Too Broken

Too Broken

I Corinthians 15:35-38 (MSG) Some skeptic is sure to ask, “Show me how resurrection works. Give me a diagram; draw me a picture. What does this ‘resurrection body’ look like?” If you look at this question closely, you realize how absurd it is. There are no diagrams for this kind of thing. We do have a parallel experience in gardening. You plant a “dead” seed; soon there is a flourishing plant. There is no visual likeness between seed and plant. You could never guess what a tomato would look like by looking at a tomato seed. What we plant in the soil and what grows out of it don’t look anything alike. The dead body that we bury in the ground and the resurrection body that comes from it will be dramatically different.

Can anything be too broken? Beyond repair? Without hope? Are there things in God that are destroyed for a purpose? How does one know the difference? If the scripture is true that “we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His Purpose.” How do you explain brokenness in the midst of goodness? The painful process of dying to the present to release the full potential of the future requires every bit of faith inside of us and all the hope that has been mustered up. It takes courage beyond that which we are born with because it is a total investment in something we cannot see or comprehend with our senses yet nevertheless seek it with our heart. What seems to be “dead” in your life today? What dream, vision, goal or revelation? This is not about meaningless or worthless endeavors but those pursuits once sought after wholeheartedly that have fallen into pieces at our feet. You thought it was right. You thought it was His Calling. You believed that He sent you to this place or put you in this position. Now what?

The biggest hurdle of faith to overcome is human disappointment. Those times when things do not turn out as one expected and the experience is not what was hoped for or imagined. Faith must overcome the perceived failures in our life to reach the full potential of brokenness. Fully bending and surrendering our mind, will and emotions to the hope that is given to us in Jesus Christ will require someone relenting and it will not be the Lord. If you are truly seeking to live the life that God has promised, brokenness is inevitable because the potential that is inside of us must find its way out.

John 11:21-26 (MSG) Martha said, “Master, if you’d been here, my brother wouldn’t have died. Even now, I know that whatever you ask God he will give you.” Jesus said, “Your brother will be raised up.” Martha replied, “I know that he will be raised up in the resurrection at the end of time.”  “You don’t have to wait for the End. I am, right now, Resurrection and Life. The one who believes in me, even though he or she dies, will live. And everyone who lives believing in me does not ultimately die at all. Do you believe this?”

Mary and Martha’s brother, Lazarus, had died. He was a friend of Jesus. Martha confided in Christ that she believed that if the Lord had been there that her brother would be alive. Jesus shared a secret with Martha in her grief. “Your brother will be raised up.” The limitation on her faith exposed in her response. “I know that he will be raised up in the resurrection at the end of time.” How often we put boundaries on the Living God by pushing our expectation beyond this life into forever. Jesus goes on to tell her and then show her that He is the “I am, right now, Resurrection and Life.” You say that you believe but are you willing to let that thing you love most die to experience the Glory of God that waits those with real and genuine faith in the Living God?

And everyone who lives believing in me does not ultimately die at all. Do you believe this?” Our firmest conviction must become that there is nothing impossible with God in order to let doubt and fear die to grow faith and believing in our life. Some things will have to be too broken for human hands. Some things will have be become impossible for the Living God to manifest His Plan and Potential for your life evidenced in His Promises. We must die fully to self to be clothed fully in His Righteousness. Religion is only a half-hearted attempt to love and serve a fully-invested God.

2 Corinthians 12:6-10 (MSG) Because of the extravagance of those revelations, and so I wouldn’t get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan’s angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me, My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness. Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.

The Grace of God is sufficient for me. His Power works its best in my weakness. His Presence is closest in my brokenness. Hear me today! Grace cannot become power in hard heart. It cannot facilitate God’s Strength in the stronghold of pride. If you are still standing, you have a long way to go before His Power can make it to your heart and mind. We must die to self to experience Resurrection Power and New Life. The battle begins inside of us. We must give up our way along with it our control. It is the continual lowering of self and exaltation of Christ. It is the giving to and forgiving of those who once were considered our enemy. We have but one enemy. The seed goes in the ground alone. One seed has enough potential to grow into something far greater than itself and reproduce enough to create more than it ever was. This potential is in you but cannot be released unless you are willing to put it all in the ground and let Jesus cover you in darkness and bring forth new life. You will be broken but the potential of what is to come will be worth it.

Psalm 51:16-17 (MSG) Going through the motions doesn’t please you, a flawless performance is nothing to you. I learned God-worship when my pride was shattered. Heart-shattered lives ready for love don’t for a moment escape God’s notice.

Christian performance is overrated. God desires our heart not our hand. There is nothing God needs me to do for Him yet so often I get caught up in service as though it might somehow make me worthy of His Love. My pride has been shattered countless times by my inability. Failure has brought me to the end of self. My heart broken many times until the pieces too many for me to put back together again. God comes to us when we can’t do it ourselves. No longer given to the thought that I am anything outside of Christ, I become putty in His Hands. It is only then that creation of His Masterpiece begins. (Ephesians 2:10)

Romans 9:20-26 (MSG) Who in the world do you think you are to second-guess God? Do you for one moment suppose any of us knows enough to call God into question? Clay doesn’t talk back to the fingers that mold it, saying, “Why did you shape me like this?” Isn’t it obvious that a potter has a perfect right to shape one lump of clay into a vase for holding flowers and another into a pot for cooking beans? If God needs one style of pottery especially designed to show his angry displeasure and another style carefully crafted to show his glorious goodness, isn’t that all right? Either or both happens to Jews, but it also happens to the other people. Hosea put it well: I’ll call nobodies and make them somebodies; I’ll call the unloved and make them beloved. In the place where they yelled out, “You’re nobody!” They’re calling you “God’s living children.”

Who in the world do you think you are to second-guess God? We do it all the time. Second-guessing God is the moment one chooses delayed obedience or to partially obey Him even in the most simplistic of commands. It is revealed in our words of doubt, fear and defeat. When we complain or gripe about our life is the tell-tale signs of disbelief and discontentment with God’s Provision and Promise in our life. We are His Created Ones. He is the only one who can take all these broken pieces and makes something beautiful out of it. The Lord promises to work good from every detail and perfect all that concerns us but He is not going to wrestle control from us – we must submit and surrender every area of our life to the wonder-working power of God given to us through His Son, Jesus.

