What’s Love Got to Do with It

Love

John 13:34-35 (ESV) A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Just as I have loved you…you also are to love one another. Oh Jesus, if it were only that easy. “People are people so why should it be…You and I should get along so awfully.” (Depeche Mode) A little 1984 flashback for you today. Why can’t we be friends? Another song from the past and the list goes on. Why can’t people accept one another in love? Church I am talking to us just as much as anyone else. “Bless their heart” gives an open door for backdoor banter and faulty fodder. Jesus tells us to love one another but not just to love from our capacity but as He does in abundance without prejudice. Withholding nothing to give it away. Isn’t that what it means to give up this life to have forever? Serving in the local church and avoiding sinful habits outlined clearly in doctrine is one thing. However, love is the only thing that Jesus requires. For if we learn to love the Lord completely, it becomes the overflow of our life to love others. All others. More than ourselves. Jesus – teach us today to love one another enough that ALL people will know that we are your disciples.

Every human being ever created is seeking love and acceptance. I am convinced that each heart is born with a receptor sending out a signal for love. Unconditional love. True love. Eternal love. Gracious love. Never ending love. Where do we find such love? God is love. (I John 4:8) He loves with His All. (John 3:16) Jesus laid down His Life for us which is deemed as the greatest love of all. (John 15:13) The First Fruit of God’s Spirit in us is love. (Galatians 5:22) The only commandment given to us by Jesus was to love one another. (John 13:34) There is nothing that can separate us from the Love of God again thanks to His Son, Jesus Christ. Nothing at all. (Romans 8:31-39)

Romans 8:37-39 (ESV) No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Our ability to become more than conquerors is our full acceptance of God’s Love as trustworthy and true. We test the limits of His Love constantly. Our flesh rebels against the slightest possibility that there is a God who loves me beyond my capacity to love and live for Him. A selfless Father who doesn’t look at sin and has no regrets but loves us completely. This is the vast reservoir from which a believer loves others more than themselves and extends the same courteous grace to their enemies. (Matthew 5:43-44) Why? We were once enemies with God. (Romans 5:10) Sin put us in that position as adversaries to the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is taken by force. (Matthew 11:12) The enemy assaults the Kingdom by trying to convince the Body that Christ cannot truly love them beyond what they do or how they live. It is such insecurity that keeps our love limited and with carefully constructed borders. Never letting anyone in or allowing our love to pour out beyond comfort and control. What if they hurt me? Do you serve a Living God who heals you? What if they don’t love me? So what, there is a God who loves you and wraps you in His Arms. What if they betray me or use me? God supplies all our needs doing more than we can think, ask or imagine to satisfy the desire of our heart. Why do we put such a great expectation in others to fill our needs and voids with a God like that? Are you a lover? Do you love the Lord with all your heart, mind, soul and body today? Is it evident in the love you are giving to others?

Matthew 22:36-39 (ESV) “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

I used to work for the school system in technical education. My position was supervising Student Services which meant dealing with student complaints. There was a young man who made some poor choices in education and ended up on academic probation. His financial aid could not be disbursed due to his performance. His mother decided to pay the school a visit due to the unfair treatment of her son. She was a force to be reckoned with. By this time in my career, I was pretty good at reasoning with mama bears offended at the treatment until this lady showed up. She yelled. She screamed. She cussed out my entire staff. As if not enough, the administration of the school were all away at a conference and it was up to me to satisfy this woman AND the federal government. After what seemed like all afternoon, we finally came to agreement. My team was battered and bruised by her abrasive words, accusations and outright ugliness. As we parted ways, she said, “God bless you!” I smiled as she handed me a business card to contact her if her little precious began acting up again. Her profession? Reverend So-So…

What does love have to do with it? Everything. A church absent of unconditional love that flows to every person who walks through the door is just another religion and not worth anyone’s time. Jesus came to prepare a Body of Believers who love unconditionally and selflessly following His Example all the way to the Cross. To lay down their life for other people on a regular and ongoing basis not because they have to but because they want to honor His Gracious Gift of love to them. Step outside into the church parking lot as people are racing to beat the church next door to the buffet. It becomes clear that the rain of God’s Word did not find fertile soil but is more like water being poured on a rock. Our love for God must flow beyond all barriers including our family, friends and co-workers but outside our comfort zone to strangers and enemies, too. What is love?

I Corinthians 13:4-8 (ESV) Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.

This is love. These are the qualities of true love demonstrated by Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit inside of us produces this kind of love which gives seed to every other fruit in the garden of our heart. This kind of love. Love in this world has grown cold. Dysfunction defines most relationships which opens a gateway to God’s Grace. Grace is required to love other people without condition. People are sinful. Sin is just part of the package. Selfishness is a human quality that can only be overcome by the death and eradication of pride. In the verses preceding this definition of love, the Word of God dares to enter the sacred corridors of the church. The “Gifts”, prophetic powers, and even mountain-moving faith are rendered useless in the absence of love. If we do not have love…there is nothing gained from the Gospel.

To gain proper perspective, we move on to the verses after the definition of love. All these “gifts” given to us will one day pass away. They are to edify the Body of Christ and build us into a sound structure of love to have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ that extends to every other living, breathing soul without condition. Spiritual maturity comes when love is blind. It moves like faith believing without seeing. Spiritual maturity is to love others not for what they can or cannot do for you or if they treat you with the respect you deserve but rather in godly character that understands our love is not from us but from the One who loves us most, who loved us first and who loves us forever. Loving others is not something I do but the Christ in me does from the inside out. The Love of God restores the trampled and broken hearts of humans transforming them into overflowing springs to refresh others and show them the Light of His Amazing Love. Love is revival. There will be no revival in the midst of God’s People until first His Love is manifested there.

I Corinthians 13:13 (ESV) So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

I know what it feels like to have a broken heart. To feel unloved and unwanted by others. To be the outsider in a crowded room. But you know what else I have discovered, the vast parameters of God’s Love. When I find myself wallowing in self-pity or about to lose my temper and tell someone how I really feel, it is time to stop and consider my position in God’s Love. See there is no end to it. It has no boundaries. His Love is limitless. I can get caught up in religion sometimes and lose sight of the relationship I have with my Beloved. I allow human expectation to overshadow what the Lord is doing in my life because I am seeking acceptance and affirmation from the wrong place. When this happens, I tend to lose sight of those around me who need the Love of God lived before them. Those who need my immediate attention as conduit of God’s Love, Grace and Acceptance just as I am. People are not a problem – they are the Kingdom. Every single one of them have potential to become sons and daughters of God. Jesus died for them too. He gave just as much for the one who forsakes Him as He did giving up His Life and Kingship for you and me. I forget that sometimes when selfishness and pride overtake my very human heart. The hardness becomes a callous that must be quickly and severely dealt with. Faith, hope and love are the only eternal things in life – the Lord has pointed to love as the greatest of them all.

2 John 5-6 (ESV)  And now I ask you, dear lady—not as though I were writing you a new commandment, but the one we have had from the beginning—that we love one another. And this is love that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it. 

Honoring God

Honoring God

Proverbs 3:9-10 (ESV) Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine.

Honor the Lord with the firstfruits of all you produce. Love is not an emotion it is an action. It is a noun demonstrated by a verb not an adjective. Love has an extensive definition according to I Corinthians 13. Just a few verses that challenge the entire concept according to the context of worldly like and lust put in its place. One of the attributes of love is found in John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this that someone lay down his life for his friends.” The example of Jesus Christ to all mankind. It’s funny how the word “tithing” sends a jolt through people. Bristling at the thought of giving up a tenth of the income makes way for many excuses. So before you decide this message is not for you today, I am not after your money and neither is the Lord. In fact, according to Psalm 50:8-15, God is well-supplied with an abundance and needs nothing from us. Acts 17:24-25 describes it this way – “The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.” Before you get your knickers in a twist, please understand tithing is not a requirement of salvation. Obedience is the opportunity to experience the richness and prosperity of Heaven. The work of Jesus Christ that provides us with grace is more than enough. We are made right with God by the sacrificial offering of Jesus when He laid down His Life for us and by fully accepting Him as our Savior. Yet, there is more. There is an abundance for those who decide to make Jesus Lord of their life. To honor Him and live in allegiance to His Kingdom.

Honor the Lord with… Honor simply put is to worship. To hold in high honor and treat with respect. It also means to accept as valid and conform to the request. The Lord puts it simple and straightforward through the writer of Proverbs. Honor the Lord with your wealth and the firstfruits of all your produce…THEN your barns will be filled with plenty and your vats will be bursting with wine. There are three resources from which I can give to the Lord. My time. My talent. My treasure. Time is the most valuable. Talent will result in obedience. To give my treasure or the tangible blessings in my life will produce abundance. Increasing the equity in my life. How? The seed produces like kind fruit. Sow your time. You will harvest time. Sow your talent. You will harvest talent. Sow your treasure. You will harvest treasure. What you are willing to sacrifice will be your reward.

Sowing and reaping are not Biblical principles altogether. When God instituted the principle, it was for all mankind not just His People. Therefore if a farmer sows a seed, it will grow because that is what it is commanded to do by God naturally. However, when we make the choice to obey the Lord and return a tenth of the firstfruits to Him, suddenly the same seed is blessed. Faith makes all things possible but faith is not demonstrated by what we see but by trusting the Lord with what is unseen. We give God our time. The most precious commodity of our life. We give Him certain talents. However, when it is time to sow the tangible things in life – most people choose not to. I believe God wants to bless your life today. I know He wants to bless me.

Proverbs 3:5-6 (ESV) Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” (Colossians 3:23-24) To honor the Lord in whatever you do…work heartily as for the Lord and not men. People tend to live two separate lives. A natural life and spiritual life cannot coexist. There can be only one master. You can only serve one at a time. Therefore, if you want a supernatural life it comes at the price of pride and human productivity. A spiritual life is one that is surrendered and submitted to Jesus Christ allowing His Spirit to produce a godly life working inside and making His Way out of you. To be called a Christian is to take up our cross daily not just on Sunday and Wednesdays. The Light of His Love is to shine through us always. It illuminates our homes, workplaces and every other place that is frequented. The work of our hands will produce something but until our soul prospers it is limited. When faith is the foundation of our life and the Word of God sown in a fertile heart, it produces obedience. Obedience is a form of worship that says, “Lord, I believe in You and trust You with my life.” Only the part or portion of our life sold out and surrendered to the Lord as an act of worship will be blessed. Faith only works where it is applied. God is expanding the boundaries personally set in our heart and mind to live in His Abundance and have a rich and satisfying life. What are you withholding today that is limiting your increase?

Malachi 3:8-10 (ESV) Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions. You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you. Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.

