Time Bandit

Time Bandit

I Peter 5:6-8 (ESV) Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

This week has been a busy one at work. The days stretching past the normally scheduled hours to get the project out the door. Hours seem like minutes as the emails and calls keep coming. In the midst of activity, my daughter sends me a text. She would like to go to the store and was wondering if I could watch our newborn grandson. I obviously accepted the opportunity to have the little guy all to myself. The new “me” values time way more than the old “me” did. There was a time in my life when work consumed the majority of my attention. Nothing left undone everything took a backseat. Leaving early and coming home late, I would give my family what was left of me if any. Exhausted and overwrought overtaken by the cares, worries and burdens of life. Caught up in the tasks losing sight of my treasure but not anymore.

Sitting in the quiet apartment and staring at the sweet cherubic face of my sleeping grandson, it seems surreal that I am a grandmother. Five decades of life gone – I am so thankful for this moment. The precious time of bonding with the newest member of our family. At the same time, I am sad for my friend whose husband has made his transition into eternity. We met at the Hope Lodge. A housing facility for patients and caregivers in the fight of their lives. Cancer taught me a valuable lesson. It reorganized my priorities by taking the “normal” and ruthlessly shattering it like a glass vase hitting the floor and breaking into a million pieces. Nothing in my life will ever be labeled “normal” again, I refuse to accept that life of hopelessness anymore. Every good gift is from the Father above. Lord, teach me to humble myself to receive it.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

It is absolutely humbling to relinquish control of one’s life. To come to know and understand that despite my best efforts – I am not in control. I am okay with that… now. My flesh hated the idea at first. Many tears of painful frustration and overwhelming pain the moment I learned that I cannot always make happy endings. Yet in humility before the Lord – it is a sweet and gentle exchange. To transfer the burdens of my life in exchange for His Perfect Peace. Peace that passes all understanding cannot be derived from pride but in learning to trust that God is good. He is a good father with a good plan for us. He promises to work every detail of our life for good. In the midst of a world crashing down around you, it is not the first thing that comes to mind.

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

The enemy is a time bandit. He is a thief. He wants to steal your joy and peace. He will crush our confidence in Jesus if allowed to have a place in our heart and mind. Any door or window left open is an access point. He is constantly telling us lies and half-truths. The devil has three namesakes that he uses – distractions, disappointment and doubt. All will produce disbelief if allowed to manifest in our life. I have a friend. I visit her often. Her name is Martha. She is found in God’s Word. She reminds me on those days when I attempt to return to my normal life to be sober-minded and watchful. The thief is coming!

Luke 10:38-42 (ESV) Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching.  But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

Let’s hear it for the Martha’s out there. The real go-getters and hard workers who get the job done. Pride tells us that “if we don’t do it who will.” In reality, our doing is what keeps pride alive. The thought that there is something to do to maintain the love of God or earn His Great Grace. Doing for people to meet their expectation in the hope that they will reciprocate. There is nothing wrong with hard work. Motivation is the heart of change within us. It becomes a problem is when our doing is a distraction. I am too busy is an excuse not an explanation. Our time belongs to us. We have the privilege of giving it to whoever or whatever is deemed worthy.

Martha was distracted with much serving. What are you distracted by today? We pursue the desires of our heart. Sometimes it becomes a cluttered place filled with worthless ambition and futile pursuits which are the product of a lie planted in us long ago. We must weed out our heart and reprioritize our time. God should always get the first fruit but note that He is not interested as much in our doing as our knowing. Mary sat in the Presence of Jesus first and the Lord clearly favored her decision. Faith and family should be our first priority. There is room for everything else.

John 11:21-26 (ESV) Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

Disappointment is consistent with failure of hope. To become depressed or discouraged when one believes that there is no reason to hope. The Word of God promises that our hope will never lead to disappointment. It doesn’t say anything about God doing it our way. So often the confusion comes when God doesn’t do things according to our expectation or timeline. We discard it or decide it just isn’t going to happen. When Martha met Jesus on the road that day without any kind of greeting, her grief spilled out of heart falling from her lips, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

Martha was so devastated by her present condition that she was blinded to the hope standing before her. Jesus was there now. His Presence brought resurrection life and power. But her unmet expectation in her way and her plan overshadowed the hope that was before her. “But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” She tried to say the right thing in her darkest hour, but her faith was not in Jesus in the present but the One who held the future. How many dreams lay in the tomb of disappointment? Buried by depression and discouragement deemed lifeless and void. God’s Word does not return to Him void. He will do exactly as He promised to do – His Way and in His Time. Are you disappointed today? God is with you. His Presence is all around you. His Goodness is pursuing you. His Unfailing Love is for you and His Hand outstretched. We must lay aside disappointment in order to have victory in Jesus.

John 11:38-40 (ESV) Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” 

Doubt is the mountain that needs to be moved in our life. Doubt is the firmament of the enemy like cement boots to keep you from walking in the Presence of God, experiencing His Peace, living in His Victory, and filled with inexpressible joy in every circumstance and situation. When our pride is in conflict with our faith something has to give. Only one will have its way. Jesus was ready to call Lazarus from the grave but Martha had her hand on the stone. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha protested. How many times do we do the same thing? We label it impossible forgetting that nothing is impossible for the Lord.

Stinking thinking keeps us from the miracles, blessings, promises and prosperity that God has apportioned just for us. Our words and ways hold the stone over the grave of dead dreams ordained and predestined to be a reality. We cannot wrap our head and heart around an impossible God ready to do extraordinary things in a supernatural fashion for those He loves and calls to Him by name. You are that person. Dead things are coming to life. His Spirit is ready to pour out visions for the new hope reserved just for you. All you have to do is have faith? Not verbiage but a new heart and mind set on the Father believing that all things are possible if you only believe.

Luke 8:11-15 (ESV) Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. The ones along the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away. And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.

There is no place that I would rather be than rocking that little boy. The contentment of being a grandmother fills my heart with new joy. The Word of the Lord is coming to pass in my life. I don’t make things happen but the Word of God spoken over me in my mother’s womb is becoming my reality. (Psalm 139) It didn’t happen as a result of anything I have done or become. I cannot take any credit for the change of heart and mind. It came when a normal life became impossible. The Light of God’s Love was discovered in absolute darkness. The faith in my heart was not revealed until it was irreparably broken. All my worries and cares do not add a single moment to my life but stole precious time better spent living and loving God and enjoying all the good things that He has placed in my life. If we could learn to do everything to the Glory of God and not man – I wonder if a change of heart might happen accompanied with the signs, wonders and miracles that we pray for. Why is it that in the face of death – we finally appreciate the things that really matter? Do we really have to lose our life to gain it? Yes! We do!

There is a thief among us. He is a time bandit ready to fill your life with worries, cares, fears, doubts and insecurities. Jesus came to give us a rich and satisfied life. A prospering existence that as our soul prospers so will every area of our life. Are you missing out? Do you feel cheated and robbed watching others live in joy and peace? Does it seem like others are thriving while you are barely surviving? Stop comparing your life to other people. The grass is not always greener on the other side. You have the same seed and potential called faith. Nurture it. Grow it. Pay attention to it. Weed out the distractions, disappointment and doubt. God will do for you exactly as He promised. You just have to believe. Shut the door to your heart and the windows of your mind to the enemy’s lies and fill them with the truth. Nothing is impossible with God. Jesus will never leave you or forsake you. His Grace is always enough. Nothing can separate you from God’s Love. Christ promised you victory so it’s coming. You just need to trust Him! Your hope will never ever lead you to disappointment when your faith and hope are in the Lord!

John 10:10 (ESV) The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

 

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What’s Your Superpower?

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Philippians 4:13 (NLT)  For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.

What is your superpower? Is it physical strength? Natural ability? Are you super organized? Totally driven? Highly motivated? Are you massively intelligent? Do you have good common sense? What are your strengths? Or is it easier sometimes to list our weaknesses? Those tiny mishaps or monumental failures that keep us from focusing on the power invested in us by Jesus Christ. We have been given the power to do everything.

This time of year gives way to exhaustion. Already busy lives with loaded schedules become unbearable with the added burden and stress. It is easy to transition a load once partnered with Christ to our own insufficient strength and accept the unnecessary added weight of human expectation until it is too much to carry. Coming home later than usual last night, the already full day seemed to drag on and on. A doctor’s appointment with my daughter, a full day of work, a trip to the grocery store, a house to clean, dinner to cook and a second meal for a friend recovering from surgery had me at the end of myself. When I pulled in the driveway, every single light was on and several chores only half done had me on edge. I was gently pushed over standing in the rain trying to extract everything the mailperson had crammed in my mailbox. I prayed a quick prayer that I know He heard but my heart couldn’t hold on to – walking in the house I unloaded. Not the car full of groceries, but my emotional overload. On the ones, I love most I dumped a day of baggage. I felt like a failure as soon as the burden was emptied.

It is important that rather than trying to be super human that believers learn to continually channel their entire life through Christ. Giving only to the Lord what “I can’t” too often forgetting to give Him all “I can”, too. What is your super power? The thing you continue to do rather than submitting it fully to Christ. Pride tries to hold on to those things that bring the affirmation, acceptance and approval of people rather than resting humbly and completely in the Power of Christ who is in us. I must do all things THROUGH CHRIST who gives me His Strength.

