling? Man, I hope the new one is not under contract. Wait! What am I doing? Inconvenience. I would call my life inconvenient today. What about you? Are things going as planned? Minor illnesses plaguing the roost? Work got you down? Housework piling up? Schedule hectic. Routine ruthless. All these things lead to distraction. Deadly distractions if we do not see things from a higher view and broader perspective.

 

We must never ever consider for a moment giving up but always strive to press on. We are called to something greater and much higher than the ordinary things in life that tend to hold us back. Our emotions get entangled in the inconveniences and soon our faith is strained and hope bogged down in the temporary rather than fixed on the eternal. It happens to us all. We are all human but called to a supernatural life much greater than ourselves. Greater is He who is in me than he that is in the world. (I John 4:4) It is this mindset that allows us to fix our eyes on the things we cannot see rather than becoming consumed with all that is around us. “For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:9) It is time to take it up a notch. To look beyond all the inconveniences that exist in our ordinary existence to reach for the extraordinary life God planned for us.

 

Our present troubles are small. They won’t last long. Our trouble is only temporary even though some days it feels as though you just can’t seem to catch a break. Remember Job, first it was everything he loved and all of his livelihood and then his life. Did he know that God wouldn’t allow the enemy to kill him? I am sure as the boils rose and broke on his skin, death seemed like a relief. God had other plans. He planned to prosper and bless Job giving him double for his trouble. What about you? Do you feel as though you and Job have a thing or two in common? If so, rejoice! Rather than looking at the situation, celebrate the season that is coming. I know, I know. It’s hard sometimes to see the forest for the trees. But God wants to take you wider, longer, higher and deeper than ever before so that His Love can wrap around every single part of your life. (Ephesians 3:18-20) It is in the Presence of God that we can see above the pain, heartache, suffering of this season into the next one that is coming. It is called faith. It is the very thing that produces hope that never leads to disappointment. While you are simply looking for a way out, God has more in store for you than you might ask or think.

 

Hebrews 11:1 (NLT) Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.

 

If you can see it, do it, or think it – you really do not need faith to secure it. Faith is the reality of things that we hope for and the evidence of things that we cannot see. When the life does not add up to the Promises of God – it is important that we live in the realm of hope. The life of faith is ever changing the more we pursue the Lord. Faith is illogical. It requires God’s Spirit to hold on to because there is no tangible evidence otherwise. Hope in us must become so weighty it resembles a mighty anchor or we will waver and drift away. (Hebrews 6:19) I have come to live for the word “impossible”. When someone deems that nothing more can be done or attempts to seal my destiny with a word life “forever”, they step outside their realm of authority into God’s Place in my life. He does not take this lightly and time after time changes the situation immediately. Trouble is most people cannot exist without options or escape routes. They will follow Jesus until it me going places our feet cannot touch, or jumping out of the boat to walk on water. Comfort and compromise take the place of inconvenience. We want immediate gratification so many times God’s Timing is just not acceptable to us. It is in those moments of decision when we choose to stick it out and wait to see what God is doing that we experience double portions, complete healings, supernatural turnaround and more.

 

Hebrews 11:13-16 (NLT) All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it. They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads here on earth. Obviously people who say such things are looking forward to a country they can call their own. If they had longed for the country they came from, they could have gone back. But they were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

 

Just like you, there are things in my life that do not add up to what God has promised me in His Word and confirmed in my spirit. I am waiting. I don’t like to wait. In fact, it is a joke among those who know me. Yet, God consistently gives me opportunities to wait. When I have waited and watched beyond my expected wait time, rather than abandoning my post, I now begin digging a little deeper and try to look past what I can see. I have learned that in my waiting that the Lord is always active. But what if, like the “foreigners and nomads” wandering the earth, waiting and watching for the Messiah, I had died before He came. Would I have been faithful? Would I have strived to live a holy life? Would I have been called “righteous”? They did not receive the promise in their lifetime, yet seeing it in the distance still welcomed it. I want that to be me today. No longer bothered by the inconveniences in my life but to be focused and settled on the Kingdom that is coming that lives in me now.

 

I Peter 1:14-17 (NLT) So you must live as God’s obedient children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then. But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.” And remember that the heavenly Father to whom you pray has no favorites. He will judge or reward you according to what you do. So you must live in reverent fear of him during your time here as “temporary residents.”

