In The Stillness

In the Stillness

Psalm 46:10 (NLT) “Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.”

After spending the day with my grandson, I sent his mom a message that I felt incredibly lonely driving home. I sense of sadness that his car seat was no longer in the rear view mirror, tiny feet kicking and his little voice filling the vehicle with a mixture of sounds and babbling. Her response wise beyond her years, “Lol, I think you’re just not used to having no kids.” Ah maybe that is true, too. Of course, I miss my little chunky hunk because being a grandmother is awesome, but maybe she is right. I have been with a houseful and car full for what seems like my whole life. I have mothered for 28 years a tribe of little people. Yesterday, I dropped off my last high schooler for her first day. I probably will not have the pleasure of another drive like that as next year she will drive herself to school. Just like that and it’s over, the sleepless nights, endless care taking, selfless giving, and suddenly the house grows quieter and life begins to still.

”Be still, and know that I am God!” Quoted in the storms of life and hectic overtures of overwhelming circumstances, when adrenaline kicks in and emotions take over but I believe stillness is a sense of peace and confidence designed for every season. We must learn to be still in the Lord not only when chaos ensues but when calm produces silence that is louder than life. Parenting was certainly a part of my purpose in life but God has recorded every single day which means that they all count in my opinion. Why take note of something that is meaningless and without promise? Why not just skip to the good parts unless they all have the potential to be good either now or in the future?

Philippians 1:6 (NLT) And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.

Stillness comes with complete confidence in Christ. The certainty that God who began the good work within you will continue until it is finally finished. But do you see when that is…on the day when Christ Jesus returns. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. There are things that the Lord did in and through you yesterday. There are things that He will do with you today. There are things reserved for the future and some that will not be revealed until Jesus comes again. In a world that requires us to take hold of destiny and “make things happen”, God says, “I will complete everything that I began in you.” Do you trust God today? Do you believe that the Lord is doing good things in and through you? Are you certain?

Acts 16:25-30 (NLT) Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening. Suddenly, there was a massive earthquake, and the prison was shaken to its foundations. All the doors immediately flew open, and the chains of every prisoner fell off! The jailer woke up to see the prison doors wide open. He assumed the prisoners had escaped, so he drew his sword to kill himself. But Paul shouted to him, “Stop! Don’t kill yourself! We are all here!” The jailer called for lights and ran to the dungeon and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. Then he brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

Paul and Silas had been publicly beaten without a trial and unjustly put in prison. Not just any jail, but the inner dungeon where their feet were clamped in stocks. Around midnight, the men began praying and praising. Most of us know the rest of the story, a massive earthquake came and the doors to the prison flew open and the chains fell off all the prisoners. When the one put in charger woke up, he was ready to kill himself rather than face his superiors for he assumed all of his wards had escaped. But Paul and Silas were still there. They did not leave. Why? These men lived in the stillness of God and recognized His Presence. They did not fear for their life or what mere men could do but relied on God and His Purpose to lead them. When the jailer realized that they had not escaped, he asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” He then took the men to his house, fed them and then his whole house was saved.” The position of my life today, this very minute, has purpose in God’s Plan for my life. I can be still and know that the Lord will be honored. I must learn to live in the permanence of His Presence without mixed emotions. I must decide to stand steadfast on the firm foundation of faith where the Lord has placed me rather than getting stuck in the mud of lies and half-truths the enemy lays out for me each day. Doubt and disbelief will create detours, delays and even derailments. I must live a life of confidence and certainty so that I will be still in the Lord.

I Corinthians 15:57-58 (NLT) But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ. So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.

Every single moment of our life has purpose and meaning when Jesus Christ lives in us. He is constantly perpetuating new life in us and shaping us into new creations. We have overwhelming victory…always. Confidence gives credibility to our faith and it becomes the example to others of just how valuable our life in Christ is to us. The validity of our faith is not revealed in the good times but in our commitment to work enthusiastically and love life all the time. Even in our sufferings, shortcomings, and season changes, the steadfastness of our heart must be that God is working every detail for our good and we are becoming the masterpiece that He promised. I have value and worth that you do not have because I am an original. You have value and worth that I do not possess and it is because you are authentic, too. There is no competition for God’s Love and Affection. Christ gave His Life for all of us.

Nothing in our life is useless when Christ is in us. Every bit our faith has potential when solely investing in God’s Plan and Purpose. All things are permissible but I must strive to obtain the benefits and blessings that belong to me therefore I must live in the stillness of God not the spin of society. You can do anything you want to do. Freedom in Christ gives you the right to choose. Choose well. Be confident in the Lord today. He will never let you or me down. Christ in us is always enough to turn our mourning in to dancing and sadness into joy. Those who sow in tears will reap a harvest far greater than those who give in to their sorrow and simply walk away. Stillness says, “Stay!” I am learning to be still in the Lord. The transition from season to season has me a bit on edge. For 28 years, mothering has been my primary purpose. Now I am entering a new season, some days in stillness and other days kicking and screaming. It is well with my soul. How about you? God is good! His Goodness is for you. It is in you. Christ is enough to be confident that through every season of life there are good things to come!

Psalm 27:13 (NLT) Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living.

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Adopted

Adopted

Romans 8:14-16 (NLT) For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children.  Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children.

When my husband and I married, I gave him the gift of three children. In fact, they were with us in the wedding and rode home to begin our new life together right from the church. He was made by God for his new role in our blended family. It was as though God predestined him for the job. Our daughter expressed a desire from the start that she wanted to be adopted. She wanted have the same name and security of the official process. Her dream would become a reality. There were papers to be signed and filed. A price to be paid. A process to follow. But I can remember how exciting it was to go before the court and finalize the adoption. Not long after – the official documents arrived including a birth certificate with her new name and her dad’s name on it. With these important papers in hand, we began to change her name in school, at the social security office, and every other place necessary to assume her new identity.

I am no longer a slave to sin. I am a Child of God. How often this is the declaration of a people who still live as orphans. Those who have Jesus Christ inside of them have been sealed by the Spirit of the Living God. You are a son or daughter of God in that moment. It is up to us to assume our new identity in Him. He adopted us to be His Own Children. We have the privilege of calling Him, “Abba, Father.” His Spirit joins with our spirit to become the confidence needed to enter boldly to Him and live in a loving and abiding relationship with Him. In 2 Corinthians 1, it tells us that God “has identified us as His Own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the first installment that guarantees everything He has promised us.” Why do sons and daughters of the Living God live in lack? Lack of confidence, faith, hope, love, joy, peace, provisions and prosperity are all signs of orphan syndrome as I would call it. If we are not confident in our adoption by God through Jesus Christ and His Spirit who seals and entitles us to every blessing and promise, how can we ever convince others of the same? It is our purpose to be fully convinced of our spiritual adoption and live out the process of showing our identity to the watching world.

Ephesians 1:4-5 (NLT) 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. 

Before… I wish it was possible for the finite human mind to fully wrap itself around the concept of God’s Omnipresence. He is everywhere all the time. He always has been and always will be. The constancy of God is the stability of His Plan. He is. He was. He will be. God is the Great I Am. Jesus, His Son, is the same yesterday, today and forever. He goes before us, falls in behind us, and is right there with us living on the inside of us. Conceptually, it is easy to repeat this but to fully understand it is crazy. Yet even before He made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ. I read it. I understand the meaning of the words. I know that it is true. Yet, I still cannot fathom knowing me how God would desire me as He does. He does because God already decided to love you. He was ready to adopt us into His Family knowing full well the sin that would plague us. He provided all the grace necessary to cover our sin and build a pathway to Him. All because He decided to love us and desired to adopt us.

Galatians 4:4-6 (NLT) But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children. And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.”