Thereby put me to the test, says the LORD of hosts. God invites us to test Him. The God of the Universe who does not need us but desires us offers us the opportunity to test Him. What is the tithe of your life? What is your contribution to God? He promises that if we tithe our life to Him that He will open the windows of heaven over our life and pour out a blessing until there is no more need. You will be satisfied. You will be fulfilled. You will live in abundance of time, talent and treasure. Not because you did anything other than put good seed of faith in God’s Soil called trust and He did exactly what He said that He would do. It’s not the lottery. It is the Word working and doing exactly what God said. This is not just about your money. It is about every area of your natural life. However, if you do not participate in tithing then there really is no reason to think God will increase your life. Why? There is no seed for the Sower.

Matthew 23:23-24 (ESV) “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!”

Tithing the firstfruits of our life is evidence of faith in God. It was instituted by Abraham in Genesis 14:20 when he gave a tenth of all he had to Melchizedek the High Priest. In Leviticus 27:30-32, the tithe is called holy. Deuteronomy 14:22 – it is a command. Deuteronomy 26:1-2 tells us the tithe is an invitation for God to dwell with us, live in our land, and be our source. In Nehemiah 10:35, it is described as perpetual. We are to give the best of our firstfruits (Exodus 23:19) not what is leftover but first pick of the best things in our life. Are you giving the Lord the best parts of your life today? Or just the broken pieces and leftovers? It is seed in the ground of your life sown in trust. The portion of our life given to God is the productivity of our faith. It only takes a mustard seed of faith to produce abundance and do the impossible. If your life is not marked by miracles and supernatural increase, it would be best to consider the seed of faith being sown.

What are you given to God to use for His Glory? What are you honoring Him with today? Is He getting the best part of you or just what’s left after the world takes what it wants? We would rather give an offering that sow a sacrifice of self. Fear of lack or loss will hinder the possibilities of faithful sowing in our life. It will stop up the windows of Heaven. It will bar increase from entering in. It will stifle abundance because there is nothing for it to come from. To have the rich and satisfying life promised to us by Jesus means giving up this less than enough life that we live. All of it. Withholding nothing from the sowing and reaping of God’s Kingdom but giving Him our absolute best and most valuable parts.

Luke 18:10-14 (ESV) “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

John 15:4 (ESV) Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 

John 15:7-8 (ESV) If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.

The Lord invites us to partner with Him now and forever. In this life, there is the challenge of integrating our spiritual and natural life into a godly one. We must abide in Christ to prosper. When I got married, my husband and I combined bank accounts. His income was greater than mine but when I looked at the bank statement it didn’t say this belonged to him and this was mine. It was our financial statement. The years that I stayed home with our children. He didn’t come to me and require a contribution to the account. He trusted me to take care of our household and nurture our children. Tithing our life is a contribution to the partnership and union offered to us by Jesus Christ. We have time to give. We have talent to give. We have treasures to give. Tithes and firstfruits that are seeds to the fruitful abundance offered in our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ. He is the Vine. I am a branch. From the beginning of our marriage, we have tithed in regard to our finances. It is evident not necessarily in the bottom line but the fact that God has incrementally increased us over time. He has kept us in during tough financial times. We have experienced God’s Favor in so many ways that I cannot begin to list them all for you now. But if the only area of our life partnered with God is our finances, then our finances would be the only thing thriving. It is important to continually examine our heart and hands to see what there is to honor the Lord with. Our worship is not in our words but demonstrated in faith and trust. To continually invest more and more of our life into God’s Kingdom. Sowing seeds of faith, love and trust beyond any tangible giving until our entire existence is partnered with Jesus and His Kingdom.

Mathematically the tithe is one-tenth. Do you give one-tenth of your waking hours to the Lord? If we sleep six hours leaving eighteen hours in a day, it would mean dedicating and offering God just under two hours of our day. Seems like a lot, until you consider what He can do in us with those two hours. The fundamental test of tithing is trust. Do you trust the Lord at His Word? Do you believe that He is faithful? Find something. Anything. A portion of your life that you are willing to give to the Lord and sow into His Kingdom. No excuses. Just do it.

I leave you with this story. I worked part-time as a church secretary many years ago. A woman and her young child came to the office one day. She shared that her husband would not allow her to give to the church. He would not allow her to tithe or even give an offering. So she loaded her car with supplies and came to offer to clean the church. Now there was a cleaning service who maintained the building so there really wasn’t anything to clean at that time. She seemed discouraged and went out the door. The next thing I know she is cleaning the windows on a hot summer day. The smile on her face shining brighter than the sun as she gave her offering to the Lord with gladness. She has been a living testimony to me ever since. Such a humble example for us all. What can you give today? What are you willing to offer? God is open and ready to receive us as we honor Him and wants to bless us for it.

Proverbs 22:4 (ESV) The reward for humility and fear of the Lord is riches and honor and life.

Total Access

Total Access

Hebrews 4:15-16 (MSG) Now that we know what we have—Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God—let’s not let it slip through our fingers. We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.

My key ring has many keys on it. My car key is obvious with the controls to the lock and alarm system. I use it to open the doors and turn the ignition. There is a key to the front door of our house and one to the new office building. I am pretty sure that there is also one to the old office. I think another is to my mother-in-law’s house and there may even be one to my parent’s home as well. There are a number of silver and gold keys that I have no idea what they go to but I am afraid to take off the key chain just in case I figure out what they might go to. Our pastor has tried to give me a key to the church. I know where a key is hidden for a friend’s place. Keys represent access. They are a responsibility. The keys in my purse represent places that I am allowed to enter. When I left my last job, I returned a heavy ring of keys to all the buildings on campus. I no longer have access as an employee. The keys in our hand may change with transitions in life but there is another set of keys that are eternally in our hand for our use.

Matthew 16:19 (MSG) “And that’s not all. You will have complete and free access to God’s kingdom, keys to open any and every door: no more barriers between heaven and earth, earth and heaven. A yes on earth is yes in heaven. A no on earth is no in heaven.”

Peter made a simple declaration. “You’re the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.” Jesus asked the disciples to tell Him who they thought He was. Who am I to you? Not the others, or the crowd, or the religious leaders. It was a personal question that would lead to a revelation so powerful that it changed everything for Peter. He stepped into his destiny by simply stating who Jesus was to him that day. He would be the rock on which the new church was built. Do you believe today that Jesus is the Christ, Messiah, Son of the Living God who gave up His Life for your sins so you have decided to love Him, trust Him and believe in Him? Is He your Savior? Are you striving to make King Jesus the Lord of your life? Well according to the Word of God, you and I now have “complete and free access to God’s Kingdom.” But that’s not all…we have been given “keys to open any and every door without barriers between heaven and earth or vice versa. A yes on earth is a yes in heaven and a no on earth is a no in heaven. Power and authority belong to us on the key ring pressed into our hand with the simple statement – You are Jesus. You are the Christ. Messiah. Son of the Living God. You belong to me Jesus.

There are two forms of the word “access”. Access comes in the form of a noun and verb. Access is the ability, right or permission to approach, enter, speak with or use. We are given access to God the Father, His Presence, His Spirit, His Kingdom, His Power, His Resources, His Wisdom, His Favor and His Glory just to name a few benefits. God is totally accessible to us through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. Access as a verb means TO make contact with or gain access to; to be able to reach, approach or enter. There are many believes today who have access but do not take the opportunity TO access God and all that goes with knowing the Father and becoming His Child.

My children are beginning to exit the nest. Three are adults who are out adulting. One is a senior in high school who is beginning to see the scenery outside the protection and provision of her parents so she is stretching her wings preparing to fly. We have but one baby left who has a few more years before her time will come. No matter how old they get – my kids will always have access to my home. They can raid my refrigerator. Use what they need. Stay as long as they want to. They are my children. I love them. I always have and always will. God loves us even more than we love our own kids. He calls us His Children and provides us access. We must be willing TO access His Presence.

Ephesians 2:16-18 (MSG) Christ brought us together through his death on the cross. The Cross got us to embrace, and that was the end of the hostility. Christ came and preached peace to you outsiders and peace to us insiders. He treated us as equals, and so made us equals. Through him we both share the same Spirit and have equal access to the Father.

We have “equal access” to the Father. God doesn’t have favorites. There are just some who are willing to access and others who are not bold enough to do so. I love how this translation describes the Cross as a place of embrace. It was where the Father grabs the prodigal child covers us in His Robe called Righteousness and puts the ring on our finger showing all that I am His Child. It is also where we gain equal access. Christ came to hand us the keys to the Kingdom. To offer every blessing and benefit hidden in the Presence of God for His Children.

Have you ever been to a shopping club before? The kind of establishment where you must have a membership to take advantage of low prices and great bargains. If you are a guest, you can look but cannot buy anything. You can see what is available but cannot take advantage of it until you become a member. There are a few days a year when they open their store to the public who can come make purchases without a membership in order to attract new members. But if you are a card carrying member, you are free to make your selections, purchase them and take them home. It is all according to your level of access. There are some people who approach the Presence of God as outsiders. Just want to take a look around but not make the commitment to become a member and have what they desire. There are others who come to church every once in a while, slide some spare change in the offering plate, try to be a good person, volunteer and experience blessings here and there but still do not come into the full abundance offered. But then there are those bold folks who dare to believe they have equal access and step into His Presence boldly and confidently. They have faith in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and believe. Through Christ, they come boldly and receive bountifully more than can be thought, asked or imagined. (Ephesians 3:20) I want that kind of access. Full membership in the Kingdom of God is living by faith and in Christ. As demonstrated by Peter, it is not doing all the right things, making all the best choices or never messing up – it is in the personal relationship with Jesus. That’s really all that is needed to have all God has promised.

Romans 5:1-2 (MSG) By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us—set us right with him, make us fit for him—we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. And that’s not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise.

By faith in Jesus Christ, we have open access to God’s Grace and Glory. We can stand tall and shout His Praise with confidence. Faith is the access point into all God has for us. Our potential, purpose and prosperity is all right there in the Presence of God waiting for us to come boldly and receive it. There is nothing for me to do open that door – Jesus holds it open for me. Jesus made the way for me to live in the Kingdom with our Father, God. He did it all. All I must do is enter in to gain access to everything I need, want and desire by the Father’s Design. My inheritance is in that place. In Revelation 3, it tells me that Jesus is “opening doors no one can lock and locking doors no one can open.” It goes on to offer encouragement for those who have been struggling and striving. “I see what you’ve done. Now see what I’ve done. I’ve opened a door before you that no one can slam shut. You don’t have much strength, I know that; you used what you had to keep my Word. You didn’t deny me when times were rough.” When the doors in our life seem too heavy or are hopelessly locked, it is easy to become discouraged. Doubt that access to God is open to us. But the Lord reminds us here that He opens and locks the doors in our life. He also acknowledges our human capacity and understands our weaknesses. Therefore, He does it. He is doing it. He is working out all the details of our life for our good and His Glory. He will open the right door when it is ready. During those long seasons of waiting before a locked door, remember that we always have open access to His Presence. In fact, I am beginning to think that the waiting is an intermission to get just a little closer, do a little deeper and embrace the Lord in such a way.

