Going the Distance

The Long Road Ahead

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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The Bondservant

Bondservant

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Time Management

Time Management

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

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

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

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

Timelessness of God

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

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

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

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

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

Brevity of Our Natural Life

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

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

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

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

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

Time Integration

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

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

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

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

To Be Continued

To Be Continued

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

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

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

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

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

Ecclesiastes 3:1&11 (AMP)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

The Hope of Glory

The Hope of Glory

Romans 8:18-19 (NKJV) For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.

The earnest expectation of all creation is the revealing of God’s Children. Expectancy will fuel desire and drive motivation. It becomes the commander of attitude and actions. It is influenced by residency. Those limited to the conditions, circumstances and situations of only the natural world and the timeline of birth to death will never be satisfied. Coming into this world with nothing, striving for fulfillment, then dying to leave it all behind seems futile. Those who discover new life through Jesus Christ become Sons and Daughters of God with unlimited potential. However, without a pivotal shift in our expectancy, there will not be realization of the new creation that Christ has promised to make us. Instead, our light is dim and salt not salty as we try to express a glorious God in a hopeless gesture.

2 Corinthians 4:6-10 (NKJV)  For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed—always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.

God has filled our heart with light…glorious light. Jesus is the hope of glory within us desperate to make His Way out. Our old “wineskin” cannot contain the new wine of His Spirit and therefore we must become like new “wineskin”. (Matthew 9) To change and be changed is the process of transformation limited only by unwillingness. I wonder if the pressure, pain, perplexity, despair, loneliness, and devastation in us is really dying flesh giving way to new people assuming the identity of God through reliance on Christ. People would not seek the Lord any other way as pride would remain in charge of our heart and mind in our own ability to maintain a peaceful and comfortable existence. It is in our discomfort that our heart seeks the Father. It is in our displeasure His Name is called forth. When all the while His Plan and Purpose is to make our life glorious. Perhaps, just maybe, the pressure is the process of new birth that is the eternity in our heart releasing expectation that is trying to find its way out.

God has placed light in us that can only be accessed through brokenness. It sounds cruel but it is actually the remodeling of our heart and mind to let go of possible and embrace impossibility. To connect our faith and confident hope from just a concept to the conviction of our life that drives us to true repentance turning us from death to new life that permeates an ordinary existence and making it extraordinary. The weight of our expectation is His Glory. His Glory changes everything beginning here and now.

Colossians 1:24-27 (NKJV) I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church, of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God which was given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God, the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints. To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 

What is Christ, the Hope of Glory, doing in you? The mystery of His Grace is revealed in His Glory. It is working through hard hearts, twisted minds, fickle feelings and futile efforts to dismiss fruitlessness and release abundance in us and through us. Our soul is the starting place. As our soul prospers so will our body, mind and spirit. As His Purpose, Plan and Potential begin to work its way from our soul to these other areas the productivity of our life changes. It all begins with pressure. Pressure begins the process. Our body releases adrenaline when pressed because fear is our first response. Fight or take flight? The fight of the flesh is a dauntless effort day by day to believe God at His Word, trust Him more than our feelings, and use faith as the logic of life. The flight extends the waiting, lengths our journey and causes delays. However, in Romans 8 there is a promise that God will still work every detail for our good. Grace is our sufficiency and it is always enough when our humanity chooses the lesser rather than engaging in the good fight of faith. Nothing in our life is every wasted as Children of a Good and Gracious Father.

Romans 8:22-24 (NKJV) For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees?

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17) The hope of God’s Glory being released in us comes with one requirement – change. True repentance is a heart turned to God rather than the things of this world. It is not a call to perfect but to give the Lord every imperfection. To lay our broken, tattered, used, abused, and devastated life full of disappointments, mistakes and bad choices at His Throne. To fully accept His Grace as enough to allow Him to change us from the inside without fear of punishment or destruction but giving way to His Glory. Christ has every intention of birthing a new creation from the wreck received. He is not intimidated by our wretchedness. He is not offended by our sin. It is all under covered by His Blood and removed as far as the east is from the west unless we choose to retain it. In its place, the Lord fills our voids with hope, healing and full restoration. He renews us, restores us and revives us from the inside out. The weight you are feeling and tremendous pressure you feel is the new creation inside of you working its way out. You are birthing the Glory of God given to you by His Son – Jesus. You must only endure the process to see true character and your real identity revealed.

