Gathering the Crumbs

Gathering the Crumbs

Psalm 51:16-17 (ESV) O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

Is brokenness a requirement of God? Yes, it is. It sounds contrary to a God described as love. The One who is always good. The Lord whose character is defined by faithfulness. It is hard to understand these verses that reach further into His Way to remind us that it is with a broken spirit and a broken and contrite heart that God is delighted in us. It almost sounds cruel and heartless on His Part. There is an indescribable beauty in brokenness that cannot be seen from the outside but must be experienced inside of the human heart. I wonder today if in His Word – there is a way to extract praise from the shattered pieces of our broken hearts.

Jesus is the “stone that the builders rejected” who “has become the cornerstone” of the Kingdom of God. He is the foundation on which the church now constructed of people is being built. However, the Word of God also calls Jesus “a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense.” Jesus is also described as “the Way, the Truth and the Life.” His Unchanging Character and Divine Nature is always good and given to holiness but those who came to save, heal and deliver are not. It is a daily choice if faith and hope will be the substance of our life joining with Jesus or will it mean stumbling in rebellion and refusal to submit to His Love. Jesus did not come to condemn the world but that through Him people might be saved. We receive God’s Love, Grace and Mercy in our broken heart that no longer desires control but gives control of their life and destiny into the Hands of the Savior.

It would be safe to say that most of us have sought after the Hand of God more than the Heart of God though few are willing to admit it. We want the Kingdom of God but not the change in character necessary to live there. God understand our selfish nature and is not at all offended by this innate character flaw. He completely understands it. Yet still in His Perfect and Loving Way – He chooses to continually offer us more. I have been trying to make sense of the many pieces of my life lately. However, it situation and circumstance significant in and of itself comprises overwhelming conditions that have caused me to stop and collect my thoughts. Why is life so hard sometimes? Why is the chosen path of holiness so darn difficult? Why must there be desperate circumstances and devastating situations in life? I will never know the “whys” and “what fors” of all the details of my life but the Lord has promised to make good of every one of them. (Romans 8:28)

Matthew 15:22-28 (ESV) And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.” But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying out after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” And he answered, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly.

“O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” Who doesn’t want to hear these words of Jesus in their life? I want to be found faithful in the end when it matters the most. Yet what if finding our faith requires complete and utter devastation? Are we willing to continue to believe when life becomes impossible? The Canaanite woman had no claim to the Messiah. She was not of Jewish decent and therefore a lost cause to the House of Israel. Jesus came as the Messiah. To save God’s People who at this point wanted no part of Him. She came to Jesus desperate for her child. What mother wouldn’t do anything to see her baby delivered or healed? She cried out to the Lord in the midst of many onlookers that day. Jesus would make a lesson of the woman’s plight that day and give her a forever place in His Word. It would come at a great price she was absolutely willing to pay. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from the Master’s Table.” Humility. This woman would do anything to see the Power of God move in her life. Would you?

Humility is the greatest stumbling block that people and the Body of Christ face even today. When was the last time every single person in your church came to the altar unsolicited by the coercing of the pastor but so in love and in need of Jesus that they stopped worrying about what everyone else thought and fully gave their heart, mind and pride to the Lord? It didn’t happen at my place of worship last Sunday either. It is a common plague of pride that is delaying the arrival of the next great revival. People want God’s Hand but have no interest in His Heart. To become humble one must be broken. It is to give up pride and arrogance to live a modest life. To lower our opinion of self in order to exalt the Name of Jesus in our life. Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom but our freedom comes when giving up our independence to become completely dependent on Jesus Christ. It is to live in meekness which many consider weakness. To love, forgive and avoid all offense even when you have done nothing wrong but knowing your relationship with God must be defined by His Character being developed and personified in each one of us. Even the disciples struggled with the concept of humility as Children of Israel, when Jesus told them how difficult it would be to enter Heaven – Peter reminded the Lord that he and the others had given up everything to follow Him.

Mark 8:14-21(ESV) Now they had forgotten to bring bread, and they had only one loaf with them in the boat. And he cautioned them, saying, “Watch out; beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.” And they began discussing with one another the fact that they had no bread. And Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why are you discussing the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear? And do you not remember? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” They said to him, “Twelve.” “And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” And they said to him, “Seven.” And he said to them, “Do you not yet understand?”

