My Broken Heart

My Broken Heart

Ezekiel 36:26 (NLT) And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.

My office is located across the street from a hospital. They have an amazing cafeteria with an abundance of choices for an extremely reasonable price. Finding favor with the staff provides heaping portions and an employee discount due to our frequent visits. Standing in line for the fry cook, a group of doctors stream in behind me. While waiting they begin to discuss the afternoon surgery schedule and procedures. I have a background in medical transcription so it is clear within minutes that they are cardiologists. Heart doctors grabbing a quick bite to eat before saving lives and restoring hearts for the rest of the day. Placing  their orders, I had to chuckle under my breath. You would think that someone who fixes broken hearts each day would avoid high carbs and fried, fatty food but quite to the contrary. In fact, none of them want the “veggies” on their double cheeseburgers just meat, cheese and grease. Such a contradiction, but no condemnation as I grab my own burger and fries on the way out.

I have been praying to the Great Physician for my own heart. When things don’t add up in my life, it is the first order of business to do a self-check. Comparing the contents of my heart, mind, will and emotions for anything contrary to God’s Word, His Will or His Way. He doesn’t change. He cannot tell a lie. What He says, He will do every single time. Therefore, when something seems amiss, it is usually in me. It could be my impatience or lack of understanding. Sometimes there are things in my heart taking God’s Place. Other times I have allowed doubt to begin to dull me from the inside out.

As I prayed, I began to see an image unravel in my head. A church full of people holding their hearts in their hands. The music was playing. An altar call given to all the broken to be restored again. No one came but instead held the pieces of their own broken hearts praying for others around them hoping no one else could see their offering withheld. Suddenly, I became aware that those people and I had something in common. How often do we look at others as the problem? Or fail to consider our own condition? To live in depression, discouragement and disappointment because rather than giving the Lord all the broken pieces – we try to hold it all together. What are we holding together? Our brokenness. What does the Lord want to do? Give us a new heart. A responsive heart. A heart that beats in alignment with His Own. A heart burgeoning with life and new possibilities. One that is not stubborn or callous but one that arouses our spirit man with faith and confident hope.

As if that was not enough, the Lord began to drive His Point home. I began to see people I know and love who have sick hearts. Our son, my mom and even my adopted Memaw at church. All with heart conditions that need physical healing. I see the faces of those who have endured broken relationships. Giving all of their heart only to have the holder break it into a million falling pieces. The minister whose season was over grieving the loss of their sheep. The friends with lost children watching and waiting for their return. Those who desire more and are locked in less. So many hurting hearts physical, emotional and spiritual standing all around me. I am not alone. Are you heart sick today? Are you trying to hold all the pieces together in fear something might think you have no faith? Do dark shrouds of depression, despair, disappointment or discouragement hound you day and night? It doesn’t have to be that way anymore.

Psalm 13:1-2 (NLT) O Lord, how long will you forget me? Forever? How long will you look the other way? How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul, with sorrow in my heart every day? How long will my enemy have the upper hand?

No one can know a person’s thoughts except that person’s own spirit, and no one can know God’s thoughts except God’s own Spirit. (1 Corinthians 2:11) How true is this scripture? While many feel like the psalmist in Psalm 13, most will never admit to the own struggles in faith. To believe is not natural. To have faith is illogical. Everything about God contradicts nature as we know it due to sin. Sin has flawed that created to be perfect. You are divinely created by the Living God. You are fearfully and marvelously made because God only prepares wonderful masterpieces. Yet in the course of life, even the most righteous believer will struggle to stay focused. The Lord is always thinking about us. Pursuing us with His Love. Offering His Goodness including every provision, blessing and promise that prosperity encompasses. It all belongs to us by the Grace of God given to us through His Son, Jesus. We only need to accept His Love into our heart and mind until we are convinced that this is the Truth concerning us. God has placed eternity in our heart and promises to make everything beautiful in His Time. But until then…

Psalm 13:5-6 (NLT) But I trust in your unfailing love. I will rejoice because you have rescued me. I will sing to the Lord because he is good to me.

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. (Psalm 19:14) Faith is not imagined but intentional. To take my confidence out of this world and put it in the Kingdom is not fanciful but focused. I must make every effort to respond to all of God’s Promises by faith. Faith is in our heart. Brokenness gives faith a place to grow, develop and mature into confident hope. Hope that anchors our soul is heavily weighted in the Word of God planted as tiny seeds growing into mighty oaks of righteousness. A broken heart is painful. It doesn’t work properly and there are many things that will contribute to its demise including hidden sin, retained offenses, and bits of bitterness all allowed to take the place of faith. Doubt is the tiny pebble that becomes a mighty mountain in the life of a believer. If the enemy can sell us on just one lie, our feet become tangled and down we go. Those who choose the Lord as rock (immovable) and redeemer (the one who saves, heals and delivers) will see His Goodness in the land of the living just as He promises in Psalm 27.

Psalm 6:1-3 (NLT) O Lord, don’t rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your rage. Have compassion on me, Lord, for I am weak. Heal me, Lord, for my bones are in agony. I am sick at heart. How long, O Lord, until you restore me?

Can you relate to David’s plea to the Lord today? Are you beginning to think that God is punishing you for something? Or is this discipline that is unpleasant? Do you think that God doesn’t love you? Or maybe He has forgotten you? Knowing the right thing to do and doing it are two very different things. When our body, mind or spirit are plagued with negative thoughts it drags our heart down, too. Are you sick at heart today? Is your heart broken? Are you clinging to the pieces hoping to put your life together again? How long will the Lord wait until He restores you, me, or us?

Psalm 27:8 (NLT) My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.” And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.”

The cardiologists ordering lunch were filled with vast knowledge. Years of education and experience and yet they still chose foods that might compromise their health and hearts. They made an informed decision to choose unhealthy options. We have been given the Word of God. As we deliberately, read it, study it and meditate on it – we have knowledge of God. Wisdom is gained by applying such knowledge to our life. I can know everything the Word says and do everything according to church doctrine and still live with a broken, lifeless heart. His Commandments bring joy to our heart. (Psalm 19:8) As we resolve the conflict between our flesh and faith something beautiful will emerge from the rock that once residing in our chest. New life comes when we allow the Lord to take our stony heart and give us a new heart. The only confidence I have in this life that is eternal is found in Jesus Christ. God will strengthen the heart given to Him in its complete brokenness. He creates masterpieces out of messes (Ephesians 2:10) and makes every detail of our life part of the magnificent existence found it its place. (Romans 8:28)

If you are heart sick today, I know a healer. A Great Physician who does heart transplants without a single incision just a cut called circumcision. As our stony heart is removed, a new heart emerges full of life. the hope that I have in Jesus Christ is not based on what I see but Who I know. When struggling with doubt, depression, despair, discouragement or desperation – our broken heart will hear His Voice. Why? His Word tells us that the Lord is close to the brokenhearted. (Psalm 34:18) It is up to me if I will respond to His Call. Come closer He says. Let me give you a new heart. Renew a right spirit. Our response – “Lord, I am coming!”

Psalm 139:23-24 (NLT) Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.


Give Me A Sign

Give me a sign

Hebrews 2:4-8 (NLT) And God confirmed the message by giving signs and wonders and various miracles and gifts of the Holy Spirit whenever he chose. And furthermore, it is not angels who will control the future world we are talking about. For in one place the Scriptures say, “What are mere mortals that you should think about them, or a son of man that you should care for him? Yet for a little while you made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor. You gave them authority over all things.” Now when it says “all things,” it means nothing is left out. But we have not yet seen all things put under their authority.

Gideon was at the bottom of the winepress threshing wheat when the angel of the Lord came to him. He called Gideon, mighty warrior, while he was yet to emerge from his hiding place. The man of God was trying to survive when the Lord decreed that through him Israel would thrive. Gideon did not immediately rise up to his calling. He needed a sign. Actually before the chapter ends, Gideon would ask the Lord for multiple signs to signify that this encounter and experience was real and the Word of the Lord true.

