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.

In Christ

In Christ

Romans 5:1-2 (NLT) Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.

I signed the handwritten note, “In Christ” and then my name. The embrace of Christ Jesus tangible in the moment as the words come to light in my heart. I am “in Christ”. I don’t ever want to know what it is like to be outside this grip that He has on me. But I don’t want to lose sight of those who stand outside of Him either. It is easy to get lost in the Presence of God, basking in His Goodness and chasing His Glory. Intoxicating and overwhelming all at the same time. Yet I remember what it was like before I lived in this place called “undeserved privilege”. When the Bible just a book full of words and promises I desired, but could not fully understand or apply to my life in a real way. I remember accepting Jesus as my Savior and even intending to make Him Lord, but it still seemed like all the other fairytales in life. Too good to be true. A daydream never a reality…until I found my way into His Embrace. The place where suddenly I fully grasped the concept of amazing grace and my inability to earn it just simply receive it. The moment I turned to see His Unfailing Love and Goodness hot on my heels in relentless pursuit. He didn’t want me to change. Jesus loved me just like I was. He didn’t make me follow a new set of rules and regulations or change my appearance at all. His Love wrapped itself around my heart and suddenly I wanted to be different. I longed for transformation. The Gospel is not Good News to those who do not understand His Love. The church has struggled to accurately portray the unthinkable and incomprehensible God who decided to sacrifice His Son to adopt a Kingdom full of children. The one legitimate for all the illegitimate. I have five children. I would not harm a single one for another person…ever. They are too precious to me – faults, flaws and failures – all I see is their perfection as my child. Those who I love – that’s how God sees me. He longs for the Love that is indescribable to take over so that no longer do I see me for me but live in Christ who lives in me.

“Since” means it is finished. Done. Complete. Jesus said, “It is finished” right before He released His Spirit. His Life Giving, Death Overpowering, Spirit that lives in me. Faith is the only way that I will every embrace the One who is holding me. I have peace with God. Do I have peace in me? The conflict is now in His Capture but my willingness to be held. To allow the love, grace and peace of God to draw me close. Trust is the issue so many times. In a world filled with hook-ups, break-ups and make-ups, love is confused for “likes” and “lust” just to name a few of the imposters. When I married my husband, I knew that I would have to give up my way to fully engage in this effort called marriage. Over the years, I grew in the art of submission. To yield my way and follow him. It is not an act of selflessness but selfishly desiring a complete union with the person God made for me. The one my soul loves. He has taken my heart on the earth. I trust him. Can I trust the unseen God who has given His All for me? Can I encourage you to do the same in some small way?

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.

The last five years of my life have challenged me. In that time, I have been forced to dump out the contents of my human and broken heart to evaluate the contents. Do I believe God is real? Am I really saved? Do I have faith? Is it working? Is it real? A broken heart is always painful but more than that it is also revealing. Unmet expectations force the examination of the contents of our life. I know that in my darkest days and deepest valleys. The prevailing truths that began to shine in my heart were these three things – God is good. His Grace is enough. His Love never fails. I know it is simplistic. I know it seems cliché to those who do not understand. I approach every day with these three things in mind. When all hell breaks loose – they are the shelter protecting me from the winds of change, chaos of life and the power of the storm. I know God is good. I know His Grace is enough no matter how bad I mess up. I am absolutely confident beyond a shadow of unbelief that His Love for me is constant and unending. I will never know its true capacity or find its boundaries. It is inconceivable to a finite human mind. It is not imaginary or unrealistic. I just have to step in Christ to take on its His Full Potential.

Psalm 91:1-2 (NLT) Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; He is my God, and I trust him.

We have been blessed with trips to Puerto Rico, the Caribbean, Hawaii, Mexico and the Bahamas. I have described these exotic locations to friends and those who are planning a trip. I can tell you about the weather, accommodations, restaurants, and other details of the destination. I can tell you because I have been there. I know how long the journey and what to expect upon arrival. I cannot tell you about China or Australia because I have never been there before. I have no idea what you should go see or even how far you must travel. No clue. I wonder if sharing the Good News of God’s Love challenges people because they have never been there.

After five years of sifting through a lifetime of experience, I determined three major points about the Lord to live by. They were discovered in His Word, His Way and His Will. Not that I pursued Him wholeheartedly as I should have, but because when I came to the end of myself – Jesus was still there waiting. Just like the day that I invited Him to be my Savior and Lord at eleven, He never left me not once. I was looking for my way as He quietly waited to give me a better one. All those times, I didn’t believe Jesus at His Word – He was trustworthy just the same. Those who live in the shelter of the Most High find rest, peace, grace and love always. Once I found my way in Christ, now I have something worth sharing. I know and understand the reality and proximity of His Love and just how powerful it is. He loves me. He always has and He always will. Jesus is intent on giving me a rich and satisfying life even when I am hell bent on immediate gratification and taking the easy way out. I will compromised but my Lord will not. I will tap out, but He stays true. I have seen many victories in my life. Before triumph is unfolding even now, I know it is coming. I see it in my heart, know it in my mind and believe it with my being. I can because I have found my way in Christ Presence. I can feel His Embrace so tight and strong around me. I want others to experience the Lord and encounter Him the same way.

“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.The place of realization and understanding that there is absolutely nothing I can do to earn God’s Love or Grace but only accept it and embrace it. The knowledge and full understanding that just as there is nothing I can do to earn His Love that there is nothing that will ever separate me from it either. Christ is in me. He is part of me. We are one. When every other attitude and action in my love is fully encircled and covered by His Love. I have no fear. No unmet expectation. No insecurity. I can live fearlessly and generously.

Hebrews 6:4-5 (NLT)  For it is impossible to bring back to repentance those who were once enlightened—those who have experienced the good things of heaven and shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the power of the age to come…

“It is impossible to bring back to repentance those who were once enlightened.” I find new meaning in these words today. To repent is to turn. To turn around and face Jesus fully. If you do, you will never turn back. I know this not from carefully scripted words inspired by the Holy Spirit but by the Light of His Love that I found when I finally turned around. The moment I decided to say, “I do and I will” to Jesus was only the beginning. It was fully discovered in all the times “I didn’t” or “I wouldn’t” and the Lord remained faithful and true. It was the moment of complete and utter brokenness when I saw His Hands still reaching for my violated form. All the times I put my faith, hope and trust in other people and lesser things yet Jesus still grabbed hold of me tighter than ever before and revealed that which He had for me safe in His Hands. He has my heart now. I cannot imagine my life without being in Christ. His Form has become my structure. I didn’t change for Christ. He changed me. There is no turning back once you experience His Love for yourself. The satisfaction found in the Light of His Love is completely fulfilling.

