Just Turnaround

Just Turnaround

Galatians 6:14-16 (NLT) As for me, may I never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of that cross, my interest in this world has been crucified, and the world’s interest in me has also died. It doesn’t matter whether we have been circumcised or not. What counts is whether we have been transformed into a new creation. May God’s peace and mercy be upon all who live by this principle; they are the new people of God.

In a Bible Study, the speaker said, “Cancer is a cell unwilling to change.” I tucked it in the back of my mind for a bit. The recent news of cancer scares, chemotherapy appointments, “pink nightmares” and another diagnosis have me contemplating cancer and change. Our son has scans next month that will determine if the cells in his body remain in check. I believe the bone marrow transplant and Hand of God upon him are doing their job but my heart grieves for all who have awakened in this nightmare, living the bad dream or trying to make sense in the aftermath. The last couple of weeks have been overwhelming. It seems that ever since our son’s journey ended, I have been struggling to decide what a “normal” life looks like or if there is such a thing. Something happened during that time. Something inside me changed forever and now I am learning to live in it. To survive the ordeal of a horrific and traumatic illness threatening the life of one of my children, I had to fully step into Christ. My whole being – body, mind, spirit and every single piece of my crushed heart had to be surrendered to find my next breath.

The perspective of my life has changed. My goals and aspirations are much different. Just like you, I see my future one way and when life takes a turn it causes stress and worry to fill my mind. As the pressures of life began to weigh me down, I started to complain and resist in an outward display. Challenged to find a solution or quit my job, I went to the Lord. You know what He told me? I had to change. God doesn’t see our life and all the problems. He sees my potential. The purpose for which He created me and the plan designed specifically for my life. It is not dependent on the variables around me but it all works together for my good. If I can keep my eyes on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of faith and remain yoked to Him – life and power belong to me. His Grace is always enough. I have to change…no one else and nothing else but me.

John 3:30 (NLT) He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.

A quick and simple lessen about cancer from a novice perspective. Cancer is just another cell in the body. The problem is it doesn’t come pre-programmed with the life sustaining power to change. It is rogue. Rogue means no longer obedient, belonging or accepted and hence uncontrollable. It becomes a renegade. If you think about it, cancer never wins. For death is to kill its own source of life. It is suicidal in its mission. For if medicine doesn’t stop it or the Hand of God does not immediately heal it – it kills itself by ending the life of its human source. Cancer is basically a disease of uncontrolled cell division. Cells come with regulators that are overridden in a cancer cell. It does not have the safe limits built in that tell it how to grow and develop normally in the human body. Cancer cells make their own rules and growth factors. They are stuck in the “on” position. They ignore the innate signals from the body designed for healthy growth and development. How many times do I allow my flesh to override the Spirit? The Lord is working in me to make me a new creation and produce new life yet in my impatience and unwillingness to change cause a delay in my development. What if the lack of progress towards fulfillment of my purpose is me?

Repentance is turning back to God. It is not a mandate for change. I can do nothing to make my life better. Repentance leads to salvation which is an act of submission. It is to surrender every “cell” of my body and fiber of my being to the redemptive, restoring, renewing and renovating Power of Christ. To allow Him to improve my standard of living to God’s Glorious and Life-Giving Standard. I can do nothing apart from Christ. But in Christ, I have everything I need to grow, develop and mature my purpose. The only parts of my life that will not be renewed, restored and revived are those unwilling to change. The process of transformation is change. Not a change I can produce, but the One the Lord will if I give every part of my life to Him.

Romans 8:1-2 (NLT) So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. 

At one point in our son’s fight against cancer, the doctors discussed his participation in a clinical trial for immunotherapy. Essentially they take some cells from a patient with active cancer and teach the immune system to fight back. We didn’t enter the trial but instead he was approved for a bone marrow transplant which took some of his cells after chemo-blasting as much cancer out of his system as possible and storing them for later use. He entered the hospital and for weeks they killed every cell they could without killing him and then reintroduced the clean cells to take over. They did and our son is alive today despite only having a 2% chance of survival. He is a living, breathing miracle. Though he celebrates victory day by day, there are still challenges in his post-cancer life. A review of systems provides a lengthy list of side effects from the disease and treatment alike. He requires medications and monitoring of certain health conditions. He is still dependent on his medical team which leads me to this point – you will always need Jesus. In fact, the more you grow, the more you will come to know that He is Your Life Source.

Sin will take over in the absence of Christ. Rogue behaviors will surface from our past. Flesh will rise up to overtake us in weakness. Our mind will play tricks on us as the enemy tries to convince us that God is not good, or He has forgotten a single promise. The enemy wants you to believe that the Grace of God is not enough. The truth is friend it is more than enough to make it through each day triumphantly even in the midst of trial or tragedy. We must only be willing to repent (turnaround)to face the Lord and allow Him to live, move and breathe in us. There is no condemnation in Christ. Someone needs to hear that today and understand. God sees sin as cancer. He has the cure. Just turn around and let His Unfailing Love and Goodness overtake you – this is when death becomes life, potential results in purpose, and you will experience Him from glory to glory.

2 Corinthians 12:8-10 (NLT) Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Jesus didn’t come to save the world. He came to save us. You. Me. Everyone. To think that He came to save the world would be like Christ draining the ocean to keep our feet planted on the ground. No. Faith is not needed in such a case. It is when water is all around us and still our heart beckons us to come. Jesus says, “My grace is all you need…today.” No matter what you are facing or how good the day may seem – we all need His Grace and Mercy to continue the transformation process that all believers are undergoing. We much know that His Power works its absolute in our weakness. Why else would the prideful be warned of a fall? It is in that moment when Christ is enough that our life is immediately changed for the better and life released in the midst of such a declaration. This is the Gospel of our life. To let Christ have His Way in every area. It is not a choice attributable to anything that I can say or do but in the choice to let Him have His Way and fill every space and void in my life. Sometimes it is releasing my expectation to fully embrace His Promises which are always more than I can think or ask. Is it possible to take pleasure in weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions and troubles – yes it is. The power to change lives within us. Christ is enough. I just have to believe it to receive it. To believe it means that each and every day – I must repent (turnaround) and embrace the Christ in me and the life He is producing.

2 Corinthians 5:16-17 (NLT) So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

I made a startling realization this week. Okay, I am not going to lie I come to this every time. When I am stressed, anxious, worried, and overwhelmed – I begin to release the pressure by taking it out on those around me. I find myself complaining and grumbling. I become exhausted and given to tears. Time and time again…I hear the Lord whisper – “Hey, My Grace is still enough for you.” I turnaround and find Him right there where He always was with a Handful of Goodness and Heart full of love that the Lord is ready to lavish on me. I only have to turnaround from doing things my way and holding to my expectations to receive it. Jesus always gives me joy and peace that is indescribable without fail. I want to be a new creation. I want the new life I am promised. I am all too human just the same. When I find my life overwhelming, it is then that I realize I am the one who got turned around. I am the one doing it my way according to my will. The overwhelming feeling inside me is desperation mixed with unmet expectation that reminds me – Christ is all I need and He lives in me.

Stop evaluating your life according to those around you. Your Purpose and Plan are designed specifically and exclusively for you. This is not a competition. God has no favorites. Everyone has the potential and promise to be a Child of the Living God by accepting Jesus Christ. Everyone. You have the opportunity to put your old life of shame, regret, lack and discontentment behind and fully embrace the new life Christ died for you to have including full freedom and soul prosperity that somehow makes its way into our life as increase. What if all you have to do is stop doing it your way and let Christ have His Way? Could it be you are trying too hard rather than depending fully on Jesus? The Lord stands right behind you. He is ready, willing and able to change your life beginning with you. Will you just turnaround?

Psalm 23 (NLT) The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name. Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.

Art of Adaptation

skd283115sdc

Romans 12:1-2 (AMP) Therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies [dedicating all of yourselves, set apart] as a living sacrifice, holy and well-pleasing to God, which is your rational (logical, intelligent) act of worship. And do not be conformed to this world [any longer with its superficial values and customs], but be transformed and progressively changed [as you mature spiritually] by the renewing of your mind [focusing on godly values and ethical attitudes], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His plan and purpose for you].

Survival is largely based on one’s ability to adapt to their environmental conditions. It is an outward emulation of the strength within them. Humanity is excellent in their efforts to survive. The sheer number in existence today around the world in a variety of atmospheric areas shows that people are strong. For example, there are essentially four seasons in each calendar year. With each weather change, we will either layer clothes or shed a few. Turn on the air conditioning or maintain a source of heat. We change with the weather. Change comes in two forms – conformity or transformation. There is a definite difference to be considered to adapt to the conditions, circumstances and conditions of life. Challenged each day by change – many will survive by means of conformation, but some will dare to thrive in transformation. I want to be transformed.

What does it mean to be a living sacrifice? It means to submit our life to God’s Process called transformation. To be changed from the inside out by the Hand of God until our Heart beats with God as His Children. It doesn’t mean that I must change but rather that through the everyday opportunities presented in life that I allow God to change me rather than trying to change to be like everyone else. The Will of God for our life is daily transformation. I know – that means change and no one really likes change even though it is our boast. When Jesus was transformed – His Face literally shined in. His Person radiated the Glory of God right before the eyes of the bewildered witnesses. What if that is God’s Plan for you? What if His Desire is to use your process to transform you into a real and true visible light of His Love for His Glory? To set you apart from the others and make your life a beacon to those who live in darkness by illuminating you from the inside out. Will you accept His Offer to change you? To renew your life and redeem you fully until you reflect the Light of His Love. It means becoming a living sacrifice as conformity is exchanged for transformation. You will never be the same. Things will change. Are you okay with that?

Romans 12:1-2 (MSG) So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

The Message translation of Romans 12:1-2 makes it clear. God wants to help us transform our life from natural to supernatural including our “every day, ordinary life” our “sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life” not just our church life but all of it. The Lord wants it all – the whole enchilada – to make it into the masterpiece that He created you to become once sin was removed from you. “Embracing what God does for you (and in you) is the best thing you can do for Him.” To accept our belief in Jesus Christ means to know that He is Savior and Lord. But to accept Him fully – one must embrace Jesus as Savior and Lord allowing Him into the inner circle of our being – the hula-hoop reserved for those who are permitted to live in the intimacy of self close enough to connect heart-to-heart. In life, it is easier to embrace people because they are tangible. We can encounter them with all five senses making them logical and approachable, but what about Jesus. He lives inside of us. When I asked Jesus to come live inside my life, it is like a guest in my home. They come and stay in the “guest room” use the “guest bathroom” but my husband shares my bedroom and bathroom. He inhabits the place where I live. The privacy of my space that others do not necessarily feel welcome to enter uninvited. Is Jesus staying in your guest room today? He is present but aloof. Is His Presence welcomed in every area of our life or do we relegate Him to the outer court of our existence? We can conform even to Christianity. We become transformed when Jesus moves from the outside of our innermost being to every single area of our ordinary life.

