Pardon the Interruption

Pardon the Interuption

James 1:2-5 (ESV) Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

The pity party was in full effect. I set my alarm for 4:30 AM during the week to spend time with Jesus. It should give me two hours to do what I need to do and sit in His Presence to study, meditate and pray for a bit before getting ready for the day. This morning as I fed the dogs, took them out, gathered dirty clothes from the girls room, tidied their bathroom, started laundry, cleaned out the fridge, made lunches for everyone and detox tea for me, I could feel myself getting frustrated. I set this time aside years ago to spend specifically with the Lord and somehow it has been overtaken by lesser things. My poor husband encountered the pity party. I might add that I recently started a new diet and now on day 3 am tired and irritable anyway. Compound that with menopause and people it is not pretty. As I slide into the seat and sit with my Jesus, I realize that it is my own fault. So pardon the interruption as I share the details of my morning and it is only 5:45 AM.

I am an over doer. I have a Martha spirit and am asking the Lord to help produce Mary’s heart. I am comfortable when in control. I like the house tidy, laundry done and family happy. I am a pleaser who is running out of time in her 24-hour day. The Lord leads me to James. Oh no – not the Book written by the tell-it-like-it-is disciple with no filter at all. Count it all joy. I am counting on the wrong things to bring me joy. When life is imbalanced and Jesus tumbles from the throne of my heart to somewhere beneath a pile of dirty laundry – I have made a terrible mistake. I wonder sometimes if the greatest “trial” humanity faces is simply time management. I hear people say all the time, “I am too busy!” We are all busy. Just as each one has a 24-hour day, each is granted the privilege and freedom to decide how to spend the most precious commodity given to us. Time.

Steadfastness is not busyness. Being the perfect wife, mother, grandmother, employee and even Christian is not about being busy but steadfast. Steadfast in pursuing those things that increase our faith, trust and hope so that our confidence is secure in Jesus Christ. His Kingdom is not built by our hands but comprised by our hearts. When steadfastness has its full effect, it makes us complete lacking nothing.

Philippians 4:11-13 (ESV) Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.  I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

Diligence becomes duty in our determination. When our commitment is to the world and people, there will never be contentment because it is not offered by such things. It is in our commitment to follow Christ that true contentment is revealed. Paul said that he “learned” in whatever situation “I” am content. Two things here. Contentment is a learned behavior. It is a discipline that takes time and energy. It is painstaking as one must kill the flesh and suffocate pride to achieve it. He also states “I” am content meaning his contentment is not based on other factors but a person decision to live in such a state. My grumbling and complaining today does not reflect a life of confident hope and total trust but one of doubt and fear. When I am content, it doesn’t matter what is going on around me because I can still count it all joy.

When I allow tasks to take over time, I allow the enemy to rob me of the source of complete contentment. I can do all things THROUGH Christ. When my priorities are out of order, then my pursuit is led off course. I become task driven and not Christ following. It interrupts the flow of God in my life because it is through Christ that I have righteousness that allows me to live in the Presence of God filled by His Spirit. The truth I that I love taking care of my family, I like my job, and the tasks associated with such things really are not a burden. I am content with my life yet know God is still working on me and Christ has things to do through me. The problem is that I allowed an interruption to become a full-blown pity party when really I am just have a busy morning that I have the power to change. “But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.” (I Timothy 6:6-8)

Philippians 2:12-16 (ESV)  Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.

So…pardon the interruption today as the Lord carefully and lovingly puts me in check. It is easy to let the burdens, cares and worries of life rob us of precious moments better spent with the Lord. As I put my priorities back in order, I realize that my life becomes complicated when I am not content. When I begin to try to do or be something other than Christ called me to be. I am making changes. The Holy Spirit has really been heavy on my heart lately. It is kind of like the detox tea that I have been drinking. As I digest it each day, it detoxifies my body. Cleans me internally and externally – I can see the impurities and toxins leaving my body. Sometimes even strong believers who serve seemingly sinless and flawless lives could use a good flush now and then – it is only in removing and reorganizing such things that we order our life and prosper as He promised. Just keeping it real today! God is good. He loves us. He loves me. He has a plan and purpose for my life that is just for me. I am not in a competition. I should probably live in that peace each day. It might just eliminate the worries of comparison that keep me striving for wife, mother, employ and Christian of the year. Lord, let me be a Light of Your Love today. Keep me from running in circles and laboring in vain. Thank you for your Presence that is my peaceful place of constant reflection that it is all about YOU Lord, and not about me. I can do all things THROUGH Christ!