Ephesians 3:11-13 (MSG) All this is proceeding along lines planned all along by God and then executed in Christ Jesus. When we trust in him, we’re free to say whatever needs to be said, bold to go wherever we need to go. So don’t let my present trouble on your behalf get you down. Be proud!

Ephesians 3:11-12 (ESV)  This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him.

Boldness is without hesitation or fearfulness. It is daring courage. To be forward and forthcoming. Bold people live beyond the usual limits of conventional thought or action. They do what most people only imagine. Boldness is the product of confidence. Confidence in Christ produces boldness that changes our right to access into the act of accessing the Kingdom and all God planned and prepared for us as His Children. We can come boldly because of Christ, but most be confident in the person of Christ to gain access. God’s Whole Purpose in sending His Son is to become accessible to us. He desired us. He wants to be close to us. He wants to live where He is all of the time. He misses us when we stray. Welcomes us when we return. God’s Word tells us who He is, who we are, and builds our confidence with knowledge. The Holy Spirit takes these tidbits of truth and weaves them into wisdom. Wisdom becomes confident in the hope we have in Jesus and becomes bold. So when the enemy offers a lie, it can be recognized and refused. When the details of our life do not add up, we do not need to be discouraged but encouraged to come boldly before God and say, “What’s up?” God planned the pathway called access and has given us the boldness to enter in. The Holy Spirit ripped the veil in the temple from top to bottom opening a doorway no one can shut. His Grace is enough to give us fearless, confident and bold access to the Father expecting and believing every detail of His Word to be the reality of faith in my life.

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

When was the last time you took advantage of your total access with God? Have you been in His Presence lately? Have you entered the doors that He has opened? Oh wow…that’s a tricky question. See God offers us opportunities every day. He has given us the Keys to His Kingdom. Faith is required to access all that belongs to us in Jesus Christ. It means when the Lord opens the door – we must walk through it. Walking by faith and not by sight having bold confidence in God’s Word, Will and Way enough to come boldly. It is my experience that the doors God opens are not always the ones I expected and seldom lead to where I thought we were going…it is always way better than I can think, ask or imagine. But in the transition on the threshold – I find that sometimes I hesitate. Not today…today I will come boldly.

Ephesians 3:12 (NLT) Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence.

Shortchanged – Dealing with Disappointment

Shortchanged

Romans 5:3-5 (Message) There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!

Romans 5:5 (NLT) And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

Disappointment – To fail to fulfill the expectations or wishes of. To defeat the fulfillment of hopes or plans. To thwart, oppose successfully or prevent from accomplishing a purpose. To frustrate.

Disappointment is a dangerous word. It ends the pathway to fulfillment in thought and theory. It is a stumbling block caused by disarmament of God’s People. It is the lie of the enemy that he can stock God’s Ability or someway hinder the Lord accomplishing more than we can think, ask or image. It is the persuasion that God’s Word might in somehow or someway return to Him without accomplishing what it set out to do. It is the thought or whim that the Christ living in me is not enough to overcome every obstacle in the way of destiny and myself. Disappointment is the cultivation of doubt. To feel that in some way grace may not be enough which eludes to the idea that the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ was not sufficient in providing a rich and satisfying life. It is a pitfall. We must learn to deal with disappointment and do away with it in our life.

Disappointment and discouragement are weapons in the enemy’s arsenal against every believer. If he can successfully introduce doubt to the heart and mind of a believer, it subtly begin to eat away at our faith sowing seeds of bitterness along the way that will captivate our thoughts binding our minds in the lie that God does not love us. He is not good. He does not care. Fulfillment is not possible. All of these things begin to work within the person to prevent fulfillment of purpose. How does one deal with disappointment? Overcome doubt? Move past the delay? Find joy in the deferment? This hope will not lead to disappointment. Are you holding hope by a thread today? Wondering if God really is working all things together for your good or making you a prime example like Job? Friend, I am right there with you.

There’s more to come… Our life is prepackaged with a future and hope handwritten by God and set into motion not according to our faithfulness but His Faithfulness. His Grace is enough. God is good. His Love for us is always working in our favor. No matter how long the wait…fulfillment will always exceed our expectation. There is more to come. I must wait for it.

God forgive me but I am sick and tired of being patient. Would you be so honest to say the same? Tired of waiting, watching and wondering when the Lord will do as He promised. Impatience has been my biggest challenge in life. I was born with a stubborn nature and strong will. Patience is the pathway. God is always found in the waiting.

Proverbs 13:12 (NLT) Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life.

We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next.

Joseph understood disappointment. When his face hit the hard ground at the bottom of the pit, his dream could have died from the fall. But instead as he was sold into slavery and destined to a life of serving others under a heavy yoke of oppression. Joseph held on to hope. The dream that God had given him playing over and over in his mind. In the house of Potiphar, Joseph faithfully served his new master. The Lord was with Joseph. God blessed Potiphar’s house for Joseph’s sake. Joseph was promoted to the highest position. (Genesis 39) Then his master’s wife decided to seduce young Joseph, but his character and integrity would not give in to her powerful persuasion. The woman scorned reared her fangs and claws. Her attack successfully landed Joseph in prison falsely accused and wrongly convicted. But the Lord was with Joseph, even in jail, and soon he was promoted again. The Lord was with Joseph and caused everything he did to succeed.

While incarcerated, Joseph interpreted the dreams of two men working closely with Pharaoh. His only request was “please remember me and do me a favor when things go well for you. Mention me to Pharaoh, so he might let me out of this place.Yet another painstaking betrayal by people as the men left that day and completely forgot their new friend. (Genesis 40) Two full years later, Pharaoh had a couple of disturbing dreams that no one could make sense of. It was then that the cupbearer remembered Joseph. You know the rest of the story…Joseph successfully explained the meaning of the dreams and soon Pharaoh would put him in the highest position in the land. Not only did God save and prosper Joseph, but Joseph was able to save his family in the midst of famine. His dream became a tree of life just as the Lord has promised.

I Peter 1:3-5 (NLT) All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. And through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see.

In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!

All praise to God. Oh, the power of persistent praise in the life of a believer. I have learned through many deferments, detours and delays that praise is a valuable partner. People can say some really dumb things as they struggle to offer encouragement from an empty well. They want to lend a hand but don’t want to fall in with you. Offering prayers of encouragement, maybe a little advice, a quick hug or pat on the back – they are gone as fast as the cupbearer and baker that day the invite from Pharaoh opened the prison door. They forgot Joseph…or did they? His time had not yet come. I know this may come as a jagged little pill if you are in the midst of a long waiting period, but purpose born too soon is an abortion. God makes everything for a season and it will be beautiful in that season. In the meantime, He builds our character to receive it.

We live with great expectation or at least we should. We have a priceless inheritance. The Lord is an awesome caretaker who provides our needs according to His Glorious Riches. (Philippians 4:19) He doesn’t stop there but blessed us “with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are untied with Christ.” (Ephesians 1:3) It all comes together with the promise that the Lord will make us “complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.” (Ephesians 3:19) And finally, “God, who is able, through His Mighty Power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” Do you believe the Power of the Living God is at work in your life today? Even with the smallest measure of faith, and hope hanging by a thread that decides to praise God one time, serve Him one more day, believe Him for one more second and let it be the anchor for our soul will cause disappointment to dissolve as His Spirit is free to move through us uprooting bitterness, drowning disbelief and filling us with His Love and empowering us by grace even in our weakness. God isn’t finished working out the masterpiece of our life. (Ephesians 2:10) We must remain His Steadfast Canvas in the midst of being stretched, stressed and pressured to give in. It will be worth it.

Romans 4:16-22 (NLT)  So the promise is received by faith. It is given as a free gift. And we are all certain to receive it, whether or not we live according to the law of Moses, if we have faith like Abraham’s. For Abraham is the father of all who believe. That is what the Scriptures mean when God told him, “I have made you the father of many nations.” This happened because Abraham believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing. Even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept hoping—believing that he would become the father of many nations. For God had said to him, “That’s how many descendants you will have!” And Abraham’s faith did not weaken, even though, at about 100 years of age, he figured his body was as good as dead—and so was Sarah’s womb. Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises. And because of Abraham’s faith, God counted him as righteous. 

Faith makes the impossible possible. Miracles require the impossible. God’s Glory shines brightest in the impossibilities of life. However, these can be some of our darkest days. Trials and testing produce God’s Glory in our life. Those times when trusting God is the only option. When our hands are too small to hold all the pieces of our broken heart that is when we give all its pieces to the Lord. When I cannot possibly make it without Him, I learn to trust Him more. God has promised that He will never lead us to disappointment which means I must follow Him to fulfillment. Nothing is impossible for those who believe. I believe. I trust. I have faith. I have confident hope. Even on those days when my heart is sick and mind plays tricks on me, the Holy Spirit accompanies me through the challenges of my humanity to the place of His Presence. Abraham never wavered in believing God’s Promise. Not only waiting for his son to come, but all the way up the mountain of sacrifice when nothing seemed to be going right. Even when there was no reason to hope, Abraham kept hoping. Our does not, cannot and will not ever lead to disappointment.

Feeling shortchanged by God today? I fully understand. Wondering if the promise will ever arrive? God’s Word says it will so I must believe it. Go with what I know not how I feel. Remind myself how many times impossibilities became realities in my walk with God. The enemy wants us to accept disappointment so we become defeated in life. Choose faith and confident hope today. Take control of every thought rebellious to God’s Word, His Will and His Way. Speak God’s Word in and over your life and every situation. Pray without ceasing. Ask for God’s Help and He will gladly give it. Tell the giant what God says, not God what the giant is saying. On those days when life is overwhelming, put off fixing the problem for another day and rest in His Presence. Our hope in Jesus Christ never leads to disappointment. We are not shortchanged have a priceless inheritance. God will never stop short of His Best for us. Until then, we must wait. Hold our hope. Keep the faith. God is faithful. He is good. He will never let the righteous fall. He knows the desires of our heart. He is working it all out for our good and His Glory.

Mark 10:27 (NLT) Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God.”

Where You Go

Where you go

Ruth 1:16-17 (ESV) But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.”

What caused Ruth to make such a declaration to Naomi? Reading this passage today, I am struck by her commitment to her mother-in-law. Naomi was obviously grief stricken and hopeless. She had lost her husband and both of her sons. Her other daughter-in-law had taken her advice. Why was this one being so stubborn? Something in Ruth would not let her go back to where she came from and she could not return to the way it used to be so she made this commitment to her future – “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.”

