Jealous for Me

Jealous for Me

Deuteronomy 4:24 (NIV) For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.

Is it worth it? All the time and energy put into serving an “unknown” or “unseen” God. At times the relationship may feel a bit one-sided especially if the enemy has chosen to sift you like wheat. In times of testing or temptation, one may wonder does God really love me. When natural struggle reaches the end of our spiritual rope, tying a knot to hang on to hope can be difficult. To walk by faith and not by sight is not easy. God’s Love for us is complete and perfect. It is boundless and endless. There is no condition which makes it all the more challenging to accept. Life always has conditions and consequences. Grace takes away the penalty to give way to purpose in us and through us. “For in Him we live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:28) Fully consummated and complete is God’s Love for us producing a jealousy that is incomprehensible.

A couple of years ago, our daughter and son-in-law moved to New Hampshire to pursue ministry with a fast-growing church. Though I was extremely proud of them, I was less enthusiastic about the 21-hour move. Our family went to visit them. During our stay, we toured the church offices. The pastor introduced us to a very nice woman who he referred to as the adoptive mom of my daughter. Whoa buddy! I was not ready for the flush that came to my face, pounding of my heart and sheer unadulterated jealousy that came upon me. She was not her mother. She was not even related to her. I didn’t want her to have an “adopted mom” because I was her mother and quite fond of my role. My love for my child caused a physical and emotional reaction that took over my whole body. God’s Love for us is greater than human love for a spouse of child. It is pure. It is complete. It is consuming.

God is jealous for us. His Love is reckless. It is extravagant. It is the reason that good enough is not a stopping point but His Best is all that He has for us. Sometimes in the midst of challenges, it is good to spend some time focusing on God’s Jealous Love for us. It puts things into perspective. The Love of God desires us in the purest and most relentless way. It is not that He needs anything from us. (Acts 17:25) The angels serve the Lord.  We “do” all these things to feel deserving of an undeserving love. We “try to” make up for all the grace that is needed in our life. The truth is God’s Love for us is complete and constant without anything from me. His New Mercy each day is tangible evidence of God’s Capacity to love us no matter what state or condition we are in. It doesn’t make any sense. His Love is incomprehensible. With all this uncertainty as to the width, length, height or depth of His Love comes His Invitation to seek His Love, search it out, try it out, examine it thoroughly and hopefully accept it in full measure. The Love of God changes everything beginning inside of us working its way out of us. If we could just saturate ourselves in His Love today, it would make all these light and momentary troubles fade in the Light of it. The Armor of God protects the seal placed over our heart by the Lord when we accept His Love as our own.

Song of Solomon 8:6 (NIV) Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm;
for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame.

God knows the enemy’s proximity to you. He knows exactly what is going on and is working every detail for your good today. God’s Love for you is jealous, wild and extravagant. It is recklessly fighting for your freedom. He wants only the best for you. The Lord is fighting unseen battles for you because His Love is far too jealous to allow the enemy to overtake you. You will be victorious because Jesus is our Champion and hands it to us. It is the perception of God’s Love and the Power of it that will keep you fully focused on Him and not all the warring around you. His Love is an all-consuming fire. Place it as a seal over your heart today. Put it as a seal on your arm marking you as a Kingdom Kid. His Love is strong as death. It is unyielding as the grave yet completely overcame it to give you new life and the opportunity to experience His Love firsthand.

Romans 8:37-39 (NIV) No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Do you believe that God is jealous for you? Even in His Jealousy, God is good. His Jealously is characterized by a solicitous or vigilance in maintaining and guarding you – the person who He so greatly desires and longs to have a relationship with. His Love for us is without rival. There is no one and nothing God loves more than you and me. It is the conviction of His Love that sustains us in trial, trouble and temptation. You will become more than a conqueror when you stop trying to please God and fall in love with Him. Sin is avoidable when it hurts someone we love. We try not to because we want to maintain the relationship in the natural. It works the same way with Jesus. The more I know Him, the more I love Him, the more I seek Him, the more I find Him. He fills the voids in our heart, mind and soul so we are complete lacking nothing especially love. It is from this place that the good fight of faith is won. Confidence in God’s Love for us gives us the courage and boldness to live outside of insecurity and fear in His Refuge called Presence.

Are you convinced? Do you know that God is jealous for you? Do you believe it? Seek His Heart today. Let God show you just another facet of His Love for you. I know that when troubles come it is with firm conviction and absolute confidence I can say, “It is well with my soul.” Not because everything is going right, but that God’s Love holds me in until His Goodness finds me. Nothing can separate me from the Love of God. His Glory will always find me there.

2 Corinthians 13:14 (NIV) May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

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Pathway to Purpose

Pathway to Purpose

Ephesians 1:7-10 (NIV) In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.

There is more to our purpose in Jesus Christ than just to be saved. The fulfillment of Christ is to make us complete lacking nothing. It is a process of sowing seeds of His Word in us, allowing His Spirit to cultivate them, and God will grow them into full satisfaction. Can I ask you a question today? Are you satisfied? Before you answer, think of your needs, wants and desires. If there is a single one, then the answer is “no” I am not satisfied with my life. Settling is not a characteristic of satisfaction and complaining is not born of contentment. Just enough is not good enough when it comes to God’s Standard of Living which is defined by more than enough. Beginning with our soul, the Fruit born of the Spirit is the first fruit of fulfillment. When there is enough love, joy, and peace in our life to be characteristic of our nature overflowing in all conditions and circumstances, it is then that we are finally on track to fulfillment. Until then, fulfillment is only a figment of our imagination. God is able to exceedingly abundantly more than we can think, ask or even imagine. How do I find my way to fulfillment? What will it take to achieve purpose in my life?

Romans 11:22-24 (NIV) Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off. And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. After all, if you were cut out of an olive tree that is wild by nature, and contrary to nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more readily will these, the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree!

The desirability of salvation is without question. Of course, we desire for Jesus to be our Savior. It is a win for us without any investment. I can do nothing to save myself. The kindness of God in the Gift of His Son is ours for the asking. There is another component to Christ called Lordship. To make Jesus the Lord of my life is cause for my flesh to offer up resistance. Why? My flesh must die for Christ to assume His Place as Lord of my life. This is a huge chunk of meat right out of the Word of God that many struggle to understand as they strive to achieve purpose beyond just being saved. It’s not easy.

Consider therefore the kindness (salvation) and sternness (sovereignty) of God. Do you ever think that there has to be more to life than this? Not eternity or forever, but right here, right now. I do. I believe that there are three qualities that must become part of our character in order to achieve God’s Purpose in our life. To reach fulfillment there must be perseverance, persistence and patience. Not exactly the fuzzy, feel-good fodder peddled in the modern day church. If your purpose in life is to endure to the end and enter the Kingdom than it is important to know and understand God’s Word and His Way in order to fulfill His Will which is that none should die but find eternal life.

Perseverance

Hebrews 12:1 (NIV) Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us…

Perseverance is continued steady belief and efforts, withstanding discouragement or difficulty with persistence. It will take effort on our part to continually sow God’s Word in our heart and protect it and nurture it while it grows into fulfillment, purpose and full productivity in our life. We must become acutely aware of sin in our life because it is the very thing that trips us along the way, entangling us in lies, and binding us in things that will keep us from the finish line if allowed to remain. God is Sovereign. Grace didn’t change His Character but is a product of His Steadfast and Unconditional Love which does not change either. God has provided all of the grace needed to step out of sin and live on purpose that leads to completion in Christ. It is up to us to decide to put effort into the process or settle for something less or accept a substitution. The race of faith is a clearly marked pathway which requires perseverance.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4) The testing of our faith produces perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that we will be complete, mature and fulfilled lacking nothing. We want the end result therefore we cannot forgo the process of completion. When facing trials, it is important to stop focusing on the temporary and keep our eyes fixed on the promise. The Word of God for our life does not change. Your situation will throughout your entire life as God molds you, moves you and motivates you to fulfillment.

Persistence

Romans 2:6-7 (NIV) God “will repay each person according to what they have done.” To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life.

Persistence is to continue steadfastly and firmly in purpose with a course of action especially in spite of opposition and discouragement. You still keep pressing and pushing on the boundaries and barriers between you and God’s Purpose which leads to fulfillment. Believing in God’s Word for your life in the process of persistence. You must know what God says about you, who He tells you that you are, what He has commissioned you to do, and what He is doing in you. You must be full of faith and confidence in the Word of God and the person of Jesus Christ. You must rely on His Spirit to take God’s Word which is the logic of faith and make it the wisdom of your life.

Bless her heart! I love the persistent widow in Luke 18. She knew what belonged to her and would not be stopped until she received it. She came to him time and time again, “Grant me justice against my adversary!” Over and over again until she finally wore the poor man down. He didn’t fear God and was not moved by any other motivation than to stop this woman from bothering him day after day. In fact, it eludes to the fact that he thought she might be a little crazy. God grants us justice against our adversary. Jesus is our champion who gives us the victory. If we believed that God would be our justice, and Jesus really was our champion, we would be more persistent for the prize rather than settling for sloppy seconds or immediate gratification of settlement. If we believed, we would persist. Lord, help me to stop settling for anything less and teach me to persist in all areas of my life!

