This is the Day

Field and sun.

Psalm 118:24 (ESV) This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.

After receiving some challenging news, a friend text me, “Are you okay?” I confirmed that indeed I was just fine. I have been through enough seasons like this to know that “it is what it is”. If I fell apart every time the enemy threw fiery darts at me or dropped smoke bombs in my camp, I would be a worthless wreck right about now. Walking with the Lord can feel like skirting through a land mine field sometimes trying to avoid pitfalls and trip wires, but sometimes they are unavoidable. I would be a liar to say that I am unaffected. It is hard to maintain joy in the midst of adversity. It is our privilege in Christ to live in constant rejoicing but one must find such a place first.

This is the day the LORD has made. Today. This one. The day you woke up in. It has every bit of potential and purpose God saw fit to pack in it just for you. You do not have to just endure it, go through or be held captive by all the things that want to suck you in. This is the day the LORD made for you. He captured each second in handwritten form before you were born. He knew exactly what you needed to make it to the end of it. He prepackaged enough mercy to see you on your way and grace to catch you as you fall into bed tonight seeking rest and refuge from all its worries and cares. The faith in you has room to grow today. Hope can add another link the anchor that holds our soul. God’s Goodness can reach us right here and now. His Glory can surround us if that is what we desire. We have a choice to make today. Will I rejoice and be glad in today?

I know what you are thinking. I hear your sarcastic smirk even though silently crossing your face. What do I have to be happy about? What could there possibly be to rejoice over? I will be honest, I have no idea what it is or how you will do it but I know that joy is always possible in Jesus Christ. The night our son was diagnosed with cancer – I was there with his older brother. In that moment, the carefully constructed and controlled life that I had built came crashing down. However, about an hour later, there was laughter coming from our room. The nurses came down to check on us. Surely their ears were deceiving, as it must have been tears and wailing they were hearing. When they came in the room, it was indeed laughter. The joy of the Lord is our strength. He is our refuge. To rejoice is not just words written by a psalmist to make us feel better but the reality is it is a place that will hold us when life is hard and the struggle real. They smiled in awe as they shut the door and allowed us to continue. I wonder if that is what the others thought when Paul and Silas sang praises to the Lord from their prison cell. Could it be that our light shines brightest in the dark? How can it shine if there is no joy in the hope we have? Faith is evidence of what we cannot see that manifests in the impossibilities of life. We must learn to take each day and make it a time to rejoice.

Philippians 4:4-7 (ESV) Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon. Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

Is it even possible to “always be full of joy in the Lord”? Life is tough. The unexpected hidden in each twist and turn. Disappointment lurking in the dark corners. The struggle real. The thoughts overwhelming. Responsibilities endless. Distractions plentiful. Doubt logical. Fear real. How do I remember that the Lord is coming soon? How do I choose peace over worry? When can I find time to pray about every little thing? God knows what I need, right? He knows my heart and can see all its good intentions. If I want the kind of peace that God provides…the peace that passes understanding it means I must stop trying to figure it all out and choose joy in every situation. Where do I find such a thing? When I decide to rejoice, pray, and let God be the source of my hope again…I will find perfect peace just like He has promised. (Isaiah 26:3) To live in perfect peace – I must trust the Lord and keep my thoughts fixed on Him.

Philippians 4:8 (ESV) And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

If it is true (which it is) that faith is the reality of what we hope for and evidence of things we cannot see, we must learn to trust what we know rather than what we see, feel and experience in this life. It is to begin to look at things through God’s Word, His Will and His Way. To apply Jesus to every situation in our life is to apply the Word because Jesus is the Word of God. I will not rejoice in my situation or circumstances – my joy comes from the Lord so if I am constantly fixated in what I see rather than living out what I know – I will not grow in my faith but be surrounded by fear. Hope is elusive to the human eye most of the time. If I can see it or imagine it – it is smaller than what the Lord has planned for me. What I can do in each new day is choose to fix my thoughts and eyes on what is true. God’s Word is the Truth concerning my life. To focus on living an honorable, sincere and authentic life. To do what is right. Live what is pure. Devote myself to what is lovely and loving. To fix my thoughts on what is admirable or that which is deserving of respect and approval – I can think of only one thing – Jesus Christ. When I decide to devote my focus and energy on that which is excellent and praiseworthy it always comes back to Him. No matter how hard life is and terrible it seems – the joy of the Lord is my strength. (Nehemiah 8:10)

Habakkuk 3:17-19 (ESV) Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places.

Again, I have no idea what you might be facing today. It could just be another day of the same old thing. It could be the day you decided to throw in the towel. Maybe it is the moment you thought things will never change. There is a knock on the door of your heart. It is the Lord. In His Hands, He offers new mercy and the opportunity to turn things around. Why? No matter how bad today is – God is still good. No matter how testing the trial – He has the answer. No matter what comes your way expected or unexpected – He knew it all along and prepared you with everything you need to go around it, through it or to overcome it. Nothing surprises the Lord so He can remain our confident hope. He has provided all that we need and ordained us to have every spiritual blessing. I am well-equipped for victory today. It comes when I set the Peace of God as my priority.

Psalm 16:8-9 (ESV) I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure.

As I set things in order, ready to face this crazy day, I am encouraged by the Word of God today. If I choose to set the Lord always before me, he is always at my right hand. I must set the Lord always before me. To see life through Him, the future through Him, and make better choices through Him. I will not be shaken in such a position and faith will make me immovable. Therefore…my heart is glad. It begins in our heart. The place where faith grows into confident hope. My whole being rejoices. As my soul prospers, it spreads. And finally…it is important to note that the flesh is the last to be secured. Our flesh will always war against the peace of God in our life. To give up its right to understand all of the “what ifs” and “whys” to fully expect the great I AM in all situations. When I decide to rely on what I know about the Lord and focus on my champion – I will beat my feelings and frustrations today. I will find peace and joy as my refuge. THIS is the day the Lord has made with all its ups and downs, bumps and bruises – I will rejoice and be glad in it.

Philippians 4:4 (ESV) Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.

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Make A Choice

Make A Choice

Isaiah 1:18-20 (NIV) “Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good things of the land; but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword.” For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

Come now, let us settle the matter. In the course of a single day, people make more choices than they realize. Before arriving at work, there are more than a handful of decisions that must be made. Habits and routine take over so it becomes a ritualistic lifestyle. Like cattle through a turnstile going out to pasture in the morning, and coming back to the barn at night. Sounds monotonous doesn’t it? Well, how about getting up, head to work, stop for coffee, clock in, make eight, punch out, sit in traffic, cook dinner, do laundry, help with homework, and collapse in bed times five days a week. Where is the extraordinary in the midst of ordinary? How does one find the supernatural surrounded in the natural? It begins with a choice.

Psalm 27:13 (NIV) I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

When our son was diagnosed with cancer the first time, God asked me to trust Him and I did. The Lord promised me that our boy would live and not die to declare His Works. (God’s Promises do not change – He repeats them often.) Then our son was diagnosed again, and again multiple times. The third discovery was the most invasive covering most of body from neck to torso. The reality that God’s Healing might not be as I expected was weighing heavy on my mind. The Lord brought me to this verse. I must remain confident that God’s Goodness is for the land of the living. How quickly we dismiss God’s Promise for the future when things don’t turn out the way we expected? How often do we give up on faith when it doesn’t yield the return in the right time as our plans indicated? It was only when I had absolutely no control over our son’s life that I had to truly learn to trust the Lord from beginning to end. I had to make a choice. I had to settle it in my heart and soul to keep breathing. It was at that point in my life, I trusted God for Who He was rather than the outcome I expected. In total weakness, His Grace and Power flooded my life.

Free will can be difficult when one comes to the understanding that the Lord gives us the right to choose. Jesus chose to die for our sins and hand us the Keys to His Kingdom. He loves us. Therefore, love cannot force us to do anything and be love. Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous. It doesn’t boast. It is not proud. It honors others and is not ever self-seeking. It doesn’t get angry. It keeps no record of wrongs. Love doesn’t delight in evil but rejoices in truth. It always protects, trusts, hopes and perseveres. Love never ever fails. For Jesus to force us to do anything would be contrary to His Own Definition of love found in the Word of God. Jesus is the Word of God. So with this in mind, the Lord will not make us do anything that we do not want to do. It is important to note that the Christ in you sets you free from sinful captivity which means the devil can’t make you do anything either. You have a choice to make. Who will you serve today?

Joshua 24:14-15 (NIV) “Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

All the time in the wilderness, God did everything in His Power to show the Children of Israel a better way. His Way. The way of blessing and prosperity. (Deuteronomy 28) It is now time to enter the Promised Land. “Fear the Lord and serve Him with all faithfulness”. This was the intention of Joshua for his household. It was settled with in his heart and soul. However, listen to the Word of the Lord to the people, “if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve.” God wants us to choose. Why? Half-hearted service to the Lord will only produce disappointment and discouragement in our life. It is only when we seek Him wholeheartedly that His Plan for our future unfolds. It is our willingness to serve Jesus with our life body, mind and spirit that our life will prosper as our soul does. The Lord detests “dishonest scales”. Sin is abhorrent to the Lord. Grace is provided because despite our best effort to remain sinless – our sinful nature will get the best of us sometimes but the Lord looks deeper than that to the intent of our heart. Who are you serving? The outcome of our life is directly connected to the master we serve.

John 15:15-16 (NIV) I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.

Bear with me as I try to work this out in my own heart and mind, but God has called me and chosen me to prosper in all things. He appointed me that I might go and bear fruit. Fruit that will last. Whatever I ask in the Name of my Father it should be given. After our son went into remission, I was completely awestruck by God. At that moment, God did not have to do anything else for me for the rest of my life. Jesus saved me. He created a beautiful family out of all the pieces I brought to Him. Our children all love the Lord. The one on the verge of death with only a 2% chance of survival was back in school living his life. One would think it to be the greatest spiritual high of my life. It was not. The new normal was a difficult adjustment. The enemy came and somehow convinced me that I had reached the limit of expectancy. After all, God had granted life to our child. What greater gift could there ever be? I was so underserving of the new life that I have in Christ – it would be selfish to ask for anything else…right? Wrong! God’s Plan for my life is not finished or complete until I breathe my last breath, endure to the end and reach eternity with Him.