Colossians 1:10-12 (ESV)…So as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.

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The Case of the Missing Dryer

The Case of the Missing Dryer

Proverbs 16:2 (NIV) All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the Lord.

Our dryer was in need of repair. The repairman came last week and determined the problem. He would order the parts and return this week to complete the task. Upon arriving home from work, I noticed that the laundry room rug was in the garage and dryer lint everywhere. Opening the door, there was a 100-lb Black Lab where my shiny white dryer used to be kicking up dust with her wagging tail. I called out to the girls, “Where’s my dryer?” They came out laughing. “In the laundry room…” Still giggling as they looked around for it, the two set out in search of the dryer all in jest. No seriously – how does someone remove a major appliance from my house and nobody notice? This is no laughing matter.

We do laundry every single day. The washer and dryer are full service in our house and part of the daily routine. The initial reason for the visit turned into a two-fold repair and it was easier to take it to the shop to complete it rather than try to in the very small and narrow laundry room. My watchful eyes were unavailable when they were leaving so they later called my husband to explain. No big deal right? Maybe not for you but we take our washing, drying and folding very serious around here.

All joking aside, our days are filled with activities, actions and even attitudes based on the motives of our heart. Innocent routines and schedules that can become a priority to us. Perhaps there are certain things that you do on a regular basis that others find a bit excessive. I hear it all the time. Whether it be accusations or excuses, judgment of the life or lifestyle of others based on the motives in our heart. It is important to examine and evaluate our ways to decide how to spend our time. Time is the most valuable commodity that is given. We do not know how much we actually have. It is invaluable because once it is spent and cannot be replenished. The resources in our life are time, talent and treasure. The Lord takes the human heart and weighs its motives not productivity. God doesn’t give to us based on performance but rather obedience. Obedience to God will always produce blessings and promises in our life even if it takes a bit of time.

What does any of this have to do with a clothes dryer? While some people reading this may think the loss of a dryer no big deal, others will be completely offended that the repairmen took it without asking and then some may know the feeling because they are avid launderers, the point is that no matter what we do or do not do in this life – God is weighing the motives of our heart in all things. He is checking our time table for His Timing. He is evaluating our motivation according to His Word. God doesn’t lie or change His Mind. He says that all things are permissible but not all things are beneficial. Perhaps, it we became more intent on examining our heart and motives daily – extra time or different priorities might be for our favor. I didn’t have a dryer last night. I could not continue my evening routine of putting on a load while cooking dinner and tending to it afterwards. Instead, I sat on the front porch rocking, Snapchatting friends, and then talking with the Lord. I rested for a few moments.

Psalm 26:1-3 (NIV) Vindicate me, Lord, for I have led a blameless life; I have trusted in the Lord and have not faltered. Test me, Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind; for I have always been mindful of your unfailing love and have lived in reliance on your faithfulness.

The Lord searches our heart for our motives. He evaluates our intentions. He rewards us for our actions. (Jeremiah 17:10) Is it possible to be obedient with the wrong motives? Is it feasible to be right with unjust intentions? Does God reward actions other than obedience? The Lord is looking in the human heart for one thing – love. Every other action must come from the Source of Love that is in us thanks to Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit is on a mission to produce Christ-like Love in us so that every motive and intention becomes an action based on our sole motivation to love the Lord and others. Ugh.

In our busyness, it is easy to justify good motives and intentions without ever tapping into the prosperity of God given to our soul. We perform hoping to persuade God to move for us but His Desire is to move in us. To change our heart and mind to live in full agreement and harmony with other people. He wants to break our routine to produce new relationship opportunities and increase our sphere of influence. You can be filled with faith and overflowing in anointing yet completely miss God’s Will, His Way and His Blessings in our own rightness.

