Lay Me Down

Lay Me Down

John 15:12-14 (NIV) My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.

The more in love with Jesus I become the more evident the loveless places in my life. When invited the Light of His Love shines into the deepest and darkest parts of the human heart and illuminates all the places where love is not definitive. Pride tries to brush it off in the name of self-preservation but the Spirit continues to press on the sorest part to make the change and trust the Lord. Over the years, I have developed the uncanny ability to shut off the switch of my emotions when it comes to hurt, betrayal and devastation. To become indifferent is a dangerous quality that should never be embraced but carefully extracted. Life’s experience give us certain coping abilities that are unhealthy to the spirit man and contraindicative to growth, development and maturity of the new creation. The command is to love each other as Christ has loved us. He establishes that there is no greater love than for one to lay down our life for a friends. The Lord goes on to evoke that those who master this concept will be called and considered His Friends. Faith makes us a friend of God. Love makes us a friend of Jesus. The key to laying our life down properly is love. We must get it in the right order to have the desired effect!

In Revelation 3, the Lord talks about indifference. He calls those who live in it as “lukewarm” and tells us that He will spit such people out. It goes on to say that Jesus will correct and discipline us to love everyone. It comes with the warning to be diligent in pursuing passionate love and turning away from the tendency of humanity to live in indifference. Indifference makes us disinterested, inattentive, uncaring, and self-centered. Intentional Christians cannot be indifferent but must live passionately in love with Jesus Christ. It all begins with our acceptance of His Love and commitment to learn love like our Savior. But this is not always the case. Some will come to Jesus and attempt to lay down an incomplete life for others to follow which will only lead to despair and disappointment. The beginning and end of our faith is the Love of God for us. Lord, teach us to love like you do!

I John 3:16-18 (NIV) This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

I must lay down my life for my brothers and sisters. The Kingdom of God is reserved for every man, woman and child who asks Jesus to save them. God’s Desire is to save, heal, deliver and restore them all. Am I working with the Lord? Or working against Him? Friends work together. We give up our time, energy, resources and more to help out those who are called family and friends. But what about the rest? Oh I hear you! I give. I help. I share. I am generous. There are many philanthropists who give away their wealth. The Kingdom Economy called wealth is not measured in such things. It is our capacity to love others and from that love give our life away. We cannot get it out of order. Love is not a compulsion it is a commitment.

John 13:36-38 (NIV) Simon Peter asked him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus replied, “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.” Peter asked, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” Then Jesus answered, “Will you really lay down your life for me? Very truly I tell you, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!

Peter was probably one of the most enthusiastic, passionate and zealous Christians to ever live. He believed it when he told Jesus, “I will lay down my life for you.” How devastating to discover just hours later that the Lord was right when Peter denied Him the third time and the rooster sounded as promised. Peter already had the revelation of who Jesus was. He knew that Jesus was the Son of the Living God. I know a lot of people but I am still learning to love them. Not everyone is lovable and not everyone understands love. There are many people who have only experienced brokenness and devastation in giving love away so they give their life but withhold their heart.

In I Corinthians 13, it says “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.” When Peter saw Jesus walking on the shore after the resurrection, he dove in the water and swam all the way to shore to meet Him. Peter was different now. Indifference was now filled with passionate love for the Lord and a willingness to give his life from that love. We must fall completely head over heels in love with Jesus in order to make the laying down of our life meaningful.

John 10:14-18 (NIV)  “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”

Love cannot be forced. Whom the Son sets free is free indeed. To love or not to love. It is a personal choice made each day. Jesus is the Good Shepherd. He is not distant but constant. His Sheep know Him and respond to His Voice. Why? Because they love him so. He offered His Life as a sacrifice for our sin so that our relationship with God the Father could be reestablished. He did so out of love. To properly lay our life down for others it must always be from the same love that God gave us through His Son, Jesus. It is in that capacity that our power and authority to lay our life down and pick it back up is possible. No one can take your love from you. You must choose to give it. We have the full power and authority of Jesus Christ – King of Kings and Lord of Lords – on the inside of us. Full dominion is ours because Jesus gave it to us. To lay down my life for others and fulfilling the commandment of Christ means receiving His Love. Allowing Him to teach me to love through correction and discipline. Continue to love until He comes for me or I go to Him. Lord, teach me to lay down my life properly. In Jesus Name!

Matthew 22:36-40 (NIV) “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

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Sincere Love

Sincere Love

Romans 12:9 (NIV) Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.

Have you ever heard the phrase “I love them but I don’t like them” or maybe “love the sinner but hate the sin.” “But” represents a contradiction. Our love for the Lord must be sincere. We must hate what is evil. Cling to what is good. It is a dissecting of sorts that begins in our own heart. I am challenged today to take the fruit of my heart hopefully born of His Spirit called “love” and cut it open to see if its contents are good and fit for consumption. Love is the driving force of God in His Pursuit of us. It is the very thing that held Jesus on the Cross until He gave His Very Last Breath. It is the force that rolled the stone away to reveal a risen Savior and forever Lord. Christ lives in me. His Spirit at work feeding my soul and nourishing my spirit to create a new person from the depraved wretch that I am. His Word is alive. It cuts through every lie and insignificant detail to reveal the hidden truth and potential hidden in layers of sin and darkness.

I have been “saved” since I was eleven years old. Through my teenage years into adulthood, I toyed with Christianity before finally turning over a messed up existence for a new way of life in my early thirties. Complete surrender is the only way to begin the full transformation process. It is a lengthy battle of the heart and mind. Jesus at the center of it all means there is a whole lot of “me” to get out of the way. It seems so simple when we come to Jesus. Why not? We have nothing to give but our faults and failures in exchange for a new life and forever in His Kingdom. Yet the striving and settlement of the terms of this covenant seem to continually cut away at my heart and mind as I discover it is an act of endurance that keeps us steadfast in Christ. It is not a footrace to the finish but a good fight for our faith. Could it be so simple and yet we make it complex? Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil. Cling to what is good.

I have been married for almost twenty years. I chose to give my heart to a man. He is just like me – imperfect and yet perfect for me. I love him. I am committed to loving him for the rest of my natural life. It is from this commitment or covenant that sincere love is born. It is not fancy or pretty. Sometimes it can be very raw and broken yet in all the beauty and ugliness mixed together – God has made good of every detail of our life. It just gets better and better all the time. In our marriage to Christ, it can be very much the same. Over time, I may take Him for granted. Not show Him true affection or affirm Him. There are even days that I don’t trust Jesus. Oh, I say that I do but my actions speak louder than words. Our marriage to Christ is a choice to love. In the good times and bad, when things are wonderful or wretched, and even when love is cold and insincere – this is a relationship to be worked through just like anyone else. It is my commitment to Christ that is the relationship worth having because from it comes remarkable relationships with ordinary people.

The word sincere means free of deceit, hypocrisy or falseness. It is earnest, authentic, genuine and real. It is pure, unadulterated and unmixed. This is the kind of love that the Spirit of God produces in us. It is the brand of love that is designated to bind God’s Kingdom together. Once tainted always tainted unless carried through His Blood. If we do not repent from our lack of love and return to our first love, it is impossible to love others the same way we love Jesus. He has to transform our perception and expectation of love and purify us again. Our passion for the Lord will burn away the impurities of human love and cut through the most callous heart to circumcise it consecrating it to the Lord again.

