Catch 22

Change

 

 

2 Corinthians 5:17 (NLT) This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

Christians live in a daily process of change. Those who truly believe and turn to Jesus Christ cannot remain the same and in a relationship with Christ. The evidence of Jesus in us is that we become a new person. The old life is passing away giving way to the new lift that has begun. To be yoked to the Lord means accepting His Way. Therefore, in order to become one with Christ, we must be the ones who accept the new way of life and thinking because He cannot and will not change to conform to our way. There is not a believer out there who would openly admit that they do not want all of Christ but few engage and endure the process necessary to be successful in such an endeavor. When change begins to take place, it usually produces inner turmoil, discomfort, inconvenience and things appear to be out of control. Our flesh and inner being is not okay with it and rebels against it. The human tendency is to escape rather than fully engage in the process of revival, restoration and renewal that the Lord is producing in us to secure the conditions of our present environment. There are many reasons that the church is not thriving mostly intrinsic. The Presence and Power of God is available to us but the catch 22 is called change.

Romans 7:22-24 (MSG) It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge. I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question?

The paradox of humanity is the war within our bodies. The inner being called our flesh likes to have its own way and preserve its place of control. God’s Spirit moves in and begins mixing things up. The flesh dies a little each day. It must give way to the change God is producing unless we allow it to maintain full control. Mind, will, emotions and even our body chime in against what the Lord is doing in us. The rebels rise up and if our heart does not stand strong against them – our process remains incomplete. Frustration and discouragement set in.

The Lord uses a process called transformation. He does not use conformation but we must be transformed by Christ. This means change. Change so comprehensively complete that it changes who we are, how we think and what we do. There is no compromise in God’s Vocabulary. He is God. God is not human. He is eternal. He is sovereign. He is constant. He does not lie or change His Mind. (Numbers 23:19) God is everlasting. He is the Creator of all things. He does not grow tired or weary. His Understanding is endless. (Isaiah 40:28) His Thoughts and Ways are nothing like a human being. He is perfect in all of His Ways. When He speaks, His Words are on a mission and will not return to Him until that command is complete. (Isaiah 55:8-11) The ordination of our life including His Plans (Jeremiah 29:11) handwritten before our birth (Psalm 139:16) even the calling the Lord has placed on our life cannot be withdrawn or recanted. (Romans 11:29) He said it and He meant it.

Finally, I would be remiss in not mentioning God’s Unconditional Love and Affection for us is eternal. The constancy of God includes His Great Love for us. God is Love. (I John 4:8) He loved us first. (I John 4:19) He loves us most. He will love us always. His Mercy given to us each new day is evidence of this very thing. (Lamentations 3:22-24) He pursues us through life with goodness and unfailing love all the days of our natural life. (Psalm 23:6) His Son, Jesus, bears the same qualities and traits. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8) His Example is set and clearly delineated in the Word of God with an invitation to yoke our life with Him. (Matthew 11:28-29) Every detail of our life has the potential to turn out for our good and God’s Glory based on all these foundational truths and promises concerning God’s Unchangeable Character. (Romans 8:28) He does not change like a shifting shadow. The sun casts a shifting shadow moving according to the natural conditions. However, the Son never changes. God has sent good and perfect gifts for His People including the ability to have a new life and become a new creation. Our flesh dies in the process therefore tries to abort it quickly to save itself.

I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question?

Romans 7:25 (MSG) The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.

Change is inevitable to achieve a new life, become a new creation and experience godly fulfillment that leads to full satisfaction and contentment in Jesus Christ. Our flesh creates a paradox. Our body, mind, will and emotions are sinful and contradictory to God’s Way. The problem is that God will not change. He will not compromise for you, me or anyone else. He will settle for nothing less than His Best for us. He refuses to leave us in our current state or condition but must see our purpose and potential fulfilled. This is all because of His Love and Goodness. We are His Passion, Prize and Treasure. He will stop at nothing to bless and prosper our life. Even when we whine, complain and give in to the flesh when our body doesn’t like the change the Holy Spirit is producing in us – God will not relent. He will continue to work in us as long as Christ is in us.

Romans 5:1-2 (MSG)  By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us—set us right with him, make us fit for him—we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. And that’s not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise.

Faith will always be a catalyst of change. To trust God moves us from glory to glory which is a conduit of change. Change is also a crucible which burns away at the things keeping us from experiencing all of God’s Goodness. It is hard to see the forest for the trees as the saying goes. We forget that our life is a comprehensive plan set into motion that will lead us from victory to victory. We are overcomers in all things because Christ lives in us yet fall subject to light and momentary troubles allowing them to stop the momentum of change. Salvation made us right with God. Repentance is the turning each part of our life over to Him. As we do so, change is inevitable. We must embrace change each day or risk hindering the process of full consummation in a thriving relationship with a jealous God who is reckless and extravagant in His Love for us. He stops at nothing to give you His Absolute Best in full abundance.

Romans 5:3-5 (MSG) There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!

Every single man and woman of God has days when they question God’s Motives and Intentions. Pressure, pain, and problems make us wonder is God’s Promise really for us. In pregnancy – we wait for the baby to grow, develop and mature into a viable little human. During the birth process, anticipation of fulfillment is close but the real work begins. Right before the baby is born, the woman’s body enters a phase of labor called transition. This is generally marked by the mom’s sudden change in her demeanor. She will say things like “I can’t do this” or “I don’t want to this”. She becomes frenzied and irrational. Usually within minutes, she is holding her precious baby in her arms. If she quit or gave up in that moment, refusing to push her newborn into the world, what would have happened? Maybe you are in transition right now in your spiritual life? Perhaps the Lord is finally birthing that promise that He has grown and developed in you all this time, but it is too hard so you are just want to quit. Impossible is the birthplace of miracles. Does it seem impossible? Does it feel like it’s never going to happen? Are you expecting today?

The Lord is calling out your name today. Like Elijah on the mountaintop, He is asking, “What are you doing here?” The enemy wants you to disengage in this process called change and take the easy way out. It is the moment that he will take fulfillment, contentment and soul satisfaction from you. The moment you give it up to compromise for comfort, convenience or control. Don’t let him do that to you. Jesus came to give us a rich and satisfying life. Not just forever, but in the land of the living too. You must push, press and endure stopping at nothing to have it. There is no catch 22 for the one who is sold out completely by absolute faith, total trust and confident hope. God will do it. He is able. He is true. The rest, dear one, is up to only you. No more catch 22 or contradictions allowed. Be confident that the Lord who has begun this great and glorious good work in you will complete it!

Philippians 3:12-14 (MSG) I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.

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Early Check In

early-check-in

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

The date circled on the calendar months ago has finally arrived. For the past week, I have been picking out clothes, preparing to pack, organizing the house, making a menu, listing instructions and informing our kids of our expectations while away on a trip. Not just any trip, but a trip to the Bahamas provided by my husband’s company. The resort is picturesque. Amenities ample and prime. It is a place many only dream of that the Lord has blessed us with. I have anticipated the trip and tomorrow it’s off to the airport. This morning, I went online to check-in and get our boarding passes. Our flight leaves around 7:00 AM. After providing all the information required by Homeland Security, a layout of the aircraft is provided with our seats clearly marked. After agreeing to all terms and conditions, a final notice marked “Check-in Successfully Complete” flashes on the screen with a “Enjoy Your Trip!” As I put away all the necessary documents and sealed them in the bright-colored pouch from the travel agency, I couldn’t help but wonder – Lord, wouldn’t it be awesome if I could do the same spiritually? Log in to Heaven.com or WeRSaved.com and make sure there is a place for me ahead of time. To be sure that I am doing the right things, living the right life, and making good choices so that I won’t be turned away at the gate…the pearly gates that is. I know if I made it to the gate for my flight tomorrow and they wouldn’t let me board that I would be very sad and disappointed. I don’t even want contemplate how I might feel if it was standing before Jesus and He said, “I’m sorry but I don’t know you.”

When the details of this glorious trip were sent to my husband who forwarded them to me, I immediately put the dates on the calendar at work and in my phone. Planning. Now that I knew it was coming, it would be good, and I wanted to go – I made plans around the trip. It became a priority of sorts. The destination of my faith is a placed called confident hope. It must be something that I desire and decide to participate in. It must become a priority in my life. Faith is established in my relationship with Jesus Christ. He must be my priority. Prepare. I have spent several months planning and preparing for this trip in advance. I have children who need to be cared for. Details to be decided. Faith requires preparation as it develops characteristics contrary to man. Our flesh chooses immediate gratification over endurance. It would rather give up then persevere. It prefers the easy way rather than the Highway of Holiness which is a narrow road with a small entrance described as harder to get through than the chances of a camel passing through the eye of a needle. What if the destination called Heaven, His Kingdom, Eternity and Forever were as highly anticipated, planned and prepared as an exotic vacation of sorts. What would happen if we invested an equal amount of time planning for our future as we do to have fun?

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. 

Flying is a love/hate relationship. I love the fact that from start to finish it will only be four hours. However, for those four hours, I must trust the craftsmanship of the airplane, the mechanics who maintain it, and the pilot who will fly it, so trust is an issue. As I enter flights, just before walking in the doorway I lay hands on the airplane and pray. It is quick and brief and most people don’t even notice although one stewardess in Atlanta did whisper, “Amen!” with a wink and smile. Trust is an issue of faith. We must trust the Lord with our life. I believe that to try to do so blindly is ignorance on our part that leads to death and destruction. I cannot trust God outside of faith. Faith is found in the Word whose Name is Jesus. Jesus is the Word. To try to know Him, let alone trust the Lord, outside of the Word of God is impossible. You are setting yourself up to fail. The Word cuts flesh from bone exposing the innermost parts of what we have been taught and our new life in Christ. I cannot know the blessings, benefits, promises, purposes and process by which it is achieved in my life if I do not strive to know the Word of God including Jesus the Way, the Truth and the Life. I have studied the packet provided by the agency in detail. I have confirmed our flight. I have retrieved our passports. I have visited the website of our destination and I am almost packed. Do I give this much attention to the Lord and my destination in Him each day? Each week? Consistently? Confident hope is born of constant trust that develops and matures our faith.