It is human nature to conform to our community. To change according to the culture. Who doesn’t want to fit in? I guess I no longer do. I have never really fit in or at least felt that way. As a child, our family moved many, many times. I attended eleven elementary schools, one middle school and three high schools.  Always being the new kid, I learned to adapt quickly to my environment as a means to blend in quickly. I didn’t want to be the outsider or new kid on the block all the time. The worst was when changing schools mid-year. When friends had already been chosen, seats assigned, and the classes scheduled. To be “worked” in is a stressful situation. I learned to conform in the midst of change that when the Lord invited me to be transformed – I was a bit confused. Conformation and transformation are different. One is adaption and the other is the sacrificial offering of one’s life to be changed, renewed, restored and redeemed. One allows us to maintain self while the other requires all of it.

2 Corinthians 3:17-18 (AMP) Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty [emancipation from bondage, true freedom]. And we all, with unveiled face, continually seeing as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are progressively being transformed into His image from [one degree of] glory to [even more] glory, which comes from the Lord, [who is] the Spirit.

The Lord invites you and me today to stop trying to be like everyone else and give our life to Him. Our ordinary life. Our mundane existence. Our well-maintained and meticulously scheduled day. Our chaotic mess. Every part of our life no matter how great, not-so-great or just plain terrible it is. He wants to give us the freedom to be transformed releasing us from conformity to the culture in which we live. Jesus offers to transform us form death to life, bondage to freedom and give us favor produced by His Glory. Transformation is the progressive process by which prosperity occurs. As our soul prospers, so do we. Seeds of life begin to turn into fields of blessing and an abundance of satisfaction is harvested in the peaceful plains governed by His Grace, Mercy and, of course, Unconditional and Amazing Love. God doesn’t give us the life we deserve. He gives us the life that He planned for us. The Plan promised comes with a future and hope as we are changed into His Image – Glory to Glory – by His Grace alone. It is all is enacted, enabled and embellished by God through us when we decide to stop conforming and allow His Spirit to fully transform us from natural to supernatural and ordinary to extraordinary.

Ephesians 2:10 (AMP)  For we are His workmanship [His own master work, a work of art], created in Christ Jesus [reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, ready to be used] for good works, which God prepared [for us] beforehand [taking paths which He set], so that we would walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us].

The sculptor takes a hammer and chisel to solid stone and an image emerges, He sands and smooths the rough surface until it becomes a work of art. What once was worthy of a quarry filled with other slabs now is valuable. A canvas and paint are art supplies. The artist takes a brush and portrays the beautiful image in their thoughts and mind to create a masterpiece. It will look nothing like the final work in its many stages. It may require many layers of paint to blend it into the final work. Onlookers may wonder what in the world it will become but the creator knows exactly what it will be when it is finished. The potter takes clay to the wheel. He shapes, softens and forms it into something useful. Putting it in the kiln, the fire blasts away any impurities and strengthens it solidifying the new creation into its new and improved state. The colors once dull and lifeless radiate all the hidden color. It is now a beautiful and useful piece of pottery because it went through the process of transformation to become a masterpiece. Think of all the priceless artwork around the world. God calls us His Masterpiece and products of His Workmanship. When I allow the God in me to transform me into who and what He created and designed me to be – my life by faith will become the Light that He promised. It will radiate His Glory and reflect His Goodness. I must allow the Lord to change me from the inside out by welcoming Him into every part and place of this existence called life. It is by this process that His Glory fills me and spills over into this ordinary life that I live. It will become glorious. I will be changed to reflect the limitless and overwhelming God I serve so that others will experience Him too. I will be changed. I will be different. I will never be the same. That’s okay with me…Jesus I invite you today to transform me and crush the conformity that I have embraced in my life. I want you! All of You! Jesus you are welcome so please come right in!

Philippians 3:20-21 (MSG) But there’s far more to life for us. We’re citizens of high heaven! We’re waiting the arrival of the Savior, the Master, Jesus Christ, who will transform our earthy bodies into glorious bodies like his own. He’ll make us beautiful and whole with the same powerful skill by which he is putting everything as it should be, under and around him.

Dynamis

Dynamis

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

The tweet read “If you want to experience dynamic results, you’ve got to have a dynamic attitude.” It immediately brought the word “dynamis” to mind. Dynamis is the Greek root word of dynamic and also dynamite. According to Strong’s Definitions, it means force both literally and figuratively. Miraculous power including ability and abundance. Digging a bit deeper, in Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, it is inherent power, power residing in a thing by virtue of its nature or which a person exerts or puts forth. This power is mentioned 77 times in the King James Version of the Bible, It is also referred to 11 times as mighty work, 7 times both as strength and miracles, 4 times as might, and 3 times as virtue. To summarize the “dynamis” that is referenced in the Word of God – it is strength, power and ability. Inherent power that resides in a person which can be exerted, power to perform miracles, moral power and excellence of soul, power and influence belonging to wealth, power and resource multiplicatively, and power given to armies for victory. Now all of this is referred to as the contents of those who belong to God’s Kingdom because He has given us His Power. Where is the power? Where is the prosperity? What has happened to the potential of God’s People to live in His Glory? Where is it? It is in you. It is in me.

Acts 1:8 (NLT) But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

The last words of Jesus before He ascended to Heaven. The final remarks of our Savior and Lord would not be void of one last promise. Jesus is full of promises and everyone is associated with power. Power that you and I are incapable of but that He full bestows in our life. He promised the people that the Holy Spirit would come and they would receive power. This word “power” is from the same dynamis explained above. You will be my witnesses. When Jesus came to earth as a man, He was God’s Word wrapped in flesh and bones. God sent His Spirit down descending “like a dove” so people could visually see what God was doing literally in their life through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus. God wasn’t giving up on His People by giving them His Grace but rather empowering them to build His Kingdom despite their sin and depraved state. In Joel 2, the Lord tells the people what He will do to release His Power. Through repentance comes His Spirit, I will pour out my spirit on all people. Fast forward to the New Testament, to Acts 2 as Peter introduces His Arrival. When Jesus died on the cross, He released the Spirit that God had placed in him that day He was baptized. Immediately the Temple veil was torn from top to bottom so that no man could take credit or sew it up again. I believe the Holy Spirit did it when He left Jesus’s human body and then immediately after that it went to the grave and started pulling dead bodies out. Resurrection power released into the world and just waiting to be poured into the people which happened on the Day of Pentecost. One of the most noted transferences in the Bible has created the most controversy in the church.

Jesus said, “You will receive my power.” I do not believe that Jesus ever lied or changes His Mind about us. When He told the people, you will receive My Power – He intended to do just that. To say that the Power of God was just for the past, exempts those in the future of all God’s Promises even the one of salvation. The Holy Spirit is the identifier that gives us entrance into eternity. (2 Corinthians 1:22) The Holy Spirit is our guarantee. (2 Corinthians 5:5) The Holy Spirit is the One who reproduces spiritual life in us (John 3:6) and nourishes our soul while replenishing our reserve to give good fruit to others. (Galatians 5:22-23) The Holy Spirit leads us to truth making God’s Word come to life in our life. (John 14:17) Finally, in the same account in the Book of Luke, Jesus tells the people on His Departure that the Holy Spirit would come and fill them with “the power of heaven.” The Holy Spirits presence in the life of a true believer is non-negotiable. He is the Power that Christ gave us. HE is Christ in us. If this is true, and the Power of Heaven is in us, why is it not evident in our life today?

2 Corinthians 4:7-12 (NLT) We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies. Yes, we live under constant danger of death because we serve Jesus, so that the life of Jesus will be evident in our dying bodies. So we live in the face of death, but this has resulted in eternal life for you.

The United States Armed Forces uses an explosive called C-4. It looks a lot like molding clay given to young children for their first introduction to art. My son was attending a C-4 handling during his military training. He sent me a picture and expressed his absolute elation at the exercise. My heart fell to my stomach. My child was absolutely giddy over any form of explosive display. From the youngest memorable age, he loved fireworks and pyrotechnics. I wasn’t sure that even as an adult that he and his buddies were ready to handle one of the most dangerous explosive substances on the planet. We all survived, praise the Lord.

They say that “dynamite comes in small packages.” A single stick of dynamite is estimated to be slightly over an inch in diameter and 8 inches long. The potential for destruction is not evident in its composition. It must be detonated to fulfill its purpose and explode to make an impact. As a believer – this statement applies to me and you. We have potential and power in us that is not evident in the life we live. Dynamite is filled with a highly absorbent material such as clay with some nitroglycerin added. Clay. I am not making it up. Just like our body is made of clay, God has given us the Power of His Spirit to be absorbed and ignited in our life. All areas of our life. We talk a good talk – now it’s time to walk the walk. Dynamite has the power to change the atmosphere, tear down barriers and fill breaches – so do we. However, we have a greater content. We have the Power of Heaven in us.

Just like a seed, planted in the ground must die to self so must I in order to have this power. I must allow God’s Spirit to be absorbed in every fiber of my being and facet of my life to allow His Power to be my strength. Why limit the Lord to the four walls of church? His Spirit is to be incorporated in my daily life. I must identify with the Spirit of God within me. I must believe. Believe in His Power. Believe in His Wisdom. Believe in the Christ in me. Believe He is more than enough. Believe there is abundance to feed my soul. Believe that there is prosperity to seed my life to plant His Word in others. Jesus told the disciples who failed to cast out a demon that it was simply because they did not believe. They said they did. They acted like they did. But when it came time to release His Power, they could not. Religion is often built around what we cannot do. Relationship with Jesus Christ makes all things possible for those who believe.

John 14:12-13 (NLT) “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father.”

The Holy Spirit in you and I is our greatest potential. We have been given every spiritual blessing necessary to do “even greater works” than Christ did because He is with the Father and has placed it in us. Faith is the measure of resource or the seed placed in us with great promise. The Holy Spirit cultivates the seed of faith and multiplies it in us. As our faith grows it becomes confident hope that allows us to live our life as Children of God rather than slaves to our circumstances. Christ must increase and I must decrease. This is not about following some rules and regulations set forth by a religion, Jesus tore them up and put His Spirit in us to lead us, guide us and teach us. The only way to test the doctrine under which we serve is to know the Word and the Holy Spirit to discern truth from lies. I am not bashing religion just religiosity. It is the Christ in us and our connection to Him that is our source of love, power and hope in this life and forever. To release God’s Potential in our life is not restrictive but radical. Once the wick burns down to the cap penetrating its seal, dynamite explodes into purpose. I believe that is what is happening in us. The Lord is working in us to release our full potential. It may be uncomfortable. Change is not always welcomed. However, if I want to see revival in my life, church, community and the world – the Christ in must find His Way out of me otherwise it will remain unrealized potential. I must believe that the God in me is worth pursuing even to the end of myself. I will be challenged. I will be pressed. Get knocked down and even fall down in the process. God’s Purpose will be worth it when His Glory floods my life and I am able to effectively radiate His Love for all to see. I have God’s Power in me. I have His Word. I have His Spirit. I have all the components for a dynamis life. It is up to me to detonate it. Faith makes it happen. To believe is to receive all the power promised to me. Lord, I believe.

