Prosperity for All

Prosperity for All

Psalm 1:1-3 (NLT) Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.

I have a good life. I would even say that I live a God Life. Jesus is everything to me. He has filled gaps and spaces in my existence healing old wounds and exposing old ones that I did not know existed. This year, I have felt this stretching in my heart. God is eluding to the fact that there is more to Him than I am aware of. He keeps telling me and reminding me – don’t stop. I am ready to do more than you can think or ask. Secret things and hidden blessings that you do not even know to ask me for. Isaiah 55:8-9 say, “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” Depending on one’s perspective, this verse can be comforting or daunting at times. Our knowledge and understanding of the Word of God must include the instruction and guidance of His Spirit and a constant meditation and marination that keeps it soaking and saturating our mind. What we cannot grasp or comprehend will not be applied to or adhered to in life including faith and confident hope that allows us to trust the Lord when it comes to His Thoughts beyond our own understanding and His Ways far greater than our own. His Thoughts for us are so much higher than we think for or of ourselves. Reading this verse today in consideration of Psalm 1, maybe just maybe God is trying to tell me something new. It isn’t new to the Lord but the introduction of a higher level thinking that I could not grab hold of before.

Isaiah 55:10-13 (NLT) “The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry. It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it. You will live in joy and peace. The mountains and hills will burst into song, and the trees of the field will clap their hands! Where once there were thorns, cypress trees will grow. Where nettles grew, myrtles will sprout up. These events will bring great honor to the Lord’s name; they will be an everlasting sign of his power and love.”

I have learned in studying God’s Word to always keep reading. Read what comes before great revelation and what comes next. God’s Word is complete. It is all true. One precept leads to the next new concept. It takes a lifetime of reading, studying, mediating and applying and our humanity still cannot possible extract all of its goodness and wisdom. But at least, one can try. Our life is lived in seasons. We adapt our behavior and lifestyle in preparation of the next natural season. It drives our economy. It fuels our resources. It is the perpetual nature of sowing and reaping. Planting and harvest. As God calls us to new things, bigger thoughts, new ideas, and new innovations in our life, it takes us a step higher in our faith to comprehend and apprehend the unthinkable and once unattainable in life. However, the Goodness of God in our life flows through us to display His Glory. I know that before I experienced the wholeness of God’s Word, His Spirit and His Presence – I struggled at sharing the Gospel or Good News with others. I had not experienced its Power and therefore, I wasn’t completely sold on it or serving God wholeheartedly either. However, once I began applying God’s Word like the seed it is referred to in the Gospels like Matthew 13 – the fruit of my life was worth sharing. This has nothing to do with me or things I do but the things God’s Word is doing in my life. Every time I have pushed a “seed” in the ground, covering it, caring for it, committed to it, and confident in it – it has produced something far greater in my life. Something worth sharing. Something valuable and desirable to others. We were created to prosper here on the earth. Yes, heaven is our destination but it is not God’s Plan for us to struggle and strive all the time – we were made to thrive. Not only in the Fruit of His Spirit, but as a byproduct of it.

Proverbs 16:3-4 (NLT) Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed. The Lord has made everything for his own purposes, even the wicked for a day of disaster.

Commit your actions to the Lord. Serve Him wholeheartedly in every effort. The Lord of the Harvest doesn’t live in the local church house. God wants to live in your house. The Holy Spirit lives in our heart. His Purpose is to instruct us and guide us according to the Word of God. It says right here in black and white that if I “commit (my) actions to the Lord” that “(my) plans will succeed.” Once properly aligned with the God’s Word, His Will and His Way – I will be successful. Let’s flip the script for a moment, does that mean that if my life is not successful I am out of alignment or possibly disconnected? Yes. You are in good company because we all have more to do. A life committed to Christ will prosper in all they do. If every attitude and action is committed to Christ likewise our plans will succeed.

Have you ever tried to drive a car whose tires are out of alignment? Essentially each one has a mind of its own and the vehicle will pull in the direction of the misalignment. The faster you go the harder it is to control the direction of the automobile. Is your life pulling to the right or left? Jesus promised to align His Way with you if you will come to Him. Yoking our life to the Lord means yielding our way to His Way. It is to slow down. Evaluate our direction. Examine our heart. Weed out those things keeping us from completely grafting into the vine and becoming His Branches. Those who get it right will prosper “in all they do” and have “plans that succeed.”

Genesis 8:21-22 (NLT) And the Lord was pleased with the aroma of the sacrifice and said to himself, “I will never again curse the ground because of the human race, even though everything they think or imagine is bent toward evil from childhood. I will never again destroy all living things. As long as the earth remains, there will be planting and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night.”

In Genesis 1:28, God blessed mankind with fruitfulness and prosperity. He gave us power and authority basically dominion over the earth. Sin did not separate us from the earthly blessing, but rather separated us from right standing with God. It ended our partnership with the Lord. We could have a good life with a lot of hard work but as far as the Goodness found in His Glory – yeah it was game over. Looking ahead man’s sin took over, so God took the only righteous man and his family to safety while he wiped out the planet with a flood. Noah got off the ark and offered a pleasing sacrifice to God and in exchange God blessed the ground. This is important. Seedtime and harvest is very, very important because it restored man’s ability to prosper on the earth.

In the Garden, prosperity was given to us with God’s Blessing. However, we didn’t need the earth to produce because the blessing in the garden produced everything humanity needed to thrive. Sin separated us from the Presence of God. God gave us goodness in the earth again. He is such a good Father. This would be the beginning of grace for the world and its inhabitants even though “everything they think or imagine is bent toward evil”. Hang on…now where have I heard something like that before. Oh wait a minute, it is in the context of my life verse for 2017. “Now all glory to God, who is able, through the mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might think or ask.” His Goodness produces a Glory that is beyond my comprehension. The Truth is that despite my stinking thinking and sinful recollections that God is still trying to get His Goodness past what I think is possible to the impossible things that He has planned for me. He wants to do more than I think I am capable of. He wants to take me higher than I think possible. He wants to give me the life that Jesus Christ died for me to have rather than the one that I try to settle for day after day.

I Chronicles 4:9-10 (NLT) There was a man named Jabez who was more honorable than any of his brothers. His mother named him Jabez because his birth had been so painful. He was the one who prayed to the God of Israel, “Oh that you would bless me and expand my territory! Please be with me in all that I do, and keep me from all trouble and pain!” And God granted him his request.

In 2000, Bruce Wilkinson wrote a little book/commentary called The Prayer of Jabez. Many applauded the writing as pure revelation while others called it just another scripted effort in the prosperity gospel. I read the book. I prayed the prayer. I have seen its fruit bore in my life. Jabez was honorable humbled at birth by difficult circumstances. His mom called him a pain. His name actually means “pain”. I can’t imagine the humiliation others must have projected on Jabez. How insignificant his life must have felt as his mother looked at him in disdain. Childbirth is painful. I get it times five but I wonder what his mother must have been going through in her life. With each birth somehow a mother’s love overcomes the pain of the process, but for his mother it did not. He prayed to God, “Oh that you would bless me and expand my territory! Please be with me in all that I do, and keep me from all trouble and pain.” If you wish to term this “prosperity gospel” be my guest because it absolutely is just that. God called us to leave the borders of our natural life and step out by faith into the prosperity that He has promised His People – His Children. He is a good father who offers us a rich inheritance. If your mind can only see financial or tangible blessing in that as you pray God will change your heart and mind to see that as your soul prospers so will the rest of your life. To disconnect the blessings of God for our natural life as part of a crucified life silences the Gospel in our life. God blessings His People. By grace you are saved through faith that restores a right relationship with God. What Father withholds goodness from His Children who live with them? Parents bless their children in a right standing relationship. Why wouldn’t God? He tells us over and over that He has planned for our success. He will prosper us in every season. In Leviticus 26:5, it even says that though there are seasons that to Children of God they do not apply negatively but overlap in prosperity. Deuteronomy 28 outlines the blessings of obedience which are intangible and tangible. He also tells us that an impoverished life is in direct correlation with disobedience. Did God lie? No. Did He change his mind? No. Did He mislead us in any way? No not at all. We have set the boundaries of God’s Goodness and overflow in our life. We limit the Gospel because His Grace is only as sufficient as it operates in our life. If I limit my life according to what I can do or will do – it is not God’s Plan but my own in operation.

James 1:16-18 (NLT) So don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters. Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession.

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” The Lord has been good to me. He has been so much better than I deserve. It is easy for people to settle for the Goodness of God. The Word of God opens our eyes to the Truth that His Goodness has surrounded us from the moment that we were born – it is now that we can see it as magnified by His Word.