Ruth became attached to Naomi’s hip. She would venture into a new place and find a new husband. The future of both women would be secure for the rest of time and they would find their images clearly set forth for others in the Word of God. Ruth made a commitment to Naomi that day that would change her whole life. What would happen by doing the same thing to Jesus Christ? What are the possibilities if rather than running from place to place looking for immediate gratification or rainbows rather than rain? What might happen if someone…anyone…decided to see where faith might take us and just what hope really looks like? Nothing is impossible for the one who believes.

Genesis 28:10-17 (ESV)  Jacob left Beersheba and went toward Haran. And he came to a certain place and stayed there that night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place to sleep. And he dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven. And behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it! And behold, the Lord stood above it and said, “I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. The land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring. Your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south, and in you and your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.”

I think everyone will agree that life does not always turn out as one expected. Jacob was running from his brother. His own flesh and blood who Jacob bought Esau’s birthright with a single meal and tricked his father into releasing Esau’s blessing. Esau hated Jacob. Joseph dreamed of his brothers bowing down to him but wound up in a pit, sold to slavery, falsely accused, sitting in a prison, still being faithful yet forgotten. No one for sees the hardship that leads to fulfillment. Those situations and circumstances that turn our hearts back to the Lord. We must live not only hand in hand with the Lord carefully walking His Way but chose to live heart to heart with Him. Since it is our calling to walk by faith and not by sight, the vantage point of our voyage is not always a clear cut perspective of the pathway to promise. We stumble along groping to see God in the chaos of our life. Jacob was no different. Life had not turned out as he expected. He was in the middle of nowhere and weary so he found a stone to lay his tired head on.

Perhaps, you can relate. You love God. You love Jesus. The Holy Spirit lives in you. Life has been a struggle. Times just a little too tough. The enemy is chasing you into the wilderness of the unknown or at least you think. There is no one left to rely on or call out to. All your family and friends are too busy or long gone. Now what? The Lord came to Jacob that night to give him a new perspective. Could it be that is all that is needed by you? To see that God is with you. He is for you. He will never leave you or forsake you even in the most unlikely of places. I know I need that, too.

And he dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven. And behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it! And behold, the Lord stood above it…

What is your dream? Where is your destiny? Are you desperate to find your way through the wilderness to the promise of God? What if you have to stay right where you are to find Him? What if the course of life you are traveling is exactly what God has for you? It is important to see God in the moment rather than looking all around. Christ lives in us so the atmosphere around us has no impact on faith and hope. No matter if life is beautiful or barren – God is with us. He is for us. He will stop at nothing to have us or to be sure we have His Promise. In that place, God opened Jacob’s eyes to see Heaven on the earth. Is it possible for us to do the same? To see things from the heavenly realm rather than being immersed in reality? I believe that it is. What if it is not in a dream or vision but so subtle that the human eye cannot perceive it? The disciples lived, ate, and existed in the Presence of God while Jesus was with them yet they all struggle with doubt and unbelief. They could reach out and touch the Messiah with their hands. Talk to Him. Know the Lord intimately and conversationally. Yet, still it was hard to believe.

Genesis 28:16-19 (ESV) Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.” So early in the morning Jacob took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up for a pillar and poured oil on the top of it. He called the name of that place Bethel… 

Jacob took the stone that he had put under his head. He set it up for a pillar. He poured oil on top of it. He called the place, Bethel, House of God, or the holy place. What if you are standing on holy ground right now and don’t even know it? Where you go I will go Lord? The same Lord that orders our footsteps will fill them. He fills them with His Love, Grace, Mercy and Faithfulness so that our foundation is solid if only we will walk by faith. From the highest of hills to the lowest valley, He is with us pursuing us with unfailing love and goodness but it doesn’t always look like sunshine and roses. It might just be weariness that gives way to worship. Brokenness that opens up blessing in our life. The very thing that was the most uncomfortable the most fruitful. Jacob woke up from the dream and vision God had given him in the very same place but with a new perspective. He took the hard stone that was once his pillow and made it a pillar before the Lord.

Isaiah 43:18-21 (ESV) “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. The wild beasts will honor me, the jackals and the ostriches,
for I give water in the wilderness, rivers in the desert, to give drink to my chosen people, the people whom I formed for myself that they might declare my praise.

Human expectation is the driving force of our flesh. It sets up our school of thought. It becomes our way of thinking. The flesh needs some sort of control. We take the Word of God and rather than allowing it to mold us, we try to shape it into some logical and applicable form according to our natural life and normalcy. When God does not do it that way, it becomes a fight in our mind and soul for ultimate control. God is doing a new thing in our life. It is for our good. It is to His Glory. If it can be explained away logically, who needs faith? God works in the impossible. Does your life look impossible to you? Is it hard to see the forest for the trees? Take off your shoes. Get on your knees. Raise your weary arms. You are not in the wilderness but on the way to your promise. The less logical life is the more miraculous it becomes.

Forget the former things. Do not conform your thinking to tradition. God is doing something new in you and through you that is not comprehensible in the flesh but must be observed solely by your spirit. Once you take hold of God’s Perspective, a life of worship is inevitable especially when you find yourself in the wilderness, wandering and wondering until worship finally finds you because you know God is with you! I have come to the conclusion that no matter what it takes I want the Lord to keep me right here until His Word is fulfilled. Some days it is easy. But there have been many more when the giants seem to get bigger and the promise even farther that I have to remember and remind myself that this is holy ground. My life is God’s Masterpiece and it is not ready yet. I must make the commitment like Ruth to Naomi that day, “For where you go I will go…”

Matthew 8:18-22 (ESV) Now when Jesus saw a crowd around him, he gave orders to go over to the other side. And a scribe came up and said to him, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” Another of the disciples said to him, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” And Jesus said to him, “Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead.”

It is easy to get caught up in emotionalism and zeal for the Lord. To get all pumped up in church and crash into life just outside the door. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. He is the only way that you and I have access to the Father. Do we follow His Ways impeccably? To we know the Truth from cover to cover? Is it the wisdom of our life? Jesus understands our weakness. He was human once too. He knows that we struggle with our faith and ability to believe. His Words to the scribe seem harsh, but they are truth to feed our hungry, thirsty and weary souls today. “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go!” Jesus replied, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” Bummer right? Jesus was not saying looking for pity. No, the Lord was setting up expectation. Don’t make your home here. Set your sights on the heavenly not the earthly things. Jesus did not come to save the world but to save us. To move us from this life to eternity. “Follow me” is not a call to a better life but a new life. It is not an invitation for new comfort and convenience but to become a new creation. To be molded, shaped, pressed, crushed and broken so that the Lord can make you into a Masterpiece.

Colossians 3:1-3 (ESV) If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

When God met Jacob in the desert that night, He did not divinely change his situation but confirmed his position. He reiterated the promise and potential of Jacob’s life to change his perspective. It worked. Will it work for you today? The hard place is giving way to a new life filled with promises and prosperity for the one who says, “Where you go, I go!” We must set our minds on Christ where He is and not focus on where we are. Jesus is seated at the right hand of God and that’s a good thing for us. He is interceding for us. He knows our weakness and His Spirit helps us when times get tough. My new life is hidden with Christ in God. I find new life and full satisfaction when I live in His Presence even in the pits, prisons and problems of life. My situation cannot change the Way, the Truth and the Life living in me. It is all just temporary. Lord, help me to see You today. To take this hard thing and build into a new place of worship. Jesus, where you go – I will go! You will be my God and I am Your Beloved Child!

John 14:6 (ESV) Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Share the Win

Share the Win

2 Corinthians 3:8-12 (NLT) Shouldn’t we expect far greater glory under the new way, now that the Holy Spirit is giving life? If the old way, which brings condemnation, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new way, which makes us right with God! In fact, that first glory was not glorious at all compared with the overwhelming glory of the new way. So if the old way, which has been replaced, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new, which remains forever! Since this new way gives us such confidence, we can be very bold.

If I may be so bold, this is God’s Word for your life today. It is not a coincidence you are reading this today. The enemy already deleted it the first time I tried to send it to you. As I was saving the file, the program shutdown completely. No big deal if you use these products regularly because they come with an “autosave” feature that should bring it right back up on the screen when Word starts to operate again. There would be no recovery document. The clipboard on the computer wiped clean. Coincidence? You may think so but I know in my heart that is not the case. Someone is about to give up and needs to know they win. Somebody is about to quit inches from the finish line marked “FAITH”. I almost got up and walked away completely disgusted that two hours were wasted, but then I thought about you. I am encouraged by the Word of God that promises me His Glory and overwhelming victory. I almost took it with me but the Lord wants you to have His Glory too. He wants you to share in His Overcoming Power bestowed on you because of His Unfailing Love and Faithfulness. So this is for you…just you.

Just before being rudely interrupted by a so-called computer glitch, I was sharing with you a story. Our family was given the unique opportunity to tour the local college’s football facility. We are huge Florida State University fans so it was literally an honor and privilege to go behind the scenes. It was game day so the stadium was a flurry of activity. We had a wonderful tour guide, Nicole, who showed us around, answered questions, and gave us the inside scoop. It was amazing. Right before the game, we met the head coach. In the waiting area of the front office, there were cases filled with the championship rings from all the important games. Nicole showed us her pendant from the last National Championship. When the team wins, everyone from who is a part of the football program gets either a ring or a pendant as a reward. The all share the glory of the win. I love that! Although she had never put her hands on the sod, taking the snap of a ball or caught a fifty yard pass to carry it across the goal line – she shared in their victory. I asked her where I could apply for a job.

Shouldn’t we expect far greater glory under the new way, now that the Holy Spirit is giving life? If the old way, which brings condemnation, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new way, which makes us right with God! In fact, that first glory was not glorious at all compared with the overwhelming glory of the new way. 

Do you expect to live a glorious life? We have been given a new way of life that leads from victory to victory and glory to glory. Are you living it today? I suspect not or the enemy would not be trying so hard to steal God’s Message for you. He has been working at silencing me for almost a decade now. The old way which brought only condemnation still was glorious. Moses would enter the Presence of God and leave shining from the experience. Literally his face shone with a bright light from his time spent with the Lord. You know the feeling. You get up and drag yourself to church. Glad just to make it your seat. But then through worship, the Word or someone who is a human vessel – God pours His Glory out on you and suddenly the burden you thought might crush you is not so heavy anymore. The loneliness not the isolation you thought it was. The wait has been long but suddenly you have the strength to wait a little longer. God’s Glory changes everything. We find it in salvation and stepping into the Presence of God. Why? Because that is the place where the Spirit in us connects with the God around us and we become one. God was to overwhelm you with His Glory today. He wants to raise your standard of living.

So if the old way, which has been replaced, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new, which remains forever!

Romans 3:22-24 (NLT) We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.

