Don’t Stop Believing

Don't Stop Believing

Matthew 7:7-8 (NLT) “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.”

Cue the music, I love 80’s music. Although I tend to gravitate toward mostly Christian music nowadays, my kids hate when an oldie but goodie comes on because I cannot help but crank it up and sing along. “Don’t Stop Believing” is a classic. It’s funny how our mind works. Certain thoughts will filter through the folders of memory and pull out random thoughts and ideas. Lately the Holy Spirit has really been pressing me to evaluate my faith and belief system. Oh, I assure you that I am sold out to Jesus Christ just some spring cleaning meditation and self-examination. I do not want to become comfortable or complacent in my pursuit of Jesus and His Kingdom. But what I am beginning to see and now believe is that like the woman who had but a small jar of oil hidden on a shelf who did not tap into it until she was completely desperate (2 Kings 4), there are things in my life intended for prosperity and blessing that remain hidden. The Lord wants me to be like the woman with the alabaster box who broke the seal pouring her perfume over the head of Jesus. (Matthew 26) Why is it that we wait to believe until death knocks on the door when we should be beating down the door of God’s Kingdom? See the difference. I do, at least I am beginning to.

Keep asking and you will receive. Keep seeking and you will find. Keep on knocking and the door will be opened. Everyone who asks receives. Everyone who seeks finds. Everyone who knocks the door is opened. God does not show favoritism. (Romans 2:11) His Grace is enough – it is sufficient in its ability to turn my weakness into His Power. God’s Gifts and His Call can never be withdrawn. (Romans 11:29) What does that have to do with me? Well in Genesis 1 – the Lord blessed us. He instructed us to be fruitful, increase, fill the earth, and subdue it. Purpose, prosperity, generosity and power. It all belongs to us directly from God. But sin came hindered us from fulfilling His Mandate for us. (Romans 3:23) No longer able to live according to God’s Glorious Standard. Jesus came to remove the burden of sin and death so that once again the Kingdom of God and His Call could be fulfilled in our life. It is a free gift. (Romans 6:23) Now we have eternal life, the life that in our heart is our desire. (Ecclesiastes 3:11) When we connect with the Kingdom of God and live according to God’s Standard including His Glory and Grace – we become complete lacking no good thing. (James 1:4) This is all part of the reconciliation process as our life begins to come into alignment with the Word, Will and Way of God, the Father. (2 Corinthians 5:17-19) Why am I not asking for every spiritual blessing I have been promised? Why am I not seeking the secrets and hidden things of the Kingdom every day? Why do I not beat down the doors to God’s Presence every single day until the door opens so I may come boldly before His Throne with every need, worry, care, burden and desire? Why? Have I stopped believing? Have I established a limit to the Love of God?

I Corinthians 15:9-10 (NLT) For I am the least of all the apostles. In fact, I’m not even worthy to be called an apostle after the way I persecuted God’s church. But whatever I am now, it is all because God poured out his special favor on me—and not without results. For I have worked harder than any of the other apostles; yet it was not I but God who was working through me by his grace.

The last rollercoaster I ever rode was at Six Flags over Georgia. I looked up the name so I could share it with you and laughed out loud. It was called Goliath. I have never been so terrified in all my life but gave in to the ridiculing of my children to ride it with them. When I got off the ride, I was mad. I remember walking away, shaking my head and declaring that I would never ever ride another thrill ride again. I haven’t. It was on that ride that our son blacked out. Having a major concussion in middle school, and after speaking to his doctor – it was concluded that because of post-concussion syndrome – he probably should not ride rollercoasters anymore. He was very disappointed but felt so bad agreed. Well, now I cannot help but wonder if it was his brain or the hidden tumor growing in his body next to it. I had no idea the giant that would soon be awakened in our life. After our son’s bone marrow transplant, he was declared in remission after three long years of battling. When I came home, life was far from normal. Within a month, my birth mother passed away unexpectedly and my oldest daughter married. Four months later, she and her husband were called to ministry 21 hours away. All those days to be made up from being apart while I cared for her brother, would have to wait for another day. I walked along that year deciding that I love God but I could not do this “faith” fight anymore. I took the sword that slayed those giants and gently hid it on a shelf. Believing came at a high price. I just couldn’t do it anymore. We can love the Lord and even trust Him but not believe for the Kingdom. We can accept His Daily Provision like manna but not press for the Promised Land of Favor that He has for us. The enemy uses fear and doubt to apprehend us and shut us in a cell with a lockless door. We wait for forever to come. We long for eternity. God has goodness for us in the land of the living. We must ask. We must seek. We must keep knocking. Why don’t we?

When Saul became Paul, he was called to minister to the family and friends of countless people were slaughtered at his hand or by his command. Yet somehow Paul discovered the sufficiency of God’s Grace was enough to stand before them and share of God’s Love, Grace and Favor. He overcame doubt and disbelief to live what He believed. My life must be lived to the Glory of God but what Glory is there to a lamp that is hidden under a basket out of sight. There are things God has called me to do, say and be that are well out of my comfort zone and will require a daily commitment to ask, seek and knock. The only reason that I have the Favor of God is because of the Blood of Jesus. (I Peter 1:17-19) The Power of the Blood is for the remission of sins and restoration of the Glorious Standard of Living that is the Kingdom of God. Salvation is a multifaceted gift that takes a lifetime to unfold as God completes the good work that He began before you were born and insists on completing in spite of you.