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.

This warning from Jesus is not for the lost or those who are seeking. This message is to the modern day Christian and believers who are giving their very life to the work of the Lord. It is for preachers, teachers, elders, and every other servant in the House of God serving the Body of Christ. Are you going through the motions today? Doing what has become a habit? Has service become the social circle you move in? It’s crazy that think that doing good things can sometimes take the place of doing God’s Thing for you. It happens. Church is made up of imperfect people. It has a hierarchy all its own. Carefully constructed doctrine meant for godly order becomes the rules and regulations of judgment and a kangaroo court of Pharisees born from it. I wonder if God is saying, “Stop…just stop for a minute.” The merry-go-round that hints at revival yet passes by it never stopping is not because you aren’t “doing” all the right things but you have forgotten for Who you are doing it? Have you forgotten to love Jesus today? Every attitude, action and reaction should be born of our true love for Him.

A couple things come to mind in closing today. First, you cannot fake agape love. It is born of something supernatural by giving our heart, mind, body, spirit and soul to Jesus Christ. When I had each one of my children, there was an instant connection and overpowering love the moment that they were born. At each birth, I instantly and completely loved them. They are my children. This is exactly how Christ loves us. The moment of creation was powerful in that His Love completely surrounded us in that moment and it never stopped but has perpetuated through life. When our daughter had our grandson, I was by her side to witness his arrival. I loved him with the same ferocity and completeness that I did his mother when she arrived. The heart of Jesus explodes the moment a new Christian is born and all Heaven celebrates. Our new life and the continual rebirths of others should reciprocate love that connects the Kingdom similar to the kind of love when a new baby arrives. After all – we are all members of the same body.

Second thought before I go, after all these years of marriage I have learned playing the part of wife, life partner, best friend and soul mate is not enough. I can do all the right things. I can serve my husband completely. I can “do” everything that is expected of me and he can still feel unloved and unwanted. There are times when he doesn’t want me to do anything but sit with him, talk to him and be with him. Life is busy. Humans are subject to emotions and feeling. We all have bad days. If I feel like I am not connecting with my husband, I must determine what is lacking. Generally, it is that I have become consumed in the tasks of marriage and not given time or attention to my true love. Jesus is no different. He doesn’t need us to do His Work – He has legions of angels who tend to be way more obedient then humans. He wants us. He desires us. Yes, there is work for the Kingdom that is our purpose and destiny in life. Yes, we are to work together and build the Kingdom and connect the Body of Christ. Yes, yes, yes to every excuse you can think of as to why you haven’t been at His Feet listening, seeking and finding His Face. All He wants and has ever wanted is you. He loves you wholeheartedly and completely just as you were the day you came to Him asking for salvation and surrendering your life. He loves that you. The same you that is searching for Him today will be met with the same profound grace and perfect love that you found back then.

Sincere love. God desires our sincere love. Jesus deserves our sincere love. Allow His Spirit to renew love in you today. Let His Love be made more perfect as you seek to know Him more. I cannot love another from a well that is dry and without loving the One who first loved me – I have nothing to offer the dry and thirsty world.

I Timothy 1:5 (NIV) The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.

Take a Stand

Take A Stand

Psalm 18:32-34 (NLT) God arms me with strength, and he makes my way perfect. He makes me as surefooted as a deer, enabling me to stand on mountain heights. He trains my hands for battle; he strengthens my arm to draw a bronze bow.

“He (or she) who kneels before God can stand before anyone.” (Unknown and paraphrased)

Psalm 18 is David’s song to the Lord praising God for rescuing him from all his enemies particularly Saul. Who better to sing it than the shepherd boy turned mighty warrior with a single stand and monumental victory over a Philistine giant with one small pebble hurled by faith and powered by the Hand of God. David did stand in strength and power full of self-confidence and natural abilities. He was a scrawny kid surrounded by a battalion of soldiers whose heart was firmly established in the Lord. God arms me with strength. He makes my way perfect. He makes me surefooted. He enables me to stand on mountain heights. He trains my hands for battle. He strengthens my arm to draw a bronze bow. One might think this is a battle cry of a highly trained tactical fighting machine but really it is more about the human heart than any man’s ability.

Adrenaline fuels our heart and mind to react to a situation. We will either fight or flee depending on our perception of the outcome of an encounter. In the natural, it is often an assumption made after sizing up our opponent or obstacle to determine one’s ability to overcome. But with God all things are possible to those who believe. Do you believe today? Do you have faith and confidence that God is for you? Do you believe that He loves you and will never leave or forsake you? Our mind can play tricks on us especially when the enemy comes with clever traps of half-truth and deception. He cannot stop the plan or purpose of God in our life. He is successful only when we give up or give in to human temptation, weakness or emotions. Yet even still God’s Word for you will never return to Him void. What the Lord has promised – He will deliver – if we stand!

God arms me with strength. God’s Power is delivered by grace in our weakness. It is the humility of repentance when our life is turned over to the Lord and trust begins to develop that victory is secured. I know it seems preposterous that in surrender that His Power is most effective. It seems illogical. But what if this strength mentioned in Psalm 18 is not about anything our physical body can do but rather strength of spirit to trust the Lord until the bitter end. To stand in the field well sown but not growing. To believe in famine and drought that you will do more than survive but God says you will thrive. How do we find our way to the source of strength that becomes the sound foundation of a prosperous life? Tell us today David where does your strength come from? “I love you, Lord. You are my strength.” (Psalm 18:1) From beginning to end, David put his heart and soul into knowing and loving the Lord. From the pasture full of sheep to the battlefield of soldiers, God was God to David.

Psalm 139:1-6 (NLT) O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord. You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand!

He makes my way perfect. In Psalm 139, there is a glimpse of the moment of creation. An intimate encounter with God even delving into His Thoughts for us. God is greater than our emotions and feelings. When He created us it was with the full potential of purpose that would completely satisfy our life exceedingly and abundantly more than we could think or ask or even imagine. Knowing this and believing this requires a self-discipline that stands when every fiber of our being says to run. It is the hardest part of spiritual maturity. To develop an understanding that doesn’t understand everything (or anything) God is doing yet still chooses to continue following His Path. To decide God you are who You say you are and will do what You say You will do and live life with such a conviction and confidence that keeps us in place. It is hard. It is completely contrary to our education and life experience that is until we encounter the Living God and begin to experience His Promises.

It is not uncommon to come to crossroads of decision each day. Who will I trust? What will I believe? Will I consistently choose the better way? Jeremiah 6:16 talks about crossroads – “This is what the Lord says: “Stop at the crossroads and look around. Ask for the old, godly way, and walk in it. Travel its path, and you will find rest for your souls. But you reply, ‘No, that’s not the road we want!’” How many times have I made a rational choice rather than a radical commitment to do things God’s Way? I cannot count the number of times that I have taken my toys and gone home rather than continued laboring in the field God has placed me. What about you? Have you done the same? Well, I have good news. His Mercy is new every morning. His People are called to endurance so there is still time. The God who created you knows you. He had to if His Son would provide enough grace to save and empower you. You may have made a bad choice but today is a new day. The Lord inside of you is full of resurrection power and life which is yours for the asking and ready for the taking of those who surrender it all to Him.