Patience

Colossians 1:8-12 (NIV) For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.

“You must be patient.” I loved my grandmother. She was a godly woman who led me to the Lord. If she said these words to me once, she spoke them a thousand times. I was born impatient. Perhaps, if honest, we all are not born with a propensity to wait graciously for anything. We want it quick and in a hurry. Some say, “Don’t pray for patience” while others encourage it. Can I let you in on a little secret? The Holy Spirit is already working on producing the fruit of longsuffering in us. It doesn’t matter if you pray for it or not, it is already a work in process inside of you. Great endurance and patience are absolutely essential to fulfillment. God makes everything beautiful in His Time… not ours. The Gospel is a story of great patience demonstrated by Jesus Christ. In I Timothy 1, Paul attributes his salvation to the immense patience of Jesus Christ as he calls himself the worst sinner. We all could make the same confession. We must endure to the end to be saved according to Jesus – that is going to take some time. In fact, it is going to take your whole life. Diligence will require tremendous patience as God works every detail of our life to fulfillment and completion. (Romans 8:28) (Hebrews 6:11-12)

“A person’s wisdom yields patience.” (Proverbs 19:11) The Word of God is seed for our life. It must be planted. It must be given time to take root and grow. No farmer gets an immediate harvest from a seed the very next day. He must wait. He must be patient. God’s Word is harvested into wisdom when applied to our life. It increases our ability and willingness to wait on the Lord once we have tasted His Goodness and experienced His Glory.

2 Corinthians 8:10-12 (NIV) And here is my judgment about what is best for you in this matter. Last year you were the first not only to give but also to have the desire to do so. Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means. For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have.

Perseverance, persistence, and patience do not produce new things in our life. They produce the Promise, Purpose and Prosperity of God already given to us according to His Plan including our future and hope in Him. Let that sink in for a moment. If it already exists, we cannot produce it. Therefore, these three qualities are not a requirement but a privilege. It is up to us if we are willing to engage in the Plan of God called purpose or if we are good with the life currently lived. Why settle for less than full satisfaction? Because it is easy, fast and affordable – I guess. God is not going to force anyone into the process but offers us potential to encourage us to try. God already has given us an inheritance now we must take the initiative to be His Sons and Daughters. We are free to choose the life to live. Will I live with eager willingness that leads to fulfillment? Or am I okay for today? The choice is mine. I choose my level of commitment. I decide if I will persevere, persist and be patient until the end. It’s my life. I choose to live on purpose today. How about you?

I Corinthians 9:25-27 (NIV) Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

Being Confident of This Very Thing

Being Confident of This Very Thing

Philippians 1:6 (NKJV) Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ…

Walking into church, he stopped me to greet me along the way. “Hey, I have been reading your stuff and you should write a book!” Awkwardly, I laughed and thanked him for the kind words of encouragement making my way to a seat. Immediately, flushed I couldn’t help but think of how many books started and stopped in the files on my computer all the way back to the first time I thought about it. Just out of high school and the beginning of college, I worked in the preschool ministry of a large church. Putting together packets for the upcoming Sunday, the thought occurred to me that it would be neat to write curriculum for the teachers and volunteers to use with the children. It wouldn’t be long after that I would wander off in the wilderness for quite some time.

I assumed after living apart from the Lord for many years that the possibility of purpose in my life was over. To live for Jesus is a privilege considering my misuse and abuse of His Love and Grace all those years ago, why would God still want to use me? How could there be an ounce of purpose left and not drained by impatience and impulsivity over the years? I am thankful that Lord still loves me, hears me, speaks to me, and blesses me like He does. Religion bases God’s Promise, Purpose and Prosperity on our own ability which is not how it works at all. Relationship gives me full access to God’s Plan for my life. The same plan written beforehand. “And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them.”

Being confident of this very thing… Are you confident today? Confidence is a quality born of absolute trust. The enemy works every day to keep us from building trust and confidence in the Word of God for our life. He wants us to believe that our inability to perform will somehow change or eliminate God’s Power, Purpose and Potential in our life. That is a lie. There is simply no truth to it. If God knew our end from the beginning, then He had to know exactly how many times that I would fail, fall short, walk away and give up before finding my way back home.

He who has begun a good work in you will complete it… The good thing in me working its way out is all God and not me. He doesn’t take bits and pieces of my life for His Good. No, the Word of God explicitly states that “and we know that ALL things work together for good to those who love God.” The only prerequisite to God’s Power fully working in our life is to love Him. Do you love God today? I do, too!

Until the day of Jesus Christ… This is probably the hardest part to figure out. The Good Work in us that God is working out through us is a complete work meaning it begins at birth and ends in Eternity. Salvation is always God’s Primary Objective in our life. The first work is the finished work that leads to God’s Grace, Goodness and Glory in our life. All the other details fall into place accordingly. Those who endure to the end will be saved. Therefore…

Zechariah 4:10 (NLT) Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand.”

Do not despise small beginnings. We put too much pressure on ourselves to work God’s Plan for our life. The real work is submission. To humble our life before Jesus Christ, surrendering our way for Him to do what He will in us and through us. We do not really “do” anything other than submit and surrender our life for His Work. God does the rest using His Word, His Spirit and His Love to mold us and shape us into new creations and masterpieces just like He promised. The Lord rejoices at the beginning of this work. The moment that we give our whole heart to His Plan and embrace the future and hope set before us. But be forewarned…

Isaiah 55:9-12 (NKJV) “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and do not return there, but water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.

God doesn’t do things like we do things. His Thoughts and Ways are much higher than ours. His Perspective far greater than our current comfort and convenience or even discomfort and inconvenience. God’s Plan is not influenced in any way, shape or form by us. It is always working in us and through us for complete reconciliation and restoration whether we decide to receive it or not. His Word is seed. God’s Word is not barren – it is full of uncompromised potential for our life. Once planted deep in the folds of our heart, it will grow. His Power is in that seed and it is the very thing that leads to fulfillment. The only part I play in the whole plan is to humbly accept God’s Word (Jesus) in my heart and allow His Spirit to sow His Word in my heart to produce God Fruit in my life. It is all Him – I must decrease allowing Christ to increase in my life. It will happen. I must be patient and wait for it trusting the Lord.

Ecclesiastes 7:8 (NKJV) The end of a thing is better than its beginning; the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.

We must not give in to impatience. Patience is a product of the Holy Spirit who produces longsuffering in us. (Galatians 5:22) We must learn to give God time to do what He has promised. What do I do in the meantime? Walk by faith not by sight. (2 Corinthians 5:7) Walk worthy of your calling with which you were called. Walk humbly. Walk in gentleness and with longsuffering (patience). Love one another. (Ephesians 4:1-2) God is completing His Work in you. He promised not to quit, give up, give in or walk away no matter what you choose to do along the way. He is still working His Plan, Purpose, Future and Hope all around you. Like the father of the prodigal, the Lord waits and watches for our return. He celebrates our arrival. He embraces us. Fully restores us. Nothing changed at home – it changes in us.

Hebrews 12:1-2 (NKJV) Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

I will write a book one day. I am confident not in my ability but the fact that the Lord has called me to do so. I will wait for Him to give me the words to complete it. I will carefully transcribe whatever He says. In the meantime, I must put aside every weight and sin that easily ensnares me such as the lie of the enemy that requires immediate gratification and insists on shortcuts marked by impatience. As I continue to sow my life into Christ and accept new seed of His Word in a soft heart, every good thing that He has ordained for my life will come to pass in His Timing which makes everything beautiful. I have no performance pressure other than to daily surrender and submit my life to Jesus and His Spirit working in me. Jesus is not only the Author of my faith but He is the Finisher. He will complete in me the good work that He began. Amen and Selah.

James 1:2-4 (NKJV) My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. 

Abounding in Abundance

Abounding in Abundance

Colossians 2:6-10 (NKJV) As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving. Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.

Our walk with Christ should lead to abundance. Jesus came to give us life and that it would be abundant. I believe that our idea of abundance changes as our heart and mind become new. The new creation gives ways to revolutionized thought and radical ideas defined by faith. Faith is not logical to the world but relates specifically to the Word of God and is heavily influenced by His Spirit inside of us. A life yielded to Christ makes room for the transformation of the way we live, breathe, move and exist in this life as residents of the Kingdom of God. However, the mind is a force to be reckoned with. It is set in its ways. Certain images cannot be so easily erased. The renewing of our mind is essential to live in the abundance of God. Our life must abound in Christ to enter the abundance He offers. Abundance in our life is defined by the prosperity of our heart. We can have it all and have nothing at all. We can have nothing at all and be fully complete in Jesus lacking no good thing. The contents of our heart determines the fruitfulness in our life. Prosperity is a heart condition beginning with a transfer from earthly provision to Kingdom Providence.

As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith…

As you therefore…as a result of…have received Christ Jesus the Lord…accepting not only His Saving Grace but also His Authority and Power… so walk in Him. Have do I take an ordinary life and make it extraordinary? By full submission to Jesus Christ, the words seem so straightforward but it’s a fight to the finish. To establish every movement and all my thoughts according to the Word of God, Way of God and Will of God…every day. The Lord provided a measure of faith. He knew it would be impossible for us to please Him without it. Jesus came and supplied the grace needed to overcome sin, death and the grave. I am free to live the life I choose. However, my heart and mind were held captive so long it will take Resurrection Power and Life to keep me from returning to the bondages of life.