The Bible tells us that God placed eternity in our hearts along with a measure of faith. I believe at the right time the two will become one and our life will prosper when Jesus comes to reside in us. His Spirit cultivates good fruit and changes the appetite of our soul. However, it takes time to change our heart and mind healing the past experiences and working all details for our good. The Holy Spirit prompts us to call out, “Abba, Father.” Why not? I believe that if you polled your congregation asking the question, “Who have always had a good relationship with their birth father?” You would find very few who shared such an experience. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 19.7 million children, which is more than 1 in 4, live without a father in the home. These kids are more likely to live in poverty, develop behavioral problems, become pregnant as teenager, to face abuse or neglect, go to prison, to abuse alcohol or drugs, suffer obesity, commit a crime or drop out of high school. Fatherhood is a necessary role..

With this in mind, there is a fatherless generation who cannot experience the fullness of God’s Love because they do not understand His Role as Father. They cannot love or trust Him because their experience is absence, abandonment, or abuse. They do not cry out to Him for fear that He will not come because their natural fathers were not around. As the enemy works to destroy the home, he has successfully caused a separation between God and His Children based on experience. Many foreign orphanages are silent halls lined with cribs of babies who do not cry out because they know that no one will come. We must learn to lean on the Father again. Call out His Name. Allow our heart and mind to receive the adoptive spirit and live in His Love completely as sons and daughters of the Living God.

Acts 2:16-18 (NLT) No, what you see was predicted long ago by the prophet Joel: ‘In the last days,’ God says, ‘I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams. In those days I will pour out my Spirit even on my servants—men and women alike—and they will prophesy.

I do not believe that revival will come until the sons and daughters become confident in their identity. To fully assume our position in the Kingdom of God with confidence that nothing will ever separate us from the Father’s Love. To remind our heart, mind and soul that He is a Good Father and oh so faithful to His Children. We need to learn to recognize the Father’s Voice as He whispers His Love, Affirmation and Acceptance of us. To realize the full benefits of all His Promises and understand that they are not by chance but the rights of an inheritance. They belong to us because our Father has given them to us. God has poured His Spirit in us. We are free. Free to live. Free to love. Free to dream. Free to prophesy good things and God things in our life. It is only by achieving confidence that overcomes the experience of our past. To fully assume our place in the Kingdom is to complete the process of adoption by fully receiving our rights as the sons and daughters of God. He will not force you to come home but the Lord will welcome you every time. His Love for you and me established before the creation of the world. His Grace made sufficient because He knew us and desired us before time began. He is a good Father. He calls you His Child. Isn’t it time we lived like it?

2 Corinthians 6:18 (NLT) And I will be your Father, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”

One.

one

Matthew 18:18-20 (ESV)  “Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”

Just two or three people who agree on earth can release Heaven. It only takes two people to open the window of the Kingdom. I don’t know whether to celebrate this promise or shake my head in shame. Is the limitation in our life simply because we cannot agree, get along and live in harmony? If harmony is a precious anointing, it should be a daily pursuit by God’s Children who desire His Blessing. To not just tolerate the presence of others but fully embrace one another with love, grace, generosity, and compassion.

Jesus plainly states, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” There is no mixed message or need for extensive commentary. It’s simple. If two or three agree and come together in Jesus Name – whatever they bind on earth is bound in heaven, and whatever is loosed on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Jesus is Resurrection Power and Life. When His Spirit is present – freedom is released. Healing dispensed. Change unleashed. Revival begins. Too often we look for it in the masses but I believe if just two or three would gather in His Name…not the name of a church, or doctrine, or religion, or mission even that the Lord would show up and true revival would begin. The unexplainable would happen. The impossible would result in miracles. The Body of Christ would come to life again.

Ephesians 4:1-6 (ESV) I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility  and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. In order to walk in unity and experience the fullness of blessing found in such a choice means giving up our way, the lie of the enemy and normal existence. We must fully embrace the characteristics of Jesus Christ including unfailing love, humility, gentleness, patience, forgiveness, and work diligently to maintain it. Crucifying our flesh is a painstaking and painful process. No death is ever pleasant but it is rewarding to give up the permissible to fully embody the benefits given to us by Jesus Christ. (Psalm 103)

Our imminent failure comes from ignorance. That’s right – it is a lack of knowledge that causes people to perish. It is a lack of direction that causes delays, detours and distractions that lead to doubt, discouragement and even disappointment. The hope found in Jesus Christ never leads to disappointment. God’s Word cannot return to Him void. What God has ordained for our life will come to pass. We just have to seek an abiding relationship in Jesus Christ and allow His Spirit to produce the kind of fruit that feeds our soul and starves our flesh. Pride must die in order for faith to flourish. There is no other way.

What if every believer became “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace”? What a lofty pursuit? To step up from the natural and begin to believe that you can live supernaturally. It doesn’t matter what man thinks about you if you are walking in the Shadow of God. To fully embody and embrace Jesus Christ allows us to live a new life and become a new creation. Christians who compare themselves to anyone but Christ are out of order. My calling and your calling are individual. God doesn’t have favorites because we are all His Favored Children. Our feelings of inferiority and insignificance are just the enemies lies. We can live in a lie but the Truth will always set us free.

Psalm 133 (ESV) Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! It is like the precious oil on the head, running down on the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes! It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion! For there the Lord has commanded the blessing, life forevermore.

Why do you go to church? Is it a social event? Is it expected of you? Do you get encouraged by the pastor’s message? Does it make you feel good? I believe that everyone goes to church looking for hope. This world is a dark place full of heartbreak and tragedy. Love is cold. Sin is rampant. Evil seems to be triumphing over good. Do you need a miracle in your life today? Are you facing the impossible? Are you tired of just enough and desire more than enough? Are you sick and tired of being sick and tired? Is the Word living, breathing and changing your life? It can. It will. It requires unity in the Body of Christ. How good and pleasant it is when brothers and sisters dwell in unity. It is like precious oil. The anointing of Heaven will meet us in our gatherings from small groups, to church services to civic center conferences if we strive to do just one thing. Agree.

There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

To become one means giving up my way to fully accept the Way. Jesus has given us His Spirit to lead, guide and direct us. While doing so the Spirit takes the Word working it into our heart to uproot every lie that the enemy has told us. The Spirit produces the character needed to agree by feeding our soul good fruit so it will prosper. It is human nature to focus on our differences but the Lord is challenging His Church to focus on our common bond. To become One Body filled with One Spirit. We are all called to one hope. His Name is Jesus Christ. One Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all. One. When two or three agree the One who meets every need and will do exceedingly abundantly more than we think or ask is in our midst. He is the Resurrection that calls forth dead dreams to life. He is Life to our body, mind, spirit and soul. We must become one. The church united becomes the unstoppable Light that drives out darkness in their homes, workplaces, community and even the world. I want to be part of “that” church.

Ephesians 4:15-16 (ESV) Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

Conquered By Love

Conquered By Love

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

Everyone wants to be a winner but not everyone believes they are a winner. Desire must become dedication. It begins with a thought. A dream of a destination exciting and elusive all at the same time. It will take a level of commitment that exceeds our own strength reaching down to the depths of our soul afraid to give up and never achieve the desire and dream that set our life in motion. The runner must go the extra step. The boxer must lift his weary arm for the knock out. The players must rally for the final minute. How far are you willing to go to be “more than conquerors”?

Reading all the trials and tribulations listed in Romans 8, “what then shall we say about these things? If God be for us who can be against us? Do you believe that there is victory in Jesus? We say it and sing about it but without believing it there is no real investment. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” Shall tribulation (we have a few), or distress (hello, worriers and anxiety ridden friends), or persecution (feeling isolated today), or famine (anyone experiencing lack), or nakedness (insecurity) or danger (sickness, disease or bad choices), or sword (what is your best defense)…we must decide that the Love of God is greater than any problem or perplexity in life. The Love of God for us is always with us carrying us from glory to glory and victory to victory if it is our vehicle of choice.