John 1:16-18 (NLT) From his abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another. For the law was given through Moses, but God’s unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. But the unique One, who is himself God, is near to the Father’s heart. He has revealed God to us.

The Blessing of God to us in the Gift of His Son, Jesus is an invitation to live in His Abundance. Jesus came to give us a rich and satisfying life. It was no secret. He put the enemy on notice in John 10:10 ripping the mask off the thief to expose the lie. In stating His Purpose, the Lord also warns us that the enemy has come to steal, kill and even destroy us if possible. God’s Unfailing Love driven by amazing grace and His Faithfulness are secure in His Son. Therefore, no weapon formed against us can prosper even the lies set forth by the enemy to discourage, distract and dissuade us along the way. The only way that a believer cannot prosper is in unbelief. Lord, help the areas of my life where unbelief have handed me burdens, stress, worry, anxiety and fear that I willingly picked up. Today, I release it to you through Your Son, Jesus Christ.

I Corinthians 10:23 (NLT) You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is good for you. You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is beneficial.

Whom the Son sets free is free indeed. (John 8:36) Religious folks hate this verse unknowingly. Relationship driven believers understand that the sufficiency of God’s Grace is underlined by the freedom given to us in Christ. “You can never fall too hard, too fast, so far that you can’t get back what you’ve lost. Where you are is never too late, so bad, so much that you can’t change who you are.” (Who You Are – Unspoken) There is no limit or mandate on God’s Grace. If you want it – you’ve got it. We decide to cultivate our relationship with God through Christ and do what is beneficial in bringing us into full unity not by what we do but by fulling embracing who we are. I promise sin becomes avoidable when it is a product of love and respect rather than rules and regulations. Religious stipulations do not garner a loving and abiding presence in our life just another set of standards we can’t live by. A relationship gives us a safe haven of love and grace so our imperfection does not factor in it and our heart’s desire is to make it grow.

Not everything is beneficial. Surrendering your life to Jesus Christ does not add burden but relieves us of the weight and heavy laden lifestyle of human expectation once carried. Dying every day our fruitless and barren life longed for purpose and life. Now that we have life through Christ – His Power is manifested in our weakness and willingness to channel everything through Him so He can show us what is beneficial and what is not.

Colossians 1:19-21 (NLT) For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and through him God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.

To reconcile means to restore a friendly relationship. Christ did more than that for us. He gave us His Spirit. The Spirit of Adoption that has stored a right relationship with God. We are His Children. In Christ, every promise, purpose and plan God has for us is fully restored. Now His Goodness takes every detail of our life past, present and future to make something good out of it according to His Word. Reconciling also means to cause to coexist in harmony to bring back to compatibility. The Grace of God given to us through Christ allows us to live life with God. To gain access to the Presence of God through the Blood of Jesus. We now come boldly before His Throne and ask whatever we would like and He will answer us. Our life is again in partnership with the Lord and His Kingdom. Reconciliation with God through Christ allows us to live consistent to God’s Standard unhindered by the much lower standards of this life. God in all His Fullness dwells in us and will align our life to His in our willingness to surrender all of our life to Him.

2 Corinthians 3:4 (NLT) We are confident of all this because of our great trust in God through Christ.

Our greatest super power of self is confidence. To become so confident in God and His Son, Jesus so we become willing to take Him at His Word. Trust is not easily constructed or maintained. It is the very thing the enemy attacks as often as possible. To uproot seeds of faith, choke out any growth and sow seeds of doubt and disbelief in its place. We must believe God at His Word. To do so means knowing, understanding and constantly calling to our recollection – His Word for our life including every single promise as the reality and future that we live for. Through Christ, we have grace that is enough to allow His Power to fully manifest in our life. The Holy Spirit is our advocate and helper who continually works to cultivate good fruit that nourishes our soul and grows our confidence in the Lord.

Matthew 11:28-30 (NLT)  Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

Are you overloaded today? Is stress, pressure and anxiety putting a damper on this holiday season? Are you ready for it just to be over? I have good news for you today. It is not too late to salvage the season and turn things around. The weight and burdens weighing you down, stealing your joy, robbing you of peace and casting you into a pit of darkness despite the bright lights and festivities – is not of God? He gave you His Son, Jesus. Through Christ, we have overwhelming victory. Not just over sin and death, but His Power and Authority belong to us.

We can hand Him our burdens and those things weighing heavy on our heart – ALL OF THEM in exchange for His Rest. The Peace of God that Jesus gives us passes all understanding. The things that used to keep you all spun up, overwrought and sleepless are given to the Master in exchange for love, peace, joy and full satisfaction. When you lay your head down, you will sleep knowing full well that the Lord is in complete control of your chaos making it a beautiful masterpiece out of all the broken pieces. Find your super power today. Run every area of your life through Christ. There is not a single detail that He is not mindful of or ready to take off your hands! You don’t have to do it all! The things that are beneficial will be accomplished through the Strength of Christ in you when you decide to do it all through Him!

I Corinthians 4:20 (NLT) For the Kingdom of God is not just a lot of talk; it is living by God’s power.

 

Care Package

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I Peter 5:7 (NLT) Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.

I wonder what life would be like if people were able to give God all the cares and worries of life. To give up anxiety and fear to live confident trust no matter what the situation. It is possible but not popular. So often it is the instruction from pulpits, teachings and other Biblical resources but when it comes to our own heart and life – it is personal and intimate. Some try to hide the fact they live in insecurity barricaded by constant thoughts of uncertainty. Pride tells them if anyone finds out it will make them a fraud or phony. This is a lie from the enemy meant to isolate God’s People so in time he will surely overtake them. Others openly live struggles constantly looking over their shoulder at the giants pursuing them reminding God there is a problem and it is closing in quick. Everyone has problems. There will be troubles in this life. Jesus told us that trials and temptations would be at every turn. How do we successfully give ALL of our worries and cares to the Lord?

All is a big word including everything and anything. To rewire our thinking and gain control of our thoughts such knowledge and understanding attributed to society must be replaced by faith. Faith is not logical. It just doesn’t make sense. We must allow our mind to be transformed by letting the Holy Spirit renew our mind day by day. “But let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.” (Romans 12:2 – NLT) Yes, in our salvation experience there will be things that are easily left behind. Things that really don’t matter. Addictions and bad habits miraculously or even naturally released. But then there is the common mentality ingrained by society encoded in our nature from the beginning, some are worriers, some live in fear, others survive on control and then there are those who live with all of the above and more. These are mindsets. The only way to change our thinking is to “destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God” and to “capture (the) rebellious thoughts” teaching them to obey Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:5) How do I change my mind? How do I change who I am? What I believe? Easy. You don’t – Jesus does.

Matthew 11:28-30 (NLT) Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

A couple of things to note in the successful transference of burdens, cares and worries to Christ. We cannot release them completely. They are come from our heart’s desire. There are things in our life that are contrary to God’s Plan and His Word that are subject to change by faith and confident hope over time. Until then, we label them by these names. Also of interest is the use of the word “yoke”. The Lord says, “Come to me…I will give you rest.” Rest is the Peace of God that passes all understanding…in the storm, during the trial and in the midst of hardship. He then tells us to “take His Yoke upon us.” We must partner with Christ in our life. Become one with Him. Walk with Him. Talk with Him. Develop a loving and trusting relationship that produces confidence in His Ability and Willingness to care for us. It is the one who endures to the end that is saved so that must mean there will be struggles all through our natural life. Of course there will be as long as our flesh is alive. Pride has no interest in dying and will do everything in its power to survive. To live with Christ who is the Way, the Truth and the Life does not allow us to not change or be changed because He will never change. Good to know. It explains many of the times when it felt like God was not with us, the Spirit was not moving, and the Grace of God not enough. We refused to change or be changed so at an impasse there was no satisfaction.

Let me teach you. The Word of God is absolutely essential in the life of a believer. It is our guide and instructions for living a godly life. It tells us exactly what to do when we have no idea what is expected. It changes the way we think giving us new knowledge and important understanding that will grow into wisdom and truth. This feeds our confidence and gives faith a chance. “I am humble and gentle at heart…” Jesus will never make us follow Him. He invites us. He will never force us to love Him. Love is freedom. His Grace is enough without exception but must be accepted to become a powerful force in our life. It is perfected in weakness. Jesus is humble. We must be likewise humble. Humility releases burdens, carries and worries to Christ in exchange for rest, peace and even joy during the most harrowing of times. It is the moment that we understand that we have no control that His Power can be manifested in our life. Pride says hold on. Humility says let it go.

I Peter 5:6 (NLT) So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor.

“Consistency in godly living despite our circumstances is the true test of growth in godliness.” Studying these verses today in the Spirit-Filled Bible, I came across this reference. Consistency relays the evidence of confidence. To trust God when things are good is a natural response to human satisfaction. To praise God in the storm is evidence of faith and confident trust in the hope we have in Jesus. Is your heart heavy today? Mine has been lately. Is your mind racing with all the problems that you face? Seems lately that worries and cares are being handed to me at every turn as well. I am not telling you what to do but sharing instead what I have been doing simply to survive. I have been creating care packages. Each new day I take the biggest burden, worry, fear or anxious thought I have and mentally put it in a box. I put a note inside for the Lord with the promise or passage that He has given me through His Word. I wrap it up neatly in faith, trust and confident hope. I sent it to Him in prayer not asking for anything other than for Him to hold on to it for me today. He is welcome to work on it and do with it what He will, but I don’t have time to deal with it anymore. Instead, today I choose to fill that void with praise and honor. I accept His New Mercy as healing balm for my worn-out brain and weary emotions. I am confident that the Lord will take care of the desires of my heart so for today I will just give Him glory even if nothing changes in my life to allow Him to change my heart and mind.