Can anything be too broken? Beyond repair? Without hope? The definitive answer is no. Absolutely not. But does it feel like that sometimes…absolutely. God cannot use us until we become completely compliant. A fertile heart is a broken heart. The seed of God’s Word cannot penetrate a willful, hard, and stubborn heart. So the Lord leads us to brokenness so that the seed of His Word and faith within us meet and become the purpose that He promised would become a rich and satisfying life. He leads us from victory to victory. You cannot win if you do not play the game. Play to win. Leave your all on the field or more aptly the altar today. It is human nature to squirrel something away for a rainy day but it will not be enough in the storm. All of me for all of Him requires complete and utter brokenness the kind that I cannot put back together but only Jesus can fill with Resurrection Power and Life.

2 Corinthians 5:17-20 (MSG) Because of this decision we don’t evaluate people by what they have or how they look. We looked at the Messiah that way once and got it all wrong, as you know. We certainly don’t look at him that way anymore. Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it! All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other. God put the world square with himself through the Messiah, giving the world a fresh start by offering forgiveness of sins. God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing. We’re Christ’s representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God’s work of making things right between them. We’re speaking for Christ himself now: Become friends with God; he’s already a friend with you.

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My Broken Heart

My Broken Heart

Ezekiel 36:26 (NLT) And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.

My office is located across the street from a hospital. They have an amazing cafeteria with an abundance of choices for an extremely reasonable price. Finding favor with the staff provides heaping portions and an employee discount due to our frequent visits. Standing in line for the fry cook, a group of doctors stream in behind me. While waiting they begin to discuss the afternoon surgery schedule and procedures. I have a background in medical transcription so it is clear within minutes that they are cardiologists. Heart doctors grabbing a quick bite to eat before saving lives and restoring hearts for the rest of the day. Placing  their orders, I had to chuckle under my breath. You would think that someone who fixes broken hearts each day would avoid high carbs and fried, fatty food but quite to the contrary. In fact, none of them want the “veggies” on their double cheeseburgers just meat, cheese and grease. Such a contradiction, but no condemnation as I grab my own burger and fries on the way out.

I have been praying to the Great Physician for my own heart. When things don’t add up in my life, it is the first order of business to do a self-check. Comparing the contents of my heart, mind, will and emotions for anything contrary to God’s Word, His Will or His Way. He doesn’t change. He cannot tell a lie. What He says, He will do every single time. Therefore, when something seems amiss, it is usually in me. It could be my impatience or lack of understanding. Sometimes there are things in my heart taking God’s Place. Other times I have allowed doubt to begin to dull me from the inside out.

As I prayed, I began to see an image unravel in my head. A church full of people holding their hearts in their hands. The music was playing. An altar call given to all the broken to be restored again. No one came but instead held the pieces of their own broken hearts praying for others around them hoping no one else could see their offering withheld. Suddenly, I became aware that those people and I had something in common. How often do we look at others as the problem? Or fail to consider our own condition? To live in depression, discouragement and disappointment because rather than giving the Lord all the broken pieces – we try to hold it all together. What are we holding together? Our brokenness. What does the Lord want to do? Give us a new heart. A responsive heart. A heart that beats in alignment with His Own. A heart burgeoning with life and new possibilities. One that is not stubborn or callous but one that arouses our spirit man with faith and confident hope.

As if that was not enough, the Lord began to drive His Point home. I began to see people I know and love who have sick hearts. Our son, my mom and even my adopted Memaw at church. All with heart conditions that need physical healing. I see the faces of those who have endured broken relationships. Giving all of their heart only to have the holder break it into a million falling pieces. The minister whose season was over grieving the loss of their sheep. The friends with lost children watching and waiting for their return. Those who desire more and are locked in less. So many hurting hearts physical, emotional and spiritual standing all around me. I am not alone. Are you heart sick today? Are you trying to hold all the pieces together in fear something might think you have no faith? Do dark shrouds of depression, despair, disappointment or discouragement hound you day and night? It doesn’t have to be that way anymore.

Psalm 13:1-2 (NLT) O Lord, how long will you forget me? Forever? How long will you look the other way? How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul, with sorrow in my heart every day? How long will my enemy have the upper hand?

No one can know a person’s thoughts except that person’s own spirit, and no one can know God’s thoughts except God’s own Spirit. (1 Corinthians 2:11) How true is this scripture? While many feel like the psalmist in Psalm 13, most will never admit to the own struggles in faith. To believe is not natural. To have faith is illogical. Everything about God contradicts nature as we know it due to sin. Sin has flawed that created to be perfect. You are divinely created by the Living God. You are fearfully and marvelously made because God only prepares wonderful masterpieces. Yet in the course of life, even the most righteous believer will struggle to stay focused. The Lord is always thinking about us. Pursuing us with His Love. Offering His Goodness including every provision, blessing and promise that prosperity encompasses. It all belongs to us by the Grace of God given to us through His Son, Jesus. We only need to accept His Love into our heart and mind until we are convinced that this is the Truth concerning us. God has placed eternity in our heart and promises to make everything beautiful in His Time. But until then…

Psalm 13:5-6 (NLT) But I trust in your unfailing love. I will rejoice because you have rescued me. I will sing to the Lord because he is good to me.

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. (Psalm 19:14) Faith is not imagined but intentional. To take my confidence out of this world and put it in the Kingdom is not fanciful but focused. I must make every effort to respond to all of God’s Promises by faith. Faith is in our heart. Brokenness gives faith a place to grow, develop and mature into confident hope. Hope that anchors our soul is heavily weighted in the Word of God planted as tiny seeds growing into mighty oaks of righteousness. A broken heart is painful. It doesn’t work properly and there are many things that will contribute to its demise including hidden sin, retained offenses, and bits of bitterness all allowed to take the place of faith. Doubt is the tiny pebble that becomes a mighty mountain in the life of a believer. If the enemy can sell us on just one lie, our feet become tangled and down we go. Those who choose the Lord as rock (immovable) and redeemer (the one who saves, heals and delivers) will see His Goodness in the land of the living just as He promises in Psalm 27.