Do not give priority to the thing causing pressure in your life? Do not focus on the problem? Embrace the potential within you. The Hope of His Glory – Jesus Christ. He has all the answers and solutions. He knows a better way. He will never leave you or forsake you but rather partners with you until the end. It only says that those who endure to the end will be saved. It means that the battle is won, the work complete, and Jesus overcame the world. You must only hold on to Him to make it to eternity. Expect God to make a masterpiece of your broken pieces. The Lord promises that He will do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think according to HIS POWER at work in us. God is able. He is willing. We must only embrace Jesus and engage in Him to see His Glory in our life. This is not achieved by doing anything but the realization of His Love – to comprehend the limitlessness of it – and to live in His Grace which is His Power for our life.

Luke 21:25-27 (NKJV) “And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.

Special Delivery

Special Delivery

Lamentations 3:22-23 (NKJV) Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.

I don’t know about you but I set some pretty high standards for myself on any given day. Without goals, there is no way to reach higher levels of expectation. Comparison can be the worst of all enemy’s because it adds to the pressure of performance. So naturally, with all this focus on me, I fail miserably. The unmet expectation puts a baseball bat in my hand so I begin to beat myself up over and over again in all the ways I fall short. Taking it to the next level, all things I want to do to please the Lord, to be faithful, obedient and steadfast in faith never seem to reach fulfillment. I continue to sin despite every effort to avoid it. I cannot seem to get control of the rebellious thoughts and stinking thinking. Trying to fulfill all responsibilities and religious obligations combined is overwhelming with such weak flesh and a rebellious mind. God’s Grace is enough for me. His Grace emphasizes the freeness of His Love toward us. It is a product of His Mercy.

God gives us new mercy every single day. It comes because we need it. It is available. It is already provided. Mercy is the character of God that religion often misses but relationship fully embraces. God’s Mercy is always available but seldom considered. Maybe if we could understand God’s Characteristic called Mercy, we would understand the significance of it.

Mercy is God’s Covenant of Compassion

Psalm 78:37-39 (NKJV) For their heart was not steadfast with Him, nor were they faithful in His covenant. But He, being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity, and did not destroy them. Yes, many a time He turned His anger away, and did not stir up all His wrath; for He remembered that they were but flesh, a breath that passes away and does not come again.

God knows you are only human. A breath that passes away and does not come again. He knows the workings of our heart and the weakness of our flesh. Yet, His Compassion for us never fails. When Jesus went to the Cross, He died for every single sin and offense of every single person. Think about it. No fault of failure, past, present or future, is unknown and unforgiven by God through Jesus Christ. Even when our shortcomings and weakness surprise us – His Mercy keeps us from the punishment deserved. God is love. (I John 4:8) Our sin keeps us from God but doesn’t not in any way change the fact that He loves us. His New Mercy delivered each day is evidence of His Love.

Mercy is God’s Consuming Commitment

Romans 5:7-9 (NKJV) For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.

The Bible tells us that “greater love has no one than this than to lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13) But what about your innocent child…your only child. I love my friends. Yet I am called to love my enemies the same. I might lay down my life for a friend. But if you are asking me to love anyone enough to give up one of my children, I must draw a line. My kids are nonnegotiable. God’s Mercy is evidence of His Consuming Commitment to a restored relationship with us. It is the precedent of His Grace that provides access to His Love again. It allows us to live apart from the consequences of sin and bask in the Light of His Love. God loves us completely and wholly right now. It doesn’t matter if you are saved, lost, or somewhere in between. His Love for us is uncompromised by our current condition. Freedom in Christ and application of His Grace gives us access to God the Father to enter His Presence and experience His Love in a tangible way. It was and is always available and just one prayer away.