Ephesians 1:18-20 (NLT)  I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance. I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms.

Some days I wish that I could just crack open my heart now healed by Jesus and let people see in it. To see all the hurt and brokenness that the Lord has healed. To get a glimpse of how far I had fallen when my Sweet Savior swept me away with His Love. To know all the times that I tried and failed and He encouraged me to do it again with Him this time. I cannot use my own words to ever express the Power of God’s Love in my life. It has been my complete undoing and total remaking all in Christ. If somehow, our confident hope could illuminate our own life with His Love in a real and tangible way to others, maybe they could see Him too. As we do, those who live in the constant connection and safety of the shelter of the Most High. I pray today that the Greatness of God’s Power invested in us by His Grace will make its’s way out of us in the form of His Love. Today, Lord help us see the validity of life in Christ and its potential in our life as we live and love together. Take us deeper than ever before where our eyes cannot see the edge and our feet cannot tough the bottom of Your Love, Grace and Goodness hidden in Your Presence just for us…for me. I claim that portion of my glorious inheritance labeled “peace” and “rest” today. Let the calmness and courage of complete confidence takeover. You are the unstoppable God let me be your immovable child. I ask you in the Name of Jesus who is the Christ in me.

Romans 8:37-39 (NLT) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. 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.

 

Find Him

find-him

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Birds of a Feather

Birds of a Feather

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

“Birds of a feather flock together.” The old adage meaning people who have similar interests, ideas and characteristics tend to seek out and associate with one another is absolutely true. We tend to congregate with those who are like-minded. Our social circles are well-developed rings of relationships with those that connect with us. Even churches group together under this proverb. Comfort zones are created among like-minded people who grow relationships. It’s funny how when we begin to hang out with people and enter the social arena in which they live that we become like them. We begin to conform to the standard of living each group has set as acceptable and agreeable within the organization. It is all about conformity. We were not created or called to be like anyone else. God’s Children are individual and purposed exclusively. However, in our need for acceptance, approval and affirmation of others, we develop tight social circles. The Christian club is called church.

Before we go any farther, this is not a church bashing session of any kind but rather a religion smashing to allow resurrection life to flow through us into our congregations. Conformity is hidden in tradition. Tradition is that which is handed down generationally. It is the inherited way of thinking, acting and believing that many shape their life around based on the opinion or adopted practices of another. It is a continuing pattern of cultural beliefs marked by conformity to that particular standard. When we choose to live a customary life based on the culture in which we live, a limitation is immediately placed on our life as we begin to conform to society. We are not called to be conformist at all unless it is to the standard of Jesus Christ. God wants to transform me into a new person. He begins by changing the way I think. As I begin to learn God’s Will for my life, I find that it is good, pleasing and perfect so my desire is to seek Christ and not the attention of others.

Philippians 2:1-5 (NLT) Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose. Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.

Christian culture is established in a building called church. However, once Jesus died on the Cross releasing us from the bondage of sin and giving us His Spirit along with resurrection power, believers are no longer limited to live at the altar of God in a temple but rather we become God’s Temple where His Spirit lives. In this age of revival, congregations have a great desire to see the Power of God manifested in our gatherings. However, if we hold on to traditions of well-constructed religion conformed to any standard or example other than Jesus Christ, it simply will not happen. It is imperative that every religious organization examine its relationship to the Lord Jesus Christ raising its expectation while tearing down every barrier and removing those obstacles of tradition that are hindering the next Great Move of God.

I remember singing, “Old Time Religion” in the red covered hymnal of church. One of the verses conclude that “it is good enough for me.” The author is right. Old time religion is good enough for me verses the new watered down version a lot of people are tossing off the pulpit today, but I am challenged deep in my heart and from the depth of my soul to ask Jesus to examine my life and point out that which is religious in me. To shine the Light of His Love into the dark corners of traditionalism and habitual Christianity that has taken over so it can give way to resurrection life again. Life begins with a commitment to living in covenant with Christ forming a radical relationship that becomes an epic love affair. If we conform to any other standard than Jesus, our relationship with Him becomes limited. God called and created us to live a limitless life. Jesus called it a rich and satisfying life. Abundant. Conformity restricts such an outpouring but transformation allows us to live in it.

We are to have one heart, one mind and one purpose in our fellowship with Jesus. It is all about Him. When we deviate in purpose or allow our heart to become divided, our gathering is nothing more than a religious social circle or Christian club. However, God empowered us to live in His Resurrection Power. In our commitment to one another with commonality in Christ, revival is sparked.

Hebrews 12:1-2 (NLT) Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.

Every church has religious people. There are hypocrites on every row. We do not gather together to establish some kind of order but to grow, develop and mature our faith as a unit. Why? We are after one thing – Jesus Christ. Our faith is demonstrated by our belief that pushes us to know Him more and be like the Lord. This is not based on rules or regulations. The Letter of the Law was completely fulfilled by Christ. It is the terms of covenant but not the measurement of truth. Our standard is Jesus who is the Author and Finisher of Faith. He planted the seed in us before we were born. He is the one that will harvest it when we meet Him face-to-face. What we do with it in the meantime is called free will and personal choice. Examining the fruit of our life determines the source.

To say that “birds of a feather flock together” within our churches would be accurate. Even though the Lord established us in unity with one heart and mind fully consumed in Christ, this is not always how it turns out. Over time, habits become tradition. So groups of individuals establish rules of order called doctrine. With the passage of time, these become ingrained in our thinking. If we are not careful, it will become the evaluating standard in our congregations.

Jesus Christ is the standard who transforms our ordinary life into something extraordinary. It is the Lord that takes our natural circumstances to produce supernatural outcomes. We are to imitate God not man.

Matthew 15:1-3 (NLT) Some Pharisees and teachers of religious law now arrived from Jerusalem to see Jesus. They asked him, “Why do your disciples disobey our age-old tradition? For they ignore our tradition of ceremonial hand washing before they eat.” Jesus replied, “And why do you, by your traditions, violate the direct commandments of God?