Hebrews 3:12-14 (NLT) Be careful then, dear brothers and sisters. Make sure that your own hearts are not evil and unbelieving, turning you away from the living God. You must warn each other every day, while it is still “today,” so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God. For if we are faithful to the end, trusting God just as firmly as when we first believed, we will share in all that belongs to Christ.

I am excited about the time of rest for the next week. Time with my husband apart from hectic schedules, rigorous routines and the busyness of life. Rest is also a blessing of the Lord given to those who find their place in Him. Jesus promises rest to those who yoke their life to Him. (Matthew 11) Those who seek Him wholeheartedly will find Him and the future and hope that He holds for us. (Jeremiah 29:13) What if we planned and prepared each day for the place called Heaven and Eternity with God? What if His People anticipated it for the Glorious Destination that it is? Far more wonderful than a week in some tropical paradise from which you are dumped right back in the rat race called life. To be with Jesus Forever apart from fear, worry, anxiety, stress, sickness, pain and brokenness, to live forever in the Light of His Love basking in His Glory. It will be so much better than any of His Creation. We must believe it enough to anticipate it.

Faith given the opportunity to become confident hope is our boarding pass. To trust Jesus with the details and simply live in wholehearted pursuit of Him. To follow His Way because we want to be where He is. He must become our desired destination. The only way to become confident in the Lord is to try trusting Him at His Word. I am trusting the travel agent who planned and prepared this trip for us. Just a person doing her job who doesn’t know us at all. She is just doing what the company instructed her to do. Yet, I am trusting her with the details of the next week. Hmmm, so what about Jesus? He died to offer me a place in His Kingdom forever. His Love, Grace and Mercy to transport me from sin to salvation. His Blood to cover me so that when God sees me I will be white. My boarding pass is ready. I just need to check-in. If I go over the details of my walk with Christ, it is easy to see the areas that need my attention. To locate the places where other things have maybe become the priority and need to be reorganized. Jesus should be at the top of every list. There should be no other books unless I read the Bible every day. There should be no other conversations until I converse with Jesus first in prayer. The most important place I go before heading out the door is His Presence. Who lives like that you are asking? I do if I want to be where Jesus is forever. If I want confident hope, I must engage in trusting the Lord and building the foundation called faith. Faith will always produce confident hope so I do not have to wonder what will happen after I take my last breath. I will already know and have inexpressible joy!

I Peter 1:8-9 (NLT) You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls.

Not By Might

not-by-might

Zechariah 4:6-7 (NLT) Then he said to me, “This is what the Lord says to Zerubbabel: It is not by force nor by strength, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. Nothing, not even a mighty mountain, will stand in Zerubbabel’s way; it will become a level plain before him! And when Zerubbabel sets the final stone of the Temple in place, the people will shout: ‘May God bless it! May God bless it!’”

When our children were very small, I taught a class at the local technical school to supplement our income. It allowed me to stay home with the children during the day. The children would stay with my husband and grandma would offer a helping hand. Our youngest was born with a very strong will. She contains quite an impressive purpose if it will require the level on stubbornness or maybe I should call it personal drive. At any rate, she was playing on the neighbor’s playset with the other neighborhood kids. One of other siblings was with her, watching over her, helping her and attempting to keep her in check. She was toddling up one side of the jungle gym and attempting to turnaround to sit on the slide. Now if you have ever watched a small child attempt such a feat – it can be quite humorous. At this stage of development, it can be quite awkward. Her brother reached out to assist her. She drew back quickly, “I do it myself” were the final words as she fell out the other side to the hard ground below. Surveying the damage, her wrist broken in two places. If only she had accepted the help that was offered, she would have successfully completed her mission down the slide that day and many more rounds I am sure. But now she had to wait and watch while all the other kids enjoyed playing together with a cast and strict restrictions.

Independence is human nature. The desire for freedom strong in our DNA. Yet, so often it is in our inability or ignorance that produce delays, detours and disappointment. Our heart is filled with eternity. God put it there during creation knowing that sin would cause us to long for and desire other things. Yet there is a desire for completion and fulfillment that cannot be denied or met with the things of this world. Only righteousness will ever satisfy the eternity placed there. The Plan of God gives us a future and hope that is fully achieved by faith and confident hope. The Word of God is His Way and His Will clearly defined for His People. One’s perception of God’s Word is defined by which side of freedom our life is based on. Freedom to choose or Freedom in Christ.

Zerubbabel was chosen to be the leader of the tribe of Judah. God ordained him to rebuild the temple including many of the gates leading in and out of Jerusalem. God brought Zerubbabel and Judah back from captivity and restored them. Zerubbabel laid the foundation with plumb line in hand. However, after that it would take 16 long years to begin the work to complete it. The purpose of God for our life always begins with a firm foundation of faith, a process to produce confidence in our hope, and ultimately leads to fulfillment. However, it is vital to our potential that these words are fully understood today – “It is not by force nor by strength, but by my Spirit.”

Hebrews 6:10-12 (NLT) For God is not unjust. He will not forget how hard you have worked for him and how you have shown your love to him by caring for other believers, as you still do. Our great desire is that you will keep on loving others as long as life lasts, in order to make certain that what you hope for will come true. Then you will not become spiritually dull and indifferent. Instead, you will follow the example of those who are going to inherit God’s promises because of their faith and endurance.

Sowing and reaping or planting and harvesting is a principle set forth by God that works naturally and supernaturally. What a man sows he reaps. However, naturally productivity and supernatural productivity are cultivated differently. What is possible for man is possible with God but what is impossible for man is also possible for the Lord as well. We are the weak ones in the connection not the Lord. He has set forth in His Word the way to achieve salvation, righteousness, blessing and prosperity. It is all according to His Will. We just need to walk in His Way. Is this a violation of freedom? No, in fact, this is exactly what freedom is. The opportunity to choose our way. Love cannot be forced or it is not love. My strength is weakness. For when I am weak, then I am strong and God’s Power works in me. When the foundation of faith is established in us when we first believed, it is not a knowledgeable decision but a heartfelt one. The trouble is over time – we change our mind. There are two components that lead to fulfillment obedience that is an attempt to follow the Law or willingness which is also defined by obedience but on the basis of love.

The difference between religious and willing obedience is radical love. We can attempt to live by the Law and do all it says and the law of sowing and reaping will produce good things in our life but it will not secure our place as Child of the Living God. It will not complete us. It will not satisfy our soul. The radical love of Jesus Christ allows us to accept His Spirit to help mold and shape our heart into a willing vessel that obeys the Word of God, follows the Way of the Lord and lives according to His Will because of His Great Love for us that keeps us in love with Him.

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

I believe the body of Christ and its many members are frustrated. Doing the “right” things, they are not getting the expected results. What do you expect? Our expectation will never be met until established firmly on the foundation of faith in Jesus Christ. There is no other foundation for us. (I Corinthians 3:10-11) A divided life will yield diversified results. The foundation of faith is established in the Truth that God loved me so much that He sent His Son to die for my sins so that I would be free to build my life where I choose to. If I choose Jesus Christ, it reconnects me with the Father now I am a Child of God. This relationship is founded and rooted in love. Love that promotes a desire and willingness to please the other person. No relationship can grow when one partner decides to withhold bits and pieces of self from the other. It is our constant desire to become one and passion for the other that writes a love story. Without love, I am not God’s Child but simply His Servant.

Love at first sight does happen. Most fall in love with Jesus Christ without really even knowing him. I believe in such a love and experienced it with my husband. I believe that God prepares people for such partnerships and when you meet that person – His Spirit inside of us says, “Hey, that’s the one.” My daughter and her husband were attracted to one another in elementary school. Love is the driving force with in us. It is the knowledge of God that takes our imperfect love and makes it strong and secure. His Love for us allows us to love others fearlessly.

I John 4:16-18 (NLT) 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. 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.

The dash between our birthday and the day of death is significant. It represents one’s success or failure in knowing the One True Living God and the acceptance or denial of His Love. I believe that this is also the purpose of endurance. The Lord ordained Zerubbabel with a purpose. The purpose would take commitment far greater than the man was born with. He would need time to prepare for the task set before him. Sixteen years to be exact, during that time he rebuilt his home and helped others do the same. Plowed up abandoned fields, planted new crops and harvested greatly. Our life is has potential that requires godly preparation.

God promised Zerubbabel that nothing would stand in his way of completion. Not time, testing, trials, or temptation would keep him from triumphantly rebuilding the temple. It was when the Spirit of God finally got to the tender heart that the tinder there became a fiery passion to fulfill his purpose. He built the foundation. He was faithfully obedient to the Lord. Until his acceptance of His Purpose was wrapped in faith and confidence of God’s Great Love and consummated in the Spirit – he had to wait. When God’s Spirit filled his heart – Zerubbabel was filled with God’s Power which is always His Love.