His Offer of Everlasting Communion

Revelation 3:20 (NKJV) Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. 

John 14:1-3 (NKJV) “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.

God’s Mercy provides a place in His Presence and Heaven for us. Revelation 3:20 describes the relationship that the Lord desires with us. It is not as a slave or servant but beloved child. God prepared a place for us in Heaven in advance. When sin barred our entrance, God’s Mercy kept justice from consuming us. He sent Jesus, His Only Child, to die for us and provide the grace needed to pay our sin debt. Jesus released His Spirit to commune with us now as a helper and reproducer of God’s Likeness in us. He identifies us as Children of the Living God. When we fail or fall short, it is not a shocker to the Lord. He knows us better than we know ourselves. Even in the foulest and most depraved state of any human being, God’s Love remains intact for them. His Desire to receive them and commune with them is the mercy that meets them each morning. God will stop at nothing for us to discover His Grace and does it with new mercy each day. By grace through faith – we are able to access the place that mercy built for us.

Ephesians 2:4-7 (NKJV) But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

I always love to see “but God”. “But” nullifies everything stated before it. Ephesians 2:1-3 outlines my condition before I received God’s Grace. That’s right, even when sin consumed me, death imminent, in complete disobedience, rebelling against God and His Kingdom, and fulfilling the desires of my flesh – God loved me and gave me new mercy every day. It is His Longsuffering Character called Mercy that leads us to repentance. God is rich in mercy. It is because of His Love that He send Jesus to die for us. His Desire to make us part of His Family alive together in Christ is what caused Him to build a place for us called Heaven. God’s Love and mercy for us was never compromised by sin. He loves and desires us anyway. Mercy is the evidence of this valuable truth that should bring us much encouragement today. His Expectation of us is to accept His Love and Mercy by His Grace to live in a right relationship with Him forever. This should resolve unmet expectation with confident hope that there is nothing that can separate us from God’s Love. I need to be aware of God’s Love and Mercy every day. His Mercy is all the encouragement I need to pick myself up, dust myself off and try again. His Love is a constant commitment to me that I cannot brush off, sin away, or refuse. He will send it anyway! Open the door to your heart today and you will see you have a special delivery. It’s a package marked mercy. It belongs to you. Why not use it today? Those who do will overcome and be more than conquerors empowered by great love.

Romans 8:37-39 (NKJV) Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

Have I Failed?

Have I Failed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shove the Mountain

Shove the Mountain

Matthew 17:19-20 (ESV) Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”

“Are you ready to shove the mountain?” What in the world? Where did that come from? The Voice of the Lord whispering inside of me, yet audible enough to make me look around. Did anyone else hear it? Apparently not. When the Lord speaks to us, it is human nature to try to excuse it away as our own personal thoughts or maybe think our mind is playing tricks on us. After hearing His Words in the innermost depths of my heart and soul, I knew in that moment that God was up to something. It begins as a thought or idea planted inside of us. Maybe it came to you as a dream or vision. It has to be the Lord because it is a notion of the impossible too great for human comprehension or execution. What if? The dare to dream mentality that overtakes fear of failure. The decision of faith that determines God is good no matter what and to grab hold of the anchor called hope.

Isn’t it funny how God works and His Perception of timing? Allowing us to make it to the end of our strength, use up personal power, run out of ideas, and about ready to give out when He comes and challenges us for more. Oh, it’s not personal but providential. See you can’t do it. The things that God has in store for us are humanly impossible but pride will not relinquish control until it is thoroughly exhausted and out of ideas. Our plan must be completely interrupted to finally accept the Will of God for our life. Desperation must become our drive which leads us to the divine. The Lord is patient concerning us. He waits for the right moment. When it comes, He is ready to take full advantage. “Are you ready to shove the mountain?” These words have been written on my heart as a challenge to experience a new level of faith empowered by higher levels of grace and greater expectation than ever before.