The psalmist says, “Vindicate me…” which means “Free me”! Are you living a blameless life but are not experiencing the blessings and benefits promised in God’s Word? Do you trust the Lord with limits? When your life does not align with God’s Word, His Will and His Way – it is time for a test. Testing and trials give us an opportunity to examine our heart and mind for breaches. To be mindful of His Love is not enough. We must learn to trust the Lord and depend on Him in full reliance. Our purpose in life is not fulfilled until we are called home. God has placed certain things in our life that take time. Things that will require change in us that takes us out of our comfort zone and destroys complacency. To have them requires us to examine and evaluate our motives and intentions openly and honestly before the Lord and allow Him to point out any offensive way in us without becoming obstinate and offensive. Ouch! Ain’t nobody got time for that… except those who desire to live as one with Christ.

I Corinthians 4:4-5 (NIV) My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God.

My mother keeps an impeccable home. It looks as though it is the model home staged for perspective buyers at all times. She has always been that way. I am quite sure it set her into heart palpitations trying to keep up with our family as none of us were committed to the same level of clean. Over the years, I developed better habits and decided to keep a neat home. Yet, when my mother comes for a visit, I am set into a flurry of activity to clean and organize my house. When I visit my daughter, she does the same thing. She attempts to make it acceptable to me. The truth is that my mom doesn’t judge my home according to her standards. When I go to visit my daughter, I am after the chunky little hunk of a grandson not that all her laundry is done and dishes clean. We must be very careful not to judge our life according to others or we will become busy in comparison rather than in our convictions.

My conscious is clear. It doesn’t make me innocent. There will always be someone with higher or lower standards to compare ourselves to in order to feel better or worse about our life. However, the Lord is our judge. He examines our heart for love born of the faith found in Christ that releases all humans from our expectation to invest our entire life in the Hope of Glory – His Name is Jesus. He will bring to light those things hidden in darkness to expose the motives of our heart. His Convictions are not the same as the court of law but based on His Love. His Grace. His Mercy. He delights in mercy. I believe that by investing all our faith, hope and trust in Jesus that we will begin to let others live their life freely as well. It is by cultivating my relationship with Christ that allows me to let go of what I do for Him to become like Him. Lord, help me to evaluate my motives and examine the intentions of my heart today. May I only compare my life and standards to You – Jesus and the love you have placed in me with the grace to fully accept it. Let me live according to Your Standard of Love for others and even myself.

The case of the missing dryer is solved. It will be back in its proper place today ready for service. I am thankful for the mysteries in life that cause us to hear God whisper even in the simplest of things. He is always speaking – but sometimes busyness keeps us from listening and routine too busy to sit and hear.

2 Corinthians 13:5 (NIV) Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?

Find Him

find-him

Luke 2:9-12 (NLT) Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”

Our church is celebrating Christmas today with a special service. This breaks the normal routine of just one service on Sunday but today there will be two. It’s a good thing as life gets really busy celebrating the season with parties, gatherings, shopping, gifting, stressing and such. I believe the night that Jesus was born was busyness as usual – pun intended. The census was big busin ess to Bethlehem. Every hotel, motel and Holiday Inn was filled to overflowing. I would think that every dining hall, restaurant and Olive Garden had a two-hour wait or more. As Mary and Joseph entered the town, they did not notice the crush or rush of the season but rather the pain and pressure that was pushing God’s Promise into this world. This busy world. This distracting time. This life that never makes time for rest or revelation just constant rushing and reacting. God was about change things significantly but no one had the time to stop.

Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them. Many Christmas pageants will reenact this moment today if their program has not already taken place. The radiance of the Lord’s Glory that surrounded this moment may somehow be missed in the revelry. The shepherds who encountered God in such a glorious way were at first terrified. But the angel of the Lord would not allow such fear, doubt and discouragement to overtake them and said, “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people.” All people even you who is weighted down by heavy burdens or drowning in unmet expectation. You who are fighting unseen enemies in prevailing darkness trying desperately to act normal groping to find your way out. Those who are draped in artificial trees, lights and splendor of Christmas colors but inside only see black and white images of deep depression. Yes, you who are exhausted and overwhelmed in the rush and crush of “Christmas”. God is speaking to each of us today in whatever state this season has brought to the surface to say, “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to you of all people.” Do you have joy this Christmas? You will always find joy in Jesus.

The Savior – yes, the Messiah, the Lord has been born…you will recognize him and you will find him. In the midst of the statements is hidden the Truth that can make this last week joyful. The kind of joy that doesn’t stop after the gifts are open, everyone fed and you can finally put your feet up and rest. This is the kind of joy that prevails over happiness and haphazard life to keep us in constant peace filled with inexpressible joy all year round. We must find our Savior, Messiah and Lord.