Living in America, Christians do not face the same problems of early Christians. The struggle to fully embrace the unconditional love and overwhelming victory making us more than conquerors in Christ is still problematic. To become confident in God’s Love is the very thing that makes us more than conquerors. To desire Christ is not enough, but true dedication in pursuing Him is the pathway to victory many desire but few will reach.

Romans 5:7-8 (ESV) For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 

God loves you. He loves me. From the moment of creation until today throughout forever, God’s Love for us is constant. Unending. Unyielding. Unconditional. It is love in the truest and purest form which causes us to stumble in consideration of all our faults and failures. The enemy doesn’t have to beat you. In fact, it is impossible for him to do so. He just has to convince you that you will not win so that you give up and quit. He can only claim victory by forfeiture. With this in mind, how many times have you quit? Given up? Given in to the thought – this will never happen? Why even try? Even in all our wanderings and wonderings about the validity of God’s Love including the insecurity that fuels doubt…God still and always will love us.

Jesus Christ is all about relationship. A loving and productive reconciliation of God and His Children. It is not contingent on anything I do, but completely on Jesus Christ. He is the Only Way to the Father. I have to go through Him by establishing intimacy with Him. Christ lives in me. His Spirit fills my heart with the Love of God for me so that the faith invested in me can grow in confident hope of His Love. The only justification of God’s Love that I have is absolute and concrete faith that Jesus Christ is enough. The Grace of God fully sufficient to cover my sins. Religion puts mandates on God’s Love and provisions of conviction that do not apply. God’s Love for me has nothing to do with what I do or how I do it. It has everything to do with His Son’s Life given for me. The payment was made in full. I am now given the opportunity to live a victorious and prosperous life in Jesus Christ. “And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” The hope given to us in Christ never ever leads to disappointment but from victory to victory.

Philippians 1:6 (ESV) And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

How can I be sure that I haven’t missed it? The church I grew up in taught that God’s Will was perfect. It was detailed as a straight line and there would be blessings and promises left behind if one wandered off course. It was very rigid. It was quite strict because after all God is Sovereign. How can imperfect people have God’s Perfect Will? How many times can I miss the mark and still reach my destiny? My heart believed that because I wandered that I could no longer have God’s “Perfect” Will so overwrought by discouragement – I decided there was no point in trying. God’s Love taught without the sufficiency of God’s Grace is pure religion apart from relationship. It’s not true.

You can have God’s Perfect Will. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from or how far you have wandered. God’s Will for you is perfect because His Love is constant and His Grace is complete. Let’s go back to Psalm 139. Verses 1-6 tell us that God knows us inside out. He knows everything about us. The Lord has gone before you and hems you in from behind. His Hand is upon you. Verses 7 – 12 remind us that there is no place too far or too abased that will separate us from Him. Verse 13 – 18 now this is the text that helps us understand God’s Perfect Will. Every single day of my life was prerecorded by the Lord. He laid out a plan so that I would attain a future and hope in Him. He knew every mistake I would make, every place I would wander and every sin that I would commit BEFORE I was born. Makes sense when coupled with the verse His Grace is sufficient. The plan containing a future and hope is not some impersonal guideline for our life but a very intricate and detailed purpose for each individual specifically. It also says that His Thoughts about me are precious. God’s Love for me is tender and kind. He sees me for me. Thanks to Jesus – He sees me perfectly. Now jump over to Romans 8:28 – what does it say?

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good for those who are called according to his purpose.” The complexity of God’s Love is its simplicity. God is love. He loves us. He set His Heart on us and made the Way for us to come back to Him. Our life is a detailed plan of prosperity, promises, dreams, visions, and every good thing possible. It is not found in our abilities, but in our affection and affinity for Him. Quite simply to know Him is to love Him and to love Him is enough. If we could just become confident in the Love of God that leads us to victory, we would all be winners. When you love God, He brings all those broken pieces of our life together making a beautiful masterpiece.

Ephesians 2:8-10 (ESV)  For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

If only believers could truly know and understand the Love of God. It’s purity, validity and completeness. There is freedom in the Truth. The Spirit of the Living God in us is that of liberty. It is by grace through faith that salvation is established. I can do nothing to save myself or turn my life around. It is true repentance when religion becomes a relationship. When works turn into worship knowing full well that my value and victory is found in Christ alone. Apart from Him I am nothing. Outside of His Love I have nothing. I am God’s Workmanship. He made me. He knows me. And yes, He still loves me in spite of me. I am created for good works in Christ Jesus. God prepared this life for me. Just me. His Plan – to do justice (I am justified in Christ) – to love kindness (I am a new creation born of love and made to love), and to walk humbly with God. He leads me to victory. (Micah 6:8) My confidence today is that God loves me. Through Christ, His Love now can make me a winner in all things victorious. I am more than a conqueror just because He loves me! I am conquered by His Love to be more than a conqueror walking in victory every step of the way.

I Corinthians 15:57 (ESV) But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Rags to Riches

Rags to Riches

Colossians 3:14-16 (NLT) Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts.

I am one of the greatest rags to riches stories ever written. A wretched, deplorable person filled with faults and failures swept up in a wave of grace so powerful that every detail of my life is changed. Filled with disappointment, bitterness, and completely devastated by bad choices I was lost in my own regret and shame. All that changed when I met a man. A man who knew all about my life and yet still chose to give me a brand new one. He took all those details and continues to make good on His Promise to change this mess into a message. Like an epic love story with all of the cinematic splendor yet private and intimate, I cannot begin to tell you how love made the difference in my life. His Love that clothes me allows me to love freely and forgivingly. His Grace that has kept me this far has produced a need to give it away just to have more. His Goodness has benefited my life in more ways than I could ever count or confer to another without forgetting some of the miraculous and wonderful gifts I have been given. His Name – Jesus.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts.” One of the greatest gifts given to us by the Lord is His Peace. The kind of peace that passes understanding. Derived from unconditional love and uncompromised acceptance of all imperfections by a perfectly sovereign God provided by his perfectly sinless Son, how is it possible to accept such an extravagant gift without somehow reciprocating it? It would be wonderful if there was something of any worth that I could give Him, but there really is nothing other than to accept His Gift of Love, Grace and Mercy and apply it to my broken life. Oh how our pride hates the thought of something that is unearned and undeserved. Our need for supremacy and control puts rules, regulations and mandates on the freeness of God’s Grace in order to fulfill its obligation. Such in intrusion sows seeds of insecurity and doubt that will begin to uproot faith and choke out the hope rising from within.

Above all, clothe yourselves with love…” In Isaiah 61:10, it says, “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, My soul shall be joyful in my God; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness…” The Lord gave us salvation and wrapped a white robe around us to cover us. It is this robe that gives us confidence that our relationship is secure again. Nothing can now come between us and the Love of God. Sin is covered sufficiently by the Blood of Jesus. Game over. However, if we do not clothe ourselves in His Love daily – it is easy to put back on the filthy rags of a beggar. Imagine. Why do such a thing? Would you do that now? Would you choose clothes out of the hamper rather than grabbing a fresh clean garment from the drawer?

Today, before you leave for church, you will choose an outfit, check your appearance in the mirror, and make sure everything is just right before heading off to worship the Lord. The people in the congregation will appreciate your diligence but when you arrive will the Lord see the robe of righteousness that He has given you. The love that identifies you as His Own. Will God recognize you as His Own? It is easy to get caught up in life and social standards but today if only for today – can we get so wrapped up in Jesus that no one recognizes us?

Colossians 2:6-7 (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.

