Power of Agreement

Power of Agreement

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Philippians 2:1-2 (NKJV) Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.

How many churches have you attended in your lifetime? Can you count the number of places you have attended? I posted something on social media. A friend liked the post. Another friend inquired how the person knew me. We had attended church together many years ago. I have had this happen more than a few times. I do it myself. I have a high school friend who teaches another friend’s children. The Body of Christ is to be just that a living, breathing, working, communicating complete unit. It seems like just when a ministry is growing and strengthening into a fully functioning body something happens and it falls apart. It is time to out the enemy and his assault against unity to become the Body of Christ – a strong source to be reckoned with in the world today.

After years of tearing apart Christians, how ironic that Paul would give the rest of his life after coming to Jesus Christ to rebuild the ruins of wreckage left behind. In an almost pleading fashion, He says, “If there is any consolation (comfort, solace) in Christ…if there is any comfort in His Love…if there is any fellowship in His Spirit…if there is any affection or mercy for one another…fulfill my joy…do it for me if no one else…be like-minded…have the same love…be of one accord…be of one mind.” (paraphrased) The tone reminds me of trying to deal with our teenagers. We teach, instruct, discipline, and finally exasperated in effort plead with them.

It’s funny how families work together. Dysfunction is a key trait in families. Our children fuss, fight, pick and disagree on just about everything UNTIL someone dares mess with a sibling. Suddenly there is complete agreement that that person is about to get hurt as they rally together. The church isn’t much different. Rather than walking in love and commitment together, it only happens in the midst of opposition or tragedy. God desires unity in the Body of Christ. He purposed it for us. Jesus even prayed for us to be one. The Holy Spirit identifies us as one family. How do we overcome the natural sense of family to become one as God’s Family? To stop fussing and fighting all the time and begin to function as Christ intended. It may be harder than you think.

Genesis 11:4-6 (NKJV) And they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.” But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built. And the Lord said, “Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them. 

After the flood, Noah and his family replenished the people of the earth. The whole earth had one language and one speech. Unity. They decided to build a tower all the way to heaven. “Let us make a name for ourselves. Lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.” Self-preservation and pride decided to make a “name” for itself. The Lord came down to see the city and tower. Immediately, He interrupted the building of such idolatry by confusing their language and ability to communicate ending the unity and stopping their downfall. I wonder sometimes if church communities built on the wrong foundation fall apart for the same reason. False prophets who create a community built on foundations other than faith in God’s Word and an introduction to Jesus Christ.

The point of opportunity in this passage and promise rising from another’s misguidance is that when people become one “nothing they propose will be withheld from them”. The power of agreement works naturally and spiritually. Natural agreement produces favorable results in the world. Supernatural agreement builds a Kingdom. It creates a living, breathing body that will become the Bride who Christ is coming for. We have a long way to go!

Acts 2:42-47 (NKJV) And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.

The early church set the precedent of fellowship. Thinking of fellowship today, I smell fried chicken and a desert table piled high on a special day at church. In the South, there is homecoming or maybe it’s a “Friends and Family Day” to invite or entice new members. This is not the concept set forth in the New Testament. The church broke bread together and prayed together daily. Every day. Not Sunday’s and Wednesdays. Not small groups. Not via texting. No, every single day. The word “fellowship” or koinonia means sharing, unity, close association, partnership, participation, a society or contributory help. Every member was a valuable asset to the group. They sold all their possessions and goods dividing up the proceeds evenly among everyone and giving to those in need. They lived in one accord. The early followers who were baptized by the Holy Spirit literally devoted their whole life to unity with God and each other.

John 17:20-21 (NKJV)  “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.”

This was the prayer of Jesus Christ for all of us just before going to the Cross. He desired that those who will believe in Him through the message of the disciples and apostles “that they all may be one” like Jesus and God are one. To abide in love and fellowship together in one accord. One heart. One mind. One body. How are we doing?

Ephesians 4:1-6 (NKJV) I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

I wonder if the Lord allows confusion and discord to set in to the church so it doesn’t become built of pride and self-preservation. Is it possible that it is the heart of His People causing the issue and not the enemy to blame? Pride is a human trait overcome by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit produces the spiritual fruit that feeds our soul. As our soul prospers, it overflows those same gifts and characteristics into our natural life. We must live lowly and gently lives. Patient. Bearing one another with love. Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit who binds us together in peace. There is one body. There is one Spirit. In 2016, there were estimated to be over 300,000 Christian churches in America. Where is the impact and influence of such mass numbers?

We have been called together in one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is above all and through all and in us all. We must work on the Body before we take on the world. What is lacking?

Philippians 2:3-5 (NKJV) Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.

It’s not about me. It’s not about you. It’s about us united with Christ in full fellowship together according to His Spirit. It is not about building new buildings and erecting new walls – physically, structurally, emotionally, congregationally, or corporately. It is about tearing down every barrier between us and God and everyone else. God doesn’t desire one person over another. Our God doesn’t have favorites. He loves us all. His Love is for us all. His Kingdom has a place for us all. His Body has a function specifically for us and no one else. We cannot fulfill our purpose without the other members of the Body no more than my hand can function apart from my arm if detached from my body. We must learn to live in fellowship. We must figure out how it all works. We must strive to live in harmony and unity with all mankind. It is the Will of God for us and the Way to the Father’s Heart. It is to achieve the Mind of Christ.

John 13:34-35 (NLT) A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

 

 

 

What’s Love Got to Do with It?

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I John 4:19 (NIV) We love because he first loved us.

What has love got to do with it? Tina Turner made millions of dollars asking this question in her famous song. Her life story was one of great pain and sorrow even abuse. Love tainted by the world and its lack of love convolutes the possibility of true love for many who will settle for a lack of it in their life. Love is not emotional. I do believe in love at first sight. I do not believe that any love affair is without its challenges. I know for a fact that even if you marry the person God created for you that there is definitely challenges in coming together as one. Love is professed on so many levels about many things in our life. We love people or at least think so. Love things. Love hobbies. Love sports. Love interests. Love social media. Love shows. We attach the word so flippantly without consideration of its context that many believe that people really do love in life.

I have a friend who a couple of days ago professed her undying love for her partner. She reveled in the love she has found with this person never thinking it possible with someone. I smiled as she relished in it and reveled it even saying she never imagined being this happy. Well, yesterday she confessed that her “true love” had hurt her feelings causing an explosion of sorts. Why do we put godly expectation on human beings? We do it all the time. We expect people to be like god. Fill every void in our life. Meet our needs and expectations. So much so, that when they don’t it is our tendency to lower our expectation, draw back or walk away. The good news is that they eventually talked it out, worked through it and are moving past it… together… in love.

When Jesus warned people about the last days, He clearly indicated that love would grow cold. His Word has come to past with staggering divorce rates and cheap love plastered on everything from people to things. Not to sound like a modern day prophet or old-fashioned preacher, but love has grown cold. We love because He first loved us. We have lost the foundational truth in our life that God is love. He is the Source of Love. He is the Prosperity of Love. He is the Power in love. He is the Provider of Love. We are loving from an unlovable source that cannot produce the kind of passionate love needed to secure our souls to Jesus. Without the Love of God, it is weak and tainted by our sinful condition, prideful nature and propensity for self. God is love. I need to love God to love anyone else including myself.

I John 4:10-16 (NIV) This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 

Our eagerness to show God our worthiness of His Love often separates us from His Love. He does not without it from us but our humanness draws away from it. We want God’s Love. Need it. Are desperate to have it? Human awareness produces insecurity and suddenly people decide that God’s Love is not for them unless they earn it. The Pricelessness of God’s Love is that there is no possible way to earn it or achieve outside of the Lord. The enemy tries to convince us that unfailing and unconditional love is impossible. But it’s not, it is exactly how God loves us. We must become invested in the truth about God’s Love to produce anything of worth from our broken hearts and devastated lives. God’s Love fills the void left by all the impersonators of it.

God is love. It is imperative as believes that “we know and rely on the love God has for us.” Doubt and disbelief come when I do not believe that God’s Love for me is complete. The moment I think there is an end to it, my faith evaporates and hope dies with it.

I John 4:18 (NIV) There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

I can remember the first blow up my husband and I had after getting married. It was a doozy. Yelling, screaming, crying, doors slamming and the works. I remember thinking at the time that I didn’t need any man and I could do it on my own. I didn’t deserve such treatment. My feelings were hurt and expectation met. Whoa! What does that mean? We know people will let us down and begin to expect it. When something minor happens – the issue is forced into a confrontation because of fear of loss and abandonment. Looking back at most confrontations in our relationships, they are avoidable. The problem is that we expect people to love like God and God to love like people rather than loving each other from the Love God has invested in us. Fear causes us to test and try love every single day even setting others up to fail with unrealistic expectations of perfection and performance. God says simply – I loved you first.

Revelation 2:2-5 (NIV) I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.

God knows every single thing done in His Great Name. He sees our works. He knows our perseverance. The Lord sees our desire to live apart from wickedness and how we test the spirits of others around us. He knows that hardships have been endured as faith is maintained. He sees every one of you who have not given up despite harrowing odds. BUT it means nothing if our love for Him is not as it was at first.

What does this mean? Love is easy… at first. Love is fun… at first. Love is true… at first. Love is childlike… at first. Love is forever… at first. Life happens and the one who was boasted about becomes a fading memory in the midst of unmet expectation. Marriage can fall into this rut just as quickly as our relationship with the Lord. When the newness wears off, it is easily taken for granted. When the other does not read our mind and do what we want, we begin to grumble and complain seeking satisfaction elsewhere. The book of Hosea is all about Gomer and her other lovers representing God’s Great Love and Desire for Israel. God loved us first. He loves us best. He loves us forever with the same intensity and passion as He did when He first made the decision to love us at all. Can we say the same?