Psalm 6:1-3 (NLT) O Lord, don’t rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your rage. Have compassion on me, Lord, for I am weak. Heal me, Lord, for my bones are in agony. I am sick at heart. How long, O Lord, until you restore me?

Can you relate to David’s plea to the Lord today? Are you beginning to think that God is punishing you for something? Or is this discipline that is unpleasant? Do you think that God doesn’t love you? Or maybe He has forgotten you? Knowing the right thing to do and doing it are two very different things. When our body, mind or spirit are plagued with negative thoughts it drags our heart down, too. Are you sick at heart today? Is your heart broken? Are you clinging to the pieces hoping to put your life together again? How long will the Lord wait until He restores you, me, or us?

Psalm 27:8 (NLT) My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.” And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.”

The cardiologists ordering lunch were filled with vast knowledge. Years of education and experience and yet they still chose foods that might compromise their health and hearts. They made an informed decision to choose unhealthy options. We have been given the Word of God. As we deliberately, read it, study it and meditate on it – we have knowledge of God. Wisdom is gained by applying such knowledge to our life. I can know everything the Word says and do everything according to church doctrine and still live with a broken, lifeless heart. His Commandments bring joy to our heart. (Psalm 19:8) As we resolve the conflict between our flesh and faith something beautiful will emerge from the rock that once residing in our chest. New life comes when we allow the Lord to take our stony heart and give us a new heart. The only confidence I have in this life that is eternal is found in Jesus Christ. God will strengthen the heart given to Him in its complete brokenness. He creates masterpieces out of messes (Ephesians 2:10) and makes every detail of our life part of the magnificent existence found it its place. (Romans 8:28)

If you are heart sick today, I know a healer. A Great Physician who does heart transplants without a single incision just a cut called circumcision. As our stony heart is removed, a new heart emerges full of life. the hope that I have in Jesus Christ is not based on what I see but Who I know. When struggling with doubt, depression, despair, discouragement or desperation – our broken heart will hear His Voice. Why? His Word tells us that the Lord is close to the brokenhearted. (Psalm 34:18) It is up to me if I will respond to His Call. Come closer He says. Let me give you a new heart. Renew a right spirit. Our response – “Lord, I am coming!”

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

Easy Love

Easy Love

I John 4:18-19 (ESV) There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us.

Love is never easy. The word “love” may flow effortless from our lips but the moment of testing comes when it is not appreciated or returned. Love is not an exchange although that is what our mind perceives it to be. Love is a choice. It is a release of our heart into a realm of uncertainty hoping for its safe return. How many times has your heart been broken? How many times did someone run away with your love never to return it? Each time leaves a mark covered by a scar. For many love begins to take on a whole new meaning caused by unmet expectation. Our response is to build walls, erect facades, and feebly try to protect the barely beating and broken parts that once resembled our beating heart.

The preacher spoke of “easy love”. Loving others should be easy. Have you met the same people I know? He has probably those who society marks as “the worst of the worst.” His profession – prison chaplain. I wonder if we could see just for a moment the impact of a single sin on our heart and the malignancy it created if then we could see the magnificence of grace. The impossibility of God’s Love realized in the precious gift of His Only Son. Could we see that each of us fall in the same category as those who have fallen short of God’s Glorious Standard? I am the least of these. I am abased and broken by sin. I need God’s Love more than anyone.

I John 4:7 (ESV) Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.

God is love. His Character is always to love. He decided to love me as He created me and at no point in time has His Love for me ever been compromised. His Unfailing Love is always pursuing me even when I decide to love someone or something else. Nothing can separate me from His Love. (Romans 8) I wonder what would happen if the church realized the true relevance of God’s Love rather than promoting the other things God does. See the Goodness of God is full obtained in the Presence of His Love. The only thing that keeps me from moving into His Love and fully allowing it to overtake me is when I choose something else.

Beloved is a term of great affection. It means greatly loved and dear to heart. Love is from God and whoever loves God will overflow in it due to its sheer abundance. As it fills our heart – it will spill over into the world touching those who are around us. How do we get to the place of “easy love”? To have love one another without prejudice or expectation. How do we get past comparison to the place of commitment to love simply because we are so loved by the Lord?

I have come to the conclusion that when I judge others it is because I feel judged. Judgement demands a verdict. To put others on trial places me on trial, too. I failed the test of perfection long ago. When I was a child, my parents divorced. In the course of settlement, I was brought to a courtroom. I remember hiding in a bathroom stall faced with the dilemma that I was expected to “judge” my parents. I was supposed to choose a side. I love both my parents. The thought has occurred to me that perfect love doesn’t pick sides. Perfect love is fearless. In fact, perfect love casts out all fear. Fear is a product of punishment. It is because there is something to gain or lose. Whoever fears has not been perfected by His Love.

John 3:16 (ESV) For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

There is no doubt that God loves us. It is absolutely solidified in the Sacrifice of His Son. The promise states “whoever believes in Him (His Love) should not perish but have eternal life.” Penalty paid in full. Grace is sufficient for the rest of our life including every fault and failure. To choose Jesus is to step from death to everlasting life. Many in the church would like others to think that now there is a new set of rules and regulations to follow to maintain God’s Love. Not true. The only thing I must do is love and trust the Lord to save me from my sins and turn my life over to Him. A gift is only a gift when given freely and completely with no strings attached. The Word of God repeats over and over that salvation is a gift. “By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world.” (I John 4:17)

Where fear is present – love is limited. What are you afraid of? What keeps you from giving your heart away to others? The Holy Spirit bears fruit in us according to Galatians 5 and the first fruit is love. Without love, everything we do is worthless even good deeds. To be completely honest, when our good deeds are based on anything other than love – it comes from a place of benefit or reciprocation. We expect something in return even if that something is a harvest or the world’s favorite “karma”. To love like Jesus is unconditional. We love simply because we have to give. The limit placed on love is fear. So I ask again, what are you afraid of?

