Grace To Pray

Grace To Pray

John 14:12-14 (NKJV) “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.

Do you believe that God answers prayer? Let’s be real for a moment. Do you pray with expectancy? Do you come boldly and confidently before the Throne of God each day? Jesus was speaking plainly. He was not using parables or descriptive terms. He was direct. “And whatever you ask in My Name, that I will do.” Salvation is only the beginning of the complete work of Jesus Christ in our natural life. He has “greater” things in store for those who decide to plant faith and sow confidence in their life. To believe in Jesus Christ and His Willingness to do what He says that He will do. We say that we believe but our prayers are prime indicators of the reality of faith in us.

To pray big prayers is to expect God’s Word to come to pass. Hope is not for the things we can do, can see or can accomplish in life. Faith is the substance of things hoped for. The evidence of things not seen but totally possible in our life. The impossible is the pathway to the things hoped for. God is glorified when the natural is impacted by the supernatural. When extraordinary things happen in the lives of ordinary people. How do we find the faith to pray those prayers? To embrace the impossible situations according to full expectation in God’s Ability and not our own? Can I really trust the Lord to keep His Word and do greater things in me and through me? Absolutely.

Daniel 9:20-23 (NKJV) Now while I was speaking, praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the Lord my God for the holy mountain of my God, yes, while I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, reached me about the time of the evening offering. And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, “O Daniel, I have now come forth to give you skill to understand. At the beginning of your supplications the command went out, and I have come to tell you, for you are greatly beloved; therefore consider the matter, and understand the vision…

The moment you began praying, a command was given. And now I am here to tell you what it was, for you are very precious to God.” (Daniel 9:23 NLT) I believe our prayers would change if people understood how much God really loves us. His Intent is take every detail of our life and work it out for our good and for His Glory. (Romans 8:28) Every prayer offered to the Lord in faith and hope releases a command in Heaven. It calls all the heavenly beings into action. Daniel came to the Lord fasting and praying. God responded. I believe that when I pray God responds in the heavenly realm first. This is important. God’s Ways are higher than our ways. His Thoughts are too. The promise that offers us solace is that every word released over our life cannot return to Him void – it has to do what He set if forth to accomplish. But why?

God loves us. We are precious to God. Looking at my life from my perspective, I see all my sins, faults, failures, weaknesses and shortcomings. When God looks at me, He sees Jesus. The Holy Spirit identifies me as His Child. His Heart is moved by love. When I come to the Lord with child-like faith, it is as the petition of a child to a parent. “For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him as serpent?” (Matthew 7:8-10) God is good. He is a loving and attentive Father. He loves us no matter what our present condition may be. His Love is defined by mercy that makes it available even when rejected or refused. He still sends it new each morning.

Mark 11:23-24 (NKJV)  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.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God…” (Ephesians 2:8) Salvation is available by grace through faith – it is a Gift from God. Do you believe that our greatest power is manifested in weakness? Humility is the realization that apart from Jesus Christ that I am nothing and can produce nothing of worth in my life. It is by this approach of faith in the Grace of God that we are able to pray with great expectation believing that He who has promised is not only able but willing to do exceedingly abundantly more than we can think or ask. It has nothing to do with me other than my ability and willingness to believe by faith in the Grace and Love of God.

Whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.” I do not deserve the life that God has given me through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ. Therefore, I must accept the Gift of New Life by His Grace. I cannot earn it. I cannot fully rationalize unconditional love so I must believe it by faith alone. When I pray, it must be with full expectation not that God can do it but that He will do it because He loves me. I must gain greater confidence in the Love of God to experience fulfillment that comes from Him. God gives us grace to pray. He helps us in our weakness. Even when we do not know what to pray for or how to pray, the Holy Spirit steps in to do it for us through us. We must humble ourselves each day and pray. Pride tells you it’s dumb to continue to pray when God doesn’t move immediately. The flesh is offended that one might engage in such futility as it lay slowly dying to the new creation you are becoming. The enemy wants to give you a long list of to-do’s that somehow are supposed to motivate the Lord on your behalf, but the Truth is that the moment you began praying, a command was given…because you are precious to God.

James 5:13-16 (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.

How many people walk in to church services suffering and sick only to leave the very same way? Why as believers are we okay with this tragedy? The altar call begins and no one comes. The prayer of faith will save the sick. I have seen some with cancer come to church and not ask for a single prayer. I have seen those suffering come, sit in the back, and never have a single hand touch them. There is a bottle of oil on the altar that is still half full. Why is not emptied on the hurting each service? This is not in any way an accusation but an internal examination of my own prayer life and expectation. If I know God is willing to answer my prayers, why do I not pray more? Where are the signs, miracles and wonders, all those greater works that Jesus promised? Why aren’t they here? Why not now? Have we lost our expectation? Is it somehow misplaced? Are we more concerned with the program rather than our purpose? We are building a Kingdom, a fully-functioning Body of Believers who live in unison with one heart, one mind and one purpose. We must get it together. We must begin to pray with expectation again to receive all that is promised those who do. It begins with me. It begins with you. God, give us the grace to pray. Not just any prayer, but the effective fervent prayers of those in right-standing with You.

I Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NKJV) Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Without Further Delay

砂時計とお金

2 Peter 3:8-9 (NKJV) But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

A young woman who was quite intoxicated made the fatal decision to livestream from her car while driving. In the video, she loses control of the vehicle which flips multiple times. You can hear the screams and moaning of her passenger. She continues to livestream from the accident as her fourteen year old sister succumbs to her injuries. The newscaster sharing the details of this tragic and terrible story says, “What has the world come to? Is it going to get any better? It only seems to be getting worse.” Senseless death and the memorialization of horrible events such as this happen every day. Children committing suicide on the air. People mocking a drowning man rather than saving him. What once was hidden is now broadcast on blast. The modern day anchor-now-prophet declaring to the world on national television – things are only getting worse. He wasn’t talking about the economy or the healthcare system. He was talking about human beings. The love of many has grown cold while the lukewarm hearts become stone cold. Sin is rampant. I remember my grandparents telling me how sad the state of affairs of the world had become and that surely Jesus was coming soon. Now as I await the birth of our first grandchild, I realize they were right. Jesus is coming back. As the details of God’s Word become the chilling reality in which we live – there is no reason to fear. Instead, it is a call to action.

Some will stop reading right here. Isn’t there enough bad news in the world today without the added stress or pressure of the end of the world? For those who know the Lord, the end is only the beginning. God is not slack concerning His Promise. Jesus will return to triumphantly claim His Bride. It all sounds like some fairy tale. However, faith tells us that is not fiction but the fact to live by. One day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack. He is not in any way delayed. His Longsuffering and His Heart cannot accept that any of His Beloved would choose to die rather than accept eternal life. The new life that comes to those who are a new creation. It all sounds wonderful and almost too good to be true. As God waits, it is time to take notice. He is not delayed. You are not deferred. He is waiting for us to respond to Him so He can receive us.

Romans 6:15-17 (NKJV) What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not! Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered.

We are no longer slaves bound by debt or obligation. The Son has set us free and given us His Grace. The Blood of Jesus Christ paid the price of sin fully so now freedom takes over our life. We choose who we serve making us servants. I can choose the master of my life each day. Who do I choose to portion my life to? Who do I give the best of my time? What is the ethical and moral outline of my life? The process of salvation is grace giving way to faith that produces obedience to the Lord. Salvation is only the beginning. If salvation does not make our life better and more productive, we are not fully utilizing the promised provision, every spiritual blessing and exceeding abundance that God has ordered for His Children.

All things become possible to the one who believes. If the process of God is not producing these things in our life, it is up to us to find the disconnect. Why? Because by grace, we are saved through faith. Faith is the productivity of our life. If we believe, all things become possible because God does not lie or change His Mind. If He releases His Word, it cannot return to Him without first accomplishing all that it set out to do. This is all from the Word of God to the believer but we must accept it as the Truth of our life for it to change us from the inside out.

The girl who foolishly caused her sister’s life to end is greatly desired by God. Acting out in her personal freedom, she will now likely give up the rest of her life to captivity in prison for a single moment. Yet, it did not diminish God’s Love for her in any way, shape or form. The crack addict wasting away in a building is His Beloved. The madman who killed a warehouse full of people or human smuggler who allowed eight human beings to suffocate and die in a tractor trailer – all these people Christ died for. The goal is that none would die and all would come to know Jesus and receive His Precious Gift. We are not in this for ourselves but to build a Kingdom based on the Grace of God filled by faith in God rising up from the obedience of God’s People in expectation of the return of their Savior and Lord – Jesus Christ.

Luke 12:35-37 (NKJV) “Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning; and you yourselves be like men who wait for their master, when he will return from the wedding, that when he comes and knocks they may open to him immediately. Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching. Assuredly, I say to you that he will gird himself and have them sit down to eat, and will come and serve them.

In Ephesians 6:14, it says, “Stand therefore, having girded your wait with truth.” The Truth of our life is found in the Word of God. Jesus Christ is the Word of God. To know the Lord it is important to know His Word. Not just to know it but to “gird” our life in it. What does that mean? To gird means to surround, enclose or hem in. It is to prepare for action. To provide, equip, or invest as with power or strength. “Let your waist be girded.” Are you girded and fortified by God’s Word today? Could it be that your provision, promise or prosperity is delayed simply by ignorance that produces disobedience?