Romans 14:16-17 (NLT) For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. If you serve Christ with this attitude, you will please God, and others will approve of you, too.

God supplies everything we need every day. Is that enough for you? Are you okay with just enough? Why, when we serve a God of more than enough? The earth is all about daily provision or what we eat and drink. The Kingdom of God is not a matter of provision but a place of prosperity. We must learn to ask for, seek after and knock on the door of God’s Presence for Kingdom Favor rather than just getting by. You have not because you ask not. (James 4:2-3) We do not ask because we do not believe. We must believe with wholehearted confidence that God has a plan that contains a future and hope for our good. (Jeremiah 29:11-13) We must believe that He works every detail of our life for our good and His Glory. (Romans 8:28) We must believe and be confident that God’s Goodness is for the land of the living. (Psalm 27:13) To believe is to ask, to believe is to seek, and to believe is to knock – every day.

Matthew 16:15-19 (NLT) Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “You are blessed, Simon son of John, because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being. Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.  And I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit[f] on earth will be permitted in heaven.”

Jesus asked Peter, “But who do you say I am?” Here me today – it doesn’t matter who God is to anyone else or the reality of Jesus for every other person in the world. Who do you say that He is? The life changing moment that you believe Jesus is the Son of God, who died for your sins, rose on the third day, and handed you the Keys to His Kingdom enough to do something with it – is the day heaven and earth become united in your life. The connection is made by faith. Faith shows the reality of what we hope for…your faith is shown not by what you say but what you do with your life. It is the evidence of things not seen soon to be a reality in your life and for the Kingdom. Why did you stop believing? Abraham took his faith all the way to the mountain with a knife poised and ready to plunge right through the beating heart of his 100-year-promise. God called Abraham – His Friend. Why? He believed. He believed in a God who can raise the dead back to life. What about you? If you believe that the moment you die, you will be brought to life in eternity, why can’t you believe God for simply things like favor? Increase? Prosperity? Power and influence? Such simple things offered by an awesome God left on the shelf like the bottle of oil, God has ordained and anointed you for His Glory. Is your life glorious? Maybe if like the woman with the alabaster box – we choose to ask, seek and beat open every door between us and Jesus to pour our life in His Lap, maybe we will discover the pressed down, shaken together and overflowing life that the Lord has promised His People. We must believe again. Believe that God is good. Believe that He is for us. Believe that He is with us. Believe that He desires us. Believe that the Lord will do exactly as He said. Don’t stop believing today! Crank it up and play it loud. Let your life be one of asking, seeking, knocking and believing and watch what the Lord will do!

James 2:21-24 (NLT)  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. And so it happened just as the Scriptures say: “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.” He was even called the friend of God. So you see, we are shown to be right with God by what we do, not by faith alone.

 

What’s the Hold Up?

whats-the-hold-up

Hebrews 10:19-23 (NLT) And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water. Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. 

Trusting and believing would not be so hard if God did not insist on keeping His Own Timeline. Those days that add up to endurance and perseverance that push us past our patience. We love God. Why does He keep us waiting? What’s the hold up? I have divulged on many occasions that patience is not a personal strength but my total weakness that it seems God is intent on fixing in me. I find that each day I am presented with opportunities to wait on people, wait on traffic, wait at the store, wait at the doctor, wait on results and wait some more. My ability to wait indicates the importance of that which I am waiting for. For example, if our pantry and refrigerator are borderline empty – I will wait in a long line at the grocery store on a busy Saturday in order to buy the food our family needs. However, if I am there to pick up a few items to make a batch of cookies on impulse – I am more likely to put the ingredients back and walk out the door. It is all based on need and desire.

Waiting on God is just as important as working for Him. One does not discount the other. To plow through that which God says do but not be still when God says wait will impact our purpose. Our obedience to the Lord determines the abundance in our life. He is not rewarding us – He is releasing what He has already stored away for us. Before I get pummeled with all the scriptures that indicate God rewards good behavior and obedience. Please allow me to explain. The reward that is reserved for me in Heaven is not subject to the hands of others. My reward is labeled an inheritance because it belongs to me. It is mine by birthright as a Child of God. I am not in competition with anyone else for what God has for me. By choosing obedience, patience and stillness over the impetuous nature of my flesh, God releases that which He has reserved for me. The only thing standing between me and God’s Richest Blessing in my life is – you guessed it – me!

“Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.” What is the hold up? What is keeping God’s Word from coming to pass in my life? Well, quite frankly and not to hurt any feelings – it is me and it is you. The very thing desired of the Father begins with the promise that we cling to. The Word of God clearly outlines every benefit and blessing that He has for us. It is a careful inventory of the supplies and surplus called abundance. Do you read it as such and believe it to be so? Have you ever gone into a restaurant hungry? When you peruse the menu, everything looks good. You order more than you can eat. Our appetite and hunger must become focused on God’s Word and God’s Way. This will produce satisfaction and contentment rather than a lifestyle of trying it all in hope of finding peace and rest.

Through the temptations, trials and tests of life, believers are forced to evaluate the things held tightly in our heart and in our hands. This is not because God wants to take from us but rather pour into us. What I hold on to can absolutely keep me from taking hold of those things that the Lord has for me that only faith and hope can produce. I will not trust the Lord for more if I have no idea what is available to me. It is also important that we seek the Lord personally and intentionally outside of the preachers and teachers that spoon feed the Word. Though they are necessary and beneficial to the Body of Christ, if we do not taste and see the Lord’s Grace and Goodness for ourselves – we will never let go of lesser things to obtain all the great blessings God has reserved for us.