 

Many times people become so engrossed in making this life better, we lose sight of that which is coming that is far greater than this life we live. We want God to satisfy our fleshly desires, fill our bank accounts, tame our rowdy children, give us promotions and increase along with a nice house and fancy car yet none of that will add a moment or measure to our life of worth. Those things are dying with this planet. We must live as God’s Obedient Children right now. Before we see Him, just because we know Him and love Him. We must be holy, set apart and consecrated to the Lord which means constantly and consistently laying our life down for others in every way possible. We must live humbly.  We are to live respectfully. We are to live honestly. We are temporary residents and must live faithful to the Kingdom to which we belong. My response to life should not be based on my circumstances but solely on my residence in God’s Kingdom and responsibility as a Child of the King.

 

I Peter 2:13-17 (NLT) For the Lord’s sake, submit to all human authority—whether the king as head of state, or the officials he has appointed. For the king has sent them to punish those who do wrong and to honor those who do right. It is God’s will that your honorable lives should silence those ignorant people who make foolish accusations against you. For you are free, yet you are God’s slaves, so don’t use your freedom as an excuse to do evil. Respect everyone, and love the family of believers. Fear God, and respect the king.

 

There is no sense of entitlement in the Kingdom of God and so we cannot adopt one here. The world owes us nothing. As a member of the Body of Christ, I do owe the world something. Love. Romans 13:8 says, “Own nothing to anyone except your obligation to love one another.” We are to submit to ALL human authority even if you did not choose it or vote for it. It is God’s Will for us to live honorable lives that silence ignorant people. Here’s a hint – there are no soapboxes in Heaven. You do not have to prove a point. Discredit the devil. Or prove God right. You are called to love everyone. If your words brutalize another, they are not from God. We can love others to Jesus without offending them, verbally assaulting them or even convincing them of hell. We must use our attitude and actions to convince other people that God’s Love is great and His Grace even greater so they will see Him and love Him like we do.

 

James 1:2-4 (NLT) Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

 

We will always have trouble. There will be trials in our life to produce faith that is so precious. Endurance is the thing that allows our faith to grow into the capacity needed to have secure hope that can live for forever rather than fixed on today. The process is lengthy. Some days overwhelming. But for those who do not give up and carry the term “temporary resident” though life is inconvenient, it will always be worth it. Nothing is wasted as God’s Word Promises. He works every detail in our life for our good. (Romans 8:28) He perfects that which concerns me. (Psalm 138:8) He has a plan far greater than my own containing a future and hope even though I want it right now. (Jeremiah 29:11) What does He want in return? Just for me to believe. If I choose to live this life as though I really do believe in God, His Son, His Spirit and His Kingdom, this inconvenient life will lead to an everlasting forever. The Lord desires to make us perfect and complete needing nothing. Fully satisfied and completely fulfilled. Who doesn’t want that? Everyone does. Who is willing to wait for it? Not as many. Those who endure to the end will be saved. Will it be you? Will it be me? I intend to make it so.

 

John 20:29 (NLT) Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are

My Mantle

The Mantle

I John 2:27 (NKJV)

But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him.

 

Rifling through the dusty book shelf at home looking for something to read on the plane or beach, I came across a book that I was given in 2005 but had not taken the time to read yet. It is called Mantled with Authority by Barbara Yoder. Holding it in my left hand, I continued to go through other books until I could distinctly feel the Lord directing my attention back to it. The subtitle is “God’s Apostolic Mandate to Women.” I cannot remember who gave this book to me or how it came into my possession. The highlighting and notes indicate that I did not make it very far through it before I was distracted and laid it aside. Laying on the beach yesterday under a palm laden tiki hut, God blew my mind. So powerfully, that I could not finish it, but just had to bask in it for a bit. God’s Word is alive. It is a two-edged sword for those who continually dig in it and apply it to life. It changes everything if we allow it to permeate our head, heart and soul.

 

Today words like mantle, anointing, power and authority encircle my head and engage my mind. I know that the same power that brought Jesus from the grave lives in me. I want to learn how to get it out of me and change the world. I have felt this way my entire life reading this book now seems to be a “for-such-a-time-as-this” moment. I have had many of those moments in almost fifty years of life as the Lord has removed guilt and shame covering me with His Grace, Mercy and Love moving me to a position of spiritual power growing my faith testing its foundation and forging it with fiery trials. I know what is in me. How do I get it out of me?

