Tearing Down Walls

Tearing Down Walls

Hebrews 11:30-31 (NLT) It was by faith that the people of Israel marched around Jericho for seven days, and the walls came crashing down. It was by faith that Rahab the prostitute was not destroyed with the people in her city who refused to obey God. For she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.

“Walking around these walls…I thought by now they’d fall…but you have never failed me yet. Waiting for change to come…knowing the battle’s won…for you have never failed me yet.” (Do It Again – Elevation Worship) Who would ever think that simply walking around the walls of a city would bring them crashing to the ground? It wasn’t logical. It didn’t make any sense. Imagine what the guards on the wall and people watching through the cracks and crannies must have thought laughing among themselves. Crazy Israelites. What are they thinking? Yet, by faith, in seven days the wall didn’t crumble and fall. It fell flat. In that moment of elation, I suppose even the Children of God were bewildered and filled with wonder. Look what God did? Faithful is the Lord.

What wall stands between you and God’s Promise today? Can you see it? Do you feel it? Have you been praying about it? Believing for it to come crashing down or just fall flat? Are you tired of waiting? Me, too. Yet in the journey of God’s People I am reminded that walls like Jericho don’t come down with human hands but by faith in our heart and confident minds that believe God still does miracles and will do them for me. Miracles don’t come in the doable but are labeled impossible. I know people often testify, “Look what the Lord has done” and while God honors the Glory and Praise and every good thing does come from Him, there are some things that are not miraculous performed in our humanness. Miracles are the things that cannot be accomplished with human hands or explained with basic logic. A wall fortified such as Jericho does not just fall flat unless the breath of God speaks to the stones of its construction telling them to bow down before Him.

With this in mind, I go back to the breach to be overcome and obstacle removed for you to reach the place of destiny. Your godly destination is not reached by walking in a physical sense but how you stride spiritually. So let’s walk with the Joshua and God’s Children to see if there is some secret to keeping in step with God until all strongholds come down. God will remove every stronghold, barrier and obstacle between us…if we do our part.

Joshua 6:1 (NLT) Now the gates of Jericho were tightly shut because the people were afraid of the Israelites. No one was allowed to go out or in. 

The people inside of Jericho were afraid of God’s People. Fear is the number one stronghold in the life of a believer. The root of fear is doubt which is a faith killer. Stripping the productivity of God’s Word seeded in our heart to kill the good things growing inside of us and stifling the prosperity of our heart. The people shut the gates and were hunkered down. The enemy is defeated. Jesus is our overcomer. He has handed every victory to us as the battle is already won. We do not have to fight for it. We do not have to tear strongholds down with our hands. We must simply believe by faith in the love, grace, goodness and faithfulness of God towards us enough to walk it out. The enemy can only taunt us from the wall. His lies are convincing but God’s Word is convicting. It challenges us with the idea of what if. If ingested enough, the Word of God strengthens our faith and becomes the sword of God’s Spirit in the tearing down of barriers between God’s People and His Blessing.

Joshua 6:2 (NLT) But the Lord said to Joshua, “I have given you Jericho, its king, and all its strong warriors.

The Promise of God for His People. You win, I have “given” you Jericho. The city and all its contents belonged to them. The Lord told Joshua that “its king” belonged to them who represented all power and authority. He also told Joshua, “I have given you…all its strong warriors.” Now think about it for a moment, where do you think the strong warriors and majority of Jericho’s army were when the walls came down? On the wall? In the ramparts? Standing guard around the inside perimeter? Posted at the gates? What do you think happened when the walls fell flat? My guess would be that it took out the “strong warriors.” God gave this promise to Joshua. His job was to relay it to the people and lead them to victory. I would like to stop for just a moment and say to any pastors, preachers, teachers and leaders reading this today. Your life matters. The words you speak and faith you exhibit in your life matters. It is significant. You are responsible for taking directions from the Presence of God to your people. It is a heavy burden which releases huge blessings to those who are faithful to their call and dedicated to the anointing on their life.

Joshua 6:15-17 (NLT) On the seventh day the Israelites got up at dawn and marched around the town as they had done before. But this time they went around the town seven times. The seventh time around, as the priests sounded the long blast on their horns, Joshua commanded the people, “Shout! For the Lord has given you the town! Jericho and everything in it must be completely destroyed as an offering to the Lord. Only Rahab the prostitute and the others in her house will be spared, for she protected our spies.

When the Lord imparted instruction to Joshua, he commanded the people to do exactly as the Lord had told him. They followed the pattern for six days. Now some may think that this was punishment or discipline of God, however; I believe that God was demonstrating His Patience. Churches split up or die every day in disagreement, disunity, and discord. The Children of Israel were no different with all the murmuring and complaining. Joshua not only commanded them to walk but not to talk. Unity produces Presence in our place of worship because God thrives on agreement and harmony especially when it comes to the Kingdom.

The wall you are facing is not just “your wall”. The barriers to breakthrough are pivotal to those who you are to spread the Light of God’s Love to. The people who you are called to season their life as salt does fine food. How can you bring something you have not fully experienced and totally embraced to another? Rahab had housed the spies and kept the safe as they surveyed Jericho. God honored her faith. Yes, faith. She was a prostitute. Why would God honor such a person? Rahab obviously had faith that God loved her and extended grace to her. She trusted God. Just because a person is not overly religious or living a perfect example does not mean they are less to the Lord. In fact, Jesus died for every sin committed. The church puts a hierarchy on sin not prescribed by God. Judgment comes in many shapes and sizes. Ostracizing sinners from church is like barring sick people entrance to a clinic. It is the inmates running the asylum with personal judgment and their own set of laws. I am a sinner. I find it hard to judge others in the midst of my own condemnation. Christ doesn’t condemn me and there is no condemnation in Him. What might happen if the church as a whole looked in the mirror and saw sinners? What if the religious understood that all sin is the same? What if we chose to love others despite ourselves? What if our stronghold is our insecurity that God’s Grace is sufficient in weakness so we fake personal strength?

Joshua 6:16-17 (NLT) The seventh time around, as the priests sounded the long blast on their horns, Joshua commanded the people, “Shout! For the Lord has given you the town! Jericho and everything in it must be completely destroyed as an offering to the Lord. Only Rahab the prostitute and the others in her house will be spared, for she protected our spies. Do not take any of the things set apart for destruction, or you yourselves will be completely destroyed, and you will bring trouble on the camp of Israel. Everything made from silver, gold, bronze, or iron is sacred to the Lord and must be brought into his treasury.”

