It Matters

It Matters

Colossians 3:1-3 (NLT) Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.

I used to work with someone who professed vehemently to be a Christian. In theory, the confession was absolutely true. This person would tell others that God was in control… which He is. Serving in church attending all the services and sharing the experience. Feeding the soul with the Word and good teachers – conversationally this person was living the life. However, at work this person was not a faithful employee. Arriving late, leaving early, not coming at all, and when in the office doing others things. Poor performance and inconsistent contribution forced the company to eliminate the position due to the tremendous weight on the company. The employer was extra patient and completely understanding until it took a terrible toll on his business. Seeds sown for life now have left nasty weeds for others to uproot and plant good seed in its place. It matters. Life matters. What I say as a believer is not nearly as important as how I live? To live for Jesus Christ is to put my feelings, emotions and bad habits in check to represent the One I serve appropriately and faithfully. It begins in real life doing ordinary things as though I was serving my extraordinary God.

“Since you have been raised to new life with Christ.” This is the very reason why it is important that our life line up with our conversation. The Lord has given us the opportunity to live a new life as a new creation. I must set my sights on the “realities” of heaven. Let’s pause right there for a moment. Reality is important. It is resemblance of what is real. It is take the tiny seed called faith and plant it in every area of our existence until the life I live is based on heavenly concepts rather than worldly conformity. It would be easier if given a full heart transplant when coming to Christ but the truth of the matter is that the Lord did not come to you, call you and confirm you so that He could change you into someone else. You were born with the potential of God in you and eternity in your heart along with a measure of faith so that when the time came to pull it all together – you had everything needed. Coming to Christ, just activated God’s Plan and set the wheels in motion. He loves you. He made you. He have given you vast potential and called you to greater purpose. So how you live each day matters when it comes to God’s Process at work within you!

The reality of heaven is realized when Jesus Christ lives in us. To acknowledge Jesus is to recognize that our life is no longer bound by sin and grave. There is now more to live than this for those who desire and choose to live it. It is a conscious choice made every day to give up my way and follow Jesus.

Colossians 3:11 (NLT) In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us.

Christ is all that matters…and He lives in all of us. Rather than dissecting and scrutinizing each other, what we believe and how we serve…what if…just for today…just for this moment, one considered the fact that the Lord has called us to one mind, one body, one heart and one purpose. This would mean that how I live my life directly impacts other people whether I know it or not. The things that I do each day reach someone. As the Light of the world by calling, others look to us for answers for practical life. My sights are set on heaven. I want to be with the Lord one day. How am I treating His Body? We are the Body of Christ. Jesus died for everyone not just one but all. This means that even those who do not believe – I am accountable to treat with respect. Why? Because my interaction with the Body should always represent the Christ in me and not the me He lives in. Let me take this home for a moment. When someone comes into our church, not my church but the one that each of us call home, how are they received? Is there condemnation as their appearance relays their choices? Are we judgmental? Are we fake? Do we ignore them? How do we receive them? Is it like the Father welcoming the prodigal son? See that is how Jesus would do it – He would run to them, wrap His Arms around them, genuinely receive them, welcome them, and love them in that moment not when they cleaned up nicely and fit our religious routine and could speak fluent Christianese. We are the Body of Christ. Even that homeless man speaking to unseen facing and caring on quiet a debate. Jesus loves him. He died for him. He desires Him. God has no favorites. It matters how we live our life when it comes to other people.

Colossians 3:12-15 (NLT)  Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.

Can I be transparent today? It is hard to live out the Gospel when it comes to people sometimes. Seventy times seven is a lot when you are the one who has to forgive and forget. We cannot forgive without forgetting and be like the Lord. He puts our sin in a sea of forgetfulness and justifies us just as if we never sinned. Can you say the same? I can’t and still be truthful. People can be downright difficult. BUT…since God chose (me) to be the holy (person) who He loves… I must clothe (myself) with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Ugh! As if that is not enough, I must make allowances for faults and forgive ANYONE who offends me. In the South, it might be called even those who hurt my feelings. I must forgive like Christ forgave me. He did away with a lot of junk and mess that’s for sure. Above all. Clothe yourselves with love. Walk around in it every day. It must be the filter through which every emotion, attitude and action goes through before it reaches another. I must be a lover. I must love all people. This will most definitely influence the choices I make and how I live because it matters. I am not representing myself any longer but the Christ who lives in me. “Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.” (Colossians 3:16-17)

Colossians 3:22-24 (NLT) Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything you do. Try to please them all the time, not just when they are watching you. Serve them sincerely because of your reverent fear of the Lord. Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ.

It matters how we live and represent the Lord not only in the midst of our congregation but especially in our everyday life. The daily interactions with others as our character is revealed. Each day is the opportunity to be the Light for someone else but it requires strict attention not to others, how they live, what they do or even what they say. People have no influence over my purpose in the Lord Jesus Christ. They are my purpose in the Lord. For me to live is Christ and die is gain. This must be the reality of my life.

Work willingly at whatever you do as though you are working for the Lord rather than people. Think about the tasks on your to do list. The places you will go today. The things that you are planning to do. There is no better representation of Jesus Christ then to do it all wholeheartedly as if working for Him and to love everyone in the process. Your pay grade doesn’t matter. The people you work with do not control your destiny. You will be rewarded abundantly for every seed sown in love and faithfulness. The Word of God tells us that as long as the earth remains – there will be seedtime and harvest. Those who live in drought and famine must carefully evaluate the seeds being planted in their field called life. Grumbling and complaining just grows into bitterness. Unforgiveness creates a wall that love cannot find its way around. Discontentment lead to discouragement but hope never will take you there. God has something far better for us hidden in Heaven and He promises His Goodness is for us in the land of the living. I do not pursue the Hand of God but rather His Heart so I must live according to what is found there – love, grace and mercy that gives way to faithfulness and obedience in all things. A diversified life is at risk. To fully invest my life in the Kingdom and have its reward requires a wholehearted effort to live, move, breathe and exist in Christ while I live this life. It matters. It all matters. Do not let the enemy convince you otherwise.

I Corinthians 15:58 (NLT) So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.

The greatest ministry in life is not found in a position at the local church. It is not given the title of pastor, preacher, teacher or apostle. The greatest ministry is the life of worship lived by men and women who commit each day to work enthusiastically for the Lord in all things. To erase the line drawn between life and ministry. To decide that Heaven came exist on the earth and work diligently to make it so. It all begins by believing in the reality of Jesus Christ. He has flooded the earth with gracious, overwhelming, overflowing and unconditional love that is in us. We must decide to make it the reality of our life and decide each day matters to the Kingdom. Jesus set us free to live the life of our choosing but He clearly shows us the life that He desires for us and the promises that come with it. I want that life. To live a life that matters.

Ephesians 6:7-8 (NLT)  Work with enthusiasm, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will reward each one of us for the good we do, whether we are slaves or free.

Live Courageously

Live Courageously

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.

As the sun began setting on Sunday evening, I could feel it coming like a dark shadow falling in step behind me. Working on some furniture, piddling in the yard, playing with the new puppy with no real timeline or agenda, I could smell it in the air. Monday. I have felt this foreboding for weeks now as our office is in the midst of transition. The relentless pressure of responsibility falling squarely on my shoulders – it begins to suffocate me. I cannot make the clock turn back or add another day to the reprieve. I hate this feeling. I generally do not experience stress and pressure that is overwhelming. Anxiety is not my usual response to challenges or unfavorable conditions. Now it is morning, I have to go and face this day. The one I dreaded. The time I loathed. I know it is only for a season but sometimes it feels like a lifetime. Does anyone else know what I mean?

I cannot help but wonder sometimes if the Lord allows me to experience certain situations because it is my nature to analyze it thoroughly and completely then share it right here. Tearing through the Word of God, like a messy sock drawer looking for a matching pair, I need a promise or truth to tie to these feelings together with a solution. Jesus is always the One who has my solution. I used to look for answers other places. I found some substitutions. I discovered compromise. However, once I found myself in Word…it all changed. When I came to realize that Christ lives in me…I then found my Source.

Yet…means at the present time, now, in the time still remaining and before it is all done. Yet. It means that there was a whole lot of stuff before the adverb but there is something coming after it worth noting. I am linking my past condition with my future courage. I am yoking my circumstances to my commitment to Christ. Something is about to change because in spite of everything else or yet I am confident. Not confident in myself, but that I will see the Lord’s Goodness while I am here in the land of the living. Have you brought Christ to the forefront of your life today? Is He the One who is our Connection and Source? Connection and source of what? Jesus Christ is my courage. I must be confident in the Lord to receive the fearlessness that He offers me. Let’s talk about courage today. How’s your confidence in the Lord?

I John 4:18 (NLT) Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.

Perfect love expels ALL fear. Stress, anxiety, worry and insecurity are all byproducts of fear. Fear is the absence of confidence and it will drain courage quickly. When Peter and the other disciples were in the midst of a raging storm, Jesus came walking by them on the water. Once he identified Jesus, Peter asked to join Him on the water. Jesus said, “Come.” Peter took just a few steps before the waves and wind in the midst of pummeling rain caused his faith to turn to fear. When he began to be overtaken by the storm and sea, Peter called out to the Lord who quickly grabbed hold of him. (Matthew 14:24-31) God’s Love seems too good to be true. He would be a fool to love us unconditionally, right? How could a perfect God love such imperfect people? I scrutinize these questions many times especially if I fall or fail God which is just about every hour of every day minus when I sleep. I can try to do all the right things and speak life, but if I do not have confidence in the Love of God – courage will not be within my character.