Through the battle with our son, bits and pieces of my life that I thought really mattered began to break off of me. The idea that I was somehow in control of anything in my life quickly subsided and the reality of my life is worth nothing outside of Jesus Christ. I was born to teenage parents. They struggled but just could not survive the statistics. They both had to find their own way leaving two little kids in the aftermath. God was with us. He gave us godly grandparents who took care of us while our parents sorted their lives out. My father married a wonderful woman who would become my mom, too. The Lord knew I needed her. My birth mother struggled for the rest of her life and died after a long battle with alcoholism that separated her from the ones she loved most. I discovered the love of God at eleven. Gave my life to Christ as a teenager. Rebelled for a decade. Ended up divorced with three kids and no hope for a future in my own eyes. I failed my children, my parents, my God and myself. God had a different plan and presented my soul mate. When I came back to Jesus, I set out to make things right to do all I could to make up for all that I had done wrong and thought I was doing pretty good. God blessed our life. My husband and I had knit together a family, achieved great jobs, built the perfect house, and life was good. Then came the moment that I realized it was all a façade, it came crashing down in October 2011. Could this be my fault? Repayment for a life wasted? No, God is good! Right? I could not save our son. I was helpless. God whispered, “Do you trust me?” I whispered, “Yes.” I meant it but had no idea the journey that I was embarking upon. At the end, I was broken before the Lord. I was empty. It was then everything changed. This was when God’s Grace became truly sufficient for me. You may say, “Well, of course it did! Your son is alive.” To God be the Glory – you are right he is. He had a 2% chance of survival. God did the impossible. However, what you do not know is that the doctors only believe he will live about ten years. The treatment is as deadly as the disease apparently. We are in the third year of remission. He experienced a long list of side effects that we must still believe God to take care of. See trust didn’t end in that moment, it was only beginning. The verse that carried me through treatment right now as he lives in remission is Romans 8:28 “All things work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His Purpose.”

Your life may not look like you thought. The disappointments might be a list longer than your arm. We get lost in our failures. We get tangled up in the lies the enemy is constantly trying to trap us with. We stop and settle because faith is just too darn hard. God’s Plan, His Future, is never at stake. He will absolutely do more than I can think or ask for. The only thing I must do is decide if I will live in His Presence or stay in the present. God’s Goodness is in your life right now. He blessed you from the beginning and called you to greater things. He ordained you for fruitful increase in every season. The righteous are not supposed to live in lack. Spiritual lack. Physical lack. Financial lack. His Goodness provides more than enough for us. But for those who desire His Glory – the kind that sparks revival – it is up to us whether we will step over the boundary of self and wealth into the place of prosperity called His Presence. Those who do will never experience disappointment again because their expectation is not on people or earthly provision but God’s Glory to fill their life and overflow. God has called you to prosper. He has already blessed the land on which you tread. He has gone before you and cleared the enemy’s camp. Will you go? Will you plant? Will you harvest? Well friend, that is up to you! I break the boundaries of human thinking that have trapped you in just enough in the Name of Jesus. I challenge you to let God do more than you can think or ask but stepping out in faith and trust in the Lord who always wants to do more than we can think, imagine or ask. As your soul prospers, let Him prosper you in all things.

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

Hobby, Habit or Holiness

hobby habit or holiness

Luke 14:26-30 (NLT) “If you want to be my disciple, you must, by comparison, hate everyone else—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple. And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple. But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of money, and then everyone would laugh at you.

In January, my husband and a group of men arranged to go duck hunting. They planned the excursion for months. Purchased mounds of hunting gear and ammunition. Planning included requesting leave from jobs, making hotel reservations and mapping out travel. Everyone paid their portion of the hunting lease and provided for meals and expenses. When the calendar finally fell on the travel date, the weather conditions took a dramatic turn for the absolute worst. It was below freezing. The lakes and ponds frozen over. Each morning they would trudge out to the field, break through the ice, set the decoys and lay in the blinds in the frigid conditions. They didn’t get a single one. They paid a high price yet got a miserable return other than the lease owner offering them a free return visit at the beginning of hunting season. This hunting hobby is new to our family.

We all have hobbies in life. It may be a variety of different things. Activities or interests pursued for pleasure and relaxation but no as a main occupation. I recently began repurposing old furniture. Reconditioning them is therapeutic to me. I was purchasing some pieces from a new acquaintance who encouraged me to sell the pieces rather than giving them away. I don’t really want to do that because I do this to escape the world and get lost in something creative. It is a hobby. Since most pieces are this side of tossing in the garbage, my investment is limited other than time spent cleaning, repairing, sanding and painting. It brings me peace. The great thing about a hobby is that I can choose how much of my time, talent and treasure that I invest in it. If I walk away for a few weeks, a month or so – it has not impact on me, my family or future other than a few choice words from my husband about the clutter in the garage. It is good to have hobbies in life.

What about habits? Those things that are not necessarily for pleasure or relaxation but driven by routine and schedule. Most adults have certain habits instilled by the values imbedded by the example of their parents or mentors. Some habits are formed by a desire to change certain behaviors, trends, circumstances or conditions. Habits can be good or bad. It is just what we do, who we are, and the choices we make. A habit is an acquired behavioral pattern regularly followed until it becomes involuntary. The word “involuntary” means independent of our will and not by our own choice. There are habits worth giving up for better health, emotional wellness, and spiritual awakening.

Church can become a habit. Religion is the routine of the church for organizational purposes. Habits and routines are comfortable. They give way to complacency in life and love. We must evaluate our habits as often as our heart to see our motivation. Do I do the things I do because I have always done them this way? Is there a better way? Is this a Christ-like endeavor or just something I do to fit in to my social group? Church is known for cliques and many times it is the birthplace of complacency as our pursuit of God is tempered by the other sheep in our fold. Is church a weekly habit? Is it an occasional hobby? If our relationship to Jesus Christ can be defined as either it is up to us to count the cost of becoming a disciple. Hobbies and habits do not produce holiness. It is not the way of those who desire God’s Kingdom and His Riches in Glory. It is just another way the enemy is keeping our churches and communities from experiencing revival.

2 Corinthians 6:16 (NLT) 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.

When Jesus died, He released the Holy Spirit. On the Day of Pentecost, the Lord made it clear that the new dwelling place of His Spirit was in His People. Those who opened their hearts and minds to Jesus Christ and desired Him as Savior and Lord would house His Spirit. The church moved from the outside world to inside God’s People. Empowering them with new purpose and new power. When Jesus told the people that He would destroy the temple that it took 46years to build and rebuild it in three days, (John 2:15-21) He was referring to His Death which destroyed religion and His Resurrection that move His Church from buildings to bodies. As believers – we are the church. Not just any church of any denomination, we are the Temple of the Living God. Holy inhabitation is the cornerstone of holiness. Holiness is not a hobby or habit. It is who we are in God through Jesus Christ. We must become holy because God is holy. (Leviticus 19:2) His Presence in us forces an evaluation of our contribution to the Kingdom. Are we mere contributors or fully committed to the Cause called Christ in us?

Proverbs 20:25 (NLT) Don’t trap yourself by making a rash promise to God and only later counting the cost.

Have I made a rash (acting too hastily without due consideration)? We all are prone to say, “Yes” to many things without proper consideration or careful contemplation. Why? Who doesn’t want the affirmation and acceptance of others? Our “yes” is often based on meeting the expectation of others rather than fully consideration what it requires or what the desired outcome may be. We must count the cost of discipleship and decide if it is the life desired. Why is this important? At the end of my life, I will meet Jesus face-to-face. If I invested in the Kingdom as a hobby, I do not believe that He will say, “Well done, though good and faithful servant!” A hobby is something I do for me. Me alone. It is for my relaxation and my personal pleasure. Is that what I signed up for when I came to Jesus Christ? Is that what He was really offering? I don’t think so.

Is my commitment to Jesus Christ a habit? Has it become just another routine and scheduled event added to the long list of responsibilities in my life? Is it my religion or a true relationship? The truest test of religion verses relationship is passion. Am I passionate about loving, knowing, serving and following Jesus for the rest of my life? Or do I just go with the flow of the local church? Is my spiritual temperature set by the thermostat of my church or is it a flame being fanned and fueled by an All-Consuming Fire and burning desire to become His Disciple? To go where He goes, do what He does, and experience His Kingdom (as promised) on the earth as it is in Heaven. Hmm… makes me think. How about you?

Luke 14:26-27 (NLT) “If you want to be my disciple, you must, by comparison, hate everyone else—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple. And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple.

