Turning Toil into Rest

Turning Toil into Rest

Psalm 139:1-5 (ESV) O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.

Psalm 139 is one of my favorite passages in the Word of God. Like a giant soft snuggly blanket on a cold night, I can wrap myself in God’s intentional creation and determination to love and keep me in the psalmist words. It makes the chaos of life stand still in God’s Supremacy. It makes me feel important when dark shadows of insignificance creep into my heart. God has carefully scripted the details of my life including every moment before I was born. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me and far too high for me to grasp so I am get caught up in the waves of busyness and striving that are the cast nets of the enemy to trip us up in the race of faith. To think personal appearance, qualities, abilities, and achievements even when applied to discipline, faithfulness and obedience to God in some way influences the outcome is ridiculous when I am predestined for the Kingdom – including every promise, blessing and prosperous moment that God our Father already planned and prescribed for us. Excessive pride and exceptional vanity cause the believer to strive for what is already given and long for what we already have. These two traits are the very essence of frustration. Greed for more is the appetite of pride. Discontentment is the adornment of vanity. Neither will ever bring peace nor rest in our life but a constant need to seek worthless things rather than heavenly rewards. God did not call us to live in poverty or lack. He is an excellent Father and wonderful Provider. God did not call us to walk around brokenhearted, sickly and diseased. He is the Healer. God still does miracles. Just as the plan of God was foretold, the process of God lies within us. Written on our heart, it must be opened and carefully read. There is a plan and purpose within us that will lead to full satisfaction and complete contentment. It begins in our heart not in our hands.

3 John 2 (NKJV) Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.

I do believe the prosperity gospel. God desires to prosper us…just as your soul prospers. Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:5) One of the greatest privileges as a believer is to enter the Kingdom economy on earth before entering heaven. Peter experienced such when he was asked who Christ was to him. His response opened the Hand of Jesus who gave Peter “the keys of the kingdom of heaven.” Peter’s confession of Christ as the Son of the God established the platform of his life on which the Lord would begin constructing the church. Psalm 103 reminds us “bless the Lord, oh my soul, and forget not all his benefits.” Kingdom benefits and blessings belong to those who believe in Jesus Christ as their personal Savior and decide to make Him the Lord of their life. We must bless the Lord with the offering of submission giving Him access through salvation to our soul first and then placing the rest of our life under His Authority and Power which will release Kingdom benefits and blessings that make ordinary existence into the extraordinary life that is exceedingly and abundantly more than is humanly imaginable filling our journey with supernatural occurrences that will always point to God!

Ecclesiastes 2:22 (ESV) What has a man from all the toil and striving of heart with which he toils beneath the sun? For all his days are full of sorrow, and his work is a vexation. Even in the night his heart does not rest. This also is vanity.

Where did this journey in the Word begin? I love Saturday morning. It is the only day of the week when I do not have to wake up early. The alarm is not set for 4:30 AM as usual. This morning rather than relaxing and resting my mind woke me up. Swirling with my expectations for today mixed with others expectations of me roused me until finally I got up. Busy. What is busyness anyway? Everyone is busy. But no one is too busy. Oh, I hear you ready to lop off my head. God gives each person 24 hours in a day and the freedom to choose how to use it. All things are permissible but not all things beneficial – given all the same amount of time in any given day – it is up to us to decide how it will be portioned. The pressure I was feeling caused irritability to arise and I could feel the bristling of emotions. Walking into the study, sliding into my chair, I opened my journal and wrote the following: “How do I do it all? Lord, I need you to take control of my time.” Toil and striving for anything other than Jesus Christ and His Kingdom is the product of pride and vanity. Where do I get this from? Ecclesiastes – yes the whole entire book. We must place our priority on Kingdom first. No, I did not say “ministry” or “church” first. I did say, “Christ and His Kingdom.” It is the place of allegiance for the believer that allows all other areas of life to be successful. It somehow miraculously stretches our time and energy. The word “toil” is not a Kingdom word. It’s not. Toil means hard, continuous, and exhausting labor or effort. God calls us to rest. Jesus calls to those who “labor and are heavy laden” with the promise of rest. To rest in His Love, on His Promise and trusting in His Plan. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. However, in our toiling at home, work, ministry, church, and even in our hobbies and extracurricular activities – the enemy tells us that God is please with such exhaustive toil and really it does not bring the Father any glory because though it make a man rich it brings great sorrow with it. The blessing of the Lord does not bring us sorrow but complete satisfaction and contentment in all things. Toil is birthed by vanity which refutes the declaration that His Grace is enough for me. His Power works best in my weakness. Toil is vanity’s effort to self-assert itself over the completed work of Christ in us.

Matthew 6:31-33 (ESV) ”Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

Seek first the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness AND all these things will be added to you. It is a terrible cycle entered into by most creating a vortex that separates many from the lifestyle God intended from the beginning for each one of us. We are told to be anxious for nothing. Trust and confidence that God is our provider of all things pertaining to life. It says in His Word that God has already given us every spiritual blessing. Like the widow with one flask of oil, it is up to us to find the vessels to pour it into. Most hold that little bottle of anointing in one hand and work with the other. This is not the plan of God for our life but rather to pour out the anointing in us into every area of life. No duplicity. Faith in every approach. Giving the Lord authority in every area of our life. Instead, work becomes our priority because everyone needs to money to survive, right? So our life is poured into our job, career or climbing the corporate ladder. Seeking to acquire things becomes the focus of drive and ambition. Work gets the majority of our time. Work also makes play justifiable. There is nothing wrong with balance but soon our life is filled with busyness. Add on top of that trying to serve in church as well and what a chaotic mess develops. Why? Seek first the Kingdom of God. The filling of our life with Jesus and His Anointing makes everything we do prosper and purposeful. Trouble is most give the Lord what’s left which is a pitiful pittance rather than the extravagance of our predestined masterpiece life. We must discipline ourselves to seek the Kingdom first. Above all things and ambitious journeys. God knows every need, want and desire of your heart. It is only in trusting the Lord to do as He promises that a prosperous life is achieved.

I John 2:15-17 (ESV) Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

When our son was diagnosed with cancer, my perspective and priorities were radically changed. Not over time, but in a single moment. Funny thing is that it was not when the words rolled out of the doctor’s mouth sending my heart crashing to the floor. It was not in the two weeks of trying to reorder and reorganize our schedule to include fighting for his life. It was sitting in a parking lot waiting for him to arrive to enter treatment as I was texting the office assuring them I would be there next week. My son got out of the car and the Lord let me see with vivid clarity what death looked like. It was in that moment that the things of this world did not matter anymore. I needed Jesus. I needed Him close. I needed Him to be real. I needed Him more than anyone or anything else. I called the office in that moment telling my supervisor that I would do my best to help them but I would not be back until our son was in remission.