All who declare that Jesus is the Son of God have God living in them, and they live in God. We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.” (I John 4:15-17) What does love have to do with courage? The sufficiency of God’s Grace accepted in our life gives us access to His Strength. If I am not fully aware and embracing of God’s Love for me demonstrated by His Grace, I have no hope. I must be confident in His Love to become fearless in life. Too many times, once discovering the Love and Grace of God, it is human nature to attempt to earn it or somehow become deserving of it. But friend that is not what the Word of God tells us to do at all! We are to live in Christ because now God lives in us. Each day is the opportunity to get out of the boat no matter what the weather conditions or circumstances surrounding my life and walk with Jesus by faith and confidence in His Love. It does change the outward atmosphere of our life, but gives us the courage and strength to face whatever comes simply because the Love of God is enough to keep me.

The Presence of God in our life is our confident hope that no matter what happens – I will experience His Goodness in the land of the living. I don’t have to wait for Heaven to win but just wait on the Lord to finish what He started in my life before I was born. All I need is to live in His Presence. It is the Presence of God and Permanence of His Love that sustains me. He gives me boldness, courage, strength, fearlessness and boundless opportunity. He will never leave me. He cannot fail me. (Deuteronomy 31:6) Obedience based on confidence in Christ’s Love and Commitment will foster obedience in my life that will give me success in all I do. (Joshua 1:7) Even in the midst of overwhelming circumstances and daunting challenges, the Word of God and His Presence enables and encourages me throughout the building process of faith. (I Chronicles 28:20) Hope is our courage because it is the strong anchor that steadies our wavering heart. (Job 11:18) The Lord wants to revive and restore us with His Love, Grace and Goodness today. To fully immerse us and overtake us with His Abundance. We must be confident in this to have the courage to do all He has created and called us to do.

Confidence is full trust. Do you trust the Lord today? Do you believe that in spite of you being you, His Love is compete? To be confident in Jesus means to absolutely believe in His Power, Trustworthiness, and Reliability which comes from His Presence in our life. Do you believe that Christ lives in you today? Confidence in the Love of God for me is essential for courage to rise up and take over every stronghold of fear in my life. I must be completely convinced that God loves me. His Grace is enough for me. His Goodness is for me. His Presence within me. Courage is evidence of confident trust that nothing and no one can ever separate me from the Love of God. Not because I am strong or have it all together, but He holds me in His Hand. I cannot be taken from the Love of God as He wraps me in His Righteousness and lavishes His Goodness in my life each day. Would you stick it out at work another day if you knew promotion was coming? Would you keep watch over your field of harvest if you knew the abundance of the crops that are coming? Would you pray one more prayer if your loved one would be saved, healed or delivered? God’s Love and commitment to us is never in question. It is our confidence in His Love that is waning. Where is the line? When do you stop trying? Will you give up? Those who are confident live from Glory to Glory in every season knowing that God is with them and they cannot fail.

Hebrews 3:6 (NLT) But Christ, as the Son, is in charge of God’s entire house. And we are God’s house, if we keep our courage and remain confident in our hope in Christ.

God is with us. Christ lives in us. He is more than enough to lead us from victory to victory if only we would have enough confidence in His Love to live fearlessly by faith. Faith sounds so big but really it is only the size of a mustard seed. It is the decision to reject fear and accept the Love that makes all things work together for our good. It is confidence that the Love of God is committed to perfecting all that concerns us. Confidence in the absolute and total completeness of God’s Love will give me the courage I need to face whatever challenges arise today. To focus on His Love and not my unloveliness allows me to live life by His Grace according to His Word and become fearlessly bold and courageous every day. I must become less while Christ explodes inside me making His Way outside me permeating my life with all of His Goodness just like He promised. Good things are for me in this life I live today. Lord, give me the confidence to live courageously.

James 5:7-8 (NLT) Dear brothers and sisters, be patient as you wait for the Lord’s return. Consider the farmers who patiently wait for the rains in the fall and in the spring. They eagerly look for the valuable harvest to ripen. You, too, must be patient. Take courage, for the coming of the Lord is near.

In Christ

In Christ

Romans 5:1-2 (NLT) Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.

I signed the handwritten note, “In Christ” and then my name. The embrace of Christ Jesus tangible in the moment as the words come to light in my heart. I am “in Christ”. I don’t ever want to know what it is like to be outside this grip that He has on me. But I don’t want to lose sight of those who stand outside of Him either. It is easy to get lost in the Presence of God, basking in His Goodness and chasing His Glory. Intoxicating and overwhelming all at the same time. Yet I remember what it was like before I lived in this place called “undeserved privilege”. When the Bible just a book full of words and promises I desired, but could not fully understand or apply to my life in a real way. I remember accepting Jesus as my Savior and even intending to make Him Lord, but it still seemed like all the other fairytales in life. Too good to be true. A daydream never a reality…until I found my way into His Embrace. The place where suddenly I fully grasped the concept of amazing grace and my inability to earn it just simply receive it. The moment I turned to see His Unfailing Love and Goodness hot on my heels in relentless pursuit. He didn’t want me to change. Jesus loved me just like I was. He didn’t make me follow a new set of rules and regulations or change my appearance at all. His Love wrapped itself around my heart and suddenly I wanted to be different. I longed for transformation. The Gospel is not Good News to those who do not understand His Love. The church has struggled to accurately portray the unthinkable and incomprehensible God who decided to sacrifice His Son to adopt a Kingdom full of children. The one legitimate for all the illegitimate. I have five children. I would not harm a single one for another person…ever. They are too precious to me – faults, flaws and failures – all I see is their perfection as my child. Those who I love – that’s how God sees me. He longs for the Love that is indescribable to take over so that no longer do I see me for me but live in Christ who lives in me.

“Since” means it is finished. Done. Complete. Jesus said, “It is finished” right before He released His Spirit. His Life Giving, Death Overpowering, Spirit that lives in me. Faith is the only way that I will every embrace the One who is holding me. I have peace with God. Do I have peace in me? The conflict is now in His Capture but my willingness to be held. To allow the love, grace and peace of God to draw me close. Trust is the issue so many times. In a world filled with hook-ups, break-ups and make-ups, love is confused for “likes” and “lust” just to name a few of the imposters. When I married my husband, I knew that I would have to give up my way to fully engage in this effort called marriage. Over the years, I grew in the art of submission. To yield my way and follow him. It is not an act of selflessness but selfishly desiring a complete union with the person God made for me. The one my soul loves. He has taken my heart on the earth. I trust him. Can I trust the unseen God who has given His All for me? Can I encourage you to do the same in some small way?

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

The last five years of my life have challenged me. In that time, I have been forced to dump out the contents of my human and broken heart to evaluate the contents. Do I believe God is real? Am I really saved? Do I have faith? Is it working? Is it real? A broken heart is always painful but more than that it is also revealing. Unmet expectations force the examination of the contents of our life. I know that in my darkest days and deepest valleys. The prevailing truths that began to shine in my heart were these three things – God is good. His Grace is enough. His Love never fails. I know it is simplistic. I know it seems cliché to those who do not understand. I approach every day with these three things in mind. When all hell breaks loose – they are the shelter protecting me from the winds of change, chaos of life and the power of the storm. I know God is good. I know His Grace is enough no matter how bad I mess up. I am absolutely confident beyond a shadow of unbelief that His Love for me is constant and unending. I will never know its true capacity or find its boundaries. It is inconceivable to a finite human mind. It is not imaginary or unrealistic. I just have to step in Christ to take on its His Full Potential.

Psalm 91:1-2 (NLT) Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; He is my God, and I trust him.

We have been blessed with trips to Puerto Rico, the Caribbean, Hawaii, Mexico and the Bahamas. I have described these exotic locations to friends and those who are planning a trip. I can tell you about the weather, accommodations, restaurants, and other details of the destination. I can tell you because I have been there. I know how long the journey and what to expect upon arrival. I cannot tell you about China or Australia because I have never been there before. I have no idea what you should go see or even how far you must travel. No clue. I wonder if sharing the Good News of God’s Love challenges people because they have never been there.

After five years of sifting through a lifetime of experience, I determined three major points about the Lord to live by. They were discovered in His Word, His Way and His Will. Not that I pursued Him wholeheartedly as I should have, but because when I came to the end of myself – Jesus was still there waiting. Just like the day that I invited Him to be my Savior and Lord at eleven, He never left me not once. I was looking for my way as He quietly waited to give me a better one. All those times, I didn’t believe Jesus at His Word – He was trustworthy just the same. Those who live in the shelter of the Most High find rest, peace, grace and love always. Once I found my way in Christ, now I have something worth sharing. I know and understand the reality and proximity of His Love and just how powerful it is. He loves me. He always has and He always will. Jesus is intent on giving me a rich and satisfying life even when I am hell bent on immediate gratification and taking the easy way out. I will compromised but my Lord will not. I will tap out, but He stays true. I have seen many victories in my life. Before triumph is unfolding even now, I know it is coming. I see it in my heart, know it in my mind and believe it with my being. I can because I have found my way in Christ Presence. I can feel His Embrace so tight and strong around me. I want others to experience the Lord and encounter Him the same way.

“And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.The place of realization and understanding that there is absolutely nothing I can do to earn God’s Love or Grace but only accept it and embrace it. The knowledge and full understanding that just as there is nothing I can do to earn His Love that there is nothing that will ever separate me from it either. Christ is in me. He is part of me. We are one. When every other attitude and action in my love is fully encircled and covered by His Love. I have no fear. No unmet expectation. No insecurity. I can live fearlessly and generously.