To become rooted and grounded in Jesus Christ and established in the faith means being uprooted from the life that is our basis and foundation. John 10:10 is two-fold. It tells us that Jesus Christ came to give us life and have it abundantly. It also warns us that there is a thief among us. He is a con artist of sorts. Luring God’s People into the dark shadows, offering subtle substitutions, and cunning compromise. The enemy’s greatest weapon is a lie. Truly it is the only thing that he can use against us to convince us to move from God’s Presence into bondage. We have the power to live in super abundance which is a byproduct of freedom unless we choose the way of the beggar eating crumbs under His Table rather than dining with King Jesus. Do you see the place of God’s Table? He prepares “a table before me in the presence of my enemies.” We want the abundance of God that abounds in His Presence but are we willing to fight for it?

2 Corinthians 10:3-6 (NKJV) For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.

Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.

Our life can be filled with mentors, teachers and others who teach us ways to improve our life. The power of change is faithful obedience. If I believe the person who is instructing me, I will do what they say. To change requires belief and confidence in the source. There are many voices in our life that can be influential. The prevailing voice will be the one that one can relate to. Philosophy is the rational investigation of truth and principles of being that govern the choices made about life. It is the basis of most ethical and moral concepts. The Lord offers to renew our mind. In doing so, by changing the way we think, our life becomes influenced by Kingdom principles rather than earthly opinions also known as philosophies.

Knowledge of God is found in Spirit and in Truth. It is a product of worshipping God with our life and not just our words. It means daily digging up the “strongholds and arguments” against faith and planting God’s Word in the voids and vacancies left behind. It requires effort. Feelings and emotions must be replaced by faith and confident hope in God’s Word. Otherwise, our life will continue to be barren. To abound requires seeds of abundance being planted in our heart and mind, watered by the Word, fed by His Spirit and given time to grow in protected fields. To have abundance means abounding in seasons of fruitlessness. We must learn to take captive every thought and idea that is contrary to God’s Word and His Promise for our life. To become bold in our faith and relentless in our pursuit of confident hope which anchors our soul until the harvest comes. It will come. It just needs some time and space to grow without the overcrowding and choking of weeds and vines of meaningless ides, thoughts and notions.

Ephesians 3:19-20 (NKJV) To know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us…

Ephesians 3:20 has been my verse for 2017. To Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think according to His Power that works in us. I desire abundance. Abundance has taken on a new meaning for me. It used to mean stuff. Can we be honest? The world is an economy of stuff. It is how success and failure are generally determined on the earth. But it is not God’s Economy. Walking the dog with my husband on a hot, humid evening, we started sharing the moments in our day and it became a discussion about our place in life. Deep philosophic stuff. I am content with my life. I have more stuff than I need or want. I have way more than I ever thought possible from my humble upbringing. When I was a kid, I thought if I could just have a home on wheels that no one could come and just roll away – I would consider my life successful. Well, I live in house built on a concrete foundation. If I look at my life in a non-tangible sense, God has given me a beautiful family. A loving husband and five beautiful children who are now adding to it with spouses and one day grandchildren. I have way more than I deserve. I am content but dissatisfied. There is a place of abounding that gives way to abundance when in our complete satisfaction with God’s Provision – our heart decides to seek Him fully. The final thoughts on our walk that night concluded – we are blessed and thankful and even content in our natural life but there still has to be more. God widens the space in our heart and makes room for us to move from abounding to abundance by filling our life with His Love, Grace and Goodness.

For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power. The dissatisfaction of most long time believers is not in any way associated with God or even Christ but the lack of completion. It is by design. As faith grows in us what was tiny and small presses against our captive thoughts and the boundaries of our mind to see if there is room for growth and expansion. God knows that there is because He has already ordained every blessing and promise for our life and is waiting for us to prosper in Christ to make what already abounds in us to overflow as abundance out of us.

I Thessalonians 4:1 (NKJV) Finally then, brethren, we urge and exhort in the Lord Jesus that you should abound more and more, just as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God…

The Lord invites you and me to a place of abundance. Obedience takes us there. You may think of it as bondage but that is not the case at all. Jesus Christ has set us free indeed. Now we choose who we serve, how we serve and the magnitude of blessing according to such choices. The prodigal son exercised his right to freedom. His father gave him the inheritance and he left his childhood home convinced that he desired freedom. He quickly exhausted his resources and found himself fighting pigs for scraps of food. His thoughts turned to the hired servants at home who would eat a good meal and sleep in a warm bed. The young man decided being a servant was better than being his own man and humbly went home to serve the father. He was greeted by the father who restored him as son and welcomed him home. This was the same child who left home. The same kid who wasted his entire inheritance. The one who left his position. He was the one who rebelled against his father causing him tremendous heartache. The only thing that changed was his heart. His pride crushed by failure – the prodigal son successfully returned home in humility to find that he had lost nothing at all. To give up my way to follow the Lord is an act of humility. The only thing sacrificed in that moment is my flesh and limited life. What’s keeping you from abundance today? Is it pride? Rebellion? Radical thoughts? Empty philosophies? Religious tradition? Corrupted culture? You have not missed a thing. The Father will restore you when you humbly return home. His Presence is always open thanks to Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 1:7-12 (NKJV)  In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him. In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.

I love these verses. God has given us riches of His Grace. He causes us to abound in all wisdom. It is His Good Pleasure and His Purpose to dispense His Fullness to us. He has provided an inheritance. He has predestined all things to work according to His Will which includes all these abundant and abounding words. Fullness. Completion. Success. God is good. He is for me. Jesus Christ promised you us a rich and satisfied life. A life of abounding abundance. What is abundance? It is overflowing fullness. To abound means to occur or exist in great quantities; to be rich and well supplied; and to be filled and fulfilled. Do these qualities define your life today? If not, I challenge your mindset. We are no longer subjected to the limitations of this life. (Colossians 2:20) If our life is limited it is because there is something blocking the overflow of abundance. Nothing is impossible for those who believe. Do you believe? God’s Grace is the opportunity to abound in abundance beginning with the Fruit of God’s Spirit. This is the supply from which we find satisfaction in the rest of our life. To overflow in this areas feeds hungry and thirsty souls around us which motivates them to being the journey to fulfillment. I can live by the basic principles of the world and even in accordance with church doctrine, but true abundance is found by planting my faith in Jesus Christ and submitting my life to His Growth and Development. It means changing the way I think by the renewing of my mind in Spirit and in Truth. Humbly returning to His Presence day after day waiting for godly instruction and wisdom to guide me along the way. I must examine my heart daily for those negative and rebellious thoughts contrary to what Jesus says about my life. Making a way for His Abundance to abound in my life. Spiritual success and maturity produce abundance in our life by moving deeper in Christ – all He is must complete us as He promised.

Ephesians 4:13-16 (NKJV) till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;  that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

Home Improvement

Home Improvement

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

A favorite date night is a nice casual dinner together followed by a long, leisurely trip to the local home improvement store. Mindlessly wandering around dreaming of home renovation. Our list of projects for this house is exhaustive and grows with each visit. Our last home was built for us. Signing the agreement, all the facades, fixtures and details chosen. We just waited for the building to be complete. It was brand new. Definitely a blessing! Our new home of almost a year is the same floorplan. The similarities end at that point. The front porch is different. It is large and inviting. A place for people to gather sitting in the new rocking chairs. I envision watching our grandchildren one day run up the walk to climb in our laps and rock with us. With two previous owners, it appears that some things were neglected while others stopped and started projects along the way. This place needs some love and attention.

This week’s big purchases included an American flag, solar lights for the walkway, some spotlights and stain for our new front door along with a handle set. My purse was filled with paint chips to decide a new exterior color scheme and options to redo the master bathroom cabinets for future projects. I know that I do not want a washer and dryer made by the same company who specializes in cellphones, no offense. And finally, I am pretty sure that wood tile planks will suit us more than new wood laminate thanks to the growing lab puppy with massive paws and a propensity to sling more water than she swallows. I hope that there are always projects left because I love spending time with my best friend dreaming and doing new things together.

While some may call it remodeling, I believe it to be rebuilding. As I consider my life right now, at this point in time, looking back – God has done some amazing and miraculous things in my life. I have seen miracles. I have experienced His Favor more times than I can recount. His Hand of Provision and Protection always shadowing over us. God is good. He is good all the time. Even on those days thought to be the worst of times, He somehow makes the Light of His Love overshadow the power of darkness of this world. It also my experience that we are victorious overcomers. There have been days when it came down to the final seconds but somehow God in His Sovereignty always pulls out the win. Knowing all of these things about my Lord and Savior and Father God, there is still massive renovation going on in my life. My heart and mind are in a constant state of demo as God rebuilds me. In my complete undoing, the Lord is faithfully making me into a masterpiece. It is painful. It is a process. It is according to His Plan. It will be beautiful in God’s Timing just like He said.