Here are some verses that keep me company while I wait…

Psalm 8:3-5 (NLT) When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers—the moon and the stars you set in place—what are mere mortals that you should think about them, human beings that you should care for them? Yet you made them only a little lower than God and crowned them with glory and honor.

God loves me. He created me. He takes pleasure in my existence and has big plans for my life. He is always thinking of new ways to bless me and to convince me of the same.

Psalm 55:22 (NLT) Give your burdens to the Lord, and he will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall.

God will. Most people believe God can – they question if “He will” based on their summation of their life, worth or choices. Grace took care of everything and anything that kept us from God and His Kingdom. I can live in the Presence of my Father not based on anything I do or do not do. He will take care of me. I just need to trust that My Father will not permit me to slip or fall so I keep walking even when I have no idea where we are going or how it will turn out.

Psalm 112:6-8 (NLT) Such people will not be overcome by evil. Those who are righteous will be long remembered. They do not fear bad news; they confidently trust the Lord to care for them. They are confident and fearless and can face their foes triumphantly.

We must fight for our faith. Walking by faith and not by sight is not easy. The pitfalls of pain are many but praise overpowers pain and fills in the potholes along the way. Investing my life in God’s Plan and Purpose insures fulfillment and completion that far exceeds my expectation. It empowers me to be fearlessly confident in the good fight of faith knowing no matter what the battle or how impossible things seem I have victory in Jesus Christ. I will be triumphant as long as I hold fast to the anchor of hope. It anchors my soul so that when the storm passes and the sun shines again all will see the faithfulness and goodness of God and give Him the glory.

Matthew 6:31-33 (NLT) “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

Psalm 104:16 tells us that the “trees of the Lord are well cared for.” In Psalm 1, it says those who delight in the Lord are like “trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit in each season. Their leaves never wither and they prosper in all they do.” I know Jesus tells us not to worry about the cares of life but human nature has a very strong influence. In the transformation process, there are seasons. Some are favorable and some not so much, but we are promised success in every one of them if we simply trust and depend on the Lord. God knows exactly what I need. He will give me the desires of my heart. I must only seek the Kingdom of God above all else and live confidently in the hope I have through Jesus Christ. To live in Christ assures me that He will give me everything I need. I have already been given every provision. He wants to prosper me now.

Do you have burdens weighing you down today? Cares crowding out every good thought. Overwhelming worries that keep you up all night. Pick one. The biggest one. The one that keeps your feet planted in fear and anxiety. Take it to the Lord. Just the one. Your pride will not allow you to relinquish full control. The secret to trusting the Lord is beginning with one thing and continuously giving Him one more worry, one more care and one more burden. Each new day when the enemy comes ready to give it back – simply refuse it while working on the next care package. I cannot have fulfillment of the fruit of the spirit including love, joy and peace until I rid my heart and mind of all the junk taking its place. Faith allows confident hope to prosper in the place of every fear released. Join me today as once again I yoke myself to Jesus Christ learning to love and trust my partner more and more. He is worthy. God is able. The Lord will to do just what He says. It’s all in the waiting not in the worrying. Give the Lord your problems and take on the task of praising His Great Name.

Psalm 27:14 (NLT) Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.

If It’s Not One Thing…

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Psalm 138:7-8 (NKJV) Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me; You will stretch out Your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and Your right hand will save me. The Lord will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy, Lord, endures forever; do not forsake the works of Your hands.

If it’s not one thing, it’s another. Do you ever feel that way? Trouble comes and goes making room for something else it seems. Last night, my husband and I attended a visitation for a man of God who is the father, father-in-law, and grandfather of many of our friends. The place was packed. People gathered to honor the man and the room resounded his legacy of love and kindness to others. As I walked to the front of the church embracing my sweet friend, I could not help but feel her heaviness and feel completely helpless in alleviating her burden. Her mama so weak and frail standing next to her husband now with Jesus. I could not “do” a single thing to ease her burden or lighten her load. As everyone visited in the little church together, conversation turned to “how are you doing” and “how’s the family” as people began to catch up with one another. Burdens and concerns were shared amongst each other when one person said, “If it’s not one thing, its another.”

Well…getting into the truck to head home, I had missed a call from our youngest daughter. She called to tell me that our little dog was very sick. She had apparently found some potpourri and decided to try to eat it. The thought occurred to me right then and there, too. If it’s not one thing its another. Now as I sit in my quiet time this morning with the Lord, our tiny little creature is shaking in my lap while I wait for the vet to open. She is very sick. Sadly, our family just said goodbye to our other little elderly dog just a couple of weeks ago. I am concerned this morning. Concerned for friends with broken hearts, others with broken bodies, some with broken marriages and more. Though I feel almost guilty for having such concern for an animal with so many friends facing so many things there is comfort in God’s Word. My heart is reminded of this precious promise in Psalm 138 – “the Lord will perfect that which concerns me.”

One might think that this is regarding those who are enduring terrible times and tough trauma. Concern is not the high alert, panic button but it can be that thing causing your brow to furrow a bit or even what gains a second thought. As trouble escalates, it certainly can reach a higher level and without hesitation it is taken to God. But how many times do we say, think or even pray as not to bother God with little things like a sick pet or unexpected anything in life? God wants to perfect what concerns you today. He wants to do His Will and release His Plan for your life. Will you accept?

Matthew 6:9-13 (NKJV)  In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

When Jesus told us how to pray, He was specific. “In this manner, therefore, pray! The prayer model is not grandiose but granular. First, we call Him Father. God I honor Your Great Name today. “Your Kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.” This one phrase releases our Father God to be who He promised to be and do what He said that He would do in our life. We take a step back and tell Him – You lead the way today. Give us this day our daily bread. Jesus is the Bread of Life. Maybe this “daily bread” is not about what we will eat or drink or even sleep tonight after all His Word says that He will supply all of our needs according to His Riches. Maybe this more about a daily dose of Jesus who is the One that feeds our soul so that as our spirit man grows there is more room for heaven to fill our existence on the earth. Of course, then there is that little thing called forgiveness that keeps all of lives imperfections from growing into bitterness that will kill every godly work in us. We need the Lord’s Help or Helper to keep us from temptation especially the one that tells us to give up or give in along with His Deliverance from the evil one who pursues us relentlessly day and night trying to steal our joy and kill our confidence in our Father God. See we don’t need to sweat the small stuff. Whether what we face is major like the death of a loved one or minor like a sick pet – His Word is true. God is perfecting that which concerns us today.

Matthew 11:27-30 (NKJV) All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him. Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

God is in control. He has given Jesus Christ all power and authority over His People. In life if it’s not one thing it will always seem to be another. We were told ahead of time to expect tests and trials in life. Our goal at the end of the day is complete and total trust in Jesus Christ. To trust Him with every major thing and every minor detail of life. To pray about everything and worry about nothing. To revisit our Lord’s request to come those who labor and are heavy laden from this perspective means to give all our burdens to Christ not just the one’s deemed worthy of His Attention. His Word promises that He will perfect that which concerns me today. It doesn’t have to be a big deal but can be the smallest thing and He will perfect it.

Deuteronomy 32:4 (NKJV) He is the Rock, His work is perfect; For all His ways are justice, A God of truth and without injustice; Righteous and upright is He.

God is perfect in all of His Ways. Our imperfection tempts us to settle for less than God’s Best. Sin caused us to fall short of His Glorious Standard of Living. When Jesus died on the Cross, He marched into hell and took the keys of death and the grave back. He then proclaimed victory over our life. He handed us the Keys to the Kingdom and now it is up to me if I will live according to His Kingdom or settle for my circumstances here on earth. If I choose God’s Way, it is perfect. It means that I must have faith in what I cannot see and trust that He will perfect that which concerns me every time. It means releasing control and waiting for God to do His Will – not always my will. Yet in doing so, comes the promise that no matter how many times “it’s not one thing than it’s another” that the Lord will take all my burdens and perfect all that concerns me. There is nothing too big or small for the compassion and care of our Savior and Lover of our soul. Give it all to Jesus today. All of it. Holding nothing back until His Kingdom comes.

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NKJV) Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.

 

Could It Be Me?

could it be me

Ephesians 4:1-4 (NLT) Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future.

Always be humble. How is this possible with a hope that must remain confident? Confidence and humility seem to be contradictory qualities. Maybe it is not so much the traits themselves but how they are applied that determines if they conflict. Jane Austen said, “Nothing is more deceitful than the appearance of humility. It is often only carelessness of opinion, and sometimes an indirect boast.” To say that I am a humble person often reflects a heart that is not humble at all. Humility is the opposite of pride and arrogance. In fact, it is often marked by the feeling of insignificance, inferiority and complete subservience. Called to have confident hope, it is in Christ alone and never ourselves. The moment that one believes anything they do or say is more significant than the work of Christ within them, the threshold has been crossed. If reading this you think, this does not apply to me, it most certainly does. Pride does not find itself in the Word of God. It lies to its owner that there is no need to pay attention or look any farther than the surface. Today I must inspect my heart to determine the places that pride have placed its stake. These are the areas of my life in need of full repentance in order to right my way with the Lord.