I am so thankful that Jesus is patient, loving and kind. How many times will it take for us to understand? Twice the disciples witnessed a miracle. Feeding tremendous crowds with a few loaves of bread and then retrieving basketfuls of pieces or for this lesson sake, crumbs. Well, they forget to bring bread…again. They had only one loaf in the boat. Jesus warned them saying, “Watch out; beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.” Leaven represents pride in this passage. Leaven is what elevates and gives rise to the dough. Yeast is a form of leaven. Pride requires us to keep our present form and hold ourselves together. But to fully experience a miracle – humility is required. Brokenness is godly humility that allows Jesus to take our life and make it into the beautiful masterpiece that He promised. It cannot happen in our present form. We must live humbled and broken before the Lord to have all that He has promised and so much more.

Psalm 34:17-19 (ESV) When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.

Are you brokenhearted today? Is your spirit crushed? What if the Lord is the one pressing, pushing, molding and shaping your life into His Purpose? Would it be worth it? Of course it would even though you are not so sure in your present condition. The undoing of what we are to become a new creation is never a comfortable process. Change is good but no one likes it. Troubles in life cause us to reevaluate our existence time and time again. It is the opportunity to reprioritize our life. God has promised that we will be victorious in His Son, Jesus who is our Champion. Well, we must get on the winning team for that to happen which means moving or transition our life from here to Heaven. We must live for forever today. We must walk by faith and not by sight. We must live in humility and not pride. When we are brokenhearted it is because our expectation is not met and disappointment shatters our perception. However, when we are broken it is the Lord’s Opportunity to perform a miracle and release His Power in our weakness. God is not as interested in our comfort as much as our confirmation. He will do whatever it takes to make sure that our destination is to be with Him forever.

Psalm 147:3-6 (ESV) He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names. Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure. The Lord lifts up the humble; he casts the wicked to the ground.

The fact that you are reading these words today means that there is still hope for God’s Plan to become your fulfillment. I have spent the last six years trying to take all the shattered pieces of my life and put them back into something normal that I am comfortable with. Today I am challenged to see the pieces as crumbs rather than hard, sharp pieces of glass meant to cut me. The brokenness that the trials and troubles have produces are leading to the abundance and fulfillment of God. I no longer can depend on me. I am not a trustworthy source. I am weak and powerless to control the details of my life much less make them anything good. When I praise and worship, lift my hands and shout His Name in church – it is not because I want anything from His Hand. He has given me so much even in the midst of pressures and problems. I need Him to continue to heal my heart. To make it beat with His Heart because it no longer can hold its own.

Jesus will heal our broken heart but He needs all the pieces. After each miracle, the disciples gathered more baskets of crumbs than the loaves they began with. You were created with a plan and purpose that will prosper your life. It is in you. God wrote it out before you were born. He set it into motion from the beginning. Jesus died to ensure that you could be that person who can live with Him forever. It is all in you. It comes out through brokenness and humility before the Lord. He will life us up, when we live a humble life. Great is our Lord! Abundant is His Power! He is mighty to save, heal and deliver us. To move us from glory to glory and victory to victory. The disciples experienced miracles through the brokenness of bread. The Canaanite woman would forever be remembered as the one who would eat the crumbs from the Master’s Table. Will you allow the Lord to exalt you through humility? Will you be broken to be remade in Christ? The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. Is this our desire? What will be our sacrifice? A broken spirit and broken and contrite heart summons the Presence of God into our life. He will heal your broken heart and prosper us from this place of humble brokenness. Gather those crumbs today. Cast your cares before the Lord. Let Him take you from brokenness to blessing. Bow before Him in humility and He will life you up!

James 4:10 (ESV) Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you.

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Driven By Drought

Driven by Drought

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More Life

More Life.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To Give

To Give

Luke 6:38 (NLT) Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.”

