Wild Horses

Wild Horses

2 Timothy 1:7 (NLT) For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

If I had a dime for every time I have recited this verse to my rambling mind, rebellious thoughts and overwrought emotions. God did not give me the spirit of fear but there are days I completely own it myself. Stress and anxiety fuel doubt and disbelief. The enemy whispers, “But…” Lies that get me all hot and bothered as I try to wrestle in my flesh and take captive those thoughts that so easily distract me. God did not give me the spirit of fear or timidity. He didn’t give it to you either. Anything contrary to God in our life must go in order for us to fully embody Christ and experience freedom that is given through Him.

Yesterday was one of those days, after a week of fighting the good fight, it seemed like it was going to be a good day. I got out of the house on time – major victory for the time challenged. I had an awesome worship, praise and prayer time on the way to work. Two major victories before the morning meeting at work had me feeling pretty confident that it was going to be a great close to the long week. Well then the enemy lobbed a bomb over the fence and immediately I was on the run. I was angry, mad, stressed, worried and anxious all at the same time all of a sudden. Caught off guard, I was unsuccessful at pulling in the wild horses dragging me off fast and furiously. It’s hard to remember to never let your guard down especially on the “good” days. To think that the enemy is not lurking in the darkness just looking for a foothold. For me it came as a “misunderstanding” mixed with some “confusion” all the enemy’s tactics waging war against a confident heart and made up mind. “Are you sure? What if? Or else?” Subtle attacks that lead to devastating results if not handled immediately.

So this morning, I am going to share three tips for reining in “wild horses”? Those thoughts and notions that there is a limit to God’s Love, Power and Faithfulness in our life. I hope they help you. They are not quick fixes. It will take a lot of time and practice to instill them as habits in an emotional world that has decided God is not who He claims to be and tries to rob the finished work of Christ on the Cross. So here goes…

Power

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

Matthew 19:26 (NLT) Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.

Luke 1:37 (NLT) For the Word of God will never fail.

Grace is available in our weakness. Power comes when we relinquish control of our life to the Power of God promised by Jesus and the Word of God. The problem is that our world is D-I-Y obsessed even the church. “Well, if I don’t do it – who will?” The one called and commissioned to. Giving up control is what crucifying the flesh is all about. To decide that you will fully invest your life in God’s Way through the Way – Jesus Christ means giving up your power to fully embrace His Power. How do you do that? Repentance. Obedience. Trust. Key components to full embracing God’s Power is at the end of self. We cry out for God’s Intervention asking Him to open the windows of Heaven over us and fill our life with the abundance that is promised but never really understanding the change that comes with it. We cannot live in the Presence of God unchanged. We cannot reach the depths offered without giving up our current position. There is no way to discover the vastness and limitless boundaries of His Love and Grace for us without accepting His Grace fully.

Love

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

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

There is no limit on God’s Love. He pursues us with unfailing love. (Psalm 23) It is endless reaching from creation, through life and into eternity. God demonstrated His Love by giving us amazing grace. The kind of grace that works best in our weakness. Christ was the example who was crucified in weakness to give way to resurrection power and new life. We have overwhelming victory in Jesus Christ who loved us. His Spirit lives in us as evidence of adoption. No longer are we exiled from God but through Christ reconciled as sons and daughters of God. Do you love your children? How much? Too much sometimes, right? How much more does God love us? Do you believe that God loves you today? Are you convinced? Love is the conviction of God’s Faithfulness to us outside of our ability to remain pure and blameless. His Love came down and rescued us in our weakness and gave us victory. We do not deserve it. We cannot earn it. We can do nothing to repay God for His Gift. The only thing we can do is believe it and live in that love fearlessly.

Fear is evidence that there is doubt or disbelief in the fulfillment of God given through Jesus Christ. It does not fully embrace the finished work on the Cross or grab hold of the “overwhelming victory” promised in God’s Word. The only hope that you and I have of living a courageous life is in our ability to completely and confidently receive God’s Love. To allow His Love to change our heart, soul and mind until it is completely convinced that there is nothing that can separate us from His Love. His Faithfulness is not contingent on anything we do other than to believe it enough to embrace it and stop running from Him.

In fact, the Word of God says those that believe in the perfect love of God live fearlessly. Perfect love expels fear. The solution to the problem does not end fear. Fear continually sows seeds when not eradicated. It is in the constant sowing of God’s Love in our life that fear has no place to grow, mature or develop into worries, cares, stress or burdens. The conviction of God’s Love is the birthplace of freedom. It is the place where ordinary life takes on an extraordinary existence. Right where you are even if nothing changes. Perfect peace takes over until God delivers.

Self-Discipline or Self-Control

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

Proverbs 25:28 (NLT) A person without self-control is like a city with broken-down walls.

I Peter 1:13 (NLT) So prepare your minds for action and exercise self-control. Put all your hope in the gracious salvation that will come to you when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world. 

Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT) But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

Each week I make a grocery list and menu for the upcoming week. I have the best intentions of making delicious meals for my family that are often upended by busyness. Just because I have all the ingredients doesn’t mean I will follow through with my original plan. The Holy Spirit produces all the good fruit for an amazing life – but self-control is what we must use to make it all work together. My thoughts are pivotal in execution of God’s Plan. I must rein in every thought contrary to Christ and adverse to God’s Word. I cannot allow myself the opportunity to worry, stress or fear what is to come. God promised to work every detail of my life for His Good and Glory. Do I believe Him? My response to lies and taunts of the enemy will reveal the content and true conviction of my heart. Consumed by worry, I must decide to worship. I cannot give lies permission to remain but must pray and praise my way through it. I must give up every other conviction than the one that says, “God loves me and He is for me – I cannot fail!”

When I was much younger, I had a good friend who owned horses. We could go riding on Saturdays. There was one particular horse that I was riding which was a bit skittish. My friend who was a confident equestrian asked as we were headed home, “Would you like to change horses because the one that I was on was “barn sour”? I had no idea what that meant and later wish I did. Coming out of the woods when she saw the pens and barn just past it – she took off running out-of-control. I pulled the reins with all my might but she was not having it. All I could do was hang on and pray I didn’t fall off in her haste.