Friend, we must reprioritize our life. It is imperative that our heart and mind be set on Jesus and His Kingdom first. It is not an old-fashioned cry of the church but the modern day yearning of those who desire His Kingdom on earth and revival to come. The world will give as many cares, burdens, worries, fears, doubts and insecurities it takes to keep God’s People land-locked and not Kingdom-bound. The enemy knows exactly what it will take to discourage, distract, detour and dissuade you from seeking the Kingdom first. We are driven by so many drives, urges and emotions that striving just comes naturally. Comparison does not only kill our joy but chokes out contentment. King Solomon had great wealth so much so that he was able to indulge every indulgence. Nothing was kept from him yet he declares it all vanity. It’s sad because so many famous people who are envied by others end their life because of depression. I wonder if it is because when they attained what they thought would be bring them peace and happiness – they found it be an illusion of emptiness which was completely devastating. The true meaning of hopelessness, I guess, is having it all and finding it is not what you wanted. We have a hope that will never lead to disappointment. To acquire Jesus Christ and His Kingdom is to have it all. We must not get caught up in busyness. It is a prideful place of vanity that takes Christ out of the equation. Toil must be turned to rest in the peace of God that is afforded those who trust the Lord in all things. Lord, I cannot do it all. I am not supposed to. So let me do one thing and it is this one thing that I ask:

Psalm 27:4 (ESV) One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple.

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Be Blessed

Be Blessed 2

I Peter 3:8-9 (ESV) Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.

Unity promotes blessing. God has indicated that harmony among people is like thick oil running down the beard of Aaron representing a special anointing. As well it should be, if one considers how difficult it is for people to agree. The instructions in the letter conclude ALL OF YOU have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart and humble mind. The next statement drives home the secret of God’s Blessing overtaking us in everyday life. Bless others. The summary of the text is simple. No matter what happens keep your mind focused on love, your heart tender for others and maintain a humble mind. It is clear that the pathway to promise is in our relationships. Why would it come as a surprise that it is the main focus of the enemy’s attack?

Disagreement and disunity have constipated God’s Church. It is impossible to receive the blessing of God in bitterness and unforgiveness because it is blatant disregard for the unconditional love and abundant grace that the Lord has given us. Saints of God tarry at the altar, writhe in prayer closets, and plead to Him in prayer for something that is far simpler. If only in tending our heart and mind, forgiveness would be the healing balm for those who use us, harm us, hurt us, offend us, insult us, lie to us, attack us, or maybe people who just are not likeable. What if the lock on the door of heaven is being held tightly shut by the same hand that is holding on to rightness or any list of reasons that seem rational. Faith is not logical. God’s Love is irrational. His Goodness is ridiculous. We cannot fully comprehend even walking with Him exactly what He is doing in us and for us. So the choice becomes will I trust the Lord with all my expectations, or reserve my pride and rightness?

Isaiah 55:8-11 (ESV) “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”

I was driving to work when I noticed in my rearview mirror an SUV dodging in and out of traffic. He cut several people off with his reckless maneuvers. Other drivers had to slam on their brakes to avoid hitting other vehicles and avoid collisions while this person clearly did not regard the havoc caused by his swerving between cars dangerously close. My worship music faded into the background as anger began to rise up within me. Who was he to put so many people in danger without no concern? It was wrong. He was being careless. As he pulled up beside me speeding just enough to cut in front of my vehicle narrowly missing the left headlight – so I did what any good Christian would do and laid into the horn with all the strength my arm could muster. Fuming as he sped off, the sweet presence in my car evaporated into heated emotions. Of course, then the Holy Spirit tapped me on the heart. You should pray for him. He may get hurt. What? My heart changed from anger melting into sweet peace when I prayed for him and those he encountered today.

Why? Why is it important to keep our heart soft and tender along with a humble mind? I want God’s Blessing in my life. It is clear in His Word that I must keep from speaking evil, retaliating, reacting, and allowing my heart to be hardened by cursing another soul. See the Lord goes with me everywhere I go ready to release His Blessing in response to nothing more than my faith in Him. The more faith I invest in the Lord the more His Blessing and Goodness overtake me. I must invite, welcome, entertain, and maintain His Presence when I am with family or friends, at church or work, and yes, even when I am alone and no one else is watching. God’s Word holds promises for me that I long to obtain yet His Way is unconventional. I must do it His Way. His Way is unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. Do you need to forgive someone? How about rescinding a curse? Repentance is a beautiful reconciliation with our Loving Father through His Beloved Son. It is a privilege blood bought and grace given that keeps us in line for His Blessing. Lord, I want to be blessed. Keep me focused on the blessing and not the mess. You are good and your promise is worth having even at the sacrifice of self. Amen! Amen!

Psalm 133:1-2 (ESV) Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! It is like the precious oil on the head, running down on the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes!

So We’re Not Giving Up

So We Are Not Giving UP

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

At the Carwash

At the Carwash

Psalm 19:7-8 (NLT) The instructions of the Lord are perfect, reviving the soul. The decrees of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The commandments of the Lord are right, bringing joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are clear, giving insight for living.

Thankfully my to-do list for Saturday was not too long, but on it was the task of washing the car. I believe that if I take care of the vehicle that I have that the Lord just may bless me with the vehicle I want. My minivan turned into a Suburban which turned into a Honda so who knows… I was all set to wash it in the driveway when my sweet husband suggested the carwash. Living in Florida, it is near 100 degrees before midday. One of our daughter’s friends chimed in that there was a free vacuum and other amenities included so why not? Armed with my list of errands, I drove to the brand new establishment. It was definitely busy as others lined up for services. Pulling in there are a series of arrows guiding cars through the area to the actual car wash line. There is a virtual cashier to select a level of clean and pay the fee. Pulling forward a host of service folks, tape down wipers scrubbing windows and bumpers. One of the attendants guides you forward to engage your vehicle in the machine until your wheels lock into place. At that point, she points to three simple instructions: 1) Put the car in neutral; 2) Take your foot off the brake; and 3) Let go of the steering wheel. Once I had done all these things, my car went through the cycles of the wash until I was depositing back into the glaring sunshine. One last choice, do I turn right and head out or left to finish the job. Choices. Life is full of choices. Each day we must determine whose instructions to follow.