If you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.” What is your “impossible” today? What is the thing that you believe to be the biggest obstacle in your life? Many times, there is a face attached to the problem when people have nothing to do with the blockages and stoppages of life. Define the “mountain” in your life today. Though you may be plagued with many problems and situations in need of divine intervention, just pick one. The Word of God tells us distinctly that if our faith is the “like a grain of mustard seed” that “nothing will be impossible for you.”

Matthew 4:8-10 (ESV) Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.”  Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’”

The impossibility in your life represents an opportunity to exercise faith. Faith must be used in order to properly develop. It must be planted if expected to grow. When the “Spirit led” Jesus into the wilderness, it was a test of faith. It was to demonstrate to us how to deal with the lies of the enemy which are thrown at us every day. The Armor of God includes a shield of faith to ward off these “fiery darts”. The enemy took Jesus to a “very high mountain” and showed him the kingdoms of the world. He told Jesus that it would all be his if the Lord would bow down and worship him. Now I know it sounds preposterous to think that the devil would be so ostentatious display, but he did just that. He does it to us every day. Offering an alternate route and a subtle substitution for the very thing God has promised you in His Word. Of course, the Son of God quickly dismissed him reminding Him that “you shall worship the Lord your God and Him only shall you serve.”

Worship. What is it? Worship is to show profound devotion or respect. It means to adore. To profess feelings of profound adoration and genuine respect. Our words are representative of our worship. Fear is a form of worship. It demonstrates respect. Fear of God is produced by love. Fear in any other sense is the product of a lie allowed to grow in the fertile soil of our heart. Perfect love casts out all fear not associated with God. Luke 6:45 explains “for out of the heart (our) mouth speaks.” What are you saying about your impossible situation today? Are you speaking the Word of God as Jesus did? Or are you telling everyone how hard life is? How broken you feel? Crying out the people of this world rather than King Jesus who rules and reigns over the universe and everything in it? Are you complaining, grumbling or constantly expressing dissatisfaction? The contents of our heart is the context of our speech and daily communication. Sometimes we worship the giant rather than celebrating the Lord who is the giant killer. It is human nature. It can only overcome by faith invested in God’s Word, His Way and His Will. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Our faith grows when rooted and grounded in God’s Love through Jesus Christ. When faith is the substance of our heart, the words of our mouth begin to speak what God says about us, our life and our problems rather than what the enemy is trying to convince us of.

Matthew 21:20-22 (ESV) When the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, “How did the fig tree wither at once?” And Jesus answered them, “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen. And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” (Proverbs 18:21) First, the disciples could not cast out the demon. Perplexed they came to Jesus and He told them they needed faith. Part two of the lesson would come at the expense of the fig tree. “How did the fig tree wither at once?” Jesus replied, “If you have faith and do not doubt…” Doubt nullifies faith. There is life AND death in our tongue. We decide what flows out of it by the prevailing substance in our heart. Do you believe? Do you believe that God is good? Do you believe that He is for you? Do you believe that nothing is impossible? Do you believe that there is nothing that can separate you from God’s Love? Do you believe His Grace is enough? Do you believe? Doubt is not only evident in our daily communication.

“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight…” (Psalm 19:14) Schizophrenic Christianity produces nothing. To live by conflicting and inconsistent doctrines, one day the world and the next day the Kingdom, will not release God’s Power in our life. Mountains to not move with halfhearted commands but wholehearted commitment to faith. The words of our mouth must agree with God’s Word. The meditation of our heart must be God’s Word creating the abundance that flows from our mouth which empowers us to do the impossible simply by praising and worshipping the Lord with consistent and ongoing faith. The mountain shakes at its very core when a believer truly believes. It knows it’s about to move. Something is about to happen. Faith is effective when our heart, mind and mouth agree. The agreement of these three will overcome our rebellious flesh every time.