Life is lived in seasons. One building on the next. There are things in our life that must be removed so the Lord can continue to build a firm foundation of faith so our hope in Him is confident until the end. The renewing of our mind including every thought is essential. (Romans 12:2) It is easy sometimes to see what God is doing around us or engage in His Service with our hands and neglect what the Lord is attempting to do in our heart. To be completely honest, six years ago my heart was shattered to the point that I cannot put the pieces back together. God is good. He is faithful to His Word. The outcome yet another victory thanks to Jesus. However, what about me? The soul living inside the body of a human. How do I submit these pieces to His Renewal, Restoration and Rebuilding? Does the process ever end? Will the next phase in this process be too much for me? I am asking all these questions today as God rebuilds me.

I Peter 2:4-5 (NLT) You are coming to Christ, who is the living cornerstone of God’s temple. He was rejected by people, but he was chosen by God for great honor. And you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple. What’s more, you are his holy priests. Through the mediation of Jesus Christ, you offer spiritual sacrifices that please God. 

I am a living stone that is being reconstructed into the spiritual temple of the Living God. He lives in me. Jesus lives in you if you have invited Him to do so and welcomed Him in. When we moved into this house, it needed some work. The process of painting is the fastest and most gratifying. Call me crazy but I love the smell of a freshly painted room. Our daughter’s rooms have fresh paint and new décor along with their bathroom. Each a vivid representation of their unique personalities. The guest room and bathroom completed as well. Making a place for our adult children to come and visit of extreme importance as well. I am contemplating the next redo our bathroom and replacing all the door knobs and fixtures in the house. I am making this house our home. God is making me His Home.

Day by day and surface by surface scrubbing away my past thoughts, ideas and notions about life, changing my expectation, building a foundation of faith and somehow working confident hope through every part of my being. He doesn’t cut corners. God only does His Best. Not based on my faithfulness, but completely structured on His Faithfulness according to His Plan with a future and hope far exceeding my expectation. I just have to surrender to His Will to let Him work out His Plans for me. I do this by surrender. I give up myself in surrender to allow God to have it all. This is a sacrifice. I am free to choose whether I allow Him to finish the work that He has begun or decide my own path. One leads to eternity the other not even close.

How do I know this is what He is doing? Well, in John 2:19-21, Jesus had just cleared the Temple of all the vendors and money changers. In the South, we might say that our Lord “lost it” on them. The Jewish leaders benefiting from those selling sacrifices asked Jesus who gave Him the authority to do such a thing. Jesus told them that if they “destroyed the Temple, in three days He would raise it back up.” They were appalled reminding Jesus that it took 46 years to build that building. Jesus was not talking about a building but His Body. Fast forward to the His Trial when false witnesses would account the events of that day. The high priest inquired a response of Jesus. He remained silent. He asked the Lord, “Are you the Messiah?” Jesus told him, “You have said it.” On the Cross, the people mocked his declaration. Even the two thieves on either side as the Pharisees and other religious leaders stood beneath Jesus hurling insults at Him as He died for them. (Matthew 27:39-44) But then it happened…

Matthew 27:50-52 (NLT) Then Jesus shouted out again, and he released his spirit. At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, rocks split apart, and tombs opened. The bodies of many godly men and women who had died were raised from the dead.

HGTV lovers and DIY enthusiasts might call it “demo” day. The day that the manmade temple was destroyed. The Presence of God now released in the form of His Spirit began destroying all barriers between mankind and the God who loves them. He ripped the veil from top to bottom opening a door that no one can shut. Death and the grave were robbed on that day. The power of sin stripped in one complete sacrifice. Three days later, Jesus would be raised and the New Temple revealed. The manmade temple in ruins allowed rebuilding to begin on God’s New Temple. He would now live in His People. The Spirit of the Living God chose you and me to dwell in to live in and become one with. He chose us knowing every fault and failure including every act of sin and rebellion. He paid it all that day and still once released began His Passionate Pursuit of us.

Haggai 1:3-8 (NLT) Then the Lord sent this message through the prophet Haggai: “Why are you living in luxurious houses while my house lies in ruins? This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: Look at what’s happening to you! You have planted much but harvest little. You eat but are not satisfied. You drink but are still thirsty. You put on clothes but cannot keep warm. Your wages disappear as though you were putting them in pockets filled with holes! “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: Look at what’s happening to you! Now go up into the hills, bring down timber, and rebuild my house. Then I will take pleasure in it and be honored, says the Lord.

2 Corinthians 4:18 (NLT) So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.

Steadfast Love

Steadfast Love

Psalm 118:1 (ESV) Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!

Some things remain the same like this morning. My children still like to sleep. The puppy is happy to see me. My breakfast bar still has 12 grams of protein and the banana grew on a tree. My husband is still precious. I love the quiet of morning and Jesus was waiting when I walked in my study. The constancy of my life is Jesus Christ. His Love endures through everything in my life that is not the same today. There is always uncertainty in our future and some days it is just a little more of a reality than others. My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus Christ and His Solid Foundation but it is a challenge to live there every single day especially those that don’t line up with His Word or His Way. That’s why I must know what I believe…it’s simple. The Lord is good. His Steadfast Love endures forever.

I am thankful today that my faithfulness is not a factor when it comes to God’s Constancy in my life. The fact that His Love for me is unshakeable and immovable gives credibility to the foundation of my life called faith. It means that when all hell breaks loose, chaos starts churning and people go on with life that His Love waits on me. It is there for me to hold on to. It is an open and waiting place for those who choose its shelter. It is the thing that holds me together when it feels as though I am falling apart. Grace allows me access even on those days when my belief is shaken, hope elusive, and faithfulness compromised. His Mercy met me that morning to escort me right back to the foundation held in place by the invisible anchor that keeps me safe and secure in the midst of fear and insecurity. It is always there because God is constant.

Psalm 118:5-9 (ESV) Out of my distress I called on the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me free. The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me? The Lord is on my side as my helper; I shall look in triumph on those who hate me.

Distress, distractions, detours, and even delays press and squeeze our confidence in the Lord sometimes. Lack of knowledge, understanding and wisdom threaten what we know to be true about the Lord because our mind has not firmly taken hold of that providential piece of His Character that constantly and overwhelmingly loves us no matter what. No matter what the deterrent may be the Lord is faithful in His Love as He rushes in to rescue those who cry out to Him. It doesn’t matter if my fear is valid or not because God is fearless. There is nothing that can ever overpower God’s Love for me. Nothing I can do. People can do. The enemy can do. His Love for me is constant and unchallenged by life and its many seasons. My love for Him must grow in its capacity to widen the foundation of faith my feet remain firmly planted in to the point that it doesn’t matter what happens around me, in me or at the hands of another – His Love must be the reality of my life. It is my certainty.

I Corinthians 13:4-8 (ESV) Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. 

The very premise of the hope that I hold on to is God’s Love for me. The fact that nothing can or will ever separate me from His Love. This is essential to living a life in love with Jesus. My love for Him is challenged and compromised by the things I see, want or desire every day. But His Love for me remains. It is everything written in I Corinthians 13. He is not a man. God does not lie or change His Mind concerning me even when I fall, fail or forget. His Love is endless. It is boundless. I can wander through this life forever and never find the edge of it. I can swim as deep as breath allows and never ever find the bottom of it. His Love for me is patient. His Love for me is kind. His Envy doesn’t want anything from me just my very human and broken heart. His Love doesn’t boast of being better only desires my best. God is not arrogant and aloof. He is not rude but always responds with loving kindness even when I knew better and did it anyway. He offers me His Way but doesn’t insist on me taking it yet still remains faithful in all things. He doesn’t get irritable when I am stubborn. The Lord never is resentful because His Grace won’t allow it. God never says, “I told you so…” but rather responds with “what are you doing here?” He keeps looking for us when we turn a blind eye to Him. His Father’s Love uncompromised by wandering and rebellion. He rejoices over me singing. My Creator sees His Masterpiece Creation inside this messed up mama. God’s Love bears all things and believe me I have put a lot on that love. His Love believes in me when I don’t believe in myself. His Love puts His Hope in me over and over again even though I am so unworthy. His Love endures my inability to get it right and always showers me in more grace, mercy and love. God is love. His Character will not permit Him to operate outside of it because it is who He is. His Love never ever ends.

Psalm 118:21-28 (ESV) I thank you that you have answered me and have become my salvation. The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. This is the Lord‘s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Save us, we pray, O Lord! O Lord, we pray, give us success! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! We bless you from the house of the Lord. The Lord is God, and he has made his light to shine upon us.

What if for just one day rather than trying to act saved or serve God humanly – His People decided just to respond to His Love. Salvation is the Love of God for us that does not lead to condemnation but sweeps us from this life into a realm called hope. It is a new place. It can be a scary transition as what we rely on and build our whole life upon is not seen. The hope that I have in the Lord is that His Love for me never ends. It is not what I can do for Him or how much I can change my life, habits or behaviors but just how fully and completely I am willing to accept His Love as the premise and purpose of my life. Let’s not lose sight today of the fact that religion died on the Cross with Jesus, tearing the veil and offering all mankind the opportunity to live in a relationship with the Living God. To love and be loved by our Creator. The one who designed our heart and knows every strength and weakness hidden inside of it. Can you just thank God for His Love and mean it? You were not saved just by asking Jesus to be Your Savior and Lord! I know what they told you. You didn’t have to join a church or serve every Sunday. We are called to be the church with consummation in our love for Christ to become one with His Body. You can miss a prayer meeting and still be saved. You can sin and still experience the Love of God, otherwise how can His Grace be sufficient? It is love for Jesus that gives us a desire not to sin. Otherwise, it is a habit change not a heart change. All things are permissible just not beneficial. At the end of the day as I recount my successes, failures and yet-to-be-determined – it is with the thought in mind – His Faithful Love endures forever. There is no end to God’s Love for me. He is constant in every season. He is constant in the change and chaos churning all about. He is always in love with me. His Desire is for me. His Heart is for me. God is for me. If only I can respond to His Love today, what are the possibilities? Not because I am right or did a single thing right, but simply because His Love endures forever. Amen.