Our small group has been studying Ann Voskamp’s book, The Broken Way. When I first chose to use in our group, it was really a no-brainer. The Holy Spirit put on my Facebook feed, and then dropped in my email. The Holy Spirit really operates like “A Spiritual Guide for Dummies” most of the time, at least where I am concerned. At our first meeting, each participant shared a moment of brokenness. Their transparency evident as they tried to make sense of the broken pieces each held ended with giving God glory for their survival. Some shared the lesson learned in the shattering of their fragile heart. The more tears that fell the heavier my heart became threatening to spill out at any moment. I carried the burden home with me and began to pray for these ladies. At the next meeting, as I watched the video listening to the author share, I realized that there was a rattling in my chest, too. Broken pieces of my destroyed heart put under the Blood and committed to the Lord but still crashing around in there. Suddenly, my comfort with brokenness and the thorough examination of this journey became clear and discomfort rose up inside me. I don’t know if I want to do this anymore. To look into the mirror with eyes wide open and see the shell of the woman looking back at me. I gave it all to you, Jesus. Now what? Do I really have to try to put those pieces back together again? It was much easier to leave them be. To consider healing as a scar that holds them tightly within my bandaged heart rather than allow Christ to complete the process. So, on Sunday afternoon after a glorious nap, I knew that I must embark on this journey for it was part of my process. I didn’t want to. Who does? To consider all those things that we don’t understand or that did not turn out as one expected. I have a list. The list of the things that I still cannot reconcile with the Goodness of God and how it ended for His Glory. I save it for Jesus. When I meet Him face-to-face, so He can help me comprehend them.

The author talks about a cross that she has drawn on her wrist. It makes me look at the tattoo forever marking my right arm. It reminds me that this journey is all about “faith” which is what I see when I look down at it. It offers “hope” to others when they see it from a different perspective. I got it when our son was battling cancer not the first time or even the second, but the third time. I wanted to remember that no matter what the outcome was that God is good. My life is all about acquiring faith and confident hope. I was doing pretty well, or so I thought, until our son was diagnosed. I managed to somehow find my legs and walk through the first two rounds. But by the third time, I just wasn’t sure how much farther I could go. I wonder if Abraham felt the same on his journey to the mountain. To receive his promise, and now consider offering it back to God. This study brings back to a time of great victory. However, the brokenness experienced during that time changed me into someone I wasn’t comfortable with. It made me relinquish control of my life. Nothing would ever be “normal” again. The Lord wants to make something beautiful out of our brokenness. It has been not only a theme in my own personal time with the Lord but is coming from many other authors and writers. However, the evaluation of the pieces of our life requires us to go back to times of great hurt, hardship, betrayal and disappointment. The Lord promises to make good of every detail of our life. Perhaps some of those pieces buried deep within have potential and purpose that have yet to be released. Rather than being in captivity behind our scars, Jesus wants us to sow them with His Promises in our fertile heart. It has been plowed and watered with our tears. Now covered in the Blood, it has the ability to be renewed, restored and refreshed so that our giving is complete.

Brokenness is the prerequisite of giving. To give means to present voluntarily and without expectation of compensation. It is to place in someone’s care. To hand it over to someone and grant it to them. Giving is a form of communication. It is to transfer ownership and place in the permanent possession of another. There are two forms of giving. Offering and sacrifice. To give an offering allows us to maintain our life as it is. To sacrifice is to give something away for good. To give our best. To give our all. We all know the story of sacrifice offered by the hen and the pig. The farmer cooks breakfast as they peer through the window. The chicken gives an offering. The pig gives their all. What is the giving in your life? I am not talking about what you do for Christ, give to the church or offer others? What is the level of your giving? Offering or sacrifice?

Psalm 25:1 (NLT) Lord, I give myself to you.

Giving comes in many forms. We give tangible gifts. We also give intangible gifts such as thanksgiving, forgiving, care-giving, and so forth. It is a form of brokenness to be thankful because it honors another. Forgiving is humbling ourselves before others. Care giving is to offer assistance to others rather than choosing our way. Give and it will be given back to you. It is so basic yet labeled different ways in the church today. I offer this to you. If I allow myself to be broken, I will receive the blessing of the Fullness of Christ in me. It takes what I am willing to give and makes it blessed, beautiful and worth having. Suddenly, my life is complete in Christ so giving is without fear or trepidation. The Lord supplies everything I need. Jesus is the desire of my heart. His Spirit completes me.

Matthew 26:26-28 (NLT)  As they were eating, Jesus took some bread and blessed it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “Take this and eat it, for this is my body.” And he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. He gave it to them and said, “Each of you drink from it, for this is my blood, which confirms the covenant between God and his people. It is poured out as a sacrifice to forgive the sins of many.