Over the years, I have attended many football games. We have won some and lost some. I have watched our team put their all on the field and other times not so much. It is my observation that all the kids train to keep their place on the team but not all of them condition their mind to win. I Corinthians 9 tells us that all athletes are disciplined in training. This is how they maintain their spot on the team. They do it for the prize. We are training to win an eternal prize. So I must run with purpose in every step. The team that plays the game with purpose and drive in each step will win. The ones who want it more. The ones who despite insult or injury keep giving their all. Taking a stand. Pushing and pressing when their bodies are broken. What about you? Are you giving your all? Or are you about to give in?

Sin separated us from God’s Glorious Standard of Living. The enemy would like you to remain in that same mindset. The idea that anything we do can keep us from God’s Best, His Purpose and the rich and satisfying life of abundance that Jesus has promised. Thanks to Jesus our right standing is restored. It is that partnership that gives us God’s Glory. We have access to live a glorious life here and now. Yes, in the current situation, circumstance or condition of your life – you will not walk out of it until you are confident His New Way is better. Remember Elijah and the prophets of Baal. He won. Miracles happened that day. Heaven literally touched the earth in front of them. Then Jezebel threatened the prophet with words… just words. God found him hiding in a cage and asked, “What are you doing here?” We must change our mindset to share the win. God has given us unfailing love and unprecedented favor with a plethora of promises that belong to us…if we continue to run the race of faith. God’s Grace made every good between you. Now, He is ready to give you His Glory.

John 17:1-3 (NLT) After saying all these things, Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son so he can give glory back to you. For you have given him authority over everyone. He gives eternal life to each one you have given him. And this is the way to have eternal life—to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth.

The word “glorious” means delightful, wonderful, and completely enjoyable. Our life in Christ should be all these things because God’s Glory lives in us. Jesus who was the Word of God wrapped in flesh. Jesus was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. We have seen God’s Glory. His Name is Jesus. He is full of glory. In John 17, Jesus is praying. The hour had come. It was time to win it all. It would cost Him everything. Before the battle over death and the grave even began, Jesus gave glory to His Father. He asked God to “glorify” him so He could reciprocate it back to Him. To glorify is to cause to be more splendid, excellent, than would normally be considered. It also means to “invest with glory.” Jesus wanted God’s Glory in this trial set before Him. He wanted to make it to the finish line and claim victory for us all so we could share His Glory. Your life is premediated and preordained to be glorious. When Jesus died and released His Spirit, He would soon make His Way into us. We are filled with the Glory of God – the Holy Spirit is evidence of that.

2 Corinthians 1:19-22 (NLT) For Jesus Christ, the Son of God, does not waver between “Yes” and “No.” He is the one whom Silas, Timothy, and I preached to you, and as God’s ultimate “Yes,” he always does what he says. For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes!” And through Christ, our “Amen” (which means “Yes”) ascends to God for his glory. It is God who enables us, along with you, to stand firm for Christ. He has commissioned us, and he has identified us as his own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the first installment that guarantees everything he has promised us.

For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes!” And through Christ, our “Amen” (which means “Yes”) ascends to God for his glory.

Come in a little closer, I have a secret to share with you. All of God’s Promises for your life are a RESOUNDING “Yes!” You haven’t wasted anything. You are not missing out. You have not been passed by. You are on the way to a win. And then another one…and another one. God has given you His Glory. What kind of God would lead you from disaster to disaster, or loss after loss? Not my God. He gave us a champion. His Name is Jesus. He is the initiator and finisher of faith. You just have to stand on the foundation of faith and hold on to your hope and you will win every single battle. You will be victorious in every situation. It doesn’t matter how big the giants are when Christ lives in you. It doesn’t matter how deep the pit – you will still make it to the palace. God’s Plan for you hasn’t changed. It is still all about His Glory overflowing from you and spilling out into your natural life to make it supernatural. It’s not about you, your ability or even your faithfulness. It is all about letting the Christ in you take over and carry you from victory to victory for His Glory. I want God’s Glory. There are many men who own championship rings won in an athletic stadium or arena who are addicts living in poverty because when the glory faded and the spotlight dimmed they were empty and unfulfilled but not you. When you come to the end of yourself, Jesus is always waiting and ready to hand you victory.

He has commissioned us, and he has identified us as his own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the first installment that guarantees everything he has promised us.

You have the Glory of God in you. Jesus lives in us. To live according to the Christ in us rather than the world around us – heaven and earth connect. The resources of Heaven designated for your life begin to pour out and pour into every void. The Holy Spirit guarantees everything God promised us. Just because it hasn’t happened yet, doesn’t mean it won’t if you are willing to put it all on the field of life and push until it happens. It is human nature to give up. It is natural to want to quit when things get tough. The world tells us to stop when things become impossible but that is the very moment that God’s Glory is the closest. The moment eyes cannot see but our faith says, “Go for it!” The mindset of victory is confidence. Confidence that evokes boldness to silence the naysayers by doing it. Confidence that carries us far past human weakness into the sufficiency of God’s Grace that elicits His Power to overtake us. We have all heard the stories of people who have supernatural strength when someone they love is in danger. Well, don’t you think the Jesus in you feels the same way? He wants you to use His Power. He wants to saturate your life in His Glory and Goodness for all the world to see. This is what it means to be the Light of the World. People don’t chase after losers but they follow champions. Are you playing to win today? Do you really want God’s Glorious Standard of Living? Do you believe it is possible? Your heart and mind must become confident in the existence of Christ in you in order to follow Him across the finish line. Since this new way gives us such confidence, we can be very bold.

2 Corinthians 3:17-18 (NLT) For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.

Just to speculate a little, I imagine that Nicole, the tour guide at the university, was sitting at her desk one day when an email went out. It bore the exciting news that the championship rings and pendants had arrived. Everyone should report to the conference room to claim their victory piece. But what if Nicole didn’t believe that there was anything there for her? Or maybe she decided she didn’t feel like walking all the way down the hall to wait in a long line, she had lunch plans that were way more important. Perhaps she just didn’t want one. She was free to ignore the email and go about her day. Do you think Nicole did that? Heck no! She was probably the first one in line. She loves her job. She loves the school. She is part of team. A winning team and she shares in their victory. What about you?

Do you believe you are a Child of God? Do you know that the Living God is in you? Do you understand that you have access to all of God’s Power and are guaranteed every promise the Lord has made to you? It doesn’t matter what you do or where you go or how many times you throw in the towel but it is the one time you do hold fast to the hope you are given that God drives it home. If you believe, you will claim victory in Jesus today and keep going. You will not give up because you believe that God is faithful even if you are not! You won’t settle for less than God’s Best but keep pursuing the rich and satisfying life of abundance that God promised you and sealed with His Spirit. Nothing is impossible if you believe. But freedom is a choice.

You choose whose steps you walk in. The world will offer a comfortable and convenient compromise for every challenge to fight for your faith. Today – when the computer shutdown and all the words lost – I was mad. I got up and walked away. I sat back down and tried to recover the file. I was ready to just go about my day. God had other plans. He wanted you to know today that you win! You have victory! You are an overcomer who is more than a conqueror because Christ lives in you. Why don’t you invest in that line of thinking for just one day! The idea that all things are possible simply because Christ, my champion, lives in you and me. Imagine the possibilities. The enemy already tried to take victory from us once today. Will we let him have the day? Not me, friend. Not today. Not tomorrow. Not ever. I win. Christ gave me victory. He continues to provide overwhelming victory moving me from glory to glory every single day! He is sharing His Glory with me…it is up to me if I will take it and run. We can be a reflection of God’s Glory. He shares the win and we receive the prize. Fight for your faith it is worth having. Hold tight to your hope you will need it in the end. Pursue Jesus with your body, mind, heart and soul. He is our victory!

Romans 8:37-38 (NLT) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.

I John 4:4 (NLT) But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world. 

I John 5:4-5 (NLT) For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith. And who can win this battle against the world? Only those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God.

I Corinthians 15:57-58 (NLT) But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ. So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.

Those Who Wait

Those Who Wait

Lamentations 3:25-26 (ESV) The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.

Sitting in the doctor’s office with our son, I was looking at apartments and sharing my discoveries with him. Newly graduated from college, he will be moving back to our home town to pursue a career. Look what the Lord has done! The waiting room was overcrowded and it took him longer than usual to get checked in. As I continued to scroll through listings, he shifted back and forth in his chair until finally announcing it had been 38 minutes since his appointment time. I laughed. He should be used to waiting by now and told him the same. After years of appointments, testing, procedures and treatments surely this came as no surprise. Flashback to my grandmother in her kitchen with blue linoleum floors and rooster wallpaper. “Lori, you must learn to be patient.” A short passage of time into my teenage years sitting in Sunday school, the teacher giving us a staunch warning to never pray for patience for it is born of trials, trouble and produced by waiting. I will be the first to admit I am impatient. Just when I think I have acquired a little bit of patience and longsuffering, I realize it is usually not enough. I still get frustrated when something takes too long. Those times when my expectations are not met according to my own personal time table. Then there are other times like at the visit with our kid that I realize I have learned to wait a little.

It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.

But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience…can we just stop there? Galatians 5 clearly details the productivity of His Spirit in us. He plants seeds of love, joy and peace but then there is patience. I guess there is no need to pray for patience because God already commanded the Holy Spirit. The pathway to patience is waiting. Not to wait, complain and grumble but to live in the love, joy and peace of God fully trusting that His Timing will produce only the best for us. It is good for us to wait. It is good for us to wait “quietly” for the Lord. You know the old saying, “I’ll do it but I don’t have to like it.” Well, I don’t think this is true of waiting for the Lord. I believe that trust comforts us so that waiting quietly is the most productive. What are you waiting for today? What is it that you can do nothing about but must wait solely and completely on God to do? Maybe you have done everything you know to do and still the desired result has not come. You have prayed until you are blue in the face. You have tried every door only to find it locked. You have done it all now you must wait on the Lord.

Habakkuk 2:1-3 (ESV) I will take my stand at my watch post and station myself on the tower, and look out to see what he will say to me, and what I will answer concerning my complaint. And the Lord answered me: “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it. For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.

At the end of the appointment, the doctor promised to call next week with the results. I knew that would more than likely be the outcome of our visit. It didn’t really sink in until the long two-hour drive back home as I shared the information with my husband. Ugh! I feel the wrings of the watchtower ladder in the calluses of my hands. I can feel my feet curving around them as I climb to the top. It used to be a hard climb but now I scale it effortless for I know the way. Yet, even in this time of waiting, I am still feeling the angst of impatience and overwhelming desire to complain. My nerves rise to the top and frustration becomes evident in my responses to everyday inconveniences. The Lord whispers words of encouragement. He reminds me of His Word. He tells me He loves me. My spirit is a petulant child who balks at the attention of the loving and doting yet unyielding nature of the One who loves me best and the most. Honestly God I am tired of waiting. He responds – “You find me in the waiting.”