Hebrews 6:4-5 (NLT)  For it is impossible to bring back to repentance those who were once enlightened—those who have experienced the good things of heaven and shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the power of the age to come…

“It is impossible to bring back to repentance those who were once enlightened.” I find new meaning in these words today. To repent is to turn. To turn around and face Jesus fully. If you do, you will never turn back. I know this not from carefully scripted words inspired by the Holy Spirit but by the Light of His Love that I found when I finally turned around. The moment I decided to say, “I do and I will” to Jesus was only the beginning. It was fully discovered in all the times “I didn’t” or “I wouldn’t” and the Lord remained faithful and true. It was the moment of complete and utter brokenness when I saw His Hands still reaching for my violated form. All the times I put my faith, hope and trust in other people and lesser things yet Jesus still grabbed hold of me tighter than ever before and revealed that which He had for me safe in His Hands. He has my heart now. I cannot imagine my life without being in Christ. His Form has become my structure. I didn’t change for Christ. He changed me. There is no turning back once you experience His Love for yourself. The satisfaction found in the Light of His Love is completely fulfilling.

Ephesians 1:18-20 (NLT)  I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance. I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms.

Some days I wish that I could just crack open my heart now healed by Jesus and let people see in it. To see all the hurt and brokenness that the Lord has healed. To get a glimpse of how far I had fallen when my Sweet Savior swept me away with His Love. To know all the times that I tried and failed and He encouraged me to do it again with Him this time. I cannot use my own words to ever express the Power of God’s Love in my life. It has been my complete undoing and total remaking all in Christ. If somehow, our confident hope could illuminate our own life with His Love in a real and tangible way to others, maybe they could see Him too. As we do, those who live in the constant connection and safety of the shelter of the Most High. I pray today that the Greatness of God’s Power invested in us by His Grace will make its’s way out of us in the form of His Love. Today, Lord help us see the validity of life in Christ and its potential in our life as we live and love together. Take us deeper than ever before where our eyes cannot see the edge and our feet cannot tough the bottom of Your Love, Grace and Goodness hidden in Your Presence just for us…for me. I claim that portion of my glorious inheritance labeled “peace” and “rest” today. Let the calmness and courage of complete confidence takeover. You are the unstoppable God let me be your immovable child. I ask you in the Name of Jesus who is the Christ in me.

Romans 8:37-39 (NLT) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

Thief Among Us

Open Window

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

There is a thief among us. He tried to climb through the window of my mind this morning and steal the joy rising with the morning sun. He tried the handle to my heart hoping to get his foot in the door. Little lies spread all around like almost unnoticeable traps carefully laid to ensnare my foot or cause me to stumble. His pursuit is relentless. He wants all that is mine. Not for himself because he cannot have it. Jesus has given me a rich and satisfying life. The enemy wants to steal, kill and destroy every good thing that God has for me. It is his purpose. It is the onslaught in each moment of every single day that there is breath in my body. Jesus has overcome the world. I have the same power that rose Him from the dead living in me. He is becoming greater as I become less yet in the moments of attack – my thoughts can be misled, deceived and even easily overtaken no matter how far I walk this journey called faith.

I am not generally given to worry. Stress is not something I easily take on. I would not classify my thoughts as anxious. My nature is contrary to such think. I relish in optimism. I believe that when the thief finds his way into my life that it is a bit more difficult to fight back because it is not a battle that I fight every day.

Psalm 127:1-2 (NLT) Unless the Lord builds a house, the work of the builders is wasted.
Unless the Lord protects a city, guarding it with sentries will do no good. It is useless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night, anxiously working for food to eat; for God gives rest to his loved ones.

From time to time, a door may be found unlocked in the morning or the garage door left open the night before and my husband is most unhappy. He is concerned that our carelessness could have allowed an intruder to easily enter and put our family at risk. I, on the other hand, possess a very different perspective on life. I thank God for His Protection and move on. I believe that while both mindsets have strengths and weaknesses that is more prudent to check doors and windows routinely to make sure each one is secure. Many years ago arriving home after a long day, I noticed the door leading from the garage inside the house was cracked open. I did not think too much about it because our little dog sometimes would push on it looking for us and if not closed tightly it would do the same. The children went on high alert immediately. I scoffed at their concern and began give them instructions for the afternoon. Well once inside, it was clear that things were not okay. Thieves had come and helped themselves to valuable contents inside the home and now our children were fearful that they were not safe inside their own house anymore. We must secure not only the doors and windows of our home for safety and security but we must close tightly the entrance to our heart and mind as well.

We become busy and distracted with life and soon the cares and worries of life become burdens to us. Dependency on Christ gives way to insecurity and soon the weight of the world falls squarely on our shoulders. How we feel overtakes what we know and overwhelming fear, worry, stress and anxiety hold us captive. God did not give us the spirit of fear but how many times do we simply take it? The Lord has given us the ability to pursue potential and passion in our natural life. However, it is to remain secure in the Kingdom that gives our potential purpose that is able to become a rich and satisfying life.  

Luke 12:32-34 (NLT) “So don’t be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to those in need. This will store up treasure for you in heaven! And the purses of heaven never get old or develop holes. Your treasure will be safe; no thief can steal it and no moth can destroy it. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.

It gives God happiness and exceeding pleasure to give me the Kingdom. He wants to give it to you, too. The Lord promises that He will “accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” That is a lot by anyone’s standard. He wants to restore the glorious standard of living that sin and the enemy stole from us. Jesus is giving us back our birthright. It says, “So don’t be afraid…” As believers – there is an opportunity to give up this life and secure the Kingdom. Not just futuristically but practically – even today. It begins with peace of mind. The kind of peace offered in Isaiah 26:3 – perfect peace. The Holy Spirit is our helper who teaches us and instructs us. (John 14:26-27) He takes God’s Word and inscribes its meaning for us on our heart until all that we know is the Love of God and Grace of Jesus Christ which will change how we think about life in general. Do you believe that Jesus Christ overcame the world? (John 16:33) Do you believe that He has given you the Keys to the Kingdom for your security and use? Faith is the first step to perfect peace. It is the gateway to a secure place in life where confident hope leads to complete trust lacking no good thing. With met expectations taking the place of those unmet by other people, it is the freedom to pursue God wholeheartedly without divided interest.

Luke 12:25-26 (NLT) Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? And if worry can’t accomplish a little thing like that, what’s the use of worrying over bigger things?

Worry, stress, fear and anxiety are all byproducts of insecurity. I know I don’t like to hear that word any more than you do but it is true. When I worry about a situation or stress over life, it is an immediate red flag or alarm that the thief is attempting to break in. The most precious commodity given in life is time. You cannot replicate or reproduce it. Once a single second is gone, it is gone forever never to be reclaimed. Worry cannot add a moment to our life but rather wastes it completely.

The cares of life – food, shelter and clothing are all covered for the creature by their Creator. Yet, we think that it is up to us to do something when He already did it all. We worry about the minutest details of life especially what we do not have so much that sometimes it keeps us from seeing clearly all things that we do have. To worry, stress and fear over our well-being is characteristic of limited faith. Faith that only goes so far in need of conditioning. The enemy is always willing to offer a lie for the Truth. It is tempting to take it. However, then with his foot in the door, he will quickly fill our heart and mind with countless fears and many worries in an attempt to steal our peace, kill our faith, and destroy our life. Faith must lead to confidence in God’s Ability and Willingness to do infinitely more than we can think or ask. However, doubt tells us that God’s Promises are not good enough and it is up to us to add to it.

Hebrews 12:15-17 (NLT) Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many. Make sure that no one is immoral or godless like Esau, who traded his birthright as the firstborn son for a single meal. You know that afterward, when he wanted his father’s blessing, he was rejected. It was too late for repentance, even though he begged with bitter tears.

The enemy pounced on my thoughts last night, continued in my dreams and I awoke fighting fear and worry this morning. I am willing to admit my humanness. Are you? There are days when faith carries us and other days it is a fight just to keep it. Faith must overcome insecurity every single day. People are at an extreme disadvantage because I have nothing to offer God to reciprocate His Love and Generosity of Grace in my life. Nothing. In fact, before the day is over, I will most certainly fail Him several times. I have no reason other than faith and trust to believe that I am somehow worthy of limitless and unconditional love that leads me from victory to victory and glory to glory. Jesus is the only reason I have any kind of real purpose and potential in my life. With that being said, I cannot help but wonder if it is not always the thief stealing from us but sometimes us. Do we give up our birthright for a single meal as Esau did? In Genesis 25, Esau was “starving” so he offered his brother, Jacob who was an excellent cook, his birthright for one meal. One might think Esau was either really hungry or Jacob an even better cook than described or could it be that Esau did not value his birthright? I know…stung my heart a little (or a lot) to think that rather than the enemy stealing what God has given me that it might just be my own doubt and insecurity giving it away. Leaving the door to my heart open and the windows to my mind unsecure, allowing the enemy to come into my life and steal what God has so graciously given me or promised to come.

In Genesis 27, Isaac is nearing death and giving his final blessing to his children. Esau wept bitterly before him as it is clear Jacob has received the blessing. Jacob duped him again. Or did he? Finally, Isaac, shares these words with his devastated child, “You will live away from the richness of the earth, and away from the dew of the heaven above. You will live by your sword, and you will serve your brother. But when you decide to break free, you will shake his yoke from your neck.” Read that last sentence again with me…”But when you decide to break free, you will shake his yoke from your neck.” What if it is me? I have been given a birthright. I am a Child of the Living God. I have Christ living in me. He overcame the world. Could it be my own doubt and insecurity causing the limitation of faith and prosperity in my life because I do not believe or understand the value and worth of my birthright so I give it away?