For a long time I struggled with stories like Gideon’s, God’s call tested by mankind. But the longer I walk with the Lord, the more that I have come to realize that true power is accessed in my weakness rather than when I pretend to have strength. The first miracle performed in my life drained every single ounce of trust I had in the Lord and His Word. When faith becomes our mission – it is in the pursuit of miracles. Faith is not for the things naturally occurring but for supernatural outcomes. Faith is the credible confidence that we are fully assured of God’s Promises for us and live expectantly. Faith is illogical in accordance with natural intelligence and human reasoning. It is the mindset that the power of God is within us and will find its way out of us that should keep us constantly aware that signs, wonders and miracles are the attainable lifestyle of all God’s Children. As our soul prospers, in all things so shall we.

I need a sign. I have walked as far as faith will carry me. I need the Lord to show me that I am still on course. I do not need a release from my calling but rather confidence in my way. I am not asking for a change of way but a change of heart today. Do you feel lost in the journey today? Does everything seem contrary to your calling? Do you think maybe you missed Him? I do. The Lord has given us power and authority over all things. Jesus Christ gives us grace infused with His Power. It flourishes in our weakness as long as we do not give up, wander off or refuse to wait. I have asked the Lord for a sign. I know He will give it to me.

Judges 6:36-40 (NLT) Then Gideon said to God, “If you are truly going to use me to rescue Israel as you promised, prove it to me in this way. I will put a wool fleece on the threshing floor tonight. If the fleece is wet with dew in the morning but the ground is dry, then I will know that you are going to help me rescue Israel as you promised.” And that is just what happened. When Gideon got up early the next morning, he squeezed the fleece and wrung out a whole bowlful of water. Then Gideon said to God, “Please don’t be angry with me, but let me make one more request. Let me use the fleece for one more test. This time let the fleece remain dry while the ground around it is wet with dew.” So that night God did as Gideon asked. The fleece was dry in the morning, but the ground was covered with dew.

The angel of the Lord called Gideon a “mighty warrior”. Gideon asked for a sign. The sign was the acceptance of his offering to the Lord. God obliged him. Gideon took ten men to destroy his father’s altar to Baal and cut down the Asherah pole. Even though his father’s household and town people came against them, the word of the Lord proved true and Gideon was spared. The Lord “clothed” Gideon with power. The armies had formed an alliance to come against Israel. Battle was at hand. So Gideon, asked the Lord for a sign. “If you are truly going to use me to rescue Israel as you promised, prove it to me this way…” Friend, I don’t know what you are battling today but I do know the battle is the Lord’s. There is victory inside of you.

Is it wrong to ask God for a sign? To take Him at His Word sounds easy until impossibilities take over. When you need a miracle is the hardest time to keep your mind, will and emotions in check. Desperation takes over. Fear of disappointment is cast at your weary soul each day. God is the God of the impossible. It is impossible to please God without faith. He knows us inside and out. He even offers us the opportunity to test Him, try Him, and prove Him. (Malachi 6) This passage in Malachi refers to money and finances. What better place to start? One of the staunchest competitors for our heart. Yet I believe that in all things God says, “Put me to the test.” If you desires faith and a more meaningful relationship with Jesus Christ – He will give you a sign.

Matthew 9:6-7 (NLT) Is it easier to say ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or ‘Stand up and walk’? So I will prove to you that the Son of Man has the authority on earth to forgive sins.” Then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home!” And the man jumped up and went home!

I believe the outcome of our request for a sign from the Lord is contingent on our heart. What is that we desire from Him? Are you after God’s Hand or His Heart? There was one thief on the cross who desired to be with Jesus while the other one only wanted to escape. Only one was granted his request that day dying nevertheless. Is it easier to say, “Your sins are forgiven?” or “Stand up and walk?” There are many people who call themselves Christians but never go beyond the title. This is not a word of condemnation just part of the identity crisis of the church today. Signs, wonders and miracles should accompany the modern day Christian just like the early church. We have everything needed to live under an open heaven so what is keeping it closed?

Doubt. Truly that is the source of the mountains that we face and obstacles we cannot overcome. It is always doubt. God’s Power is never lessened by a lack of faith. Grace releases the power and authority of Christ as we humble our life before Him. We can say that our sins are forgiven, but no one can see the contents of our heart. However, signs, wonders and miracles in our life are evidence that His Power is at work in us and through us.

Matthew 12:38-41 (NLT) One day some teachers of religious law and Pharisees came to Jesus and said, “Teacher, we want you to show us a miraculous sign to prove your authority.” But Jesus replied, “Only an evil, adulterous generation would demand a miraculous sign; but the only sign I will give them is the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was in the belly of the great fish for three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights. The people of Nineveh will stand up against this generation on judgment day and condemn it, for they repented of their sins at the preaching of Jonah. Now someone greater than Jonah is here—but you refuse to repent.”

When the religious folks requested a miracle, Jesus had one for them. The sign of Jonah that was yet to come when He died on the cross, laid in the grave three days and emerged with victory over sin and death in His Hand. For them, there’s the sign. However, for those who seek to live by faith and an abiding relationship with Jesus Christ – He will give them signs, do miracles and they will experience wonders that cannot be explained so all glory will go the Lord. True repentance opens the window of heaven. Faith is a series of steps toward loving and trusting Him more. It is not an easy journey. The Lord sees our heart. The heart intent on finding Him will seek Him. He sees your heart and responds to your faith. If you need a sign, do not be afraid to ask for it. The Lord comes close to the brokenhearted. The one who is searching for Him will find Him.

Are you striving in obedience? Do you think you lost your way? The Lord will be our light. His Word is a lamp for your feet and light to your path. His Spirit is your helper. He will give you a sign when you need it. Ask for it. Look for it. Trust Him. Believe. Walk by faith and not by sight. God is doing exactly as He promised according to His Will and Way which always is exceedingly abundantly more than we can think, ask or imagine.

Acts 1:3 (NLT) During the forty days after he suffered and died, he appeared to the apostles from time to time, and he proved to them in many ways that he was actually alive. And he talked to them about the Kingdom of God.

We focus on Acts 2 and the day of Pentecost when Jesus poured out His Spirit on mankind. However, if you look in the first chapter of Acts – a beautiful love story unfolds. Jesus had been betrayed and brutalized. He died on the Cross and came up out of the grave. For forty days, the same amount of time he was in the wilderness, the Lord spent time with the apostles. What was he doing? He proved to them in many ways that he was actually alive. Are you in a wilderness of testing? Fasting? Praying? Believing? Yet still wondering? Wandering a bit? The Lord will come to you. He will give you a sign. He will prove that He is still alive. Jesus will show His Love for you again and again if you request it from a repentant heart. He is that good! He has that much grace!

Proverbs 30:5 (NLT) Every word of God proves true. He is a shield for all who come to Him for protection.

God always responds to our cry for help. He listens to our doubts and disappointments. In that moment when our heart desires Him, and strives for more faith – He will answer and give us a sign. You just have to want Him more than anything else. Miracles still happen. They come at a high price. We must give up on ourselves and fully embrace Him by faith and trust to do what His Word says that He will do. No more compromises. No more shortcuts. No more excuses. Here is your sign – the One who has called you is faithful. He will do exactly as He promised to do!

2 Corinthians 1:19-22 (NLT)  For Jesus Christ, the Son of God, does not waver between “Yes” and “No.” He is the one whom Silas, Timothy, and I preached to you, and as God’s ultimate “Yes,” he always does what he says. For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes!” And through Christ, our “Amen” (which means “Yes”) ascends to God for his glory. It is God who enables us, along with you, to stand firm for Christ. He has commissioned us, and he has identified us as his own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the first installment that guarantees everything he has promised us.