How do I know if I am a traditionalist? I want to know because I do not want my life limited by tradition or religion. My heart’s desire is to be like Jabez who prayed, Oh, that you would bless me and expand my territory! Please be with me in all that I do, and keep me from all trouble and pain!” And God granted him his request. (I Chronicles 4:10) I want God’s Blessing on my life. I am asking the Lord to expand my territory. I cannot do this if I live in conformity to any other practice or standard than the Lord Jesus Christ. Matthew 15:1-14 is a conversation between Jesus and the Pharisees. They wanted to know why the followers of Jesus did not participate in religious practices such as ceremonial handwashing. Traditionalists will critique and question those who do not live according to their doctrine. Comparison is beneficial according the standard set. Our example is Jesus Christ. Living by His Grace, it is a limitation to be subject to the law because that is a contradiction of the Power of His Love given on the Cross.

Mark 7:8-9 (NLT) For you ignore God’s law and substitute your own tradition.” Then he said, “You skillfully sidestep God’s law in order to hold on to your own tradition.

The same account is found in Mark 7. Jesus tells the Pharisees that while ignoring God’s Law that they have substituted it with tradition. We are no longer bound by sin. We are not captive to the Law because our debt has been paid by Jesus. To bind our life to the rules and regulations of religion is to somehow indicate that the sacrifice of Christ was not enough to cover it so we now need to work for some more. God’s Word never contradicts itself. His Word will not return to Him void always accomplishing what it set out to do. Jesus told the Pharisees that “you cancel the word of God for the sake of your traditions.” Don’t believe me. God’s Word offers a message of whoever will should come and drink freely of living water. (Revelation 22:17) Pastor reads it and everyone agrees until the smelly homeless man shows up with his tattoo-covered baby mama with their three stair-step children living out of a creepy, rundown van filled with their life. You gonna be the one to welcome them. Maybe that example is just a bit too raw, so let’s not be so blatantly callous. Single mama cannot control her unruly babies in church and is messing up your worship, what do you do? A man comes to sit by you reeking of smoke and alcohol – are you offended that he came to church in such a state? The young woman arrives in a too short dress and too high heels with a face full of Maybelline including false lashes. Do you judge her when she walks in? Tradition has a dress code for salvation. Customs put our opinions higher than the Love of Jesus for all mankind. The fact that a person is differentiated by any distinguishing factor other than the contents of their heart is appalling to the Lord. He desires to send the revival that we cry out for – but what if we don’t like how it looks, what it smells like or God forbid it inconveniences our life? When God’s Word and our life do not line up – there is a heart problem hindering our relationship and limiting His Spirit from moving in us and through us.

Matthew 15:10-14 (NLT) Then Jesus called to the crowd to come and hear. “Listen,” he said, “and try to understand. It’s not what goes into your mouth that defiles you; you are defiled by the words that come out of your mouth.” Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you realize you offended the Pharisees by what you just said?” Jesus replied, “Every plant not planted by my heavenly Father will be uprooted, so ignore them. They are blind guides leading the blind, and if one blind person guides another, they will both fall into a ditch.”

It is easy to get caught up in the habitual Christianity called religion. To place standards and limitations on our life through traditionalism. The Lord could see the heart of the people and his disciples. Even though his followers had witnessed everything that Jesus was doing, it’s clear that they did not fully understand. “Do you realize you offended the Pharisees…?” In that moment, the Pharisees became “greater” than the Lord to them. Oh Jesus…Precious Jesus! As believers who desire an effective connection to Jesus Christ, we must live in relationship to Him. A religious spirit gives way to a traditional approach to God that will not allow us to enter the Presence of Jesus and live there. It is important to constantly and completely evaluation our connection to the Lord based on how we serve Him. We must surrender habitual servitude for complete surrender.

Tradition limits our life to what has already been done. Religion establishes perimeters and boundaries around us that are inescapable as they nullify grace giving power over our life to another. It doesn’t matter what I wear, the words I speak or the things that I do, if my life does not yield a harvest of spiritual fruit. The abundance of our mouth relays the production of our heart. What are you saying? I am challenged by this today. I am deeply convicted of my perception of Christianity in terms of traditionalism. I have some things that are habitual that need to be invested in the supernatural again. Do you?

Ephesians 5:1-2 (NLT) Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.

To be completely transparent, about a year ago I was ready to give up on organized religion. Not Jesus, but church. Tired of the politics and people, I tried to find God’s Blessing in falling off the doctrinal grid to simply follow the Lord. I tried. I truly was committed to stop going to church. This is not God’s Will for our life as He clearly does not want us to forsake fellowship. I began attending youth services with our kids. I sat in the back and fought the all-too-familiar spark inside me. We finally visited the church. The preacher taught from the Word. The people were awesome. The Holy Spirit dwells there. However, reading the doctrine almost kept me from joining. Why? There were items in the doctrine that I do not necessarily agree with. Traditional beliefs tagged on to a list of characteristics. Let’s be real together, you may not agree with everyone in your congregation. Yet Jesus told us to come together to form the Body of Christ.

Imitate God in everything you do. Live a life of love following Jesus. This is evidence of a transformed life. Go to church but don’t let religion and tradition take over. Our churches need revival just like all those who live according to worldly standards. How do I know? Where is Resurrection Life? Where is the healing Power of God? Where is the Light of His Love? Where are the true worshippers joined together in Spirit and Truth? Are the altars full? Are people waiting in line to get in? Are we still restricted to schedules and programs or does the Spirit have His Way in all we do? I believe that when we abolish religious tradition and come together as the Body of Christ, there will be revival. We will see the greater things promised by Christ. When the birds that flock together are committed to imitating God and loving like Jesus without conforming to the world or religion – revival will come!

2 Thessalonians 3:5 (NLT) May the Lord lead your hearts into a full understanding and expression of the love of God and the patient endurance that comes from Christ.

Head Games

Head Games

Psalm 61:1-4 (NKJV)

Hear my cry, O God; attend to my prayer. From the end of the earth I will cry to You, when my heart is overwhelmed; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For You have been a shelter for me, a strong tower from the enemy. I will abide in Your tabernacle forever; I will trust in the shelter of Your wings.

 

It happens in an instant. Without any fanfare or a grand announcement, running the race well and then we trip and stumble falling headlong into fear becoming overwhelmed. At least, this is how it works in my life? O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified?” (Galatians 6:1) Sometimes when I find myself suddenly overwhelmed by a decision or problem, I begin to pray and hear this verse in my head. O foolish _________! You can put your name in there too if you would like because no matter how strong we are as a person or deeply one abides in Christ without carefully and constant focus on Christ – anyone can be a victim of becoming overwhelmed.