Studying the Word this morning, my intent was to focus on thankfulness. I am determined to carry over the thanksgiving season all the way through the Christmas holiday. Thankfulness produces contentment in our life. Taking our eyes off what we do not have to appreciate and acknowledge the things given to us by the Hand of God. Every good thing in our life is a product of God with us – Immanuel. It doesn’t matter if we acknowledge the Lord or not – He blesses us according to His Will. The rain falls on the just and unjust because God ordained it not man ordering it. There is nothing I can do to earn or deserve the Grace of God in my life. What I can do is to let the Prince of Peace rule my heart.

You must continue to follow Him. Let your roots grow done into Him, and let your lives be built on Him. The instructions are simple. Why do we make it so hard? Faith is not impractical. It may seem a bit illogical until the Word of God becomes a daily consumption and His Spirit uses it cultivate your faith into a practical lifestyle. God’s Word is the fertilizer of faith in our life. The roots of faith connect us with God’s Heart and His Desires. As we build our lives on Christ who is the foundation of our faith, there is a wonderful transformation from dissatisfaction and discontentment to full satisfaction and completion. It is not based on feelings, emotions or worldly standards but thankfulness. How can I be thankful when my needs are not met, my emotions are all over the map, and my expectations seem wasted on an unseen God with invisible hands?

We walk by faith and not by sight. Faith is followed by simply doing what the Word of God says even when the outcome is not clear. A farmer plants a field with great expectation but no guarantee. Doing his best to prepare the field, sowing good seed, watering and caring for what looks to be barren, while beneath the soil – the seed is growing, changing, developing and maturing. What if the very thing you prayed for is just below the surface of your life, but unwillingness to wait causes you to leave the field? The seed will still produce in your absence.

Colossians 2:8-10 (NLT) 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.

Disqualification is ineligibility when breaking the terms of an agreement. The enemy will continually offer compromises in order to attempt to disqualify you. Empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that appeal to human reasoning but are not divine wisdom. It is written that God’s People will perish from ignorance or a lack of knowledge. God’s Word is absolutely essential to tearing down the strongholds of the mind those things that appeal to our flesh but wreak havoc on our heart. The fullness of God lives in Christ. Christ lives in us. His Authority and Power belong to us as a product of grace and grace alone. We are overcomers in all things. We have been handed the victory. Disqualification is only possible apart from Christ. His Grace fills the void of broken rules and agreements so now we are right with God the Father again. We must make the decision to capture every thought that is in rebellion to God, His Plan and Purpose for our life in order to remain qualified for the calling. Otherwise, we will choose less than God’s Best and wander off to wildernesses in search of substitutions, shortcuts and subtle settlings.

Colossians 4:2 (NLT) Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart.

You are one of the greatest rags to riches stories ever written. A wretched, deplorable person filled with faults and failures swept up in a wave of grace so powerful that every detail of your life is subject to change. Though you may be experiencing disappointment, bitterness, and complete devastation by bad choices or unfortunate situations, the Fullness of Christ in you is looking to make its way out into the open. Has shame shattered your confidence in Christ or maybe regret is reasoning that you are not worthy of God’s Investment of His Son and Spirit so you simply live in your suffering?  God has written an epic love story with all of the cinematic splendor just for you, it begins only by accepting the fullness of His Grace and then following Him. It doesn’t matter how many times you fall, fail or flail, God is doing the good work inside you and His Grace is always enough.

Devote yourself today. The word “devote” means to give all or a large part of one’s time and/or resources to an activity or person. I wonder what would happen if we devoted more of our time and resources to discovering the Fullness of God given to us in Christ. If we strived to clothe ourselves in the righteousness that is grace given rather than continually donning the old filthy rags of our past indiscretions or present insecurities. Devote our life to God, Jesus and His Spirit by pursuing intimacy that is not dependent on anyone else. To live with an alert mind that is fixed on the Kingdom, heavenly outpourings and miraculous outcomes. God has placed potential in us that will lead to daily fulfillment and abundance. We must be consciously aware that this moment does not dictate our future, but should be lived with forever in mind. Least but not last, a thankful heart. This is for me today.

My identity in Christ is enough to live in complete fulfillment with hopeful expectation. I must build my confidence by increasing faith. I must devote my life to Jesus Christ in all things. (Ephesians 5:10) I must be confident of the Kingdom to which I belong and its sustainability for my life today. (Hebrews 12:28) On those days when I got lost in emotional overtures or overwhelming feelings, I must still manage to sacrifice thankfulness because He never changes and is bigger than my feelings. (Psalm 50:14; I John 3:20) God knows exactly what He is doing in me, through me and for me. I must maintain my belief that He is good and will never let me down. I must remind my soul by worshiping God for who He is and not what He does.

With this in mind today, let us devote ourselves to the Lord once again. I find that I do this on a daily basis these days. About five years ago, I came to the place of understanding that I have no control over my life and what happens in it. God has complete control now. He always did but when I gave up my need to control it and came to the realization I can do nothing apart from Christ – everything changed. I am changing. The more I change the more I find that is needed to be given to His Transformation process. Giving up control is hard, but the realization I have no control is life changing. It is the moment when His Grace becomes enough…all sufficient.  I am nothing apart from Christ. I can do nothing of worth outside of the God living in me. Everything I am ever will be or have is from the Hand of God who is loving, gracious and good even when I’m not. Thank you for taking my filthy rags and giving me the riches of Heaven. Lord, let me live like it today and every day.

Ephesians 5:20 (NLT) And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Cover Me

Cover Me

 

Galatians 6:1-2 (NIV) Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

There is an American hero by the name of Private First Class Ross A. McGinnis who at just 19 years old gave his life to save his brethren. He was trained to escape the deadly blast of a grenade if there is the opportunity. However, when an Iraqi insurgent threw a grenade into their Humvee, he had to make a choice. This young man had an opportunity to jump from the machine gun turret he was manning and save himself. But that is not what this man of honor and valor did, instead he dropped from the turret into the vehicle falling on the grenade to save his four comrades inside. Months prior to the incident, the same scenario occurred but the gunner followed his military training and jumped out of the Humvee. Fortunately, in the grenade was a dud. Pfc. McGinnis received a Medal of Valor and Purple Heart while his parents received a folded American flag. He gave up his life for his brothers and is an example to us all.

I am challenged by this verse today. I am also inspired by this young man’s story. As believers, there are trials and temptations each day. We face situations and circumstances that cause the superficial Christianity to give way to the truth within our heart. Sin happens. It happens to everyone. We all fall short of the Glory of God not once but daily. Religion often creates an atmosphere of arrogance as some look down on those who are transparent. Rather than reaching out to their brothers and sisters, they reach around them as to somehow prove they have no sin. You who live by the Spirit should restore family, friends, coworkers and even strangers who fall into temptation or succumb to sin. It must never be to pull them up to some invisible level but through the Blood of Jesus surround them with love and hope. When given the opportunity to cover your brother and sister in Christ, what is your response? Hero? Helper? Heretic? Hmm…

Genesis 9:20-25 (NIV) Noah, a man of the soil, proceeded to plant a vineyard. When he drank some of its wine, he became drunk and lay uncovered inside his tent. Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father naked and told his two brothers outside. But Shem and Japheth took a garment and laid it across their shoulders; then they walked in backward and covered their father’s naked body. Their faces were turned the other way so that they would not see their father naked. When Noah awoke from his wine and found out what his youngest son had done to him, he said, “Cursed be Canaan! The lowest of slaves will he be to his brothers.”

Noah was a farmer who produced a vineyard. Partaking of his choice crop, he became drunk. Succumbing to the situation, he fell asleep naked in his tent. He was not out carousing but inside his home. When his son, Ham, saw him – rather than covering his father and keeping it to himself – he decided to tell his brothers. The response of his brothers, much like Pfc. McGinnis, is a lesson of love and grace needed in the church today. They took a covering and walking backward as not to subject their father to any further humiliation – they covered him up. I cannot stress the importance of this lesson to the Body of Christ. “Bless their heart” shouldn’t be an excuse to share with every other brother and sister the sin of another. Prayer requests on behalf of another can be carefully disguised gossip sessions. The Word of God says, “There is no greater love than to lay down your life for your brothers and sisters.” We are one great big family.