Ephesians 4:20-24 (ESV) But that is not the way you learned Christ!—assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

The journey of faith is long and arduous. It requires endurance as that exerted in a marathon. Many will begin but few will finish – the broken road is laden with many who heard the Word of God and wanted all of its benefits but succumbed to one of the many distractions along the way. Some of the seeds falling on a path easily devoured by the lie of the enemy which is his only weapon formed against. It will not prosper when seeds planted deep in the human heart become confident hope. Other seeds were considered and even pondered for a short time but then the busyness of life and need for immediate gratification hindered the roots of trust from grabbing hold of every fear, doubt and insecurity and crushing them in the peace of God through Jesus Christ. Without being rooted and grounded in God’s Love and Goodness through Jesus Christ there is no Living Water to sustain us during times of drought. Other seeds were suffocated by distractions and the thorns of life keep us in the ordinary when all along the new life waits in the extraordinary. You were born in the natural and through Jesus Christ have access to the supernatural. Why do so many Christians live defeated lives? They have the wrong assumptions.

There are two kinds of assumption – 1) there is the assumption that takes for granted, and 2) there is the assumption that takes possession. Let’s talk about assuming. The word jumped off the screen reading Ephesians 4 today. God never lies or changes His Mind. He is Sovereign and Perfect in every way. He loves us. He is good to us. He desires us. His Unconditional Love for us evident in the selfless giving of His Son to obtain our life in its most wretched state. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. Therefore, He never changes. Our life has a plan and purpose containing a future and hope prerecorded and predestined before our natural birth only awaiting spiritual rebirth. My heart has a measure of faith to begin the growth process. It has a promise – eternity. Jesus came to be the Way, the Truth and Life. To give me access to the Father and become His Child again. All of this belongs to me including every spiritual blessing and the supplies to meet every need. I am promised victory in Jesus Christ. He is the overcomer who will never leave me or forsake me. He has given me His Spirit as a helper. The Spirit provides guidance in applying God’s Word (seed) to my life and making it grow into good fruit that will satisfy me with a prospering soul. If my life doesn’t line up to God’s Word, it is not His Fault but by my own assumption.

Do I assume natural occurrences or supernatural outcomes in Jesus Name? My strongest conviction must be that the Lord is exactly who He says He is and does exactly what He promises to do. Before Christ I took all these benefits and blessings for granted because honestly they were unattainable. Coming to Christ, I must change my assumption by faith fulling believing and adopting the promises of God in every area of my life. It is human nature to doubt. To have fear and anxiety is evidence of insecurity in my heart that Jesus can and will do exactly as promised in His Word. To lack joy, peace and every other fruit born of the Spirit is to accept these things as a way of life rather than giving this life away by faith to trust God at His Word.

Ephesians 1:3-6 (ESV) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.

“We all make basic assumptions about things in life, but sometimes those assumptions are WRONG. We must never trust in what we assume, only in what we KNOW.” Darren Shan

Our new life in Christ requires us to make new assumptions. We are prewired by experienced to never assume but always try, test, ask and know. As I have said many times, I do not believe in blind faith. Faith is what we know about God and choose to believe. The assumption of our life as believers is through adoption. To know, trust and believe so that faith becomes logical and hope our confidence. God has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. He chose us before the creation of this world to be holy and blameless before Him. He decided to adopt us to become His Sons and Daughters. It is according to His Will and by His Grace that such a life is even possible. The rest is up to us. The acceptance of Jesus Christ and the new life that is offered is to know His Love and live in it.

We must fully assume our new identity in Jesus Christ in order to obtain every spiritual blessing. The Spirit of God within us is proof of our identity. Faith is His Investment so that when sown in our heart and life that it blossoms into new life. Jack’s mom didn’t believe the beans he received in trade were worth anything and threw them out the window. But the next morning those seeds became a beanstalk connecting earth to the sky. Now we both know this is just a children’s story, but what if the seeds given to us in the form of God’s Word really do have the potential to connect Heaven and earth. To change our normal existence into a supernatural lifestyle. What if our ordinary really is purposed to become extraordinary? What are you waiting for? It’s time to put some seed in the ground by faith and watch it grow in Jesus Name.

Romans 8:14-16 (ESV)  For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God…

“Faith grows when we assume the position of one who can’t do it all by himself. That means we go to God, follow Him, and ask Him for help.” – John Townsend

I am caught up in this thought of assumption today. Are there areas of my life that I have not yielded to Christ and assumption of my new life? Am I living as an adopted daughter of the Living God or do I still lack full assumption of my identity in Christ? How do I know? What do I expect? Do I expect God’s Love and Goodness? Do I live a confident life fully trusting the Lord to meet my need and exceed all expectations? The answer lies in my own heart. I must examine the contents carefully lest I assume without knowing. I must know the Word – not assume it doesn’t apply to me. I must know Jesus Christ through an abiding relationship – not just assume an introduction one day. I must live in a life of power by fully accepting grace that is only magnified in my weakness. Less of me and more of Him allows me to connect with Heaven by faith now rather than wondering when I die if I will enter its gates. There is no greater confidence than faith flourishing in every spiritual blessing given to those who live by faith as an assumption of all God has planned and purposed. To do so, I must assume that I am a Child of God because I know the Word and He lives in me.

I John 4:4 (ESV)  Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.

What to Wear

What to Wear

Colossians 3:12-14 (ESV) Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

In the wee hours of morning, all is quiet in our house. I love this time alone with the Lord. It prepares me for the day ahead. In just a short time, the house will erupt in chaos as everyone gets ready for the day. My husband will don his work attire a pair of khakis and a polo with the company logo on it. It’s cold so it will be accompanied by a pullover again representing his employer. Then the girls will begin the daily routine with their rants of having nothing to wear or if I am lucky closet shopping and sharing their wardrobe. It’s early we will just have to wait and see. I used to work in a capacity that professional attire was required but now I work in a business casual environment which is such a blessing. Clothing consumes much of our time in careful consideration and our budget with overflowing closets of “nothing to wear”.

As I sit in the silence just before dawn, I realize that there is something much more important to consider in my preparation. The Lord is direct. The scripture quite clear. Put on then… I am God’s Chosen One. He calls me holy and beloved. I am to put on then compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. I am to don forgiveness and be wrapped up in love today. I wonder what would happen if we considered the “clothing” of our heart more than our appearance. To be the part rather than looking the part.

Matthew 6:30-33 (ESV) But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Seeking the Kingdom first is often overshadowed and forgotten in our pursuit of worldly things. Things that God the Father who is always good has already granted those who He calls “beloved”. The lie of the enemy encourages us to fight our way up the corporate ladder or tells us that the one with the most toys win. But my heart tells me that the fullness of satisfaction is found in the eternity the Lord has placed there as I feed my soul it will prosper into contentment and peace that are in the Presence of God as He becomes my refuge. If I could only gather all the moments wasted on worry, cares, anxiousness and fear that never came to fruition? How much time would I have? God has promised success and prosperity to those who are properly clothed.

Isaiah 61:10-11 (ESV) I will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall exult in my God, for  he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. For as the earth brings forth its sprouts, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to sprout up, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to sprout up before all the nations.

The Lord has covered us in robes of righteousness. He has replaced filthy rags for the riches of His Kingdom. I have Peace with God. I have an inheritance as a Child of God. I have a purpose and plan that belongs to me. No one else can fulfill it and therefore I am not in competition with anyone else nor is there a need for comparison. My confidence is in Jesus Christ. Faith becomes confident hope when one can identify with their true identity and stop listening to the opinions of the world. Men and women have stereotypical guidelines and now there is a gender neutral option but God tells us in Psalm 139 of our intricate design. He reminds us that his created ones are “fearfully and wonderfully made” and “wonderful are His Works.” That’s you by design. Now to only find fulfillment of this perfect plan and purpose. It is discovered by the grace that is more than enough to bring about fulfillment and full satisfaction in the life of every person who chooses to believe. But that’s not all…

Ephesians 6:10-12 (ESV) Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

The Lord equips us with armor. We are prepared for the enemy that comes against us. We have the weapons of warfare already inside of us. The Belt of Truth is the foundational knowledge of God and what He says about you and what He has ordained for you. To know the Truth eliminates the power of every lie. The breastplate of righteousness protects our heart. There is no insecurity or insignificance in a heart covered and protected by righteousness because our trust is not in ourselves but Christ in us. He is always enough to overcome and produce victory in our life beginning in our heart and mind. The Gospel of Peace cobbled in confidence that what the Word says about us is true and there is no conflict with people just love, joy, peace and harmony. We walk through life sharing a gospel of peace that is not divide or separate but bring the Body of Christ together as one. The shield of faith protects us in each trial, test and temptation faced in every day. The enemy is constantly hurling lies, insults and offenses at us but faith eliminates them all. The Helmet of Salvation protects our mind from focusing on temporary things and keeping our thoughts set on the future and forever. Finally, we have the Sword of God’s Spirit – the Word of God! Did you put on your armor this morning? Do you have your sword? These are way more important than the latest fashion or grabbing your name brand purse or briefcase? Our daily success is found in spiritual satisfaction nothing in this life will do!