A little knowledge of God is worth more than great knowledge about him. (J.I. Packer)

He makes me as surefooted as a deer, enabling me to stand on mountain heights. God is fortifying our feet to be surefooted. To stand on mountain heights and look at life from His Perspective requires conditioning. I could not hike up a mountain in my present condition. I am embarrassed at my unhealthy state compared to a few years ago. When I finally foray back into the gym, I will have to recondition my body. It will take time. It will require a commitment. I must ignore screaming muscles and dying fat to continue to bring my body into subjection. And so it is with our heart, soul and mind when it comes to being “surefooted” in the Lord. His Perspective is higher than our own. His Plan is naturally uncommon. His Purpose fully encompassing a life not fully lived. It is our passion to know God that keeps us engaged. Knowing about him does nothing for us. I have thoroughly researched the gyms close to my work and home. I know their hours of operation. I know the equipment offered. I have inquired as to membership fees and requirements. I have not made a commitment yet. Therefore, my knowledge is really doing nothing for me. We must exercise our knowledge of God by faith to make it wisdom beneficial in our life. It requires a commitment. It will take trust to get us there. Our confidence must be in the Living God who is not fully understood yet embraced just the same. Maybe the greatest battle in standing is not taking one but staying there until the battle is won!

“God is not what you imagine or what you think you understand. If you understand – you failed.” (St. Augustine)

He trains my hands for battle; he strengthens my arm to draw a bronze bow. The battle is the Lord’s today and every day. His Plan for you and me is in full effect. The stand to be taken is in solidarity with God. To continually walk in His Ways while training our heart and mind to trust Him implicitly. It doesn’t matter whether you think your enemies are many and your strength too small – greater is He who is in you than he that is in the world. No weapon formed against you will prosper. God is offering you His Strength today. He will be your refuge. It is all up to you. Will you take a stand against human understanding today? Will you believe past your doubt and disbelief? Will you say to the Lord forsaking all others I choose you? These are the words of warriors who win battles and overcome all obstacles in life. The warrior is you! Take a stand! The war waged against you is won in your heart not with your hands!

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NLT) Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.

Philippians 4:7 (NLT) Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

Consider the Field

Consider the Field

Proverbs 31:16 (ESV) She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.

“The abundance of our life is not determined by how long we live, but how well we live, Christ makes abundant life possible if we choose to live it now.” (Barbara Brown Taylor)

What does an abundant life look like to you? If asked what is the “one” thing you lack that would provide complete contentment and full satisfaction, what would it be? Is it a material possession? A tangible thing? Can it be counted or quantified? Is it demonstrated by a certain quality? Is it a talent? Goal? I do not believe many could answer this question with confidence? If given three wishes, would you ask for three more? Life is full of experiences. The longer it is lived the more evident the consequences of our choices – good and bad. The things I once thought would bring me contentment and satisfaction are not what I expected. But maybe that’s the point…

We are called to live an abundant life. Abundant means an extremely plentiful or over sufficient quantity or supply. It is defined as overflowing fullness. And, yes, affluence or wealth. The Bible tells us “for out of the abundance of the heart his (or her) mouth speaks”. A whining, complaining, grumbling poor mouth is not a person with an overflowing heart but a leaky sieve. We must “consider the field” of our heart before expecting a harvest to grow from it. Our life prospers when our soul does. Our soul must prosper to have abundant life. How’s your heart today?

Matthew 6:27-30 (ESV) And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?”

There is a saying, “Fake it until you make it.” Christians put a new spin on it by saying, “Faith it until you make it.” Faith is not fake. Faith is not something believers must pretend to have until they find it along the way. Faith is given to us. We come equipped with a measure of faith. (Romans 12:3) The eternity in our heart requires faith to make it so God decided to incorporate it in our design. Everyone has faith – you just have to figure out what to do with it.

Jesus came to give us abundant life. (John 10:10) There is a thief who comes to steal, kill and destroy it. He uses fear, doubt, anxiety, offense, and the list goes on. We curse the field and waste the good seed given to us on worthless efforts and stony ground. What could have been used to produce a fruitful life is devoured by the enemy as it is carelessly laid to waste. Proverbs 31:16 is not just for women, but all of us. It holds the secret to success for every believer. We must consider our field. We must buy it. We must seed it with the good seed cultivated in our life. We have a role in the provision of God. It’s called faith. There is no excuse. He has already provided seed to the sower.

Matthew 13:18-23 (ESV) “Hear then the parable of the sower: When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”

Since people are provided with a measure of faith to seed our life, this parable of Jesus applies to us all. No one is exempt from sowing and reaping. God declared seedtime and harvest in the days of Noah and it will be perpetuated until the return of Jesus Christ. What you sow you will reap. (Galatians 6:7) In the most practical manner, this is human expectation yet people only what to reap the good things not the not-so-good things in life. God cannot be mocked. He does not lie or change His Mind. You cannot sow strife, discord, doubt and fear and expect the productivity of faith including blessings, promises and prosperity.

“As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.” The Word of God is the truth that governs the life of a believer. Whatever it says about you is true. Whatever it promises you is yours. Whatever the end result is your dividend. Whatever you decide to plant by faith in your life and wait for it to grow will yield exactly what it promises – good or bad. The fertile soil of the Word is our heart. This is the place where faith yields its providence. In order for our life to prosper into abundant life, it must be broken and carefully evaluated. We must decide to buy the field and invest in it.

Matthew 13:44-45 (ESV) “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”

Are you willing to seal the deal? Make the purchase? Will you buy the field? The “hidden treasure” that is offered is full satisfaction and complete contentment which will produce abundance in our confidence that if we invest our life in the Kingdom it will be a benefit and blessing in the land of the living. Most of the time, like Martha, we look forward to the resurrection life and power on the other side of death and do not invest it in the land of the living. How can we have confidence in the God of Eternity if we do not know Him today?

The truth of these two verses will change our life forever if we can simply see the worth of a Kingdom commitment. To invest our life in the Kingdom and not in the world will give us the joy, peace and fruitfulness that everyone strives for but few find. It changes our need to survive into the ability to thrive. When the man found the treasure in the field, he did not claim it or pretend like it belonged to him with a finders keepers mentality. No this man was smart. He invested all that he has to possess it. The man decided to own the treasure. What about you? The Kingdom and all its treasure can only be obtained one way. The Way, the Truth and the Life – Jesus Christ bestows the promises and blessings of the Father to His Children. There is no such thing as blab it and grab it. The Kingdom is a deal or no deal proposition. You have to buy it, own it and work it just like the Proverbs 31 woman.