Perfect love expels fear. This is confirmed in Nehemiah. The rebuilding of the wall became a battleground. Men had mortar in one hand and a sword in the other. (Nehemiah 4) Stay with me – God’s Power is His Love. God’s Strength is in His Sword which is also His Spirit. (Ephesians 6:17) The Spirit produces love in us (Galatians 5:22) The Spirit is nourished and sustained by God’s Word using it to build confidence in God’s Love for us. (Romans 8:38-39) It is the absolute and complete confidence in God’s Love that is our hope. God’s Word is a two-edged sword splitting open our heart separating human indifference and spiritual desire so passion for the Lord rises up in us. The Sword is also referenced as the tongue of our Savior in Revelation. (Revelation 1:16) His Spirit is the Power. His Word is the Sword that the Spirit uses in our defense and protection. It fortifies the foundation called faith and enables to withstand the storms of life. (Luke 6:46-49) We worship in Spirit and Truth. These two essential qualities empower us to overcome every obstacle and live in the fulfillment of purpose promised by God. It is the certainty that when we live in God’s Love that we overcome every single time. We win.

I Peter 5:9-11 (NLT) Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are. In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation. All power to him forever! Amen.

Are you discouraged today? Disappointed? Heart sick because your promise seems to be delayed? Don’t be. God will not send you in a battle you cannot or will not win. He goes before us preparing the way of provision, protection, prosperity and, of course, victory. You are not stepping into your promise or purpose because you are not ready for the battle. Our strength fails when the battle is the Lord’s. If it is connected to your potential, purpose or promise – it is achieved by His Spirit in us. If our spirit man is flailing in faith or lagging in hope or sluggish in love – God is protecting us by keeping us in His Hand for now while we grow, develop and mature our faith and confident hope in him more specifically His Love. When our full expectation is placed in God, His Spirit and His Word accepted fully by the Grace of Jesus Christ imparted to us – we will succeed in overcoming every obstacle and be victorious in all things. We do not fight like other people. Our weapons are not carnal. (2 Corinthians 10:3-6) We battle self. (Romans 7:22-23) We battle the enemy. (John 10:10) Until we overcome fear, doubt, insecurity, and become fully convinced that God’s Love always wins – we will wait.

“Not by force” – obedience will not force God to do what we want Him to do – it is radical love that opens God’s Heart and releases His Hand to us. “Not by strength” – My weakness allows His Strength and Power to work through me. I must be a willing vessel fully operating in confidence of God’s Love. The Word continues to strengthen my foundation of faith and arms my hand for battle. I must keep my Sword ready at all times. My purpose is at stake. Willingness comes as the Spirit changes our mind about the Lord. The more we love Him and believe how Great Unfailing and Faithful His Love is for us – we are one step closure to having our promise and achieving our purpose. Until then, God protects our purpose until our Spirit is able to apprehend us with love. We need God’s Spirit to take His Truth and make it a reality in our life. He does it because He first loved us. We must return to our first love. Allow His Spirit to be fully consummated in our heart and produce the love that becomes a burning passion for the Lord. To know the Love of God firsthand turns obedience into a privilege.

Romans 8:35-39 (NLT) Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) 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.

 

 

Let the Wind Blow

Let the Wind Blow

Ecclesiastes 11:4-6 (NIV) Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap. As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things. Sow your seed in the morning, and at evening let your hands not be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well.

The winds of change are blowing. This world seems to be on a downward spiral. In Ecclesiastes, its writer declares life to be meaningless. Like chasing the wind, one cannot see its movement or know which way it is going so to attempt to apprehend it is fruitless. Yet each day, people endeavor to contain the natural in some way shape or form to control their destiny. My destiny has a future and hope that can only be attained by faith. Faith fully assured in the unseen reality of confident hope rather than anything confirmed in physical surroundings. It is quite unsettling when the winds of change blow through our life because such things are not predictable.

We live in Florida. Hurricane season is upon us. Heavy rains can produce flooding. Strong winds can tear down structures. As I write this today, there are three or four storm systems that the National Weather Service is tracking though not many people are paying too close attention. But as they develop and grow stronger establishing a path – there will be sudden alarm. I cannot count how many times, I have gone to the store at the last minute to grab a few items just in case only to find empty shelves without batteries, water or canned food because there was a Hurricane warning in effect. Such things cause people to panic and in some cases rightfully so. I did not come equipped with a panic button or if I did it is buried deep inside. Of all the times, I did gather supplies. I have only experienced one hurricane and it did minimal damage. We did not lose power for an extended period of time. There was not flooding in our area. The storm system died down after making landfall or the wind pushed it in another direction in most cases.

In no way am I suggesting NOT preparing for a possible emergency when recommended to do so. However, we cannot base our life on the wind because it is constantly changing. Our faith in the Lord must be the foundation of our life. It is the only thing that will keep us in the storm. It is the anchor for our soul. (Hebrews 6:19) We do not know the path of the wind. We cannot understand what God is always doing. His Ways are higher and so are His Thoughts. (Isaiah 55:9) God has given us a plan of action called His Word. We can obey Him no matter what the condition or circumstances of our life. He has given us His Spirit to live inside of us and guide us through this life to Eternity. However, there are times when trials, trouble and temptation cause us to veer off course in an attempt to chase the wind.

Matthew 7:24-27 (NIV) “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

Chasing the wind is not necessary for the winds of change will find you on their own. God is the keeper of the wind. Jesus has all power and authority over it. The Lord uses the wind to challenge us and test the foundation of our life. The foundation of our life is Jesus Christ. A life built on Christ alone can withstand the wind, rain and storms of life without crumbling. Remember the story of The Three Little Pigs. Each one set out to build his own life and secure his own future. The first two pigs built their homes out of straw and sticks which were no match for the big, bad wolf. “Little pig, little pig let me come in! Not by the hair of my chinny chin chin! Then I will huff and I’ll puff and I will blow your house in.” These two little pigs realized their folly as their homes quickly came down. But one little pig took the time and energy to build his home out of bricks. When the wolf came calling, hurling nasty threats and goading him, he was safe and secure in his home. It was built on a solid foundation and withstood the enemy’s attack. Could we learn from this children’s story all over again? Do we spend our time and energy on meaningless things? Half-hearted obedience is disobedience. Lackadaisical commitment is non-commitment. The only foundation worth building our life on is Jesus Christ. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Am I willing to put in the time and energy necessary to build on the firm foundation of Christ or would I rather just chase the wind in life without passion or purpose to make it to the end.

I Corinthians 3:10-15 (NIV) By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.

When strong winds blow in a rainstorm, it is not uncommon to find debris on the ground around the trees. The wind loosens dead branches until they fall to the ground. It blows away brown leaves and dead fruit to naturally prune and make room for new growth. In the midst of the storm, the wind blows the tree back and forth but a tree that has deep roots will not topple over but withstand the test and remain standing. God has given us all a foundation for our life to withstand every test, trial and temptation. His Name is Jesus. Have we established a life of faith and confident hope? The only way to know is through the trying of our faith and tugging on our hope. The winds of change are not meant to move you but reveal any weakness in our foundation that might threaten the structure of our life. I am not a fan of change. Not real big on being tested, tried or tempted, BUT I do want to know that my labor is not in vain or meaningless so I welcome the wind to blow through my life.

I Kings 19:11-12 (NIV) The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.

Acts 2:1-4 (NIV) When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

Old Testament and New Testament both describe violent winds. The wind in I Kings 19 was so “great and powerful” it tore the mountains apart and shattered rocks before the Presence of the Lord. Yet it made way for the “still small voice of God” to speak to his prophet hidden in fear. I am quite certain in that moment, Elijah feared for his life. In the New Testament account, Acts 2 tells of a “violent wind blowing from Heaven.” What makes us think when the winds of change, winds of a storm or winds of testing come that they are not from the Hand of God? Throughout the Old Testament there are accounts of God releasing and withholding the wind according to His Will and Purpose so has God decided to stop now? Of course not, when a violent wind comes ripping through our life – it is important to wait for what comes next. His Spirit or His Voice speaks to us afterwards. His Presence is evident when all the other meaningless things are removed. God didn’t sent the trouble, test or trial to harm you. The devourer wants to scare you out of the refuge of God’s Love afforded by faith and confident hope that has become the firm foundation of your life in Jesus Christ. There is no need to panic. Just be still…know that God is with you. He has everything under control.

Matthew 8:23-27 (NIV) Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, and “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”

What kind of man is this? Even the winds and waves obey him! Is your faith being tested today? Are you in the midst of a storm? Are there cracks in your foundation? Jesus is just waiting to hear your voice call out His Name. He will calm the storm and rebuke the wind. Isn’t it great to know that the troubles and trials of life are not meaningless but that God uses them to make us stronger and build our character so we can endure to the end? I want to be found faithful so if that means winds will continue blow through my life challenging my structure, disrupting my order and forcing me to press into Jesus more…let the winds blow!

Proverbs 30:4-5 (NIV) Who has gone up to heaven and come down? Whose hands have gathered up the wind? Who has wrapped up the waters in a cloak? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is his name, and what is the name of his son? Surely you know! “Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.

 

Waiting Abyss

Waiting Abyss

Hebrews 12:1-2 (TLB)

Since we have such a huge crowd of men of faith watching us from the grandstands, let us strip off anything that slows us down or holds us back, and especially those sins that wrap themselves so tightly around our feet and trip us up; and let us run with patience the particular race that God has set before us. Keep your eyes on Jesus, our leader and instructor. He was willing to die a shameful death on the cross because of the joy he knew would be his afterwards; and now he sits in the place of honor by the throne of God.