Psalm 118:28-29 (ESV) You are my God, and I will give thanks to you; you are my God; I will extol you. Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!

Imperfect People

Imperfect People

Matthew 6:19-21 (NLT) Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.”

There are but three commodities existent in both Heaven and earth – faith, hope and love. We are warned not to store up our treasures here on earth for those things which can be contained may also be consumed by moths and rust among other things. The three assets of faith, hope and love are secured and guarded in the Kingdom. It is an investment beyond the here and now that will last for eternity. Where our treasure is – there our desire will be as well. Good talk!

Matthew 6:22-23 (NLT)Your eye is like a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is filled with light. But when your eye is unhealthy, your whole body is filled with darkness. And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is!

Our eyes perceive the world around us. As long as our eyesight remains healthy, there is no problem. Over the last several years, my eyesight has been in sharp decline with a condition called presbyopia. Now before you assemble the saints of God to pray, let me assure you it is not fatal. My eyesight is changing due to a loss of elasticity of the lens of my eye caused by middle and old age. (Sigh) At first, it was subtle. If I just pushed my arm out a bit farther, everything came into focus again. However, as more time passed, either my eyes got worse or my arm got shorter so I began using reading glasses purchased at the local department store which worked for a while. When I could no longer see clearly without the readers, it was time for bifocals. Oh, the joys of getting older. Now I must wear contacts or glasses just about all the time especially if I am cooking, shopping or reading something that matters. Otherwise, I may add the wrong ingredient, pay the wrong price, or not fully comprehend that which I am attempting to understand.

Your eye is like a lamp that provides light to your body. The illumination of knowledge and understanding that will be used as wisdom comes through the perception our eye. The light that enters the eye creates an image that our brain perceives. We must also develop our spirit man/woman so that godly knowledge, wisdom and discernment are also applied so that the benefit of our choices are deposits into Heaven. The Light of His Love found in Jesus Christ, His Word and His Spirit are vital to expose any darkness hidden within us that may be keeping us from connecting fully with the Lord. Over time, as human beings, physical maturity sets in even if not mentally given. We grow up. Our body is born dying day by day. However, our spirit is born of salvation. We are given the Holy Spirit to nurture our body, mind and spirit so that our destiny steps over the lines of death and the grave into everlasting eternity. We must set our sights on Heaven.

I Corinthians 13:9-13 (NLT) Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture! But when the time of perfection comes, these partial things will become useless. When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely. Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.

I am not perfect. My hope of becoming a perfect will not happen as long as I am alive. It is impossible until since is completely removed from my life. My soul is the only part of me that will ever achieve complete wholeness and perfection. Let that sink in for a moment. This world focuses more on our physical and mental state disregarding our spiritual well-being which currently is in sharp decline. We must all become good people. There is no higher calling to become godly people anymore. Even the church has stopped pushing and pressing us to greater things, because people just want to have a good life. The God life is to invest in a coming Kingdom with a soon and coming King. Nobody wants to wait.

I used to work really hard to be the best. My drive and motivation was to run things even though I didn’t realize it. My bullish tendencies wrecked many china shops along the way with total disregard for the feelings of others. I thought I was doing it all in the Name of Christ. However, the only things that God really wants to see in our life for now are faith, hope and love. These are the forever fruits sown by His Spirit so we are invested in Heaven.

One of the responsibilities in my workplace is proofreading. I read documents, mark errors and make corrections for other writers. I earn a living critiquing and editing. I know it is a nerdy job but for some reason I enjoy it. I like to make things better. I enjoy creating processes leading to greater success. God just wired me that way. However, if I am proofreading my own work, I tend to miss things. My attempts to perfect others are lost on myself. I tend to overlook certain mistakes because I am familiar with them. The examination of our life is quite the same. It is easy to point out the erroneous ways of others while missing our own weakness and imperfections.

Nobody is perfect except one. God is perfect. (Matthew 5:48) God’s Way is perfect. (Psalm 18:30) Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. (John 14:6) His Word is perfect. (Psalm 19:7) The Lord’s Peace is perfect. (Isaiah 26:3) Jesus has been proclaimed the Champion of Faith and our Perfect Leader. (Hebrews 2:10) We have fallen short of God’s Glorious Standard of Living because we became imperfect due to sin. (Romans 3:23) But the Word of God promises that the one who endures to the end will be saved. (Matthew 24:13) How do we endure? Faith in God through Jesus Christ. When we invest our life to faith in Christ, we become fruitful and productive people both here as in Heaven. (John 15:5-7) Nothing we do for the Lord is ever useless when we abide in His Love. We are complete in Christ when we endure to the end holding tight to faith, hope and love letting everything else go just to know Him more.

“But when the time of perfection comes, these partial things will become useless.” When I read these words this morning, it was like dawn breaking in my heart and soul all over again. When the time of perfection comes…do you fight with being perfect? I do. Like Paul in Romans 7 struggling with the fact I know better but still do many things. The idea of the Holy Spirit completely taking over but somehow encountering opposition of old things, past sins, and bad habits that I thought had gone away. When I perceive my life comparing it to worldly standards, things are good. But when I compare my life to Christ, oh how much farther I have to go. The struggle is real. The enemy uses this conflict to try to deviate us from the Plan of God to make us victorious and prosperous in all things. It says in this verse that “these partial things will be useless.” I must learn to discern the things of worth to the Glory of God and those things that will remain impartial and die one day. It is not an easy task but with God’s Word and His Spirit I can try.

“Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.” Thank you Lord for insight today into what really matters to You! My faith matters. My hope matters. My love for the Lord demonstrated in my love for others…all others. These are the investments of my life that contribute to forever. Nothing else matters. Everything else will end one day but these three things will last forever. They are eternal. When the rich young man asked what he must do to enter Heaven, he was okay with following God’s Instructions until the commandment was to sell all his possessions and give it to the poor to follow Jesus. He went away sad and dejected for he had many “things”. What is that thing keeping you from perfect faith, perfect hope, and perfect love? I am asking myself the same thing. I cannot be perfect. But it doesn’t mean I must not mature.

Philippians 3:6-9(NLT) I was so zealous that I harshly persecuted the church. And as for righteousness, I obeyed the law without fault. I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith.

When our son was undergoing chemotherapy for the first time, we stayed in a facility with other patients and caregivers going through the very same ordeal. All sick in their body with cancer. Most of the tenants were much older than our son. As we entered the dining hall, I could feel eyes on us filled with pity. One night talking with one of our friends in the lodge, she began to cry. She told me, “I deserve my cancer. I was a smoker for more than 30 years. What has he done?” (Referring to our son) “He hasn’t lived long enough to make bad choices. Why must he go through this horrible ordeal?” I stopped her and told her that she didn’t deserve this horrible disease either. I think as we grow older we begin to accept the consequences of disease or defeat based on our life choices…even Christians. God’s Grace is sufficient for me and all of my past transgressions. However the enemy wants to make us think that if we didn’t earn it than we cannot keep it.

Paul thought he was serving God in persecuting the Christians. After he met Jesus, he changed his ways repenting and turned to follow the Lord. What if he had given up or become discouraged? Surely everyone who knew him must have thought that he was a hypocrite. Paul was honest about his imperfect ways and his need for Jesus. Paul discarded everything else counting it as garbage compared to knowing Christ. Have I? Is there anything in my life that I hold more dear and precious than my relationship with Jesus? We must evaluate our walk daily for three things – faith, hope and love. Everything and anything else in my life that holds precedent or priority over these three qualities and achievements are worthless, useless garbage and not accountable to the Kingdom. I have these eternal qualities because of the Grace given to me through Jesus.

Philippians 3:12-14 (NLT) I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. 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.

Our life is filled with partial images of perfection that too many times set the standard for our life. God’s Standard of Living comes after this life ends and when we step into forever. If the contents of my life do not include faith, hope and love, I have failed and will not see the eternity that I know long for. If I have not planted my faith, hope and love as my treasure in Heaven, I have nothing to yield from when I arrive. We complicate our life with routines, religion, tradition, and expectations not placed on us by the Lord. This viewpoint magnifies our imperfection rather than keeping us focused on His Perfection which offers a superb grace that sets every sinner free. We no longer get what we deserve. We don’t have to earn it. We must only endure this life of lesser things on a pilgrimage to perfection achieved in Christ alone. Lord, take my eyes off the worthless things and keep me focused on You today. Perfect that which concerns me as Your Word promises and I will do my best to follow You and accept Your Grace when I fall short. I am imperfect. My life is incomplete. I will not be discouraged or defeated by my inability to live a perfect life and be a flawless person but invest all my faith, hope and love in what I will be when I meet You face-to-Face.