Luke 6:37-38 (ESV) “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”

Trust allows you to give. Giving is abundant. As you give so it shall be given to you. If you give with judgment, limitation, and stinginess that is what you create in your life – judgment, limitation and stinginess.” (Gary Zukav)

Our little grandson came for a visit yesterday. Still an infant, he is learning to grab hold of things especially hair. Trying to pry his tiny fingers apart is tough as he still has the grasping reflex that he was born with. His innate natural will hold more tightly if that which is held is pulled on. We hear the words “judge”, “condemn” and “give” immediately allowing human natural and instinct to interpret a humble release and begin to justify our feelings when God is inviting us to engage in an exchange. You give me your limited faith and I will turn into a fantastically fruitful future and forever. You have to give to receive. Don’t judge a book by the cover. Don’t judge a field by its present condition. Don’t condemn your life with curses born of complaining. Do not withhold any good thing because it will take the place of God’s Goodness for your life today.

If you decide you want a financial blessing but do not enter a financial relationship (tithing) with the Lord what seed will grow into the provision you desire. If you want someone to love, you must give love (real love) first. If you want peace, you must give up fear, doubt and anxiety. See we want what God has but will not give up anything to receive it. Faith requires an exchange. It means there must be good soil to grow something. It requires a full investment. What you sow you will reap. It is an infant mentality to hang on to less because you cannot trust the Lord for more. A lack of consideration will render every field barren. God has given you the seed – you must be willing to sow it.

“If you want love and abundance in your life, give it away.” (Mark Twain)

Ephesians 3:14-21 (ESV) For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

You are called to a life of abundance. Fully satisfied and completely content in Jesus Christ. I wonder what would happen if we really believed that this kind of life is possible. Would it change how we live? Absolutely. What we believe? Of course. How we love? Without a doubt. We must consider the state of our heart. Buy the field, plant the seed and wait for it to grow. Investing our life in Jesus Christ is worthwhile. It will yield every promise and blessing that His Word gives to a prospering soul. We must decide only that we want it enough to give up this life for it.

“Fear of the future makes people settle for things in the present that completely defy abundant life.” (Beth Moore)

Love Always

CV-LA-LOGO

2 Thessalonians 3:5 (ESV) May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.

The word “love” is cast about so flippantly. “Love you” ends our texts and talks but do we really love the person who we just claimed to? Do we love them with the same definition of love set forth in God’s Word? Do we love others patiently, kindly, without envy or boasting, and never with arrogance, pride or rudely? Love gives up its own way with disregard for our own plans and personal agendas. It is not irritable and does not hold resentment in the basement of its heart. It doesn’t rejoice in anyone’s failure and always rejoices in the truth which displaces vengeance and malice from us. The Truth is that God is love and to be one with Christ means to embrace His Steadfast Love and extend it to everyone who is in our sphere of influence. The hula hoop around us that touches the edge of others within arm’s length are the ones I am called to love. Love like God and Jesus. Lord, help me most days to find it within me to do so. Finally the steadfastness of love is that it bears all things, believes all things, hoes all things and endures all things. Love is hard. Love is God. It is our position in Christ to love always.

I Corinthians 13:8 (ESV) Love never ends.

Love never ends. If you really love someone, there is not end to it. Ugh! So many times love is an emotion not a commitment. The staggering divorce rate is proof that the overture of feelings never got through to the center of our heart. Love is commitment. It is messy. It is hard. It takes advantage of our pride. It hurts our feelings. It is not always easy to really love other people but it is only from a heart set on the Father following the steadfastness of the Son that can carry on the family tradition of true love. To love like God and Jesus is a difficult process but worth it to be one with the Lord and His Spirit.

Galatians 5:22-23 (ESV) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

Love is produced by the Holy Spirit. I have wonderful news for believers today. Even though agape love doesn’t come naturally, the Lord has given us His Spirit to produce it supernaturally. The more invested our faith becomes in pursing the Kingdom the greater the production of love in our life. We learn to love from the Holy Spirit who takes seeds of faith placed in us at creation and cultivates love in us that is from the Father. It doesn’t come naturally. Love is not an emotion. Love is a commitment. By committing our life including our heart, mind and soul to Jesus Christ, it allows love – His Love – to grow in us. If anyone has every planted a garden, then you know it may take a season or two or ten for good fruit to grow but if we are patient it will come.

I Timothy 6:11-12 (ESV)  But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

Love is a pursuit. To fight the good fight of faith often means fighting our feelings and emotions to believe. The starting point of believing for a Christian is to believe that God is love. To believe that He loves us no matter what. To believe that Christ is the Way, Truth and Life of love in us and through us. To put all of our expectation in God’s Love allows us to love others without the need for reciprocation because we are fully invested in the Kingdom and producing enough love to sustain us. Taking hold of eternal life means accepting that His Love is unconditional which means I am indebted to the Lord always and forever. The blessing of the Lord comes with no sorrow added. He says the only thing we owe anything is love.

Philemon 4-6 (ESV) I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers, because I hear of your love and of the faith that you have toward the Lord Jesus and for all the saints, and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ.

Paul wrote to Philemon, his sister, Archippus (our fellow soldier) and the church in your house. Paul commended them on their love and faith toward Jesus and for all the saints. How do you share your faith in Christ? There is no more effective gospel than the one that is written. The one that tells of a God who loved us so much that He gave His Only Son, to live in love with us. What is the love letter of your life? The Gospel spoken will never have the impact of good news lived. A life of unconditional love is not our natural. But as I learn to lay down my life and let Christ make a new creation it includes a capacity to love that I did not have before. To release human expectation to fulfillment and satisfaction that only can be established in faith and confident hope. It is worth it. It takes time. I must ask myself is the “church in my house” like a city on the hill that beacons others to Christ when I am not “in” church or around other Christians. There is not greater love than to lay one’s life down for a friend. In Christ, we have only one enemy. The one who tries to destroy every relationship in our life. Love always. It is the ultimate example of God’s Love in us and the steadfastness of Christ working in us to change us from the inside out. A prospering soul learns to love always.

John 3:16 (ESV) For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Galatians 2:20 (ESV) I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

I John 4:9-11 (ESV)  In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

The Crossing

The Crossing

Joshua 3:5 (ESV) Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.

“The mark of a saint is not perfection, but consecration. A saint is not a person without faults, but a man who has given himself without reserve to God. (Brooke Westcott)

For forty years the Children of Israel walked in the wilderness surrounding the Promised Land. A straight-line distance of 240 miles that would take the average person about 20 minutes to walk a mile. If you do the math using an 8-hour day which is a standard workday, it should have only taken the Israelites about ten days, or maybe two weeks if you consider the Sabbath, to cross the Jordan. What happened? They wanted the Hand of God without pursuing His Heart.

Moses and Aaron could not lead where they did not go. The promise is a result of obedience to God that begins with consecration. Now Joshua is commissioned by God to finish the journey and cross the Jordan but first there must be a consecration. Consecration means to set apart. To make something sacred. Dedicate to service. To be devoted. To be sanctified. It means to be changed. We are to be holy. Holiness can only be accomplished by the wholeness of Christ. He sanctifies us and it is through His Holy Ordination that a life of consecration can produce completion.

Ephesians 1:3-6 (ESV) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.