What if the holdup of our breakthrough is not what is on this side of the wall but what is on the other side of victory? The people continued for six days in absolute obedience. They walked silently around the wall for six days straight. Now on the seventh day, Joshua reminds them of God’s Instructions for the other side of the wall. Everything in Jericho must be completely destroyed. Only Rahab and her family would be spared. Silver, gold, bronze and iron would be set aside for the Lord’s Treasury. They shouted and the wall fell flat. Can you imagine the chaos in that moment? The elation of victory. The screams of the people. The smoke of destruction. Joshua 6 ends in victory. Joshua 7 begins…But Israel violated the instructions about the things set apart for the Lord. Perfection is not required to remove strongholds. It requires persistence and perseverance in walking by faith to bring them crashing down.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 (NLT) We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do. We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ.

The truth revealed to us in God’s Word is that Jesus Christ has overcome the world. (John 16:33) He has been given all power and authority by God, the Father. (I Peter 3:22) he has given us His Power and Authority today. (Luke 10:19) Jesus has given us overwhelming victory. (Romans 8:37) His Promises are the reality of our life and the very thing that we live for. The stronghold in our life is doubt. It is the mountain to be moved each day. In Romans 7, Paul describes the inner battle that rages between Spirit and flesh. We must learn to walk in simple and humble obedience to God each day. There is no superiority in the Kingdom. God reigns superior with Christ at His Right Hand and the enemy as a footstool. You have been given the power of God that is manifested in His Grace. If you can do it, a miracle is not required. If only He can do it, your absolute trust and confident obedience in walking it out is required.

Strongholds must be maintained. If there is a stronghold in your life that is keeping you from what God has for you, I promise the enemy is fortifying every single day with lies of deception. However, when we walk according to God’s Word and His Promise despite how we feel, what we see and even what we know – obedience leads us to victory every time. Rahab is the perfect example of applied grace that gave way to victory. She easily could have preserved her place in society by shutting her door to the spies and turning a blind eye to their plight. Instead, she laid down this life for another. It doesn’t say she “sinned no more” or “joined First Church of God’s People”. She lived among the Children of God the rest of her days.

“I know the night won’t last…Your Word will come to pass…My heart will sing your praise again. Jesus, You’re still enough…keep me within Your Love…My heart will sing your praise again. The promise still stands…Great is Your Faithfulness…I’m still in your Hands…This is my confidence, You never failed me yet.” Whatever stronghold, barrier or obstacle you are walking around today must come down to reach the promise on the other side. There is always somebody watching you walk out this life, your faith and your salvation because that is how we share the true gospel. To walk in love, grace and favor humbly following the footsteps before us.

God will not bring down the walls in our life if they will cause us to sin. If in the celebration, we misuse consecrated things. He will not takedown strongholds at the expense of others. God’s Plan and purpose is comprehensive. Our commitment to His Plan is demonstrated by simple obedience. To take one step after another in submission to His Word, Will and Way. We must stop trying to teardown spiritual strongholds with our human hands. It is time to recognize that our commonality is sin that needs a Savior. To understand that victory belongs to us, if we can just wrangle in our wandering heart and waning spirit to keep going when there is nothing to do but trust the Lord. To ignore the taunts of the enemy often given a voice in others. To believe with all our heart that the walls are coming down enough to evoke constant praise and adoration of a perfect God and flawless Savior. Lord, give me a heart of faithfulness to keep walking until Your Kingdom comes and Your Will is done on earth as it is in Heaven. “I’ve seen you move, come move the mountains and I believe I’ll see You do it again. You made a way, where there was no way and I believe I’ll see You do it again.” Amen and amen!

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

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Count It All…

Count It All

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

Count it all…when you meet various trials. The past month has been a blur. With the holiday rush, the virus that plagued our family, preparations for our grandson, interrupted schedules, crazy weather (snowing in Florida…seriously), unexpected dental procedure and all the other details of life mixed in – it was wonderful waking up feeling good with nothing pressing on the agenda. Hiding in the refuge of my study, I am overwhelmed with gratitude today. We are in the midst of our annual January fast. Though it has been a strenuous and exhausting turning of years, I am no less motivated for more. God is good! He has been good to us in so many ways. More than I could express in this little blog without blowing it up to a full blown book.

Reading James 1 today, these words are stuck in my mind. “Count it all.” So many times this passage is interpreted as a “suck it up, buttercup” kind of thing. Laughing in the face of adversity is not a natural response. In fact, it is not an honest response. I believe that God is inviting us to experience true joy not in a superficial sense. It is to take an account of our life. If Romans 8:28 is absolutely true, and it has to be or the all of God’s Word becomes invalid, then every detail of my life has the potential to produce something good. If not, God is a liar. This passage specifically says, “we know that for those who love God all things work together for good…” This statement does not require much interpretation as it is straightforward and to the point. Every detail in our life, good and bad, has godly potential.

Goodness brings joy. When something good happens, we smile. It makes us happy. We are satisfied with the results. If every detail of our life will turn out for the good, then in each moment there is joy to be discovered. So in order to “count it all joy”, our life must align itself with God’s Word, His Purpose and His Plan so that the potential of good in each moment will produce the joy within it. To align our life with God’s Word means we must be accountable. To consider every detail even those that seem small and insignificant in comparison to God’s Word. His Word reveals the promise, potential and plan for a good life of abundance, success, prosperity and fulfillment. It’s all in there. It is all in me. The two must simply agree and be reconciled.

2 Corinthians 5:17-19 (ESV) Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.

In Amos 3:3, the Lord is speaking to His People through the prophet asking, “Do two walk together, unless they have agreed to meet?” Any who is in Christ has the true potential to become a new creation. Staying the same is not possible in the midst of change. Transformation is a reformation that cannot continue in the midst of unchangeability. Salvation is complete in the person of Jesus Christ our Savior. Transformation is the direct result of Jesus Christ becoming the Lord of our life. We cannot yoke our life to Him without giving up our way to fully accept His Way of life. This is not a religious mandate but an opportunity to engage in a full-blown relationship with the Living God that gives us full access to His Kingdom and every benefit that He ordained for us.