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

Ephesians 6:12 tells us that we are not fighting against flesh and blood enemies, I agree completely. It identifies the evil rulers, authorities and mighty rulers of darkness along with evil spirits in heavenly places as the opposition in our life. Again, I agree wholeheartedly. But not every battle that we face is external. There are many conflicts to be resolved internally. Romans 7:18-20 tells of another force to be reckoned with in life. Paul reveals that “nothing good lives in me, that is in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t what to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not the one really doing wrong; it is the sin living in me that does it.” Not every battle that encountered in life is spiritual oppression but sometimes it is God putting pressure on that thing inside us keeping us from His Better Way.

“If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves…” I want to stop here for a moment today. Prayer is not the problem. People pray every day. In fact, in some cases, prayer is an excuse not to do what the Lord has already told us to do tricking believers into ignoring outright disobedience. Pride is the problem. We do not want to humble ourselves before the Lord. Because to truly do so means to humble ourselves in the world as well. Are you facing a trial in your life today? Are you experiencing too many obstacles to overcome? When this happens, it is important that rather than giving the enemy all the credit in a successful attack to humble ourselves and consider this – could it be me?

Matthew 5:5 (NLT) God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth.

What is the most valuable commodity on the earth? It is the human soul. Nothing is more valuable to God than those who He created in His Own Image. With this in mind, humility is the very quality that will release revival on the earth. Why? Because if we inherit the “whole earth” the worth of the world it’s people. Pride hinders our ministry. Oh, we all have a ministry. It is the footsteps that comprise our life and define our walk with God. We don’t have to have a fancy pulpit or sanctuary filled with stadium seats. In fact, the loudest message preached is the life that we lead outside of church.

Pride is the opposite of humility. Pride keeps us from following the Lord completely and doing right. (Psalm25:8-10) Compromise on any level keeps us from our inheritance. Humility is absolutely necessary to fully surrender our life to Christ. We must follow Jesus. The moment the thought takes hold that there is anything that the Lord “needs” us to do is the moment pride has planted a seed in our heart and mind that will kill our harvest. The world doesn’t need us. His Grace is sufficient. The Lord is all-powerful. Our service to Jesus Christ is our deep desire to honor His Sacrifice with our life. We add nothing to it. Pride says “if I don’t do it nobody else will.” Oh how find the fine the line between confidence in Christ and the pride of life.

Pride distances us from God. (Psalm 138:6) That’s just fine with the enemy, because the closer he can come when we are far from the Lord. Do you feel isolated and alone? Pride is a joy killer. (Isaiah 29:18-20) It causes us to lose the joy of our salvation that is always Jesus. People cannot touch the joy of the humble as they live wrapped in a robe of righteousness in the Presence of their Savior. It is well-protected by the close proximity of Christ in us. Human pride will be revealed and brought low on Judgment Day because there is only one throne and it belongs to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. (Isaiah 2:11)

The Book of Proverbs gives several warnings about pride. It is that which comes before a fall. (16:18) To be saved, we must swallow our pride. (6:3) The Lord hates pride and arrogance. (8:13) Pride leads to disgrace. (11:2) Pride leads to conflict. (13:10) Pride ends in humiliation. (29:23) Pride is problematic. To consider every opposition and obstacle in our life as a spiritual attack and not consider pride as the source is to say that I am too good to repent. Repentance is the constant turning of our heart over to the Lord. To evaluate any and all situations and not consider it to be the product of pride is to deny oneself of the Grace of Almighty God offered to those who live in humility before Him.

Matthew 23:11-15 (NLT) The greatest among you must be a servant. But those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted. What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you shut the door of the Kingdom of Heaven in people’s faces. You won’t go in yourselves, and you don’t let others enter either. What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you cross land and sea to make one convert, and then you turn that person into twice the child of hell you yourselves are!

To serve Christ means humbling our life before Him and doing what He requires not what religion tells us to do. Religiosity is the pride of the church. It will produce sorrow in the sower and division among the people. We must humble ourselves before the Lord in all things. Right standing with God is never based on my ability to perform but my willingness to submit my life to Jesus. Religion gives Christians an environment to “feel good” about themselves which will always produce pride. No one is exempt and all the servants of God must crucify their flesh daily to stay in step with the Lord. Especially those who gain influence and attention in the church, one’s position can develop a sense of pride that prohibits a life of repentance due to the expectations of others and our own expectation of self. We are afraid of what others think so we do not humble ourselves as we should. We do not answer the call to the altar because we must “work” it. This is all wrong. Are we too religious to be righteous? Is pride keeping me from the Kingdom to just build the church?

Matthew 11:28-30 (NLT) Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

I am humble and gentle at heart. To be like Jesus, we must adopt these two qualities and develop them in our life. Perhaps you are thinking, I am humble. I am gentle. I have been a Christian for a very long time. Let me tell you a little secret. There is pride in all of us looking for a way out. I was a Christian for many, many years. I thought I was “doing” all the right things. I believed I was sharing the Good News with those around me. God had blessed me with a great job that I was good at so I was pouring a whole lot of time into it and prospering. We served God in our home and church. Faithfully “doing” the things His Word called for. I had it all under control. I assumed God was happy with me because we were blessed and prospering in all things. Life was good.

When our son was diagnosed with cancer, it forced me to reevaluate some things in order to survive. I couldn’t bear the burden of my life alone. The mirror that I had been looking at myself in was shattered on a hospital room floor along with my heart. I could not go back to my “normal” life. I was devastated at what I found. Pride had consumed me. Once forfeited, I could take Christ’s yoke upon me. I was humbled in a moment. It was ugly. It was painful. It was necessary. It wasn’t the enemy who invaded my heart, mind and life. It was the lie that I was capable of anything good outside of Jesus Christ. What followed was a whole lot of repentance, many apologies, some mending of ways, and a whole new life. I could not go back to my normal life again. Pride comes before the fall for sure. The bigger they are the harder they fall is so true. I am so thankful for the lesson that was learned in the midst of tragedy. What the enemy used to harm me actually gave God the opportunity to change me.

Are you overloaded today? Do you feel isolated or maybe even under attack? Have you asked yourself today, could it be me? I find that when peace and joy are elusive it is not an external attack but my flesh rises up for superiority over the grace that has been given to me. Pride is a performer. It will not give up its place willingly and must be ripped out by its roots. It will choke out every good deed our faith attempts to do to honor our Father. Jesus wants to take His Rightful Place next to us and carry our burdens. But He will not share the load with you – He exchanges it for His Burden which is easy and light. Ask the Lord to examine your heart today as I do mine. Ask Him today – “Could it be me, Lord?” I assure you that He will answer. He always does.

Psalm 69:32(NLT) The humble will see their God at work and be glad. Let all who seek God’s help be encouraged.

 

 

When I Am Weak

When I Am Weak

Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV) “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

I am weary. Actually, I am exhausted. I feel like when I sleep each night that I am regaining just enough strength and energy to last through the next day. The empty light of my body is burning brightly. Going through the motions of life, I feel like I am living from to-do list to to-do list without enough time in a day to catch up. We moved out on Monday, closed on Tuesday, moved in the same day, unloaded and unpacked for two days until it was done. Wednesday was back to work along with five days of church/revival. Late nights and long days have taken a toll on my body and mind but not my spirit. Physically and mentally, I am worn slap out as they say in the South. Poke me with a fork…no please don’t…I am done.

Internet is out this morning with an error flashing on the modem. Add it to the list. My body needs rest. My mind needs quiet time. As I sit in my daily conversation with the Lord today, I cry out to Him from this place of sheer exhaustion. I need rest, Lord. As I read Matthew 11:28-30 again today, I try to tear it apart into bite size pieces that will nourish and replenish my weary soul. Come to me. Here I am, Lord! Yet in this place with you, Jesus, I am still tired, weary and exhausted. I need your rest. Where do I find it?

“I will give you rest.” It sounds so simple. We interrupt the elongated to-do list, overbearing schedule, ridiculous routine, and overwhelming responsibilities carried in life for this message from the Lord. Jesus wants to give us rest today. It is up to us if we will take this Gift from God just like every other blessing and promise that He offers. I am learning day by day that the inheritance of God with all of its favor and prosperity come to us as a Gift. A humble offering from the Hand of God offered to His People. It is up to us whether or not it is accepted and applied to our life. Many of the burdens carried by God’s People are not given by the Lord but self-assumed by an inability to trust and depend on Jesus.

“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” There are some key words in this verse that are often overlooked by overachievers. Those people who think that they serve a performance driven task master rather than a perfect Savior. I am not pointing at you because I am do busy self-identifying. The key words are “take”, “learn” and “will”. We must take His Yoke upon us. We must learn from the Lord. Those who do will find rest for their souls. As our soul prospers, so will we.