We give ourselves to worrying about people. (Matthew 7:2-4) We stress out about our position in life. (I Corinthians 7:20-22) Fret about what might or might now happen. (I Peter 3:13-15) We allow bitterness to take the place of forgiveness. Our heart is driven with desire for more and a hunger for this world rather than satisfaction and contentment in Christ. Crying out for His Word, Will and Way in our life – we leave the doors and windows of our heart and mind open so the moment God pours it in the enemy quickly snatches it out. I am asking the Lord today to “search my heart – point out anything that offends Him – and to lead me to the everlasting – not temporary and worthless. (Psalm 139:23-24)

Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT) Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

The Lord has created and called us to live peace-filled and satisfied lives. If that is not reminiscent of your life today, it doesn’t mean it cannot be. It is up to you and I to take hold of our birthright as Children of God, secure it with faith, fasten it like an anchor called confident hope to our life and decide to trust the Lord each day. Trust is a choice. Faith is an investment in the Kingdom of God not useful in this life. If you can do it, you don’t need faith to have it. We must decide the new life in Christ is worth having and invest our whole being in becoming the new creation that He promised. We must secure the door to our heart and fasten the windows of our mind to ensure that every thought and motivation are subject to the Gate Keeper, our Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ. (John 10) There is nothing left for Jesus to do. The rest is up to you and me. Will we choose to let the thief in or shut him out of our life for good? There is a thief among us. He wants to stop us. Our faith is his death and defeat. Jesus has given us the victory now it is up to walk in it confidently and consciously each day. Securing our life with more faith and confidence in God than ever before so every stronghold of insecurity is smashed by it. True freedom in Jesus Christ produces a rich and satisfied life that begins in our heart and mind. It is called peace. Peace leads to everlasting life and hope that will never cause us disappointment.

Philippians 4:8-9 (NLT) And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.

Overwhelm Me

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Isaiah 61:10 (NLT) I am overwhelmed with joy in the Lord my God! For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation and draped me in a robe of righteousness. I am like a bridegroom dressed for his wedding or a bride with her jewels.

Life can be overwhelming. Circumstances, conditions and even change can overcome our mind, run rampant through our emotions, and stir up anxious thoughts and feelings. I would rather face an issue in my body then to deal with my mind. Sickness in our body, in my opinion, is much easier to overcome than weakness in our mind holding us captive in our mind, will or emotions. Physical ailments are one thing, but mental impairment is twice as debilitating. Our spirit, mind and body must work together in our pursuit of Christ and all that He promises, but it is our flesh that fights for its life. It is our will that refuses submission and clings to stubbornness. There will always be things that overwhelm us in this life. We choose who holds us captive. Will I live in bondage to negative thinking and limited vision or will I be captivated in the inconceivable yet always perceivable love of God? Lord, overwhelm me with Your Love today!

2 Corinthians 4:7-8(NLT) We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair.

The pressures of life are inevitable. There will always be something attempting to weigh you down, block your path, pull you back or divert you altogether. The enemy is relentlessly and ruthlessly attempting to quench that tiny fire burning inside you. He wants to make sure that it does not become a bright and shining light representing God’s Love, Goodness and Faithfulness that will lead others from the dark and dying places in the world. He is after that seed of faith. If he can just pluck it out of you or maybe overcome the Word in you with the weeds of problems, troubles or trials – you will stop this foolishness called faith, hope and love.

The word “overwhelm” means to load, heap, treat or address with an overpowering or excess of anything. The word itself is not negative. How one responds to it determines the meaning? How do you respond to pressure in life? Do you press in? Do you give in? There will always be pressure. There will always be something that is trying to overwhelm you. Whom the Son sets free is free indeed! We have the freedom to choose that which overwhelms us today! Will it be the great load of temporary things that threaten us in this moment or will it be God’s Faithful and Abiding Love that is greater than death and the grave? Will it be the sufficiency of His Amazing Grace that empowers me when I am weak and flailing? There will always be a “master” in our life. Jesus gives us the right called freedom to choose who it will be. I choose the King of Kings and Lord of Lords! How about you?

Philippians 3:12-14 (NLT) I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.

Generally, it is not the problem that brings the pressure but our perception of the problem. Have you ever looked in the side mirror of the car? There are words written on it that warn us – “OBJECTS IN MIRROR ARE CLOSER THAN THEY APPEAR.” We look back rather than looking ahead. Our focus should be on the future but the past is bearing down on us. It seems like the enemy is hot on our heels. Out of breath. Losing hope. Wondering if today is the day. Will I fall? Will I fail? Oh Lord, I am so overwhelmed! The Lord says to us today, “Look again!”

Psalm 23:4-6 (NLT) Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.

What if that “thing” you think is after you is really the Lord? Is it Him who is the one pursuing you and positioning you for an outpouring of His Goodness and Unfailing Love? When I was in fifth grade, I had an unwanted suitor. He would taunt me at the bus stop at school every afternoon. Rocking back and forth poised on his bike. He would push me to run away threatening me with the most heinous and horrendous threat – a kiss. I didn’t want to kiss him. I didn’t want him to kiss me. He would chase me around in circles until a teacher came along or the bus arrived. One kiss – it was harmless but to an unsuspecting child an unwanted advance. Fast forward forty years to now, I will chase my husband around or let him catch me just to steal a quick kiss. It is all about perception. It is all about possibility. What if the seemingly impossible situation is just a divine set up for the Lord to catch us and keep us just a little closer? After all, His People are His Bride. His Heart longs to connect with us. His Spirit to remain intimately acquainted with our soul. Jesus is pursuing you and me with His Goodness and Unfailing Love.

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. 

We are human. I wish for just a moment even the strongest Christian would be transparent enough to admit this is true. Everyone sins and falls short of God’s Glorious Standard every single day. The message of the Gospel is not good news that sin is completely extracted from us making us flawlessly perfection but that in our absolute and complete imperfection that His Grace is enough to cover me in His Love. We must use God’s Mightiest Weapons to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and destroy all the false arguments arising between humans. All humans. All people. God desires every single one who He created. Jesus died for them just like you and me. The Spirit of the Lord full of His Faithfulness, Goodness and Unfailing Love is after them equally. We must destroy every prideful obstacle IN US until our complete and total focus is on Jesus Christ. We must capture the religious and rebellious thoughts that give us some kind of superiority. The truth is that I fail in my attempts to be faithful every day, but God never fails at being faithful. In fact, He overwhelms me with His Love and Commitment to me even when I fall, fail or quit.

No matter how hard I try, I will mess something up today when it comes to my good fight of faith. (Romans 7) I will find myself off shadowboxing rather than doing what I know to do and resting in the Peace that God has offered me. Like a toy – wound too tightly – bumping into the wall with wheels still spinning but getting nowhere at all, I will get distracted and caught up in temporary troubles or momentary weakness. I am human. So are you? The true character of Christ is His Love. The identity of God is He is love. Love is the challenge that I am given. To accept His Love and then distribute it throughout the world. This is a far cry from religion, but a genuine invitation to a real relationship with the Living God. Obedience to Christ is not in one’s ability not to sin. It is in my ability to love the Lord and His People. It is that simple even though we make it so hard. It begins with allowing God to overwhelm the strongholds in our mind. Releasing us from every fear, doubt and insecurity and drowning us in His Love. This is what allows us to become real light in this world. The kind of light that attracts others to Jesus rather than driving them farther apart.

Romans 8:37-39 (NLT) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Despite all these things, every situation, problem, people, trial or circumstance, overwhelming victory belongs to me. I win. No matter what the weapon is I am victorious. I believe it. Do you? The Power of God is made available to me by His Grace. His Love provides all the grace that I need to endure this life. He has made us more than conquerors. If I find my place in Christ, I will never now the agony of defeat again. I will always have the opportunity for the impossible to be made possible in my life. It is all according to what I believe, and my ability to hold on to that hope.

There is absolutely nothing in heaven or on earth that can or will every separate me from the Love of God. Nothing. No sin. No shame. No regret. Nothing in my past. Nothing in the present. Nothing in the future. Even if I wander off or wonder more, God is still pursuing me with His Unfailing, Unconditional Love. So today if a care or concern begins to overwhelm you, overwhelm it instead. Tell it what the Word of God says about. Remind the enemy who your Daddy is. Take captive every single thought that is contradictory to God’s Word and hold it subject to His Promises. Praise, praise and praise some more. Protect that little light inside you until it burns passionately. Fan the flames until the whole world can see it burning again. The Spirit of the Living God lives in you and me, too. Every detail in our life works for our good and His Glory according to His Plan that is unfolding. We must only wait and watch because God will make it happen for those who believe. Let your mind be totally overcome and your heart fully apprehended by the Love of God today. Nothing can ever separate us from Him or snatch us from the folds of His Mighty Hand. His Love is overwhelming. Lord, wash over me today and overwhelm again with Your Amazing Love.

John 16:33 (NLT) 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.”

The End of Insecurity

End of Insecurity

I John 5:18-20 (NLT)  We know that God’s children do not make a practice of sinning, for God’s Son holds them securely, and the evil one cannot touch them. We know that we are children of God and that the world around us is under the control of the evil one. And we know that the Son of God has come, and he has given us understanding so that we can know the true God. And now we live in fellowship with the true God because we live in fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ. He is the only true God, and he is eternal life.