Romans 8:1-2 (NIV) Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.

There is no condemnation in Jesus Christ. It doesn’t matter how many rules and regulations religion sets forth, Jesus Christ condemns no one. His Grace is enough. It is sufficient for the covering of sin. (2 Corinthians 12:9) Human insecurity threatens the sufficiency of God’s Grace. One’s inability to accept that His Grace is the sufficiency of our life. Our ability to fully accept the grace that God has given us through His Son, Jesus is based on our ability to crucify pride and humbly receive it. When will begin to boast in our own weaknesses rather than putting our brothers and sisters on blast? The life-giving power of Jesus Christ is not enhanced or any way enabled by a chance in our habits but evident in a heart change that humbly accepts outside of Christ – I am nothing. Those who condemn others by spreading rumors, gossip and even when trying to disguise it as concern will one day reap what they sow. Not my words, but those of the Bible – “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” (Galatians 6:7-8)

John 8:9-11 (NIV) At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”  “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

The woman was caught in the act of adultery. Yet, she was brought before the Pharisees alone. How many times do we cover the religious and expose the sinner? Just because someone comes to church, serves in ministry and cleans up well, does not necessarily mean that their heart is right with the Lord. In fact, the religious men all sat in judgment ready to stone the woman. Jesus said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” God’s Word tell us plainly that everyone has sinned and fallen short of God’s Glorious Standard. His Instruction to this woman on the verge of death now given a new life – “Go now and leave your life of sin.” There was another woman found in her sin at a well. Jesus didn’t expose her before the masses and make a public example but rather through quiet conversation revealed His Person to her. She became a great witness for the Messiah. I wonder how many people would finally fall in love with Jesus leaving sin behind them if the church represented the love of God rather than the condemnation of the Pharisees. Judgment belongs to God. Condemnation could have belonged to Christ but He chose grace instead. What will we choose today?

James 4:10-13 (NIV) Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?

Humility will not allow us to judge our brothers and sisters in Christ. Christ died for every single person every created to give them access to new life. The enemy uses pride to destroy sound doctrine as men and women who know God succumb to the lie of the enemy that there is a way to make us better when there is only a better way. Slander and gossip come in many forms. It will always circle back to the one for which it was intended. The grace given to us in Jesus Christ can only be accepted in humility. Religion will never be the way to Christ’s Heart but relationship. The kind of relationships that are made up of people willing to lay down their life, pride, fear, insecurity and doubt long enough to love unconditionally and give grace abundantly. Everyone sins. Everyone falls short of God’s Glorious Standard. There is absolutely positively no condemnation in Jesus Christ only constant covering of our sin with His Precious Blood giving us new life and making us a new creation. When someone falls, it is our calling to cover them. Cover them with prayer. Reach out to them in love. Don’t reach around them to share it with everyone else. Let their humiliation and violation stop with you not be cultivated by you. Give them the same grace required to keep you and me in good standing with God. It is free. We do not have to earn it and neither do they. What will you do the next time you find a fallen brother or sister who is slipping?

I John 4:16-19 (NIV) And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us. 

As believers reconcile their life to Jesus Christ – the product must be love. Always love. “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.” There is no fear in love which means that if we are representing God’s love those who are lost or wandering should not be afraid to come to church. They should not be concerned that there is a kangaroo court of judges waiting to tear them down, make them feel bad, or condemn them in any way. What is your response to the downfall of another? What is your reaction? When the grenade dropped into the Humvee that day, Pfc. McGinnis did not have time to weigh his options. The true character of his heart revealed as he covered the grenade giving up his life for his friends. What will you do? We love simply because He first loved us. We give grace because He has given us grace and more grace. We are Children of God building a family out of love. Lord, create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit full of unconditional love and overwhelming grace for everyone I meet.

I John 3:16 (NIV) This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.

 

Through the Fire

Through the Fire

Isaiah 54:16-17 (NLT) “I have created the blacksmith who fans the coals beneath the forge and makes the weapons of destruction. And I have created the armies that destroy. But in that coming day no weapon turned against you will succeed. You will silence every voice raised up to accuse you. These benefits are enjoyed by the servants of the Lord; their vindication will come from me. I, the Lord, have spoken!

How can it be only Wednesday? I feel like a whole week has been shoved into two days. I am tired. I am weary. I am drained. It has been days of warfare. I cling to the promise that no weapon turned against you will succeed. Sometimes in life it is not the major problems or troubles that overtake us but the minor issues that pile up. My Bible flipped open is like a weight on my desk while these words apply pressure to my chest. Why has it been so hard for so long? I am not in the midst of a pity party rather a sojourn to survey the success of my plight. To be honest and transparent, my current assignment has been a challenge from the start. I am usually up to the test. Ready to take on the impossible. Driven to live in obedience to Christ. In this moment of introspection, I must take into account the cost of the Cross. Is the price too high to follow this destiny? What more will it take to reach my destination? This heaviness is like iron. I had to fight for my quiet time. Silence the voices in my head to hear His Spirit in the dark. God I know you called me to this place for such a time as this. I know you have supplied all that I need. This is a fertile field ready for seeds to be planted, nurtured and grown.

When reading the Word of God, we like to pick and choose among the verses finding the Bread of Life most palatable to feed our starving flesh. The living water needed to wash our wounds and sustain us for another day. This hunger and thirst finds no satisfaction. It continually cries out for more. The flame in the fire keeps getting hotter. I am reminded that to fully understand I must read the entire book – not just the scripture that is appealing. Every entrée has a recipe. Every product has instructions. The words proceeding the overcoming passage I am clinging to today are not the encouragement I am after but rather “I have created the blacksmith who fans the coals beneath the forge and makes the weapons for destruction.”

2 Kings 6:1-7 (NLT) One day the group of prophets came to Elisha and told him, “As you can see, this place where we meet with you is too small. Let’s go down to the Jordan River, where there are plenty of logs. There we can build a new place for us to meet.” “All right,” he told them, “go ahead.” “Please come with us,” someone suggested. “I will,” he said. So he went with them. When they arrived at the Jordan, they began cutting down trees. But as one of them was cutting a tree, his ax head fell into the river. “Oh, sir!” he cried. “It was a borrowed ax!” “Where did it fall?” the man of God asked. When he showed him the place, Elisha cut a stick and threw it into the water at that spot. Then the ax head floated to the surface. “Grab it,” Elisha said. And the man reached out and grabbed it.

The prophets were on a mission. Their plight to build a bigger place of worship was stamped “approved” by the Lord through His Prophet, Elisha. The place they were sent had provision to complete the project. They even invited the Presence of the Lord to join them asking the man of God to come along. They began their work and immediately encountered opposition. Ugh! There is always opposition while pressing and pushing through to God’s Plan. He gives us provision, provides us the place, and even gives us His Presence. So why the pressure, pain and problems? It seems like cruel irony (no pun intended). To position us to prosper and then allow such things to happen. Has the Lord set us up to fail? Is He trying to punish us for something in our past? Why does it have be so hard and hurtful? The process of God does not only have purpose around us but it always has a purpose in us. To see God move around us it must first begin within us. The pain, pressure and problems give way to persistence and perseverance. You will need it down the road. The greater the potential the greater the opposition. At some point, the haters must become our motivators. The impossible the birthplace of miracles.