Holiness is not a religious preference. It is not an organized denomination. Holiness is God’s Mandate on the life of the believer. To be wholly consumed and filled with His Spirit. To passionately pursue the Calling and Purpose found only in Christ as He calls us a new creation. To bring Heaven to earth in our own life while connecting the Body and its intricate membership and parts coming together with one heart – one mind – and one purpose. To make Him greater and greater while I disappear in His Presence. Sounds good until one begins to count the cost. We decide if we will carry “our own cross”. Jesus died to set us free to choose the life we live. To “take up our cross” is become responsible for our membership as one part of the Body of Christ. I cannot live, breathe, move or exist as an effective part of the Body unless fully connected to and directed by Jesus Christ. He must be my motivation. He must be the One Thing that I am after. I hear you. Family comes first. It does right after Jesus Christ. To be a disciple of Jesus Christ is to discipline my body, mind and spirit that in all things Jesus is first which means if anyone else makes a contrary decision that it does not influence or impact my partnership with Jesus.

Love and grace are the foundation of this wonderful relationship. I cannot have my way and live successfully in any relationship. My relationships (all of them) must have Christ as a foundation. Even my relationships to my perceived enemies, even those who are considered a threat or constant thorn in our flesh have purpose in our life. God put them there for a reason. We do not systematically cut off difficult relations or those who don’t understand our faith and marriage to Jesus. We must learn to put all our expectation in Jesus Christ and trust Him with every other relationship that we have engaged in. We must always take up our cross and follow Jesus.

What do I give my life to? Is it possible to graph the timeline of my life? Of course, it is but do I really want to. How much of my day is focused on this cross I have chosen to carry versus all the other endeavors in my life? Ignorance is not bliss but the death of the good seeds ready to be planted and harvested in our life. The secret to a successful partnership with Jesus is found in His Word. Simply because Jesus is the Word. To decide not to know releases us from responsibility is not ignorance it is foolishness when all of creation displays the Glory of God. If I refuse to follow Christ – the Word of God tells me that I “am not worthy to of being called mine.” Holiness requires shirking off the filthy rags and donning a robe of righteousness. It means picking up the full armor of God to step into a victorious life. It means to put away pride and live in humility. It means giving up my way. If I cling to this life, I will lose it. If I give my life to Jesus fully, I will find my true purpose and live in fulfillment forever. (Matthew 10:37-39) It is a daily choice. (Luke 9:23)

Luke 14:28-33 (NLT) “But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of money, and then everyone would laugh at you. They would say, ‘There’s the person who started that building and couldn’t afford to finish it!’ “Or what king would go to war against another king without first sitting down with his counselors to discuss whether his army of 10,000 could defeat the 20,000 soldiers marching against him? And if he can’t, he will send a delegation to discuss terms of peace while the enemy is still far away. So you cannot become my disciple without giving up everything you own.

Our life is comprised of three things of worth: time, talent and treasure. These are the things that we have to invest in something or someone. It is totally up to me how I invest my life. Time is the most precious commodity because it is irreplaceable. Talent is only as valuable as the realization of that potential in our life. Treasure is every tangible thing we own whether we think it’s worth anything or not. To become a disciple of Jesus Christ and live a holy life is not what so many have made it out to be. It is to live our life fully consumed by Jesus Christ. To step out of self and into Christ completely. It means investing my time, talent and treasure into His Kingdom. It is to combine our resources with the Lord completely. Giving Him all our time. All of our talent. All of our treasure. Then stepping back and letting Him use it for His Glory. The problem is that we give our hobbies and habits too much time and there is not enough to pay the price of discipleship. Divided interest and diversified investments may create natural security by not putting all our eggs in one lifetime basket but if my heart and soul are set on Eternity – I must take all my life and invest it in Jesus Christ.

1 Timothy 2:5-6 (NLT) For, there is one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus. He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone. This is the message God gave to the world at just the right time.

When Jesus handed us the Keys to the Kingdom, the first key is marked “freedom”. I am now free to choose how I live my life. I choose my master. Asking Jesus to be our Savior is not enough, we must make Him our Lord to pledge allegiance to the Kingdom of God. I choose death or life each day. I choose blessing or otherwise. I decide if today will be to the Glory of God or pursue selfish interest. I get to choose. When I do, it determines my destiny. I cannot choose one course and expect to become part of the Kingdom. There is no middle of the road or gray compromise. Is my relationship to Jesus Christ a hobby? Do I do it for my own benefit and blessing but nothing more investing what is left of my time and energy? Is my relationship a habit? Do I take Him for granted? Rather than pursuing Him do I just pencil Him in? Is He part of the schedule or a routine measure? Do I every even think about Him or just do what I do and have done traditionally? Is my life ordinary? Is it just mediocre? Where is His Glory? It is not for the hobbyist or habitual Christian. It is for the intentional believer whose one desire is to be one with Christ. To put everything second. To give God the surplus of our life trusting Him with all of it. To follow Him relentlessly and passionately from beginning to end, no matter how deep the valley or high the mountain – no matter who comes with us. Does your love affair with Jesus have passion? Do you think about Him most of the time? See we have made this thing called discipleship a production but its not. It is the process by which our life, entire existence, is reconciled to God through Jesus Christ. It is how we achieve a state of holiness. It is not a hobby. It is not a habit. It is a relationship with the One who thought we were to die for. He gave up everything for me. I must reconcile my life to Jesus Christ to live a holy life. I must use my freedom to bring every part of my life into agreement with His Word, His Way and His Will. It is personal. Am I willing to give everything to Jesus? Lord, examine my heart and evaluate my life. Reconcile everything to you, Lord.

Acts 17:28 (NLT) “For in Him we live and move and exist.”

I Must Press

i-must-press

Philippians 3:12-14 (AMP) Not that I have already obtained it [this goal of being Christlike] or have already been made perfect, but I actively press on so that I may take hold of that [perfection] for which Christ Jesus took hold of me and made me His own. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider that I have made it my own yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the [heavenly] prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

“Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.” Vince Lombardi

Perfection is impossible to achieve on the earth. Those who live in pursuit of perfection will one day achieve it. Jesus Christ is perfect. Sinless. Selfless. He belongs to me. Paul said, “I have not obtained or been made perfect…but I actively press on to take hold of perfection.” (Paraphrased) There is a better life worth having. God has empowered us with all that is needed to attain. It is the inheritance claimed by repentance as one returns to His Father through Jesus Christ. It belongs to us. We just have to desire it enough to “come boldly” to get it. Jesus has given us the keys to the Kingdom. I am free to use them at any time. The door is locked to keep the enemy from taking what is designated as mine. Shaking the keys does not scare the enemy, however; when I decide to use the Keys to the Kingdom to release God’s Power in my life – he will tremble and flee. The devil’s roar is no match for the Lion of Judah.

I must press for perfect to walk in excellence. This is true in all aspects of life. When I decide to be the best in any given area, it is a mind, body and soul decision to press past every obstacle, overcome every weakness and push past every barrier that keeps me from success. Vince Lombardi was a great football coach. He coached in the National Football League. The highest award in football bears his name, The Vince Lombardi Trophy is given to the winner of the Super Bowl. Certainly, his attitude reflected in his statement was emulated in his life. What about you? I wonder what would happen if we set our heart on Heaven and Jesus as heavily as we do on natural achievements? What if I got up early to work the Word instead working my body? What if I left ten minutes early to make it to church as I do to get to the office early? What if I engaged in conversations with the Lord as much as other people? What if I sought the affirmation, acceptance and approval of Jesus Christ as much as every other person who roams the planet? What if my foremost expectation was in Christ alone? Would I press? Would I pursue perfection that is Jesus Christ?

“I press on toward the goal to win the (heavenly prize) of the upward calling of God in Christ Jesus.” The word “press” has two meanings: 1) to move by weight or force in a certain direction or into a certain position, and 2) to compress or squeeze as to alter shape or size. If our goal in life is to become a new creation and engage in transformation both of these are applicable in our life. We cannot stay as we were and become who God created us to be. We cannot remain still and not become stagnant. God is moving. I must learn to live, move and breathe with Him. His Spirit in me presses out the impure to make room for the pure through the process called conviction. Jesus invites us to become yoked to Him so we can go where He goes, say what He says, and do what He does. We want to remain the victim, but Jesus tells us no you are an overcomer. A victim is not a victor. It is moving from one role to the other where victory is achieved and the prize obtained in life.

Matthew 11:28-30 (AMP) “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavily burdened [by religious rituals that provide no peace], and I will give you rest [refreshing your souls with salvation]. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me [following Me as My disciple], for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest (renewal, blessed quiet) for your souls. For My yoke is easy [to bear] and My burden is light.”

The biggest handicap in Christianity is ignorance. In fact, Hosea 4:6 says that people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Knowledge is to know God’s Word. Wisdom is when it is applied to life. To be a true disciple of Jesus Christ means knowing the Word. Jesus is the Word wrapped in flesh. (John 1) To attempt to follow Jesus but not know the Word is to wander aimlessly without a map, compass or GPS to guide the way. To walk by faith and not by sight means there must be something to guide us where we cannot see to go. Our faith must be found in Jesus Christ. Our faith must be in the Word of God. Our faith must believe enough to follow Him.