 

The Anointing of God abides in every spirit-filled believer, not every Christian. It is the power of belief that changes what we know into what is done. The Kingdom of God is not a word to be heard but of power. (I Corinthians 4:20) If all we were to do was preach the Gospel, then why would Jesus feel the need to tell us that we would do more? Impossible should become possible in the Presence of Faithful Believers exuding the Power of God in them to the waiting world.

 

John 14:11-14 (NKJV)

“Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves. Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.  And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.”

 

Believe me. Faith comes by hearing but does not turn in a miracle until someone believes. I wonder how many impossibles are just waiting to be made possible if one person would believe. We may know Jesus or think we do but this knowledge is worthless without faith. To say that we believe yet refuse to base our life on it is to live a lie. If we truly believe in Jesus Christ and His Power and Authority, we will exercise it in faith and trust in Him. We will do the things that we are anointed to do simply because we believe it.

 

Mark 9:23-24 (NKJV)

Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”

 

If you can believe, all things are possible to him (or her) who believes. We live impossible lives because we do not believe. We live in limitation and lack because we do not believe. It clearly states in God’s Word that with God ALL things are possible. (Matthew 19:26) And here we see the problem – we do not believe. The father of this child was not certain that Jesus had anything to offer and so he said “IF” you can do anything for us. We have been anointed by God. His Spirit lives inside of us. Walking in the Power and Authority bestowed to us is a choice. We decide if we believe. We choose to trust. We are the ones who determine the extent of God’s Glory in our life.

 

I Kings 19:19-20 (NKJV)

So he departed from there, and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen before him, and he was with the twelfth. Then Elijah passed by him and threw his mantle on him. And he left the oxen and ran after Elijah, and said, “Please let me kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow you.” And he said to him, “Go back again, for what have I done to you?”

 

Elisha is working in the family business. He has a pair of oxen and he is plowing along when the prophet, Elijah comes along and throws his mantle or outer garment over him. This was a symbolic gesture. Now Elisha could have kept plowing or he could have stopped to return the discarded garment, but Elisha understood what it meant. He now had to make a choice. Would he continue in his regular life and comforts of home, or would he become servant to the Man of God. It goes on to tell us in I Kings 19 that he went back slaughtered the oxen, fed the city and then left home to follow the prophet. The Anointing of God will always be a choice. The Lord offers us His Spirit and we decide whether or not we want Him as an active partner in life. He calls but we must answer. Jesus is the Way, Truth and Life. He is the only way to the Father, yet we still have the right to say no.

 

Matthew 11:28-30 (NKJV)

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.

 

Jesus offers to make the same exchange here in Matthew 11. All you who labor and are heavy laden. His yoke is easy and his burden light. The Power of God is given in anointing and activated when we partner with God. Elisha killed the oxen and broken the burden of hard labor when he offered his life as a living sacrifice to Elijah. We are to do the same.

 

“It shall come to pass in that day that his burden will be taken away from your shoulder, and his yoke from your neck, and the yoke will be destroyed because of the anointing oil.” (Isaiah 10:27) The Anointing of God on our life will break every yoke of human bondage. When we decide to submit our life as a sacrifice and service to the Lord, power is released that has nothing to do with who we are but Who lives in us. Our daily life, burdens, hassles, problems, stress and more limits us when we attach ourselves to it rather than to Christ first. The Bible tells us to not be unequally yoked with nonbelievers. Well, when our job becomes more important than our pursuit of God and His Power or distracts us with stress and worry – it limits God’s Powerful Release that could change our work environment because we are yoked to our employer and not our Provider. See it is important to evaluate the connections in our life to be sure that our first and foremost connection is to Jesus Christ by faith alone. Galatians 5:1 warns about becoming yoked to our religion. Just let that one sink in, strife, division and dishonor in the church and rivalry in the Body of Christ is our alignment with religion and not born of our relationship with Christ. We lose our freedom the moment we are yoked to religion for it is driven by the Law and not by God’s Grace and Love.