I am a friend of God. My relationship with Jesus Christ is a friendship with benefits. Do you have any friends in “high places”? Influential or powerful people who the Lord has placed in your life. A friend who favors you? God operates in relationships. Friendships are important to our reproductive growth in the Spirit. Fruit of the Spirit is cultivated in our fellowship with other people. The first commandment is to love God but the second cannot be fulfilled outside of relationships. God has called us to cultivate fruit. In Genesis 1:27-28 – He calls us blessed. Not you might be, could be or possibly will happen – God specifically blessed mankind. He also ordained them for certain things – be fruitful (purpose), increase (prosper), fill the earth (generosity), and subdue it (rule and reign over ever earthly thing). Sin separated us from God but did not end stop the blessing or calling of our life. Jesus came and His Blood eliminated the debt of sin so that now all mankind is free to walk out the ordination of God for their life. Purpose is both earthly and heavenly. Prosperity is earthly and heavenly. Generosity is earthly and heavenly. God’s Power is for the earth just like heaven. It is time for believers to stop segregating their life into earthly and heavenly things. Our existence in Christ makes the unification of earth and heaven complete. “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” (Matthew 16:19)

Psalm 65:4 (NLT) Blessed are those you choose and bring near to live in your courts! We are filled with the good things of your house, of your holy temple.

We must choose who to serve each day. James 4 is a firm and true commentary on submission to God. God waits for us to surrender our life to Him. This is not an act of authoritative force meant to make us miserable but instead to entrust with everything He promised because we know what do with it. Most lottery winners lose their fortune in the first three years. Why? Having money doesn’t change our life and habits. If the winner could not manage the resources at hand previously more money is not going to change their behavior. God has power to release in you when you are ready to receive it. He will not let a thief in the Kingdom. If you are only after God’s Hand with no intention of knowing His Heart, the door will remain closed to God’s Promises and Prosperity. Those are obtained only in a relationship with Jesus Christ.

In Isaiah, the Lord says, “Come let us settle the matter…” Do you want God’s Promises and Prosperity in life? To settle means to appoint, fix, and resolve definitely and conclusively in agreement. It means that our life must agree with God’s Will, His Way and His Word. It is to place our life in a desired state of order pursuing the pathway of life. We must decide to agree with God concerning our life. Those who do will apply God’s Word to their life more and more each day which produces the good things He has promised. (Proverbs 8:8-11) We will speak God’s Word over our life and not man’s predictions. We will listen to the Lord and His Still Small Voice over the roar of the crowd and opinions of people and we will prosper! (Psalm 25:12-13) I must believe that God’s Goodness is for the land of the living enough to live for the Lord right now.

Revelation 3:15-17 (NIV) “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.

Life is limited in lukewarm living. The entire planet is subject to sowing and reaping or planting and harvest. It is natural productivity. When we choose to invest our life into something wholeheartedly, there is generally a substantial return. Why? God honors a choice. However, for those who choose to remain lukewarm – their life is equated to vomit. Is the yield of your life satisfying? Sometimes we may have more than we ever thought possible yet have no peace or rest. I cannot live in close friendship and fellowship with Jesus Christ and be yoked to anything else. (Matthew 11:28-30) I must surrender my life to His Will, His Word and His Way to have the Way, the Truth and the Life that is rich and satisfying. Prosperity in heaven does not mean I must live an impoverished life – nothing could be further from the truth. Who wants that kind of parent? The one who gives stones to hungry children rather than bread. Nobody! He is a Good Father. God’s Plan contains a future and hope secured when I pursue Him wholeheartedly. I must choose today who I will serve. I cannot serve two masters for I will love one and hate the other. To choose Jesus as not only my Savior but my Lord leads me to discover the goodness here in the land of the living. It will bring heaven to earth.

Psalm 25:12-13 (NIV) Who, then, are those who fear the Lord? He will instruct them in the ways they should choose. They will spend their days in prosperity, and their descendants will inherit the land.

Even Though

even-though

I Peter 1:5-7 (NLT) 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. So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while.  These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.

Excuses will always be there for you. Opportunities won’t. (Unknown) Today is an opportunity to choose to believe in God’s Love. His Goodness. His Glory. His Promises. You and I have Potential and a Plan carefully constructed in all the qualities of God mentioned above. It is a choice. Your choice and my choice that is made intentionally or unintentionally by the attitudes and actions formed to respond to the challenges of each moment. An excuse is to obtain an exemption or release. Our excuses are the very things that disconnect our faith from God’s Future. Excuses are evidence that there is a lack of belief on our part to the Characteristics of God that make Him perfect in all things. When I decide not to follow the Lord, and make an excuse I eliminate the potential in that moment accepting defeat. I have reduced the Greater is He that lives in me to just not enough. Is Christ enough for you today? Is He enough to eliminate excuses and execute excellence in your life?

Dani Johnson was a young woman who suffered violence and abuse in her childhood. As a teenager, she became pregnant by a deacon’s son in her church. She gave up her baby for adoption and walked away from church for good. Or so she thought, but the seeds of God’s Words were already sown deeply in her heart. God had a plan. Her potential became evident as she was an excellent sales person with a flourishing career who married a conman who was taking her money. He abandoned her with huge amounts of debt. Dani lost her job and her home. She was living in her car with $2.03 to her name. She was depressed and contemplating suicide. It was at that very moment she felt God’s Spirit within her telling her to press on, to rise up and do something with her life. She did. She went from homeless and broken starting her first business in the backseat of her car and in two years became a millionaire at 23. She is quoted as saying, “Excuses are well planned lies!” The enemy wants to destroy all of God’s Potential in our life. He does so by offering excuses when opportunity presents itself. He hushes the Voice of God with all the reasons it won’t happen. He recalls our past. He fills the present with busyness. He discounts our future. The productivity of his cultivation are all lies that become our excuses.

Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NLT) For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.

God has a plan for your life. These moments called past and present are all with in the woven threads of the dream and vision for your life. Romans 8:28 is His Promise that even the bad ones, hard ones or those deemed to be a failure have goodness in them providing for our future. He has promised that the plan is good with a future and hope attached which I believe references this life and forever. The fruit of the Spirit cultivates good things for now and later. Our steps are divinely ordered by the Lord so even when we walk through the shadow of the valley called death there is no reason to fear. The Lord is waiting for you to respond to His Offer. Will you willingly accept His Plan or continue to wander without purpose with blinders called excuses? The secret is in verse 13 – If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. To find Him is to have all that He has promised. We will not find the Lord if we do not believe. The evidence of belief is faith. Faith to follow the Lord without excuses.

Romans 4:20-21 (NLT) Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises.

Even though there was no reason to hope, Abraham kept hoping – believing that he would become a father despite his age. Even though – he was 100 years old and Sarah 99. Even though in the natural, Sarah’s womb would be considered dead. Abraham believed in God who brings the dead back to life. The promise of God is received by faith. Faith encounters the impossible and says, “Even though…I still believe.” This is the mindset of spiritual success. To be and do all that God promised requires this very idea to take root in our heart and mind and grow to be tree of life within us. The tree that provides the fruit to sustain us during drought seasons and times of famine when our life does not represent the purpose or potential that is God’s Plan. It is faith that meets the impossible and does not turn away but says…even though!

2 Corinthians 5:6-7 (NLT) So we are always confident, even though we know that as long as we live in these bodies we are not at home with the Lord. For we live by believing and not by seeing.

Faith is not necessary until the impossible presents itself. We are to live by believing and not seeing. It is only natural to have the “who-turned-the-lights-off” and “what-was-I-thinking-moment” in our journey. Peter had it. He was gung-ho jumping out of the boat to come to Jesus. But a few steps into it, he had an epiphany that revealed that he ran out of faith too soon. He began sinking. What happened? Jesus reached out and grabbed him. We will all experience such times when venturing off the short, dock or stepping out of the boat and walking by faith. Faith is illogical in the natural. It is uncomfortable to the flesh. If at any point in the process you dare to look down, it will absolutely suck the breath right out of you. God is ready to exceed all human expectations with His Excellent Love, Power and Providence for us.

As long as I live in this body, my faith in God will be tested. I will be given opportunity after opportunity to trust the Lord. I must surrender all of my life – heart, mind, soul and body to have all that He has planned and prepared for me including eternity. I cannot get tangled up in lies that are the foundation of excuses as to why I cannot or God will not but must live by confident faith in His Unfailing Love, Overwhelming Grace and Constant Care for me.

Hebrews 5:7-8 (NLT) While Jesus was here on earth, he offered prayers and pleadings, with a loud cry and tears, to the one who could rescue him from death. And God heard his prayers because of his deep reverence for God. Even though Jesus was God’s Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered.  

Even though Jesus was God’s Son – he learned obedience through suffering. Jesus was God incarnate. He had every component of humanity. He had body. He had a mind. He had a pulsating heart. Jesus was a man. He did not lack any of the physical qualities that you and I have so when it came to suffering the pain of heartbreak and the brutality of his beatings then the cross. Jesus experienced it just as any other person. Yet He was still the Son of the Living God. God lived in Him. How are we different? God is exercising and conditioning our faith to endure the trials and hardships of life so that we will have confident hope that can obtain resurrection power and new life. He is not picking on you. You are not being left behind. There really is no excuse for our lack of persistence in following Jesus Christ. He endured the exact same things successfully to become our example.

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.

Jesus Christ said, “It is finished.” The Lord meant every single word of this three-word statement. He released His Spirit to live in us from that moment on. Romans 1:20 tells us that God has demonstrated His Love in perfect form so that no one has a good excuse not to know Him. Your past does not define your future. Your present condition doesn’t necessarily project your future. By faith, all of this is according to God’s Plan. He offers a future and hope that is accepted by faith not excuses. God speaks to guide us. Why aren’t we listening? He gives us His Word as a rod and staff to steady our way. To discipline our steps to avoid many pitfalls. Do we read it? He is ready to communicate 24/7 through prayer yet the door to our prayer closet remains closed. The Lord asks just one thing of us to be humble enough to love others – all others. We flatly refuse to give up our position of pride to love one another.

We have the Power of the Living God available to us by His Grace – yet we choose control over surrender every day. If life is immediately gratifying – an excuse is formed while we do it ourselves rather than waiting on the Lord. If hard times come, we exit. When it’s time to press, we rebel and pull back. God is God. He is the great I Am and perfectly able to do every single thing that He promised. He works best in the form of “even though” but we choose excuses instead abandoning ship to sail in other directions afraid to get our feet wet much less sink in the waves. No trust that He will catch us, excuses form a tower that becomes a prison. A place where His Promises cannot reach us.  A cell of simply not enough. Caught up by stress, anxiety, and worry – all the while Jesus is saying come to me. I will give you rest. Where is faith in your priorities today?