 

I know that I am a Child of God. I know that God loves me. I know that Christ lives in me. I have faith that I am actively trying to grow into a mustard seed and hope that is being refined and hammered into a mighty anchor for my soul. I am crucified with Christ striving to live in Him and become a new creation. There are many things that I know and believe about the Lord. The enemy hates that about me. Every thought turned to the Lord, every idea that He is all I need, and every single grain of truth no bigger than a piece of sand, God is creating a pearl of wisdom that will be my wealth is coveted by the enemy. The more I want to know Jesus and be like Him, the more the enemy will look for a way into my mind. He tries to wiggle into my thoughts. He wants to overtake me pulling me from meditating on Jesus to worrying about his next attack. Greater is Who is in me than he that is in the world. Help me Lord when I am overwhelmed.
It happened in an instant. I didn’t see it coming. It hit me hard. To be overwhelm is to overcome completely in mind or feeling. To be overtaken is for that thing to actually catch up with us. There is a difference. We must identify those things that tend to overwhelm us and deal harshly with them to protect our heart and soul. When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock that is higher than I. Lead me to THE rock. Jesus is THE rock. He is the rock or cornerstone of one’s salvation. Lead me to THE rock that IS higher than I. Sometimes if we can just step up on something higher than we can see a little more or a little farther.

 

2 Corinthians 10:4-6 (NKJV)

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

 

We are equipped in warfare for pulling down strongholds. Casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against what – the Knowledge of God. Thoughts and feelings. As Joyce Meyer has identified clearly the battlefield is our mind. What we think and know about Christ makes all the difference in our success and failure pursuing the Lord. Carnal means flesh. It is merely human. The mind is powerful in our pursuit of Christ. To know Him and make Him known relies on one’s complete conviction and utter commitment to the Truth and Word of God whose Name is Jesus. Jesus is the Word of God wrapped in flesh to live among us.

 

I must bring every thought into captivity and obedience to Christ in order to escape becoming overwhelmed and quickly overtaken. The enemy is subtle in his approach. He is powerless against God’s People and cannot use force. He must simply offer a lie. We choose whether or not we accept it or allow it to permeate our thoughts, consume our mind and infect our heart.

 

Psalm 55:3-5 (NKJV)

Because of the voice of the enemy, because of the oppression of the wicked; for they bring down trouble upon me, and in wrath they hate me. My heart is severely pained within me, and the terrors of death have fallen upon me. Fearfulness and trembling have come upon me, and horror has overwhelmed me.

 

Because the voice of the enemy…the enemy is constantly offering God’s People shortcuts, substitutions, options, and lies. Baiting God’s People with so-called truth that is nothing more than a bold faced lie. Fear causes us to become overwhelmed. Fear is created by a lack of knowledge of the Truth that makes a lie seem possible and probable in our life. Even those who live in love with Jesus bound to His Truth must work diligently to keep ahead of the enemy and his agenda. What is the voice of the enemy telling you today? Jesus said that His Sheep know His Voice. We know His Voice by listening to Him speak, reading His Word, meditating on it, studying it and allowing the Holy Spirit to write it on our hearts. We must know who is talking to us to know how to rightfully respond.

 

Psalm 143:3-4 (NKJV)

For the enemy has persecuted my soul; he has crushed my life to the ground; He has made me dwell in darkness, like those who have long been dead. Therefore my spirit is overwhelmed within me; my heart within me is distressed.

 

Fear is a head game that overwhelms our heart and mind. It tells us things that are contrary to God’s Word, Will and Way yet appeals to our base nature and commanding flesh. Hence why it is important to crucify our flesh daily dragging it to the Cross and into submission. I Peter 5:8 tells us to “be sober and be vigilant.” Sober means to be habitually temperate or self-restrained. Discipline is absolutely necessary to maintain a solid connection to Christ. The Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness and produces self-control in us which aids in our sobriety. To be vigilant means to be keenly watchful and to keenly detect danger. Why? Because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Your enemy is seeking those who he “MAY” devour. It is not a can or will here but may. The enemy is looking for an access point in your thoughts, ideas and feelings to come in and offer you fear rather than faith or hope. When you take that thought or idea and wrap it up in feelings, suddenly you find a heavy oppressive weight of bondage. Once inside our mind, it wreaks havoc on our thoughts producing in our mind things that are contrary to God’s Word that we allow to come into our heart until we are overwhelmed and not it begins to chip away at our heart.

 

John 12:35-36 (NKJV)

Then Jesus said to them, “A little while longer the light is with you. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you; he who walks in darkness does not know where he is going. While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.” These things Jesus spoke, and departed, and was hidden from them.

 

The same thing you see in the light exist in the dark. The only difference is when there is light you can see and avoid certain things. I, for one, am not a proponent of those things that go bump in the night. I do not like the things that swim under my legs and around my feet in the ocean either just to keep the record straight. We are Children of the Light. (Ephesians 5:8) Jesus is the Light of the world who promised that those who follow Him will never walk in darkness again. (John 8:12) We are to be the Light of the world. (Matthew 5:14) So therefore, the darkness cannot overtake us (I Thessalonians 5:3-4) but it can overwhelm us if we are not careful.

 

Psalm 91:1-9 (NKJV)

He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.” Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the perilous pestilence. He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler. You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, nor of the arrow that flies by day, nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday. A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand; but it shall not come near you. Only with your eyes shall you look, and see the reward of the wicked. Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge, even the Most High, your dwelling place…

 

Those who dwell in the secret place of the Most High will live in the shadow of the Almighty. When we decide to trust the Lord rather than listen to the lie of the enemy – it is a truthful response. It is not always an easy one. It means moving just above how we feel or what we think to stand on His Promise even though we cannot see it. We are fully empowered by God. He has given us weapons to combat the enemy and be victorious. However, we are our own worst enemy sometimes…

 

Perfect love is supposed to cast out all of our fear. (I John 4:18) Why do we still fear? God has not given us the spirit of fear but of a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7) Fear is bondage that makes us forget who we are and the power we possess. (Romans 8:15) My children are not afraid of me because they are scared that I will harm them. No, of course not. The respect me as their mom and would not want to cause strife or separation in our relationship by doing things they know are wrong. Now what they believe for themselves and what I believe may be different, the Truth will prevail. Most people will strive for a relationship before being right all the time. But bondage and slavery does not represent any kind of familial relationship at all. God has not given His Children the spirit of fear so when it comes it is to be discredited and disregarded as not from the Father at all. We are given the privilege of living in our Father’s Presence victoriously in His Love. Do not let anyone or anything convince you of something different or the lie will overtake you and you will be overwhelmed. If we do not discard doubt and anxious thoughts, we will soon be overtaken by a senseless worthless lie. It’s all a head game created by the enemy to convince us that God is not a good father and does not love us at all.