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

I keep coming back to this place. My ability to love comes from full knowledge and understanding of the steadfastness of His Love. To truly grasp an unconditional love that chooses to love me in spite of me every single moment of my existence whether my life is pleasing to Him or not. A perfect love given to an imperfect person. The Lord sacrificed everything so I could live in His Kingdom and be His Child again. I could do nothing. I had nothing to offer so He gave His Son for me. My debt is paid in full and there is nothing I can do to earn God’s Love or repay Him for the price He paid for me. This is a humble position of indebtedness that causes problems for my pride.

When I place a limit on love, it is usually because I have tapped into a fear. A place of doubt creates insecurity. Misplaced expectation is fully revealed. Rather than praying for God to change those around me into lovable people, I must ask the Lord to break my heart for them to allow the abundance of His Love to flow from me. What if the problem is not other people but my own lack of confidence in the fullness and completeness of this precious gift that I have been given. The love that fully satisfies from a cup that never runs dry. What if love really can be easy when I fully accept His Love for me?

I Corinthians 13:8-13 (ESV) Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Cutting Edge

cutting edge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mountain of Sacrifice

Mountain of Sacrifice

Genesis 22:1-2 (NIV) Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied. Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”

What does God require of you? What is it that God desires of you? Does He require a sacrifice? Yes. Does He desire an offering? Yes. It is important to understand exactly what God requires and desires of us to walk in alignment with His Word, Will and Way. Does such a thing mean that there is not freedom in Christ or an obligation for God’s Love? No, God loves you. He definitely desires you and has expressed His Love and Desire through the sacrifice of His Only Son to live in unity with you. However, communion and partnership with the Lord is no different than a bond of friendship or marriage. If there is not a giving of one’s way there cannot be harmony in a relationship. Giving to form a relationship is called grace. We must give up our way in order to form a new way. To surrender wants, needs and desires to be with someone else is commonplace. So why do we struggle so hard when it comes to doing so for God?

God’s Love for us is established in His Identity. God is love. (I John 4:8) To know God is to understand that the Love given to us is complete and unconditional. Our relationship of righteousness offered in the acceptance of the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus allows us to return to such a position and enjoy a relationship with God the Father again. Sin separated us from God. Our chosen defiance of His Word and Way caused us to rebel from it and therefore step out of unity with Him. Repentance in the form of pouring our faults and failures before the Lord and admitting to our insufficiencies may not be all that hard, but when it comes to true repentance even strong Christians are at a loss. Picking and choosing the parts of scripture found appealing or doable but bypassing those things that conflict with our flesh including our deepest desires.

Complete confidence in the Love of God will produce true repentance not just lip service. The confession of our heart is our deep desire to serve the Lord but when it comes time to go to the mountain of sacrifice many compromises are offered in lieu of absolute obedience. Why would God summon Abraham to the mountain? Why would He torture a father in such a manner especially one who waited a lifetime for his promised son? Now Abraham is tested by God and sent to the mountain. “Take you son, your ONLY son, whom you love – Isaac…” Why would the Lord even suggest something so cruel? The Lord wasn’t after Abraham’s son, God desired his servant’s heart.

Psalm 51:16-17 (NIV) You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.

The beauty of brokenness is that it draws us closer to the Lord and He is able to come closer to us. It allows us to live in intimacy with Jesus. His Spirit has freedom within the broken heart that is open and exposed for seeds of faith to be planted and given a place to grow in our life. Abraham was not a madman or out of his mind when he gathered up supplies for sacrifice and took his son to journey to the mountain. He knew exactly what he was doing, but more importantly Abraham absolutely and completely trusted God. He was confident that at the end of the day God would do something miraculous. He believed in the One who brought dead things to life. He believed and his faith saved his son.

You do not delight in sacrifice…

Are humans being truly able to sacrifice their all to the Lord? I believe it is our heart’s desire but follow through the issue. True repentance is turning our natural life over for eternal life. It is to turn from sin and embrace righteousness. Grace does not afford perfection but allows us to experience a thriving relationship with the Father through the giving of His Son. His Grace is enough therefore sacrifice is unnecessary. The sacrifice acceptable to the Lord is a broken spirit. A spirit no longer driven by the flesh but by the Holy Spirit. Abraham had one son. It was in the giving of that son that he obtained the many generations of children born of his faith. God does not delight in our sacrifice. He delights in the heart willing to give its all even when giving all is not what we want to do but we use our freedom to do so anyway.

Deuteronomy 30:8-10 (NIV) You will again obey the Lord and follow all his commands I am giving you today. Then the Lord your God will make you most prosperous in all the work of your hands and in the fruit of your womb, the young of your livestock and the crops of your land. The Lord will again delight in you and make you prosperous, just as he delighted in your ancestors, if you obey the Lord your God and keep his commands and decrees that are written in this Book of the Law and turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.

God has recorded our lifetime before we were born. (Psalm 139) We are fearfully and wonderfully made with great potential. His prerecorded order promises future and hope. (Jeremiah 29:11) The Lord promises to make good from the details of our life and nothing will ever separate us from His Love. (Romans 8) He also promise to partner with us and help us carry our burdens giving us rest. (Matthew 11) He will perfect that which concerns us. (Psalm 138) What’s the catch? We must search for Him wholeheartedly. To desire the Lord and His Goodness as our heart’s longing. Those who desire the Lord will seek Him and find Him in the Word. Finding Him they will then pursue Him wholeheartedly. God wants us to desire Him more than the things of this world and more than any human being. In exchange for our faithfulness and obedience, God promises success to His People. He promises to make the work of our hands prosperous. Why then does He require things of us as He did Abraham? A sacrifice and offering much greater than a tangible object or animal of some kind. Why does the Lord require our heart and everything in it?

Faith grows in a fertile and broken heart. Doubt hardens our heart keeping us from finding, following and pursuing the Living God. It tells us that His Word is not for us, His Way may not satisfy us and His Will may kill us. All the while, the Lord whispers come to the mountain and give your all. What am I giving? I am giving God my heart piece by piece – day by day – until my sacrifice is complete and satisfaction fills its void.

