No More Mediocre

No More Mediocre

2 Peter 1:4-8 (NLT) And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires. In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone. The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Is mediocrity a sin? The word “mediocre” means of only ordinary or moderate quantity. Neither good nor bad. Barely adequate. Not satisfactory, inferior or poor. However, it is not a sin. You can live a mediocre and mundane life and still make it into heaven. In the warning of Revelation 3:15-16 to the Church of Laodicea regarding a “lukewarm-neither hot nor cold” life it says that the Lord is “about to spit you out” of his mouth. Detestable, undesirable and distasteful to God and its works, mediocrity is not a rejection of Jesus. It is to reject His Promises. Hebrews 6:12 warns about becoming “spiritually dull and indifferent.” Such a mentality keeps us from inheriting God’s Promises which require faith and endurance.

And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.

God is full of glorious excellence. He does not lie or change His Mind. Once He decided to save you, call you and even bless you – it became a done deal. I remember in youth as a teenager hearing the story of a man walking with Jesus in heaven. He was walking through a warehouse stacked high with many boxes both large and small. As they continued to walk, the man asked the Lord, “What’s in all these boxes?” Jesus told the man that they were filled with all the promises and blessings left unopened or unwanted in his natural life. God has given us a rich inheritance. It is already written in our life plan containing a future and hope. It is up to us if we will have them or not. He gives us precious promises according to His Glory and Excellence. We receive them in righteousness and by His Grace. It is up to us whether or not they are manifested in our life according to our desire for them.

In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.

Moral excellence is to strive to have superior merit and possess the outstanding quality of morality. To live a life intent on excelling in the principles of right living. This is not the same as being right but living in right standing with God every day in every possible way. It is to sow spiritual fruit in our heart and mind so that our soul will prosper in the promises of God such as love, joy, and peace. This will produce the Promises of God in our life through His Perfect Love.

Our willingness to sow determines our ability to reap in the natural and supernatural realms. If I work with excellence in my job, those seeds of faithfulness will generally turn into a promotion or pay increase. If I sow seeds of investment, I can expect a return on the good seed. If I sow generously, I will harvest the same. Sowing and reaping is a promise of God given to us for this life, as well as eternal life. Love is the commodity of the Kingdom of God. He loves faithfulness and willingness on our part to love Him and everybody else. It is the trait that the Lord commands of us. Excellence is the quality that dictates the outcome of our sowing. To sow with excellence will reap in abundance.

Colossians 3:23-24 (NLT) Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ.

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not human masters…” (NIV) Whatever you do. What are you doing today? Will you do it as if working for the Lord? Will your effort be wholehearted? I believe that mediocrity implies a worthless god. We do not serve a God like that but one who promises us good things. So much so that His Purpose in sending His Son was to give us a rich and satisfying life of abundance. In Ecclesiastes 9:10, it tells us that whatever our hand finds to do to do it with all our might. This comes just after the promise a few chapters earlier that God makes everything beautiful in His Timing. Romans 8:28 tells us that He works all things together for our good. God has given us every spiritual blessing. We must simply seek to find them in our life.

If a bank posted an advertisement that it was going out of business, starting tomorrow morning at 7:00 AM that they were opening all the safes and vaults to give away all the cash and gold – would you go? The majority of people would go deciding it would be worth it for some “free money” if the ad was true. Some may hesitate but still join in the fun. Then there would be the select few who would get up and go to work just like every other day. The Word of God has promised us a life of abundance. What is your response?

Colossians 3:15-17 (NLT)  Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

I am challenged today to examine each area of my life for excellence. To weed out the mediocrity and plant renewed diligence in these barren places. My desire is to serve the Lord wholeheartedly. I do not want to become spiritually dull or indifferent. Unresponsive to the Word of God, His Promises and His Blessings in my life. The Peace of God is worth having and is produced abundantly in a prospering soul. Mediocrity may not be a sin but it still keeps us from the Promises of God which became our inheritance through Jesus Christ. To live in excellence produces the harvest worthy of His Sacrifice and His Glory. I am thankful for God who provides all my needs according to His Riches in Glory. The same Lord who uses His Spirit to press upon my heart when I am setting for less and He has so much more.

Ephesians 4:1-3 (NLT) As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 

Can’t Stop the Rain

Can't Stop the Rain

Isaiah 55:10-11 (NKJV) “For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and do not return there, but water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.

Our son recently graduated from college and secured a position in our hometown. Yesterday was moving day so our family loaded up to help him make the trek with all his possessions back home. He doesn’t have a great deal of furniture since he has been living in the quad housing with only a bedroom and bathroom to himself sharing the rest of the unit. The forecast was favorable all week. Hence, it was decided that a truck, my SUV and his car would be sufficient to get the job done. Well, the work truck ended up needing a new tire that delayed our departure a couple of hours. It took three stores to find the tire in stock. Our plan was not already behind schedule. Upon arrival, it seemed time was on our side as in less than an hour fully loaded and ready to go – the caravan back began. It didn’t take long to see the clouds on the horizon grow dark and black. My daughter and I prayed asking the Lord to hold back the rain. We asked in Jesus Name. Within minutes – a few drops became a torrential downpour. My heart sank as I realized unavoidable rain would ruin everything in the truck. Why? Why didn’t God answer our prayer offered in His Name? I know that I believed in my heart that He could and He would but He didn’t? Food for thought for the next hour and half.

Why doesn’t God keep us from the inconvenient to inconceivable in life? Whether we pray to miss a storm or for Him to heal cancer, why doesn’t it happen? To know and understand this truth will change the way a believer approaches the things in life that cannot be understood and must be overcome by trust. Isn’t the point of this life? To exercise faith and develop confident hope that is able to “trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6) The Holy Spirit lives in us. He is working hard to sow seeds of faith that will grow into His Fruit. The kind of fruit that not only promotes godliness, but prospers us. (Galatians 5:22-23) As our soul prospers, so will our life. (3 John 1:2) God has granted us every spiritual blessing (Ephesians 1:3) accessible by faith and trust that decides to live in a right relationship or covenant with the Lord. There is purpose in our life with far more potential than the human eye can see or mind understand. (Ephesians 3:20) God is able to do “exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think”. We must walk by faith and not by sight to receive it. (2 Corinthians 5:7)

So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”

John 14:12-14 (NKJV) “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.

I asked the Lord to stop the rain during our trip because it was inconvenient. It would cause a problem for us. It would cost us money to replace the furniture. It would not be good for us. It was not what I wanted. It would prolong our day and lead to great frustration. There is a whole lot of “me”, “we”, “us” and “I” in the previous statements. If every day and in every way including every detail of my life goes the way that I want it to – there is no need for faith or trust because I am content within my conditions, circumstances, and control. However, when things do not go according to my plan, my will and my word it forces me to depend on, lean on, rely on and trust the Lord.

“And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”

We want to believe that whatever you ask in Jesus Name that He will do it. However, the important part is hidden in the remainder of the ordination when it says, “that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” God has a provisionary plan for our life. He also has a providential plan for us. God supplies all our needs according to His Riches in Heaven. A place that we cannot see, feel or experience apart from Jesus Christ. It is not a place to be comprehended by human logic but faith made logical by the Word of God. We pray for the things that produce comfort, convenience or control but to know Christ and live in Him means giving up these things to become confident in our hope. Truth bomb that doesn’t feel good when it hits but as it sinks in you will experience peace that passes all understanding. This peace allows us to be patient enough to see that when God doesn’t answer our prayer for our will that His Will comes to pass and it is exceedingly abundantly more than we can think or ask.

Yes, it did rain on our son’s furniture and ruin some of it. However, before we made it back to town new items were found and arranged for purchase. We were all gathered around a nice meal enjoying each other by dinner time. Tired? Yes. Rained on? Totally. Together? Absolutely. God is doing wonderful things in our midst. His Plan and Purpose always is far greater than what we can promote for ourselves. He is working in us to make certain that our faith and confident hope prospers into a bond that will overstep death into eternity. Yes, it is in the details of life that challenge us until one day rather than trying to control everything – we finally see that His Word will not return to Him void. He is indeed working every detail of our life for His Glory. He will answer the prayers of a righteous man but it doesn’t always turn out, look like or happen as we asked. Faith in God requires us to experience rain. The rain comes with promise. It promotes productivity. It waters the seed of faith in us so it will grow, develop and thrive in every season of life straight into forever.

James 5:17-18 (NKJV) The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.

“And Elijah the Tishbite, of the inhabitants of Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the Lord God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, except at my word.” (I Kings 17:1)

When Elijah prayed that it would not rain, he was not praying according to his will. Think about it. Drought in the land would cause him personal hardship. It would also be a life-threatening proclamation to king and country that would put his life in danger. However, God was setting Elijah and the people up. First there was the widow who would be given the impossible child. This would be the child resurrected from the dead. This would be the same woman whose testimony restored all she had lost in the drought. All this came to pass because she faithfully opened her home to the prophet. God had all the details planned out in the drought. Then God told the prophet it was time to release the rain again. Surely this would bring favor to God’s man, Elijah. Well, not exactly. It would be the setup for great revival on Mount Carmel when the prophets of Baal would be proven wrong and many would call on the Name of the Lord. Jezebel would now threaten Elijah’s life and he would hide on the mountain. God came to him there and he would experience new revelation and communion with the Lord.

I Kings 19:11-12 (NKJV) Then He said, “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.

Suddenly a voice came to him, and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” God is setting you up. He has something in store for you worth waiting for. He is working in you and through you to bring it to pass. God did not send the rain, wind, broken pieces, earthquake, fire or any of those other things to harm you. He is going through them with you to bring about fulfillment. The Lord is removing every barrier between you and His Blessing, Promise and Prosperity for your life. He is working hard to tear down every lie that keeps you from the Truth. Will you trust Him? Will you wait for Him? Will you seek Him? Will you keep talking to Him? Will you believe?

Genesis 9:12-16 (NKJV) And God said: “This is the sign of the covenant which I make between Me and you, and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth. It shall be, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the rainbow shall be seen in the cloud; and I will remember My covenant which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. The rainbow shall be in the cloud, and I will look on it to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.”