Covenant in the Old Testament was a mess. Each bringing a sacrifice, to tread down the middle of, yet sacred in those days. Jesus was the Blood sacrifice for our union. He gave His Body to be broken and His Blood for the remission of sin. Once His Blood covered our sin, it is our privilege to live in the Presence of God. However, what about His Body. What can wash away my sins? Nothing but the Blood of Jesus! What can make me whole again? Could it be that we missed it in this old hymn? Could it be that our brokenness is blessed by the Body of Jesus instead? When the disciples gathered and Jesus performed the first communion, the Lord said, “Take this and eat it, for this is my body.” He had taken a loaf of bread, broken it into pieces and blessed it. They were instructed to “eat it”. The Lord’s Body now one with their own. Isn’t this what happens when the Holy Spirit comes to live in us. Our relationship with Jesus Christ is consummated. However, unless our heart remains broken it cannot be made beautiful. We must be broken to be blessed. That is what true repentance is after all – giving up my way for His Way. Giving up my life so that Christ will be complete in me. Religion and relationship are marked by two different things. Religion is defined by what I can do for God. My relationship with God is when I can do nothing – His Grace becomes enough for me. (2 Corinthians 12:9) Ironically, or not so, this is the verse that the Lord gave me right after the call marking the third diagnosis of cancer in our son. When the doctor told me it was back and it was really bad, I fell to my knees. I was at work. My office consisted of three walls and one full of windows. Everyone in the lobby could see me go down. It didn’t matter. I was broken. To truly take in the fullness of Jesus Christ, one must consume Him in every part of life. It is in our brokenness that blessing comes. The blessing makes something of our once worthless offering and giving which is now a sacrifice of our whole life.

Psalm 51:16-17 (NLT) You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one. You do not want a burnt offering. The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.

Why would God desire a broken spirit? It leads to repentance. A soft heart is a fertile heart. A broken heart allows God’s Word to penetrate and give way to growth. Faith needs a place to grow. The Lord is close to the broken hearted. It is in our weakness that He is made manifest in our life. Brokenness allows us to partner with Jesus and become yoked to Him. (Matthew 11:28-30) While I control my life, dictate my way and choose my path – I am not broken or repentant. To give my life to Jesus Christ means yielding all that I am to all He is. We cry out for it, want it, desire it, and even pursue the fullness of Christ never considering the brokenness that provides for the blessing.

In Psalm 129:3-4, the psalmist refers to his “back covered in cuts as if a farmer had plowed furrows.” He goes on to say, “The Lord is good; he has cut me free from the ropes of the ungodly.” Jesus freed us from the captivity of sin. The consequence of sin is brokenness. The Lord blesses brokenness and makes it beautiful. He has redeemed us from sin and now His Grace exhibits its power. Every broken thing (or detail) of our life is designated for our good and His Glory. (Romans 8:28) We must not ignore the broken pieces or hide them away but haul them to the altar called sacrifice and give them to Jesus. We must examine our heart. To those rattling pieces of the past, the jumbled mess of circumstances, and even scars that bind our wounds to staunch the bleeding. Brokenness must not be ignored. It is meant for our good and His Glory.

Psalm 37:3-5 (NLT) Trust in the Lord and do good. Then you will live safely in the land and prosper. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires. Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you.

Jesus Christ is the strength of my life. It is in my utter and complete destruction that His Power is made manifest in my life. Blessed are the brokenhearted because the Lord is close to them. Not because He feels sorry for them but because it is in such a state our heart is open to the Lord and His Careful Intervention. Pride keeps us from humbling our heart and life to Jesus. Personal strength must give out by coming to the end of self. Trusting the Lord is a noble effort until our broken heart can beat no more. In our brokenness, it is the Savior who we see. The One who rushes to hold us closely, care for us deeply, and it doesn’t matter what we are doing or where we are the moment before tragedy strikes. His Loving Compassion for us cannot help but come to our side. How can I commit everything to the Lord if I am withholding pieces of my life? I cannot. It is when my heart is irretrievably broken that I can lay all of the pieces at His Feet. Trust is born in that moment. Not ordinary trust, but complete dependency on the Lord that allows us to give our life away unrestricted. Brokenness is the perquisite of blessing that makes our life worth giving to others. Grace empowers us to be blessing. Thank you Lord for brokenness. It enables our giving and empowers our works to be the Hands and Feet of Jesus. It gives us a life worth giving. All giving starts with brokenness. Brokenness is made complete in Christ.

Philippians 3:8-11 (NLT) Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith. I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!