Luke 1:46-50 (NLT) Mary responded, “Oh, how my soul praises the Lord. How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior! For he took notice of his lowly servant girl, and from now on all generations will call me blessed. For the Mighty One is holy, and he has done great things for me. He shows mercy from generation to generation to all who fear him.”

Poor Mary! Can you imagine? She was a single mom in a staunch religious culture that frowned heavily and punished young ladies in such a position. She had done nothing other than say, I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” She said, “Yes!” This commitment to God would not be recognized by others though she tried to share her side. Even her fiancé, Joseph, doubted her until the Lord came to him, too. Our response to the Lord doesn’t always make everything calm and peaceful. No most of the time all hell breaks loose around you as the enemy wants God’s Promise inside of you.

I have been pregnant five times. I have had relatively easy ones, praise the Lord. However, with all three in the midst of transition, when arrival is imminent – I lose it. Generally erupting in an internal conversation that sometimes makes its way out. What were you thinking? I just want to quit. Lord, no more. I once told a midwife that I was done and leaving. I didn’t want to do it anymore. She simply smiled and said, “Okay.” Ugh! Birthing God’s Promise physically and spiritually is no different. There is pressure and there is pain but our persistence pushes past all that as God has His Way. What is your response today to the Savior? Jesus cannot and will not leave you in the same condition that He found you. Ever. If you seek the Savior – then you will experience deliverance from sin, shame and guilt. You cannot have the Promise and the past. Choosing the promise will always become a pregnancy that leads to pressure and pain at times.

Luke 4:17-21 (NLT) The scroll of Isaiah the prophet was handed to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where this was written: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.” He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the attendant, and sat down. All eyes in the synagogue looked at him intently. Then he began to speak to them. “The Scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day!”

Jesus is the Messiah. He is the anointed one. When He began to speak and told the people, “the scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day” – it was a line drawn in the sand and every demon in hell even satan screeched loudly at the transgression. They would not be defeated. Jesus had a mission. God sent Him on purpose. He came to save the world. He also came to empower each of God’s Children to achieve and execute His Power after Jesus was gone back to Heaven. He intended to march into hell retrieve the keys to open the life and release the promise of every man and woman bound, hindered and headed for death and the grave by sin. His Grace would be released to all mankind along with all the love, joy and peace Heaven has to offer. Are you living under the powerful anointing of Jesus Christ in your life today?

Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom. Whom the Son sets free is free indeed. Are you living free and clear in Jesus Christ today? I believe that this is often missed in our Christian life. We come to the Savior. Live in repentance. Strive to stay close to Him. Love Him. Choosing grace and grabbing hold of mercy. We see the wretchedness of our weakness. Know that we are powerless against sin. BUT where is freedom? Where is the power that He promised us? Is it still locked inside of us?

Jesus said, “It is finished.” The Bible says that after He spoke these final words that He released His Spirit to inhabit the hearts of His People. He gave us His Power which we accept with His Grace. However, many people never experience God’s Power because they don’t have enough faith to be confident in His Grace. His Saving is sufficient but many worry that their sin is too great, their weakness too obvious, and their rebellion too real. His Grace is enough for you today. It is enough for me. Even on those days that I fail, give up, give in and request do-over after do-over – God is with me, in me, and pushing His Promise out of me. To find Him – we must not only look for a Savior but our Messiah full of awesome power, too.

Greater things. Jesus said that anyone who believes in Him will do the same “works” (miracles, signs and wonders) that He had done. But the Messiah doesn’t stop there. He goes on to promise that we will do even greater works when He completed His Work and went back to the Father. Well…Jesus did it. Are we doing it? Do we believe? Those who do will experience the Glory of God as the shepherds did in the field. They will feel the tug on their heart of the wise men who had to honor Jesus. We must seek not only a Savior but the Messiah, too.

Jeremiah 29:11-14 (NLT) For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you,” says the Lord. 