2 Timothy 3:2-4 (NIV) People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.

This is the love of the world in which we live. It is cold and uncaring. People have become lovers of themselves. Consumed with self that causes them to turn on others even God. This is the world of the lost and the world of Christians. We have lost our first love. Apart from the Lord, we can do nothing and that includes love. Galatians 5:22-23 tells us the Fruit of the Spirit produced in us by the holy inhabitation of Christ in us. The very first fruit is love. Every other fruit produced in our life is a seed from the Love that God has planted in us. Without that seed, the rest of the fruit in our life is spoiled. No good. Worthless. Romans 5:5 tells us that God poured His Love into our hearts through the Holy Spirit given to us. The identifier that marks us as Children of God begins cultivating love. No other fruit can be produced in our life unless it comes from the Love God has sown in us first. First love. True love. Everything of God that is good in our life must come from our first love.

I Corinthians 13:1-3 (NIV) If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

God details all the qualities of His Love for us and the kind of love that He produces in us in 1 Corinthians 13. Many marriage ceremonies include this vital chapter in identifying true love for us. But the beginning of the chapter is a warning to those who think they love God, “I may boast, but if I do not have love…I gain nothing.” Hear me today, we must learn to love God again. Like we did at first, before discovering the Gifts of His Spirit or even the productivity of faith. Sowing and reaping is an earthly concept sent to mankind from the heavenly realm. If we do not allow the Spirit to produce love in us and do everything from the vantage point of His Love…we have nothing to gain and everything to lose.

What is love?Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” (I Corinthians 13:4-8) If this was how Christian believers loved, our churches would be full. Revival would come. The Body of Christ would be united and healthy again. The Kingdom of God would advance. We have lost our first love. Buildings are empty. Revival is not hear. The Body of Christ is unhealthy and dysfunctional. The Kingdom is not advancing. Our love for God is not producing because it is not from the first fruit of His Spirit. We want the prosperity of God’s Love but would rather perform to get it than persevere to have it. What does love have to do with it? Everything. Or we have nothing at all.

I Corinthians 13:13 (NIV) And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Love is messy. Love is sacrificial. Love doesn’t always feel good. Love requires us to give up our way. Love requires waiting. Love requires forgiveness. Lord, look at all these other nice things that are good I have done for you. God asks us today, “Where is the love?” Love is not reserved for others but begins with God. Maybe our love has grown tired and cold in the waiting. Could it be that brokenness let it all leak out? See our love for God must be the driving force and motivation of every next breath and next step in life. However, there are times when people think God could not possibly love them because of their actions, or that God forgot about them in His Silence, or that maybe God is not for their good because of their current condition or circumstance. Some decide to have faith and hope in God but reserve their heart just in case they are wrong. Every area of my life investing in doing God’s Word and obedience will yield a blessing in my life. Seed in the ground produces a harvest. It will do nothing for my soul condition and salvation unless I choose to stay true to my first love.

Song of Solomon 8:6-7 (NIV) Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame. Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot sweep it away. If one were to give all the wealth of one’s house for love, it would be utterly scorned.

Our experiences form our expectation. Life is hard. Love is cold. People don’t really love each other but often live lives of codependency. When you came to Jesus, it was with the expectation of unfailing and unconditional love which His Grace readily provided. The moment a person stands up after such an experience – the enemy of your soul wages war against this new love. From that moment forward, passion must burn away doubt and knowledge of God’s Love and how He loves must be the wisdom one lives by. God doesn’t love you like the world does. He loves us perfectly. He loves us completely. He knows every fault, failure and weakness in our life and STILL His Grace is enough for me. With this in mind, it is up to each one of us to examine our heart. Am I passionate about my love affair with Jesus? Do I love Him like I did at first? Am I doing from my own abilities or from what the Holy Spirit is doing in me?

Place me as a seal over your heart. We must seal our heart with God’s Love all over again. Going back to the beginning even if we were young and naïve. God’s Love did not change just our expectation. If we leave our expectation in God’s Love and Grace for us, we will continue to do greater things like Jesus promised. It is when our love grows cold and our pursuit of Him stops that situations and sin overtake our progress, devour our seed, and stifle His Spirit.

I must choose to love God every day. I must decide in my heart that He will be my first love and priority in all things. I must infuse the love that I have been so graciously given into every action and attitude. I cannot concern myself with others and how they love allowing it to dictate my choice to love like Jesus. My love for the Lord must be passionate. It must be my desire.

Lukewarm love is spit out but when God sees that our love for Him consumes us – He pours out Himself even more. Lord, rekindle my love for you today. Not with the simple “you know that I love you” but with the pure intent so everyone will know that I love you, Lord – beginning with YOU!

Proverbs 3:2-4 (NIV) Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and

The One

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Luke 15:3-7 (NLT) So Jesus told them this story: “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders. When he arrives, he will call together his friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’ In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!

The phenomenon of the lost sock prevails in every household with a washer and dryer. Where do they go? What happens to them? Do washers eat socks? Actually sometimes they do! In some models during the spin cycle, socks can get caught up in the top around the basket and work their way down behind the drum. Do dryers consume them with hidden fire within so they vanish without a trace? You can buy six pairs of socks for about $8 or $9 at the local discount store. Why do we find it so irritating to lose a sock? Is it because now there is a perfectly good one without a mate? Is it the principle of ownership that causes indignation because it belongs to us so we want it back? Or could it be now there is one more task added to our long list of chores? Find the lost sock!

My husband and I are opposites. I do not stress over a lost sock. It is not a big deal to me. He is a details guy. The lost one drives him nuts until he finds it. A few years back our daughters started following the trend of mismatched socks. The clothing stores even sold an assorted pack of socks that did not match. My poor husband! It took a while for him to grasp the concept that they aren’t supposed to be the same. I am not so much of a worrier about socks because I know I can just go buy another pack when I hit the grocery store each week. It is the principle for my husband. It should be there. It belongs with the other sock. There is no reason that what goes in the hamper should not survive the washing and drying process and make it back to the drawer. It’s all about the one.

Jesus was speaking to the Pharisees and teachers of religious law when he shared three parables in Chapter 15 of Luke including the Parable of the Lost Sheep, Parable of the Lost Coin, and finally the Parable of the Lost Son. All three are very important to the basis of Christianity and the way I approach my life in Christ. However, I often forget that this whole life that I live is about the one. The one who is lost. The one who wanders in the dark. The one who is fallen. The one who keeps stumbling. The one who doesn’t get it despite numerous attempts. The one who doesn’t understand. The one who walks with me or falls behind. It is not about me. It is all about the one.

John 3:16-17 (NLT) “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.”

Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. (John 14:6) No one can make it to the Father except by Him. Who needs the Way, Truth and Life? Every single person who is born into this world and roams the planet has sinned and fallen short of God’s Glory. (Romans 3:23) Romans 6:23 tells us that the “wages of sin” is death but that God has given us the free gift of eternal life. There goes our self-worth and pride. There is nothing that I can do to earn God’s Love or Salvation because Jesus did it all. He is the One we owe our life to so it is up to Him what He requires of us.

John 13:34-35 (NLT) “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”

Are you ready? Get your pen and paper out. We are going to write the list of demands that Jesus places on our life. “Love each other…just as I have loved you.” Got it. What else, Lord? “You should love one each other.” I got it. Now what…”your love for one another will prove to the world you are my disciples.” Love one another. That’s it. What about all the religious rules and regulations? Nope. The long list of doctrinal do’s and don’ts? Nope. If we do not love one another, it really doesn’t matter what else we do for the Lord because it is not what He desires.

In Luke 15, Jesus tells the story of the shepherd who has 100 sheep and one of them is lost. He leaves the 99 to find the lost one. The weak one. The vulnerable one. The rebellious one. The isolated one. He goes after them letting the others remain together and care for themselves. When he returns, he is not dragging the wayward one, scolding it along the way, punishing him for running off, threatening him for abandonment – the shepherd joyfully carries it home on his shoulders. When he arrives, he calls everyone together to celebrate the lost one’s return. “In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God over 99 others who are righteous and never strayed away.” My purpose in life is the one.

Luke 15:8-10 (NLT) “Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Won’t she light a lamp and sweep the entire house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she will call in her friends and neighbors and say, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost coin.’ In the same way, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner repents.”

Have we lost sight of our purpose? Maybe. There is a current shift in church culture reverting from mega church to small group. However, if the small group is a clique it still missing the point. Jesus mandated us to love each other, love one another, and to love others more than ourselves. The problem may not be our process but our perspective. Do we value those who are lost, wandering or fallen away? Do we consider those who leave our church, congregation, or small group collateral damage? Well, they were a problem. They had issues. They were just not a good fit. The list of excuses go on and on but the reason we do not go after the lost is because we do not see their worth.

If I have ten dollars and lose one of them, I will be disappointed and may spend some time looking for it. But eventually I will just chalk it up as a loss and move on. But if I have ten one hundred dollar bills and lose one, I may look a little longer, harder and even may tear up my house to find it. Let’s take this home. What if we are not talking about money but a child? We could have lost our son to cancer. In fact, many didn’t believe that he would live. I have five children – two sons and three daughters. If I lost my son, why would I be sad because I still have four other children including another son? Stupid huh? Of course, I would do anything to save my child even though there are many he is precious to me. Hello? Jesus died for the one. Why do we not value all others as much as ourselves? If my ministry does not revolve around the one, I can forget finding purpose in many.

Luke 15:20-24 (NLT) “So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.’  “But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began.

The father had two sons – a good one and a bad one. A rebel and a saint or that’s at least others may perceive them. The father loved his sons. While one obediently remained at home and responsible, the other ventured into the world and fell flat on his face. When he finally came to his senses (vs. 17) – he realized that the hired servants at home lived a better life than he was now living and so he returned. How was he welcomed? His Father was filled with love and compassion. Do we love the lost when they find their way home? Or do we judge them, try to change them or criticize them? The way I treat others is a direct reflection of my character in Christ. The way a church treats them is evidence of their motivation. To sit in climate controlled sanctuaries with padded seats and expensive projection systems so we know all the words is not enough. To gauge our success by the size of our roster and total membership on the books. To evaluate our life with Christ by any other standard is false pretense. It is all about the one. The lost one. The broken one. The fallen one. The one who can’t seem to get it right. The one who is lost. The one who rebels. Every single “one”. That is who we are accountable for. Those are who we must love. They are the ones of value and worth that causes all Heaven to rejoice. The ones who the church writes off, has forgotten and turned their back on. I am the church. If I do not love others with the same love, devotion and grace that Jesus has given me – I am not His Disciple. If I regard others as worthless, insignificant and not worth my time – I am more lost than they will ever be.