 

Mark 16:17-18 (NKJV)

And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

 

These signs will follow those who believe. With each chemotherapy infusion our son underwent, I would whisper this verse as they hung the bag of poison on the pole. Why did I wait until life became extreme to claim this verse for our life? It was a matter of life or death that drove me to greater faith in God. He was our only hope so therefore Jesus became the anchor of my soul. I remember right after I received the Holy Spirit a group of believers were discussing the signs, wonders and miracles that they had witnessed firsthand. I smiled and nodded yet secretly I scoffed at their recollections. God could these things really happen. Is it possible? Well, be careful what you pray for because I have witnessed just about everything discussed that night personally.

 

We desire God’s Power in our life. We would like to walk in His Authority reclaiming dominion of the earth but what is stopping us? We do not believe. We do not believe that God has given us this kind of potential so we hang on to this life. We accept the natural afraid to reach for the supernatural. We will remain ordinary because we do not believe we are called to an extraordinary life. Lord, help our unbelief today.

 

2 Kings 2:8-14 (NKJV)

Now Elijah took his mantle, rolled it up, and struck the water; and it was divided this way and that, so that the two of them crossed over on dry ground. And so it was, when they had crossed over, that Elijah said to Elisha, “Ask! What may I do for you, before I am taken away from you?”

Elisha said, “Please let a double portion of your spirit be upon me.” So he said, “You have asked a hard thing. Nevertheless, if you see me when I am taken from you, it shall be so for you; but if not, it shall not be so. Then it happened, as they continued on and talked, that suddenly a chariot of fire appeared with horses of fire, and separated the two of them; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. And Elisha saw it, and he cried out, “My father, my father, the chariot of Israel and its horsemen!” So he saw him no more. And he took hold of his own clothes and tore them into two pieces. He also took up the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and went back and stood by the bank of the Jordan. Then he took the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and struck the water, and said, “Where is the Lord God of Elijah?” And when he also had struck the water, it was divided this way and that; and Elisha crossed over.

 

Jesus told us personally that because He was going to Heaven and releasing His Spirit that we would be empowered to do even greater things on the earth. (John 14:11-14) When was the last time you witnessed miracle? Elisha asked for a double portion of his anointing. Elijah said, “You have asked a hard thing.” Why? Because it would take more faith. Elijah demonstrated great faith in his lifetime. In order for Elisha to take up his mantle with a double anointing would require even more faith than before. Elijah told him that if he saw him being taken away with the Lord, he would receive it. Elisha’s eyes of faith were opened and he saw the spirit realm come whisk the prophet away.

 

Jesus has given us a mantle of authority and power when He wrapped us in a robe of righteousness. We have been given the opportunity to bring Heaven to earth and see miracles, signs and wonders regularly in our life. How do we make this a reality?

 

James 5:13-18 (NKJV)

Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.

 

I am anointed by God. His Spirit lives in me. I am wrapped in a robe of His Righteousness that allows me to walk in a mantle of His Authority and Power every day of my life. I must allow His Anointing to break the yoke that I have with the world and take on the burden of Christ which is easy and light. I must not be yoked in purpose with nonbelievers but live facet of my life in submission to Jesus Christ. I go where He goes, say what He says and does what He does in every day of my natural life. I must kill the oxen and burn the yoke of bondage that sin produces in my life and follow Jesus. I cannot become bound to religion but remain limitless in my love for Jesus solidifying our relationship day by day with faith and trust in Him alone. I want more than anything for God’s Call on my life to be answered and His Purpose fulfilled. It is up to me. The Power is there. The Authority Present. Will I take up the mantle today? Well, that is up to me.

 

Mark 11:22-24 (NKJV)

So Jesus answered and said to them, “Have faith in God. For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.

War and Peace

War and Peace

Psalm 34:11-14 (NKJV)

Come, you children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord. Who is the man who desires life, and loves many days, that he may see good? Keep your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking deceit. Depart from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.

Chaos. Utter chaos. Seriously, just when I think life couldn’t get any crazier, it seems to find a way. I am not alone. I get texts constantly from friends and family requesting prayer followed by their need which usually culminates in a call and desire for peace in the storm, relief from the pain and strength to go on. So I pray for them. I love to pray for them. I feel power when I take their need, plea or longing to the Lord. Lately as I have prayed, I have noticed a shift in my request for them. It begins with a specific need but ends in an outcry of peace. People need God’s Peace to survive this world and reach eternity. Christians must find peace in the Lord to come together as the Body. Believers need the Peace of God to be steadfast and endure individually to the end as is required. How do we pursue peace and perfect it in life under the current circumstances and conditions? Well, our peace is not dependent on such things. Our peace is in the Authority and Power of Jesus Christ alone.