Psalm 37:3-6 (ESV) Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.

About six years ago, the Lord asked me point blank, “Do you trust me?” I immediately and without hesitation said, “Yes, of course I do.” He then asked me again. “Do you trust me?” From that point to this very morning, I am still in the midst of the testing of trust in my life. We all are if you want to know the truth. Trust is a word that is overused and misplaced in this life. We give it away only to have it betrayed and shattered. By the time the Lord inquires of it, there really isn’t much left unbroken or untainted, yet still He outstretches His Hand to ours and invites us to try again. Do you trust the Lord today? Trust in the Lord allows us to do good, our best, what we can, and wait for Him to do all that He promised. It is a foundation of love, joy and peace that keeps us steady during long droughts and famines in our life. Without trust, there will be no production of faith. It is impossible to please God without faith and even more impossible to know its validity without trust. Trust is made evident in how one waits. Those who do and continue to dwell in the “land” of His Presence in the midst of circumstances while befriending faithfulness and choose to delight in the Lord will have the desires of their heart. God knows every secret desire hidden in the deepest recesses of your heart. Even those dead dreams and barren visions that have died in the waiting. You may have given up on a future and hope but not the Lord for He is intent on giving it to you. I can wait on people. I can wait on things. I can wait for earthly solutions. I can wait for what I want. OR I can wait on the Lord…Those who wait on the Lord trusting Him will see Him act.

Psalm 37:7-9 (ESV) Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices! Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil. For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land

Be still in the Lord. On those days, you feel caged and trapped pacing back and forth to find your way out of the watch tower of waiting, be still. Just as Jesus calmed the storm and raging sea, He is perfectly able to calm you and me. Waiting works out impatience, but if must be carefully supervised as not to produce bitterness in us. When a woman gives birth and sees her promise arrive, suddenly all the inconvenience, sickness and pain of pregnancy and childbirth disappear. She remembers all the unpleasantness but does not bear the scar of suffering. Why? Her promise has arrived. As she falls in love with the little person, grace falls like soft waves over her. But during the process, she felt all these feelings, emotions, and even tremendous pain. Yet in fulfillment it is all forgotten. God is birthing promises in each of us today. Yes, the journey to victory is often paved with problems, pain, inconveniences and change. But to cross the finish line, those who win forget the journey and bask in the glory. God has a purpose for your life that will produce prosperity and abundance in you, through you and for you. It requires total trust and complete faith that keeps us in the waiting. As the mother of five, I can testify that it was worth the wait every single time. To birth a promise too soon is spiritual abortion. To wait on it, trusting the Lord and to do so quietly is to have the Peace of God that passes all understanding as He leads us from victory to victory and glory to glory.

Isaiah 30:15-18 (ESV) For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” But you were unwilling, and you said, “No! We will flee upon horses”; therefore you shall flee away; and, “We will ride upon swift steeds”; therefore your pursuers shall be swift. A thousand shall flee at the threat of one; at the threat of five you shall flee, till you are left like a flagstaff on the top of a mountain, like a signal on a hill. Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him.

The fatal error of fallen prey in the plains of Africa is the moment they become separated from the herd. How many times does it happen? The predator will not take on the entire group but waits for the one who is weak, wanders off course, or becomes separated. It is in that moment the error of their way is realized as the sharp teeth sink into their flesh and they are brought down hard. God has promised to do exactly what He promised to do. He has proclaimed Himself to be the God who does not lie or change His Mind. The Lord has offered each one of us a future and hope. The only way to miss out on God’s Plan is by being unwilling to wait for Him. Trust is required to wait on the Lord. We must walk by faith and not by sight to stay in a place of waiting safe and secure.

Psalm 40:27-31 (ESV) Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, “My way is hidden from the Lord, and my right is disregarded by my God”? Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

Can I encourage you as I encourage myself through God’s Word today? God knows exactly where you are today. He knows that you are growing weary in the waiting room. He understands that your heart and flesh are crying out for relief. He has not forgotten you or given up on you. The Lord is going to do exactly as He planned to do from the beginning. Every promise and blessing secure with your name on it. You just have to trust Him even on the days when impatience becomes unbearable and your mind argues the logic of faith that is produced by endurance. Will you wait with me just a little longer? Will you wait for the Lord just one more day? He promises that those who wait on the Lord will be given power. He will increase their strength. He will renew them and they will soar above circumstances, situations and problems to live in His Presence now and forevermore. He is an everlasting God with a much greater perspective of our life including every step from here to Eternity. He knows the desires of our heart. When we delight in Him, the Lord gives us that which is desired most. Usually the very things we gave up in the waiting. He didn’t give up but dug in so that we could have His Very Best in spite our bad attitude and impatience. Will you wait one more day? One more minute? One more breath…just breathe in. Exhale. This one act signifies a moment of waiting that has passed as the Lord renews every cell in your body with oxygen. Why not breathe in His Spirit the same way and let Him produce love, joy and peace in this place marked “still waiting”?

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!

The Promise of the Living God designated for your life is worth having. Remind yourself today. I believe that I shall look upon the Goodness of the Lord in the LAND OF THE LIVING. Don’t be like Martha pushing all those things she couldn’t do or comprehend into the afterlife. Instead, take hold of Jesus who is the Resurrection and Life. He is breathing life into all the dead things around you. He is life to every promise, hope, dream and desire hidden in your heart. He is faithful whether we are or not. He is always working for us even when we grow weary and give up. Jesus lives in you. His Spirit sows seeds in us each day. It is our job only to have a soft and fertile heart. Are you willing to wait on God’s Promise? You must believe. You must trust Him at His Word until it comes. He promises those who wait will not be disappointed. Hope cannot lead to disappointment. God has only good things for our life. It is all found in the waiting. Those who wait for the Lord become strong. Those who wait on the Lord rise above the momentary, temporary trials of this place to live in His Presence now and forever.

We find Him in the waiting not in the wandering. We find Him faithful when our own faithfulness is wavering. It is the moment of giving up or giving in that His Outstretched Hand is evident. When we become weak and His Power takes over. Don’t give in to the thought of quitting today but take hold of your hope with both hands. Get down on those weak knees and ask Him to wait with you today. To fill your life with the love, joy and peace that ease our heart and mind while waiting for patience to yield its prosperous fruit. Those who wait on the Lord will be blessed.

Hebrews 12:11-13 (ESV) For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed.

More Life

More Life.jpg

John 7:37-39 (ESV) On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

Are you satisfied today? Truly satisfied with your life, your love and your lot? What do you want? Do you have a specific need or desire unfulfilled? Contentment is not a product of comfort or compromise but evidence of hope. Thankfulness is not always a result but sometimes a resolution. Outwardly our hands reach for the things in life that are often thought to bring security only to find that it does nothing to offer satisfaction. Satisfaction is fulfillment. It is gratification that leads to contentment. The acceptance of something as satisfactory, dependable and true. To be fully compensated. To discharge a debt and live freely from it. The word “satisfaction” is from the Latin word meaning to make enough. Jesus came to give us life and have it abundantly. (ESV) The New Living Translation of the same verse says, “My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” How do I find satisfaction in the midst of dissatisfaction? Where is abundance when it is not in my hand? The enemy has a purpose clearly defined as well. The thief’s desire is to steal and kill and destroy ever good thing God is doing for His Children. Night and day it is his mission to stop us from having a rich and satisfying life in Jesus Christ.

“If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” 

Dissatisfaction fuels desire in the heart of man. It creates desperation that draws out the inner flesh and rallies our pride to take over and make do. To hunger is a desire. To thirst is desperation. Without food, our body can survive for about three weeks. However, without water, the body will only make it about three days. Desire is one thing, but desperation is another. Jesus said, “Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” Life is full of fluff. Distractions that make us desperate for things that really only are desires. Jesus promised those who thirst and drink from Him will be filled with Living Water that will overflow from our heart. A heart full of His Love will not desire anything else – it becomes satisfied.

“I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”

The Words of Jesus tell us directly from His Mouth that His Purpose is to give us life and that it would be abundant. This defies human logic when the details of our existence do not produce soul satisfaction. I have several buckets around the house used to carry water. If the bucket has a hole in it and I turn on the facet to fill it – it doesn’t matter how long the water runs it will never be satisfied. It can run and run but until I fill find the breach and patch it – it will never be satisfied. My heart has holes in it. Broken places. Open wounds. Insufficiencies. To have life abundantly – they must be satisfied first. I came that they may have life…and have it abundantly.

Satisfaction is a two-step process it seems. I must give Jesus my heart. He then can fill my life with good things that used to run right through me. My heart can be full. Expectation met and exceeded. My soul must be satisfied for my life to prosper. I must be made whole and complete to become the vessel where abundance flows.

Matthew 15:32-38 (ESV) Then Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion on the crowd because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. And I am unwilling to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way.” And the disciples said to him, “Where are we to get enough bread in such a desolate place to feed so great a crowd?” And Jesus said to them, “How many loaves do you have?” They said, “Seven, and a few small fish.” And directing the crowd to sit down on the ground, he took the seven loaves and the fish, and having given thanks he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up seven baskets full of the broken pieces left over. Those who ate were four thousand men, besides women and children. 

It’s funny how fellowship with church folks usually involves food. I wonder if this is where we got the idea from. We live in a small, rural community with only about four restaurants to choose from. After church on Sunday, they are full of congregants. All the churches are fully represented. Sitting in their designated groups, wearing Sunday best, smiling and waving yet I wonder if they are satisfied. Are they filled to overflowing from the Word of God they just received? Did the Spirit of the Living God saturate their heart and soul in His Presence? Jesus had been teaching the people for three days. There were no restaurants to serve the people. It was quite a crowd. More than four thousand men, women and children. Tasked to feed the people, the disciples applied human logic and quickly came to the conclusion it would be impossible to feed them all. The disciples were looking for an outward solution to an obvious problem. Jesus asked them, “How many loaves do you have?” What do you have today? What is in your hand right now? Elisha asked the woman with enormous debt the same question, “Tell me; what do you have in your house?” (2 Kings 4) The abundance in our life is limited by perception. Our nature is to hold on to what we have. Fear of lack grips the superficial when God wants to do something supernatural.

Jesus told the crowd to sit down and took what his men had brought – seven loaves and some a few small fish. He gave thanks for it and blessed it. He then gave them back to his disciples who distributed it among the people. They all ate and were satisfied. How is this even possible? “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” Now here is the important piece to the puzzle – when everyone was satisfied there was an abundance left over. Our life is filled with the substance of abundance. There are times when desire and desperation are necessary to experience the promise of abundance. Times of extreme hunger and thirst that drives us beyond ourselves to Jesus. In Matthew 14, Jesus fed more than five thousand with the lunch of a little boy. It tells us that Jesus had compassion on the people. Jesus wants to satisfy you today. He wants you to experience life and abundance. It will require being blessed and broken. It always does.