Our son arrived to the college campus compliments of Life Flight. Once there he underwent chemotherapy and radiation treatment for cancer. He spent six years on that campus getting his education and fighting cancer more than half the time. On my way to the hospital to begin treatment and on the same highway traveled home on yesterday – there were more rainbows than I could count. I cried the whole way. Not because of the journey begun but the promise in those rainbows. Rain comes with promise. The promise that God is with us. He has not forsaken us and will use every drop to prosper our life. It may be messy and inconvenient. It may spoil our plans or reroute our life. But in the end, I have found the Lord to always be faithful. Our son graduated college and beat cancer more than once maybe that was the sign in all those rainbows. When God decided to destroy the earth and all the inhabitants except Noah and his family – the man of God who found favor with Him could not stop the rain from coming. He could just be obedient in building the ark, getting on it when ordered, patiently waiting out the storm and exiting when it was time. Once there God promised a new covenant…a better covenant… and with every shower there will be a rainbow to remind us. God is with us. Jesus lives in us. It may not be going according to our plan, but it is according to His Plan. He is faithful.

If you are going through a storm that you have tried to pray away unsuccessfully, be encouraged today. God is with you. He is for you. The rain is watering the seed of faith planted in your heart and as your soul prospers so will your life. God is doing more than you can think or ask. You just have to believe and keep confident in God’s Word for your life. He has promised you a future and hope attained in wholeheartedly seeking Him. It will cost you convenience, comfort and control. But in the end, it will be more than you ever could have produced naturally as His Peace overtakes you and His Joy fills you from the inside out. Your cup will run over. The table set before your enemies. His Unfailing Love and Goodness will sweep you off your feet and carry you way into your Destiny.

Hosea 6:3 (NKJV) Let us know, let us pursue the knowledge of the Lord. His going forth is established as the morning; He will come to us like the rain, like the latter and former rain to the earth.

 

All in the Waiting

All in the Waiting

Ecclesiastes 7:8 (NKJV) The end of a thing is better than its beginning; the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.

The end of a thing is better than its beginning. The conclusion reveals a concept fully conceived and completed. The destination is the end of the journey. When our children were younger, trip planning and preparation was essential. The word “spontaneity” was not in the vocabulary when accompanied by almost a half dozen children. I would begin the process months before our trip. I would reserve condos or homes rather than hotel rooms. Plan activities that would be kid-friendly and parent approved. The day before would be endless checklists of everything one might need for the family and a printed map to the nearest Wal-Mart close to our accommodations. But when we finally arrived at the desired location, unloaded the car, and began our vacation – the end was definitely better than the beginning while enjoying our family and making memories. May I encourage you just a little today? The place that God has promised to take you – He is now preparing you for. The end will be better than the beginning if you choose to allow Him the time to prepare you for it and prepare it for you.

The patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit. Having five children is the product of multiple pregnancies. A tiny egg inside the body that becomes a living breathing person. It is nothing short of miraculous. Pregnancy is the process to the promise. Just ask Abraham, who for his entire lifetime desired a child. When it finally came to pass, he was in his nineties. I cannot even imagine such a thing. Once the process of pregnancy begins so does the waiting. It takes nine months or 40 weeks on average from start to finish. In my case, I tend to gestate for 42 weeks which means I had to wait two extra weeks to meet my children. Our last child was a scheduled induction. She was due to be born on Christmas, and due to my readiness to be done, the doctor picked a day to induce the labor process. After three completely natural childbirth experiences, I was not ready for what was in store. Tweaking the natural process of childbirth does not always work with our body or timing. My other children were delivered in about two hours. It took more than 12 hours to see her beautiful face. She had trouble along the way due to the fact she was not fully in position. God’s Timing is an essential part of His Plan and Process. You are pregnant with promises today that the Lord planned for you and is preparing for you. Waiting is an important part of that process to have the desired result of God’s Very Best. Just as interrupting my body’s birth plan made the delivery much harder than before, so it is when we do not endure God’s Process. If you want God’s Promises, there is always a process that goes with it. The promise has a time and place for its arrival. We must wait for it.

Proverbs 14:29 (NKJV) He who is slow to wrath has great understanding, but he who is impulsive exalts folly.

The literal translation of the word “impulsive” in this verse means “short of spirit.” Impulsivity is characteristic of human nature and can only be overcome by self-control. Our will can overcome many things by changing habits or applying knowledge to become wisdom in our life and essentially making better choices. However, to become the person God has called you to be and do what He has commissioned you to do requires the Spirit’s self-control that overpowers our flesh giving way to God’s Plan. To be impulsive is to be swayed by emotional or involuntary impulses. It is the opposite of steadfast and immovable qualities which are essential to growing our faith into hopeful confidence and the ability to trust the Lord even in His Timing. Impulse is the influence of our feelings, emotions or mental state so it is subject to change with our condition. We must learn to be patient in our faith. Patience is developed and matured by the art of waiting. We must learn to be patient and faithful in the waiting.

Hebrews 6:11-12 (NKJV)  And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

When a pregnancy ends too soon, there is an abortion, miscarriage, or prematurity. Abortion is when someone chooses to end the process. Miscarriage is failure to attain the just, right or desired result. Prematurity means occurring, coming or done before maturity or proper timing. Babies who are born prematurely are not fully developed and ready to sustain life on their own in many cases. A promise aborted, miscarried, or prematurely released will never reach its full potential because it is out of God’s Timing. God’s Promises are made beautiful in His Timing. We must wait for God to complete the good work that He begins in us rather than forcing a counterfeit or substitution by accepting less than God’s Very Best. We must show the “same diligence to full assurance of hope until the end.” We must endure to the end to be saved. Do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

Hebrews 6:15 (NKJV) And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise.

Abraham had to wait until he was over 90 years old to receive his promise. How long have you been waiting? Does it feel like a lifetime? Does every old season just give way to a new season of preparation rather than the prospering harvest of God’s Promise? Faith and patience inherit the promise. Nothing less and nothing more. Our willingness to wait on the Lord and trust Him until He delivers is essential in obtaining every spiritual blessing and fulfilling every high calling in our life planned by God and promised in Christ.

Psalm 37:3-7 (NKJV) Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass. He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday. Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him; do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass.

The prosperity of patient and faith is God’s Promises. Trust takes dedication to doing good, dwelling where God placed you, and dining on His Faithfulness. It is to delight in the Lord while He plans, prepares and promotes His Promises for you. To make the commit to see this thing out to the very end and trust Him UNTIL He brings it to pass. Trusting God’s Timing is one of the biggest challenges because walking by faith and not by sight is tough. His Timing usually leads us to the impossible so that by faith the impossible becomes our promise. He is bringing forth His Righteousness and Faithfulness so your life will resonate His Glory all around so others can experience His Goodness and Love. Rest in this season of waiting friend as I try to do the very same thing. Wait patiently for Him and do not compare your life to other Christians but accept your calling in Jesus Christ. He is preparing you for something more than you can think to ask for or even imagine. (Ephesians 3:20)

Zechariah 4:10 (NKJV) For who has despised the day of small things? For these seven rejoice to see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel. They are the eyes of the Lord, which scan to and fro throughout the whole earth.”

Do not despise small beginnings. Israel faithfully completed the second temple but to them it seemed small. They became discouraged. The temple was only a tiny step in God’s Great Big Plan. God is still building His Church, His Kingdom, and completing the Body of Christ. We must celebrate new beginnings, patiently wait through each process, and endure to the end to receive every promise ordained in our life. The bigger the promise the greater the preparation. Patience is born in the waiting rooms of life. It is the place where tiny seeds of faith sprout and blossom into trees of life with leaves that do not wither and bearing fruit in every season. Abraham carried the tiny, single seed that would become Isaac inside of him for almost a century. Faith is the size of a mustard seed but has the potential to become life everlasting. It takes time to grow. It is not an overnight sensation but a lifelong legend. God is doing something in you and through you far greater than human comprehension understands. You will need to invest your faith and time into waiting so His Spirit can produce the characteristics and qualities necessary to have all that He promised because honestly right now you couldn’t handle it. Do not resent small begins. Do not vacate waiting on the things of God. Give yourself wholeheartedly to do all that He is asking you to do. Jeremiah 29:11-13 expresses the connection between wholehearted obedience and God’s Plan. Read it. Trust becomes confidence when exercised properly. Faithfulness in the smallest things will produce more as God increases us in our ability to have faith, trust Him and wait while He works all things together for our good and His Glory. It is all in the waiting friend. I must choose to wait.

Philippians 1:6 (NKJV) Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ…

 

Free Indeed

Free Indeed

John 8:36 (NKJV) Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.

Happy Independence Day! The Fourth of July is a day of celebration. People gather to cook out, go to the beach, watch fireworks and enjoy the freedom men and women literally died to attain and maintain for us in America.

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America. (Preamble of the Constitution)

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. (Preamble of the Declaration of Independence)

A preamble is an introductory statement of a contract stating the purpose, aims and justifications of the document or contract it prefaces. It is a summary of purpose. Clearly it was the purpose and aim of our forefathers to establish “a more perfect union”. In doing so, they determined the presiding factors of such a place to be “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” To insure domestic tranquility, provide a secure place for families to prosper, to promote the welfare of all people, and secure the “blessings of liberty for ourselves” and “posterity” meaning future generations. They believed that these truths were self-evident. All men are created equal and they are “endowed” meaning provided these rights by Creator. This country was founded by people who believed in God. They served God. They established these historical documents including the Bill of Rights with the prosperity of God in mind whether anyone likes it or not. The freedom described in these articles also give people the right to choose not to acknowledge God without forsaking their freedom.

Enough of the history lesson for today – my son is a history buff but did not get if from his mother. Last night and into this morning, John 8:36 played over and over in my thoughts and dreams until I finally had to seek it out in a quiet place. The Lord promises us freedom. The Sacrifice of His Son Jesus Christ is all about freedom. Liberty to choose who to serve in our natural life. I know that when I see someone desecrate the American Flag anger rises inside of me. My first thought is not Christ-like at all, but rather if they don’t like it here then why don’t they choose a country more to their liking and belief system. But the soldier on the battlefield fighting for my rights as an American is fighting for freedom not legality. The person who decides to burn the flag is given that right by the very same servant giving up their time and risking their life for me. It is hard to wrap one’s mind around it. The same applies to the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ for me. Jesus Christ died for every person ever created by God. The freedom of choice gives each person the right to decide if Jesus will be their personal Savior and Lord. Just the same, they have the right to reject Him. Love demands a choice. If there is no choice, there is no love.

Romans 8:2 (NKJV) For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.