Living most of my life in Florida, I cannot count the number of trips to the ocean I have taken. Stepping into the salty surf, waves crashing over me as I wade along digging my toes in the sand and shells. My children run out calling to their dad to go with them. He is fearless when it comes to such things and will go well past where he can feel the bottom beneath him. I am always wondering what might be just below the surface beyond where my eyes can see. Not a fan of things that may be below, I tread cautiously. There have been times when it seems like the bottom falls out and suddenly I cannot touch anymore. Rather than gradually getting deeper, the current has made the drop more dramatic and I go from waist deep to up to my shoulders. Catching my breath, I can feel the cooler water that comes with it and sometimes I panic a bit as I make my way back to where my feet can touch again. It may only be six or seven feet deep but it feels like I have fallen into a great abyss.

An abyss is a deep immeasurable space, gulf or cavity. A vast chasm. It can be anything profound, unfathomable or infinite. Okay, here is where I find myself. In the deep, profound, unfathomable, and infinite things of God. Sometimes it is too profound for my mind to fully comprehend, too unfathomable to see from my perspective and too infinite to fully wrap my head and heart around. This is the life of faith. The place where we feel called but treading into seems a bit overwhelming. Wading out yet running back when the unknown and unseen greets us. Let us run with patience the particular race that God has set before us. I am finding that this race of faith is no Boston Marathon. I do not see other runners on this course. There is no crushing crowd. Most days it is just the Lord and I some days running, walking and crawling along. We want the things of God. We strive to live God’s Way. We want more faith and confident hope that will cause us to endure to the end. We want to be saved. Lord, help me brave this abyss.

I Corinthians 9:24-27 (TLB)

In a race everyone runs, but only one person gets first prize. So run your race to win. To win the contest you must deny yourselves many things that would keep you from doing your best. An athlete goes to all this trouble just to win a blue ribbon or a silver cup, but we do it for a heavenly reward that never disappears. So I run straight to the goal with purpose in every step. I fight to win. I’m not just shadow-boxing or playing around. Like an athlete I punish my body, treating it roughly, training it to do what it should, not what it wants to. Otherwise I fear that after enlisting others for the race, I myself might be declared unfit and ordered to stand aside.

 

There are days when the most dedicated in life reevaluate their course. There are no regrets just wonderings. What if I had done this? Why am I going in this direction? Is there more to life than this? Even in the race of faith, we can get so deep that our sanity is in question. Am I running to win today? Do I want it all? Or am I just jogging along because it is what I do or have always done? Training is rigorous and with a goal in mind. Exercise is a good habit to build a healthy life. But for those who want to win a race, a game or a bout, it must be a lifestyle. Training is their daily routine. Committed to their goal, they do not look to the right or left and cannot be distracted. Sometimes as believers, we forget that salvation and redemption is a life goal not a momentary choice. When I meet Jesus, I do not want to be disqualified. I do not want to be moved aside so others may be ushered in. I want the Lord to greet me, glad that I arrived.

I am an unlikely candidate for this thing called grace. I know me. I have lived this life with many mistakes and imperfections, but yet I dare hope. I can win this race if I keep committed and keep running – you can too. But what about the days when we seem too far gone, finding ourselves seemingly alone in life yet surrounded by many people, when the Voice of God seems still and silent. We feel the cold current moving beneath our feet. Knowing something is happening, but not sure what. We step into the abyss of waiting on the Lord. Will our faith be enough to stay? Will our hope keep us anchored? Will we make it through the test of trust? It is a never ending process. It is the conditioning of our soul to be the sons and daughters of God. If you never feel alone in your waiting, you probably need to move a little deeper. This is not condemnation just conviction speaking from the heart. We are in a rigorous training process that requires leaving it all on the field. If we do not feel empty sometimes we can never be filled. If we do not become weak than we will never be strong. If we do nothing wrong (ha!), where is the need for grace. We have all fallen short, but that doesn’t mean we have to stay there. We just have to wait it out.

Romans 5:1-5 (TLB)

So now, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith in his promises, we can have real peace with him because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. For because of our faith, he has brought us into this place of highest privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to actually becoming all that God has had in mind for us to be. We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us—they help us learn to be patient. And patience develops strength of character in us and helps us trust God more each time we use it until finally our hope and faith are strong and steady. Then, when that happens, we are able to hold our heads high no matter what happens and know that all is well, for we know how dearly God loves us, and we feel this warm love everywhere within us because God has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

For many years now, our family has been engaged in a battle for our son’s life. We have fought the good fight of faith and won. He is in remission. I am so overcome with thankfulness. To see him finally living his life again brings joy to this mother’s heart that is overwhelming. Yet, in this time of great rejoicing, I am somewhat lost. Though this challenge is over, I still want to grow. Growth comes through the problems and trials in life endured by faith. I am perplexed because this last one undid me completely. I am not the same. I want more of God but don’t want to go through anything like that again. I came as close as I ever want to be to losing one of my precious children. What will going deeper in the Lord require this time? Trust. I have to trust Him. The same power that brought Jesus out of the grave giving Him total victory over sin, death and the grave is what He has given me to overcome the things of this world. No matter how scary, profound, unfathomable or seemingly infinite the trial, test or problem may be. No matter how deep, unyielding or unending the abyss of waiting may be. My patience have developed a strength of character that I will not know until it is tested over and over again. The goal of this is genuine faith. Faith without holes that will cause me to sink in the storm. Hope that believes until the very end. Trust that is unending even when I am completely undone. All of this leads to many things but it will never lead to disappointment. There is purpose to our struggles. There is meaning to every test.

Ephesians 3:17-19 (TLB)

And I pray that Christ will be more and more at home in your hearts, living within you as you trust in him. May your roots go down deep into the soil of God’s marvelous love; and may you be able to feel and understand, as all God’s children should, how long, how wide, how deep, and how high his love really is; and to experience this love for yourselves, though it is so great that you will never see the end of it or fully know or understand it. And so at last you will be filled up with God himself.

 

The purpose of all this is simple. Jesus wants us to know and experience just how long, how wide, how deep and how high His Love for us really is. He wants us to experience just how profound, unfathomable, and infinite it is so that we will not be moved by life but press deeper into His Love even when we cannot see, understand or breathe through our trials. I am more comfortable and confident in the storm because I know what I am fighting. It is in the quiet abyss of waiting that I am challenged. How about you?  God is not silent, He is Sovereign. When He said it, He meant every word. His Love is not changed or challenged by anything we face or our inability to stand. It is revealed in our complete and total weakness that causes us to trust Him just a little bit more day by day. There is purpose in every situation that we face in the course of a moment, day, year and lifetime. God wants to further convince us of the magnitude of His Love. His Ways are not like ours so bear with Him because the Lord cannot change. He must do what He says and His Word will not ever return void. We just have to wait on Him. No matter how long, how alone or how tired we get…just wait a little longer, endure a little harder. Though I may be uncomfortable in the quiet, I know that I have confident hope. He anchors my soul when I just want to run. The Lord holds me in position so He can wrap me tighter in His Love. It’s all about waiting for those who endure to the end will be saved. Following Jesus is not always an adrenaline rush, those are the times that our humanity gets it because we can feel Him. The real test is in the quiet, stillness of waiting…will we trust Him more?

Romans 8:38-39 (TLB)

 For I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from his love. Death can’t, and life can’t. The angels won’t, and all the powers of hell itself cannot keep God’s love away. Our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow, or where we are—high above the sky, or in the deepest ocean—nothing will ever be able to separate us from the love of God demonstrated by our Lord Jesus Christ when he died for us.

Organized Thought

Organized Thought

Philippians 4:6-9 (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. 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.

Organized thought is characteristic of Type A personalities. As long as there is a plan, those of us who bear this quality can make it through the day. It is when the schedule is disrupted, the routine interrupted or the “to-do” list compromised that things get a little (or a lot) crazy. Spontaneity is a difficult concept for those who thrive on organization. It is very difficult to change directions on a dime and embrace the new destination. We have to know where we are going, how to get there, when we will arrive and what we need to take with us. Forget just winging it. This is my life. This is how I live. Most days it is how I survive. Planning and preparation is critical to our sanity level. Everything has a place usually a carefully labeled box. All activities are carefully considered. In the evaluation of human personality, the Type A person is usually successful because they get the job done but often considered not very personal. They are bossy and overbearing as the task at hand overshadows other humans who might get in the way. These people (including myself) do not know how to stop and rest. They are task oriented to the point of exhaustion. Worry and stress easily overtake them even though most are confident because their expectation is too high. There are other types of personalities in the world. In fact, God created a multitude of individuals with vastly different physical, emotional and spiritual variations. No one fits solidly into one category or the next.

We all have thoughts. Some lead to success. Others may fail us. From time to time, we have epiphanies and other times get stuck in a rut. God wants us to fix our thoughts today. He wants us to dump out our brain and carefully examine the ideas and notions hidden within. Why? Because He wants us to stop worrying so we can begin to pray again. He desires us to share our needs and deepest desires with Him to create the intimacy needed to hear His Voice and do what He says to have it all. The more we do this – the more we will know the peace offered by Jesus Christ to those who love and trust Him enough to believe in Him. It is time to organize my thoughts yet again…but this time I am asking the Lord to put them in their proper place. Like an overflowing drawer or crammed full closet, some things must go, others reorganized while the rest of them placed in proper perspective. I must label the boxes with words like “true, honorable, right, pure, lovely and admirable.” I have a lot of work to do…

Isaiah 55:8-9 (NLT)

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”

 

I suppose I should just give up right now. His Thoughts are nothing like mine. His Ways are far beyond my comprehension so why even try? Will I ever fully understand what the Lord is doing and how He plans to do it? Probably not. I usually figure it out long after the work is complete. So why doesn’t matter what we think if God is going to do what He wants anyway? Oh, it matters. To attempt to know what God thinks and how He does things allows our faith to grow in the process. We have God’s Word to tell us what He will do. It carefully lays out the purpose of God’s Plan for our life. But let’s face it, if we knew exactly what He was doing, how He would do it and when it would come to pass, our humanity would definitely manage to mess it up. We would try to help expedite the process or do something for ourselves. I know. I am that person. God only lets me in as far as my obedience and trust will allow me to see and still wait for Him.