Small children will grab hold of things sometimes that are not necessarily good for them to have. As a parent, I had two choices to snatch if from them or to offer them something better in exchange. Either way as their parent the thing they were holding would have to be released. They made the choice to willingly release it or forcefully give it up. Throughout their childhood, I tried to instill the knowledge, wisdom and discipline to make good choices. In fact, many days dropping them off at school, my parting words would be I love you and make good choices. Life is all about choices. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. God gives us choices each day. Life or death. Blessing or cursing. Bondage or deliverance. Captivity or freedom. Settling or full satisfaction. Sickness or healing. Poverty or prosperity. We make the choice the realm in which we live – reality or hope. See there is more to life than this but we are given the opportunity to decide which life we live. Faith is the substance of things hope for and evidence of their reality. How we live decides the productivity of our faith. We all have faith. The question is have we provided a place to plant it?

Romans 2:29 (NIV) “Circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code.”

The spiritual significance of circumcision is to purify spiritually. It is to cut away something. Today I wonder if the sacrifice God is asking of us goes deeper than the things we do or don’t do but is actually a surrender of our heart to the Lord. The mountain of doubt which we seek to overcome keeps us from doing that so when we go to the mountain and give the Lord all we can for that moment or season, He honors it. As our heart breaks open before Him, the Lord pours into us renewal, restoration and revival. A little at a time as we give Him bit by bit and piece by piece. Do not despise small beginnings for the Lord uses them to complete us and fulfill us. To produce purpose begins with a single seed of faith that grows, develops, matures and reproduces in us and through us. The Light of our love must begin as a burning passion for the Lord on the inside before it will ever be bright enough to reach or influence the people around us.

Ezekiel 36:26 (NIV) I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.

Could it be that the Lord is not calling us to sacrifice anything of worth but everything we have? He desires us. God wants to share His Kingdom with us. He gave the ultimate sacrifice for us. His Son, Jesus. When we struggle on the subject of sacrifice it is not because what God has for us and is promised to us is not desirable but rather the overwhelming nagging doubt that keeps us fixated on the mountain not the Mountain Mover. The Lord wants to give us a new heart in exchange for the stony heart that keeps us bound up in tight places with limited resources and chaotic emotions. He wants us to come give Him that heart of no use and allow His Spirit to work in us.

Lord, I give my heart to you again today. With each new day and each new mountain, I ask you to take my heart as a sacrifice and smash it until it is soft, pliable, moldable, and shapeable. I want to give my all. Will You take this small piece today and we will work on the rest tomorrow? Back to the mountain we go…

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

 

Live Broken

Live Broken

Psalm 57:17 (NLT) The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.

As my friend shared her story, I could identify. Her need for something more from someone who didn’t have it to give. Caught in a vicious familial cycle of unmet expectation. Lost in comparison with another. Relationships are challenging. All connections experiencing their own difficulties. Angry at the clear disregard of another with an obvious open and exposed wound where their heart used to beat, it was an opportunity to share from my own experience. What is this thing called broken? Why would God desire broken people? Why is brokenness part of His Process? Could it be that we have it backwards? The order all wrong. Is it because people get broken all the time that God loves and draws close to them. Perhaps, He doesn’t do the breaking but capitalizes on the opportunity to rush in with a flood of grace and healing balm to fill that void left behind by the blatant disregard, neglect or harm of another.

Relationships would be more successful if people were perfect. If our ability to be consistent in mood, behavior and emotions always acting with sound wisdom, making good choices, and able to selflessly think of others first. We are not perfect clearly evident by our need for new mercy each day and constant covering by grace. Everyone has expectation not met by other people. Hearts are broken every day. It is in the next beat that the choice is made what to do with the new piece left behind. Some will collect the pieces and walk away. Others will choose to thrust right back again. And then there are those who will decide to put them in the Father’s Hands.

My childhood was not perfect. There is no such thing. I have attended the school of hard knocks. As a twenty-something woman, I was broken and bitter. That’s right! Bitterness filled all the voids left by hurt, disappointment and regret. I decided to take my life into my own hands. Clearly the Lord was unhappy with all my wrong turns and bad decisions so I was on my own or so I thought. It’s funny how quickly pride takes hold of raw emotion validating its existence and feeding it day by day. Such a dark time in my life, how could anything good come of it?  How could I ever be a whole person again? Little did I know? Brokenness is not the end for those who love God, it is only the beginning.

Lamentations 3:20-24 (NLT) I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss. Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: 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!”

Bitterness is a poisonous root that will corrupt every good thing working in us. It is the hiss of the enemy in our ear telling us to hold on to that offense, keep being mad about it, and never forgive or forget what just happened. The enemy uses bitterness to build a wall of insecurity, fear and doubt around us. These grow into tall towers that will hinder the most religious person but separating us from others and eventually God. “I will never forget this awful time…” Do you have a moment like that in your life? When enough is enough…or the time when “they” went too far? Are you grieving a loss? What has broken you today?

The faithful love of the Lord never ends. His Mercies never cease. Great is His Faithfulness. His Mercies begin fresh every morning. What if God didn’t ordain brokenness in our life but rather uses it as an opportunity to fill us with Himself. To become our portion in the absence of satisfaction. The Lord is my inheritance. I will hope in Him. This kind of hope never leads to disappointment but what if God uses our disappointments to introduce us to hope?

Psalm 34:18-20 (NLT) The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed. The righteous person faces many troubles, but the Lord comes to the rescue each time. For the Lord protects the bones of the righteous; not one of them is broken!

Brokenness is a part of life in an imperfect world. We serve a perfect God who is able to come close to the brokenhearted. He does not stop there but will actually heal them. (Psalm 147:3) I have found that when I have it all together I have nothing to give but the greatest giving comes from the broken pieces of my life. To hold the hand of a single mom who is pregnant with another child resting beneath her broken heart and say, “God has a plan. He loves you and will provide for you” with confidence because I have been there before. To encourage the caregiver of a loved one battling a broken body filled with sickness and disease and say without reservation, “God is the healer.” To hold the broken sobbing soul at an altar unsure of the Goodness and Graciousness of the Father to tell them – “He is a Good Father. He welcomes you home!” See it is when our life is broken and the Lord is revealed that the fruit grown can be shared. The fish and loaves of one boy could feed masses when blessed and broken – imagine what the Lord will do with the shattered pieces of your heart in His Skillful Hands.