“Made free” comes from the word “eleuthero” which means to liberate, acquit, set free, and deliver. In the New Testament, it is used exclusively to describe freedom attained through Jesus Christ. Jesus has set us free from sin and death. But are we pursuing and exercising our rights of freedom according to His Word, Will, Nature and Holiness? Freedom in Christ is not a “get out of hell free” card to be used when meeting the Lord face-to-face. There are rights and responsibilities of freedom in the way we live each day. I was born in the United States. I have only known a lifestyle of freedom given by the laws and bylaws of this nation. It is not foreign to me. I was taught all about this country’s history and heritage from grade school to college. Freedom is comfortable to me because it is all that I have known. But to reborn in Jesus Christ introduces a new way of life. I am a new creation. I must learn what freedom in Jesus is all about because it is contradictory to my nature and the place I live now.

2 Corinthians 3:17-18 (NKJV) Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.

The word “liberty” used in this passage comes from a variation of the same word as “made free”. “Elutheria” means freedom from slavery, independence, absence of external restraint, a negation of control or domination, and freedom of access. The Lord is a Spirit. The Spirit who lives in you and me is none other than the Spirit of the Lord, Jesus Christ. We have access to all of His Power and Strength to attain every promise He has made. We have the freedom to pursue and attain all things given to us as an inheritance. Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty. I ask you today – are you exercising your liberty today? Do you feel free in Jesus Christ? There is a distinct difference between knowing something and believing it. It is called trust. Given access to God by the Blood of Jesus Christ, we can come boldly before His Throne and achieve all of His Plan and Purpose walking daily in freedom. The Glory of the Lord is evidence of transformation in our life. Is your life glorious today? If you are like me, just knowing Jesus has made my life radically different for the better. But in those times that I was able to apply my mustard seed of faith to trust Him, I have seen supernatural and miraculous results.

Today we celebrate liberty as American citizens, but what about our citizenship in Heaven? The founding fathers of this great country believed in a Creator who endowed His People with blessings and prosperity. Do you believe that today? Take some time, just a few minutes from all the festivities, and thank God for your freedom as His Child. I encourage you to ask the Lord to show you the way to greater freedom and liberty in His Son Jesus Christ. To step out of bondage. To claim your blessings. To walk in victory. To live the life that Jesus died for you to have. I have a taste of freedom in Christ, but today I want more. I want to know the glorious existence found in full transformation into the Image of God through Christ. I want to know what it means to be free indeed. Free from fear, worry, stress and anxiety. Delivered from every shackle and chain that tries to bind me to the past and keep me from my future. To live in the abundance and prosperity promised in the rich and satisfying life promised by the Lord to us.

Galatians 5:1 (NKJV) Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.

Stand fast therefore in the liberty…I wonder if that is the missing link to our spiritual success. The bridge that takes us to transformation marked by trust. It is easy to claim our natural rights according to the law of the land. Today, make a commitment to claim every spiritual blessing offered in Christ. It is our rights as Christians but we must be believers. Joseph Prince said, “You fight from victory ground by standing. You don’t fight for victory.” Jesus secured the win for us. We have been given freedom and liberty to walk in His Love. He promises to work all the details for our good and His Glory. We must stand. Standing is tough. We must make faith logical by studying God’s Word, communicating with Him and partnering with His Spirit for freedom’s sake. There is a whole new life full of new possibilities as a new creation only when we choose freedom!

Psalm 119:45 (NKJV) And I will walk at liberty, for I seek Your precepts.

Driven By Drought

Driven by Drought

Psalm 63:1-3 (NLT) O God, you are my God; I earnestly search for you. My soul thirsts for you; my whole body longs for you in this parched and weary land where there is no water. I have seen you in your sanctuary and gazed upon your power and glory. Your unfailing love is better than life itself; how I praise you!

Living in Florida, the summer months are marked with harsh humidity. Days when the air is heavy and wet yet there is not a cloud in the sky. Even in the morning before the sun rises, the heat blasts you when there should be only morning dew falling. Rain would be a relief from the atmospheric pressure of the region. A good summer storm would release the heaviness in the air. When the temperature rises, so does our need for water. I am terrible when it comes to drinking enough water to keep hydrated in the summer. It almost sounds ridiculous but I don’t like the taste of something that is tasteless. I must make conscious effort and commit to drinking a certain amount each day. You can feel the rain in the air. But the conditions are miserable until it comes.

O God, you are my God; I earnestly search for you. My soul thirsts for you; my whole body longs for you in this parched and weary land where there is no water.

Despite the humidity in the atmosphere, the high temperatures cause drought-like conditions. Lakes and marshes dry up. Mud becomes hard and cracked. Plants die. Wild fires break out. The earth needs water to maintain its balance. What about seasons of drought for our soul? Those times when we need God to drench us and saturate us again? Dead dreams fall to the wayside. Doubt overshadows faith. Where is the Lord? Has He forgotten us? Has He changed His Mind about His Promise? Why do I feel so dry and empty? Lord, I am thirsty today. This season seems overwhelming. The heat of refinement too high. Does anyone feel that way today? Are you dry and parched and weary like a “land where there is no water”?

I Kings 17:1-7 (NLT) Now Elijah, who was from Tishbe in Gilead, told King Ahab, “As surely as the Lord, the God of Israel, lives—the God I serve—there will be no dew or rain during the next few years until I give the word!” Then the Lord said to Elijah, “Go to the east and hide by Kerith Brook, near where it enters the Jordan River. Drink from the brook and eat what the ravens bring you, for I have commanded them to bring you food.” So Elijah did as the Lord told him and camped beside Kerith Brook, east of the Jordan. The ravens brought him bread and meat each morning and evening, and he drank from the brook. But after a while the brook dried up, for there was no rainfall anywhere in the land.

“There will be no dew or rain during the next few years until I give the word.” Not exactly the encouraging and uplifting word one might hope for from the man of God. Nevertheless, it was God’s Word for Ahab. God instructed Elijah to go to Kerith Brook and there He would provide water and sustenance for him. Elijah obeyed God. God, of course, was faithful. “But after a while the brook dried up, for there was no rainfall anywhere in the land.” Obedience does not exempt us from natural consequences and certain circumstances in life. There was a drought in the land. God was leading Elijah on his way. He provided for him in the drought, but then the water dried up and it was time to move on.

God ordains the seasons of our life. “For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1) For the next several verses, the Lord gives through the author several scenarios of the ordered seasons of life. I think it is important to remember that God works through seedtime and harvest. (Genesis 8:22) The seeds sown in each season produce the harvest that is coming. Obedience is the prime indicator of sowing and reaping. It is logical. Miracles are supernatural and extraordinary. Sowing and reaping are naturally occurring processes. What a man sows, he will reap. You will always harvest what you plant. (Galatians 6:7) So in the dry seasons of life, it is important to carefully consider what is planted. Seasons of drought do not last forever. God provides seed to every sower even in drought. Elijah obeyed God. His obedience provided for him. What would you do if the Lord told you to go in the backyard because the ravens are bringing you groceries? Would you go? There was no inner struggle for Elijah. God said, “Go.” He went.

But after a while the brook dried up, for there was no rainfall anywhere in the land.

Now what? Has your “brook dried up”? Are you living in a dry season of drought? Is your provision limited? Could it be that the Lord is causing inconvenience and discomfort because He is trying to move you? It is those dry seasons that our search for the Lord intensifies. The times when our life is not the abundant place that God promised so we inquire a little more. Pray. Seek. Pursue. Our thirst makes it essential to our existence to move beyond this place to be satisfied.

I Kings 17:13-14 (NLT) But Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid! Go ahead and do just what you’ve said, but make a little bread for me first. Then use what’s left to prepare a meal for yourself and your son. For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: There will always be flour and olive oil left in your containers until the time when the Lord sends rain and the crops grow again!”

The Lord told the prophet to go to Zarephath. He had already instructed a widow to provide for him there. Elijah found the woman as she was gathering sticks for a fire to prepare her last meal. She and her son would surely die due to the drought. The woman was hopeless. This is when Elijah instructed her according to the Word of the Lord in I Kings 17:13-14. It is important that during seasons of drought to continue to serve the Lord. Don’t stop following His Word because it will be your salvation. The woman did just as Elijah instructed “and she and Elijah and her family continued to eat for many days. There was always enough flour and olive oil left in the containers, just as the Lord had promised through Elijah.”

Proverbs 16:15 (NLT) When the king smiles, there is life; his favor refreshes like a spring rain.

While Elijah needed natural provision, the widow needed spiritual provision. A seed planted within her for days to come. Through a simple act of obedience in the harshest of conditions and most dire circumstances, she saw the Hand of God open before her. For a “bite of bread”, the Lord provided abundantly so that “there was always enough flour and olive oil left in the containers.” Has the Lord asked something of you today? Are you hesitant to give it due to natural conditions? What is keeping you from obeying God and experiencing the abundance of His Favor? When God smiles there is life. His Favor refreshes like spring rain in the midst of the driest drought.

I Kings 17:17-18 (NLT)  Some time later the woman’s son became sick. He grew worse and worse, and finally he died. Then she said to Elijah, “O man of God, what have you done to me? Have you come here to point out my sins and kill my son?”

The most dangerous condition in drought to overcome is doubt. When a body goes without water for an extended period of time, it will begin to shutdown physically and mentally. Hallucinations are not uncommon. When our soul thirsts, our mind begins to play tricks on us as the accuser moves in to sow seeds of doubt, discouragement, and disbelief. When her son died, it didn’t matter God provided for her naturally – the widow was devastated. She blamed God for her loss. Life was standing right before her but she was consumed by death. God didn’t send Elijah to her just to perform a modern day miracle. He sent His Man to her to bring life.

Sometimes the seasons of life take our eyes off the promise of resurrection life, new life and new creations. God knows exactly what it will take to produce abundance in our life and orders our steps right to that place. Every drought will produce thirst. Thirst is a primary driving force in life. Without hydration the body dies, with infiltration by the Holy Spirit – our soul dies. Elijah took her son from her arms and carried him into the Presence of God. God restored the boy’s life. His mother said, Now I know for sure that you are a man of God, and that the Lord truly speaks through you.”

Where is drought driving you today? Do you feel dry? Empty. Are you thirsty? Dissatisfied. Do you need new life, new hope and new faith? The rain is coming. This season has a promise that is buried deep in the Presence of God and will grow when it is ready. In the meantime, God has made this promise to us.

2 Chronicles 7:13-15 (NLT) At times I might shut up the heavens so that no rain falls, or command grasshoppers to devour your crops, or send plagues among you. Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land. My eyes will be open and my ears attentive to every prayer made in this place.

