Yes Lord Yes

Yes Lord Yes

Psalm 51:10-12 (ESV) Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.

There are seasons in life when it is time for a little introspection. It is important to evaluate our heart carefully to determine the proximity of Presence in our life. Relationship can easily turn into religion if our worship becomes habitual not a result of intimacy. I am here today. In this place of quiet with the Lord, the only One can truly hold me accountable by His Spirit in faith and confident hope. The words of the psalmist inspired by the Holy Spirit hold true today for all of us if our internal desire is the eternal hope of Christ. Though righteousness is found in Christ alone, it is up to us to give the Lord permission to examine us, evaluate our progress, eliminate that which is unproductive and exact growth and development in all the proper places. All we can do is say, “Yes!”

Create in me a clean heart, O God

Ezekiel 36:26 (ESV) And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

A change of heart is in its absolute breaking. God must have all the pieces of our heart in order to create a masterpiece. An artist cannot do anything with a canvas if there is no brush or paint. It is easy to withhold bits and pieces of our heart in order to preserve pride. It is difficult to surrender those parts that are painful. Depths of emptiness too vast to risk devastation. Darkness that is so recessed light has not reached it yet. All this space within us ready for holy inhabitation must be fully exposed and exchanged for the new heart, new spirit, and new mind waiting in the Presence of God offered by His Son, Jesus. Lord give me a new heart today. Remove the stony one of flesh and make it soft as promised.

Renew a right spirit within me.

2 Timothy 1: 6-7 (ESV)  For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

The Helper, Holy Spirit, who the Father gave us through the Son lives in us. He teaches us all things and brings into our remembrance that which God has ordained, decreed and spoken to us. (John 14:26) The Spirit offers us internal insight and eternal understanding not given to the world but received through Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:12) Finally, the Spirit is God’s Guarantee of every spiritual blessing in our life. The Spirit identifies us as God’s Children. This is the Gift of God when we come to Him through Jesus Christ. It is a non-negotiable part of our covenant with God as the Spirit is full consummation of our relationship to Him. Have you opened this gift in your life?

God has not given us the spirit of fear. Too often it is readily taken when offered by the father of lies as the truth that governs our life. Oh to have back all the time wasted worrying about things that never happened and carrying burdens that never came to fruition but still robbed me of peace and rest in the Lord. God has given us the spirit of power, love and self-discipline. Have you taken hold of that today? Sometimes we must exchange something we have to fully obtain what God is trying to give us. The same is true in renewal of a right spirit within me. I must examine my motives and emotions for power and love which always requires self-discipline to overcome the traps of doubt marked worry, anxiety and fear. God didn’t give us these so we must reject them.

Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me.

2 Corinthians 12:8-10 (ESV) Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

There is nothing that can separate us from the Love of God. (Romans 8:28) Do you believe that today? I mean really believe it. Sometimes even saints of God forget that the Love of God for us is constant and concrete in the Cross. There is absolutely nothing you can do to ever make the Lord stop loving you or pursuing you with unfailing love and goodness. His Mercy is new every morning according to His Faithfulness not our ability to be faithful. There are no fatal errors for those who love God. Hard times create soft hearts. It is those moments of extreme weakness (physical, emotion and/or spiritual) that the truest nature of God is discovered. His Grace. When I am weak, I am strong. The enemy tries to make us think that when our walk turns to wandering or our thoughts to wandering that we somehow become lost. The Lord never leaves us or forsakes us but waits like the father for the prodigal son. I wonder what would happen if Children of God fully understood and embraced the importance and power of God’s Grace. It would be a life changer and history maker for the Body of Christ as the fullness of His Power permeated people and steeples everywhere.

Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.

Psalm 16:11 (ESV) You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

I’ll say yes, Lord, yes to your will and to your way. I’ll say yes, Lord, yes… I will trust you and obey. When your Spirit speaks to me with my whole heart I’ll agree and my answer will be yes, Lord, yes! (Shirley Caesar)

As I sit here today in the quiet of early morning, I am offering my heart to the Lord once again. I say yes, Lord, yes to Your Will and to Your Way. Sometimes that is not an easy proclamation in our journey with Jesus. We walk by faith not by sight. Trust is the issue of greatest importance. He will make known the path of life to me and offers me a choice which is a product of the freedom afforded me by His Son. In His Presence, there is fullness of joy but I must leave myself at the doorway and enter through Jesus Christ. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. The only way to the Father is through the Son. I must give Him my heart today. I must present Him my willful and overbearing spirit with all its pride to make room for His Spirit. I must move in closer with each “yes” until I am close enough to experience His Pleasures marked as promises forevermore. I find joy in doing His Will which always starts with love. His Spirit is producing the kind of fruit in me that is worth sharing. The cost is my pruning so that more fruit will grow. The sacrifice is my hard heart and unwilling spirit. Today – I say I will say, “Yes, Lord, yes!”

2 Corinthians 5:16-17 (ESV) From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 

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Working in Me

Work in Me

Philippians 2:12-13 (NLT) Dear friends, you always followed my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away, it is even more important. Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.

“Work out your own salvation. Do not depend on others.” Buddha

There is more to the story of salvation than to escape the ramparts of hell. To engage in an experience of repentance and leave the same person with the same problems with a lack of purpose is a great tragedy considering the deposit and investment that is conceived in that moment. We live in a visible world serving an invisible God. His Presence surrounds us and His Spirit lives in us but the tangible being is not so evident. We must work hard to show the results of our salvation through love-driven, passion-infused, reverent and radical obedience to the Living God. The words of Buddha hold true even if not the intent. We must work out our own salvation independent of people and fully reliant on the Lord. God is working in us even before our first encounter with Christ leading us to that moment. Once we have found our Savior and Lord the continuation of our life has the potential to be powerful and purposeful in every single endeavor because Jesus is now inside of us.

We must make a personal investment in the potential of our future. But the Work of God in us is not an external effort but rather an internal transformation. It is not an act of doing but rather a work of becoming. The work completed on the Cross by Jesus was enough to provide all the grace needed for the Power of God to fully finish that which He predestined and preordained for us. All the blessings and promises are predesigned with our only act of obedience to fulfillment. We must work God’s Plan so it will work in us. The distinguishing factor in all of this is to keep our relationship with Jesus Christ who is the Way, the Truth and the Life of every purpose and promise rather than becoming a willing participant of religion that is consumed by what we do more than who we are.

Mind, will and emotions are pivotal to the change of God beginning to take over within us. We must sacrifice them along with our feelings to let the Holy Spirit produce good fruit that nourishes our heart and soul instead. As our soul prospers, our spiritual life becomes primary and natural life is impacted by a crucified flesh giving way to the Holy Spirit. It is a takeover of sorts by those who long to be pursued and overtaken by God’s Unfailing Love, Amazing Grace and Constant Goodness. It is a submission of our mind, will and emotions to the Cross so that confidence in Christ and what He promised to do is our primary position. It is the moment that we take up that Cross to follow the example of Jesus that things begin to change in a good way.

James 2:19-22 (NLT) You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror. How foolish! Can’t you see that faith without good deeds is useless? Don’t you remember that our ancestor Abraham was shown to be right with God by his actions when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see, his faith and his actions worked together. His actions made his faith complete. 

Working the Plan of God is not what we do but the confidence to lay down our life in careful and continual obedience. To trust the Lord means doing things His Way when all logic points another. Abraham is a prime example of working God’s Plan. There was no reason for him to believe that he would father one child let alone a nation. Yet, he dared to believe. The unbelievable was his absolute confidence and so he lived loving and serving God. Did he mess up? Yes. Did he make mistakes along the way? Absolutely. God did not look for his perfection but rather his perseverance that no matter what he still believed especially when there was absolutely nothing tangible to be confident – the person of God – the Great I AM – was simple enough.