Ben Franklin said, “He that is good at making excuses is seldom good at anything else.” Friend that is a stinger. Lord, I don’t want to be that person. What has the Lord laid on your heart to do? Have you abandoned ship? Have you walked away? Do you think you have a good excuse? God doesn’t believe in excuses. He is moved by our faith. The times when “even though” everything is stacked against us and the situation is impossible – we dare to believe just one more day. Or even better, take one step closer to Him by faith that God will do it anyway. These situations, circumstances or conditions that we think will break us only make room for God’s Grace to flow through us. His Grace produces His Power in the place of our weakness and supernatural strength to keep following Him even when nothing is going “right” in our own eyes. As our faith flourishes in such conditions, the hope that anchors our soul becomes a little more secure. God has a purpose for each step. Especially the hard ones, taking in absolute faith with nothing in the natural to support them. These are the ones that release His Power the most in our life. Stop making excuses and pack faith in its place. Be the one who believes “even though”. Walk by faith not by sight. The best is yet to come for those who stop making excuses and step out in faith.

Hebrews 11:6 (NLT) 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

Life in the Light

life-in-the-light

Psalm 84:10-12 (NLT) A single day in your courts is better than a thousand anywhere else! I would rather be a gatekeeper in the house of my God than live the good life in the homes of the wicked. For the Lord God is our sun and our shield. He gives us grace and glory. The Lord will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right. O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, what joy for those who trust in you.

According to The American Heritage Science Dictionary, “our living language” is photosynthesis. Almost all life on earth depends on food made by organisms that can perform photosynthesis. These organisms make carbohydrates from carbon dioxide and water using light energy from the sun. The energy is captured from different wavelengths of light once absorbed facilitate the process. As a plant reacts to the light, it will use the energy to break down water molecules into oxygen, hydrogen and electrons. This is called cellular respiration. Cellular respiration refers to the metabolic reactions that produce energy. All living creatures must have successful cellular respiration to live. Our blood operates on a similar system.

Although never much of a science fan, I managed retain the process called photosynthesis maybe to use in this reference. Thinking about this process, I wondered if people needed the light in similar fashion as plants, algae and bacteria, etc. Sure enough, science adds humans to the list as well. Plants produce the oxygen used in human respiration. Vitamin D from the sun is needed to absorb calcium for healthy bones. Light allows us to see as it reflects in our eyes. It allows us to differentiate color. Scientists now believe without life there would be no you. Not to mention if there were no sun, the earth would be very cold and uninhabitable. If we do not agree on another point, it is safe to say that everyone concurs that human beings need sunlight to survive.

Genesis 1:1-4 (NLT) In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.  Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. Then he separated the light from the darkness.

The creation of light was the first recorded words of God, “Let there be light.” There was light. The first miracle recording if you will but nevertheless important even if was only God and His Spirit that witnessed it. God spoke and something happened. Light is important to all growth naturally and spiritually in life. God also thought it important to separate light and darkness. He called the light “good”. There is a clear line drawn in the Word of God between darkness and light. It bears noting. It is worth remembering. As we sow and reap in life, the light is important. It is necessary to grow things in our life. It is essential and the one thing that science and theology agree on. Not necessarily where light originate but that it is vital to growth and survival.

The Lord God is our sun. When a seed is planted into fertile soil and then nurtured, it dies to former state and begins to grow upward. What is it looking for? Light. Even potatoes that grow under the ground, produce leaves above the ground to absorb the sunlight and facilitate photosynthesis. What about seeds sown in the human heart? Do we need the Light to survive? Of course, we do. Light is representative of Jesus Christ. To sow naturally, sun produces a process of cellular respiration that repeats itself. It releases energy or growth potential in every cell of the organism using it to perpetuate life. In spiritual sowing, the Son is the Light vital to producing a new life and making us the new creations that He promised. As we die to self, the Light of His Love becomes our life source.

John 3:19-21 (NLT) And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.”

Judgment, ultimately life or death, is determined by this one thing. God’s Light came into the world. His Name is Jesus Christ. People loved the darkness more than the Light. Those who do what is right come to the Light so others can see that they are doing what God wants. Well, there you have it. No splitting hairs or gray areas, just two distinctive choices. Do I live in the Light of God’s Love? Do I prefer darkness and sin? No one can achieve a sinless state. Grace is sufficient for the removal of sin and recreation of our life in Christ. There is no possible way to earn the Gift of Eternal Life. We must choose to live in the Presence of God and the Person of Jesus Christ.

Colossians 2:6-10 (NLT) And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ. For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority.

The seed planted in our heart is salvation. The saving knowledge of Jesus Christ that starts a process deep under the thick layers of our hard heart breaking new ground. The Holy Spirit waters the Word in our heart enabling it grow within in us. As the Word of God grows roots, it seeks the Light more and more. Faith is convinced that the Light that cannot be seen is worth having so it pushes through the touch spots, dry seasons, and hopeless situations to find more of His Light. The Light is the Presence of God. In order to grow deep roots in Jesus Christ, it must be our full motivation in life.

A plant in a pot is limited to the size of its container. The roots cannot grow beyond the barrier of the pot. It is subject to those who move it around. Others must water it, or give it access to sunlight. If forgotten in the cold, it becomes subject to the natural elements. However, a plant in the ground can grow according to its conditions. The roots are deeper and more secure. It can change according to the seasons. The rain will water it. The sun shines on it. It will grow under the right conditions far larger and stronger than the plant limited to a pot.

You are a new creation. When you decided to love the Light more than darkness, you planted yourself in Jesus Christ. This is not salvation. Salvation is the seed of change. It must be planted in the person of Jesus Christ to have unlimited potential including a future and hope. This is the decision to call Jesus our Lord. No longer calling on Him to come to us, our life is committed to allowing our roots to grow down in Him. To let our lives be built on Him. Our faith will grow as the Truth rises up within us. Christ is the fullness of God available to us when we are committed to life in His Presence. This is not a religious practice, but to pursue a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Psalm 37:5-7 (NLT) Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you. He will make your innocence radiate like the dawn, and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun. Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act. Don’t worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes.

I am completed by my union with Jesus Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority. My union with Jesus Christ, the Light of the world, is essential to spiritual productivity in my life. I must believe that He is the head over every ruler, authority and power. Faith releases trust just as photosynthesis releases oxygen. A plant takes carbon dioxide, the waste of human respiration, using it to produce oxygen which is vital to the survival of all living things. Every cell of a plant must be committed to this process for it to survive. Every cell of the human body must participate in respiration to live. However, our body is still born dying. It is spiritual resuscitation that produces future and hope that delivers us from the natural to become supernatural. It requires commitment to be still in the Presence of the Lord rather than running back and forth into and out of the darkness. We must wait patiently while God through Jesus Christ with the help of the Holy Spirit grows spiritual fruit within us. If a farmer continually plants seeds, digs them up and replants them somewhere else because they failed to grow overnight, he will never have a harvest. To reap requires waiting, watching and believing. Are you willing to wait? It is a must in all growth processes even with God.

John 1:1-5 (NLT) In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.

Still not convinced? Many believe that the sufficiency of grace allows them to conduct business as usual, but are quickly discouraged when their life does not yield the fruit and favor of God’s Word. You reap what you sow. Sowing God’s Word in our heart without seeking to live in His Presence is to commit robbery. It defies the very law of sowing and reaping. You are planting seeds of faith without a desire or taste for spiritual fruit. We can thank the prosperity gospel and its false teachers for this problem in the church.

Let’s go back to the beginning, in Genesis God, His Spirit and His Word existed. In John 1, they are clearly defined. The Word existed in Genesis 1. The Word was with God, part of God, and in God. God created everything through His Word. The Word gave life to everything. “His” life brought light to everyone. “His” now the word is personified and no longer just a noun. It has taken on a form. The Light shines in the darkness.

John 1:10-14 (NLT) He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God. So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.

The Word is Jesus Christ. His Presence is all that is needed to become complete lacking no good thing in our life. He was from the beginning. He is the One through which everything and will be in the End. Our life begins and ends in Christ alone. If we do not understand the importance of light in our life and choose to live in it, we choose darkness. Church participation is not required but it enhances our knowledge and allows us to share the Light of His Love with others. Grace is sufficient. Like photosynthesis, every dead thing in our life submitted to Christ and nailed to the Cross will be exchanged for something better even our good. Every detail is subject to change in the Presence of God basking in the Light of His Love. We are free to choose our dwelling place. The Presence of God requires faith, trust, commitment and new mercy every day. Those who choose such a life and devote themselves to living in His Presence will experience God’s Glory.

Ephesians 5:8-14 (NLT) For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light! For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true. Carefully determine what pleases the Lord. Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, expose them.  It is shameful even to talk about the things that ungodly people do in secret. But their evil intentions will be exposed when the light shines on them, for the light makes everything visible. This is why it is said, “Awake, O sleeper, rise up from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”

Galatians 6:7 tells us,Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant.” This is not meant to be a threat but it is a biblical Truth to be considered. Every day our life is filled with seeds that are planted for the next day, next year, or coming season. We must carefully consider the seeds sown in our life each day. The Light of His Love in us will cause all seeds to grow because it was ordained by God. The Word never ever contradicts itself. Choices are seeds planted today that yield consequences tomorrow. The end of consequence is to plant and harvest better choices. God will make good every detail of our life but will never interrupt the process of sowing and reaping in our life. It is important to plant the Word in our heart each day, to ask for His Spirit to show us any way that is offensive to God or contradictory to His Plan and act accordingly. Presence is only available by faith through the Grace of Jesus Christ. If I am not “in” Christ, I cannot make my way into the Presence of God. I need the Light of His Love and I desire His Glory to fill my life therefore I must leave darkness behind and do my very best to avoid sin out of love and respect for my Lord, Jesus Christ.

Jesus went to the Cross bearing the weight of our sin and shame. He took the stripes required for our healing. He has all power and authority over death and the grace. The Light of His Love shines for all who choose to enter. It is only in His Presence that change is possible. We choose each day what and where we plant the seeds of potential for our life. If faith is our choice it will always require planting without seeing the product but believing and trusting it will come. This is the hope that anchors our soul like giant roots holding us in the Presence of God until His Power reaches us. No plant can live without sunlight. No person can live without the Light of His Love.