Lord, teach me to live broken today. It is of no use to hide my imperfections because surely they will show through the careful façade I put together each day. Show me how to use each piece for Your Glory, God. To light the way of others who are broken, too. To love them like You loved me in my bitterness and wanderings. Help me Jesus to see through the walls and strongholds of carefully built insecurity to Your Beloved hiding inside. You are Good! You are Gracious! You wait to take every broken piece and construct the wonderful masterpiece you planned. Thank you God for hope that is eternal and love that is everlasting!

Ephesians 2:10 (NLT) For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

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

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.

Where You Go

Where you go

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Grace…

By Grace

Ephesians 2:8-10 (NIV) For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

By grace I am saved through faith…the order of redemption is important. How many times is faith emphasized outside of God’s Grace and when it fails to move the mountain, make the way or summon dry bones and dead dreams to life – there is discouragement, disappointment and even doubt? Grace is difficult for mankind as it defies pride and calls for crucifixion. Pride prefers faith demonstrated by works and the façade of perfection. The Gift of God called Grace is essential as it is our escort through the door marked faith. Without grace this door is locked and cannot be opened. When our daughter married her true love, he waited at the altar on the frigid November day. The music played as all the groom’s men and bridesmaids filtered in and took their place. The music changed and everyone stood up as she made her way to the aisle covered in rose petals. Her father had her arm and they smiled as she made her way to the future. Turning to face our soon-to-be son-in-law, he was weeping openly at the sight of his bride. Overtaken by emotion, he held his face in his hands with tears literally running through his fingers. His love for our daughter evident in his reaction. As they joined hands to pray, our daughter dutifully bowed her head still donning the radiant smile from before, but he couldn’t stop looking at the top of her head. Trying to also bow his head, it kept popping up to look at her. It’s funny as I think about God’s Grace today – that this image comes to mind. The Bride and Bridegroom standing at the point of completion. The day that they will become one. By grace, I am saved through faith.

Grace is true love. It is the love of Jesus that flowed from His Broken Body and Broken Heart that day as a remarkable gift. Grace is the goodwill and favor of God given to His People through the ultimate sacrifice of His Son. To know, understand, acknowledge and accept His Grace as enough is a requirement for real faith to be initiated in our life. Faith is the seed in our heart activated by grace. However, to try to grow in faith without being fully immersed in grace will only lead to further frustration. The edges and borders of my life are clear cut. It is a giant canvas made white by His Blood in order to become the “masterpiece” as it is called in the New Living Translation or “handiwork” her in the New International Version. I am God’s Masterpiece. Nothing in my life is without potential and purpose to be worked together for my good and completion. It all begins with His Grace. Grace does not change the details of my life prerecorded by the Lord. (Psalm 139:16) It is the access point of all the promises that He has made to me obtained by faith and trust in the Lord. However, it is all through His Grace.

John 1:16-18 (NIV) Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.

Jesus came to provide us a rich and satisfying life. (John 10:10) This promise is claimed not by what we do but by the grace that is given to us by the One who “is in the closest relationship with the Father”. I am stuck today in this place called grace. Have I tried to live by faith outside of God’s Grace? Is it possible that in my zeal to please God with faith, I sometimes forget that His Grace is sufficient for me? We can only accept grace. I cannot earn it. The grace offered in Jesus Christ is completely and blood bought. I cannot do a single act or make a significant change that will make it affordable to me. It will always be too expensive. It will be more than I can do.

Some assembly required. I often read the reviews of a product before purchasing it to decide how difficult it might be to construct. Many Christmas eves filled with frustration. The box boasted five minutes of construction but the 5,000 pieces represented five days of work. There would be times that after putting it all together the darn thing still didn’t work. So what would I do? I would read the instructions again, and go over each step to see what I missed. For me, this verse today is a flashlight on my heart to determine the areas of my life where I missed the first step called grace. I am pulling and tugging on doors that the Lord will freely open because I have forgotten to remain partnered with grace? I am pleading and praying for things that can only be released by grace? By grace, I am saved through faith. Faith must be first planted in grace to produce other fruit in our life.

Acts 15:11 (NIV) No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.”

I can hear the invitational hymn that I grew up with playing in my head. “Just as I am, without one plea, but that Thy Blood was shed for me. And that Thou bid’st me come to Thee. O Lamb of God, I come! I come!” Just as I am. Jesus gives us His Grace exactly as I am. No change in me is required just to come to Him. You know my daughter was absolutely stunning on her wedding day. Her beauty inside radiated in her person outside. As perfect as she looked, she was still imperfect. Her husband didn’t see her faults, flaws or failures that day – only the one his soul loved. When Jesus sees us, it is the same way. As a bridegroom awaiting His Beloved, not based on what we can do or choose not to do. It has nothing to do with anything other than His Love manifested in His Grace which provides us access to His Presence. I can come boldly and confidently before Him not because of my faith but simply by His Grace. Oh that the church would find His Grace again, to rely on the grace given to us by the Love of Jesus and stop trying to reinstitute the imperfect law of grace given to Moses. (Romans 11:5-6) By grace, I am saved through faith.

2 Corinthians 12:8-10 (NIV) Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

The Lord’s Grace is sufficient for me. It is enough. His Power is made perfect in my weakness. However, it is quite another matter to boast about my weaknesses. Everyone sins. Everyday. There is no one that can overcome the flesh and walk in complete righteousness outside of God’s Grace given to us by Jesus. Who delights in weakness? Insults? Hardships? Persecutions? Difficulties? Not many people I know including myself. However, it is in weakness that I am able to fully accept His Grace. It is a humble position never a prideful state. The more I know Jesus, the more I see how much I need Him and how little I have to offer.

James 2:21-24 (NIV) Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.

I shared with our small group last night the helplessness that I felt at the bedside of our son enduring the horrible effects of chemotherapy. Watching his body suffer and waste away, time after time I asked the Lord to put me in his place fully knowing it was impossible. One day as I prayed, I pleaded with the Lord. I am a mother. These children are my promise and purpose in life. God, you know that I would die for them. I heard that still small voice reverberate through my heart – “You don’t have to. I already did.” His Grace is enough. His Grace is sufficient. It is in weakness and failures that I am reminded that it is by grace that I am saved through faith.