I was listening to a worship service on my way to work. The songs selected were all about the holiness of God. The most powerful form of praise is to worship God for who He is. To simply say, “Jesus – You are holy!” To be lost in the Presence of God without worry or care and simply rest in Who He is before heading off into the darkness to be the light. A pastor began to exhort the people and quoted Joshua 3:5. As he shared his heart clearly uttering on behalf of the Holy Spirit – he began to talk about consecration but in a whole new way. He didn’t talk about the rules and regulation of religion but rather to set ourselves apart from the feelings and emotions that challenge our faith each day.

We must step out of our past to embrace the future. The Promise of God is non-negotiable as the Father has given us every spiritual blessing in His Son, Jesus. It is just as real and tangible as the land on the other side of the Jordan. However, there were people over there that would not take kindly to these newcomers trying to inhabit what they believe to be their place and property. There would be battles. There would be opposition. The people would need absolute and total confidence in God’s Promise and Purpose to inhabit the position or place that He was leading them. So will I. So will you.

The guidelines and mandates of consecration is not the doctrinal outline set forth by our church affiliation. Holiness has nothing to do with my ability to live a faultless or flawless life but to daily live in true repentance. To acknowledge and respect my need for Jesus Christ to inhabit my heart, mind, body and soul and influence every attitude and action in my life. It means I must relinquish control of me and trust the Lord to do what He promises in me and through me. Consecration is not a religious act but a sacrificial relationship with the Living God through His Son – Jesus Christ who lives in you. I am His Beloved. I must live like He is mine.

2 Timothy 2:20-21 (ESV) Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.

“Consecration is only possible when we give up our will about EVERYTHING.” (F.B. Meyer) My life must become a vessel. An empty vessel to allow the fullness of Christ to make it holy and acceptable for God’s Use. Consecration is a call to holiness that is the wholeness of Jesus Christ who leads us to His Fullness including full satisfaction and complete abundance by the surrender of self. Total trust and confidence in Jesus does not allow us to hang on to things like fear, doubt, disappointment, unforgiveness, anxiety, worry, control and every other emotion, feeling and stronghold held on to. Our promise is inevitable. Consecration opens the pathway to purpose.

Fulfillment comes when by surrendering our right to hold on to such things in order to be filled with the fullness of Jesus Christ. It is the place where the circumcision of our heart takes place cutting away the hard stony exterior to expose the new life within us.

Philippians 4:7-9 (ESV) And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

Peace with God is established in Jesus Christ. To consecrate our life to Him as Lord is not an act of service but rather complete sacrifice of our will to be in His Will. It is not that complicated. But rather a daily giving of ourselves to the Lord piece by piece which He will receive wholeheartedly. The Lord knows us and hence has given us His Spirit to help us along the way. The Peace of God comes with peace with Him. To walk the narrow road (Matthew 7) is a lonely venture without His Partnership and Holy Inhabitation. Today – you are on the edge of the Jordan ready to enter your promise. What will you do? Wait another day to enter in or fully consecrate your life – mind, will and emotions – heart, soul and spirit – every ounce of your flesh and cell in your body to the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the Gate. He is the Door. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life for you. What is breakthrough? It is when we decide to go after God’s Heart and cross over to the Promise. He is not withholding His Hand but offering us His Heart today.

“Consecration thus constitutes the only unconditional surrender which is also a total victory!” (Neal A. Maxwell)

Jeremiah 1:5 (ESV) “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

Leviticus 20:7-8 (ESV) Consecrate yourselves, therefore, and be holy, for I am the Lord your God. Keep my statutes and do them; I am the Lord who sanctifies you.

Going the Distance

The Long Road Ahead

Revelation 3:10-12 (NLT)  “Because you have obeyed my command to persevere, I will protect you from the great time of testing that will come upon the whole world to test those who belong to this world. I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take away your crown. All who are victorious will become pillars in the Temple of my God, and they will never have to leave it. And I will write on them the name of my God, and they will be citizens in the city of my God—the new Jerusalem that comes down from heaven from my God. And I will also write on them my new name.

From time to time, I have the privilege of teaching in our church. To share the Word of God like a warm bread basket of fresh rolls with others is an overwhelming responsibility that I find great pleasure in just like having guests over to eat a good meal together. However, there are times when the fresh word given to me from the Word of God and served up by His Spirit is not received as “I” think it should be. Like seeds falling on pavement or water splashing from a rock, last night was one of those times. While preparing, I sampled the thoughts and ideas for my own life and could see areas that the Lord was enriching me but when offered to others it was rejected like stale crumbs to be discarded. My heart was heavy. I was ready to leap off the platform when it was over.

It would be easy to quit. Give up. Never put myself out there again. It is not God’s Will. I know what I am supposed to do but struggle with not doing it. Immediately I begin to evaluate me. My “performance”. Maybe I should yell more. Jump around a little. Be more dynamic. Be more like this preacher or dramatic like this teacher. What if it is not about me at all? Well…now we are getting somewhere. What if everything was exactly as the Lord planned it last night? What if the lesson for me is perseverance not to make a better performance but to continue through the process until His Word prospers into His Purpose and His Plan?

“Because you have obeyed my command to persevere…” To persevere is to continue in a course of action even in the face of difficulty or with little or no prospect of success. It means to persist in anything undertaken even when faced with difficulty, obstacles or discouragement. To continue steadfastly. It doesn’t sound fun. It requires overcoming our flesh and pride to attain God’s Best. I want to live in the Presence of God. As close as humanly possible before crossing over into forever. In order to do this, perseverance will be a characteristic that the Lord works to develop in my life. I must persevere to reach my desired destination.

2 Kings 13:16-19 (NLT)  Elisha told him, “Put your hand on the bow,” and Elisha laid his own hands on the king’s hands. Then he commanded, “Open that eastern window,” and he opened it. Then he said, “Shoot!” So he shot an arrow. Elisha proclaimed, “This is the Lord’s arrow, an arrow of victory over Aram, for you will completely conquer the Arameans at Aphek.” Then he said, “Now pick up the other arrows and strike them against the ground.” So the king picked them up and struck the ground three times. But the man of God was angry with him. “You should have struck the ground five or six times!” he exclaimed. “Then you would have beaten Aram until it was entirely destroyed. Now you will be victorious only three times.”

The King Jehoash of Israel came to Elisha on his deathbed. He was perplexed by the Arameans. Elisha put his hands over the king’s hands and shot an arrow. The arrow directed by God’s Hand illustrated victory over Aram in the immediate battle. However, there were more to come. The king was instructed to take the remaining arrows and strike them on the ground. I am quite certain that his royal majesty did not understand the significance and maybe felt a little silly hitting the shafts against the ground. He stopped after striking the ground three times and Elisha with his last bit of strength became angry. “You should have struck the ground five or six times!” Why? It is perseverance that leads to overwhelming victory. When things go beyond human comprehension and walking by faith not by sight becomes a requirement, what is your response? What do we do with the promise of victory? Overcoming? Healing? Prosperity? Pursue it for a season and then give up? Press in for a lifetime?

2 Kings 5:9-11 (NLT) So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and waited at the door of Elisha’s house. But Elisha sent a messenger out to him with this message: “Go and wash yourself seven times in the Jordan River. Then your skin will be restored, and you will be healed of your leprosy.” But Naaman became angry and stalked away. “I thought he would certainly come out to meet me!” he said. “I expected him to wave his hand over the leprosy and call on the name of the Lord his God and heal me!