We must reconcile ourselves to Jesus Christ. Reconciliation is an accounting term. It means to make one account consistent with another (especially allowing for transactions begun but not yet completed). It means to bring to agreement and harmony. Our life in Christ is a work in progress. There are “transactions” complete, in process and yet to come. All these things must be considered to reconcile our life with Christ. To live in harmony with Jesus Christ produces harmony that allows anointing to flow that the oil through Aaron’s beard. (Psalm 133)

God’s Grace is sufficient. It is enough to cover our sin. Grace gives us the opportunity to live in right standing with God the Father through Jesus the Son. Alignment that produces prosperity in life comes from a relationship with Jesus. It is our personal responsibility to enlist the aid of the Holy Spirit and align our heart and mind with the Word of God. Jesus is the Word who came in the flesh. You cannot know Him or follow Him without the Word because He is the Word. It is very easy to misconstrue spiritual alignment as a religious act rather than a relationship. To know the difference is to know the common denominator which is love. My motivation in Christ must always be love. I love God. I love Jesus. I love others. This is the first step of spiritual alignment and reconciliation to Christ.

Hebrews 4:12-13 (ESV) For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable.

The Word of God tells us the benefits and blessings that the Lord has in store for us. It details the Kingdom and all the benefits available to those who choose to seek after it. The only weapon that the enemy can use against us is a lie. Ignorance allow lies to seem truthful and logical. Faith relies on the logic found in the Word of God and reinforced by the Spirit of God. Psalm 103 warns the believer – “oh my soul, and forget not all my benefits…” When we do not know God’s Word – we do not know His Will. When we do not know what He will do – doubt turns to disbelief limiting our life.

We must not every forget that we are accountable to God. Even with the dispensation of grace given to God’s Children, we are still accountable to Him. (Romans 14:11-12) Every knee will bow before Jesus one day. God sees us from the inside out. He knows us. He knows things about us that we do not even know. He sees the potential of His Creation not the mess that we have made of it. He says, “It’s all good. Keep going. I have a plan.”

James 1:5-8 (ESV) If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

My prayer is that the Lord will give me wisdom and discernment. The kind that comes from the Word and pierces the hardest parts of my heart to water the seeds of faith hidden within me. As I strive to seek God wholeheartedly, it will require accountability including reconciliation to Christ in every area of my life. I cannot forget the blessings and benefits that His Goodness has already promised me even when it is not evident in my natural life it must be the prosperity of my soul that makes me steadfast.

When steadfastness is full effect, we begin to experience God’s Perfection in the full consummation of His Plan and Purpose for our life. We begin to experience Heaven on earth. His Goodness reserved for the Land of the Living permeates our everyday life. It is then that our life becomes complete in Christ and we lack no good thing. To be steadfast, fixed in direction, steadily directed, firm in faith, firm in purpose, unwavering, adherently, firmly established, and firmly fixed in place until the Word of God comes to pass just like He said it would. That’s where I want to be. So today I will count it all…

I challenge you as this Word has challenge myself today. Consider every area of your life. Examine your heart. Get into God’s Word. Reconcile ever area of your existence to God’s Word and His Will for you. In the areas that do not line up, seek to align them. Pray. Make some changes. Spread your faith around generously over those areas. Allow God to mold and shape your life into the masterpiece that He promised. Seek the help of the Holy Spirit. You have a purpose. The plan contains a future and hope. Every detail has good hidden inside of it. Full accountability requires reconciliation. Spend some time with your First Love. Let Him show you how much He loves you all over again.

James 1:12 (ESV)Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. 

Dry Seasons

Dry Seasons

Psalm 63:1 (ESV) O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.

It is human nature to question our faith and the logic of it. Faith is not logical in the natural and only becomes wise when coupled with godly knowledge and understanding. It is in our relationship with the Word, who is Jesus Christ, that faith isn’t such a crazy notion anymore. As the unfailing love of a good God whose grace is more than enough to overcome the trials and troubles of this life so as our soul prospers then our life will as well.

I have found myself in a dry season. Sowing and reaping. Beating the hard ground that only seems to yield dust. God sent me to this place. He told me to come here. The Lord gave me a glimpse of the potential secretly hidden beneath the surface. As one year turns to two, I am beginning to retrace my steps. It’s hard not to let the dryness of a season saturate your soul. To protect your heart and mind from discouragement in the midst of delay. God, you are my God! It doesn’t mean that your relationship with the Lord is failing. In fact, it is in the seasons of drought that He hears our desperate cries. “Earnestly, I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you…”

Are you dry today? Thirsty? Working a land that refuses to give up its harvest? Stuck in a season that resembles a cycle refusing to move to the next? Are you in a place where it is “as in a dry and weary land where there is no water”? I feel you…I really do. I am right there with you. Today I asked the Lord a one-word question, “Where?” Where am I supposed to be? Is it here? Did I make a wrong turn? Misinterpret your direction? Did my humanness cause me to stumble into the wrong field? Where Lord? Where would you have me to be today?

Matthew 5:6 (ESV) “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will be satisfied. When our want for water becomes a desire that turns into a necessity it will be met with urgency. No longer a whim it will become the driving force in our life. Our body reacts to a lack of water with a condition called dehydration. Symptoms of dehydration include increased thirst, dry mouth, exhaustion, headache, dry skin and dizziness. As it progresses, it will also produce a rapid heart rate, fever, and low blood pressure. Dehydration demands a response or bodily functions will eventually shutdown and the person succumb to lack of water.

Thirst, in a spiritual sense, causes desperation. Desperation is defined by urgency, despair, and a sense of hopelessness. It causes doubt to rise up from the deepest recesses of the heart and challenge God at His Word in its discomfort or discontentment. It demands immediate action. It warrants relief of some sort. Are you desperate today? Where do you turn to? Those who desire right standing or a continued relationship with Jesus Christ will turn to the Lord. What if this dry season is not so much about a lack of harvest but the Father longing for more of our heart? Just a thought…

John 7:38 (ESV) “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’”

Fear and doubt are overcome by faith. Confident hope that becomes anchored in the Love and Grace of God given to us in Jesus Christ so that darkness and drought cannot change our commitment. Inside my heart is living water. Jesus is the Way, Truth and Life. He lives in me. Greater is that is in me than He that is in the world. What if I am the “living water” for this dry land? It is human nature to ask the question, “What’s in it for me?” But what if we are asking the wrong question… What if the real question to be answered today is “God wants in me for them”? What if you were not brought to this field for you but for them? God’s Word cannot and will not EVER return to Him void. It must do exactly what it set out to do.

Psalm 107:35-38 (ESV) He turns a desert into pools of water, a parched land into springs of water. And there he lets the hungry dwell, and they establish a city to live in; they sow fields and plant vineyards and get a fruitful yield. By his blessing they multiply greatly, and he does not let their livestock diminish.