Faith is illogical without the Word of God. We walk by faith and not by sight. Like a blind man heightens other senses to overcome his inability to see with his eyes, Sons and Daughters of God must begin to see their life through God’s Word. Speak God’s Word. Pray God’s Word. And above all else plant their faith in God’s Word by choosing to believe it. “And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”

Matthew 28:16-20 (ESV) Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

It was almost time for Jesus to ascend to the Father. Where did He go? He took the disciples back to the mountain. I never realized how many times “mountains” are mentioned in the Bible. Jesus taught on the mountain. There are blessings from the mountains. Escaping to mountains. Going up mountains. Mountains quaking. Faith moving mountains. Mountains removed. And here we are again…at the mountain. I wonder if all these mountains of problems in our life are by divine appointment. Is the Lord leading us to them on purpose? Yes, for a purpose. Jesus gave the disciples His Final Instructions on the mountain. But do you see what I see today? Jesus standing before them demonstrating resurrection power and life and it says, “But still some doubted”. How is this even possible? It doesn’t matter how many times the Lord saves us, heals us, blesses us, delivers us, answers our prayers, fills us with His Spirit and all the other wonderful things that only He can do for us…everyone struggles with doubt. It is our human nature. If we want to shove the mountain into the seas, we must take the seed of faith and plant it a little deeper today. We must water it with the Word of God. Speak life giving words over it. Weed out doubt, fear and insecurity. Wait for it. Worship until it comes. Praise the Lord and serve Him faithfully even in seasons of drought. Those who do will see the impossible happen and dead things come to life. Will that be you today? Will you accept the challenge to shove the mountain with me?

Hebrews 11:6 (ESV)  And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

Where You Go

Where you go

Ruth 1:16-17 (ESV) But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.”

What caused Ruth to make such a declaration to Naomi? Reading this passage today, I am struck by her commitment to her mother-in-law. Naomi was obviously grief stricken and hopeless. She had lost her husband and both of her sons. Her other daughter-in-law had taken her advice. Why was this one being so stubborn? Something in Ruth would not let her go back to where she came from and she could not return to the way it used to be so she made this commitment to her future – “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.”

Ruth became attached to Naomi’s hip. She would venture into a new place and find a new husband. The future of both women would be secure for the rest of time and they would find their images clearly set forth for others in the Word of God. Ruth made a commitment to Naomi that day that would change her whole life. What would happen by doing the same thing to Jesus Christ? What are the possibilities if rather than running from place to place looking for immediate gratification or rainbows rather than rain? What might happen if someone…anyone…decided to see where faith might take us and just what hope really looks like? Nothing is impossible for the one who believes.

Genesis 28:10-17 (ESV)  Jacob left Beersheba and went toward Haran. And he came to a certain place and stayed there that night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place to sleep. And he dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven. And behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it! And behold, the Lord stood above it and said, “I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. The land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring. Your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south, and in you and your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.”

I think everyone will agree that life does not always turn out as one expected. Jacob was running from his brother. His own flesh and blood who Jacob bought Esau’s birthright with a single meal and tricked his father into releasing Esau’s blessing. Esau hated Jacob. Joseph dreamed of his brothers bowing down to him but wound up in a pit, sold to slavery, falsely accused, sitting in a prison, still being faithful yet forgotten. No one for sees the hardship that leads to fulfillment. Those situations and circumstances that turn our hearts back to the Lord. We must live not only hand in hand with the Lord carefully walking His Way but chose to live heart to heart with Him. Since it is our calling to walk by faith and not by sight, the vantage point of our voyage is not always a clear cut perspective of the pathway to promise. We stumble along groping to see God in the chaos of our life. Jacob was no different. Life had not turned out as he expected. He was in the middle of nowhere and weary so he found a stone to lay his tired head on.

Perhaps, you can relate. You love God. You love Jesus. The Holy Spirit lives in you. Life has been a struggle. Times just a little too tough. The enemy is chasing you into the wilderness of the unknown or at least you think. There is no one left to rely on or call out to. All your family and friends are too busy or long gone. Now what? The Lord came to Jacob that night to give him a new perspective. Could it be that is all that is needed by you? To see that God is with you. He is for you. He will never leave you or forsake you even in the most unlikely of places. I know I need that, too.