We have the Holy Spirit who helps us to understand what the Word of God means to us as He works out our salvation changing us from the inside out. (I Corinthians 2:10-12) God reveals things to us through the Holy Spirit. We received the Holy Spirit so God could communicate to us intimately sharing His Deepest Secrets. What we need to do is think about the Lord! To truly understand the Lord and what He is doing, we must know who He is and how He operates. Cerebral function must be attributed to this thing called Christianity. To follow Christ, we must pay attention.

 

Psalm 139:1-7 (NLT)

O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord. You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand! I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence!

God knows me. He made me. He has thoroughly examined me. I cannot move without the Lord being completely aware of my direction and intentions. Am I considering Him in each of them? Do I consider these things as much as the Lord does in a single day? I don’t…but I want to. What if I didn’t not take a single step without considering the Lord and His Word? What if I compared every attitude and action to His Plan, His Future and the Hope that He has given me for life? The Knowledge of God’s Love is too wonderful for me to ever understand. I cannot possibly comprehend the levels of grace that I have been given. The capacity of His Thoughts concerning me are indeed overwhelming and perhaps that is why we cannot fully believe or completely accept them as a driving force for our life. Perhaps, I know me too well and it is not possible for anyone to love me like that or so I think. To love God completely, follow Jesus committedly and live by His Spirit fully – we must stop and think about Him more than a couple days a week or when things bottom out. In every moment and with every breath, we should consider our God.

Psalm 139:17-18 (NLT)

How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered. I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me!

 

Before I think about God, He already full considered me. I cannot number the thoughts that God has for me or just how precious they are. I can respond to them, but I cannot change them. Nothing can or will ever separate me from God’s Love. I can choose to allow things to come between us but He is always working to remove every barrier and obstacle between us. My kids were debating who my favorite child is which to me as a mother, I find offensive as I would gladly without a second thought give my life for each one of them. However, our relationships are all different. The girls want a close connection. One of them would be perfectly happy if we were together all of the time. While another is okay with her alone time, but still loves to come by for a quick squeeze or head rub. Two of our children have moved away – one I talk to daily multiple times a day and the other is okay with limited contact. I love them both but obviously know more about the one who I talk to regularly. This does not impact my love for them – it is a matter of intimacy. I think about them all the time. I am their mother. God thinks about us all the time. Some have a closer connection with the Father than others, but it in no way impacts His Love for us.

Psalm 139:23-24 (NLT)

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

 

As I consider God’s Thoughts about me, it occurs to me that I want what God wants for me even though I am not completely clear today of what that is or where it will lead me. I just know I want Him. I have some anxious thoughts. I have worried some lately. I know that if I do not apprehend these thoughts, wrap them in His Love and let the Lord lead me from them that I will become distracted. I want what God wants. I am all in. Some days that means that I must reorganized my thoughts in order to continue on my way to finding Him.

Matthew 6:31-33 (NLT)

“So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

 

Looking at my carefully constructed to-do list written in my thoughts, I am challenged to see what is at the top of the list. It’s funny how Jesus may be first but quickly gets pushed down by the things that seem to demand my immediate attention. My life is not just about me. I have an army of people who depend on me called family. I have a full-time job. I have other responsibilities that demand my time and invade my thinking. When all these “things” begin to produce worry and anxiety than I know I must reorganize my priorities and fix my thoughts again! To seek the Kingdom of God above all else is a concentrated and focused effort that demands our immediate and ongoing attention. They enemy will continue to clutter our life with unimportant details to distract and detour us so he can eventually destroy those who wander too far. My thoughts must be focused first and foremost on Jesus Christ seeking the Kingdom of God. This is not possible when I am dominated by the thoughts of unbelievers that produce worry, fear and doubt.

Isaiah 26:3 (NLT)

You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!

 

When we dump out the contents of our mind before the Cross, it is with the promise that those who do so will have perfect peace. The Mind of Christ will fill the void left behind in our complete surrender of our time, talent and resources before Him. He will not let us down but fill us with the wisdom needed to finish the course and secure the prize. We need to think like Jesus to be like Him. We must look for Him to find Him. I want to be found faithful. God looks beyond what I do and say. He knows my heart. The thoughts that I produce are directly connected to the contents of it. I must fix my thoughts today organizing every single solitary one according to His Word and allowing the Holy Spirit to work them through me. I must be grounded in His Love and Grace that surrounds my life. Jesus fix my thoughts today. Organize them as you see fit. Make them worthy of You today.

Life Goals for Today:

Psalm 17:3-5 (NLT)

You have tested my thoughts and examined my heart in the night. You have scrutinized me and found nothing wrong. I am determined not to sin in what I say. I have followed your commands, which keep me from following cruel and evil people. My steps have stayed on your path; I have not wavered from following you.

Almost Home

Lonely house in the distance

Hebrews 13:14-16 (NLT)

For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come. Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name. And don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God.

 

Waking up Saturday morning sleeping more than an hour past the usual 7:30 AM wake up, I could see the sun through the blinds. The sheets felt familiar. The house smells like home. Walking through the house, turning off the night light. Releasing the hounds for the running of the Chihuahuas. I couldn’t help but smile as I passed our two remaining sleeping princesses. This is our house. It is our home. Last week at this time, we were in a hotel room in New England on vacation visiting our daughter, watching our home team play football and visiting Fenway Park. It was fun. It was an adventure. But it was not home. The people were not the same. The places were not familiar. The room with two queen beds and a small bathroom a bit cramped and uncomfortable. Strange sounds. Sheets smelled like bleach. The room smelled odd. Although a giant hunk of our heart lives in the area, it was far from home. Traveling has always renewed our appreciation of home – at least for me. It’s fun to go but also fun to melt into your own bed. It was nice to think today I can just rest and relax in this place of comfort of our own design.

This world is not our permanent home. In fact, the more we become familiar and comfortable in the Presence of God the more foreign it feels. Our allegiance to Jesus Christ made when we accepting His Repayment of our sins repenting and turning from them began an incredible journey that will make us uncomfortable and lead us to unfamiliar territory many times. Some days it is easy to forget that we are no longer of this world because of being born into it. But if we are to be Kingdom Kids, it requires becoming Children of God. To transfer our life from the foundation of sin and death to be transformed by His Love into His People.

When we were traveling, we flew from Atlanta to Boston. It was a two-hour nonstop flight which was quite nice. What if we had to walk it out? Driving without traffic or necessary stops, it takes 21 hours. In order to get there in that timeframe, there are tolls…big ones along the way. My daughter lives there now so even without the benefit of plane, train or automobile, I would make the journey to be where she is and see her. I love her. I want to be where she is or have her here with me. I love Jesus. He is the Center of my life. I want to be where He is. Am I willing to travel home to see Him once a year? Once a month? Daily? Or even step by step? Each day we are traveling closer to God or farther from Him. The Love of God is all encompassing. His Love does not change according to our direction, but our destination is determined by how we travel through life.

John 14:1-3 (NLT)

“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.

My daughter shared a story about a recent restaurant experience in New England. They had finished eating and the waitress asked if anyone needed anything else. She requested a to-go cup of the soft drink she was drinking. The people at the table looked at her strangely. She noticed their faces and obvious surprise. When the waitress came back with a coffee cup covered with a small lid, it was apparent that this was not a common practice in this restaurant though when at home in the same chain it is offered to patrons. Being her mother’s daughter, she had to ask if this was not something done up there. The waitress laughed. She had gone to school in Florida and worked at our favorite barbeque place who gives diners HUGE to go cups filled with sweet tea or whatever they are drinking. She told her that in the North it is frowned upon but in the South all the restaurants do it. Lesson learned. There are several things up in the New England area that are different then where she grew up and she is learning their culture and customs. Seems kind of strange since it is the same country but it is very different there.

The decision to follow Jesus Christ is a change of direction that should cause a change in our culture. The things we do and do not do, our attitude and actions should all be a byproduct of His Grace, Love and Mercy in our life. This will cause us to undergo some uncomfortable changes and choosing differently than before we discovered His Love. In sin, we lived as slaves in bondage due to our inability to pay the price necessary for our freedom. Jesus did it for us. To accept His Repayment is to repent from sin and desire to change. Now we live in service to God. It is the underserved privilege of those who choose to be sons and daughters of God to serve Him willingly and openly sacrificing our life to be in His Kingdom. We have chosen a new home and now must move in it. Our daughter chose a new home in a new place. The culture is different and she must act according to her new environment. We must do the same to live in the Kingdom.

When we bought this house, it was a pile of red clay and cinderblock surrounded foundation with a set of plans promising to become our dream home. It took several months to be constructed. While it was being built, we would visit here often but at the same time I began to prepare for the move. Each day packing a box or two and filtering through those things we would bring or getting rid other things that would not be in our new home. What a process with five children “helping”, but we did it. When we asked Jesus to be our Savior and Lord, we chose a new home. He is preparing it for us now. We must be prepared to inhabit it.

John 14:23-24 (NLT)

Jesus replied, “All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them. Anyone who doesn’t love me will not obey me. And remember, my words are not my own. What I am telling you is from the Father who sent me.”