Two or three minutes doesn’t seem like a long time to think but the hamster on my wheel runs really fast. My thoughts were flooded as soapy water covered the car. As an adult, there are countless decisions in a single day. We choose the life we live according to those choices and the consequences of each action. My husband did not force me to use the carwash yesterday. He simply suggested it as an option. I chose to take his advice. I was not disappointed. I was able to choose the cleaning level and pay for the service. I was satisfied. At the end of the carwash, I turned left to wipe off the leftover water and vacuum the car. I made those choices. Now my vehicle is shiny and smells good. How many times that the Lord offers simple instructions for life that I choose to ignore? Each new day comes with mercy and probably simple instructions like “put it in neutral and let me lead you”, “take your foot off the brake and move into what I have prepared for you” or “take your hands off the wheel, I’ve got this”. Simple instructions for life that will refresh and revive even the weariest soul. Our heart and mind would get a much needed rest if only our daily dedication was to seek the Lord’s Instruction and do what He says.

The decrees of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. Though it looked complicated with all the arrows, directives and barriers as I made my way through the process of the carwash. It really is a simple system. The end result was exactly as I expected. The decrees of the Lord are simple. It is our sinful flesh that longs for control that complicates our life and drowns out His Voice. I can trust the Lord in all things. Faith isn’t about seeing it’s about hearing the Word of God and doing it with full assurance. The Lord is faithful it is our own fickle heart that struggles.

The commandments of the Lord are right, bringing joy to the heart. One of the greatest fears of a Christian is the doubt that what the Lord has planned is better. Will I like it? Love it? Want it? Fear of disappointment overshadows the Light of God’s Love revealed in His Instructions that produce new hope and never leads to disappointment. Inexpressible joy is found in Jesus Christ. He is the Word. He is giving us good instructions and sound wisdom to live the best life possible now and forevermore. The commands of the Lord are clear, giving insight for living.

Psalm 119:17-18 (NLT) Be good to your servant, that I may live and obey your word. Open my eyes to see the wonderful truths in your instructions.

Open my eyes, Lord. Yesterday, at the car wash inside the machine, I simply sat in the air conditioned comfort of my automobile as it was cleaned for me. I did not have to drive or steer just ride along. The car was cleaned. Tires shined. I didn’t even break a sweat. We work so hard to please the Lord. Finding new ways to serve Him. Trying to impress people. Doing, doing and doing some more. As I sat there, it hit me. Maybe all the Lord really wants us to do is what He says. God is good. He is good to us. He pursues us with unfailing love and goodness all the days of our life. Yet, we keep trying to do it our way. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Jesus is the Word. To find life, it is Jesus who must know us. To know Him is to simply know His Word and trust Him enough to perfect it in our life. His Word is perfected in our life through obedience. Just doing what the Lord tells us to. It is not a big deal. It is very simple. Obedience begins with a choice. To choose to trust Him in each step…moment by moment…day by day!

“Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus… just to take Him at His Word…just to rest upon His Promise…just to know thus saith the Lord!”

Psalm 119:164-165 (NLT) I will praise you seven times a day because all your regulations are just. Those who love your instructions have great peace and do not stumble.

Trust Fund

Trust Fund

2 Corinthians 1:21-22 (AMP) Now it is God who establishes and confirms us [in joint fellowship] with you in Christ, and who has anointed us [empowering us with the gifts of the Spirit]; it is He who has also put His seal on us [that is, He has appropriated us and certified us as His] and has given us the [Holy] Spirit in our hearts as a pledge [like a security deposit to guarantee the fulfillment of His promise of eternal life].

I was not born into an affluent family. In fact, the first home I remember was a mobile home that traveled with us. My parents hardworking both coming from middle class families so the idea of a trust fund equated to a jar for loose change left somewhere in the house. Yet today I have an abundant trust fund waiting for me. It came as part of the package provided to me by God and accessible through Jesus Christ. I have a rich and satisfying life available to me and sealed by the Holy Spirit. So where is it?

The truth is that those who decide to receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord are now members of a ridiculously rich and lavishly opulent Kingdom. It has everything need, wanted and desired by God’s People beginning with fellowship with God the Father through Christ the Son. There is a trust fund of precious promises, bountiful blessings and certain benefits that belong to us. Again, where are they now? Why do believers live desperate, disappointed and devastated lives as paupers – body, mind and spirit when the Word of God clearly establishes otherwise? A trust fund is comprised of a variety of assets to provide benefits to individuals or organizations. Established by a grantor, a trust fund provides security to the benefactor. There are guidelines for distribution that if met it is automatically released to the person or group intended.

Galatians 5:18-21 (AMP)  But if you are guided and led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the Law. Now the practices of the sinful nature are clearly evident: they are sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality (total irresponsibility, lack of self-control), idolatry, sorcery, hostility, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions [that promote heresies], envy, drunkenness, riotous behavior, and other things like these. I warn you beforehand, just as I did previously, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

If guided and led by the Holy Spirit invested in us by Jesus Christ, there is no condemnation. The Law is now satisfied and therefore we can live in its abundance. Sin will always separate us from God, but His Grace is sufficient meaning once applied it is more than enough. Eternal life belongs to those who are completely broken in sin but covered in the Blood of Jesus. Salvation is only the beginning of the process of true repentance which is the act of reconciling our life to the Lord. It is not a forced act but a display of willingness. How so? Freedom! Who the Son sets free is free indeed. You can remain subject to the susceptibility of sin or choose a better way.

Religion is still reliant on the Law to find a better way. Our relationship makes us reliant on the Love of God and His Kind Forbearance and Mercy to get us through this life. You will never be able to completely fulfill the Law with attitudes and actions completely like Christ. Our sinful nature will always have some level of influence. All things are permissible but not all things are beneficial. There is eternal life freely given by God through Christ and accepted by mankind. But then there is a Kingdom that holds an inheritance for those who are the Sons and Daughters of God. It is completely yours tucked away as a “trust fund” for those who desire to be part of the Kingdom now AND forevermore.

There are certain things that hinder us from the blessings and benefits of our inheritance such as immorality. Can I just put this out there? Just because a church allows unwed couples to serve in ministry positions does not release the blessings of servitude to them. It is still considered immorality and though our entrance in Heaven is secure in Christ, the blessings of the Kingdom are not released until our life lines up with the Kingdom. So what good is to other people when sin is tolerated and the Kingdom limited in their life? Truth will always promote trust that will open the windows of Heaven in our life and rain down blessings. That’s just one thing on the list of many things that the church entertains these days which limits the potential receivership of others. Sin separated us from God and Jesus paid the price for our sin. The actions of the Savior remove all condemnation and give us complete access to the Father. It is making Jesus our Lord that releases our trust fund in the Kingdom.