Psalm 30:11-12 (ESV) You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!

Those who are clothed in righteousness taking full advantage of holy armor will find inexpressible joy in living. Jesus Christ is our joy. He has clothed me in gladness. I will sing His Praise and not be silent. No one else could give me peace of mind, body and soul like He did. There is nothing more influential and appealing than a confident Christian who can love without regret. Those who are so wrapped up in Jesus Christ that they do not get caught up in the worthless rags of this life. We have been made right with the Living God. He lives in us. He wants to radiate from us. He has turned my mourning into dancing.

Luke 12:35-37 (ESV) “Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning, and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes.”

Friend, are you dressed for success today? Have you taken off the filthy rags of yesterday wrapping yourself in the robe of righteousness that Jesus is offering you today? It came packaged in the new mercy that was deposited on your doorstep. His Grace is enough to overcome every shortcoming, fault, failure and weakness in us. In fact, His Power works best in our weaknesses. To rely on the armor of God to defend us rather than fighting for our own life will always lead to victory after victory and glory to glory. Miraculous things happen when we can make it through impossible days singing His Praise and giving Him glory. We are well-suited to do so. He has given us every spiritual blessing. We find it in the Refuge of His Present. Our prayer closet is overflowing with the perfect attire. We are Children of the Living God. A well-clothed heart impresses God more than a put-together appearance. God loves this hot mess. I see it on t-shirts and signs but truly it is my inward condition. God unravels us to sew our life together into a beautiful masterpiece. Piece by piece – He works every detail for our good and His Glory. He will do this for you. Now that you know what to wear – it’s time to put it on!

Isaiah 61:1-3 (ESV) The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord‘s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion—to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.

The Quest

The Quest

I John 5:1-3 (ESV) Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.

One act of obedience is better than one hundred sermons. (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

Obedience is to live a life of submissive compliance to God, His Son – Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. Though many strive to live in such a state, it is a struggle with our flesh, pride and natural inclination. To overcome disobedience requires one act of obedience. It is the message of our life in submissive compliance with God’s Word, Will and Way that shines the brightest light. We must live a life of faith in action that relies on confident hope rather our own self-assurance.

“Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine, oh what a foretaste of glory divine, heir of salvation, purchase of God, born of His Spirit, washed in His Blood. Perfect submission, all is at rest, I in my Savior am happy and blessed. Watching and waiting, looking above, filled with His Goodness, lost in His Love.” For many years, I sang this hymn without really knowing or experiencing the true meaning. To live a life of blessed assurance is a magnification of faith and trust in God’s Word. To live in complete confidence that His Goodness belongs to me as a product of His Love and nothing else. Grace really is enough to restore me as a Child of God and reconciliation with Christ affords me a happy and blessed life. Nevertheless I must daily fight against my mind, will and emotions that want to control my thoughts and guide my choices in this life and most of all preserve my flesh.

When obedience ceases to be an irritant and becomes our quest in that moment God will endow us with power. (Ezra Taft Benson)

Romans 6:15-18 (ESV) 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.

Slavery to sin can be exchanged for servanthood of righteousness. Sin leads to death. I do not mean to sullen you this morning but the sin in our life always leaves a mark. A wound in need of healing. Sin decays our thoughts. It influences our actions. It is the unchecked heart that is the most rebellious. The Grace of God and His Goodness are not imparted to just anyone. They are given to the one who believes by faith. It is a relationship with Jesus Christ that gives us this precious gift that must be opened to be fully enjoyed. I cannot serve the world and serve the Lord. It is impossible as they are in direct conflict with one another. It is through remorseful repentance that radical obedience becomes our quest. To know the Love of God and seek to maintain a right relationship because of our love for Him. Sin becomes less appealing when pictured as a nail driven into the Hand of the Lover of our Soul.

Great moves of God are usually preceded by simple acts of obedience. (Steven Furtick)

2 Corinthians 10:5-6 (ESV)  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.

The cry of the modern day church is revival. Revival starts at home. In our prayer closets and quiet times alone with the Lord. Those times when we lay our life down and pick up the cross when no one is watching and it is just us with Jesus. It really doesn’t matter how well I clean up or successful I am in changing bad habits and old ways – if I do not fully embrace faithful obedience to God out of my absolute love for Jesus Christ – I have nothing.

Our example of the greatest obedience is Jesus Christ. He submitted His Life in order to set us free and give us the opportunity to become sons and daughters of God once again. He prayed and cried out to His Father. It did not deliver Him from the obedience to the Cross but gave Him the outcome that He was after. He went to the Cross desiring us. When there was no other way, Jesus became the Way. Now our obedience is to the Way, not the law or rules and regulations of church doctrine or religion. Too often we look for a way out of our trials and temptations rather than seeing the example of Jesus who gave us the power to overcome by way of the Cross. Obedience to God doesn’t always lead to easy street but it will be the road less traveled that leads to a glorious destination with hope that never leads to disappointment. Lord, lead me to complete obedience.

God’s Promises are all on condition of humble obedience. (Ellen G. White)

Hebrews 11:8 (ESV) By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.

Abraham lived a life of faith. Faith that stretched the span of 99 years until the Promise of God finally arrived. He is the example of living in righteousness before the blessing and radical obedience to the Living God. I wonder how more quickly we would respond to the Lord, His Word, His Will and His Way if we could see what was behind the curtain marked “obedience”. What if one step of faith gave us the ability to see our life from God’s Perspective? Abraham obeyed God. He wasn’t perfect. He made mistakes. He tried to find shortcuts, but in the end – the Promise of Isaac arrived just as He planned. God will never send a blessing that compromises our belief. He makes miracles out of impossible or others would take credit for the sign or wonder calling it coincidental. The blessing and promises of God are found in His Presence. We enter such a place by humble obedience. To accept God’s Grace is an act of humility magnified by faithful obedience when God’s Children begin to take Him at His Word rather than waiting for a sign to follow suit. How many times does God give you a dream that is dismissed by your condition? How often does the vision come yet is not written down or seriously considered in our own sad state? God is a miracle worker and you are His Miracle.

Obedience to God is the most infallible evidence of sincere and supreme love to Him. (Nathanael Emmons)

When we love the Lord, obedience ceases to be a burden. Obedience becomes delight. (Joseph B. Wirthlin)

Philippians 2:12-13 (ESV)  Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

Samuel told Saul, “To obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.” A single act of disobedience took the royal power from Saul. In I Samuel 15 – it goes on to liken disobedience to rebellion and presumption as rejection of God’s Word. How many times do we act in such a rebellious way? The Holy Spirit nudges us from the place of comfort, convenience or control and we decline His Offer for more. Every leading of God is to His Goodness. Every act precipitated upon His Grace which is always enough to infuse us with His Power. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. We cannot get to God except through Him. Through Him is a loving and active relationship based on trust. When our heart truly falls in love with Jesus Christ, our feet will follow and hands will get to work. Obedience is the product of faith in action. Faith in love with the Lord and eager to live in His Presence. Whom the Son sets free is free indeed. Those who desire Him and His Kingdom arrive through simple acts of humble obedience carried out day by day. For those who take one step many more will follow – obedience unlocks the door to an open heaven. It is my quest. Full and faithful obedience that takes me from complacency to confident hope that is found only in a right relationship with My Father. He calls us “beloved”. God is working in us. His Spirit leads us to obedience which will always produce His Blessing as our faith grows and hope becomes confident. One moment will change a lifetime when it is a step of faith toward humble and heartfelt obedience to the Lover of our soul – this is my quest.