What do you do when life does not go as expected? When the healing doesn’t come overnight? You are not given a means of escape? When the hits keep on coming? Do you give up? Naaman had leprosy. He came to Elisha’s house for healing. The Man of God gave him simple instructions. But rather than immediately heading off to the Jordan River, Naaman became offended and walked off in anger. The Jordan River was not a clean spring of clear water. Oh how our pride tries to stay alive when it is time to persevere. What condition is lingering because obedience is wavering? What if you did what the Lord said and defied human logic to hold on by faith? What if your promise is not held up by the Lord but you refuse to press on?

Philippians 3:13-14 (NLT)  No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.

Walking out of church last night feeling defeated, I ran into the pastor. He had spent the evening with the youth. He asked about the service. I said, “Tough crowd.” He said, “Tell me about it.” I didn’t have to ask about his small group as the kids came pouring out excitedly chattering about their experience. I have the same privilege next week to continue this teaching on the Word of God. (with a slight sigh) I know that the Lord has a word of encouragement and instruction for our people. I know that I am the one to deliver it. But honestly it is way easier to share these things in a blog sent out to hundreds of people without consciousness of their reaction or response. It works for me. But for obedience tells me that in six short days, I will climb the same steps. I may even get the same response from the people. But the acceptance, affirmation and approval of others is nice but not needed. I must focus on one thing. One thing only. “The one thing I ask of the Lord—the thing I seek most—is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, delighting in the Lord’s perfections and meditating in his Temple.” (Psalm 27:4)

I must forget the past. I have to look forward to what lies ahead. I must press on (persevere) to reach the end of the race. I want the heavenly prize. To hear the Lord say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” To have something… anything to lay at His Feet will be worth it to me. The world can keep its applause and willy-nilly emotions. Just get me there, Jesus. Holy Spirit lead the way. I will be faithful to the end. I will go the distance.

Hebrews 10:23-25 (NLT) Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.

 

The Bondservant

Bondservant

Ephesians 6:4-8 (ESV) Bondservants, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ, not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man, knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a bondservant or is free.

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me… According to Oswald Chambers in My Utmost For His Highest, A Bondservant of Jesus, “these words mean the breaking and collapse of my independence brought about by my own hands, and the surrendering of my life to the supremacy of the Lord Jesus. No one can do this for me, I must do it myself. God may bring me up to this point three hundred and sixty-five times a year, but He cannot push me through it. It means breaking the hard outer layer of my individual independence from God, and the liberating of myself and my nature into oneness with Him; not following my own ideas, but choosing absolute loyalty to Jesus.”

A bondservant chooses to serve. It is voluntary submission of one’s life to offer service to another. A bondservant decides who the master of their life will be. A decision to call Jesus Christ the Lord of our life is to become His Bondservant. To lay down our life, surrender our will and pick up the Cross to serve Him daily. It is a life of radical obedience that goes where He goes, says what He says, does what He does and has all that He promised. Such a position in life is to do the Will of God from a willing heart rather than under direct duress or some form of force. Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom. You are free to choose who you will serve. Our choices lead to consequences. Each one a seed that will produce a certain fruit.

The substance of my life is defined by who I serve. For example, I go to work each day. I chose my job and profession. I offer my service to my employer and once a month he deposits an agreed upon salary into my bank account. As long as I “serve” him, he will continue to pay me per a contractual agreement. The man who owns the company I work for is human. He has good days and bad days. There are days I love my job and those when I would rather walk away. My attitude and actions belong to me – I own them. I choose how to use them. I decide whether to continue in my position or choose another one. I have that right. It is my personal freedom.

As believers, Sons and Daughters of God, the new covenant governs our life. Jesus Christ has given us grace saving us from our sins restoring our right standing with our Father in Heaven. There are certain benefits and blessings associated with my relationship with God through the Son. The blessings and benefits exist and I decide whether or not to occupy the role of receivership. Christ now lives in me. He has given me His Spirit who identifies me as a Child of the Living God. My natural roles in life do not define me. Christ is my identity now. I have the opportunity to walk in obedience, aligning my life with God’s Word, and it will impact every other service completed in my life.

The role of bondservant to Christ must fully consume our life. Oswald Chambers continues, “I must be broken from my own understanding of myself. When I reach that point, immediately the reality of the supernatural identification with Jesus Christ takes place. And the witness of the Spirit of God is unmistakable…the passion of Christianity comes from deliberately signing away my own rights and becoming a bondservant of Jesus Christ.” The Lord does not repay you for your kind service. He does not compensate you for your discomfort or inconvenience. The Blessings of God belong to you. His Lordship is the covering that allows them to reach you. It is not a matter of what you do but who you are.

This resembles the relationship of Joseph and Pharaoh. Joseph was not the ruler of the country but he had all of the authority, power and resources of the one who was. Pharaoh was subject to all the people of Egypt. He was the ultimate authority. He gave His Authority to Joseph but not the added sorrow. Joseph answered to Pharaoh. Pharaoh was subject to the people. In the same way, our life becomes subject only to Jesus Christ. In doing so, “rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man, knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a bondservant or is free.” The role of Christ in our life is important. If He is our Master, we live in subjection only to Him. Other people are released from our expectation as it now rests solely in Christ.

Romans 6:15-18 (ESV) What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.

Freedom allows us to choose the “master” of our life. All things are permissible but not all things are beneficial. Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters.” The only condition is that there can be only one Master in our life. What does this mean? We must eliminate all the mini-masters until our life is full submission and complete surrender to Christ. We must become slaves of righteousness. Why slaves? Human beings are driven by impulse and desire born of a deviant nature. To align our life with Christ every thought must become subject to God and His Word to align our life with His Kingdom. It is a voluntary decision to live a life of service to Jesus Christ. To willingly seek to do His Will and do away with everything contradictory to His Word.

I Peter 1:13-16 (ESV) Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

To be bondservants of Christ is to seek holiness. Oneness. Completeness in Christ…alone. In I Samuel 15, the Lord confides in the prophet that obedience is better than sacrifice and listening to God’s Word better than an offering. He goes on to say that disobedience is like witchcraft and presumption like idolatry. Each day is filled with choices often weighed out by knowledge and experience to become our final decision. In order to live a life surrendered to Christ, one must change the way they think and process information. Faith is illogical without the Spirit and the Word. Once we have these two vital components, it is up to us to run everything through them for relevance in our life. Faith becomes the logical choice when Christ is our top priority.

Jesus learned obedience through suffering. (Hebrews 5) We do, too. The suffering of crucified flesh is painful. It is part of us. It desires to live. Full service to Christ demands such a price. We cannot fully serve the Lord with the parts of us still serving self.

I Peter 1:23-25 (ESV) Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; for “all flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you.