“Salvation is not a self-improvement program. That can only change us on the outside. The work of God changes us on the inside.” (Zac Poonen) It is easy to change habits and make better choices. Hard work, determination and motivation will change our way of living and produce a better life. Even religious obedience can produce the benefits of sowing and reaping, but in the end if our relationship with Jesus Christ is not established – we gain absolutely nothing. There are those who will come to Christ and have a better life just because they decided to work the plan. The Bible is the precedent of obedience that leads to productivity. However, if we do not allow the Lord to work His Plan in us – our life is worthless and meaningless void of God’s Glory found in His Grace.

Philippians 1:6 (NLT) And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.

Greetings from Paul to the people in Philippi who belonged to Christ is one of thanksgiving for the testimony these people lived. As he continues, “And I am certain that God, who began the good work in you, will continue His Work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” Friend, we are a work in progress. The only time that Christ stops working in us and through us is when we decide go our own way (He is the ONLY Way), to live a lie (contrary to Truth), and choose something other than Resurrection Life and Power given to us for today. God will do exactly as He promised. Our only job is to continually surrender our life to Him. How? “You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.” (Philippians 2:5) He finished the Work on the Cross for the joy set before Him. Jesus did not live for immediate gratification but eternal pleasure. His Good Pleasure is you and me. He thought we were to die for and He did. He marched into hell and took possession (title and deed) to our life. When Christ came out of the grave, His Motive always was love so rather than take ownership of us and enslave us. He gave us freedom to live in love with Him or choose something else. What is your choice today? Will you work God’s Plan by submitting everything to Jesus? Will you surrender your heart to the work that was begun in you? Do you trust that God will complete it? That is what this life is all about – falling in love with Jesus Christ! Living in a loving relationship that transcends the boundaries of time and brings heaven to earth. He gave it all to us. We must only work out our salvation with fear and trembling as His Love consumes our ordinary life and produces an extraordinary existence.

“Salvation is a work of God to show His Glory. That’s why He’s not going to let it fail.” (Paul Washer)

Ephesians 3:20-21 (NLT) Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

 

Losing Me

LosingMe

Matthew 10:38-39 (MSG) “If you don’t go all the way with me, through thick and thin, you don’t deserve me. If your first concern is to look after yourself, you’ll never find yourself. But if you forget about yourself and look to me, you’ll find both yourself and me.”

“Gotta lose my life to find it, I have to lose my life in You – Jesus!” (Bethel Worship)

Woke up with music on my mind today and this line from a worship set I have been listening to. Gotta lose my life to find it, I have to lose my life in You – Jesus! The joy of surrender. Conflicting terms to the world but celebratory for the Christian who gives their life to Jesus. There is joy in surrender because giving up my life allows me to fully embrace who I was created to be. The enemy wants us to think that such an attitude followed by intentional action becomes a regulated life of rules and constant sacrifice. The truth is that in sacrificing what sin made me, I can fully embrace who I was created and called to be by God through Jesus Christ.

“If you don’t go all the way with me, through thick and thin, you don’t deserve me.” Seems harsh yet I can attest the humble offering of my broken life has never been less than totally rewarding. I am not who I used to be. Some days, I am comfortable in that and then others it is not so gratifying but always beneficial. To compare our natural life to the supernatural existence offered by the Lord is like a fairytale to some – they want the happily ever after but cannot believe it is possible. I have come to a point where my life is worth nothing outside of Christ. I have come to realize that every good thing in me and around me is straight from Heaven. God is a good father. He has given me a good life. He has stuck with me through thick and thin so the least I can do is oblige Him the same. I don’t want to be like the ten lepers who were healed but only returned to give Jesus glory and gratitude. I wonder if that is a sad statistic hidden in God’s Word. How many come to the Lord yet never go the distance? They take hold of the blessing but never enter a relationship with the One True Blessing. The One who gives and gives and gives to His Children. The One who gave His Life for me and you.

John 12:24-26 (MSG) “Listen carefully: Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over. In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal. If any of you wants to serve me, then follow me. Then you’ll be where I am, ready to serve at a moment’s notice. The Father will honor and reward anyone who serves me.”

To make it practical – there is the illustration of a grain of wheat or a mustard seed of faith. It must be planted in the ground to reach its full potential for in its present form it remains just that – potential. Until a seed changes its form, there is no transformation into purpose. You have a purpose. God created a plan with a future and hope just for you. In order to have the full potential and purpose for our life, it must be surrendered by faith to the Creator. He takes what is in us and makes way for fulfillment. We have to make a choice. Natural life or supernatural living – one is limited and the other limitless. One stretches the span of our birthday to the date on our death certificate. Those who want eternal life choose to give up this life in order to have forever. But God doesn’t impose punishment or suffering on those who choose surrender but fulfillment and full satisfaction beginning now. He brings Heaven to connect with us on earth when it is our decision to receive Him now AND forevermore.

Jesus set forth an example. A clear-cut pathway of service called unconditional love and amazing grace. The two will always require a forfeiture of our rights in every capacity. It means forgiving the unforgivable. Giving even when it hurts. Continually laying down our life to serve the most unworthy of characters knowing we once walked in their shoes. Are you surprised? I didn’t mention all the do’s and don’ts of religious doctrine. I didn’t highlight the “seven deadly” sins. I am convinced that those who truly fall in love with Jesus Christ will avoid sin. They will do their best to not sin as to not hurt their beloved. I do not want to hurt my husband, children, family or friends. I have no ill will toward them. I would not take advantage of them knowingly. I try not to take anyone for granted. So why would I ever wish to knowingly harm the Lover of my Soul who laid down their life just to have me with them forever? I tried to be a good Christian. It didn’t work out so well. When I finally crawled to the Cross empty-handed and begged the Lord to take me – everything changed. It continues to change daily. I throw in the towel and pick it back up again. Not for people – I just can’t leave Him. I can’t ignore Him. I can’t live, breathe or move without Jesus Christ. He is my everything!

Philippians 2:16-18 (MSG) Do everything readily and cheerfully—no bickering, no second-guessing allowed! Go out into the world uncorrupted, a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society. Provide people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God. Carry the light-giving Message into the night so I’ll have good cause to be proud of you on the day that Christ returns. You’ll be living proof that I didn’t go to all this work for nothing.

I want to be living proof that Jesus Christ is alive and well. I cannot do that on my own. I am a mess just like everyone else. I can pull it together some days with a good night’s sleep and some Maybelline but the truth is that inside I struggle to keep my heart and mind set on Christ. To continue to live by faith and not by sight. To put others before myself especially those who don’t do the same. To do everything readily and cheerfully is a challenge. To be a breath of fresh air to the squalid and polluted society that is going to hell in a handbasket is tough. Some days it is easier to say, “Have it your way! If that’s what you want, go right ahead!” But the Lord reminds me of my worth and that others are just as valuable – every one of us cost Christ every drop of His Blood and breath of His Life to save us. I am living proof that Christ heals, delivers, saves and redeems whether I act like it or not. The only thing I have to be proud of is Jesus.

Matthew 11:28-30 (MSG) “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Can we be real for a minute? Completely honest? I get tired. I feel worn out most of the time. I am burned out, fed up and over religion. I just want Jesus – thank you very much! He says, “Come to me.” When I take the time to rest in Him, I find that all the frustration begins to melt away. He encourages me to keep going. He tells me it will be worth it. He prods me to plant more faith. To give more. To learn from unforced rhythms of grace. Grace is easily offered when our full expectation is in Jesus. Disappoint comes when we set our eyes and expectations on lesser things. Human beings are imperfect. They will ALWAYS find a way to let you down. Transitioning all of our life into the Hands of God for His Workmanship to make it into a masterpiece is never easy. We are taught to live each day to the fullest. Go for broke. You only live once. Our faith cannot be based on the ideology and misconceptions of the desperation of this world but fully invested and completely convinced that God is exactly who He says that He is and will do EXACTLY what He promises.