The man who lost his borrowed ax cried out to the Lord. Elisha answered with a miracle. A sign to him that God had kept His Promise and indeed was with them. The impossible gave way to a miracle. I wonder today if the problems I am facing is the Lord’s Attempt to prepare me in this seemingly impossible place for His Power and Glory that is coming. My ax head is definitely sinking today. So I will call upon the Lord, my energy is zapped and efforts are failing.

2 Kings 6:15-17 (NLT)  When the servant of the man of God got up early the next morning and went outside, there were troops, horses, and chariots everywhere. “Oh, sir, what will we do now?” the young man cried to Elisha.  “Don’t be afraid!” Elisha told him. “For there are more on our side than on theirs!” Then Elisha prayed, “O Lord, open his eyes and let him see!” The Lord opened the young man’s eyes, and when he looked up, he saw that the hillside around Elisha was filled with horses and chariots of fire.

Awesome sauce! Reading farther down the chapter, now there is a battle. We must fight for our ground. The ax was already heavy now must I beat my plowshare into a sword? The king of Aram waged war against Israel. The struggle is real. The Kingdom of God is always under attack. We must take it by force. Not the force of our own strength, but rather total reliance, dependence and trust in the Lord. Faith must give way to confidence that doesn’t look through natural eyes.

When the servant came to Elisha overtaken by fear, it was rightfully so. The Aramean army had surrounded them and wanted Elisha. Elisha instructed the king of Israel sharing secrets that no one could have known but a spy. The servant saw the vast army and knew they were done but God didn’t see things that way and neither did Elisha. When the servant’s eyes were open by the Lord – it was then that he could see the army of the Lord which was larger, stronger, and surrounding then the opposition. Sometimes in the heat of our battle, we must find some time to hide in the Presence of God allowing Him to open our eyes to see our Avenger. Christ is the ultimate overcomer. He lives inside of us.

2 Corinthians 10:3-6 (NLT) We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do. We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ. And after you have become fully obedient, we will punish everyone who remains disobedient.

We do not wage war as humans do even when there is an army at our door. We use God’s Mighty Weapons. They are not like worldly ones designed to kill. The weapon is the Word of God. It is the sword of the Spirit used to expose every lie the enemy has touted. We have a shield of faith to deflect the fiery darts of the enemy and a breastplate of righteousness for the ones that make it through. We have been given a gospel of peace. Yet if peace is what you after it might be best to prepare for war. What keeps us from seeing God, knowing His Plan and following by faith is not the opposition but rather the proud obstacles, rebellious thoughts and interworking of our own treacherous mind and traitorous heart that get the best of us. It is in full obedience that victory is claimed. God is forging our heart and mind. He is engrafting us fully by burning away everything in us contradictory to His Word, Will and Way. He is perfecting His Plan in us so the potential fulfillment of purpose will be achieve. The heat is getting hotter so that these trials will prove that our faith is genuine.

2 Peter 1:7 (NLT) 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.

“I have created the blacksmith who fans the coals beneath the forge and makes the weapons of destruction.” The fire of refinement is not meant to destroy us but to reveal that which is within us. As our soul prospers, so do we. The once ironclad heart is refined and turned into a faithful heart that is considered far more precious than mere gold. He is strengthening our faith to make us powerful. He is preparing us for His Promises. The Lord has given us purpose and potential with a plan for successful abundance. He is getting me out of the way. When this work is finished, it will not be for my glory. It is for His Glory.

“Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.” (Daniel 3:16-18) When King Nebuchadnezzar turned up the heat of the furnace seven times hotter, the three Hebrew men were not cheering. They did not goad the king. They simple stated their faith. God will deliver us or redeem us either way we are not bowing down, giving in or giving up on the Lord. (Paraphrase) The heat of the fire may seem hotter than ever before – it just means that there is purpose and potential inside of us yet to be discovered. God is burning away every impurity because of His Love, Grace and Mercy we will not be consumed. He is faithful. His Word is true. If we must go through the fire, He goes with us. The Lord will not leave us or forsake ever. He is with us always even to the ends of the earth. Lord, give me strength, endurance, persistence and perseverance to make it through the test to triumph. I want to live for your Glory and if that means walking through fiery trials so be it. Greater is He who lives in me than he that is in the world!

Romans 8:34-37 (NIV) Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 

 

Feeling Full

Feeling Full

Colossians 1:19-20 (NLT) For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and through him God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.

Are you fully satisfied today? Are you content with your life? Do you have unfulfilled hopes and dreams that are fading on the backburner of life? Are you ready to settle? Have you already? What do you expect? Do you expect anything at all? Expectation is fueled by hope. It is given substance by faith that lays a foundation of trust, waiting and expectation. It is the very thing that lends our faith and hope credibility as it molds and shapes our behavior.

“For God in all His Fullness was pleased to live in Christ” and now He lives in us. Are you feeling full today? Do you feel the fullness of Christ pressing the edges of ordinary about to overflow in extraordinary? Do you sense that your natural life is about to give way to a supernatural existence? Oh if we did, it would make a difference in how we lived. If for one moment, one day, one week, or even maybe one year that it was our goal to remain fully invested in our faithful expectation at the feet of Jesus – worshipping and waiting as if that which we hoped for had already arrived. What happened next would be remarkable? It would be worthwhile. It would be fulfillment. A completion uncompromised by the world’s settlements and substitutions. Is Christ enough for you today? Come on. It’s just us for now. Think about it. Is Jesus really and truly enough?

“My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. (2 Corinthians 12:9) Is this your declaration today? The Light that guides your life. From glory to glory and victory to victory, it is the foundation that Christ has made you more than a conqueror. Overwhelming victory belongs to us in Jesus Christ. (Romans 8:37) All of this fullness and completion comes as believers reconcile their life to God’s Plan. Of course, a catch. Yes, a beautiful offering of a consummated relationship with God the Father through Christ His Son being filled by His Spirit. It is not a trap but rather a transition from death to life, captivity to freedom, and living in lack to fulfillment.

Romans 8:38-39 (NLT) And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

I believe that nothing can ever separate me personally from God’s Love. Nothing. I have tested the boundaries and limits of His Love and found that just when I think I have reached the edge I fall over into fathomless depths of more love, compassion, goodness, and grace. It never ends. When I think I have gone too far, I turn and find Him waiting. It is this concept of endless and unconditional love that bridges the gap of human insufficiency fulling accepting the God-Given Grace that allows salvation and reconciliation with God the Father through His Son.

God doesn’t stop there but then begins to remove all rivals for our attention and affection by showering us in His Grace and Goodness over and over again. Faith engages us in the process. Endurance keeps us there. Confident hope rises from seeds of trust planted in a fertile and broken heart give time to grow, develop and mature in Christ. Any love affair takes time. Time is the test that proves its longevity. It is the only thing that can determine if it is long lasting and never ending. The bond of marriage is a commitment to invest all that I am into life with my spouse. It is hard work. It requires constant attention. It’s tough. Giving up my way in order to find our way together. Such is our relationship with Christ, it cannot be based on what I have to contribute when He offers completion. I must simply desire it and pursue Him to have it.

Colossians 2:8-10 (NLT) 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.

How incomprehensible is a God who is good? With all the “bad” things that happen, it can be really difficult to decide that God is better than that and always working the details of our life for good. We make decisions and expect God to alter the outcome rather than understanding that consequences are the very details that can produce the most good in us. Good times don’t produce trust opportunities to trust it is the difficulties of life. The times when there are no more options so believers take to their knees. God is our escape plan not our daily sustenance. Everything changes when our expectation is the Lord first. When we seek Him first. When we read His Word and take it to heart first. When He becomes our priority – His Spirit reforms our mind, reorganizes our priorities, changes our thoughts, and creates order in a once chaotic state. It is our complete union with Christ making Him the ruler and authority of our life that allows His Light to take over.