Hebrews 4:14-16 (NLT) So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.

“Let us hold firmly to what we believe.” I am challenged in Genesis and I Kings when God asks His Children like “who told you that” and “what are you doing here”? God will ask you the same thing if you listen for His Voice. It is easy to settle for good over God. It is much easier to maintain a level of control than to give up all control to trust the Lord. The absence of personal strength allows His Grace to take over and produce God’s Wonder Working Power in our life. Who is willing to take such a chance? We didn’t have a choice when our son was diagnosed with cancer. God didn’t ask me if I was up to the challenge or interested in following Abraham to the mountain. He just said, “Do you trust me?” I charged the Throne of God reciting every promise in His Word. He did not deny me but continued to ask, “Do you trust me?” The answer “yes” was not a powerful declaration such as David charging the giant but rather a whisper from deep within my devastated and demolished heart which I no longer had the strength to even pick up. One might think such a confession was enough. But I had prayed for years for more faith, to know Him more, to trust Him implicitly – and now I was given the opportunity, yes opportunity, to do just that. I had no idea what it would require. One diagnosis, four relapses, complete denial by the insurance company for lifesaving treatment until the very end of all medical intervention and the dead-end of all financial resources. One might think it was all those steps leading up to the moment when the final denial from our last appeal came in – but that was not the end it was only the beginning.

The shaking and struggling in life is not always the enemy sometimes it is the Holy Spirit trying to get us to let go of our word, our way and our will because our prayer is for His Word, His Way and His Will. We pray for one thing but don’t necessarily know that which is requested. When we finally make it through the stronghold of self to enter boldly into the Throne Room it is usually not a grand entrance but what is left of our person crawling into the Presence of God asking for grace and hoping for mercy just to make it through. God didn’t make it like this – we do by fighting for our way first and then seeking Him when all else fails. We can change all that but it means letting go now. Surrendering our life before Him daily rather than on demand. Service to God begins with humility that begins each day with less of me and more of You, God. It is to scoop up new mercy and to let go of the idea that there is anything I can do to earn it but must come before Him boldly to receive it. Boldness is born of confidence. Are you confident in the Lord today? Do you believe that He keeps His Promises? Or do you hope for less to see Him more? Do you lower your expectation to a human level because you are not willing to wait for Him to work all details for your benefit and blessing? Guilty as charged.

Deuteronomy 11:22 (NLT) “Be careful to obey all these commands I am giving you. Show love to the Lord your God by walking in his ways and holding tightly to him.

Obedience allows all the benefits and blessings tucked away for us under the careful guard of angel armies to be released to us. It is not to punish us or force us to do anything that we do not want to do. For example, while cooking dinner last night, I had a certain dish in mind. I read the instructions and pulled out all the ingredients. I followed each one line by line and precept by precept because I wanted the dish to turn out right. I did not deviate from it because the person who wrote it was sharing a secret with me that would become a glorious meal. I wasn’t mad that I had to add salt or not add sugar. I didn’t get frustrated when I had to wait for it all to simmer and the flavors to mesh together. That would have been ridiculous right? Why do we get mad or offended at the thought of godly obedience? Taste and see that the Lord is good is an open invitation to come try the food at His Table. To sit and sup with God and enjoy all the blessings and benefits of His Kingdom. If I deviate from a written recipe the food will not taste the same and I risk failure. Heck, I am pretty good at messing up recipes I follow to the letter. Do I throw out the pots and pans? Do I stop cooking forever? Do burn all my cookbooks? No, I try again.

We must take a logical approach to illogical faith. We must be sure that in learning to walk by faith not by sight that the very thing held most tightly is God and His Word. It will be evident in the productivity in our life. Holding tightly to faith produces the many fruits of God’s Spirit including love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness and more.

Romans 12:9-12 (NLT) Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.

It is only reasonable to believe that if the things I am doing, seeking and believing are ending in frustration and dissatisfaction that I need to do something else. Insanity is to do the same thing over and over expecting different results. I had this thought the other day. My husband and I have moved to a more rural area in the county outside the city limits. When we decide to “go to town”, it usually includes a meal since options are limited in the county. I ask him, “Where would you like to go?” He says, “I don’t know, how about you?” I respond, “It’s up to you.” I am embarrassed to admit that we usually frequent the exact same places where we used to eat before we moved. In fact the last few months, it has been the same restaurant every time. Shameful when there are so many choices. Inevitably as we continue to run errands that day and pass the many other venues, one of us will say, “We should have eaten there instead.” We are all creatures of habit. The Lord offers new ways and new things but change is difficult for the flesh inside of us. We miss faith full opportunities because we live on status quo. I know the place I go has what I want. I do not try new things in fear that I won’t like the food or be willing to pay a different price. This same principle is applied to our Christian walk. We set boundaries and limitations in our life because we give up on what we first believed and limit Christ to this life rather than letting go of what we hold tightly to embrace all that He is. Greater is He who lives in me is activated by the Truth – He must increase and I must decrease. His Power works best in my weakness always.

