Make the Investment

Make the Investment

Colossians 2:9-10 (NLT) For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority.

Complete lacking nothing. Fulfillment. Abundance. Oneness. The purpose of Christ in us is to give us new life as Children of God. We make excuses for the “lack” in our life to accommodate the real problem. Those areas of life not meeting our expectation are not fully given to God in our covenant with Him. People live diversified lives. Christians are people. Rather than putting all our proverbial eggs in one basket, but choosing to invest time and energy in multiple endeavors. Kingdom potential requires a Kingdom commitment. Our covenant with Christ is made complete as we learn to live in union and communion with Him forming one body, mind and spirit. It is truly a spiritual marriage and relationship that requires all of our physical, emotional, and spiritual effort to form and maintain. It is not different in the natural realm. If I half-heartedly approach my marriage, I will not have one for long. I will not reap the benefits and blessings of living a lifetime with my soul mate if I choose to share my life, mind, soul and body with someone else. It is easy to commit spiritual adultery and it be socially acceptable to the world when in fact it limits our potential relationship with Christ.

I am in this world but not of this world. Where is my investment? Where is my interest? Am I really living a Kingdom life or just merely imitating a commitment that really has not been established on a covenant level? All in. That is the commitment demonstrated by Jesus Christ on the Cross when He died for us. He gave everything to have a forever relationship with us. To give us a new life. To hand over the keys to His Kingdom giving us full dominion in this life traveling to eternity.

Matthew 6:20 (NLT) Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.

How important is unity with Jesus Christ in your life? On a personal level, how much time, talent and treasure are invested in pursuing the Lover of your soul on a daily basis? Do you treasure your relationship with Jesus Christ? Do you value His Words, His Way and His Work? Where is your treasure today? If everything was taken from you, would you still say, “It is well with my soul”? My prayer for you is that you never dip to that level of abasement like Job to lose it all just to find his soul. Usually, it is the harrowing edge of life and death that call our attention beyond the daily struggles and daydreaming to the reality that this life is short. It is futile. We are merely traveling through to eternity which is far more important in the grand scheme of things called life.

Jesus hinted to the level of investment required when He shared two short parables in Matthew 13. The Parables of the Hidden Treasure and the Pearl give us insight to the level of commitment required to obtain the Kingdom and God’s Standard of Living. Once you discover the Kingdom, it must become your passionate pursuit to possess it such as the man who sold everything to own the field with hidden treasure or the merchant who found a pearl of great value and also sold everything to obtain it. Kingdom life will cost us every second of every day until our last breath is exhaled. It must be the thing that we desire the most. It must be our life’s mission to find it and own it.

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

What are you settling for today? Trust is the union that produces Kingdom life for ordinary people. To have faith in Christ that supersedes what we see and decide to trust Him right there at His Word. Faith is not logical apart from the Word who is Jesus. Jesus is the Word of God who came wrapped in flesh to demonstrate God’s Unconditional Love and desire for us. To trust Him with our heart. Our broken and jaded wavering heart is to believe that no matter what happens God loves us and intends to welcome us into His Kingdom. The secret is simple. Seek His Will in all you do. He will show you the path to take. It means developing a relationship with the Lord that becomes a strong union so that He becomes a viable partner in our life. Someone we confide in. Converse with. Listen to. Take instruction and guidance from. Wait for. Believe in. Trust implicitly with our life.

I Thessalonians 5:14-22 (NLT)  Brothers and sisters, we urge you to warn those who are lazy. Encourage those who are timid. Take tender care of those who are weak. Be patient with everyone. See that no one pays back evil for evil, but always try to do good to each other and to all people. Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. Do not stifle the Holy Spirit. Do not scoff at prophecies, but test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good. Stay away from every kind of evil.

When Jesus died for you, He did not claim you a prize or reward. He has given you and me the freedom to choose how to live life. You are free to choose the Lord or reject Him. It is really that simple. It does not change who God is or the identity of His Son or the Presence of His Spirit – the decision belongs to you. It defines you. Kingdom living is not some intricate and detailed rules and regulations set forth by doctrine or theology of great churches. It is not that “old time” religion. The Kingdom is the community formed by the Body of Christ. In other words, there is a place for you in the Kingdom. You belong there. Your new life has benefits and blessings – intangible and tangible – that are waiting for you and can be claimed by no one but you. Our covenant with Christ has given us an inheritance whether claimed or forsaken it is still designated for you. The over complication of Kingdom principles have been set forth by the church to explain the lack of consummation. In other words, if there is no open heaven – it is not our fault.

Jesus Christ offers a place for us to abide in His Love and live in unity with Him. Like God, He doesn’t lie or change His Mind but simply waits for us to respond to His Love. Grace is always enough to open the doorway to your residence in the Kingdom of God. All you must do is walk in. Moving our life into the Kingdom works just like moving to a new city, home or location. The greater the baggage the longer the process. When our family recently moved, I spent months going through our old house getting rid of all the stuff accumulated over the years. Closets were cleaned. Items sold. Many things given away. When it came time to leave, it was all packed in a moving truck, trailers and several cars to be moved to the new house. Box by box. Piece by piece. Everything found a place in our new home or was discarded. We must do the same in our spiritual life. We are not homeless. There is a place in God’s Kingdom for each of us. An open invitation to come and live that life now. It is not just an eternal promise but daily offering to taste and see that the Lord is good.

The simple steps set forth in I Thessalonians show just how easy it is to begin to plant our life in the Kingdom of new beginnings. Daily choices to seek Jesus and live in communion with Him. These are the steps of completion that lead to success and prosperity that produce natural, physical and spiritual abundance. The giving of our life to Christ is a sacrifice of this life and common practices to live in partnership with Christ. Nothing more. Nothing less. I must decrease to allow Christ to increase in my life and spill forth as He promised. Evaluate your life. How do you spend your time? Living in the rat race or fighting the good fight of faith? Working 9 to 5 or pursuing the Lord 24/7. When we acknowledge Jesus in any area of our life, abundance and blessing will follow. When we give Him our problems, Jesus has the solution. Our pain is exchanged for healing. We are Kingdom people who have real estate unspoken for that will only be claimed by commitment to become one with Christ.

John 17:22-24 (NLT)  “I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me. Father, I want these whom you have given me to be with me where I am. Then they can see all the glory you gave me because you loved me even before the world began!”

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Integrity is Transparent

Integrity is Transparent

Proverbs 10:9 (NLT) People with integrity walk safely, but those who follow crooked paths will be exposed.

I started blogging about my time with Jesus almost a decade ago. Every single day without fail in every possible situation you can imagine, I would lug my laptop along and make it the very first thing I did every single day. You might even say that I did it religiously. The Lord laid this task on my heart, but it took many years to understand the value and worth of such encounters. I guess sharing it with others became my accountability. Anyway, a few years back I realized it had become a duty rather than a desire. This weekend, my sister-in-law came to meet our new grandbaby. I didn’t hide away to write this weekend. Today sitting in the quiet of the morning, the Lord and I talking about the day, I started to think about how it has changed over the years.

Integrity is adherence to moral or ethical principles. It means soundness of character. It is honesty. Integrity also represents being whole, entire and undiminished. It is a sound, unimpaired, and perfect condition. Clearly I cannot walk in integrity without the grace of God slathered over my life. Yet, in our pursuit of God sometimes we lose passion and it becomes a procedure. Religion is set forth with doctrines filled with rules and regulations. Religion is ineffective without a relationship with Christ who completes us. Sometimes, we must evaluate our life for authenticity. The only way to fully receive all that Jesus provided on the Cross and represents in His Emergence from the grave is to understand that our integrity is found in Him. Our sense of rightness has absolutely nothing to do with our ability to change our life but rather to live in the fullness of His Grace that makes us righteous and in a right standing relationship with God the Father.

2 Samuel 22:26-29 (NLT) To the faithful you show yourself faithful; to those with integrity you show integrity. To the pure you show yourself pure, but to the crooked you show yourself shrewd. You rescue the humble, but your eyes watch the proud and humiliate them. O Lord, you are my lamp. The Lord lights up my darkness.

Reading in I Kings 19 today, Elijah was fleeing the threat of Jezebel. He is in the wilderness ready to die. Seems crazy since he just experienced great victory killing the prophets of Baal. How is this possible? Why would he run after such a miraculous experience? Elijah was human. He was a man. The confidence of his life was God but the man still lived inside of him. He prayed that night to die. Elijah lived a life of integrity. He didn’t come to the Lord boasting in pride of his accomplishments but dissolved before God in his weakness. When he woke up the next morning, an angel of the Lord provided a meal for him in the wilderness. The Lord desires communion with us. He wants to live with us in an abiding relationship. This comes at the price of self. Integrity found in Christ is not a change of habit or even strength of self. It is to abandon our heart and mind to the Lord. To live a life of authentic transparency that does not put on a front or façade of inner fortitude or supremacy. The showing of faithfulness, purity, and integrity is exhibited in our humility before the Lord.

After having breakfast with the Lord, Elijah was strengthened enough to travel 40 days and nights to Mount Sinai. God would come to the mountain and speak with his servant. Some days this life of faith just doesn’t make sense. If we were honest, we would admit that there are seasons that walking by faith feels like going through the motions. I wonder if we examined our life with the Lord for integrity what we would find. Everything I do in Jesus Name must be from a heart of love and devotion not randomness but intentional living and breathing in our relationship with Him.

Proverbs 2:6-8 (NLT) 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.

Imagine the potential of our life if we could be completely honest with others. To live and walk in integrity including the fullness of Jesus Christ. The only way that God can work in us is when we become transparent before Him which in turn creates transparency with others. I am of no use to others if I create a façade of perfection or elevate my persona to some unattainable level. The people who need Jesus most (all of us) respond to integrity and truth because it is trustworthy. The Lord is faithful. I fall short. The Lord is perfect. I am imperfect. The Lord never changes. I am in a state of constant change and transformation. He is good. I try to be. God doesn’t need you to be anything other than the broken mess you are. He desires you! He wants you! He loves you with all of His Heart! If you don’t relay that to others, how will they ever know?

Yesterday, I got up and visited with family. Spent the day shopping with the girls and loving on my grandbaby. I didn’t write. I am not sorry. I never want my relationship with Jesus Christ to become habitual. To live a religious life leads others to darkness never life. Can we come to the Lord today with an open heart and mind? Whatever you need – He has for you. Whatever needs to change – He will do it. Can we just decide to love Him and be transparent vessels of Light? When we do – He will carry us through wilderness to the mountaintop time and time again! The city on the hill is the one with the brightest light!

Matthew 5:14-15 (NLT) “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house.

The D-Word

Dare To Be Disciplined

 

Philippians 3:12-16 (AMP) Not that I have already obtained it [this goal of being Christlike] or have already been made perfect, but I actively press on so that I may take hold of that [perfection] for which Christ Jesus took hold of me and made me His own. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider that I have made it my own yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the [heavenly] prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. All of us who are mature [pursuing spiritual perfection] should have this attitude. And if in any respect you have a different attitude that too God will make clear to you. Only let us stay true to what we have already attained.

It’s funny as I type this today, that spellcheck on my computer doesn’t care for the word “Christlike”. It has the red squiggly line under it that means it doesn’t recognize it or suggesting that I select an acceptable alternative for it. Isn’t that life most days? Autocorrect and spellcheck are used for grammatical and typographical errors but omit certain legitimate words according to the usual vocabulary. It is even modified as not to offend others. Sigh. Yes, I have inserted a sigh. I am not a runner. I am not built for endurance. Patience are a challenge for me most days. I am cool under pressure… most of the time. But as time goes by, things don’t change, my plans don’t line up, and fatigue sets in – the thought “there has to be more to life than this” brings me to a choice. The valley of decision. It is a low place with many dark corners. It is filled with echoing voices and shadows of doubt and fear that tell me just quit. Stop. Give up. Quit. What’s the point? Life cannot ever be normal again. There will always be problems. Constant pressure. What are you going to do? My head is filled with circling thoughts of why I should give to all these suggestions made valid by my feelings and emotions. But then I hear it…that still small voice inside of me…probably a lot like the one Elijah heard on the mountain after the earthquake, fire, and storm…”What are you doing here?” The Lord spoke these words to the prophet. So many victories in his corner, so many miracles already in his midst, yet still the voice of doubt and fear drove him into hiding. The voice I hear today is just a bit different. The Lord says, “Press on.”

2 Timothy 4:7-10 (NLT) I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing. Timothy, please come as soon as you can.  Demas has deserted me because he loves the things of this life and has gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, and Titus has gone to Dalmatia.

Before you pick up the bat of comparison and begin beating yourself soundly in the head for feeling this way today, let’s look at the Super Christian Paul. Paul fought the good fight. He finished the race. He remained faithful. He knew in his heart that his days were numbered and soon he would claim the prize. The crown of righteousness which the Lord would hand to him. He was ready. Paul was also human. Immediately following this confident statement comes the cry of man struggling and feeling isolated. “Timothy, please come as soon as you can.” Everyone had gone on their way. The only one left with Paul was Luke. He was calling for backup. Paul needed some support. It is only natural in this life of following Christ to have days when the pressure is overwhelming, doubt may kick in, discouragement gets the best of us, our emotions out of whack, and even when throwing in the towel seems like a viable option. It doesn’t mean that you do not love God or desire Him with all of your heart. It means, dear friend and follower of Christ, that you are human.

Matthew 26:36-40 (NLT) Then Jesus went with them to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and he said, “Sit here while I go over there to pray.” He took Peter and Zebedee’s two sons, James and John, and he became anguished and distressed. He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” Then he returned to the disciples and found them asleep. He said to Peter, “Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour? 

Jesus understands how pressure feels. He knows what it means to want to give up. He also decided to press on. The Last Supper over and the betrayal of his follower, Judas revealed. Our Savior and Lord is well on His Way to the Cross. The hour had come. The end was near. He needed to talk to His Father one more time before this final journey to the Cross. He already knows the one who claims to love him most and the person who professed dying for him would soon deny ever knowing Him. Yet, Jesus asks him to come and keep watch while He prays. Well, Peter, James and John were exhausted from their journey. Still mulling over His Words, they fall asleep. Even after Jesus said to them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death” – still they could not keep their eyes open. In those final moments, Jesus petitions His Father in Heaven, “If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” I cannot imagine how the words of the Son must have ravaged the Father’s Heart.

I believe that when in the midst of a trial or plagued by problems that when we pray – the Father’s Heart breaks for us. The Word of God admits that He is close to the brokenhearted and rescues those whose spirits are crushed. (Psalm 34:18) What a promise? Especially for those who feel abused, violated, betrayed or isolated. The Lord is with you. He is close to you. He is ready to rescue you. You must press on. You cannot give up. It is now when the breakthrough comes because God can easily access the brokenhearted.

2 Corinthians 4:6-10 (NLT)  For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ. We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.

Our body works against us. Our thoughts rally to stop this foolishness. Our emotions and feelings press us to give up. Why all the pressure? Why am I so perplexed? Why isn’t following Jesus easy? All the workings of our flesh are enticed by temptation working against us from the inside out. The enemy is aiding it in every way possible. Why? “There is a light shining in the darkness for you today. It invites you to live in the Presence of God. To experience His Glory in your life. To radiate the Favor of God. To become a beacon of hope to those who are lost and dying. To have this great treasure means pressing in rather than giving in to the pressures of life. Sin is not the problem for those who have fully experienced God’s Love, Grace and Mercy responding by faith that says, “Jesus, I want you.” It doesn’t mean my life will look radically different the morning after I ask Him into my heart. It is the starting point of the race to the finish line marked faith. It is going to be a long, tedious journey. My flesh and feelings are going to try to trip me up. The enemy will be shooting fiery darts at me all along the way. Those who cheer me on in the beginning may not make it to the end. But there is a prize worth having and I intend to take it.

2 Corinthians 9:22-27 (NLT) When I am with those who are weak, I share their weakness, for I want to bring the weak to Christ. Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some. I do everything to spread the Good News and share in its blessings. Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.

It is a privilege to participate in this race of faith. It is a divine opportunity provided to me by Jesus Christ. I would also like to run the Disney Princess Marathon races. If you must know, I would be thankful just to survive a 5K or 3.1 mile race. I must admit that I am not a runner. I am not sure that I could make it one mile running and not dying. In fact, I will tell you the same thing I tell other people – if you see me running you should too, because something is probably chasing me. Now how in the world can a 51-year-old mom who is out of shape make it to a Disney Princess marathon? I guess first I would have to make up my mind that I wanted to do it and set a goal with certain steps to achieve before the next race. Given the popularity of these events, I should probably go ahead and sign up now. It might be a good idea to invest in some good running shoes. The next is probably the hardest part of all – I would then have to discipline myself to train for the marathon. Ugh! The D-word wreaks havoc in us. It is the boundary and barrier for most people when it comes to achieving even the smallest goal or aspiration. What overcomes the thought of discipline – devotion. What is devotion? It is profound dedication and consecration. An earnest attachment to a person or cause. Devotion is the attachment or assignment to any purpose. In the Biblical sense, devotion is an act of worship including worship for a special use.

Are you dedicated to Jesus Christ? Fully devoted heart and soul to knowing Him fully and having His Way in your life? Me, too. Discipline is the choice to take what we know about the Lord and His Word and apply it to our life. Not just in word, but in every attitude and action much like an athlete eyeing a prize. It is not an endeavor casually undertaken but a full-on effort to make every part of our life conform to that of overwhelming victory. After all, Christ is our Champion according to Hebrews. To those who disciplined, dedicated and fully devoted probably the worst word they will ever hear is disqualified. “So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing.”

Hebrews 12:11-13 (NLT) No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way. So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong.

I do not believe that discipline is the same as punishment. Jesus did not come to condemn the world but that through Him that I would be saved. Thank you, Jesus! However, it is human nature to view discipline as punishment. When I go to the gym after missing days, weeks, months or the past year – my muscles scream for relief as I press through the pain and work through the notion that quitting would be so much easier. No one is punishing me. I want more. I desire to be healthy. I pay for the membership to undergo such “torture”. Devoted to Christ, the pressure inside of us is His Way of making us into the masterpiece that He purposed and designed us to be. It is the molding and shaping of character so that endurance will keep us until His Glory is released in our life. I must press past every pain, insecurity, fear and emotion if I am dedicated to this cause called Christ. Anything worth having requires a higher price, I must decide today if I will pay that price. If I will endure tough times, difficult seasons and painstaking processes to let Christ have His Way in my life which will lead to a rich and satisfying life just as He promised. I must press on to have that which the Lord is calling me to. I must not give up or give in but allow the Lord to strengthen my tired hands to life them in worship and my weak knees to seek Him in prayer. The only thing that must not happen is I cannot and will not quit, give up or give in. I am His Prized Possession. No discipline is enjoyable. Can I get an “amen”? It is worth the peaceful harvest that is coming for those who decide to be devoted to right living and following His Way.

Isaiah 38:16-20 (NLT) Lord, your discipline is good, for it leads to life and health. You restore my health and allow me to live! Yes, this anguish was good for me, for you have rescued me from death and forgiven all my sins. For the dead cannot praise you; they cannot raise their voices in praise. Those who go down to the grave can no longer hope in your faithfulness. Only the living can praise you as I do today. Each generation tells of your faithfulness to the next. Think of it—the Lord is ready to heal me! I will sing his praises with instruments every day of my life in the Temple of the Lord.

Puzzles

puzzles

Ephesians 4:1-5 (NIV) As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

I have always enjoyed puzzles. Not everyone enjoys them like I do. In fact, they completely stress my husband out even at the preschool level. I think it is the concept that every piece has a place and if you just work it all everything fits together. There is a solution. I imagine this appeals to my need for order and control. Dumping the contents of the box on the table, sorting through each piece, separating the edges to begin with, it is no surprise that I found one waiting to be done at the Hope Lodge where my son and I stayed during his treatment. Caregivers and patients alike would join each other around the table to sort out and complete something when everything else in their life was turned upside down. Friendships were formed around the puzzle. Tears were shed as well. Time passed slowly yet somehow even on the hard days and darkest hours of the night there seemed to be something being completed and finished in our life.

On the box of every puzzle there is a picture of the completed product. The goal for which we strive in our endeavor to put all the pieces in their proper place. Don’t worry I am not going to continue to bore you with the semantics of puzzles but feel in my heart that it is the premise of unity in its example that we need in our churches today. Within each congregation new pictures and images have been formed of a body clearly defined and a Spirit fully formed. Division and dysfunction take over if we cannot find ways to fit together and find everything is falling apart. The longer a puzzle is spread out and fitted together – the more likely it will lose pieces along the way. Each piece has a place in the big picture that will never be fulfilled in its absence. Oh the Lord is speaking to us today as believers – we must come together. We must find our place.

“Live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” These words are scripted by Paul from a prison most likely with chains on his wrists, he still felt freedom in his heart. He called his brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ to come together. To unite and be one. It is our calling. How are we have come yet how spread apart also? We are part of one body. We are born of one Spirit. We are called to one hope. We have one Lord. We have one faith. We experience one baptism. We serve only one God. He is our Father. We are His Children. It is time for the family to come together.

When working on a puzzle, we look at the hole and search for the piece that will fit in it. Why are we going back to this? It is time to apply the same philosophy to the Body of Christ. The world in which we live thrives on grouping. I cannot help my kid with her math homework anymore because rather than simple arithmetic, it requires crazy regrouping. We divide people based on sex, race, religion, political views, socioeconomic status, diagnoses, and the list goes on and on. There is no push for unity because if we truly came together personal agendas would be destroyed. Everyone would have to give up something they want to become one with the other. To fulfill our calling in Jesus Christ is to surrender all of our life to become one with Him. We think we want it but does our life relay the same?

Ephesians 2:10 (NIV)  For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

To create a puzzle an image is chosen and printed. The picture is glued on a board thick enough to fit together. A sharp blade then cuts into pieces which are amassed into the one that is bought and dumped out on the kitchen or card table where it will be put back together. The picture is chosen first. We are chosen. Our lives completely recorded and handcrafted by the Lord before we are born into this world. Before our hearts are broken, the Lord provided the healing needed to keep going. He knew the hardship to be endured so He provided all the grace needed in advance. He understood how much faith would be required to establish hope in our life so He gave it to us up front in the measure required. See all of this is part of a plan, picture, or masterpiece that God predestined before our birth. It is up to us to decide will we become part of the hope that is our future or will we just be a piece with a part of the picture never to be fulfilled.

Ephesians 4:16 (NLT) He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.

God designed the Body. He knows how it fits together and works properly. It would only seem logical to seek His Instruction (His Word) and His Guidance (His Spirit) for everyone to find their proper place. Pride is not a part of God’s Character. He is not arrogant. He is Sovereign. In order to find our place in the Lord, it will require submission and surrender on a level that humanity is not accustomed to. It is our vain glory that allows us to try to define worship, spout out praise, and live a life of service all the while glorifying ourselves rather than humbling, hopefully following the Lord to find our way and proper place in the Body of Christ.

No one can see your heart except the Lord. No one can fulfill your purpose other than a partnership with God the Father. He puts people around us to connect with and as a body we are to connect with those around us in other churches and throughout our community. Church is a living breathing body filled with Jesus Christ.

Revelation 2:2-4 (NLT) “I know all the things you do. I have seen your hard work and your patient endurance. I know you don’t tolerate evil people. You have examined the claims of those who say they are apostles but are not. You have discovered they are liars. You have patiently suffered for me without quitting. But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first! Look how far you have fallen! Turn back to me and do the works you did at first…”

I know that when I would sit and work on the “community puzzle” in the Hope Lodge that I would find rest for my mind. It would take my mind off the struggle and fight we were in if only to become lost in a pile of pieces in need of proper placement. While he lay sleeping, fighting, healing and recovering, I would sit with my new friends and talk about life before this tragic set of circumstances befell us. Since that time, I know of others who are now fighting the same fight. They post pictures of their puzzle creations. I look intently at each one. An effort to restore order in the midst of chaos. Busyness that calms the mind and quiets the heart if only for a few moments. I understand completely.

I wonder if rather than working on programs, projects, calendars, and promotions, the church and body of Jesus Christ worked on coming together in complete unity what might happen. What if we took the same diligence and thoughtfulness used in putting together a puzzle? Never quitting until the final one slips in its place and searching high and low for those who missing or lost, what would happen?

The Book of Ephesians is focused on Christianity as a whole. What it means to be a Christian in faith and in practice regardless of circumstance or condition focused fully on Jesus Christ. With this in mind, in the Book of Revelation, their error is made clear. The Lord knew of everything they were “doing” in His Name. Their hard work was no secret. They patiently endured trial and tribulation for being Christians. They did not entertain sin. Showing wisdom, they did not fall for the convoluted word and lies of false prophets but rightly discerned God’s Word. These people were not quitters but kept pushing and pressing no matter what. All of these qualities and characteristics were of God and done for His Glory, yet they were in clear danger of missing it altogether.

You don’t love me or each other as you did at first! Look how far you have fallen! Many of the people who sat around the puzzle with me at the Lodge are with Jesus now or at least I hope so. As we worked together in that place, there was never an argument or dispute just love, kindness and compassion for each other. Why can’t we come together like that as believers?

Years ago Rubik’s Cubes were popular. Do you remember them? A 3-D puzzle in the form of a plastic cube covered in multicolor squares. Twisting and turning each section, the object was to have all of the same color on one side. I would work that thing for hours until one day I discovered that if I popped one out that they all fell out. I could take each piece and put it in its proper place suddenly the endless process all came together quickly. I never knew the satisfaction of completing it without cheating. I gave up. It was easier to do it that way but over time the cube was not as tightly together and became loose until one day the pieces just fell apart. There is a process in unity that brings satisfaction when the Body of Christ presses through the pain, pushes past their problems, stops defining one another by differences, and puts in the time, twisting and turning until believers come together as a well-formed properly place body. Everyone is necessary.

The only way to work this out is to stop looking for the differences in one another and find our likeness. Likeness will turn into acceptance. As we accept one another as we are applying grace just as God gives it to us a bond is formed called relationships. My shoulder has a relationship with my arm including my elbow, wrist, hand and fingers. My muscles and tendons allow it all to relate and work together so that I can use it. They are doing so as I type the message today. If a tendon is damaged or muscle is torn suddenly my entire arm including all of its parts could be impacted. Why? They were created to work together. God has given us one another for a purpose. We must love one another not just in word or deed but from the heart. Love is our likeness. It is this kind of relationship that will form the Body of Christ creating the masterpiece that God created us to be. Every person in proper placement. Churches without walls that come together to promote the Good News and find another missing person who has fallen out of place. When our purpose forgets people we have missed it altogether. What if we looked at ways to make people fit in rather than exclude them? Imagine the possibilities.

Lord, teach me to see people like you do. Impress upon my heart unity, love, compassion and grace for all people in all things never to drive them away but draw them closer to You. Forgive me for all the times I compared them to my standards rather than embracing them with Your Love as instructed. I want to be part of a fully functionally perfectly constructed masterpiece. Humble me in Your Presence Lord. Teach me Your Gentleness, Love and Kindness again and again until I get it and give it to all people unconditionally. Remind me today and always that “there is one body and one Spirit, just as (I am) called to one hope (with) one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. Lord teach me unity, bind it with love, so we can come together and be all you have designed us to be!

Psalm 133:1-3 (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.

 

Lacking Nothing

Lacking Nothing

James 1:4-5 (NIV) Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.

As our family settles into our new-to-us home, a steady list of tasks is being constructed. The handyman came by last week for the first round of repairs and renovations. Before he was out the door, there were more things added to the list. I love home improvement. This house was a foreclosure bought by the family who sold it to us. They did some repairs but it is clear that somewhere in the process, they gave up. I understand as the list gets longer, it can be overwhelming. While I make one for the inside, my husband is mentally making his for the outside. Are we perfectionists? I don’t think so. We just like to take care of the things that the Lord has blessed us with. We like things done. We strive for completion. No loose ends.

When we come to Christ, it is like a foreclosure. A life lived to its own detriment suddenly surrendered to the King of Fixer Uppers. Foreclosed homes usually come in an abused and neglected state. Perhaps, it was just too much for the owner to maintain. Maybe the price of keeping it was just too high so they gave up and walked away. Perhaps they were forced out. The new owner purchases the home because they see its worth and potential underneath the disrepair and filth. Taking the time to clean it up, fix it, and restore it into a home worth living in. I believe that Jesus knows exactly what we need to be complete lacking nothing. Can you imagine complete satisfaction? Not in one thing, but all things. Such a state of contentment would allow us to live free from the burden of needing or wanting anything which in turn would eliminate the majority of our stress and worries in life. The trouble is sometimes there is a difference of opinion in what we think and what God knows will satisfy our soul. Things will never make us complete. People will never satisfy our full expectation. It is Jesus. Just the Lord who can complete us to the uttermost.

Completion in Christ comes with a price labeled perseverance. Perseverance requires patience. If we are committed to being made complete as Jesus intends us to be, it will take a whole lot of perseverance and patience to get there. Completion is marked by maturity. Wisdom comes from knowledge applied properly to our life in our attitude and actions alike. We read the Word of God but it is in its application that one experiences renewal and restoration by having faith in God. To love the Lord is to follow Jesus. To say we love Him, but live the same way we did yesterday, is not to love Him like we should.

John 15:10-11 (NIV) If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.

God has jokes. I will let you in on a little secret. This house was not my first pick. I wanted a farmhouse with a wraparound porch. We looked at one or two. I had this overwhelming unction if you will that we would live in a farmhouse. Well, God has jokes. When we looked at this house, I knew it was the one that God handpicked for us. Walking through the home, it was the same layout as the one we were selling with some changes. Many of the changes were some that we had wished for in the other home and one day dreamed of doing. I remember feeling the peace of God yet still asking “are you sure”? This is not a farmhouse, Lord. I thought that’s what I wanted. Well, it is not a farmhouse but it is a house in a neighborhood called “The Farm”. I guess that makes it a “Farm” house.

His Ways are not my ways. His thoughts are so much higher than my own. Maturity in Jesus Christ requires a commitment to His Commandments. The Word of God is the beginning of true knowledge. The Word is seed for our heart from which our faith grows in the Lord. In our pursuit of wisdom, we cannot forget to continually read and study the Bible. People perish for a lack of knowledge. God is specific in nature. He does not lie or change His Mind. To be complete in Christ – who was the Word wrapped in flesh – means as believers we must know the Word of God.

It is not enough to know what God says but to do it. If I divided a room into three sections with one area marked as God’s Perfect Will, God’s Permissive Will and Not God’s Will at all, I am sure that if asked where you currently reside most Christians would play it safe and pick God’s Permissive Will. Sadly, there is no such thing really. God has a perfect will for us and then there is the area labeled not God’s Will at all. The world calls for compromise but that is not a welcome word in the Kingdom of God. In fact, it is to reject God completely. He vomits lukewarm Christians with a lack of sincere faith and commitment to Christ. John Bevere said it best – “There is absolutely nothing good for my life outside of God.”

Grace is enough to complete us. Grace is applied to our weakness. It is the Lord’s Deliberate Plan for us to take full advantage of His Grace in the process of maturity and completion. Grace and complacency are not the same thing. Grace is not a crutch but a pick-me-up when I fall short of the Glory of God so I can get back at it. It is for those who fall forward not backward. What do I mean? Grace is not a cushion to soften our fall but rather a set of arms that catches us as we learn to walk like a toddler taking their first shaky steps. Following Jesus is not easy. Carrying our cross is not a given. We must learn to walk.

I Corinthians 13:9-11 (NIV) For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

Our oldest daughter is grown, married and gone. She and her husband are in full-time ministry. They were called away just a few short months after their wedding. Both had not lived away from home for a year, when they packed up all their belongings and moved 21 hours away. She is experiencing life on her own and some days admits that “adulting” is tough. I must concur because at 50, I am still challenged with “adulting” some days. Maturity is not easy. It is taking responsibility of our life. What we do with it from that point on makes all the difference! If we take our life and hand it over to Jesus Christ, we will be made complete. It will be a process. We must be committed to that process. Since we can only know “in part” what is perfect, it is up to our reliance on Jesus Christ to fill in the gaps with His Understanding. That’s why He gave us the Holy Spirit. The more I grow in the Lord, the more that I need to grow. The more understanding that I am given the more I know that I need to be successful in my pursuit of Jesus.

Colossians 2:2-3 (NIV) My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

It has taken a lot of hard work to begin making our new house our home. Lots of cleaning and unpacking went into getting us here. Now as we settle in, projects abound and lists seem overwhelming. I believe that as we steadily work through our needs and want for this house that it’s true potential will begin to shine through. It will take time. It requires effort. It is a commitment. There will be things that I want to do on the weekend preempted by the task at hand. I must count the cost. I have to decide it will be worth it. The same goes for my relationship with Jesus Christ. I have decide if I want the Lord to make His Home in my heart or will we just be acquaintances? Will I live a life of true repentance continually being covered in His Blood and washed by His Word? Will I give Him my time? Will I invest energy into our relationship? Will I make a commitment to become fully mature lacking nothing or is mediocre good enough for me? Anything less of God’s Absolute Best is outside His Will for us. I wonder if that makes compromise and substitutions rebellion against God?

Ephesians 4:1-6 (NIV) As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

True maturity in our spiritual life is evaluated by unity. Do we live in love with Jesus? Do we do everything in an effort to maintain our relationship with Christ? Unity with Christ allows Him to bear the burdens of our life as we are yoked to Him. (Matthew 11:28) Prior to His Death, Jesus told His Disciples that our bond with Him gives us the right to use His Name. (John 16:22-24) When Jesus arose on the third day, He handed us the Keys to the Kingdom once stolen by sin. He gave us His Power and Authority. Shortly after that, He filled us with His Spirit. His Desire is to be one with us as He is with the Father. Complete unity is Father, Son and Spirit living in us. (John 17:22-23) The sign of a mature church is its connection with each other through their bond with Jesus Christ. No division. No parting of the ways. No opinions. Just Jesus filling every member to overflowing until His Love and Grace unites us all to one another. This is the Will of God. This is the sign of maturity that Christ is looking for in His Bride.

Philippians 1:9-11 (NIV) And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.

Last night, I dreamed that I put up rolling bamboo blinds on the screened porch to keep out the elements. When I woke up, I thought did I really dream about blinds last night? I have home improvement on the brain it appears. Seriously though, I need to continue my pursuit of Christ more so than any other endeavor in my life until He is at home in my heart. Spiritual maturity cannot be forsaken as the end times are here. We must be aware of our connection to Jesus. We daily maintain our relationship with Him. We must communicate with Christ. His Desire is to complete us. He wants our life to be filled with joy. Joy comes with things like contentment and satisfaction. Maturity comes from knowledge and understanding that becomes wisdom when we take what we know God wants and commit to doing it in our life by faith that He knows exactly what He is doing in us and for us. It is a life of trust. When His Spirit nudges, maturity responds instantly without reservation because it knows God and His Ways choosing to walking in them until we are complete lacking nothing.

Colossians 2:6-10 (NIV) So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ. For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority. 

Inconvenient Life

Inconvenient Life

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (NLT) That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! 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.

 

The week of “what next” is what I would call it. Just one thing after another, nothing terminal. My life has felt as though I am being pecked to death by a brace of ducks attacking feet. One annoyance after another. Sick children topped the list. One trip to the doctor will now turn to two. Missed work going on day three and wondering if it is piling up on me. My left eye is twitching so now I am wondering if I have pink eye, too. Schedules interrupted. Routines broken. I think I need to disinfect my entire house all over again. Do I have bleach? Wait work. I need to focus on work. Will I get caught up today? What about the house? Why isn’t it selling? Man, I hope the new one is not under contract. Wait! What am I doing? Inconvenience. I would call my life inconvenient today. What about you? Are things going as planned? Minor illnesses plaguing the roost? Work got you down? Housework piling up? Schedule hectic. Routine ruthless. All these things lead to distraction. Deadly distractions if we do not see things from a higher view and broader perspective.

 

We must never ever consider for a moment giving up but always strive to press on. We are called to something greater and much higher than the ordinary things in life that tend to hold us back. Our emotions get entangled in the inconveniences and soon our faith is strained and hope bogged down in the temporary rather than fixed on the eternal. It happens to us all. We are all human but called to a supernatural life much greater than ourselves. Greater is He who is in me than he that is in the world. (I John 4:4) It is this mindset that allows us to fix our eyes on the things we cannot see rather than becoming consumed with all that is around us. “For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:9) It is time to take it up a notch. To look beyond all the inconveniences that exist in our ordinary existence to reach for the extraordinary life God planned for us.

 

Our present troubles are small. They won’t last long. Our trouble is only temporary even though some days it feels as though you just can’t seem to catch a break. Remember Job, first it was everything he loved and all of his livelihood and then his life. Did he know that God wouldn’t allow the enemy to kill him? I am sure as the boils rose and broke on his skin, death seemed like a relief. God had other plans. He planned to prosper and bless Job giving him double for his trouble. What about you? Do you feel as though you and Job have a thing or two in common? If so, rejoice! Rather than looking at the situation, celebrate the season that is coming. I know, I know. It’s hard sometimes to see the forest for the trees. But God wants to take you wider, longer, higher and deeper than ever before so that His Love can wrap around every single part of your life. (Ephesians 3:18-20) It is in the Presence of God that we can see above the pain, heartache, suffering of this season into the next one that is coming. It is called faith. It is the very thing that produces hope that never leads to disappointment. While you are simply looking for a way out, God has more in store for you than you might ask or think.

 

Hebrews 11:1 (NLT) Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.

 

If you can see it, do it, or think it – you really do not need faith to secure it. Faith is the reality of things that we hope for and the evidence of things that we cannot see. When the life does not add up to the Promises of God – it is important that we live in the realm of hope. The life of faith is ever changing the more we pursue the Lord. Faith is illogical. It requires God’s Spirit to hold on to because there is no tangible evidence otherwise. Hope in us must become so weighty it resembles a mighty anchor or we will waver and drift away. (Hebrews 6:19) I have come to live for the word “impossible”. When someone deems that nothing more can be done or attempts to seal my destiny with a word life “forever”, they step outside their realm of authority into God’s Place in my life. He does not take this lightly and time after time changes the situation immediately. Trouble is most people cannot exist without options or escape routes. They will follow Jesus until it me going places our feet cannot touch, or jumping out of the boat to walk on water. Comfort and compromise take the place of inconvenience. We want immediate gratification so many times God’s Timing is just not acceptable to us. It is in those moments of decision when we choose to stick it out and wait to see what God is doing that we experience double portions, complete healings, supernatural turnaround and more.

 

Hebrews 11:13-16 (NLT) All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it. They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads here on earth. Obviously people who say such things are looking forward to a country they can call their own. If they had longed for the country they came from, they could have gone back. But they were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

 

Just like you, there are things in my life that do not add up to what God has promised me in His Word and confirmed in my spirit. I am waiting. I don’t like to wait. In fact, it is a joke among those who know me. Yet, God consistently gives me opportunities to wait. When I have waited and watched beyond my expected wait time, rather than abandoning my post, I now begin digging a little deeper and try to look past what I can see. I have learned that in my waiting that the Lord is always active. But what if, like the “foreigners and nomads” wandering the earth, waiting and watching for the Messiah, I had died before He came. Would I have been faithful? Would I have strived to live a holy life? Would I have been called “righteous”? They did not receive the promise in their lifetime, yet seeing it in the distance still welcomed it. I want that to be me today. No longer bothered by the inconveniences in my life but to be focused and settled on the Kingdom that is coming that lives in me now.

 

I Peter 1:14-17 (NLT) So you must live as God’s obedient children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then. But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.” And remember that the heavenly Father to whom you pray has no favorites. He will judge or reward you according to what you do. So you must live in reverent fear of him during your time here as “temporary residents.”

 

Many times people become so engrossed in making this life better, we lose sight of that which is coming that is far greater than this life we live. We want God to satisfy our fleshly desires, fill our bank accounts, tame our rowdy children, give us promotions and increase along with a nice house and fancy car yet none of that will add a moment or measure to our life of worth. Those things are dying with this planet. We must live as God’s Obedient Children right now. Before we see Him, just because we know Him and love Him. We must be holy, set apart and consecrated to the Lord which means constantly and consistently laying our life down for others in every way possible. We must live humbly.  We are to live respectfully. We are to live honestly. We are temporary residents and must live faithful to the Kingdom to which we belong. My response to life should not be based on my circumstances but solely on my residence in God’s Kingdom and responsibility as a Child of the King.

 

I Peter 2:13-17 (NLT) For the Lord’s sake, submit to all human authority—whether the king as head of state, or the officials he has appointed. For the king has sent them to punish those who do wrong and to honor those who do right. It is God’s will that your honorable lives should silence those ignorant people who make foolish accusations against you. For you are free, yet you are God’s slaves, so don’t use your freedom as an excuse to do evil. Respect everyone, and love the family of believers. Fear God, and respect the king.

 

There is no sense of entitlement in the Kingdom of God and so we cannot adopt one here. The world owes us nothing. As a member of the Body of Christ, I do owe the world something. Love. Romans 13:8 says, “Own nothing to anyone except your obligation to love one another.” We are to submit to ALL human authority even if you did not choose it or vote for it. It is God’s Will for us to live honorable lives that silence ignorant people. Here’s a hint – there are no soapboxes in Heaven. You do not have to prove a point. Discredit the devil. Or prove God right. You are called to love everyone. If your words brutalize another, they are not from God. We can love others to Jesus without offending them, verbally assaulting them or even convincing them of hell. We must use our attitude and actions to convince other people that God’s Love is great and His Grace even greater so they will see Him and love Him like we do.

 

James 1:2-4 (NLT) Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

 

We will always have trouble. There will be trials in our life to produce faith that is so precious. Endurance is the thing that allows our faith to grow into the capacity needed to have secure hope that can live for forever rather than fixed on today. The process is lengthy. Some days overwhelming. But for those who do not give up and carry the term “temporary resident” though life is inconvenient, it will always be worth it. Nothing is wasted as God’s Word Promises. He works every detail in our life for our good. (Romans 8:28) He perfects that which concerns me. (Psalm 138:8) He has a plan far greater than my own containing a future and hope even though I want it right now. (Jeremiah 29:11) What does He want in return? Just for me to believe. If I choose to live this life as though I really do believe in God, His Son, His Spirit and His Kingdom, this inconvenient life will lead to an everlasting forever. The Lord desires to make us perfect and complete needing nothing. Fully satisfied and completely fulfilled. Who doesn’t want that? Everyone does. Who is willing to wait for it? Not as many. Those who endure to the end will be saved. Will it be you? Will it be me? I intend to make it so.

 

John 20:29 (NLT) Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are

Make Up Your Mind

Make Up Your Mind

Colossians 3:1-3 (NKJV)

If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

Every morning my husband and I make our bed before heading out for the day. We were taught as children to do so and it has carried over into adulthood. According to Hunch.com, in a survey of 68.000 people – 59% of people do not make their beds and only 27% do. About 12% pay a housekeeper to make it…lucky them. Of those who made their bed, 71% considered themselves happy but 62% of non-bed makers admit being unhappy. Bed makers were found more likely to like their jobs, own a home, exercise regularly and fell well rested, but those who did not make their bed indicated that they hated their jobs, rent apartments, avoid the gym, and wake up tired each day. Overall those who took the time to make their bed each day were happier and more successful overall.

 

How does making your bed improve your life? Apparently, it gives you a feeling of accomplishment, it creates a positive state of mind, lowers stress, prevents embarrassment and leads to other good habits. Who knew? I made my bed as a child because my mother asked me to. I make it now because it is a habit. According to Time magazine, it is one of the top 12 things extremely successful people do along with waking up early, exercise, spending quality time with family, connect with spouses, and pursue passion. Success is a mindset. We develop the habits and routines that define our ability to be productive in life. How can something as simple as making your bed better your life? It has nothing to do with a piece of furniture covered in sheets sitting in the center of your bedroom. It is all about that much smaller space located in between our ears and the lobe of thinking mass called our brain.

I believe the secret to success in the natural and spiritual realm is achieved by having a made up mind every single day. When we awaken in the morning after hitting the snooze button one, two, three or more times, precious time is lost in our morning that could be committed to a made up mind. It sets the course of our day. I am not a morning person. I try not to speak that in the natural anymore because I know now that my words hold power. I use them here simply so one may relate. I find sleep deprivation to be the biggest challenge for me at times. I require a certain amount of sleep to function properly. However, I used to be a night owl staying up all hours of the night to early morning. I had to begin going to bed at 10:00 PM disregarding if I was tired or not, but just doing it so that I could get up earlier and spend time with the Lord each day. I get up around 4:45 AM on the average during the week and around 7:30 AM on the weekends. It is my routine. When I get up, I head straight to my prayer closet and spend time with the Lord. I want Him to tell me something new about Him. I want Him to reveal something in me. Anything is fine. It can be something good or something I need to work on. It really doesn’t matter just as long as He is here.

 

What I have noticed over the years is that as I have taken control of my schedule, established a new routine, and developed better habits – my life is more successful. My flesh still fights some of the changes even though my mind is aware of the benefit. I must make up my mind each day who is in control. It begins by reconciling my thoughts to Jesus Christ. I must set my mind on things above, not on things on the earth. My life is hidden in Christ. I must make up my mind to find my life in Jesus.

Hebrews 10:23 (NKJV)

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.

This morning when I woke up, this verse was circulating in my mind. The Holy Spirit was clearing up and running before I opened my eyes. It is not unusual to be stirred by the Lord in our sleep. I think God wakes us up at 3:00 AM sometimes because it is the only time that He is able to get undivided attention. If we give Him time in each day, maybe there would be fewer times that we cannot sleep at night. Hold fast the confession of hope without wavering. The Lord is clearly telling me that I must make up my mind about something. I am pretty sure what that is but maybe you have something you are wavering about?

To waver means to sway to and fro. It is to become unstable. To begin to fail or give way. To shake. It is to feel or show doubt. We must have a made up mind in Jesus Christ. Every day there is a battle in our mind for control. Will we give in to our flesh or maintain our new life according to the Spirit of God within us? It really is up to the individual. You control who or what has power and authority in your life. It is all part of the freedom given to us in our new life in Christ. The devil cannot make you do anything. He only has dominion over you to the extent allowed by you. No weapon against you can prosper. Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world. Jesus overcame the world. Do you believe it? This is the presiding question in each new day.

The Power of God and His Promises are not dictated by our faith in Him but His Faithfulness alone. When we come to the Lord by faith with confidence in the hope, it will produce success in our life simply because we trust the Lord. Trust is destroyed the moment doubt is present. Doubt is a detriment to our life and sin that requires repentance. (James 4:8) James 1:6-7 tells us that a doubleminded man is unstable. Doubt represents a lack of faith. Faith is required to please God. Are you holding fast today? I am getting a grip for sure.

Romans 4:19-21 (NKJV)

And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah’s womb. He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform.

Around this time two years ago, our son was still battling cancer. The “experimental” treatment had been denied and I was waiting on their final answer. When it came back as “no”, I was absolutely rocked to my core. The world had decided the price of life too high at roughly $350K. It is a great deal of money. My son is priceless. I remember thinking and praying during that time envisioning Abraham going up the mountain with Isaac. His son, his promise, his future determined to give the Lord exactly what He asked. I kept recalling God’s Word that our boy would live and not die. I dissected His Word over and over. Finally, I could see my feet digging into the side of the mountain as I made my ascent dragging our son with me. I had decided that God would do a miracle if we made it to the top. If I had to drag his lifeless body all the way up Mount Zion, God would do what He said. Giving up and giving in was not an option. God said it. I believe it. That settled it. No matter what the world said, I would have to hear God tell me different to stop me.

 

Many are in the valley of decision today. In Joel 3:14, it declares that “multitudes” upon multitudes are in such a place as the Day of the Lord draws near. Are you? Am I? It is a place of indecision when we do not have a made up mind. When anyone or anything can dissuade us from our faith in God and trust in His Ability, we are in the valley again.

Romans 8:5-8 (NKJV)

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

Just as it is proven in many studies that successful people demonstrate certain habits and behaviors consistently, so it is with successful believers. The secret to spiritual success is not habitual although changing our habits will aid in the process. It begins with a choice. Will I serve my flesh today or will I walk in the Spirit? Will I be carnally minded believing what I see and reacting to it? Or will I walk by faith not by sight and respond to the Love of God that I have found? These are two profoundly different pursuits. It requires a choice. We decide who we live for today. There are only two choices. We live for the Kingdom of God or this world. There is no gray area so we must make up our mind.

Jesus has given us the freedom to choose. (Romans 1:28-32) If we do not choose to follow Jesus, there is only one other choice left. You cannot come to the Lord halfheartedly and completion. It is with our whole heart that we experience His Love firsthand. We must steady our anxious thoughts. Stop worrying about what God has already provided. He has supplied all our needs according to His Riches in Glory. He is doing more than we could even think to ask for. We only have to make up our mind and live pursuing Jesus wholeheartedly. Our mind must be continually renewed day by day to have a transformed life. (Romans 12:2) We must have a willing heart and mind committed to finishing every good work that the Lord begins in us seeing it through to fulfilment because God is faithful to finish what He starts. (2 Corinthians 8:10-12) We should be committed to doing the same. Every thought, idea, emotion and feeling must be made up into a sound mind as we reconcile our entire existence to Christ. (Colossians 1:19-23)

Philippians 3:12-16 (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. Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind.

I have made my bed for many, many years now. I have instructed my children to do the same. It was only recently that I discovered it to be psychologically beneficial in the studies I found on line. I had no idea that it might potentially lead to other successful habits and routines in life. It is discipline. I began doing it because my mother made me. I continued to do it because it is a habit. It is only now that I realize it potentially has led to my success through discipline. See the Word of God doesn’t always make sense, but when we are obedient – it leads to success. As we praise God in His Faithfulness, looking back we can see how it all worked together for our good but during the process many times it seemed like failure was imminent. God’s Ways are not like our ways. There are many things that we are instructed to do in the Word of God AND from the pulpits in this world. I encourage you today to allow Jesus to renew your mind with His Word and His Spirit until it is set on the mark of your high calling. So that you can safely discern if the word you are being fed by mankind is in alignment with that Calling according to Jesus Christ. We must know. We live in a day and age of mixed religion, diluted doctrine, convoluted grace and inaccurate portrayals of God’s Kingdom, His Truth and His Way. (2 Corinthians 11:3-4) Without a deliberately and disciplined made up mind…one might be deceived and risk everything on a lie.

We have the Mind of Christ. (I Corinthians 2:13-16) Jesus is the Word of God wrapped in flesh who gives us His Spirit to help us understand and guide us through this life safely into Eternity. Any thought or idea contrary to God’s Word, Will or Way is enmity against God. It is literally hostile to the Lord and His Purpose in our life. Doubt is a faith killer. Negativity is a dream crusher. The thoughts in our head produce the words that come out of our mouth that hold life-giving power or doom and despair. We must make up our mind today…while it still is today who we will serve body, mind and spirit which is to the benefit of our soul. We do not know what today holds. God does and He prepared everything we need to be successful and prosper. God is good. He is for me never against me. He will never leave me or forsake me. He pursues me with His Unfailing Love from which nothing can separate me. All these thoughts and ideas are true and must become the foundation of my life and faith in Christ.

Am I willing to make up my mind each day? To sacrifice my mind, thoughts, ideas and emotions to the Lord as a living sacrifice? Do I want what He wants for me? A doubleminded man or woman is unstable. Those who waver do not get the promise. We must make the decision each day as we make up our bed to make up our mind. Be strong in our commitment to follow Jesus and trust His Way. Lord, help me have a made up mind today. I give every thought and idea to you for spiritual filtration and fulfillment in Jesus Name.

Psalm 26:1-2 (NKJV)

Vindicate me, O Lord, for I have walked in my integrity. I have also trusted in the Lord; I shall not slip. Examine me, O Lord, and prove me; try my mind and my heart.

To Be Perfect

To Be Perfect

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.

 

Is perfection even possible? Paul said, “not that I have already attained or am already perfected”, so is there a subtle implication in his words that by pressing toward the mark and laying hold of Christ our life will somehow become perfect? What is perfection anyway? Perfection is defined as the highest degree of proficiency, skill or excellence. It is the “perfect” example of something. The word “perfect” means conforming absolutely to the description of definition. Excellent and complete. Exactly fitting. Entirely without any flaws, defects or shortcomings. I am human being filled with everything that makes me just the opposite of perfect so what’s the point? How can I ever be perfected when every fiber of my being and character are contrary to it? Perfect comes from the Latin word “perfectio” which means a finishing. Over time, we have defined perfect but the root of it all is finishing. This means that perfection is not how we start but found in our finishing. Our growth and development that leads to completion is the very thing that perfects us. If we can change our perspective on perfection, perhaps people will stop compromising and accepting substitutions and choose to be perfect.

 

Forgetting those things which are behind me can be such a challenge. Seldom do I dwell on my past successes, but rather all the times I gave up, fell short or thoroughly messed up. The enemy gladly shoves the memories of all my faults and failures into my face inviting me to question God’s Perfect Grace. To be perfect as God has promised and desires us to be requires reaching forward to those things given by faith and confident hope. These are the impossibles made possible for those who believe. Do you believe? This is the foundational question that must be answered to attain a perfected life.

 

James 1:4-8 (NKJV)

But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

 

Perfection is finishing. It is not how we begin, but those who endure until the end of this process of growth and development in Christ. The Lord wants to make us perfect and complete, lacking nothing. It will require wisdom which when we take what we know and apply it to our life. Otherwise, it is misplaced zeal. Hosea warns that His People perish from a lack of knowledge. Ignorant Christianity will never get us into Heaven. It is the heart and mind bent on perfection willing to do whatever it takes to make it to the end that will be saved. Faith is a life without fear and doubt producing full confidence and contentment in God and His Ways beginning with Jesus who is the Only Way to the Father. No one comes to the Father but by me. Do not be deceived for a double-minded man (or woman) is unstable in all of their ways.

 

Matthew 5:48 (NKJV) Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.

 

Jesus said that we would be perfect. We would be finished. Made complete. Whole lacking nothing. Yet, in all things I am imperfect. The first thing I must do is accept that fact that I am nothing apart from Christ and can do nothing outside of our relationship that is worthwhile or beneficial for my future. There are a couple of things required to achieve perfection.

 

Genesis 6:5-9 (NKJV)

Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. So the Lord said, “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.” But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. This is the genealogy of Noah. Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God.

 

Grace releases God’s Power of Perfection in our life. Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. But as we read further, it says that he was a just man, perfect in “his generations” and that he walked with God. Everyone requires the Grace of God. No one is exempt. It is the daily overflow of God’s Grace that allows us to move deeper in righteousness and closer to the Lord. Noah found favor with God not because he was perfect but because he desired a relationship with God the Father and worked to maintain it. His Works did not define that process but God’s Grace given to Noah. Noah and his family would be the only generation to survive the total demolish of the earth. Would our pursuit of God save our family from destruction? Does my life exemplify the grace and goodness that I have been delivered?

 

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.

 

God is perfect in all of His Ways. He will not change any of His Ways or that makes Him indecisive and changeable which invalidates His Perfection. He got it right the first time. Man mistakes God’s Grace for a change of heart. God is not emotional. He is Sovereign. He loved us and chose us from the very beginning. He established the Way for us before we were born into sin. He knew us and loves us because He created us. You don’t have to believe the Word of God to make it any more valid or true. The Truth stands alone. In an ever-changing world with compromised morals, mixed feelings, gray areas and convoluted ideas of grace, we must take God’s Word as the whole and absolute truth making it the foundation of our thoughts and filling our hearts with its knowledge to be wise when it comes to Christ. Perfection is impossible outside of the Lord.

 

God is My Strength and Power. Do you agree today? Think about it before you answer because the next mind-blowing revelation might rock you as it did me. To truly believe that God is perfect requires two things – weakness and surrender. You will never give God everything when your life is perfect. It is in the devastating revelation that you are weak and helpless that surrender is accomplished. It is in THAT moment when perfection becomes possible in our life.

 

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (NKJV)

And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My Strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

 

Weakness acquires His Strength. We cannot become strong in the Lord until we discover our own human weakness. We want to do what is right but cannot. We desire perfection but fall short. It is right here in this place of giving up and giving in that His Perfecting Power is manifested in our life.

 

Ephesians 2:8-10 (NKJV)

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

 

God’s Power requires full surrender of our life to God’s Plan and accepting His Grace. Grace is the key to perfection. We must accept God’s Strength and Power in order to allow our heart and mind to change according to His Will and Way. We can do nothing apart from the free gift of God. We must learn to walk in His Way.

 

Psalm 19:7-11 (NKJV)

The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, Yea, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them Your servant is warned, and in keeping them there is great reward.

 

The truth behind grace is the absolute solidity of God’s Word as true. Do you believe God’s Word? It must be the unadulterated truth of our life to move past the opening stages of the gift of grace to the perfecting qualities of faith in God. We must grow, develop and mature in our relationship with Jesus Christ in the dispensation of His Grace to become who God created us to be. Life does not get easier, just more purposeful. It does not turn down the heat of fiery trials just keeps us safe and gives them meaning. It is the conversion of our heart and soul in becoming a living sacrifice that allows us to be transformed and perfected according to His Word. (Romans 12:1-2) It does not change the past but our future.

 

Matthew 19:20-22 (NKJV)

The young man said to Him, “All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to 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.” But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

 

In this parable, the dilemma faced in the pursuit of perfection is revealed. Heartbreakingly true, it happens every day. The young man was raised in religion and performed quite well. But when Jesus reached inside his heart to expose his weakness, the young man could not let it go. He could not become weak for the Lord giving up the security and comfort of his wealth. He could not give Jesus his weakness which was his love of position and power. So he took his perfect worldly life and went his way rather than answering the call of Jesus to follow me. What is keeping you from perfection today? I know with vivid clarity the areas keeping me. The things I choose to build my own strength rather allowing the Lord to be my strength. The areas of weakness I hide from the risk of exposure that would allow Him to make me strong. God invites me to have perfection. I was created to be perfect but chose iniquity. (Ezekiel 28:15) If I make a commitment to perfection (Psalm 101:2), He promises to perfect all concerns me. (Psalm 138:8) He will keep me in perfect peace if I set my mind on Him. (Isaiah 26:2-4) God has given us so many promises as a result of the perfection that He gives us by His Grace. (I Corinthians 7:1) If only we would consider the opportunities of grace rather the opposition of our flesh to following His Way, what would happen? We might just be perfected.

 

Ephesians 4:12-16 (NKJV)

For the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 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.

 

To be perfect is the fulfillment of God’s Grace in our life. To take the gift we have been given, open it and apply it to our life. This is a direct result of one’s decision to accept our weakness and desire His Strength, while we surrender our life to accept His Power of Transformation and the conversion of our soul from death to life. Christ was perfected in the third day. Not on the Cross but in His Resurrection from the tomb. This is how God’s Power works in us. The same power that brought Jesus out of the grave is the same power in us that allows us to be perfected in Christ. (Luke 13:32; Hebrews 5:8-9) We have a purpose that grace accomplishes. His Strength and Power allows us to be finished, made complete and lacking nothing. God is not finished with you yet…He is just beginning. In giving our life to Him, walking His Way and choosing to take Him at His Word, we are promised to be perfect! His Love makes us perfect!

 

Colossians 3:14 (NKJV) But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.

Clean Sheets

Clean Sheets

Psalm 62:5-8 (NIV)

Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.

There is nothing better in the world than clean sheets. Freshly laundered and smelling divine. Clean and soft from the fabric softener. Smooth and tightly molded around your comfortable and familiar bed. The smell reinforces the sense of home and its gentle wooing as you drift off to sleep. It is the thing I long for when traveling, to come home to my bed and fresh linens. Every Friday morning, we strip the sheets from our bed and toss them in the machine. Filling each compartment with cleaning agents, it begins to fill with water, as I close the lid it locks and begins to twist and spin as it washes the fabric. It is a violent process occurring under the lid. However, soon it is over and the wet mound is thrust into the dryer where for the next half an hour it is tumbled in high heat. Soon the alert is given that the sheets are dry and ready to be put back on the bed. Shaking them out, the aroma of the process endured rises from the pile. It smells fresh and welcoming. The fitted sheet is spread across the bed molded to the mattress. The flat sheet is then lifted into the air and spread across the top. Once it settles, stretching and adjusting as it is folded to fit the top as a steady hand begins to smooth out all the wrinkles until it is pristine and perfect. The process of preparing is full of twists and turns, but in the moment they are done a place of comfort, rest and peace is provided such are the processes of God in Christ Jesus to us.

Yes, my soul, find rest in God! My hope comes from Him. All this is not seen immediately in life but through the process set forth by His Plans for us – it is accomplished. Hope requires faith which is found when the shaking, moving, trembling and unknown are claimed to be real, valid and worth having. God is my rock. He is my salvation. He is the fortress of my life. Therefore, I will not be shaken. Note: It does not say that the world will not be shaken or that life will not happen but simply states that you (and I) will not be shaken. When my life depends on God – there is a process of growing, maturing, refining, and developing the small beginning of faith into a confident hope not reliant on a perfect life but a perfected soul. To trust in the Lord at all times requires the process by which the fruit of His Spirit grow so that we produce that we have been called to do and accomplish. The shaking tests the foundation of our faith, the concreteness of our confidence, and the placement of our soul. It was after violently shaking the mountain he was standing on that Elijah heard the Lord. God has promised that He will do it again. Thank you Lord for considering my heart, my mind, my spirit and loving my soul enough to continue shaking the world around us until our heart, mind and body fall into place and worship the God who loves us and died for us now and forevermore.

Isaiah 54:9-10 (NIV)

“To me this is like the days of Noah, when I swore that the waters of Noah would never again cover the earth. So now I have sworn not to be angry with you, never to rebuke you again. Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you.

 

The seeker sensitive environment called the church of today prides itself on comfort and acceptance of God’s Grace to the fullest. Focused on God’s Unfailing Love and Neverending Grace, it does not talk about the significant price paid for our soul or the cost of carrying our cross. It loves the world and everyone it and with that all things are permissible. Approaching God as a friend forgetting His True Identity creates a relationship of comfort and compromise that is yielding nothing more than warm fuzzies and fellowships. I do not mean to be hard but to go to church, pray and serve God in a state of constant comfort means that there is a lack of repentance, revelation and redemption. As we journey deeper, edging closer and turning more of our life over to the Lord there is a general discomfort in our sullen sinful state. It cries out for more repentance and acceptance of the holiness that we are called to waving goodbye to this world, forsaking this life, forgetting the past to press on to the mark of our high calling in Christ.

To live for Christ shakes up our natural life. The world hates Him and us, too. To be accepted all the time means something is lacking in us. It is a sign that there is no growth, moving of the ground that signifies new life rising. Complacency tickles our comfort zone as the slightest bit of compromise becomes our pitfall. I know for I have fallen. As the Lord shakes the earth, it begins to fall apart. In the shaking of His People, His Promise is revealed as the things of this earth fall away and His Glory in us is revealed. It is not just hard coming through the valleys of life, sometimes it is equally as difficult to come down off the mountain. Triumph and victory always come with a price. In the battles of life, Jesus promises a win. There is still an assault. There is still opposition. We will have to make a stand even when all hell breaks loose against us. Everything will shake, but we will not be shaken or moved. The Lord’s Covenant of Peace remains firmly established in us. He has great compassion for you.

Nehemiah 5:13 (NIV)

I also shook out the folds of my robe and said, “In this way may God shake out of their house and possessions anyone who does not keep this promise. So may such a person be shaken out and emptied!” At this the whole assembly said, “Amen,” and praised the Lord. And the people did as they had promised.

The church in Nehemiah’s time had a problem. There was a famine. Fellow Jews who were mortgaging their fields, vineyards and homes just to eat. Their children enslaved. They were powerless to save them. They called out to the Lord and Nehemiah. Nehemiah 5:6-12 tells of its members who were lending money to them at huge interest rates further victimizing the poor among them. Nehemiah told them it was not right and to stop charging their “brothers” interest. Not only that, they were to return the land taken from them along with the interest. The people repented saying that they would give it back taking an oath and making a promise.

“In this way may God shake out of their house and possessions anyone who does not keep this promise…so may such a person be shaken out and emptied.” Everyone said, “Amen!” Of course they did, they were in church. No one would object in such a state, but when they left and began rethinking the commitment as the enemy whispered in their ear, I wonder how many really did what they committed to do? In this image of shaking the folds from his garment, I see the Hand of the Lord shaking us gently. He spreads the contents of our life before Him as we submit it to Him. He begins lovingly but firmly smoothing every wrinkle and blemish until we are spotless and clean – washed by His Word, covered by the Blood, truly repentant as He begins to mold and shape us into who He created us to be. This process is continuous in our life. We are shaken and moved like sheets stripped from a bed. Sometimes gently they come off or other times must be tugged, pulled or yanked from a corner that just seems to be hanging on. Washed in water, dried by the fiery heat of refinement and prepared for service through the trials and tests of life until we are ready. We feel ready until by faith our life seems completely up in the air. As everything begins to fall into place, God’s Hands begin working faithfully as promised to remove the bumps and folds that keep our ways from being straight and hearts remaining true. Yes, we are shaken as our sins removed. The heat of our trials work its way through, but in the end as it all falls into place, we find the purpose and meaning of the violence of its process.

Hebrews 12:26-29 (NIV)

At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.”

“There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.” (Luke 21:25-27) I believe these days are coming. In many ways, they are already here. Love is cold. Sin is rampant. Wars and rumors of war. The persecution of Christians is a worldwide event. Many will turn away from faith, hating and betraying each other. Our world is in a sad state socially. Environmentally and naturally it shakes and trembles at the close proximity of Christ. Are you shaken? Is your faith questionable as you read the news? Do you have confident hope? Those who endure to the end will be saved. Does the fact that as believers not yield a clue that there will be tough times and shaky situations as well as cataclysmic circumstances as our faith is tested, hope confirmed and salvation secured for the Day of Redemption? Of course it does. How you hold up under the shaking? Are you being shaped and molded by His Love? Do you feel the pressure today? Good!

The earth shook and the foundation tested to make the doors to the prison of Paul and Silas open and for the chains of bondage to fall off. (Acts 16:25-27) When the Spirit of God broke loose, the whole building shook at the sudden arrival of His Presence. (Acts 4:31) Don’t kid yourself any longer, if the church got serious about Jesus again and invited Him to enter each service it would most certainly shake things up. People would be saved. The bound set free. The broken restored. The sick healed. The blind would see. The deaf would hear. The dead would find new life again. See all these things come of God’s Great Shaking in life. It cannot be avoided if the Lord is who we are after. If Jesus is the One we seek, our lives will begin to tremble with change as the possibilities of faith are revealed. They will come to pass when the shaking around us doesn’t move us but changes our heart and mind until it is settled on Jesus Christ alone.

Psalm 16:5-8(NIV)

Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

The only way to survive the process that yields faith and confident hope is to find the fullness of our security in the Lord. We must transition our life from this earth to His Kingdom. We are in this world but not of it. With the revelation of faith, we know that no matter how things look, feel or what the circumstances are that we are more than conquerors through the Love of Christ. We know that no matter what the weapon is that it cannot prosper against us. We know that by faith we are saved. This does not mean that we will not be violently shaken from time to time but what it does mean that as things fall into place, the inheritance claimed by faith and confident hope will be to our complete satisfaction. We claim these promises by faith alone. Confident hope is our commitment to the process of change as the Lord moves us from His Glory to Glory and victory to victory in life. It’s not always comfortable and most of the time unclear but we can be certain that greater is He who is in us than He that is in this world. If Jesus is my portion, He is my cup, He is my inheritance than my position is always secure and independent of the condition of this world. The boundary lines created by holiness, obedience and trust will always fall in pleasant places if I choose to believe with total trust in the Lord and all of His Ways. Seeking His Counsel, living by His Truth as He instructs me, so that I keep my eyes firmly fixed on the hope that is before me. With Jesus at my right hand, I may feel the sensation of shaking but I will not be moved. Do you feel shaken? Pressed? Is it like everything is up in the air? Just hang on. God has it all under control. In the end, He will give you peace, comfort and rest as His Process is completed in you and His Glory will shine through your new life.

I Corinthians 15:57-58 (NLT)

But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ. So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.

Live On Purpose

Living on Purpose

Proverbs 16:3-4 (NLT)

Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed. The Lord has made everything for his own purposes, even the wicked for a day of disaster.

The Lord has made EVERYTHING for His Own Purposes. You and I were born on purpose. How do I know? Let’s review. First of all, God indicated that He knew the plans of our life even to go so far as to say that they contained a future and hope. He also said that they are for good and not disaster. (Wipe the brow with a sigh of relief.) Yes! That’s awesome, right? Hang on. Moving to Psalm 139, there are more encouraging words that reveal the God of Creation at work before we made it to our mother’s womb. He designed us with purpose and intent. Carefully recording every single day right down to the moment before we were born. His Thoughts about us are precious. I love it! I am feeling pretty good about things, right about now? How about you? “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” (Ephesians 2:10)

 

If, in fact, we have been created with a significant plan and confident hope by God… why is our life not representative of this purpose? We were created with purpose, born on purpose, and promised a life of purpose. Why do people find life so unfulfilling, dissatisfying and remain discontent? Maybe if we look at some of those passages again, we will find out. Jeremiah 29:11 is followed by Jeremiah 29:12-13 that read, “In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.” Oh wow…missed that part. After 22 verses in Psalm 139 about God’s obvious meticulous care in our creation, it says, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” And finally just before we are called “God’s Masterpiece”, it is revealed that “Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else. But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) (Ephesians 5:1-5) Are we still dead in disobedience…could that be the problem? You were created with a purpose. God’s Plan for our life is success and prosperity. God laid down the Law so that we could see that it was our sin standing in the way of complete satisfaction and fulfillment in life. When Jesus Christ came to die for our sins and set us free to live on purpose, it did not make the Law of God obsolete but His Grace filled in the blanks left by our sin so that we could now be reunited with God and have all that He promised us. We were created with purpose, born on purpose and have the ability to fulfill that purpose but first we must make the choice that we want it wholeheartedly.

Joshua 24:14-15 (NLT)

“So fear the Lord and serve him wholeheartedly. Put away forever the idols your ancestors worshiped when they lived beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord alone. But if you refuse to serve the Lord, then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.”

The Lord created us to serve Him. We have an innate quality set on serving something. We choose who to serve. It is God’s Purpose that we will serve Him or decide to serve sin in our life. To fear the Lord and serve Him wholeheartedly brings about His Purpose which leads to fulfillment and success in our life. However, some people want both to serve God and entertain sin so they read the Word of God for their benefit not on purpose. I was born with purpose that I have ventured closer to over the last fifteen years. It has been a hard fought battle. I have started and stopped many times. I have pitched tantrums at the Throne of God and humbly returned crying at His Feet. But somehow and somewhere all those years ago, I finally decided that the back and forth of wavering was exhausting so I would go all in. What about you? Who do you serve with your life today? To live out the purpose of our creation means to live in right standing with God which is achieved day by day and moment by moment as He described it in Psalm 139:16.

Ecclesiastes 3:14-15 (NLT)

And I know that whatever God does is final. Nothing can be added to it or taken from it. God’s purpose is that people should fear him. What is happening now has happened before, and what will happen in the future has happened before, because God makes the same things happen over and over again.

 

There is a difference between fear and respect. Those who remain lost in their sin and decide to stay in darkness should absolutely fear God. His Love for them is real and permanent but would not be love if forced. To love sin and darkness is to decide to forever be separated from the Lord. What about grace? We will get to that in a minute. When fear is defined as respect, it changes. When we fully accept Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord wholeheartedly committing our entire life to Him, now our relationship with God changes and we have nothing to fear. His Grace is sufficient to cover our sin. God is not a man who can lie or change His Mind or He would not be God. God is Sovereign. He is Perfect. To change or modify His Behavior or Actions would imply the opposite. God’s Word is true. When it says, “whatever God does is final” it is because of these qualities. Nothing can be added or taken away and God still be God. We take on each day wondering what is coming or what will happen next, but God already knows so there is nothing new in our life that surprises the Lord or that He has not fully equipped us to do and provided for us. Just wrap your mind around that for a moment. It’s tough. If this is the case, which it is, God says if we respect Him as believers that we would consider Him first and foremost in our life to achieve that purpose rather than running off in our own direction all the time. Respect is esteem for or a sense of the worth or excellence of someone. When we finally decide God is worthy of our respect, we will begin to serve Him with our life and live on purpose.

Jeremiah 32:38-41 (NLT)

They will be my people, and I will be their God. And I will give them one heart and one purpose: to worship me forever, for their own good and for the good of all their descendants. And I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good for them. I will put a desire in their hearts to worship me, and they will never leave me. I will find joy doing good for them and will faithfully and wholeheartedly replant them in this land.

 

When I was potty training the children, I had one particular one who hated the thought. Hours of screaming and crying on the toilet in the bathroom wailing as though I was torturing them. Now some of the great parental encouragers say that don’t stress about it, they will figure it out in time. Good for you! It was time. I had reached my limit gagging over the nasty diapers. This kid was about to learn a valuable lesson. So one day, this little person decided to hide outside and do their business once again. Mama was done. I took the small offender in the bathroom. Filled a small basin with water, handed them as soapy rag and told them it was time to clean up their own mess because mama was done. Complete and total meltdown. Wailing I don’t want to touch it, don’t make me clean it up, and the like until finally I relented helping them while gently but firmly instructing them the ease of using the potty rather than their pants and the high efficiency of modern plumbing in taking care of things like this while also reaffirming this was my last time helping in this matter. What happened next? My child never had another “accident” again.

What brought this to mind? We don’t like to deal with our mess. All those things that brought us to the Cross in the first place taken care of – we don’t want to dig any deeper. We harbor sin. We like to entertain certain things. We want to follow certain people. Everyone has a point where following Christ is a challenge. For each person, it is different. We wail before God asking Him to help but the truth is that He already did. He gave His One and Only Son that our sin could be cast into the Sea of Forgetfulness and be moved as far as the east is from the west. His Spirit will come inside of us and teach us, guide us, lead us and cultivate God’s Purpose in us. Obedience is essential to achieving God’s Purpose in our life which means making a choice in the gray areas of life. Although all things are permissible thanks to God’s Grace and Mercy not everything is beneficial. We can follow the Lord enough to have a better life, but if we want God’s Best it requires following Him and seeking Him wholeheartedly which means that there will be times of discipline that leads to brokenness in us. God is not going to change. To have His Best and live according to His Purpose requires a change in us, but  when you see what the Father longs to do in us – how can we continue to oppose such goodness in our life?

Acts 17:27-31 (NLT)

 “His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him—though he is not far from any one of us. For in him we live and move and exist. As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’  And since this is true, we shouldn’t think of God as an idol designed by craftsmen from gold or silver or stone. God overlooked people’s ignorance about these things in earlier times, but now he commands everyone everywhere to repent of their sins and turn to him. For he has set a day for judging the world with justice by the man he has appointed, and he proved to everyone who this is by raising him from the dead.”

Our choice to seek after God is irrelevant to His Validity or Sovereignty. It is all about us and what we want which is His Gift of Freedom. Jesus came and died to give us a rich and satisfying life. (John 10:10) He did not come to do away with God’s Law, His Ways or His Word but fulfill it and complete the work that it intended to do which was for people to live in right standing with God. (Romans 10:4) When we choose to live our life to honor God’s Way, His Word and His Law, we accomplish our purpose in life which leads to success and prosperity. (Romans 14:8-9) We are free to choose how much effort and energy we put into to loving God wholeheartedly and respecting Him with our life. This does away with the myth in the modern day church that His Grace allows us to live any way we choose and still experience the blessings of God and live a complete and satisfied life. (Matthew 5:17-19) I have found that the smallest things that I am constantly trying to justify in God’s Word or wrestle with in my spirit are the very things keeping me from my next level with the Lord.

I Corinthians 9:25-27 (NLT)

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

 

God created you on purpose. You were born on purpose. You will never be complete and whole outside of God’s Plan for your life. You will never have God’s Best serving other things. To desire Him wholeheartedly leads to prosperity and success in life. His Word says it and God meant it. However, if you take bits and pieces of God’s Word and attempt to build your life on them without considering what comes before and after – it will never lead to completion but partiality that is not a firm foundation for our faith and will not secure a confident hope. God has done His All to make sure that you can have His Purpose and every promise that is attached. The rest is up to us. Will we live on purpose? It will require discipline. Lots of self-control thankfully the Holy Spirit is our helper. You don’t have to achieve God’s Purpose in your life to be blessed. The Lord blesses every act of obedience and love in our life for Him. But for those who want to be fulfilled and completely satisfied – it is an absolute must to live on purpose.

Psalm 57:2 (NLT) I cry out to God Most High to God who will fulfill his purpose for me.