This is my story, this is my song, praising my Savior all the day long! (Blessed Assurance)

Romans 16:25-27 (ESV) Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.

Cross Examination

Cross Examination

Psalm 139:23-24 (NLT) Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

Psalm 139 is my favorite of them all. The story of creation in the intimacy of the womb with a loving Creator who considered me thoroughly before He gave me a single breath. To know that God’s thoughts concerning me are precious and precise. This was the mirror of hope that gave me new life. To know that God lovingly and intentionally created me with purpose. To realize that my life is a plan proposed with enough love, mercy and grace to get me from here to everlasting life. I have been a believer for more than forty years now. In my teens, a youth worker introduced me to this simple truth. After years of contemplation, I am still completely in awe of God and His Goodness.

Psalm 139:1-6 (NLT) O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord. You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand!

The complexity of God’s Love revealed in the concept that though He examines my heart and knows everything about me…He insists on being with me every step of the way. On my good days, the Lord celebrates with me. On my not-so-good days, He lends an ear to my tearful ramblings catching each salty one in the palm of His Hand. On my bad days, He sees my rebellion yet still insisting to go with me and ready to respond the instant I turn back. His Love for me is unyielding. It is constant. Persistent. Pervasive. It is perfect yet I am imperfect. If God’s Love never fails me and His Grace is enough, why then would I need to examine my heart? Why the cross examination if He knows my faults, failures and weaknesses from the very start?

Matthew 22:37-38 (NLT) Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.

The first and greatest commandment. The one that comes with a promise. The only thing that we must do to keep faith alive and hope confident. To love the Lord God with all my heart, my soul and my mind. The second is equally as simple as the first – to love others the same way. I wonder sometimes if we convolute the commandments with religious doctrine full of dos and don’ts because true love with deep conviction cuts our heart. It penetrates our soul intimately. It changes our mind completely. Flesh dies as the heart, soul and mind prosper. The collateral damage is crucified pride. In this selfless, helpless and weakness, our need to survive overshadows God’s Promise to thrive.

God loved the world by giving His Son to die and pay the price for our sin. My sin demanded every drop of Christ’s Blood so that His Grace would be sufficient for me. I was judged by the Glorious Standard set forth before my birth. God sent the Light of His Love to lead me out of the darkness and live in the Light. There is no judgment against anyone who believes. So why must I challenge myself with cross examination if I have been exonerated by the Blood of Jesus Christ? My faith must be genuine. It must be a valid component of who I am and what I believe. Apart from Christ, I am nothing. How is this possible when Psalm 139 describes a creature made fearfully and wonderfully…it is the potential of my faith revealed in God’s Word that precipitates the process of prosperity. As my soul prospers…so will I.

2 Corinthians 13:5 (NLT) Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith. 

Sin will always offend God. Sin separates me from God’s Plan until surrendered to the Cross. The watered down gospel of grace that many hold tightly to will not produce the kind of life according to God’s Glorious Standard. All things are permissible to the believer. Whom the Son set free is free indeed. Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom. But not all things are beneficial. If I want the blessings and promises God imparted to me when I was created, I must examine my heart daily. Sin will always cause division. The unmentionables require cross examination. We cannot live a complacent existence but live in a crucified state. It sounds brutal. It seems harsh. People love options. They like to have an opinion. At the end of the day, Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. To know Him is to love Him. I cannot do anything to be saved but daily yield my heart, mind and soul to Christ.

For some this will be a message of love, joy and peace as they enter a rest that they have not known. God is less interested in what we do than who we are becoming. If my love is not the product of faith, then it is impossible for anything I do to please God. We must examine our heart each day. Sift through the thoughts that clutter our mind. Surrender our soul the Sword of the Spirit so He can remove the hard exterior and expose the new life within.

I Corinthians 4:3-4 (NLT) As for me, it matters very little how I might be evaluated by you or by any human authority. I don’t even trust my own judgment on this point. My conscience is clear, but that doesn’t prove I’m right. It is the Lord himself who will examine me and decide.

Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

What in me offends God? It is easy to be offended by the things of this world and people in it. But I wonder if I focused my efforts on the pieces of my broken heart that do not resemble the faith, love and confidence I have in Christ – I could love more, forgive more, and be more of who God created me to be. What if I evaluated my energy and efforts more than others placing my full expectation in Jesus Christ? Could it be that in my need to compare I have missed the inexpressible joy and perfect peace promised those who trust the Lord? I can only imagine as I examine my heart today what I will find there. Looking into the Word of God – I can see my reflection. Not of the person I am but the new creation that Christ wants to make of me. The fearfully and wonderfully made creation of Christ who will be a masterpiece if I just give Him my all today and every day. I want my faith to be genuine. I long to have a secure future filled with hope. Faith makes all things possible. I just have to believe. I am who He says that I can be. Lord, cross examine me today. Show me what offends you. I give you permission to remove it. Let your Spirit sow seeds of good fruit in its place. In all things Lord, be glorified in my life. Make my faith genuine and hope confident today and every day as I learn to live every aspect of my life in YOU! Less of me and more of You – Jesus!

Galatians 6:14-16 (NLT) As for me, may I never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of that cross, my interest in this world has been crucified, and the world’s interest in me has also died. It doesn’t matter whether we have been circumcised or not. What counts is whether we have been transformed into a new creation. May God’s peace and mercy be upon all who live by this principle; they are the new people of God.

Here and Now

Here and Now

Psalm 27:13-14 (NLT) Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living. Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.

I am confident. I will see the Lord’s Goodness while I am here in the land of the living. It is certainly easier to serve the Lord of our future salvation than to live as if that promise is for today. Faith is the completely illogical yet credible truth that God will do exactly as He promised here and now. So why aren’t we living in the realm of hope where anything is possible? We lack confidence that God truly is here with us in the land of the living ready to act now. Without confidence, the heart is like a ship without an anchor tossed to and fro. The rudder broken so there is nothing to propel or steer it. Destined for shipwreck, it is quickly abandoned for a much less dangerous route. One that is controllable, convenient and way more comfortable. A wide path that keep our feet from falling. The certainty of arrival much less painstaking as the narrow road of the unknown – we live in a repetitious cycle of defeat while all along victory was at hand.

What will it take to find the kind of hope that is the anchor for our soul? The steadfast confidence that God is who He says that He is and will do exactly as He promised in this life. If only it could be discovered, our heart would become confident in God’s Unconditional Love and His Goodness that daily pursues us. It would give us cause to wait on the Lord rather than forcing the issue and making things happen just to appease our flesh. We would walk by faith and not by sight in complete understanding that this life is temporary. God can do the impossible. He can change everything in a single breath. We must become confident in the God of the here and now. Completely aware of the Christ who lives in us so that His Glory will become our confidence and constant pursuit of the great and precious promises that He has given us along with a valuable inheritance.

Hebrews 6:17-19 (NLT) God also bound himself with an oath, so that those who received the promise could be perfectly sure that he would never change his mind. So God has given both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary.

How strong is your anchor today? Give a tug. Is it holding you securely in hope? Hope is to look forward to with desire and reasonable confidence. It is to believe and trust. How often do we become hopeless drifters when the wait seems too long, the process to hard, or the lie of the enemy to real? God has given you many promises. He has given you every spiritual blessing. He does not lie. It is not possible for Him to change His Mind…no matter what you do or don’t do. He prerecorded our life from beginning to end before a single breath breathed including the sufficiency of grace necessary to turn change our weakness into the absorption of His Power. Our salvation is secure in Jesus Christ alone. He did it all. When He said, “It is finished!” our Savior and Lord meant exactly what He said and released His Spirit to become our life helper and partner every step of the way. The limits on our life are self-imposed. Greater is He who lives in me than he who is in this world.