2 Peter 1:3-5 (NLT) By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.  In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. 

 

 

Dangerous Habits

dangerous-habits

2 Corinthians 5:16-17 (NLT) So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit. (Aristotle) Successful people are those with successful habits. (Brian Tracy) We often look to those who have achieved success that is coveted to decipher their lifestyle and habits to glean the tips and tricks needed to have the same effect in our life. What are their habits? The things they repeatedly do. Here are some examples that I discovered: Get up early (Robert Iger – Disney CEO), Have a plan (Benjamin Franklin), Stay active (Anna Wintour – Vogue Editor), Prioritize what’s important – Steve Jobs, Make time for hobbies (Warren Buffet), Practice stillness (Oprah Winfrey), Take time to reflect (Bill Gates), Give back (Richard Branson – Billionaire), and Keep up momentum (Jay Z – Rapper/Music Producer. These people are considered highly successful individuals whose wisdom is coveted by those who wish to achieve the same things in life. There is truth in their statements that can be applied to our life and effect positive change.

“You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret to your success is found in your daily routine. (John C. Maxwell) There is a myth that habits are formed in just 21 days of repeating the same behavior. This is now proven to be a myth. There is a new belief that there are actually three phases to habit formation. The first is the Honeymoon Phase – This is characterized by the feeling that this change will be a piece of cake. The “this is easy” feeling much like in marriage. The first week or two of elation ends when two people begin to actually do life together. The next phase is termed appropriately the Fight Thru Phase. It is when inspiration turns into brutal reality. A person must find the means and motivation to “fight thru” positive habit completion. The final phase is called the Second Nature when balance is achieved and the habit finds its place in our routine becoming engraved in our brain. All of this is not a bad thing, but I have decided that though good habits make for success in life that they can be dangerous to one’s spiritual success.

A habit is an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary. As I prepared a cup of hot tea this morning, I forgot to put the microwave cover back in its place. I stopped and put it back. It caught my attention. When I was a young person, I was messy. My children all but one have followed suit. Yet now, I make my bed every morning. Put things away after I use them in the proper place. I get up early each morning. I used to love to sleep until noon. There are mornings as I make the commute to work in thought or prayer that I lose track of the journey. Segments of time that I am no longer conscious of the road, lights or other drivers. These are all things that I no longer think about but just do. Some may call these good habits, I tend to agree as they suit me just fine. The part that concerns me is the word “involuntary”. Involuntary means independent of one’s will. It is not by choice. Unintentional. Unconscious. What if my pursuit of Jesus Christ has become a habit and I am no longer aware of it? What if the things I do for the Lord are no longer faith based but just something I do lacking passion and desire? Am I a creature of habit or becoming a new creation? I must examine my heart to be certain that my life is marked by intentional Christianity and not involuntary actions. If you make positive changes, you will most certainly reap what you sow. However, I am not after earthly reform but holy transformation.

Romans 12:1-2 (NLT) And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

It is comfortable to order our life according to certain behaviors and schedules that offer a level of control. Is the control over my life self-control produced by my ability to change or the Holy Spirit within me? We pattern our lives in accordance with the goals perceived as good and beneficial. At some point, most successful people will achieve some form of balance. This is not all bad, but it can cause our relationship with the Lord to become stagnant. If I judge my life according to the world’s standard, it may appear to be a good life with a fair amount of success. I have had my share of failures. Success is not defined by those who don’t fail but those who do not give up. When I experienced a failure in life, it quickly became a lesson for survival. I am not called and created to survive in this life but to thrive well beyond the 70 or so years that I am given.

With this in mind, if I become comfortable with my life serving God I am susceptible to complacency. Religiosity gives a false send of security to the believer based on good behavior and time well spent serving God that produces certain blessings. I am blessed. Is it enough for me? No, I have a deep desire and burning passion to be transformed. What if transformation doesn’t look like success to the world? It doesn’t my friend. Success in the Kingdom is selflessness that gives way to complete unity with Jesus Christ. I cannot gauge my spiritual success by a worldly standard. I must not become a habitual Christian but strive to be an intentional one.

“Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% of how you react to it.” (Charles R. Swindoll) While this is applied in both the natural and spiritual realm equally, I believe that this powerful statement holds the secret to our success as a believer. If we could focus 10% on life and become 90% fixed on responding appropriately by using God’s Word, His Wisdom and Christ’s Example to transform our heart and soul – we would be a successful, healthy and functioning Body of Jesus Christ.

Revelation 3:16-20 (NLT) But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth! You say, ‘I am rich. I have everything I want. I don’t need a thing!’ And you don’t realize that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked. So I advise you to buy gold from me—gold that has been purified by fire. Then you will be rich. Also buy white garments from me so you will not be shamed by your nakedness, and ointment for your eyes so you will be able to see. I correct and discipline everyone I love. So be diligent and turn from your indifference. “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.

Has my spiritual life become a habit? Am I serving God involuntarily? Am I lukewarm? Am I intentional anymore? Am I willing to be honest with myself? Our life in the Lord is like an onion as each season peels back another layer producing a new aroma and often many tears. What if I get used to the smell and do not give way to those tears anymore. Becoming comfortable with the process of transformation thereby giving way to complacency. How will I know? Will it be too late when my lack of newness becomes evident in the Presence of my Savior? My attitude and actions can be changed by my ability to change certain habits in my life. But if I don’t allow the Lord to expose every weakness and every insufficiency to effectively apply more of His Grace until I am a new creation – my life will be a complete failure. The Lord is offering to strip us of indifference before it’s too late. He wants to heat things up so our life is palatable again. I must be willing. It must be my choice. I must be intentional. It is my conscious decision to be successfully transformed no matter what it takes.

Galatians 6:14-16 (NLT) As for me, may I never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of that cross, my interest in this world has been crucified, and the world’s interest in me has also died. It doesn’t matter whether we have been circumcised or not. What counts is whether we have been transformed into a new creation. May God’s peace and mercy be upon all who live by this principle; they are the new people of God.

“The difference between who you are and who you want to be…is what you do.” (Bill Phillips, Author and Entrepreneur) Whom the Son sets free is free indeed. We are free to choose the life we life. The Lord will not force us into a relationship with Him or this would be void of love but enslavement. He is offering us the opportunity of unity which means I must leave “me” behind and become one with Him. All of me for all of Him. I am free to choose the type of relationship that I have with God. Each day holds 24 hours of opportunity. I am the master of my time. How I spend it? How I waste it? What I do with it? What I get out of it? My mind, body and soul can be invested as I choose to do so. However, if my heartfelt desire is Jesus Christ. It is not a habitual change that will create success in my pursuit but rather intentional surrender and submission of my life to the process of transformation called faith. I must give up my rights to claim righteousness. I must admit I am weak to secure His Strength. Hope must be the anchor for my soul not schedule or routine. I must go where Jesus goes. Do exactly what He says. Come when He calls to me. Not because I have to but simply because He is my greatest desire.

Lord, forgive me today for the lukewarm places in my life. I repent for every action that has become habit and routine lacking passion and burning desire for You, Jesus.  I want to move deeper into Your Presence. I desire You above all things. Show me the areas of indifference in my life so I may surrender them all to You, Lord. Show me the involuntary actions of compromised complacency. I rebuke religious habits and give these also to You! My greatest accomplishment will be acceptance into Your Kingdom forever. Lord, make my life so. I ask you to makeover my heart and renew a right spirit within me, Jesus. All I want is You, Lord and my full intention is to have more of You!

Philippians 3:7-9 (NLT) I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith.

Ready for Rain

ready-for-rain

Psalm 65:9-11 (NLT) You take care of the earth and water it, making it rich and fertile.
The river of God has plenty of water; it provides a bountiful harvest of grain, for you have ordered it so. You drench the plowed ground with rain,
 melting the clods and leveling the ridges. You soften the earth with showers and bless its abundant crops. You crown the year with a bountiful harvest; even the hard pathways overflow with abundance.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow said, “Into each life some rain must fall.” He is absolutely right. Before planting a single seed in the ground or one’s heart, it is important to understand the importance of rain. Rain is necessary. It has purpose. When the ground is broken or even the heart, it is ready to receive the seed promised by the Lord for grow into its potential and fulfill its purpose, but if we do not understand the relevance of rain in our life – the seed will die. Just as the ground must be plowed or the heart softened to receive, it is equally important to know that into each life some rain must fall.

Looking at the weather for the next week, it indicates rain will fall on five of the seven days. Ugh! Living in the South, we do not experience snow, blizzards or the like but rain glorious not so glorious rain. Rain is essential to the earth but mighty inconvenient when it comes to routine and scheduling. I am convinced that people have no idea how to drive in it so the commute is longer. There is nothing worse than damp clothes, wet feet or mud puddles unless you are five years old playing in the rain. It is just one big discomfort unless you are a farmer watching your field. Suddenly it becomes a blessing. To those without running water, it fills their water barrels and swells the streams from which they drink. See it is all about perspective. There is someone somewhere today praying for rain. We all should be.

Genesis 2:4-7 (NLT) When the Lord God made the earth and the heavens, neither wild plants nor grains were growing on the earth. For the Lord God had not yet sent rain to water the earth, and there were no people to cultivate the soil. Instead, springs came up from the ground and watered all the land. Then the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground. He breathed the breath of life into the man’s nostrils, and the man became a living person.

Eden was created a civilization completely dependent on God. He created the heavens and earth. Divided land and sea. Springs came up to water the land but there were no crops or grains or people to cultivate the earth. Rather than glancing over the words to make it to the desired text, look closely again. If you ever wonder if God knew people would sin, it says so right here – “there were no people to cultivate the soil.” Cultivation became a requirement outside of Eden after the fall of mankind. God knew. He planned and prepared for our rebellion ahead of time. It was not an afterthought. God did not send rain yet because at this point creation relied solely on Him.

Genesis 6:9-13 (NLT) This is the account of Noah and his family. Noah was a righteous man, the only blameless person living on earth at the time, and he walked in close fellowship with God. Noah was the father of three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Now God saw that the earth had become corrupt and was filled with violence. God observed all this corruption in the world, for everyone on earth was corrupt. So God said to Noah, “I have decided to destroy all living creatures, for they have filled the earth with violence. Yes, I will wipe them all out along with the earth!

Well, that didn’t take long before people managed to get evicted from Eden and run the entire world into the ground. What a mess! Only one person could be found in all the earth to be righteous, blameless, and in close fellowship with God – Noah. God revealed a crazy plan. He would flood the earth and wipe it clean all except one man and his family. He would be required to build an ark all on his own. Fill it with two of every kind of animal. Get his family and herd to enter the boat and God would close the door. He would be required to live there for 40 days and nights while it rained. It had never rained before. Mankind’s first experience with rain was destruction. As the water receded, everyone remained on the stinky, smelling ship until the ark came to rest and the door opened.