Proverbs 19:20-24 (ESV) Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future. Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. What is desired in a man is steadfast love, and a poor man is better than a liar. The fear of the Lord leads to life, and whoever has it rests satisfied; he will not be visited by harm. The sluggard buries his hand in the dish and will not even bring it back to his mouth.

Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future. Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.

God has a plan for your life. It contains a future and hope. The purpose of God is never to our detriment. It is always for our good. This is wisdom for your life today that must become fully engrained in our brains to overcome the fear of lack that keeps us holding on to what God gives us rather than using it to prosper in abundance. Releasing seed to soil gives increase, while holding it tightly in our hand does nothing. The potential of every seed is a plant. The purpose of our life is to live and do so abundantly. We need godly advice and instruction to continually sow the seeds of faith and hope in our heart and mind until total trust takes over. It doesn’t matter how many times I get it wrong, fall short, give up, or quit – the purpose of God for my life will stand.

What is desired in a man is steadfast love, and a poor man is better than a liar.

The desire of every heart is steadfast love. It doesn’t matter how cold or callus the exterior or hard the human heart becomes it still beats to find love, connect with it, and become one with it. God has placed eternity in our heart for that very purpose. So that our desire cannot and will not ever be satisfied with lesser things. That it will not be content in the things of this world or find fulfillment in compromise. We are Children of the Living God blessed with an inheritance of abundance that the Father desires to give us and will stop at nothing to produce “in” us. The Love of God satisfies our heart, mind, and soul. It is the plug for the bucket of blessing that we think has run dry. The blessing is pouring in. As Jesus binds our broken heart with love and grace, finally our life begins to increase in abundance because there is no longer a breach between God’s Kingdom and His Children.

The fear of the Lord leads to life, and whoever has it rests satisfied; he will not be visited by harm.

There are two kinds of fear. Fear meaning distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil or pain and then there is the kind that is reverential awe, respect and admiration. In our sinful condition, fear of the Lord is that of distress and rightfully so. When Jesus becomes our Savior and Lord, fear becomes respect and admiration or at least it should. Old habits die hard. Our life in Christ makes us new creations. (2 Corinthians 5:17)  It is a transformation process. All of me for all of Him. I decrease while Christ increases in me. (John 3:30) To fear the Lord leads to life. A life of peace in the Presence of God that offers us true satisfaction, contentment and fulfillment through this process called transformation.

The sluggard buries his hand in the dish and will not even bring it back to his mouth.

The truth in this small statement weighs heavily on my heart today. There are times when the abundance of God is in our grasp but our unwillingness to bring it back to our “mouth” limits us. We falter in obedience. We stop engaging in the process. We give up on the promise due to a lack of faith or commitment then blame God for not doing His Part. Where is the satisfaction the Lord has promised? It is well within our reach. It is just outside of our grasp. It is right there before us maybe just a step or two in the distance. We bury our “hand” in His Presence but do not reach for God’s Heart. When our heart is sealed with His Love, holding on to hope is no longer pointless but essential. We will not only reach out for the Lord but pull Him tightly to our chest. To breathe in His Love and breathe out prosperity. Christ lives in us. His Life is engrained in our being. But until we allow our hearts to be broken and blessed – healed and restored – satisfaction remains elusive and contentment out of reach. Fulfillment is only possible when we become one with Jesus Christ. To reach for Him but not grab hold of Him leaves us empty handed and brokenhearted. Abundance cannot flow from such a place. Increase is not possible where seeds are not sown. God is calling to us. He holds satisfaction in one hand and is ready to give us a brand new heart. As our soul prospers, so will we. It is never Christ’s intention to leaven anyone hungry or thirsty but that all will be fully satisfied by His Great Love.

Matthew 5:6 (ESV) “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”

Tug-0-War – It’s Not A Game Anymore

Tug o war

Philippians 1:21-23 (ESV) For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.

Since bringing home our new lab puppy, Scout – she bonded quickly to our Chihuahua, Izzy. From the moment, they get up until it is time to go to bed there is nothing but nonstop activity. Scout is very large yet quite passive while Izzy is tiny but ferocious. When they both take hold of a toy and pull, it is clear by Izzy’s hold and posture that she fully intends to win the game of tug-o-war clearly unimpressed by Scout’s size and power. Currently, Scout is five times the size of her fur sister. But Izzy has heart and tenacity – she does not ever back down. When she engages in tugging, she believes she can win. With one mindless jerk of Scout’s powerful head, the game is over. Izzy’s response – like any good sport – she attacks Scout with all the growling and snarling she can muster while our oversized fur baby just enjoys her conquest and rolls over on her back.

While both of the participants in the tug-o-war are impacted by the pulling and tugging, can you imagine the condition of the object of their grasp? With our dogs, it may be a rope or small squeaky toy but in the game of life too often it feels like it is us. Or maybe I am the only one who has days when despite my very best effort to hold tight to my faith, steady my heart, do the right thing and keep pressing on – I feel stretched and pulled in two opposite directions? I have put forth my best effort. Tried to keep the right attitude. Even forgiven along the way as hard as that may be sometimes, yet still feel as though I have come up short. A discarded heap of hopelessness who strived with all her might yet her flesh failed and her heart is weary. Come on. I cannot be the only one.

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

To live IS Christ. To die is gain. The death process begins at birth. From the moment of taking in our first breath, a human being is one step closer to their death if you think about it. God has ordered the life span of each person according to His Will and His Way. It is not always possible to understand the number assigned to each living creature, but God knows. If only it were easy to live for Christ every moment of every day and serve Him faithfully apart from all sin and transgression as one might desire. It is not easy. It is not even possible. So why keep trying?

I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.

The struggle is real. For me to live is Christ but to die is gain. The more I grow to understand this – the more I understand terms like endurance. The stretching, molding and shaping of my heart and mind to hold fast to the confession of my faith and let other things go. It would be easy if I did not battle an unseen adversary every single day. No, it is not the enemy. Satan has no power or control in my life because I have given it to Jesus Christ. I am a Child of God. No the waging war with in us is our flesh. On those days when the pressure and problems of life leave us stretched and stressed lifeless forms crawling into His Presence exhausted and done, it is not always because the oppressor has been the foe that is faced but our flesh. We do not battle people. We must hold tight to the Word of God and respond to the Will of God even when our stubbornness and pride dig in. The good fight of faith is waging in our heart and mind not the world in which we live. I believe that it is important to identify the problem to find the solution. What if the problem is me?

Romans 7:21-25 (Message)

It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge. I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question? The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.

No believer – saved and sanctified can ever say with any credibility that “the devil made me do it”. Satan cannot come near the Light that lives within us. God has given us His Spirit. The object of greatest oppression is flesh. Our own will who seeks to survive despite our desire to be crucified with Christ and live. I have been crucified with Christ by choice. I have chosen to give up sin and accept salvation. Now what? Fight. Fight for faith. Work toward obedience. Do my very best to hold on to what is good and avoid that which is not. To endure. To love. To forgive. To hope. Christ lives in me and is working His Way out of me into every part of my existence. The life I live now in the flesh is by faith in the Living God who is in me. The overwhelming factor that is my success is His Grace. (Galatians 2:20) Despite my full intent and heartfelt commitment, my flesh fails time and time again. This is the reason His Grace is my power. It is the very essence of power that lives in me overriding my inability to allow the fulfillment of Christ to be mine.

Can I just publicly thank the apostle Paul for his transparent honesty in Romans 7! If only every believer would allow others to see the reality of their plight, not by glorifying sin or immortalizing failure, but rather allowing others to witness the process. Our soul cries out for the Living God but our flesh fights to survive. It is a natural born tendency that is not exempt when it comes to dying to this life to obtain forever with the Lord. When I am overwhelmed and feel stretched like a dog toy that has been tugged and pulled on all day, I realize that maybe just maybe it isn’t the enemy pulling on me. In fact, the Lord has shown me clearly that it is not. I live in the Hand of God. The enemy cannot touch me. No, on those days, I have held hope with one hand not two and taken hold of something with my flesh that I need to let go of. This process is so intimate and personal. The good fight of faith is not in an arena but in the quiet recesses of our heart as His Word works its way through and hopeful confidence lays claim to it.

“Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge. I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question? The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does.” His Grace is sufficient for me. It is enough for those days when my flesh rises up and wages war to take over my heart and mind. I will not overcome this rivalry until Jesus takes me home and removes it from me forever. In the meantime, it is important that I work in close partnership with the Spirit of God so it is two against one.

Hebrews 5:7-10 (ESV) In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek.

Hebrews 4:14-15 (ESV)  Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.

Jesus lived in the flesh. Yes, He was God during that time, too but chose to be subject to flesh and blood just like the ones who He loved and chose to die for. He experienced every bit of warring of the flesh just as anybody else does on any given day. He overcame sin. He endured every test and trial all the way to the Cross. He died a sinless man. Who better to help us then the One who knows and understands our flesh and feelings? Jesus overcame the world. He did it by overcoming flesh. One sin would have nailed Jesus to the Cross. His Death was would have been required if only a single sin existed. The necessity of grace is not proportioned to the quantity of sin but rather to overcome death produced by a single sin. Wrap your brain around that one and the playing field of life becomes quite level. There is no pride in obedience just surrender to God because there is no prize or promise outside of the Grace and Love of Jesus Christ. If there is no hierarchy of sin, that means that God has no favorites. There you have it the full potential of our life is in the Grace of God given through Jesus Christ…alone. I can do nothing to earn it, obtain it or pay it back. I can only accept it.

Philippians 2:14-16 (ESV) Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.

What if we have been interpreting these verses all wrong? We are to do all things without grumbling or disputing…good luck with that right? To remain sinless (without blemish) in this crooked and twisted generation…it is not possible. Do you work with other people? Commute home in five o’clock traffic. Let’s be real – do you own any teenagers? Life happens. Sin slips out. Our flesh rises up. What then? The Light that shines within us comes out through our brokenness. When our hard heart cracks open and our one-track mind gives way to the new life and new way of thinking that is not religious but relational. The Law of God did not save us just shows us how bad we messed up. It proves the sufficiency of His Grace when knowing all my faults and failures in a single day – I still fight to hold on to faith and cling to confident hope. “Holding fast to the Word of Life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run or labor in vain.” The confident hope that I have is not in my own ability to live a sinless, good life but it is in the Grace of God given to me based on His Love and Faithfulness. The Word of Life says that nothing can ever separate me from the Love of God and in fact it is His Love that makes me more than a conqueror. (Romans 8:37) Pride says otherwise but grace always proves it wrong.