Romans 4:16-20 (NLT) So the promise is received by faith. It is given as a free gift. And we are all certain to receive it, whether or not we live according to the law of Moses, if we have faith like Abraham’s. For Abraham is the father of all who believe. That is what the Scriptures mean when God told him, “I have made you the father of many nations.” This happened because Abraham believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing. Even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept hoping—believing that he would become the father of many nations. For God had said to him, “That’s how many descendants you will have!” And Abraham’s faith did not weaken, even though, at about 100 years of age, he figured his body was as good as dead—and so was Sarah’s womb. Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God.

Back when I lived a normal life, my husband and I went on a cruise. We have a few days of wonderfully calm waters but on the last night a storm stirring in the Gulf of Mexico made the waters very rough. The ship was literally tossed to and fro. Walking down the corridors, everyone staggering like drunks, we made it to our room. I crawled in the big comfy bed with mounds of covers and pillows sinking deep into its folds. I fell asleep almost instantly to be awakened by my husband obviously a sea sick. “Can’t you feel that?” We were on the same ship and in the same room but the effects of the rocking and lurching did not have the same impact on me as it was on him. How do you respond to the storms of life? When faced with the impossible do you hang your head and turn back? The promise of God is received by faith. Faith that is here. Faith in the now. Faith that keeps us in the waiting. Faith that becomes our peace. Faith that doesn’t give in to pressure or give up when processed. Faith beyond human perception that grabs hold of heavenly possibilities as the reality for today.

Abraham believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing. Even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept hoping…this is the secret of faith that becomes our reality. How do we get there from here? How do we see miracles, signs and wonders now? Faith and confident hope will bring courage to our heart. A courageous heart that is not tossed to and fro but remains steadfast and secure in the Father’s Love until He comes all the while completely confident that He will do just as He said that He would do. Abraham believed in the God who creates new things out of nothing. He hoped when his body was as good as dead as was his wife’s womb. The same Abraham who tried the shortcut and failed. He waited 100 years for his promise to reach his hands. How long are you willing to wait for the promise?

Abraham never wavered in believing God’s Promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger and in this he brought glory to God. I prefaced my story with “back when I lived a normal life” for a reason. My “normal” was shipwrecked several years ago when our son was diagnosed with Stage IV cancer. We lived a good life. We had good kids, good jobs and a good life. When cancer came it seemed to invade every part of our good life. It seemed like a tragedy in the making. The night our son was diagnosed I challenged the Lord. This cannot be possible. This does not line up with your Word. I know the Promises that you have made me and the death of my son is not one of them. The Lord came back with a simple question, “Do you trust me?” Of course, I confirmed that I did. But did I? Over the next three years, my faith and trust in the Lord would be challenged numerous times. But God didn’t just ask me a question, He gave me a promise that night – “Your son will live and not die to declare My Works.” God did exactly as He promised.

Normal life is nonexistent in supernatural living. To live in God’s Promises here and now create a disruption in the atmosphere called life. It is not normal. You cannot have a normal life and live in the abundance of God. These are contradictory concepts. “Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.” If you can see it, do it, achieve it or make it happen – faith is unnecessary. Faith is for the impossible to become possible. With God all things are possible when someone believes. God is ready to do the impossible in us, through us and for us. Jesus came to give us a rich and satisfying life. To do exceedingly abundantly more than we can think or ask. We must make room for heaven’s overflow in us and around us so that God can release it to us. The starting point is faith. Our faith must become fully invested and completely confident in God’s Promises for today and live for them in the here and now.

A word of caution – faith is illogical to those around us who do not believe. They will think you are crazy. Trust me – I heard it over and over again. When I get a bad report or bad news, I immediately refute it with God’s Word. To those who do not know the Light of His Love, I sound like a lunatic. To those who have forgotten what faith is or wandered off to live life, it becomes the beacon of hope that leads them back again. I cannot be concerned with the world and what they think but must put my full confidence in God’s Faithfulness in the land of the living. To live in His Presence right here and now. This came at the high price of helplessness and utter weakness on the verge of losing it all.

God has given us precious promises. They are for the here and now. Excuses take the place of expectation when our flesh is ready to end the process. I challenge you today to expect the Lord’s Goodness in the here and now. Your life is meant to be glorious. Are you just getting by? Give up the substitutions and settlements for the more than enough promises that are meant to prosper your soul and overflow into everyday life. Make every effort to respond to God’s Promises and not react to the lie of the enemy in an attempt to steal your blessing meant for today. Need I remind you that the power of life and death are in your tongue – call those things that are not as though they are and watch His Resurrection power take over. God is with you. He will build confidence in the heart that trusts Him. Moment by moment, step by step from glory to glory with abounding grace when we fail or fall short so we can quickly engage in faith once again. Jesus said, “He would never leave us or forsake us.” Christ lives in us. I must decrease so He can increase. I will look for Him in the here and now. I must be confident in the here and now. I must believe in the here and now.

2 Peter 1:4-8 (NLT)  And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires. In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone. The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.


What Did You Expect?

What Do You Expect

2 Corinthians 3:8-9 (NLT) Shouldn’t we expect far greater glory under the new way, now that the Holy Spirit is giving life? If the old way, which brings condemnation, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new way, which makes us right with God!

It’s Sunday. Many Christians are preparing for weekly worship at their church of choice. Observing the tradition of many Americans to get a weekly dose of Word and worship. They will enter the hallowed halls and choose a comfortable seat. Probably the same seat for every other service. Talking, laughing, and engaging with a tight social circle and maybe an occasional wave to a new face and word of “welcome”.  The music will begin to play and perhaps someone will engage in praising God exuberantly or at least a united hand clap. The people will pray perhaps for the first time all week. The pastor will poke and prod the people – some even yelling, sweating and spitting to get the point across. The ushers will take up the offering. Everyone will file back out to the local buffet. Where is the new life? Where is the transforming power of Christ? Why didn’t anyone answer the call to come to Jesus? Where are the signs, wonders, miracles and power that Jesus promised His Body – the Church? What did you expect?

There is a far greater glory in the New Way given to us in Jesus Christ. We have a hope that will never lead to disappointment so why are we so afraid to choose that way. Given to our routines and habits, comfortable in complacency, and in control of our life – I wonder what would happen in the unexpected or impossible came to crush our normal. What is this new way? The Way, the Truth and the Life – the full embodiment of Jesus Christ. Why don’t we take full advantage of our benefits in the Son of God rather sitting shackled by sin and shame, ridiculed by regret, and detoured by disappointment? Could it be that we don’t expect anything more out of our Savior and Lord?

John 11:20-22 (NLT) When Martha got word that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him. But Mary stayed in the house. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask.”

The greatest opposition in our life is not the enemy of our soul. It is our flesh. The inner man that takes on the Spirit that is the Lord in us. The flesh rivals faith on every occasion. Martha was in the midst of such inner turmoil. She knew that if Jesus had been there her brother, Lazarus, would not have died. She believed that if He would have laid hands on him that Lazarus would have recovered. But Jesus was “too late” in her opinion. Yet the conflict is revealed in the verses to come. “But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask.” Really Martha, do you believe this to be true?

Jesus told Martha, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha immediate affirmed what she believed that Lazarus would indeed rise with every other believer at the Lord’s Return during the Great Resurrection. Jesus didn’t plan to wait that long. Martha did live in full expectation so she made an excuse. I believe you are the Messiah, she tell Jesus. Her doubt clearly indicated that His Power was not for today. Later in the same chapter, Jesus is ready to call Lazarus back from the dead and asks them to roll away the stone. Martha immediately protests. He has been dead for four days. The body will surely stink. No Martha, it is time for Jesus to deal with your stinkin’ thinking. Are there any Martha’s out there today willing to admit – it is easier to believe in eternal life than everyday miracles?