Genesis 8:20-22 (NLT) Then Noah built an altar to the Lord, and there he sacrificed as burnt offerings the animals and birds that had been approved for that purpose. And the Lord was pleased with the aroma of the sacrifice and said to himself, “I will never again curse the ground because of the human race, even though everything they think or imagine is bent toward evil from childhood. I will never again destroy all living things. As long as the earth remains, there will be planting and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night.”

Genesis 9:12-17 (NLT) Then God said, “I am giving you a sign of my covenant with you and with all living creatures, for all generations to come. I have placed my rainbow in the clouds. It is the sign of my covenant with you and with all the earth. When I send clouds over the earth, the rainbow will appear in the clouds, and I will remember my covenant with you and with all living creatures. Never again will the floodwaters destroy all life. When I see the rainbow in the clouds, I will remember the eternal covenant between God and every living creature on earth.” Then God said to Noah, “Yes, this rainbow is the sign of the covenant I am confirming with all the creatures on earth.”

There is significance in the events following the flood. Noah built an altar to the Lord and sacrificed a burnt offering. Noah did not fear a lack of provision. He offered an offering from the supply on the ark because the earth and all its contents were destroyed. Noah had faith. He trusted the Lord even in lack. His family and supply would populate and fill the entire earth again. What a responsibility – what an amazing God!

The first thing the Lord did was bless the ground. He promised to never curse it again. He ordained seedtime and harvest so that what is planted will grow. It was not because sin was gone but because grace would abound. He even admitted that “everything they think and imagine is bent toward evil from childhood.” God’s Blessing on the land to be cultivated is not based on our ability to plant and harvest but on His Word. I will bless the land and as long as the earth remains there will be planting and harvest. Potential. Our life always has potential even in the natural.

The second thing the Lord did after the flood was to give us a covenant. Yes, the rain witnessed brought destruction. God didn’t want us to fear the rain, storms or even floods of life. So he placed a rainbow in the clouds. When our son was diagnosed with cancer, I had about ten days to prepare for his treatment and make my way back to Gainesville from our hometown. I had to trust God to save him. As I drove the interstate, I cranked up the praise music and worshipped the Lord at the top of my lungs with tears streaming down my face. It was raining off and on which I didn’t mind as it was reminiscent of how I felt. I have never encountered what happened that day before or since that drive. There was rainbow after rainbow after rainbow along the way. By about the fifth or sixth one, I was laughing through my pain and sorrow whispering, “I get it God! I hear you!”

Never again will I destroy all life. God does not send rain, storms, floods, sickness, pain, trials, or tests to destroy us. He wants us to be broken and ready to receive His Blessing. His Unconditional Love and Amazing Grace are literally pouring out of heaven each day but am I ready to receive it? God promised in that moment with Noah that He would always remember His Eternal (Forever) Covenant. Jesus was coming. The Lord would come and give us all the opportunity to live. God knew that people were given to rebellion and sin yet still in that moment He prepared them for life eternally. His Covenant that day remains today. Better than before because the Way has been made and now we can be in right standing with God thanks to Jesus!

Psalm 135:6-7 (NLT) The Lord does whatever pleases him throughout all heaven and earth, and on the seas and in their depths. He causes the clouds to rise over the whole earth. He sends the lightning with the rain and releases the wind from his storehouses.

Rain is essential to abundance. It comes from abundance. Psalm 135 tells us that these natural elements are released from his “storehouses.” Storehouses are made to hold abundance. No one builds a silo to keep weeds or rocks, but to be full of good things. So it is with God. Rain is good. Rain is needed to produce in our life. The Lord does whatever pleases him. His Good Pleasure and Precious Treasure is His People. When God releases rain the purpose is prosperity. However, you can only reap what is sown in your life. You cannot grow corn from tomato seeds. With this in mind, it is important to note that you rain does not produce a godly crop from a sinful heart. If God’s Abundance is being released, why is there no prosperity in the church today? Why are ministries failing and falling apart? Why is the Body of Christ not growing? We need rain to permeate hard ground and find good seed.

Hebrews 6:7-8 (NLT) When the ground soaks up the falling rain and bears a good crop for the farmer, it has God’s blessing. But if a field bears thorns and thistles, it is useless. The farmer will soon condemn that field and burn it.

You reap what you so is evident in the productivity of our life. When rain comes and makes it into our heart to make the seeds found there grow, what is produced? The productivity of our life is not always what God planted in us but most often what we decided to sow instead? Rain falls on the just and unjust alike according to Matthew 5:45. God is watering the potential in our life. God rains down provision in our life every day, but often it is not enough to satisfy the desire of our heart. (Psalm 78:21-29) We place our expectation in this world and the things of this world so when the condition or circumstance of our natural life does not change in an instant – we abandon the field and curse the rain. Freedom allows us to choose our way and the pathway of life. He never leaves us without evidence of His Goodness – he sends rain, gives us good crops, and blesses us each day with new mercy (Acts 14:16-18) but is it enough?

Matthew 7:24-27 (NLT) “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.”

My life must be built on a firm foundation of faith. Not proverbial faith that talks a good talk, but logical and literal faith that knows God’s Word and acts upon it. Faith is our future. Rain often is the test. When rain falls on us, do we respond with faith that accepts it as a promise of abundance in the end? Or does it cause everything known and believed about the Lord to wash away so that fear and anxiety takes over? In Deuteronomy 32:1-4, it says, “let my words fall on you like rain.” God is raining His Blessings and Abundance in your life. Are you uncomfortable? Is it inconvenient? Does it interrupt your schedule or prevent our plans? Rain brings change washing away the temporary in our heart and mind to reveal what is permanent. Seeds of faith are small for a reason. They are hard to find and even more difficult to grow because it requires full attention and complete focus on the Author and Finisher of Faith to acquire it.

Job 36:26-28 (NLT) “Look, God is greater than we can understand. His years cannot be counted. He draws up the water vapor and then distills it into rain. The rain pours down from the clouds, and everyone benefits.”

God has given us an internal watering system to irrigate our heart and soul called the Holy Spirit. Just as Eden was well-supplied so are we, but in the meantime as while faith is cultivated it is human nature to rely on the world, too. God is greater than we understand. He takes the offering of our life the “vapor” if you will, and in turn releases abundance. The only thing of worth in my life is Jesus Christ. How much of my life is surrendered to Him? This is the amount of heaven I am able to receive and achieve in my life. God opens the windows of heaven and pours out blessing on His People and everyone benefits.

Jeremiah 5:23-25 (NLT) “But my people have stubborn and rebellious hearts. They have turned away and abandoned me. They do not say from the heart, ‘Let us live in awe of the Lord our God, for he gives us rain each spring and fall, assuring us of a harvest when the time is right.’ Your wickedness has deprived you of these wonderful blessings. Your sin has robbed you of all these good things.”

Sin will always stop us from receiving the benefits of rain. It creates a hard heart that cannot receive rain to water that seed of faith and potential hidden there. What about grace? Grace is only accepted in true repentance. Grace is not a “get-out-of-hell-free” card. It does not give us permission to sin. It is the understanding that my sin separates me from God and I don’t want anything to keep me from Him. Sin violates our covenant. He gives us new mercy each day to overcome sin each day. To fall in love with Jesus Christ is to not want to sin anymore because it creates separation from the One our heart desires. Falling in love with Jesus Christ is consummated by accepting seeds of faith to be grown for righteousness sake. To give up our wants and desires to receive blessings believing they are better than anything I can produce in my own life. It takes time, it takes tests, and it takes rain to wash away every fear and insecurity and reveal this in our life.

Hosea 6:1-3 (NLT) “Come, let us return to the Lord. He has torn us to pieces; now he will heal us. He has injured us; now he will bandage our wounds. In just a short time he will restore us, so that we may live in his presence. Oh, that we might know the Lord! Let us press on to know him. He will respond to us as surely as the arrival of dawn or the coming of rains in early spring.”

Sowing and reaping in the natural will always produce something. If I put seed in the ground, cover it, nurture it and watch over it – something will be harvested. Rain is essential for seed growth and development in our life. It is the very thing that waters the ground and feeds that seed. However, if we are not sowing for the Kingdom – God’s Abundance is not possible. For example, our family made the decision to tithe according to the Biblical Standard more than a decade ago. God has provided abundantly for us in this area. Dollar for dollar – I cannot figure out the math of obedience. However, I have found that the greatest blessing of tithing has not been found in a dollar figure but rather the favor of God evidenced in our life. There are times when money cannot fix it and I know it is the Favor of God that did it.

When believers decide that the Hand of God is not enough, they will seek His Heart. I was once a very religious person. I had a strict set of rules and regulations that governed my life. I was blessed, but not satisfied. When doctrine did not produce deliverance, I started digging again. There had to be more to this thing called prosperity and blessing in the Lord. When my heart was completely broken and my life torn apart…when I lost control and the world was crashing down around me…it was in that moment of being torn to pieces that His Grace finally reached the seed called faith in my heart. The connection complete something changed in me and is growing through me. True repentance can only be discovered at the end of self. When you have nothing left to give but still choose to come to Your Savior. His Grace is suddenly sufficient in that moment. A place nobody wants to arrive.

Are you living in the abundance of God? Just as sure as the forecast is for rain next week, the windows of Heaven are open over our everyday life. Faith is the seed that produces satisfaction and contentment in our life. It may take our whole life to find it. It may be discovered after the storm. Whatever it takes to get there. God knew people were given to sin. Yet He still sent the rain and marked the sky with a rainbow. He knew our stubborn, rebellious heart and reprobate mind would make us till hard ground for every day blessings. Rain falls on the just and unjust every day as God keeps up His End of the bargain. The Lord is always faithful even when we are not. He waters every seed committed to the ground and gives it increase. What about you? What about me? Am I faithful? Am I willing to really repent? To call Him Savior and make Him the Lord of our life requires true repentance and lifelong change. His Blessings are falling but some are not properly positioned to receive. The next time it rains remember that God is showering the earth with His Goodness including blessings, provision, promises, purposes and power on each of us every single day in each tiny raindrop. Am I ready to receive is the real question?

Joel 2:22-24 (NLT) Don’t be afraid, you animals of the field, for the wilderness pastures will soon be green. The trees will again be filled with fruit; fig trees and grapevines will be loaded down once more. Rejoice, you people of Jerusalem! Rejoice in the Lord your God! For the rain he sends demonstrates his faithfulness. Once more the autumn rains will come, as well as the rains of spring. The threshing floors will again be piled high with grain, and the presses will overflow with new wine and olive oil.

 

Embracing Change

embracing-change

Romans 12:1-2 (NLT) And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

Living in Florida, the winter season is very mild here. There may be rainy days, but at least I do not own a snow shovel or ice scraper. Amen! Hallelujah! When I woke up this morning to twenty degree weather, I could feel it coming through the window before I got up. Mounds of blankets and covers along with the steady hum of the heater running, I snuggled in a bit more. The clock was not so accommodating. If I was going to have time with my Lord this morning before church, it was clear I must get out of my cocoon and prepare for the change in the atmosphere. Donning a hoodie and wrapped in a blanket, I was ready to face the cold with our fur baby in her tiny cute sweater. I still wasn’t ready for the blast of frigid air that met me at the door. Baby, it’s cold outside.