There came a time in my life about halfway through when there were just too many broken pieces to make anything of worth. A normal life became impossible and a good life unpalatable. I was handed fear, anxiety, worry, doubt and anxiety. I carried that basket for a long time. I was broken. Oh, I was a believer and Christian. I had my heart and mind totally set on Jesus Christ but couldn’t see a future rising up from my devastated life. How could this be the life God promised for me? Was it really going to end like that? I remember the night that I slid all my broken pieces across the table into His Nail-Scarred Hands. I can’t fix me Lord. I am lost in my life and struggling. He took it. All of it. Nothing has been the same sense. It seems like just when I think “I” have it all together again. I am reminded by Jesus – “Hey, are you looking for this?” I find my being in Christ. Losing every part of me including all my self-confidence, self-worth and self-esteem taught me where to find life. I had to lose control. Life became inconvenient. I had to struggle my way out of my present form to embrace the changes coming. I had to lose my life to find it. I had to lose my life in Him. His Name is Jesus.

Ephesians 5:1-2 (MSG) Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.

Give Me A Sign

Give me a sign

Hebrews 2:4-8 (NLT) And God confirmed the message by giving signs and wonders and various miracles and gifts of the Holy Spirit whenever he chose. And furthermore, it is not angels who will control the future world we are talking about. For in one place the Scriptures say, “What are mere mortals that you should think about them, or a son of man that you should care for him? Yet for a little while you made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor. You gave them authority over all things.” Now when it says “all things,” it means nothing is left out. But we have not yet seen all things put under their authority.

Gideon was at the bottom of the winepress threshing wheat when the angel of the Lord came to him. He called Gideon, mighty warrior, while he was yet to emerge from his hiding place. The man of God was trying to survive when the Lord decreed that through him Israel would thrive. Gideon did not immediately rise up to his calling. He needed a sign. Actually before the chapter ends, Gideon would ask the Lord for multiple signs to signify that this encounter and experience was real and the Word of the Lord true.

For a long time I struggled with stories like Gideon’s, God’s call tested by mankind. But the longer I walk with the Lord, the more that I have come to realize that true power is accessed in my weakness rather than when I pretend to have strength. The first miracle performed in my life drained every single ounce of trust I had in the Lord and His Word. When faith becomes our mission – it is in the pursuit of miracles. Faith is not for the things naturally occurring but for supernatural outcomes. Faith is the credible confidence that we are fully assured of God’s Promises for us and live expectantly. Faith is illogical in accordance with natural intelligence and human reasoning. It is the mindset that the power of God is within us and will find its way out of us that should keep us constantly aware that signs, wonders and miracles are the attainable lifestyle of all God’s Children. As our soul prospers, in all things so shall we.

I need a sign. I have walked as far as faith will carry me. I need the Lord to show me that I am still on course. I do not need a release from my calling but rather confidence in my way. I am not asking for a change of way but a change of heart today. Do you feel lost in the journey today? Does everything seem contrary to your calling? Do you think maybe you missed Him? I do. The Lord has given us power and authority over all things. Jesus Christ gives us grace infused with His Power. It flourishes in our weakness as long as we do not give up, wander off or refuse to wait. I have asked the Lord for a sign. I know He will give it to me.

Judges 6:36-40 (NLT) Then Gideon said to God, “If you are truly going to use me to rescue Israel as you promised, prove it to me in this way. I will put a wool fleece on the threshing floor tonight. If the fleece is wet with dew in the morning but the ground is dry, then I will know that you are going to help me rescue Israel as you promised.” And that is just what happened. When Gideon got up early the next morning, he squeezed the fleece and wrung out a whole bowlful of water. Then Gideon said to God, “Please don’t be angry with me, but let me make one more request. Let me use the fleece for one more test. This time let the fleece remain dry while the ground around it is wet with dew.” So that night God did as Gideon asked. The fleece was dry in the morning, but the ground was covered with dew.

The angel of the Lord called Gideon a “mighty warrior”. Gideon asked for a sign. The sign was the acceptance of his offering to the Lord. God obliged him. Gideon took ten men to destroy his father’s altar to Baal and cut down the Asherah pole. Even though his father’s household and town people came against them, the word of the Lord proved true and Gideon was spared. The Lord “clothed” Gideon with power. The armies had formed an alliance to come against Israel. Battle was at hand. So Gideon, asked the Lord for a sign. “If you are truly going to use me to rescue Israel as you promised, prove it to me this way…” Friend, I don’t know what you are battling today but I do know the battle is the Lord’s. There is victory inside of you.

Is it wrong to ask God for a sign? To take Him at His Word sounds easy until impossibilities take over. When you need a miracle is the hardest time to keep your mind, will and emotions in check. Desperation takes over. Fear of disappointment is cast at your weary soul each day. God is the God of the impossible. It is impossible to please God without faith. He knows us inside and out. He even offers us the opportunity to test Him, try Him, and prove Him. (Malachi 6) This passage in Malachi refers to money and finances. What better place to start? One of the staunchest competitors for our heart. Yet I believe that in all things God says, “Put me to the test.” If you desires faith and a more meaningful relationship with Jesus Christ – He will give you a sign.

Matthew 9:6-7 (NLT) Is it easier to say ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or ‘Stand up and walk’? So I will prove to you that the Son of Man has the authority on earth to forgive sins.” Then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home!” And the man jumped up and went home!

I believe the outcome of our request for a sign from the Lord is contingent on our heart. What is that we desire from Him? Are you after God’s Hand or His Heart? There was one thief on the cross who desired to be with Jesus while the other one only wanted to escape. Only one was granted his request that day dying nevertheless. Is it easier to say, “Your sins are forgiven?” or “Stand up and walk?” There are many people who call themselves Christians but never go beyond the title. This is not a word of condemnation just part of the identity crisis of the church today. Signs, wonders and miracles should accompany the modern day Christian just like the early church. We have everything needed to live under an open heaven so what is keeping it closed?

Doubt. Truly that is the source of the mountains that we face and obstacles we cannot overcome. It is always doubt. God’s Power is never lessened by a lack of faith. Grace releases the power and authority of Christ as we humble our life before Him. We can say that our sins are forgiven, but no one can see the contents of our heart. However, signs, wonders and miracles in our life are evidence that His Power is at work in us and through us.

Matthew 12:38-41 (NLT) One day some teachers of religious law and Pharisees came to Jesus and said, “Teacher, we want you to show us a miraculous sign to prove your authority.” But Jesus replied, “Only an evil, adulterous generation would demand a miraculous sign; but the only sign I will give them is the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was in the belly of the great fish for three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights. The people of Nineveh will stand up against this generation on judgment day and condemn it, for they repented of their sins at the preaching of Jonah. Now someone greater than Jonah is here—but you refuse to repent.”

When the religious folks requested a miracle, Jesus had one for them. The sign of Jonah that was yet to come when He died on the cross, laid in the grave three days and emerged with victory over sin and death in His Hand. For them, there’s the sign. However, for those who seek to live by faith and an abiding relationship with Jesus Christ – He will give them signs, do miracles and they will experience wonders that cannot be explained so all glory will go the Lord. True repentance opens the window of heaven. Faith is a series of steps toward loving and trusting Him more. It is not an easy journey. The Lord sees our heart. The heart intent on finding Him will seek Him. He sees your heart and responds to your faith. If you need a sign, do not be afraid to ask for it. The Lord comes close to the brokenhearted. The one who is searching for Him will find Him.

Are you striving in obedience? Do you think you lost your way? The Lord will be our light. His Word is a lamp for your feet and light to your path. His Spirit is your helper. He will give you a sign when you need it. Ask for it. Look for it. Trust Him. Believe. Walk by faith and not by sight. God is doing exactly as He promised according to His Will and Way which always is exceedingly abundantly more than we can think, ask or imagine.

Acts 1:3 (NLT) During the forty days after he suffered and died, he appeared to the apostles from time to time, and he proved to them in many ways that he was actually alive. And he talked to them about the Kingdom of God.

We focus on Acts 2 and the day of Pentecost when Jesus poured out His Spirit on mankind. However, if you look in the first chapter of Acts – a beautiful love story unfolds. Jesus had been betrayed and brutalized. He died on the Cross and came up out of the grave. For forty days, the same amount of time he was in the wilderness, the Lord spent time with the apostles. What was he doing? He proved to them in many ways that he was actually alive. Are you in a wilderness of testing? Fasting? Praying? Believing? Yet still wondering? Wandering a bit? The Lord will come to you. He will give you a sign. He will prove that He is still alive. Jesus will show His Love for you again and again if you request it from a repentant heart. He is that good! He has that much grace!