Romans 13:18 (NLT) Owe nothing to anyone—except for your obligation to love one another. If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God’s law.

Until the message I speak and the Gospel I preach is clothed in the Love of God and offered with the same grace that Christ has given me it is false teaching. I owe no one anything except I am under godly obligation to love them. Love one another. Love each other. Love them more than myself. If you are like me today, faces have flooded your mind as these words have been read. We give up on people too easy. We turn our backs when relationships become uncomfortable or messy. We look away from those who give their life to something less. Those very people who we are called to love yet choose to remain offended, unforgiving and bitter toward. If people interrupt your ministry, then it is not ministry at all. People are ministry. Every person ever created is the one who God desires and Jesus desires. Every one. They are the one.

Colossians 3:12-14 (NLT) Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.

In Hebrews 10, people are encouraged to hold tight to the hope we affirm without wavering. God has promised us eternal life through His Son, Jesus Christ. I cannot do anything to deserve it or earn it. I can live out the rest of my life according to this promise. Doubt causes us to think we must live to deserve God’s Love and Affection. Fear tells us that it can somehow be earned which is a lie, too. To be a true disciple of Jesus Christ is not about preaching and teaching the Word of God. This is definitely a spiritual gift but not our ultimate calling or mandated lifestyle. I know a lot of people who can preach and teach but don’t know how to love like Christ commands. I don’t love like that all the time. We must think about it. We must learn to motivate each other to acts of love and good works. We cannot neglect meeting together. We must become encouragers of the body of Christ so we become bound together in harmony.

Since…God chose us. He already picked you as one now it is our turn to pick the next one and the next one as his disciples. To pull people together – all people. This is not picking teams. It is building a Kingdom. The Kingdom of God that rejoices over every single one. The governor of Florida cannot tell you the name of every person living in his jurisdiction. The mayor cannot tell you those who live in his city. To be honest, I only know the names of a few of my neighbors. Not only does God have the name of every member of His Kingdom, but can tell you the number of hairs on their head. We must clothe ourselves in tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. It is the soft garments worn under the armor of God each day. It is the attire of a heart in love with Jesus and committed to be His Disciple. We must learn to forgive. We must live above offense that builds walls around hearts. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.

Think about the one today. The one who you haven’t seen in a while. The one you wrote off. The one you gave up on. The one who tries your patience. The one who is the thorn in your flesh. The one who hurt you. The one you stopped praying for. The one who offended you. The one who is lost. The one who is wandering. The one who will show up in your church today. All the ones who are missing. That is the one you are called to love and bind together with in harmony. That one. Lord, let me always think of and go after the one.

I Thessalonians 3:12 (NLT) And may the Lord make your love for one another and for all people grow and overflow, just as our love for you overflows.

Show Me Your Glory

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Ephesians 1:3-6 (NIV) Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.

Show me Your Glory, God. The cry of Christians around the world. The revelry for revival is just about the only thing the church agrees on anymore. Wanting Jesus, but having no idea how to produce the overflow and outpouring of years gone by. Why is God keeping His Glory from us? Where is the spiritual blessing promised in the Word of God for believers? Ephesians 1:3 is clear in praising God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who blessed us in the heavenly realms with EVERY SPIRITUAL blessing in Christ. Where is the spiritual blessing? Are we just not spiritual enough?

Not to change the subject, but to elaborate on it practically. Our new home has an irrigation system. However, the previous owner did not maintain it. Many of the sprinkler heads were buried underground and others broken off completely. The system did not come with instructions. My husband has undertaken the task figuring out how it works and finding each one of the outlets to repair  them so that it will all work as it is supposed to. To find the different sprayers, he turns on the water for a bit and walks around the yard to find where it bubbles the ground from beneath the surface. He then carefully digs around the area until he finds the hidden unit. He evaluates each one and buys a replacement. He will work on that area until it is working properly. This has taken weeks to accomplish and he still works on it today. It is with in mind that I believe is a lesson of expressing God’s Glory in our life.

We have every spiritual blessing that is possible. The Grace of God expressed through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ has produced an outpouring of unfailing love and goodness in our life that is not making it from the Heavenlies to our everyday life for some reason. God’s Word promises that He is my Shepherd and I lack no good thing. (Psalm 23:1) There is a lot of real estate covered in Psalm 23:2-5 including the green pastures, quiet waters, right paths, darkest valleys, evilness, pain, and even in the presence of my enemies. All the tests, trials and travails of life. The psalm ends with the revelation that “Your Goodness and Love follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the House of the Lord forever.” (Psalm 23:6) From the beginning – we lack no good thing, but then life happens as we journey through this life to eternity. There are days when His Grace is enough for me and other days when I try to do it all myself. Those are the days when He follows me with everything in His Hands waiting for me to turn to Him.

So I had this thought, if God’s Glory is manifesting in our homes, jobs and churches, could it be an “us” thing? Could there be a problem with my connection to Heaven rather than some grand order from God to stop His Blessing from reaching His People. Absolutely. It is a me thing not a God thing. How do I see the Glory of God in my life? In every season, in every situation. Well, it begins by evaluating our connection to Christ in every area of our life much like my husband is working on our sprinkler system. Step by step. The water is flowing. The source is intact. It is in our ability to express it in our life that needs some adjustment. God does not change His Mind. He does not lie. He has ordained His Love, Grace and Goodness to flood our life. We must find out why it is not happening and make the proper adjustment.

John 15:5-8 (NIV) “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

The Glory of God is not reserved for a church service or revival. The Glory of God is for you. It is for me. It is available in every dwelling place in our life. His Glory can fill our homes, jobs, and communities. It can reside in our relationships including intimate, personal, acquaintances and even with our perceived enemies. Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches.” Are you grafted to Jesus Christ today? The overflow and outpouring of God for our life once restricted by sin and shame is now washed clean by the Blood of Jesus and grace established a new connection called righteousness. Here is the errant way of most in that righteousness at some point becomes about what we do rather than who Jesus is. Remember in Psalm 23, the initial declaration is that Lord is my Shepherd and I lack nothing but by the end of the chapter His Goodness and Love are following behind.

Life happens. Things happen. To continue in our pursuit of God’s Glory is a constant and ongoing giving up our way and our will to have His Way and His Will. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one will make it to the Father but by Him. Those who remain in His Love will what? Produce much fruit. Prosper as their soul prospers from the connection to Christ. However, grafting requires a cutting process. It is a form of brokenness that must be ongoing. Apart from Jesus I can do nothing. It goes on to say that once I am firmly fixed in Christ that I can ask anything in His Name and He will do it. “This is to my Father’s Glory, that you bear much fruit showing yourselves to be my disciples.” If my life is not bearing spiritual fruit (love, joy, peace, forgiveness, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control) there is a problem with my connection to Jesus Christ. It is definitely a “me” thing and if I do not come back to the Lord examining and evaluating my relationship with Jesus I will never see His Glory in my life again.

2 Corinthians 3:9-11 (NIV) If the ministry that brought condemnation was glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness! For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory. And if what was transitory came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts!

How much greater should the Glory of God be in our life today? The Law brought condemnation along with a long list of things to do that were impossible of ordinary people. Lives committed to a physical worship that never really measured up to God’s Glorious Standard. So God sent His Son with a new covenant bringing new life. However, sometimes our humanity is more comfortable with the old covenant rather than fully accepting the terms of the new agreement that did not do away with the Law but completes it. How is this possible?

God’s Grace is enough for me to have His Glory in my life. It is not to be earned or endured but is fully endowed by accepting Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. In my previous employment, I supervised multiple departments for a local technical school. It was part of the county. It was said that job security was intact unless you “shoot the Pope”. This produced the mentality that if you made eight hours every day. Came to work and sat in your seat that you would eventually be promoted and get a raise simply because you showed up. There was a particular employee who was transferred into our school when her previous position was terminated and since she had not committed any fatal offenses she was given a job. The task given was overseeing the Financial Aid department which consisted of one person – her. She was to administer millions of dollars in Federal funding and keep our school compliant. She did a great job. Overlooked multiple times for a raise, I went to the administration and fought for her to obtain an increase. It was a battle and she was promoted to a proper position and salary for her duties. Well, this did not sit well with the ones who had held their positions for quite some time and felt entitled. One was bold enough to confront me. She wanted a pay raise. She felt it was her right. So I asked her one question, “What have you done above and beyond your job description that I can share with my supervisor to justify an increase?” She sputtered and shifted in her seat. She indicated that she had good attendance, dressed appropriately and had been in her position for a number of years. She looked me straight in the eye and with complete indignation said, “It is my turn!” I told her I would take her concerns to administration which I did.

In government positions, employees are on contract. Since these offices are generally associated with elected with officials, termination is frowned upon. Everyone wants a state job. It comes with great benefits and a level of security other professions, businesses and employers do not offer. We have a covenant that connects us to Jesus Christ. As long as we show up and do the right thing, we feel entitled to receive the benefits that He offers. But what are we doing to establish a deeper connection with Christ? Are we willing to do anything to have a deeper more meaningful relationship with our Savior and Lord?

The young woman in my story did not once ask for a promotion or pay increase. I knew what the position was worth and aware of her excellent performance so I began interceding for her. She was thankful for her job since the other one was taken from her. She had an advocate that went to the administration and authorities on her behalf. Jesus does this for us every day. He goes to the Father and reminds Him of His Grace and that His Glory can be given to us. I think sometimes as believers we think we are entitled to God’s Glory based on our performance when it has nothing to do with anything we do but everything Christ has done for us. When we strive to love Him more, to know Him, be like Him, and have Him permeate every area of our life – we become properly aligned and that which already belonged to us makes its way to us.

We have an irrigation system on our house. It belongs to us. Water flows into it in abundance. It is up to us to examine and fix every outlet until it works properly. We have everything we need. We own it. All we have to do is make the proper connections. God is outpouring His Love and Goodness to us and the Windows of Heaven are open. If God’s Glory is not reaching us, it is us not Him. The Grace obtained through Jesus Christ is more than enough to prosper the life of every believer.