It is time to hold tightly to what is good. All ways and every day – those who choose to live by God’s Word, His Way and His Will cannot continue to do things the same way. Love. Forgiveness. Hope. Grace. Mercy. These are the qualities that produce boldness in our walk with Jesus Christ. These are the life giving words and principles that motivate us. Just because someone doesn’t believe doesn’t mean they don’t belong. Just because the Holy Spirit convicted you of something doesn’t mean it must be their conviction too to produce unity. It means that putting all differences aside and discarding indifference in our life that the Love of God become the prevailing principle and purpose for all things in our life. Genuine faith cannot be found aside from absolute trust in Jesus Christ. The kind of trust that continues to love and serve God no matter what this life looks like. Clinging to His Robe of Righteousness, burying our face in His Presence, and intently hanging on to His Every Word until our primary motivation in all things is Jesus.

Revelation 3:2-3 (NLT) Wake up! Strengthen what little remains, for even what is left is almost dead. I find that your actions do not meet the requirements of my God. Go back to what you heard and believed at first; hold to it firmly. Repent and turn to me again. If you don’t wake up, I will come to you suddenly, as unexpected as a thief.

Juggling the responsibilities of this life and yet trying to incorporate faith that cannot be seen only experienced, we sometimes forget that if God is our priority everything else will fall into place. I challenge you today to let the balls fall where they may and enter boldly into Your Father’s Presence. Lay your life and everything you hold tightly to at His Feet. Let Jesus sort through it with you. He will carry your burdens and cares. He will relieve all worries. He will give you the strength that only grace provides. He will be Your Portion producing satisfaction is seasons of famine and contentment in moments of drought. I know that when I first came to Christ I had this fairytale in my head that the Lord would make everything better…instantly. It doesn’t work that way – trust is the avenue to all that we hope for. His Word is roadmap to the Destiny of fulfillment that is prepared for us. We are not dead men (and women) walking but charging toward victory which is our destination. Let go today of everything you thought being a Christian was and take hold of God’s Word, listen to His Voice and do what He says. He knows you. You are His Masterpiece. Don’t mark up your Mona Lisa with all the things others tell you to be – let God’s Word, His Way and His Will prepare you and place you in Your Purpose and Calling.

I Timothy 6:12 (NLT) Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have declared so well before many witnesses.

Come Boldly

come boldly

Hebrews 4:15-16 (NIV)

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

 

The New Living Translation of this verse says, “So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God.” Come boldly. Boldness is born of confidence. It is to have full assurance of our entitlement that creates an inner drive to claim that which belongs to us. It is a sense of ownership. Such confidence knows no shame as it works toward acquisition. Oh that the church would become bold again. Oh that the men and women of God that fills each sanctuary big or small would come to the Lord with boldness to receive the inheritance that He has designated just for them. Each personal pursuit need not seek after another for in the Lord’s Portion there is always more than enough. He does more than we can even think to ask for, yet we do not ask. Greater is He that is in us then he who is in the world – yet the church cowers in a corner a victim to politics, people and personal agendas. Lord, why are your people so weak and shallow? Why don’t we have more than enough and live in abundance as You desire? Have we lost confidence in You? Did we have it to begin with? Faith is weak and flesh overpowering.

 

The Lord is my portion. He is my lot in life. He makes me secure. (Psalm 15:5-6) He supplies all my needs. (Philippians 4:19) God pushes us to completion for He does not understand compromise. (James 1:4-5) God desires to give us eternal pleasure not fleeting happiness or fuzzy feelings. (Psalm 16:11) He has given everything and every season a proper place in my life that will produce the eternity in my heart as a reality for me. (Ecclesiastes 3) The Lord has given me everything I need by His Divine power to life a godly life and see Heaven come to the earth. (2Peter 1:3) So why is my life less than perfect? Why all the pain? What is my problem? Am I ashamed? Perhaps, it is not a matter of heaven touching earth. Heaven is pressing its windows and doors waiting for release. Could it be that I do not have enough confidence or faith to come boldly before the Lord? Does sin separate me from satisfaction leaving me struggling in substitutions? Does my faith allow the Lord to release all these wonderful things in my life or has fear rejected them? Lord, I want to come boldly. Please show me the way.

 

Lamentations 3:22-26 (NIV)

The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!” The Lord is good to those who depend on him, to those who search for him. So it is good to wait quietly for salvation from the Lord.

 

I have had an epiphany. It came in the midst of the greatest trial of my life. Praying for my son in his hospital room with more than ten infusion pumps beeping as the contents rushed through his veins. Medication, nutrition, and poison all at once into his frail body. As I continued to ask the Lord to save our boy, I felt it as though a cold, hard rock dropped in my heart falling to my stomach. He will die… one day. We all are dying slowing as we live our life. It is God’s Mercy so that we do not have continue to live in dilapidated and deteriorating conditions as our flesh is wasting away. We have blessed release. I do not believe a person who sees Jesus and steps into Eternity to be with Him every thinks twice about coming back. All of this life fades in comparison to His Beauty in that moment for all time. Heaven touches earth but does not change the earth but prepares us for His Kingdom. The Presence of God comes to people not places. This life is preparing us for the moment that we meet Him face-to-face. I want to know that Jesus knows me and invites me into forever with Him.

 

During our son’s illness, my life was completely reprioritized in about 30 seconds. Everything fell off me in that moment and all I knew was that I would fight for his life. Period. End of story. I would find out just what it meant to stand on the Word of God and wait on Him to make it come to pass. But in the meantime, I would learn so much more about God’s Plan for us as people. Your trial may not be the illness of your child. It may be a battle against your flesh. Struggle with depression, anxiety or fear. It could be that you just don’t know what to believe. These are the laments or complaints of life. There is a book called Lamentations. It is there that we find this verse.