Take Your Position – A Devotion

Take Your Position2 Chronicles 20:16-18 (NLT)

Tomorrow, march out against them. You will find them coming up through the ascent of Ziz at the end of the valley that opens into the wilderness of Jeruel.  But you will not even need to fight. Take your positions; then stand still and watch the Lord’s victory. He is with you, O people of Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid or discouraged. Go out against them tomorrow, for the Lord is with you!” Then King Jehoshaphat bowed low with his face to the ground. And all the people of Judah and Jerusalem did the same, worshiping the Lord.

 

People fight through life every single day in the dog-eat-dog world in which we live. Survival of the fittest requires taking what is yours because no one is going to give it to you. So we live in a defensive mode holding tightly to what we have while desperately reaching for something more with one eye on where we are going and one on those who surround us. We live in a hula hoop known as our personal zone daring anyone to cross up with a heart that is jaded and hard living in constant fear of losing what we have and never living up to our full potential. Worry and anxiety keep our mind racing with fear constantly building a stronghold around our faith. Where is God? How can I find the Lord’s help? I am fighting for my life and one’s I love dearly. Where will my help come from? I want to do what is right but am afraid to let it all go. What if God won’t take it? What if the grace of Jesus isn’t enough? How can anyone believe the words relayed through King Jehoshaphat that day, “Take your positions; then stand still and watch the Lord’s victory. He is with you…do not be afraid or discouraged. Go out against them tomorrow for the Lord is with you! What if for just one day believers dropped all the pretenses and stopped separating religion from life and decided to live in a faithful relationship with the Lord choosing righteousness over rightness and wisdom over wealth? What if those who call themselves Christians would simultaneously become humble according to God’s Word and WAIT standing still and WATCH for the Lord’s Victory? Would it come?

 

Philippians 2:5-11 (NLT)

You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God,he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to.Instead, he gave up his divine privilegeshe took the humble position of a slaveand was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

 

It comes down to deciding just who we think we are in Jesus Christ. Believers are called to have the same attitude that Jesus Christ. Even though He was God, Jesus did not think it necessary to cling to His Position but freely gave up His Divine Privileges to take a humble position as servant of all mankind. He came in human form and lived in obedience to God even to the Cross. Then God elevated Jesus to the Highest Honor giving Him the Name above all other names. One day every man and woman will confess Jesus Christ is Lord. Everybody includes those who do not believe, caught unaware and those who profess to be Christians at the expense of others. Believers must have the same attitude of Jesus Christ. They must follow the Lord and take the position of servant in this life including giving up some divine privileges. But many times we do not come to the Lord with pure intentions. We are not after salvation but the wealth and treasure stored in Heaven when compared to the things of this world. We are not after wisdom that leads to true godliness, obedience and love. We just want the inheritance and want it now. You can keep the suffering, humiliation and persecution. Jesus took care of that, right? Salvation is no good unless it results in faith that enables us to cross from life to death. True repentance breaks the human heart and releases one’s attachment to things of this world to take hold of all that God has promised which is not about stuff. God will bless you with things but not until things have their proper place. They must not mean more than Jesus does. If you spend all your time working for things and praying for more, you will never take the position necessary to receive all the Promises of God. God’s Promise is that when we face judgment our penalty will be paid and we can live forever with Jesus. Our position in live indicates success or failure on that day. To live for earthly success will lead to eternal failure. Jesus Christ gave His Life away. Will you take His Position?

 

Zephaniah 2:2-3 (NLT)

Gather before judgment begins, before your time to repent is blown away like chaff. Act now, before the fierce fury of the Lord falls and the terrible day of the Lord’s anger begins. Seek the Lord, all who are humble, and follow his commands. Seek to do what is right and to live humbly. Perhaps even yet the Lord will protect you—protect you from his anger on that day of destruction.

 

It is time to take a position of righteousness and humility more seriously among believers. Somehow the church has forgotten the intensity of God’s Judgment in the midst of convoluted grace. We think that grace may have somehow toned down the rage of our God against sin yet His Anger still blazes against it. The “fiery fury of the Lord” will fall on that terrible day and the carefully constructed gray area of compromise leaving only good and evil. The middle-of-the-road that was built by the church to connect with the world will result in countless souls being lost who thought they were saved by grace. False teaching and watered-down gospels will be revealed in the screams of lost souls descending to hell. It is time to seek to do what is right and to live humbly. (Matthew 23:11) The sense of entitlement overwhelming society and the church must be exposed and dealt with in a timely fashion. Jesus is coming back. Hell is real and hot. Judgment is still a reality in the midst of His Unfailing Love and Grace. Society wants what they have coming to them. They have no idea. The church wants His Kingdom to come quickly, but are we really ready to encounter God like that? I think not or His Glory would fill His Temples already! What is your position? Are you ready to meet the Lord? Humility is a requirement. Are we there yet?