We know…or do we? Sharing with the women’s group on Tuesday night, I am overtaken by the realization that although our confession is total reliance on grace that if it were really true – there would be a far greater bond among us. Relationship. We know…begins the verses in I John 5. As God’s Children, we do not make a practice of sinning…and so on and so forth. However, before charging off into life, one must stop for a moment and consider am I God’s Child? No, I am not questioning your salvation or even my own. I am thinking about relationship. My relationship to God is as a child. I am His Offspring through Jesus Christ. One must consider the relationship before doing all the things associated with it. Do I act like God’s Kid? Do I live in the confidence of our connection? Do I truly believe that I am His Child through spiritual adoption that allows me the privilege of His Presence and fortune of His Favor?

We know or do we? Do I fully recognize that although the enemy has control over the world that my Father has control over me? What loving parent would forsake their child to danger? The relationship that I have with God the Father through Christ the Son is of a parental nature. He doesn’t just save us and leave us until the end of our life. He is with us. Christ lives in us. However, compromised trust and disbelief make it difficult to live in such a relationship. Common sense tells us this is too good to be true. We must preserve some of our independence. Our sinful nature is born desiring its own way. What child doesn’t pitch a tantrum when restricted? What toddler does resist restriction? We know that we are Children of God but live like orphans sometimes.

We know that the Son of God has come. Of course, we celebrate the Messiah, King of Kings and Lord of Lords, who is the Savior. Right? We praise Him in church. Worship Him with our life. Try to stay true to His Word. What does all this mean if we do not “KNOW” that we are His Children? Nothing really…nothing at all. The relationship between Jesus Christ in us and the God around us must connect and form a union that bears confidence. Otherwise, our insecurities will overtake us even in the midst of serving God.

Psalm 63:8 (NLT) I cling to you; your strong right hand holds me securely.

Do you know today? I am asking myself the very same thing. Is His Grace enough for me today? Grace is not just for the forgiveness of sins but allows us to give ourselves away to others freely in return. Every seed God plants yields a harvest. Grace is Christ’s investment of us. It is the security that fills my insufficiencies. He offers power for my weakness that only works when I submit. Give in. Give it all to Jesus. Grace is my full assurance that God’s Strong Right Hand holds me securely.

Everyone thinks that their dad is the strongest, smartest and bravest without rival. If there was a father or father figure in our life – he automatically has super hero status. I believe that it is our desire for God that creates a need to put such a label on the men folk in our life. We desire the Father’s Blessing. The eternity in our heart searches for it. Yet even those who live for years nurturing and cultivating the seed of faith in their heart will struggle with acceptance and security in the Father’s Hand. Relationship comes first. We must come to know and understand and agree that Christ is enough to secure our righteousness and restore our relationship with God our Father. Living in such a relationship allows our faith to grow into true confidence in the hope that we have freeing us from any and all insecurity in life.

Ephesians 4:13-15 (NLT)  This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ. Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.

There are many who claim Christianity as their religion. However, religion sometimes can lend to insecurity in our overzealous attempt to secure something that is found in Christ alone and given sufficiently by grace. Spiritual maturity is defined by security. His Grace must be enough to become a Child of God. Grace is defined by favor that cannot be earned or obtained any other way but as a gift. We must accept God’s Grace. In doing so, it fills us with free love. Love that is no longer self-produced but overflowing in copious amounts from God the Father. When my children walk in the room and I catch a glimpse of them, I can feel my heart swell, a smile creeps across my face, and I long to reach out to touch them. They are my children. I love them. I cannot spend enough time with them. I desire to bless them. I do not want them to want or need anything. I long for them to live long and satisfied lives. I am only human. Imagine how the Father feels about us?

It is the Will of God and purpose of Christ in us that the unity of faith and knowledge of God’s son will produce spiritual maturity that allows us to measure up to the full and complete standard of Christ which is love and security. Nothing can separate us from God’s Love. (Romans 8) No one can snatch us from His Hand. (Isaiah 43) Am I secure in the Father’s Hand? Hmmm. Insecurity is defined as a lack of confidence. It is self-doubt. To be insecure means fearful, anxious, uneasy, and not firmly or reliably placed. It is in essence to “be tossed and blown about” every time the wind changes, situations rise up, circumstances happen, or conditions change. It is to evaluate ourselves according to other people and appearances rather than examination of our heart. How do I know if I am insecure or bound by insecurity?

I Samuel 16:7 (NLT) But the Lord said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

Who has the greatest influence on your thoughts today? Is it God or man? Let me help you. When Samuel came to find the next King of Israel, Jesse lined up his “best” sons. As Samuel made his way down the line, it was clear none of these fine young men were the one. He asked, “Are these all the sons you have?” No, there was still the youngest out tending the flocks. So Jesse sent for David, and when he walked in – “the Lord said, ‘this is the one; anoint him.”

We are all judges. We judge people every day based on personal or even public appearance. Once a judgment is formed, comparison begins. It is human nature. It is just what people do. Clearly instructed not to…it is still just a basic instinct.

Luke 6:37-38 (NLT) “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you. Forgive others, and you will be forgiven. Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.”

Sharing time with the girls at our Bible study last night, I looked around the room at those beautiful faces. Each one representing a life of found grace and growing faith. For a moment, just a second, I realized that the judgment of others is not the most debilitating condition but it begins by judging ourselves. Insecurity begins by the lie that God’s Grace is not enough to cover my sin, regret and shame. To put some things under the Blood of Christ and allowing them to be caught up in the sea called forgetfulness but holding on to others as our cross to bear. His Grace is enough. I can’t do a single thing to earn or quality my life to receive it. Jesus chose to give it to me – free and clear. I can only accept it. If I am successful in doing so, my insecurity will begin to give way to full assurance that Christ is enough for me. My need to “do” more and “be” more to prove my love will dissolve in the true revelation that He is enough and all that I need to be free to love and be loved without reservation. I will not need to judge others. I will not condemn them with my words. I will be able to forgive the deepest offense because it cannot take root in my grace-filled heart. Such a gift, God’s Grace will return to my lap as His Favor takes over my life with all the bountiful fruits of His Glorious Spirit. The Bread of His Body will heal all the breaks in my heart mending every relationship until the Body, His Bride becomes one. I must give all my heart to this thing called grace to know is sufficiency and experience full security in God’s Love for me. The end of insecurity is the fulfillment of God’s Grace.

Hebrews 13:8-9 (NLT) Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. So do not be attracted by strange, new ideas. Your strength comes from God’s grace, not from rules about food, which don’t help those who follow them.

2 Corinthians 12:8-9 (NLT) Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.

Ephesians 2:8-9 (NLT) God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.

Chasing Victory

Chasing Victory

I John 5:4-5 (AMP) For everyone born of God is victorious and overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has conquered and overcome the world—our [continuing, persistent] faith [in Jesus the Son of God]. Who is the one who is victorious and overcomes the world? It is the one who believes and recognizes the fact that Jesus is the Son of God.

Yesterday. Oh my goodness! Where to begin and yet not bore you or even overwhelm you with the details. The only reason that I even dare to share it is to encourage someone who may be facing the same. His voice broke through the darkness like a huge hand shaking me violently from sleep, “Honey, it’s 6:30!” How can that be possible? I set the alarm. No, I didn’t. I must have forgotten. We got in late. Our routine not the same. Ugh! No Jesus for me this morning, or so I thought. Running through the paces of what had to be done over what my heart desired to do, I bypassed the study to grab the dog and wake up the girls. My poor little had quite a shaking the day before while tubing on the river. Her head slammed into the water and the pressure made her earache. Now her body was sore from the impact, no worse for wear but exhausted from a long weekend without much sleep. Work has been crazy. Do I stay home with her? Is she okay? What should I do? Why is this so hard? She gets up and begins to get ready so I do the same. My husband and I run over each other in our morning routine which is usually hours apart. I am struggling with my attitude. I have so much to do lingering from last week into today. It seems no matter how much I mark off the list more keeps piling up. Running around in a flurry, I remember that I need to change the sheets in the guest room. The laundry is piling up, too. I grab some frozen chicken for dinner and head for the shower. I have to leave in less than an hour. I promise the Lord that we will talk on the way to work. The long commute is good for quiet time with Jesus unless work meets you in the car with your office manager. My mind is racing and my heart is sinking. Lord, help me today. This day is going to be a booger. I feel it inside me. I hate days like this. “Lord, I need you!”

Arriving to work and reviewing the que, all the projects due that loom over my head present as a little black rain cloud. “God, I need you!” I grab the Bible out of my purse. Surely, there is a word for me somewhere in this little blue book. I read Ezekiel the first chapter. Let me summarize. God calls Ezekiel to bring a Word to the Children of Israel – a strong retort to stubborn people who will not listen. Okay, thanks Holy Spirit that is encouraging…no seriously I get what you are saying but I need to hear that you will rush in to help me today, calm my racing heart, ease my anxious mind, and still this chaotic day. Leaving around six, two hours later than the norm. I am so tired and drained as I crawl to the car. My brain is mush for lack of better terms. My job is not physically strenuous at all, but mentally it is brutal. Holding the steering wheel tight in my hands, I whisper, “God, I need you!” I call my husband to let him know I am late. Hinting at fast food, his disappointment clear, I decide to cook even though it’s getting dark. Let’s not forget that the taxes are due. I have to submit them tonight. The to-do list for tomorrow may not leave room so prudence says, “Now!” While dinner is cooking, I slide into my desk chair. The place where I seek Him, but now just keep doing. The sheets in the guest room still calling – in between dinner and taxes – I strip it and put them in the washer. The timer sounds from the oven and I rally the troops. Sitting around our table, I look at their faces missing the ones who are not there. Thankfulness floods my heart. I made it. We made it. I begin to think about the things that have gone right today. All the small victories won. All the challenges overcome. I am thankful. So I ask each one to share just one thing no matter how big or small they are thankful for, too. The tension breaks as our family meal begins… Lord, thank you for being so much greater than me.