 

When we have a need that becomes desperate, we turn to the Lord. When it is just too much for us, we ask the Lord for help. This is not the standard operating procedure that yields God’s Abundance in our life. The Lord is our portion. He makes our part the whole. We are part of the Body of Christ. It is Jesus that connects us to the whole. Do we feel as though it is possible to be completely connected to Christ? If so, we would come boldly. Each morning the Lord supplies us with His Mercy. Why? His Unfailing Love and Compassion for us know that we may slip and fall or even fail miserably so He provides for us ahead of time what we need to keep going. Our relationship does not make Jesus part of our life, but when He becomes our portion than we become part of the whole Body of Christ and Kingdom of Heaven. It is a working connection that completes us not because we have anything to give but He gives us everything.

 

Matthew 15:22-28 (NIV)

A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.” Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said. He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.” “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.

 

Is Jesus copping an attitude… no, not really. The Lord was making a valid point. The woman was a Gentile. She was not a Jew. So his point that day was valid in the natural, but not Jesus’ point of view in the supernatural. He was speaking to us even way back then. The woman came to Jesus and called Him, “O Lord, Son of David.” She recognized that He was the Messiah. She identified with Jesus who He was and what He came to do. Jesus did not acknowledge her, not a word. So the disciples responded to his apparent disregard for her and tried to send her away. Now as a mom who has experienced an agonizing and life-threatening situation with our son, I totally get her next move. I have had to do it, too.

 

“Lord, help me!” See what just happened, her knowledge of who Jesus was became faith the moment it became personal. She called him, “Lord”. She accepted Jesus as her Savior and Lord the moment that she came boldly before Him. She didn’t care what He did next as long as He did something because she believed in Jesus. She trusted him. She would eat the very crumbs beneath His Table if need be, she came boldly for her portion. What did Jesus do? How did He respond to such boldness and confidence? “Dear woman, your faith is great. Your request is granted.” Her daughter was instantly healed.

 

Could Jesus have done it the instance she arrived? Of course. His Unconditional Love would not let her settle for just a healing but rendered salvation the moment she believed. What are you willing to settle for? We settle all the time. Tolerating sin. Accepting substitutions. Considering compromise. Why? We do not have faith. Knowing who Jesus is. Understanding what He can do. It is not enough. When we finally decide that He can AND will do it for us, Jesus becomes our more than our Savior – He becomes our Lord. Now we ignore sin, push past substitutions and will not entertain compromise. We are Children of the King. We don’t settle for crumbs but go straight for the table with confident boldness that our God will do what He says. Or do we…

 

Psalm 138:3 (NIV) When I called, you answered me; you greatly emboldened me.

 

Studying the story of the Canaanite woman, a commentary referred to this passage. “You greatly ‘embolden’ me.” The word “embolden” means to make bolder, more earnest, hearten and encourage. Why would the Lord make the woman continue to beg? That is not what occurred in this story at all. He moved her from the crumbs to the table. He moved her from possible to impossible. He moved her from complacently to complete satisfaction. When Jesus stops becoming a novel idea and the Lord of our life every outcome changes as He works every detail of our life for good according to His Will. See she could have continued to forage and fight for the scraps with the dogs, but when Jesus went from being Lord to becoming her Lord everything changed in her life beginning with the thorn in her flesh that brought weakness to be filled by His Grace.

 

We do not cry out when things go well, but in great distress. We do not petition God in the good times but run to Him when things go badly. In our lack, we seek for Him to meet our need but all along God desires to complete us until we are lacking no good thing. He is attempting to produce an abundance of the fruit of His Spirit so it will overflow from us in to life around us especially other people. If we could only get past our doubt that He is our Lord, we could sit at the feast He prepared before our enemies. Our cups would run over with the blessings of God. Yes, friend, there would be a great revival.

 

The Lord allows us to wait to draw us closer to Him thereby releasing our inheritance and more of our portion that is mandated by God included in His Plan and Purpose for us. It belongs to us. It is waiting on us. Our petition becomes more earnest the more desperate that we become. While we seek Him for a singular segment, Christ desires to give us double portions. When we become confident in who Christ is, make Him our Lord and live for Him only, we will have a completely satisfied life that allows us to seek out others rather than seeking Him for ourselves. Revival comes when His Spirit overflows from us and the four walls of building and captivates a community. How can we boldly share a Savior and Lord who we have not accepted fully for ourselves?

 

Isaiah 61:7 (NIV)

Instead of your shame you will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace you will rejoice in your inheritance. And so you will inherit a double portion in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours.

 

The Spirit of the Lord is upon us. Jesus gave us His Spirit. We revel in the first three versus of this chapter, but we must move on to the rest. We are to be rebuilders. We must become restorers. We are to renew those lives devastated by generations of sin and coated in shame. How do we do that if we cannot accept it for ourselves first? Our lives should be marked by shameless pursuits of Christ. Coming to His Throne boldly with every facet of our earthly existence that does not line up with His Word while we devote our life to faithful obedience because He is our Lord. It has become personal. It evokes passion. Do you believe? Do you have faith in Jesus as Lord of your life and everything in it? This is how we accept His Portion. He give those who choose to live by faith, hope and love in every season good or bad, feast or famine continually pressing and pushing for the life He promised, the blessings that He gives and fulfillment He offers. No, I don’t deserve it. Jesus gave it to me. I only need to accept Him. When I fully believe that He is my Savior and Lord all these things are added to my life. I can live shamelessly. I do not know disgrace but rejoice in inheritance. I will inherit the double portion when I believe in Christ alone and everlasting joy is mine just knowing Him more. I must come boldly. Obedience is a sign of confidence. We must be bold. Jesus is calling. He is inviting us closer. He is creating an atmosphere for His People to experience revival again. It begins when we decide to come boldly.