2 Kings 5:10-12 (NLT)  But Elisha sent a messenger out to him with this message: “Go and wash yourself seven times in the Jordan River. Then your skin will be restored, and you will be healed of your leprosy.” But Naaman became angry and stalked away. “I thought he would certainly come out to meet me!” he said. “I expected him to wave his hand over the leprosy and call on the name of the Lord his God and heal me! Aren’t the rivers of Damascus, the Abana and the Pharpar, better than any of the rivers of Israel? Why shouldn’t I wash in them and be healed?” So Naaman turned and went away in a rage.

The power of pride to wreak havoc on faith cannot be overlooked. It must be firmly apprehended and kept under complete control of the Holy Spirit. Naaman went to Elisha. He was covered in leprosy. He expected the Man of God to come lay hands on him or at the very least wave his hand over him and that he would be healed. Instead, how dare Elisha even suggest that Naaman go wash in the Jordan River? Not once but seven times in the filthy waters of Israel. “So Naaman turned and went away in a rage.” How many times the Lord is at work in our life but because our expectation is unmet because it threatens our pride?

Finally, Naaman succumbs to the pleading of his servants. He humbles himself and washes in the Jordan just as Elisha prescribed. He was healed. Your faith is not going to take you to a place where you flesh can survive. Pride will always limit the life-giving power of Jesus Christ in our life. I cannot have a new life without my present form giving way. Transformation requires change. I am a new creation in Jesus Christ. For me to live is Christ and die is gain. Greater is He that is in me than he that is in this world. Therefore, I must decrease so that Christ will increase in me.

Luke 7:19-22 (NLT)  And he sent them to the Lord to ask him, “Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?” John’s two disciples found Jesus and said to him, “John the Baptist sent us to ask, ‘Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?’” At that very time, Jesus cured many people of their diseases, illnesses, and evil spirits, and he restored sight to many who were blind.

Who would think that the voice crying out in the wilderness who prepared the people for the coming of the Messiah, would experience doubt? Sitting in the cold walls of a damp prison, John the Baptist sent his disciples to ask. “Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting or should we keep looking for someone else?” All the miracles, signs and wonders yet in his isolation – John still had to ask. Jesus was who he expected but he did not come the way that everyone expected. The struggle was in his humility. Rather than coming to take over the world and ruling over the existing kingdoms – He offered people access to the Father and His Kingdom. The struggle is real.

The struggle to believe is a regular occurrence. To live fearlessly in complete confidence in God’s Way and His Will requires an inward crucifixion day by day. To tell our mind to stop worrying, doubting and fearing. To rid our heart of sin. To remind our soul to prosper in His Word, His Will and His Way when nothing goes as humanly expected. I have a dear friend. We met in the Hope Lodge while staying with loved ones undergoing cancer treatment. Her husband is one of the few who survived. Now it is coming close to his time to meet the Lord. Reading her posts on social media, it is clear that her faith is in the Lord. Her words a constant encouragement in the midst of losing her partner of more than 50 years. How do you respond to life unexpected? To tragedy? Heartbreak?

We have the Bread of Life and Living Water available to nourish and strengthen our soul each day. The opportunity to build a relationship with Jesus Christ that will turn the impossible into miracles, natural into supernatural so that we can have inexpressible joy day by day. We must integrate our church life and become the Church. The Body of Christ has many members. I must allow the Holy Spirit to produce the kind of fruit in me that makes me a viable member. The only way that my inner progress can be evaluated is through the tests and trials of life. Faith left untested can always be contested by our flesh. We must be strong in our faith and trust in Jesus Christ for when the unexpected comes – we will do exactly what He says to do and how He says to do it.

Acts 3:4-6 (NLT) Peter and John looked at him intently, and Peter said, “Look at us!” The lame man looked at them eagerly, expecting some money. But Peter said, “I don’t have any silver or gold for you. But I’ll give you what I have. In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!”

A pastor once said, “To experience healing means giving up your disability check. To experience prosperity means giving up the government cheese.” I wonder what would happen if we put our full expectation in the Lord rather than in temporary things. The tangible blessings of God are given to the just and unjust. Every good thing comes from the Father even in the lives of those who turn from Him. If you decide it is enough to live in less than enough – Jesus will still be more than enough. Whom the Son sets free is free indeed. You can exist rather than prosper. It is completely up to you. The lame man was looking for a handout but the Lord was ready to heal him.

You will never have to beg the Father for the crumbs beneath His Table. If you choose to dine there rather than feast in His Company – it is completely up to you. I wonder how many times in a day we settle for less than God’s Best rather than striving for full satisfaction? We become comfortable in our complacency and decide not to believe for anything more. Why? Transformation requires change. A change of heart, a change of mind, a change of will, a change of way, and a change of scenery. It disrupts the known with the unknown. We want all of God’s Best but do not want to risk our comfort, convenience or control to have it. Our pride wages war in our heart, mind and soul winning by means of forfeit. What if God really does want to bless you? Heal you? Deliver you? Prosper you? What if the only thing standing in the way is you?

Matthew 16:15-19 (NLT) Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “You are blessed, Simon son of John, because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being. Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it. And I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven.”

What do you expect? Preparing to enter the House of God today and worship as a congregation, what do you expect? Do you expect the Glory of God to come change lives, bring healing, and exhibit all of God’s Power? If not, why not? It all comes down to a single person and one beating heart. Yours. Mine. Our capacity to believe removes all limitation from our midst. When I decide that Jesus is the Son of God who came to save me, heal me and deliver me – it solidifies my soul. The cutting away of stubborn flesh from my hard heart allows me to join my faith with others and where two or more are gathered in His Name – He is in our midst. My expectation is absolutely essential to a successful outpouring and mighty move of the Living God in my life, home, church, workplace and community. I have to expect His Glory and believe that it will come to change the atmosphere of my life from ordinary to extraordinary in Jesus Name.

Matthew 18:20 (NLT) For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.”

This Is Only a Test

This is only a test

I Peter 1:6-8 (NLT) So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.

Have you ever heard this announcement? “This is a test of the Emergency Broadcast System. The broadcasters of your area in voluntary cooperation with the FCC and federal, state, and local authorities have developed this system to keep you informed in the event of an emergency. This is only a test.” Followed by a deafening tone and then, “if this had been an actual emergency, you would have been instructed where to tune in your area for news and information.” Thankfully, I have not experienced an actual emergency – it hasn’t happened in all the years that I have heard this message. In fact, it is easy to tune it out or turn the radio down until the message is over. If there were a state of emergency, the system was developed to allow the President of the United States an expeditious method of communicating with the public in the event of a national emergency such as war or crisis. Wouldn’t it be nice in the chaos and craziness of life if the Lord would break open the clouds, shine down the sun on us, and say, “This is only a test, participation is voluntary and everything will come out for your good and My Glory…this is only a test”?

Do you have faith? Do you believe? Do you have absolute and total confidence in Jesus Christ? Maybe the more important question is do you have fears, doubts, worries, and insecurities in life? Are you satisfied? Are you prospering in abundance? Do you have perfect peace? There are many benefits and blessings to this new life in Christ yet to be experienced. A prospering soul overflows into our mind, will and emotions taking captive the lie of the enemy and releasing God’s People to live in liberty. Do you feel free today?

So be truly glad…there is wonderful joy ahead even though you must endure many trials for a little while.

Our youngest is preparing to take her driving test to obtain her learner’s permit. She turned fifteen months ago, she has been studying and worrying about the test ever since. I have encouraged her many times constantly reminding her that she cannot drive for a year after she passes the first test. Yet still she not taken the test. The word “test” is four-letter word that strikes fear in the heart of many students. A test is not terminal but temporary. The weight put upon it by worry, care and anxiety far greater than the outcome. The Emergency Broadcast System was established for preparation and information during a trial or turmoil in our country. The Lord has provided us with similar information so that when our faith is tested it will be proven genuine. Have we tuned Him out? Turned the volume of His Voice down? The best way to pass the test is preparation.