Ephesians 3:16-21 (NIV) I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

The Glory of God is desired by every church in operation or at least it should be. Why are churches divided, separated and broken? The Glory of God is not in them so without purpose they implode. God is pouring His Love, Grace and Goodness over the bodies formed of believers pursing Him. What happens if we just turned around? What if the each person in each body stopped trying to “do” all the right things and repented right there? Rather than inspecting, evaluating and judging all the people not like us, what if each person decided to inspect, evaluate and examine their connection to Christ independent of the organization so when meeting together collectively there was no barrier of sin, unforgiveness, or condemnation to block His Glory. His Glory is not earned. It is pouring out for us according to the Grace of God every single day. We can do nothing to earn it just clear the way to receive it. Once you experience the Glory of God, you will desire more and more of His Presence in your life. It is that good! Misalignment keeps us from receiving what belongs to us in Jesus Christ.

My husband can go outside and call forth every sprinkler to come on and water his lawn. Probably won’t happen – God bless him. Or he can roll up his sleeves and get to work making the way for the water to reach the atmosphere and let it water the ground. The proper channels are in place. The water is flowing. It is up to us to uncover the places in our life that have taken over the outlet of God’s Overflow for us. Revival will not come until God’s Glory is flowing from heaven into the lives of His People once again. It is up to me to clear the way in my heart and mind for His Glory to makes its way to me and through me first. Friend, we can stand at the altar of every church praying, crying out and even travailing for revival but until we fix our everyday connection to Christ, produce the fruit of His Spirit that makes us His Disciple then they will just be words falling to the cold hard ground. I must want Jesus more than anything else with a willingness to do anything to find Him even it means simply turning around, giving up my way and embracing Him fully – then this is what we must do before we ask Him to show us His Glory. Lord Jesus, let your power work in me today. Wash away everything that is between my life and Your Glory. I want to know the power of your grace. I want to comprehend just how wide, long, high and deep your love is or at least just a little more as I move in closer to YOU! Show me Your Glory, Lord!

Psalm 145:9-16 (NIV) The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made. All your works praise you, Lord; your faithful people extol you. They tell of the glory of your kingdom and speak of your might, so that all people may know of your mighty acts and the glorious splendor of your kingdom. Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations. The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does. The Lord upholds all who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down. The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time. You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.

To Know God

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Acts 17:28 (NLT) For in him we live and move and exist.

It is strange not to go to church on Sunday. We have done it for so long that when there is a lapse – it can throw off the whole week. Staying home, resting, and recuperating is not always a bad thing. If church is just a building visited weekly and not the lifestyle lived it is just a waste of time anyway. I need the Lord to move me today. Not physically, but spiritually. It is in Jesus Christ that we live, move and exist. I have come to the realization that I cannot live without Jesus. I can move but cannot be moved without the Lord. I can exist but in no way thrive without Him right by my side.

I do not doubt or discredit the fact that there is an enemy seeking who he may devour, roaring like a lion, stalking his prey. But I also know that there is an enemy inside of me that wars against the spirit, too. My flesh cannot be ignored so every attack and assault against my faith and stand for Christ is not always an external problem but sometimes rises from within. It is when believers become convinced that they have attained a level of faith and spirituality that they cannot be moved when I believe a fall is coming. We come to know God through brokenness. When our hearts are torn and He is allowed to penetrate us even more. Pride holds up a wall, stubbornness is the mortar for it brick, and insecurities cause us to allow strongholds to rise up rather seeking the refuge of Presence. If I do not allow the Lord to live in me, move me, and be my existence – I will never know Him as I should.

Paul and Silas were traveling from city to city preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Acts 17:2 says “As was Paul’s custom”. I believe that Paul being of a very strong religious background had a method to his ministry. He would visit the synagogue. Teach for three days. There was a pattern in his persistence. Though frequently met with resistance, his commitment to Christ kept him moving right along. On a trip to Athens in Acts 17:16, Paul was waiting for Silas and Timothy to join him. He was troubled to find idols and shrines throughout the city. He continued his usual routine going to the synagogue. Paul even spoke daily in the public square. They brought him before the high council. Paul addressed them as follows:

Acts 17:22-23 (NLT) So Paul, standing before the council, addressed them as follows: “Men of Athens, I notice that you are very religious in every way, for as I was walking along I saw your many shrines. And one of your altars had this inscription on it: ‘To an Unknown God.’ This God, whom you worship without knowing, is the one I’m telling you about.

The altar had this inscription on it: “To an Unknown God.” Could this be the inscription on our heart today? To know God is to live, move and exist. It is to have life and become life to others. Why then are there so many dead churches and lifeless Christians? Because He remains the Unknown God. Although these people worshipped God and served Him, they did not know Him or make a connection with Him through Jesus Christ so they remained distanced and disconnected from Him. A shrine is a building that is to house the “remains” of a patriarch, saint or deity. It can also be structure devoted to a holy person. There are churches today that are nothing more than shrines with a cross on them. I do not mean any disrespect. Truly, I do not. But if we do not know the living, breathing God and become His Temple – there is no future or hope for us.

I Corinthians 6:19-20 (NLT) Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.

Paul told the council members that “Since he is Lord of heaven and earth, he doesn’t live in man-made temples…” This is important to note. Until believers come to the end of self, one cannot move into the Presence of God or be filled with His Spirit to the uttermost. God doesn’t come in and clean house but waits for us to provide the space for His Holy Inhabitation. He will never force His Way into our life but gives us the freedom to choose how we live, if we will move or even exist. God fills the structure of the church quite nicely with well-written doctrine, clearly displayed vision, well-dressed Christian, well-versed pastors, but if He never lives in us, moves us or exists in us- we will go down with every other manmade structure when He comes. No one can evaluate our spirituality or proximity to Christ. The deeper water waded in by faith provides no guarantee just an opportunity to trust and believe beyond human comprehension. The tests get harder. The trials seem longer. The reward is not always readily at hand. So we wait and watch for our God rather than setting for an Unknown God who allows us to come and go as we please. To remain ignorant in God allows our pride to remain intact keeping us from the pain of brokenness and the isolation of pursuit. However, those who decide they want to know the Living God have been given an opportunity to live, move and exist in His Glory forever. We are the Body. We are His Temple. We can know the Unknown God.

“Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you? God will destroy anyone who destroys this temple. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.” (I Corinthians 3:16-17) So many times, Jesus was rejected by the Jews because He wrecked their religion and did not fit the bill of the Messiah that they wanted although He measured up exactly to what God had prescribed. Could it be that the Lord remains the Unknown God because we desire the comfort, complacency, and conformity of religion? Human pride prefers grace earned by faithful service and religious acts. It is nice to find a doctrine or group of Christians who meet our needs but allow us to remain comfortable. It is okay when religiosity produces uniformity even if it is exclusive.

Should a church try to qualify people? No. Should a church accept people where they are and as who they are? Yes. Do we? No. We don’t even accept God like that most days. We take our beliefs and convictions molding an image of God that is not authentic or relevant. God is not an unknown God. All of creation points to His Existence and Omnipotence. Yet there are many manmade God-boxes that people shove God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit into that defines Him by our doctrine, limits Him in our ignorance, and stifles Him in our structures. We are the Body. We are the church. When we restrict the life-giving, faith-moving, and choose to limit our existence in Christ, we stop the move of God in our buildings. Though we cry out for a “move of God” – our hearts and minds will not allow us to be moved by Him. Revival will not come without the Body of Christ being fully involved and totally existing in Jesus Christ. He is our Revival.

2 Corinthians 6:15-17 (NLT) What harmony can there be between Christ and the devil? How can a believer be a partner with an unbeliever? And what union can there be between God’s temple and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God said: “I will live in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they will be my people. Therefore, come out from among unbelievers, and separate yourselves from them, says the Lord. Don’t touch their filthy things, and I will welcome you.

As we gather in to worship God in the building called church, I wonder if we have taken time beforehand to know Him more? Or are we coming to a place looking for someone who isn’t there? God does live in church buildings and structures. He lives in you and me if we give Him room to. It is up to us as believers to spend every day living, moving and existing in Jesus Christ. Such a life means laying down our own desires and selfish ambition day by day. It’s tough.

There are so many obstacles beginning with flesh, pride, people and religion not to mention the enemy. I do not give the enemy a whole lot of credit because I believe that greater is He who lives in me. I will not blame the enemy for those attacks that make it to my heart but rather claim Romans 8:28 believing that God is doing something good in me. I wonder about people who always claim that enemy is attacking them because of their pursuit of Christ. Why not say, “look what the Lord has done?” Jesus doesn’t need a cheerleader. He doesn’t need me to exaggerate the results. All I need to do is share the love and grace that He has given me. Others will want to know the source. They will get to know Jesus and He will change their hearts and minds. I don’t need to produce a fan club and call it a small group. If I can just shed some light on what Christ has done for me.

I cannot introduce anyone else to someone I don’t know. To know Him is to love Him. To know the Lord is to live, move and exist in Him alone. Where are you today? Working for grace that cannot be earned. Serving for favor that you already have. Following the letter of a law that you cannot uphold. Fighting battles you are not called to fight for victories already won. Hyping up a God who is already the Greatest of All. Maybe if the church would seek to become the Body and Temple of Christ, we would know Him. Maybe just maybe then He would live in us. He would move through us. We would find a new existence in Him and His Spirit would come into our buildings with us.

Micah 6:8 (NLT) No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.

Life Quote

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Philippians 2:5 (NLT) You must have the same attitude as Jesus Christ.

Facebook recently circulated an application by Nametests.com that allows users to generate and post a life quote. The user clicks on a friends “life quote” are redirected to the website with the question, “What is your life quote?” Logging in with your Facebook account it generates a “life quote” for you. Many of my friends have posted the results on their timeline. The truth is the application takes the posts from your personal page analyzing the key words used in posts. It takes the key word and puts the quote associated with that word or words assigning it to you as a “life quote”. As I read these quotes posted by others, I began to wonder what my life quote might be.

As I am writing this, Jenn Johnson is singing in the background. The words “I once was lost but now I am alive in You!” This pretty much sums up my life. Is it the impression I leave others is the question. I can post what I want people to see on Facebook. I can dress a certain way, act another way, and say all the right things and still not be living life to the fullest in my Lord Jesus Christ. I want to be an authentic and genuine believer who not only tells the world that Jesus is my Savior and Lord but am believable. I have found a love bigger than life itself yet if I do not share God’s Love is my testimony credible. We are all bound by the Great Commission but if we do not have the right attitude behind all these words – we will never effectively share the Love that is found in Him.