Faith is conceived by grace. There is nothing that I can “do” to please God without faith. But I cannot have true and relevant faith without fully accepting God’s Grace and the truth that it is enough for me. Faith without works is dead. Faith cannot be productive outside of God’s Grace will also be fruitless. If you are giving your all to Jesus and it is still not enough, it may be time to revisit your connection to His Grace. His Grace is always enough. It is not reliant on the things we do.

Abraham withheld nothing from the Lord. His trust in the grace of God and faith in His Promise allowed him to journey to the mountain of sacrifice ready to give his all. However, Abraham is not the only one listed in this passage. God considered Rahab “the prostitute” righteous. Hold up! The Bible does not tell of her radical conversion. It does not detail her deliverance from her profession. Grace is enough. You cannot wash yourself clean enough. You cannot be good enough to attain right standing with God again. You cannot pay the debt that sin has slapped on your life. it is by grace, I am saved through faith. Lord, keep in your grace today. Remind me that it is enough for me and every other person I come in contact with.

Acts 4:32-35 (NIV) All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.

How will I know if I am reliant on God’s Grace to accompany me through faith? It really is simple. God’s Grace is the Good News called the Gospel. Have you heard the old saying, “You catch more flies with than vinegar”? My grandmother used to say it all the time. Grace is the gospel but is this the message of our life? Faith without works is dead. But faith in God without grace is impossible. Grace is the access point that is the way to the Father through His Son. The fruit of faith fully invested in grace is found in Acts 4. Believers who believe in the Grace of God will have one heart and one mind. No longer will there be division. Grace is the commonality of Christ. It takes me out of the equation and makes Christ the constant. It says that they testified to the resurrection – they spoke truth and life to people without judgment and condemnation which are not qualities of Jesus. Jesus came to show mercy and love to all mankind offering them grace to be set free.  It says, “God’s Grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them.” Redemption. Restoration. Renewal. Revival. All of these are the fruits of faith conceived by Grace. Could it be that our feeble attempts at faith are fruitless because we have tried to achieve them outside of grace? Food for thought. How can I be gracious if I do not know the sufficiency of grace? I cannot give what I have been not received. I cannot express what I have not personally experienced. I cannot live by faith without living in God’s Grace.

Proverbs 22:11 (NIV) One who loves a pure heart and who speaks with grace will have the king for a friend.

 

Never Say Never

Never Say Never

Ezekiel 36:25-27 (NLT) “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. Your filth will be washed away, and you will no longer worship idols. And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations.

I don’t remember who spoke these words into my life. Like a challenge issued to every part of my stubbornness, I set out to prove them wrong. Never is a powerful word. It is difficult to enforce. It is final. It means not ever, at no time, not at all, absolutely not, and to no extent. However, who are we as mere human beings to dictate time. Ecclesiastes 3 tell of God’s Outline of life including the relevance of His Timing in that “for everything there is a season, and a time for every activity under heaven” climaxing with the promise that “God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, and even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. Never implies control over God’s Will and Timing that is simply not the case.

When our daughter was very small, she developed rapid onset asthma. Within a matter of weeks, her condition had worsened to the point of daily doctor visits and an extension list of medication to manage her breathing. We had to carry a nebulizer with us everywhere. Her activities were limited in order to prevent a respiratory illness due to the compromised state of her lungs. This would be the beginning of a journey of faith. I had been praying for the Lord to give me faith. I wanted to see the sick healed, the blind see, the deaf hear, and even the dead raised. I wanted to see the signs, wonders and miracles. For weeks, I struggled with the condition of my child. A couple strong in faith mentored us and taught us about the elements of faith. To them I am forever thankful for their teaching and guidance by the Holy Spirit. On the day that the Lord would reach down and touch our daughter, forever removing this dreaded disease in a single instant, I found a truth about the Lord that I will “never” forget. God rules forever. He dictates the boundaries of our life with His Love. When the enemy tries to cross that barrier, the Lord firmly enforces His Position of the Reigning King. When the doctor told us that she would remain the list of medications forever based on a slightly improvement and never be without it. Heaven and earth collided. The room stood still as His Presence filled that place. Our God is the One who has dominion over forever. Neverland is not a real place. God does not ever except never but gives it a time and place.

I have found it to be true that every never I ever have spoken is a line that I have crossed. Never makes us think we have some kind of control over our life including our mind, will and emotions. The moment it is established as some kind of boundary – it seems our flesh takes the challenge. As a young person, there are some things that I said that I would never do based on the mistakes of my parents. Disappointments and doubts that formed a plan for my life with certain boundaries which I am sad to report – I did them all. Giving my heart to Jesus during my teenage years, I accepted a harsh doctrine with many more definitive items on the long list of never. I did them all, too. Every never has become a reality in my life. I wonder if Peter felt the regret of never, the pain in his heart as he discovered that he was all too human by denying Jesus not once, or twice but three documented times. Jesus told him that the enemy wanted to “sift him like wheat.” I am sure it was a painful process but oh so necessary to make the reunion on the beach more wonderful.

Matthew 5:34-37 (NLT) But I say, do not make any vows! Do not say, ‘By heaven!’ because heaven is God’s throne. And do not say, ‘By the earth!’ because the earth is his footstool. And do not say, ‘By Jerusalem!’ for Jerusalem is the city of the great King. Do not even say, ‘By my head!’ for you can’t turn one hair white or black. Just say a simple, ‘Yes, I will,’ or ‘No, I won’t.’ Anything beyond this is from the evil one.

To say, “I will never” is a vow. It is implied control over our present state that is just not the case. We are ruled by a master – be it sin and flesh dictating our attitudes and actions or the Master who gives us the Mind of Christ. The enemy uses the statement that “I will never” to set up false barriers and invisible boundaries in our life so when we cross them we are shackled with guilt, shame or regret. The feeling of failure erodes faith as doubt and fear take over. We cannot ever say that never is possible for us or become insistent in one direction. This life that I live given to Christ is a humble offering. It is to yield my life piece by piece to the Lord. It is to accept His Will giving up my own. Therefore, I cannot say never but remain hopeful that whatever happens in my life that the Lord will keep His Promise. What promise? This one:

Romans 8:28-30 (NLT) And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory.