A “barn sour” or “herd bound” behavior is produced by anxiety. Fear of separation from the herd or physical location which it deems secure such as a pasture or barn. It is a dangerous behavior as the rider loses all control of the animal. There is no threat except the stress of the animal. The basis for this equine problem is one that many humans suffer from, too. Insecurity. According to experts, the insecurity caused by this instinct in horses is exacerbated by a lack of training which is easily overcome.  You must teach the horse to be responsive to your clues. It is the same with people who want to live a fearless life embracing fully the freedom given to us by Jesus.

Father, I ask you to flood our hearts with light today. Expose every lie that the enemy has sown in us that it may be uprooted and replanted with faith. I rebuke fear, stress, anxiety, worries and care commanding them to go in Jesus Name. Lord, I trust you. Help any disbelief in me to give way to resurrection power and life. I believe that You love me. I am convinced that nothing can separate me from Your Love even my fears, doubts and insecurities that you are removing right now. Lord, let your Spirit complete His Work in me. I give you permission to permeate every part of my life for my good and Your Glory! In the Name above all names – Jesus!

Ephesians 1:18-23 (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. Now he is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else—not only in this world but also in the world to come. God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made him head over all things for the benefit of the church. And the church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself.

 

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Courage of Conviction

Courage of Convictions

I John 3:23-24 (AMP) This is His commandment, that we believe [with personal faith and confident trust] in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and [that we unselfishly] love and seek the best for one another, just as He commanded us. The one who habitually keeps His commandments [obeying His word and following His precepts, abides and] remains in Him, and He in him. By this we know and have the proof that He [really] abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us [as a gift].

To have the courage of one’s convictions. An idiom meaning to behave according to one’s beliefs. To act in accordance with our personal belief system despite the criticism of others. As Christians, there are certain characteristics in our life that will change as our knowledge grows in His Word, His Spirit continually renews and revives our heart, and our will gives in to His Way. We are the ones who are changed by His Presence. In the midst of His Glory, there is not goodness found in us just a longing to move closer in spite of our deplorable sinful state. In Romans 7, Paul talks about our heart warring with our flesh. The endless battle of pride being nailed to the Cross to make way for fulfillment. It is an ugly skirmish. What are we fighting for? No, really. In order to make the fight worth fighting and courage worth having – it is important to know what conviction is and how to use it.

The courage of our convictions as believers is faith. Hebrews 11:1 (Amplified) says, Now faith is the assurance (title deed, confirmation) of things hoped for (divinely guaranteed), and the evidence of things not seen [the conviction of their reality—faith comprehends as fact what cannot be experienced by the physical senses].” There are certain aspects of convictions which must be understood in order to make them effective in the life of the believer. Our convictions serve a specific purpose in character development. There are three relevant aspects in the procurement of faith that is our full assurance, title deed, and confirmation that the things we hope for are divinely guaranteed which gives us the courage to continue in the good fight for faith each day. The three things are the Word of God, Holy Spirit and human heart.

Word of God

2 Timothy 3:16-17 (AMP) All Scripture is God-breathed [given by divine inspiration] and is profitable for instruction, for conviction [of sin], for correction [of error and restoration to obedience], for training in righteousness [learning to live in conformity to God’s will, both publicly and privately—behaving honorably with personal integrity and moral courage]; so that the man of God may be complete and proficient, outfitted and thoroughly equipped for every good work.

The Word of God convicts us of sin. The word conviction means a fixed or firm belief. In order to know and understand the importance of Christ’s Arrival, Ministry, Death and Resurrection, one must note the unpaid debt of sin requiring His Blood. If we remain ignorant of our need for Christ, it will limit our pursuit of Him. The more our heart and mind consume the Word of God the more compelling the need to rid our life of it to be closer to the Lord. Not only does the Word of God convict us but carefully details the rights and rewards of the righteous or those who live in right standing with the Father thanks to His Son. The contract of our covenant with God through Jesus Christ is carefully outlined in great detail in the Word of God. It becomes the sword that split the worthwhile endeavors from worthless wanders so we have direction. It is the map to full satisfaction.

Holy Spirit

John 16:7-11 (AMP) But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper (Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor—Counselor, Strengthener, Standby) will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him (the Holy Spirit) to you [to be in close fellowship with you]. And He, when He comes, will convict the world about [the guilt of] sin[and the need for a Savior], and about righteousness, and about judgment: about sin [and the true nature of it], because they do not believe in Me [and My message]; about righteousness [personal integrity and godly character], because I am going to My Father and you will no longer see Me; about judgment [the certainty of it], because the ruler of this world (Satan) has been judged and condemned.

Growing up, our family attended a denomination that rendered the Holy Spirit a silent partner. Never fully acknowledging His Role in spiritual fulfillment, we studied Hebrews and Revelation each year but never opened the Book of Acts. I was full of God’s Word but had no one to carefully help me take it apart, digest it and apply it appropriately to my life. I knew the Books of the Bible and owned many translations of the Word, but it was not effective. I needed the One who Jesus promised to send to sort out the details and find myself in the plot. The One who would be my Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor, Counselor, Strengthener and Stand by. The Word of God is a sword to be wielded by the Holy Spirit. He knows God’s Plan and Purpose for my life and executes it to perfection within me.

God’s Plan and purpose for us is personal. No two people have the same purpose in life. Our life is created to be an individual masterpiece completed by Christ in us. God’s Word and His Spirit are the two things that produce conviction in our life. The conviction that God’s Word is absolutely true and the Work of His Process by His Spirit completely worthwhile gives way to reproduction of faith and fortification of confident hope. Too much of either will create imbalance and cause us to lean one way of the other. The Word gives way to legalism. The Spirit gives way to emotionalism. Anything taken out of context with God is convoluted. The personal plan created for my life is not the same as yours. The steps that I need to take to reach my divine destination are not the same. I must have courage in my convictions but not try to persuade others to do the same.