Another quote from Facebook today – “When the church feels like it must become like the world to win the world, it has not won the world, the world has won it.” I don’t disagree with this but I think there is also truth that the church has tried to create its own realm of reality. The religious realm that makes it about anything other than the Unconditional Love and Amazing Grace of Jesus Christ given to us as a Gift from God. (Period) Religiosity is like the security gate at Walmart that sets off an alarm. It was put into place as a theft deterrent but in most cases just scares the heck out of unsuspecting shoppers when the cashiers fail to deactivate the security tag. We invite people to the House of God and into our sanctuaries under false pretense offering a “come as you are God” yet offering conditional love, terms of doctrine and other religious traits that God does not impose on us. If we care more about how they look, the way they live and how quickly they look like, act like, talk like and live like us, we missed it. There are alarms going off and to many they are silent. When the church feels like it is “better” than a single sinner it encounters it has become like every other social club. It is by grace I am saved through faith. No matter how long I live I will struggle with sin. The only thing that I have of worth in my life to offer is Jesus Christ. Jesus didn’t reject anyone on their appearance or actions. He accepted everyone who came to Him and met their need. Only twelve were invited to follow Him, the rest came just as they were and followed Him all the way to the Cross. Masses and crowds of people left their homes, business and “churches” to sit on waterfronts and mountainsides just to hear what Jesus had to say! Why are buildings and sanctuaries empty if our message is clear? The world was just as sinful then as it is now. The enemy just as ruthless. People need love more than ever before. Where is it? What is my life quote today Jesus? What is the testimony of my life?

Philippians 2:1-4 (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.

These verses precede the key verse. Am I an encouragement? Do I comfort others with His Love? Do I fellowship with others in the Spirit? I believe to do so means that the Fruit of His Spirit will be produced in such relationships. Is my heart tender and compassionate for all people? The Lord is coming for one bride, one church, and one body. He is not a polygamous god but one Savior and Lord who is one Bridegroom coming for One Beloved. People, friends, brothers and sisters – we have got to get our act together. We must have the same attitude as Jesus Christ. One mind and purpose to be like Jesus more and more every day. Love. Love. Love. More love. Putting all of our expectation in Jesus Christ to change hearts and transform lives while trusting Him enough to do it that we put aside what we think people should live in order to let Christ’s Creative work be manifested in their life.

Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Do I think of others as better than myself? What if they don’t love Jesus like I do? What if they don’t serve Him like I think they should? What if they don’t believe the same doctrine I do? Are they worthy of laying my life down for? Jesus thought so. What makes me any better? Revival has become stalled by personal agendas as we try to make Heaven look like us and our idea of church. Revival comes from the Resurrection Power of Jesus Christ when Heaven comes to earth and makes us love and look like Jesus Christ. Otherwise, we do not truly want the kind of revival that comes when the Presence of God falls upon us. Let your Kingdom come, let your Will be done will never look like we have made it – it will always be the Love of Jesus sweeping people away who are not the same but want the same Savior.

Romans 14:17-19 (NLT) For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. If you serve Christ with this attitude, you will please God, and others will approve of you, too. So then, let us aim for harmony in the church and try to build each other up.

There is no religion in the Kingdom of God. Heaven is not filled with churches of every denomination. Denominations create division. Doctrine are articles of organization put into place because people do not yet know how to live in one accord so we need order to continue in the midst of different opinions and individual ideas. If we devoted our life to having the same attitude as Christ – to simply walk in His Way. Do what He did. Say what He says. Love like He loves. Be who He called us to be. There would be no more walls of division as there are today. The Kingdom of God is living a life of goodness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. To serve Christ with this attitude. God I just want to please you today. Let us live in harmony, Lord. Let us build each other up. Let us be an encouragement to others Lord. Help us to be humble in our approach. Forgiving in all things whether intentional or not that no one is offended. The attitude of the Kingdom is and has always been a building process. How far we have fallen by tearing it apart…

I Peter 3:8-12 (NLT) Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude. Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will grant you his blessing. For the Scriptures say, “If you want to enjoy life and see many happy days, keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies. Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it. The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right, and his ears are open to their prayers. But the Lord turns his face against those who do evil.”

My heart is grieved today. As I retreat to my prayer closet, I am asking the Holy Spirit to renew my thoughts and attitude today. My heart’s desire is revival. The more I pursue Jesus Christ the more I have come to realize that so many principles and precepts that I have applied were incorrect. When I have looked down on others only to realize it was an attempt to appease my own performance insecurities. I cannot gain my own salvation. I cannot earn the Grace that God has given me. I can never repay Him for His Goodness. I will never be perfect and to act like I have it all together is a lie. The very lie that is killing our churches today. At the end of the day, when all is stripped away and we stand before God the only thing that will save us is the Blood of Jesus that covers us. Not a single deed will be accounted in that moment. I cannot be perfect. God does not need me – He desires me. Jesus will never make me love Him – but His Love for me is unconditional and unending. His Spirit will not shove me but draws me closer each day that I say, “Yes, Lord.” To ask the Lord change others will not bring the Kingdom of God any closer. To preach a loveless, hard message is not the Gospel of Love that changed my life. The Love that I have found in Jesus Christ is indescribable. It is complete. It is absolute on the days I do great and the ones I fail miserably. To offer anything less to another living, breathing soul is hypocrisy. To recount the sins of others along with every fault and failure is to renounce the grace that I have been so freely given. Revival comes when I invite Jesus to change me. To transform me. I don’t want to conform to the world or the church. I need a new heart and new mind. I need new thoughts and a brand new attitude. I must be one with Jesus to be one with every other human ever created. This is the Will of God for our life. This is the Kingdom of God. Lord, I want my life quote to be by your design not my own. Lord, make the words I speak and the mediation of my heart be pleasing to you. I will be saved by the Blood of the Lamb and the word of my testimony. Let my testimony be “I once was lost but now I am alive in You!” Lord, make me like you today. I want to love like you Jesus. Let your Kingdom come. Let your Will be done. Send Heaven to earth!

Psalm 19:14 (NLT) May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

Puzzles

puzzles

Ephesians 4:1-5 (NIV) As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

I have always enjoyed puzzles. Not everyone enjoys them like I do. In fact, they completely stress my husband out even at the preschool level. I think it is the concept that every piece has a place and if you just work it all everything fits together. There is a solution. I imagine this appeals to my need for order and control. Dumping the contents of the box on the table, sorting through each piece, separating the edges to begin with, it is no surprise that I found one waiting to be done at the Hope Lodge where my son and I stayed during his treatment. Caregivers and patients alike would join each other around the table to sort out and complete something when everything else in their life was turned upside down. Friendships were formed around the puzzle. Tears were shed as well. Time passed slowly yet somehow even on the hard days and darkest hours of the night there seemed to be something being completed and finished in our life.

On the box of every puzzle there is a picture of the completed product. The goal for which we strive in our endeavor to put all the pieces in their proper place. Don’t worry I am not going to continue to bore you with the semantics of puzzles but feel in my heart that it is the premise of unity in its example that we need in our churches today. Within each congregation new pictures and images have been formed of a body clearly defined and a Spirit fully formed. Division and dysfunction take over if we cannot find ways to fit together and find everything is falling apart. The longer a puzzle is spread out and fitted together – the more likely it will lose pieces along the way. Each piece has a place in the big picture that will never be fulfilled in its absence. Oh the Lord is speaking to us today as believers – we must come together. We must find our place.

“Live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” These words are scripted by Paul from a prison most likely with chains on his wrists, he still felt freedom in his heart. He called his brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ to come together. To unite and be one. It is our calling. How are we have come yet how spread apart also? We are part of one body. We are born of one Spirit. We are called to one hope. We have one Lord. We have one faith. We experience one baptism. We serve only one God. He is our Father. We are His Children. It is time for the family to come together.

When working on a puzzle, we look at the hole and search for the piece that will fit in it. Why are we going back to this? It is time to apply the same philosophy to the Body of Christ. The world in which we live thrives on grouping. I cannot help my kid with her math homework anymore because rather than simple arithmetic, it requires crazy regrouping. We divide people based on sex, race, religion, political views, socioeconomic status, diagnoses, and the list goes on and on. There is no push for unity because if we truly came together personal agendas would be destroyed. Everyone would have to give up something they want to become one with the other. To fulfill our calling in Jesus Christ is to surrender all of our life to become one with Him. We think we want it but does our life relay the same?

Ephesians 2:10 (NIV)  For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

To create a puzzle an image is chosen and printed. The picture is glued on a board thick enough to fit together. A sharp blade then cuts into pieces which are amassed into the one that is bought and dumped out on the kitchen or card table where it will be put back together. The picture is chosen first. We are chosen. Our lives completely recorded and handcrafted by the Lord before we are born into this world. Before our hearts are broken, the Lord provided the healing needed to keep going. He knew the hardship to be endured so He provided all the grace needed in advance. He understood how much faith would be required to establish hope in our life so He gave it to us up front in the measure required. See all of this is part of a plan, picture, or masterpiece that God predestined before our birth. It is up to us to decide will we become part of the hope that is our future or will we just be a piece with a part of the picture never to be fulfilled.

Ephesians 4:16 (NLT) He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.

God designed the Body. He knows how it fits together and works properly. It would only seem logical to seek His Instruction (His Word) and His Guidance (His Spirit) for everyone to find their proper place. Pride is not a part of God’s Character. He is not arrogant. He is Sovereign. In order to find our place in the Lord, it will require submission and surrender on a level that humanity is not accustomed to. It is our vain glory that allows us to try to define worship, spout out praise, and live a life of service all the while glorifying ourselves rather than humbling, hopefully following the Lord to find our way and proper place in the Body of Christ.

No one can see your heart except the Lord. No one can fulfill your purpose other than a partnership with God the Father. He puts people around us to connect with and as a body we are to connect with those around us in other churches and throughout our community. Church is a living breathing body filled with Jesus Christ.