God knows the desires of your heart. Do not be misled into thinking that He is no longer interested. God desires one thing – you. All of you. Every part of your being so that He can prosper you from the soul into every facet of your natural life. When the dry seasons come, it is an invitation to come in closer. If my people will humble themselves and pray and seek my face…I will hear from Heaven and will forgive them their sins and restore their land. I purposely omitted the part about turning from their wicked ways. Yes, to turn from sin is imperative in achieving a closer walk with God. But if we humble ourselves, pray and truly are intent on seeking His Face – our love for Him will overshadow a desire for anything else. I don’t need to change my bad habits or sinful tendencies myself. I have the Holy Spirit to help me in my weakness and to command my flesh. If I humble myself to His Holy Inhabitation it is the consummation of my union with Christ and my love for Him will begin to change who I am as the Holy Spirit produces His Fruit in me. God has given us grace and forgiven our sins. There is nothing you or I can do to be separated from the Love of God. His Unfailing Love and Goodness are constantly pursuing us and this season of drought may be with the intent and purpose of driving us into the new thing that He promised. God works all things together for our good. (Romans 8:28)

Psalm 65:9-10 (NLT) You take care of the earth and water it, making it rich and fertile. The river of God has plenty of water; it provides a bountiful harvest of grain, for you have ordered it so. You drench the plowed ground with rain, melting the clods and leveling the ridges. You soften the earth with showers and bless its abundant crops.

Drought prepares our heart for rain. God has plenty of water. He is ready to replenish, restore and renew your life today. The rain is coming. Can you feel it in the air? We must be ready. When God pours out His Spirit like rain upon us, its purpose is to reach the seeds hidden in our heart. This is why it is so important that we are constantly sowing the right seed in our life. The Word of God is called seed. When we continually sow God’s Word in our heart, it will produce exactly what it promises when the rain comes. The farmer who waits for perfect weather never plants, the one who watches the clouds never sees the harvest. (Ecclesiastes 11:4) Do not let the conditions of life interrupt your continual planting of God’s Word in your heart. Natural conditions do not influence supernatural outcomes. Extraordinary is hidden in the ordinary lives of real people. It is the purpose and potential that God has placed in you. It is made perfect in His Timing. (Ecclesiastes 3:11) Broken and humble hearts are the plowed ground that will become fertile soil.

Psalm 1:1-3 (NLT) Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.

My dear dry and thirsty friend, the rain is coming. It is already ordained when it will fall. Elijah told Ahab that no rain would fall for three years. It was exactly as he prophesied. We walk by faith and not by sight so many times there is no telling when God will send that which is needed to water our soul and prosper our life. For those who delight in the Lord and His Word, there is provision in the drought that waters our soul, keeps faith alive, and hope intact. We have the promise to be like trees planted along the riverbank bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they will prosper in all they do. What if the drought is meant to drive us to that place? The place called the Presence of God. A place of trust so deep and abiding it becomes the living water running like a river through us. A place of faith that is not influenced by natural conditions but confident in hope. I want to know that place. I want to live there even if it takes a drought to drive me from comfort, convenience and complacency to find it. Lord, thank you for the dry seasons in life that make me ready for the rain.

Psalm 143:6 (NLT) I lift my hands to you in prayer. I thirst for you as parched land thirsts for rain.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

Coasting Through Life

Coasting Through Life

Psalm 107:29-31 (ESV) He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed. Then they were glad that the waters were quiet, and he brought them to their desired haven. Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man!

As a child, I had a bike with big handlebars and a banana seat. I would love to trudge up the hill in our neighborhood and coast down letting the momentum of the downward slope carry me quickly to the bottom. It was the same hill where my dad taught me to ride my bike just after removing the training wheels. He encouraged me as he began undoing the little nuts holding them in place. He tried to build my confidence as I fearfully climbed on the seat. He promised to hold tight to the back as I started my decent. But then he did the unthinkable, as I gained my balance he let go. I did great…for a while before crashing into a tree at the bottom. He came and scooped me up. I was mad, hurt and scared. My father loved me and then put me right back on the bike again so that fear would not keep me from the freedom of doing the very thing that I desired which was to ride my bike.

Some who read this might think my dad cruel to just let me go like that. We live in a society where kids don’t try anymore because they are given what they want in such a situation. They go unchallenged by parents but are pacified for peace. My father was not mean or abusive. He always encouraged us to try. He taught us to go after the things we wanted in life and that failure was not the end but the opportunity to do it again until success was found. Yes, I fell down that day but the crazy thing is that I got back up and continued to climb the hill and ride down it over and over again. I cannot help but believe that in some strange way there was a life lesson learned that day much greater than just riding a bike on two wheels.

There is a saying that “all who wander are not lost.” Life is our lesson book. The Word of God holds every solution to every problem but let’s be real – it is not the first authority in our life. It should be, but for many it is not. Christians desire the things of God but do not go after God to find them. When presented with challenges, circumstances, conditions, and change – it is human nature to give up. If I had attempted to ride my bike on two wheels alone, would I have been successful that day? Or was it the love of my father and his ability to see the lesson far greater than the task at hand, to build character in his children to try. To equip us to not give up when times are tough but dig in. My dad taught us not be concerned about the climb but to make it to the top and coast down it. I believe that someone needs to know today that the challenge you are facing has meaning and purpose. It is not the Father’s Will to destroy you but to wrap you in His Steadfast Love. Everything He does is with His Plan in mind. The future and hope that He has prepared for us never leads to disaster of defeat but overwhelming victory in Jesus Christ. To continue on this journey even in the wandering is to know that you are never lost but constantly pursued by His Unfailing Love and Goodness that is ready to overtake you! The Father is for you today.

Psalm 107:4-9 (ESV) Some wandered in desert wastes, finding no way to a city to dwell in; hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted within them. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He led them by a straight way till they reached a city to dwell in. Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.

It might be human nature to do good and parental compassion leading us to pull Joseph from the pit and the prodigal from the pig pens of life. I know that I never want to see my children fail or fall down but there are times and seasons when I must remember that God loves them more than I do and has meaning in the struggles they go through. My love and compassion does not change but I yield to the Power of God at work in them. To trust the Lord with their future and hope as I work to define my own. Journeying through Psalm 107, there are some examples of different situations where people went through something to find the Presence of God in their life. Opportunities to let go of our expectation in order to survive and find that God has something bigger and better. There is purpose in the climb, blessing in each valley and your sowing is never in vain. “Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble.” Oh how many of us can relate?

Our ability to endure the trials of life and continue through to the other side requires confidence in the Steadfast Love of God our Father. He promises to satisfy the longing soul and to fill the hunger of our soul with good things. The word steadfast means fixed in a direction, firm in purpose or in faith, and unwavering. God’s Love for you is constant. It cannot be changed or undone by a single sin or mistake. It is forever. Do you believe that today? Or did natural paternal relationships jade your thinking and compromise your trust? Sometimes it is our nature to view the Lord through human eyes rather than a broken heart. Withholding the pieces marred by betrayal, broken promises, and shattered trust, we do not give the Lord what it takes for Him to make our life the masterpiece He declared it would be. (Ephesians 2:10) I am a work in progress but if I do not allow God to move me, mold me or shape me – I will remain unchanged. It takes faith and confidence in the fixed, firm and foundational love that is the solidity of our life and permanence of our position as Children of God.

Psalm 107:10-16 (ESV) Some sat in darkness and in the shadow of death, prisoners in affliction and in irons, for they had rebelled against the words of God, and spurned the counsel of the Most High. So he bowed their hearts down with hard labor; they fell down, with none to help. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and burst their bonds apart. Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! For he shatters the doors of bronze and cuts in two the bars of iron.

There are times when the actions in our life produce unfavorable consequences. God does not promise to end the consequences of our actions and eliminate the challenges that arise from our rebellion. It would contradictory in that it would end the sowing and reaping ordained in the days of Noah. There is cause and effect in life. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. In Romans 8:28 there is a precious promise for such times. “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” To interpret this verse to mean that God will spare us from every consequence is foolishness. Where is the power to overcome if there is not difficulty? How does one experience victory without the possibility of defeat? Where is the glory in such a life of entitlement? God uses our struggles to produce faith in His Love and His Power that leads us from victory to victory and glory to glory through the challenges of life not around them.

True freedom in Jesus Christ is experienced by accepting our position as Sons and Daughters of God and living in His Favor. To pour out blessings and prosperity on a rebellious heart would only give way to farther wandering and worse mistakes enabled by God’s Provision. God loves us too much for that. He doesn’t withhold any good thing from us but will certainly not contribute to our fall. By faith, we are given access to God’s Presence and Promises through Jesus Christ. To enter into this place of undeserved privilege allows us to experience freedom from the driving force of self that keeps us hungry and thirsty imprisoned by our emotional bondage and lack of trust.

I John 3:19-21 (ESV) By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God…

The New Living Translation says “God is greater than our feelings.” When my dad let go of the bike so I could coast down the hill, he knew that I might fall. He also knew that I might just make it and successfully meet my goal, too. His feelings may have told him to hold on, but his faith in me told him to let me go. He was ready to meet me at the bottom. Pick me up and love on me when I fell down. Wiping away my tears and brushing off the dirt. Did I mention that the slope was covered in packed sand rather than asphalt? On the other side of the houses, there was a paved road which would have made the ride faster and smoother but if I feel I would have really gotten hurt. It probably would have made the ascent easier and the ride much smoother but if I fell down, which was inevitable as starting and stopping are two different lessons, I probably would have stayed down for good. God makes a way for us. He knows every pathway of our life even the hard or difficult ones. His Love always makes a way. God is not leading us to defeat but victory.

Psalm 107:33-37 (ESV) He turns rivers into a desert, springs of water into thirsty ground, a fruitful land into a salty waste, because of the evil of its inhabitants. He turns a desert into pools of water, a parched land into springs of water. And there he lets the hungry dwell, and they establish a city to live in; they sow fields and plant vineyards and get a fruitful yield.

If only we could see with human eyes what the Father is doing on the other side of our test, trial or tragedy? If we could just understand a portion of His Purpose or an ounce of His Passion for His Children? God has the power to change your situation instantly. He can do anything and everything except go back on His Word. When He released His Word as purpose for you and penned the days of your life including a future and hope with the promise to become a masterpiece, He cannot change His Mind no matter how loudly you cry. He must endure the process just like you do. His Steadfast Love is set on seeing you successfully satisfied now and forever. He will not relent or back down. We walk by faith and not by sight. The faith that we walk in is the Steadfast, Fixed, Firm, Unwavering, and Unchanging Love of God our Father. We can label the journey anything we want but the destination remains the same.