Colossians 1:4-6 (NLT) For we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and your love for all of God’s people, which come from your confident hope of what God has reserved for you in heaven. You have had this expectation ever since you first heard the truth of the Good News. This same Good News that came to you is going out all over the world. It is bearing fruit everywhere by changing lives, just as it changed your lives from the day you first heard and understood the truth about God’s wonderful grace.

I am not a huge fan of the statement “faith it until you make it”. It sounds a lot like the worldly adage “fake it until you make it.” I believe that there are a whole lot of church folk living this way. Faith is how I make it. Faith is the substance of what I hope for so how can I hold on to something I do not have. Faith must be the foundation my life is built upon. In Colossians 1, it says, “We have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and your love for all God’s People.” Is your faith in the Lord perceivable? To talk a good talk without the walk is to send mix messages. To act like you have faith without any real evidence will not shine a light in the darkness. Faith produces confident hope that becomes a beacon. It is the fruit that changes lives. Fulfillment in Jesus Christ gives us something worthwhile and palatable to offer the world. The Fruit of God’s Spirit is not bitter but tasty fruit for others to enjoy.

Good news produces hopeful expectation but only if you believe the message. The Truth concerning our life is fully explained and carefully detailed in God’s Word. Those who believe it will taste and see that the Lord is good. Is your life lacking today? Do you feel less than satisfied? What if I told you that you are what you eat? Maybe just maybe a sizable chunk of the bread of life might satisfy those hunger pains? Perhaps a great big gulp of living water might be just what you need to be fulfilled? I wonder if we are saying one thing but believing another and living on less than enough.

Colossians 1:11-14 (NLT) We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy, always thanking the Father. He has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to his people, who live in the light. For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins.

There is no lack in the Kingdom. God operates in abundance. It all belongs to Him. Freedom from sin provided by His Grace gives us access to the Kingdom of God and all its resources. Lack does not exist in the Kingdom of God. It would contradict His Nature. He is more than enough. He supplies all our need. He has given us every spiritual blessing. Jesus can to give us a rich and satisfying life marked by abundance. He wants to complete us. We must believe this in order to benefit from it. The more confident I become in the expectation that God is good and that He will never let me down – the more His Love, Mercy and Grace are manifested in my life as Light Glorious Light. Confidence in Christ makes way for completion through a little thing called expectation.

Ephesians 3:18-20 (NLT)  And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.

Be encouraged today! God loves you! Christ will complete you! You just have to believe it to receive it. He will give you the power to understand just how wide, how long, how high and how deep his love is if given the chance. To fully comprehend the Love of God offered through Jesus Christ means forfeiting logic and fully embracing faith. I cannot tell you exactly how it all works or why it all comes together in the end, but I can testify that it is true and give you many examples. Faith allows our heart, mind, body and soul to be fulfilled in Christ. He will only fill the voids offered to Him and would never violate your freedom. Hope never leads to disappointment so if you are currently experiencing this emotion than it is the opportunity to sow seeds of faith that will turn into that which is hoped for. The standard or benchmark for our life is Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 4:13) You cannot be satisfied until full of Jesus Christ who promises to meet and exceed all human expectancy with absolute fulfillment. Have you given the Lord full authority and power over your life? Let go of the reins and allow God to take you new places. He will never ever let us down. This is the expectation of my life which will lead to complete fulfillment.

Ephesians 4:13 (NLT) 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.

Being Confident of This Very Thing

Being Confident of This Very Thing

Philippians 1:6 (NKJV) Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ…

Walking into church, he stopped me to greet me along the way. “Hey, I have been reading your stuff and you should write a book!” Awkwardly, I laughed and thanked him for the kind words of encouragement making my way to a seat. Immediately, flushed I couldn’t help but think of how many books started and stopped in the files on my computer all the way back to the first time I thought about it. Just out of high school and the beginning of college, I worked in the preschool ministry of a large church. Putting together packets for the upcoming Sunday, the thought occurred to me that it would be neat to write curriculum for the teachers and volunteers to use with the children. It wouldn’t be long after that I would wander off in the wilderness for quite some time.

I assumed after living apart from the Lord for many years that the possibility of purpose in my life was over. To live for Jesus is a privilege considering my misuse and abuse of His Love and Grace all those years ago, why would God still want to use me? How could there be an ounce of purpose left and not drained by impatience and impulsivity over the years? I am thankful that Lord still loves me, hears me, speaks to me, and blesses me like He does. Religion bases God’s Promise, Purpose and Prosperity on our own ability which is not how it works at all. Relationship gives me full access to God’s Plan for my life. The same plan written beforehand. “And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them.”

Being confident of this very thing… Are you confident today? Confidence is a quality born of absolute trust. The enemy works every day to keep us from building trust and confidence in the Word of God for our life. He wants us to believe that our inability to perform will somehow change or eliminate God’s Power, Purpose and Potential in our life. That is a lie. There is simply no truth to it. If God knew our end from the beginning, then He had to know exactly how many times that I would fail, fall short, walk away and give up before finding my way back home.

He who has begun a good work in you will complete it… The good thing in me working its way out is all God and not me. He doesn’t take bits and pieces of my life for His Good. No, the Word of God explicitly states that “and we know that ALL things work together for good to those who love God.” The only prerequisite to God’s Power fully working in our life is to love Him. Do you love God today? I do, too!

Until the day of Jesus Christ… This is probably the hardest part to figure out. The Good Work in us that God is working out through us is a complete work meaning it begins at birth and ends in Eternity. Salvation is always God’s Primary Objective in our life. The first work is the finished work that leads to God’s Grace, Goodness and Glory in our life. All the other details fall into place accordingly. Those who endure to the end will be saved. Therefore…

Zechariah 4:10 (NLT) Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand.”

Do not despise small beginnings. We put too much pressure on ourselves to work God’s Plan for our life. The real work is submission. To humble our life before Jesus Christ, surrendering our way for Him to do what He will in us and through us. We do not really “do” anything other than submit and surrender our life for His Work. God does the rest using His Word, His Spirit and His Love to mold us and shape us into new creations and masterpieces just like He promised. The Lord rejoices at the beginning of this work. The moment that we give our whole heart to His Plan and embrace the future and hope set before us. But be forewarned…

Isaiah 55:9-12 (NKJV) “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and do not return there, but water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.

God doesn’t do things like we do things. His Thoughts and Ways are much higher than ours. His Perspective far greater than our current comfort and convenience or even discomfort and inconvenience. God’s Plan is not influenced in any way, shape or form by us. It is always working in us and through us for complete reconciliation and restoration whether we decide to receive it or not. His Word is seed. God’s Word is not barren – it is full of uncompromised potential for our life. Once planted deep in the folds of our heart, it will grow. His Power is in that seed and it is the very thing that leads to fulfillment. The only part I play in the whole plan is to humbly accept God’s Word (Jesus) in my heart and allow His Spirit to sow His Word in my heart to produce God Fruit in my life. It is all Him – I must decrease allowing Christ to increase in my life. It will happen. I must be patient and wait for it trusting the Lord.

Ecclesiastes 7:8 (NKJV) The end of a thing is better than its beginning; the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.

We must not give in to impatience. Patience is a product of the Holy Spirit who produces longsuffering in us. (Galatians 5:22) We must learn to give God time to do what He has promised. What do I do in the meantime? Walk by faith not by sight. (2 Corinthians 5:7) Walk worthy of your calling with which you were called. Walk humbly. Walk in gentleness and with longsuffering (patience). Love one another. (Ephesians 4:1-2) God is completing His Work in you. He promised not to quit, give up, give in or walk away no matter what you choose to do along the way. He is still working His Plan, Purpose, Future and Hope all around you. Like the father of the prodigal, the Lord waits and watches for our return. He celebrates our arrival. He embraces us. Fully restores us. Nothing changed at home – it changes in us.