Galatians 5:22-23 (AMP) But the fruit of the Spirit [the result of His presence within us] is love [unselfish concern for others], joy, [inner] peace, patience [not the ability to wait, but how we act while waiting], kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law.

The fruit of my life that feeds my soul is from His Spirit. It includes love, joy and peace. It also provides patience or the ability to wait on the Lord. It fills us with kindness, goodness, faithfulness and gentleness that will eliminate certain behaviors that once limited us including hostility, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envy and others like these that divide the organization called church or the Body of Christ which is ordained to be blessed beginning with unity.

Ephesians 2:18-22 (AMP) For it is through Him that we both have a [direct] way of approach in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens [outsiders without rights of citizenship], but you are fellow citizens with the saints (God’s people), and are [members] of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the [chief] Cornerstone, in whom the whole structure is joined together, and it continues [to increase] growing into a holy temple in the Lord [a sanctuary dedicated, set apart, and sacred to the presence of the Lord]. In Him [and in fellowship with one another] you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

What if our trust fund in the Lord is not just individual but corporate? What if the blessings and benefits that are prayed for and desired are actually linked to others in the Body of Christ? We are no longer strangers and aliens. We must trust the Lord in all areas of our life to receive that which is ordained as an inheritance. The economy of the earth is driven by supply and demand. There must be a relationship of commerce to keep the country running. Ephesians 2:14 tells us that Jesus is our peace and our bond of unity. Maybe the Kingdom is not being released in our personal life because we lack proper relationships in our new life. The Kingdom’s economy is souls. Souls bound together in perfect unity with Christ so that it can also attach to others freely without human expectation but hopeful revelation. We must expand our sphere of influence so that God can use those who are the executors to grant what God has freely given. Our life is not independent of others but intertwined. Each person has a deposit to make in our life and we have something for them, too. Not of ourselves but through Jesus Christ.

We desire God’s Hand and Outpouring but until we know and understand His Heart there will be no such thing. Revival of the family is in its offspring. Generations will die if not reproduced. God’s Heart and His Kingdom flourishes in “things” with streets of gold and mansions all around. God’s owns the cattle on a thousand hills but what He desires most is you. Me. Us. Together. God’s Kingdom is a family of believers who when they find perfect unity in Christ will experience an outpouring like never before. God loves you. He loves me. He has already ordained blessings and benefits for us that far exceed our expectation and will satisfy us completely. It cannot just be obtained individually but entrusted corporately as well.

In Him [and in fellowship with one another] you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. We must work on our relationship with Jesus Christ not as Savior but as Lord to release all that is given to us through our covenant. We must strive to develop strong bonds and eliminate division in the Body of Christ which is to be God’s Dwelling Place. It will provide the proper place for His Glory to dwell. God has so many wonderful things in store for us. Dissatisfaction, discouragement and disappointment are all evidence that there is more to come. We must put them off for determination, discipline and dedication to establishing His Kingdom here on earth so that His Spirit has plenty of room to move and fill our lives with what we desire the most – Jesus!

Psalm 103:1-5 (AMP) Bless and affectionately praise the Lord, O my soul, and all that is [deep] within me, bless His holy name. Bless and affectionately praise the Lord, O my soul, and do not forget any of His benefits; Who forgives all your sins, Who heals all your diseases; Who redeems your life from the pit, Who crowns you [lavishly] with lovingkindness and tender mercy; Who satisfies your years with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the [soaring] eagle.

Always Good

Always Good

Psalm 27:13-14 (ESV) I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living! Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!

God is good, therefore; I am good. This contemplation in my head today consists of every shortcoming I can think up. All my faults. Failures. Inconsistencies. The bat of self-deprecation is often the tool of destruction in a believer’s life. The notion that my inability to do and be all that God’s Word calls me to is my own fault. The innate component of sin given over to the overwhelming overtures of grace should be enough to flood us with His Love and Goodness but it often runs over us like water on a rock. It is hard to understand and believe that a God so good filled with loving kindness could desire me. The Lord loves me. He loves you. He desires us above all things. Each one of us.

Praise is the prophetic voice of victory. There are times when the words we sing are really not what we believe but only hope for. Nevertheless by releasing these words into the atmosphere the Lord begins to change our mind and perspective from us, our abilities or inabilities to the truth that all things are possible for those who dare to believe. Believing does not increase the power of God or move Him but it gives Him permission to access to us. He set us free so the Lord cannot come and take over but we must surrender. To surrender our life, hopes, dreams and its entirety cannot be accomplished outside of trust. Trust waits on God. Trust holds steadfast when the situation is hopeless and conditions unfavorable. It is the moment our heart takes courage not in us but the Lord Almighty. It is a place of vulnerability. It is our weakness given to His Strength. Human nature balks at such a notion and pride persuades us to stand tall. If we believe that God is good and His Goodness is for us – faith will become the foundation of our life. This life. Here in the land of the living.

Genesis 1:26-27 (ESV) Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

Genesis 1:31 (ESV) And God saw everything that he had made, and behold it was very good.

God created the heavens and the earth along with creatures to fill it and then called it good. With the introduction of humanity and order set forth, it was then that God declared creation “very good”. You and I are created in the image of God after His Likeness. God is good. Sin kept us from becoming like our Father – God. When Jesus declared His Work on the Cross finished, He gave our life and purpose back to us when He took back the keys to death and the grave. It means that there is nothing keeping us from all of God’s Goodness. He is good. We are good. It is Christ in us that achieves. There is nothing I can do to earn or deserve grace. His Grace is completely sufficient in establishing goodness in me again.

I know what you are thinking. You don’t know me. You don’t know what I have done or maybe not done. The depths of human depravity in a godless culture is no match for the boundless love of God who continually offers us the promise of becoming a new creation from the broken pieces of our past. So while I may not know you or those things hidden in your heart, God knows it all. There is nothing about you that God is not privy to. In fact, Psalm 139 tells us that our life is prerecorded. God wrote it all down. How can grace be enough if the debt not yet calculated? God knows you inside out and upside down and chose to love you and pursue you. Those who accept Jesus Christ into their heart and love Him just love Him are restored to righteousness with God. You don’t have to do a thing except love Him and accept to be your Savior and Lord. This establishes us as good people in God’s Eyes.

Romans 8:28 (ESV) And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Ecclesiastes 3:1&11 (ESV) For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven…

He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. 