Hebrews 4:14-16 (NIV) Therefore since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have on who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet he did not sin. Let us approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

“Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well.” (John 4:6) Jesus was tired. He was weary. He was thirsty. Jesus knows our weakness and limitations firsthand. He understands the weakness in our flesh that leads to weariness. The Lord ministers to the woman at the well despite his physical weakness and hunger. When the disciples arrive, they are concerned about their Master’s state. Jesus tells them, “My food is to do the Will of Him who sent me and to finish His Work.” (John 4:34) What feeds our soul? Serving the Lord in all humility with total and complete dedication. Is it enough to overcome human limitation and shortcomings? Absolutely.

In Deuteronomy 25:17-19 comes a warning for those who serve God. The enemy attacks us when we are weary and weak. We need Jesus more than ever during that time. The Amalekites seized the opportunity to attack and overtake those who lagged behind in weariness. The enemy watches and waits for the moment that we fall behind due to fatigue or exhaustion. He just has to catch us off guard or sleeping. We cannot allow such things to hinder us. When we are tired, it is not the time to sleep in but get up and press into the Word of God, His Presence, and pray until our burdens are once again yoked to Christ. Do not forsake your fellowship with other believers. Just as you push to make it to work even when you are tired and sick or sick and tired, it is important to gather with those who urge you, stir you and motivate you to a closer walk with Christ.

Matthew 26:40-41 (NIV) Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he said to Peter. “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Continuing to read this passage, it tell us that the disciples continued to sleep even as the Lord pleaded with them to watch and pray. In verse 43, it says, “When he came back, he again found the sleeping, because their eyes were heavy.” We have weak flesh. We need a willing spirit to overcome the insufficiencies of our flesh. Even in our willingness, it is hard to overcome our humanness some days but God offers a wonderful solution for us. It is called His Grace. “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.” Nobody likes to admit weakness. But the Lord promises that those who rely on His Grace will find that it is enough for those times. In fact, “when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:8-10) Could it be that we are allowed to reach our limit so that God can effectively apply more grace to our life?

In 1 Corinthians 9:22-23, Paul talks about becoming weak to win the weak and becoming all things to all people. It is time for the church to stop acting like they have it all together and live perfect lives. People need to see that our struggle is real. We get tired. We get weak. We have help. Jesus is the Word of God wrapped in flesh who came to live among us. We need the Word of God every day. The High Priest who overcame our weaknesses has given us His Spirit. (Romans 8:26-27) We must rely on the Holy Spirit in our life to help us in our weak moments. If the world does not see a human church overcoming weakness by God’s Word and His Spirit – they will never know true worship because neither do we.

Isaiah 40:28-31 (NIV) Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

I encourage you to declare these words over your life if you are tired, weary and need rest. There is rest for the weary when they look for in the Presence of God. We can come boldly before the Lord today and He will give us more of His Wonderful Grace. Weakness is part of the process by which we discover the Power and Potential of God in us. Let Him be your strength today. It is not a sign of weakness but readiness to be filled with new life, new faith and new hope from the Lord. It is a readied state of receivership for those who know where to go to find rest and restoration. Let the Lord feed and nourish your soul today by doing the Father’s Will in spite of how you feel physically or even emotionally. As our soul prospers so do we.

Psalm34:8-10 (NIV) Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. Fear the Lord, you his holy people, for those who fear him lack nothing. The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.

Releasing Our Burdens

Releasing Our Burdens

Psalm 37:3-6 (AMP) Trust (lean on, rely on, and be confident) in the Lord and do good; so shall you dwell in the land and feed surely on His faithfulness, and truly you shall be fed. Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He will give you the desires and secret petitions of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord [roll and repose each care of your load on Him]; trust (lean on, rely on, and be confident) also in Him and He will bring it to pass. And He will make your uprightness and right standing with God go forth as the light, and your justice and right as [the shining sun of] the noonday.

A long time ago, I read this passage in Psalm 37 in the Amplified version and it has stuck in my head for years. Particularly the part in verse 5, “Commit your way to the Lord (roll and repose each care of your load to Him). This is important. It helps the Type A personality people to understand that fervent frenzy for organized, scheduled, and perfect lives is not our downfall. I can hear all the “Martha” girls whispering a quiet “amen”.  I believe that the Lord allows our plans to be interrupted, the way to become blocked, obstacles to appear, and strength to evaporate otherwise how would we ever find the time to trust Him?

Today as I sit at my desk in the quiet of the morning, every moment creates an ache or pain in my body. For the past week or so, I have been preparing for our move in the next month. Cleaning out every space occupied by our “stuff”, eliminating clutter, and trying to get things ready – my mind is still racing but my body is not keeping up. I am clearly not as young as I used to be or in the physical condition that I was a couple years ago. Yet, when I get an idea, plan or purpose and set my mind to it, there is not going back. What if our life in Christ was the same? Once we decided to know Him and pursue Him with the same aggressive attack that causes us to chase our dreams and realize goals. What if?

Those people who survive on compartmentalized lives such as myself will understand how our life is organized in boxes. In the living room that once was a lovely sitting area is now filled with furniture that is for sale or not in use right now along with many of the larger wall decorations now removed and ready for the move. The dining room is not fit for a meal but has carefully stacked boxes of gram’s precious china and a packing station on the buffet. The back porch where our family would gather for meals during summer nights out by the pool now contains the contents of the attic. Sifted through and repacked, it is ready for transport. The family room is empty other than the furniture and television. Everything has been moved in preparation for departure. When that day comes a truck will pull into the driveway and all the contents of our life will be packed into it. Everything in one place. Hmmm… What if we did that with our life in Christ as well…

What if we were willing to take everything we owned, all that we are, every worry, care and burden along with all our responsibilities and placed it all in His Hands… what might happen? So we come back to the definition of “roll and repose”. You and I both know if completely honest that we have yet to achieve full dependency on the Lord and on most days there is little evidence that some trust Him at all. We make compartments in our life and distribute our life accordingly. One marked family. One marked work. One marked church. If we are lucky, there might even be a tiny one marked as “self”. We divvy our life up in such a way that we can deal with it. Yet the Lord invites us to trust Him in all things. To hand over every worry, care and burden into His Most Capable Hands, but our lack of faith won’t allow it and tainted trust prohibits it. If I don’t do it myself, no one else will. The great thing about the Lord is that He knows us. He knows us better than anyone else so when He invites to live in covenant and make the commitment to live for Him that He is more than willing to allow us to “roll and repose” our life. What does this mean?

Though at times, it is possible to dump a load in God’s Hands by succumbing to the weight and gravity of our problem, the Lord desires us to trust Him in all things. My son came by the other night to help me unload a desk from the car. It was a heavy piece of furniture. I warned him as he began to slide it out to be ready. He agreed but I knew he didn’t really believe me. When the weight of the furniture finally began to bear down on him, his expression changed. He felt the heaviness of the burden. So he began to shift the weight around until he could manage it. I had to do the same. The shift of weight distribution is the same concept expressed in “roll and repose”. As the heaviness of life sinks in, we may roll a care or two over to Jesus. We rest for a moment to see if the adjustment helped and then perhaps decide to change positions some more. The Lord knows that our flesh and human nature will not allow us to release every weight or burden instantaneously, but encourages us in these verse to try a little at a time.

Psalm 55:22 (AMP) Cast your burden on the Lord [releasing the weight of it] and He will sustain you; He will never allow the [consistently] righteous to be moved (made to slip, fall, or fail).

 

Giving our burden to the Lord means releasing the weight of it. The weight is called worry, stress and anxiety. These are the rest robbers of life. These three things will suck life right out of us if not managed properly. The only way to end these deal breakers and dream crushers is to trust the Lord. We trust Jesus using the faith placed in our heart by God during creation. It comes with the package but is usually hidden under the load of life packed on top of it.

Ecclesiastes 3:9-11 (AMP) What profit remains for the worker from his toil? I have seen the painful labor and exertion and miserable business which God has given to the sons of men with which to exercise and busy themselves. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He also has planted eternity in men’s hearts and minds [a divinely implanted sense of a purpose working through the ages which nothing under the sun but God alone can satisfy], yet so that men cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.

Repentance is a continual process. This has nothing to do with the debate of once-saved-always-saved but by definition to repent is to turn. I must repent day by day and often moment to moment in order to remain aligned with Jesus in order to follow Him. Each day is a test to trust Him just a little more and discover just a bit more faith in Him. You can work as hard as you want doing good things even God things, but our relationship with Jesus must be the heart of each matter. Our life cannot have several doctrines and agendas according to where we are and what we are doing. Often people have commitments to family, work and church with a long list of do’s and don’ts that bog us down and overshadow our purpose in life.

Can you stop for a moment and say this with me? “God makes everything beautiful in its time.” Who created time, mastered it, and mapped it out? God. Who better to make it happen? No one. Do you believe that God is making something beautiful out of all the broken pieces of your life today? Brokenness is essential to rebuilding and remodeling our life to His Standard as brutal as it can be. He promises to make good of every detail of our life. (Romans 8:28) We must love Him. We must trust Him. God “planted” eternity in our heart. Yet for some reason people think that if the Lord doesn’t do a quick work that He is not real, not here, or not interested in us. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Lord is preparing our heart to be fertile and helping fix our mind so that Eternity will blossom into faith, hope and love. Such a work allows God’s Spirit to produce every promised spiritual fruit in our life that will satisfy our soul.