For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.” (Romans 8:29 NIV) Predestination – now that is a word that will start a quick theological debate. I am not looking for a discussion or a debate simply to reveal the promise of such a revelation. Predestination means to decide in advance, to foreordain, to predetermine which is exactly is what the Lord did for us. He provided a plan for our life including a future and hope. (Jeremiah 29:11) He recorded every single day before our birth. (Psalm 139:16) He decided to give His Son Jesus as a sacrifice for my life. Not to bring condemnation but grace sufficient to cover ever sin in advance. (John 3:16-18) The Lord has provided everything I need according to His Riches in Glory (Philippians 4:19) and every spiritual blessing (Ephesians 1:3) to yield abundance and prosperity in my natural existence on my way to heavenly hope. Jesus even promised that He went to prepare a place for us in eternity and will come back for us one day. (John 14:2-3) We are predestined. Freedom allows us to choose our destination. There are many flights leaving the airport today that will go to a variety of destinations around the world. The people in the airport must choose their destination according to their free will. We do the same. To indicate “never” in our life may be the very dictate issued that limits the rich and satisfying life that Jesus promised us. (John 10:10)

The promise found in predestination is this: “we know that God causes EVERYTHING to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His Purpose.” Jesus came to save us and provide the grace needed to return to right-standing with God. Humility is the route to such a destination. It is to release control of our life including mind, will, emotions, body, spirit and soul to live in His Love completely. This eliminates never and impossibility from our life. Faith in Jesus is the requirement which means I give up my way to follow Him beginning with my stubborn heart set on dictating the order of my life and accept His Spirit to lead me into the everlasting.

Ezekiel 11:19 (NLT) And I will give them singleness of heart and put a new spirit within them. I will take away their stony, stubborn heart and give them a tender, responsive heart.

The New International Version translates the same verse as – “And I will give them an undivided heart”. We want Jesus in our life. However, to release perceived power and control contradicts everything the world tells us. We are to protect our heart. Gather all the broken pieces and hold it all together. Hide our insecurities. Build walls between ourselves and fear. Fake it until you make it. God has placed eternity in our heart because that is the part He longs for. To pursue God with our life and keep our heart for ourselves will end in disappointment and frustration. God is love. Love is messy. It requires brokenness and giving up our way to unite with the object of our affection. No marriage can survive two people bent on having their way all the time. There must be giving.

2 Corinthians 4:3-4 (NLT) If the Good News we preach is hidden behind a veil, it is hidden only from people who are perishing. Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God.

Is the Gospel of my life hidden behind a veil? This veil can be constructed of many things. It represents the veil in the Temple. The one that kept people on the verge of knowing the Lord but dependent on someone else to endure the process. The Spirit of the Lord ripped the veil in half when Jesus died for our sins. There is no longer anything separating us from God and His Heart except those who decide to reconstruct a barrier in our life. The limitation in our life is built by us not the Lord. He made it clear. God wants His Children. His Desire is for us. He longs to live in love with us. He has created a life for us worth having.

We cannot share a love that has not been experienced. If we do not give our heart and all its stubbornness and brokenness and insecurity to the Lord to accept the new heart that He offers then what is the point. I can share the Good News with others but without the Light of His Glory which is His Love shining forth – it’s just another fairytale or feel good story. I can share all the miracles that we have experienced in our life as a result of faith – but without the love found in the careful and constant intervention of Jesus – it is just another coincidence or inexplicable random event – gawked at today and forgotten tomorrow. The Gospel is a farce without the heart of God’s People shining His Love through fragile, clay jars containing grace and mercy for all. We must give our hearts to Jesus. Every part. The broken parts. The hidden parts. The held-on-to parts for safekeeping. Our life is nothing under our own control. We cannot even keep the simple promises and vows made in our life. Jesus makes all things possible. He erases impossibility completely according to His Will and Way. His Goodness can only overflow from a heart freely given and a responsive one accepted in return.

Ezekiel 36:25-27 (NLT) “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. Your filth will be washed away, and you will no longer worship idols. And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations.

So we go back to the beginning…God has promised to give us a new heart. He also offers us a new spirit. A tender and responsive heart. What is the never in your life that is holding you back? Or maybe it is the never that you did anyway? You and I are created in the Image of God. Christ is the visible image of God. Before departing this world, He took the Light of God’s Love and placed it in our heart. The cold, stony, and stubborn heart still held on to carries the potential to live a rich and satisfied life not in the choices we make or our ability to “change” our life making better choices or improving habits, but in our acceptance of a tender and responsive heart. We must respond to God’s Promises beginning with accepting the new heart and new spirit that is freely given to us. However, this is a position of trust that believes no matter what happens in our life that His Love is working out everything for our good. Do you believe that today? If so, your love will be made in the image of God. Your giving will be complete as you give your life away in love relinquishing control. God is intent on changing us not the environment that we live in.

The Glory of God shines brightest through the broken. This verse came to me praying for a mighty woman of God with congestive heart failure. A year ago, she testified in church that through many complications she did not have a “zipper” meaning no heart surgery. She gave the Lord glory for her healing and was a source of encouragement to me. She is in the hospital today facing her third heart surgery. Her faith in the Lord is stronger than ever. She still sings louder than everyone else when worshipping Him in the sanctuary. The first to proclaim “Hallelujah” at the mention of His Name. Her testimony is even stronger today than it was a year ago because in the midst of her trial she is still in love with the Lord. Her faith shines through the darkness of a broken body. Her heart for Jesus beats strong though her human heart is struggling. Jesus let that be me today. I give you my broken and beat up heart for a tender responsive one that shares the Light of Your Love consistently in all things, in all ways, from now until You come! I must decrease allowing You to increase Jesus! Like a wineskin bursting with new wine, I give my heart to you again. Make it beat with Yours, Lord. Give me the desires of Your Heart, God. Make me one with You today Jesus!

Psalm 27:8 (NLT) My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.” And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.”