We are God’s People and that makes us good people. Our value and worth is not established by who we once were, who we are now or who we might be becoming, but complete in Christ alone. Christ established our worth on the Cross when He gave His Life for us. Those who believe this will begin to see with new eyes the coming together of life’s details in the masterpiece the Lord promises in Ephesians 2. What you see as broken, God calls beautiful. What you decide is flawed, He declares it fixed. What you see as impossible, God has already decided is a miracle. If we could only see ourselves as He sees us, maybe just maybe rather than abandoning promises, cursing seasons, wasting time, and running from Him – we would wait for His Goodness to come to pass and catch up with us. His Unfailing Love endures forever. His Goodness is constantly pursuing us. The person who once was lost now is found and received into a Glorious and Prestigious Kingdom. You have dominion and power over the earth God ordained it and Christ restored it. We must walk in it with confidence.

Regret and shame bar the doors of opportunity opened for the redeemed. Guilt keeps us from full restoration and the blessing of the believer. Performance doesn’t impress the Lord – persistent faith and preserving hope catch His Attention. Religion tells us to do this and don’t do that. Relationship tell us that all things are permissible but not all things beneficial in achieving oneness with our Beloved. Faith is not logical. Unconditional love is confounding. How is it even possible? But it is. God’s Love for us is without question and His Goodness without end. We must only believe to receive. Not only believe that He is good but that He has made us good, too!

I Timothy 4:4-5 (ESV) For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.

None Should Perish

None Should Perish

John 3:16-17 (ESV) “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”

It is probably the most well-known verse in the entire Bible – John 3:16. For God so love the world that He gave His Only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. Sometimes familiarity breeds contentment satisfying our soul with salvation, but missing the life that comes with it. The life God has designed for us is complex and complete. It does not eliminate any details due to indiscretion but takes the imperfect form of humanity and filling its voids with Christ. The new creation promised for those who choose it is not a redesign but recreation and restoration of the original. God is perfect. He does not make mistakes. He created us recording every single moment before our arrival. God has a plan and no matter our involvement or acceptance, it is still continuing in our life. God loves us. Each one of us. His Goal in sending Jesus was not for a designated few but that whoever believes wouldn’t die but live forever with Him. A true and abiding relationship as a father to a child is what God desires of you. A loving and living together that steps over the grave into the Kingdom.

“For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him.” To stop at John 3:16 would be enough to save us but not necessarily grasp the scope of God’s Massive Project. It was never His Intent to divide the people of this planet but to bring them back together in one Body centered on His Son. Condemnation is not a quality of God for mankind and should not be characteristic of His People. Mercy triumphed over judgment at the sacrifice of Jesus giving up His Life to secure ours forever with Him. How is it our place to crawl into the vacated seat when it comes to each other? It is God’s Plan and Purpose that none should perish. It is pointless. Salvation is a free gift. It did not cost me anything of worth. It is easy to give the grace and mercy given to me away because I didn’t earn it. I should be of the mindset of Christ. He is always thinking about compassion. His mindset is life and never death. He is a builder of the Body not a condemner of people.

The Bible says that His Grace is enough. It is sufficient which means that if the love, grace, mercy or compassion of Christ can be exhausted than it was never an ample supply. This is the basis of forgiving seventy times seven, turning the other cheek, loving our enemy and laying our life down for others. He is giving us an opportunity to participate in the Kingdom economy and reap its heavenly reward which is always relationship. God owns it all. Everything belongs to Christ. The Lord has complete authority and power in every situation. The freedom of others does not always produce the benefits of Heaven. It is our opportunity to be the traders of grace who bring the message of the Gospel to others not just in word and deed but in our dedication and commitment to the mission that none should perish.

Jonah 4:1-4 (ESV) But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry. And he prayed to the Lord and said, “O Lord, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster. Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.” And the Lord said, “Do you do well to be angry?”

To bring everyone up to date in the story, God sent Jonah to Nineveh. He was to share God’s Message of repentance to the people. Jonah did not like God’s Plan so he tried to run away to Tarshish. On his way a great storm arose, Jonah was cast into the sea to satisfy the wrath of God and that the others on the ship might be saved. Once overboard, Jonah was swallowed by a whale and lived in its belly for three days until vomited on the local beach. He repents and goes to Nineveh. The people of Nineveh repent and cry out to God. The Lord acknowledges their repentance and relents. He did not bring disaster to the city or its people. In other words, God spared them and did not give them what they deserved. Jonah got mad. He was “exceedingly displeased”.

In Jonah 4, we find Jonah in the midst of a fit mixed with a good old-fashioned pity party. Sitting and stewing the sun arose and he was baking in it when the Lord appointed a plant to come up over Jonah to give him shade while he sorted things out. Jonah was glad when the plant covered him and protected him. The next morning, God appointed a worm to kill the plant and when the sun rose once again Jonah was subject to its heat and discomfort. Through the course of the day – he grew faint and decided it would be better to die. Why? He was disappointed that God had spared the people. He allowed his anger to separate him again from the Presence of God.

Jonah 4:9-11 (ESV) But God said to Jonah, “Do you do well to be angry for the plant?” And he said, “Yes, I do well to be angry, angry enough to die.” And the Lord said, “You pity the plant, for which you did not labor, nor did you make it grow, which came into being in a night and perished in a night. And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?”

God owns it all. Every living breathing creature is a product of Him. You and I are His Most Beloved Creation. How many times do we forget His Mandate that none should perish? How often do we get mad when God saves, heals, delivers and blesses those sorry sinners? Comparison will always be a joy killer. No sinner is too far gone for the Lord’s Arm to reach them. We are the ones who decide the limit of sin or depravity when there is no such thing in the eyes of Jesus. His Grace is always enough. I wonder if the separation, isolation or frustration that we feel is often generated by our own jealously and insecurity in the Lord’s Unfailing Love and Acceptance for me. Working hard for him yet He showers sinners and evil doers with the blessings I thought were reserved for me. Who are they to step in front of me in order to get what He is offering? They must do their time like the rest of us. Serving, giving and striving for the promise. Right? Wrong. When we can do anything for Him or feel pressure to perform for the promise, we have missed the point altogether. I can do nothing for God. He is my fulfillment. He is my purpose. Everything I am and ever hope to be is in Him and offered through Him. I can do nothing apart from Jesus Christ.