Matthew 11:28-30 (AMP) Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. [I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls.] Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart, and you will find rest (relief and ease and refreshment and recreation and blessed quiet) for your souls. For My yoke is wholesome (useful, good—not harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing, but comfortable, gracious, and pleasant), and My burden is light and easy to be borne.

The offer by Jesus still stands…”Come to Me… and I will cause you to rest.” Several years ago, a young woman was hired to fill a position in the office I supervised. The position that she was given highly specialized and according to her resume, she appeared unqualified. At the time, I was a stress monster as not only was I managing three different departments but I was doing this job since the person who did it was abruptly fired. It was handling more than a million dollars of federal aid. Working for the government, when a department or branch closes other areas absorb the staff with the mindset that each person is a voter. At that time, I would work ten or twelve hour days, come home and continue to work at night. I still had a family to care for, chores to do, and the usual responsibilities most people have. I was so stressed that my body was reacting with constant indigestion and chronic bouts with hives. It was terrible but I was successfully getting the job done…right?

Well, then cancer happened to our family. Take the normal, well-organized, highly efficient, and carefully constructed juggling act called an average life and smash it into a million pieces on the ground. I tried for a long time to put it back together the way that it was but the pieces did not fit. The young lady and I both ended up leaving our positions at the school to take new ones. Recently our company needed some contract work done, so we hired her as she turned out to be an excellent, well-skilled employee and one of my closest, dearest friends. It is funny to hear her recount the transformation that occurred before her watching eyes of frenzied, stress monkey to the person I am now. I don’t even really know and understand the peace that I have in life other than to say, “Jesus.”

Jesus wants to take the burden of your life in exchange for a rich, satisfying one. We just don’t want to relinquish control of it. When we cannot bear the load any longer, we bring it to Jesus. Why not try something new? We can daily exchange the pieces if we want to. I can give Him one burden, three worries and twelve cares today and His Response will always be more than I can ask or think of. The Lord desires for us to live in peace and rest trusting Him for everything and with everything that comes with life in general. What am I withholding? It is the very thing that is stealing my joy and taking my peace.

I John 5:1-5 (AMP) Everyone who believes (adheres to, trusts, and relies on the fact) that Jesus is the Christ (the Messiah) is a born-again child of God; and everyone who loves the Father also loves the one born of Him (His offspring). By this we come to know (recognize and understand) that we love the children of God: when we love God and obey His commands (orders, charges) [when we keep His ordinances and are mindful of His precepts and His teaching]. For the [true] love of God is this: that we do His commands [keep His ordinances and are mindful of His precepts and teaching]. And these orders of His are not irksome (burdensome, oppressive, or grievous). For whatever is born of God is victorious over the world; and this is the victory that conquers the world, even our faith. Who is it that is victorious over [that conquers] the world but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God [who adheres to, trusts in, and relies on that fact]?

When our son was declared in remission, I came back and tried to regain a normal life. The life that I had before he became sick and I was gone all the time. Before the shock of my life shook me to the core of my soul, I wanted “that” life. When the worry lines were not so evident, and naivety about the brevity of life allowed me to life without regard. I thought that is what I wanted again. The Lord refused to let me have it. He wanted better for me. Jesus died for us to have a victorious, overcoming, powerful and peaceful life. He offers to take our worries, cares and burdens if we will only let it go for the easy yoke of salvation and life in His Presence. He has provided everything we need by His Divine Power for us to live a godly life and god-like existence but we are not always convinced. Holding tightly to meaningless things, and insisting on doing it our way – there are times when stress, worry and anxiety take over. We are overburdened and become crushed beneath the weight. It doesn’t have to be this way.

We can come to Jesus each day. Giving Him a little more real estate in our heart and head. By by turning one more burden over to Him, the Lord will gladly except that detail and make good out of it. Running out of strength? His Grace is enough and will carry you through. Don’t you love Jesus! A Savior so perfect that even in our rebellion and disobedience seeks to ease our burden and carry our load. See that’s what it is when we decide to take responsibilities of bits and pieces of our life refusing to submit all our life and surrender all our heart to the Lord. Any part of our life, mind, soul and body not giving to Christ remains subject to the enemy. Think about that for a moment.

Whatever we fail to trust the Lord with becomes the enemy’s target. Your faith repulses the devil so he will use the un-surrendered area in us to gain access to the once secure areas of our life. Once inside, he looks for those things that he can destroy in us especially faith, hope and love. He does it with doubt, worry, fear, stress and anxiety that will seep into the areas of growth killing our seed before it is able to grow. Greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world. We must allow Christ to take over every facet of our life to lead us to victory. You have victory today in every area of your life given to the Lord. Start small and you will finish big. You will win. Hebrews 12:1 tells us to “strip off and throw aside every encumbrance (unnecessary weight)” in our life. Pick one or two or all of them, and give your burden to Jesus.

There is an old hymn called Count Your Blessings. I wonder what happens if we change the lyrics just a bit to Release Your Burden…

When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed, when you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Release your burdens, name them one by one, and it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Release your burdens, name them one by one, Release your burdens, see what God hath done!
Release your burdens, name them one by one, and it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Are you ever burdened with a load of care? Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Release your burdens, every doubt will fly, and you will keep singing as the days go by.

My apologies to Mr. Johnston Oatman, Jr. who wrote this old hymn. Please forgive me for taking such liberties with this God-inspired work. Perhaps, maybe just maybe though, if we released our burdens than we would realize our blessing and begin to count them one by one instead. Just a thought…

I Peter 5:6-8 (AMP)  Therefore humble yourselves [demote, lower yourselves in your own estimation] under the mighty hand of God, that in due time He may exalt you, casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully. Be well balanced (temperate, sober of mind), be vigilant and cautious at all times; for that enemy of yours, the devil, roams around like a lion roaring [in fierce hunger], seeking someone to seize upon and devour.

Give It a Rest – A Devotion

Give It a Rest

Matthew 11:27-29 (NLT)

“My Father has entrusted everything to me. No one truly knows the Son except the Father, and no one truly knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

Ever since I was a small child, if I do not feel well I sleep it off. No matter what the ailment I may be experiencing, my body goes into deep hibernation. As an adult, I still do the same thing. My children have the same uncanny ability. So last night when I had an unsettled stomach and a pounding head, my natural response was to lay down for a bit. Surely, after a few minutes I would feel better. Well, I do feel better after over ten hours of sleep. That was all she wrote as the hamster in my brain jumped off the wheel, my body finally gave out and mama went to sleep which I must admit kind of freaks my family out. I needed to rest. To really rest, to power down, shut off and disconnect from everything that is going on all around me and even my mind with continuous thought well after I close my eyes. For those of us who stay on constant “go mode” all the time, could it be that God officially shuts us off from time to time just to refresh and recharge us from the inside out. Otherwise rather than resting, we would berate ourselves for all the “things” that are not getting done around us that we have “assumed” full responsibility for. To all the overachievers, over-doers, and workaholics, this one’s for you and I. God has a message for us in the midst of our rushing around and constant activity. It is God’s Will for you to give it a rest. Seriously, it is time to stop laboring and start resting on the Promises of God which is His Will for our life.

Hamsters are given wheels in captivity for exercise. These little rodents were created by God as nocturnal creatures. One reason is to stealthily gather food and supplies under the cover of darkness safe from predators looking for dinner. They are constantly on the move at night so if held captive the wheel allows them to exert the otherwise pent up energy of their purpose. Scientists have clocked these little rodents averaging over 5 miles a day on a little wheel. Where are they going? What are they doing? One might ask believers the very same thing. We do not rest on the Promises of God because we do not always see the bigger picture. The Word of God shines a light on what the Lord is doing in our life. The Holy Spirit reflects the Image of God in us and together our life is changed for the better. Not by anything we do, but rather our ability to trust the Lord enough to allow Him to complete the good work that He has begun in us.

Genesis 2:1-3 (NLT)

So the creation of the heavens and the earth and everything in them was completed. On the seventh day God had finished his work of creation, so he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because it was the day when he rested from all his work of creation.

 

God completed the creation of the heavens and the earth. Got it. Now, He also completed EVERYTHING in them. Wait a minute? On the seventh day, God had finished all of creation so He rested from His Work. It says nothing about more work to come, or that He was just taking a breather, but in fact as I read and study it – it says, “EVERYTHING in them was completed.” Now as I have read the Word of God, I found that every moment of my life has also been recorded already. (Psalm 139:16) I have also discovered that God has a plan and purpose for my life that is good with a future and hope. (Jeremiah 29:11) It tells me that I find this when I seek Him wholeheartedly. (Jeremiah 29:13) It doesn’t compel me to do anything other than seek the Lord with all of my heart. Where is He? In His Rest…

 

Hebrews 4:1-3 (NLT)

God’s promise of entering his rest still stands, so we ought to tremble with fear that some of you might fail to experience it. For this good news—that God has prepared this rest—has been announced to us just as it was to them. But it did them no good because they didn’t share the faith of those who listened to God. For only we who believe can enter his rest.