And he dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven. And behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it! And behold, the Lord stood above it…

What is your dream? Where is your destiny? Are you desperate to find your way through the wilderness to the promise of God? What if you have to stay right where you are to find Him? What if the course of life you are traveling is exactly what God has for you? It is important to see God in the moment rather than looking all around. Christ lives in us so the atmosphere around us has no impact on faith and hope. No matter if life is beautiful or barren – God is with us. He is for us. He will stop at nothing to have us or to be sure we have His Promise. In that place, God opened Jacob’s eyes to see Heaven on the earth. Is it possible for us to do the same? To see things from the heavenly realm rather than being immersed in reality? I believe that it is. What if it is not in a dream or vision but so subtle that the human eye cannot perceive it? The disciples lived, ate, and existed in the Presence of God while Jesus was with them yet they all struggle with doubt and unbelief. They could reach out and touch the Messiah with their hands. Talk to Him. Know the Lord intimately and conversationally. Yet, still it was hard to believe.

Genesis 28:16-19 (ESV) Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.” So early in the morning Jacob took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up for a pillar and poured oil on the top of it. He called the name of that place Bethel… 

Jacob took the stone that he had put under his head. He set it up for a pillar. He poured oil on top of it. He called the place, Bethel, House of God, or the holy place. What if you are standing on holy ground right now and don’t even know it? Where you go I will go Lord? The same Lord that orders our footsteps will fill them. He fills them with His Love, Grace, Mercy and Faithfulness so that our foundation is solid if only we will walk by faith. From the highest of hills to the lowest valley, He is with us pursuing us with unfailing love and goodness but it doesn’t always look like sunshine and roses. It might just be weariness that gives way to worship. Brokenness that opens up blessing in our life. The very thing that was the most uncomfortable the most fruitful. Jacob woke up from the dream and vision God had given him in the very same place but with a new perspective. He took the hard stone that was once his pillow and made it a pillar before the Lord.

Isaiah 43:18-21 (ESV) “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. The wild beasts will honor me, the jackals and the ostriches,
for I give water in the wilderness, rivers in the desert, to give drink to my chosen people, the people whom I formed for myself that they might declare my praise.

Human expectation is the driving force of our flesh. It sets up our school of thought. It becomes our way of thinking. The flesh needs some sort of control. We take the Word of God and rather than allowing it to mold us, we try to shape it into some logical and applicable form according to our natural life and normalcy. When God does not do it that way, it becomes a fight in our mind and soul for ultimate control. God is doing a new thing in our life. It is for our good. It is to His Glory. If it can be explained away logically, who needs faith? God works in the impossible. Does your life look impossible to you? Is it hard to see the forest for the trees? Take off your shoes. Get on your knees. Raise your weary arms. You are not in the wilderness but on the way to your promise. The less logical life is the more miraculous it becomes.

Forget the former things. Do not conform your thinking to tradition. God is doing something new in you and through you that is not comprehensible in the flesh but must be observed solely by your spirit. Once you take hold of God’s Perspective, a life of worship is inevitable especially when you find yourself in the wilderness, wandering and wondering until worship finally finds you because you know God is with you! I have come to the conclusion that no matter what it takes I want the Lord to keep me right here until His Word is fulfilled. Some days it is easy. But there have been many more when the giants seem to get bigger and the promise even farther that I have to remember and remind myself that this is holy ground. My life is God’s Masterpiece and it is not ready yet. I must make the commitment like Ruth to Naomi that day, “For where you go I will go…”

Matthew 8:18-22 (ESV) Now when Jesus saw a crowd around him, he gave orders to go over to the other side. And a scribe came up and said to him, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” Another of the disciples said to him, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” And Jesus said to him, “Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead.”