 

I John 3:19-21 (NKJV)

And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him. For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God.

 

Jesus tells us that if we know the Truth that it will set us free. Jesus is the Word of God. We must know Jesus. Not of Him, but know who He is and allow Him to be that to us right here and now. It matters how we live. The life we live represents our belief system and moral values. To live in depression, anxiety and despair is evidence of hopelessness rather than the hope that doesn’t disappoint. God is greater than how we feel. God’s Purpose in us is much larger than we are and takes us higher than we are comfortable going. If we take a moment even a second to glance down, we are in danger of being overtaken because we become overwhelmed.

 

Many years ago, my husband and I went on a vacation. We went parasailing. They pulled us behind a boat with a large balloon attached. Soon we were high above the water and could see for miles and miles. It was breathtakingly beautiful. Then the boat slowed down as we began our descent. Fear overtook me instantly as I saw the deep blue sea and realized that once I hit the water for several minutes I would be helpless in the ocean until the boat could circle around to get us.  I don’t like the ocean. I have seen Jaws one too many times. It wasn’t what I could see that frightened me but what I could not see. Following Jesus with our eyes firmly fixed on the Lord, we go higher, farther, deeper and even wider in His Love until the moment that we look down, ahead, behind or all around and begin to see the “reality” of things. It sucks the life and hope right out and we become overwhelmed by worry, fear and anxiety as if the Lord somehow lost control. The quick remedy is to turn your face, heart and mind back to Jesus. We can only win the head games of life if we know the God we serve and love. We must study and mediate on God’s Word so when the enemy twists and turns into a lie – we immediately know because we know God’s Voice.

 

Are you overwhelmed today? God is greater than your feelings, emotions, and circumstance. Are you afraid? Dive deeper in His Love today and your fear will dissipate. Step into His Presence if the enemy has you on the run. Your God is greater and stronger, He will take care of it. Ask the Lord and He will give you His Mind. The peace that comes with it is far from understanding and will guard your heart forever. Amen.

 

I John 4:18 (NKJV)

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.

 

I Corinthians 2:16 (NKJV)

For “who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

Generous Soul

Close up on water pouring from watering can onto blooming flower bed

Proverbs 11:25 (NKJV)

The generous soul will be made rich and he who waters will also be watered himself.

As I begin to go through the closets, drawers and cupboards of our house preparing to sell our house, I find though I think my lifestyle is minimalistic, I am a borderline hoarder. Ok, not really but as the mounds of unwanted, outgrown, unused and forgotten “stuff” accumulates I realize that maybe just maybe all the times I thought that I had nothing to give it was actually hidden in my drawer, closet or high on a shelf. It is easy to give what we no longer find of value or worth. I do not think twice about the things I leave behind at the nearest charity. I am simply cleaning out my house. This is not generosity. It is not giving of ourselves. In fact, it is purely selfish in motive. We tie the word “generous” and even “charity” to our things. It has very little to do with what we have to give physically but is more characteristic of who we are becoming spiritually.

Our daughter’s birthday is today. We celebrated last Friday night. At the end of the party, I had a plethora of food leftover. There were plenty of s’more fixings so I gave it to the youth pastor for the upcoming movie night. Sunday night the remaining cupcakes induced a frenzy at the youth service. I divided the remaining barbeque to feed three households. I shared what I had. Was this the result of a generous soul? Not really. What was I going to do with a mound of marshmallows, chocolate bars and graham crackers but no place to build a bonfire for roasting? Cupcakes are not on my diet plan. My refrigerator could not store all the meat and it was just going to waste. Do you see my dilemma? Was I giving of my heart or of my overflow? Too many times, we stop giving when it becomes inconvenient or uncomfortable. If it is too personal or too much, we take one step back from sacrifice to remain at ease.

To be completely honest, it is easier to give what we have rather than who we are to people. Relationships are messing. People have problems. If I can ease their way or give them “something” they need, it will make things better right? Maybe for that moment or in that situation, but God didn’t call us to live a generous life. He invites us to live with a generous soul.

Matthew 6:1-4 (NKJV)

“Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.”

To do a charitable deed is not a bad thing. It is a good thing. To make it a God thing, it must be wrapped in His Love. If your gift makes a way for you to share the Love of Jesus with someone else rather than drawing any kind of attention to you as a person, it is profitable to our soul. What is charity? Charity is God’s Agape Love. Agape love is the love of believers for other people corresponding with the Love of God for mankind. It is unselfish love for others as Christ loves us. To truly have a generous soul, it must move from our hand to our heart. To see what we have as a key to open doors so that the Light of God’s Love can permeate the darkness in others. If we give for recognition, it is not from our relationship with Jesus Christ. To give of anything other than ourselves is good. To give ourselves is God.

I Corinthians 13:1-3 (NKJV)

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.

Looking at the “things” piling up in the office and thinking about what to do with them, I realize that my original intentions to “bless” someone is not enough. If I do not take the time to share the Love of God with them, talk to them, get to them, share their struggles and help them along the way – love is not a part of this offering. I can give everything I own away but it means nothing more than a burnt offering in my backyard to an unknown god if I do not cover it, smother it, and infuse it with love. God’s Love. The kind of love that I have been given with the grace that goes with it and the understanding that I have come to know in the Lord.

What is love? Love is patient. Love is kind. Love is not jealous. It is not arrogant. Love is not rude. Love is not selfish but selfless in all things. Love cannot be provoked so it is not angry nor does it become enraged or exasperated. Love thinks no evil. Love does not rejoice in wrong or when another is caught in wrong. Love is the Truth. God’s Word is the Truth we live by. Love bears all things. Love always extends grace and mercy no matter how deep the hurt or level of wrong. Love believes in all things because its expectation is in the Lord, not other people. Love hopes all things because it is based on the Kingdom that is coming not what we see or feel today. Love endures all things. Those who endure to the end will be saved so I guess love must endure with us to be successful. Love never fails. Love covers a multitude of sins. Love is the leverage we need to extend more of ourselves to other without ever fearing losing ourselves. We are to abide in God’s Love so we are free to love.