Obedience to God’s Word is an intentional effort. It is the rolling of our entire existence from natural to supernatural expectation. To put all our faith, love and trust in Jesus Christ and give Him full authority and power over our life. Obedience is the purification of our souls because it invalidates the lie and holds us to the Truth. There are blessings associated with obedience. (Deuteronomy 28) These remain today as God’s Word does not return to Him void or incomplete. Aligning our lives including every detail will produce the kind of life detailed in this chapter. Not according to anything we do, but because that is what the Lord has already given to those who choose Him as Savior and Lord. The Master fully provides for His Servant. Those who voluntarily give up their freedom to serve Him wholeheartedly. I want to be a bondservant of Christ. To give up all my rights to be righteous. To accept His Promises as the premise for my life. To make way for His Blessings to reach me. Thank you Lord for the freedom I have to choose who I will serve. I choose to serve You, Jesus!

Psalm 34:22 (ESV) The Lord redeems the life of his servants; none of those who take refuge in Him will be condemned.

Time Management

Time Management

Psalm 90:12 (ESV) So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.

The holidays are finally over. It is now time to get back to “normal” life. The junk food is cleared out of the refrigerator. Guests have all gone back home. The house is somewhat in order. Kids are getting ready to go back to school. Work days fall back into Monday through Friday each day with its own schedule and routine. There is comfort in the known. Life goes on.

Will 2018 be like every other year? Will I make of list of good intentions? Will I follow through? I am a planner who finds solace in the mundane routine. Not much for surprises, I enjoy knowing what comes next and preparing for it. I am a budgeter of everything. My life. My time. Our finances. Everything. Order makes my life controlled. However, as I read this verse today, I wonder if there is something missing in the projection of my life. Have I considered all the factors? Or at the end of my life, will I miss what mattered most? I want to live an intentional life. The security I have in the natural must be transferred to the supernatural.

Psalm 90:12 says, “Teach us to number our days that we may get heart wisdom.” I am a Child of God. He created me and ordered my life from the beginning. (Psalm 139) Nothing in my life is a secret or surprise to the Lord. My sin, faults, failures and weaknesses were all considered when Jesus died on the Cross. Otherwise, there would not be sufficiency in His Grace. God’s Plan for me includes a future and hope. Christ has set me free from all penalties to choose the life that I will live. Why are we so quick to fault God with our bad choices? Lack of obedience? Small faith? Flourishing unbelief? All the things that keep us from radically pursuing the Living God yet we blame Him when things don’t work out the way He said the way that we planned. We need a change of perspective.

Timelessness of God

Psalm 90:2-4 (ESV) Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. You return man to dust and say, “Return, O children of man!” For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night.

I have never watched the movie, “Titanic”. People are often shocked and tell me to watch it. I have no interest in doing so because I know how it ends. The ship sinks. Men, women and children perish in frigid waters. It does not have a happy ending. The film is historical. It is a sensationalized cinematic version of the events leading up to the fateful day. I know the end from the beginning. God knows the beginning and end of our natural life. He knows the potential hidden along with eternity and faith in our heart. It is up to us to decide if we will participate.

The Lord is good. He has promises scripted into the future and hope provided in Jeremiah 29. The only thing required is to seek Him wholeheartedly. To live life intentionally pursuing the Living God means understanding who He is. Intimate knowledge of God comes from the Word and through His Spirit. True worshippers will do so in Spirit and in Truth. Why is this so important? Intimacy with God is offered through Jesus Christ. Jesus came to save us, heal us, deliver us, protect us and prosper us in THIS life called the land of the living. The consistency of my commitment to Christ allows me to know Him more. When you know someone, you know is true and what is not true. I know my husband. We have been together almost two decades. We live together and communicate every single day. He loves me. I know that. I know him intimately. I know His Character – faults and all. So if someone were to tell me something untrue about him – it would be obvious to me. So it goes in our relationship with God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

To know the Word is to know Jesus. To understand who He is there is no substitution for knowledge and wisdom. Otherwise, your information is secondhand. People can tell me who He is to them, but I will only be confident in the One I know. God is timeless. He is everlasting. He knows the end from the beginning. He has carefully detailed the steps of my life to fulfillment. While I look for success in the seventy or so promised on the earth, the Lord takes it one step further into a fathomless forever. I must expand my consciousness of Him from the here and now to the forever or for some from the forever to the here and now.

The Word of God tells us that God does not lie or change His Mind. The blessing on our life stands forever. He is working every detail of our life for good. He pursues us unfailing love, mercy, and His Goodness every single day. There is nothing that can separate me from His Love. It is my absolute inability and weakness that allows His Power to manifest in my life. All of this is true. God perfects all that concerns me.

Brevity of Our Natural Life

Psalm 39:4-5 (ESV) “O Lord, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am! Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before you. Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath! Selah

Make me know my end and what is the measure of my days…this is not a message of gloom and doom. It is a change of perspective that many of us would benefit from myself included. People get sucked in by life. The enemy uses busyness to steal precious moments from us. Time is priceless because it can never be recaptured once it has past. Every human being has twenty four hours in a day, sixty minutes in each hour and sixty seconds in a minute. Busyness is a personal choice of how one chooses to use their commodity called time. We establish the pursuits in our life. God didn’t tell you to work hard and stay motivated in order to find success. We choose the pathway and our perception of success. If all our time is sown into other things, we will reap what we sow. It is only those endeavors blessed by the Lord that produce no sorrow with them. Your job is a blessing from the Lord. If you take that job and make it your idol, it may become a barren field or you may only gain what your hand has sown.

Godly prosperity begins in our soul. If our soul does not prosper, we will never find contentment or completion in Jesus Christ. We must become conscious of the brevity of life. To understand the need for heart wisdom that prospers our heart and mind. Changes us by producing godly character. As the fruit of God’s Spirit is cultivated in us, it grows into the very offering of our life. It is time to slow down and consider our days. The number of them. The quality of them. The wasted moments. The priority of our life is evident in the dispensation of time. To sow seeds of faith and hope in our natural life requires a consciousness of our time and the timelessness of God. Where you sow – you reap. To sow only for this life will leave you well supplied today but what about forever?

Proverbs 3:1-4 (ESV) My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments, for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you. Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good success in the sight of God and man.

In Ecclesiastes 3 it is established that God has ordained a time for every activity in life. He promises that in His Time – He makes all things beautiful. He placed eternity in our hearts because that is the true definition of success. To become a new creation and extend our life from the natural to supernatural realm. Intentional Christianity requires integrating the timelessness of God and our natural timeline. We cannot make time but we can certainly portion our time. When faith is sown in our heart, it connects us with the eternity that is hidden there. God gave us everything needed to live a godly life. We must choose to use our time intentionally. He even promises that it will add length of days and year of life and peace. Not only that – “you will find favor and good success TODAY in the sight of God and man.” There is never a more influential Christian then the one who is prosperous in all things pertaining to life and godliness.

Time Integration

Proverbs 3:5-6 (ESV) Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

God doesn’t need you or me to do anything. He doesn’t want anything from us. He just wants us. The Lord wants and desires an intimate relationship with us. Will you trust the Lord today with all of your heart? Time management and distribution is telling of where our trust really is in life. If it is fully consumed by worldly pursuits waiting for more time for godly pursuits – these are wasted moments. To successfully integrate God’s Timing and our timelines means giving up my way to have His Way. God will never change His Timing for us. He is perfect in ALL of His Ways. Those who do not lean on human understanding and choose to trust God with their time will find that He adds to it days and years that would have otherwise been consumed by busyness and peace to the fearful and insecure heart.