I Thessalonians 5:23-24 (ESV) Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.

Before this passage in I Thessalonians 5 comes a list of instructions. Things like love each other, help one another, and be an encourager. It also tells us to rejoice, pray and be thankful. It clearly outlines qualities and characteristics that are the Will of God for our life. (I Thessalonians 5:18) But the important part follows closely behind, the specific thing that I must cling to throughout each day as I try to run with purpose. The goal that I long for and strive for is this – that my whole spirit, soul and body will be kept blameless. His Grace is enough, I must cling to it every day. He is the one who is Faithful. Jesus will surely do it if I will just hold on the hope that He has given me.

Hebrews 6:17-19 (ESV) So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain…

My steadfastness will not ever be in me. I will continue to strive to live apart from anything that displeases the Lord but I know that it is only by His Grace that I find the power to overcome every shortcoming, fault and failure. Sin separated me from God and only His Righteousness will allow me to live in His Presence again. He does not lie or change His Mind so the Word of Life is the anchor of my soul and substance of my faith that keeps me from giving up and letting go when I feel the pressures of life, stress or restlessness. My flesh is always at war with the Spirit in me. It is a fight to the death. The Spirit of God overcame death and administers life to all who live in partnership with Him. It doesn’t mean there is not struggling or no suffering in this life but He give us the power and strength to hold on and endure to the end. I don’t know what might work as soul soothing for you but when I feel weary in well doing or pointless in my pursuit of Christ, I find that worship is my release. To lift my hands, open them wide, and show love and adoration on Jesus. Burdens fall off as He picks me up and holds me. When was the last time you stepped into the Presence of the Living God? There is nothing there but life. The struggle ends where surrender begins. The hopelessness gives way to hope in the Light of His Love. Grace works best in weakness. His Power is manifested in our life when we can’t but believe He will. There is a reward for those who choose to keep His Word, walk by faith, hold on to hope and endure until the end through every trial, hardship and struggle believing God is good, God loves me, and God will never let me down.

As Scout and Izzy wrestle at my feet, I am blissfully aware that Jesus isn’t finished with me yet. Izzy will learn one day to pick and choose her battles but I hope that she never loses her heart. Scout in her sweet nature will one day learn the same or give up every toy and treat to Izzy. I believe that this is life in our house with our pets. I believe this is the life lived in Christ as well. Picking and choosing battles, knowing when to take heart and surrendering to Christ always. It is only a tug-o-war if both sides pull. The game ends when one or the other let’s go. Lord, I give you my heart, mind, body and spirit all over again today. I let go of everything except the Word of Life. May hope keep me anchored. Have your way in me, amen! I surrender all!

Revelation 3:10-12 (ESV) Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth. I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown. The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name.

Finding My Joy

Finding Joy

Psalm 16:5-11 (ESV) The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance. I bless the Lord who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me. I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption. You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Do you have joy today? Are you overcome by worry and stress? What is your state of mind as you begin this new day with great possibility? Is the reality you live in just the same old same old again? Psalm 16 tells us that “in Your Presence there is fullness of joy” so why aren’t Christians filled with overflowing joy and happiness each day? Why do churches sing songs of victory without any enthusiasm? How come believers don’t even smile? I have found my joy. Today, can I help you find yours?

Galatians 5:22 outlines the Fruit of God’s Spirit, the Holy Spirit commissioned to remain in you and I. The first fruit that is produced is love. God loves us. It doesn’t even matter if anyone loves Him back. His Divine Character is love. It defines God from any other god or idol of manmade creation. The second Fruit of the Spirit is joy. Struggling just to live in love, it seems it is hard to move on. Or maybe it is because people approach the Lord like the produce department at the grocery store carefully perusing, picking and choosing which fruits are desirable and passing on the rest. Fresh fruit is expensive. Canned fruit costs much less but doesn’t have the variety or taste of produce fresh from trees, vines or bushes without all the packaging preservatives. What if I told you that for one day only the farmer’s market was offering fresh fruit for free? Many would schedule their day around such an event to partake of costly goods paying nothing at all. Jesus died so that the Holy Spirit would live in us and produce every spiritual blessing that the Lord has already provided AND PAID FOR so why won’t we at least taste and see that He really is good?

The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places.” It begins by our belief. Do you believe that the “lines” in your life have fallen in “pleasant places”? Do you believe God loves you? Do you believe that God is good? He is faithful? Those who do will make Him their chosen portion and their cup. This puts the entirety of our life in God’s Hands. The giving and receiving. The sowing and the reaping. The planting and harvesting in our life becomes God’s Divine Plan. He promises to give us a future and hope. To work every detail of our life for His Glory and our good. He perfects all that concerns me. Christ offers to yoke with us and shoulder the burdens and cares of life while passing through to eternity. Where is our joy? It is in the decision to give every aspect of our life to Jesus Christ. The evidence of such a choice is joy. “I have a beautiful inheritance” that is only accessible if I believe enough to choose the Lord as my portion and offer my cup to Him.

Psalm 43:2-4 (ESV) For you are the God in whom I take refuge; why have you rejected me? Why do I go about mourning because of the oppression of the enemy? Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling! Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy, and I will praise you with the lyre, O God, my God.

When our daughter got married, she did a change of address and forwarded her mail. She took her birth certificate, social security card, driver license, and marriage license to change her name on everything. Four months later, she moved to a new state and was tasked with the process all over again. I still get her mail from time to time. Even though she changed residency twice and was diligent in her attempts to notify everyone who may need to contact her, her mail still doesn’t make it to her until I forward it myself. Moving through life, it is possible to lose sight of our residency in Heaven and begin to rely on natural outcomes and human strength. We must make an effort to establish our residency in the Kingdom and remain faithful in our allegiance to Jesus Christ. (Hebrews 13:15)

We are temporary residents of this place. I have a place in heaven with the Lord. As I make my way from here to eternity, it is a challenge and test not to become accustomed to this life but continually seek the character and qualities of those with future hope beyond death and the grave. It’s tough because everything in this place is geared toward living the fullness of life now and avoiding death at all costs. If this is life and there is nothing beyond it, I would completely understand the desperation and devastation of unmet expectation. Disappointment would be defeat in my eyes. A wise person once told me – “do not make permanent decisions based on temporary circumstances.” I believe that there is hidden joy in our life that is missed because of distractions that are meaningless to the believer. Perfect love casts out all fear leaving plenty of room for joy and peace. Total trust gives up the right to worry and stress knowing with God all things are possible and He is our Provider.

We must learn to live in the Presence of God. (Psalm 21:6) Take our eyes off the enemy. (Psalm 27:6) Silence his lies with the truth by making a joyful noise to the Lord rather than grumbling and complaining. (Psalm 98:4; 100:1) Transfer the potential in our life from an earthly position to a heavenly inheritance. Rather than sowing seeds in the ground – sow them in the Kingdom. Decide to make finding joy your plight rather than superficial happiness in people, things, and earthly success. It took a terrible tragedy for me to find my joy. Joy is a constant state for the believer if they choose the Lord to be their portion and cup relying on His Inheritance rather than earthly treasure. God’s Favor is for a lifetime. (Psalm 30:5) This time and place called the land of the living. (Psalm 27:13) Those who look believe enough to look for God’s Goodness in each day will find it. God’s Steadfast Love never ceases. His Mercies never end and arrive each morning. (Lamentations 3:22) With it comes the opportunity to have joy with it. (Psalm 30:5)

Colossians 1:10-12 (ESV) “…So as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.”

Joy is not a naturally occurring commodity of the world. It is not human nature which is selfish and greedy always crying out for more. Soul satisfaction is the key to a rich and satisfying life living in the prosperity of God’s Promises. Joy and peace partner together to produce other fruits of God’s Spirit such as patience. It accompanies us in our waiting when our refuge is the Lord. “I have set the Lord always before me.” We must learn to live with Jesus in every aspect of our natural life. To filter every thought, idea and motivation through our love and commitment to Him will allow joy to rise up in the most unlikely of places. The threat of losing something often will heighten awareness and appreciation of what we have versus what we want. Suddenly all those other things are not as important as the Christ in us and moving through us to be expressed out as life giving light to a dark and dying world. Without Jesus, there is no hope only a life that will lead to disappointment and defeat. But when I decide to “walk in a manner worthy of the Lord” and “fully pleasing Him”, I will begin to bear every fruit in every good work AND with my increasing knowledge of God. Finding joy is not a life venture but a heart vindication. I am justified in Jesus. I am approved for every blessing and promise God has for me because He has given me the Gifts of Grace and Righteousness. When I begin to believe this, I will find joy. When I choose to live as a Child of God trusting and believing He is a Good Father enough to release burden, cares, worries and stress – the Spirit will begin to produce inexpressible joy in my life.

I Peter 1:8-9 (ESV) Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Sitting in a hospital room for the umpteenth time, I was discouraged. In the bed was our son who was undergoing a bone marrow transplant. Three years of trusting, praying and believing – I would put in headphones and join churches on YouTube in the midst of worship. I needed to leave the room if only in spirit. The reality of his health weighing heavily upon me – I came across Kari Jobe singing “Forever” with the Bethel Worship Team. The reality of Heaven finally became clear to me. If he didn’t survive this treatment, it wasn’t over. Jesus was right here and right there. The bridge of the song is “we sing hallelujah – the Lamb has overcome.” I finally got it as the final piece of the puzzle clicked into place. Something changed in me that night. Joy began to flow in my heart and through my tears to realize that in this hopeless and devastating wasteland void of love and covered in darkness that Jesus is my joy. Forever. Nothing the enemy can do to me or my family will ever be able to take victory, love, joy and peace from me because I have found my joy. His Name is Jesus. Have you?

Life is hard. We still have hope. Bad things happen to good people but it is not over yet. Jesus is our victory. Each day brings the mercy we need to sow in tears…we have the opportunity in doing so to come home with shouts of joy and the abundance of God. (Psalm 126:6) We must fully invest our life and love in Jesus Christ to have inexpressible joy that will overcome every trial and trouble ever faced. Faith is the opportunity to live for this new Kingdom and life that is coming. To reap its benefits now as the windows of Heaven open and overflow in our life. Those without hope have no joy but those with hope in Him have fullness of joy. Lord, I ask you to restore the joy of my salvation in any area of my life that I may have allowed fear or doubt to rise up. Create in me a clean heart. Renew a steadfast spirit with its sights set on Heaven today. Cast me not from your Presence, Lord but fill me to overflowing with it. I yield to the productivity of the Holy Spirit and give Him full access to every area of my life. Give me joy today Lord Jesus. Overwhelming and inexpressible Jesus Joy just as You have promised. Lord, I am willing and where I am not uphold me with Your Grace and Tender Mercies. Thank you Jesus for joy!

Romans 15:13 (ESV) May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.