My Heart

Romans 14:22-23 (AMP) The faith which you have [that gives you freedom of choice], have as your own conviction before God [just keep it between yourself and God, seeking His will]. Happy is he who has no reason to condemn himself for what he approves. But he who is uncertain [about eating a particular thing] is condemned if he eats, because he is not acting from faith. Whatever is not from faith is sin [whatever is done with doubt is sinful].

Just keep it between yourself and God seeking to do His Will. This bears repeating. To have courage of one’s convictions does not mean pushing them on other people. The “do’s” and “don’ts” for you may not be the same for every other believer. Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty. While I agree that all things are permissible but not all things are beneficial – it is important to note that your convictions are personal and a heart matter between you and Jesus Christ. As the Lord molds us and shapes us – He uses conviction to guard our heart and mind in the process. In the same way, if I attend a church that has certain beliefs integrated in their doctrine such as woman must wear skirts then I must honor their conviction in order to make sure I don’t cause another to stumble. I cannot use my freedom to take your freedom from you or vice versa.

God has given me His Word. He has filled me with His Spirit now I must give Him my heart. All of it. My personal convictions are a product of this three-leg stool supporting my new life in Jesus Christ. However, if I am not confident in the Word, His Spirit or the commitment of my heart then I will begin to push my convictions on others. Why? Insecurity. Fear. Doubt. Sometimes God will urge, nudge or press us to do that is strictly for our own character development but rather than trusting God to accompany us in the process – we drag others along. I am part of the Body of Christ. It is through intimacy with Christ that this relationship is initiated and developed by faith in Him alone.

I John 3:19-22 (AMP) By this we will know [without any doubt] that we are of the truth, and will assure our heart and quiet our conscience before Him whenever our heart convicts us [in guilt]; for God is greater than our heart and He knows all things [nothing is hidden from Him because we are in His hands]. Beloved, if our heart does not convict us [of guilt], we have confidence [complete assurance and boldness] before God; and we receive from Him whatever we ask because we [carefully and consistently] keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight [habitually seeking to follow His plan for us].

This is His commandment, that we believe [with personal faith and confident trust] in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and [that we unselfishly] love and seek the best for one another, just as He commanded us. (I John 3:23) We can find courage in our convictions today. Confident hope is born of steadfast faith, the Spirit of God in us, and establishing our heart on a firm foundation of faith. God has commanded us to love and seek the best for one another. Do not be deceived. Placing personal convictions on anothers is judgment. Spiritual bullies are born of browbeating others to follow because their way is better. Better than God’s or His Way specifically for you or me?

I could not understand or comprehend fully the powerful resource of God’s Word without His Spirit. The Spirit of God weaves His Word into wisdom as it establishes our worth to Him. Freedom in Christ is the removal of all restrictions, hindrances and limitations between us and His Presence. My obstacles are not the same as yours therefore the convictions in my life born of His Word and Spirit are for the piercing of my heart and not anyone else. They were handwritten along with my life plan spoken of in Psalm 139. Likewise, I cannot be tempted to yield to the convictions of others without compromising the Work of God within me.

Our identity is firmly established in the Person of Jesus Christ. He doesn’t need any help. He has given me all the assistance I need. The only thing I have to offer is the rest of my heart. My heart must be firmly established by faith. His Word and His Spirit work together to produce full assurance which becomes my confidence. Take courage in your convictions today. They are the gateway to freedom. They are personal. God loves you. He is good! He will never let you down. Trust Him. Believe in Him. Pursue His Presence. You are not alone and never forsaken. Above all His Grace is always enough!

Colossians 2:2-3 (AMP) [For my hope is] that their hearts may be encouraged as they are knit together in [unselfish] love, so that they may have all the riches that come from the full assurance of understanding [the joy of salvation], resulting in a true [and more intimate] knowledge of the mystery of God, that is, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge [regarding the word and purposes of God].

Clean Sheets

Clean Sheets

Psalm 62:5-8 (NIV)

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

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

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

Isaiah 54:9-10 (NIV)

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

 

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

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

Nehemiah 5:13 (NIV)

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

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

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

Hebrews 12:26-29 (NIV)

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

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

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

Psalm 16:5-8(NIV)

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

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

I Corinthians 15:57-58 (NLT)

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

Achieving Perfection

Achieving Perfection

Matthew 5:48 (NIV) Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

 Be perfect. Is it even possible? To conform absolutely to the description of an ideal type. To be excellent and complete beyond practical improvement. To exactly fit the need for your purpose in life. To be entirely without flaw, defect or shortcoming. To be accurate and correct in every detail. To be pure. To be thorough in all things. To live completely uncompromised. Is such a thing even possible? If not, then why would Jesus even suggest it to us? Do you strive for perfection? We all fall short. No matter how great our determination in a single day, there is always the instance where God’s Mercy is a necessity and so we call out for His Grace. Yet, it says clearly and emphatically to “be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

How do I achieve perfection in my completely imperfect state? I was sinful from birth. Did I ever stand a chance to be that thing I am called to be so directly in His Word? The Latin word for perfect is perfectus which means completed, excellent, accomplished, exquisite. The past participle of perificere meaning accomplish, finish or complete. Achieving perfection in this life is not a beginning quality but an end result by definition alone. It means to conform to the description of ideal which implies that there is a process to perfection and change that is required. To complete something means that there is something missing which must be added to bring about such a result. There is hope for me yet. Could it be that I can become perfect like my Father is perfect?

Matthew 19:21-22 (NIV)

Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.

The young man who came to Jesus asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life? Of course, Jesus immediately pointed to the Law. The young man confirmed that he kept the commandments. He then asked the Lord, “What do I still lack?” Are you there today? The place this young man came to. You are a believer. You attend church regularly. You try to do the right thing. You have a good attitude. Follow through with appropriate actions. People like you. You have a comfortable life. You are blessed. Yet, deep down inside something is missing. You do not feel complete. Though striving for perfection, you have fallen short. Are you lacking in fulfillment? Most people do. Religion will never fulfill the space reserved for Eternity in our heart. Routine faithfulness to God’s Word will produce a pseudo-harvest in our life. The enemy will allow good things to grow in order to make us comfortable so we stop this incessant, annoying plan to follow Christ, destroy his kingdom and overcome darkness. We fall for it so many times. Prayer is forgotten. Compromise accepted. Substitutions granted. Religion takes the place of our relationship to Christ. Your Father will never leave you in such a state. He will interrupt your life. Disrupt your comfort. Shake your foundation. Send in a storm. The Lord will do whatever it takes to get our attention, because of His Great Love that is perfect despite our chronic imperfection.