Rummaging through the closet, it is clear that I must put on some extra layers today. But what to wear is yet another challenge as the change of conditions make it necessary. I have apparel for warm weather and even days of pouring rain but this freezing thing is new so I must adjust. I have pulled out some options to be revisited before I get dressed. It’s funny that on days like today rather than getting out there and embracing this new season as experience, my girls and I just want to hunker down and hibernate. Willing to forgo shopping or an outing into “town”, they were just fine piddling around the house and staying warm inside. Oh the comforts of home that breed complacency within us in more ways than one!

What is complacency you ask? It is the feeling of quiet pleasure or security along with satisfaction with an existing condition or situation that often makes one unaware of some potential danger or defect. I am comfortable in the warm weather of the South. This sudden change in the environmental conditions around me are unfamiliar, uncomfortable and unwelcome. God does not change. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. If there is to any change or transformation in my life – I must be the one. Change is inevitable in the progression of our relationship with the Lord…if we allow it to move us, mold us and make us new.

2 Corinthians 3:17-18 (NLT) For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.

The Lord is constantly promoting change in our life. His Deepest Longing and Greatest Desire is that we are changed into His Glorious Image. This morning when contemplating what to wear to headed to church. I have selected some options not only for the occasion but for the conditions. There is one thing to be clothed in to meet with the Lord. Do you know what that is? Righteousness. The only thing that God looks for when He sees us is Jesus Christ. When I am “in” Christ, I am His Child. Sin is no more. Grace properly applied and love exuding all around me as Light to a dark and dying world. It is all about righteousness. God is absolutely right. He is perfect in every way. When my life doesn’t line up with His Word, it would be foolish to pray for my way because the Lord will never march us back to captivity but always provides opportunities for freedom.

Genesis 31:1-3 (NLT) But Jacob soon learned that Laban’s sons were grumbling about him. “Jacob has robbed our father of everything!” they said. “He has gained all his wealth at our father’s expense.” And Jacob began to notice a change in Laban’s attitude toward him. Then the Lord said to Jacob, “Return to the land of your father and grandfather and to your relatives there, and I will be with you.”

To recap the story of Jacob, he came in this world wrestling with his twin brother, Esau. He finally tricked him out of his birthright. With the help of his mother to avoid his brother’s wrath, Jacob went to live with his family member, Laban. Laban had two daughters, Rachel and Leah. Jacob fell in love with Rachel immediately and after working to obtain her hand was tricked into marrying Leah. He worked even more and would be given Rachel in marriage as well. The Lord blessed Jacob with many children and he prospered caring for Laban’s flocks. However, Jacob began to notice a change in Laban’s attitude toward him. It was then that the Lord revealed His Plan to His Child. “Return to the land…I will be with you.” The conditions of Jacob’s life which once were comfortable became uncomfortable and it was time for him to move.

It would be ridiculous for me to get mad that the temperature has dropped outside. It is not unusual for extreme cold in winter seasons. However, it is not normal for where I live. With this in mind, consider the conditions of your life today. Has there been a change in people’s attitudes? Have uncomfortable situations presented themselves? Do you feel sudden dissatisfaction? Are you discontent? Is there strife or division around you? Conflict? God does not change. We must. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. There I must not be. If the conditions surrounding my life change, could it be a new season is upon me? Is it time for a move? Is God promoting change? His Spirit seeking more freedom? Yes. Yes. Yes.

Genesis 32:22-28 (NLT) During the night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two servant wives, and his eleven sons and crossed the Jabbok River with them. After taking them to the other side, he sent over all his possessions. This left Jacob all alone in the camp, and a man came and wrestled with him until the dawn began to break. When the man saw that he would not win the match, he touched Jacob’s hip and wrenched it out of its socket. Then the man said, “Let me go, for the dawn is breaking!” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” “What is your name?” the man asked. He replied, “Jacob. Your name will no longer be Jacob,” the man told him. “From now on you will be called Israel, because you have fought with God and with men and have won.”

At this point, Jacob has made a covenant with Laban. He could go back if he wanted to. Jacob has sent gifts to his brother to make way for his future. His wives and children were already there including his servants and possessions. It was Jacob and the Lord. In Exodus 14, the Children of Israel have been freed from slavery but now faced with the Red Sea they are unsure if they desire this change. The people and Moses cry out to God. God replies, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the people to get moving!” I wonder if this was not the same point in time for Jacob. While the promise of his future and hope was before him, the comfort and control of the past summoned his return. We do not like to be uncomfortable. We do not yearn for inconvenience. Like Jacob, we wrestle with change. God does not change. Jesus is the same yesterday today and forever. If a new life is to be had, new person discovered and new thing to come about, it will never because anyone else moved but me.

Philippians 3:20-21 (NLT) But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior. He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control.

There are some people who will wake up this morning realizing how unfavorable the conditions, turn over pulling the covers up and skip church. Barring unsafe conditions, these are the ones who just do not want to weather the cold but certainly go make it if they tried. We are citizens of Heaven. The future hope held on to is much more than our needs, wants and desires for our natural life but securing our residency in God’s Kingdom. This will always require change on our part. Change is inevitable to those who desire success according to God’s Plan which is perfect. He perfects all that concerns us. Promising to make good all the details of our life, no circumstance is wasted. No hardship unnoticed. However to avoid change is to skip the transformation process of God that moves us from death to life. God desires to give us a new heart. He wants to give you His Spirit to produce the kind of fruit that will satisfy our soul. He will take out that stony, stubborn heart that keeps you from fully accepting the robe of righteousness that awaits you so that you will be responsive to the change that the Lord is precipitating in your life. (Ezekiel 36:26)

James 1:16-18 (NLT) So don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters. Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession.

Have the conditions of your life changed? Do you feel like it is time to move? Is the atmosphere of your life forcing a choice that you are not comfortable making? God is with you today. He is in you. He is more than likely the One who is promoting change in your life. Change means to make the form, content, nature or future course of something different from what it is or from what it would be if left alone. God will not force you to change but offers us the opportunity to do so in the form of freedom. You are free to remain comfortable and complacent without hope. Hope is for the future. Hope requires change.

Hebrews 6:17-19 (NLT) God also bound himself with an oath, so that those who received the promise could be perfectly sure that he would never change his mind. So God has given both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary.

Hope is the anchor for our souls. Hope is for the future. It requires faith that believes without seeing. Faith will allow God to move us and change us even when uncomfortable and inconvenient. God does not lie. He doesn’t change His Mind. We must change. Change is indeed inevitable, yet why are we surprised when it comes. Struggling and striving with God for our way only hinders the process of prosperity in us. We must submit and surrender to win the race of faith and secure the hope to endure to the end.

I want to encourage you today to embrace the change. Look for the ways that the Lord is pressing you toward freedom, take the leap of faith that carries you from death to life transforming the natural into supernatural that touches here and now. God has a plan for you that contains a future and hope that is not in any way impacted by us. It can only be accepted. You can do nothing to limit God’s Love and Devotion to you. Nothing can separate you from His Amazing Love. It is unconditional. That in itself will take me a lifetime of searching and transition to Heaven to fully understand. Friend, God is offering you an opportunity to be changed and transformed. For your life to look like His Word and according to His Plan… the rest is up to you!

I Peter 1:3-5 (NLT) All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. And through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see.

Stale Bread

stale-bread

John 4:21-24 (NLT) Jesus replied, “Believe me, dear woman, the time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father on this mountain or in Jerusalem. You Samaritans know very little about the one you worship, while we Jews know all about him, for salvation comes through the Jews. But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”

My people are bread fanatics. If it is made of dough or contains any form of flour and yeast, it is the preferred manna of our home. The local grocery store carries Krispy Kreme donuts as there is not one locally – it is the best one can do to fulfill the craving for this glazed piece of heaven. However, there is no “hot” sign to signify that a warm, soft, squishy, sugar-covered concoction is ready for human consumption so one must improvise. If you reheat the donut for about 10-15 seconds in the microwave, it regains its former splendor. However, this is short lived. It must be immediately eaten or as it cools it becomes harder and less appetizing than before. No one wants stale bread so they reheat it over and over until there is no life left in it.

Stale bread. There are days that my worship seems to have arrived at the same state as day old bread. It is not as fresh as it once was. Not as sincere as before, when heaven comes down and touches my soul. Life is hard. Just like the forgotten box of donuts in the pantry or bread tucked away, it is not that it is unwanted just hidden behind other things that catch our attention or consume our time. The Lord opens the windows of Heaven over the lives of His People but there are times of wandering and settling for less than God’s Best because maybe the process is a bit inconvenient or change too uncomfortable. The Father is looking for those who will worship him in Spirit and in Truth. Can we be honest? Faith is not a fake it until you make it routine. You cannot overcome fear and achieve faith pretending that everything is great and things are going just swell. God sees much deeper than that. His Mighty Hand is reaching for the crumbs and scraps that one merely survives on to replace it with a feast at His Table to thrive on.

Matthew 15:21-28 (NLT) Then Jesus left Galilee and went north to the region of Tyre and Sidon. A Gentile woman who lived there came to him, pleading, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! For my daughter is possessed by a demon that torments her severely.” But Jesus gave her no reply, not even a word. Then his disciples urged him to send her away. “Tell her to go away,” they said. “She is bothering us with all her begging.” Then Jesus said to the woman, “I was sent only to help God’s lost sheep—the people of Israel.” But she came and worshiped him, pleading again, “Lord, help me!” Jesus responded, “It isn’t right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs.” She replied, “That’s true, Lord, but even dogs are allowed to eat the scraps that fall beneath their masters’ table.” “Dear woman,” Jesus said to her, “your faith is great. Your request is granted.” And her daughter was instantly healed.

I am a Gentile. I am not of Jewish decent. The mindset of religion was demolished by the arrival, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. But in many ways, Christianity has returned to its rebellious roots. Not intentionally, of course, but seeking after a God who cannot be seen and Spirit that is invisible – leads one to make certain assumptions, I guess. Jesus knew the heart of this woman who sought after Him that day. He fully intended to heal her daughter and deliver her from the demon that raged within her. But in the last few moments of her desperation, the Lord tried to change the hearts and minds of His Disciples. They believed He was the Messiah. They were ignorant in His Method, though. Jesus came to save everyone – not just God’s Chosen People but all those who He created. Ethnicity is the flavor of creation when God designed a series of individuals with differing characteristics and qualities painting a Kingdom with color and individuality perfect in His Eyes. We see limits and boundaries of differences that divide us when all along His Love was for all of us.

Then Jesus said to the woman, “I was sent only to help God’s lost sheep—the people of Israel.” But she came and worshiped him, pleading again, “Lord, help me!” Is it hard for you to accept God’s Conditional and Perfect Love sometimes? I think it is a challenge for us all yet few are willing to admit it. God’s Grace is sufficient for me. His Power is manifested in my weakness (or humility, if you will indulge me). This woman believed that Jesus Christ could heal her daughter and do exactly what He said. I wonder if she knew the centurion known for the same. It didn’t matter what anyone thought or how many disappointments she endured. When she came to Jesus, she believed. She would not be dissuaded. Her life, her child were her world. Jesus was the Healer. She would get what she came for that day. Even in the midst of rejection of religion, she knelt before the Lord and worshipped Him all the same. Still in the same condition, pushed away by people, she knew in her heart something that her attitude and actions relayed.