Are you ready to press? Matthew 11:28-30 is not about Jesus picking you up and carrying you through life. Read it again. It says plainly, “Take My Yoke upon you and learn from me.” A yoke joins two together to walk as one. Jesus invites us to walk with Him. He teaches us how to live, move and breathe in Him. Our weakness is given up for His Power in grace. Grace is achieved when I humble my life to accept His Salvation and live in His Righteousness. It is when I discard the filthy rags and assume the Robe of Righteousness offered to me by His Nail-Scarred Hands. Old wineskin cannot carry new wine. (Matthew 9:16-17) With this in mind, I cannot expect a new life or to be a new creation which is absolutely necessary to claim perfection when I meet the Lord one day, if I am not willing to press today.

John 5:5-9 (NLT) One of the men lying there had been sick for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him and knew he had been ill for a long time, he asked him, “Would you like to get well?” “I can’t, sir,” the sick man said, “for I have no one to put me into the pool when the water bubbles up. Someone else always gets there ahead of me.” Jesus told him, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk!” Instantly, the man was healed! He rolled up his sleeping mat and began walking! 

The man was sick for 38 years. The woman with the issue of blood suffered for 12 years. Both had infirmities that would be healed by faith in Jesus Christ. Faith applies pressure to the possibilities in our life that will cause us to push past impossible and receive the miraculous. However, if I am satisfied with my life remaining status quo, good enough, or I settle for less to maintain comfort and complacency – the real problem is a lack of faith. Desperation will press us to step out of our weakness and infirmity. The important question here is “would you like to get well?”

To be well requires change. It will mean doing something or a series of things that you are not necessarily comfortable doing. It will require faith that is more than rhetoric but a reality in your life. The man sitting by the pool was a victim in life. When he met Jesus that day, he was faced with a choice. Do I continue to wait for someone to carry me? Or am I going to press for perfection by responding to the Word? He chose the better. He pressed past the impossible and obtained the miraculous the moment he gave up being a victim to take hold of victory. He believed. His faith changed everything once put in Jesus and not anyone or anything else.

Jesus told him, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk!” Jesus is telling us the very same thing today. Stand up. Press. Apply pressure and force to that thing called faith within you. Give it some attention. Nurture it. Feed it. Foster it. Force it to grow. Label it “purpose” and make it a priority in your life. What if the only thing keeping you from supernatural living is you? How sad would it have been if the man waved off Jesus keeping his eyes on the water and facilitating fruitless relationships hoping someone might carry him? How tragic if the woman with issues stayed home that day inhibited by the judgment of others and hindered by the crowds allowing her weakness to hold her captive forever? Jesus has given us the Holy Spirit to “help us in our weakness”. (Romans 8) He is working in harmony with God’s Will for us to achieved and succeed according to God’s Plan for our life. He is our helper which means that I must still be doing something to promote this radical change faith produces in our life.

Mark 8:33-37 (NLT) Then, calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?

In an effort to improve my physical well-being, I have engaged in a “squat challenge” for the month of February. Every day I have committed to a certain number of squats. The first day it was just fifty. Today on day 18 – it is now up to 155. On the last day of the challenge, the goal is 250. I cannot even imagine such a feat. I am disciplining my body to do the exercises every day. When I begin a set, I feel good, powerful, and have the mindset for success. About halfway through, it gets more difficult. My momentum begins to slow. I am becoming out of breath. My legs grow shaky. Sweat begins to form on my brow. Toward the end of the set is when my thoughts begin to rally against my commitment. I want to stop. Give in to the discomfort. Stop and catch my breath. I must press to complete the set. I must push past the pain in my body, the discomfort in my chest, and the thoughts in my head to finish. Why? I have made it my goal to be successful in this challenge and kick start a plan for better health and wellness. Why don’t we apply such principles in our spiritual life as well?

We would not need the qualities of patience and endurance if the walk of faith was easy. It’s not. It kills our flesh and ignores our thoughts. It presses on for something greater than our natural senses can perceive therefore needs a higher perspective obtained only through the Word of God and close alignment with His Son. I must put forth the energy. I must make a commitment. I must take responsibility for my part of the partnership in my relationship with Jesus Christ. I must decide I am no longer a victim in this life but will pursue victory in all things. I must become an overcomer because greater is He who is in me. I cannot try to drag Jesus to defeat because He will not go there, but continues to lead me to victory. I must press. I must push, I cannot give up or risk being left behind. If I submit my weakness to Jesus Christ by faith, I will be made whole. But it won’t happen if I don’t press! I will remain subject to people or clothed in my issues. I must apply weight and force to my fear. I must squeeze out every doubt. The Lord promises to help me if I just yoke myself to Him. I must press. Will you?

I Corinthians 9:25-27 (NLT) All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.

So Inclined

so-inclined

Romans 7:21-25 (NLT) I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong.  I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.

To be so inclined means wanting to do something or likely to do something. It is the impulsive nature of our species to give in to emotions or feelings. Usually based on habit, it is considered the “way we always have done it”. Inclination is not a fan of change as it is uncomfortable like a steady slope of the next mountain. Our faith would move mountains if trust was a factor. Our inability to trust the Lord before the mountains causes us to climb up the grade which makes maintaining a vertical position with the Father more challenging as gravity tries to pull us back to a horizontal position with the world. This place is called compromise. It is a location somewhere between who we were and what the new person that God has called us to be.

Paul summed it up in these words – “I have discovered the principle of life – that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong.” Our love affair with Jesus is established through a relationship with Him that is vertical. However, we are not born in love with the Lord but in strict opposition as sin makes it so. Through repentance changing our position by turning from sin to embrace the Light of His Love immersed in amazing grace that a robe of righteousness becomes our bride clothes and He places the ring of covenant on our finger as we become one with Christ. As in any marriage, it is giving up our way to follow one way. Marriage is compromise. Two imperfect people who try to create the perfect union. No one gets married thinking divorce is an option yet it is statistically proven that more marriages fail then succeed. The institution of marriage requires us to leave our past to secure our future. We must cut all ties of our former life and become united to our partner. Love in the early stages is footloose and fancy free. Everything our love does is cute. Once the party is over and real life begins – it quickly becomes clear that maintaining a lifelong union is work – hard work because it is our nature to give up our personal freedom for anyone else. The struggle is real.

To be so inclined in our spiritual walk is disaster. This is the realm called compromise and it is a killer. When we rely on human emotions and naturally feelings to make our way clear, it leads us straight into the wilderness. It compromises our safety and security in the Lord because we are no longer seeking the refuge of righteousness but trying out other avenues. There is but one way. Jesus Christ is the gateway to our future. (John 10) Just as He provides for us and protects us in the place of righteousness. He also keeps the thief from making his way in to plunder our goods. But the gate is open and we are free to come and go as we please. Jesus Christ sets us free to choose each day. Those who choose to wander will experience great loss. Those so inclined to inspect the fields of others rather than enjoying the lush, green grass of obedience may stray too far. It is important to determine our position in life. If we are so inclined by our behavior, it is important to examine our heart and mind to commit all areas to Christ before it’s too late.

Genesis 19:15-16 (NLT) At dawn the next morning the angels became insistent. “Hurry,” they said to Lot. “Take your wife and your two daughters who are here. Get out right now, or you will be swept away in the destruction of the city!” When Lot still hesitated, the angels seized his hand and the hands of his wife and two daughters and rushed them to safety outside the city, for the Lord was merciful.

Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19) is a Biblical story most are familiar with. A city given to sin, depravity and perversity. Abraham interceded for the cities as he had family there. God would not forsake his wrath on the community but indeed honored Abraham’s request. The Lord spared Lot and his family or at least those so inclined to leave. The angels of destruction told Lot, “Hurry!” But Lot “still” hesitated. The Lord was merciful in moving Lot, his wife and daughters from the city. However, the city was still inside of them. Lot hesitated. When the messengers of God told him to leave – he waited. When they showed where to go – Lot compromised asking to be moved to a different location. His wife directly defied the order of the Lord and looked back longing for her home. She did not make it to safety. His daughters decided to take their future in their own hands deceiving their own father to become pregnant. Their sons would become the Moabites and Ammonites who constantly were battling the Israelites. All because they were so inclined. This family was spared because of the prayers of a righteous man – Abraham. However, though they left the city of sin – they could not overcome the inclination to sin. A lack of trust inclines us to compromise. Compromise does not receive the promise but breeds compromise throughout just as a little leaven makes a loaf – it ferments and rises within us taking over the faith God planted in our hearts for salvation sake.

Matthew 13:33 (NLT) Jesus also used this illustration: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like the yeast a woman used in making bread. Even though she put only a little yeast in three measures of flour, it permeated every part of the dough.”