Proverbs 30:5 (NLT) Every word of God proves true. He is a shield for all who come to Him for protection.

God always responds to our cry for help. He listens to our doubts and disappointments. In that moment when our heart desires Him, and strives for more faith – He will answer and give us a sign. You just have to want Him more than anything else. Miracles still happen. They come at a high price. We must give up on ourselves and fully embrace Him by faith and trust to do what His Word says that He will do. No more compromises. No more shortcuts. No more excuses. Here is your sign – the One who has called you is faithful. He will do exactly as He promised to do!

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

Cross Examination

Cross Examination

Psalm 139:23-24 (NLT) Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

Psalm 139 is my favorite of them all. The story of creation in the intimacy of the womb with a loving Creator who considered me thoroughly before He gave me a single breath. To know that God’s thoughts concerning me are precious and precise. This was the mirror of hope that gave me new life. To know that God lovingly and intentionally created me with purpose. To realize that my life is a plan proposed with enough love, mercy and grace to get me from here to everlasting life. I have been a believer for more than forty years now. In my teens, a youth worker introduced me to this simple truth. After years of contemplation, I am still completely in awe of God and His Goodness.

Psalm 139:1-6 (NLT) O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord. You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand!

The complexity of God’s Love revealed in the concept that though He examines my heart and knows everything about me…He insists on being with me every step of the way. On my good days, the Lord celebrates with me. On my not-so-good days, He lends an ear to my tearful ramblings catching each salty one in the palm of His Hand. On my bad days, He sees my rebellion yet still insisting to go with me and ready to respond the instant I turn back. His Love for me is unyielding. It is constant. Persistent. Pervasive. It is perfect yet I am imperfect. If God’s Love never fails me and His Grace is enough, why then would I need to examine my heart? Why the cross examination if He knows my faults, failures and weaknesses from the very start?

Matthew 22:37-38 (NLT) Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.

The first and greatest commandment. The one that comes with a promise. The only thing that we must do to keep faith alive and hope confident. To love the Lord God with all my heart, my soul and my mind. The second is equally as simple as the first – to love others the same way. I wonder sometimes if we convolute the commandments with religious doctrine full of dos and don’ts because true love with deep conviction cuts our heart. It penetrates our soul intimately. It changes our mind completely. Flesh dies as the heart, soul and mind prosper. The collateral damage is crucified pride. In this selfless, helpless and weakness, our need to survive overshadows God’s Promise to thrive.

God loved the world by giving His Son to die and pay the price for our sin. My sin demanded every drop of Christ’s Blood so that His Grace would be sufficient for me. I was judged by the Glorious Standard set forth before my birth. God sent the Light of His Love to lead me out of the darkness and live in the Light. There is no judgment against anyone who believes. So why must I challenge myself with cross examination if I have been exonerated by the Blood of Jesus Christ? My faith must be genuine. It must be a valid component of who I am and what I believe. Apart from Christ, I am nothing. How is this possible when Psalm 139 describes a creature made fearfully and wonderfully…it is the potential of my faith revealed in God’s Word that precipitates the process of prosperity. As my soul prospers…so will I.

2 Corinthians 13:5 (NLT) Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith. 

Sin will always offend God. Sin separates me from God’s Plan until surrendered to the Cross. The watered down gospel of grace that many hold tightly to will not produce the kind of life according to God’s Glorious Standard. All things are permissible to the believer. Whom the Son set free is free indeed. Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom. But not all things are beneficial. If I want the blessings and promises God imparted to me when I was created, I must examine my heart daily. Sin will always cause division. The unmentionables require cross examination. We cannot live a complacent existence but live in a crucified state. It sounds brutal. It seems harsh. People love options. They like to have an opinion. At the end of the day, Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. To know Him is to love Him. I cannot do anything to be saved but daily yield my heart, mind and soul to Christ.

For some this will be a message of love, joy and peace as they enter a rest that they have not known. God is less interested in what we do than who we are becoming. If my love is not the product of faith, then it is impossible for anything I do to please God. We must examine our heart each day. Sift through the thoughts that clutter our mind. Surrender our soul the Sword of the Spirit so He can remove the hard exterior and expose the new life within.

I Corinthians 4:3-4 (NLT) As for me, it matters very little how I might be evaluated by you or by any human authority. I don’t even trust my own judgment on this point. My conscience is clear, but that doesn’t prove I’m right. It is the Lord himself who will examine me and decide.

Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

What in me offends God? It is easy to be offended by the things of this world and people in it. But I wonder if I focused my efforts on the pieces of my broken heart that do not resemble the faith, love and confidence I have in Christ – I could love more, forgive more, and be more of who God created me to be. What if I evaluated my energy and efforts more than others placing my full expectation in Jesus Christ? Could it be that in my need to compare I have missed the inexpressible joy and perfect peace promised those who trust the Lord? I can only imagine as I examine my heart today what I will find there. Looking into the Word of God – I can see my reflection. Not of the person I am but the new creation that Christ wants to make of me. The fearfully and wonderfully made creation of Christ who will be a masterpiece if I just give Him my all today and every day. I want my faith to be genuine. I long to have a secure future filled with hope. Faith makes all things possible. I just have to believe. I am who He says that I can be. Lord, cross examine me today. Show me what offends you. I give you permission to remove it. Let your Spirit sow seeds of good fruit in its place. In all things Lord, be glorified in my life. Make my faith genuine and hope confident today and every day as I learn to live every aspect of my life in YOU! Less of me and more of You – Jesus!

Galatians 6:14-16 (NLT) As for me, may I never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of that cross, my interest in this world has been crucified, and the world’s interest in me has also died. It doesn’t matter whether we have been circumcised or not. What counts is whether we have been transformed into a new creation. May God’s peace and mercy be upon all who live by this principle; they are the new people of God.

Time For A Change

Time For A Change

Mark 9:21-24 (NLT) “How long has this been happening?” Jesus asked the boy’s father. He replied, “Since he was a little boy. The spirit often throws him into the fire or into water, trying to kill him. Have mercy on us and help us, if you can.” “What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.” The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!”

What did people do before they had Pinterest? I could pour through the pages for days finding new projects to try and the confidence to do them with step-by-step instructions. Spring is in the air along with a blizzard of pollen. Cleaning overtures take over. Today’s project – our dining room. Probably the least used room in our house, it is used as a pass-through more than for meals. When we first moved into the house, we added wainscoting. After recently painting the majority of the living area, I found that I had purchased too much paint. For the last two weeks, I have been gearing up to make the change. Pinning ideas. Taking full inventory of supplies. Portioning out some time. No more excuses. Today is the day.

One of the things I have been contemplating is taking the leaf out of the massive square table. Since the table has been used a only handful of times in the last decade, there seems to be no point in keeping it in. It will open up the room to take it out and make the space look bigger. While our fur babies ate their breakfast, I opened the table to take out the leaf and immediately cut my finger which began to bleed profusely. Looking at the wound, I couldn’t help but think so this is how things will go today. How many times do we embark on the journey of change only to be detoured or discouraged by setbacks?

His son had been demon possessed throughout his childhood. The father was desperate to see his son set free. The father says to Jesus in dire need, “Have mercy on us and help us, if you can.” Of course, Jesus replied, “If I can? Anything is possible if a person believes.” Every impossibility in our life remains so locked in unbelief. The only hindrance in the life of a believer is the inability to believe that anything is possible with the Lord. Locked in doubt and imprisoned by insecurity yet all the while having a free spirit inside of us ready to bust us loose to change. Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom!

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

I was raised by a do-it-yourself dad. He never told us that we couldn’t do something and always encouraged us to try even if unwilling to pay attention and learn. As an adult, I identify the spirit of my natural father in me as I am not afraid to attempt to do new things especially when it comes to home improvement. I have the Holy Spirit inside me thanks to Jesus Christ. He gave me access to my heavenly father and given me the Spirit of Adoption releasing a full inheritance from the Heavenlies. Blessings and benefits that I am learning to tap into. For the Lord is a spirit. Wherever His Spirit is there is freedom. Yes, even in me.