The wise servant keeps his light burning waiting for the Master’s Return. Jesus is the Light of the World. He has put His Light (His Love) in us to spark passion for all mankind and lead as many as will come into the Kingdom. Is our light burning bright? The Light of His Love is a powerful force that will draw even the most callous heart to be broken. It is not a haughty position but humbling of our life to represent God’s Love. Faithful obedience is demonstrated in unfailing love. To love God with all our heart and others more than ourselves. There is no greater love than to lay down our life for another. To forsake convenience, comfort and even control so that another might get a glimpse of God’s Love for them. When was the last time you gave up your personal comfort to be a blessing to someone else? To consciously serve another over serving yourself? God’s Love is exhibited through His People. It is not a live and let live but a daily giving up our very lives to pursue others as the Shepherd leaves the ninety-nine to go after the one.

It is not enough to serve the Lord but we must also sup with Him. To live in communion with Jesus Christ building a strong relationship not just a religious connection. Many know the Name of Jesus, some even believe in its power but few yield their life to faith in His Power that gives way to obedience. We rely on His Grace to save us but not change us. There is power in our weakness when we give His Grace an opportunity to work in us and through us. When we allow His Spirit to produce the good fruit that is promised, it becomes prosperity in our life that is easily shared with others. To know and experience God’s Love through a thriving relationship with Jesus Christ causes us to become a new creation, a living love story, and true testimony of God’s Power.

Psalm 119:60 (NKJV) I made haste, and did not delay to keep Your commandments.

The watered down gospel of today does not offer the supernatural power given to us by Christ. It invites people to experience Jesus Christ but does not fully expose the power workable through His Grace. Our life was not meant to be like it is now. God’s Design for you is a masterpiece. Consider the Word of God the paint by numbers that gets us there. All throughout the Bible, we cry out to the Lord to make haste in His Coming. What if He is waiting on you? What if the grace being provided is for you to finally believe? This passage hidden away in Psalm 119 demonstrates a change of heart that invites the Lord to have His Way in our life. “I made haste.” Has the Lord been speaking to you about something? Has your heart been heavy? Is there something you want to see changed in your life but keep procrastinating? The word “haste” means swiftness of motion or speed. It is urgent need of quick action. “I made haste and did not delay to keep your commandments.” The Lord is inviting us into a union and partnership with Him today. An opportunity to have every provision, promise, and prosper in all we do beginning with obedience.

I love to find new recipes on Pinterest. Changing up the family mealtime and trying new things. When I find a recipe with many favorable comments from those who also tired it and liked it – I make it for our family. I must follow the recipe line by line. There are instructions on how to prepare the food, set the oven and steps to be followed in order to have the desired result, I follow the recipe. No one forces me to try it. I want to. Did you know that is exactly what obedience to God is like? Growing tired of the same old thing, I try something new. The Lord has promised that you will be a new creation. I do not feel imprisoned or any way hindered during the process no matter how long it takes or painstaking it becomes because I want the end result. The enemy wants you to believe that obedience to God is the absence of freedom. Nothing is further from the Truth. It is the opportunity to yoke our life with Christ and claim every promise for our life. It is not burdensome as some might think but leads to victory after victory. We must make haste to know the Word of God and follow the steps to prosperity as a way of claiming all that Christ died for us to have and to become which is exceedingly abundantly more than I could ever think, ask or imagine.

2 Corinthians 9:12-14 (NKJV) For the administration of this service not only supplies the needs of the saints, but also is abounding through many thanksgivings to God, while, through the proof of this ministry, they glorify God for the obedience of your confession to the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal sharing with them and all men, and by their prayer for you, who long for you because of the exceeding grace of God in you.

In 2 Corinthians 9. Paul is speaking to the cheerful givers. Salvation is a Gift from God to be sown in our life. God gives seed to the sower. Those who sow sparingly will reap sparingly. Those who take the seed of faith and sow it obediently will produce enough in their life to become givers. It goes on to say, “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.” The Grace that God has given us is the beginning of many great things that He has for us. While this passage refers to tangible giving, our life has nothing to offer anyone else outside of grace that claims faith and uses it for obedience. Obedience prospers our life increasing our offering. People don’t need more stuff but rather the tangible substance of faith that finds love that is passionate, reckless, all-consuming and unconditional. I cannot give that kind of love away unless I have a commodity of it in my life. God increases me as I come to know Christ and He becomes the reality of my hope. My life is to glorify God for obedience that confesses not only that I know who Christ is but I believe in who He is and what He came to do. God supplies us in surplus so that we can give from the abundance and increase of our life. If you are not a receiver of God’s Love, you cannot be a giver of it. If you have not accepted God’s Grace fully, you cannot share it with others. If you do not believe the Word of God, you will have nothing to encourage others. We must believe in God who rewards those who diligently seek Him with wholehearted and hasty obedience in order to stay in His Service.

Matthew 25:6-13 (NKJV) “And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’ Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’ And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut. “Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.”