It is important to constantly evaluate the contents of our life. Just as the smallest seed of faith produces an abundance of God in our life, sin also can produce an abundance of doubt and fear in us that causes us to hesitate, look back, and even go back. It breeds complacency that makes us lukewarm and therefore vomit in the mouth of our Lord. It is the even the slightest inclination to do our will or accept the world’s standard that threatens us and our position of righteousness. Later in Matthew, it is clear that even religion can become an inclination if not careful to keep our heart and mind focused on the Lord.

Hebrews 10:37-39 (NLT) “For in just a little while, the Coming One will come and not delay. And my righteous ones will live by faith. But I will take no pleasure in anyone who turns away.” But we are not like those who turn away from God to their own destruction. We are the faithful ones, whose souls will be saved.

Are you looking back or looking around? It is time to look up. God has established a way of living through His Son, Jesus Christ that far exceeds anything I can think or imagine even to ask for. It is in fixing my eyes on the Lord and casting down every thought that is not in alignment that secures my vertical position. I am human. I make mistakes…every day. All have sinned and fallen short of God’s Glorious Standard. The standard of living in this world is nothing compared to our new life in Christ. Regret and fear cause us to doubt that which faith secures. Hope begins to break down as we lose our grip on the reality of faith to delve back into the things of this world. Don’t beat yourself up. Today is a new day and God faithfully provided new mercy for such a time as this. In fact, He gives us new mercy because we are so inclined.

The truth is no one can claim righteousness outside of Jesus Christ. (Romans 3) Sinfulness is the natural state of every human being. The only way to be righteous is to put our absolute faith in Jesus Christ and learn to trust Him completely in all things. The Word of God promises that there is no condemnation in Jesus Christ. He knows our weaknesses and died for every sin from the smallest to the largest. His Grace is enough for me. In fact, it becomes my strength when I can’t do it anymore. When I am weak, I am strong. The change of heart that is needed is simple. “And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil.  All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.” Do I love Jesus more than sin? This is the deciding factor that produces a life of faith, hope and love.

Romans 12:2-3 (NLT)  Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.

God is willing to transform you into a new person by changing your inclinations. Inclination is a disposition of the mind and will. Our mind is bent toward sin naturally deviates towards it. It is difficult to change our attitudes, actions and habits. It is important that we filter every thought and notion for inclination toward the Lord. We must be inclined to please God which defies human nature completely. Our filter must be constantly refined as we grow in the Lord. Pride will take many forms for self-preservation. We must behave as foreigners who live in allegiance to the Kingdom and not our temporary home. To move means a change of heart, change of mind and change of position as we live vertically not inclined to compromise any longer.

Colossians 3:5-10 (NLT) So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. Because of these sins, the anger of God is coming. You used to do these things when your life was still part of this world. But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language. Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds. Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him.

My latest hobby is redoing old furniture. My latest find was a dining room table left out for the trash. It has a solid pedestal with a round oak top that the previous owner no longer wanted and felt it worthy of garbage. I retrieved it as my next masterpiece. It’s funny to hear the comments of my family over my garage sale, thrift store and roadside finds. There is something completely satisfying about taking what was tossed out and turning it into a treasure. After cleaning it thoroughly removing all the grit, grime and children’s stickers that covered the bottom. I set to stripping the layers of wear and tear from the surface. After about three hours of sanding and smoothing, it was without a single blemish. This process always makes me think of God working on me. His Care to fix and refine every broken area of my life even those areas I don’t think need improvement. He continually refines and resurfaces me making me into the new creation that He promised. I am so thankful for Jesus and His Absolute Insistence on not leaving me as I was.

We contribute to this process by making it a conscious effort and total commitment to be faithful in all things. The Bible points out the obvious strongholds of sin. It is our willingness to pay attention and direct energy and effort to overcoming our feelings and dealing with such things that give us confident hope to secure our faith. We must examine and evaluate all attitudes and actions that sum up our behavior to determine if they are in alignment with Christ. This includes every word that we speak. (Ephesians 4) It is how we act in church and what we allow to exist in the Body as acceptable. (2 Corinthians) It is important that we do not become so full of self that our religious actions become a righteous platform to spew venom on the tiny seedlings in the hearts of new or young believers. If Christ did not feel it necessary to bring condemnation, why do we? The only emotion worthy of keeping and submitting to the transformation power of God is love. In fact, our love for the Lord should be the plumb line of our life. It demonstrates a vertical connection. When I can choose to love even my enemy, I am showing more than ever my complete faith in God and total trust in His Power.

I John 3:18-22 (NLT) Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God. Even if we feel guilty, God is greater than our feelings, and he knows everything. Dear friends, if we don’t feel guilty, we can come to God with bold confidence. And we will receive from him whatever we ask because we obey him and do the things that please him.

What is your greatest inclination today? What is the prevailing feeling that is dictating your course of action? Those who choose Christ will press forward rather than giving in to that which so inclines us. By faith, we become rooted and grounded in the Love of Jesus Christ. Our faith becomes sustainable and hope the anchor for our souls. By beginning to invest our expectation into this love affair, we begin to change and be transformed by God’s Love. A spark turns into a fiery passion to know Him more. Our feelings no longer will matter when faith takes over. God is greater than our feelings. He is not moved by our opinions or faults. The Lord just waits for us to change our inclination so He can change our heart. To say, “Well, that’s the way I am” is to give in to the lie of the enemy that God’s Love is not real, His Power ineffective, and the Life of Jesus Christ is not enough. You don’t mean that. It is your flesh speaking. What does God say about you? To sum it up, God loved you more than anything and proved that He thought you were to die for. Isn’t that enough to incline you to decide He is enough to live for?

I Peter 2:11-13 (NLT) 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.

Life in the Light

life-in-the-light

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You Reap What You Sow

you-reap-what-you-sow

Ecclesiastes 11:4-6 (NLT) Farmers who wait for perfect weather never plant. If they watch every cloud, they never harvest. Just as you cannot understand the path of the wind or the mystery of a tiny baby growing in its mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the activity of God, who does all things. Plant your seed in the morning and keep busy all afternoon, for you don’t know if profit will come from one activity or another—or maybe both.

And the Lord was pleased with the aroma of the sacrifice and said to himself, ‘I will never again curse the ground because of the human race, even though everything they think or imagine is bent toward evil from childhood. I will never again destroy all living things. As long as the earth remains, there will be planting and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night.’” (Genesis 8:21-22)

“Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant.” (Galatians 6:7)

There is a truth perpetuated from Genesis to Galatians of sowing and reaping or planting and harvest. This idea, though a basic concept in the natural, has supernatural potential. If believers would tap in to the importance of this promise of God the Kingdom of God would explode. The world had been wiped clean of humanity all except for Moses and his family. A complete do-over by God with this promise “I will never again curse the ground because of the human race.” This is the promise of amazing grace. No matter how sinfully depraved we are, God will always leave us fertile ground for sowing and reaping. This was a promise to the earth, as well as an eternal promise for our soul. God promised that he would not allow His Anger and Wrath to destroy all living things. This was the promise of salvation yet to come. As long as the earth remains, we are guaranteed prosperity.

Prosperity is growth potential. God has provided the platform to grow things. He has mapped out seasons. He has provided the ground for planting, the sun, the rain and even a harvest. All that is left is the act of sowing. Sowing is sacrifice. It is to commit a seed to the ground, care for it until it becomes a harvest…at least that is what good farmers do. We sow seeds of something in our life every single day. Sometimes diligent in our care and concern to wait for the harvest of our attitude or action and then other times losing hope abandoning well plowed fields to eat from other crops. It is important to evaluate the seeds of our life to determine the harvest. Do not be misled, misinformed, or misguided – what you sow you will reap, what you plant you will harvest always.

“You reap what you sow” is a statement with a negative connotation. When rumors and gossip of another’s misfortune, too many times it is used to describe a life bad choices. Though completely true, it is hissed as a curse against those who are broken, burdened, struggling, failing or falling. As Christians, I have seeds planted in me by God cultivated by His Spirit to give to others when they stumble or fall for the lie of the enemy. Do I share them? When God gave us the promise of seedtime and harvest, I do not believe it was a threat but a promise of salvation, deliverance, mercy and grace. A Savior was coming to be our Sacrifice. Like a seed, He died and was buried in the ground. (I Corinthians 15:36-37) Jesus didn’t stay in the ground and the harvest of salvation made available to us through Resurrection Power now offered to us the same way. God has provided all that is need to prosper us. Where is our seed? Have we planted it well? Do we even know what good seed is? Where to get it? How to farm it? How to wait for it to grow? When to harvest it? We are farmers who sow seeds that will become the Kingdom of God? How are we doing so far?