God turns fields into deserts. He also turns wastelands into waterfalls. God knows the potential of the field that He placed you in and He sees the seeds hidden beneath the ground. He prepared you in other seasons to come here. He tried you so that you will have patience. He tested you so you would endure. He gave you everything you need and every spiritual blessing to survive until you thrive. What if it is all in the waiting? What if all you have to do is work the land, be patient and endure? What if that really is all there is to it? Will you walk away? The harvest will come whether we choose to wait on it or not. God will not force you to stay where He sent you or remain where He called you. The Living Water in you is dependent on your willingness to work the land regardless of your feelings and despite how things look fully trusting Him.

Psalm 65:9-11 (NLT) You take care of the earth and water it, making it rich and fertile.
The river of God has plenty of water; it provides a bountiful harvest of grain, for you have ordered it so. You drench the plowed ground with rain, melting the clods and leveling the ridges. You soften the earth with showers and bless its abundant crops. You crown the year with a bountiful harvest; even the hard pathways overflow with abundance.

From God’s Perspective, His Plan is working. We must align our heart, mind, and thoughts with His Word. It is only then that our faith becomes logical and waiting fruitful. A dry season must not be misinterpreted that the ground is barren, the drought ongoing or the dream of harvest dead. It is just a season in God’s Cycle of life that is working beyond the place where eyes can see, hands can touch and our mind can comprehend. If God called you to this place, the blessing associated with it will come because God is faithful. God is good. He is in complete and absolute control.

The dry season is waiting on one thing – rain. God’s Rain. Living Water. When it comes, it will cause the ground to yield its harvest. It will cause our heart to do the same. In Matthew 5:45, it says that the Lord causes the rain to fall on the just and unjust. Rain is inevitable. Seasons will change. The satisfaction in each season is the promise of harvest and blessing. God didn’t put you where you are just for you. He placed you there as a Light in the darkness. You have a purpose in this season that will produce something in you, around you and for others. The potential crown for this year is a bountiful harvest. His Word promises that “even the hard pathways (will) overflow with abundance.”

Psalm 63:3-8 (ESV) Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands. My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips, when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night; for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy. My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.

Why? Why wait for the dry season to end? “Because (God’s) steadfast love is better than life.” It will be worth it. The desperation, frustration, and weariness caused by your willingness to keep beating the dry ground, soaking it with tears, saturating it with sweat, and washing it with His Word. There is potential in each place that the Lord places His People. It doesn’t always look like it or seem to be suitable but that’s the beauty of faith – we walk by faith not by sight. So the way things look today do not dictate the outcome of tomorrow in the life of the believer. We live subject to change. The change is called transformation. It begins inside of us and works its way out. As our soul prospers so will we.

Are you dry? Thirsty? Desperate? Tap into the Living Water inside of you. It is the Source that never runs dry. Speak life to those dry bones. The Lord’s Plan is fully operational and destined to be delivered. You just have to stick it out. Let His Word wash over you today. It will refresh, restore and renew you in your waiting. Let the Holy Spirit produce the good fruit that will nourish your soul. You are never alone. God is with you. Jesus lives in you. You have all you need for a rich and satisfying life. It’s coming. Don’t miss it!

Isaiah 44:2-4 (ESV) Thus says the Lord who made you, who formed you from the womb and will help you: Fear not, O Jacob my servant, Jeshurun whom I have chosen. For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants. They shall spring up among the grass like willows by flowing streams.

Slow Down

Slow-Down

Psalm 62:5-8 (ESV) For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken. On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God. Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. Selah

During the morning commute yesterday, I came upon a car going much slower than my vehicle was traveling. At first, I became agitated. Quite the contradiction from the praise music playing, it shook me from prayerful meditation to using every ounce of self-control not to honk the horn. The longer I followed the car the more worked up I became. Due to oversleeping and pure exhaustion, I was running late. Still fighting a cold and freezing in the unusually cold temperatures for the South, I just wanted them to get out of my way. How do we flip the script so quickly? Moments before, I was settled in for a long commute enjoying time with the Lord and then sudden inconvenience changes my attitude and demeanor. Guilty as charged. About that time, I passed a speed limit sign. The person in front of me was going the designated speed limit. I was frustrated because they were obeying the law while I was trying to speed past them. The Holy Spirit convicted me on the spot. There is a reason the law has mandated speed limits along with every other statute regarding the operation of a motor vehicle. I should know better as not too long ago I paid a hefty fine and attending four hours of traffic school for my bad choice. Yet, thinking about everything “I” had to do, where “I” needed to be, and “my” schedule – this person was actually keeping me from a possible bad choice.

There are many lessons that could be shared from my personal experience in that moment but this is what is relevant for me today. God is inviting me to rest. Slow down. When I woke up this morning, these words are on replay. Slow down. Trust me. Come to me. I will give you rest. I am your refuge. Disobedience is more a knee jerk reaction to impulse rather than the deepest longing of the human heart. Those who know Jesus and love Him want to do what is right yet our flesh is constantly challenging the idea of rest, trust, and refuge in the Lord because so much of it involves waiting.

Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. Selah

Trusting the Lord produces rest in our heart and mind. Peace that passes all understanding is found in the Presence of God when He becomes our refuge. I am encouraged today by the psalmist’s thoughts – “pour out your heart before God.” What is your heart full of today? The contents are important as it is the context of our thoughts and motivates our actions. What is your primary motivation? Are you worried, stressed or anxious? Overloaded? Overwhelmed? Desperate? The Lord invites us to literally pour out our life before Him. He will help us. He will give us rest. However, we must be able to trust Him for relief.

Trusting the Lord means believing what the Word of God tells us about Him. Jesus is the Word who came down and was wrapped in flesh to demonstrate God’s Profound Love for us. Here are some truths about the Lord today. God will become our refuge when we believe…

Psalm 36:7 God’s love for me is steadfast.

Psalm 18:30 God’s Way is perfect.

Psalm 31:19 God is always good and His Goodness is for me.

Psalm 34:8 God desires me and I must desire Him.

Psalm 46:1 God is my “very present” help.

Psalm 61:3 God is more powerful than the enemy.

Psalm 91:1 I must choose to live or dwell in God’s Presence.

Psalm 142:1 God wants to release the supernatural in my natural life.

Psalm 144:1 God is always in control.

These are just some of the qualities true of God as demonstrated in His Word. The Word is our compass. It keeps us moving in the right direction. It lights the way. Those who believe God at His Word and choose to trust Him through obedience will find peace that passes understanding and rest in the midst of chaos.