I Corinthians 13:13 (NKJV)

And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

As a believer, our very first call is to love. We are to have faith born of love. We are to have hope born of love. But without acceptance of the Love of God – everything else we do is pointless. We are to abide in His Love. Wrap it around our whole life like a warm fuzzy blanket and extend it to the world we live in. Charity begins with God’s Love and stems from it. It is the fruit of His Spirit in our life that allows us to love the way that Jesus commands us to. As we grow in Christ and His Spirit grows in us, our generosity becomes immersed in love. Charity to the believer is to love like God. It is agape love that is unconditional. It is our motivation for giving. Charity is defined by this world as generous actions and donations to those in need of aid who are poor, ill or helpless. It is something given to one in need. It is goodwill and kind feelings for those who are in need or experiencing disfavor. It is also leniency in judging others. Everyone in need did not just fall on hard times. Some are suffering from consequences self-produced by bad choices or indiscretions, their need is a product of sin or willful disobedience. This is the giving that requires God’s Love so the seed of transformation, salvation, deliverance, healing and restoration is deposited. Without love, faith and hope will never be reproduced in others through us. It all begins with love. Not natural love that requires something of others, but True Love as experienced by those He died for.

Galatians 6:6-10 (NKJV)

Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches. Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.  For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.

The Word of God encourages generosity on every level. There is no greater gift than to lay our life down for another. (John 15:13) Are we truly laying down our life? Or just giving up things that don’t really matter? Is there a sacrifice of self in our giving to others beyond “things”? Everyone likes Luke 6:38, “Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” Many preachers will quote the Word of God right before taking the morning offering unaware that this has nothing to do with the money that we give at all. Jesus was telling us not to judge other people but to give them grace. This is that which we “give” to be returned “good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over.” Like produces like. I can give away things and be blessed with more stuff. Or I can choose to give grace, love and time to receive God’s Favor in my life. If I sow in the Spirit, I will reap spiritual fruit. Where my treasure is, there I will find my heart. Where is my heart today when it comes to giving? I want a generous soul.

Let us not grow weary while doing good today. I will continue to give of our surplus to others. However, in doing so, I will make sure that my heart goes with it. Sensitivity to human need begins in our heart and must be given of the heart for godly use. There are many who will give of their hand today to help someone less fortunate. Today, I will give from my heart for as their soul prospers so will mine. God gives seed to the sower. (Isaiah 55:10) It is up to us to plant it in love.

Proverbs 22:9 (NKJV)

He who has a generous eye will be blessed for he gives of his bread to the poor.

Wild Horses

Wild Horses

Psalm 20:6-8 (NIV)

Now this I know: The Lord gives victory to his anointed. He answers him from his heavenly sanctuary with the victorious power of his right hand. Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. They are brought to their knees and fall, but we rise up and stand firm.

My thoughts were off to the races before I opened my eyes. I am not even sure that my brain was turned on when the cursor started spinning this morning. You know the kind of days when the tasks outweigh the time and you have not recovered from the exertion of the day before – welcome to the holidays. Parties, practices and productions. I am already sick of meatballs doused in barbeque and grape jelly. Did I mention a milestone birthday in the mix? Jesus take the wheel. It feels like I am running like a racehorse set off with a single gunshot hoping to finish the race and find a warm stall with fresh hay to hide from all the chaos mixed with madness all around.

Oh I had the best of intentions signing up for everything. I know that it will all come together because truthfully it always does. Everyone will be happy and satisfied at the end of the day. I will joyously collapse in my bed with a Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night. See I am already thinking about going back to bed. When my feet hit the floor, my head zoomed past my precious moments spent with Jesus straight to my to-do list. Yet in the back of my mind, I could hear Him whispering, “Come to me, first. Spend time with me, first. I need to talk to you, first.” So I pushed aside the list ignored the clock telling me I overslept 30 minutes and headed for the office. My computer was already on and I cannot remember turning it on, could it be Jesus? Oh who knows? Melting into the chair, throwing a blanket over my legs, it hit me. Stillness, silence and peace in His Presence. Suddenly, all the things I need to do today took their rightful place and I realized He wanted me to stop. A gentle pulling back of the reins while patting my side and telling me, “Whoa girl!”

How do we get so spun up? Running like spooked horses or a chicken with our head cutoff over things that really do not matter. Seriously, my lil smokies will get cooked today along with the macaroni and cheese. The cake is done. The gifts ready other than a tuft of tissue paper. I am on top of this right down to what I will wear. But truthfully, sitting in His Presence, it seems kind of dumb. I am a champ at trusting God with the big things in my life. It is a learned characteristic that comes through trials and tests. It is all the little things that I heap on myself such as the cares and worries of life. I am not a beast of burden though I act like it sometimes. We trust in what we do rather trusting every detail of our life to Jesus. Transferring every worry, care and burden is tough when our flesh is always reaching for control. Those who learn to depend on God for everything from the largest to the smallest most insignificant details that make up our life will be victorious in all things. At least, that’s how I read it.

Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV)

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

Jesus invites us daily to come to Him. To those who are weary and burdened, He promises rest. He does not define what made us tired, worried, anxious or stressed, just simply says give it to me in exchange for peace. He also said, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me…” This is interesting today as I feel a bit overloaded and overwhelmed. The Lord does have a job for us something that He called us to do but it is not all the things that we make it. It is easier to do than to be undone. The Lord desires our hearts. He wants to align our heart with His Heart. His Heart and Mind are always set on His People. It is all about loving and being loved. He loves us and we extend that Love to the world.

My soul is at rest even though my mind is a mess right now. It’s funny how the Lord can change our mind so quickly when we think about Him, mediate on Him, communicate with Him and read His Word. He doesn’t come and make all the plates we are spinning fall down around us but simply says, “Give them to me.” See the Lord knows that although so much of what we become consumed with is trivial and meaningless, He loves us and knows they are important to us so He offers to carry them for us. In exchange, He frees us to do the thing that He called us to do which is love other people. We are His Hands and Feet in the world as messengers who share a Love like no other with those who need Him most. All the while, Jesus takes those cares and concerns that distract us and works it all out. I think that is part of the good that comes from every detail of our life promised in Romans 8:28. His Yoke is easy and His Burden light. Simply take the Love that I have given you that is measureless and share it with others generously. If only it were that easy…

2 Corinthians 10:4-6 (NIV)

The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete.