Coasting is to continue to move or advance after effort has ceased. It is different from drifting which is to be carried along. Drifting is driven by emotions, feelings, and circumstances. Coasting is confidence in that which is moving and advancing you to finish the course. You stop “peddling” and let the momentum carry you. When our life seems out of control, fear overtakes us, bondage threatens captivity, people let us down, and chaos is overwhelming us – it is important to remember that as Children of the Living God – we are not drifting but coasting in His Love. God was with us in the beginning, by us through it all and is waiting at the end.

Psalm 107:30 (NLT) What a blessing was that stillness as he brought them safely into harbor!

Let go and let God! It doesn’t mean to just give up, throw the towel in, or quit. It is an act of surrender and submission to the Power of His Love being greater than our feelings and emotions. It doesn’t mean that there will not be storms, deserts, darkness, affliction, pain or the occasional fall but it means that the Father’s Love is always there for us. He is always perfecting that which concerns us. Even in our wandering, things are going as planned. Coasting is really the desired response. When I don’t let the conditions or circumstances of this life pull me from the Truth that God loves me, He is for me, and He will never let me down.

Psalm 107:1-3 (ESV) Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he has redeemed from trouble and gathered in from the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south.

”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” (Hebrews 6:17-19)…indeed the anchor for our soul is hope. An anchor does not keep a ship from the storm put it keeps it in place through it. We will go through things in life. There will be many choices and opportunities. It is up to me if I will choose to believe that God loves me. He is good. He is for me enough to grab hold of that anchor and endure to the end. His Blessing is the stillness, peace and confidence that no matter what happens – His Love for me is steadfast and unchanging. I can coast through life knowing that His Love will carry me home.

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.

He Will

He Will

Hebrews 11:5-7(NLT) It was by faith that Enoch was taken up to heaven without dying—“he disappeared, because God took him.” For before he was taken up, he was known as a person who pleased God. And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.  It was by faith that Noah built a large boat to save his family from the flood. He obeyed God, who warned him about things that had never happened before. By his faith Noah condemned the rest of the world, and he received the righteousness that comes by faith.

“It was by faith that Enoch was taken up to heaven without dying—“he disappeared, because God took him.” For before he was taken up, he was known as a person who pleased God.”

Enoch had the kind of relationship with the Lord that most of us desire. However, to follow in the footsteps of this man right in to the New Testament would mean He must increase and I must decrease. (John 3:30) It is a faithful proposition to find fulfillment in God through Jesus Christ. Enough was taken up to heaven without dying because he had already died to self on the earth. Walking in the giant footsteps of God, side-by-side with the Almighty and sharing in the rhythmic timing and beat of God’s Heart. It was a seamless transition from this life to eternal life. Or could it be that Enoch’s walk with the Lord projected a light so brightly that people saw the Lord and not the man anymore. I am fascinated by the idea. Some days it is my greatest desire, but in building anything including a new life as the new creation that Christ died for us to be there is always a price. The price of my life for God’s Best is self. Every selfish thing in my life must be submitted and surrendered to the Cross Examination of Jesus Christ for Kingdom relevancy. This life is temporary but constantly on blast demanding my time and talent. Some may choose to give portions of their life as an offering to God while maintaining a strong presence in the natural existence. Others may decide that walking with the Lord is worth a fully obedient tithe of 10% with the occasional love offering of just a little bit more. This life producing the blessings of sowing and reaping – seedtime and harvest just as God promised in the days of Noah. For those who are after the Kingdom, it requires much more. It requires all of my life for all of His Plan. All of it.

This life is not for everyone. There were only twelve disciples and yet still one still became a traitor. There is only one Enoch. One man who would walk enshrouded in the Presence of God and become elusive to the naked eye. Enoch was known as a person who pleased God. How do people know me? What pleases God? We do not decide what pleases the Lord. It is what we are willing to give to the cause. The only thing that truly pleases Him and rightfully so would be faith.

Acts 17:24-25 (NLT) “He is the God who made the world and everything in it. Since he is Lord of heaven and earth, he doesn’t live in man-made temples, and human hands can’t serve his needs—for he has no needs. He himself gives life and breath to everything, and he satisfies every need.”

We serve an all-sufficient God. He doesn’t need us, but rather desires us. He loves us. He provides for us. The Lord doesn’t lie or change His Mind so there is nothing I can do to change the plan set forth for my life. It is impossible for God’s Word to fail. (Luke 1:37) He made this world and owns everything in it. He is the Supreme Authority over heaven and earth. Nothing here surprises Him or causes God to flinch. “He doesn’t live in man-made temples.” Christ lives in me and you. Human hands cannot serve His Needs. Let me put that on repeat. There is nothing that I can do to earn God’s Love and Acceptance because His Grace is enough for me. It is the total summation and sufficiency of my salvation. (2 Corinthians 12:9) God has given me life and it is in Jesus Christ who I live, breathe and exist. Finally, it is all wrapped up in His Promise to satisfy our every need. I can do nothing to please God other than to have faith, trust and believe all of this is true.

Luke 18:24-30 (NLT) When Jesus saw this, he said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God! In fact, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!” Those who heard this said, “Then who in the world can be saved?” He replied, “What is impossible for people is possible with God.” Peter said, “We’ve left our homes to follow you.” “Yes,” Jesus replied, “and I assure you that everyone who has given up house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the Kingdom of God, will be repaid many times over in this life, and will have eternal life in the world to come.”

A religious leader came to Jesus. He had one question. “Good Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?” After a long discourse, Jesus told him the man, “There is still one thing you haven’t done. Sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” The man considered the price too high and became very sad for he was very rich. Jesus shared this story with his disciples to which Peter threw in his two cents. “We’ve left our homes to follow you.” As if Jesus didn’t know the lives these men had given up, his outspoken disciple chose to point it out. In Matthew 19, a different account of the same event quotes Peter as saying, “We’ve given up everything to follow you. What will we get?” Don’t’ judge him too harshly. One must consider their own good intentions in following Jesus Christ taking offense at Peter’s words. Isn’t that really the reason for coming to Christ in the first place – a desire for a better life? We live in a living color world but serve a black and white with occasional red lettering God. The Word of God must become alive to us. His Spirit must be recognized in order for faith to be acquired. Faith is not easily harvested in our life. But…

“It is impossible to please God without faith.”

The word “impossible” means not possible. The very thing which is unable to be, exist or happen. Incapable of being true. Not to be done or endured. Utterly impractical. Hopelessly unsuitable, difficult or objectionable. It is impossible to please God without faith. Faith is confidence, belief and trust. The Latin root explains further – trust, faith, confidence, reliance, credence, and pledge. Faith demonstrates allegiance. The Bible tells us that “faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.” Just as it is impossible to please God without faith – it is equally not possible to have faith outside of impossibilities.

I have personally witnessed the miraculous in my life. Each time it came prefaced by the word “impossible”. The moment that a desired outcome became absolutely and utterly impractical in the natural – God did it. There is no other explanation. The steps of arrival to the procurement of faith are difficult. It requires all of you. All of your trust, confidence, reliance, credence, and a pledge to not let go of hope at any cost. The substance of our faith is our willingness to stay true to the Lord even when our life becomes impossible. Even if our circumstances seem intolerable, still hanging on to God’s Word – waiting and watching. It seems that He will never do it, never come and even makes us feel foolish while the world mocks our dedication to an invisible and seemingly absent God. God is faithful. I just need to have a mustard seed of faith.

There is a promise hidden in Luke 18:30 that perhaps you missed. ” Jesus said, “I assure you that everyone who has given up house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the Kingdom of God, will be repaid many times over in this life, and will have eternal life in the world to come.” When Jesus finally made it to the home of Lazarus, he was dead. Talking to Martha, it was evident that she believed in Heaven, but she didn’t recognize her Lord’s power here on earth. Jesus intended to raise Jesus from the dead right then and there. He is the Resurrection and Life. (John 11:25) Christ now lives in me. (Galatians 2:20) Faith releases His Power in my life the moment it is planted. I have confidence in my employer to pay the wages that I earn. I trust the roof over my head will be standing after a storm. I believe my car will get me around today. I rely on many objects and some people in my life every day for fulfillment. However, if I want God’s Word, His Will and His Way completely including the rich and satisfying life that is promised to us in this the life or the land of the living (Psalm 27:13) I must put my faith into action.

“It was by faith that Noah built a large boat to save his family from the flood. He obeyed God, who warned him about things that had never happened before. By his faith Noah condemned the rest of the world, and he received the righteousness that comes by faith.”

When Noah built the ark it had never rained a single drop on the earth. Yet God told him to build an ark with specific dimensions. Noah did just that day after day – he continued to do what the Lord told him despite not knowing the full plan. Hammering away at doubt and fear, he built the ark. It would be the vessel that not saved his entire family. It would be the vehicle that continued the perpetuation of the human and animal population. Faith requires the impossible. I don’t know what you are facing today? I only know my own heart and its troubles. God has been faithful in every test and trial. He has never ever contradicted His Word or gone back on a single promise that He has made me yet I still struggle daily to completely trust and believe. What about you? Are you faced with the impossible today? Is the Lord telling you to do something crazy and out of character? Is He calling you deeper but you don’t know how to swim? Jesus invites us to trust Him. Our heart must respond. It is impossible to please God without faith because truly there is nothing of worth that I have to offer Him BUT to love and trust Him.

“Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.”

I have a picture hanging in my home that says, “Faith is not believing that God can but knowing that He will.” Think about that for a minute. Faith is not believing God can. Why would that motivate a God who already did? His Plan for your life is prepared before creation. Therefore, with our first breath, it is set into motion. Faith does not give Him Power. It allows His Presence to fill our life. It is to believe that despite my sinful, selfish, and self-centered disposition that His Unfailing Love and Goodness pursues me every day. Faith is our acceptance of God’s Love and gives Him presence in our life. Faith wants the life that God has promised and is willing to give up time and space in this life to have it. Do you believe that God exists? Most people reading this will say, “Yes.” Do you believe that He rewards those who sincerely seek Him? This depends on faith. How long have you been waiting? Wait just a little more. How much have you been praying? Just five more minutes might give you the confidence to watch one more day? How precious is the promise? I want all that God has for me and my family. I want His Fulfillment to bring full satisfaction in all things, but through these times of testing one thing has become evident in my life. At some point, I stopped breathing. The thought of waking up a single day, walking another step or breathing my next breath without the Lord is incomprehensible. All the broken pieces of my heart cannot maintain a single beat except His Hands that hold it together every single day. His Word is my protector, defender, and confidence. Faith grows when things are impossible and yet for just one more day we choose to hope fast to His Promise that His Love never fails.