Everyone born of God IS victorious and overcomes the world. It says, “Everyone.” There are no exceptions. If Christ lives in me, I am enough. If He lives in you, you are more than enough to overcome every challenge and temptation that comes your way. It is our continuing and persistent faith in Jesus that gives us victory every day. My strength is no match for the enemy. However, His Grace is enough. It is sufficient. It is exposed when my weakness leads me to the Cross and I exchange my inability for all of His Possibilities. We become victorious and overcome by believing in the Power of Jesus Christ and its potential in us. I didn’t do the things I normally do including spend a significant time in my study and prayer room. Discipline puts me in this place daily so that on those days when life comes hard and pressures are overwhelming – the Christ in me is enough. I believe not because I everyone is in my favor but on the simple and active belief that all things are working together for my good because Jesus Christ is alive and well inside me.

What does it mean to overcome? Jesus overcame the world. It would be a good idea to know what He did. Overcome means get the better of in a struggle. To conquer or defeat something. It means to prevail over or persist in one’s effort. It is to overwhelm or overpower the mind, will and emotions to hold on to our faith. It means to gain victory. Victory is just on the other side of overcoming. We must overpower that which is fighting against us to live in the constant state of winning that Christ promises. How do we overcome? We must fight for our faith despite the constant conflict with our flesh and relentless adversity by the enemy.

John 16:33 (AMP) I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace. In the world you have tribulation and distress and suffering, but be courageous [be confident, be undaunted, be filled with joy]; I have overcome the world.” [My conquest is accomplished, My victory abiding.]

Jesus was honest. He did not sugarcoat the truth about life in this world. It’s going to be hard. Difficulties will rise up. Challenges will be faced. Temptations will greet us at every turn. It is not going to be an easy journey, just a worthwhile one. You will have “tribulation, distress and suffering” BUT be courageous, confident, undaunted and filled with joy. There is joy in Jesus Christ. What I failed to mention in my dissertation about yesterday is there was laughter. There were friends who encouraged me. Keep running! You’ll catch up. Jesus overcame the world. God is greater than my feelings. Many of the things, I give a high priority are not as important as I think compared to the more than I can think, imagine or ask (Ephesians 3:20) that the Lord is doing in me and through me at the very same time.

My conquest is accomplished. My victory abiding. I love these words so much today. They give validity to my hope that I hold so dearly and tightly to my chest. As if to let my beating heart, help revive it in tough times. Yet, I know that my hope is established by faith and not anything that I can do. I cannot boast of the breakthrough today. The kind of accomplishment that allows us to lay down and sleep in perfect peace even in the midst of crushing pressure and countless deadlines. Jesus keeps telling us these things, encouraging us to believe, empowering us to hang on because He is building, shaping and molding our heart to live in victory rather than chasing it all the time. He is filling us with more of His Spirit and the inexpressible joy that is evident in perfect peace. God is with us. He lives in us. We are victorious.

I John 4:4 (AMP) Little children (believers, dear ones), you are of God and you belong to Him and have [already] overcome them [the agents of the antichrist]; because He who is in you is greater than he (Satan) who is in the world [of sinful mankind]. 

It’s funny that these words of encouragement are sandwiched between warnings about false teaching. When I missed my quiet time in the Word this morning and did not go into my prayer closet, but conversed with the Lord on the go. I was tempted to take an invisible bat and beat myself in the head. I have to do this – I always do this – the Lord has instructed me to do this. No, He has simply asked me to follow Him wholeheartedly. All the “to do” things are of my own design. I believe that the enemy works on both sides. The world places a high demand on our time and attention. Sometimes the people in church can do the same thing. We must be faithful to the fellowship. We must “serve” the Lord and “do” the right things. Is this really the Voice of the Lord? Because His Word says that the “blessing of the Lord brings true riches and He adds no sorrow for it.” There was no more important place I went or task performed yesterday than to sit down with my family at the dinner table and join hands to pray. To speak our thankfulness to Jesus because no matter how difficult it was – we made it. Overcoming the world’s pressures and gaining victory over the enemy’s attack – our family sat together in the Presence of the Lord, filled with His Spirit, covered with grace and shared a meal together. We made it. It was in the moment of perfect peace that victory is secure. The knowing that God is with us – Immanuel and stopping because nothing is chasing us but His Unfailing Love and Goodness. It will find us if our heart and mind are set on Him.

I Corinthians 15:57-58 (AMP) But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory [as conquerors] through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers and sisters, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord [always doing your best and doing more than is needed], being continually aware that your labor [even to the point of exhaustion] in the Lord is not futile nor wasted [it is never without purpose].

Can I just encourage you a little today? You are victorious. You don’t have to chase victory or try to overcome. The Victor and Overcomer already lives in you. By trusting and believing that He is enough and continually pushing every care, worry, need or burden over to Him, it builds our faith into confident hope so on days when all hell breaks loose, nothing goes right, and everything seems to be falling apart – His Chaotic Love sweeps us up and envelopes us in perfect peace. The kind that our heart, mind, will and emotions can rest in even when our body is on the go. Life will continue to be full of temptation, pressure and responsibility. Jesus didn’t promise to take these challenges away but that in each one – His People overcome. Victory belongs to us if we choose to claim it, step in it and live in each day.

Psalm 117:2 (AMP) For His lovingkindness prevails over us [and we triumph and overcome through Him], and the truth of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord! (Hallelujah!)

 

In the Waiting

In the Waiting

Psalm 27:14 (AMP) Wait for and confidently expect the Lord; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for and confidently expect the Lord.

The passage of time is probably the most difficult part of the process of God. To hear His Voice, to see His Vision, to dream His Dream and then to wait for all things to work together as He has ordered for us according to His Promise is the hardest part of human participation in God’s Plan. From the onset, it is labeled future and hope. However, future never seems so far as in the watchtower of waiting for the Lord. Hope feels weighty until it is the anchor of our soul that is holding us in that place too far from the starting point with no finish line in sight. It is the place where questions being to cloud our thinking and fog the image once so clear in our mind. Nothing is going the way that I planned yet somehow it is all falling into place. Everything seems to point to disappointment but I hear the whisper in the wind, “My hope never leads to disappointment.”

Waiting for the Lord takes courage. To expect what God has promised means letting go of human expectation to fully take hold of what the Lord has promised refusing to let go until it happens. Like Jacob, wrestling with God through the darkness of night, and in the donning of a new day refused to let go until he was changed and given a new name. God is faithful…even when I am not. Wonderful and perplexing at the same time. Grace works best in my weakness. When I am vulnerable barely hanging on, at the end of my rope, and on the verge of being completely undone – His Grace empowers me with strength as His Love gains more of my heart, His Grace heals more of my soul, and His Faithfulness roots itself in my life.

Psalm 27:1 (AMP) The Lord is my light and my salvation—Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the refuge and fortress of my life—Whom shall I dread?

As I read Psalm 27, it is clear that the enemy has an assignment against the Plan of God for His Children. Adversaries at every twist and turn. The Lord is the Light. His Love beckons us from darkness. His Love is so strong it pulls us out of the depths. If only it were easy to remain in that place of new love or first love. The love that is naïve and carefree still shallow and unknown. True love must withstand the test of time and trail to be authentic and real. Otherwise, it is not love at all but some other kind of emotion. Love is patient. (I Corinthians 13:4) The definition of love begins with these words. The essence of love. It’s root and foundation is patience. Patience is the ability or willingness to suppress restlessness or annoyance when confronted with delay. It means to be quiet. To have steady perseverance and to be even-tempered. Diligence in our effort outside of comfort and control. Love is patient. Love is able. Love is willing to wait and withstand all that comes against it to maintain its place in any relationship. Over time, true love is revealed when all else and everyone else is gone.

Like a moth drawn to a flame, too curious and attracted to save its own life. I must ask myself am I willing to go all the way. Will I wait on the Lord because I love Him? Will I trust Him with my life even if I am consumed? The Lord is my light. He wants to spark a passionate wildfire of love in me that will consume those around me with His Light and His Love as well. Will I love Him enough to become the Light? Is He still my salvation? Before you say of course, one must examine their heart and mind to see the relevance of faith. Is there fruit in my life to indicate that the seed of faith planted in me has grown in the grace that I have been given?

The Lord is my refuge and my fortress. I was talking to our daughter one night during a tornado watch. Just revisiting safety procedures should a tornado touch down in our area. I asked her what she would do if it happen and she quite honestly and candidly told me that she would run. I explained the danger of going out in the storm and the futility of trying to outrun a twister. I took her to our laundry room and told her that this would be the safest place in our house. It has no windows. It is inside the house with no exterior walls. She didn’t like my choice. She didn’t understand. Sometimes our inability to see is frightening. She was uncomfortable with the idea of being trapped inside the dark house and unable to see. I tried to explain that a tornado could sweep her far away. She still was hesitant. Confidence in the shelter and refuge of God’s Presence is essential to keep us firmly grounded in the midst of every storm. He must become our refuge and fortress. Trust builds those walls. Faith fortifies them making His Presence our permanent dwelling place.