In Ezekiel 12, the Word of the Lord came to the prophet to tell the Children of Israel that they were making a mistake. They believed that the postponement of God’s Judgment was actually an annulment. Despite the cries of men like Isaiah, Micah and Jeremiah, the people decided that God had changed His Mind and granted some kind of reprieve. The Lord spoke to them. “For I am the Lord. I speak, and the word which I speak will come to pass; it will no more be postponed; for in your days, O rebellious house, I will say the word and perform it,” says the Lord God.’” We must not ignore the signs of the times. Jesus will come back. Will you be ready? Will I? The answer is within each human heart.

God is not delayed. He is waiting on us. Jesus wants us to be with Him. He wants us to know Him so that He can say that He knows us. The Lord has not left us but lives in us. He wants to consummate the relationship fully as salvation plants seeds of faith and obedience creates a bond stronger than death and greater than the grave. Jesus wants us. He desires us. He is waiting for us. He will not wait forever. There is a day that will come when He will return. It will be a day of great victory for His Servants and huge regret for those who missed the opportunity. It is my privilege to serve Christ not my responsibility. To know Him is to love Him and it is from this place faithful obedience is born…not because I have to but because I want to. I want Him. I desire the Lord above all things so I pursue Him wholeheartedly by faith and obedience His Grace empowers me. One day there will be no further delays. I intend to be ready. What about you?

I have been married for almost two decades. My husband likes things neat and tidy. When I get home each day, I will clean up the house and put away the things our girls leave strewn about the house. I do it just about every day if I beat him home. He doesn’t require me to do it. I know that he likes things in order. This daily act of obedience is not because he makes me do it but because I love him and know he likes things that way. I do it out of love not responsibility. Our life with Christ is like a marriage. When our obedience flows from love, it is not a burden or challenge but an opportunity to strengthen our relationship and please our beloved.

Philippians 2:5-10 (NKJV) Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name,  that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Better Life or Eternal Life?

Better Life or Eternal Life

Luke 21:25-28 (NKJV) “And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.”

 

On the days when I am fortunate enough to keep my head above water, my heart from wandering, my thoughts from worthless things, and intent on following Jesus completely, I see things from a perspective of faith and hope that calms all fear and provides great peace. It is a challenge. A battle fought daily with mind, body and spirit. If anyone were to tell you differently, it is only a lie. The truth is many have stopped fighting. Giving up on God’s Glory and all that goes with it because they have not experienced it for themselves so it must not be true. Getting wrapped in today with total disregard for tomorrow much less forever, it is human nature to live for today because it is all we have left. Are you discouraged today? Are you a bit confused? Are the outcomes in your life not adding up to the Word you hold on to? Where are His Promises? Where is hope? If the intention of our heart is to know Him, the enemy will give us every opportunity to give up. See he wants our heart, mind, soul and desires to twist them, turn them and pervert them so we will be overtaken. Today, the Lord is reminding us to take a step up. Look at life from His Vantage Point taking on His Perspective. God has a plan with a future and hope. Jesus is definitely coming back and there will be a Day of Judgment. Whether or not we believe is inconsequential.

 

For those who call themselves believers, the return of Jesus Christ is a day that is longed for. For those who follow the Lord, it will be a great relief like coming home after years apart. It will be a time of celebration. We not know when it will happen, or exactly what it will be like yet still we can prepare. The Bible does not tell us when Jesus will come back just simply to be ready. When an evangelist, pastor, preacher, apostle or prophet gives a specific day, I am pretty certain you can rule that day out completely because only He knows the day and hour. What I do know is this? According to this passage in Luke, there will be atmospheric changes precipitating the Return of Jesus. Can we all agree that there is definitely changes in the weather, more frequent earthquakes, and other things that are not normal? Men’s hearts will fail them with fear. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, from 1999 to 2012 the percentage of Americans on antidepressants increased from 6.8% to 13% nearly doubling. A report released in 2011 by the National Center for Health Statistics, the rate of antidepressant use in this country among teens and adults (ages 12 and older) increased almost 400% between 1988-1994 and 2005-2008. The federal government’s health statistician’s figure that one in every ten Americans are takes an antidepressant. Yes, I would say that the human heart is filled and failing in fear. Heaven and earth are being shaken. The Lord is moving as if pacing back and forth. He sees the condition of the earth and the plight of His People. He is ready to move. But are we?

 

“Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.” I do not share these viewpoints or statistics to beat anyone down or produce more fear than already looming, but to say this…we are about to see God’s Glory. The first three checklist items are already happening. The church is crying out and calling out for revival. There is a generation that is sparking a renewal in the previous one for Jesus. I desire, passion and longing is stirring. It says right here, “then they will see”. I believe that the Glory of God precedes His Arrival. It is coming. Are we ready?