 

What does Heaven have to do with me now? When Jesus died on the Cross, He released His Spirit to us. The Holy Spirit comes to live in each person who asked Jesus to save them from their sins and be the Lord of their life. The Holy Spirit is our guarantee that we have been forgiven and can live in the Kingdom of God. He is our helper to change those things in us that are reminiscent of our old life and old ways so we can become part of Christ’s Culture. Though we live in two different places, we are the family of God. We love each other. We want to be with each other. We consider each other in our attitude and actions. We desire spending time together. Obedience is not an act of slavery it is an act of submission to our Father. We love Him and honor Him by obeying Him now. We have chosen to surrender our life to Him. It is not a hostile takeover by another form of bondage but the commitment to make the journey home. We are almost home. He is closer than we think. God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit live with us, in us and around us. We must be conscious of our close proximity.

Genesis 39:2-5 (NLT)

The Lord was with Joseph, so he succeeded in everything he did as he served in the home of his Egyptian master. Potiphar noticed this and realized that the Lord was with Joseph, giving him success in everything he did. This pleased Potiphar, so he soon made Joseph his personal attendant. He put him in charge of his entire household and everything he owned. From the day Joseph was put in charge of his master’s household and property, the Lord began to bless Potiphar’s household for Joseph’s sake. All his household affairs ran smoothly, and his crops and livestock flourished.

 

We live in this world but are not longer of this world. Our hearts are filled with the Kingdom of God and therefore natural to assume a change in our everyday life should follow. It will. If we choose to obey the Lord in our current circumstances and consequences, He promises that every detail of our life will be made good. (Romans 8:28) Life is the process by which we work out our salvation. It takes time. Sin runs deep. The Love of God and His Grace run deeper. Faith is the connection by which we disconnect from this world and connected to Jesus Christ. Confident hope keeps us committed to the journey when the valleys are dark and the mountains too high. Joseph’s brothers did not like him. They were sick of the dreamer’s dreams so they threw him in a pit. One took pity on him and they decide rather than allowing him to die that they would sell him into slavery. Joseph ended up in Potiphar’s house. Now Joseph could have given up and rebelled or even tried to escape but he didn’t. He worked. The Lord was with Joseph. Joseph trusted God and did his best to survive and please his earthly master. God blessed him. He was promoted. The entire household prospered under his supervision and care. How are you faring in your earthly home today? Are you happy? Are you content? Are you faithful? Do you work as unto the Lord even if your environment is less than favorable? Are you obedient? This is what the Kingdom inside you needs to expand and develop in our life. We must live for our future home not our earthly dwelling place.

Luke 15:3-19 (NLT)

 “A few days later this younger son packed all his belongings and moved to a distant land, and there he wasted all his money in wild living. About the time his money ran out, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve. He persuaded a local farmer to hire him, and the man sent him into his fields to feed the pigs. The young man became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good to him. But no one gave him anything. When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, ‘At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger! I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.”’

Facedown in a pig pen eating slop, the prodigal son came face to face with humility. His father had given him everything, he had squandered it all. There was nothing left. He could not even afford to feed himself. In that place of nothing, he discovered humility for the first time. We often do not know what we have until it is gone or come close to losing it. I am guilty of this, too. When he came to his senses, he realized that “At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare…” Humility is the birthplace of surrender. When the young man went home to beg for a job, he was given the kingdom all over again. God wants to give you the Kingdom. Jesus handed us the keys. When we are humbled and decide home is where we want to be, we will do anything even surrender our way to be there.

To come home from New Hampshire required following a lot of directions. Obedience was required. We had to follow the GPS into Boston allowing enough time for uncertain traffic conditions. Drop off the rental car. Catch a shuttle to the terminal. Check our bags. Go through security. Find the gate. Wait for boarding. Give them our boarding pass. Find our seat. Buckle our seat belt. Wait for the two hour flight. Find the baggage claim. Get our bags. Make our way through a huge parking lot to the car with two tired teenagers overloaded with luggage. Drive four hours to the house all to get home. We did it because we wanted to be there. What are you doing to make it to the Kingdom of God? I am asking myself the same question today. Am I willing to do what the Word of God says and follow His Way to be in His Home?

2 Corinthians 5:6-10 (NLT)

So we are always confident, even though we know that as long as we live in these bodies we are not at home with the Lord. For we live by believing and not by seeing. Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord. So whether we are here in this body or away from this body, our goal is to please him. For we must all stand before Christ to be judged. We will each receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done in this earthly body.

I am glad to be home. Our house was given to us by God and is a testimony all by itself. The Hand of God has made our life into something beautiful. But it is nothing compared to the place being prepared for us. I want live there one day. I want to be with Jesus forever. It requires that make the connection now before it is too late. Many churches don’t talk about repentance and renewal anymore stopping at come as you are. When the prodigal son came home, the father met him with a robe and ring. The robe of righteousness is given to us by the Father. It allows to live in His Presence covered by the Blood of Jesus which means to avoid sin at all costs. We cannot live for this world and the Kingdom of God at the same time. They are rival communities. He gave His Son the ring that told others that the boy was his child. The rings back in the Old Testament were used as a seal. It was like identification and a shiny new American Express card. We have been given the Holy Spirit. He is our helper. He produces the Fruit of the Spirit that lead to completion and total satisfaction of our body, mind and spirit. Traveling from here to our home in Christ, we have everything we need to live a godly life, boldly entering His Presence and finally living with Him forever if we choose to make the trip. It is completely up to us. We are almost home now. Will our goal be to please the Father? When we stand before Jesus will He know us at all? This is determined now. I love living in the South. I had somehow hoped that maybe I would like it up in New England and we could move closer to our daughter so far away. But I know now that is not my home and as comfortable as it is this is only the temporary place that I live. God help me to live the way that I should live to make it all the way home one day! Help me to remember that I am almost home and still have a ways to go. May I live each day like you are coming tomorrow!

Ephesians 3:16-18 (NLT)

I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 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.

What Did You Expect?

What Did You Expect

2 Corinthians 3:8-9 (NLT)

Shouldn’t we expect far greater glory under the new way, now that the Holy Spirit is giving life? If the old way, which brings condemnation, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new way, which makes us right with God!

 

What did you expect when you came to know Jesus Christ? What was your expectation in that moment? When I was just eleven years old, something inside of me compelled me to join the pastor at the altar of the Baptist church my grandmother attended. I cannot explain it. It is but a vague recollection, but there was a strong drive to ask Jesus to be my Savior that was not of myself. I believe now that it was the Holy Spirit. When I walked down the aisle I could hear my heart beating in my ears as it raced. I was excited and a little bit scared all at the same time. As he prayed with me, I hardly can remember the words he spoke just the overwhelming desire for this “Jesus” they kept talking about. When it was over, I was led to the front row and the pastor’s wife wrapped her arm around me giving me a tight squeeze and then the pastor had me come stand before the congregation as he acknowledged my decision to follow Christ. That was it. Or so I thought, where were the fireworks. Why did my life look the same way? What was different?

Throughout the course of my life, I would wander in and out of churches. My commitment to Christ would be strong one day and nonexistent the next. There are select moments that I can remember when the Lord and I connected mixed with many times, I just gave up until about seventeen years ago. Coming to Christ, we all have very different expectations. There are many misconceptions that God like Santa Claus gives us stuff based on whether we are naughty or nice. We can expect the Glory of God in our life. The driving force that leads us to the altar of repentance to accept salvation gives us access to God’s Glory in our life. We must believe. To believe will change our attitude and actions dramatically. Without change, the Glory of God will keep flowing right by us and not once will we step into it.

The new way of life found in following Christ allows us to step into the Glory of God which is constant. It flows all around us and those who decide to step into the righteousness offered by the Grace of God made possible by Jesus Christ will experience the overflow in their own life. As we live for Christ, we are given His Glory which comes from the Father. It was ours to begin with but forfeited by sin…over and over again. Those who repent and turn their life over to Jesus are given His Glory… again.

 

I Chronicles 29:10-14 (NLT)

Then David praised the Lord in the presence of the whole assembly: “O Lord, the God of our ancestor Israel, may you be praised forever and ever! Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty. Everything in the heavens and on earth is yours, O Lord, and this is your kingdom. We adore you as the one who is over all things. Wealth and honor come from you alone, for you rule over everything. Power and might are in your hand, and at your discretion people are made great and given strength.  “O our God, we thank you and praise your glorious name! But who am I, and who are my people, that we could give anything to you? Everything we have has come from you, and we give you only what you first gave us!

What is God’s Glory? The Lord is full of greatness, power, victory and majesty. As David prayed, he acknowledged the character and fullness of all the things that flow from the Hand of God to His People. Every good thing in our life is a gift from God. (James 1:17) Nothing is random. Everything is predetermined by God for our good. (Psalm 139:16; Jeremiah 29:11) With that in mind, those who seek the Lord wholeheartedly are promised that they will have God’s Plan including the future and hope for their life once forfeited by our rebellious sin against God. (Jeremiah 29:13) When we come to Jesus, we think that we are bringing our whole heart but with fractured lives and broken hearts – this can be a complicated effort with many trips to bring all the little pieces. Grace is free but not cheap. Faith has a requirement called obedience. Without obedience, there is not complete and total faith. Our belief in God is expressed in our obedience.

This is God’s Kingdom. It lives in us. He gave it to us in the garden. (Psalm 8:3-8) We had full power and authority granted without total dominion. Sin gave it back. Now through Jesus Christ we are given access to His Greatness, Power, Glory, Victory and Majesty all over again. We should expect God’s Glory in our life and must live like we have it.