 

Worry, stress and anxiety are all monkeys that hinder God’s Children. In the wise words of the Polish idiom, “Not my circus, not my monkey!” We are not supposed to become anxious about anything as sons and daughters of God. He completed everything for us ahead of time. Our job is simply to trust Him. When my children walk in the house and flip a light switch, they do not worry about it. They do not think about should I turn on the lights, if I try will they come on, or did mom and dad pay the power bill. This is evident in the fact that they leave every single light, television and every other electricity-sucking device on they can find whether they are using it or not. They know that we will take care of it – all Glory to God who provides all that we need. How many times in the course of a day do we worry, stress or have anxiety about the details of our life that have been completely provided for and taken care of by God? Don’t make me count the times in my own life for it is much too embarrassing. God has prepared a rest for us in His Presence. He has provided all that we need to rest there. We fail to go there because we are too busy trying to do it all ourselves like hamsters on a wheel who are given food, shelter and protection it is our sinful nature that keeps trying to do it ourselves. Pride will not all us to stop working and rest in the Lord. It is a trust problem that must be overcome to enter the Eternal rest reserved for those who believe that it is finished just like Jesus said that it was.

Hebrews 4:9-11 (NLT)
So there is a special rest
till waiting for the people of God. For all who have entered into God’s rest have rested from their labors, just as God did after creating the world. So let us do our best to enter that rest. But if we disobey God, as the people of Israel did, we will fall.

 

God is inviting you to a “Sabbath” kind of rest. A period of rest. He wants us to be refreshed, quieted, eased of duty, relieved from stress, worry and anxiety, experience mental and spiritual calm, relax and be refreshed. Have you ever had to hard boot a computer or maybe your smartphone? Both of these devices are often left “on” continuously and sometimes begin to malfunction even to the point of not allowing the user to shut them off. So you must hold down some buttons and force a shutdown…do you see where I am going with this? If God has a plan for my life that is perfect, but I will not stop long enough to have faith in the Lord and believe Him enough to slowdown or stop…He will shut you down to renew, refresh and revive our life. In Jesus Christ alone we find our rest. (Hebrews 4:14-16) He is the High Priest in charge of His People’s Sabbath rest. He opened the door so that by faith we could access the Presence of God which allows us to find rest in His Shelter (Psalm 91:1). The Lord leads us to peace and rest. (Psalm 23:1-3) God gifts His Love Ones with rest. (Psalm 127:1-2) God has given us the ability to work. He allows us to gather the good things that He has prepared for us in advance. But without the joy and peace cultivated by knowing Him, His Spirit and His Way – we find no rest. Chasing meaningless things promotes continuous and chaotic activity. (Ecclesiastes 2:22-24) But when we step into the Presence of God and say, “Your Will and Your Way God!” We will rest in His Glorious Goodness. There is peace and joy in trusting and believing in the Power of God. It allows us to release the weight and burden of our life and experience the inheritance set aside for us when God rested on the Seventh Day. Seems fruitless to keep trying to do what God has already done for us, huh?

Hebrews 4:12-13 (NLT)

For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable.

 

If only we could see the view from the top, looking down from the Throne Room of God. He sees where we are now and what lies ahead. He is excited because He made a way for us to experience life. Jesus wants you to have an abundant life. He died for you to experience all of God’s Goodness and collect the inheritance of every promise He has made for your life both now and forever. If only we could see our life how God designed it…we can! The Word of God reveals the Plan of God for our life…it’s a good one. It cuts to the core of our life exposing the areas keeping us from having all that He has promised so that we can remove those things making room for God’s Glorious Standard in our life. This takes the burden of our life off our shoulders and puts it in the nail-scarred Hands of Jesus for renewal, restoration and revitalization. We just have to give it a rest beginning with us!

Hebrews 4:14-16 (NLT)

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

The Last Straw – A Devotion

Matthew 11:28-29 (NLT)

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

 

I am tired. I am weary. I am “heavy” laden. Jesus today I am coming just like you said to! I need some relief and it needs to come quick. Sinking under the heaviness and pressure, Lord what a day. This very well could be the last straw. You know, the one that broke the camel’s back is in my hand. After spending the last two months with one child battling cancer, it certainly could be a culmination of the struggles and strain. Maybe it’s the fact that I cannot seem to escape a medical facility of some sort including the three visited today for another child who will now be dependent until her lovely neon cast is removed. Two patients, one house with a mom who needs to lighten the load. Not sleeping well then to a blaring alarm that somehow had been turned all the way up did not usher in a sweet quiet time. It is a fight just to get there. My attitude really may need an adjustment so Lord I come to you. I called in sick to work again though physically I feel fine. Emotionally and spiritually, it was probably not a bad call but my child needed me. Mounting pressure and the responsibility of a large family weighs heavily. The “normal” life we once lived seems completely upside down, spread apart with pieces rolling all around as I constantly struggle to regain order. Yes, I am weary. Lord, these burdens are getting really heavy. A little help here would be greatly appreciated. As usual, His Word holds the key to my release that was needed before everything fell apart and so I will gladly share it with you. I know I am not alone. Are you weary? Are you heavy laden with mounting pressure and crushing burdens? Do you need rest? Or maybe a little peace will do the trick? If at the end of the day you are praising Wal-Mart for the video that is keeping the little princess entertained more than praising Jesus for His Mercy and Grace then it is definitely time to look for the Lord to lighten the load. So Jesus, “Here I come.”

 

The last straw in your life represents the culmination of many burdens that people were not created to carry. God did not provide the means for His People to live beneath the heavy load of sin, labor, religion and social responsibility. People were created to rule and reign over this planet. I would venture to say that most of us are not living in this place of spiritual authority but buried beneath the weight of this life. The enemy of your soul will gladly take over if you choose to forfeit dominion. He will gladly load everything on top of you until you give up, quit or fail. In fact, it is one of his favorite tactics when it comes to distracting God’s Children. We stray from the Throne of God to the pit of society. I am Exhibit “A”. What are the unnecessary burdens in life? What can be discarded? I cannot cure my son from cancer but I can trust the Lord. I cannot heal my daughter’s broken arm but I can wait for Jesus. I cannot tackle the long list that I am pressured to achieve without carefully surveying if with God’s Plans in mind. Most people have lives that are carefully constructed on various foundations that will not sustain their life in a storm. When trouble comes or unexpected burdens, everything begins to crumble. Some of the debris is necessary to find your foundation. But when there is no secure and firm foundation in your life, things will fall apart. There is no hope.

 

I Corinthians 3:11-13 (NLT)

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

 

The only worthwhile foundation for your life is Jesus Christ. There is nothing else that will make it through the fire of testing and the storm of trials. However, people choose tangible things to build a life upon including other people, money, stuff and nothing of infinite worth. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8) He NEVER changes. However, details of life are always changing and most often without warning. One day everything is just as you planned and then comes the devastating moments called disappointment, diagnosis or divorce. Or perhaps it’s called a layoff, cutback, let go or just plain fired, now what? It all depends on your foundation. When Jesus Christ is your foundation and everything else is contingent on His Grace, Mercy and Love, then anything can come against you but it does not have to come on you allowing you to stand through them all without wavering. Sure, your knees may get weak, your faith drained until tears flow endlessly but your foundation will never fall apart. Jesus will hold it all together when you are coming undone. The Lord remains the same. Heaping troubles, sorrows and burdens on Jesus is exactly what He commands us to do as our foundation. Faith allows us to trust the Lord to work it all out while we faithfully love and trust Him with everything. It is up to us to decide what burdens we are done with as His People and live a life worthy of His Calling. That means deciding what needs to go or be put in its place. What are your unnecessary burdens shouldered all alone today? Are you ready to let go and stand on Jesus Christ with both feet, all of your heart, mind and soul?  

 

Psalm 38:4-5 (NLT)

My guilt overwhelms me—it is a burden too heavy to bear. My wounds fester and stink
because of my foolish sins.

 

Sin is an unnecessary burden that believers carry from the past into today lugging it into the future. Sin needs one remedy. Jesus. Repentance takes the burden off your shoulders and plants it firmly in the Nail-scarred Hands of our Lord. He will gladly take it. It is the reward of His Sacrifice. Jesus wants you to be set free to rule and reign in His Kingdom. Is sin weighing you down today? It can be the guilt of past sins. The shame of secret sins can weigh people down to. There is the problem of hidden sins that have never been dealt with like the last ten pounds of baby weight you are trying to lose and your baby is turning ten very soon! It will not jump off you. God’s People must work to cleanse their life of the burden of sin to experience the freedom in which they have been called to live. Jesus Christ died to remove the heavy burden of sin that was killing us. Why wouldn’t it be your life goal to have all sin removed from your life? What an incredible gift waiting to be received? Foolish sin is like being buried slowly with one grain of sand at a time until you are overwhelmed. Deal with the sin in your life today. Not just the evident ones, but every single thing that would bring displeasure to God. Don’t stop until you are finally free!

 

Ecclesiastes 3:9-11 (NLT)

What do people really get for all their hard work? I have seen the burden God has placed on us all. Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.