Hebrews 4:11-12 (ESV) Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

The state traffic laws are not mandated to inconvenience me. They are put into place because it is determined the safest speed of travel given the conditions of the roadway and surrounding area. I decide whether or not I will obey the law. If I do not travel at the posted speed, I am breaking the law. If I get caught, there will be a consequence. A penalty to pay. The Word of God is God’s Way and Will for our life. Though unbound by the law, it is still the best course of action for our life. It leads to provision, protection and every other promise that God was inscribed in it. If I desire that life, I must follow the instructions that have been given. The law does not hurt me – it is put into place to help me.

We must slow down and carefully consider the contents of our heart and mind each day. It will dictate whether or not I react to the circumstances and conditions of my life creating consequences or I will begin to prosper in the promises of God set forth for me by the Living God. God’s Refuge, His Rest, is the quiet place of faith, trust and careful consideration of the course of life. It is a personal decision to sync my heart each day and align my life with God’s Plan. When I get overwhelmed – it is generally because my pride has begun to takeover and I begin to believe that I must “do” something, “be” somewhere or nothing will get down. Self-importance and pride cannot survive in the refuge of God. Those with diversified trust cannot sustain a restful state. “Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that the Power of Christ may REST upon me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

I Corinthians 15:57-58 (ESV) But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

Be steadfast. Be immovable. Be abounding in the work of the Lord. Let your labor not be in vain. God did not call us to life of rushing. He did not anoint us to be “busy”. In fact, He has already promised to complete the work that He has begun in us. We have victory. We are overcomers in Christ. It is finished. Or is it? When our flesh fights for control – it seems to be full of good intentions but does not produce a life of godliness. Godliness is established in us by God alone. There is nothing I can do other than submit to the Holy Spirit’s work and continue to abide in Christ. God is doing exactly as He promised in His Word. We can trust Him. We can rely on Him. We can rest in Him every single day. It is a choice. Is it your choice? I must make it mine.

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

Several years ago, my husband and I enjoyed a lovely cruise through the Caribbean. On the last night of our trip, the water was very rough. The large ship was being tossed about and warnings were posted to be very careful. Coming back from dinner, it was difficult to walk down the hallway without bumping into the corridor walls. Once inside our cabin, I collapsed in the big comfy bed and was drifting off to sleep. I was jostled not by the swaying ship but my husband. He was getting very nauseous and woke me in disbelief that I could actually sleep through it. I think of that night when I read this verse. The Peace of God that allows us to rest in Him is trust. Trust is the chain that connects the anchor marked “hope” to the vessel. I am a vessel. I must carefully inspect the contents to determine my connection with faith and hope. To trust the Lord is to live at rest in His Refuge. There are areas of my life still under renovation. The Promise of God still stands as He is patient, loving and kind waiting for me to figure out my salvation and work it through my life. Consider this – forever is not the future but encompasses every detail of our life – past, present and future. It all works together in the redemption plan. There is no falling backward or rushing forward just becoming. Today – I will slow down. Today – I will choose rest. Today – Lord I ask you to be my refuge.

Psalm 62:1-2 (ESV) For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken.

Practice What You Preach

Practice What You Preach

Philippians 4:8-9 (ESV)  Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

I heard a voice in the darkness. “Honey, it’s after 5:00 AM. Did you set the alarm?” I guess not although I thought I did. Too late to worry about that now, I try to pull myself from deep slumber. Immediately the cares and worries I went to bed with come to greet me. Warding them off, I stumble out of bed as my husband, the makeshift meteorologist, tells me that is a whopping 26 degrees outside to which I mumble, “Of course it is!”

For just a moment, let’s pause. Let me set the scene for you. I am late. I usually get up at 4:30 AM and need every moment of that time to take care of the dogs, spend time with the Lord, make lunches for my family, and get ready for work. Today is Thursday which is cleaning day in our house. I try to get our bathroom out of the way before I head out. It is also my weekly trip to the grocery store so a list is being made simultaneously. Add to this already scheduled day, our daughter’s baby shower is in two days. Her due date in just a month. Oh, did I mention that I have been sick for almost two weeks so very behind in last minute details. My mom, sister and sister-in-law will arrive tomorrow night to stay with us. On top of all that, I have a scheduled dental procedure on Monday. To some that is no big deal just a date on the calendar – but in my mind it is a date with absolute torture. Hate the dentist as a profession although mine is very patient and kind. All of these “things” came rushing into my head this morning, I almost became entangled in worry, stress, fear, and anxious thoughts. But now it is time to practice what I preach…

What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me – practice these things…

This is not a message for the unbeliever today. This is hope for the imperfect Christian. It is a word of encouragement to put down the bat and stop trying to do everything right. It is an invitation to rest. To rely on the Lord and trust in Him. Today, there is no possible way that I can do all the things that I think I need to do. The expectation heaped on me by my own hands is just too much. The Bible says, “I can do all things THROUGH Christ who gives me strength.” I must practice putting all the details of my life including those things I call priorities into the Hands of Christ and allowing Him to hand back what I need to do, say and be in any given day. So I called a meeting inside my head…

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

The only weapon in the enemy’s arsenal is the lie. If he can change your mind about God just enough to believe anything contrary to the character and nature of God – you will question everything you know about Him. If he can somehow convince you that the Lord is not with you, for you, and in you, he will have the power to persuade you to engage in detours, distractions and delays. We must learn to practice what we preach and become consummate doers of the Word until our mind and heart align with God’s Word, Will and Way and cannot be swayed.

When I was in gymnastics, I decided that I wanted to do a back handspring. I am not athletically inclined but I really wanted to accomplish this feat. So what did I do? The instructors showed me how to do a back handspring. They instructed me on proper form and execution. They encouraged me to practice all the time. So that is exactly what I started to do. I fell countless times. I made several attempts. Time and time again, I couldn’t get my feet over my head. I was on the verge of giving up but something in me just kept nagging me to try one more time. You know what happened? I learned to do a back handspring. Can I do one today? Nope. I stopped doing them and am what? Out of practice…

2 Corinthians 10:4-6 (ESV) For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.

As believers, we must protect our thoughts. Seeds of faith planted in our heart cannot grow until our heart is made up that God is for us. He is good. Working in us. Our dependency on the Lord requires a heart and mind that agrees. We must…We Must…WE MUST destroy arguments and EVERY lofty opinion raised against the Knowledge of God and take every thought captive to OBEY Christ. Why?