 

Matthew 7:7 (NIV)

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”

 

Psalm 73:25-26 (NIV)

Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Full Pursuit

Full Pursuit

Proverbs 21:21 (NLT)

Whoever pursues righteousness and unfailing love will find life, righteousness, and honor.

 

What are you after in this life? As a human being, is it just to live a good life full of love and love and laughter? As an American, is it life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? As a Christian, is it righteousness? As a Believer, is it to have more faith? The problem is not what we are after in life but in the diligence and discipline of our pursuit of these things. The mountains, valleys and storms of life demand our attention distraction us from those goals and aspirations. Problems present obstacles and hindrances hold us back. Unmet expectation keep us in the present looking for something we missed rather than reaching for the future to find what is hidden in the arrival of tomorrow. The Word of God says, “Whoever pursues righteousness (or right standing with God) and unfailing love (born of His Perfection provided in His Son) will find life, righteousness and honor. You have heard the old saying, “Be careful what you wish for…” The same can be said of our prayer life. Be careful what you pray for. To find something we must be determined to look for it. To have it one must pursue it.

I read a post on Facebook that grabbed my attention, “God seekers are God finders every single time.” Do you seek God every single day? Do you go after the promises of God for your life every moment that you are awake with every breath taken? Why not? I am asking myself this minute. With brief hesitation, I want God’s Hand in everything I do, but I have a different perspective now. I am not jaded but cautious. For years, I cried out for more of God. What I got was the biggest test of faith that I could ever imagine. To walk out into depths where my feet failed and my faith stretched to its limit, I found myself drowning in His Love. The journey of our life for the last few years has been surreal as though I was not walking but being carried. I would not have asked for it or chosen it but through it I decided that rather than just seek the Lord that I would pursue Him. I sought the Lord in complete and total desperation. I could not breathe some days in the midst of the uncertainty of this world clinging to the promise of life given to our son by no one but the Lord. Think about that. What if you were thrust into a situation where the ONLY hope you had was Jesus, what would be your response? Would you trust Him? When we begin to seek the Lord and cry out to reach the depths of His Love, please understand what indeed is being asked. To pursue such things like righteousness and unfailing love, the kind that leads to life, righteousness and honor, comes at the end of self.

I Timothy 6:11-12 (NLT)

But you, Timothy, are a man of God; so run from all these evil things. Pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have declared so well before many witnesses.

 

As I stand on this plateau, dusting off the mountain that is behind us peering into the sun on the horizon on the other side of the valley, I am looking ahead and feeling the need to run again. To run after, seek and pursue God even more than before. Some days I am a bit concerned that I am crazy. Not that I do not want the life God promises for those who seek Him with the promise of always finding Him, but the testing and trials that temper our faith, burn away our flesh and grows our character into one of right standing. To run from all evil things continually promotes separation from this world which can feel like isolation if not immersed in the Presence of God. To pursue righteousness is not regular church attendance and occasional faithful service but to actively follow Jesus in order to overtake Him. To walk in close alliance and adherence to His Word. To strive to gain every single thing that the Lord has promised. This is not a casual seeking. Not a single random act, but a radical lifestyle of obsessive persistence determined to find the Lord and maintain a total existence in His Presence. To live a godly life means giving up our life to live like God. We are created in His Image but must surrender our sin and selfishness to be like Him. Those who try must learn to walk in faith when fear is logical. They must love when encountering the unlovable. Perseverance is their purpose in each day. Never giving up on finding the faith that moves mountains, stills waters, saving souls and healing nations. To fight the good fight of faith is knowing there is more of God to love and making it your passion to find your way there. Eternal life is the ticket we hold on for preparing and waiting for that day.

A few years back or so, I bought our daughter a ticket to a concert. It was a gift given long before the big day arrived. From the time she got the ticket, she began planning and preparing for the big night. She picked out an outfit and great shoes changing her mind multiple times before it was time to get ready. She carefully selected a friend to go with her. She imagined how it would be and what they would do over and over in her head. Due to an illness in the singer’s family, she postponed the concert rescheduling it for a later date. Of course, our daughter was disappointed. What did she do? Did she tear up her ticket and throw it away? Did she take back all the special outfit because she didn’t want to wear it anymore? Did she allow her frustration to rob her of that night? Of course not, yes she hemmed and hawed a little but the night finally came and she rocked the night out with her famous person. Last year, we had to make a hard decision as our son was going through his transplant with a wedding being planned in the middle of it and had to postpone the same daughter’s wedding for a month. Her brother would not be able to travel when the original date was set due to some complications that delayed the transplant process. She didn’t say dump her groom or decide it wasn’t worth the wait. The bridal gown did not go back to the shop and the caterer was not cancelled. She just waited. Just like her brother who when faced with a delay, did not decide to give up on cancer treatment! What is the point? We give up on God and seeking Him so easily when faced with a setback and miss the blessing that He is taking us to time and time again. What have you given up on? Where is your fight? You called out to Him on the water like Peter and the Lord responded just the same, but now that you are out there you want back in the boat rather than seeking Him more.