It is easy to get caught up in emotionalism and zeal for the Lord. To get all pumped up in church and crash into life just outside the door. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. He is the only way that you and I have access to the Father. Do we follow His Ways impeccably? To we know the Truth from cover to cover? Is it the wisdom of our life? Jesus understands our weakness. He was human once too. He knows that we struggle with our faith and ability to believe. His Words to the scribe seem harsh, but they are truth to feed our hungry, thirsty and weary souls today. “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go!” Jesus replied, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” Bummer right? Jesus was not saying looking for pity. No, the Lord was setting up expectation. Don’t make your home here. Set your sights on the heavenly not the earthly things. Jesus did not come to save the world but to save us. To move us from this life to eternity. “Follow me” is not a call to a better life but a new life. It is not an invitation for new comfort and convenience but to become a new creation. To be molded, shaped, pressed, crushed and broken so that the Lord can make you into a Masterpiece.

Colossians 3:1-3 (ESV) If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

When God met Jacob in the desert that night, He did not divinely change his situation but confirmed his position. He reiterated the promise and potential of Jacob’s life to change his perspective. It worked. Will it work for you today? The hard place is giving way to a new life filled with promises and prosperity for the one who says, “Where you go, I go!” We must set our minds on Christ where He is and not focus on where we are. Jesus is seated at the right hand of God and that’s a good thing for us. He is interceding for us. He knows our weakness and His Spirit helps us when times get tough. My new life is hidden with Christ in God. I find new life and full satisfaction when I live in His Presence even in the pits, prisons and problems of life. My situation cannot change the Way, the Truth and the Life living in me. It is all just temporary. Lord, help me to see You today. To take this hard thing and build into a new place of worship. Jesus, where you go – I will go! You will be my God and I am Your Beloved Child!

John 14:6 (ESV) Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

How’s Your Love Life?

How's Your Love Life

Matthew 27:50-51 (ESV) And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit. And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split.

Everyone loves a love story. A feel good tale of the boy that comes for the girl against harrowing odds. He catches her right before she gets on the plane. Throws pebbles at her window before singing her a love song. The Hallmark-made-for-television-movie love where boy meets girl, they fall in love, overcome obstacles, and end up together when all seems lost. Love is awesome. Relationships matter. Stumbled upon often yet so hard to maintain. Love begins with desire that is fueled by passion. How do we keep love alive? I shared some words about intimacy last night in a church service. I have an intimate relationship with my husband, my children and even a few close friends. But do I have an intimate relationship with Jesus? The sum of my life will amount to nothing at all unless I discover this love stronger than death.

What is intimacy? The world defines it in a variety of ways. It pursues it by different means. Intimacy is the state of being intimate. It is a close, familiar, and affectionate, loving, and personal relationship with another person. It also means a close association with, detailed knowledge and deep understanding of a certain subject. Finally intimacy is expression of love and affection that is exhibited in an abiding union. It is synonymous with terms such as closeness, familiarity, warmth and affection. It is to allow people to establish a place in our life much closer than the usual and customary. Christ desires intimacy with us. It is the first thing Jesus established once He died on the Cross. He paid our debt and claimed His Prize. His Beloved. It says it right there in black and white. Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded His Spirit – the Holy Spirit. What happened next is often overlooked but should be cherished forever! “And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.

The veil in the Temple was a barrier prescribed by God to keep us from carelessly wandering into His Presence covered in sin. Sin is immediately consumed in His Presence and men literally died from their irreverence and ignorance. So the Lord placed a curtain around His Presence so that only those fully prepared and ordained would come and go – He didn’t want us to die in our sin but live in His Grace forever. The curtain was no joke. Its dimensions were significant. It was about 60 feet high, 30 feet wide and 4 inches thick. When the ultimate offering was made and His Sacrifice accepted by God – this massive material woven together into a single piece which was seamless was torn from top to bottom. No man could have done such an act and so quickly – clearly it was a message from the Lord and open invitation to enter His Presence and live in His Midst.

Hebrews 6:17-20 (ESV) So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.