Revelation 2:2-4 (NLT) “I know all the things you do. I have seen your hard work and your patient endurance. I know you don’t tolerate evil people. You have examined the claims of those who say they are apostles but are not. You have discovered they are liars. You have patiently suffered for me without quitting. But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first! Look how far you have fallen! Turn back to me and do the works you did at first…”

I know that when I would sit and work on the “community puzzle” in the Hope Lodge that I would find rest for my mind. It would take my mind off the struggle and fight we were in if only to become lost in a pile of pieces in need of proper placement. While he lay sleeping, fighting, healing and recovering, I would sit with my new friends and talk about life before this tragic set of circumstances befell us. Since that time, I know of others who are now fighting the same fight. They post pictures of their puzzle creations. I look intently at each one. An effort to restore order in the midst of chaos. Busyness that calms the mind and quiets the heart if only for a few moments. I understand completely.

I wonder if rather than working on programs, projects, calendars, and promotions, the church and body of Jesus Christ worked on coming together in complete unity what might happen. What if we took the same diligence and thoughtfulness used in putting together a puzzle? Never quitting until the final one slips in its place and searching high and low for those who missing or lost, what would happen?

The Book of Ephesians is focused on Christianity as a whole. What it means to be a Christian in faith and in practice regardless of circumstance or condition focused fully on Jesus Christ. With this in mind, in the Book of Revelation, their error is made clear. The Lord knew of everything they were “doing” in His Name. Their hard work was no secret. They patiently endured trial and tribulation for being Christians. They did not entertain sin. Showing wisdom, they did not fall for the convoluted word and lies of false prophets but rightly discerned God’s Word. These people were not quitters but kept pushing and pressing no matter what. All of these qualities and characteristics were of God and done for His Glory, yet they were in clear danger of missing it altogether.

You don’t love me or each other as you did at first! Look how far you have fallen! Many of the people who sat around the puzzle with me at the Lodge are with Jesus now or at least I hope so. As we worked together in that place, there was never an argument or dispute just love, kindness and compassion for each other. Why can’t we come together like that as believers?

Years ago Rubik’s Cubes were popular. Do you remember them? A 3-D puzzle in the form of a plastic cube covered in multicolor squares. Twisting and turning each section, the object was to have all of the same color on one side. I would work that thing for hours until one day I discovered that if I popped one out that they all fell out. I could take each piece and put it in its proper place suddenly the endless process all came together quickly. I never knew the satisfaction of completing it without cheating. I gave up. It was easier to do it that way but over time the cube was not as tightly together and became loose until one day the pieces just fell apart. There is a process in unity that brings satisfaction when the Body of Christ presses through the pain, pushes past their problems, stops defining one another by differences, and puts in the time, twisting and turning until believers come together as a well-formed properly place body. Everyone is necessary.

The only way to work this out is to stop looking for the differences in one another and find our likeness. Likeness will turn into acceptance. As we accept one another as we are applying grace just as God gives it to us a bond is formed called relationships. My shoulder has a relationship with my arm including my elbow, wrist, hand and fingers. My muscles and tendons allow it all to relate and work together so that I can use it. They are doing so as I type the message today. If a tendon is damaged or muscle is torn suddenly my entire arm including all of its parts could be impacted. Why? They were created to work together. God has given us one another for a purpose. We must love one another not just in word or deed but from the heart. Love is our likeness. It is this kind of relationship that will form the Body of Christ creating the masterpiece that God created us to be. Every person in proper placement. Churches without walls that come together to promote the Good News and find another missing person who has fallen out of place. When our purpose forgets people we have missed it altogether. What if we looked at ways to make people fit in rather than exclude them? Imagine the possibilities.

Lord, teach me to see people like you do. Impress upon my heart unity, love, compassion and grace for all people in all things never to drive them away but draw them closer to You. Forgive me for all the times I compared them to my standards rather than embracing them with Your Love as instructed. I want to be part of a fully functionally perfectly constructed masterpiece. Humble me in Your Presence Lord. Teach me Your Gentleness, Love and Kindness again and again until I get it and give it to all people unconditionally. Remind me today and always that “there is one body and one Spirit, just as (I am) called to one hope (with) one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. Lord teach me unity, bind it with love, so we can come together and be all you have designed us to be!

Psalm 133:1-3 (NLT) How wonderful and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony! For harmony is as precious as the anointing oil that was poured over Aaron’s head, that ran down his beard and onto the border of his robe. Harmony is as refreshing as the dew from Mount Hermon that falls on the mountains of Zion. And there the Lord has pronounced his blessing, even life everlasting.

 

Missing Church

missing-church

I John 2:28-29 (NLT) And now, dear children, remain in fellowship with Christ so that when he returns, you will be full of courage and not shrink back from him in shame. Since we know that Christ is righteous, we also know that all who do what is right are God’s children.

I will be missing church today. After a fun-filled girl’s weekend, I am serenaded by wiped out sleeping people this morning. In just a little while they will begin to stumble out of bed and pack up to head back home. Meanwhile at home, everyone is preparing to head to the building called church and praise our Savior. Part of this weekend included worshipping Jesus in an open stadium under a starry sky. I believe that could be considered “church”, too. Just because it is not an organized event with a published schedule and streamlined program doesn’t make it any more “church”.

We are the church. Collectively and corporately and more importantly individually – we are the Body of Christ being knit together in His Love, Mercy and Grace. It is hard to see this important truth when caught in the rigors of routine. This morning I miss my church. I would love to be there serving and worshipping with my husband, family, friends, acquaintances and even the visitors who may wander in. It is possible and entirely likely that the Holy Spirit will meet them there even though I am not. So I think I will have church here in the quiet of the morning, I can miss my church family but I don’t have to miss my church.

Genesis 5:23-24 (NLT) Enoch lived 365 years, walking in close fellowship with God. Then one day he disappeared, because God took him.

Enoch was the son of Jared (Genesis 5:19–21), the father of Methuselah, and the great grandfather of Noah. Not very much is written about Enoch, yet what little there is points to a tremendous man of faith who lived in complete unity with God. The kind of unity that Jesus prayed for in John 17. Living 365 years, one might think there might be more details of his life shared with us. Or maybe God wanted to shine a spotlight on the most important component of our religion. It is a true relationship with Jesus Christ. United with His Will, Word and Way living on purpose so much in fact that the world becomes dead to us. It is the point when all we want, need and desire is to be one with the Lord.

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

Ironically, Enoch was in the same situation that you and I are. He knew of the Messiah and that He was coming but did not live when Jesus lived. He did not hear of His Birth or witness His Death, but Enoch had faith. So much so in fact that he was “taken up to heaven without dying.” He simply disappeared because God swept him away. I love the lost feeling in worship. When we begin to praise the Lord until every weight and worry melts off our shoulders so we can lift our hands. The moment bondage ends with chains falling from us and our heart captivated with lesser things is finally free to commune with our Savior again. God made it clear from the beginning in the cool breezes of the garden that His Intent was to live with us, be with us, walk and talk with us. God loves us.

Micah 6:8 (NLT) No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.

It is easy sometimes to get lost in this life. We are presented the opportunity to worry, stress and become anxious with mounting responsibility, peer pressure to perform, and a church lost in religion that sometimes forgets it is all about a true relationship with Jesus Christ from beginning to end. Everyone will have a grave marker with a date. The date usually has a little hyphen between the day that we enter this world and the one God chose for us to leave it. This is the brevity of life. It is our opportunity to take our faith and give it to the Lord. Perhaps, that is why God made it so simple and the enemy uses its simplicity to make us stumble right over it. We are to do what is right. We are to love mercy. We are to walk humbly with God. That’s it. Coming back to the heart of worship is the realization that we make more out of worshipping the Lord than what it should be. We give Him everything we can yet fail to give the Lord our heart, surrender our way to take up our cross and follow Him. Just to walk with Jesus – day by day and moment by moment.

Amos 3:3 (NLT) Can two people walk together without agreeing on the direction?

My girlfriend and I took four girls to Walt Disney World. Before leaving on the trip, we bought matching t-shirts with monogrammed Mickey Mouse ears on the front and #Disney Squad on the back. It really was just a cute gesture in the beginning. I discovered it to a great tool in the park which was exceptionally crowded. I could easily pick out the girls in the midst of large groups of people. It unified our little “squad”. Throughout the day, we would discuss where to head to next and what each person would like to do or see. It was important that we agree and walk together so no one became lost along the way.

Without agreeing on the direction two people cannot walk together and most certainly one must yield their way. God is perfect. He does not lie or change His Mind. Once He said it, He does it and it is complete whether manifested in our life or not – it is finished. With this in mind, Enoch yielded his life completely to the Lord. He lived in total and complete agreement with the Lord. This included living a life of true religion which is godliness, righteousness and self-control.

Here are some thoughts from Matthew Henry’s commentary on Genesis 5:23-24. These are qualities and characteristics that led Enoch straight into Heaven never to experience the sting of death:

  • Walked with God setting God before self.
  • Acted as though God was always present.
  • Lived in communion with God in both ordinances and providences.
    • Ordinance – He obeyed God’s Authoritative Law.
    • Providence – He lived in God’s Divine Care and Direction.
  • Made God’s Word the rule.
  • Made God’s Glory the end.
  • Constant care and endeavor in all things to please God.
  • Did not want to offend the Lord.
  • Complied with God’s Will.
  • Concurred with God’s Design.
  • Worked with God.
  • Followed the Lord always.

If I want to experience a life like Enoch, I must follow his example. It is a good one. To be honest, sometimes I forget that the excellence and perfection in my life are Jesus Christ and nothing I can do or say. I must simply, humbly, soberly and completely follow Jesus to be with Him forever. Selah.

Galatians 2:20-21 (NLT) My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die.

Enoch lived true religion. He also lived a new religion. Enoch was entirely dead to this world. Enoch did not want to chase God or even follow Him at a distance. No, this man wanted to walk right beside Him. The Lord cannot stand next to me in my sin not yet covered by grace or His Goodness will consume it. The Light must overtake the darkness by rule so it means that I can only pursue God until I completely repent with a heart intent on not sinning for the love of my Savior. Enoch walked without earthly ties. He did not “get caught up in civilian affairs” but was a man on a mission to be with His God. He lived his residency in heaven while still on this earth. Lord, teach me to live a new religion just like Enoch did.