To say one thing and do another is a contradiction. Once our mind is made up – our flesh must follow. To worry, stress and be anxious is to accept that lie that there is something to fear other than God alone. To decide that change is impossible is to allow pride to tell us our flesh is stronger than our Savior. Disobedience to God comes with a heavy price. Grace covers sin completely. God does not punish His Children. The discipline of God is to right our way and send us into the Promise. Disobedience is the enemy’s ploy to keep us from all God has for us including blessings, favor and prosperity.

Psalm 111:7-10 (ESV) The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy; they are established forever and ever, to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness. He sent redemption to his people; he has commanded his covenant forever. Holy and awesome is his name!  The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever!

When I woke up late today, the enemy presented me with anxiety overload before my eyes even opened. I reached my hand out until it was just beyond my grasp. But you know what else met me this morning, the new mercies of God – Jesus offered me His Hand – “Here let me take that from you.” It was definitely a standoff like an old-time western movie – I had to choose who I would give my burdens and cares in that moment. I haven’t always made the right choice. There have been many days when the things that happened this morning would have resulted in me rushing around completely overwhelmed snapping at my husband and children. I would have given up my time with the Lord in order to regain some lost moments. BUT NOT TODAY!

Today I must practice what I preach. God is love. So I will be loving even though I don’t feel very loving but agitated and stressed. God is good. He will work every detail of my life out for His Good. God is with me. Christ lives in me. The important things will be done if I keep my eyes fixed on Jesus and do what He has called me to do. We must make it a conscious effort each day to respond to the promises of God rather than reacting to the lie of the enemy. To focus on the call of God rather than the taunts of the giant. What is my purpose today? “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8) The Lord knows the desires of my heart. He knows my motives and good intentions. He will never let me down if I put my whole heart and all my trust in Him. I must not only read the Word of God but do what it says to have its promises. So today…I will practice what I preach!

Romans 8:35-39 (ESV)  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The Bondservant

Bondservant

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Time Management

Time Management

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

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

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

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

Timelessness of God

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

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

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

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

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

Brevity of Our Natural Life

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

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

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

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

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

Time Integration

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

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

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

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

New Discipline

New Discipline

Hebrews 12:1-2 (ESV) Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

New Year’s Resolutions. Making better choices. Forming new habits. After the first of the year, I am going to (fill in the blank). Some are preparing to do the annual Daniel Fast that many churches participate in each year. Considering my life and the coming year, there are some things that I would like to do better and become more disciplined in. Personal choices that will benefit my life in positive ways. However, as I consider the spiritual aspect of my life, it is here that I am led. Hebrews 12 doesn’t talk about God doing a new thing in my life or even in me. It is about endurance. To continue the course already laid before us and finish the race of faith. Oh, but new beginnings are much more exciting. New people. New places. Fresh starts.

We are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses. This reminds me of marathon races where there are people along the way watching at checkpoints. They do not hear the pistol shot at the start or see the finish line, but still wait and watch for the runners to pass by. These are the witnesses of the struggle as flesh rivals faith. When runners consider giving up, and must dig deep to carry on. The place where sweat is overcome by tears as muscles scream and chests heave. What do these witnesses see in God’s People?

As 2018 approaches, I feel the need for change. There are some cycles that need to be broken so new seasons will emerge. However, the Lord is not instructing us to leave the present course. Give up on this race and enter another. He is not telling us to move on but keep going. We must set aside the heavy burdens and weights to yoke our life to Christ. (Matthew 11:28-30) It is time to examine our heart for those sins that cling to us. (Psalm 26:2; 51:10) We must run with endurance the race that is set before us. I believe this could be a game changer for many people in the coming year… most of all me!

Endurance is the ability or strength to continue especially despite fatigue, stress or other adverse conditions. It is the power of enduring. To endure means to hold out against, sustain without yielding, to bear without resistance, to bear with patience, to continue, and to last. What if the problem is not in our willingness to begin but our ability to endure to the end? Jesus said, “But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” (Matthew 10:22) Endurance is a product of discipline. (Hebrews 12:7) There is no greater temptation than the one to quit. Our flesh identifies with it because it is a pardon for our sinful nature. It takes our flesh off the cross and allows it to live another day. There is no temptation that has overtaken me that is not common to man. Jesus endure temptation. Paul confides the inner struggle between our Spirit and flesh each day in Romans 7. A lack of discipline with no endurance doesn’t produce finishers but quitters.

Hebrews 12:3 (ESV) Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.

Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross…

Are you weary? Growing faint at heart? Discouraged by the lack of harvest? Are you considering something new? Me, too. The areas that lack productivity have gained my full attention. The source of discouragement, discontentment or maybe for some devastation are the areas of life where discipline is most important. These are emotional minefields. Our flesh argues with our faith. There are some important qualities about the Lord that may lend some encouragement and support the concept called endurance.

Psalm 100:5 (ESV) For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations. God is good. He is always good. His Steadfast love endures forever. His New Mercies given to us each day are evidence of His Love. It is not dependent on our acceptance for relevance. His Faithfulness never quits. He is always faithful even when we give up. He never stops working His Plan and Purpose in our life because His Absolute and Total Faithfulness will not allow Him to no matter what we do or do not do.

Psalm 119:160 (ESV) The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures forever. The Word of God is truth for my life. You can never be excluded from the Perfect Will of God. God had to consider the cost of our sin to pay the price necessary on the Cross to provide us with sufficient grace. God’s Word cannot return to Him void. In fact, He promises in Romans 8:28 that He works every detail of our life for His Good. The rules of righteousness always produce the reward – it doesn’t matter what it took to get you to the place of repentance and acceptance. God’s Word and His Will for you are still just as glorious.

Psalm 138:8 (ESV) The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands. God’s Purpose for my life will be fulfilled. He prerecorded my life according to Psalm 139 and He will do exactly as He promised. It is not based on me at all but rather conditional according to unconditional love. Steadfast love. Love that endures forever. Never gives up on me. Never forsakes or forgets me. His Love and Goodness are always pursuing me. He will do exactly as He said.

Ecclesiastes 3:14 (ESV) I perceived that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it. God has done it, so that people fear before him. God’s Plan and Purpose for my life is perfect. He will not change it. Nothing is to be added or taken from it. Christ completes me if I am willing to endure to the end. The divine character and nature of God is perfection. Christ is the founder and perfecter of faith. Faith must focus on the unseen reality of what is hope for rather than on all the temporary distractions along the way. God is an enduring God. Endurance is a quality that He is determined to give His Children so that we may have all that His Goodness and Grace provides.

2 Timothy 2:8-10 (ESV) Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound! Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.