There are a lot of websites that have popped up for parties and events that allow the administrator to schedule a gathering and create an online signup sheet for items needed and allows people to RSVP quickly and easily. During this time of year, I get these evites quite a bit. When I logged in to the most recent one, I began to look down the list of items to choose what to bring. Cups, napkins, plates and utensils are the easiest and I love to sign up for these inexpensive items. No preparation or refrigeration needed. Next would be chips or drinks. Holla! These are pretty wonderful, too for the same reason. There are those who will always pick one of these items especially if they do not have the time or resources to do anything else. Others want to bring something as not to be judged but just don’t want to invest a lot. There are others who selflessly give of their time, talent, resources and kitchen to bring the costly food items such as meat, fruit or side dishes. It just depends on the person, the situation and often one’s attitude.

Giving is a mindset. I use the “SignUpGenius.com” as an example probably because I have been on it quite a lot. My life is run from list to list. As I evaluate the lists in my life, I set priorities. Those have changed over the years. In our spiritual life, it is no different. We prioritize Christ in our life. Where He falls on the list of priorities determines our success or failure in maintaining our peace and joy in life. If Jesus stays our first priority, all these other things will easily fall into place. Just like choosing what we will bring to the next holiday event, we must decide the level of our time, talent and resources that we will invest in our relationship with Jesus. We will never win the war for our thoughts until we stop depending on what we can do and solely on what Go will do when faith and obedience become the one thing to be accomplished in each day with everything else falling into place around it. Before we give anything, we must give our heart and mind to Jesus. Casting down every thought and emotion contradictory to Christ and taking captive every disobedient longing, we will be victorious in every aspect of our life. We will live successfully in the Presence of God. We must go there first reining in the wild horses spooked by the enemies lie that we must “do” anything to please God other than faithfully and obediently loving one another until the whole world is saved.

2 Kings 6:15-17 (NIV)

When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” the servant asked. “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.

When we are overcome with stress, worry and anxiety that leads to fear – it is expressed in doubt. Anything what we do or want to do becomes bigger than our God so we hang on to it, we will be worn down. We are not designed to carry the burden of our life, Jesus is. To depend on our warhorse or chariot puts power in the enemy’s hand, because we have stepped out of God’s Power and Authority. This is not just for spiritual warfare but daily battles with our flesh. The enemy isn’t only focused on destroying the ministry of your life sharing Jesus with them. Oh no friend, it is much more personal than that. He wants to wear you down, tire you out, and cause you do drift from the Protection of God into the darkness so He can take you out. He wants to destroy you. He hates you and the God in you. Sobering huh? I think so as I have worn myself out doing and thinking that God will honor it. When all along, He has been whispering for me to come closer because my doing has become a distraction and my work that of my flesh.

Busyness is an evil spirit that steals our time, kills our joy, and destroys our faith by allowing fear to take over and run us to death. This is not the Will of God for us. He provides a place of love, joy and peace for us to live and prosper in His Presence. Being overwhelmed and overwrought has never and will never be His Will for our life. It is symptomatic that we have taken the reins and are driving the chariot. Whoa! Just whoa! Lord, open our eyes to see You all around us. Leading us, guiding us, preparing us and protecting us as victory is nearby. Do not let us become consumed with fear that the enemy produces in the overwhelming details of life but open our eyes to see You, Jesus.

Psalm 27:4-5 (NIV)

One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord     all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple. For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock.

Every single time that I allow myself to let busyness overtake me, it comes back to these verses. One thing I ask for the Lord and only this that I seek that I may dwell in the House of the Lord all the days of my life. One thing. It all comes down to one thing and every other detail of my existence must find its proper order behind the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Feeling like you are being drug behind a herd of wild horses? Ridden hard and put away wet as the old adage goes? This is not the Will of God concerning us. I know that some people are having a difficult holiday season. This is the first I can ever remember not suffering from depression that overshadowed me for years and years so many I cannot count. I had no reason for it to be that way. The enemy had a stronghold that only this year somehow the Lord has broken. Yet still… the spirit of busyness was having its way with me until now. I break that spirit along with the one called fear that the Lord did not give us in His Precious and Holy Name. As I take a deep breath right now, Lord fill me again with the Holy Spirit as You draw me closer and tighter to You! Jesus I surrender my mind, will, emotions and even my body to You! Lord, have Your Way today that I may dwell in Your House forever.

Psalm 27:13-14 (NIV)

I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.

Soul Selfie

Soul Selfie

Psalm 49:8-9 (TLB)

For a soul is far too precious to be ransomed by mere earthly wealth. There is not enough of it in all the earth to buy eternal life for just one soul, to keep it out of hell.)

“If we could take selfies of our souls…would you find it attractive enough to post?” Scanning Facebook to wake up this morning, I had to stop to read this again and chuckle for a minute. Our daughters love to post selfies. After snapping the picture, they will blow it up on their phone examining their faces intently… too intently in my opinion. Every detail of their countenance in question, most of the time a retake is in order until they get it just right. We will take pictures together and they will look carefully at themselves and then if they are satisfied post it. When I see it, many times other people may not be at their best but that doesn’t matter if they are satisfied with how they look. So when I read this today, I thought of them blowing up the image to examine every pixilated detail of their face. I know they are not the only ones. I have seen them do it with their friends. I am blessed to have Christian teenagers who understand the meaning of modesty. They are good kids who love the Lord. However, today I am wondering if they are also carefully noting each detail of their soul? Which leads me to a far greater question, am I?

I am not a selfie girl. I don’t post many of them. To be honest, I just don’t think about it. When I do post selfies, it is usually “usies” with my family or friends. We live in an appearance driven world and vanity-filled culture. It is easy to get caught up in the social media trend of selfies. But I wonder if we really spend as much time examining our souls as one might a picture they are about to post. Do we really understand the true value and worth of the soul tucked within hidden behind our heart filled with the Living Breathing Spirit of Almighty God? A soul is far too precious to be ransomed by mere earthly wealth. There is not enough of it in all the earth to buy eternal life for just one soul and keep it out of hell. You matter. Not how you look or what others think of your appearance. You matter to the Lord. When there was nothing that could save our soul from dying, Jesus came and paid the highest price. You are worth more than what others think of you.

Mark 8:36-38 (TLB)

“And how does a man benefit if he gains the whole world and loses his soul in the process? For is anything worth more than his soul? And anyone who is ashamed of me and my message in these days of unbelief and sin, I, the Messiah, will be ashamed of him when I return in the glory of my Father, with the holy angels.”