Zechariah 8:6 (NLT) “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: All this may seem impossible to you now, a small remnant of God’s people. But is it impossible for me? says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.

Zechariah 8:12 (NLT) For I am planting seeds of peace and prosperity among you. The grapevines will be heavy with fruit. The earth will produce its crops, and the heavens will release the dew. Once more I will cause the remnant in Judah and Israel to inherit these blessings.

The prophet Zechariah prophesied to the people of Judah who were returning from 70 years of exile in Babylon. I am quite sure rebuilding their life and taking back the land of seemed overwhelming. The Lord points out them that He is God of the impossible. He asks the question of them, “But is it impossible for me?” I wonder how many of us are being asked the same today. It is an invitation to take that measure of faith the size of the tiny mustard seed and plant it. In verse 12, the Lord delivers the promise. What a wonderful promise it is! “For I am planting seeds of peace and prosperity among you.” Sowing seeds of faith produces harvests of God’s Faithfulness. We may plant, others may water, but God always gives increase to even the tiniest seed of faith, trust, confidence, dependence and passion for Him. He always delivers no matter how reluctant I may be – God is never reluctant to bless me. It has been His Plan all along.

Does today seem impossible, this week, this year? Could it be that the impossibility is evidence that God is working all things together for our good? Could it all be a divine set up so that I will trust Him more and receive all that He has for me? Is it an opportunity to move from glory to glory? I believe that for those willing to walk through the impossible to reach the Lord will find Him and every blessing and promise even those thought dead and gone. I am a careful person. A planner who is uncomfortable with spontaneity. I am by no means an adrenaline junkie. However, I have personally seen God do the impossible. Not just once, but consistently. The transition is not easy. You are birthing the supernatural. Endurance is tough. There are even times when you feel foolish because no one sees the potential of our faith but yet you still believe. God is faithful. The great news is that the impossible is possible for the Lord. Most of us believe God can do anything, but we must invest our faith in believing that He will!

Mark 9:23-24 (NLT) “What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.” The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!”

 

Life Unveiled

Life Unveiled

Matthew 27:50-52 (NLT) Then Jesus shouted out again, and he released his spirit. At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, rocks split apart, and tombs opened. The bodies of many godly men and women who had died were raised from the dead.

It was a game-changing, plot-twisting, and script-flipping moment in the history of humanity. Some would later come to realize the true potential of the moment Jesus released His Spirit that day on the Cross while many would go back to life as usual. On the Day of Pentecost, the same Spirit that reached out and tore the veil in the Temple from top to bottom would come and have His Way in us. Do those words make you a bit uncomfortable? Does intimacy sound like a forbidden word in your Christian conversation? The Holy Inhabitation of Jesus Christ in us and the consummation of His Covenant with us is conceived in just one place – beyond the veil in His Presence. I believe I just might write a book one day to try to express the impact of God’s Presence, His Perfect Peace that defies logic and understanding and His Inexpressible Joy that finds has made His Way to me in the most difficult times. I cannot help tell you again, if but for a moment I could take apart my broken heart and show you the Light that lives there. You would never be the same. You would be changed. You would know in an instant that anything good in my life is the Jesus Christ inside of me. One experience. One encounter and your life can never be the same. For generations, many would desire God but fear of sin and death would keep them just outside the curtain. The High Priest would come and go on their behalf. Where is the hope in a covenant that does not offer life? Where is the potential of a relationship with a man in the middle? It is hard enough to stay married in a partnership of two. Could you imagine if you had to go through a third party to settle disagreements or to apologize? It is difficulty to create intimacy in a crowd. Jesus wanted more. He wanted us. He provided a way for us to step into His Presence and live in a place of constant unity with Him. In return, Jesus came to live in us.

I am a logical person. Things must make sense for me to believe they are true. Until the details add up and the bottom line is balanced, the jury remains out. I am not a person who lives in blind trust. Serving a God who I cannot see, being filled with a Spirit who I cannot touch and to live as part of a Kingdom that I cannot yet enter used to be challenging. Truly, reading God’s Word was a bust for me – I would fall fast asleep. The Holy Spirit was a silent partner locked away in a box. I knew He was in me but had no idea what to do with Him other than respond to the gentle nudges offered from time to time. Prayer. Not the conversation that I expected, but then again the Lord couldn’t get a word in edgewise in the midst of my endless banter. I read a book called “Beyond the Veil” which introduced me to this place called Presence, but I will be darned if I could find my way in despite the “OPEN” sign hanging on the door. Intrigued by the thought and determined in my heart to find this place, I decided to do whatever it took to find my way there.

Exodus 26:31-34 (NLT) “For the inside of the Tabernacle, make a special curtain of finely woven linen. Decorate it with blue, purple, and scarlet thread and with skillfully embroidered cherubim. Hang this curtain on gold hooks attached to four posts of acacia wood. Overlay the posts with gold, and set them in four silver bases. Hang the inner curtain from clasps, and put the Ark of the Covenant in the room behind it. This curtain will separate the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place. Then put the Ark’s cover—the place of atonement—on top of the Ark of the Covenant inside the Most Holy Place.

2 Chronicles 3:14 (NLT) Across the entrance of the Most Holy Place he hung a curtain made of fine linen, decorated with blue, purple, and scarlet thread and embroidered with figures of cherubim.

In both the Tabernacle and the Temple, the curtain was hung across the Most Holy Place. This was where the Ark of the Covenant that held the Presence of God – God-In-A-Box. Why was God in the box? The repayment of our sin had not been made. God’s Goodness and Glory would consume any human with sin if released to dwell among the people. Only those who truly lived holy and righteous lives could enter – Moses and the men who were consecrated to be high priests and serve the Lord there. Anyone else would die according to the sin within them. Yikes. The high priests mediated God’s Relationship with humanity going back and forth between them.

When Jesus died on the Cross, the veil was torn from top to bottom. God accepted His Payment for our sin and grace was fully dispensed. His Spirit was not free to come and go spreading life wherever He flowed. Life. Continuously death-overpowering and defeat-overwhelming life. Glorious life. Abundant life. Life everlasting. Life of increase. Life-giving harvest. Life. I think you get the point. Death was defeated. The grave overcome. Life was released and the covenant between God and His People complete. No need for a middle man our Mediator now Jesus Christ.

Exodus 34:34-35 (NLT) But whenever he went into the Tent of Meeting to speak with the Lord, he would remove the veil until he came out again. Then he would give the people whatever instructions the Lord had given him, and the people of Israel would see the radiant glow of his face. So he would put the veil over his face until he returned to speak with the Lord.

I love this part, I really do! When Moses would go into the Tent of Meeting to speak with the Lord…stop right here for just a second. Moses didn’t go into the Tent of Meeting to “pray” like some people do. You know…you go on and on to God about your problems, troubles, needs, wants, and desires. No, Moses had a relationship with God. When he entered the Presence of God it was with the intent to “speak with the Lord.” I wonder if this is the limitation on our prayer life. We do all the talking with no intent to hear the Voice of God. Let me just leave that right there and keep going.

When Moses left the Tent of Meeting after conversing with the Lord in His Presence, the radiance of God’s Glory on his countenance was visible. You could literally see him glowing. This completely freaked people out for lack of better words. They didn’t understand it. Could not conceive it. Feared God. Feared the man of God. So, Moses put a veil over his face until he entered God’s Presence again. Do we do the same thing? I mean really. Do you live from God experience to experience? Did you know that thanks to Jesus Christ that you can live IN THE PRESENCE every single day?

2 Corinthians 3:7-11 (NLT) The old way, with laws etched in stone, led to death, though it began with such glory that the people of Israel could not bear to look at Moses’ face. For his face shone with the glory of God, even though the brightness was already fading away. 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!

Spoiler Alert! I am about to flood you with 2 Corinthians 3. Why is our life not radiating God’s Glory? If our life as believers shined in a tangible way as Moses face did just from basking in the Presence of God – our words might mean more. Infused with life our message begins to make a difference. Confidence in our covenant with God begins by our willingness and desire to seek His Presence. I pass by businesses all the time with “OPEN” signs and even “WELCOME” signs but I do not go inside. Churches open their doors with free admission and come-as-you-are invitations yet many seats remain empty and altars unused. Why? Where is the radiance of God? If this new way given to us in Jesus Christ is that much better, why isn’t our life any better? If He offers new life, new creations, new anything at all then why are we living the same old way?

2 Corinthians 3:12-15 (NLT) Since this new way gives us such confidence, we can be very bold. We are not like Moses, who put a veil over his face so the people of Israel would not see the glory, even though it was destined to fade away. But the people’s minds were hardened, and to this day whenever the old covenant is being read, the same veil covers their minds so they cannot understand the truth. And this veil can be removed only by believing in Christ. Yes, even today when they read Moses’ writings, their hearts are covered with that veil, and they do not understand.

The new way gives us such confidence that we can be very bold. Does it? Are you confident today? Confident in what? Confident in God’s Love, His Goodness, and His Faithfulness. See becoming truly confident in this hope that is given to us will make faith rise up out of us as a tangible substance in our life. This confidence never leads to disappointment as it is the hope that anchors our soul. These are just words on a page to some but that can all change with an encounter with the Lord today. Not in a church full of people, sobbing and wailing at an altar but simply grabbing a cup of coffee, opening God’s Word, and sitting in His Presence. Yes, turn off all the noise, put away the cellphone, and lock the door. This is His Time. It is an intimate experience for those who decide the Lord is worth having. To strip off the veil requires confidence. It will require trust. Giving our heart, mind, body, soul, time, talent and treasure to Jesus Christ is an offering not a requirement. The decision to do so produces a relationship that has nothing to do with religion or ritual. It is personal. It is private. It is perfection.

2 Corinthians 3:16-18 (NLT) But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 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.

The Spirit of the Lord gives us freedom. As believers, we choose the depth of our intimacy with the Lord. It is not a requirement to live in His Presence or shine with His Glory. He gives us the opportunity. I write insurance policies for a living. I do not sell them but help develop the contracts. The insurance business is regulated by the state government. If an insurer wants to change anything in the contract, it must be reviewed and approved by the Department of Insurance. After beginning this new adventure, I realized there was more to my homeowners insurance than I realized so I pulled out the contract and read all the provisions again. What if we are missing important benefits of our new covenant? What if there are blessings and promises that belong to me that I am not taking full advantage of? I have the Word of God but it doesn’t always make sense or seem real. I have the Holy Spirit, too. However, what might happen if I pursued Presence?