I Peter 2:9-12 (NLT)  But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light. “Once you had no identity as a people; now you are God’s people. Once you received no mercy; now you have received God’s mercy.” Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls. Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world.

Enoch lived true religion. He lived a new religion. Enoch also lived a “do” religion. He was a priest by profession. In most legacy passages in the Bible, it simply states the individual “lived” but by divine inspiration, Enoch’s legacy passage says, “walked with God.” God was the business of Enoch as a priest. You and I are part of a royal priesthood thanks to Jesus Christ so we are called to the same business. Christ is our business. Salvation is our business plan built to prosper our life by faith. Are we working the plan correctly or failing miserably? It is question of faith nothing more or less. Enoch lived as a “temporary resident and foreigner” in this world completely consumed by His Creator’s Love. Do I live that way?

Our life should give evidence of the joy and support experienced in Jesus Christ. This satisfaction that emanates from our life can only be reflected when the Lord is glorified in and through our walk with Him. Without a true commitment and consistent relationship with Jesus Christ including repentance, surrender, submission and humility, we will never come close to walking with God as Enoch did. Our life is a continual process of producing spiritual fruit such as love, joy, kindness, goodness, kindness, patience, forgiveness, and self-control. I cannot make these characteristics consistent in my life only the Lord can. His Spirit lives in me and thrives all the more in His Presence.

John 4:24 (NLT) For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”

Today I am missing church – the building I go to and the people that fill it. I am not missing church completely. God is a Spirit. His Presence is with me always. His Spirit lives inside of me. I have everything I need to worship the Lord every day, all day and all by myself. If I want to live like Enoch and experience the same kind of communion and fellowship that he had with the Lord, then I should probably do the things he did. I need a true religion that is based solely on walking WITH my God. I need a new religion not bent on rules and regulations but rather one that brings Heaven to earth along with all the miracles, signs and wonders that reflect the Glory of God in my life. Finally, I must live a “do” religion always representing the royal priesthood I am a part of with commitment, consistency and consecrating my life to Jesus one day at a time.

Psalm 15:1-2 (NLT) Who may worship in your sanctuary, Lord? Who may enter your presence on your holy hill. Those who lead blameless lives and do what is right, speaking the truth from sincere hearts.

 

Cast the Net

Cast the Net

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

We have been given but one commandment. Just one purpose in life that supersedes every other “thing” that is done for God. We are called to love one another. It is the character trait of a true disciple of Jesus Christ. It is not enough to pray for others, reach out to them in need, but to live on purpose means to love others as Jesus does. In every interaction, it is of the utmost importance that each and every individual who comes in contact with us leave feeling true love. When Jesus came into contact with people in his everyday life, it was important to our Savior and Lord that He did not leave them as they were. If they were hungry, He fed them. If they were sick, He healed them. If they were weary, He restored them. If they were discouraged, Jesus encouraged them. If they were possessed, He delivered them. He did not force others to follow Him, Jesus only invited them to come. The people flocked after Jesus Christ. In a day and age without technology, how did the word spread so fast and far about Jesus? His Love was so different, real, genuine and life changing – it spread all the way around the world.

If my only purpose is to love and there really is no other commandment important to the Lord other than that I completely and without regard love other people as He loves me, how am I doing? I am asking myself that today as I consider my walk with Jesus Christ. Do I have compassion for all mankind or just my inner circle? To be fishers of men does not require a pole with one hook, no it is all about casting the net wide and far. It is not to a small scoop net intent on one, but an effort to reach the unreachable and untouchable with a love greater than any I have ever known. We are selective in love. Guarded in our effort called outreach, but Jesus is telling us today to cast the net over the other side of our boat.

Luke 5:4-6 (NIV) When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.” Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish their nets began to break.

“Come and follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” (Matthew 4:19) Jesus often would take a boat to the center of water in order to project his voice to the crowds who followed him. It is how he became acquainted with Simon Peter. He called these men (mostly fishermen by trade) to be His Disciples and become fishers of men. To continually cast out a net of love to draw men and women to Jesus Christ. How are we doing? Do we cast our nets wide? Or do we limit our catch by not loving those around us? Do we exclude certain groups? Do we judge others? Do we have walls of division between churches and congregations maintaining separation out some kind of fear of overtaking? The only thing that we should be overtaken is with love for all mankind. A love so great and full of compassion that it exudes uncommon grace which allows all to come as they are and be drawn in by our consideration for them. Are we casting our nets into the community around us effectively? I believe God is calling all churches and congregations to next level love in response to their cry for revival. To have revival come into our communities will require a change in us first. Will we like Peter be willing to do it the way the Lord is asking even though it feels like we have done it all before? Experience is a harsh instructor but cannot limit us in love. One encounter with Jesus can resolve all our trust issues to release faith that allows us to live full of love for other people – all people.

Romans 12:9-13 (NIV) Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

The beginning of Romans 12 urges us to offer our lives as living sacrifices that are holy and acceptable to God which is only possible through His Son, Jesus Christ. In doing so, we must conform our heart and mind to live in love with Jesus and follow Him. His only requirement is that I love others as He has loved me. This is an argument that I cannot win when faced with “unlovable” people. I can do nothing but respond I love to live in according to the wishes of my Savior and Lord. His Grace is enough for me only when it gives me no excuse to love someone else because none is righteous no not one. Sin is sin and it all nailed Jesus to the Cross. A single sin demanded every drop of the Blood of Jesus. It is easy to become a bit prideful or downright arrogant as the Lord loves us so completely, we do not see ourselves in others anymore but fully identify with Jesus. However, it does not exempt us from living a life of long on purpose.

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. God created mankind in His Image. We are all His Masterpieces. Every single human being with breath in their body is connected to God. However, it is possible to become judgmental in our approach to love by dividing people between good and evil rather than understanding that every good and perfect gift comes from God and people are created by Him therefore we are all good. Rather than throwing out the baby with the bathwater, we must carefully learn to “pick” through all the evil to extract what is good. There is good in all people. The Light of God’s Love allows us to find it in those who we are willing to look for it in rather than disregarding them as hopeless. There is none who has ever fallen too far to be caught by the net of love set forth by a faithful believer.

Love must be sincere. The roots of love must branch out for beneath the four walls of our churches growing into our community if we our desire is revival. If we do not love other sincerely, there is no point in praying for a Move of God because our life is plagued by disobedience that cannot be disregarded. What is love? Love is patient. Love is kind. It does not envy. It does not boast. It is not proud. It does not dishonor others. It is not self-seeking. It is not easily angered. It keeps no record of wrong. Love does not delight in evil. It rejoices in truth. It always protects. It always trusts. It always hopes. It always perseveres. Love never fails. Is this the definition of the love expressed in our life? If our true desire is to be His Disciple, it absolutely should define every single encounter we have with other people on a daily basis. All people. All day. Every day.

Galatians 5:14-16 (NIV) For the entire law is fulfilled in keep this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23) The first fruit of God’s Spirit in our life is love. Without love, it is evident that the Holy Spirit is not in control of our life because if He is our life will be defined by the qualities left behind. The entire law is fulfilled in our ability to keep this one commandment that we love others as we do ourselves. Churches are notorious for backbiting and devouring their own fruit. How many churches have split and divided rather than coming together to grow as one? Afraid to worship together in fear that someone might jump the fence or sheep steal a faithful follower away, we have forgotten that we are all in this together with one purpose – to love each other.

Hebrews 10:23-25 (NIV) Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing but encouraging one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

I must love on purpose today. The purpose of my life is take this love so freely given to me by Jesus Christ and spread it all over the world. I cannot be selective but relentless in my pursuit of all mankind with the offering of His Love. It is evidence of what I truly believe for I choose not to love completely, I in essence am saying that I lack confidence in God’s Love and His Ability to meet my every need. A lack of trust creates a void from which there is nothing to pour from. You cannot pour from an empty pitcher but must become so full of God’s Love and confident in it that we are able to pour our life out as a liquid offering that is acceptable. What is God looking for in our sacrifice? His Son. He is looking into our heart to see His Son. He sees Jesus in us when we do what Jesus says. Jesus gave one command – we are to love one another. I wonder what might happen to us if we heard the Word of the Lord and answered His Call to love even though we have been hurt, broken and burned in doing so before. Well, after hearing His Word and then His Command to cast his net once more. When Peter did, his net was so full it burst. If we did the same, I believe our net would be full and break also… right into revival.

I John 4:10-12 (NIV) This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and His Love is made complete in us.

Cloudy Days

Cloudy Dadys

I Kings 18:41-45 (NKJV) Then Elijah said to Ahab, “Go up, eat and drink; for there is the sound of abundance of rain.” So Ahab went up to eat and drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; then he bowed down on the ground, and put his face between his knees, and said to his servant, “Go up now, look toward the sea.” So he went up and looked, and said, “There is nothing.” And seven times he said, “Go again.” Then it came to pass the seventh time, that he said, “There is a cloud, as small as a man’s hand, rising out of the sea!” So he said, “Go up, say to Ahab, ‘Prepare your chariot, and go down before the rain stops you.’” Now it happened in the meantime that the sky became black with clouds and wind, and there was a heavy rain. So Ahab rode away and went to Jezreel. 

As I begin to share my heart today, I do so realizing to some this is going to sound crazy and farfetched. Perhaps, I look too intently to see My God in all things. The Word of God tells us that is how He planned it to be that all of creation would be evidence of His Glory. Everything created through His Son, Jesus for all mankind to see and know Him. It seems as of late that I have become quite sensitive to rain. The gathering of storm clouds on hot summer afternoons is nothing new. In fact, it is an annual occurrence for as many years as I can remember. Yet for some unknown reason when the clouds rise up a sense of awe and worship begins to collective in heart and soul. A need to cry out to the Lord, sing His Praise and invite His Presence closer. It can be in the car or even looking out the window at work. It doesn’t stop there. As the rain begins to fall so do the tears, not in sadness or depression as some feel in gloomy weather, but simply because I am overwhelmed by God’s Love in a tangible way. The rain makes me feel like He is falling all around me and saturating my life with His Presence and all those things that He gives in such a place. This is the natural workings around me.