Most of us will never undergo the persecution of the early church. The men and women who dared share the Gospel after the death and resurrection of Christ. They were hated. Imprisoned. Tortured and even put to death. The modern church struggles with comfort, convenience and control. As I consider this thing called endurance, I believe it is God’s Word for the coming year. I must endure. I should endure everything for the sake of the elect that they also may obtain salvation.

Have you ever been traveling with a GPS and lost the signal? Or maybe along the way began to doubt the integrity of the pleasant voice giving you instructions? Or perhaps found yourself caught up in road construction and detours that the satellite did not catch? Suddenly, you feel lost. Did I take a wrong turn? None of this looks or feels right? Am I going in the right direction? I believe that these are the exact feelings we get when God is teaching us endurance. Do we stay the course? Do we try our own way? Tough call. I have found that generally the GPS is right. I have also discovered that God’s Word will never return void. If God told you to do something or go somewhere, that is exactly what He meant for you to do. It is not my experience that He changes His Mind (even when I beg and plead) or that He lies (not once). What I have discovered is that when I have made it to the end of a thing it is exceedingly abundantly more than I thought it would be or imagined it could be. The key and essential quality was not enthusiasm or zeal but endurance to the end. No matter if I had to crawl to the finish – Christ, who is my victory, always met me there.

Considering the coming New Year, I encourage you to try something new. Better choices are always a good idea. Healthy habits preserve the Temple of the Living God. But also, pray and seek the Lord on those things you are considering giving up. Ask the Lord for guidance? Is this a place of new discipline? Are you really supposed to endure? You may be on the verge of breakthrough. Discouragement only leads to defeat if you quit or give up. I will probably never know the suffering of Paul or Timothy for Jesus Christ. I do know this. I have a plan and purpose that will bring the Lord honor and glory. To allow Him to complete the good work that He has begun in me will break through in glorious light through all my cracks and broken pieces that will show others His Unfailing Love. He endured the Cross for me. It is my turn to endure.

Psalm 145:13-16 (ESV) Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures throughout all generations. [The Lord is faithful in all his words and kind in all his works.] The Lord upholds all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down. The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season. You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing.

Throne of Grace

Throne of Grace

Hebrews 4:16 (ESV) Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Grace in the life of a believer is commonly defined as “the free and unmerited favor of God as manifested in salvation and bestowal of His Blessings” or God’s Riches at Christ’s Expense. Grace is a widely used term in the church’s social circle but do we know and understand how powerful God’s Grace is and how useful and effective it can be outside of terminology. To understand God’s Grace and apply in our life will change the way we live and love. It empowers our message. It empowers our relationships. It will ultimately change our character into the likeness of God when allowed to manifest in our heart and mind.

The Throne of Grace is the place of accepting God’s Grace and thereby allowing it to work in us and through us. Receiving grace from God is not enough, it must become the life changing and pride killing essence of all we do. God’s Grace is enough. How do you know it’s enough unless you choose to try it out? Test it. The nature of God is love. Love must be defined by grace or our imperfection wrecks it. To live in weakness means to stop relying on our own strength and ability to fully trust and lean on the Lord. We only do that when we exercise His Grace in our life. It is grace that justifies us and allows us access to God’s Presence. (Romans 3:24, Titus 3:7) Grace provides access to God and allows us to fellowship with Him. (Ephesians 1:6) Grace offers intimacy with God that sin once kept us from. Grace disciplines and trains us to live in a way that honors God.

2 Corinthians 8:7 (ESV) But as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you—see that you excel in this act of grace also.

How do I excel in grace? Well, the sufficiency of God is ultimately His Grace manifested in us. It is the gift that keeps on giving. True repentance is a daily effort to live in accordance with God’s Will for us and turn from lesser endeavors. Focusing on faith, speech, knowledge and love only is possible when we excel in the act of grace. That means that in accepting God’s Grace – we in turn must become gracious. Grace is a gift. The giver had to forfeit something owned willingly losing what belonged to him in order that the recipient may profit from it. The giver decreases so the recipient thereby increases or benefits from it. We can have faith – God gave it to us. It is by taking the measure of faith and sowing it as seed that the reproduction of confident hope harvests blessing in our life. It is by changing the our words that death becomes life in our life as we begin to declare and announce God’s Blessing rather than cursing each step along the way. Our knowledge of God found in His Word gives the Holy Spirit the Truth needed to change our mind and embrace God’s Thoughts and Higher Ways as our own even when we do not understand teaching us to trust. We cannot love properly without knowing God wholeheartedly. He is love. His Love is not like the world’s love. It is unconditional and relentless. It never gives in or gives up but presses to permeate the heart of people to persevere until a relationship is formed, restored and reconciled. Apart from grace, God’s Unmerited Favor, none of these things will be possible. We must be firmly established in God’s Grace and allow it to complete its work in us. No matter what the cost. How high the price. Or the constantly giving up of our self.

2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 (ESV)  Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.

What is not working in your life today? What is broken? What is dysfunctional? What prayer is unanswered? Promise not yet fulfilled? What if the problem is not in your actions but your attitude? Have you taken it to the Throne of Grace? Pride may have already told you that the problem is not fixable. The promise too far gone. You have fallen too far. It declared your dream to be dead. Pride tells us things like that because it does not want us to find the Grace of God again. It wants us to continue in our own strength and power so it can survive another day. What if God is waiting for you to come to His Throne of Grace to receive more grace to apply it that area of your life? His Grace is sufficient. It is always enough. God’s Promise and Plan are possible only by His Grace for us. He paid a high price for you to have it and the enemy wants nothing more than to make you give it up because he cannot take it from you.

Let the Lord establish or reestablish you in His Grace today. Submit pride to the Throne of Grace to fully accept the sufficiency of God’s Grace that He has for you. Don’t let the enemy take the most powerful force in your life. It means living a life of kindness, compassion, generosity and forgiveness even when you are hurt, harmed or humiliated. To succumb to our weakness of rightness and fully assume righteousness that is only possible through Jesus Christ. When our grace runs out, there is more for the taking found at the Throne marked Grace. Run to it. Let the Lord fill you again. His Grace is the power that drive us through this life right into eternity. Thank you Jesus for allowing us to access the Grace of God today!

Ephesians 2:4-7 (ESV) But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

True Humility

True humility

Proverbs 22:4 (NLT) True humility and fear of the Lord lead to riches, honor, and long life.

Biting into a piece of leftover steak, the pain was searing and sharp taking my breath away. Trying not to cry out in pain, I sat for a minute to get my wits about me. Though not so intense, it was still radiating through my jaw. When I could produce a lucid thought, it came to me that my princess tooth in need of a crown had probably cracked. I have a molar that is in need of attention. It is all the way in the back with several fillings. The dentist advised me that I should get a crown as it was beginning to breakdown from years of use. I have a phobia about going to the dentist. I have been working to overcome it for most of my life. However, last night I would have run to the chair for some relief.

Like most people, I opted to seek the advice of the Internet for some immediate pain relief. After a few moments, I confirmed that it more than likely was a crack that exposed the nerve. With throbbing pain, I stopped my investigation took several anti-inflammatories before I got the brilliant idea to put some pain-relieving gel on it. Digging through my mom bag, I found a tube. I put it all over the tooth. Big mistake! Huge error! Once the medicine penetrated the tooth to the nerve, it set my entire jaw on fire. It was probably the most excruciating pain I have ever experienced. I laid my hands on my face and prayed. Pleaded with the Lord to take the pain away with tears streaming down my face. As it began to subside, I continued to read the different medical and dental sites. I need to go to the dentist. I need to pay the large co-pay. I need a crown. Ugh!

Our lesson for Wednesday night Bible study was about pride. Our need for humility in our pursuit of the Lord. Nothing will bring us to our knees like pain – physical, mental, emotion and even spiritual. The brokenness that gets to the heart of the matter will never build our pride but tear all self-confidence to make room for confident hope. Humility is evidence of a realization of who God is and His Sovereignty that allows His Spirit to produce change in us. Humility is painful because one must crucify flesh in order to give it room in our life. For years, I have prided myself on how I deal with illness and pain. I have given birth without medication. Powered through illness. However, last night, I could not even breathe with the intensity of the pain when the crack in my tooth hit the nerve and then when I tried to self-medicate. Lord, thank you for the object lesson but OUCH!

Romans 3:22-24 (NLT) We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.

True humility requires true repentance. The riches of God are accessed by salvation. Sin drug us down from a glorious standard of living that Christ came to fully restore. True repentance is not a one-time instance but daily occurrence. Reconciling our natural life to the supernatural existence God has for His Children. It can only be obtained by allowing the Lord to work in us and complete the work that He began. We must change because God does not change. We must be humble because God is Sovereign and no one will ever bring Him down from His Throne. He is All-Knowing, All-Powerful, and everywhere at the same time. God is the Great I Am. To be one with the Lord means that I must decrease and allow Christ to increase filling every void in my brokenness. The Truth that tears down any religious posture is that one sin nailed Jesus to the Cross and His Blood covers all sin. Grace is enough. It is always sufficiency to bring us into right-standing with God. It requires one thing – true repentance.

James 4:5-10 (NLT) Do you think the Scriptures have no meaning? They say that God is passionate that the spirit he has placed within us should be faithful to him. And he gives grace generously. As the Scriptures say, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.

True humility requires true surrender. I must lay down my life in order to assume a robe of righteousness. In order to have the Grace of God, I must give my life away to Him. His Power is manifested in my weakness. When I cannot do it anymore so I give it over to Him. I have put off getting the dental work needed for my ailing tooth for a variety of reasons. I am afraid. I do not want to pay the price. I have tried to ignore it. After the episode last night, I need to make a choice. Will I overcome my fear? Will I pay the price? Will I give it the attention needed? I believe that as we cry out to the Lord for more of Him. To see His Glory. To have more of His Grace. We ask Him to increase our faith. But when the trial, trouble, or trauma comes that exposes areas of pride and weakness – it is met with confusion and a lack of understanding. God must expose everything in us that is contrary to His Word, Will and Way so that we can humble our life and surrender that area to Him for His Careful and Complete Intervention. To posture our life prostrate before the Lord as a living sacrifice allows Him to work through us and align our life with His Goodness for His Glory which will life us to a place of honor in His Presence.

Psalm 91:14-16 (NLT) The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name. When they call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honor them. I will reward them with a long life and give them my salvation.”

True humility requires true love. Do you love God? Do you love Jesus Christ? Do you love others? Do you love yourself? There is no greater love than to lay down our life for another. Perfect love casts out all fear. Love is the most powerful force. God is love. Everything He does comes from the orifice of love because it is His Identity. He promises to rescue those who love Him. He will protect those who trust Him. Trust is characteristic of love. True love is given all away. When they call – those who love and trust Him – He will always answer them in the midst of their trouble. He promises to honor them and give them long life.

Daniel cried out to the Lord and the Lord sent an angel to him. “Then he said, “Don’t be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day you began to pray for understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your request has been heard in heaven. I have come in answer to your prayer.” (Daniel 10:12) Daniel loved God even in his captivity. He petitioned the Lord for understanding and he humbled himself before God. God confided that his request had been heard in heaven and an answer given. Our life must be reconciled to God because God will not change His Mind or His Way. Daniel aligned his life with God’s Word despite his situation. He humbled himself before the Lord and He answered Daniel directly. Could pride be hindering the answer to our prayers? Could our unwillingness to give our life up to secure a place in His Kingdom be our problem? Has conviction struck a nerve in you requiring immediate action? Will fear stop you? Pride hinder you? Is the cost of self too high? Will you accept God’s Grace as the power of change for your life? Will you love Him wholeheartedly?

Micah 6:8 (NLT) No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.

Human pride complicates the simplicity of salvation with radical religion. It puts rules and regulations on the Grace of God that are not His Requirements at all. In the movie, The Lorax, a man bottled air and sold it to unsuspecting people. How often free grace is offered with a price rather than generously spread around the church with love. What if salvation really is for the asking? What if grace is sufficient for all sin? What if God’s Mercy gives us second chances every single day? What if He really will complete the good work in us without our assistance? What if His Spirit can change our character and make us fruitful from the inside out? What if our body and life will prosper with our soul? Have I overcomplicated the process to foster my pride? The Lord has told us what is good. It is simple. What does He require of you? To do what is right. To love mercy. To walk humbly with Him. Pride will fight to preserve its right to do what it wants. To serve self first. To go its own way. It is up to us to give up our right to be right and claim righteousness over rightness. It is our goal to live in love with God and all mankind. It is our privilege to walk humbly WITH the Lord until we meet Him face-to-face.

Psalm 25:8-10 (NLT) The Lord is good and does what is right; he shows the proper path to those who go astray. He leads the humble in doing right, teaching them his way. The Lord leads with unfailing love and faithfulness all who keep his covenant and obey his demands.