What if I stepped through the veil now torn in two and decided to spend quality time with Jesus rather than random stolen or leftover moments from my day? What if I gave a consistent offering of my life? What are the possibilities? Nothing would be possible if you believed enough to try it. You cannot reflect a Glory you have not experienced. Like a solar light must soak in the sun to give light in the dark, I cannot effectively reflect a Light that has not saturated my life. How can I love others without His Love? How can I live for Him without knowing Him? How can I share a message that I have not heard or do not believe? I can’t. God is offering us a place in His Presence again today. New mercy will open the door again tomorrow, but wait to do tomorrow what could be done today. The Lord, His Spirit, will make us into the new creation as He makes us more like Him. We will have all the Fruit of His Spirit. We will have a rich and satisfying life here in the land of the living just like He said. It all begins with the decision to live a life unveiled and step into His Presence.

Psalm 16:11 (NLT) You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.

Living Sacrifice

Living Sacrifice

Romans 12:1-2 (AMP) Therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies [dedicating all of yourselves, set apart] as a living sacrifice, holy and well-pleasing to God, which is your rational (logical, intelligent) act of worship. And do not be conformed to this world [any longer with its superficial values and customs], but be transformed and progressively changed [as you mature spiritually] by the renewing of your mind [focusing on godly values and ethical attitudes], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His plan and purpose for you].

Living – having life, being alive and not dead.

Sacrifice – to surrender something of value as a means of gaining something more desirable.

To consider being a living sacrifice seems to me to be a contradictory term. How can a total sacrifice be alive? If sacrifice is to surrender something of value as a means of gaining something more desirable, how can I give up my life and still be breathing? Just doesn’t make any sense. Maybe that is why it’s easy to breeze over the first two verse of Romans 12:1 and 2. Reading these two powerful verses today, I realize that sacrifice is no longer a death sentence thanks to Jesus Christ. It is no longer a requirement. It have become an optional choice. Though the components of sacrifice have changed the function remains the same. An offering is not enough to have fulfillment of duties. As a true believer, it is our privilege to be a living sacrifice. To dedicate ALL of myself to the Lord and be set apart from sin (notice I did not say the world). Sacrifice should be a rational, logical and intellectual response to salvation and the acceptance of His Amazing Grace. Offering is more comfortable. It is the portion of what one might be willing to give rather than what is required.

Offering is to present something as an act of worship or devotion to God. It is limited in its power and potential according to its worth. It is a thoughtful gift rather than ultimate surrender of our all. An offering makes sense in comparison to rational, logical, and intellectual thinking when our life is compared to the world. Limitation and/or lack will cause one to consider the amount of each gift in comparison to the longevity of life rather than its significance beyond breathing. Today is Memorial Day. It is often confused with Veteran’s Day. This is the day set aside to honor those who offered their life as a sacrifice for freedom and it was accepted. The ones who did not make it home but died for their cause. There is a sacrifice for freedom. Just because you do not agree with it or support Armed Forces, doesn’t mean that innocent men and women didn’t die to maintain your freedom and right to disagree with their mission. Sound familiar?

Galatians 5:1 (AMP) It was for this freedom that Christ set us free [completely liberating us]; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery [which you once removed].

The death of Jesus Christ on the Cross and His Sacrifice for your life is non-negotiable. His Cause called freedom from sin, death and the grave remains intact regardless of whether a single person chooses to accept Him as Savior and Lord or not. His Identity remains the same. Jesus Christ died to set us free from sin and give us the opportunity to reside in the Presence of God forever. He opened a door that no one can shut. There is not a power in hell or on this planet that can hinder or stop the move of God from person to person or heart to heart. Killing every Christian will not stop the fact that God is God, Jesus is His Son, and His Spirit sets people free. It is only the fulfillment of the Gift given to us by Christ. Jesus broke the yoke of slavery. It was removed from you and He offers you to become yoked to Him. To experience a peace and rest in this lifetime that few will ever discover. The word “yoke” means to join, couple, link or unite. Jesus wants to live in relationship and partnership with you to maintain your freedom even if you do not desire Him. I have a friend who doesn’t believe that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. He maintains that there are other ways to the Father. He will many times attempt to lure me into a friendly debate. I have many other friends who might entertain his invitation which would result in a heated conversation or possibly lead to an argument. I choose to state the truth that I believe, but refuse to debate, argue or try to prove the validity of Jesus to anyone. I know what you are thinking…isn’t that what we are supposed to do? Convince other people to follow Christ. To believe and be saved. To save them… No friend, it is not my job to save anyone. Jesus did that on the Cross sufficiently and completely. It is my opportunity and privilege to be a living sacrifice.

2 Corinthians 3:17-18 (AMP)  Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty [emancipation from bondage, true freedom]. And we all, with unveiled face, continually seeing as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are progressively being transformed into His image from [one degree of] glory to [even more] glory, which comes from the Lord, [who is] the Spirit.

The word “emancipation” in Latin means “setting free”. When Jesus died on the Cross, He released His Spirit which immediately created access for people to step directly in the Presence of God and the same to live in them. The Spirit couldn’t contain its character for a second and immediately began releasing resurrection power across the city. Literally, dead people came back to life and walked out of graves. Again, this happened whether anyone believes it or not. Our thoughts or willingness to believe something doesn’t give it validity or authenticity. The reality of something is in its substance. Hang on to that thought, we care coming back to it. The Lord is progressively changing and transforming those who love and accept Him. The ones who do not are constantly being pursued by His Unfailing Love and Goodness just the same. Liars, adulterers, haters, thieves, murderers, psychopaths, pedophiles, even the most heinous person considered in society today is the subject of God’s Great Love and Desire. He offers them freedom no matter how horrible the sin or depraved the nature because once the Spirit of God was released from Jesus Christ – He had His Assignment. He knew what to do. The Spirit of the Lord offers freedom to everyone just the same and continues to do so day after day and time and time again. He will do so until Jesus comes back.

Romans 6:6-9 (AMP) We know that our old self [our human nature without the Holy Spirit] was nailed to the cross with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin. For the person who has died [with Christ] has been freed from [the power of] sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live [together] with Him, because we know [the self-evident truth] that Christ, having been raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has power over Him.

There are many churches and even more doctrines that tell us what to do, how to live, and what God requires of us. Many times it forms the thoughts and ideas regarding offering and sacrifice among believers. I do not believe that someone who chooses to live their life as an offering to God has less of a chance entering Heaven. My dad and son both served overseas in the United States Armed Forces. I am a proud daughter and mom. I am a thankful one, too. Their lives were not required of them to maintain our freedom. Thank you, Lord. My dad lived in the days of the draft. He was not drafted but allowed to choose whether or not he would serve. Our son knew in high school that he was called to serve his country. It is the same for many believers. We choose our level of service to the Lord. Some will only offer the Lord a portion of their life and He will most gladly take it and do amazing things in that small space. There are others who will chose to be a living sacrifice. Now had my father or boy given their life for this country, today we would honor their sacrifice. As usual God has offered a better way, thanks to Jesus Christ who paid the ultimate price, I have the opportunity to live my life AND give my all to Him as a “living sacrifice”.

“And do not be conformed to this world [any longer with its superficial values and customs], but be transformed and progressively changed [as you mature spiritually] by the renewing of your mind [focusing on godly values and ethical attitudes], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His plan and purpose for you].”

I have openly shared that lately I have struggled with a bit of discouragement. I still love Jesus with all of my heart, mind, body and soul. Never a doubt that God is good or that He is faithful. His Love for me is truly overwhelming. Yet, still my humanness gives way to emotions and feelings sometimes just because life is hard. It rains. People get sick. Bad things happen to good people. Senseless and random acts of depravity are in the news every single day. Sin is definitely rampant. Love has gone from lukewarm to frigid cold. This does not change the fact that God, by His Spirit, still is transforming me and progressively changing me. There is no such thing as perfect people. Even by allowing the Lord to take over every area of our life, there will still be hard times and tough battles. God is renewing our mind today with truth.

Freedom belongs to us. We don’t have to offer a portion of our life for it or even sacrifice all of our life for it. Jesus gave it to us. We have the ability to choose the part or portion of freedom that we desire according to how much of our life that we will give up to have it. It is not an even exchange. It is a bonus. A once-in-a-lifetime deal that will be presented to us daily with new mercy. Our mind thinks of sacrifice as death. Jesus already satisfied death and the grave. Payment for every sin paid by His Bright Red Blood flowing down the Cross. By accepting this gift labeled freedom in Christ, I am saying, “Yes” to becoming a living sacrifice which defies the logic of mankind. I am surrendering this life and all its problems for completion in Christ. To prove that God’s Will is best. That His Plan and Purpose is good, acceptable and perfect. I do this by experiencing it. Living in His Presence and capitalizing on every single promise that He has made me. Living this life fully in Christ and bearing every single fruit that comes from it. His Spirit will prosper my life as my soul prospers. It begins by sacrificing this life as an offering to God. For me to live is Christ and die is gain. I believe it…do you?

John 8:36 (AMP) So if the Son makes you free, then you are unquestionably free.

Today if you are a resident of the United States of America, you have the Armed Forces to thank for preserving your freedom. Now, if you do not believe in the military or war, that is your right and privilege thanks to these brave men and women. You are free to live in this country thanks to the bloodshed of these people and great loss to their families whether you believe it or not – you have accepted it. The only way to truly show that you do not honor their sacrifice is move out of this country and live somewhere else. Jesus Christ died for your sins. All of them. Every single one. You cannot change it or lessen the impact in terms of the earthly and heavenly realm. You simply choose whether or not you will give up this mediocre live to take full advantage of the prosperity born of the freedom Christ has offered us. In other words, when you give up this life, you are merely accepting a Kingdom life. It belongs to you. God created you with a plan. It is a good one with a future and a hope. He gave you grace which is enough to have it all. The Lord even promised to do more than you can even think to ask for. He offers us inexpressible joy. He even accepts the sacrifice of our old life offering us a brand new rich and satisfying life. God is good! Jesus loves you. He sacrificed His Life for you and doesn’t even require a single bit of it back. He offers you freedom to “sacrifice” this life in order to have all that He promised. To be a “living sacrifice” further proves the undeniable love and grace of our Amazing God! It is the only way to honor the Lord – giving up lack for prosperity, giving up defeat for victory, giving up sickness for healing, giving up discouragement for joy, giving up fear for perfect peace. What an exchange! What a Savior!