2 Peter 3:8-10 (ESV) But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.

“For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.” God delights in mercy. He gives it to us each morning. When our eyes open, it is waiting for us and the basis of salvation. God’s Desire to show us mercy so that we can receive His Grace. We must be ever so careful that our heart for people remains soft and merciful. There is no competition for the Love of God. It is for everyone. Jesus came so that none should perish but have eternal life which means there is more than enough grace for everyone. Have you written someone off? Maybe you walked away because they were just too hard to love. I will let you in on a little secret. Limited love is a product of unaccepted grace. To restrict our love, compassion, kindness and forgiveness to others based on their attitudes and actions is the opposite of the kind given to us by Jesus. If we truly receive His Love, it satisfies our soul. It fills us with hopeful expectation that cannot and will not be met by other people therefore we can love freely and unconditionally because they have no impact on God’s Love for me, His Plan, or His Promise. All of this is individually designed for me but His Grace is for all the world. Lord examine my heart, mind, spirit and soul for compassion. Show me where I have allowed condemnation to take the place of mercy. Soften my heart Lord even if that means breaking it so that I will not miss my purpose in passive judgment. Lord, you are not slow to fulfill your promise to us. You are waiting that none should perish. Be that me or those around me subject to my influence. Lord, let me always choose mercy over judgment and live a triumphant life.

Micah 6:8 (ESV) He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

Peacemakers

Peacemakers 2

Matthew 5:9 (NLT) God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God.

Are you a peace maker? Do you strive to maintain peace and harmony with others? Are you a relationship builder or breaker? Is the Lord really that concerned with our connections to others as long as we remain in unity with Him? How important is it? Well, God blesses those who work for peace. In some translations, it says, “Blessed are the peacemakers…” Why? They will be called the children of God. How does one find and maintain peace in the end times when love has grown cold and sin rampant as Jesus foretold? We must become peacemakers to be identified as God’s Children, so we must find a way…the Way.

John 14:27 (NLT) “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.

We have been provided the Way to peace with God the Father through His Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. The Way tells us that He has already given us peace of mind and heart. It is settled within our soul to be sons and daughters of God. We must only abide in His Love to remain connected to righteousness as receivers of His Grace completely empowered to do all things through Jesus Christ. He gives us the kind of inner peace that completes us so that all expectations are met in Him. His Spirit inside of us is constantly cultivation love, joy and peace all with other beneficial and satisfying fruit to feed new relationships from a source that will never run out. We have perfect peace. It is complete. It is whole. God doesn’t give pieces of peace but in Christ we are completely reunited with Him.

I Peter 3:10-12 (NLT)  For the Scriptures say, “If you want to enjoy life and see many happy days, keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies. Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it. The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right, and his ears are open to their prayers. But the Lord turns his face against those who do evil.”

In an effort to turn from evil and do good, the instructions say to search for peace and work to maintain it. The Lord is watching us. His Ears are open when we struggle in this endeavor. But if God has already accepted the sacrifice of Jesus and given us His Peace to reconnect with the Father, what kind of peace must we search for and strive to know? Peace with all mankind. The Kingdom has to be united. Without peace, it is not possible for a country to be at rest. We must be at peace with each other. Not complacent peace that only is with those who agree with us, but even with those who constantly oppose or offend us. The commitment to peace is part of our covenant with Christ.

I Peter 3:8-9 (NLT) Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude. Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will grant you his blessing.

Peter is referencing Psalm 34 is in his letter to those he refers to as “God’s chosen people”. In chapter 3, Peter is addressing relationships. In this particular passage, he is speaking to all Christians. All of you should be of one mind (at peace). We must be sympathetic. Love one another as brothers and sisters. Not with fake superficial wordy love, but blood, sweat and tears kind of love – hands on and heart in – like Jesus loves us. We must be tenderhearted. This requires a humble attitude. We must keep our pride on the Cross daily crucifying our feelings, emotions and rightness for a constant and complete relationship with Jesus Christ AND everyone else.

Those who make peace and keep peace are Children of the living God not just in word but character as well. To love fully and completely will always produce a relationship at the price of our individuality. God has called us to live such a life and it comes with His Blessing. Paul talks about a thorn in his flesh. So many times the thorn in our flesh has a face and personality, it is one person or a group of people that create hostility. Maybe they have talked about, betrayed, offended, or hurt us in a far greater unimaginable way – how is possible to forgive them and make peace with such people knowing they will more than likely not change, not apologize and never realize just how deep our wound is? It is only possible through the peace of God that passes all understanding. The kind of relationship with the Lord that allows Him to heal our wounds, restore our joy, and revive our heart so that we are not held captives by our feelings that are contrary to His Way, His Truth and His Life that He has planned for me.

The Grace of God given to us through His Son – Jesus Christ is always enough. The unearned and undeserved favor of the Living God dispensed through the Blood of His Precious Son is sufficient for God to accept our apology and restore us for righteousness sake. Who am I to withhold such grace that is the wonder working power that restores peace among God’s People? To withhold it means there is doubt as to its potency and that is simply not true. We must become God’s Gracious Peace Makers once again to build His Church and restore His Body to become His Bride.

Philippians 4:6-8 (NLT) Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

Jesus is the Author and Finisher of faith. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. He knows exactly how you feel and the struggles in our life – yet loves us and stays right there with us anyway. We must become peace makers again. This means capturing our worries, stress, and concerns about others and sending them to Jesus. If only we could put each one in a helium-filled balloon, so it could be carried far beyond our reach. We must become intent on gracious and thankful hearts set on pursuing peace with God which means establishing it on earth within our realm of influence. It is not about how the other person reacts to us but in our obedience in responding to God’s Love appropriately and reciprocating it as He has asked us to – loving one another. We must fix our thoughts. We must focus our heart and mind on Jesus who is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, admirable and oh so faithful. He will produce love, joy and peace within us along with the other fruits needed to satisfy those around us while we are completely satisfied with His Love and Grace.

I must be honest before you today. This message is for me. I will be transparent. I am challenged by this in my own life. I must learn to make peace with all people to become a Child of God who lives in His Blessing and Favor. It must be my daily and ongoing effort to search for peace and seek to maintain it. Lord, help my wounded heart to receive peace and reciprocate it as You have instructed – In Jesus Name! Amen!

Psalm 29:11 (NLT) The Lord gives his people strength. The Lord blesses them with peace.

Every Blessing

Every Blessing

Psalm 1:1-3 (ESV) Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither.

I am blessed. Truly blessed. I am blessed beyond that which I could have ever imagined. To think that there could possibly be more is incomprehensible if I assess my life from the beginning. All the times I messed up, fell short, wandered off or completely rebelled against God – yet somehow sitting at my desk, looking outside, hearing the birds singing, smelling coffee brewing in the air conditioned comfort of my home – I am definitely blessed. I am a sinner. I sin every day despite every effort not to. I serve God yet still get lazy or remiss in my duties. I read His Word every day yet still stumble over lies and half-truths. My imperfection puzzles me when it comes to the blessings of God that still overtake me. How about you?