Revelation 22:1-5 (NLT) Then the angel showed me a river with the water of life, clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb. It flowed down the center of the main street. On each side of the river grew a tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, with a fresh crop each month. The leaves were used for medicine to heal the nations. No longer will there be a curse upon anything. For the throne of God and of the Lamb will be there, and his servants will worship him. And they will see his face, and his name will be written on their foreheads. And there will be no night there—no need for lamps or sun—for the Lord God will shine on them. And they will reign forever and ever.

Unfailing Love

unfailing

Psalm 143:8 (NIV) Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life.

Unfailing. God’s Love for us is unfailing. It is unconditional. It is unfathomable due to the limitations of human intellect and life experiences. Yet, today I am overwhelmed by His Faithfulness. His Love is unfailing. “Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love.” We all have days like that, weeks like that, seasons like that when our soul suffers from those things in life that seem uncontrollable and troubles relentless. Those times when it is tough to see the forest for the trees and just a momentary experience with the Lover of our soul would do wonders for our disposition. Today was one of those days. When my eyes opened, I just wanted to say in my weak voice, “I love you, God” in a soft whisper so that if there is no response it is to be expected. What I find is in that moment, I feel His Presence rush in.

With that I stumble out of bed to check on my tiny patient. Our little dog who decided to eat potpourri and found it not as tasty as she thought. Three days at the vet, endless hours of worry in her weakness, but with new resolve I carry her weak little body outside and then to the kitchen. Though her body seems fine after the near death experience, she refuses to eat. The pet clinic has checked her inside and out – not sure what is causing this aversion to food. I offer her everything she loves and she just turns her head now shaking violently in my arms. Sitting in the middle of the kitchen floor with a syringe filled with disgusting wet dog food, I pry open her mouth just enough to squirt a little bit in at a time. Whispering soft encouragement to her as she tries to turn her head and get away. She doesn’t know that I am helping her. All she knows is that I am forcing her to do something she doesn’t want to do. I am trying to keep her alive. It is in the silence of the house, covered in the dog food that missed her mouth holding five pounds of mad that I realize God does this for me every single day. His love for me never gives up or gives out even when I want to give up and feel all given out. He holds me gently while I struggle to get away. What is He after? Nothing. God wants and needs nothing from me. He desires to give me life.

The only reason the little creature in my hands does not bite me is because she trusts me. Though she doesn’t like my method, soon after she climbs in my lap for affirmation. If only every day in each hour and through every trial, I could be aware of God’s Unfailing Love. To submit to His Power in my life which is defined by grace and compassion – nothing more and nothing less no matter how hard I try to make it something else. Sometimes people become so intent on earning grace and seeking God’s Love and Compassion that they forget He loves us just as I am – right now. No matter how stubborn, rebellious or overbearing I am – God’s Love for me is constant and based on His Choice to love me.

I Corinthians 13:4-8 (NIV)  Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

Okay so maybe you are thinking today, I am just not a “dog” person. They are just animals. I completely understand. To those who are dog, cat or animal people, the perspective is that the poor, helpless and defenseless creature needs us to care for them in the domesticated life. They need us. They love us for very little in return. But I ask you today, if you are not an “animal” person. Are you a people person? Do you love them? I love that little dog of ours very much. I do not want to lose her. I do not want her to die. So when I could be sleeping or studying this morning, I chose sit on the cold hard floor in winter with a syringe full of nastiness and a squirming creature on my lap causing me to squire the gross stuff all over my favorite pajamas simply because I love her and want her to live. If you are not that kind of animal lover, I ask you today…do you love people like that?

God is love. His Love for us is unfailing. Jesus is the example of God’s Love for us sent to show us how to love and be loved. Do we love others as God loves us? Are we willing to lay aside comfort and convenience to give others life? Those people who refuse to come to church no matter how many times we ask. Do we keep asking? To others who make fun of us or even mock us for our beliefs. Are we able to continually show them kindness? To the family member who rebels? Do we continue to pursue? To those who lose their will to live. Do we give up too or keep showing them the Light. When our dog got sick, I cared for her and showed great concern. Now she is making a choice not to eat. There is no reason physically that can be found as to why she simply refuses to eat. She will not live if not cared for during this time. I choose to love and care for her even though it is frustrating. I must be patient with her as she begins to improve. I know she is just a dog. But as I sat there this morning reeking of dog food, all I could think was thank you Lord for not giving up on me! All those times I wandered, rebelled and chose my own way. The times I jeopardized my future, my present and everything you had in store for me because I didn’t trust you or anyone else. You have held me, nurtured me and even force fed me at times – words I did not want to hear, promises I never thought would come to pass, and a love that I did not always reciprocate. Yet you held me gently, spoke to me softly and cared for me just the same.

Love is a choice. It can be a messy. It can be hard because people are difficult. We cannot give up and choose other methods because there is only One Way – His Name is Jesus. He is our example. I do not have to beat people over the head with a Bible. They will not get it. It is not my job to point out every foul thing in their life – they already know. I must give them the choice I was given. Will they choose love? Will they choose life? I have no idea. It is my choice to love them and offer them life – just like Jesus.

Love is patient. I have to believe that God listed this first because it is the most difficult quality of true love. The fact that His Power is manifested in our weakness according to grace makes this relevant and important. Love is patient. It waits. It endures. It overcomes because of its patience. I know they say don’t pray for patience. Well, I say, don’t worry too much about it because God will teach His People patience one way or the other because it is a requirement to endure. Those who endure to the end will be saved. So God is offering us the opportunity to choose patience at every possible turn.

Love never fails. While there are many qualities given after patient, God ends with the most important point. Love never ever fails. It is His Promise to us. That we can never reach the borders or boundaries of His Great Love therefore we cannot set limitations on our love for others. All others even the ones called enemy. If it ends, it was not love in the first place. Think about that. We like a whole lot of people. We tolerate many too. There are even some we don’t really like who are allowed to exist around us. We entertain the enemy many times because as the old saying goes, “Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.” I truly believe that the only enemy given to us is satan. People are not the enemy. I must learn to love them all.

Love is not a word – it is a verb. To say I love you and do nothing about it means it is not really love in the first place. Love is active participation in the life of someone. Even when it is inconvenient, costly and uncomfortable – to continually engage is to exemplify the unfailing love of God.

John 13:34-35 (NLT) “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Do other people know that you are a Christian? What is their response? If our Christian walk is defined by love, the world will know that we are His Disciples. If our vain attempts to share the love of Jesus Christ, do not draw people to us but cause them to withdraw perhaps our love must be reevaluated. Love one another. It is open and broad in terms but specific in nature. Love one another. If you find yourself in their presence, they are yours to love.

Love like Jesus. People followed the Lord. They flocked to Him. They wanted to hear what He had to say. Maybe when the churches message is all about love and the people obey the message – revival will come. Love that is passionate to give new life rather than change lives, the people in it and the world around us. God isn’t going to save the world. Jesus is coming for His People. It doesn’t matter if everyone believes. The salvation experience, transforming encounter, and spiritual growth of a believer is individual in nature but corporate in building the Kingdom God desires and defines in His Word. Your hands cannot do it. Your words do nothing. It is the love fully expressed that is the Light of the Word. Love is a choice. Will you choose it today?

As I continue to encourage my stubborn puppy to eat, I cannot help but be reminded of the persistent passion of God’s Unfailing Love for me. Lord, teach me to be this interested and intent in every other weak and helpless creature you created. Those who are hurt. Those who are broken. Those who are difficult. Those who seem impossible. Teach me to love them like you do. Fill me with conviction if I start to pass them by never showing them Your Love, Kindness or Compassion that is the starting point of life. Help me to remember this is Your Church and must fulfill Your Calling which always begins and ends with Your Unfailing Love.

Psalm 36:7-9 (NIV) How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house; you give them drink from your river of delights. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.

Raising My Standards

Happy woman standing with hands up on long straight road facing

Ephesians 4:11-13 (NLT) Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.

Does my life measure up to the full and complete standard of Jesus Christ? Well, one would hope so but how can I really know? Am I satisfied with my natural life? Am I making a supernatural influence and divine impact on the world around me? Has my relationship with Jesus Christ raised my standard of living? When it comes to economics, standard of living refers to the level of wealth, comfort, material goods and necessities available to a certain socioeconomic class in a particular geographical location. In other words, it changes from person to person, class to class, country to country and even county to county. Success and failure are often determined in this life but what we have or do not have, what is achieved or attained. The gross domestic product (GDP) is one of the primary indicators used to gauge of a country’s economic health but gives no insight to a soul’s survival or well-being. It is the total dollar value of all goods and services produced over a specific time period and based solely on human ability not godly influence.

“Equity, dignity, happiness and sustainability – these are all fundamental to our lives but absent in the GDP. Progress needs to be defined and measured in a way which accounts for the broader picture of human development and its context.” Helen Clarke, UNDP. I agree with Ms. Clarke. Too often people become consumed with a better way of life and not raising their standard of living. Comparing our lives to those around us, it is difficult to achieve success and happiness beyond what we know now. People and society is always changing. Supply and demand drive economic influences producing a never-ending cycle of dissatisfaction. For example, I can buy a new cell phone or computer today and in six months it will be obsolete. Why? Supply and demand can never be satisfied and produce a healthy national economy. Consumed by needs, wants and desires there is no cessation to our greed and drive to attain more so when it comes to the standard of Christ which means less of me to have more of Him – humans are locked in a battle. Our heart wants God, but our flesh only wants more…

My standard of living in the world’s terms has vastly improved since I was a child. I remember spending a cold night in a frigid mobile home with no electricity because our mother did not have money to pay the bill. My brother and I went to live with our dad when poverty struck our mother. I will never forget that night and it became a driving force in my life to make sure that my children had everything they needed and more. As long as I worked hard and stayed motivated, all would be good right? The economic outlook for our life is good. My husband and I are blessed with stable jobs and incomes. We can provide for our children better than our parents were able to give to us in those days. What profit is it if I gain the whole world but lose my soul? These are the words running through my thoughts today.

Matthew 16:25-27 (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 lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul? For the Son of Man will come with his angels in the glory of his Father and will judge all people according to their deeds.