Jesus is not only our Savior and Messiah. He must be our Lord. You know I find that when I set out to do a certain task around the house, maybe I am just looking for something, that I can get distracted and forget what I was after in the first place. Distractions are a way of life. Have you ever walked into that room and thought why am I here? Your life will always hold distractions and detours set by the enemy to get your mind off of the real thing you are after. People are not the problem but become problematic. Children become teenagers. Work gets chaotic. Change is constantly evolving. The enemy is desperate to steal and kill God’s Promise for our life. Our promise is to build a kingdom. You are part of the Body of Christ. All our human body parts represent a certain function necessary for perfect health and wholeness. You are important to the development and fulfillment of the Body. You – yes you, all by your lonely. You are important. You are significant. Is Jesus your Lord today?

I know the plans that I have for you. God knows exactly what He created you to do and what will satisfy your soul. Jesus saved you for this purpose and has empowered you to fulfill it. Our faith takes these two qualities of Christ to serve Him as Lord. To make Jesus Lord of our life is not about church doctrine, Christian guidelines, or any other manmade rule. To make Jesus Lord is to love Him wholeheartedly. I struggle with sin every day. I am able to overcome some of them simply because I love others too much to do them and even more when I started loving Jesus too much to do the rest. Religion cannot make Jesus Lord of our life. It is our relationship with Him that changes everything. To fall so in love with Jesus that you do not want to sin or allow anything to come between the two of you. I don’t want anything I do to drive a wedge in our relationship.

Jeremiah 29:11 is widely known and accepted. Everyone loves the fact that God has a plan for our life. We celebrate even more that they contain a future and hope. Yes, Lord. Seldom do we dig deeper. We want the promise but not the process. What does it say next? This is pivotal to fulfillment and our part in the process. When you pray, I will listen. Busyness is probably the #1 joy killer in every Christian. We go so long not communicating with the Lord that the absence or void becomes filled with other things. We must clear our schedule and make time for our relationship and pursuit of Jesus every day. If you look for me, wholeheartedly, you will find me. Are you looking for Jesus today? Are you searching desperately for the Savior, longing for the Messiah, and wholeheartedly pursuing the Lord? We need the full person of Jesus Christ in our life every single day. It seems so ironic that a season created to celebrate His Birth is the time of year when the suicide hotline rings off the hook, families fall apart, and people become completely overwhelmed in doing, running and rushing to meet unreasonable expectations. We must seek Jesus wholeheartedly and save Christmas once and for all.

Luke 2:15-20 (NLT) When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.

I laugh as I wonder if the shepherds were as surprised to find Jesus as I am when God’s Word holds true. Time and time again, the Lord has done exactly as promised and yet I am still amazed that God would do such wonderful things for me. When I make the choice to seek Him wholeheartedly, it always turns out just as He said it would. Sometimes the road to fulfillment is short and others are long journeys filled with high highs and low lows, but the Lord is with me through it all. He really does prepare feasts for me in the presence of the enemy. He does everything His Word says. He is doing it. What am I doing? If the Promise God gave you has not come to pass, it is important to make sure that you haven’t given up in the process and that you are still seeking Him wholeheartedly not halfheartedly. The Lord knows the difference and so do you. Jesus said, “It is finished.” This is a word just for you. He came to save you. Heal you. Deliver you. Anoint you. Empower you. Fulfill you. Complete you. In all this, Jesus came to free you. You are free to live your life as you choose. This is His Gift to you this Christmas.

In Luke 17, there were ten lepers who called to Jesus from a distance. Lord, have mercy on us. Jesus sent them to the synagogue to show themselves to the priests and as they went they were healed. But only one of them came back seeking Jesus – no one else returned to give thanks or glory to the God who healed them. Hmmm. We come to Jesus in our time of need and press in to His Presence to meet our need and relieve our burden. He gives us salvation. He sets us free. What we do next determines fulfillment in our life? He will heal people who never pursue Him. He will set free some who will never return. Jesus is our Savior, Messiah and Lord. His Character and Qualities are not driven by my behavior or my response. Remember – who the Son sets free is free indeed. My choice is to use my freedom to seek Jesus wholeheartedly until I find Him. What is yours? Wise men (and women) still seek Him. Is your life lackluster is your love drained and joy fading in the midst of all the busyness and distractions of this holiday season? It’s not too late. Make this week count. If you seek Him wholeheartedly, you will find Him and Christmas will be joyful all over again.

I Peter 1:8-9 (NLT) You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls.