True Bliss

True Bliss

Psalm 119:1-5 (NLT) Joyful are people of integrity, who follow the instructions of the Lord. Joyful are those who obey his laws and search for him with all their hearts. They do not compromise with evil, and they walk only in his paths. You have charged us to keep your commandments carefully. Oh, that my actions would consistently reflect your decrees!

“Where ignorance is bliss, ‘tis folly to be wise.” (Thomas Gray) Is ignorance truly bliss? Is it true that what you don’t know won’t hurt you? This is not a new thought. In fact, the saying goes all the way back to the eighteenth century. It is valid that not knowing something may often be more comfortable than knowing it, but that doesn’t make it harmless. In fact, true bless comes in knowing and understanding the Love of God which gives us the capacity to receive it. To know the Word is to know Jesus and that changes everything in our life. Knowledge must become wisdom to be effective in our life. It must form our thoughts, guide our steps and determine our actions. God has given us careful instructions to follow. To ignore them may give us some level of comfort but will not lead us to the joy and fulfillment that all are seeking. In fact, to live a random life without purpose will only lead to disappointment. We were created with destiny in mind and eternity in our heart. Faith pushes the limit of human expectation to the realm of hope. There must be more to life than this. To pursue the knowledge of God and find His Way will always lead us to true bliss.

The word “bliss” means supreme happiness, utter joy and complete contentment. It is also described as the “joy of heaven.” A state of nirvana defined by freedom from and oblivion to pain, worry and the pressures of the external world to find internal inexpressible joy and overwhelming peace. To know the Lord and seek His Wisdom brings us such fulfillment in life. There will be trials and temptations in life. We will experience suffering, sorrow and even betrayal. There will be attacks and abuse. The unexplainable events that destroy good people while evil prospers. The world will not change because revival comes. People will change and the Kingdom will expand through the hearts and minds of God’s People who decide to live in the joy of the Lord and His Bliss rather than choosing to remain ignorant and call it bliss.

To desire God’s Hand with no interest in His Heart will never lead to anything of worth. It may fill our homes with things and give us influence to those around us but it will never cause our heart to know contentment, our mind to experience perfect peace or create steadfast hope in every situation. Less of me and more of Him is the only way to fill those voids in us. The cracks and crevices of broken hearts that only the healing balm of the Anointed One can ever make whole again. Our convictions will not change until faith becomes logical. The logic and legitimacy of faith is found in God’s Word. Jesus is the Word.

Hosea 4:6 (NLT) My people are being destroyed because they don’t know me. Since you priests refuse to know me, I refuse to recognize you as my priests. Since you have forgotten the laws of your God, I will forget to bless your children.

When social media came into being, my oldest son wanted an account. My only stipulation was that I was added as a “friend” and that I had his password at all times. Complete invasion of privacy…no it’s called parental privilege. The rules have carried on through all five kids regarding social media. As long as I am paying for the phone, device and/or data, I have the right to go through your accounts. I had a colleague who was having struggles with a teenager. He was seeking advice. I was privy to the social media accounts of his children and suggested that he do the same. Without sharing a single detail, he and his wife would see all they needed to see to know the challenges of their children. He quickly objected as it would be an invasion of their privacy. Kids will be kids and some things are better unknown. A few years later one of his children perished in a car accident due to intoxication. People are destroyed because of a lack of knowledge or as translated here “because they don’t know me.” We must not put our heads in the sand with an ostrich approach to life because the present dangers are all around us.

Proverbs 2:1-8 (NLT) My child, listen to what I say, and treasure my commands. Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding. Cry out for insight, and ask for understanding. Search for them as you would for silver; seek them like hidden treasures. Then you will understand what it means to fear the Lord, and you will gain knowledge of God. For the Lord grants wisdom! From his mouth come knowledge and understanding. He grants a treasure of common sense to the honest. He is a shield to those who walk with integrity. He guards the paths of the just and protects those who are faithful to him.

We must treasure God’s Word. It is more valuable than any precious gem or metal. The Word of God changes our heart and mind to align it with God. If fills the voids, making us whole again so He can fill our life with good things just as He has promised. We must search for the valuable nuggets of truth. Sow seeds of knowledge to grow, develop and mature into wisdom. We must do so as though our very life depends on it because it does. The Lord grants us wisdom. He has given us His Spirit to teach, guide and mature us with complete understanding. This is the common sense that keeps us honest. Integrity becomes the shield that allows us to keep walking head up and eyes facing front when nothing in the natural lines up with the supernatural. The pathway of truth is the Word. You cannot follow Jesus and not know the Word. The two are one. He protects the faithful not the faithless.

Psalm 119:6-8 (NLT) Then I will not be ashamed when I compare my life with your commands. As I learn your righteous regulations, I will thank you by living as I should! I will obey your decrees. Please don’t give up on me!

Proverbs 18:15 says that “intelligent people are always ready to learn. Their ears are open for knowledge.” God is always speaking to His People. Constantly calling, wooing and reminding us of His Love and Faithfulness. He pursues us with goodness. Our life must be lived in comparison to Christ in order to become with Him. Why? Quite simply, Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. He doesn’t change therefore to become one – knowledge and understanding must come together to form wisdom that completes our union with Him. I must decrease so that He may increase in my life for fulfillment’s sake. In order to be, have and do all that He promised means that I must compare my life to His Commands and learn His Righteous Regulations. This will give weight to the anchor marked hope that keeps me steadfast in the storm. The greatest thing about God is that He already knows me inside and out yet still loves me with unconditional love and purity.

Ephesians 1:7-9 (NLT) He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding. God has now revealed to us his mysterious will regarding Christ—which is to fulfill his own good plan.

The Lord has showered us with kindness along with “all wisdom and understanding.” God gave us faith and then a way to apply it. Trusting God is to accept a carefully constructed plan that is already prescribed for us. It is to receive an abundance that will give us a rich and satisfying life from the inside out. As our soul prospers so will every other aspect of our life. Our soul prospers as faith grows into absolute confidence and total trust in the Lord. Our life has amazing possibilities. It is full of potential. We were created on purpose with a purpose that no one else can accomplish. Our truest sense of being is fully described in God’s Word. He tells of His Unfailing Love. He reminds of the sufficiency of His Grace. He promises to give us new mercy each morning. He has already provided everything we need. He is making a masterpiece of all the broken pieces of our life. All of this and so much more belongs to us. It can only be discovered by those who value wisdom more than anything else and seek it out. Ignorance is not bliss. It is death for the soul. A lack of knowledge is a dream killer. Those who know the Lord will find it easier to trust Him more and more. We must carefully evaluate our life. Do away with ignorance. Everyone has areas of their life left alone out fear or doubt. These are the strongholds, obstacles and barriers of blessing. God tells us if we lack wisdom in any area of our life that all we must do is ask Him for it and He graciously pours it into our heart and mind for application. Truth is bliss to those who know Jesus. It is the freedom source to those who know and love Him.

Ephesians 1:18 (NLT) I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance.

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What’s the Point?

What the Point

Romans 5:1-5 (ESV) Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance and endurance produces character and character produces hope and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

What’s the point? You know you have asked yourself the question at least once along the way of life. What’s the point of trying? Giving? Forgiving? Starting over? Disappointments are a dime a dozen. Faith seems futile in the absence of logic. Hope elusive in the chaotic degradation of the world. Yet still there are those who strive each day to plant just a tiny seed of faith and stretch to see a glimmer of hope. Romans 5 begins THEREFORE SINCE WE HAVE BEEN JUSTIFIED BY FAITH (all caps all mine). Our predisposed position in life due to the justification offered by faith and believing gives way to peace with God through Jesus Christ. This is the point of access. Suddenly the faithless and hopeless generation born of sin has been pardoned and set free to become a new creation and accept a brand new life. No matter who you are or where you came to Christ from – this statement is about you. Therefore, since (you) have been justified by faith, (you) have peace with God through (your) Lord Jesus Christ. The first step of purpose is the point of salvation. The moment in time when our old identity was exchanged for a new one – Child of the Living God and Member of His Kingdom.

You will never know the point of a God-seeking, faith-driven, hope-full life until you see yourself and your existence from God’s Perspective. God created us and has already plotted our life according to His Plan. It is a series of carefully orchestrated steps that go through valleys, around the bend and over the mountain with seasons set forth to produce an abundance in each one. When our focus is based on what we can see rather than on what we know about God’s Plan – it is easy to say, “What’s the point?” Throwing up our hands and walking away serves our pride and preference but perseverance always leads us to purpose and promise.

The Plan

Jeremiah 29:10-14 (ESV) “For thus says the Lord: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.”

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and hope.” Oh, how many times have these words been recited and never fully realized. To keep this in context, the promise required a journey. To bring you “back” from exile. It had a time frame. When seventy years are completed. God has a plan. It requires a journey. It has an appointed time. You also have a requirement. “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” Sometimes reading part of the verse only gives us the promise and by not reading the rest – the process is missed. There is always a process in God. God is transforming us from the inside out. Jesus Christ is inside of us. New life is birthed from the inside.

Psalm 139 tells us that our days are prerecorded. Romans 8 and Ephesians 1 informs us of our predestination to become Children of God. To be adopted to Himself through His Son – Jesus according to His Purpose and His Will. Jesus is the Alpha and Omega. He is the Beginning and the End. Our Savior is the Author and Finisher of faith that puts us and keeps us in right standing with God our Father. Everything is going according to His Plan even when our plans fall apart. God’s Sovereignty is our security. It means He does not lie or change His Mind because He is perfect in ALL of His Ways. God’s Spirit seals us as sons and daughters of God cultivating good fruit to feed our starving soul until we hunger and thirst no more. Friends – God has a plan. There is a point to all that you are going through today.

The Path

Psalm 37:23-27 (ESV) The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the Lord upholds his hand. I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread. He is ever lending generously, and his children become a blessing. Turn away from evil and do good; so shall you dwell forever.

Let’s plunge into the deep for a moment and think about this – what if God really does order our steps ahead of time? In other words, what if you have not strayed from the Lord? What if your mistakes were on purpose? What if the whole point of everything you have been through was to lead you to Jesus? Once Jesus Christ came to reside in you – His Power and Authority vested in Him by God the Father became your power and authority, too. THEREFORE…nothing can ever separate you from the Love of God, no weapon formed you will prosper, greater is He that is in you, and you have hope that can NEVER lead to disappointment which means by faith you always win, live victoriously and overcome.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. He was with you then, is in you now and will be with you forever. The Plan gave you the Person of Christ to navigate the path to His Promise which is our purpose in God. If this is true, you do not ever have to experience a lack of anything again because you are full of Him. It says that the righteous are not forsaken and they do not have to beg. In order to live the life promised all that is required is to turn away from evil and do good – in one word – repentance. It’s not about turning you around – it’s about turning our life over to Jesus Christ. It doesn’t mean you will change position in life but you will be positioned in the Kingdom.

The Process

2 Corinthians 5:16-19 (ESV)  From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.

The process of redemption is achieved through reconciliation. Repentance turns us back to Jesus Christ. However, if there is no reconciliation the relationship falls apart. Our calling is to become a new creation in Christ Jesus. To stop looking at our existence through human eyes and take on a spiritual perspective. Christ does the work. We only give Him something to work with and through. To reconcile means restore friendly relations, to coexist in harmony, become compatible, and make consistent with one another. The process is in full operation – it is our choice to participate. Those who do not participate do not get the prize or promise. It is in our complete reconciliation of our life to Christ that purpose is fulfilled and destiny released in the life of God’s People. Simple obedience offers radical change that blesses those willing to engage in it.

The Purpose

but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance and endurance produces character and character produces hope and hope does not put us to shame…

James 1:2-4 (ESV) Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

What’s the point? Perfect, complete and lacking in nothing. God has already provided it all. Jesus came to give us a rich and satisfying life. The purpose of the plan, path and process is to achieve His Purpose. We would have settled for less so long ago. Our lack of discipline gives way to substitutions when times get tough. Doubt and insecurity makes us question God’s Goodness due to our inability to do good all the time. Disbelief leads to questions and scrutiny of the Truth set forth by God’s Word. Delays and detours all have a place in God’s Perfect Plan. You cannot miss God! He is always with us – will never forsake us and pursues us with unfailing love and overflowing goodness. God has ordered our steps. Every single one is part of the course toward something good. God uses every detail of our life for good. His Glory is ready to fill every empty vessel poured out and ready for His Love. Your life is not pointless. God is always on point.

John 10:10 (ESV) The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

Fullness

Empty Mason jars

John 1:16 (ESV) For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.

I am struck by the thought of the fullness of God. A perfect God complete in every way cannot impart parts and pieces of Himself without defiling His Entirety. Forfeiting His Sovereignty. We are given His Fullness. All of Him. The Lord withholds nothing from us. Reading God’s Word requires careful consideration, mindful meditation and ongoing contemplation. The truths within it are so simple that it is incomprehensible to the complicated minds of convoluted thinking called the human mind. Experience tempts us to think less about His Word and more about the logical possibilities in life. The consequences ingrained by the teaching of life’s lessons leaving scars on our soul. Yet…it says…right here…”for from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace…”

For from His Fullness…

God cannot impart to us anything that is incomplete. His Divine nature as Creator, Master, and Father will not allow Him to give us less than all. God gives His Fullness to us. Why do believers remain dissatisfied, discontent, diseased and distant? When He sent His Son – Jesus, God knew that He was sending all of Him. Jesus would have to give His All to maintain the Word that He was and is. I know this is deep thinking but we do not serve a shallow God. He doesn’t do things halfway. When He does anything it is to the uttermost. Complete. Lacking nothing…yet we lack something…what are you lacking today? Where do you need the wholeness of God to touch you? Why are you discouraged? Such a feeling exposes the area of our life void of hope and given to fear and doubt. The Lord wants to fill it today with grace upon grace!

Ephesians 1:3-10 (ESV) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing when He chose us BEFORE the foundation of the world. He decided to make us holy and blameless before Him. He decided to love us and predestined us for adoption through His Son, Jesus Christ which means God already knew the cost of loving us and keeping us. The relationship desired uses the term “beloved” which does not imply a lack luster love or desire for us but a full on – all in covenant and term of endearment. God has lavished grace upon us to cover every sin and indiscretion. He knew beforehand exactly how much grace my life would demand for repayment of my sin and gladly gave it. He gave me wisdom and insight so that I may know the mystery of His Will by placing eternity and faith in my heart to consummate into righteousness one day. His Purpose from the beginning was and still is to be one with us.

God decided that He would unite all things (and people) in Him through Christ including things in heaven and things on the earth. We are Kingdom people now while we live on the earth which means access to the life and power of God right here and right now. God gives Himself to us fully and completely through His Son Jesus. There is no partiality in our Perfect God. He is full of grace and mercy – overflowing in unconditional love. It does change. It cannot run out. It is predestined and premeditated for us from the beginning of time.

Ephesians 1:15-22 (ESV) For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

Why are believers still living in lack when God has given us His All? I am amazed at the heart of man to think that his thoughts and ways could be better than the Lord’s – myself included. The times that God sets His Plan in motion and I decided to only take Him up partially. God is not a partial God but we are partial people. God gives us His Fullness in every possible way. It is our inability to give Him all of us that keeps us from receiving the fullness of favor that He has already released to us in Christ Jesus. What about all the times I choose immediate gratification over fulfillment?

Lord, we need the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of our hearts enlightened, that we may know what is the hope to which he has called us, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly place… There is an immeasurable greatness hidden inside of us. His Name is Jesus Christ. He is full of power and life that leads to fulfillment. He doesn’t stop until it is complete.

Fullness means containing all that can be held, filled to the utmost capacity, complete, entire and maximum. This is the life that God has created for us and made possible in His Son, Jesus. His Spirit seals us. We must decrease and allow Christ to increase beginning on the inside until He makes His Way to the outside. You were made for more. You must simply make room for it. The widow women was afraid the collectors would come and take her sons. Her husband, a man of God, departed from this world. All she had was a flask of oil. Oil represents anointing. You are filled with the anointed one. All she had to do was to find empty vessels to fill and the oil kept flowing. It did not stop until she ran out of jars. Let her life be our lesson today. Are we empty vessels? His Fullness needs a place to flow. Make room for more today. You have all the components of a rich, satisfying and abundant life inside of you. Live the life God has for you – there you will find His Fullness.

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

 

Complete

Complete

Romans 15:13 (NLT)  I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Complete. Having all parts or elements. Lacking nothing. Whole. Entire. Full. Finished. Ended. Concluded. Having all the required characteristics, skills or the like. Consummate. Perfect in kind or quality. Thorough. Entire. Total. Undivided. Uncompromised. Unmodified. In Genesis 2, God, the Father, completed creation and then rested in its wholeness and perfection. Sin separated us from encountering God and embracing His Divine Impartation of perfection for us. Jesus Christ, His Son, came to the world and paid the price of sin in full on the Cross. When our Savior and Lord said, “It is finished” the restoration of mankind to God was complete including every description listed above. The salvation of God and impartation of His Grace to humanity is absolutely complete. Those who to accept the grace that has been given and enter into the righteous relationship offered have full and unrestricted access to the Father through the Son. Let that sink in for a few minutes…

The limitation on our life and lack that may be in it is not of God. It is a breach in our trust agreement with Him. How do I know this? Because it says so in the Word of God…our connection with Christ completes us. The Christ in us fills every void left by sin, shame, regret, bad choices, old habits and weakness. His Grace must be enough to complete us or it remains powerless at best. We have faith invested in us to become confident hope that is exercised by trusting Him more. The promise and plan of the Living God for your life is complete. It has all of the elements needed for success. You will lack nothing in His Presence. He makes broken things whole again. You have all the required characteristics, skills and the like as you are created in the image of God who is absolutely perfect in all of His Ways. His Will is to completely fill your life with every good thing that was ordered and ordained for you during conception as He was with you in your mother’s womb. You are not random. God made you intentionally complete and sin tried to destroy His Work. In Christ – His Work becomes a masterpiece.

I Corinthians 13:12-13 (NLT) Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely. Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.

The value of our life is not determined by our current situation or circumstances. Success or failure in life doesn’t determine the ultimate worth of our life. You are priceless. An innocent man, not just any man but the Son of the Living God, died for you. The Living God who decided that you were worth dying for. I could not conceive this until I had children and now grandchildren. I would gladly give my life so that any one of them may live. It would be an easy exchange. I love them with my whole heart. God’s Love for us is exponentially more than a human heart or mind can comprehend. It is perfect.

God is completely in love with you and me. The righteous relationship is not in any way impacted by our past. Grace removes our sin as far as the east is from the west. Trust removes every hindrance from the perfect plan that God preordained for us and predestined us to have. We do not understand the completeness of God for if we did it would be the greatest pursuit of our life. Instead, we work harder and try to make better choices rather than fully relying on the completeness of God to fulfill His Purpose, Plan and Promises for us. We see things imperfectly. We are puzzled by the impossibilities rather than picturing the miracles to come. With partial perspective, comfort zones are carefully constructed because doubt produces fear and insecurities about God’s Perfection and His Intentions for us. God knows me completely and loves me just the same. God’s Love for us is complete and perfect. There is no way to earn or deserve it. God would not set us up for failure when He promised us a future.

Ephesians 1:22-23 (NLT) God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made him head over all things for the benefit of the church. And the church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself.

In order to experience the completeness of God in our life, one must make Christ the Lord of their life. To become one with Him is to engage in fulfillment and completeness offered to us by Jesus Christ. He will gladly fill every area offered in surrender and submission with Himself which becomes the sought after prosperity of man which is not found in the natural but only experienced by a prospering soul. It is our union with Christ that offers true abundance in this life and forever.

Ephesians 3:18-20 (NLT) And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.

What if the problems you are facing and lack you are currently living in is not God withholding anything from you but rather you withholding something from Him? The Love of God offered through Christ offers us completion with fulfillment of life and power. It is accepted humbling through His Grace that works best in our weakness. What if the lack in our life is actually of our own doing? It absolutely is. Oh, please don’t be offended. This is not an accusation but a providential challenge. You work hard. Give generously. Live righteously. Try to be kind. However, if there is no submission and surrender in the form of trusting God in certain areas of life – there will be lack. We must know and believe that God’s Love for us is complete and unconditional. We must live by the truth that nothing can ever separate us from His Love thanks to Jesus. Christ must fill every area of our life to experience His Fulfillment and Completion. We are part of an abundant Kingdom. Our Father is the Living God. He is good. He loves us and withholds nothing from us. Are we ready to receive?

God is able to do and accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. How? His Mighty Power at work is within us. The Christ in us is pressing and prodding us to accept the abundant life that is promised. The barriers and obstacles within us must give way to totally trust and the absolute conviction that God will do exactly as He promised. He will complete our life. We will lack no good thing. We have every spiritual blessing. It is not a God thing. It is a “me” thing if I am not experience such an existence.

Lord, I acknowledge that you are my source of hope in all things. I ask you to fill me completely with joy and peace. I will trust you more today. I receive the overflowing confident hope that faith allows and your Spirit gives in Jesus Name. AMEN!

John 10:10 (NLT) The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.

Perfect Me

Perfect me 2

Psalm 138:8 (NKJV) The Lord will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy, Lord, endures forever; Do not forsake the works of Your hands.

I am not exactly sure when I stumbled across this scripture. All I know is that it has become one of my go-to. When things do not add up to my expectation or jive with the way I interpreted God’s Direction or Timing, this verse instantly comes to mind. When things are unraveling or the world crumbling, “the Lord will perfect that which concerns me…” I must be honest that at first it doesn’t bring the solace one might hope for. It is not easy to swallow or digest at first. How can an imperfect person achieve a perfect way?

Perfect means complete. It means having all the required elements, qualities or characteristics. When the word, perfect, is used as a verb it means to make something completely free from faults or defects. To make complete. “But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” (James 1:4) It doesn’t matter what the situation or circumstances of our life – the Word of God promises the Lord will perfect that which concerns me. His Plan for me is that I will lack nothing but prosper in all things pertaining to life and godliness. His Purpose is in me with enough faith to grow, mature and develop the good fruit that will satisfy my soul. The Lord even promises to make all things work together for good for those who love Him and to those called according to His Purpose. (Romans 8:28) This promise is just before the sweetest of godly convictions that nothing can or will ever separate us from His Love. We have been given perfect love by a perfect God who will perfect all that concerns His Beloved.

Psalm 18:30-32 (NKJV) As for God, His way is perfect; The word of the Lord is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him. For who is God, except the Lord? And who is a rock, except our God? It is God who arms me with strength, And makes my way perfect.

The egocentric nature of humanity wants to believe it plays some role in perfection. The mind, will and emotions embrace pride that can be the greatest foe against faith. Pride tells us not to surrender in weakness or to submit to God’s Authority. However, if God’s Way is perfect – it is surrender and submission is required which comes at the end of self. The Word of God is proven. No word that He has ever spoken or given breath to will return to Him empty of purpose. Jesus Christ is the Word of God who came wrapped in flesh. (John 1) To fully embrace completion and allow the Lord to perfect that which concerns me comes through the bond formed with His Son – Jesus Christ, the Word.

Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. He is the access point to God the Father. No one can enter the Presence of God apart from the Son or uninhabited by His Spirit. The Holy Spirit marks us for completion as the sons and daughters of God. The only way to achieve the promise of perfection is to trust God. We must learn to live in the process of perfection with persistence, perseverance and patience knowing and believing that His Way is perfect and His Word proven for my life.

God arms us with strength by His Grace. His Power is manifested in our weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9) Perfection is achieved only by oneness with God the Father through Jesus Christ the Son and filled with His Spirit. All three have vital roles in completion. The trinity is a partnership. When the rich, young ruler came to Jesus in Matthew 19, he had one simple question, “What good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?” Jesus told him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” The man went away sad and dejected because he had great possessions. God knows our weakness. He knows the imperfections. He sees right through us. He wants to take those things produced by doubt such as fear, worry, stress and anxiety in order to replace them with perfect peace. The kind of peace that can only be found in total trust and sweet surrender of this life for the Kingdom of God and eternal life.

Isaiah 26:2-4 (NKJV) Open the gates, that the righteous nation which keeps the truth may enter in. You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.  Trust in the Lord forever, for in Yah, the Lord, is everlasting strength.

God will keep you in perfect peace when your mind is stayed on Him. Those who trust the Lord will be able to wait on Him while He perfects or completes all that concerns them. Trust is the shelter and refuge provided by Jesus Christ, the rock of our salvation. The one who takes our weakness giving us enough grace to exude His Power despite our imperfections and weakness. God is creating a masterpiece of all the broken pieces. He takes each one and makes something good out of it. He gives us beauty for ashes. Think about that for a moment. We have a fire pit in our backyard. When our inky black Labrador retriever was a puppy – she would dig in the ashes like a sand pit. Sitting by the backdoor waiting to come in, she was unaware that she was covered in gray dust and a complete mess. Do we come to God like that sometimes? After we play in the remains of our past, broken life or tried to make something useful much less beautiful out of our mess? Have you ever tried to make a log out of ashes? Impossible. Who would even try? The Lord says that He will give us beauty for ashes. (Isaiah 61) He is perfect in all of His Ways. Trust allows God to make something beautiful out of every broken thing in our life. Not just beautiful but perfect! We must only believe enough to trust Him in His Way and at His Word.

Philippians 3:12-14 (NKJV) Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

I am not perfect. I will never experience perfection outside of complete oneness with Jesus Christ. To fully embrace and totally trust His Way by following Him every day not just some days. To believe the Lord and take Him at His Word even on those days when nothing He spoke is evident in the circumstances of my life – to hold that truth as my confident hope. To continually sow seeds of faith in the firm foundation of Jesus Christ requires more effort and energy than I have as a human and must completely deplete me of self to be completely filled with Christ. Less of me and more of Him must be my daily commitment. Otherwise the life I live is not authentic but rather a façade for others. God has promised to give me His Strength. I must be weak to receive it. He has given me His Word – I must believe it. God has given me His Son – I must follow Him. The Lord has given me His Perfection – by grace I can receive it when I learn to trust Him more. Today I press toward the goal for the prize of God’s upward call in Christ Jesus that takes me out of brokenness and worthlessness to live in complete confidence that He who began this work in me will finish it. He indeed perfects that which concerns me.

Romans 12:1-2 (NKJV)  I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Working in Me

Work in Me

Philippians 2:12-13 (NLT) Dear friends, you always followed my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away, it is even more important. Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.

“Work out your own salvation. Do not depend on others.” Buddha

There is more to the story of salvation than to escape the ramparts of hell. To engage in an experience of repentance and leave the same person with the same problems with a lack of purpose is a great tragedy considering the deposit and investment that is conceived in that moment. We live in a visible world serving an invisible God. His Presence surrounds us and His Spirit lives in us but the tangible being is not so evident. We must work hard to show the results of our salvation through love-driven, passion-infused, reverent and radical obedience to the Living God. The words of Buddha hold true even if not the intent. We must work out our own salvation independent of people and fully reliant on the Lord. God is working in us even before our first encounter with Christ leading us to that moment. Once we have found our Savior and Lord the continuation of our life has the potential to be powerful and purposeful in every single endeavor because Jesus is now inside of us.

We must make a personal investment in the potential of our future. But the Work of God in us is not an external effort but rather an internal transformation. It is not an act of doing but rather a work of becoming. The work completed on the Cross by Jesus was enough to provide all the grace needed for the Power of God to fully finish that which He predestined and preordained for us. All the blessings and promises are predesigned with our only act of obedience to fulfillment. We must work God’s Plan so it will work in us. The distinguishing factor in all of this is to keep our relationship with Jesus Christ who is the Way, the Truth and the Life of every purpose and promise rather than becoming a willing participant of religion that is consumed by what we do more than who we are.

Mind, will and emotions are pivotal to the change of God beginning to take over within us. We must sacrifice them along with our feelings to let the Holy Spirit produce good fruit that nourishes our heart and soul instead. As our soul prospers, our spiritual life becomes primary and natural life is impacted by a crucified flesh giving way to the Holy Spirit. It is a takeover of sorts by those who long to be pursued and overtaken by God’s Unfailing Love, Amazing Grace and Constant Goodness. It is a submission of our mind, will and emotions to the Cross so that confidence in Christ and what He promised to do is our primary position. It is the moment that we take up that Cross to follow the example of Jesus that things begin to change in a good way.

James 2:19-22 (NLT) You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror. How foolish! Can’t you see that faith without good deeds is useless? Don’t you remember that our ancestor Abraham was shown to be right with God by his actions when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see, his faith and his actions worked together. His actions made his faith complete. 

Working the Plan of God is not what we do but the confidence to lay down our life in careful and continual obedience. To trust the Lord means doing things His Way when all logic points another. Abraham is a prime example of working God’s Plan. There was no reason for him to believe that he would father one child let alone a nation. Yet, he dared to believe. The unbelievable was his absolute confidence and so he lived loving and serving God. Did he mess up? Yes. Did he make mistakes along the way? Absolutely. God did not look for his perfection but rather his perseverance that no matter what he still believed especially when there was absolutely nothing tangible to be confident – the person of God – the Great I AM – was simple enough.

“Salvation is not a self-improvement program. That can only change us on the outside. The work of God changes us on the inside.” (Zac Poonen) It is easy to change habits and make better choices. Hard work, determination and motivation will change our way of living and produce a better life. Even religious obedience can produce the benefits of sowing and reaping, but in the end if our relationship with Jesus Christ is not established – we gain absolutely nothing. There are those who will come to Christ and have a better life just because they decided to work the plan. The Bible is the precedent of obedience that leads to productivity. However, if we do not allow the Lord to work His Plan in us – our life is worthless and meaningless void of God’s Glory found in His Grace.

Philippians 1:6 (NLT) And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.

Greetings from Paul to the people in Philippi who belonged to Christ is one of thanksgiving for the testimony these people lived. As he continues, “And I am certain that God, who began the good work in you, will continue His Work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” Friend, we are a work in progress. The only time that Christ stops working in us and through us is when we decide go our own way (He is the ONLY Way), to live a lie (contrary to Truth), and choose something other than Resurrection Life and Power given to us for today. God will do exactly as He promised. Our only job is to continually surrender our life to Him. How? “You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.” (Philippians 2:5) He finished the Work on the Cross for the joy set before Him. Jesus did not live for immediate gratification but eternal pleasure. His Good Pleasure is you and me. He thought we were to die for and He did. He marched into hell and took possession (title and deed) to our life. When Christ came out of the grave, His Motive always was love so rather than take ownership of us and enslave us. He gave us freedom to live in love with Him or choose something else. What is your choice today? Will you work God’s Plan by submitting everything to Jesus? Will you surrender your heart to the work that was begun in you? Do you trust that God will complete it? That is what this life is all about – falling in love with Jesus Christ! Living in a loving relationship that transcends the boundaries of time and brings heaven to earth. He gave it all to us. We must only work out our salvation with fear and trembling as His Love consumes our ordinary life and produces an extraordinary existence.

“Salvation is a work of God to show His Glory. That’s why He’s not going to let it fail.” (Paul Washer)

Ephesians 3:20-21 (NLT) Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

 

Under One Roof

Under One Roof

Ephesians 1:23 (NLT) And the church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself.

There is something about having our children together under one roof. Even though there is chaos to just be together enriches my soul and fills my heart to overflowing capacity. Last night, we have the privilege of our oldest daughter spending the night with us. Sitting around the table at a local Mexican restaurant, the girls were chatting and my husband had that look. The smile that effortlessly creeps across his face when his girls are with him. There is something about daddies and their little girls. Even though the group around the table are far from small anymore. Our oldest daughter is great with child in her last trimester of pregnancy. Our middle daughter graceful and beautiful even in a t-shirt, athletic shorts and hair put up in a messy bun has become a woman right in front of us. Where has time gone? In a week, our baby girl, the last to join our large family will be driving a car as her fifteenth birthday comes and goes. God has blessed us with this group. Our boys are now men building families and careers. How does it all happen so quickly? I cherish these moments and times like this when I can enjoy these kids that once had me running in five different directions.

Two people came together with the commitment to love each other no matter what. Now close to twenty years later, look what love has done. It wasn’t always easy. We are a blended family. My new husband and I brought a handful home from the church on our wedding day. God took two empty lives and filled them to capacity with love. There were days when the commitment to God and each other held us all together. He did it. Now our next generation will soon arrive. The connection of family is important. It is worth the cost of love, grace and forgiveness that is required. How often we allow insignificant things to breach the bond that God has instituted? Thoughtless words or careless actions cause offense to root in human hearts as pride tells us that we somehow in our imperfection still deserve better. Families have been under attack since the first one was created in Genesis. We belong to individual families; but it is only a fragment of our true family.

The Body of Christ is a family or at least it is supposed to resemble one. With many members, there is but one unified body that should work together to be unified. I wonder if it brings the Father the same joy it brings my husband when all of his “kids” work together, enjoy each other, share with one another, and long to be together. I’ll let you in on a little secret. Our family doesn’t always enjoy peaceful harmony. My girls can be arguing over a borrowed shirt one minute and helping each other pick out tomorrow’s fashion statement the next. But let another person come against one of my children, and you must contend with the tribe. They will circle wagons and turn on you with a vengeance. There are little insecurities in the heart of our youngest at the thought of a new baby arriving soon. She has always been the baby. She sometimes feels forgotten as we gush over movement in our daughter’s belly or talk about when the little man arrives. It is foolish to think she would lose her place among us but in her heart it is real. These are little things the Family of God encounters although the Word of God says that we are “made full and complete by Christ.”

Romans 12:9-10 (NLT) Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.

Love is a commitment. I have tried to vehemently express this to each of my children in their relationships and preparing one day to be married. Love as the world knows it is not real love. It is based on emotions and feelings. It requires reciprocation. It is conditional. God’s Love for us and in us is not like that. It is defined as “patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” Love never fails.

To “love with genuine affection and take delight in honoring each other” takes hard work, motivation and concentration. You can fall in love but you will not remain in love without a commitment to love. God is love. Our identity in God must be characteristic of love to unite the family of God as instructed. Not just to love the lovable, but to love our enemies as well. It is a pure and true love based on how God loves us not how people do. Romans 12 begins with a plea to give our life as a “living sacrifice” and then goes on to tell us to love each other, honor each other and bless one another and more…

Romans 12:14-18 (NLT) Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all! Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.

The Christ in us allows us to love others unconditionally. There is freedom in such love because it casts out all fear. The fear that breeds insecurity. The kind that allows unbelief to flourish in doubt and choke out the new faith that is growing inside of us. We are to be a representation of Jesus Christ to others. We must not expect others to be our Savior or allow them to reign as Lord. This is evidenced in our ability to love and be loved despite human imperfection, betrayal, and offense never allowing bitterness to disturb the newfound love growing in us as our relationship with Christ makes us one.

Ephesians 2:4-6 (NLT) Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all, in all, and living through all.

There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all, in all, and living through all. My body houses the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of the Living God who identifies me as His Child. The same Spirit that unites me with every other living breathing human who God created with purpose and promise. He is Father to us all. The Spirit lives in those who have taken their place in God’s Family by a choice to be reconciled to the family. Estrangement from God because of sin gives way to reconciliation by accepting Christ to be our Savior. His Grace is enough to give us access to the Kingdom and our rightful place in the Body of Christ. We are all unique. There is no competition and God has no favorites. Our desire to be one with Christ which leads to repentance keeps us unified with His Body that completes us so that we can give our life away recklessly. This allows us to take on the Character of Jesus Christ who is humble, gentle, patient, and forgiving. This is not a human trait. Pride hates these attributes and fights to reject them in our life. It is His Spirit who allows us to become like the Lord by producing good fruit in fertile and broken hearts.

As I mentioned before, though my children may bicker and pick on each other, if anyone comes against them they instantly become a unified front. A few years ago, while I was caring for our son who was undergoing cancer treatment, I got a call from my oldest daughter. Someone was bullying her younger sister in middle school and she was really mad. She called to tell me that she was on her way to confront the girl and do something that were less godly to her. I reminded her that she would be arrested for assault but at that moment she did not care. She continued to vent while I listened with a grin on my face. Someone was picking on her sister and she was ready to fight. She finally calmed down and chose only to stare the girl down. The bully and my daughter are still friends today.

What would happen if the Body of Christ became protective of relationships? What if we decided to become one family? I live in the South. There are churches on every corner, in just about every strip mall, and even small groups in homes. Why so many? There are some churches being planted, but it seems that most of them are products of disagreement. Someone gets upset and spreads their discontentment. People choose sides and suddenly a molecular split occurs. I cannot imagine how this breaks the heart of God who gave His Son, His Only Son, to bring His Children back under one roof.

We must make the decision to agree. To find common ground in Christ, and stop being led by emotions and feelings contradictory to those given to us by His Spirit. Just like a family, the Body of Christ must make the commitment to stop allowing fear, insecurity and offense to be the guidelines for their life and overcome them with the Love of God that gets rid of such nonsense. There will be disagreements. There will be hurt feelings, disappointments, unmet expectations and failed attempts in human relationships. When we allow the Love of God to be our response rather than reacting to the imperfection of humans it will produce the kind of love that will produce unity in the Body of Christ once again.