“For all have sinned and fallen short of God’s Glorious Standard.” (Romans 3:23) God’s Standard of Living is not a set of rules and regulations given to us to follow and adhere to at the risk of judgment. Since we have all sinned, the standard of living produced by God for us and in us has been abandoned so humanity set up their own standards and moral code. Over time, it becomes convoluted when the rules are constantly amended and adjusted to meet the criteria of an imperfect society filled with dysfunctional people. When Jesus came the first time, it was to provide the grace that is needed to establish a new life of righteousness again. Our Savior came to provide one last chance for us to be made right with God, not to judge mankind but lead them to fulfillment. (John 8:14-15) He made us righteous when we accepted His Gift. Our ability ended with our choice to be saved. Jesus became our Savior in that instant. However, the choices and decisions taken in future endeavors determine whether or not one chooses to make Him Lord. This is vitally important to one’s survival. God put us on the earth not to survive but multiply. He wants us to thrive. However, our standard of living must change in order to achieve success in this area. I will never be content in things. My prosperity in life begins in my soul. If my soul prospers, my life will too.

The standard set before me is Jesus Christ. Sin was not a problem for Jesus. He didn’t know what it was like. He and the Father were one. Sin had no place in their relationship. Jesus consciously laid down His Life to take up the Cross and become the Way, Truth and Life through which I became able to achieve a higher standard of living. It does not look like man’s way. It doesn’t always produce economic wealth or financial growth but it grows me from the inside out into the person I was created and called to be. Christ completes us. We must choose to be made whole again.

Romans 9:30-32 (NLT) What does all this mean? Even though the Gentiles were not trying to follow God’s standards, they were made right with God. And it was by faith that this took place. But the people of Israel, who tried so hard to get right with God by keeping the law, never succeeded. Why not? Because they were trying to get right with God by keeping the law instead of by trusting in him. They stumbled over the great rock in their path.

Is your spiritual growth today stuck between a rock and a hard place? The Rock is Jesus. The hard place is often in our heart. We want the Lord our way not His Way. We do not want to “wait” on the Lord but have His Best right now. When not immediately gratified as conditioned by the world, it is all too easy to throw in the towel and settle for less. Every act of obedience to God produces prosperity in our life. Blessings are found in the smallest of gestures. Grace abounds in the slightest act of kindness and generosity. If we do nothing more than ask Jesus to be our Savior, our life is made better so too often it is the place of comfort where many stop. We ask Him to be our Savior but do not make Him our Lord.

Faith is the only thing that establishes right standing with God. Faith in His Son. Faith in His Word. Faith in our future with Him because of His Son’s Sacrifice. Trust is the catalyst of strong spiritual growth in our life. He must increase. I must decrease. (John 3:30) Now hold on just a second, I was born again to die to self. Who would want that? Why make Jesus Lord if less is more? Well, less of me allows room for more of Him and with Christ all things are possible, all things are made new, and my standard of living has the potential to be complete. There is nothing I can do – it is all about who I become in the releasing of my control and power to let Christ rule in me.

Jeremiah 6:16-17 (NLT) This is what the Lord says: “Stop at the crossroads and look around. Ask for the old, godly way, and walk in it. Travel its path, and you will find rest for your souls. But you reply, ‘No, that’s not the road we want!’ I posted watchmen over you who said, ‘Listen for the sound of the alarm.’ But you replied, ‘No! We won’t pay attention!’

True satisfaction and complete contentment are God Products in our life. The Holy Spirit works in us to produce soul prosperity that is not dependent on our natural conditions. Jesus raised my standard of living when He became my Savior. I attain it when I make Him my Lord. We stand at “crossroads” every single day. Just like the rich young man who asked Jesus what he must do to be saved. (Matthew 19) He was comfortable following the Law with all its rules and regulations even asking Jesus for the specific ones to follow. Jesus replied that he must not murder, not commit adultery, not steal, and not testify falsely. He was to honor his mother and father along with loving his neighbor as himself. The rich young ruler went down the list checking each one off. We do this so often comparing our life to the Law rather than the example set before us by Jesus. Jesus then told him that if he wanted to be “perfect” that he must sell all his possessions, give his money to the poor AND come follow me. Jesus basically told this rich man with power and influence that he must give up all he had worked for and held in his possession to follow Him. To trust Him. To have faith in Him. See we must all consider the cost when we decide to take up our Cross each day. This man came to the crossroad and chose the less not the more.

“Thousands upon thousands are waiting in the valley of decision. There the day of the Lord will soon arrive.” (Joel 3:14) Each day I stand in the valley of decision and choose the standard for my life. Will it be Christ? Or will I choose something far more comfortable than faith? Will it be to raise the standard of my life to God’s Glorious Standard if it means less of me or waiting endlessly for His Completion? What must I give up today to have more of Him? Pride is usually the first casualty of faith. Control is forsaken for trust. Well worth the trade but you cannot have one without giving up the other. So today believers wait at the crossroads of choice and valley of decision not because there is no promise or potential for greater and even the impossible to be made possible. No, we are still counting the cost. Do I want my pride or Jesus? Do I want control or Christ? Do I want the best life ever or something more manageable? More of Him will always require less of me. He must increase which means I must decrease with every crossroad and choice.

Colossians 1:15-20 (NLT) Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see—such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him. He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together. Christ is also the head of the church, which is his body. He is the beginning, supreme over all who rise from the dead. So he is first in everything. For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and through him God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.

The Bible tells us in Hebrews 6 that once you experience the Goodness of God there is no turning back. Those days that I struggle to have my way and follow Jesus. Those times when I do not want to wait anymore, I am reminded of the Goodness and Grace I have experienced those times when I chose to give up my way and do things His Way. Those moments when I laid down my pride to let Him rule in my heart. Those situations that seemed impossible – yet I dared to hope in the Lord. Few and far between those were the times that my life benefited with fulfillment and completion. The best is yet to come. I have experienced the Goodness and Greatness of God and I am hooked. Faith is worth fighting for. You are not alone. When you come to crossroads, His Spirit will always point the way. When you are in the valley, His Spirit is guiding you like a light in the darkness. It is not a problem concerning God’s Faithfulness or Commitment to us but rather our willingness to give up substandard living for God’s Glorious Standard of Life. Compromise will never produce a better way of life even for believers. Substitutions will always take the place of that which is genuine and real. Waiting is a requirement as the Lord perfects that which concerns us beginning with what is inside of me. He promises that all things will work together for my good. I must trust and believe Him enough to choose His Way each day.

John 14:6 (NLT) Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.

Personal Gain

Personal Gain

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.

Would it be safe to say that life doesn’t always turn out as one might plan? I once thought…could apply to any number of situations in life. Good intentions falling short of our expectation condition our trust and limit our optimism early on. Life is hard. For those who experience the school of hard knocks, their heart and mind will try to continue to prepare for the worst giving up hope. There are others who grow up with a silver spoon that will one day be tarnished by disappointment. What then? Can they recover? Or is the fall just a little too far? Optimism and pessimism are opposites yet the same. Emotional beliefs that condition how one perceives that which they can see. It is one’s outlook on life. To the optimist who is positive, the pessimist is too negative all the time. To the pessimist who is a “realist”, the optimist is a constant dreamer. Both are feelings conditioned in our mind usually by the early experiences of life. Neither the optimist nor pessimist has a true perspective of life because each is looking at it from a human point of view. What if we looked at our life as God sees it? What if we decided to believe rather than react to our current conditions and feelings?

Paul had a change of heart. He had a changed mind. All the “things” that once seemed valuable and profitable in life were now worthless. All the religious ideas and notions thrown out compared to just knowing Jesus. What might happen if we considered everything else worthless when compared to the infinite value of knowing our Savior, Jesus Christ. Is it even possible to discredit our feelings and personality to conscientiously develop the character and nature of the Lord? I mean truly. Discarding everything else as garbage compared to knowing Him more. Is it possible to stop looking at the Law and comparing our good works to those of others? Is it thinkable to decide that our service is really servanthood of no worth other than our dedication to doing it? I become righteous through Christ. It is my faith in Him alone that I must build my life. Is there profit? What is the gain? I need to know if it is even worth it.

Matthew 16:24-26 (NLT) Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me. 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 lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?

What do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? What is a human soul worth? Each person must decide the value of life. I think in my estimation it would be between $350,000 and $650,000. At least in our son’s case, that was when the insurance company began to deny payment and the hospital would not provide treatment. The treatment was considered to be nonconventional. A stab in the dark. Not worth taking the chance. Why? Well, with treatment he only had a 2% chance of survival but without it he would die in their opinion. When you think that an abortion costs around $500, it becomes clear it is less costly to end life then maintain it.

What is your life worth to you? Let me ask you again. What is your life to you? When you look in the mirror each morning what or who do you see? Are you worth living for? Are you worth dying for? Are you worth the personal effort of caring for? Do you feel like you are worthless? Are you hopeless today? See our perception of self and personal worth directly impacts our outlook on life and willingness to live it to the fullest. Maybe your life has been hard. High five on that one, mine has definitely not been easy either. Maybe it didn’t turn out like you planned, l think most adults feel the same way to one degree or another. Is your life rich and satisfying? Jesus came to give us a rich and satisfying life. (John 10:10) Do you believe it?

2 Corinthians 4:6-10 (NLT) For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ. 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.”

As a youth leader in our church, I usually position myself in the back of the church during service. Praying and watching the kids as they enter into worship, it never fails that there are those who look to see what the others are doing. Imitating how their peers act or move and doing the same. They never really press into God’s Presence because they are trying to be like someone else. Okay let’s be honest. Adults…we do the same thing. Exchanging earthly exchanges for church lingo. Surveying the look and sound of other Christians, we change our outward image to blend in with a new crowd entering a different social circle. We look the look, walk the walk and talk the talk, but has anything occurred other than adaptation.

We have a light shining in our heart that is read to burst from within us. It is a treasure. It is a costly investment into humanity. God placed eternity in our heart. Sin blocked our entrance. The sacrifice of Jesus Christ allows us to access the Kingdom once again. Will His Grace be sufficient for me? Will it be enough to overcome my low self-esteem and denial of self-worth? There is great power inside of each believer looking for a way out. It is the same resurrection power that brought Jesus Christ out of the grave. It is inside of me. It is inside of you. So God allows pressing issues, lingering circumstance, subtle situations to become more pervasive in our life so that it will finally bring down ever wall of pride that keeps us from God’s Best right now.