Job 23:10-14 (NLT) “But he knows where I am going. And when he tests me, I will come out as pure as gold. For I have stayed on God’s paths; I have followed his ways and not turned aside. I have not departed from his commands, but have treasured his words more than daily food. But once he has made his decision, who can change his mind? Whatever he wants to do, he does. So he will do to me whatever he has planned. He controls my destiny.

Tests and trials are a part of every believer’s life. It has nothing to do with our ability to be faithful or not. It is a product of God’s Love for us and His Goodness that is always pursuing us. He made a plan for your life that is better than anything you can think, ask or imagine. Your just enough is supposed to be more than enough. Your near misses were really hidden victories. Job lost everything in a day. Job lived a godly life. The Book of Job is hard to fathom that one man could do seemingly everything right and still have such tragedy befall him. But in the end, Job received a double portion from God. His pride fully crucified left dying in the past – the rest of life would be fulfilled just as the Lord promised.

What is your trial today? Are you in the midst of a test? The test of true faith is not in our success and failure but in our steadfastness and endurance. God is giving you an opportunity to trust Him a little more. Follow Him a bit farther. To experience the abundant and satisfying life that He designed and predestined you to have. We must learn to respond to God’s Promises rather than reacting to the test or trial that is preparing us for it.

I Thessalonians 5:15-22 (NLT) Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. Do not stifle the Holy Spirit. Do not scoff at prophecies, but test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good. Stay away from every kind of evil.

How is it possible to keep our joy in the midst of tragedy? How do we continue to pray when it seems to be falling on deaf ears? How does one maintain thankfulness in poverty or lack? This is God’s Will for you in Jesus Christ. To have joy and peace in every trial and test requires the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Jesus gave you His Spirit when you decided to ask Him to be your Savior and make Him Lord of your life. This is a process. Don’t let anyone lie to you. Faith grows daily not overnight. Trust produces confidence in the hope given to us. His Grace is enough for the challenging tests that take more than one try. The promise that He make good of every detail of our life includes the failures of faith.

I Peter 1:8 (NLT) You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy.

“This is a test. It is only a test. I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” Forgive me for the paraphrasing liberty taken with the Word of God. If we could only learn to trust that Jesus truly did overcome the world – we would live in constant victory as the Glory of God overtakes us. To believe that nothing is impossible with God changes everything. Our reaction to ordinary problems becomes extraordinary outcomes when the test is not as impressive as our God. When our response to the impossible is expectation of a miracle – it changes everything from the inside out of us. To know that no matter what comes our way – anything is possible makes life worth living because it gives us hope. Hope that never leads to disappointment no longer how long it takes. Faith is not based on what we see but WHO we know. When we fix our eyes on Jesus who is the author and finisher of faith it changes if every tragedy into a “lived happily ever after” story. Let the joy of the Lord be your strength today. Take what little bit of energy you have left and give Him praise. He is worthy of our worship even on the darkest day. Those who do will pass the test of genuine faith that opens the door to the everlasting.

Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, just to take Him at His Word, just to rest upon His Promise, just to know, “Thus saith the Lord!” Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him! How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er. Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus! Oh, for grace to trust Him more!

The Crossing

The Crossing

Joshua 3:5 (ESV) Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.

“The mark of a saint is not perfection, but consecration. A saint is not a person without faults, but a man who has given himself without reserve to God. (Brooke Westcott)

For forty years the Children of Israel walked in the wilderness surrounding the Promised Land. A straight-line distance of 240 miles that would take the average person about 20 minutes to walk a mile. If you do the math using an 8-hour day which is a standard workday, it should have only taken the Israelites about ten days, or maybe two weeks if you consider the Sabbath, to cross the Jordan. What happened? They wanted the Hand of God without pursuing His Heart.

Moses and Aaron could not lead where they did not go. The promise is a result of obedience to God that begins with consecration. Now Joshua is commissioned by God to finish the journey and cross the Jordan but first there must be a consecration. Consecration means to set apart. To make something sacred. Dedicate to service. To be devoted. To be sanctified. It means to be changed. We are to be holy. Holiness can only be accomplished by the wholeness of Christ. He sanctifies us and it is through His Holy Ordination that a life of consecration can produce completion.

Ephesians 1:3-6 (ESV) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.

I was listening to a worship service on my way to work. The songs selected were all about the holiness of God. The most powerful form of praise is to worship God for who He is. To simply say, “Jesus – You are holy!” To be lost in the Presence of God without worry or care and simply rest in Who He is before heading off into the darkness to be the light. A pastor began to exhort the people and quoted Joshua 3:5. As he shared his heart clearly uttering on behalf of the Holy Spirit – he began to talk about consecration but in a whole new way. He didn’t talk about the rules and regulation of religion but rather to set ourselves apart from the feelings and emotions that challenge our faith each day.

We must step out of our past to embrace the future. The Promise of God is non-negotiable as the Father has given us every spiritual blessing in His Son, Jesus. It is just as real and tangible as the land on the other side of the Jordan. However, there were people over there that would not take kindly to these newcomers trying to inhabit what they believe to be their place and property. There would be battles. There would be opposition. The people would need absolute and total confidence in God’s Promise and Purpose to inhabit the position or place that He was leading them. So will I. So will you.

The guidelines and mandates of consecration is not the doctrinal outline set forth by our church affiliation. Holiness has nothing to do with my ability to live a faultless or flawless life but to daily live in true repentance. To acknowledge and respect my need for Jesus Christ to inhabit my heart, mind, body and soul and influence every attitude and action in my life. It means I must relinquish control of me and trust the Lord to do what He promises in me and through me. Consecration is not a religious act but a sacrificial relationship with the Living God through His Son – Jesus Christ who lives in you. I am His Beloved. I must live like He is mine.

2 Timothy 2:20-21 (ESV) Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.

“Consecration is only possible when we give up our will about EVERYTHING.” (F.B. Meyer) My life must become a vessel. An empty vessel to allow the fullness of Christ to make it holy and acceptable for God’s Use. Consecration is a call to holiness that is the wholeness of Jesus Christ who leads us to His Fullness including full satisfaction and complete abundance by the surrender of self. Total trust and confidence in Jesus does not allow us to hang on to things like fear, doubt, disappointment, unforgiveness, anxiety, worry, control and every other emotion, feeling and stronghold held on to. Our promise is inevitable. Consecration opens the pathway to purpose.

Fulfillment comes when by surrendering our right to hold on to such things in order to be filled with the fullness of Jesus Christ. It is the place where the circumcision of our heart takes place cutting away the hard stony exterior to expose the new life within us.

Philippians 4:7-9 (ESV) And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 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.

Peace with God is established in Jesus Christ. To consecrate our life to Him as Lord is not an act of service but rather complete sacrifice of our will to be in His Will. It is not that complicated. But rather a daily giving of ourselves to the Lord piece by piece which He will receive wholeheartedly. The Lord knows us and hence has given us His Spirit to help us along the way. The Peace of God comes with peace with Him. To walk the narrow road (Matthew 7) is a lonely venture without His Partnership and Holy Inhabitation. Today – you are on the edge of the Jordan ready to enter your promise. What will you do? Wait another day to enter in or fully consecrate your life – mind, will and emotions – heart, soul and spirit – every ounce of your flesh and cell in your body to the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the Gate. He is the Door. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life for you. What is breakthrough? It is when we decide to go after God’s Heart and cross over to the Promise. He is not withholding His Hand but offering us His Heart today.

“Consecration thus constitutes the only unconditional surrender which is also a total victory!” (Neal A. Maxwell)

Jeremiah 1:5 (ESV) “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

Leviticus 20:7-8 (ESV) Consecrate yourselves, therefore, and be holy, for I am the Lord your God. Keep my statutes and do them; I am the Lord who sanctifies you.