God was pleased with the sacrifice of Noah. It was in that moment that God ordained sowing and reaping. It is a covenant promise not a conventional tool. It is not a financial concept though it works there too. God was giving us hope. He was preparing the ground for Jesus. He was preparing us for His Arrival. Now the Savior has come, He died for our sin, His Sacrifice acceptable to God now we have been handing the seeds and told to plant – are we planting?

Isaiah 61:3 (NLT) To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory.

Beauty for ashes. Who doesn’t want a beautiful life? The quaint little house with the white picket fence. The perfect family who never quarrels or hits hard times. The sun is always shining and the rain never falls. The bills always paid. The unexpected never knocks. No talk of disease, sickness or death. Wouldn’t it be beautiful? Yes, maybe but only temporarily.

Sin is the root of the imperfection of this world. Let’s just say that hypothetically that an apple was the fruit Eve chose from the Tree of Knowledge that day. God created every living thing with the ability to reproduce. This is the same apple that the seeds of every other apple tree is produced from. Even if we do our best to build the perfect life with the perfect family and perfect home and perfect portfolio – the influence of sin will never ever escape us in this lifetime. To sow in this life is not good ground but temporary provision for a certain death.

A beautiful life is eternal life. The point when we step out of what is to what Jesus promised. The promise is not for this life but the hope that I have in forever with the Lord. No more sin. No more shame. No more darkness only Light. No more sorrow. No more sickness. No more pain. Nothing reminiscent of what sin provided in this life but only the fulfilled promise of God in eternity. This is where sowing becomes the harvest that satisfies the soul. It is the place of completion where nothing is lacked. It means sacrificing this life to have forever.

Everyone wants beauty but do not want to endure the fire for the ashes that it takes. Everyone wants abundance but will we sow seeds sacrificially because that is what it takes. My way will never produce the abundant harvest that I am promised. Sacrifice is not giving what I want or can afford to lose but giving my all. Sacrifice is everything. It means giving up this life to have eternal life. For it is the pursuit of righteousness, our seeds become established as mighty, immovable and great oaks.

I Corinthians 3:6-8 (NLT) I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow. It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow. The one who plants and the one who waters work together with the same purpose. And both will be rewarded for their own hard work.

God gives us increase. He gives us growth potential. Grace is the power source of productivity in our life and works the same as planting. We have nothing of worth to give outside of Jesus Christ within us. I have been compelled in this New Year to stop sowing worthless seeds and really evaluate the potential of my productivity. Stop focusing on things that don’t really matter and examine my heart make sure it is set on what really matters. Am I sowing the right seed? Am I watering (and waiting) as it changes into that which God has promised and ordained to happen? Am I depending on God to grow, develop and mature it into what HE decided it should be? Am I sowing into this life or eternity?

Looking back over my life, I have had many experiences. My life is blessed. God has prospered our family and we are well cared for. However, the harvest you see is born of seeds planted long ago. I have finally lived long enough to inspect the fruit of my life. I see the things grown from my mistakes and harvested in bad choices. God has managed in His Unconditional Love, Overwhelming Grace and Mighty Power to turn them out for my good. I have been through the fire of testing and trials too many times to count. Suddenly there is less of me and I am finally okay with that. Brokenness has made a place in my heart to deep and wide for anything to fill but the Love of Jesus Christ. He holds me together now. I have sown many tears and now see their blessings. I have tried to plant when the season cold, ground heart and in drought-like conditions. These are the times when emotions and feelings cannot be our forecaster but commitment the driving force. Looking ahead, to the future called hope, I want to be an expert farmer for the rest of my life. How about you? If you don’t mind, I think I might stay here as long as it takes. I really want to plant to harvest for the Kingdom. I have sown in this life and God has been faithful. Now I want to sow for a future forever with Him.

Today I will sow. Lord, let my seed by of Your Word according to Your Will planted Your Way. Today I will water. Holy Spirit, lead me to the seeds that need nurturing, watering, covering, and care. Today I will harvest – every good and perfect gift comes from You!

Hebrews 6:7-10 (NLT) When the ground soaks up the falling rain and bears a good crop for the farmer, it has God’s blessing. But if a field bears thorns and thistles, it is useless. The farmer will soon condemn that field and burn it. Dear friends, even though we are talking this way, we really don’t believe it applies to you. We are confident that you are meant for better things, things that come with salvation. For God is not unjust. He will not forget how hard you have worked for him and how you have shown your love to him by caring for other believers, as you still do.

 

 

Invisible Ink

invisible-ink

Psalm 139:16-18 (NLT) You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me!

Many Christmas’s ago, my grandparents gave me a science kit. It had various little experiments that were quite intriguing including invisible ink. After writing a message, it would disappear leaving a clean white page. There was a super-secret special chemical that would bring the image back when applied. I found it quite fascinating. On Valentine’s Day, I also liked the scratch off cards  with sentiments hidden under metallic-like seals. My kids have always enjoyed scavenger hunts. A series of messages leading the chase to a gift tucked away somewhere. The thrill and anticipation of the chase before realizing the blessing seems to be enjoyable to them. They are definitely my children.

After fifty New Year’s celebrated, this morning I have invisible ink and hidden messages on my mind. I have made more resolutions than I can count. Some have become useful habits and others long since forgotten. I have had many revelations since coming to Christ which culminate on the famous eve as prayers and commitments for the coming year. So this year, I am all out of ideas. I want Jesus. I want His Way, His Truth and New Life. I have seen many social media posts that indicate “today is the first blank page of a 365 page book” going on to encourage people “write a good one”. Well, I have tried this approach for many years now and find that this may not be the approach I will continue to take.

“Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. How precious are your thoughts about me, O God.” On this first day of the New Year, as I consider resolutions and revelations that might promote new habits for a better life, I cannot help wonder if I have gone about it all these years. I posted many years ago, that my resolution was “instead of deciding what I want to change or telling God what I am going to do…this year all I have to say is ‘God change me into who you want me to be the way you want to do it!’” I may have been on to something back then, but it is not necessarily the way things turned out. It was the first Christmas after our son’s diagnosis. We thought he was in remission, but little did anyone know that it was only for a moment. Would I have prayed that prayer knowing what was to come?

Our life is a mystery. It is already prerecorded by God. It was written before our conception at the time of our creation. The same time when God the Father prescribed everything I would need to live a complete life. How many times as believers do we forget this important detail? Thinking there is something…anything in us that has the power to perfect our life and make positive change outside of total surrender and submission to Jesus Christ. If it were possible, it would have happened long before desperation and devastation came to call. The inner power and strength of self would have been able to change our situation, endure our condition, or overcome our circumstance… but it didn’t. His Grace is enough for me and His Power works best in my weakness. Jeremiah 29 reminds me of this perfect plan elaborated upon in Psalm 139. It also tells me that the only way to find it is to seek Him wholeheartedly. This is how new life is revealed. I can do nothing. But through Christ all things are possible.

Psalm 138:8 (NLT) The Lord will work out his plans for my life—for your faithful love, O Lord, endures forever. Don’t abandon me, for you made me.

The Lord will work out His Plans for my life. This is my revelation for 2017. I have tried everything that I know to do to make God’s Plan manifest in my life. I have “done” the things I thought were required. This year, I am doing the one thing that I know is required. I must seek Him wholeheartedly. I cannot look for something if I think I found it. I cannot search for what is already revealed. Deep is crying out to deep today because my life is not complete. I am not completely satisfied in my proximity to Christ or content with the fruitful productivity in my life. Yes, there are some habits I intend to change and new attitudes I am working on but that is for this life. It is not for the future and hope that I have in Him. This year I will not work for the church but become the church. I will not wait for the move of God to come but let God move me so I become the current that brings revival. I cannot offer the world something I have not found or attained. I need Jesus this year.

Romans 8:28-30 (NLT) And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory.

Reading this today, I am reminded that His Glory has not completely filled my life…yet. God knew (me) in advance. I am called according to His Purpose for me. God knew me in advance as evidenced and recorded in Psalm 139. He gave me a future and hope as delineated in Jeremiah 29. Having chosen me, God called me to come to Him. Having called me, I have the right to stand with Him. Having given me right standing, the Lord gave me His Glory. If I do not see God’s Glory manifested in every detail of my life, it is because I have not fully assumed my position standing next to God in righteousness. The only way to come to the Father is through the Son. If my life does not line up to God’s Written and Spoken Word in my life, I just need to move a little closer than before. Skip all the fancy fasts and habit changes. Fasting is good. It is an act of not service. To fast without prayer and true repentance is a diet. To do more is not the design or plan of God but rather to give more of my life to Jesus.