It is through our sufferings in life that hard hearts are broken, ears can hear and eyes can see the Glory of God making its way through the impossible to the probable in our life. The cracks on the surface of our heart are filled with seeds of God’s Word and watered by His Spirit. If we can just provide the tiniest amount of faith our life becomes profitable again. The truth of the matter, whether we like it or not, is if we had not been broken by this life, not many of us would have experienced Christ as we know Him today. He brings dead things to life.

Ecclesiastes 11:5-6 (NLT) Just as you cannot understand the path of the wind or the mystery of a tiny baby growing in its mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the activity of God, who does all things. Plant your seed in the morning and keep busy all afternoon, for you don’t know if profit will come from one activity or another—or maybe both.

What is the profit margin in our life? In business, this is considered to be an indicator to gauge the financial health of a business. What is the profitability of our life? In this world, profitability is the ability of a business to earn a profit. Sound business plan. However, our life has a purpose that outweighs and outlasts any natural venture. I can become a millionaire, but when I die I become penniless again. Money means nothing in the Kingdom of God. I can have great influence on earth but become one of a worshipping throng when I enter Heaven. Every knee will bow and tongue confess that He is Lord. Those who decide to live for His Lordship now will have a flourishing soul in forever.

I do not know what the Lord is doing in my life. I know that He has a plan with a future and hope. The Lord gives me clear indications and directions by His Spirit. However, I must decide it such a life is profitable to me now. I must choose who I give my life, time, talent and treasure to. So do you? We are all given the same amount of time in any given day. What we do with it is up to us? Do we turn it all over to the world receiving tangible things that will not profit more than our pocket? Or do we turn some of it even the smallest portion back into the Kingdom for profitability? Some may say, I am too busy which only means that you have given your life to something else. We choose the way we spend our life. No one else. It is also within us to change the course of our life anytime it is our desire.

Proverbs 14:22-24 (NLT) If you plan to do evil, you will be lost; if you plan to do good, you will receive unfailing love and faithfulness. Work brings profit, but mere talk leads to poverty! Wealth is a crown for the wise; the effort of fools yields only foolishness.

We are in the process of moving to a new home. Ironically, the new house has the same floor plan as our old one. As I begin to go through the contents packing to move, I have found many things that are not needed any longer. Now all of this stuff will fit in the new house, remember it is essentially the same house in a different location, but moving to our new place has led me to lightening our load. As I come across unnecessary things, I post them online for sale. There is hidden profit in my home that would have never been exposed without a change. We can know the Lord but never apply His Logic or Wisdom to our life remaining unchanged. Or we can take His Word and apply it to our life. Daily sowing into the Kingdom even though it is unseen and seems far away. We decide what is important to us and worthy of our life. Many times this choice reflects our own self-worth. Those who do not understand the investment Jesus made into our life will never seek after His Benefits.

When money is tight, people create a budget. Track expenditures. Cut back. Commitment to the process will yield financial security to those who stick to the plan. Often finding that there was more money than they thought but it was being wasted. One of the most common factors in divorce is financial issues. Stress and worry are often the result of money problems. Imagine what might happen if the whole world went on a budget? Imagine the fiscal change in our economy. It would actually turn our world’s economy upside down as such a decision forces contentment and curves impulsivity. So take it one step further…what if every Christian became a believer reconciling their life to Jesus Christ? Oh come on, let’s not get too crazy.

2 Corinthians 2:14-17 (NLT) But thank God! He has made us his captives and continues to lead us along in Christ’s triumphal procession. Now he uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume. Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing. To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume. And who is adequate for such a task as this? You see, we are not like the many hucksters who preach for personal profit. We preach the word of God with sincerity and with Christ’s authority, knowing that God is watching us.

When our baby girl started kindergarten, I went back to work. My intention was to work while the kids were at school and be home with them. Working for the school system seemed ideal, as my schedule reflected theirs even with summers off. That was the initial plan. However, after three promotions, I no longer had a job it became a career. Hours grew longer. Summers evaporated. Stress made its way home. Work even invaded my thoughts long after the day was done. I was not a very nice person.

When our son was diagnosed, I initially was going to alternate weeks with other caregivers. After all, I couldn’t leave my job. I had to work. Deep inside I was able to squelch the guilt that kept rising up. When I arrived at the hospital to accompany our son to his first treatment, he got out of the car and I believe the Lord opened my eyes to the gravity of the situation. As if scales had fallen, I saw just how horribly sick my son was. In that moment, like a heavy chain, I could feel the responsibility of my job fall right off me. I could hear it crashing on the ground. Without the slightest hesitation, I called my boss and told him I cannot come back until I see him through. Ironically, when I returned after three years of back and forth, I tried to pick up that heavy chain again. I couldn’t and it was not for lack of trying. There was no place for it in my life anymore. Things had changed. I had changed. God had filled the void in my life for good.

What will be your breaking point? We must all be broken to be remade in Jesus Christ. The idols of life are justified by the masses yet in the stillness of His Presence it is so simple. What is the profit of our life if we gain the world but lose our soul? It is a valid question. We can answer it consciously and choose life. Or we can wait until the end and discover devastating disappointment. If we have the knowledge of God, it must become understanding. Understanding must grow feet and arms called wisdom to move us from glory to glory as the Lord transforms us into His Image. This will always be a choice never a condition.

The next time you look in the mirror, try to see past your personal appearance to your soul deep within. It is it alive and prospering today. Or has it been neglected to acquire lesser things. This is not always a financial pursuit, it can be anything that potentially takes the place of Jesus in our life. Is it producing anything of worth or just another heartache? You must decide if you are worth living the life that Christ died for you to have. He thought you were worth it. Do you?

3 John 2 (NKJV) Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.

I Will Rejoice

I Will Rejoice

Psalm 118:24 (NKJV) This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.

This is the day that the Lord has made, I know it. His Word already confirmed that all of my days were recorded before I was ever born, so today filled with its rushing and routine is no surprise for God. He not only made it, but filled it with all the mercy and grace that I need to get through it. These are busy times around our household. Cleaning, purging and preparing to sell our house and move, not to mention our normal routine. Our church is in the final stages of purchasing a new building which will facilitate more packing and relocating. The dreaded time change is coming. Yes, I know it will allow for more day light but it will also require some effort on my part as I spring ahead and lose an hour. I stand firm on my belief that I just wish they would pick one and keep it. Who are we fooling anyway? I set my car clock ahead several minutes to facilitate being on time. But what happens? Once I figure out the difference, I do the math in my head anyway. On top of all that my sweet husband has been away on business. I miss him. I want him to come home. He is my best friend. My soul mate. My partner in crime AND the one who takes our oldest to school when it is still dark outside AMEN and HALLELUJAH.

I thrive on order. I like routine. I keep a tight schedule. Everything has a time and place which makes me comfortable and feel slightly in control of the chaos of life. However, when my eyes opened today, I didn’t feel the peace that I normally have each morning. Just before dawn in the silence of our home when my heart and mind immediately turn to Jesus and say, “Good Morning, Lord! What are we going to talk about today?” In the last six months, the Lord has definitely stirred His Hand in our life. Many awesome and wonderful things are coming. However, it is only human to become tired or overwhelmed sometimes because if we were perfect there would be no reason for the Cross. Mercy and grace would all dry up and Heaven would come down to earth. Until that time, we must make it our choice to rejoice.

We have a tiny dog who came to live with us a year ago. Each morning, I wander through the house to let her out of her crate to eat and well you know. She is so excited each morning as she runs all around in anticipation of what equates to just a couple tablespoons of dog food. As I walk to the kitchen, she will come up and lick my foot as she goes. Right after breakfast, she will run to find a sleeping buddy to bury herself under the covers with curling up for the rest of the morning. She is satisfied. She is content. Her needs are met and she is happy about it. When she sees me, she cannot contain her joy. She will sit down next to me and writhe on the carpet in sheer elation. I can live like that with overwhelming joy and full of contentment. It is my choice. It is not reliant on my circumstances but rather on the fact that I have a God who loves me and is constantly thinking good things about me with true intentions of blessing my life with more than I can even think to ask for.

Philippians 4:4-7 (NKJV)

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

To live my life on the principle of praise has nothing to do with optimism or pessimism. Both are human feelings and emotions apart from God’s Truth about our life. God designed our life with a future and hope, both give us the confidence that in seeking Him there is complete and total fulfilment. (Jeremiah 29:11-13) It only requires our whole heart. However, when our heart and mind are not in agreement, division causes this process to stall in our life. Rejoice in the Lord ALWAYS is not a suggestion but the principle of praise. To rejoice acknowledges God as our presiding power in each day. This is the day that God made. (Period) This puts God’s Name on today and places our expectation in Him for everything in it. When we rejoice in the Lord, it is evidence of trust. (Psalm 5:11-12; Psalm 33:21) To magnify the Lord minimizes the potential of problems. (Psalm 70:4) It tells the world including the enemy that our faith and hope are in the Lord and we give Him the power and authority as we commit this day, today to Jesus.

Let your gentleness be known to all men. We cannot reach out to others until we are confident in ourselves. A lifeguard in training is told to never let the victim grab hold of them in a rescue or the lifesaver may become a victim as well. The drowning person will pull them under in their panic to save themselves. We cannot share the Gospel effectively if we do not believe it ourselves. Our actions and attitudes must line up and be evident to the waiting, watching world. (Proverbs 16:33)

Be anxious for nothing. This must be the hardest part of rejoicing for most people including myself. I have the innate and profound ability to get myself worked up with unrealistic, misplaced and overwhelming expectations. It is true that one mellows with age. I also believe that spiritual development, growth and maturity will result in behavioral modification. We must make it a reality in our life. There are few things in the Lord that we have the power to control, but our attitude and actions are two things that we must learn to take command of and commit all to the Lord. God put His Name on today. Now it is my turn to write His Name on my day with praise and thanksgiving. He has provided all that I need. (Philippians 4:19) He is doing more than I can think to ask. (Ephesians 3:20-21) He has given me everything that I need to live a godly life. (2 Peter 1:2-4) I have every reason to rejoice if I put my faith and trust in the Lord. I will do it.