How is it possible to be blessed in our imperfection? How can God take all the details of our life and make good of them? Falling short and failing often – how is it even possible that every spiritual blessing is still available to me? The beginning of blessing is perspective. Perception is everything to those who walk by faith and not by sight. We must see our life through spiritual eyes guided and led by the Holy Spirit to walk in the blessings and prosperity of God. To live a life of rejoicing in every small beginning and victory rather than focusing on what we do not finish or have not won…yet. If I can learn to comprehend God’s Blessing – where it is and how it works? I will be like a tree planted by streams of water that yields fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither.

Ephesians 1:3-6 (ESV) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.

God’s Blessing is not a product of my ability to live right but provided by His Righteousness. The Spirit of Adoption makes every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places mine simply because I am a Child of God. The only thing I do is to accept my position in the Kingdom through salvation and repentance. Repentance is not kneeling before God constantly confessing what a terrible, weak person I am. It is turning over my sin and weakness for grace and power. I can only be holy and blameless through Jesus Christ so I must surrender my life to Him. He is the One who causes the seeds already planted in me along with faith to grow into the blessings and promises already ordained for me as my inheritance. By the virtue of Jesus Christ, I am redeemed and granted every blessing hidden in me once buried under sin and shame.

Deuteronomy 28:1-6 (ESV)  “And if you faithfully obey the voice of the Lord your God, being careful to do all his commandments that I command you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the voice of the Lord your God. Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the field. Blessed shall be the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground and the fruit of your cattle, the increase of your herds and the young of your flock. Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl. Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out.

Do you get mad when instructions for some assembly required are included? No, you get mad when they do not include instructions so you must either figure it out or wait for one to be mailed to you. Do you get frustrated cooking because the recipe has twelve steps? Do you get irate when shortcuts produce a less than fantastic meal or dessert? When the map application on your phone carefully details a route to your destination? What do you do? Follow it. If you decide to head off in your own direction and miss your destination, are you shocked and dismayed. Of course, not. Instructions guide us to success if followed and adhered to closely. Most of the time, you will get the intended or expected results. So why in the world do believers forego God’s Commandments? Instructions? Guidance? It is called the Law because God is Sovereign. He is not a man. He does not lie. He does not change His Mind. His outcomes are consistent. “And if you faithfully obey the voice of the Lord your God, being careful to do all his commandments that I command you today, the Lord God will set you high above all the nations of the earth and all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you.” Obedience is a choice. Blessing is always the outcome of obedience.

Now the mind-blowing revelation of it all…where is the blessing of God? It is not in His Word. It is in you! Seriously. Every spiritual blessing is hidden inside of you right now. You came into this world prepackaged with every spiritual blessing that would give you a rich and satisfying life. You even came with the fertilizer called faith. God gave you everything to prosper from the beginning to the end. It is all inside you. The blessing of God comes in the form of fruit. Read it. Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the field. Blessed shall be the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground and the fruit of your cattle, the increase of your herds and the young of your flock. Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl. Fruit comes from a seed given the place and time to grow from a seed into its full potential. All your fruit is blessed. However, seeds must be sown to grown. Seeds must die to their present form to release the fullness called potential. All seed have a purpose. You are filled with seeds of spiritual blessing. You take it everywhere you go inside of you. Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 (ESV) For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven…

Further in Ecclesiastes 3, it says, “a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to pluck up what has been planted…” Seasons are important in our life. Every single season from birth to death have meaning in the acquisition of spiritual blessings. To prosper means engaging in each season and continue to sow and reap along the way. God has a time appropriated for every matter under heaven. It is all under His Careful Watch and Control. What is His Purpose for us? Sometimes in the midst of drought or famine – our fear and doubt begin to attack our growing and developing faith. God does not help those who help themselves. God helps those who trust Him.

Ecclesiastes 3:9-11 (ESV) What gain has the worker from his toil? I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. 

The gain of a worker from his soil is dependent on the worker. Busyness can become a distraction. We look without for what lies within us. God will bless the work of man’s hands. The principle of sowing and reaping is not only spiritual but natural. Seedtime and harvest puts food on everyone’s table. I can invest all my time and energy in the workplace and have nice things. I have sown into it so I will yield something from it. Faithfulness will always have a reward. God placed eternity in our heart to reach for something higher than basic living. He has given us a measure of faith to sow with each seed. He has filled us with spiritual blessing. It comes in the form of seeds that will produce good fruit. It must be sown. It must be cultivated. It must be remembered. Many seeds produce fruit but the harvest is given to others because we abandon the field. God makes everything beautiful in its time. He does not forsake His Seed. We are not created or destined to beg for bread.

3 John 2 (ESV) Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.

3 John 2 (NKJV) Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.

Spiritual blessings come from a prospering soul. Our life will not prosper or go well until it is well with my soul.

Galatians 5:23-25 (ESV) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. 

The Fruit of God’s Spirit feeds our soul. It prospers us from the inside out. We must live by the Spirit first and every spiritual blessing will follow. It is not determined by a long list of rules and regulations but rather a covenant. God’s Love for me provided me with a blessed and prosperous life. Jesus Christ died to pay the debt that kept me from it. Grace provides access to those blessings in my life. When I apply faith to every facet of my life starting with my heart and soul, something miraculous happens. The Favor of God called fruitfulness is restored and ordinary becomes extraordinary as the Heavens are accessible again. The enemy is attacking you because of the seeds of blessing and prosperity inside of you. As faith grows and godly potential is released, you become unstoppable because of Christ flourishing inside of you. Nothing is impossible for those who believe.

Proverbs 28:19-20 (ESV) Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows worthless pursuits will have plenty of poverty. A faithful man will abound with blessings, but whoever hastens to be rich will not go unpunished.

God has filled us with every spiritual blessing. I am blessed. You are blessed. My “land” belongs to me. It is my life. I choose what to plant in each season which determines the yield of each harvest. The blessings of God within us cannot be accessed apart from Jesus Christ. He calls himself the vine. He connects us to the source of life so that by faith each seed in us can prosper and grow. If you are only after God’s Hand, you are considered a robber and thief. The Kingdom of God is accessed through His Heart. It is a covenant relationship between the Father and His Children. As our heart and mind aligns with God and His Word, the productivity of our life will turn into prosperity. Every blessing is inside of you. It is a seed. Will you sow it?

Proverbs 10:22 (ESV) The blessing of the Lord makes rich and he adds no sorrow with it.