God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His Purpose for them. Did you know that? It says, “And we know…” Knowing is not the same as believing. I know a lot of useless information that I do not necessarily believe. You cannot know until the idea or thought is tested. This mystery called life is not a mystery to the Lord. If I put all of my life in His Hands, it becomes all that He planned and purposed it to be. Every single moment of my life becomes seed to be sown. Every tear is caught. Every sorrow is recorded because My Redeemer lives today. It is only by investing all of the real estate of my natural life in Jesus Christ that I gain the Kingdom.

I Corinthians 13:12 (NLT) Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.

My new commitment for the coming year is for clarity. To continue to pursue God wholeheartedly and give more of me than ever before to Jesus Christ. It is important to realize that even if we think our life is almost sinless and perfectly aligns to the doctrine our church completely dedicated to serving Christ that it is still “partial and incomplete”. I will not know for sure that I worked out my salvation successfully until I stand before Jesus on the Day of Judgment. It is then that completion is realized. Tears redeemed. Sorrow satiated. I am humbled by the thought today that no matter how far I have come…I have so far to go. His Plan is for my whole life not just bits and pieces.

Revelation 3:5-8 (NLT) All who are victorious will be clothed in white. I will never erase their names from the Book of Life, but I will announce before my Father and his angels that they are mine. Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches. Write this letter to the angel of the church in Philadelphia. This is the message from the one who is holy and true, the one who has the key of David. What he opens, no one can close; and what he closes, no one can open: I know all the things you do, and I have opened a door for you that no one can close. You have little strength, yet you obeyed my word and did not deny me.

Welcome to a brand year! It is a mystery to you and me what God has in store for us, but He knows exactly what is coming. He has provided everything that I need to get over the mountains and through the valleys. He has lit every dark place and gone before for me to prepare the way. Doors are opened and shut soundly around me. I must simply trust and obey. There is nothing more “I” can do. I must seek the Lord wholeheartedly. He is working every detail for my good. Examine my heart today, Jesus. Reveal any part of me that is not in complete alignment with Your Will, Your Way or Your Word. Wash me in Your Blood and rinse me in Your Word so that the magnificent masterpiece called Your Purpose is revealed in me more than ever before in 2017. Show me my wanderings and lead me back to Your Way. Show me my rebellion so that I may submit to Your Will. Lord, thank you for Your Word today that sheds light on my life. Let the invisible mysteries be visible to me according to Your Plan for my life. It is a good one. Be with me this year Lord, as I seek You wholeheartedly.

Jeremiah 29:12-14 (NLT) “In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you,” says the Lord. “I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your own land.”

 

Good Deeds

good-deeds

Matthew 5:13-16 (NLT) “You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless. You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.

The New Year is less than a week away. I love the New Year. It is a new start. A great place to make certain changes in our habits and routines to improve our life naturally, physically and spiritually. I am pumped. I am ready. Many wonder things have come together in 2016 that have aligned us with our next great adventure with God. All of us, yes even you. I have many family and friends who might say that 2016 was the worse year of their lives. They want to leave it in the past forever never looking back but pressing forward. I completely understand and couldn’t agree more. However, we must not invalidate the Presence of God in our tough times and hardships because He is the reason it is over and we made it through. During that time, seeds were planted for our provision next year. Roots were established for storms brewing ahead. God never leaves us the same as before because He is working all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called. (Romans 8:28) With this in mind, it is important that in the midst of taking down decorations, returning or exchanging gifts, and throwing out leftovers that His People take the time to evaluate last year and seek His Voice for the coming year just around the corner.

In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father. Was my salt salty? Was my light bright? Did I get my feet wet stepping out of the boat? Did I cast my net on the other side of the boat? Did the fruit in my life sustain me throughout? Are doors yet unopened? Did our good deeds shine for all to see? Did revival come? All of the questions could and should be asked while preparing for the coming year. If our mission in life is to seek the Lord wholeheartedly – one must put some effort into evaluating our purpose and progress in the process. Honestly. Earnestly. Intently. All these things are so important in our spirit growth. Good deeds are evidence of faith in action and spiritual progression in our life.

James 2:14-17 (NLT) What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.

“Faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.” Can I ask you a question? If your church attendance is not important to you, why would it be to those you invite? To those lost or wandering family members who you pray for and encourage to come, yet see you choose other priorities than attending the House of God on a regular basis? What about those who come and serve all the time? Never miss a service, but are gossipers and backbiters. Those who tell of a loving God but then cut down every sinner who walks through the door hitting them with a long list of rules and regulations which they cannot abide by. What about living high on the hog while others are scraping through everyone else’s scraps? We give to faceless names during the holiday season, but how do they survive the rest of the year? We are too worried about why they fell on hard times and judging their expenditures rather than sharing the Love of God in the form of perpetual generosity. We are to be the salt of the earth. Salt that loses its flavor is useless. We are to bright lights on the hills and rooftops of each city. Where are our lights shining? I am asking myself these questions right now because I want revival in my family, home, joy and especially in ministry this year. I cannot do the same things and expect change. God has set me up with all that I need, every spiritual blessing, perfectly positioned and ready to see His Glory and experience His Favor in 2017. I guess the question is – what will I do about it? Good deeds produced by our life of faith allow us to evaluate our spiritual progress to set our purpose for the next season of life. How’d you do? I am asking myself the same question.

Romans 7:4 (NLT) So, my dear brothers and sisters, this is the point: You died to the power of the law when you died with Christ. And now you are united with the one who was raised from the dead. As a result, we can produce a harvest of good deeds for God.

I am united with Jesus Christ. His Spirit lives and breathes on the inside of me. He is producing purpose and potential in me to see the dead come to life. Yes, resurrection power. Now I can say that nothing is impossible when I believe, but do I really believe it. If I do believe, I will begin jumping out of the boat to get to Jesus rather than waiting for Him to come to the shore to pick me up. God has perpetuated thoughts and ideas in the form of what if. He says, “Come on, I’ve got you.” But looking at the winds of change and waves of uncertainty, it is easy to say that you are waiting on God but really you are just too scared to move. I can produce a harvest of good deeds for God when I walk by faith and not by sight.

Greater is He who is in me than he that is in the world, but who am I listening. What voice do I follow? When the Good Shepherd calls me, am I willing to walk through the valley of the shadow of death to sit at the table prepared for me in front of the enemy? Or am I awaiting a formal invitation with transportation provided to sit at a lavish banquet served by waiters in a climate controlled environment without a single inconvenience? For example, if God called you to ministry, are you willing to work for free? Will you quit your great job with good benefits to answer his call for more hours, less pay and no benefits? If He tells you to move, will you do it? If He tells you to stay right where you are, will you wait? The Voice of God is speaking but too many times we only listen and respond when the Lord tells us what we want to hear. Am I listening? Am I doing? Am I following?

Titus 2:12-14 (NLT) And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed. He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds.

This is not a Word for everyone, only those who want to be history makers and world shakers for God and who love Jesus desiring Him wholeheartedly. I don’t want live a comfortable and complacent life that leads to complications when I meet Jesus face-to-face. The words “well done good and faithful servant” mean everything. It is the difference between life and death. It defines a life wasted over one that gave glory to His Great Name taking full advantage of amazing grace.

I fully believe that if the Church (Body of Christ) truly is committed to revival – it is absolutely vital that every single one of us desire, seek and do everything in our power to walk closer to the Lord than ever before. Do that thing you have never done? Pray that prayer you have been too afraid to pray? To be the change you are expecting in the atmosphere around you rather than waiting for someone else to do it. Forgive the unforgivable. Read the Word. Study the Word. Live the Word. Devote every attitude and action to God the Father relying on the Power given to us by His Son, Jesus Christ. Love like we have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Otherwise, let’s abandon this notion of revival. It is insanity to expect different results doing the same thing over and over again.

2 Corinthians 9:8-10 (NLT) And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. As the Scriptures say, “They share freely and give generously to the poor. Their good deeds will be remembered forever.” For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you.

Generosity is a characteristic of grace that must be evident in the life of true believers. You cannot accept God’s Grace in totality without the inner need and drive to give it back. His Grace changes us from the inside out when allowed to have His Way in us. We can expect seed to sow if we are not sowers. We cannot be planters without the preparation for harvest. If I am unwilling to dedicate my time, talent and treasure to loving and caring for others with genuine love, compassion and commitment just as Christ cares for me, I am not a candidate for revival power. I have to give my life away to receive His Power and His Provision for such an outpouring.

Lord, examine my heart today. Change my mind where I am unwilling. Clear away every barrier and boundary that is keeping me from experiencing Your Glory and fullness of Your Favor in my life. Teach me to give selflessly. Forgive always. Live a genuine life. Be a light. Keep savory. Lord, I want to see revival in 2017. To see men and women radically changed by Your Power. To experience a surge in the Kingdom only attributable to Mighty Move of God and nothing else. We need You – Jesus in epic proportions. Work in me, Lord. Produce good fruit and deeds in my life that will nourish Your Body and build Your Kingdom. I am ready, Lord.