 

Deuteronomy 8:2-3 (NLT)

Remember how the Lord your God led you through the wilderness for these forty years, humbling you and testing you to prove your character, and to find out whether or not you would obey his commands.Yes, he humbled you by letting you go hungry and then feeding you with manna, a food previously unknown to you and your ancestors. He did it to teach you that people do not live by bread alone; rather, we live by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.

 

God will lead you through a wilderness or two to show you just how much you need him. He will allow storms to come so the wind and rain can wash away those things keep you from being ready for His Return. God is not punishing you and He is certainly not ignoring you. He is preparing you for Judgment day so you will receive His Inheritance. The Lord has provided everything you need to make it to that day complete lacking nothing. But if you keep fighting for the things of this world both tangible and intangible, you will miss God’s Very Best which is to come. Those who humble their lives to serve Jesus Christ today will have many blessings between here and Eternity. God rescues the humble. (Psalm 18:27) God leads the humble in always doing what is right. (Psalm 25:8-9) So the humble will not lose their way trying to do things their way which always results in the wrong direction. God works it all out and releases His Joy for the humble servant. (Psalm 69:32) Joy will be endless and limitless for those who surrender their life to Jesus. (Isaiah 29:19) God’s Presence accompanies the humble and He is with you wherever you go. (Psalm 138:6) The humble servant of the Lord is ALWAYS victorious! (Psalm 149:4) With Jesus, you will win every time and right on time! Humility has an inheritance. (Matthew 5:5) If you want it, you must take your position, stand still and watch for it just like King Jehoshaphat and his people.

 

I Corinthians 15:24-26 (NLT)

After that the end will come, when he will turn the Kingdom over to God the Father, having destroyed every ruler and authority and power. For Christ must reign until he humbles all his enemies beneath his feet. And the last enemy to be destroyed is death.

 

Faith demands a forever decision today. We cannot live any way that we choose all the days of our life and choose Jesus on the Day of Judgment. Those who live for this world and the things in it will be considered an enemy of the Cross. Only those who live in humility with a broken and repentant heart will survive coming face-to-face with God. Are you ready?

 

Ephesians 4:1-6 (NLT)

Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father, who is over all and in all and living through all.

 

It is time for believers to take the position they have been called to in Jesus Christ. The church should no longer be a tongue-in-cheek organization of people who come together singing praises to God and tearing one another apart as fair game in the world. Only true repentance with a broken heart and contrite spirit will produce a faithful servant willing to take a position of humility because only such a person really understands who they are in Jesus Christ. We have nothing to lose and everything to gain by giving our life away. This world has nothing for us. Now is the time to call on the Name of the Lord in real repentance. (Joel 2:12) A truly repentant heart fasts, weeps and mourns its addiction to sin. It does not simply smear it with “grace” and jump right back into it. God desires the sacrificial life of a person granted freedom and chooses to serve the Lord with their life. (Psalm 51:16-17) It would take most of us our entire life to live each day in accordance with the first six verses of Ephesians let along every other Word from the Mouth of God! God is looking for those who will repent and take their position of humility in the Body of Christ remaining steadfast until victory comes! Humble is derived from a word that means “on the ground”. There is definitely no room for pride and arrogance when you are face down in a pit. Just ask Joseph. However, the days after he was rescued from the pit would allow Joseph to save his entire family! Jesus is doing the same work in you if you will only take the position of repentance and live in humility as exampled by Christ and ordained by God while you are empowered by His Spirit!

 

I Peter 3:8-9 (NLT)

Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude. Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will bless you for it.

 

If all of the Body of Christ would humble themselves before the Lord and prepare to meet Him face-to-face, the church would come to life again as the Resurrection Power of God moved through it once again. Revival would break out. Restoration would happen again! Repentance would be real! It all begins with you. Will you take your position in the Body of Christ? Are you willing to forfeit being right for righteousness? Are you willing to give your life away to live forever? You have an inheritance reserved just for you. Your life is not big enough to contain it until you let faith enlarge the borders of your heart and widen the territory of your understanding to be like Jesus Christ! Those who do will have God’s Very Best! You will live forever! Humble your life before the Lord and HE will lift you up!

 

I Peter 5:6-7 (NLT)

So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.