To pursue a life of peace is to follow Jesus. However, do not be misled by modern day teaching and compromised grace. You cannot come to Christ continuing in your own way and immersed in willful disobedience yet still have a peaceful heart. Peace of mind comes from godly knowledge and understanding applied to our life as wisdom. It means that when all hell breaks loose around us, our heart is confident that the Kingdom remains strong. When nothing makes sense, a made up mind will remain steadfast in Jesus. Trust me. The enemy has tried to strip me of peace. He violently attacked my heart and mind with relentless chaos and concerns. It would be a battle to the end of me when all I had left was a mustard seed of faith clenched deep inside my heart. Yet, in all things, I overcame in Jesus Christ. His Grace is always enough for me. His Strength is made perfect in my weakness. I must pursue peace.

Ephesians 2:14-18 (NKJV)

For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father. 

Jesus Christ is our peace. He perfects peace in us. He died to reestablish our peaceful right standing with God. It is our unity with Christ that begins the peace process in life. He reconciles our life with God as we grow in faith and confident hope leaving our old life behind to engage with Jesus.

Isaiah proclaimed the arrival of Jesus and called Him Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father AND Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His Government and Peace there will be no end. (Isaiah 9:6-7) Jesus is the Prince of Peace. So why? Why all the chaos? Why is life so crazy? Why is sin rampant? Why has love grown cold? Why is everyone at odds? Why the stress? Why the anxiety? Why the fear? Why? If Jesus is our peace, why are we not at peace? I know this is a lot of “whys” but let’s be real for a moment – we have all asked the question. I am saved. I love Jesus. I trust the Lord. I have given Him my whole heart. I strive to live according to His Word, His Will and His Ways. Yeah me, right? One would think my life would be perfect. Without pain, problems and the like. Well it’s not. In fact, most of my biggest battles have been fought after I came to know Jesus as Savior and made Him the Lord of my life. Where is the peace that He promised? If Jesus is the Prince of Peace, why doesn’t peace reign in my life?

Matthew 10:34-36 (NKJV)

“Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.’

What? I thought Jesus was our peace. I thought that was His Mission to bring peace on earth. Well, not exactly. Jesus came to be our peace. His Presence interrupts worldly order. It makes the natural atmosphere quake in His Presence. I regret to inform you that you might be the problem. The “Jesus” in you is stirring up things around you. The enemy hates you just because you are a Child of God. It doesn’t matter how good we are or how peaceful we attempt to be. If he cannot touch you, he is going to stir up everybody and anybody accessible around you. Work gets crazy. People go nuts. Circumstances become ridiculous. Believers begin to experience surreal conditions not because Christ is not present in their life but because He lives in us! We are the problem so now what?

John 16:33 (NKJV)

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

John 14:25-27 (NKJV)

“These things I have spoken to you while being present with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

The Peace of God that Jesus bestows on His People is not an outward presence by a holy inhabitation. It is personal. It is for you and I not the world around us. Jesus was honest. He said you will have tribulation. I have overcome the world. He had to leave us in the natural so that His Spirit could come inside us to develop peace of heart and mind that will get us past what we see and experience to what we know about the Lord. The God of Peace will crush satan under whose feet? Spoiler alert – He crushes satan under YOUR FEET. We will overcome the enemy with peace of mind, peace of heart and a peace-filled spirit. No matter what the weapon is – we win. The Lord is reminding us today that peace is not an outer circumstance but inward confidence. It is when our faith becomes hope that will not disappoint no matter how disappointing life seems. It is total trust and dependency in the Kingdom of God maintained by His Presence.

Matthew 11:12 (NKJV)

And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.

“Si vis pacem, para bellum” is a Latin adage that means “If you want peace, prepare for war.” This is true statement. This is true even when it comes to the Kingdom of God. God is all powerful. He is the strongest force in all of the universe. That doesn’t mean that other kingdoms will not challenge His Power and Authority. The devil has been trying ever since his fall from Heaven to overtake God’s Kingdom one heart at a time. To have the Peace of God in our life will not only require pursing it, but we must fight for it.