The Lord wants to live life with you and through you. He will complete the work begun in us but we must give Him our time and attention so He can do it. We must trust that the Lord will do exactly what He says enough to stop trying to do it all ourselves. Let the Holy Spirit be the Master of your time today. Give the Lord your schedule and let Him reprioritize it according to His Will and His Way. How can we trust the Lord with forever if we do not trust Him for this day?

Psalm 16:11 (ESV) You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

To Be Continued

To Be Continued

Colossians 2:6-7 (AMP) Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, walk in [union with] Him [reflecting His character in the things you do and say—living lives that lead others away from sin], having been deeply rooted [in Him] and now being continually built up in Him and [becoming increasingly more] established in your faith, just as you were taught, and overflowing in it with gratitude.

No resolutions this year for me. I tried to come up with some significant changes. We could all use some new habits and better choices. Each year, I have these good intentions and wonderful lists of goals. I have racked my brain for something anything that would make life significantly better. Nothing. So I dove in spiritually, and asked the Lord, “What can I do for you?” Nothing. I continued to seek out something anything that I could do differently. My motives, though I hate to admit it, is change. I want to see the promises that I know in my heart are coming today. It is human nature to try to “do” something different in order to facilitate change. The idea that “there has to more to life than this” comes from eternity hidden in our hearts. Everyone goes about the pursuit of contentment and fulfillment different ways. When choosing Jesus Christ, it is to accept the way called grace. Grace means that there is nothing I can do other than remain in the One who gives it.

I thought I would write a book or two this year, but I didn’t. I thought I would have developed a flourishing women’s ministry at our church. Nope. So when the end of December came I pulled out the bat of self-destruction and tried to figure out what was wrong with me. I am not used to this idea of failure. To set a goal and not reach it is just not like me. With a stubborn tenacity innately inscribed in my personality, when met with obstacles – I usually take the head down and charge through approach. Not this time…something is different. So studying God’s Word and seeking His Presence, I asked the Lord, “What am I doing wrong?” The revelation of God set forth in His Word and whispered in my ear doesn’t line up with my personality but it totally identifies the Person of Christ. The position that He ultimately must take in my life to bring the fulfillment and completion that He promised.

I have received Jesus Christ as my Savior. It is my heart’s desire that He is Lord of all my life. I long to walk in complete unity with Jesus. I want my life to be a reflection of His Character. To show others a love so strong that sin is unappealing to pursue His Perfection and Purpose. I must live a life rooted in Christ. His Word secures me to the foundation of faith that is the Truth that governs my existence. Every single promise belongs to me. Every spiritual blessing already given to me. There is a timeline ordered by predestination that has an appointed time for each of these things to arrive. Not because of anything I do, but because of what Christ is doing in me. My purpose for the next 365 days is simple – I must continue.

To continue can mean one of two things – I must persist in the calling of God and do as He instructed regardless of what I see. Those things I have slacked off on – I must resume in those things that God has spoken and I gave up on along the way. I shared with someone yesterday that God does not lead us to fruitless or barren fields. Never. Experience now tells me that the field will bear the fruit in due season if I continue in God’s Word and Way until it comes. Persistence and perseverance are characteristics of continuance. The current field in which I am working has proven to be a difficult one. The ground is hard. Weeds are thick. Rocks are plenty. Yet, every time I am ready to walk away, I remember that God has never led me to a place that His Blessing could not be found. So I stay and continue…not because I can do anything but based on the Truth that God’s Word never returns void. It will do exactly what it set out to do. God is good. He is always good even when I’m not. God is faithful and that seed will grow one day whether I am there to harvest its fruit or not. To be continued…

Ecclesiastes 3:1&11 (AMP)

There is a season (a time appointed) for everything and a time for every delight and event or purpose under heaven—

 He has made everything beautiful and appropriate in its time. He has also planted eternity [a sense of divine purpose] in the human heart [a mysterious longing which nothing under the sun can satisfy, except God]—yet man cannot find out (comprehend, grasp) what God has done (His overall plan) from the beginning to the end.

God has appointed a time in our life for everything – good and bad. It all works together for our good and His Glory. God makes everything beautiful and appropriate in His Time. The time that was recorded before you were born. (Psalm 139) You are fearfully and wonderfully made. A complex being created by an infinite God who knows exactly what is required for you to discover His Love and accept His Grace. We must take hold of 2 Peter 3:8-9 to collectively understand that God’s Promises are not held up by our activities or actions. His Spiritual Blessing is not removed when we sin. His Grace is sufficient. It is enough to have every disappointment turned into destiny. To the Lord time is not a hindrance. Timing was preset before a moment passed. Therefore, God does not keep His Eye on the clock because He is in our future waiting on our arrival. Take a deep breath. This is pretty deep, I know. Your life is already prescribed by God. You just have to live it. God is good. To choose Jesus and live in alignment with the Lord means that every blessing and promise is predestined for your future. It is not about perfection but persistence. If you love the Lord – you will seek Him wholeheartedly and find fulfillment just as He promised.

John 15:5-8 (AMP) I am the Vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him bears much fruit, for [otherwise] apart from Me [that is, cut off from vital union with Me] you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in Me, he is thrown out like a [broken off] branch, and withers and dies; and they gather such branches and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you remain in Me and My words remain in you [that is, if we are vitally united and My message lives in your heart], ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified and honored by this, when you bear much fruit, and prove yourselves to be My [true] disciples.

The vitality of my life is Jesus Christ. My flesh wants to think it has the ability and wherewithal to make things happen but the truth is every good thing in my life came straight from my Father in Heaven. Jesus makes it all possible because I couldn’t get to the Father without Him. I would love to give you an epiphany of great wisdom that would change your life instantly. Faith doesn’t work that way. Confident hope comes from continuing to follow the way of faith. Commitment must be a life of to be continued. When the field doesn’t bear its fruit in our timing, it is the commitment to continue until God’s Timing comes to pass. It is to continue in God’s Word until faith becomes logical.

Let me let you in on a little secret – my need to “do” things for the Lord is not always from a heart with good intentions. There is a part of my flesh that tries to earn the favor and goodwill of God by doing something for Him. Religion is built on good intentions. Resurrection life only comes by way of an abiding relationship with Jesus Christ. He is my fulfillment. He is my completion. My life is definitely to be continued this year. Maybe I will write a book… maybe I will figure out this women’s ministry thing… or maybe God will completely change things around with a supernatural plot twist. Who knows? There is never a dull moment to new life in Christ. What I do know today more than ever is that God doesn’t want me to “do” anything. The Lord did it all. He even packed me full of promise and potential working its way out of me. He just wants me to be me and let Him do the rest.

I John 5:3-5 (AMP) For the [true] love of God is this: that we habitually keep His commandments and remain focused on His precepts. And His commandments and His precepts are not difficult [to obey]. For everyone born of God is victorious and overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has conquered and overcome the world—our [continuing, persistent] faith [in Jesus the Son of God]. Who is the one who is victorious and overcomes the world? It is the one who believes and recognizes the fact that Jesus is the Son of God.