How do I make the choice to rejoice? It begins by prayer. Communion with the Lord each day before heading into this world to do life. To agree and be in one accord with your Creator, Father and Friend. We must humbly submit our life to the Lord each day. This is called supplication. It is the part of the Lord’s Prayer that says, “Not my will, but Your Will today Lord!” We should thank the Lord for things He has done, is doing and those He has promised to do – right now. Today. Without waiting for anything to become a reality, just on His Word alone be thankful. Thanksgiving will remind us of God’s Promises – past, present and future. It reminds us of His Love and Faithfulness. It tells our mind to stand down because King Jesus is here. The result of this routine played out daily is holy inhabitation as the Lord moves closer in our life and joy begins to well up in us just knowing He is with us. The Holy Spirit comes to stand guard over our heart and mind. We will have peace that accompanies us through life that supersedes what we see and surpasses all human understanding. I was made for praise. I will rejoice. I will sing and not be silent of the Glory of My God today.

Philippians 4:8 (NKJV)

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.

 

God’s Thoughts are not like our thoughts and His Ways are definitely not our ways. (Isaiah 55:8-9) We have been given the Mind of Christ (I Corinthians 2:16) but we must maintain an atmosphere that is conducive to His Presence. The Lord has empowered us with two things to fortify our heart and mind. He has given us His Word and His Spirit. His Word cuts through our thoughts to discern the godly from ungodly things in our heart and mind. (Hebrews 4:12; Psalm 119:162) We must use it daily to maintain integrity. He has given us His Spirit who takes the Word and turns it into all wisdom for us making it applicable to our life while leading and guiding us into God’s Presence each day. (John 14:26-27) We must use both of these attributes and gifts to establish a life of praise and worship of the Lord so we can rejoice in all things.

2 Corinthians 10:3-6 (NKJV)

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.

What we think about is important? It is more important than what we say even in that our thoughts can literally build fortresses in our mind and harden our heart. The battle of life is for our heart and mind to remain set on Jesus by faith and confident hope as we live to trust Him more. What we think is pivotal in the process. It can actually hinder the principle of praise in our life. It can render us silent and steal our voice. We walk in the flesh but the war for us is in the heart and mind. It is a soulful matter. We must pull down every stronghold that is hindering our praise, cast down every argument against the Loving Faithfulness of God evidenced in His Word and demonstrated by His Spirit, and choose each day to exalt and magnify Jesus higher than any problem, obstacle or battle we are facing. God is good. He loves me. He is with me. I will rejoice.

What to think about is outlined in Philippians 4:8 quite clearly but as a reminder, here you go! We must focus on the Truth which is the Word of God. We should consider obedience in all things and motivate our hands and feet to follow by thinking this way. Continually sift through every notion or idea to keep our heart and mind untainted by sin. Seek to be pure. To uphold every concept of love in I Corinthians 13, and make it our mindset. Remind ourselves of God’s take on things and the good report in Jeremiah 29:11. Strive for moral excellence beginning with our mind. Filter the subject matter showered on our brain, washing it in the Word, running it through the Blood of Jesus to establish a virtuous mind. Every day, I must remind myself. Before my feet hit the floor, I should begin to praise my God. Rejoice is a choice. What will be your decision today? Whatever it is will impact the rest of your day. I will praise the Lord. I will magnify His Name. I will exalt King Jesus and give Him all power and authority over my life. Again, I say, I will rejoice in the Lord always and again I say, Rejoice!

I Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NKJV)

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Whatever You Do

Whatever You Do

Colossians 3:22-24 (NIV)

Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

 

Hello Monday! Sneaks up on me every time. Why do Monday mornings seem more difficult than the rest? Even the dogs didn’t want to get up, I had to wake them up to eat breakfast as crazy as that is around here. My daughter moans pulling the covers tighter when she realizes there is another hour before the torture of getting ready for school. The week is full already as calendars, lists, schedules, appointments and even the weekly menu run through my mind. As I slide into the chair, the weight of the world securely fastened to my shoulders it is time to seek His Face and hear His Voice. I need a good talking to today. My attitude is obviously not as it should be. It is crunch time at the office. I need the Lord to stir that thing within me that always makes me shine under pressure and blossom in adversity. Today, I just want to crawl back into bed until an acceptable hour. I want to wake up refreshed and excited about this day I have been given. I see the future but it is not today. Oh, how I want it now.

Whatever you do… The “whatever” you do may be completely different from the responsibilities I have. Whatever those things are it is our God-Given responsibility to do them with “sincerity of heart and reverence to the Lord.” What if you work for the devil himself? How Lord can I be sincere and revere you if I hate my job? Maybe you stay home with the children all day? Knee deep in housework and dirty diapers – Lord, I am just ready for them to grow up or just make it to school! Whatever you do… The Lord invites us to work at it with all your heart as working for the Lord since our inheritance is in Him. In doing so, we serve the Lord not man. In this place of putting whatever our day holds on the Altar of the Lord, it has way more potential than our paycheck or human affirmation. So whatever you do today…

Deuteronomy 29:9 (NIV)

Carefully follow the terms of this covenant, so that you may prosper in everything you do.

 

Joshua 1:7-8 (NIV)

Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.

 

The Lord takes us old school for a moment as we venture back to the Old Testament. Clearly we are no longer subject to the penalty of the Law but we are bound to its blessing as God’s Beloved Children. Carefully follow the terms of this covenant…God is a covenant keeper. He wants us to prosper and in fact, promised just that. We have a problem with rules and regulations clearly. Jesus came and died for our sins. Sin is violation of our agreement with God. We all have sinned and fall short of His Glorious Standard of Living. Sin prevents us for the prosperity and success that is promised in our covenant with God. So Jesus came and took away our sin and paid the price for every single one. Now we are free to follow the terms of the covenant and receive the blessing despite our inability to live a sinless life. God wants us to prosper in everything we do. His Covenant is about our success not failure. We see the rules but He sees the blessing of obedience attached when far exceeds anything we must give up to live in full surrender to the Lord.

What’s this about being strong? Why is courage needed? The Way of God that leads to blessing, prosperity and success are not as defined by the world. We must go against the culture of society to live in the fullness of God’s Favor. Who wants to be different? Who wants to be peculiar people? Going against the flow produces pressure to conform rather being transformed. Be careful to obey the Law. Why? I thought grace grants us freedom to choose. Oh it does. We choose who we serve each day. When we choose anyone or anything other than God, grace allows us to come back. Those who choose to follow the Lord surrendering their way to live God’s Way will be prosperous and success. The blessings of God you are seeking come from obedience. God’s Grace just allows us access. His Mercy picks us up, dusts us off and allows us to keep going.

Psalm 33:13-15 (NIV)

From heaven the Lord looks down and sees all mankind; from his dwelling place he watches all who live on earth—he who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do.

 

God knows my heart. He knows exactly what I am thinking when I am thinking it. He knows my intent and motivation before I do. He considers EVERYTHING we do. Nothing in our life is meaningless. Don’t let the enemy fool you into thinking that God turns a blind eye to sin because of our weakness and inability to be true. He expects us to try. If we know it is sin, our dedication to Jesus should make us at least try to avoid it. If the Lord has instructed us to do something, God looks at our heart to see if we are attempting to do so with earnestness. The Lord is looking at us through and through at all times. He paid a considerable price for our salvation. He wants us to get the most out of our freedom, of course. It is human nature to run back to Egypt driven by fear and the unknown but the Lord wants to have willing hearts that are considering Him as He considers us each day.

Proverbs 4:23 (NIV) Above all else, guard your heart for everything you do flows from it.

 

Guard your heart it is important. Everything we do flows from the abundance of our heart. I used to get up grumbling and complaining each morning about my sincere dislike of this time of day. I get up earlier than I have to so that I can spend much needed time with the Lord. I became convicted of these grumblings. Complaining about a choice I made to be in the Presence of the Lord was not a benefit. It was brought to my attention that I set my own alarm and made the decision to get up before the sun. I needed to own it or stop doing it. Ouch! I can complain about work all I want I need the job and like the paycheck so I go each day. But what I get out of it eternally is up to me. God can give me another job in another place according to His Will but if all I do is gripe about working than it becomes a “me” problem. Above all else…it begins in our heart. We must guard our hearts and keep them wrapped up in Jesus to make the most out of each day. When we are caught up in this life, we forget what the Lord is doing that we cannot see but deeply desire.

 

Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NIV)

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.

 

Ephesians 6:12-13 (NIV)

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.

 

God makes EVERYTHING beautiful in its time. Newborn babies are not beautiful. I mean to mom, dad, grandma and grandpa there has never been a more beautiful sight. They are blinded by love to the red and wrinkly infant with a misshaped head. In no time at all, the baby begins to change. God sees our potential. He knows the plans that He has made for our life. They are good with a future and hope that we cannot see in our present state or condition. So we have to do all that we can to weather the storm and stand in our present conditions. Yes, there will be struggles. Of course, there will be opposition. We are under the constant pressure of transformation that pushes us out of our comfort zone into the unknown waters of change. God has equipped us with everything we need to do whatever it is we are to do for His Glory. We just have to stand our ground of faith in confident hope and the Lord will deliver. He is making good out of every detail in our life. (Romans 8:28) My only job and responsibility is to stand. When I don’t want to stand, stand some more. When I am weak and tired and want to give up – you got it just stand!

I Corinthians 6:12 (NIV)

I have the right to do anything, you say—but not everything is beneficial. I have the right to do anything—but I will not be mastered by anything.

 

I Corinthians 10:23-24 (NIV)

 I have the right to do anything, you say—but not everything is beneficial. I have the right to do anything—but not everything is constructive. No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.

 

Believers have been given full freedom in Jesus Christ. You choose first to accept or deny Christ. There are blessings attached to merely accepting Jesus as Savior and Lord. It is in each footstep of our life that determines success or failure. We decide how we use our freedom. God has already decided the way of blessing. We decide if we will walk in His Ways. I have the right to do anything. Not everything is beneficial. Not everything is constructive. I love the statement made in I Corinthians 6:12, I will not be mastered by anything. We decide each day who we will serve. It is our God-Given right. We have been given everything we need to live a godly life and prosper. It is up to us whether or not we choose to live that way. You can be successful every single day. You can prosper in each moment. It is our choice. When we walk in His Way, meditate on His Word and become intent on serving God with our life – whatever we do will succeed.

 

I Corinthians 16:13-14 (NIV)

Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love.