How about you?

Psalm112 (NLT) Praise the Lord! How joyful are those who fear the Lord and delight in obeying his commands. Their children will be successful everywhere; an entire generation of godly people will be blessed. They themselves will be wealthy, and their good deeds will last forever. Light shines in the darkness for the godly. They are generous, compassionate, and righteous. Good comes to those who lend money generously and conduct their business fairly. Such people will not be overcome by evil. Those who are righteous will be long remembered. They do not fear bad news; they confidently trust the Lord to care for them. They are confident and fearless and can face their foes triumphantly. They share freely and give generously to those in need. Their good deeds will be remembered forever. They will have influence and honor. The wicked will see this and be infuriated. They will grind their teeth in anger; they will slink away, their hopes thwarted.

Unfailing Love

unfailing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

An Open Conversation

an-open-coversation

Psalm 27:7-8 (NLT) Hear me as I pray, O Lord. Be merciful and answer me! My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.” And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.”

My husband loves football. It is his favorite “season” of the year. For many years, our family enjoyed season tickets to the local hometown team collegiate games. He loves his team and follows them passionately. Not a man of many hobbies, when attending the events he is all business. Never should the words be uttered, “It’s just a game.” I enjoy the games but must admit there are times when I have done some online shopping, social media and texting with friends rather than really paying attention to the game and the score. One thing that I have noticed over the many years of football and my husband is that in the noisy stadium with the crazed crowd, blaring band, bright lights and gridiron action IS NOT the time to attempt in meaningful conversation. Important talks are not to be held in such an environment. Personal and intimate communication is not engaged while yelling over the drunk guy behind you if you know what I mean. My husband is not giving me his full attention and for me to assume that he is would be ridiculous. If I would like to spend quality time with my husband and engage in meaningful conversation and connect with him, it will be one on one without distractions. It will be a time set aside when we can talk one on one without other people around or “things” to do. We must put down our cellphones, turn off the television and stop looking around to really hear each other. I believe most people have the talking part of a conversation down pat especially women. It is the listening part that challenges so many. To humble ourselves and even our opinion to open one’s heart and mind to carefully consider and hear what the other person is saying to us.

Many years ago, I set out on a journey to hear the Voice of God. I wanted to go beyond what the Word of God offered, engage more than with just His Spirit, but I desired to actually listen for His Voice when He speaks directly to me. I know this will blow some of you away at my deep devotion and complete commitment to this but I set my alarm for fifteen minutes earlier than before. That’s right a whopping whole fifteen minutes for the Lord to expand my knowledge, deepen my understanding and share all of His Many Secrets with me.

We pray to the Lord for things the majority of time. Maturity in Christ may even produce thankfulness that begins to manifest in our prayer time. To stop there is not enough, when God offers us so much more. I love Psalm 27:8, “My heart has heard you say, ‘Come and talk WITH me.’ And my heart responds, ‘Lord, I am coming!’” God is used to people talking about Him. Jesus is used to people talking TO Him. But the Holy Spirit within us connects with the Lord of Lords when a believer decides to talk with Him instead.

John 10:3-5 (NLT) The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice. They won’t follow a stranger; they will run from him because they don’t know his voice.”

God speaks to His People. Jesus is speaking to us today. Why can’t I hear the Voice of God clearly? Well, do you listen? We pour our hearts out to the Lord but how many times are you willing to sit in silence until He answers? I believe that God has important details to share with us but most often His People are too busy to stop and listen or uncomfortable with the silence that proceeds it. We must know, recognize and follow the Voice of the Lord. It must be familiar to us in order to distinguish between a truth and a lie. Do you recognize when God is speaking to you? Do you know His Voice? This is an important part of our relationship with the Lord. God speaks to His People. Jesus calls out to us each day. We call out, cry out and speak out to Him. We must wait for Him to respond. He is waiting for us to listen.

I Kings 19:11-13 (NLT) “Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” the Lord told him. And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And a voice said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

To set the scene for those who may be unfamiliar, Elijah had made fools of the prophets of Baal. The prophets were all killed and Jezebel was furious. She threatened to kill Elijah so he ran to hide. There is more to the story that I encourage you to read but the underlying truth at this point in the story is that Elijah had been driven into fear and hiding by the lie of the enemy. He is hiding in a cave on a mountain. The Lord tells him to “go out and stand before me on the mountain.” So he does and it is there Elijah encounters a windstorm, avalanche, earthquake and fire falling from the sky and then after all hell breaks loose around him…he hears it. The still small voice that can only be the Lord. The gentle whisper that brings new life to us. When Elijah heard God’s Voice, he went out and stood at the entrance of the cave to have a personal and intimate conversation with the Most High God.

Problems, troubles and trauma cause us to seek the Lord and even cry out to Him. However, it is in our complete and utter failure that most of us will actually listen to what God is saying to us. We must run out of options and opportunities before fully relinquishing the controls of our life to His Capable Hands. We lie to ourselves and God by implying a complete turnover of our life to His Care. Only to discover, that our hands are firmly attached to the wheel. So when all hell breaks loose in our life and the atmosphere around us explodes, suddenly we become speechless in our own fear and doubt. We stop fighting and become resolved to our situation.

When I was about eight years old, there was a “bully” at school who used to “threaten” to kiss me. I was appalled at the thought of it. One day as I got off the bus looking back for my offender, he pointed at me and said, “Today is the day. I am going to catch you.” I jumped off the bus and ran all the way home never looking back. Bursting through the door, my mom was immediately concerned. As I began to tell her of my awful ordeal, a smile crept across her face. I grew even more frustrated. When I ran out of words and breath, my mom in all her infinite wisdom told me exactly what I should do. “Turn around and kiss him first.” WHAT?!? I was outraged. I think God our Father does the same thing for us. He waits. The Lord waits until His Children finally come to Him pouring out all their heart, using all their words down to their very last breath. Then He whispers love and truth to them, now that they are ready to listen.

Matthew 7:7-8 (NLT) “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.

Reading Matthew 7, have you ever wondered what might be waiting on the other side of the door prayer is knocking on? I know one might assume it is that very thing for which we are asking or praying but I don’t think so any more. God promises that for those who keep knocking that the door will be opened. Everyone who seeks will find. Keep knocking. Everyone who asks will receive. But what? I don’t believe the answer to every prayer and petition is “yes” so that invalidates the possibility that it is always what I want or think I need. Behind the door on which prayer knocks is this…

Revelation 3:20 (NLT) “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.

We knock on God’s Door to meet our immediate need, heal a disease, solve a problem, ease our minds, fill our hearts, and every other dream and desire that comes along when all along Jesus is on the other side just waiting for an invitation to enter an open conversation. We are given the will to choose whether or not to engage in a meaningful and heartfelt relationship with Jesus Christ. He desires a friendship not acquaintance with us. Friends talk about everything. Communicate often. Spend time together regularly. Listen to each other. Help one another. The Lord desires to communicate with you today. He is talking to me. Are we listening?

Psalm 95:6-7 (NLT) Come, let us worship and bow down. Let us kneel before the Lord our maker, for he is our God. We are the people he watches over, the flock under his care. If only you would listen to his voice today!

It is up to me the amount of attention I give to the relationships in my life. I give my job about 8 or 9 hours a day and in exchange I get a paycheck each month. This is the terms of our relationship. I have five children – two live at home so I communicate with them daily and effortlessly because they live in my presence. It is a bit more of a challenge to keep up with the others who are busy adulting. We must all put forth an effort to communicate and build our relationship apart. I have some close friends who I speak to just about every day through texting or calling. My besties, if you will, and I have ongoing conversations that stop today and may resume right where we left off the day after tomorrow when things slow down. My husband is my life partner. He is my soul mate on the earth. I talk to him every single day. I listen to what he says and even what he doesn’t say directly because I love him, care for him and am his helper in life. We spend time each day talking and listening to maintain our marriage and uphold our covenant. This is the kind of relationship that the Lord desires with you and me. An intimate and ongoing conversation that contains both talking and listening on both our parts. He is a good listener. If you think about it, people tend to do all the talking. We must become good listeners, too.

To be a good listener requires a few things. We must stop talking. We must stop thinking about our response and concentrate on the one speaking. We must believe that they have something worth hearing to invest our time, energy and concentration. We must remove all distractions. Prayer is communication with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. We must learn to communicate effectively and listen for His Voice. Do you hear the Lord saying in your heart today, “Come and talk with me!” It will be a still small voice or gentle whisper that only the one who know His Voice will hear and follow. He desires to spend quality time with you His Beloved today. How will you respond?

John 5:24-25 (NLT) “I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life. And I assure you that the time is coming, indeed it’s here now, when the dead will hear my voice—the voice of the Son of God. And those who listen will live.”