Jesus responded, “It isn’t right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs.” She replied, “That’s true, Lord, but even dogs are allowed to eat the scraps that fall beneath their masters’ table.” “Dear woman,” Jesus said to her, “your faith is great. Your request is granted.” Are you willing to worship anyway? Are you intent on changing your pattern of worship to gain access to the Savior, Healer, Provider, Perfecter, Waymaker, Lifechanger – His Name is Jesus Christ. How far are you willing to go to gain access to His Throne? Well, she was willing to bow as low as possible, forsake all pride and simply gather the scraps beneath His Table if that is all she could get? What about you? Are you willing to fall to your knees? Get on your face before the Lord? Stay there until He comes? It is time to change my pattern of worship. Will you?

Hebrews 8:1-6 (NLT) Here is the main point: We have a High Priest who sat down in the place of honor beside the throne of the majestic God in heaven. There he ministers in the heavenly Tabernacle, the true place of worship that was built by the Lord and not by human hands. And since every high priest is required to offer gifts and sacrifices, our High Priest must make an offering, too. If he were here on earth, he would not even be a priest, since there already are priests who offer the gifts required by the law. They serve in a system of worship that is only a copy, a shadow of the real one in heaven. For when Moses was getting ready to build the Tabernacle, God gave him this warning: “Be sure that you make everything according to the pattern I have shown you here on the mountain.” But now Jesus, our High Priest, has been given a ministry that is far superior to the old priesthood, for he is the one who mediates for us a far better covenant with God, based on better promises.

Human nature maintains the idea of corporate worship. Strength in numbers, if you will. But I believe that before our churches are empowered, each person must come back to the heart of worship first. Faith is my personal investment. It is the seed growing, developing and maturing in me that yields a harvest of good fruit. I cannot give what I have not received. The fruit in my life is born of His Spirit. The seed is defined as God’s Word. The process of sowing and reaping is firmly established. I must dedicate my life to living according to His Spirit and His Truth to prosper beyond survival to learn to thrive in life. Jesus Christ is our High Priest. He ripped the veil from top to bottom, but do we try to sew it back up? Limiting the Presence and Glory of God by holding back bits and pieces of our life due to a lack of faith or disbelief?

Luke 8:44-48 (NLT) Coming up behind Jesus, she touched the fringe of his robe. Immediately, the bleeding stopped. “Who touched me?” Jesus asked. Everyone denied it, and Peter said, “Master, this whole crowd is pressing up against you.” But Jesus said, “Someone deliberately touched me, for I felt healing power go out from me.” When the woman realized that she could not stay hidden, she began to tremble and fell to her knees in front of him. The whole crowd heard her explain why she had touched him and that she had been immediately healed. “Daughter,” he said to her, “your faith has made you well. Go in peace.”

Matthew 8:5-11 (NLT) When Jesus returned to Capernaum, a Roman officer came and pleaded with him, “Lord, my young servant lies in bed, paralyzed and in terrible pain.” Jesus said, “I will come and heal him.” But the officer said, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come into my home. Just say the word from where you are, and my servant will be healed. I know this because I am under the authority of my superior officers, and I have authority over my soldiers. I only need to say, ‘Go,’ and they go, or ‘Come,’ and they come. And if I say to my slaves, ‘Do this,’ they do it.” When Jesus heard this, he was amazed. Turning to those who were following him, he said, “I tell you the truth, I haven’t seen faith like this in all Israel! And I tell you this, that many Gentiles will come from all over the world—from east and west—and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the feast in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Two of my favorite stories of great faith are the woman who had “issues” and the Centurion who believed Jesus simply at His Word. What great examples of worshipping the Lord in Spirit and in Truth. I believe that when the woman pressed through the crowd, obviously on her hands and knees because she touched the hem of His Robe, that Jesus knew not only “who” touched Him but that she was coming. He wanted the others to see her as an example of true worship. They left their lives, families and jobs to follow the Messiah as King of Kings, but were they will to make Him Lord of Lords?

The centurion took Jesus Christ at His Word. He recognized the authority and power that was in Jesus Christ and even though he was not a member of the local synagogue or Jewish by birth, he believed with his whole heart and his mind, as well. It made sense that only the Son of God could do these amazing things that defied natural and human logic. He was confident in God’s Word. So where am I in all of these amazing people? I am a Gentile. I am not worthy of the Grace that I have received and cannot ever earn the forever that I am promised. All I can do is offer my heart and mind as a living sacrifice to be overtaken completely by His Spirit and His Truth.

John 6:26-29 (NLT)  Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, you want to be with me because I fed you, not because you understood the miraculous signs. But don’t be so concerned about perishable things like food. Spend your energy seeking the eternal life that the Son of Man can give you. For God the Father has given me the seal of his approval.” They replied, “We want to perform God’s works, too. What should we do?” Jesus told them, “This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.”

John 6:34-40 (NLT)  “Sir,” they said, “give us that bread every day.” Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. But you haven’t believed in me even though you have seen me. However, those the Father has given me will come to me, and I will never reject them. For I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me, not to do my own will. And this is the will of God, that I should not lose even one of all those he has given me, but that I should raise them up at the last day. For it is my Father’s will that all who see his Son and believe in him should have eternal life. I will raise them up at the last day.”

Signs and wonders will come when the Glory of God surrounds us. It is not something conjured up but grown by faith inside of each one of us. Perfecting the process called church and revising our doctrine is not the pattern of worship referred to that will bring us into alignment with God. It is seeking the Bread of Life as a constant sustenance of our everyday life. Fortifying our heart and mind in the Spirit and Truth that grow faith more and more each day. We must trust the Lord in all things even at only His Word to build the confident trust that allows us to live peacefully in all conditions and circumstances. It is the very thing that draws us closer in heartache and brokenness rather than allowing anger and bitterness to leak out. The only way to see the Glory of God manifested in our life is to personally participate each day in gathering fresh bread rather than reheating stale donuts. You can have it hot. You can have it fast. It will not sustain you. Religion and service cannot replace a real relationship with Jesus Christ or becoming a living sacrifice. He offers you a place at His Table. Will you remain eating scraps off the floor? Old worship. Old ways. Religious tradition. Has it changed your life? Has it renewed your soul? Has it healed your body? Has it provided more than enough? Has it strengthened you in weakness? Nope. We must change our pattern of worship in the New Year or risk starving our faith even more.

But you haven’t believed in me even though you have seen me. Our life is built on expectation. When Jesus came to the earth, He was not what they expected. His Followers constantly sought after signs and wonders. It was difficult for Jesus to get His Word or His Seed into their hard hearts. Who doesn’t come to the Lord seeking a better life? A little relief? Some provision for our lack? What if we came to Jesus, our Savior and Lord, seeking only to worship Him? What might happen if we did that? The Bible tells us that He will give us a new heart and new mind. His Spirit and His Word will change us from the inside out. Like fresh bread, there is kneading, pressing and molding to combine all the ingredients and form a loaf. The bread is left to wait while the yeast or potential rises up within. It is put in the oven to bake in extreme heat until it comes out in the form of fresh bread. Jesus wants to do the same thing in our life. If I embrace the pressure to change and endure the process of promotion, my life will prosper. Lord, change my pattern of worship. Help me to let go of every bit of staleness and stagnancy in my life to produce the prosperity of soul that you have ordained for my life.

John 6:47-50 (NLT) “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes has eternal life. Yes, I am the bread of life! Your ancestors ate manna in the wilderness, but they all died. Anyone who eats the bread from heaven, however, will never die. 

Exceedingly

exceedingly

Ephesians 1:3-6 (NLT) All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son.

In a study published in January 2013, it was determined that the annual income of the wealthiest 100 people was enough to end global poverty. Not once, but four times over. These individuals received a net income of $240 billion in 2012. Think about that for a moment, this was their net income not the gross. This is what they received after taxes, interest, depreciation and other expenses. There is more than enough money in the world. The problem is distribution. Knowing there is more than enough wealth to sustain every man, woman and child is not enough. It is to receive the portion needed to survive or even thrive that changes lives and improves one’s quality of life.

Let’s bring this home to the United States. Our country is believed to be #1 in total global personal wealth, according to Fortune magazine, holding a whopping 41.6%. The next country on the list is #2 China who secures only about 10.5%. The problem is not a lack of funds but unequal distribution of the wealth. The rich get richer and the poor only poorer. This is not a political platform but I use this information to reveal a Bible principle. The divide between wealth and poverty holds many people who make the personal choice each day to continue to strive for the American Dream or succumb to their situation, circumstances or condition. If there is in fact a surplus of funds available in the world, why can’t I have it? How do I attain it? Why am I struggling?

The wealth of the Kingdom of God is not money. The Lord warns a love for money can overtake us and become a fleshly drive in our life. So let’s talk about Kingdom inequality. There is none. If you are dissatisfied with your quality of life today, you can change it. I am blessed with every spiritual blessing in the Heavenly places. You can be, too. I have accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord. He has the authority and power to remove my sin making me eligible for every blessing once forfeited by it. God chose to bless me when He created me. He set aside a portion of His Kingdom vaster than any other place for me. Upon my adoption and return to Him, it becomes mine again. Where is it? Why do I not have it? Why am I not satisfied or content with my life? God blessed me according to His Good Pleasure so I do not need to earn favor because I have it. I do not need to repay the debt sin created because Jesus said, “It is finished.” I am His Beloved. I am well cared for. So why do I lack?

Mark 9:23-24 (NLT) “What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.” The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!”

Anything is possible if a person believes. Jesus told the father of the tormented son, who asked the Lord, “Have mercy on us and help us, if you can.” How many of our own prayers end the same way? Lord, if you can. Well, Jesus answered him directly, “If I can? Anything is possible if a person believes.” What will it take for you to believe that God has granted you every spiritual blessing in the Heavenlies? It is that very thing that will increase your quality of life, confidence in God and pursuit of His Kingdom. Our heart allows follows our treasure. Our mouth speaks from the abundance of our heart. If you believe your current life is as good as it will get, well than you are more than likely to remain in the same situation from year to year. But God offers us a life that is transformed from Glory to Glory. Those who receive it are those who believe it. Those who believe it will seek it. Those who seek it will speak it. All the rest will watch from the sidelines – jealous, envious and without.

2 Corinthians 9:10-14 (NLT) For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you. Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God. So two good things will result from this ministry of giving—the needs of the believers in Jerusalem will be met, and they will joyfully express their thanks to God. As a result of your ministry, they will give glory to God. For your generosity to them and to all believers will prove that you are obedient to the Good News of Christ. And they will pray for you with deep affection because of the overflowing grace God has given to you.