Do I live in freedom? When Jesus died on the Cross, He released His Spirit. One of the first things the Spirit did was rip the veil in the Temple from top to bottom. This signified our access to the Father. Now we could come boldly and confidently to the Father through the Son. Immediately the dead were raised with resurrection power and life. The same Spirit now lives in you and me thanks to Jesus. (Acts 2) We have the power and authority to experience and exist in a miraculous life. The only hindrance is disbelief. Do you believe that “greater is He who is in you than he that is in the world?” Where do you reside? In doubt, worry, fear, anxiety and discouragement? Or have you been set free…really free to experience the life giving power and full transformation offered in Christ?

2 Corinthians 10:4-6 (NLT) We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ. And after you have become fully obedient, we will punish everyone who remains disobedient.

What if it’s all in your head? What if it is unbelief keeping you from living a victorious, overcoming life that is promised in Christ? What if it is you holding the prison door of your mind shut when the Spirit of the Living God already unlocked it? It is our rebellious thoughts that keep us from experiencing everlasting life today. Jesus came to give us a rich and satisfying life. He promises to do more exceedingly and abundantly more than we think, ask or imagine. What if the only barrier between you and God’s Blessing is disbelief? What if the only obstacle to overcoming is doubt? What if your worries and cares really are a web of lies weaved by the dream killer and confidence stealing enemy of our soul? What if? Well there is only one way to find out.

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. (2 Corinthians 10:4-6) The Lord wants to change your mind today. We must have the mind of Christ allowing Him to be the Author and Finisher of our faith. The one who takes every detail of our life and makes good out of it. Anything is possible with God. It takes impossibility to reveal the miraculous. It takes bondage to produce deliverance. It takes faith that becomes confident hope which is to believe that God will do the impossible in you and for you.

Remember Noah, the guy who built the ark, and spent 40 days and nights living with every living breathing creature and his in-laws – just saying this was probably a difficult journey. When the Lord spoke to Noah, he was alone. The things that God told him frightening and overwhelming. Yet Noah picked up a wood, hammer and nails to build a boat for a storm (never happened before) and total destruction of the world in which he lived. Noah did exactly as the Lord told him to saving his family from destruction. (Genesis 6:22) What has the Lord told you to do? What is the dream, desire or vision that He placed in your heart? Do you think it is impossible? Never going to happen? Too late? The Word of God says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.” God doesn’t lie or change His Mind. If He said it, “It will be done!” You just have to believe. Belief is demonstrated in our attitude and actions before the dream becomes a reality or the miracle happens. Blessed are those who believe without seeing.

The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!”

John 11:26-28 (NLT)  Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?” “Yes, Lord,” she told him. “I have always believed you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who has come into the world from God.” Then she returned to Mary. She called Mary aside from the mourners and told her, “The Teacher is here and wants to see you.”

I used to be like Martha. I believed that Jesus was the Messiah. He became my Savior and I even served Him as Lord. But I didn’t believe in miracles or at the very least would call myself skeptical. I began to challenge my own heart for faith. Even though I loved the Lord and served Him, I felt that faith was not working in my life. Our daughter developed rapid onset asthma. We were literally on a breathing machine constantly and at the doctor every day. I followed the doctor’s orders but began to seek the Lord on my faith. If healing is real, I wanted to know it. If faith really could do a miracle in our life, I wanted to see it. Our daughter was miraculously healed instantaneously of asthma. The doctor could only declare it a miracle a year later when no symptoms were evident in her body.

Martha’s brother, Lazarus, was dead. Not just died, but four days in the grave gone. Martha and Jesus were talking. Her faith in the Lord limited to His Presence. The Lord had come to do the miraculous. Martha was limited in her belief. Jesus came to raise her brother from the dead right then and there. She put him off until eternity. How many Martha’s are reading this today? How many times have you given up when things seemed impossible? How many bad reports have caused weeds to smother the seed of God’s Word trying to grow new faith and life in you? And the hits just keep on coming…Martha left the conversation and went to her daydreaming sister, Mary – “The Teacher is here and wants to see you.” Notice she did not call Jesus the Messiah…

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

The setup for every miracle is the impossible. When you can’t do it, and only the Lord can get glory for it. Jesus was angry. When he finally made it to Lazarus’ tomb, he told them “roll the stone aside.” But Martha…protested…God save us from our disbelief. Help us overcome our doubts that keep us locked in earthly graves. Hidden in darkness rather than living in the Light of Your Love. How many times is our rebellious, anxious, insecure, doubting and disbelieving thoughts that keep the stone in place over dead dreams and miraculous opportunities when the Spirit of the Lord is ready to save, heal, transform and give new life?

God is ready to do exactly what He promised to do in our life. He prerecorded it all before we were born and prescribed it in this plan of His Making for a future of life and power. Jesus lives in you. His Spirit is unlocking doors that disbelief is trying to hold shut. We limit the Lord with our stinking thinking just like Martha. Why all the excuses? A lack of expectation is the fruit of disbelief. It is doubt existing in the heart where faith is trying to grow. We must overcome our disbelief. The Lord has given us a Helper to continually expose these areas and do away with them. We must do our part. Our part is to daily allow the Holy Spirit to transform our thoughts and mind to take captive fear, doubt, anxiety, worry, and every thought that contradicts the Word of God for your life…today. Change is today. Every day holds the possibility of the miraculous for the believer. If your life is not fully satisfied and exceedingly abundantly more than you imagined – it is time to take inventory of your thoughts and push open the stronghold in your mind. Doubt cannot hold you captive. You can open the door to believing anytime. The Spirit has set your free. You can experience freedom today when you set your heart and mind on Jesus!

Today as I gather supplies to paint our dining room, I will clear the room of all the furniture and pictures. As I begin the change in that room, I will inspect my heart for hidden possibilities. I love to paint. It gives me time to contemplate and pray in the mindless strokes of application. Lord, show me the areas of my life in need of change, ready for transformation, open doors ready to give way to new freedom, and dead dreams that are in need of new life. In Jesus Name! Amen!

“I will dare to believe that anything is possible. I throw caution to the wind, it’s time to risk again. I will dare to believe that anything is possible with Jesus…my Jesus!”

What If…

what if

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

What if it’s true? What if the Bible is the absolute and unequivocal Truth about God? What if it really is inspired by the Holy Spirit? What if it is more than a story but a covenant written for us? What if there really is a Living God who loves us? What if He really did give His Son to have a relationship with us? Is it even possible to fully fathom such crazy love? Unconditional love is not possible when love is based on emotions and feelings. God is greater than our feelings but must be given precedent over them for us to change our mind about Who He is and How He love us. He is not a man who lies or changes His Mind. His Character is Love. His Nature – Love. Everything about God is love. We must simply choose to accept the unfailing love that pursues us in each moment of every single day.

Hope will not lead to disappointment. Are you disappointed today? Suffering from depression, anxiety, fear or even unmet expectation that has left you doubting? Our feelings and emotions wreak havoc on our brain as it tries to make faith logical and a legitimate driving force in our life. Miracles require the impossible. Supernatural outcomes defy nature. Yet, in that moment of trials and testing, it is hard to see past what is right in front of us. Our instructions are clear. Walk by faith and not by sight. We must exchange the “what ifs” that keep us from stepping out in faith and make it the very reason that we do! How do I get there from here?

People like options. Opportunities are built on options. However, when presented with a choice one must make a decision. The decisions made in life are usually based on education, experience or emotions. These are the things that govern our thoughts when making rationalizations leading to what our action becomes. The dilemma comes in the heart of a person who wants to take a spiritual stand on a natural foundation. It’s tough to overcome intellect to rely on the inhabitation of God’s Spirit living in us. We must change the way we think and decide that God has a plan and purpose that is real and relevant for us.