Colossians 1:27-28 (NLT) For God wanted them to know that the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too. And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory. So we tell others about Christ, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all the wisdom God has given us. We want to present them to God, perfect in their relationship to Christ.

 

 

To Be Changed

To Be Changed

To Be Changed

May 20, 2016

 

2 Corinthians 3:16-18 (NLT) But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.

I am ready for change.  I feel the pressure for release. The anticipation of that which is coming moving the now out of the way to embrace the future. The Lord is always working in us to increase borders and enlarge territories. He lovingly and gently presses our humanity out of the way to make room for more of His Spirit. Will I relent? Will I succumb to the pressure? Will I turn into that which I am called and created to be by the divine direction of God? Sometimes it is demanding situation or unfortunate situations that give us a desire for change due to desperation. Other times, it is mundane mediocrity that leaves us empty and searching for more due to a lack of fulfillment or chronic dissatisfaction which causes us to test the doors and challenge each barrier in our life. There is more to life than this but only in Jesus Christ.

When the scale creeps past an acceptable number and my clothes begin to get tight, I diet. If I need to clear my mind, I go for a walk. If spending begins to drain my account, I follow a budget. Every adverse reaction in life can be changed by an opposite action. Human beings are powerful in creation and design. The flaw in our development is one thing – sin. It is a general term that covers every fault and failure produced in our life. Our downfall is not to be blamed on others but we must take full responsibility for those unacceptable things in our life and do that which is necessary to be changed. For many years, my sister weighed closed to 300 lbs. She is a beautiful woman inside and out but the burden of obesity was taking a toll on her life. It was limiting her from doing the things that she wanted to do so she decided to make a change. She began dieting, exercising and even running. Over the course of time, she lost an amazing 110 lbs. and has managed to keep it off. She did it with willpower but also relying on the Power of God living in her to change the things in her heart and mind necessary to make better choices. What is the “weight” in your life today? Those things keeping you from changing or being changed by the Lord to step out and achieve that which He has called you and ordained you to do. How do I facilitate change in my life?

Hebrews 12:1-4 (NLT) Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up. After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin.

What is the “weight” that is slowing me down today? Sin will always be the first culprit in heaviness and burden in our life. The idea that there is something, anything that God is not capable and willing to handle for us is a lie that traps many and steals freedom from a believer. It’s a trap of the enemy to keep God’s People in their weakness rather than relying on God’s Strength and Power to change us from the inside out. Jesus is our Champion. There is nothing that I need to do other than keep my eyes on the Lord and follow Him to live in the fullness offered to those who live for God’s Glory. God’s Grace is enough for me. It is sufficient for you. (2 Corinthians 12:9) If grace was a one-time deal, there would be no need for new mercy each day. (Lamentations 3:22-23) However, the Lord releases new mercy each day which means the acceptance of God’s Grace and living by faith is a process and quest rather than just an overnight sensation as some would like us to think. To be changed, I must only release one more weight and burden to the Lord and take one step deeper in His Presence and closer to His Side. The only thing standing between me and Jesus will always be sin. Apart from sin, I am free. Completely free and totally welcomed into God’s Presence to experience His Glory.

I Samuel 10:5-7; 10:9 (NLT)

When you arrive at Gibeah of God, where the garrison of the Philistines is located, you will meet a band of prophets coming down from the place of worship. They will be playing a harp, a tambourine, a flute, and a lyre, and they will be prophesying. At that time the Spirit of the Lord will come powerfully upon you, and you will prophesy with them. You will be changed into a different person. After these signs take place, do what must be done, for God is with you. 

As Saul turned and started to leave, God gave him a new heart, and all Samuel’s signs were fulfilled that day.

Samuel had just anointed Saul as the ruler over Israel. Immediately following this ordination, Samuel instructed Saul under the anointing of God. He told Saul “at that time the Spirit of the Lord will come powerfully upon you.” He went on to tell him, “you will be changed into a different person.” Encouraging Saul, “God is with you.” In verse 10, the process by which the Holy Spirit begins to change us is clearly defined in just two simple steps. He “turned and started to leave.” In that moment, God gave Saul a new heart and complete fulfillment “that day”.

Do you desire change in your life today? Not just a temporary change or momentary relief of those burdens that are weighing you down, but complete fulfillment from the Lord? It is possible. You can have it. There are only two steps required and demonstrated by Saul. Though they may seem hidden, they are jumping off the page as the Lord yells, “Hey, look over here. I am doing something. It is bigger than you can comprehend and far greater than you ever imagined.” Are you ready? The two things needed to completely change your life forever are repentance and faith. Are you letdown by this ideas? Well so was the young man who had many things and no interest in selling them and giving to the poor so he turned from Jesus and went his own way.

If we break down these two ideas of repentance and faith, they become practical. To repent means to turn. In Hebrews 12:4, we are reminded that we have “not yet given our lives in the struggle with sin.” It’s true. No matter how hard we try not to sin, we still do. (Romans 7:21-25) If it is not possible to completely rid our life of sin, what is the point? Repentance is a process not a project. A project is defined by completion, but repentance is a process which remains ongoing. This is good news because it means no matter how many times I mess up, if I remain committed to change – it will happen. Not overnight, but day by day as He promised. When Saul turned, God changed his heart. Are you struggling today to make a heart change? Do you want more of God but don’t know where to find Him? Just begin to repent. Decide today that there is one thing you will avoid and do differently simply because it is contrary to God’s Word. Surrender that one sin to the Lord and do everything you can to turn from it avoiding it at all costs. God will honor your faithfulness. He will reveal more of His Kind and Compassionate nature in this one thing so you will become confident in taking the next step to turn one more thing over. We must repent or turn our life over to the Lord beginning with sin.

Acts 2:38 (NLT) Peter replied, “Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

Daily repentance and commitment to turn from anything that is offensive to the Lord is the process of salvation. Not motivated by fear, but freedom. Love is a free gift that no one can produce for themselves. I must love Jesus. It must be my motivation for change or I am not changing into His Likeness as His Child but instead an impostor.

Romans 2:28-29 (NLT) For you are not a true Jew just because you were born of Jewish parents or because you have gone through the ceremony of circumcision. No, a true Jew is one whose heart is right with God. And true circumcision is not merely obeying the letter of the law; rather, it is a change of heart produced by the Spirit. And a person with a changed heart seeks praise from God, not from people.

True circumcision is a change of heart produced by the Holy Spirit. If only we would commit an equal amount of time to our relationship with Jesus as we do to religion then we would see the marked change that we desire and long for. I can do nothing to save myself. In fact, I can do nothing of worth apart from Jesus Christ. The Spirit of the Lord lives inside of me. By repenting and turning our life daily to the Lord, we allow His Spirit total access to every area of our life for recreation, renewal and full restoration according to the same resurrection power that brought Jesus to life again. Do you feel alive today? Would you like to experience God’s Power? Let the Holy Spirit write God’s Love on your heart fresh and new today. Just turn and He is there.

Philippians 3:17-21(NLT)  Dear brothers and sisters, pattern your lives after mine, and learn from those who follow our example. For I have told you often before, and I say it again with tears in my eyes, that there are many whose conduct shows they are really enemies of the cross of Christ. They are headed for destruction. Their god is their appetite, they brag about shameful things, and they think only about this life here on earth. But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior. He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control.

You’ve got to start somewhere. In I Samuel 10:9, Saul didn’t just turn but he started. What are you waiting for? Are you afraid? Apprehensive? Unsure? What is keeping you from just one step of faith? The starting line is faith. The finish line is called hope. Faith shows that we believe in what we hope for to run the race without seeing the finish line first. (Hebrews 11:1) I don’t even know where it is I just believe that if I run the course, I will arrive there at some point. Saul didn’t just turn but he started. Hebrews 11:6 indicates it is impossible to please God. Faith is a movement that requires motion rather than emotion. (James 2:17-18) If doesn’t matter how loud I profess that I believe, if I do nothing I am only fooling myself. For in just a little while, the Coming One will come and not delay. And my righteous ones will live by faith. But I will take no pleasure in anyone who turns away.” But we are not like those who turn away from God to their own destruction. We are the faithful ones, whose souls will be saved.” (Hebrews 10:37-39)

Philippians 3:12-14 (NLT)  I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. 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.

For those who do not know the story of Saul, he would forfeit his crown to David due to disobedience. Funny how that happens sometimes. We think we are following the Lord but somehow become distracted, disillusioned or detoured. There is the idea in the church today that grace is all we need to see the Lord. Live how you want. Do what you want. Go in any direction that you see fit. You don’t have to follow Jesus to get into heaven. Everyone gets a trophy for just playing the game. No, no, no.