Matthew 6:33 (NLT)

Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

 

Seek first the Kingdom of God above every other thing you do in life. Live righteously is not a call to be super spiritual spooky and weird but rather to live life in Light of His Love meaning that every decision you make is centered around knowing Him more. I want nothing in my life to come between me and God. Nothing. I am desperate for His Love. What does it say about those who simply seek Him? Those who go in search of, try to find Him, try to discover His Love, to try to obtain His Favor or just try…He will give you EVERYTHING you need. But wait there is more…

To seek the Lord is good. But to pursue Him is better! Pursue means follow to overtake, follow closely, strive to gain and it means to seek the Lord with purpose. These are the people that experience more than they can even think to ask for! (Ephesians 3:20) God blesses those who understand that they need Him and without Him they have nothing – these are the very same ones who the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to. (Matthew 5:3) Those who come boldly into His Presence like they have a right to. (Ephesians 3:12) We must decide that He is worth more than any other endeavor and decide to pursue the Lord like the woman after the lost coin. She had nine other coins and was only missing one but would not stop until she had them all. (Luke 15:8-9) What have you stopping looking for today? Is there a promise you have forgotten? When did you stop asking for more? I know when I stopped. I also know the day I began pursuing God again. Will today be that day for you?

Matthew 7:7-11 (NLT)

“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.  “You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.

Are you living in full pursuit of God today? This is a candid and pointed question. It is none of my business whether you do or not, it is a personal question. It doesn’t matter how it looks to others because everyone knows how to fake it until you make it. We enter this relationship with Jesus Christ as strangers but like best friends it grows in an instant. When Jesus becomes real, and our friendship with Him turns to true love, we go from seeking Him to living in full pursuit of Him. We are jealous for Him and passionate about Him which promotes a deep level of commitment that no matter what happens – we stay in love. Have you stopped asking afraid of what you will get? Have you stopped knocking afraid of what you will find? Whoa, even I had to stop and mull over that for a minute. To whom much is given, much is required. (Luke 12:48) This was my spiritual rut until recently. I just didn’t know if I could survive another trial like the last. I was not up to the test or so I thought. Until the Lord revealed to me, you never were. It was Me all along. It is with that I began a full pursuit of Him once again realizing I am nothing without Him and cannot survive outside the Love of God anymore. I am changed. My needs are met by seeking Him. My life is blessing by pursuing Him. I want it all. I want Jesus.

Matthew 13:44-46 (NLT)

 “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field. Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant on the lookout for choice pearls. When he discovered a pearl of great value, he sold everything he owned and bought it!”

The Funeral – A Devotion

Hebrews 10:19-25 (NKJV)

Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.

 

Upon arriving to the little country church on the side of a rural highway the sun had broken way through the overcast clouds of the morning to reveal a spectacular day. It was a beautiful day for a funeral. The words almost sound like a misnomer of sorts because how can you celebrate the weather in the midst of profound grief. The bright sunshine would bring comfort on this day. As family, friends and parishioners arrived to “celebrate” the arrival of their beloved father, brother, husband, uncle, friend and pastor into Eternity, they filled the little church. In the quiet of the sanctuary with only occasional muffled cries and babies babbling, music softly played. It may have even been stunned silence for just a few weeks before the man who was now honored had been in the pulpit above his casket preaching the word with the fiery passion given to the longtime Pentecostal preacher. Within what would seem like moments, he was bound to a hospital bed fighting for his natural life until early one morning while the world slept, he took the Hand of Jesus and stepped into Glory. Who could have known that this day would come so quickly? But just as this was no ordinary winter day outside, it would soon become clear that this would be no ordinary funeral. As the service began, a pastoral friend of this Man of God took the pulpit to share thoughts of his friend and words of encouragement for the people. That’s when “glory” broke out. Within a minute or two, testifying hands shot up and shouts of “glory” filled the room while heads nodded in agreement. As if somewhat oblivious to the somber occasion, men and women of God boldly proclaimed their faith, passion, love and zeal for the Lord despite the loss of their loved one. This would continue through the entire service. There were times when one had to remind themselves why exactly we were here. The Name of Jesus was glorified! What a testimony and heritage this Man of God had left behind!

Most often it is noted in God’s Word that Jesus was astounded at the lack of faith in His People, but there is an account of the centurion whose faith actually astonished the Lord. (Matthew 8:5-10) Jesus marveled at this man’s belief and understanding of His Identity. In the presence of these faithful believers in moment’s that understandably would have been filled with weeping and sorrow yet gave way to shouts of victory and joy, I must say that I marveled. What would seem like the end for most people didn’t even cause these faithful believers to pause. Death truly had no power over them and neither did the opinion of man. This would be the heritage left behind by a Pastor who was a light to the world constantly pointing to His Savior and not himself. The test of a good leader is whether or not those he leads can continue in his absence. This shepherd was faithful for even in death the spark that had ignited to Holy Fire continued to burn brightly in his departure. In fact, it seems as though it may have only added fuel to their passion for Jesus Christ. My mind wandered from the service momentarily and rested on other churches across the world. I have attended many services in my lifetime yet few as memorable as this service would be – a funeral. Men and women who sit in services week after week and who never experience faith that is bold and alive or who are engulfed in a passionate love affair with Jesus Christ which cannot be contained. Like happens many times, the Holy Spirit takes a general thought and turns the spotlight on my own heart and soul. The church will not be ignited with passion and boldness until I am.