2 Corinthians 10:4-5 (NLT) We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ.

The battle in our mind wars against us. Human reasoning is a tough barrier to God’s Thoughts which are so much different than our own. We make estimations and approximations based on the rules of relativity but do not trust the Word of God enough to make radical choices of simple obedience. Without God’s Word to guide us as a light in the darkness, it is impossible to find Him and remove every obstacle between us. Why? Why would we want to give up our way to follow the Way? Oh friend, what if the Word of God really is true. What if everything it says about us is possible? What if…

Psalm 139:13-15 (NLT) Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.

What if you are really marvelously complex made of God’s wonderful workmanship. What if He really did fashion and form you so you are not a random science experiment that accidentally created a human? What if He saw you before you were born? What if every day of your life is prerecorded? Every single minute already laid out. What if?

Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NLT) For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.

What if your prerecorded life is filled with purpose? What if it is a good plan of success and not disaster? What if it is filled with hope…yes that hope that never leads to disappointment? What if God is listening? What if He can be found? What if it’s true and His Unfailing Love has been chasing after you? (Psalm 23)

Ephesians 1:3-6 (NLT) All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son.

What if God through Jesus really has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms? Psalm 103 reminds us of some of those blessings – forgives my sins, heals ALL my diseases, redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies. What if God really isn’t mad at me? What if He isn’t trying to punish me but bless me indeed? Where am I in all this? God made all decision to adopt me. He wanted me. He chose me. He made the Way (Jesus) for me. And what about His Glorious Grace?

2 Corinthians 12:9 (NLT) Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.

Perhaps the craziest part of this to comprehend is God’s Grace. How can He love me when He knows me so well? When He can see right through me to every motive and emotion that drives me to disobedience, yet still freely bestows His Grace to me. I know me. I know what I’ve done and those I have hurt. I know my faults, failures and many weaknesses. What if God’s Power works best in all of them just like He says?

Romans 8:28 (NLT) And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

What if the Lord really does cause EVERYTHING to work together for the good of those who love Him? It doesn’t say the one who does everything He says or the one who lives a perfect life…it says those who love Him. Loving God is enough. It has always been enough. His Grace is the sufficiency of our restored relationship no matter what religion says. God put a purpose in you. It is firmly established. He even gave you faith to make it grow from tiny potential to a massive promise. He gave you His Spirit to teach you and cultivate good fruit to feed your soul and nourish your heart and mind. He promises to perfect all that concerns you and even encourages us not to waste a single moment worrying about anything but just bring it to Him with bold confidence. But you know what the greatest “what if” is to me?

Romans 8:37-39 (NLT) And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

What if there really is nothing that can separate us from the Love of God given to us through Christ Jesus? What if to live in Christ filled with His Spirit really makes us a Child of the Living and Loving God? What if it’s all true? What if our life of disappointment is not the result of God’s Incompetence but our disobedience? Could it be possible that the only reason our life is not prospering from our soul outward is that we do not believe that God’s Love for us is constant? Every condition, limitation and restriction set on our life is self-imposed. Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom!

Have you ever read the story of Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss? I have read it hundreds of times. The moral of the story is to try new things. “I do not like green eggs and ham, I do not like them Sam I Am.” Finally by the end of the book, he tries them and likes them. How many pages of excuses before finally just tasting them. Oh what a wonderful truth in childlike fashion…

What if God really is good? What if His Love unconditional? What if His Grace enough? What if His Plan for you is prerecorded so you haven’t missed a thing? What are your benefits and blessings? What are you possibly missing out on? Why not try Him? Why not give it a chance? The what ifs of obedience are words Christians might be familiar with including supernatural breakthrough, signs, wonders, miracles and even revival. God is for you. He loves you. He gave His All for you. It’s all true. I believe it. Do you? The greatness of God is His Love for you and it releases every bit of potential locked inside of you by simply decided to trust Him, take Him at His Word, and seek Him day by day.

Psalm 34:8-10 (NLT) Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him! Fear the Lord, you his godly people, for those who fear him will have all they need. Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry, but those who trust in the Lord will lack no good thing.

Cutting Edge

cutting edge

Romans 4:16-17 (NIV)  Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who have the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all. As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.” He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not.

We live in an age of evolving technology. What is new today will quickly be obsolete tomorrow? Advances made each day make supply and demand driven by an every changing market. It’s funny that the very things marketed as new and improved do not seem to stand the test of time any longer. Old appliances lasted forever but the newer more advanced cutting edge technology doesn’t have the longevity of the aged models. It seems like just when we upgrade our cellphone or tablet the next one is released. I believe in many ways church has become the same. Lights, sound and action fill the space of sanctuary and often we miss the root of salvation and position of change. Appealing to our senses and appeasing our pride, living on the cutting edge but never experiencing brokenness before the Living God.

Hebrews 4:12 has been replaying in my head. For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” God wants us to see that there is a better way. A simple life of faith that leads to everything He has promised. It is entered by the Son. It is lavishly covered in His Grace. He provides all that is needed to live a godly life with every spiritual blessing. The Lord has given us His Spirit and a Mighty Sword to cut through our stubborn sometimes stony heart to get to the promise hidden inside claimed by faith and resilient in confident hope. Where is our confidence in Christ? Too often it is a continued effort to upgrade that drives us from church to church. As if there is some great secret to this new life that can be claimed by a safe shortcut rather than radical obedience. Oh Abraham, the father of faith for the circumcised and uncircumcised has a message for us. Will we listen? Will we allow the Word of God like a double-edged sword to penetrate our hard hearts?

The promise comes by faith. Are you waiting on a promise? A blessing that you know awaits you but cannot seem to find its way into your life. Our world demands immediate action. It requires “fast” everything. But what about the Lord? His Timeframe is not ours with a thousand days like one day. When the minutes turns to hours becoming days and even years what is our response? Do we continue to wait? Watch? Wonder? Wander? Abram was 99 years old when he entered a covenant with the Living God. The Lord changed his name to Abraham. Isaac was born when Abraham was 100 years old. For 99 years Abram was a practicing Jew who served the Lord. The promise of a son came after he was circumcised and consecrated his life completely.

We have a new covenant given to us by the Lord. It is our choice the level of relationship that we choose to have with Him. To engage or live on the edge it really is up to us. I am challenged today by the father of faith. The one who lived for the Lord ninety-nine years before entering covenant with him. Abraham and his household were all circumcised according to the Lord’s command. Paul teaches that no longer is circumcision (outward) needed but that God is looking for the circumcised heart. The place where religion meets relationship is not by outward rules and regulations but the inward surrender of our stubborn and selfish heart. To allow Him to cut through the flesh and expose the new creation filled with new life hidden there and to allow the faith deposited in us to reach its full potential.

I looked up the definition of “cutting edge” and found it to mean “the most advanced stage of development of something.” Is this a hint at spiritual maturity? Is becoming a well-developed Christian more about who we are rather than what we do? Yes. Yes it is. I joined the “club” when I was just eleven years old. I got up out of my seat, driven by something inside the pit of my stomach, made my way to an altar and asked Jesus to be my Savior and Lord. It took decades to begin to scratch the surface of what a life in Christ truly means. It means less of me and more of Him. I cannot remain unchanged in any way and have the full potential of Christ in my life.

Romans 12:1-2 (NIV)  Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

There is an old story about a chicken and pig who lived in the care of a kind farmer. The chicken approached the pig with a marvelous idea. He suggested doing something for the farmer in exchange for his excellent care. The pig liked the idea listening intently to the chicken’s plan. “Let’s make him a good breakfast!” said the chicken knowing it was the farmer’s favorite meal. The chicken offered fresh eggs. The pig knew the farmer would want more, “What else should we bring?” The chicken thought for a moment and said, “Ham? The farmer loves eggs and ham.” The pig replied, “That’s fine. But while you are making a contribution, I’m making a real commitment. Are you the chicken or the pig? Are you a contributor or committed? How much of you is invested in the Kingdom? To Christ?

Sacrifice is defined as surrendering something of value as a means of gaining something more desirable. Sacrifice is a commitment of all while offering only a portion of some. The chicken offered some fresh eggs to please the farmer. The pig would have to sacrifice all to give him fresh ham. The Word of God tells us quite clearly that it is not what we give of our hand but the surrender of our heart that the Lord desires. Psalm 51:16-17 says, “You do not delight in sacrifice or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit and a broken and contrite heart you, God will not despise.” If we give up our life to serve Christ but do not surrender our heart – we will end up with nothing.