Psalm 27:4 (AMP) One thing I have asked of the Lord, and that I will seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord [in His presence] all the days of my life, To gaze upon the beauty [the delightful loveliness and majestic grandeur] of the Lord and to meditate in His temple.

“And now my head will be lifted up above my enemies around me, in His tent I will offer sacrifices with shouts of joy; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the Lord.” (Psalm 27:6) Nothing and no one can snatch us from the Presence of God. Our place in His Presence is secure. It is our presence that is often in question. Am I willing to see my life from God’s Perspective rather than focusing on every perceived threat? Our focus should be on the author and finisher of our faith. Jesus is our Champion. The one who hands us victory over and over again so in all things there is the opportunity to overcome. Overcome fear. Overcome doubt. Overcome anxiety. Overcome quitting. Overcome disappointment. Overcome all those things that keep us from living in the fullness and abundance of God’s Presence. Perhaps the enemy is not outside but inside of us. Weeding the Word the Lord has placed in us with lies and insecurities that threaten the harvest beginning to grow in us, the fruit that is budding in our life or even the prosperity on the verge of bursting into a harvest more than we can imagine or even think to ask for. What if the enemy of my heart is me? My impatience and inability or even unwillingness to stay put. To remain in the Presence of God even when I perceive dangers or threats to my comfort or well-being but remaining hidden in the Shelter of the Great I Am and waiting for the storm to pass and His Son to shine. Will I praise Him in such a place?

Psalm 27:8 (AMP) When You said, “Seek My face [in prayer, require My presence as your greatest need],” my heart said to You, “Your face, O Lord, I will seek [on the authority of Your word].”

I would have despaired had I not believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord
In the land of the living. (Psalm 27:13)
What am I waiting on? Good question. I am waiting on God’s Word to come to pass in my life. Every promise that He made is crucial to my fulfillment. God’s Word cannot and will not ever return void. The problem is not in the promise. The problem is not in the process. The only challenge I face is my belief in the Promise and Process of God. If all that I have to go on is the Word of the Living God, will it be enough to keep in His Presence until His Potential becomes my purpose? Will I keep repeating it like footsteps to the place where I am standing in the Promise of God for my life? Will I be patient? Will I persist? Will I push back against the pressure? Am I willing to take just more step? Knock one more time? Ask even if I have already done so a thousand times before? Can I persevere? The greatest progress of all is the single step right after saying you were quitting.

The Goodness of God is for this life. Today. Tomorrow. All of them. If your life does not line up to your dreams and visions, then it is just a work in progress. The Lord promises that as we live in love with Him – He will give us the desires of our heart. God is faithful to finish the work that He has started in you. He is committed to it. God does not lie or change His Mind. The Lord will never withdraw His Calling or His Blessing on your life. Jesus went to prepare a place for us. What if that place is not just our home forever but His Presence to keep us safe and secure on our way there? His Presence is open and available to us always. It is our source of strength in the midst of severe storms. It is the walls against the wind trying to blow us off course. It is a place of supplication when our reserve is drying up. Hope is the anchor for our soul. Faith secures us to the hope that we have giving it weight and substance. Faith is to believe. It means establishing trust not just for forever but to make it through today. This day. To keep coming when He calls. To continue to respond to His Spirit. To keep reaching for His Kingdom. There is more to life than this reserved for this time and place. The Children of Israel fled Egypt, escaped the army bent on keeping or killing them, and wandered for years – yet there sandals did not wear out and they had more than enough treasure to build God a proper temple. Where did it come from? How could refugees have such an abundance? God was with them in the waiting. The Lord is with us here and now.

Psalm 31:24 (AMP) Be strong and let your hearts take courage, all you who wait for and confidently expect the Lord.

Two things are absolutely necessary to wait on the Lord – we must have confidence and courage. Confidence in the reality of His Love, Grace and Goodness. His Love unconditional and unconquerable. His Grace that is more than enough. His Goodness that is for now. He is Resurrection and Life not just in our death but in our everyday existence. He wants to resurrect our dead dreams. He wants to renew our passion for our purpose and release our full potential once hidden in our hard hearts. “Surely every man walks around like a shadow [in a charade]; surely they make an uproar for nothing; each one builds up riches, not knowing who will receive them. And now, Lord, for what do I expectantly wait? My hope [my confident expectation] is in You.” (Psalm 39:6-7) Waiting is our undoing. It is the time and place where there is nothing for me to do just be. To live in the Presence of God – in the Shadow of the Almighty – lovingly, patiently, willingly and quietly while the Lord works our His Plan for me. Nothing I do will ever compare to what the Lord is doing inside of me. The person I am supposed to be is hidden in the Great I Am. I will wait. Lord, give me more confidence. Lord make me courageous. Give me what I need to wait just a little longer. I know that every good thing, every perfect thing and every other thing is just on the other side of waiting. Keep me in the waiting.

Micah 7:7 (AMP) But as for me, I will look expectantly for the Lord and with confidence in Him I will keep watch; I will wait [with confident expectation] or the God of my salvation. My God will hear me.

By Grace…

By Grace

Ephesians 2:8-10 (NIV) For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

By grace I am saved through faith…the order of redemption is important. How many times is faith emphasized outside of God’s Grace and when it fails to move the mountain, make the way or summon dry bones and dead dreams to life – there is discouragement, disappointment and even doubt? Grace is difficult for mankind as it defies pride and calls for crucifixion. Pride prefers faith demonstrated by works and the façade of perfection. The Gift of God called Grace is essential as it is our escort through the door marked faith. Without grace this door is locked and cannot be opened. When our daughter married her true love, he waited at the altar on the frigid November day. The music played as all the groom’s men and bridesmaids filtered in and took their place. The music changed and everyone stood up as she made her way to the aisle covered in rose petals. Her father had her arm and they smiled as she made her way to the future. Turning to face our soon-to-be son-in-law, he was weeping openly at the sight of his bride. Overtaken by emotion, he held his face in his hands with tears literally running through his fingers. His love for our daughter evident in his reaction. As they joined hands to pray, our daughter dutifully bowed her head still donning the radiant smile from before, but he couldn’t stop looking at the top of her head. Trying to also bow his head, it kept popping up to look at her. It’s funny as I think about God’s Grace today – that this image comes to mind. The Bride and Bridegroom standing at the point of completion. The day that they will become one. By grace, I am saved through faith.

Grace is true love. It is the love of Jesus that flowed from His Broken Body and Broken Heart that day as a remarkable gift. Grace is the goodwill and favor of God given to His People through the ultimate sacrifice of His Son. To know, understand, acknowledge and accept His Grace as enough is a requirement for real faith to be initiated in our life. Faith is the seed in our heart activated by grace. However, to try to grow in faith without being fully immersed in grace will only lead to further frustration. The edges and borders of my life are clear cut. It is a giant canvas made white by His Blood in order to become the “masterpiece” as it is called in the New Living Translation or “handiwork” her in the New International Version. I am God’s Masterpiece. Nothing in my life is without potential and purpose to be worked together for my good and completion. It all begins with His Grace. Grace does not change the details of my life prerecorded by the Lord. (Psalm 139:16) It is the access point of all the promises that He has made to me obtained by faith and trust in the Lord. However, it is all through His Grace.

John 1:16-18 (NIV) Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.

Jesus came to provide us a rich and satisfying life. (John 10:10) This promise is claimed not by what we do but by the grace that is given to us by the One who “is in the closest relationship with the Father”. I am stuck today in this place called grace. Have I tried to live by faith outside of God’s Grace? Is it possible that in my zeal to please God with faith, I sometimes forget that His Grace is sufficient for me? We can only accept grace. I cannot earn it. The grace offered in Jesus Christ is completely and blood bought. I cannot do a single act or make a significant change that will make it affordable to me. It will always be too expensive. It will be more than I can do.

Some assembly required. I often read the reviews of a product before purchasing it to decide how difficult it might be to construct. Many Christmas eves filled with frustration. The box boasted five minutes of construction but the 5,000 pieces represented five days of work. There would be times that after putting it all together the darn thing still didn’t work. So what would I do? I would read the instructions again, and go over each step to see what I missed. For me, this verse today is a flashlight on my heart to determine the areas of my life where I missed the first step called grace. I am pulling and tugging on doors that the Lord will freely open because I have forgotten to remain partnered with grace? I am pleading and praying for things that can only be released by grace? By grace, I am saved through faith. Faith must be first planted in grace to produce other fruit in our life.

Acts 15:11 (NIV) No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.”

I can hear the invitational hymn that I grew up with playing in my head. “Just as I am, without one plea, but that Thy Blood was shed for me. And that Thou bid’st me come to Thee. O Lamb of God, I come! I come!” Just as I am. Jesus gives us His Grace exactly as I am. No change in me is required just to come to Him. You know my daughter was absolutely stunning on her wedding day. Her beauty inside radiated in her person outside. As perfect as she looked, she was still imperfect. Her husband didn’t see her faults, flaws or failures that day – only the one his soul loved. When Jesus sees us, it is the same way. As a bridegroom awaiting His Beloved, not based on what we can do or choose not to do. It has nothing to do with anything other than His Love manifested in His Grace which provides us access to His Presence. I can come boldly and confidently before Him not because of my faith but simply by His Grace. Oh that the church would find His Grace again, to rely on the grace given to us by the Love of Jesus and stop trying to reinstitute the imperfect law of grace given to Moses. (Romans 11:5-6) By grace, I am saved through faith.