Many, many, too many years ago, my dad and I went to see our favorite football team play in a bowl game. It was the first time I attended a college football game. We stood the entire time. The game was close and exciting. When the fourth quarter timer ran out, the score was tied. Everyone began to gather their things and leave the stands, the roaring crowd was now silent. I didn’t know that the rules didn’t allow for overtime. The game ended in a tie. I have never been so disappointed. After all that, nothing. No winner. No loser. Just a bunch of frustrated and letdown people, I cannot imagine how the players felt after laying their lives down on the field and fighting to the finish to discover that there would be no celebration of victory or agony of defeat. It was as if we all just wasted, three hours of our life. Life doesn’t end in a tie. Everyone does not get a trophy for participating. You live forever or die eternally. There is a prize but it requires change now. Just as those kids had to practice and win many games before the bowl game, we live our daily life to the Glory of God to see Him face-to-face. There is not a wasted moment. No effort to turn and repent or start walking by faith is overlooked or discrediting as small or insufficient. Each one is heavily rewarded as His Glory is manifested in our life. Ready for change today? Will you turn? Repentance removes the barriers of our life and allowing us to face Jesus just a little more. Faith is the steps through life to get to where He is. You have to start somewhere. You must begin sometime. Why not today? I am ready for change. Lord, I am ready to be changed.

Philippians 1:10-11 (NLT) For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return. May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation—the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ[a]—for this will bring much glory and praise to God.

Be Greater

Be Greater

I John 4:4 (NLT) But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.

 

Need a pep talk today? Me too. Sometimes as believers who are constantly challenged to have greater faith and confident hope, our humanity becomes overwhelmed in the reality of the endeavor or gravity of the problem. Climbing the mountain, praying it will move, but not looking down leads us to a place greater than our courage. It is higher than our hope. It is massive compared to our motivation. If just for a moment we choose to look down, it is overwhelming. Paralyzing fear overtakes us. What if we fall? Oh, my dear but what if you fly?

 

I belong to God. I am His Child. I have already won the victory in every engagement I encounter. The Spirit of the Living God lives in me confirming these things. His Spirit is greater than any other spirit in the world today. My desire is to be greater to live in the realm of hope and never look back or peer down. I am only human so on those days that I am disobedient or rebel. You know those times that rather than looking at Jesus, my eyes are fixed on the wind and waves, I must choose to be greater. I am an overcomer hidden in a broken human form. God is alive and well inside of me looking for ways to manifest in my life. He pursues me with goodness and unfailing love just waiting for an opportunity to release it in my life. I must be greater. Isn’t this a contradiction? Not really.

 

John 3:30-31 (NLT) He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less. He has come from above and is greater than anyone else. We are of the earth, and we speak of earthly things, but he has come from heaven and is greater than anyone else.

 

Does being greater contradict these verses? Not at all, it is confirmation of the transforming power of God and wonderworking power of the Jesus’ Blood. It implies that in laying down my pride and power over my existence that Christ in me will become greater which means every promise and purpose for my life can now be fulfilled just like He promised because I am no longer at enmity with God. Through right standing through the Grace of Jesus, I am free to become like Him. It is in the yielding of our life to the Lord that His Power is perfected in us and magnified through us. As I become less and less, Jesus becomes greater in my life.

 

The potter will always be greater than the clay. (Isaiah 29:16) Pride tells us otherwise as we decide to mold and shape our life into what we want it to be with a touch of Christ here and there. What happens is a misshapen, dysfunctional and non-useful life that cannot do what it sets out to do because of conflict. His Ways are not like mine. His Thoughts always higher. I can be greater but it begins by being less.

 

Luke 6:39-40 (NLT) Then Jesus gave the following illustration: “Can one blind person lead another? Won’t they both fall into a ditch? Students are not greater than their teacher. But the student who is fully trained will become like the teacher.

 

I will never be greater than Jesus. The student cannot be greater than the teacher. But through understanding and knowledge turned to wisdom, the student can become like the teacher. There is a fine line here to be observed. Any time we think or believe that we can “do” something for God, we fall into the trap of self-perceived greatness which is called pride. If you think God needs you – you are wrong. The only power that you have over sin is Jesus Christ. He is the One who establishes our right-standing with God that allows us to enter the Kingdom. We cannot earn it in any way, shape or form. We must simply believe that He is greater in all things and seek to do His Will. God is greater than my feelings. (I John 3:20) It doesn’t matter how great I think I am. There is always that moment when I realize the error and folly in my thinking and come to the realization that I am nothing without Jesus.

 

John the Baptist was the forerunner of Jesus Christ. He did many things that Jesus would do. He said many of the same things. He even baptized like the Lord would do but only with water. Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, of all who ever lived none is greater than John the Baptist.” Jesus admired John. But wait there is more, “Yet even the least person in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he is!” Simply put, John had not made Heaven yet. According to the Matthew Henry Commentary, Jesus was simply pointing out that John was still just a man though he possessed the Power of God. His perfection would come in his acceptance to Heaven because only then could he worship, serve and love God as he should. We must advance the Kingdom of Heaven forcefully. Evil advances many ways. Pride is the root that claims victim inside the church and within congregations. Those who do not need, desire and pursue God’s Grace every single day are worthless to the Kingdom and live apart from it.

 

John 15:12-14 (NLT) This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.

 

There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friend. I must lay down my life to Jesus Christ to become greater than I am today. It is in the total sacrifice and surrender of self that His Grace becomes sufficient for me and His Power can work in me and through me every single day. It is not me exalting myself but in the exaltation of Christ that others see something of worth that they value and need. Laying down my life will never ever be comfortable. It is how we take up our cross and follow Jesus. To decide that this world holds nothing of worth for me but Kingdom has it all requires transformation and transportation to greater heights of faith and more deeper presence to secure our hope.

 

Psalm 71:20-21 (NLT) You have allowed me to suffer much hardship, but you will restore me to life again and lift me up from the depths of the earth. You will restore me to even greater honor and comfort me once again.

 

Are you struggling today? Did you dare to look down or around and not you are scared that your faith has taken you too far? Is hope becoming a bit shaky and unstable? Good! It is in those times of God’s Gentle or Not-So-Gentle Undoing that we find more grace and become greater. His Power works best in our weakness. We must become weak to be made strong. It is when we come to the end of ourselves yet still manage to take one more step that our faith grows a little more and hope secures itself to Christ again.

 

2 Corinthians 2:7-8 (NLT)  Shouldn’t we expect far greater glory under the new way, now that the Holy Spirit is giving life?

 

The Lord is inviting us to seek the greater glory that was promised to us. Knowledge of the Greatness of God calls us to do greater things. Solomon built a greater temple in the revelation of Greater God. (2 Chronicles 2:5-6) Haggai prophesied of an even greater temple that was coming. (Haggai 2:9) The greater temple is comprised of living stones attached to the Cornerstone who is Jesus Christ. To know the Greatness of God and choose to live in it is a harrowing task that yields the biggest reward. I must know that God is greater than any other god in order to operate in the fullness of such a revelation. (Psalm 135:5) Nathanael knew that Jesus was the Messiah instantly when Jesus told him that He saw the man sitting by the tree. Jesus went on to challenge Nathanael to take this little bit of faith and be greater. (John 1:50-51) What will it take for you to become greater today?

 

Hebrews 3:1-3 (NLT) And so, dear brothers and sisters who belong to God and are partners with those called to heaven, think carefully about this Jesus whom we declare to be God’s messenger and High Priest. For he was faithful to God, who appointed him, just as Moses served faithfully when he was entrusted with God’s entire house. But Jesus deserves far more glory than Moses, just as a person who builds a house deserves more praise than the house itself. For every house has a builder, but the one who built everything is God.

 

God’s Greatness lives in us and is looking for a way out. Jesus said that those who believe in Him would do greater things. Are you doing greater things? Are miracles happening around you? Do you find sin less enticing? Do you feel a tug in your gut when you fail or fall short? We belong to God. We are partners with Him for life. Jesus is our Bridegroom. We are to remain in Him and He will live in us. The Holy Spirit represents God’s Holy Inhabitation of His People. As we live to honor this partnership and glorify the Greatness of God something happens to us. Building a life based on the Greatness of God makes the Holy Spirit at home in us. As we continue to defy the enemy choosing to build rather than abandon or teardown, His Greatness is manifested in our life. It is then we discover that decreasing is not a bad thing because His Greatness is better than life. Jesus deserves all the glory and in exchange He makes us great.

 

John 14:12-13 (NLT) “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father.

 

To be greater, my life must consistently point to Jesus Christ. Glorying God alone releases His Power in my life so that it can reach the lost, dying, broken and hurting. I can do nothing apart from Him. As I renew my commitment to walk by faith and not by sight, it is with the profound desire to go deeper within God’s Inner Sanctuary to the place where His People dwell. I want to know Him more to day. My desire is that my life effectively represent Jesus Christ and not myself. As I continue to decrease, His Greatness will continue to increase in my life. I will influence others to know the Greater God that I have hidden in my heart. My hope will become stronger and less willing to stop waiting or give way under pressure. I desire nothing more than a total manifestation of God’s Power in my life to transform the lives of others by His Goodness and Love. I can only do that by pressing into His Presence. Establishing His Greatness over every feeling I possess. Jesus, I ask you to make us greater today. Move me out of the way, so that You can have Your Way in my life today, tomorrow and always. Nothing is worth losing my soul. I forfeit mediocrity for the miraculous today. King Jesus, I declare that You are Lord of my life and greater than any challenge, problem or battle I may face. You have overcome. I will overcome by the Greatness of who lives in me. I ask you to seal my heart and mind with the Greatness of Your Name! Holy Spirit give me confidence and boldness in all things that I may glorify the Father and Son in all things! I have total and absolute victory today just because You are greater

 

Hebrews 6:16-19 (NLT) Now when people take an oath, they call on someone greater than themselves to hold them to it. And without any question that oath is binding. God also bound himself with an oath, so that those who received the promise could be perfectly sure that he would never change his mind. So God has given both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary.