Psalm 84:11 (NLT)

For the Lord God is our sun and our shield.  He gives us grace and glory. The Lord will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right.

Where does God’s Glory come from? God gives us His Glory plain and simple. In our creation, we are designed and destined to be Children of God. When sin stripped us of the Glory of God, it was His Intent to give it back to us. Hence, we have grace in Jesus Christ who was the Glory of God wrapped in a flesh package. (John 1:14) God gave us His Grace and Glory in Jesus. (John 8:54) Jesus was glorified in His Obedience when He went to the Cross and sacrificed His Sinless Life for our broken ones. (John 13:31-32) When Jesus prayed right before His Death, He asked God the Father to give US His Glory. (John 17:21-23) All we have to do is seek the Grace and Glory of God to have it. (Romans 2:7) Faith in Jesus keeps us poised in righteousness ready to receive God’s Glory in its fullness. (Romans 5:1-2) Grace gives us full access to God’s Glory. Faith keeps us in right standing with God so that His Grace, Goodness and Glory can reach us. We have all the components of a supernatural existence in God… if we want it.

Psalm 85:8-13 (NLT)

I listen carefully to what God the Lord is saying, for he speaks peace to his faithful people. But let them not return to their foolish ways. Surely his salvation is near to those who fear him, so our land will be filled with his glory. Unfailing love and truth have met together. Righteousness and peace have kissed! Truth springs up from the earth, and righteousness smiles down from heaven. Yes, the Lord pours down his blessings. Our land will yield its bountiful harvest. Righteousness goes as a herald before him, preparing the way for his steps.

Listen carefully. We cannot leave the altar of God and return to our foolish ways still expecting God’s Glory to reach us. Sin will always interrupt the overflow of God in our life. Disbelief blocks it every single time. We must know what we believe and Who we believe in order to experience life better than expected. Salvation is repentance for our sin. Repentance is turning from sin and accepting God’s Glory again. Obedience is unavoidable for those who desire God’s Glory to flow in their life. Obedience opens the gateway of God’s Glory in our life. Grace allows us to walk there. His Abundance flows through the Gate called Jesus Christ. Sin cannot go there. We must strive to live a life of holiness. It is the road less traveled but certainly worthwhile.

Matthew 4:8-11 (NLT)

Next the devil took him to the peak of a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. “I will give it all to you,” he said, “if you will kneel down and worship me.” “Get out of here, Satan,” Jesus told him. “For the Scriptures say, ‘You must worship the Lord your God and serve only him.’” Then the devil went away, and angels came and took care of Jesus.

 

The biggest lie that the enemy ever told a new believer is that you have to do anything other than call on the Name of Jesus to have the Glory of God. Now wait a minute, what about obedience? Obedience is this “you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.” (Deuteronomy 6:5) To love God is to hate sin. To follow the Lord is to walk humbly in love with Jesus and share that love with others. That’s it. The enemy uses religion to make us think we need to do “something” to have God’s Glory. Not so. The latest tactic is a huge swing in the opposite direction that has churches telling new believers that grace without repentance is enough. God’s Love is indeed for everyone. But we must love Him with our heart, soul and strength not just our words. God’s Glory is provided by the Grace of Jesus Christ. We can expect nothing but the best from God when we follow along in simple obedience. How far will you go to see God’s Glory spill out over your life?

John 11:32-40 (NLT)

When Mary arrived and saw Jesus, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping and saw the other people wailing with her, a deep anger welled up within him, and he was deeply troubled. “Where have you put him?” he asked them. They told him, “Lord, come and see.” Then Jesus wept. The people who were standing nearby said, “See how much he loved him!” But some said, “This man healed a blind man. Couldn’t he have kept Lazarus from dying?” Jesus was still angry as he arrived at the tomb, a cave with a stone rolled across its entrance. “Roll the stone aside,” Jesus told them. But Martha, the dead man’s sister, protested, “Lord, he has been dead for four days. The smell will be terrible.” Jesus responded, “Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believe?”

How far are you willing to go to have God’s Glorious Goodness overtake you? Faith is the basis of receivership in God! If we don’t believe that what He says is true enough to follow Christ, there is no point in it. Our relationship is based on trust. When Jesus was talking to Martha just before He raised her brother from the dead, she just told Him that she believed that Lazarus would be raised from the dead – one day. But when Jesus came to the tomb ready to do business, she protested due to the natural circumstances. After four days, his body would smell terrible. Jesus responded to her and is speaking to us all today, “Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s Glory if you believe?” Do you believe that God’s Glory exists today? I do. I have seen it but it was not outside of a storm or giant test. I had to go a little farther in my faith then the time before. Just on the other side of possible to the beginning of impossible. I had to step out of reality into the realm of hope. Was it comfortable? Absolutely not. Was it worth it? Every single time.

Romans 11:36 (NLT)

For everything comes from him and exists by his power and is intended for his glory. All glory to him forever! Amen.

 

I am forty nine years old. I was saved at eleven. I rededicated my life three times before the final time and was filled with the Holy Spirit in my thirties. I came to Jesus Christ with great expectation. I wandered when it was not an immediate change and did not make the difference that I thought it should make in any given time period. But when I finally decided to give Jesus my all, something incredible happened. My expectations have been met over and over again. It didn’t happen when I wanted it to or how I thought it should but has blown away what I thought was possible and the impossible keeps happening over and over again. Everything comes from Him and exists by His Power intended for His Glory. What glory does God get if He allowed us to suffer? Sin causes suffering. Those things in us contrary to God allow the consequences we loathe. Turn it all over to Jesus and hang on tight because His Glory and Goodness will overtake you over and over again. His Glory is better than anything on this earth. You have been given full authority and power over the earth in Jesus Christ. Don’t let the enemy try to sell you what God wants to give you. He puts a price on those things granted by our freedom and grace in Jesus. Worship the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and strength. He will meet every expectation and do exceedingly abundantly above what you could even think to ask for!

Ephesians 3:20-21 (NLT)

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Squeaky Wheels

Squeaky Wheels

I Thessalonians 5:16-24 (NLT)

Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. Do not stifle the Holy Spirit. Do not scoff at prophecies, but test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good. Stay away from every kind of evil. Now may the God of peace make you holy in every way, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again. God will make this happen, for he who calls you is faithful.

Just arriving home from vacation, I am overwhelmed by the long to-do list that accompanies our late night arrival. With about five hours of sleep, the husband repacked leaving on business, mounds of laundry, no food in the house, among various other catchup things – not to mention I will be late for work today – I am a bit overwhelmed. Back to life. Back to reality. It would be very easy to give up today. Give up my joy. Give up my peace. Give up my thankfulness.

We had a good trip. We were able to spend time with our daughter. When we arrived home last night, after what seemed like hours of making our way through airports, grabbing our luggage and aimlessly wandering for miles to find the car, we found a Chick-fil-a restaurant which is a favorite in the South. When we went to order dinner, it was with great delight that we could order sweet tea again. It’s the little things in life. As we sat down to enjoy our late dinner and southern delicacies, my heart was a bit sad. A huge chunk of my heart lives in New England now. I want to be thankful. I do. I want to live in constant joy and follow Jesus every step of the way. But those steps become weighted when I don’t understand or cannot fully accept God’s Plan or His Way and especially His Timing. So sipping on sweet tea enjoying a chicken sandwich, I looked at the faces around my table. I heard the familiar drawl of y’all and I am thankful to be home but that is not enough. I am to be thankful in ALL circumstances even those I am really not too happy about.

Always be joyful. You’re kidding right, I have teenagers Lord. Never stop praying. Jesus, there are times I do not seem to have a moment to breathe. Be thankful in all circumstances. Let’s be real, God, is that even possible. It is. I cannot do it myself. It is the God of Peace who makes me holy in every way including filling me with joy, responding when I pray and making me whole spirit, soul and body. Thankfulness is produced by satisfaction and contentment. We will never find such things in this world or according to this life. It is all produced by God’s Spirit in us cultivating the fruit that we survive on in this life as we make our way into the Kingdom. God makes this happen. He is the One who completes us and fills us with those things that He calls us to have or even express.

Ephesians 5:15-20 (NLT)

So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

You know the old saying that “the squeaky wheel gets the grease.” Well, that is our youngest child. During this trip, especially aboard the airplanes, we have tried to keep her happy and content to overcome the anxiety she has about flying. Not just on this trip but in life, she is our little squeaky wheel. We are attentive to her needs because she is able to express them most effectively. I think that sometimes we are thankful for most of the things God is doing in our life but fail to be content in all things. This is produced by faith and confident hope that He is always working out the details of our life for our good (Romans 8:28) and perfecting that which concerns us. (Psalm 138:8) It is important that we are careful how we live in order to have faith and confident hope. We must think about how we live and constantly turn it over to the Lord.

When I was a kid, I was notorious for putting water on the stove for macaroni and cheese but letting it burn up. Or forgetting I put the pasta in and it would clump together and stick to the bottom of the pot. I have learned that I need to keep stirring it. Adjust the temperature. Pay attention to what I am cooking or risk it bring ruined. Our walk with Christ is exactly the same. We must pay attention to how we live and what we do.