I could stop right here and turn this thing around with a feel good story of some sort or relate the Lord to some personal experience or tangible object like this blog often does but not today. God is taking us deeper. He is stretching us farther. Out of ordinary circumstances and mediocre lives – see His Glory is coming. No, wait it is already here all around us. Today – Jesus wants to show us His Glory. I got a call this week from a friend from church. We do not speak on a daily basis. I knew when her name came up on the caller ID that something was up. We chatted for a few and then she said, “You are gonna think I am crazy…” I love it when fellow believers preface a conversation with those words because my faith makes me feel that way so many times. When the Lord does something or says something in or around me that is just too incredible for mere human beings to comprehend or accept. I promised that I would not so she told me her story.

I prayed for her daughter in church while she faithfully served in the nursery. We have a live feed so the serving saints of God can be a part of the service. As I lingered with her child, she felt her heart pressed to join us. As she opened the door to the sanctuary, she was met with a rushing wind and felt something heavy sweep over her. She look up and “saw” a cloud circling the top of the building. Quickly looking around to see if anyone could see what she could, it was clear she was the only one. She met us at the altar. I guess at some point I reached for her hand and she shared that she felt God’s Power rush through her. She knew what she was experiencing was of the Lord but could not comprehend if it what she saw was as real as what she felt. The Presence of God is real. It is real and thick in the atmosphere. It just so happened at that moment a group of people invited Heaven to come to earth. The same group of believers have been pressing God and praying for His Revival. Desiring the latter day rain, it is coming in the Cloud called Presence. Are we ready?

Elijah was a man of faith. His faith was real. It is was tangible. He believed God at His Word. So much so that Elijah based his attitude and actions on it not reliant on natural conditions or physical circumstances. When it was time for the drought to end and rain to come, Elijah saw it in the spirit. Prayed for it as a person. Instructed others to prepare for its arrival. Jesus is coming back. He is coming in the clouds. Are we surrounded by the very clouds that precipitate His Arrival? Can we see the rain coming? Can we hear His Approach? Are we prepared for the latter rain and outpouring that will come just before He gets here? If not, we definitely should be.

Revelation 1:4-8 (NKJV) Grace to you and peace from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth and the End,” says the Lord, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”

This is not about religion or the way of worship that you choose to practice in a building built by man and filled by people each week. It is not about the doctrine you have determined to be your way or the religious commitment to your church. This is about Jesus. The One who took on the form of a human being, lived a perfectly sinless life to be my example, who walked a way that I am to follow, loved unconditionally and died brutally for me. It is about the stone that rolled away just three days later revealing a stunning victory. It depicts a Savior not weak or wavering, but resolute in purpose who obtained my freedom and gave it back to me. That is what it is about. He is coming back. He is coming for me. Am I ready? Is my head in the clouds? My heart must be there, too.

The psalmist tell us that the Lord clouds surround the Lord. (Psalm 97:1-6) We know this to be true in watching the plight of the Israelites whose fear and faithlessness would not allow them to walk straight into their promise but would require years of wandering to find their way to God. All who left Egypt died in the wilderness but the ones born in freedom were the ones who claimed victory inhabiting the Promise of God. Exodus 40 says that the cloud accompanied God’s People throughout “all their journeys”. Before us, the cloud lights the path for the righteous. Behind us, it blocks the enemy’s advances in a covering of darkness.

This isn’t Old Testament fodder. Daniel saw the Lord in a cloud too. (Daniel 7:13-14) Ezekiel said, “Like the appearance of a rainbow in a cloud on a rainy day, so was the appearance of the brightness all around it. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord.” (Ezekiel 1:28) Is it possible that my friend saw the Glory of the Lord in our place of worship? Can it be that the Lord came in close enough for human eyes to see Him there? Have we seen so many clouds for so long that we lose sight of them? Not me. Not anymore.

The Lord is moving in closer. It sounds cliché as a Christian to say that Jesus is coming back. We have been threatening it for years. But what I am discovering is that as I see the Glory of the Lord drawing nearing as His Presence becomes more frequently tangible around me in the spirit that Jesus IS coming back! For now, we must open our eyes and see He is coming in closer than before. Am I a crazy Christian? You be the judge. Have I lost touch with reality? Yes, I believe that I have. I want the IMPOSSIBLE to be possible which only happens in the Presence of God. I want revival. Not just a service, but the kind of encounter with the Lord that sets captives totally free, delivering people from addiction, miraculously healing the sick and even raising the dead. I believe it can happen. I see a cloud. Though maybe not the overpowering reality that is coming, it is a revelation that shakes my awareness and causes me to examine my life.

Exodus 14:15-16 (NKJV) And the Lord said to Moses, “Why do you cry to Me? Tell the children of Israel to go forward. But lift up your rod, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it. And the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea.

The Egyptians agreed to let God’s People go…for the moment. The Israelites leave captivity being led by a cloud during the day and pillar of fire at night. Now God did not lead them straight to the Promised Land but because the Philistines (or opposition) laid between the people and their promise they would take a detour. Fear will lengthen our journey until faith arrives. Well, lo and behold the Red Sea is before them and the Egyptians who came to their senses are pursing them. The people who are faint in heart are complaining to Moses. He answers them with a powerful message of faithful encouragement to stand and God will deliver them.

But in reality Moses was crying out to the Lord because he wasn’t sure how to get out of this one. They were stuck between a rock and a hard place. The Lord tells Moses “why do you cry to Me?” Tell them to go forward. To step out in faith. Put your money where your mouth is Moses. The most power part of this story comes next – “Lift up your rod and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it.” I wonder if Moses had a meltdown right there. I mean he was not Charlton Heston in real life. There would not be fifty takes until he got it right. If the sea did not split wide open, they were goners. I would lie if I said that I don’t freak out over faith sometimes when God tells me one thing but everything in the natural makes it seem impossible. Well, we all know that the sea did open up to allow the Children of God through and become a watery grave for their enemies. Praise God!

Is the Lord asking you and me the same thing today? Why are you crying out to me? The same power that brought Jesus back from the dead now lives in me. It lives in you as a born again believer. It is like a cloud filled with rain about to burst. Moses was aware of God’s Presence in the clouds. He acknowledged Him and God kept bringing Him closer and closer to the cloud until He was in the cloud and moving deeper in God’s Presence. The rest of his life would be in the wilderness following the cloud. We have been given an opportunity to step into the cloud and live in His Presence experiencing His Glory. How do we get there from here?

Joel 2:1-3 (NKJV) Blow the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in My holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble; for the day of the Lord is coming, for it is at hand: A day of darkness and gloominess, A day of clouds and thick darkness, Like the morning clouds spread over the mountains. A people come, great and strong, the like of whom has never been; Nor will there ever be any such after them, even for many successive generations. A fire devours before them, and behind them a flame burns; the land is like the Garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; surely nothing shall escape them.

We usually skip down in Joel 2 to the part about the Lord pouring out His Spirit again in the last days. The clouds are stirring. The Glory of God and His Presence is circling the earth ready to do just that pour out His Spirit on us again. He has chosen His Army. Look in the mirror, friend it is you. He is in those clouds. They are filled with latter day rain. It is the day of the Lord. The remnant army has assembled with the faithful few willing to forsake religion and tradition striking out after God. With militant and committed obedience they are the Lord’s Army not an organized religion but those in radical relationships with Jesus Christ who will follow them without counting the cost but desperate to be with Him.

With this great uprising comes a need for heart ripping repentance dissecting who we think God is and deciding who we know Him to be. Revival requires a wholehearted passionate pursuit of Jesus with disregard for the world. It is fasting, weeping, mourning, repenting and repeating over and over again. It is time for us to put our money where our mouth is. The same power that brought Jesus back to life lives in us. Are we exercising its power? Are we executing godly authority on the earth? Refusing to live with conditions like poverty, sickness and disappointment – we look to the clouds and see Him coming. God is about to restore His People. It is coming in the latter day rain. His Abundance is attainable in His Presence. It is there for the asking. It is reachable. Are you reaching?

Joel 2:28-29 (NKJV) “And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions. And also on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days.”

The Lord wants to pour out His Spirit on all mankind. It is sprinkling in our midst. I see the droplets surfacing in many churches and in the midst of believers going after the Lord. The tiny cloud is getting bigger and bigger. Thunder and lightning announce His Approach. The earth is literally quaking under the pressure of His Perfection. This is not an exclusive call but a widespread offering. God’s Love is for you. His Grace is enough to overcome everything you think the Lord is holding against you. Religion does not dictate rules and regulations that is called doctrine to create order in their purpose and program. What about our relationship to God through Jesus Christ? This is the only way to answer the call. When we repent, Jesus offers us His Spirit. His Father wants to adopt us and saturate us in His Love. He wants to take us where He is. The rain is coming but it is the clouds that announce its arrival. The King is coming in those clouds.

Proverbs 16:15 (NKJV) In the light of the king’s face is life, And his favor is like a cloud of the latter rain.

Everything that I need is found in the Presence of God. His Favor is all I really need to live a prosperous life soul, mind and body. I didn’t wake up and believe it. I had to wander through a whole lot of wildernesses, live through several droughts, and fall into more pits then I care to recall. I have discovered that in the Presence of God there is an overwhelming love and grace like I have never known before.

So you think all this is kind of crazy, to see a swirling cloud in a closed up building or to feel electric power shoot through you in prayer. I know I used to feel the exact same way…crazy Christians. Until I was broken beyond repair, had sinned beyond saving, and wandered too far to come home. When I repented turning to find Him, Jesus was right there. He is with you. He is in every cloud you see. His Favor is each tiny droplet of rain covered in enough grace to get to the heart of things. Do not be afraid. Jesus is not coming to get you. He is coming for you.

When it rains, there is usually thunder and lightning that comes with it. People are afraid of the water in the rain but the storm-like conditions surrounding it. God is in control. This world is not out of control just spiraling toward destruction. Our Savior is coming to take us home. He is in those clouds that seem so foreboding. We have nothing to fear. We just need enough faith to see the cloud coming.

Matthew 26:64 (NKJV) Jesus said to him, “It is as you said. Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.”