Old Planks

Old Planks

Psalm 92:12-15 (NIV)

The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, “The Lord is upright; he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.”

 

Our church has been blessed with a new building to hold services. It was in very poor condition when purchased and in need of renovation. The saints of God pulled together on a mission to create a place of worship, to welcome the lost, to provide healing to the sick, shelter for the broken, and a sanctuary for His Glory. Endless nights of toil and sweat have produced tears among the exhausted workers, but the diamond in the rough is now shining as it is brought back to life. The image of a tree has become the logo for the new establishment. Like a tree. We all want to be like a tree lush and full by the stream of Living Water. Who doesn’t want to thrive like the olive tree in the House of God? There is a process to our purpose. It has been brought into the light.

 

The wall behind the platform where the Word of God will be preached and worship fully expressed is covered in old planks. Cut from pallets nailed together that once bore loads too much to carry now delivered. Running my hand across them, they are weathered and worn. Sometimes I feel that way, but look where they are. Day and night in the Presence of God living in His House forever. One day, this church will be forgotten burned as the world spins to the end. However, in this moment, on this day, they are an inspiration to the weary Christian. To the believer who is broken, they shout it is well. To the one whose hope is waning and their faith is running thin – they yell hang! You are almost there. If those planks could speak to us today, they might say, “Yes, there is pain in the process! But look at us now!”

 

The righteous will grow and flourish planted in the House of God. They will bear fruit even in old age. They will stay fresh and green proclaiming the Glory of God. I want to remain in right standing with the Lord, My God always. However, in the process of purpose, it becomes unclear this hope we have in Jesus. Those times of heated refinement when it is too hot to breathe in the inescapable blaze of testing and trials, where is our God? Why has He forsaken us? When will He return? God is with us. He is in us. He is reshaping us and making us who and what we need to be to live in His Presence forever and prosper in His Kingdom just as He planned. We not miss this life or what we gained here. The glory of past achievements will not be as wonderful as we thought compared to His Goodness and Glory released in fulfillment. When we see who we are in the Light of Who He is rather than what we have become.

 

I Corinthians 15:37-39 (NIV)

When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else.  But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body. Not all flesh is the same: People have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another.

 

We have the best intentions. The Lord has a plan. His Plan is handwritten from beginning to end before a person takes in their first breath. He places Eternity in our heart so we will seek Him and find His Plan when our best intentions fail leaving us dissatisfied and unfulfilled. You will never find contentment or complete satisfaction outside of Jesus Christ. When we sow our life, it is like planting a tiny seed. We call that seed faith and as it grows, it will require a great deal of patience for it may seem quite slow. From the beginning, a person will develop a set of expectations. They decide who they think they are to become in Christ and what they will do for Him. Some of this is revelation knowledge but then some of it is human, too. Nevertheless as we take God’s Word – His Seed – planting it ever so deep into our soul. We wait with some expectation for it to become something far greater. God’s Word is seed to us containing all the potential for our life. (Matthew 13) The Parable of the Sower tells the fate of some seeds, but then there are the ones that take root and grow. Jesus is the Word of God. (John 1:14) He is the seed in us. When God spoke to Abraham about his “seed”, He was not talking about Isaac but about Jesus. Jesus would be his seed. (Galatians 3:16) Christ in us makes us Abraham’s seed with faith that makes all things possible to those who believe God at His Word and are willing to endure the process of productivity require to grow, develop, mature and prosper in life.

 

Psalm 1:1-3 (NIV)

Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers.

 

Right from the start salvation yields large dividends in our life as the Lord nurtures and grows that tiny seed into some faith in us. We see some things turn around and perhaps begin to make better choices. New growth buds and sprouts in our life. Things are going pretty good. Our lives are better than we deserve and we become content and complacent in this new thing called comfort. Rooted and grounded in God’s Love by faith we are beginning to notice that thing called purpose getting stronger and bolder within us. It is such a refreshing place in life tapped into that Living Water. You don’t want anything to change but it must. You do not want to leave but you will. You don’t know what is coming but it does.

 

John 15:1-3 (NIV)

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.”

 

Why must we be pruned? Is refinement really a must? Absolutely. God loves us too much to lower His Standards for our personal and temporary comfort. He desires us to be completely blessed not partially appeased. He cuts off everything in our life that does not bear fruit to make room for more. It’s hard to think about it when all you can feel is the pain of the cut. God’s Word is a two-edged sword. (Hebrews 4:12) Stay in the Word. You will feel the stick of piercing as with exact provision the Lord prepares us for prosperity body, mind and spirit.

 

Like the tree must be cut down and sent to the mill to be processed into planks that will be nailed into pallets to carry some loads, the Lord prepares and process His People always in love but not always absent in pain. He circumcises our heart. (Deuteronomy 10:16) This is when our religion is cut down to reveal a relationship with Christ. No longer can we do anything other than submit to the Master’s Plan. Though evidence of His Great Love, it becomes a time of testing. We will live and not die if the Truth remains in us. If our life is connected to the Resurrection and Life – Jesus Christ. (John 11:25)

 

Galatians 5:22Somet-25 (NIV)

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

 

Pruning allows a tree to bear fruit. In a spiritual sense, those things cut from us allow the Spirit to prosper in us. We must endure the process of God in order for the Fruit of God’s Spirit to grow freely and abundantly. Fruit doesn’t stay on the vine or it will die never fulfilling its purpose. It must be cut to be consumed. Think about it. If we never released our fruit, we would be rotting and stinking trees. Living in Florida, we once had a house built in the midst of an orange grove. Each house had one tree in the front and six in the back neatly in rows. Those trees had been there for years and produced way more fruit than we could eat. Who could we share it with? All our neighbors had the same problem? When the fruit over ripened, it would fall to the ground and begin to rot. The sweet orange blossom sent turned into the sour pungency that attracted the biting fruit flies who ate it and tried to bite us. God desires our life to be a blessing to more than just us. He allows our fruit to be sampled by others and consumed by the needy. We feel the pull and yet sometimes fail to respond. God will cut us down in order to revive us again.

 

Romans 12:1-5 (NIV)

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.

 

There are many steps climbing the mountain by faith. Glory to glory requires many levels of pain. Victory to victory is not without costly encounters. We come to the Lord by faith that must be tested and tried to be found true – not by God but by you. We must know what we believe and live as one. To become a living sacrifice requires giving our all. The seed gave way to the tree which gave up its life to become wood made into a pallet but that’s not the end. Sometimes we lose sight that there is far greater purpose in life than what it seems to be right now. The younger the Christian the more passionate the cause; however, the shorter the distance until they are on their weak knees. Each test made us stronger yet broken inside. Each trial burned away the insufficiencies to reveal faith that seems so small. Our significance is not in what life looks like around us but who we have become inside of us. Those pallets were ripped from their labor. They became yoked to Christ. Did you know that there were cedar plank walls in the Temple? (I Kings 6:9) Each strip of wood with all its marks and dings made it to the place we all long for. To live in the Presence of God forevermore.

 

God is transforming us friends. Not like we would do it, but according to a blessing far greater than we could even think to ask for. He sees more in us than we sees in ourselves and loves us too much to leave us like we are. Jesus in us is the seed that grows into prosperity. I must decrease so that He can increase in my life. (John 3:30) It’s funny but I have seen this process in some of the laborers preparing the House of God for service. After weeks of working their regular jobs and devoting the rest of their time preparing the House of God, they feel like worn out wood fit for burning. However, what I see are people on purpose. Those who God loves too much to leave behind. Martha’s who are being turned into Mary’s. Joseph’s who are about to emerge. God didn’t cut down the tree without purpose. He didn’t rip it apart because it was not producing some fruit. The process of refinement leads to refreshing and renewal. It leads to revival. Why? Because in our weakness, we become strong. Grace is sufficient when “I” cannot do it anymore. (2 Corinthians 12:9) There is a promise for those who are broken. It gives God the opportunity to move in closer, deeper and greater than before. (Psalm 34:18)

 

Psalm 27:4 (NIV)

One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.

 

One thing. What is the one thing you desire from the Lord? I used to want many things. I had a long list of demands for things that I thought would make me complete lacking no good thing. I quickly made it through that list and did not find what I was looking for before and even after I was saved. It was when I was complete broken and my heart shattered that I realized I had the one thing in me. The one thing that I needed to be saved, fulfilled and whole. The one thing I need to have a brand new life. The one thing I needed to be complete lacking no good thing. Running my hands over the rough edges of the planks, they are beautiful. Carrying constructed together with all their variations of size, color and texture make a beautiful masterpiece when alone they were fit to be burned. I believe that is exactly what God is doing in us. Bringing us together to create a Kingdom that is beautifully one just as He planned. Have you found your place friend? Yeah, me either. At least I have come to recognize and embrace the process which leads to peace and to dwell in the House of the Lord all the days of my life. This is where I desire to be so I will surrender and sacrifice my life to get there.

 

Psalm 23:5-6 (NIV)

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.