Every single day men and women gather up their families headed to the United States to pursue the American Dream. To consider the wealth monetarily of our great nation and the poverty of other countries, it is no wonder people literally die trying to find hope for a better future. This nation was established as one nation under God. I cannot help but believe that is why the Hand of God and His Favor have impacted it so heavily. Pressing on to my point, as not to digress, if my life is not representative of the life that God describes in His Word. It is not a God-problem. I bear total responsibility for the lack in my life.

God provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. He will provide and increase your resources. He will produce a great harvest of generosity in you. You will be enriched in every way SO THAT you can always be generous. Generosity. Could the lack in my life be two-fold? I am not pursuing the Kingdom and if I do I am doing it only for myself? Yes and yes. What is the point of personal monetary wealth to a Christian who does not give? There are many who give tithes and offerings to be obedient to the Lord, but never experience increase in their life. Why? Seed. Are we using what the Lord blesses us with to plant seed or whisking it away to hoard it for self. This is not about money but every resource in our life – physical and spiritual! Seedtime and harvest, sowing and reaping are New Testament principles that carryout through life. You reap what you sow.

2 Corinthians 9:8 (NLT) And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.

God provides all that I need. He is a good Father. If I am not planting, sowing, and giving, I will only have enough to maintain my family. Why? I don’t need anymore. There is no purpose in surplus. You will always have everything you need AND plenty left over to share with others. The Fruit of God’s Spirit produced in us is for others, too. If I want more love, I must give more and so on and so forth. If all I want is God’s Hand and do not possess God’s Heart, I will probably experience lack of satisfaction and discontentment for the rest of my life because my purpose was wasted in surplus.

Hebrews 11:5-6 (NLT) It was by faith that Enoch was taken up to heaven without dying—“he disappeared, because God took him.” For before he was taken up, he was known as a person who pleased God. And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.

Enoch walked so close to the Lord that one day the Kingdom simply consumed him and he was gone. God just scooped him up. It is impossible to please God without faith. Faith must be progressive releasing us from this world to be overtaken with the hope give in Jesus Christ. This can only happen when our heart longs for God’s Heart rather than His Hand. Too many times God examines human hearts only to discover that they really didn’t want Him but for His Hand to open and release the money, power and influence to make this life better. How can one improve a condemned building marked for destruction? It is uninhabitable. Our faith must grow beyond our natural resources to supernatural living. You cannot save this planet. Take care of it. Maintain it and be a good steward, but one day it will all disappear. Our efforts must be focused on building the Kingdom and finding our way there. Becoming one with God so much so that I am consumed by love for Him and passion for His Kingdom.

We may never end the inequality of wealth on the earth. In fact with love growing colder by the minute and sin rampant, it is highly unlikely if not impossible. But with God all things are possible, if you believe. We can all establish a Kingdom lifestyle when we live according to Kingdom principles rather than the law of the land or the doctrine of each church. We must strive with all our might to seek the Kingdom of God first above all things to have all that God promised which is more than enough. Money and personal wealth will not change your life. It only magnifies that heart that keeps you alive. If money, power and influence is given to a selfish person, it will magnify pride and greed in them. Only those who truly seek the Kingdom will experience an abundance of satisfaction no matter where this life takes them knowing they are on their way to a Kingdom without end.

Matthew 13:44-46 (NLT) “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field. Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant on the lookout for choice pearls. When he discovered a pearl of great value, he sold everything he owned and bought it!

I shared a story not too long ago about a fisherman who discovered a gigantic pearl. His fishing net got tangled up on a giant clam which he brought to his boat. When he opened it, he found a hidden treasure. He took it home and put it under his bed where it was hidden for ten years. The pearl is estimated to be worth more than $100 million. Where is your treasure today? Shrouded in doubt? Buried in disbelief? Blinded by disappointment? Left behind for other things? Have we become so consumed with making this life better that believers have lost the Keys to the Kingdom?

Faith will never be evident in what we can see but our constant and steady pursuit of that which cannot be seen but is hoped for. Hope is our future. It is not living in this moment or today. It is about investing every ounce of energy in pursuing God’s Kingdom and building it up. Are you mega minded or mission minded today? Those who are mega minded build store houses to protect their money, feelings, emotions, and self. Those who are mission minded give it all away just to know Jesus more and build His Kingdom. It is up to us if we live a life of full satisfaction. We make the choice how to live and what we are after. Choose well. This is my intent and full motivation for the coming year. To step out of lack and live in fulfillment. This is not necessary a wealthy endeavor but a worthwhile life.

Ephesians 3:14-20 (NLT) When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.

In the New King James version, the last verse is translated “now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think…” Exceedingly abundantly. That’s a lot my friend. God can, will and wants to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. You and I cannot comprehend the riches in His Glory ready to be poured out in our life. The Ephesians were members of the Church of Ephesus. The same church that did every “thing” right but for the wrong reasons. (Revelation 2) They had become a loveless ministry full of good works. I don’t want this to be the description of my life. Religion is not for me. I want a passionate relationship with Jesus Christ that insures my entrance into His Kingdom above all else. Christians must evaluate their life, motivation, attitudes and actions for authentic faith that is seeking the God’s Heart and not just His Hand. It is easy to become distracted. The flow of society sucks us in with supply and demand rather than sowing and reaping the blessings of life. What is it worth to gain the whole world and lose my soul? What is it worth to have everything and loved ones in hell? The church should be bridging the gap between earthly inequalities rather than creating a further divide. Where is the generosity of resources and heart? God’s Grace is enough for me…and you… and every other person God ever created. No one is greater or lesser in Heaven. We are all the same. Have I lost my first love? Have I forgotten all that I am and all that I have is by the Grace and Love given to me by Jesus Christ? Sometimes…I do. Do you?

Let’s regain our focus in 2017. This could be the best year of our life. It all depends what you are willing to sow in your life today in 2016. These are the seeds that will grow into our harvest. What are you sowing these last few days of the year? Will it be tears of repentance? Will it be the broken pieces of a contrite heart? Will it be willingness to surrender those parts of life previously withheld? Will it be what you have? Will it be what you don’t have? Will you put all your expectation and energy into knowing Christ more and chasing the world a little less? It is my intention to know, understand and experience this thing called exceedingly abundantly. How about you?

Luke 9:24-25 (NLT) If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but are yourself lost or destroyed? 

 

Good Deeds

good-deeds

Matthew 5:13-16 (NLT) “You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless. You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.

The New Year is less than a week away. I love the New Year. It is a new start. A great place to make certain changes in our habits and routines to improve our life naturally, physically and spiritually. I am pumped. I am ready. Many wonder things have come together in 2016 that have aligned us with our next great adventure with God. All of us, yes even you. I have many family and friends who might say that 2016 was the worse year of their lives. They want to leave it in the past forever never looking back but pressing forward. I completely understand and couldn’t agree more. However, we must not invalidate the Presence of God in our tough times and hardships because He is the reason it is over and we made it through. During that time, seeds were planted for our provision next year. Roots were established for storms brewing ahead. God never leaves us the same as before because He is working all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called. (Romans 8:28) With this in mind, it is important that in the midst of taking down decorations, returning or exchanging gifts, and throwing out leftovers that His People take the time to evaluate last year and seek His Voice for the coming year just around the corner.

In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father. Was my salt salty? Was my light bright? Did I get my feet wet stepping out of the boat? Did I cast my net on the other side of the boat? Did the fruit in my life sustain me throughout? Are doors yet unopened? Did our good deeds shine for all to see? Did revival come? All of the questions could and should be asked while preparing for the coming year. If our mission in life is to seek the Lord wholeheartedly – one must put some effort into evaluating our purpose and progress in the process. Honestly. Earnestly. Intently. All these things are so important in our spirit growth. Good deeds are evidence of faith in action and spiritual progression in our life.

James 2:14-17 (NLT) What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.

“Faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.” Can I ask you a question? If your church attendance is not important to you, why would it be to those you invite? To those lost or wandering family members who you pray for and encourage to come, yet see you choose other priorities than attending the House of God on a regular basis? What about those who come and serve all the time? Never miss a service, but are gossipers and backbiters. Those who tell of a loving God but then cut down every sinner who walks through the door hitting them with a long list of rules and regulations which they cannot abide by. What about living high on the hog while others are scraping through everyone else’s scraps? We give to faceless names during the holiday season, but how do they survive the rest of the year? We are too worried about why they fell on hard times and judging their expenditures rather than sharing the Love of God in the form of perpetual generosity. We are to be the salt of the earth. Salt that loses its flavor is useless. We are to bright lights on the hills and rooftops of each city. Where are our lights shining? I am asking myself these questions right now because I want revival in my family, home, joy and especially in ministry this year. I cannot do the same things and expect change. God has set me up with all that I need, every spiritual blessing, perfectly positioned and ready to see His Glory and experience His Favor in 2017. I guess the question is – what will I do about it? Good deeds produced by our life of faith allow us to evaluate our spiritual progress to set our purpose for the next season of life. How’d you do? I am asking myself the same question.

Romans 7:4 (NLT) So, my dear brothers and sisters, this is the point: You died to the power of the law when you died with Christ. And now you are united with the one who was raised from the dead. As a result, we can produce a harvest of good deeds for God.

I am united with Jesus Christ. His Spirit lives and breathes on the inside of me. He is producing purpose and potential in me to see the dead come to life. Yes, resurrection power. Now I can say that nothing is impossible when I believe, but do I really believe it. If I do believe, I will begin jumping out of the boat to get to Jesus rather than waiting for Him to come to the shore to pick me up. God has perpetuated thoughts and ideas in the form of what if. He says, “Come on, I’ve got you.” But looking at the winds of change and waves of uncertainty, it is easy to say that you are waiting on God but really you are just too scared to move. I can produce a harvest of good deeds for God when I walk by faith and not by sight.

Greater is He who is in me than he that is in the world, but who am I listening. What voice do I follow? When the Good Shepherd calls me, am I willing to walk through the valley of the shadow of death to sit at the table prepared for me in front of the enemy? Or am I awaiting a formal invitation with transportation provided to sit at a lavish banquet served by waiters in a climate controlled environment without a single inconvenience? For example, if God called you to ministry, are you willing to work for free? Will you quit your great job with good benefits to answer his call for more hours, less pay and no benefits? If He tells you to move, will you do it? If He tells you to stay right where you are, will you wait? The Voice of God is speaking but too many times we only listen and respond when the Lord tells us what we want to hear. Am I listening? Am I doing? Am I following?

Titus 2:12-14 (NLT) And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed. He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds.

This is not a Word for everyone, only those who want to be history makers and world shakers for God and who love Jesus desiring Him wholeheartedly. I don’t want live a comfortable and complacent life that leads to complications when I meet Jesus face-to-face. The words “well done good and faithful servant” mean everything. It is the difference between life and death. It defines a life wasted over one that gave glory to His Great Name taking full advantage of amazing grace.