Is your family coming home for the holidays? Will all of your children gather around the Christmas tree? I find no greater joy than when our family is able to worship together in the House of God. Imagine what the Father would experience if all of His Children gathered together under one roof labeled Jesus Christ. Choosing to put aside personal feelings and accept perfect love, joy and peace from our Living Breathing Source of Life and Hope. It would change the impact of the church. Functioning as one body, the church would become effective. Salt would become salty again. The Light would reach the darkest corners of the lost and dying world. Imagine the Glory that would pour out in our services when Jesus was the Center of it all. Last night my husband slept like a baby, just the thought of all his girls under one roof. He woke up with the same look on his face. I wonder if the Father smiles when we get it together…of course, He does!

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

Salvaged Life

Salvaged Life

I Peter 4:12-13 (NLT) Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. Instead, be very glad—for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world.

I had this idea yesterday. It dropped in my spirit and produced a weight in me until I wrote it down. “As believers, we do not salvage the rest of our life. Salvation produces new life.” The latter days of our life fully invested in Jesus Christ have great potential to be greater than our past even if our past isn’t so bad. The enemy is set on getting God’s People to settle for something less. A conciliation prize is not described in the Word of God but rather reconciliation to fulfillment of God’s Perfect Plan for us. Time is not running out for me as a Child of God – it is only beginning. It is up to me to see the beauty of new life in dead seasons. Faith believes in what it cannot see and relies on the impossible.

“Don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through…” but do not suppose this is the Will of God for every day of the rest of your life either. It is human nature to hope for the best but expect the worst. This is how letdowns and disappointments are accepted as a part of life. It is a call to self-preservation that kills our faith and trust in God. Fueled by fear, insecurity and anxious thoughts it takes the focus off our victory and keeps giants mocking us. I must change the way that I think when it comes to struggles and trials in life. Looking past probable loss or fearful of the trial, it is in hopeful expectation that I grab hold of my partnership with Christ. Faith plants seeds of righteousness that produce blessings in our life. However, we must find the peace to plant those seeds with expectation.

You will have wonderful joy seeing His Glory when it is revealed. Faith begets faith. Trust more trust. Hope grows more confident in fulfilled expectation. It is only possible through suffering. Why? When did you turn to Jesus? Was He your first thought or last resort? People turn to the Lord in devastation. We look for God when in complete despair. When failures produce moments when the human heart cries out to Him. When there is nowhere left to turn or no one to run to – we call on the One who knows it all, can do it, and will rush to our rescue every time. So maybe suffering wasn’t God’s idea but the choice of His Children.

Romans 5:3-5 (NLT) We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

Today I am pressed that the problems I face in life may not be the enemy waging war against me but my flesh slowly dying within me. What if the trails really are for endurance so I will make it past me to see the Glory of God in my life? What if these long dry seasons are to stretch my character and give it new strength with a larger capacity to love people more and obey the voice of God when He is silent? Could it be the confidence in the hope I have will remove all residue of disappointment and let the Light in me shine through? Hope never leads us to disappointment. Faith chases after hope. Without faith it is impossible to please the Lord, but without problems would we ever discover the fruitfulness of faith that produces fulfillment? Probably not. God has given us the Holy Spirit to live in our heart and produce good fruit. I must make room there for Him to dwell which is the removal of pride so He can plant humility, doubt so He can sow trust, and sorrow so that the Lord will produce joy in the new creation I am becoming grabbing hold of the new life He has promised.

2 Corinthians 2:7-11 (NLT) Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing. For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. For observe this very thing that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, that indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter. 

When our son was ill, it came to a place his doctor labeled the “realm of hope” which to other people might mean there is no solution. His case is terminal. He is going to die. But it was in this place that I realize that the Lord had told me that our son would live. This was the point of impossibility that would produce God’s Glory. There is no statistical or medical data to support the young man who was on the verge of death who went on to graduate from engineering school, secure a future and live well beyond his life expectancy. Yet, he does. It took a trial almost to the point of tragedy to change my perspective on faith and hope. Though I would never wish this on any parent or person for that matter, if something could change their perspective of faith and hope to the point of confidence then I do pray that for them. Sorry not sorry. That’s pretty much what Paul writes here. The church was in an uproar and totally offended by his first letter (I Corinthians). So he sent a second letter to them in an attempt to reconcile the relationship. Basically, this text says, “Sorry not sorry”. He did not want to hurt them but rejoices in the “diligence” in faith it produces along with “clearing of self.” This simply does not happen in our comfort, convenience or control but when we see the Lord to restore these things in our life. Are you uncomfortable? Have things become inconvenient? Have you lost control? Have you called out to the Lord?

God’s Desire is to lead us to fulfillment. Our fulfillment is made complete in Jesus Christ. Without Jesus, we cannot make it to the Father, He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. If we want Him, we must seek Him. We must sow seeds of faith that will produce pleasing fruit – not because we have to but because we want to. It is all about willingness and obedience. The sorrow in our life is present when we choose something less than God’s Best – not because He does it to us, but our soul is only satisfied by the One who created it. If you are trying to salvage a good life after salvation, it will never be good enough. God doesn’t recondition people – He restores them. He doesn’t recycle our life but gives us new life as a new creation. Anything less is not God’s Best and will not bring about satisfaction and fulfillment. Are you holding on to sorrow? You must release it for joy. Unforgiveness creates bitterness that expects disappointment rather embracing expectant hope. Let that go, too. One of my favorite “go-to” verses that inspires me daily is “I would have lost heart, unless I believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. (Psalm 27:13) God’s Goodness is for you today. He is fully invested in you the seeds of faith that will grow into the hope you live for. You have everything needed to prosper in this life and in this moment. The rest is up to you and me. I am not called to be salvaged but saved by the Grace of God to fulfillment of new life – I must take hold of that today.

Romans 8:28 (NLT) And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

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.

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.