There are some tips to living a thankful life that brings honor and glory to God. We are to be careful how we live. Considering the things we do. All things are permissible under the Law of Grace but NOT ALL things are beneficial. We must decide what we want out of life. Do we want a good life or a God Life? We are to be wise. Wisdom is considered by God to be more precious that rubies and other gems. Jesus is the Word of God wrapped in flesh sent to give us the message that God truly loves us and desires a relationship with us even going as far as to make the Way for it to be possible. We have to know the Word of God in order to live God’s Way and be complete in Him. We are to make the most of every opportunity. God has hidden blessing in our life. Some things are automatic and others are planted to be harvested in the next season. We cannot live for today without considering tomorrow and make it anywhere. To follow Christ is a commitment and is a requirement to have all that He is offering. Act thoughtfully. I think this is the most important tidbit of advice. We must think about our life in Christ more than we do the details of life. What if we paid as much attention to the Lord as we do our budget and other people’s business? To be filled with the Holy Spirit means we must daily nail our sins, passions and desires not of Him to the Cross. Every single day must start with repentance that will make room for His Spirit who will produce thankfulness and joy in our life along with every other fruit that He promised. Finally, always praising God. The attitude of gratitude is not common to humanity. Discontentment and dissatisfaction are the very qualities that brought us to Jesus Christ in the first place. How will we ever rid our life of such things by never changing our attitude or actions? I must become consciously aware of Christ and His Place in every single moment that I live to move from desperation to completeness especially in those areas that rise up as hurts, pain, brokenness, misunderstanding or anything else that stands out as contrary to the things that the Lord wants to produce in my life. The squeaky wheels must be greased. The pots must be stirred until His Spirit takes over every aspect of our life.

Colossians 2:6-10 (NLT)

And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ. For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority.

Sitting in the airport yesterday, I was priding myself in doing really good. I usually cry when I leave my daughter knowing I will not see her for a while. This move has been very hard. I do not understand why the Lord moved my child more than twenty hours from home. I know that there must be a reason. There must be a prevailing purpose to this painful aching in my heart. Then she text me, and the tears came tumbling out. I must continue to follow Christ even when it hurts. You may not understand. Kids grow up. They move away. I feel silly sometimes but all I know is that I don’t know why the Lord did it. I don’t like it. I need His Love especially in this area. I need His Peace each day to overcome feelings of bitterness that try to take root. I want to share my life with her every single day. Not on the phone or over a video call, but in person. This area is producing a blessing in my life. It is a squeaky wheel and requires constant help from the Holy Spirit. This is my promise. In Christ lives all the fullness of God in the human body, so (I am) also complete through (my) union with Christ who is the ruler and authority over me.

Perhaps, you have an area like me that you just can’t seem to wrap your head around. What are you doing about it? Last night driving the four-hour journey home from the airport, I listened to praise and worship music. I pressed into the Presence of God in the backseat as my husband drove. In the quietness of sleepy children and a long drive, I talked to the Lord candidly and openly about my feelings turning each one over to Him one by one. It was a struggle. I am angry. I am sad. I am confused. I don’t get it. But ultimately it really doesn’t matter as His Spirit reminded me of all the promises that God has made me and the Word of God that backs them up until my soul was once again at peace within me. There are many areas of my life in process right now. Just like you, I have burdens and cares that I must daily thrust into the Hands of My Savior. We must consciously and actively choose to seek the Lord first and sacrifice our thanksgiving when life doesn’t add up until it does. We are made complete in Christ and our union with Him. We cannot let this life dictate our mind, will and emotions about things. God is greater than our feelings and His Son, Jesus will give us peace of heart and mind when we make Him our one desire.

Colossians 3:15-17 (NLT)

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. 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.

I have shared my feelings about the separation from our daughter today, but that is not the only burden that I have. I choose not to share them with everybody because when I give them to others it allows the enemy to know where I am struggling. Sometimes I think if we would move in closer to Jesus and whisper our cares and worries to Him rather than standing on the rooftops shouting our discontentment with God. Wait? Hang on. Discontentment with God. When we question Him openly and complain about our life isn’t that against God? We gave Him our life when we decided to follow Jesus Christ accepting His Promise to supply our needs and equip us for a godly life. To let the peace of Christ rule in our heart – we must be one with Him. Discord comes out in our communication with words of dissatisfaction rather than thankfulness, praise and adoration. Choices produce consequences in life and it takes time for God to work them out for our good and His Glory. Those who have faith and confidence in the Lord will always be thankful even when it is a sacrifice. (Psalm 50:14) The Word of God and all its promises are enough to fill our life with His Goodness even in the waiting and tests of endurance. Today it doesn’t matter what you cannot see or understand just knowing that Jesus is alive and He will do everything that He promised to do for you. Peace begins when we take the time to quiet that thing squeaking loudly in our mind or stir up the Holy Spirit in our heart and mind to release the Truth and Wisdom we need to keep hanging on to faith and confident hope. Not everything is as it should be, I know it. But that is not God’s Promise for my life. So as He makes good of all His Promises, I choose to wait quietly in prayer and thanksgiving just because He is and He will be my peace as Christ rules my heart today.

Colossians 4:2 (NLT) Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart.

Boarding Pass

Boarding Pass

Luke 5:23-25 (NLT)

Is it easier to say ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or ‘Stand up and walk’? So I will prove to you that the Son of Man has the authority on earth to forgive sins.” Then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home!” And immediately, as everyone watched, the man jumped up, picked up his mat, and went home praising God.

I woke up this morning to a note on my journal. “Print boarding passes.” It is time to go home. After spending almost a week with our children who live in the New England area, it is time to repack our bags and head to the airport. Boarding passes are show that we have a place on the airplane. These little pieces of paper show the flight counter where to send our bags and have paid the price to fly. It tells the security guard our point of destination as our bags are inspected as to try to keep the other passengers and ourselves protected from acts of terrorism. It will give us the gate number and time that our flight will arrive. It is a key piece of information that allows us to cross many access points. I need to print these passes as a vital part of our journey home.

When Jesus died on the Cross rising again three days later, He held the Keys to the Kingdom. He offered them to us. We have the ability to take those keys out of His Nail-Scarred Hand and open doors that lead us home and close the ones meant to distract us. By simply saying, “Yes, Lord, I choose You” there is an immediate opening in the Kingdom of God and room in the place prepared for Children of the Living God. However, there is something important to note here. A comparison on my heart from the moment I wrote the note last night reminding me to print our boarding passes. My sins are forgiven. It is up to me, though whether or not I make it all the way to the Kingdom of God. Jesus paid for my “flight”. Will I board is another thing entirely?

“Is it easier to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or ‘Stand up and walk?’” Jesus has full authority over the sin in our life. There is nothing that comes against us more powerful than the God in us. Nothing is impossible for the one who believes. When I purchased these flights, the Lord blessed us tremendously with very good prices. So good in fact, that I went directly from the discount website to the airlines webpage to see if there was a catch. No catch, so I bought the tickets. But surely when we arrived at the airport, there would be some minor stipulation. None. The flight was nonstop and perfect except for the screaming child encountered on most of them. Today, I will print the same type of “boarding pass” but with a bit more confidence than before because I have tried them before and found them to be true and valid. We are told emphatically that our sins are forgiven. We are free. Inside us is the power of God to do anything by faith even move mountains. Why are Christians so powerless then?

 

2 Corinthians 5:6-9 (NLT)

So we are always confident, even though we know that as long as we live in these bodies we are not at home with the Lord. For we live by believing and not by seeing. Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord. So whether we are here in this body or away from this body, our goal is to please him.

 

I know that New England is not my home. My home is in Florida. It is where my home is, office is, church is and life is. I came to visit my daughter. This is her home now. She has moved from the comfort of her first home to build a new life with her husband. They came because they were called by God to be here. They are seeking to serve the Lord and build His Kingdom. Today I will go back home. I am confident of where I live for it has been our home for more than ten years. It is the confidence I have that makes me travel. I know that when I get there that there is a place for me just like I know if I walk by faith not by sight and seek to live in the Presence of God that I will leave the earth one day to live with Jesus forever. This impacts my life just like my boarding pass shapes my plans. I will do what it tells me to make my flight and get home today. My life should be guided and directed by the Word of God to make my way home. By faith, I will follow its directions to be sure that I make it to that place. When I stand before Christ, He must know me for me to get in. The Holy Spirit is my guide just like the people who will help us through each checkpoint today. I know this seems so simple maybe too simple for some but to live by faith and confident hope means more than accepting the fact that our sins are forgiven but at some point we must get up and walk!

Hebrews 13:14-16 (NLT)

For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come. Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name. And don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God.

I know where I live. I am going there today. I will do exactly what it the boarding pass instructs me to do to make it to my destination because I am fully convinced for now it is where I belong. My life should also reflect that my sins are forgiven and I am to get up and walk. Walk by faith. Live in confident hope. To do what the Word of God tells me to do. To allow His Spirit to work in and through me to make it to my final destination. Without faith, it is impossible to please God just like I cannot get home without my boarding pass. This world is not our permanent home. I must live as though I am looking forward to a home yet to come. The one that Jesus died to give me access to. I must believe that it is worth traveling through the mountains and valleys in the Light of His Love. It is not always going to be easy but my forever home will be worth it. Today I want to thank Jesus for making a way for me to live in Eternity with Him. Thank you that this world and all of its heartache and struggles is not my forever. I am committed to walking by faith in confident hope living in love with Jesus. He made a way for me to leave this place behind. I will live like it.

Our sins are forgiven. Many know this, but few live like it. I have greater power in me than any problem that I will ever face or hardship that will ever be endured. I have the potential for the impossible to fill my possibilities. It is by living like my sins are truly forgiven and this world is not my final destination that builds the confidence I need to be more than a conqueror. Today I choose to walk by faith and not by sight. I will live like a Child of God and not permanent resident of this planet. Thank you for the reminder, Lord. May I grow more rooted and grounded in Your Love than ever before and take full advantage of all that you offered when you said, “It is finished!”

Ephesians 3:16-18 (NLT)

I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 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.