I fully believe that if the Church (Body of Christ) truly is committed to revival – it is absolutely vital that every single one of us desire, seek and do everything in our power to walk closer to the Lord than ever before. Do that thing you have never done? Pray that prayer you have been too afraid to pray? To be the change you are expecting in the atmosphere around you rather than waiting for someone else to do it. Forgive the unforgivable. Read the Word. Study the Word. Live the Word. Devote every attitude and action to God the Father relying on the Power given to us by His Son, Jesus Christ. Love like we have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Otherwise, let’s abandon this notion of revival. It is insanity to expect different results doing the same thing over and over again.

2 Corinthians 9:8-10 (NLT) And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. As the Scriptures say, “They share freely and give generously to the poor. Their good deeds will be remembered forever.” For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you.

Generosity is a characteristic of grace that must be evident in the life of true believers. You cannot accept God’s Grace in totality without the inner need and drive to give it back. His Grace changes us from the inside out when allowed to have His Way in us. We can expect seed to sow if we are not sowers. We cannot be planters without the preparation for harvest. If I am unwilling to dedicate my time, talent and treasure to loving and caring for others with genuine love, compassion and commitment just as Christ cares for me, I am not a candidate for revival power. I have to give my life away to receive His Power and His Provision for such an outpouring.

Lord, examine my heart today. Change my mind where I am unwilling. Clear away every barrier and boundary that is keeping me from experiencing Your Glory and fullness of Your Favor in my life. Teach me to give selflessly. Forgive always. Live a genuine life. Be a light. Keep savory. Lord, I want to see revival in 2017. To see men and women radically changed by Your Power. To experience a surge in the Kingdom only attributable to Mighty Move of God and nothing else. We need You – Jesus in epic proportions. Work in me, Lord. Produce good fruit and deeds in my life that will nourish Your Body and build Your Kingdom. I am ready, Lord.

How about you?

Psalm112 (NLT) Praise the Lord! How joyful are those who fear the Lord and delight in obeying his commands. Their children will be successful everywhere; an entire generation of godly people will be blessed. They themselves will be wealthy, and their good deeds will last forever. Light shines in the darkness for the godly. They are generous, compassionate, and righteous. Good comes to those who lend money generously and conduct their business fairly. 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. They share freely and give generously to those in need. Their good deeds will be remembered forever. They will have influence and honor. The wicked will see this and be infuriated. They will grind their teeth in anger; they will slink away, their hopes thwarted.

Trust Him More

Young woman reaching hand towards sun

Romans 15:13 (NLT) I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Well, the itch is not satisfied therefore I must continue to scratch beneath the surface of this thing called revival and consider the source. I want revival to come to me, my family, my church and my community. It is my heartfelt desire that in the year 2017 that there is an undeniable move of God within me and the atmosphere around me that it draws people to Him while pulling me closer to Jesus than ever before. I want to know it is God in our midst. I want to experience Jesus face-to-face. I long for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit that moves past what I am comfortable with completely overtaking my life. Otherwise, what is the point of praying for revival if we don’t really want it?

God is our source of hope. He will completely fill us with joy and peace. How? When? What is the prerequisite for such an experience? Trust. We must trust the Lord with all of our life and expectation. I do. I hear you…I always think I do until He shows me where I don’t. Cleopatra lived on the river called the Nile and many Christians live by one called Denial. Trusting God is not a church concept by a lifetime commitment. Everything in the asset column of God, every single promise, all the blessings, and every single Word that He has given you is contingent on one thing – will you trust Him? Will I? I have heard the audible voice of the Living God ask me this question. My first response to Him was “of course, I do” followed by “this is not about that.” It was the night I beat down the door of His Throne Room in the middle of the night. Death had approached our son and I wanted no demanded that God answer this threat. I am His Child. He is my Father. What would He say or do to stop this assault against my child? He asked, “Do you trust me”? What if your trust in God became a matter of life or death? It is.

Romans 8:23-25 (NLT) And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us. We were given this hope when we were saved. (If we already have something, we don’t need to hope for it. But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.)

For those who are willing to be completely honest today, do you “groan” for a “foretaste of future glory”? Do we long to be “released from sin and suffering”? Do we wait with “eager hope for the day when God gives us full rights as His Adopted Children”? God gave us hope when we were saved. Hope is not seen but desired. Do you desire hope today? Or is it the immediate gratification of better things and an easier life today that one longs for? See in many cases, like many children wait for Santa to come this week, we also wait for God to act the same way towards us. With complete disregard for how we live, it is the Gifts from His Hands rather than Glory pouring out of His Heart that is so greatly longed for and desired. We want a better life now and seldom consider forever.

Hope is validated by trust. Do you trust the Lord today? How do I know? Do you worry often, stress a lot, or feel anxious all the time? This is a manifestation of fear that grabs hold of our heart choking out any hope it can find there. The enemy is not after you as a person. He wants to rob your soul of salvation, dousing your faith with fear and causing doubt to douse any fulfillment once possible. Church becomes monotonous not because our pastor is boring, the music is weak or attendance is poor. No church becomes monotonous when I lost sight of my mission.

Romans 6:17-19 (NLT) God also bound himself with an oath, so that those who received the promise could be perfectly sure that he would never change his mind. So God has given both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary.

God’s Promise to pour out His Spirit again has not waned because our faith, hope and love may be compromised. God does not lie. He doesn’t change His Mind. Every day in every possible way He is looking for an opening for His Glory to fill the Temple (you and me) once again. So if it is not the Lord, it must be us…it is me. God has given me a promise and His Oath. What about me? I must have enough confidence in my source of hope that I am willing to trust Him beyond my comfort and convenience. Hope is the strong and trustworthy anchor that will keep me securely in His Presence and allow His Glory to fill my life again. Hope opens the curtain to the deepest sanctuary of Heaven into the Presence of God. I cannot venture there and remain the same. It demands a complete sacrifice of self, sin and suffering to get there. I must see myself through the eyes of Christ refusing to turn back but constantly pressing in until I am changed. Why? Because God does not change. His Love is relentless. It is perfect. It doesn’t settle for less than His Best…ever even when I want to save myself with compromise.

Romans 5:1-5 (NLT) Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory. We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

Some may say that Google is god of the internet. It offers just about every convenience and service imaginable to manage our life and files appropriately. Recently, a friend recommended the Google photo application. You can back up precious pictures and videos to manage the limited storage on your cellphone. I tried it. It is pretty awesome. Each night every photo I have taken that day is whisked into a file in the Cloud somewhere and easily retrieved if I want it. I delete the ones that are safe and secure in Google. All but one. The day of our son’s bone marrow transplant – the entire medical team sang “Happy Birthday” to him in honor of his rebirth. I will not delete it just in case the application fails.

I have a God who has promised to give me eternal life in exchange for my ultimate failure. Sin can give way to Glory if I will release it. I wonder if there may be certain things that I do not trust the Lord with. Things I hold on to because I am just not 100% sold that God has everything under control. This is not blasphemy. This is honesty. If we do not evaluation our spiritual condition beginning with our ability to trust God with our whole life, we run the risk of missing the Lord altogether. Jesus invited those who are weary and overburdened to come to Him – giving up all of our worries, cares and concerns in exchange for rest. We pray but let go of nothing. We ask for things that we are not willing to look for. We cry out with closed hearts and clenched hands.

Therefore…since we have been made right in God’s Sight by faith…what is faith? Faith demonstrates the reality and validity of what we hope for. It is evidence that I completely believe in the unseen enough to trust God with not only my spiritual life but also my natural life. Why don’t I trust God with everything? Why don’t you? Life is hard. Each day is filled with godly choices, good choices and bad choices – too many choices. One wrong choice does not condemn you but it may cause consequences. After all, sowing and reaping are foundational laws of our earthly existence as well as spiritual well-being.

Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory. We all agree. We love the fast pass. When Christ’s Undeserved Privilege and His Favor move us to the front of the line or arrives in the form of an unexpected blessing BUT what if it comes as a test or trial. Many tap out at this point. We don’t want to rejoice in problems or trials but want God to wave His Hand to make them disappear. We don’t want to develop endurance because it requires patience and is rather exhausting. Most of us can’t even commit to the gym and 30 minutes of cardio likewise unwilling to endure discomfort or inconvenience. Endurance develops strength of character. God knows me. If His Grace is enough for me, why do I need character? There is more to life than this. There is more to this than our emotional state and all our feelings combined. Salvation is our hope of stepping out of this life into forever. Trust is the conduit of not having to wait to experience the Glory of God but allowing it to fill our life now.

Psalm 27:13-14 (NLT) Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living. Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.

When we walk with the Lord in the Light of His Word, What Glory He sheds on our way; while we do His Good Will, He abides with us still, and with all who will trust and obey. Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey. I love this old hymn. Sadly, most days, it is our heart’s motivation to obey God but not to trust Him. It is when I try to do all the right things to experience His Glory that I end up falling short. His Glory is mine because of His Grace. His Grace is not only sufficient but absolutely a must to experience the Glory of God in my life. Well, all I can do when it comes to God’s Grace is to trust Him. My obedience is only worthy of anything as a direct result of trust. I must examine my heart today for trust. I can do a lot of things for the Lord but it means nothing if I do not believe and trust that His Grace is enough for me.

I must be confident that I will see the Lord’s Goodness while I am in the land of the living. If I live every day for forever, but do not believe that His Kingdom will come and His Will done on the earth – I have missed my calling altogether. Faith and trust in God is not for when I die but for today, tomorrow and every other day between here and eternity. God has ordered my steps to enter His Presence. Most of us will not, cannot and refuse to trust the Lord until He is the only way out of our present situation. When God is all there is left, He becomes our sufficiency. Restoration and revival cannot enter a restricted area of our life. Our free will does not allow it. It is only in our complete trust and surrender to Christ that anything I offer in the form of obedience is acceptable.

Waiting on the Lord demonstrates the longevity of our trust in Him. Have you given up on God’s Glory in your life? Like Christmas morning that never comes or gifts that don’t satisfy, are you resigned to the fact that this is life? Life is hard. There is no goodness here for me. God will not, cannot, or may not satisfy me so I am just going to have to do it myself. Those who put their trust in the Lord including the investment of their whole life will have a hope that will not lead to disappointment. That’s what we are afraid of…being disappointed. What if we are wrong? Well, to have confidence in Jesus means to trust Him. The Lord can only enter those areas of our heart, mind, body, soul and life yielded to Him. Careful inspection will probably reveal that the areas struggled most in are those held tightly to our chest. Are you praying for revival today? Me, too. Revival begins with trusting hearts willing to venture closer, deeper and farther into the Presence of God and releasing all those other things that have kept us from going there. You will not give up your life until you are convinced that there is more to life than this. Do not be surprised by disappointment or dissatisfaction but consider it a blessing as the Lord shows us the closed doors keeping His Glory from filling us and the church today. As we continually discipline ourselves to surrender these things and scoop up the new mercy each day to feed our developing hope soon confidence will fill every void of our life while we wait for Him. He is coming! We just have to be ready. Lord, teach me to trust you more and more until all of my life is yours. I want to be restored and renewed from the inside out. God, show me Your Glory in every possible way. We want revival, Jesus. Let it start with me.

Romans 12:12 (NLT) Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.