 

Psalm 85:9-13 (NKJV) Surely His salvation is near to those who fear Him that glory may dwell in our land. Mercy and truth have met together; righteousness and peace have kissed. Truth shall spring out of the earth, and righteousness shall look down from heaven. Yes, the Lord will give what is good; and our land will yield its increase. Righteousness will go before Him, and shall make His footsteps our pathway.

 

You haven’t missed it. It doesn’t matter what we have done but what we do now with this knowledge that Jesus is coming back. Do you believe it? Our chosen lifestyle tells more than our lips ever will as it reveals what we believe in our heart. When God waits, it is on us. When He tarries, it is by His Grace for us. He rumbles the world around us upsetting the environment as if saying, “Ready or not, here I come!” He allows are heart to be pressed so that the innermost contents are expressed so we know where we stand and have the opportunity to repent and turn back to Him. The Heavens and earth shake as His Glory begins to pour out. We are crying out for revival because though our brain may not comprehend, His Glory is coming to pour out on all mankind because right after than Jesus comes back. A call to righteousness proceeds His Arrival. It is here. It is now.

 

Matthew 24:5-13 (NKJV) “For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.  For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved.

 

When I was a teenager, our church would go through the Book of Revelation at least once a year along with the Book of Hebrews. It’s a good combination don’t you think? Now, they would show us films depicting what it would be like in the “end times”. One of the things it showed was the mark of the beast. How creepy, right? We would all watch slowly shaking our head vowing never to get the mark. One of those movies showed it to be a branding of some sort with the numbers “666”. Not to make fun of anyone, but do you really think the enemy is dumb enough to come right at us? Seriously. Didn’t think much more about it until more recently. First, the AMA now requires that all health information be entered into a world system so that no matter where a human being is in the world that their medical records can be accessed. This new innovation is introduced as public safety. Fair enough. The next step is to inject tiny chips in our hands so that it can be scanned to obtain the information. Coincidence? The banks and financial institutions caught the drift and feel this would be a wonderful way to increase security and stop identity theft, etc. So to begin with a chip is now on credit cards. When you receive your new card, it will have the chip. The long-term goal is to “allow” users to have a microscopic chip implanted for ease of use and security. This is all in the news.

 

We hear wars and rumors of wars. There are famines, violence and even earthquakes all over the world. Just because it does not affect you, doesn’t mean it is not happening. Christians are facing tribulation and persecution. Who do you think ISIS hates? They are at war against Christianity. People are offended just ask someone what they think about Target’s new bathroom rule and be prepared. Betrayal is everywhere even the church. People hate one another. False prophets…there are more than a few touting Jesus is not the only way and grace requires nothing from us so do what feels good. P.S. God still hates sin but loves the sinner. Sin is rampant. Love is cold. We must endure all these things to be saved. We must not be consumed by the things going on in the world around us or become distracted trying to change the world for the better. We are not called to change the world but to be the Light in the Darkness showing others the love and grace given to us by Jesus.

 

Hebrews 12:1-2 (NKJV) Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

 

Hebrews 10:35-37 (NKJV) Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise: for yet a little while, and He who is coming will come and will not tarry.

 

The word “therefore” means in consequence of that, as a result, or consequently. The Lord has told us what it would be like and equipped us to make it to the end. It is important that we do not give up or cast away our confidence in the midst of the circumstances of life and daily pressure around us. We must not be overcome by the challenges of life but keep our eyes on Jesus who is the Author and Finisher of our faith. You don’t have to go it alone but so many times we do. Religion tells us to do things for the Lord. He only wants a relationship with us. He wants to welcome us home to be with Him forever. The enemy wages war to keep us from that day. We have a great reward. We must endure. We need faith and confident hope to do that. It says, “Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.” I believe with all my heart that revival is coming as His Righteousness proceeds His Return and a final outpouring of His Spirit and dispensation of His Glory like never before. Do not be discouraged today but look up and life up your head. He is coming closer than ever before. Jesus loves you. He wants you. His Grace is for you.

 

John 17:20-24 (NKJV)

“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me. Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.”

 

Jesus prayed for us. He knew these would be tough times. He desires to be one with us just like He is one with the Father. It is very easy for the stress and worries of this life to overtake us. Matthew 6:25-30 tells of overwhelming worry and fear driven by survival. We do not have to survive but can thrive in a life surrendered to Jesus as He completes and gives us a rich and satisfying life. “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.” The Lord offers to carry our burden as we “yoke” our life to Him walking His Way, and allowing His Will to take over. The need for control is a fear response. In fact, worry, fear, and anxiety are all born of doubt and disbelief which disqualify faith. We must daily turn every single one over to the Lord in order to walk with Him. Freedom is given to those who by faith put their trust in Jesus. How about you? Is it time to unload? Are there some things weighing you down that you have chosen to carry rather than trusting the Lord with them? They will keep you from His Glory if you do not let them go!

 

Matthew 19:27-30 (NKJV) Then Peter answered and said to Him, “See, we have left all and followed You. Therefore what shall we have?” So Jesus said to them, “Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.

 

“See, we have left all and followed You. Therefore what shall we have?” I can only imagine in the days leading to the Cross that the disciples were perplexed. What do you want from the Lord today? Is it a temporary fix? What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul? (Mark 8:36-38) Are we really seeking Jesus for eternal life or a better life? Don’t answer that…just yet. If our mindset is not forever, we are bound to today. Hope is for the future and found in Jesus Christ. If we can see it, we can have it. If we can touch it, we can do it. I think about the rich young man who came to Jesus. He was really confident in what He was doing by following the letter of the Law and “doing” all the right things. But then Jesus took it up a notch requiring him to sell all his possessions, give the money to the poor and follow Him. What did the young man do? He turned away because he had a pretty good life here on earth with many possessions. He could not give up now for forever. What’s holding you back? What is keeping you from entering the Presence of God? What is keeping you from His Glory? It is always a “me” thing because His Offer always stands, “Whosoever will let him come.” (Mark 8:34) As we deny ourselves – our comfort, convenience, complacency and control – God’s Glory will resonate in our life and we will see the greatest revival of all time. It will be the one that proceeds Christ’s Return.

 

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (NKJV) Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

 

Do not lose heart today. Friend, Jesus is closer than you think or feel. He is pressing in and drawing near to your broken heart and ravaged soul that has been severely taken advantage of by the loveless and brutal world. Circumstances and conditions may not change in the earth, but the Lord will make peace in your heart. He will cause that measure of faith that you were born with to begin to grow and seek to connect with the eternity in your heart. This is not the life you were created to live. You have purpose. Your life has real meaning that is not found in what you do here but who you are in Christ. The Lord promises to renew our inward man day by day. He is ready to release a far exceeding and eternal weight of glory in our life. If we will just set aside the weight that holds us back, release the worries and cares that keep us bondage and step into His Glory. The Lord loves you today. He desires you. He calls you His Beloved. If you will just wait a little longer, go a little farther and press in a little deeper – there will be a happily ever after. The King is most definitely among us. His Glory surrounds us. We are victorious. Revival is rising in His Name. Will you take part in it? Or will you allow it to pass you by caught up in these temporary things? It’s up to you. I say lift your head up and look – Jesus is closer than every before.

 

Psalm 119:33-38 (NKJV) Teach me, O Lord, the way of Your statutes, and I shall keep it to the end. Give me understanding, and I shall keep Your law; indeed, I shall observe it with my whole heart. Make me walk in the path of Your commandments, for I delight in it. Incline my heart to Your testimonies, and not to covetousness. Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things, and revive me in Your way. Establish Your word to Your servant, who is devoted to fearing You.

Prisoner of Hope

Prisoner of Hope

Hebrews 6:17-20 (NKJV) Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath, that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.

 

Yesterday, I received a wonderful gift in the mail along with a small package wrapped in shiny paper with a bow. It was a packet of pictures from my grandmother’s 90th birthday party with a note “didn’t want to make you cry but knew you would want these.” How true! They are a treasure. As I looked at her smile as she is surrounded by her children, grandchildren and even great grandchildren – I cannot believe more than ten years have passed. I am just a couple of days from turning 50 years old myself and Gram would be 100 years old right now. I miss her today but not rob her the beauty and blessing of being with her Savior where she longed to be worshipping with her husband of 70 years on earth.

 

Among the pictures of my grandmother, there were some pictures of our kids. The little guy who would defend his country as an American soldier. The other little man who would battle a relentless disease before stepping into remission. The sweet little girl who would marry her prince riding off to a faraway place to win souls for Jesus Christ. The cute little beauty with her smiling face who has somehow blossomed into a radiant and godly young woman who will soon graduate high school to pursue with a passion the purpose hidden in her heart. And finally the baby who is not a baby anymore. I can feel her soft curls on my face, taste her chubby cheeks on my lips and feel the warmth of her little body falling asleep in my arms. She is now a teenager, too. Time passes too quickly. I am a bit nostalgic looking back over time. I have no shame or regret other than not falling in love with Jesus sooner and living for Him sooner. The passage of time brings tears to our eyes but for those who live in hope – it brings double.

 

The hope that anchors my soul is forged by fire into iron. Years of testing and trying have revealed it to be strong and immovable when I attach my life to it. The words regarding hope are “sure and steadfast”. It requires making an entrance into “the Presence behind the veil” to encounter Jesus. This morning as I pondered the fact that Gram would be double my age, I consider the place she is now. As I turn 50, I cannot help but ponder the future and hope of the next 50 years of my life or how ever there may be. What’s next? God says, “Double.” What? “It’s time for double for your trouble.” “Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath, that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us.” I am heir to a promise. The Lord has made an oath to me. In covenant with Jesus, it belongs to me. If I can find my way to hope, I will have it. No one can take it from me, if I refuse to let go. The Lord wants me to have strong consolation. Such a big word that means comfort and peace. Hope is the very thing that anchors our soul to the abundance of life that Jesus promised us.

 

John 10:10 (NKJV) The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

To every young person who is reading this today, your failure is not fatal and falling is not futile. Everyone makes mistakes and there is enough mercy to cover it by choosing to live in covenant with Jesus Christ. Put down the stick you are beating yourself with called guilt, shame and the worst of all regret. The Lord knows our plan and purpose along with every fault and weakness that we have. He has given us His Spirit as our advocate. He identifies us as Sons and Daughters of God giving us access directly into the Presence of God. Jesus came to give us life AND that we might have it abundantly. We obtain it be faith which is the substance or material evidence of hope. When we discover the hope that we have in Jesus, we become like prisoners who cannot be free outside of its full potential. We know that there is more so will endure to have it.

 

Zechariah 9:11-12 (NKJV) “As for you also, because of the blood of your covenant, I will set your prisoners free from the waterless pit. Return to the stronghold, you prisoners of hope. Even today I declare that I will restore double to you.”

 

During our son’s battle with cancer, I had to step into the realm of hope to survive because the reality of life surely would have killed me. In essence, I slowly but surely retreated into the Stronghold and Refuge called God. Only those who have had to go there understand this and even to those of us who do – it doesn’t always make sense. When life gets too hard is the moment people seek someone greater than themselves to give them hope and peace. For me, it was Jesus. It had to be the Lord. Naturally, it felt like I was losing everything. Time was passing by so quickly like wind through the pages of an open book. Treatment after treatment followed by diagnosis after diagnosis made the clock spin faster but the world did not wait for my son to win but rather took years of time that I cannot get back. I was exactly where I wanted to be, needed to be, and longed to be yet feeling like the price was so high and cost great. When one child crossed the finish line, another bird would fly from the nest. Lord, redeem my time. I prayed this so many times. His Answer just four short months after her beautiful wedding, our daughter would move 21 hours away. Lord, this is not the life I expected. This is not how your Word said that it would be. Where is the abundance of peace and joy that you promised? Where is the satisfaction? Yet in those moments of quiet inspection, slipping into a vortex of sadness and depression, firmly in my right hand I held an anchor called hope. It would make me endure. It would cause me not to quit. It would yield the greatest promise of all as I became its prisoner. Lord, there has to be more than this…

 

Job 42:8-10 (NKJV) Now therefore, take for yourselves seven bulls and seven rams, go to My servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and My servant Job shall pray for you. For I will accept him, lest I deal with you according to your folly; because you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has.” So Eliphaz the Temanite and Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite went and did as the Lord commanded them; for the Lord had accepted Job. And the Lord restored Job’s losses when he prayed for his friends. Indeed the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before.

 

Abraham had to leave his home and go to the mountain of sacrifice with his son. Joseph was betrayed by his brothers, left for dead, sold to slavery, and falsely accused. Moses was a murder and never stepped foot into the Promised Land yet he led the people to it. I can go on and on but you get the picture. God’s people are not exempt from hardship but are called to endure. Job was innocent yet put up for consideration by the enemy who would try to kill his heritage, plunder his wealth and attack his body. What was his response? “Naked I came from my mother’s womb and naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the Name of the Lord.” Job became a prisoner of hope. Just like so many before him from Daniel to Paul waiting on the Promise of God while facing terrible adversity yet never backing down or letting go.

 

In the middle of the journey with our son’s illness, I decided to get a tattoo. It was sometime after his first relapse around the first year mark. Another young man who we knew had just passed away, his family together went to get memorial tattoos honoring the life of their son and brother. It was at that point I decided that I would never get a memorial tattoo. The Lord had given me the promise that he would live and not die. But the world was beginning to wonder, so I began praying. Now I know that the church and religion still has a jury out about such things, but I know that the Lord allowed me to do this because there were days that I needed to see what this was all about again. I had to be reminded that it was by faith alone that he would make it to hope. When I look at my right wrist, I see the word “faith”. I am ashamed to admit that there were some tearful nights when I tried to rub it off vigorous as devastation tried to take my hope away. When you look at my wrist, you will see the word “hope”. Faith and hope are forever etched in my skin and written on my heart. I cannot live, breathe or survive outside of them.