Jesus told the young man, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” Stop it. God blessed us just to give it all away. How am I supposed to live? How will my family survive? You expect me to give up everything and follow you, Lord? How is that perfect? Where is the satisfaction in such an action? Giving up my personal security for an eternal pursuit? You are kidding, right? No, I think the Lord was pretty straight forward in His Expectation. The struggle is real. Completely surrendering our life to Christ makes us perfect.

Romans 12:1-2 (NIV)

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

 We freely offer our dead souls to Jesus for resurrection life. The problem is giving up our mind and body to pursue the Lord. Many will confess that the Daniel Fast has kicked their… well you know. Struggling with caffeine addiction, carb decompression, sugar lows, and a body that likes its food – it is hard to focus on prayer when your stomach is growling, head pounding and body grows weak. Welcome to the problem we have with perfection. It says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” God’s Word is important in achieving perfection. The Law of God grants us freedom. (James 1:25) It tells how to find it. Keep it. Hold on to it. Embrace it. Live by it. To live our life in the Word of God and surrender our mind, soul AND body to Jesus Christ is the only way to find perfection. God’s good, pleasing and perfect will is available to those who are one with Christ. You cannot live apart from Jesus and be complete. It is in the Lord that total satisfaction and absolute fulfillment are found outside of the conditions, circumstances and situations of life. We find in knowing the Will of God and doing it without reservation. By surrendering all, we are made perfectly complete in Jesus Christ.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (NIV)

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

 

Perfection is found in our weakness. Our absolute and utter helplessness surrendered to God allows His Power to be made perfect in us. This is against every ideal and philosophy of this world. The Lord says, “My Grace is sufficient for you.” It completes and corrects everything that you cannot do. To fully accept that God is perfect, changes our attitude in the midst of weakness, insults, hardships, persecutions, and difficulties. It is to accept His Absolute Perfection in the midst of our weakness and imperfection that completes us. That means that all those things that are less than perfect in our life are subject to His Grace and Completion. The Lord promises to work out every detail of our life for good based solely on His Unconditional and Perfect Love for us given by His Grace and never earned. Faith surrenders my life… all of it to His Word, Way and Will. Confident hope allows me to be weak to fully accept God’s Power with no fear of recourse or regret. I cannot have it partially in my life. It is impossible to please God without faith. Faith is not what we say but rather what we do, how we live and what we truly believe that makes its way into our life. Faith must be in a credible source. I can believe all I want that a broken chair will hold my weight and plop down in it just in time to discover when my bottom hits the floor that my faith was misplaced. When I am weak, then I am strong. When I accept that I not perfect, but strive to surrender my life to Christ, I will achieve perfection.

2 Corinthians 7:1 (NIV)

Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.

Faith and confident hope are based on the Promises of God. We do not know the outcome merely what the Lord promises to do according to His Word. Is it enough to pursue Jesus with our whole life – body, mind and spirit? Will we allow weakness so His Power will make us strong? The Sacrifice of Jesus Christ gave us the right to choose. We can live for this world or choose to live for the Kingdom of God. Those who decide to follow Jesus and pursue perfection will not be disappointed as we give ourselves away – we are made complete lacking no good thing. It all comes down to our willingness to give up our claim to this world and what it has to offer to save our soul. I know that is not what most are preaching, but it is what the Word of God says. If we love this life, we will lose it. (Mark 8:35) The young man knew the Word of God. He admitted it to Jesus, but when the Lord asked him to do what it – he walked away. What will your response be? Will you surrender your life to achieve perfection in Jesus today?

Psalm 138:8 (NKJV)

The Lord will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy, O Lord, endures forever; Do not forsake the works of Your hands.

Another Conviction

Another Conviction

Psalm 51:10-12 (NIV)

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

The Daniel Fast began yesterday. How are you doing with it? Did you eat the “right” food and abstain from the no-no’s on the list? Is your flesh unhappy with you today? I encourage you as you continue in pursuing God this New Year to move beyond the menu to the Message of this time of fasting and praying. Our pastor shared his “target list” of spiritual goals for 2016 with us yesterday. It began with this verse and the goal to add “one more conviction to the conviction bag”. I have never heard of anything like that before and it became a revolving thought for the rest of the day, through the night and well here we are today.

Create in me a pure heart. For years, I have jumped around from translation to translation of God’s Word in my quiet time. No real reason other than variety is the spice of life or I really needed God to dumb it down for me a little … or maybe a lot. When I looked up Psalm 51:10, in many translations it uses the word “clean” rather than “pure” but I was drawn to the passages requesting a “pure” heart. What’s the difference? A couple of weeks ago a co-workers child was visiting our office for the day. Usually mid-morning I will have a snack of fruit and peanut butter, so I offered him some as well. When I opened the jar of “organic” peanut butter, it was full of oil that splashed all over my shirt. My favorite tunic from an online boutique not easily replaced so I began to scrub it with dish soap with grease cutter. When I got home I pretreated it with everything I had in the laundry room and under the counter in an effort to save my beloved garment. When I washed it, mission accomplished. All was well and the shirt intact. When I went to grab a camisole a few days later, I noticed that it had a huge grease stain. I only treated the outer garment that everyone could see but failed to pay any attention to the cami that no one sees which bears an unsightly oily spot all across the neckline. Hmm… Could it be that we work hard to be religious forgoing the part of us that God requires for a relationship? Could it be that we work hard to be clean but do not strive to remain pure in heart? There is definitely a difference. Every time I pull out the tunic that I love so much, I am constantly surveying it in the light to be sure no one can see the mark of my error but when I put on the undershirt I don’t really care because no one can see the stain.