Hebrews 12:1-2 (NKJV) Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

I will write a book one day. I am confident not in my ability but the fact that the Lord has called me to do so. I will wait for Him to give me the words to complete it. I will carefully transcribe whatever He says. In the meantime, I must put aside every weight and sin that easily ensnares me such as the lie of the enemy that requires immediate gratification and insists on shortcuts marked by impatience. As I continue to sow my life into Christ and accept new seed of His Word in a soft heart, every good thing that He has ordained for my life will come to pass in His Timing which makes everything beautiful. I have no performance pressure other than to daily surrender and submit my life to Jesus and His Spirit working in me. Jesus is not only the Author of my faith but He is the Finisher. He will complete in me the good work that He began. Amen and Selah.

James 1:2-4 (NKJV) My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. 

Have I Failed?

Have I Failed

Psalm 73:26 (NKJV) My flesh and my heart fail; but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

My flesh and my heart fail…Have I failed God? What happens if I do not pass the test? When my flesh and heart feel like failures – what then? What’s next for the believer who doesn’t get it right? In the midst of spiritual droughts, it is not uncommon to feel like a failure. To wonder “what’s the point” of even trying because I have made a fine mess of things. Or even worse lug out the heavy bat marked regret in order to beat yourself up over and over until you live in shame. The enemy of our soul wants us to believe that failure is not an option but inevitable. Do you feel like a failure today?

But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. We can be our own worst critics. Examining our life and choices with a magnifying glass. Comparing our success to others. Trying to do it all and do it all well. A life of excellence is not defined by doing everything but doing what you do well. The accomplishment of excellence takes focus on raising the standard of our life with commitment and discipline that cannot be diverse. It must be consistent. It must remain constant. How does a human being accomplish such a daunting task? With fickle hearts and wandering minds, how is it even possible to achieve God’s Standard of Living. Truth is it is impossible. I cannot make my life any better. I can make better choices. I can change some of my behaviors. I can develop good habits. Yet still I cannot change my future and hope. It is already established. A plan carefully written for me, my good and God’s Glory before I was born. It contains a future and hope. Always good things in store for me. But the only way that I can have constant success in life is to seek the Lord wholeheartedly. Is it possible to fail God? We already did. Is it possible to fail? Yes. Our flesh and heart will fail us over and over again. The good news is that even when our flesh and heart fail that the Lord is our strength and portion forever. “For with God nothing will be impossible.” (Luke 1:37)

The definition of failure is a lack of success. It is absolutely possible and inevitable that there will be failure in certain areas of our natural existence. In fact, our body is born in a state of aging and deterioration. Our choices directly impact the advancement of the process. At some point in the future, everyone will die. It is unavoidable. However, as sons and daughters of God this does not impact our future negatively. Others will mourn our crossover into Heaven, but I do not think a single person welcomed by Jesus ever looks back. Disappointment is unmet expectation. Any expectation placed in people or the world will often result in disappointment or discouragement. This impacts our heart and mind. Unless we understand the greater picture of our new life in Christ it is easy to become persuaded that there are things that can separate us from the Love of God and His Plan for us. This is simply not true.

I John 3:1-3 (NKJV) Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.

I am a child of God. Are you? If you are a child of God – you have an inheritance. He becomes your portion. What does that mean exactly? Every promise and blessing that the Father has for you is unconditional. It is your inheritance. You receive it simply by becoming His Child. Let these words sink in for just a minute. Failure means nonperformance on something due, required or expected. God released His Word for your life. His Word cannot return to Him void. It must accomplish what He pleases and it must prosper in the thing for which He sent it. (Isaiah 55:11) It doesn’t matter if you fail what matters is that God’s Word cannot fail. God is not like mankind. He does not lie or change His Mind. Once He commands a blessing in your life, it must happen. It will happen. Lord, You are the portion of my inheritance and my cup; You maintain my lot. The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places;Yes, I have a good inheritance. (Psalm16:5-6)

Lamentations 3:21-25 (NKJV) This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your Faithfulness.  “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I hope in Him!” The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him.

I have hope. Faith is the substance of things hoped for. The evidence of the unseen reality in our life. God is our hope. Faith attaches us to the hope. We must believe it to receive it. If only men and women of “faith” could overcome fear of failure. Imagine the explosive impact on those who were not afraid to fail in their faith but flourished in hope. Confident hope becomes consistent faith. Faith that moves mountains is not the kind that whispers words of uncertainty or remains tangled in regret. Fearless faith is that which relies on God’s Mercy that comes to us each day. The Spirit-Filled Bible puts it like this – “Where grace emphasizes the freeness of God’s Love toward us, mercy stresses the freeing of our lives from the misery of disobedience.” The truth is that we obey God’s Word because we do not believe it. For if we believed in our inheritance, we would devour the Word of God finding ways to make it work in our life. When new mercy came this morning, did you receive it? Did you use it to cover the wounds of disappointment, the marks of regret, and the stains of shame? God’s Compassion for us does not fail. His Love for us provided a wave of grace much larger than any mistake or indiscretion. The current of His Love, Grace and Mercy gently drawing us closer to Him so that our inheritance is released to us as His Children.

Mercy is God’s Covenant of Compassion for us. It is His All Consuming Commitment to bring us into the good things that He has prepared for us. It is the invitation to live in everlasting communion with our Father. Mercy is the key to our success. It is the understanding that though we may fail, God never fails in His Love including His Compassion, Commitment and Communion with us. He is our portion. This is vital in our understanding of faith and hope and how it all works together. We need His Mercy every single day because we will fail. It allows us to see that He never fails. We will prosper by remaining in His Love.

Psalm1:2-3 (NKJV) But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.

I wonder if a barren tree sitting in a blanket of snow in the winter feels like a failure. Or maybe a flower whose blooms are wilted and withered on the ground, does it bow its head in regret at what it has lost. It knows what season it is and therefore waits in the soil for the conditions to change. You are God’s Child. He is molding and shaping your life into a masterpiece. (Ephesians 2:10) Just because your life looks like a mess right now, does not in any way mean you have failed?

At the end the school year, my youngest partnered with a friend to do a class project. She asked if they could use some of our crafting supplies and work on it at our house. I agreed. When I came home from work from my kitchen to the porch all the way in the back yard including covering the girls – it looked like a paintball war had occurred. I was quite sure her oldest brother was involved but I cannot prove it. I was less the enthused by the condition of our home. They completed the project with a “B” – I think. I am still cleaning up the paint. Life is messy. There will be tests. Some you will pass with living colors, others only barely get by and there will be those that you fail altogether. God’s Grace is sufficient in every season. His Mercy is new every day. His Love for His Children unfailing. He is constantly working success and prosperity according to the measure of faith that He put in our hearts and the Spirit that He has given us. He knows we are weak. He knows we can’t do it all.

All that the Lord desires is that we seek Him. Make a commitment to love Him wholeheartedly and seek Him the same. He will make His Way known and empower us to follow and equip us for success. We must only know that though I may fail – it is impossible for God to fail. His Hope NEVER leads to disappointment – we must follow through. God is good! He loves you! He is our inheritance which is freely given to His Sons and Daughters without condition. He is prospering us from the inside out. God is for you – you cannot fail. His Grace is producing His Glory in us and through us. Where my life ends, and my new life in Christ begins is the day I leave failure and regret behind. He is working all things together for my good and His Glory. (Romans 8:28) Take hold of Jesus today. He will lead you from victory to victory. Let Him tell you who you are. Stop looking around and look up. Let the Lord be the strength of your heart and your portion forever. You will be satisfied.

Proverbs 3:21-24 (NKJV) My son, let them not depart from your eyes—Keep sound wisdom and discretion; So they will be life to your soul and grace to your neck. Then you will walk safely in your way, and your foot will not stumble. When you lie down, you will not be afraid; yes, you will lie down and your sleep will be sweet.