Hebrews 10:19-23 (AMP)  Therefore, believers, since we have confidence and full freedom to enter the Holy Place [the place where God dwells] by [means of] the blood of Jesus, by this new and living way which He initiated and opened for us through the veil [as in the Holy of Holies], that is, through His flesh, and since we have a great and wonderful Priest [Who rules] over the house of God, let us approach [God] with a true and sincere heart in unqualified assurance of faith, having had our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us seize and hold tightly the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is reliable and trustworthy and faithful [to His word]… 

 

Dig a Little Deeper

Gardening shovel in the soil

Luke 6:47-49 (NLT) I will show you what it’s like when someone comes to me, listens to my teaching, and then follows it. It is like a person building a house who digs deep and lays the foundation on solid rock. When the floodwaters rise and break against that house, it stands firm because it is well built. But anyone who hears and doesn’t obey is like a person who builds a house right on the ground, without a foundation. When the floods sweep down against that house, it will collapse into a heap of ruins.”

Discouragement and desperation are both driving forces that can lead to a desire or defeat depending on how a person responds to them. Human desire is never satisfied. I believe that but what if that natural state of discontentment is a hidden plan by God to move us from complacency, compromise, and conflict into a state of total confidence founded on faith that builds the rich, satisfying life that Jesus promised to us. I once worked with a young man who shared some sage advice. Though it may not sound godly or very Christ-like, I believe that there is a bit of truth to it. Ringing close to the old saying, “Give somebody enough rope to hang themselves”, he said, “Give them everything they need to succeed.” Seems kind of like a cup half full or half empty type of thing to me. But it’s true, I have been in situations where people do not want to listen. I raised three very competent and independent people who what I call stubbornness – they call drive. They come by it honestly. They are not “tell me” kind of people but “show me”. I wonder if the Lord gives us opportunities sometimes that maybe are viewed as problems, trials and tests or even impossible situations not to “discipline” us in the way one might think but create a desire by discontentment that leads us to the “rich and satisfying” life that He promised. If we could see these unfavorable events, desperate situations or even disputes for what they are rather than slinging rope at people, it would be seen as empowerment that moves us from the pace of complacency, compromise and conflict to achieve our true purpose in life and to prosper.

I don’t know what you’re facing today. I can only see the challenges in my life. As I look all around me, I see that God is good and He has been faithful to our family. However, lately I have felt a stirring for more. The potential in me is pushing the self-imposed limitations. Comfort is compromised by an inner motivation of what if there is more in Christ. Friend, there is always more to this life than we see, feel or think and the Lord is desperately trying to move us from where we are into His Promise and Purpose so we will find true satisfaction and bring Glory to His Name. Who wants a careless, worthless deadbeat dad who doesn’t look after his children? It is the promise that God is Good and that He is an excellent father who blesses His Children not according to their ability to be perfect but simply because we are His Most Prized Possession.

It is like a person building a house who digs deep and lays the foundation on solid rock.” If your life seems mundane, mediocre, ordinary and lack luster – there is more for you in Jesus Christ today. It is up to you to find it. We must dig a little deeper today. God did not hand you a rope but rather a shovel along with His Word. Jesus is the Word of God. He is the firm foundation in which our faith anchors us in confident hope so that wind, rain and storms cannot harm us much less destroy us. However, if you are not established before the atmosphere and environment changes or ill-prepared for the next season, it will be too late to thrive in it but you will be lucky to merely survive. It is with an outlook for the future that today prepares us for that yet to come.

Genesis 26:12-15 (NLT) When Isaac planted his crops that year, he harvested a hundred times more grain than he planted, for the Lord blessed him. He became a very rich man, and his wealth continued to grow. He acquired so many flocks of sheep and goats, herds of cattle, and servants that the Philistines became jealous of him. So the Philistines filled up all of Isaac’s wells with dirt. These were the wells that had been dug by the servants of his father, Abraham.

The story of Isaac and the conflict over water rights demonstrates three areas of life that keep us from digging deeper into the firm foundation of faith. It is important to note that Jesus promised a rich and satisfied life to those who come to Him, live in Him, move and exist in Him. He called you a new creation. However, if left to our own devices it is easy to settle in the land of complacency. In my Christian life of more than a few years or decades, I have found that even in my wandering or wondering about the Lord that He has remained faithful in His Passionate Pursuit of my with love and goodness. He has always responded to my desperate cry for help and rushed in even when I was nowhere I thought He would come – the Lord came to meet me, comfort me and lead me from that place to a better place. The enemy of completion is called complacency. We stop in process because of comfort. My life today is better than I ever imagined it might be, but I serve a God who promises to do more than I can think, ask or imagine. If I trust Him, it will come to pass. The trouble is when life is good – people settle. It is discontentment that drives us from complacency causing us to dig a little deeper. When Isaac began to prosper, his power was a perceived threat to the Philistines so they filled his wells with dirt. Isaac had to move on.

Genesis 26:17-20 (NLT) So Isaac moved away to the Gerar Valley, where he set up their tents and settled down. He reopened the wells his father had dug, which the Philistines had filled in after Abraham’s death. Isaac also restored the names Abraham had given them. Isaac’s servants also dug in the Gerar Valley and discovered a well of fresh water. But then the shepherds from Gerar came and claimed the spring. “This is our water,” they said, and they argued over it with Isaac’s herdsmen. So Isaac named the well Esek (which means “argument”).

Driven from his comfort zone, Isaac moves into a new area. He reopens his father, Abraham’s wells and digs some new ones. In the new wells, fresh water is found. This is the land of compromise. God had a plan and purpose for Isaac that was his very own. He was a product and promise to Abraham, but Isaac was not just a byproduct to God. He was a prized possession all his own. It was not God’s Plan for Isaac to compromise. He reopened his father’s wells. Tradition and religion can often keep us in the land of compromise because we try to do it like those before us rather than venturing off to the new place, position or purpose that God has for us. We settle in the land of compromise because its easy. Total trust in the Lord means leaving this place, too. We must find God’s Plan and Purpose with our name on it to acquire the rich and satisfying life that is within it. Complacency and compromise are weaknesses that once left behind are where we find grace. Grace that is sufficient to carry us into the great unknowns and hidden places where the Lord has placed the inheritance of those who dare to come that way. The narrow road is less traveled because it requires trusting an unseen God with an unknown plan. It will be worth it for those who move on, shovel in hand, and dig a little deeper.

Genesis 26:21-22 (NLT) Isaac’s men then dug another well, but again there was a dispute over it. So Isaac named it Sitnah (which means “hostility”). Abandoning that one, Isaac moved on and dug another well. This time there was no dispute over it, so Isaac named the place Rehoboth (which means “open space”), for he said, “At last the Lord has created enough space for us to prosper in this land.”

Most people would have thrown up their hands and quit after all this moving. But not Isaac, now moved from complacency, compromise and even comfort found in these two places. He tried again and failed. Isaac left the land of conflict. He was not fighting old battles but forging his way to victory. He was desperate to find a place to live in freedom with his family. His heart’s desire was set on the Lord so he focused on digging. He dug until there was no more complacency, compromise or even conflict. Where did he end up? Glad you asked.

Genesis 26:23-25 (NLT) From there Isaac moved to Beersheba, where the Lord appeared to him on the night of his arrival. “I am the God of your father, Abraham,” he said. “Do not be afraid, for I am with you and will bless you. I will multiply your descendants, and they will become a great nation. I will do this because of my promise to Abraham, my servant.” Then Isaac built an altar there and worshiped the Lord. He set up his camp at that place, and his servants dug another well.

Isaac had dug his way to his promise. Abraham’s promise received his promise. So often looking in the mirror, we estimate our worth and potential by what we see, the words spoken over us and the worth of our life evaluated by a world that is dying. God has given us a promise. Jesus died to give us a rich and satisfied life. If that is not the land in which you are living, it is time to start digging again. Rather than doing, it is time to dig in God’s Word and dig up your life. The enemy will throw dirt and debris in your well to produce doubt and disbelief. Truth is the filtration system that removes the lies from our existence. Those things that the enemy offers in the place of God’s Best. The subtle substitutions that produce an ordinary, mediocre, and naturally comfortable life. This is all good, but not the “complete lacking nothing” life that has been offered to us. God will not force you to build a firm foundation. He will not bind the shovel to your hand and command you to dig. He just calls to us and invites to a deeper place. Where fresh water will rise up and wash away the film of complacency, compromise, comfort and even conflict so all we see is the Goodness of God that will produce His Glory in our life.

I Corinthians 3:11-14 (NLT) For no one can lay any foundation other than the one we already have—Jesus Christ. Anyone who builds on that foundation may use a variety of materials—gold, silver, jewels, wood, hay, or straw. But on the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done. The fire will show if a person’s work has any value. If the work survives, that builder will receive a reward.

Jesus died for you and I with good reason. He would break down the barrier between God and His Children so that according to His Riches in Glory an opportunity is provided for a rich and satisfied life. Are you satisfied? Are you rich? Do you feel complete and content with your life today just as it? If not, then I am handing you a shovel and inviting you to dig with me. Plowing up the hard places in our heart so fresh water can flow through it. To make room for the roots of His Love to go deeper. It may mean leaving complacency, compromise and comfort behind. It may mean offering forgiveness to end conflict and moving on. Nothing planted in His Presence and the energy it takes to humble ourselves is wasted or worthless.

God’s Promise is better than you can ever do, think, ask or imagine, so if your life is anything less there is more to it. If you decide to have all God has promised – be prepared. The fight is on between flesh and spirit. It is the very moment that His Grace and Power overtake our mundane life so we can magnify His Glory. Preparation for the inclement weather of change occurs before the first drop of rain. God uses all things to work together for our good and His Glory. He fans the wind of change to begin to blow on us so we will prepare now for what is coming. Storms reveal the insufficiencies of faith and places where hope is not holding so we are given the grace to fortify our life. Don’t give up. Dig deeper. Faith creates a firm foundation for God’s Productivity conducive to His Promise. He will never let you down. He is building you up. He wants Heaven to touch the earth where you are standing. Your foundation of faith must be sound and your heart ready to receive which all comes from digging a little deeper.

I Peter 5:10-11 (NLT) In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation. All power to him forever! Amen.