The Blood of Jesus has washed me clean. I no longer bear the mark of my transgressions or do I? Have I washed the outside of the cup but not the inside? (Matthew 23:25) We do it all the time when we compare our life and choices to other people rather than the Living God or His Son, Jesus Christ. Sin has no power in our life except what is allowed or freely given. When we allow sin to reside in the recesses of our heart and refuse to accept God’s Commands as a way of life humbly walking with Him, the mark still remains. We must accept godly conviction as it leads to a pure heart and steadfast life living in the Presence of God now and forevermore.

Matthew 5:8 (NIV) Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God.

To step over God’s Word and assume more grace is NOT the way of the righteous. It is preached from many pulpits and contained in many doctrines but it will never recant the truth that God requires a pure heart. To assume grace means that one intends to remain in sin. Sin separates us from God every single time. Grace did not change that but is reserved for those who choose to repent from sin, turnaround and walk away not just tread lightly through it. The “pure” in heart will see God. I want to see God. I want to live with Jesus forever including today and tomorrow on my way to eternity. It requires repentance and removal of all sin from my life. His Grace is when I try and fail.

 

The Lord has empowered me to pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace from a pure heart to find it. Purity means free from anything different, inferior or contaminating kind. God’s Will for my life is a pure heart not just a clean one. Conviction is a fixed or firm belief that leads us to purity of heart and mind that allows us to live a godly life. I need more conviction that comes from His Word lead by His Spirit to achieve the peace and prosperity I am promised by God. Jesus made the Way, I am free to walk in it. Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” (Hebrews 10:19-23)

Psalm 112:6-9 (NIV)

Surely the righteous will never be shaken; they will be remembered forever. They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord. Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear; in the end they will look in triumph on their foes. They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor, their righteousness endures forever; their horn will be lifted high in honor.

Let us hold “unswervingly” to the hope we profess. Renew a steadfast spirit in me. The Word of God is clear that while all things are permissible – not all things are beneficial or constructive in our life. (I Corinthians 10:23) We will always need grace. One sin made its allotment necessary. However, just like the stain on the undershirt left untreated – sin allowed to remain in our heart will always separate us from God’s Perfect Will. It is a compromise that I am not willing to make. I do not want to settle for a so-so substitution when the Lord is offering me God’s Standard of Living if I remain steadfast and true.

To be steadfast is to remain fixed in direction, but oh our fickle hearts. It is to remain firm in purpose or faith even when the whole world things you are crazy or spooky spiritual. Been there, done that and have the scars to prove it. To remain steadfast in unwavering faith means holding on to hope from beginning to end. Never letting go of God’s Promise for you or the dream He placed in you no matter who says you can’t, you won’t or you are not. It’s tough. The world is convincing. The enemy conniving and ruthless in his attack. God’s Love is relentless and reaches those who are steadfast lifting them up in due time, His Time to fulfill His Perfect Will. Those who remain steadfast will have perfect peace. (Isaiah 26:2-4) We must resist the enemy in every way. Holding tight to faith and uncompromising righteousness while God makes good out of every detail of our life for His Glory. (I Peter 5:8-9)

James 4:6-10 (NIV)

But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”  Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

The Grace of God is a humble acquisition. I did not earn it and I certainly don’t deserve it even when I try my best to serve the Lord. It only took one sin to produce a death sentence in my life and a debt that I could not pay. Humility is essential in this process of prayer and fasting before the Lord. I must come to Him boldly but I have nothing in me worth boasting about other than Jesus. God’s Favor is reserved for those willing to humble themselves before Him. He gives us more grace if we do. I want that in 2016. I do not want to be double-minded. Serving the Lord outwardly but harboring sin inwardly. I must live my life with a pure heart. I want to have a steadfast spirit. I want to live in His Presence and filled with His Spirit every day. To do so, I need more grace.

John 15:10-11 (NIV)

If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.

My joy is made complete in salvation. Just knowing Jesus Christ is enough to satisfy my soul and prosper it. Prosperity begins in our soul as it begins to permeate our life. It is not representative in the material things of life but a pure heart and steadfast spirit. One of my favorite verses that has become my mission is Micah 6:8. It says, He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” What about you? What is your spiritual target or goal for 2016? Have you made one? I was reminded of a statement by Zig Ziglar yesterday. He said, “If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.” My dad was a huge Zig Ziglar fan and shared many of his quotes on success with us. We set goals every day. We all have dreams even if we have buried them calling them dead. But God remembers it all – He is the One who created you for that very purpose that you have given up on. If we will simply strive to remain in His Love every single day, forsaking all others choosing the Lord as our refuge and source – we will live as prosperous and satisfied life in the Favor of God. It is not as the world would have it or sees it. They do not understand. Even in submitting our life to fasting and prayer, just like when Jesus fasted and prayed, the enemy shows up ready to open the door of compromise, substitution or advising us to quit. It’s too hard. Too long. Too “religious”. Our only defense is the Word of God accepted by faith and held tightly in hope. Jesus wants to complete our joy today. We must humble not only our way to Him but hand the Lord our heart first.

Hebrews 3:12-14 (NIV)

See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end.

Today as our family fasts and prays for 2016, it is with a humble heart that I am asking the Lord to add another conviction to my life as well. Good advice from our Pastor certainly led by the Holy Spirit as we continue our quest in knowing the Lord deeper and more intimately than ever before. I must humble myself before Him allowing Him to point out an offensive thing following His Lead into the everlasting. I must hold to my original conviction and allow the Lord to grow, develop and mature my faith and hope by removing anything and everything contradictory to His Word, Will and Way until my heart is pure. My sacrifice to the Lord today is a broken spirit humbled before Him with a broken and contrite heart in my hands. I cannot go any further or deeper holding on to my sin, my way or my flesh. Such a sacrifice is all that He desires and needs to complete my life. A fast is no good to our spirit unless the Holy Spirit is involved. Prayer can only connect us as close as the sin we forfeit. I want a new conviction this year, Lord. Anything that will bring me closer to You! You name it and I will surrender it to you!