Isaiah 57:14-15 (NIV) And it will be said: “Build up, build up, prepare the road! Remove the obstacles out of the way of my people.” For this is what the high and exalted One says—he who lives forever, whose name is holy: “I live in a high and holy place, but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.

Psalm 34:18 tells us that the Lord is close to the brokenhearted. The scriptures promise that “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” In the natural, circumcision is an elective procedure. It is not required but rather many people choose it for their newborn sons. The Jewish culture still recognizes the procedure as a religious rite of passage. I wonder if God is not moving among us because we have withheld our heart. All or in part. Have we surrendered our hearts as a living sacrifice so that His Word can cut through its hard, stubborn and even stony exterior to expose the new life and new creation within us? Those who do will experience a new life in Christ filled with promises and blessings as faith rises from the sacrifice of a circumcised heart. One penetrated by the Spirit and washed in the Word which allows the Light of His Love to shine brightly through its cracks and crevices. Lord, I give you my heart today. Do with it what you will? Have Your Way in me today? I trust that you will not leave me for dead but create new life in me with each cut. I put my expectation in You and give you my permission to fully examine and cut away futile and worthless desires that are hidden within. I give you my heart as a Living Sacrifice today make a masterpiece from its many pieces. Amen and amen.

Psalm 34:18 (NIV) The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

Psalm 147:3 (NIV) He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

Finding God’s Favor

Finding God's Favor

Proverbs 3:3-5 (ESV) Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good success in the sight of God and man. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.

There are two marketing strategies used in advertising to attract new customers. The first, lost leaders, refers to merchandise being offered at rock bottom pricing to entice people to shop the business. Usually offered in limited quantities, this technique is designed to gain consumer attention. They will continually shop the store looking for the next great deal. The second is considered a dishonest practice called “bait and switch” marketing. Customers are “baited” by advertising of items or services at a low price. Once arriving at the establishment, they discover the advertised goods are either not available or not as good as expected. Salespeople then pressure them to consider a similar but higher priced item. Advertising is a multi-billion dollar business which employees many tactics to sway the current market and gain clients the increase desired from their investment.

Consumerism is the basis of advertising employing the importance of increasing consumption of goods that is considered economically desirable. Supply and demand are the two main factors. To increase the demand requires the supply to meet those desires. This is how advertising thrives by making us think we need, want and desire certain things. It is also an enemy of contentment as the constant infiltration of materialism influences our choices each day. This was true in biblical times as well. Greed existed even in the Old Testament.

God grants His People His Favor. We sow and reap like everyone else does but with seeds of faith heavily invested the prosperity of life begins in our soul and spills over into our natural life. The psalmist confessed, “I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” What if we applied this same confession to every aspect of our life including our personal economy? We sow our time into family, jobs, hobbies and church. What is the return? We plant our talents into betterment and success. Are you successful? Investing that which is treasured seeking a return – has it come yet? See I believe that I have the favor of God. I believe that His Goodness is for me in the land of the living, but honestly I didn’t always think so. Some days I struggle to stay focused on the faithfulness and goodness of God granted to me by grace and accept His Favor in my everyday life.

God is able to do the impossible. If it is possible for me, who will get the glory once it is complete? I will. People will explain it away or make excuses. There are some who even expound on what God does, accelerate timing rather than waiting on His Perfection, and even some who will exaggerate the blessing to make it some kind of miracle. I have decided that I am not going to “help” God out anymore and wait for Him. How else will I know that God really can do the impossible? Where else will I find confidence that His Grace really is sufficient then by letting my weakness take over and saying, “I cannot do it”? It is easy to give the Lord credit for something we do. Every good thing is from the Lord, right? What if that good thing we did really isn’t a God thing? What if His Favor was ready to prosper us but we stepped in front of the Lord, ran ahead, or did a lesser thing for ourselves? It is sad to think of all the perfect and precious promise hidden behind pride and disbelief. The good news is that the Goodness of God IS for us in the land of the living.

Genesis 30 tells the story of Jacob and Laban. Jacob has worked his fourteen years and now has two wives and many children. He goes to his father-in-law seeking permission to return home. If you will remember, Jacob arrived at Laban’s home fleeing from his brother, Esau. He had schemed to take his brother’s birthright and the blessing of his father. Laban, being a shrewd businessman, is acutely aware that he has prospered significantly with his son-in-law’s help. He asks Jacob, “What shall I give you?” Jacob finally tells him to give him all the spotted, speckled, and black lambs along with all the speckled and spotted goats. This offer is too good to be true. Everyone knew that most lambs are born white and only goats came speckled and spotted. Laban agrees and both men leave thinking they have out schemed the other.

Jacob comes up with a preposterous plan using striped rods to visually incline the animals to produce striped or spotted offspring. He separates the animals so that only the strong animals reproduce. He thinks his elaborate plan has worked as the spotted, speckled and striped herd flourishes. When the time comes to leave, Jacob is a very wealthy man. He thinks he has pulled one over on his father-in-law but he had nothing to do with the prosperity experienced. God prospered his flock despite his interference. Everyone knows that what a sheep or goat “sees” doesn’t impact natural (or spiritual) reproduction.

How many times do we try to manipulate the Lord with futile efforts and fruitless deeds? We boast of blessings and favor not produced by the Lord but the result of our own investment and hard work. God has promised us that He will do exceedingly abundantly more than we can even imagine.

Ephesians 3:20-21 (ESV)  Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

I was sharing with someone not too long ago that I am the Child of God who is given a glimpse of the bigger picture so I grab God’s paintbrush and try to finish the masterpiece. I am God’s Workmanship. (Ephesians 2:10) He has carefully designed my entire existence to be beautiful in His Time. He has prerecorded all the days of my life according to His Unconditional Love, Overwhelming Grace, Abundance of Mercy and Constant Goodness which is always in pursuit of me as I run off to make things happen. What if God is doing a wonderful work in you but you are too busy doing things for yourself that there is no room for His Goodness? Yep – I am talking to me. How often does Father God have a blessing with no sorrow added to it but due to my impatience or need for control I decide to make it happen adding an undue burden to what God was going to do without any burden at all? Religion is based on works. Relationship is based on trust. This brings me back to Proverbs 3 today.

Because of God’s Steadfast Love for me and His Faithfulness, I have His Favor. The Favor of God is for the land of the living. The work that He is doing in me as a result of grace makes way in my weakness for His Favor to flourish prospering me in the natural as my soul prospers. God promises us good success in the His Sight and the sight of man. Laban attributed Jacob’s success to God’s Favor. However, Jacob thought he was doing it. Jacob spent the majority of his life in deception. He wasted many years thinking he was pulling one over on people. Despite all that, God was working in Jacob. He is working on me. He is working on you, too.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.

The Lord gives us opportunities to trust Him each day. Our relationship with a human being requires trust and so does our relationship with Jesus Christ. His Word is the covenant of our relationship. It carefully details every blessing and benefit of our connection with Christ. It says that those who abide in me will bear much fruit. This is not just in a spiritual connotation but a physical and natural directive. If we abide in Him and He abides in us it is the natural reproduction of things. God is good. His nature is to love because He is love. The rain falls on the just and unjust because the Lord desires to prosper us on every level. I am challenged today to trust God in every area of my life. This means I must evaluate every part of my heart, mind, and spirit for compliance. It means I must be patient and persevere. The enemy will challenge the weakest part of our heart. The area where trust seems to be the hardest. He is always seeking the ones who may be devoured. The truth about our life is this…

Psalm 84:11-12 (ESV) For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly. O Lord of hosts, blessed is the one who trusts in you!