 

You can tell a lot about someone by what they post on social media. A picture is worth a thousand words. Some people who once graced my wall on Facebook or I followed on Instagram and Twitter are gone. I love them. I miss them. However, the posts did not reflect the person who I know. This is not a call to end social media or selfies at all. To say that social media is the problem is to say a gun has a mind of its own, it is all how one uses it. The point of this post and the message that the Lord is speaking to me today is a reminder that the most important gift that I have been given is my soul. It came at a high price and has a solid purpose. To love Jesus first. To follow Him wherever He goes so one day I can step into forever with Him. It is all about what you want out of life. I want Jesus. This requires paying attention to my soul. Using it for His Glory, not to satisfy man or even myself. I must examine it as closely as a picture I may be about to post. Blowing it up, looking at every detail, and doing things over when I find something is amiss. We must spend more time examining and inspecting what is on the inside than what we present on the outside. Ladies, this is not a call to let yourself go or put down the mascara just to pick up the Word for careful reflection instead of the mirror. Men, you are called to be the head of your home and Christ to your partner, so the most important muscle is your heart not your abs, back or shoulders. Let what God has done on the inside make its way to the outside.

Proverbs 22:4-5 (TLB)

True humility and respect for the Lord lead a man to riches, honor, and long life. The rebel walks a thorny, treacherous road; the man who values his soul will stay away.

We all want other people to like us. Respect us. Think highly of us. Acceptance and affirmation are the things we seek fulfilled by the Lord. It is a natural desire that is only supernaturally satisfied. True humility and respect for the Lord lead to godly contentment. Riches, honor and long life are attributes of the soul not our bank account or life status although the Word of God promises that God supplies all of our needs and that God’s Children do not have to beg for bread. It also says that He will not only meet but exceed our desires. It requires something though that sometimes people are not willing to give. It means putting our expectation in the Lord no other people. This does not often produce immediate gratification. It is a lifelong process of learning to love the Lord with all our heart, soul and might. (Deuteronomy 6:5-6) The very thing we seek from others comes from the Lord but it doesn’t come just by “saying” okay I love Jesus. It is achieved by obeying His Word each day until our heart and soul reflect the Light that has invaded it. If we truly value our soul, and want to be with Jesus forever than our life should reflect that change even in our countenance.

Jesus reiterated what is said in Deuteronomy when He said, Jesus replied, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. The second most important is similar: ‘Love your neighbor as much as you love yourself.’ All the other commandments and all the demands of the prophets stem from these two laws and are fulfilled if you obey them. Keep only these and you will find that you are obeying all the others.” (Matthew 22:37-40) Obeying the Lord in all things begins by self-examination. The Holy Spirit will assist in our efforts if we ask Him to. It is a pivotal shift from looking for man’s approval to seeking God’s approval in all things… even the things we post on social media. When we put ourselves out there as a believer, it should always point to Christ. He is the difference in our life. He is our game changer. Our bodies are dying day by day. We can slap some makeup on it, lift our chins until there is only one, or turn one way or the other to show our best side, but the truth is the only thing that really matters at the end of the day or better yet the end of our life is Jesus! The second commandment just killed the selfie when Jesus said we are to love others as much as ourselves.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 (TLB)

The whole Bible was given to us by inspiration from God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives; it straightens us out and helps us do what is right. It is God’s way of making us well prepared at every point, fully equipped to do good to everyone.

The Bible is the best mirror to reflect the true condition of our life. We must use it daily to examine our soul and its countenance first before we worry about our face. What profits us if we gain the world’s approval or more than 100 likes and lose our soul? Nothing. When I was with my son in the hospital, each morning I took a shower and got ready for the day but it didn’t really matter to me that much about my clothes or makeup because no one was going to see me. In the quietness of hours spent serenaded by beeping monitors, and nothing to do but wait I found that I spent more and more time in God’s Word so I wouldn’t be alone. It became the mirror of my soul that it should’ve been the whole time. Over the course of four years of treatment and hospital stays, I found that I really didn’t like the person I had become before such careful introspection. Look at what it took for me to see that I wasn’t who the Lord created me to be? Now I don’t for a second believe that God gave our son cancer, or allowed the enemy to attack but He certainly used it to open my eyes.

“If your eye is pure, there will be sunshine in your soul. But if your eye is clouded with evil thoughts and desires, you are in deep spiritual darkness. And oh, how deep that darkness can be!” I want sunshine in my soul. The kind that is given from experiencing the Light of His Love and grabbing hold of it. To bask in His Light, I must move out of the darkness. There is nothing good in me except what Jesus Christ is doing inside of me. I want to feed the Light and not the darkness which means I must carefully inspect my soul each day and make sure my heart and body are following suit. Our heart is fickle and must be disciplined. Our body is weak so Christ becomes our strength when we allow His Mantle of Love to cover our life. We have a purpose far beyond the affirmation of any man. We have been given the opportunity and undeserved privilege of righteousness or right standing with God again. We can be His Children. He can be pleased with us again. My soul is the access point of God’s Acceptance, Affirmation and Affection. To offer it to Him allows me to live with sunshine in my soul as the Light of His Love overtakes me.

Psalm 16:8-11 (TLB)

I am always thinking of the Lord; and because he is so near, I never need to stumble or fall. Heart, body, and soul are filled with joy. For you will not leave me among the dead; you will not allow your beloved one to rot in the grave. You have let me experience the joys of life and the exquisite pleasures of your own eternal presence.

I am always thinking of the Lord. Wow, that is a direct statement and high aspiration for our life. Are we always thinking about Jesus especially when we put our life on display? He is the Source of Life for those who call Him Savior and Lord, do we live like it? When people see our selfies or posts on social media, I wonder if their first thought is that I love Jesus or I love myself. Good question and one I think we all need to ask in every situation and encounter in life. Nothing good lives in me and all the good things about me are directly attributed to Christ. When they see me, do they see Jesus? When they hear me, do they hear about Him? When they know me, can they tell that He is my everything? It’s time to take a soul selfie. Blow it up. Look deep within at every detail and make the necessary changes to be more like Jesus. Why? I want to live in His Presence forever. I want others to experience the life changing love that I have found. Those who give their heart, body and soul to Jesus will be filled with joy and satisfied just to have Him near. If you decide to put yourself out there today on social media or real life, make sure that it honors, glorifies and magnifies the One who loves you most and paid the highest price to satisfy your soul!

Psalm 57:8-11 (TLB)

Rouse yourself, my soul! Arise, O harp and lyre! Let us greet the dawn with song! I will thank you publicly throughout the land. I will sing your praises among the nations. Your kindness and love are as vast as the heavens. Your faithfulness is higher than the skies. Yes, be exalted, O God, above the heavens. May your glory shine throughout the earth.