Psalm 139:23-24 (NIV)

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me a

Convicted by Love – A Devotion

Romans 4:20-25 (NLT)

Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises. And because of Abraham’s faith, God counted him as righteous. And when God counted him as righteous, it wasn’t just for Abraham’s benefit. It was recorded for our benefit, too, assuring us that God will also count us as righteous if we believe in him, the one who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was handed over to die because of our sins, and he was raised to life to make us right with God.

 

If your faith in God was tried in a court of law weighed by a judge and jury, would it convict you? I remember growing up in church thinking about this being absolutely terrified that it could happen. I didn’t want to go to hell. I didn’t want to die. I wanted a better life so I asked Jesus to be my Lord and Savior. But now what? There are some things that will change instantly when we decide to call on the Name of Jesus Christ while others take some time. The words “I believe” should impact our life in some way, shape or form. What we believe defines our attitudes and actions thus revealing our true convictions that come from our heart.

 

Abraham believed God’s Promise so much so that he never wavered. His faith grew stronger and stronger throughout his long wait to become a natural parent. But during his lifetime, he was reproducing spiritually without even knowing it. His faith would make him not only considered a friend of God but the spiritual father of many. God counted Abraham’s faith in Him as righteousness. On paper this seems easy enough, but when faced with the reality of making a decision to believe in something casts us into perplexity. We want to trust someone or something but such an emotion has been seriously challenged in the world in which we live. Darkness tries to overcome the Light of His Love whispering the futility of faith and hinting of tainted trust. In order for our faith to become valid, it must become our belief. Why didn’t Abraham waver from God? He was fully convinced that God was able to do whatever He promises. Are you?

 

Romans 8:1-2 (NLT)

So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the powerof the life-giving Spirit has freed youfrom the power of sin that leads to death. 

 

There is no condemnation for those who belong to Jesus Christ. I am going to say this again with a little extra attention to the word “condemnation”. There is no condemnation (accusation, disapproval, judgment, penalty, damnation, doom, restriction) for those who belong to Jesus. Because you belong to Him, you have been given His Life Giving Spirit who has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. You have been fully reconciled to God the Father through Jesus Christ His Son. Do you believe it? Do you live like you believe it? No condemnation opens the door to freedom not demonstrated in the church today? We have fallen on hard times in the Body of Christ much like that of Genesis 3:1-7. When the serpent came to the woman, he began to work his way into her head by questioning God and testing her belief in His Word. “Did God really say it?” The enemy then challenged the Truth with a lie. The power is not in his words but whether or not Eve would believe him. She completely fell for it. The woman was convinced and the rest is now history. Compromised faith begins with entertaining the lie. Ignorance allows the enemy to tell us something contrary to God’s Word and we believe it because we just don’t know and understand the Truth about God. We must get to know the God we serve or we will fall for the lie of the enemy every single time. Why? The lie of the enemy seems natural and logical to the human mind. It is more easily accepted by our five senses than that which is discovered by faith. Without God’s Word hidden in our heart, we have nothing to compare it to so it seems valid. The greatest lie that the enemy tells believers is that there is sin too great to be washed away in the Blood of Christ, therefore they have no right to believe God for anything other than condemnation and punishment filling them with remorse and regret keeping them from enjoying the benefits of freedom found in being convicted by His Love.

 

John 3:16-18 (NLT)
“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son.

 

Jesus Christ came to save us and set us free from the penalty of our sin that began in Genesis 3. The basis of sin was humanity’s inability to fully trust and believe God at His Word. God sent Jesus to save the world not judge and condemn it. Sin had already done the job. There is NO JUDGMENT against anyone who believes. “The world’s sin is that it refuses to believe in me.” (John 16:9) Ignorance of God’s Word allows the enemy to make us think that God is punishing us every time that we fall down or mess us which is just simply not true. His Overflowing Grace carries us along, picking us up and washing us off when it is required. If God wanted to continue to judge us, then why would He send Jesus Christ? The Law was doing a pretty good job of demonstrating just how sinful and rebellious people really are. The Word of God tells us plainly that by accepting Jesus Christ we are no longer convicted of sin. (Romans 3:21-23) So what are we convicted of? Love!

 

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.

 

We must become convinced that nothing can or will ever separate us from the Love of God! the enemy will use every bad situation, extenuating circumstance, and overwhelming problem to try to make us think that God is punishing us, doesn’t love us, has forgotten us or just plain doesn’t care. None of this is true. But you will never know that until the Word is planted deep in your heart and allowed to grow and prosper. The Children of Israel refused to enter the Promised Land and receive God’s Promise because they did not believe that God would care for them. (Psalm 106:24-25) How many times has disbelief kept us from God’s Promise? Every time! Nothing can separate those who believe from the Love of God. You must believe in His Love. The Word of God is essential as a foundation for our faith. It is seed planted in the human heart that when given the opportunity to grow will flourish into prosperity for your life.

 

Luke 8:11-15 (NLT)
“This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is God’s word. The seeds that fell on the footpath represent those who hear the message, only to have the devil come and take it away from their hearts and prevent them from believing and being saved. The seeds on the rocky soil represent those who hear the message and receive it with joy. But since they don’t have deep roots, they believe for a while, then they fall away when they face temptation. The seeds that fell among the thorns represent those who hear the message, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the cares and riches and pleasures of this life. And so they never grow into maturity. And the seeds that fell on the good soil represent honest, good-hearted people who hear God’s word, cling to it, and patiently produce a huge harvest.”