Sin puts us in enmity with God and His Kingdom. Righteousness turns the table and now we are considered hostile to this world and its rulers. When Jesus becomes our Savior and Lord, He fills us with His Spirit. As we travel through life pursuing peace and sharing His Love, the principalities and rulers of darkness get all riled up. They are hostile toward the Spirit of the Living God because they know the end. Jesus told us exactly what to expect, but many preachers and teachers today tell of something entirely different. The “prosperity” gospel that doesn’t consider the price paid on the Cross or the Cost to take up our own cross and follow Jesus will never prepare us for the battle ahead. God doesn’t always change our circumstances, but He changes us. He doesn’t remove the consequences but rather works to eliminate the sin which produces them. If someone told you following Christ would be all sunshine and roses, they lied to you. It is pure deception that has plagued the church and tries to quench the end day’s revival that is stirring. If I want peace, I am going to have to prepare for war. If you desire the Peace of God to rule and reign in your life, you must do the same.

Romans 8:5-7 (NKJV)

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.

The first step in claiming the Peace of God designated for your life is to decide that you will be spiritually minded from this day forward. To look for God, His Love, His Goodness, His Favor, His Presence, and His Victory in every single moment. To make it your mission to remain faithful when all hell breaks loose, the lie of the enemy fills your ear with venomous threats, and if chaos rattles ever door and window that it will be barred with peace. The enemy cannot have you. But he will work to take away your confidence in the Lord and smother your faith with fear. That’s really all he is capable of. We have the power to restrict him in our life and live in the Power and Presence of God which is our peace. He gives us peace of heart and mind when we choose righteousness over sin. We must make up our mind that we desire peace.

Philippians 4:6-8 (NKJV)

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.

“Do not be anxious or worried about anything, but in everything [every circumstance and situation] by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, continue to make your [specific] requests known to God. And the peace of God [that peace which reassures the heart, that peace] which transcends all understanding, [that peace which] stands guard over your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus [is yours].” (Amplified Bible)  I have added verses 6 and 7 in the Amplified version for those of you who are like me who although we know what it says refuse to stop worrying and becoming anxious. It is human nature. I am working diligently to crucify that part of me at enmity with God. The part of my being that demands its own way. Tries to regain control. Chooses to be anxious, worry and stress even though the Lord is fully in control. They part of me that forgets or choose not to take every circumstance and situation before the Throne of God. The part of me that lapses into episodes of forgetfulness and is not filled with thankfulness. The Peace of God is available to me, but I must make up my mind that is for me. I must not rely on my own perception or understanding but totally immerse myself in truth, knowledge and godly understanding.

 

Think on these things. There is a whole list of them surely enough to fill up my mind. I must consciously choose to meditate on such things filling my heart and mind with God’s Promises and pursing His Peace even at the cost of my own pleasure.  Peace is what binds us together as we battle for His Kingdom together and keeps us from turning against ourselves. (Ephesians 4:1-6) If only we keep our minds “stayed” on the Lord, this is the place where we find “perfect peace.” (Isaiah 26:3-4) Right standing with God allows His Peace to permeate our life and overflow from it. (Psalm 119:165)

James 3:17-18 (NKJV)

But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

Faith makes all things possible in our life. To totally trust the Lord with our life and every detail will both wreak havoc and release peace. I do not understand it. I have just experienced it. The battles waged around you is nothing more than the enemy flexing his muscles, puffing out his chest and shouting worthless taunts. He cannot overcome you. The devil has no right to your peace. The only ground that he gains is that which is given over to him. If you want a peaceful mind and heart, it is yours today in Jesus Name. He gave you His Spirit so you would be at peace from now until He comes. You must decide that peace is worth fighting for and prepare for the battle every day. The enemy is relentless but so is God’s Love. His Love beat death and the grave so what do we have to fear? We overcome. We win. He provides perfect peace. It does not necessarily change our position in life. His Love changes us so we can live in perfect peace no matter where we are or what is present in our life – greater is He who is in us! We can live in peace every day, but only if we are willing to passionately pursue it and fight for it! My pastor said last night that if we are only after a reward in Christ, then we are in this for ourselves. It’s true. We must live for a relationship of peace with God and allow His Peace to be our completion. Fight for your peace today. Don’t let the enemy have it. It belongs to you!

Colossians 3:14-16 (NKJV)

But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.