We can make God into a lot of different personalities according to our experience or lack thereof. He is often defined by the human beings around us rather than getting to know Him in an intimate and personal relationship. I have a lot of friends who I love dearly but none of them will replace my relationship with my husband. He is my partner. He is my soul mate. I live in constant and abiding covenant with him as one. I am also the Bride of Christ. My relationship with Jesus trumps even the relationship that I have with my spouse. In fact, there is a strong possibility that I would be another failed marriage statistic outside of the Grace and Goodness of God that is the center of our life. In Christ, we live, move and breathe or at least could if we so desired. There is a difference between receiving Christ and embracing Him. I may meet ten new people today. Not all of them will be given immediate access to the innermost workings of my life or details of it. It takes time and trust to decide who is allowed in our inner circle. Jesus Christ immediately imparts His Spirit to us when we believe. Now whether or not we accept and embrace His Spirit partnering and becoming one with Him is really up to us.

Jesus gives us hope. It finds security in our life of love and commitment to Jesus Christ. Outside of Him, the concepts called love, faith and hope really do not make any sense. God is love. The very essence of His Being is love. He created us from His Love, for His Love and to be the focus of His Love. Have you entered into His Love today? Have you embraced the privilege called Presence? ”God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable…” The Lord has made it a point to express His Unfailing Love to us. He opened the door to His Presence and invites us to come in and commune with Him. Become one with Him. To let His Love become so passionate and fulfilling that it radiates from us like a beacon in the dark. The whole point of the Cross was God’s Desire to love us up close rather than from afar. To make our life better by making us better from the inside out. Have you ever watched someone fall in love, grow in love, and mature in love? There is nothing more precious than to watch to elderly lovebirds who still hold hands after 50 years. My grandparents were together 70 years before he passed away. I cannot imagine being alive that long much less in love that long. Jesus wants to live a love story with you and me that lasts forever. He was willing to die for it. He longs to give it new life and new possibilities. Will you be the one who ventures past the veil today? I intend to be.

Song of Solomon 8:5-7 (ESV) Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm, for love is strong as death, jealousy is fierce as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, the very flame of the Lord. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it. If a man offered for love all the wealth of his house, he would be utterly despised.

How’s your love life? Is it passionate or fizzling out quickly? Do you know what true love is? Have you ever experienced love at first sight? Do you dream of falling in love all over again? My husband and I went on a date last weekend. We do not do it nearly enough. Caught up in life and family it is not our habit to carve out precious minutes just the two of us. We planned our date midweek. After spending most of our Saturday doing chores, it would have been easy to just order takeout and stay home but we didn’t. He even opened the car door for me. Put away our phones and just spent some time together. We do not do it enough. However, it is moments like these that keep love alive. To stop life long enough to enter intimate moments of togetherness. It is the kind of love that fuels passionate marriages, families and friendships. God loves relationships. He is the one who instituted it. Jesus came and did away with all the other commandments leaving us with just two mandates – love God and love each other. We cannot do one without the other.

Jesus demonstrate love as strong as death and jealousy as fierce as the grave. He placed the Light of His Love inside of us to be a catalyst in our relationship with Him so that all other relationships in life can find security on its foundation. We can love and be loved without expecting anything from anyone because Christ is our fulfillment. Such a love cannot be drowned out by noise, taken by a lie, overcome by trial and troubles, it is secure by the hope found in an intimate relationship with Jesus. Will you accept His Invitation today? He will never force His Love on us but offers it day in and day out. He is a gentle suitor and always the perfect gentleman. All we says is “yes” and make a time and place for Him in each day. Love comes with a price. Jesus gave up His Life to love us. It would seem a little time and energy wouldn’t be too much on our part. Set Him as a seal on your heart today. A seal on your lie that will become a love stronger than death. He is jealous for you. Why not be jealous for Him? Desire His Attention. Long for His Embrace. Listen for His Voice. Come when He calls. Jesus wants to live a love story with each of us today. When the Temple veil was torn from top to bottom immediately following His Death it was a declaration of His Love and His Commitment in pursuing us and having our love and devotion. The happily-ever-after is up to you and me.

Romans 8:38-39 (ESV)  For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.