 

What is the condition of your heart today? Is it hard and scarred from being broken? Is it rocky cluttered by compromise? Is it thorny with roots of bitterness born of unforgiveness? Is it overcrowded by weeds that represent everything else our heart desires besides the Lord? Repentance softens our heart and prepares it receive His Word. His Word is cultivated by His Spirit. One is always dependent on the other to prosper and grow in our life. God gave us His Spirit when we invited Jesus Christ to be our Lord and Savior. He knows our weakness. God’s Spirit has been with us from the start. Our faith in Jesus Christ opened the door of our heart so now His Spirit could move from the outside to the inside of our life. (Romans 8:26-30) The Spirit pleads for us so that our sin no longer convicts us as He convinces us of God’s Amazing Love. Why is this important? Our sinful nature remains hostile to God. (Romans 8:5-8) The Power of the Holy Spirit operating in us and through us allows us to overcome such evil with good. It is a full-time job. Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault. But you must continue to believe this truth and stand firmly in it. Don’t drift away from the assurance you received when you heard the Good News.” (Colossians 1:22-23) God’s Word and the Holy Spirit are partners in producing conviction in our life. Not condemnation as the enemy might like us to think. Each works to reinforce the fact that God loves us unfailingly, unconditionally and forever.

 

Romans 14:22-23 (NLT)
You may believe there’s nothing wrong with what you are doing, but keep it between yourself and God. Blessed are those who don’t feel guilty for doing something they have decided is right. But if you have doubts about whether or not you should eat something, you are sinning if you go ahead and do it. For you are not following your convictions. If you do anything you believe is not right, you are sinning.

 

True revelation of God’s Love for you will change the convictions that govern our life. It will produce a change not because of fear but the vast capacity of His Love for us. No longer able to remain subject to sin, we strive to do good. No longer afraid of condemnation, we become convicted of love. In Christ, all things are permissible but not all things are beneficial. (I Corinthians 10:23) “For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. If you serve Christ with this attitude, you will please God, and others will approve of you, too. So then, let us aim for harmony in the church and try to build each other up.Once you are fully convinced of God’s Love and Faithfulness, you will live a convicted life. Your belief system will no longer allow you to sin and hurt your Friend, God. It hurts you heart to hurt His. We become so convinced of His Love that it gushes out of our life into the lives of other people simply because it is too much to contain. “You see, his faith and his actions worked together. His actions made his faith complete. And so it happened just as the Scriptures say: “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.”He was even called the friend of God.So you see, we are shown to be right with God by what we do, not by faith alone.

 

Hebrews 3:13-14 (NLT)

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.

 

One might think that sacrificing a son would be enough to convince people of the seriousness of your intent to love them, but this is not the case. The Love in this world has grown cold and there is no godly passion anymore. What more must God do to convince you of His Love? Faithfulness to the end requires trusting the Lord and being fully convicted of His Love. Do you believe that God loves you? I think we must strive a little more to live like it. God is love. He has decided to share His Love with you. The Lord has removed everything that could ever separate you from God’s Love. It is up to you and I to grow deep roots that firmly attach us to His Love and refuse to ever let go. 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.” (Colossians 2:7) “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.” (Ephesians 3:17)

 

I John 5:4-5 (NLT)
For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith.
 And who can win this battle against the world? Only those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God.

Partner in Crime – A Devotion

Romans 7:14-16 (MESSAGE)

I can anticipate the response that is coming: “I know that all God’s commands are spiritual, but I’m not. Isn’t this also your experience?” Yes. I’m full of myself—after all, I’ve spent a long time in sin’s prison. What I don’t understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise. So if I can’t be trusted to figure out what is best for myself and then do it, it becomes obvious that God’s command is necessary.

 

Why does it seem that once a rule is established it becomes a point of constant testing? What is it that insults human intelligence to encounter a boundary? Such things provide the order and security that we want in life. As we approach God’s Kingdom and look in from the outside, we desire all that God is and the refuge and security provided in salvation. We long for righteousness that puts us in close proximity with the Lord, yet as we measure up to the commandments of God there are times when we pick and choose obedience based on our own psyche and what we determine to be right for us. It would seem that upon entrance into the Presence of God and the Glorious Life that is promised one would follow all the rules to maximize its full potential. However, inside the gates of the Holy of Holies is the place where the questioning begins. Why do we struggle with adhering to the guidelines of God’s Word and surrendering our life to God? Paul puts it bluntly when he admits, “God’s commands are spiritual, and I’m not.” How many of you can relate to his confession today and struggle to be spiritual in a carnal world? Who is willing to admit “I’m full of myself?” If we know that God’s Way is clearly better than why do people struggle with releasing their life to Him? Seems like we would willing give God our weakness, failure, defeat and dying flesh in exchange for His Strength, Victory, Hope and Eternal Life. Yet daily believers are in a tug-of-war with the Holy Spirit for control over their life. We want God’s Best but choose to go our own way wondering why we keep missing the mark and where did things go wrong?

The point of origin of your defeat was in the Garden of Eden. It all dates back to when we became fully aware of good and evil. Prior to that moment, mankind only knew the goodness of God and life inside the Law of God. Sin was not an option because evil was not evident. After sin entered the world, everything changed. Our mindset was deeply affected by the invasion of corruption into the human soul. It was from that very moment that the battle for our life began. Now though we know what is good, there is an inner struggle for control because we have been presented with options. There are now two sides. Being created in the image of God, we often struggle with choices that we are not equipped to determine based on our own intellect but require God’s Insight to accurately judge. It was in the Garden that man became divided from God and presented with spirituality and carnality. In this place, the choice that we struggle with every day was born. Being in the likeness of God, we think that we have a choice how to live? Without the Knowledge of God, we do not have all the facts and live in imminent danger of our choices.

Romans 17-20 (MESSAGE)
But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.

 

God knew people needed help to survive the treachery of one’s own mind. He sent Jesus Christ to remedy the situation. Jesus Christ came to give people the heart and mind of the Father. He was here to share God’s Secret to Success and empower God’s Beloved to reach the other side. Sin’s prison is a real place outside of Jesus Christ. It’s funny how the prison system is filled with “innocent” people. Many feel as though the details of their conviction were a big misunderstanding or are clearly in denial of wrongdoing at all, yet the reality of their crime is evident in the loss of their freedom. Many ordinary people live similar lives of denial every day living in “sin prisons” of the heart rather than experiencing the freedom of life in God’s Grace. There is no denying our guilt but there is an inner desire to improve and do better. Good intentions do not overcome our sinful nature. Jesus does. There are some Christians who have tried to follow God’s mandates for living for many, many years and still feel they keep falling short. People who decide to follow God but don’t really do it. Paul makes the declaration, “I need something more!” We cannot follow the Law of God in our sinful condition, we need help.