 

Believers are working themselves to death for poverty of soul. We spend countless hours physically on the job and even more time worrying about it at home. Your job is simply God’s Provision for your life. It holds no power in your life unless it is given power. Your time is the only commodity in that cannot be replenished. It is the most powerful thing that you have because it is the most valuable. Where do you invest your time? If a significant portion is not reserved for God, you are buried under the burden of toil and labor. Somewhere in our finite human mind, we forget the every good thing comes from God and that includes that job that provides a paycheck. However, we feed the monster of employment by stealing time from God, our family and ourselves to sacrifice at its altar. God is calling in His Marker. He wants at least a tenth of your time solely for His Use. Not of your waking hours but a tenth of your entire day which is over two hours a day. He has asked for it. In exchange, God has promised to open the windows of Heaven and pour His Blessing over His Children. (Malachi 3:10) You will not be able to contain it. It won’t fit in your house but it will fill your soul with His Presence and His Peace until things don’t really matter anymore.

 

Matthew 23:1-4 (NLT)

Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The teachers of religious law and the Pharisees are the official interpreters of the law of Moses.So practice and obey whatever they tell you, but don’t follow their example. For they don’t practice what they teach. They crush people with unbearable religious demands and never lift a finger to ease the burden.

 

Your religion will crush you. Unbearable demands of time and service that are not for God but man will burnout the strongest believer over time. Attending church services, fellowships and every other thing in the church bulletin will not feed your Spirit. Service is an offering. You cannot offer what is not available to give. There must be a reserve to draw from to share with others. Religion is fine, but a thriving relationship with Jesus Christ is absolutely essential or religion is nothing more than an organized social event with no more meaning than a cake walk. You must be obedient to God and not submit to the pressures of mankind. Let your “yes” be “yes” and your “no” be “no”. There should be no guilt in giving. Your gift should be equally gratifying in private if not more so. It should not bring attention to you but always lift up the Name of Jesus. Perfect church attendance is not required, but a heart fervently searching for God that carefully attends to the Presence of God will establish a faith foundation that is firm.

 

Luke 9:59-62 (NLT)

He said to another person, “Come, follow me.” The man agreed, but he said, “Lord, first let me return home and bury my father.” But Jesus told him, “Let the spiritually dead bury their own dead!Your duty is to go and preach about the Kingdom of God.” Another said, “Yes, Lord, I will follow you, but first let me say good-bye to my family.” But Jesus told him, “Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God.”

 

Living as a responsible citizen who loves God, family and friends is very important. However, when it becomes a social responsibility and a choice between the Lord and others, it is important to remember that Jesus comes first. We have five wonderful children. I cannot properly parent them and love them unconditionally without the Love of Jesus Christ. I love my husband. I cannot be the wife he needs without a thriving relationship with my Savior. I am a better employee, friend and person because Jesus Christ apprehended my heart. In all things, Jesus has to come first. He requires the Throne to my life. I gladly give it to Him. There are times when it means closing the door and entering His Presence with little fists knocking, laundry undone, and dishes in the sink along with a long list of other things that are labeled social responsibility. I need to be filled with the Love of God to be who I am called to be. So do you. The pedicure, manicure, massage, me-time can wait. Workout your spirit man through prayer, fasting and toiling before the Lord – God is the best trainer I know. You will treat your body better when you see your value through God’s Eyes and develop confidence in His Plan for your life that gives you meaning and purpose.

 

I John 5:2-4 (NLT)

We know we love God’s children if we love God and obey his commandments. Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome. For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith.

 

All these burdens and more will keep you from living in the miraculous carefree life that Jesus Christ died to give you. Your problems are not really personal, they belong to Jesus. Do not rob Him of the glory in your life by attempting to do it all yourself. You will fail. Daily seek to depend on the Lord. Commit EVERYTHING to Him and lighten the load you are carrying. Let me tell you folks that was a close one. I was almost crushed under the heavy burdens that life has handed me and I have willingly accepted. As I share these words with you, God has lifted this weight from me and carefully repositioned them on the firm foundation of Jesus. I am once again strong in the Lord and ready to go. It is nothing that I have done, but everything Jesus is doing in my life. We are called to love. To obey God’s command and offer an acceptable life to others in the Name of Jesus, we must effectively clear the burdens and strengthen our knees through prayer and praise as we develop a lifetime relationship based on His Freedom and Love. Overburdened…spend time with Jesus! He will take it all even the last straw!

The “G” Word – A Devotion

Matthew 11:28-30 (NLT)

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

 

The image comes to mind of a small child meeting a newborn baby for the very first time. Little hands shoot out in curiosity ready to engage with this new little person. Fat, wet kisses sit on their lips as they press in closely to share them not really paying attention where their affection will land, they press their body into the tiny being. Then the words, “Be gentle.” It can be hurtful though unintended to the innocent child so full of love and wonder eager to share it. There has been quite a build up about the baby’s arrival so there is much anticipation and excitement that may be somewhat quelled by the call for gentleness. Eagerness often is not acquainted with gentleness. Passion has no clue. Pride abandons such a thought altogether so really it is not the child’s fault. People are not often known to be gentle with our possessive nature and selfish ways. Even an infant is born with a grasping reflex that clutches whatever is close and pulls it tightly in. Regardless, there is a call for gentleness in this situation. Actually, according to Jesus, the call is much wider and not just an issue of safety. Gentleness is important in releasing the heavy burdens in life and finding rest in our souls.

 

Be gentle. What do these words really mean in a dog-eat-dog world with corporate ladders and endless competition? First, it is important to note that many of the battles and burdens that we choose to take on in life were never intended for us in the first place. Daily we fight with the Lord for control. People are weighed down with anxiety, stress and even depression feeling inadequate because they cannot carry all the responsibility they have attained and desperately need to be released even though they refuse to let go. God is telling us today to be gentle. Gentleness is a release. Burdens are chosen. You decide that which will attach itself to your back and be carried along. Some people are excellent at acquiring “baggage.” There are many things we encounter daily and choose not to let go even things we are powerless in our humanity to change. Yet we heap it on anyway. No one would describe a dump trunk as gentle as it carries loads of dirt or debris down the highway. Overtaken by its massive power along with its solid steel frame and giant wheels, we become enthralled by its ability to transport massive loads from place to place. People have adopted the idea that with a tough exterior and unbending attitude that they will be viewed as powerful. Building a new image is tough especially when God not only created you in His Image but created you to live in humility. The burden comes from striving to be something that we are not. I can really try to look like a supermodel but I will not become one. I can try to be an amazing athlete but I would not succeed. I am not called to be those things so I do not continue to push and pull with the Lord to be what I am not. Instead, I must be what I am created to be and allow the Peace of God to be released in my life through humble acceptance of God’s Plan. I am a mom. I am a wife. I am a daughter. I am an employee. I am a Christian. I am a believer. I am a Child of the Living God. When I choose to be those people, there is no burden. In partnership with the Lord, He carries the load for me and the burden is light. Gentleness emerges when I stop worrying about what I am not and more importantly the failure of other people to be who I think they should be and work diligently to become who God has called me to be and love those He is waiting on. See my hard edge and abrasive ways do not magnify an image of my Creator in whose image I was made. It is a poor representation of the life available to those flailing in the darkness around me. It is time to add the “G” word to my vocabulary and not be offended when the Lord tells me to be gentle. It is not a punishment or rebuke. It is love telling me to let go and let Jesus release me from my burdens in life.

 

2 Samuel 22:36-37 (NKJV)

“You have also given me the shield of Your salvation; Your gentleness has made me great. You enlarged my path under me; so my feet did not slip.”

 

Gentleness is not weakness. It is surrender though. It is placing your life in the Hands of God for safekeeping and guidance. It requires faith in the source of your redemption. It is not dumping responsibility on God for everything that happens in your life but rather being careful and choosy about what you allow into your life. The Lord will sort through the baggage and decide what stays or goes. In the midst of this process, you are free to live your life just as Jesus intended when He died for you. The pathway of opportunity is enlarged and your feet become steadfast. Suddenly the life you are living for God will become effective because people are attracted to peace and confidence. In Jesus, both of these qualities will reign in your life. Without the Lord, we become stressed and overburdened with the trivial things in life often missing the most important thing – those who are lost in the darkness of this world. If being a Christian doesn’t change anything, then why try God?

 

Philippians 4:5-7 (KNJV)

Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

 

Though I do believe in the statement “let go and let God”, I do not think it means releasing all responsibility and running through life haphazardly. God has given us an objective. Our gentleness is to be known by everyone who we encounter. This is a responsible decision because people have a way of bring out the very worst in each other. As a believer, it helps to remember that God is always present. His Spirit lives within you and Jesus is anxious to return. Prayer is the vantage point of gentleness. Brow beating people to God with legalism, judgmental attitudes, pressure and prodding is not His Way. Gentleness supported by prayer will open the door. Live in peace. Gentleness ushers peace in your life as the war-like attitudes of selfishness and pride are abandoned. God speaks in a still small voice. He speaks quietly to the heart of His People giving them full understanding of His Plan and Purpose for their life. But we have to “be gentle.” You know where this applies in your own personal life. Now it is time to do something about it. Release your baggage and burdens to Jesus today for a thorough inspection. Pick up only what He gives you back. Suppress the natural fleshly urge to grab everything and everyone pulling it sharply and tightly to you and allow the Lord to release what is yours into your life. Love others. Love is gentleness. No one is perfect. Not even you. Some people do not even try to be perfect, and that is fine too. God will perfect us when we use the “G” word each day and become who He has called us to be.