 

When the trial in our life became lengthy, many people who walked with us would wander off. It’s hard to face something with another without fearing it will someday touch you. I am not sad and bitter that in the end only a few were still standing. No, not at all. I am not entirely sure it was not of the Lord’s doing as I read about Job and his friends. His annoying friends who gave him worthless advice and cast judgment all in the name of love. The Lord convicted them. They returned to Job. The Lord asked Job to forgive his farfetched friends and he did. Here’s what happened next – the Lord restored Job’s losses when he prayed for his friends. Indeed the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before.” Job received double for his trouble. The Lord is longing to do the same thing for all those who have struggled and strived to endure remaining faithful to the end. Theirs is the gift of abundance.

 

Isaiah 55:1-3 (NKJV) “Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance. Incline your ear, and come to Me. Hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you—the sure mercies of David.”

 

Exodus outlines the promise of double in our life as it talks about repayment. When a thief steals from the Children of God, the retribution is outlined in this chapter which says, “He shall restore double” (vs. 4), “he shall pay double” (vs.7), and “for any kind of trespass…he shall pay double. (vs.9) The thief owes you double for all of your trouble today. In I Samuel 1:4-6, it tells of Elkanah who loved Hannah and saw her abuse and mistreatment due to barrenness. The Word of God tells us that he gave her a double portion. When Elijah knew that the end of his days were nearing, he asked Elisha (his faithful follower) what he desired of his master. Elisha requested a double portion of Elijah’s anointing. The prophet told Elisha, “You have asked a hard thing.” (2 Kings 2:9-10) Do you see what is happening here? All of these people faced tremendous hardship yet still put their faith in the Lord and dared to hope beyond the reality of their life and natural condition in which they lived. They reached in deeper and grabbed on tighter refusing to let go. Even Jacob when he wrestled with the angel of the Lord received a handicap with his blessing. God loves you. He gave His Son, Jesus so that you and I could be called and identified as Children of the Living God. It takes faith to receive it and hope to maintain it. Hope that never leads to disappointment requires a process by which we endure yet dare to believe. This is what it means to be a prisoner of hope. When there is no natural reason to believe, we still cannot release the anchor of hope that holds tight to our soul.

 

Isaiah 61:6-7 (NKJV) But you shall be named the priests of the Lord, they shall call you the servants of our God. You shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, and in their glory you shall boast. Instead of your shame you shall have double honor, and instead of confusion they shall rejoice in their portion. Therefore in their land they shall possess double; everlasting joy shall be theirs.

 

Is your faith being tested today? Is your hope being challenged? Are you considering giving up as the wait has been too long? Welcome to the realm of hope, glad you made it because for some reason deep in your soul you haven’t given up or you wouldn’t be reading this right now. You are a Priest of the Lord. (I Peter 2:9) You are God’s Elect. You are a servant of God if Jesus is the Lord of your life. Do you cry out for His Kingdom to come on earth as it is in Heaven and mean it? Those who step into these important roles have provisionary promises that are coming directly to them as God works together every detail for our good and His Glory. (Romans 8:28) The Lord is working in us and through us to secure us to His Side forever. He is removing all guilt, regret and shame to fully restore and renew us. As our soul prospers – so will we. He has promised double honor and that we will possess double in their land. That is right here and right now. Do you believe it today? If things seem impossible than you are close to the breakthrough that you have been waiting for because the moment it is impossible – God makes it possible. All we have to do is believe. To become a prisoner of hope only released when His Goodness and Glory release us in fulfillment and satisfaction.

 

Hebrews 6:9-12 (NKJV) But, beloved, we are confident of better things concerning you, yes, things that accompany salvation, though we speak in this manner. For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister. And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

 

I love the word “beloved”. It makes me think of the intimate passage in Song of Solomon, “My beloved is mine.” The word “beloved” means greatly loved. My beloved is what Jesus calls us. He desires to have an intimate relationship with us. One that is ongoing and everlasting. Earthly relationships are not formed the same way. When love grows cold is customary to leave and find something or someone else to stir our passion and fan the flame of desire. Love is not that way in the Kingdom. It is called commitment. God loves us and committed His Son’s Life as testimony to it. Jesus loves us and endured a torturous death and entered the grave for us. All so that we could have hope of eternal life. The concept of double for your trouble is preached in many churches in regard to money and possession. Gold is walked on in Heaven. Wisdom in God is of the utmost worth. To know His Love, believe it and live in it as His Beloved offers us the full assurance of hope that He offers us. It gives us something to attach our faith to so that when we are tired, weary, worried and all alone – He becomes our comforter. Promises come by faith and patience. Tribulation produces perseverance (or patience), perseverance produces character, and character produces hope. (Romans 5:1-5) The hope produced in this process is promised to never, ever disappoint us. This is why I choose to live as a prisoner of hope knowing who the Son sets free is free indeed. Jesus promised a rich and satisfying life and I intend to have it. The blessing of the Lord makes us rich and adds no sorrow with it.

 

Psalm 36:7-8 (NKJV) How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your Wings. They are abundantly satisfied with the fullness of Your House, and You give them drink from the river of Your pleasures.