Romans 7:21-25 (MESSAGE)

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 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.

The sad truth is that outside of Eternity, we will never shake sin. It will be with us throughout our natural life. Just because you keep falling short of the life you strive to live for God – does not make you a failure…it makes you human. The Good News is that we have an advocate who will overcome sin in our life each day. Jesus Christ wants to be your partner in crime. He wants to take those bad decisions and turn them into good ones. The Lord desires to stick closer than a brother molding and shaping your life with God’s Goodness and Grace. He wants to fill you with the Knowledge of God to promote sound choices. Jesus will make miracles out of your mess. Your groaning will turn into testimonies of His Greatness. The secret is in partnership. The only escape from sin’s prison is Jesus Christ. We must cling to Him pressing into His Presence and living there. “He acts to set things right in THIS life of contradictions…”  Though we continue to struggle with sin in this life Jesus is working on our behalf to set things right. Life with Jesus will give you peace in the midst of your battle! Don’t pick apart your life and shortcomings. It’s time to pick the right partner! Jesus will make all the difference in THIS world.

Be Persuaded – A Devotion

2 Timothy 1:12 (Amplified)

And this is why I am suffering as I do. Still I am not ashamed, for I know (perceive, have knowledge of, and am acquainted with) Him Whom I have believed (adhered to and trusted in and relied on), and I am [positively] persuaded that He is able to guard and keep that which has been entrusted to me and which I have committed [to Him] until that day.

I am persuaded. I am persuaded that God is able without a doubt to do the things that He has promised and guard each word He has spoken over my life. Or am I? To be persuaded means that the urgency of God is driving me in the direction of His Way. His Word will induce obedience in those who are fully persuaded. His Voice will prevail in the life of one who is confident in the One whom they trust. Persuasion moves one in the direction of truth and fortifies against what is false. It is the basis of truth that bears the greatest impact. Has God caused you to believe in who He is? Has Jesus Christ convinced you that He is Your Savior? Does your belief in God prevail in the midst of uncertainty and the decisions of life? Are you persuaded? Yes, everyone believes something. All Christians would like to believe that they are convinced that God is able. But what happens when the trials come? What is the first response when put to the test or questioned about your faith? Does it hold true to the test or does it waver under pressure? Today Lord, I want faith that persuades me.

With persuasion, there is movement. Belief can be an idea or opinion. It is the beginning of conviction as we grab hold of a notion and claim it as the truth. However, when one becomes persuaded then they move in the direction of what they believe and begin to test it. Trying God is not a bad thing at all. In fact, God urges you to do so. Psalm 34:8 says, “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good.” Malachi 3:10 again God invites us to test His Ways, “Bring all the tithes into the storehouse that there may be food in My house and try Me now in this,” says the LORD of hosts. God wants a chance to prove His Love for you today. The Lord wants you to experience His Urgency and allow it to pull you tightly into His Arms and wrap you in faith that will keep you there. To say that you believe in God, yet to never make a move toward God is to live a lie.

The Children of Israel were being persuaded as Moses led them from Egypt in pursuit of the Promised Land. Yes, God wanted to bless His Children but more than that God desired a thriving relationship with them. An entire generation would never enter into that which they labored to find due to their lack of belief. Persuasion is movement with a purpose. I cannot persuade you to accept what I believe to be true if I am not convinced myself. Moses believed in God. He was not afraid to move into God’s Presence. Fear of death could not keep Him from experiencing God’s Glory. His Faith led the people to the edge of the Promise but it was not enough to take them into God’s Promise. Your praise and worship leader can lead you to the edge of His Presence, your pastor can lay a firm foundation of the Word of God for you to step into God’s Promise and God’s Spirit Living in you can nudge you toward confidence in God but until you become fully persuaded and step into God’s Presence, Promise and Purpose for yourself then you will not experience all that God has promised. One must be fully persuaded to experience God’s Promises.

Perception is ruled by the principles of persuasion and defined by that which we are confident of. It is how we view life. As the Lord orders the details of life in an attempt to usher you into His Kingdom and His Presence, faith must become the foundation of our perception. Like contact lenses or eyeglasses, we must view everything through our faith to get a clear image of what God has purposed. It is with such clarity that we become fully persuaded. No longer do the circumstances that we face define us but are simply things we go through to get to His Glory. Full confidence and being completely persuaded means that when it comes to the world we are immovable but when it comes to God we are constantly flexible. Faith becomes the force that we are moved by and everything else is of no effect. Oh God, how I long to be persuaded today.

John 17:20-23 (Amplified)

Neither for these alone do I pray [it is not for their sake only that I make this request], but also for all those who will ever come to believe in (trust in, cling to, rely on) Me through their word and teaching that they all may be one, [just] as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be one in Us, so that the world may believe and be convinced that You have sent Me.  I have given to them the glory and honor which You have given Me, that they may be one even] as We are one: I in them and You in Me, in order that they may become one and perfectly united, that the world may know and [definitely] recognize that You sent Me and that You have loved them [even] as You have loved Me.

God is working to convince you today! He longs for you to be fully persuaded. Jesus prayed that not only His Followers then but that anyone who would ever believe in Him would be convinced of Who He Was and the One Who sent Him. There is unity in being persuaded. God longs to join His People in faith through Jesus Christ so that the Body of Christ is drawn together and fully persuaded by His Great Love. What will it take to fully persuade you? What will create urgency in your soul for God? What will ignite passion in your heart for your beloved? God will do whatever it takes to convince you of His Love for you. He will do whatever is necessary to overtake your life with His Grace and Mercy. God is convinced of His Love for you and it has created such an overwhelming urgency that He will stop at nothing to persuade you today. Look at your life through faith in God today and be persuaded by His Love. Get close to Jesus today and cling to Him. Make your connection so close that nothing can get between you and the Father’s Love for you. He is right there. It is your move. Be persuaded.

Romans 8:37-39 (NKJV)

Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.