God is our sun and shield. He presents to us and gifts us with His Favor and Honor. NO GOOD THING does He withhold from those who walk uprightly. What does the Lord require of us? To act justly, love mercy and to walk humbly with Him. (Micah 6:8) To walk perfectly and live flawlessly has nothing to do with it. To live in a relationship with God through Jesus Christ is our lifelong pursuit that unwraps the gift of God’s Favor in our life. To trust the Lord with all of our heart and stop trying to understand everything. I hear all the time, “Well, if I don’t do it – nobody will.” That’s not true. If you don’t do it, God will have His Way and do exactly what He planned from the start. Pride tells us God needs our help. He needs us to build His Reputation. He need us to do something…anything to participate. Not true! The only thing the Lord requires of us is trust.

As believers it is very important not to sell a “lost leader” God or “bait and switch” Lord who offers good things to us that aren’t really true. To even suggest that we can somehow earn or deserve all that He has done for us is to make a mockery of the Gospel and is defined of a life of works without real faith. When we package our life based on anything other than steadfast faith and hopeful confidence by giving a false persona of who God is and how He operates – we lose people. God does then impossible. He doesn’t need to take credit for our investment. He will do it all to perfection without adding sorrow, burden or even weariness. The Lord has given us His Favor and our life of trust honors that gift. We cannot up sell God when His Gift of Life is priceless.

Do you trust the Lord today? The evidence is in the contents and conquests of our life. Areas of dissatisfaction, lack of fulfillment and discontent are the very place that are ready for divine intervention if we will only give up our need for comfort, control and convenience. Let God bestow His Favor on you today. Let His Goodness be Your Source. Allow Him to do exceedingly abundantly more than you can imagine. His Favor is for you. He is working in you to bring it to fruitfulness today – in Jesus Name!

Psalm 90:17 (ESV) May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us—yes, establish the work of our hands.

When Heaven Opens

When Heaven Opens

Deuteronomy 28:11-14 (ESV) And the Lord will make you abound in prosperity, in the fruit of your womb and in the fruit of your livestock and in the fruit of your ground, within the land that the Lord swore to your fathers to give you. The Lord will open to you his good treasury, the heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season and to bless all the work of your hands. And you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow. And the Lord will make you the head and not the tail, and you shall only go up and not down, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you today, being careful to do them, and if you do not turn aside from any of the words that I command you today, to the right hand or to the left, to go after other gods to serve them.

Last week, I had this revelation in prayer. An “open heaven” is the prayer of believers. To have the blessings and benefits of heaven make natural life supernatural. Miracles, signs and wonders are the epitome of the concept of an open heaven. Are you living an ordinary life or an extraordinary life? The open heaven is an existence that defies human reality defined by faith and confident hope that produces God’s Fruit in our life. When the Glory of God pours out, it has a definite purpose prescribed before time began. From beginning to end, the story has been written before it is time to be lived including every provision, promise, and purpose. If an open heaven is our truest desire, than we are asking the Lord to wreak havoc on our natural life.

Why? If God is good, and His Way perfect, then our imperfection and weakness must give way to His Perfection and Strength. God is Sovereign. He does not change to accommodate my flesh, preferences or demands. He is a Good Father. He knows what is best for us. To request alignment with the heavenly realm and open the windows of it, one must be ready for an undoing like never before. The Glory of God interrupts our plan to make way for His Plan to be revealed. The Lord will make you abound in prosperity. This is an absolutely true statement in the covenant made between God and all of his people…even you. God’s Prosperity begins in our soul and makes its way into our natural life. There will be no abundance in our hand until it begins in our heart.

The Lord will open to you his good treasury, the heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season and to bless all the work of your hands.

A treasury is the funds or the revenue of a government, corporation or institution. It can be defined as the “place where treasure is stored.” The enemy cannot take a single blessing or promise God has in store for you. Nothing can be taken from God that belongs to you. The only way to access the blessings and benefits is for the Lord to “open to you His Good Treasury.” His Good Treasury is the heavens. What opens the windows of heaven? What gives us open access to come and go? Obedience. Obedience is the next step of salvation. It is when Jesus becomes our Lord. Can I go to heaven if He is only my Savior? Absolutely. You miss all the benefits offered in salvation if He does not become your Lord.

People sow seeds every single day. The productivity of life is time, talent and treasure sown into life. When heaven opens in our life, seeds once dormant will receive new rain. God will bless the work of our hands. Obedience begins in the sowing of our life. To align our planting with God’s Timing and wait for His Season allows abundance and prosperity that worldly timing and expectation will never produce.

Matthew 3:16-17 (ESV)  And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

There are two kinds of obedience in the Kingdom. There is religious obedience and relational obedience. One is driven by love of self and the other is a passion fueled by love for Christ. Religious obedience is based on my ability to follow the regulations set forth in God’s Word. I do it because I want the associated blessing or benefit. God will bless religious obedience. However, this is not the kind of obedience that the Lord is after. He desires a relationship with you. The Love of God for us is unfailing and unconditional therefore it is not impressed with how obedient and faithful we are to rules and regulations. No…Jesus is looking for those who obey because they love Him too much not to. Obedience offered in radical love is the kind that pleases the Lord.

Why did Jesus get baptized? Hmm… I had to think about it. The first thought was because it is what the Word instructs us to do. Well that’s silly, because Jesus IS the Word. When Jesus obeyed God, not because He had to but because He knew it would please the Father, look what happens next – “the heavens were opened.” Could this actually be an illustration of radical obedience based on ridiculous love? Grace has already paid the debt for our life. God’s Favor is upon us. His Spirit lives in us. When we decide to live according to love for God everything changes as obedience opens heaven in our life. Choosing to follow Christ because we love Him leads to a way different existence than that of religious obedience.

Deuteronomy 28:1-2 (ESV) “And if you faithfully obey the voice of the Lord your God, being careful to do all his commandments that I command you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the voice of the Lord your God.

To request an open heaven is to commit to a life of faithful obedience. The Word of God is clear that it is His Intention to overtake us with blessings. Jesus came to give us an abundant life. He will withhold no good thing from those who love Him and seek Him wholeheartedly. Obedience must be a heart choice and not an intellectual decision. It must be a willing surrender of our way to embrace a pursuit of our beloved. Who do you love? Who would you lay your life down for? Would you do the same for Jesus Christ? Logical faith must become practical living if our goal is to align our life with Kingdom Blessing. This means that our treasure is in heaven not on the earth but it is our full intent to open heaven and flood the earth with His Presence.

Matthew 27:50-53 (ESV) And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit. And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many. 

Once again the Spirit of God is poured out. The first time it came to rest upon Jesus. Then after His Death, Jesus released His Spirit to the people. The first time people could not receive His Spirit because of sin. After Jesus died, paying the price for sin, His Spirit was released on the earth. Immediately the temple veil was torn so religion was no longer a requirement and the graves gave up their spoils. Death rendered powerless to life that day. Everything changed because now heaven was accessible to all God’s People.

When heaven opens in our life – things begin to change. The more of our life given to the pursuit of the Glory of God found in His Presence – the more intimacy that is desired. Moving closer to Jesus means a displacement of self to make room for His Spirit. It will begin to change us from the inside. In the meantime, we must continue to sow good seed and wait for His Harvest. It will come. When our obedience is established in relationship – the Kingdom becomes our home.

How do I evaluate obedience? Well, the results of godly obedience that characterize a prospering soul are not selfish. If I can do it and it has no cost, it is not relationship but religion. It is the moment that I cannot give enough of me to Jesus that radical relational obedience is perpetuated. When there is a desperation to give more, do more, and be more that is beyond anything I can give, do or be – transformation begins. Why doesn’t God just open heaven over His People? Because most of the church couldn’t handle it.

The Powerful Force of His Perfection colliding with our imperfection would kill us. When our stubborn rigidity meets with His Overwhelming Grace it would destroy us. God is waiting for our heart to fall in love with Him. Our heart to be full of Him. Our soul to prosperity in Him just so we can survive His Goodness pouring out on us and in us and moving through us. I want an open heaven. To have it begins with the plea – God change me into who I need to be to absorb your Glory when it comes.

Mark 2:21-22 (ESV) “No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. If he does, the patch tears away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins—and the wine is destroyed, and so are the skins. But new wine is for fresh wineskins.”