Forecast for Rain

Forecast for Rain

Isaiah 55:8-10 (NKJV) “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and do not return there, but water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”

The forecast is for rain. My plan to head the beach is nixed. A little rain is one thing but the weather app is forecasting thunderstorms. No thank you! My husband who had planned some yardwork today is watching the sky closely. The ground is still soaked from last night’s showers. The air is hot and humid with the front that is moving in. What an inconvenience after working all week, the messiness of natural interrupting my plans. Rain is important. It is vital to production in the earth. The grass would not be green without water. The replenishment of the earth that keeps us all well-hydrated yet in its abundance is loathed and often disregarded as a problem. I wonder what would happen if we decided to welcome the rain. To thank God for its arrival, productivity and potential. What if we didn’t identify it as an interruption but part of God’s Magnificent and Perfect Plan? To declare, “Lord, we receive your rain today!”

The separation of natural and supernatural revelation is not appropriate. The God of Heaven is indeed God of the earth. He set this place in order and pre-recorded a plan including the wind, rain and storms of life. From a full force hurricane to a light sprinkling – God is the one who sends us the rain. Each droplet holds purpose and potential to water our seed and grow its promise every single time. The grass is drenched and mowing unlikely today. The hydrangeas in the flowerbed love it when the soil is wet. They are flourishing in the showers that seem to pop up every day. Right outside the dining room window – where just on the other side are rows of succulents that are bending toward the sun. They do not care for rain and rely on my careful watering every once and a while. They would surely die outside in the torrential downpours that we have been experiencing so they live in tiny pots.

What does your life resemble today? Is thick, green, leafy and covered with blooms growing and producing in abundance under the open heavens of God’s Outpouring? Or like the little succulents in small restricted containers dependent on mankind to stay alive growing only slightly in the same amount of time? It is all about position and perspective – I guess. God’s Word cannot and will not return to Him void. It will do exactly as He intended it to do. It must accomplish its purpose before coming back to Him.

Job 36:26-28 (NKJV) “Behold, God is great, and we do not know Him; nor can the number of His years be discovered. For He draws up drops of water, which distill as rain from the mist, which the clouds drop down and pour abundantly on man.”

Am I the only one who thinks it’s crazy that Job could describe the process of rain production by God without modern technology? He knew that God draws up drops of water stores it in the clouds to be moved released again. Think about it. God supplied the water – springs, rivers, streams and then eventually rain. Rain was not an afterthought. It had a time and place. The imagery of God’s Word is demonstrated to us every time it rains. God’s Word is released and it must achieve its work. Replenish. Renew. Restore. Rejuvenate. It is then taken back up to the heavens and poured out again and again. God’s Word is likened to the rain. It is described as water. The washing of the Word is what replenishes, renews, restores and rejuvenates us.

When our son was diagnosed with cancer, it was devastating. Through the long process and journey to a miracle, it was God’s Word that kept me standing from beginning to end. Entering the realm of hope when modern medicine could not save him and insurance would not even try – it was the most devastating and divine moment of my life. The storm destroyed me in many ways and God restored me in more ways than the pieces of my broken heart and life resembled. I am not thankful for what cancer did to our child, but I am absolutely thankful for what the storm did for me. Only those who have endured a hurricane or tsunami within can understand these words that I am sharing.

Matthew 5:43-47 (NKJV) “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

We are quick to blame the enemy when the seasonal rain does not seem favorable. Too much, too little, not the right time or too inconvenient. What if the rain has nothing to do with our life externally but internally? Jesus was talking about forgiveness and loving the unlovable when He interjects this tiny tidbit…”for He makes the sun rise on the evil and on the good and sends rain on the just and unjust.” What if God is allowing the sprinkles to wash over you or downpour to move you to release the potential inside of you? The Lord has already told us not to worry or get stressed about provision going as far to remind us that we have every spiritual blessing already. Where is it? What if it is locked inside of you as seed that needs some good rain to get the process underway? Prosperity is always precipitated by an abundance of rain.

Genesis 9:12-17 (NKJV)  And God said: “This is the sign of the covenant which I make between Me and you, and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth. It shall be, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the rainbow shall be seen in the cloud; and I will remember My covenant which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. The rainbow shall be in the cloud, and I will look on it to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” And God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant which I have established between Me and all flesh that is on the earth.”

When it was time to start chemotherapy and radiation for our son, while driving to the hospital (about two hours away) it was raining. Not a downpour, but rather a light shower with the sun still shining, though a bit hard to see through my tears. With worship music playing softly, I saw a rainbow. A few tears turned into immediate sobbing, God was reminding me that He was here. He was telling me that cancer had no power over the healer. We would win the battle just remember who I am and that I am with you. He was showing me His Love all over again. Now that would be cool enough, right? But in the course of the next two hours of travel, I saw more rainbows along the interstate than I have experienced in my lifetime. I stopped counting every time I turned around there was another one. God is faithful to His Word. He keeps His Promises. His rainbow just another reminder that though the storms of life may come even big ones that His Love is unfailing and goodness for sure.

Psalm 84:5-11 (NKJV) Blessed is the man whose strength is in You, whose heart is set on pilgrimage. As they pass through the Valley of  Baca, they make it a spring; the rain also covers it with pools. They go from strength to strength; each one appears before God in Zion. O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer; Give ear, O God of Jacob! Selah O God, behold our shield, and look upon the face of Your anointed. For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness. For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord will give grace and glory; no good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.

Yesterday it felt like there was a little black raincloud over my head. You know just one of those days. I have not a single thing to worry or stress about yet I was doing it anyway. I have no reason to be ruled by chaos because I have perfect peace yet I was a bit frazzled. My blessings are too many to count – believe me I tried to enumerate them to silence the complaining in my head. Just a day covered in a bit of melancholy, everyone has them. I was in a funk. We all face storms in life. There will always be rain coming. It falls on the just and unjust because God loves and desires us all. He wants to renew, restore, and revive us. He wants us to thrive in His Courts rather than being locked in self-imposed cells offered by wayward thoughts and inner rebellion. There is a place to thrive for those who are merely surviving. When rain comes, it is human nature to run for shelter. This should be our spiritual inclination as well. His Ways are higher than our ways along with His Thoughts. His Word and His Way is better than anything we can think, ask or imagine. We want what God has for us whether we realize it or not. There must be rain. We must learn to welcome the rain while hiding in the shelter of His Presence.

Psalm 147:5-8 (NKJV) Great is our Lord, and mighty in power; His understanding is infinite. The Lord lifts up the humble; He casts the wicked down to the ground. Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving; Sing praises on the harp to our God, Who covers the heavens with clouds, who prepares rain for the earth, Who makes grass to grow on the mountains.