2 Corinthians 12:8-10 (NIV) Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

The Lord’s Grace is sufficient for me. It is enough. His Power is made perfect in my weakness. However, it is quite another matter to boast about my weaknesses. Everyone sins. Everyday. There is no one that can overcome the flesh and walk in complete righteousness outside of God’s Grace given to us by Jesus. Who delights in weakness? Insults? Hardships? Persecutions? Difficulties? Not many people I know including myself. However, it is in weakness that I am able to fully accept His Grace. It is a humble position never a prideful state. The more I know Jesus, the more I see how much I need Him and how little I have to offer.

James 2:21-24 (NIV) Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.

I shared with our small group last night the helplessness that I felt at the bedside of our son enduring the horrible effects of chemotherapy. Watching his body suffer and waste away, time after time I asked the Lord to put me in his place fully knowing it was impossible. One day as I prayed, I pleaded with the Lord. I am a mother. These children are my promise and purpose in life. God, you know that I would die for them. I heard that still small voice reverberate through my heart – “You don’t have to. I already did.” His Grace is enough. His Grace is sufficient. It is in weakness and failures that I am reminded that it is by grace that I am saved through faith.

Faith is conceived by grace. There is nothing that I can “do” to please God without faith. But I cannot have true and relevant faith without fully accepting God’s Grace and the truth that it is enough for me. Faith without works is dead. Faith cannot be productive outside of God’s Grace will also be fruitless. If you are giving your all to Jesus and it is still not enough, it may be time to revisit your connection to His Grace. His Grace is always enough. It is not reliant on the things we do.

Abraham withheld nothing from the Lord. His trust in the grace of God and faith in His Promise allowed him to journey to the mountain of sacrifice ready to give his all. However, Abraham is not the only one listed in this passage. God considered Rahab “the prostitute” righteous. Hold up! The Bible does not tell of her radical conversion. It does not detail her deliverance from her profession. Grace is enough. You cannot wash yourself clean enough. You cannot be good enough to attain right standing with God again. You cannot pay the debt that sin has slapped on your life. it is by grace, I am saved through faith. Lord, keep in your grace today. Remind me that it is enough for me and every other person I come in contact with.

Acts 4:32-35 (NIV) All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.

How will I know if I am reliant on God’s Grace to accompany me through faith? It really is simple. God’s Grace is the Good News called the Gospel. Have you heard the old saying, “You catch more flies with than vinegar”? My grandmother used to say it all the time. Grace is the gospel but is this the message of our life? Faith without works is dead. But faith in God without grace is impossible. Grace is the access point that is the way to the Father through His Son. The fruit of faith fully invested in grace is found in Acts 4. Believers who believe in the Grace of God will have one heart and one mind. No longer will there be division. Grace is the commonality of Christ. It takes me out of the equation and makes Christ the constant. It says that they testified to the resurrection – they spoke truth and life to people without judgment and condemnation which are not qualities of Jesus. Jesus came to show mercy and love to all mankind offering them grace to be set free.  It says, “God’s Grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them.” Redemption. Restoration. Renewal. Revival. All of these are the fruits of faith conceived by Grace. Could it be that our feeble attempts at faith are fruitless because we have tried to achieve them outside of grace? Food for thought. How can I be gracious if I do not know the sufficiency of grace? I cannot give what I have been not received. I cannot express what I have not personally experienced. I cannot live by faith without living in God’s Grace.

Proverbs 22:11 (NIV) One who loves a pure heart and who speaks with grace will have the king for a friend.

 

Tiny Treasures

Tiny Treasures

2 Corinthians 4:7 (NLT)  We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.

I have many masterpiece designs made by my little artists over the years. Carefully wrapped in newsprint and bubble wrap, hidden in the guest room, they are precious treasures to me. Preparing for our move last year, I held them in my hand carefully wrapping each one. I labeled each box “fragile” and made sure they were transported in my car. We are fragile clay jars. (Job 33:6) Produced from clay, by the Potter, yet far from finished from completion. (Isaiah 64:8) The work of the potter’s hands begins with a lump of clay thrown unceremoniously on a wheel. Water is added to soften the mound. The potter takes his hands and begins to firmly knead the clay working the water through it and making it pliable in his hands. He presses hard with all his strength to eliminate all the air bubbles inside. It is a rigorous process. But if any of those pockets remain when the final work is placed in the kiln exposed to great heat – it will crack or worse explode. Oh Lord, remind me today that I am only clay. A masterpiece in the potter’s hand who just happens to be my Father.

Ephesians 2:9-10 (NLT) Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

There are other little art creations tucked away. The kids and I used to go to the local ceramic store in the summer or when visiting my family. A “pick-and-paint” operation filled with shelves of different items to choose from then with a wide assortment of colorful paint create a bowl, cup or little boxes. Once complete, the shop would put them in the kiln bringing the color to life. I love those little pieces and the memories they hold, yet do not prize them as I do all the little clay pieces. Could it be the time invested? Or maybe because the clay pieces were the individual work of each child rather than one simply painted?

Growth in God may seem like complete destruction. Well, if God’s Plan and Purpose is the true desire of my heart – it will be the complete undoing of my heart. God has a plan and purpose for my life – He promises that it contains a future and hope. It is blessed. It must be broken. I cannot maintain my present form and be the masterpiece that Lord has called me to be. I must become a new creation.  A new person. A seed must die to its present form to become the potential hidden inside. We must die to our present form to become that new creation and let God’s Light shine from us.

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

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (NKJV) Substance…what is the substance of our life? Our bodies are molded and shaped of clay or so the Bible says. God scooped up some earth and made a human being. Our physical being is terminal. From the day of our arrival – our death is one day closer. This is not a morbid reality just a bit of mortal truth. Our potential is locked inside of us. God put eternity in our heart. (Ecclesiastes 3:11) He labeled it a “measure of faith”. (Romans 12:3) It comes wrapped in the promise that the Lord will make all things beautiful in its time. Romans 8:28 ensures us that He will use every detail for our good and His Glory. God is working the substance of our life. He is kneading us. Pressing out the impurities, filling us with His Grace, and shaping us into the new creation He promised. He needs only one thing from us. It is not what you may think.

Psalm 37:3-6 (NLT) Trust in the Lord and do good. Then you will live safely in the land and prosper. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires. Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you. He will make your innocence radiate like the dawn, and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun.

The invisible link between faith and hope is trust. We must trust the Lord enough to endure the process of our undoing and remaking in the Potter’s Hands. If our desire is to know Him, serve Him, find Him and live in His Presence – we must do so with the understanding that God does not lie or change His Mind. Though favorable for us, it will not allow us to remain the same while inching closer to Him each day. We must be changed by the grace that saved us into the masterpiece that He calls us. To change in our appearance but not in our substance puts us in danger of becoming like the Pharisees. Doing and saying all the right things, but never becoming the new person changed by faith, trust and confident hope. Instead, we are simply “white-washed tombs”, (Matthew 23) The Blood of the Lamb washes us white from the inside out. Not the other way around, The Lord doesn’t want perfect Christians with hard hearts. No, He wants new creations who are soft and responsive to know and become one with His Heart.

To live for Christ and become one with Him will never allow for me to remain the same. I must submit to the process of applied pressure that works the measure of faith hidden in my heart to become the Light-Conducive vessel that breaks through the darkness of this world. I have a purpose. It is hidden inside my very human heart. The more my heart breaks – the more evident it becomes day by day. I am not called to strong, but completely broken so that the Lord can do what He planned from the beginning before I was born when He recorded it from my mother’s womb as He knit me together there. (Psalm 139) Trust allows me to commit every detail of my life to the Lord and become yoked to Him. (Matthew 11) I don’t have to worry about tomorrow or the troubles I find in this day or the next. The future is no longer a concern.

2 Corinthians 4:8-9 (NLT) We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed.

I know that I will be pressed, but trust the Lord not to allow me to be crushed. I may be persecuted, but I trust the Lord to never abandon me but stay right beside me. I know that I will not understand it all, but that’s okay because I can trust God at His Word. The enemy can hunt me down and draw a huge target on my back, but the Lord is my strength and shield and I can trust Him. Though struck down by insecurity, fear and even doubt, I trust the Lord to never let me fall and keep me from stumbling. I trust Him at His Word. It is all that I have to go on. It must be enough. Jesus is the Word of God who came wrapped up in flesh. Trusting His Father through this life, to be tortured and killed on a Cross, but it did not stop there. He marched through the fiery depths of the hottest hell to take my life from the enemy’s hand and deliver it back to me when Jesus came back just three days later. My faith must grow into absolute confidence in the hope that I have been given so that when I am tested and tried by the fire called refinement, I will not be destroyed but exhibit the Power of God given to me by His Grace. Faith, trust and confident hope are essential in becoming the person who God calls His Masterpiece. It is not a pleasant process all the time, but I can find joy in it each day.

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

Thinking about the tiny treasures tucked away in the box marked “fragile”, I cannot help but wonder if God thinks of us the same way. How precious it must be when we trust Him and submit to the process and pressure as evidence of trust? How happy the Lord must be when we decide to let Him work that measure of faith into a something of substance so that we become the Light of the World no longer hidden in darkness? Oh how the Lord treasures us even in our present broken and imperfect state as He whispers from the potter’s house, “Come and let me finish this great work that is within you.” Let me mold and shape your life into the Masterpieces that I created you to be. Jesus wants to complete me today… and you, too. He longs to work His Love, Grace and Mercy through us so His Love can radiate from us. I hear His Calling and I answer with my heart, “Lord, I am coming.”

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