The pastor of any church is really only a fire starter and flame carrier of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. His job is to spark interest and cultivate the knowledge of God almost like a poker that stirs the hot burning embers to start a fire. Boldness is the aftermath of faith and confidence in Jesus Christ. Man is temporary but God is eternal. Boldness is the absence of fear. It does not worry about breaking the rules of propriety. Standing out distinctly, it is steadfast and immovable because its trust is linked to the same. In Jesus Christ, there is nothing to lose but everything to gain. God desires boldness in His People. As my inner conversation with the Lord continued, I pictured myself sitting in a church service with a large group of people who were not responding to the Lord’s Presence and I heard the question, “Will you stand boldly for me when no one else will even if it causes disdain in others?” Powerful question coming from a penetrating God followed by a personal plea, “Lord, give me holy boldness!”

I John 4:16-19 (NKJV)

And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him. Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him because He first loved us.

 

May we all become fearless in God’s Love today with a boldness and passion for Jesus Christ that makes us immovable and steadfast. Such confidence will ignite a fire in the Body of Christ that will become a raging love affair that defies the boundaries of conventionality and decorum and reaches into Heaven. It will move the Father’s Heart and Hand for His Children with signs and wonders to follow. The Lord’s Favor will pour out on His People as His Spirit lives in one accord within their hearts. The church will experience revival. God give us boldness! Lord, increase our faith! Jesus, begin with me!

Holy Boldness

Acts 4:12-14 (Message)

They couldn’t take their eyes off them—Peter and John standing there so confident, so sure of themselves! Their fascination deepened when they realized these two were laymen with no training in Scripture or formal education. They recognized them as companions of Jesus, but with the man right before them, seeing him standing there so upright—so healed!—what could they say against that?

Holy boldness comes from a life captivated by the Spirit of God. Old Testament believers did not have access to the great power and authority that New Testament Christians find totally accessible through Jesus Christ. Boldness is the lack of fear and absolute courage to face any situation regardless of the potential for harm or rebuff. It means not worrying about the results but perpetuating the environment to facilitate with great confidence that which God has the power to accomplish. It is nothing that we bring accept a perfect confidence that God is able to do every single thing He ever said that He could do. Before the time of Jesus Christ, humanity did not have the privilege of personal face-to-face time with God. It was a priest or man of God who would enter His Presence and bring it back to the people – a facilitator of sorts. When Jesus walked the earth, man could experience God firsthand and up close. However, it was limited to one’s proximity to Jesus Christ. People marveled at the possibility that God would dwell in the midst of mortality. But the real power manifested when Jesus ascended into Heaven in exchange for the presence of the Holy Spirit who would actually live inside of every willing person’s heart. It means the impossible becoming possible and the confidence that no weapon formed against us will ever prosper allowing an open forum for the Power of God to manifest in the natural existence of humanity.

People are influenced by confident people. Wishy-washy individuals who lack confidence in themselves or anything else are seldom persuasive. Boldness does not require an education or degree but solely rests on one’s ability to stand firmly on their beliefs without moving. It is the steadfast and unwavering who grab and hold the attention of others. With the shifting and moving of constant changing theories and ideas, people are drawn to those who boldly stand behind their convictions without moving from their position despite the complications of the world. This confidence is coveted by the unstable. Confidence is qualified by results but was present long before anything happened. Our belief in the ability and power of Jesus Christ must be in place in the form of faith and trust in order for the miraculous to happen. It is in that moment that we stand before any accuser and silently allow the opposition to attempt to explain the supernatural and divine. Boldness is not an intrusive attitude but rather a quiet confidence. When we enter God’s Presence boldly it is not offensive or attacking, but like a child running to their parent. On any given day, it is not uncommon to hear the rapid footsteps of a child running up the driveway into the house. The door is wrenched open and slammed violently as they charge an entrance. Running with the “cry” of “MOOOOOM”, my girls boldly enter my presence. I represent authority in their little lives. Yet they possess confidence not only in my acceptance of them but also the power of the relationship. Their trust in my great love and care for them enables them to feel assured that I am ready and able to work in their life. It would be silly for them to cautiously knock on the door. It is with that same enthusiastic confidence that God desires His Children to accept His Presence in their life. Our words indicate our soul’s reaction to the indwelling Holy Spirit – God’s active existence in our life. Confident Christians can stand before any accuser or doubter because of the bold relationship that causes them to understand that no matter what appears to be the case in the natural, Daddy God is on the job and ready at a moment’s notice to work on our behalf. It will literally shut the mouth of your adversary and his many accusers.

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.

The key to confidence as a Christian is completely fueled by faith in Jesus Christ. The more confident we become the more boldly we are able to stand in the face of opposition. It is a transfer of reliance on self and the multitude of weaknesses that we possess and redirecting everything to the power and authority of Jesus Christ. Our personal power comes in our ability to stand in the midst of even the greatest challenge unmoved by accusers focused on the ability of God! Examine your heart today! Is your faith genuine? Tough question that needs an answer to move from wavering results to a life of absolute victory and influence. The choice is yours. Jesus Christ lives in you and as a result holy boldness is a quality you may possess! Your boast is in the Lord and His Ability, brag on God today!