 

Ok fine Lord, what is that you want of me today? Let me get a pen and add it to the list. I will make time for You today Lord, but I don’t know how to do it. Take that list and look at it. Now next to each item that you have already listed write – love. Do everything in love. Do each task with the Love of God in mind. Treat each person you encounter with the same kind of love that God has given you. We have proven our inability to live a sinless life but we can walk in love. Consider each choice compared to God’s Love for us. To share with others that same kind of gentle, kind, forgiving, gracious and merciful thing called love. That’s it? It’s enough to challenge us in each moment. We are free to live however we choose. It determines the level of blessing and prosperity that we encounter. We will experience God’s Fullest Favor when we decide to walk in His Love fully and completely each day. We put our heart in it that way. That’s all that He requires. Whatever you do today – walk in love and you will prosper in everything you do.

I Corinthians 13:1-8 (NIV)

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails.

 

I Corinthians 13:13 (NIV)

 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Who Do You Love – A Devotion

Who Do You LoveDeuteronomy 30:19-20 (NLT)

“Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live! You can make this choice by loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and committing yourself firmly to him. Thisis the key to your life. And if you love and obey the Lord, you will live long in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”

 

When given the choice between life and death, it would seem only logical that one would choose life but this is not always the case. If a doctor discovered cancer in your body and you were given the choice to live with chemotherapy or allow the disease advance until you died, what would be your choice? In most every case, the individual would choose treatment over death. However, there are some who in the midst of the symptoms and side effects of chemotherapy with excessive vomiting and exhaustion that may question their choice. When radiation causes horrific burns and the outer flesh gives was to festering blisters and sores naturally one might wonder if death would be a relief. The choice between life and death, blessings and curses, and heaven and earth seem so obvious but in the reality of life, such a decision poses a great dilemma for humanity. For some it seems to be the lesser of two evils rather than the victorious occasion it really is. The Lord invites you to choose life today. To do so is a commitment to love the Lord your God, obey Him, and commit yourself firmly to Him. This IS the key to life with the promise you will live long in the land. Who do you love today? Have you made the choice to love the Lord your God?

 

With life come blessings and heaven, but death only offers curses ending on this earth. How does one discern between the two when all we know is this life? With a God we cannot see and a Lord we cannot visually perceive, how can we move our commitment from what we see to what strictly what we know? It will require faith in the unseen and hope that keeps us firmly trusting the Lord. But I have often wondered why God gave us a choice? The angels do not have to choose between life and death. The angels were created to serve God. They are not given the privilege of being called Children of God that His People are. As a citizen of Heaven, the angels live in a civil relationship with God whereby God has absolute power over them and controls their life, liberty and fortune. When an angel defies God, he is immediately chained in darkness to wait for Judgment Day. There is no grace to free them. (Jude 1:6) However, God created people to be His Chosen Ones. You were created with the express purpose of adoption by grace! We are given to freedom of choice so that we may have a relationship with God.

 

Psalm 33:12-15 (NLT)

What joy for the nation whose God is the Lord whose people he has chosen as his inheritance. The Lord looks down from heaven and sees the whole human race. From his throne he observes all who live on the earth. He made their hearts, so he understands everything they do.

 

To love without a choice is not love, but an obligation. Love is a commitment. Who wants someone to love them because they have to? God gave people everything that they need to discover His Unfailing Love, Mercy and Grace. The rest is up to us. God has placed eternity in the human heart even allowing us time to discover it (Ecclesiastes 3:11) and given us a measure of faith to see Him and know Him by the Power of His Spirit and His Word. (Romans 12:3) We have everything we need to make an informed choice yet many will still chose to walk in darkness and remain blinded to the Light.

 

Isaiah 9:6-7 (NLT)

For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor,Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity. The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will make this happen!

 

Jesus Christ represents God’s Passionate Commitment to be the One who you choose. Jesus is a Wonderful Counselor and will speak volumes into the life of those who love Him. He is the Mighty God always working on your behalf. He is the Everlasting Father who would stop at nothing to see you come home. He is the Prince of Peace who will fill your heart with joy by faith even in the most trying times. His Peace will never end for those who choose to love Him because they know what is to come and live for it. Confident hope keeps them firmly anchored in their relationship with the Kingdom of God knowing there is more to life than this and choosing to receive it as their inheritance. The world is unfair, unjust and uncaring. The only way to rise above the darkness and oppressing is to make the move from life to death choosing to live for Heaven rather than earth. Such a decision will release the blessings of God in your life breaking every curse you were born under because now you have a new family. It is the Body of Christ.

 

John 14:26-27 (NLT)

“But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you. I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.”

 

When Jesus died and ascended to the Throne of God to prepare for His Return, He did not leave His People alone to figure it out. God gave us Eternity in our heart and a measure of faith to start with. Jesus became the foundation in which faith would be committed. Now it can grow, but He went even farther to give us His Spirit the very essence of His Being to live inside of us and cultivate our faith to illuminate Eternity making it relevant and real in our life. This allows a believer to live for Heaven rather than earth and choose life over death. His Spirit floods us with revelation knowledge which are God’s Secrets for His Beloved Children. He brings the Word of God to life so we recognize the Hand of God working which had otherwise been ignored. Faith begins to make sense as His Love and Plan expand over our life. We make better choices enabled by the Wisdom of God that comes by His Spirit. (Proverbs 80:17-18) When God’s Wisdom (His Spirit) enters your heart it is instantly filled with joy! Wise choices will watch over you. Understanding will keep you safe. God the Father knew you and chose you long ago, and his Spirit has made you holy. As a result, you have obeyed him and have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ. May God give you more and more grace and peace.” (I Peter 1:2)

 

Romans 8:28-30 (NLT)

And we know that God causes everything to work togetherfor the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. For God knew his people in advance and he chose them to become like his Son so that his Son would be the firstbornamong many brothers and sisters. And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory.

 

We were created to be Children of God. He has called us to come. Sadly, not everyone will do it. Jesus said, “Many are called, but few are chosen.” This seems confusing. If God picked us and called us, why are few chosen? It is not a God issue but a people problem. God has made a way where there was no way. Jesus is totally accessible by faith which God gave us too. He put a compass in our hearts set for Eternity. We are given a choice to love the Lord, obey God and commit our life to Him. The problem is despite the Lord giving us His Kingdom as an inheritance, and clearing the way for our arrival some choose not to love God back. Even Christians who profess to love the Lord, live contrary to their promise. Religion tells us that we have to do this and that. Our relationship with Jesus makes us love, obey and commit to Him because we want to. You will leave the darkness behind because you love Jesus. You will make every effort not to sin because you want to honor that choice to live for Him. You will love others because you are asked to do so even if it means constantly forgiving and apologizing when you have done nothing wrong just to love like Jesus did. God’s final decision is not based on His Choice but who you chose to life and love in this life. “So you must live as God’s obedient children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then. But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.”(I Peter 1:14-16) – Who you love is represented by how you live.

 

Galatians 1:15-18 (NLT)

But even before I was born, God chose me and called me by his marvelous grace. Then it pleased him to reveal his Son to meso that I would proclaim the Good News about Jesus to the Gentiles. When this happened, I did not rush out to consult with any human being.Nor did I go up to Jerusalem to consult with those who were apostles before I was. Instead, I went away into Arabia, and later I returned to the city of Damascus. Then three years later I went to Jerusalem to get to know Peter and I stayed with him for fifteen days.

 

God chose Paul to receive His Marvelous Grace before he was born as Saul. This is important for Children of God to comprehend completely. If you have been called to receive “His Marvelous Grace” that means God knew you would make mistakes and experience failure before you were born. He is not shocked or taken by surprise by your sin. Instead, He has already provided your escape. However, when faced with moving from death to life there will always be a choice to make that can be very difficult. I know a man who was saved many years ago. He has served the Lord fervently and fallen away miserably over and over. He has had many wonderful pastors, leaders and teachers to guide him and counsel him. They have supported him, loved him and attempted to show him the way. However, he can never seem to fully give his heart, mind, body and soul to Jesus running back forth between the darkness and the light. This man is at great risk if Jesus were to come back today. Many people struggle with this very same problem. They can never seem to fully give their life to Jesus Christ. When Paul decided to give his life to Jesus Christ and serve the Lord preaching the Gospel, it was not an overnight transformation. It would be a complete lifestyle change from opulence to oppression. Pride would have to fall to humility. The world would no longer love Him and Paul would now have to rely solely on Jesus Christ. Now what? It took Paul three years to return to Jerusalem to get to know Peter. God’s Grace will give you sufficient time to come to know, understand and accept God’s Amazing Love and His Plan for your life. But unless you make the choice to live life according to His Word, Will and Way choosing everlasting life over daily comfort – you have chosen the wrong master. If your life is consumed with worrying about what you will eat, what you will wear, where you will work and making more money, then my friend, you have chosen the wrong master.

 

Matthew 6:24 (NLT)

“No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”

 

God has given you a choice today. To choose is the power, right and opportunity to pick one’s preference. Do you prefer to know God more, obey His Word, and serve Him faithfully? How much time do you spend doing this? How much energy is invested in the endeavor? If you have chosen to love the Lord with all of your heart, mind, soul and body, then I must ask you do you have a great attachment to Christ with intense affection and a passionate desire to serve Him well. How is your life portioned today? Jesus defines love as this: “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13)Who has your life today? It is easy to tell. What consumes your thoughts today? Who are you out to impress? God has provided everything you need to be His Child. The choice is yours today and every day until He comes back. Will you decide to live for this world or enter the Kingdom of God and bring His Power to earth? “The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you.” (John 15:19) If you are not facing any opposition in this life, it is safe to assume one must make a better choice!

 

Hebrews 2:10 (NLT)

God, for whom and through whom everything was made, chose to bring many children into glory. And it was only right that he should make Jesus, through his suffering, a perfect leader, fit to bring them into their salvation.

 

Choose to make an informed choice to love Jesus today. He is the fulfillment of everything God has prepared for you and promised to give you when you choose to love, obey and give your life to Him. His Spirit enables you to make good decisions according to His Will, Way and Word. You have everything you need to live in an intimate, passionate and personal relationship with Jesus Christ so you will be known by Him when the Lord returns. Don’t miss out on such an amazing opportunity. The Great Physician is ready to heal your broken heart and wipe out the sin is trying to kill you. Let Him work in your life today. Answer the question once and for all – who do you love? This is what it means to choose life and all the blessings of Heaven with it!

 

Ephesians 1:3-5 (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.