In the Waiting

In the Waiting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now and Later

Now and Later

James 1:12 (NLT) God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.

When I was a kid, my favorite candy was called “Now and Later”. Small squares of taffy individually wrapped in a variety of flavors wrapped in colorful paper sold at every corner store. A bit sour at first, it took a while to chew it until it softened and completely swallow it because it stuck to every corner of your mouth. The inventor decided to take a bar of taffy and cut it up so it could be enjoyed – you guessed it – now and later. Previously the bar was sold in whole pieces so it had to be consumed all at once. Surprisingly this candy has withstood the test of time and is still available in nineteen different flavors. Have you ever eaten a “Now and Later” candy? It is very dense, thick and chewy. At first it requires a great deal of jaw strength and a whole lot of work to make it soft enough to enjoy. It takes a while to process and swallow to digest. So it is with faith and the process is called endurance. The only requirement is patience.

God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation now. Afterward (later), they will receive the crown of life that God promised to those who love him. Why would God test and tempt us now? He doesn’t. God will test us, but it is our flesh that does the tempting. Today – there are many in the middle of a test who think God is tempting them or otherwise engaging them in this difficult process. It is human nature to try to escape those situations and conditions that require us to “patiently endure.” Who wants to be stretched? Who asks to struggle? Yet throughout our life certain circumstances and difficult conditions call for this very thing. We must learn to patiently endure because Jesus told us those who “endure to the end will be saved.” I think we have painted a multifaceted picture with brilliant color of what that means in accordance with our situation or condition. However, God in all things sets forth a redemption process in our life. We endure the process and He produces the outcome. Not just any outcome, the best of all possible outcomes. He gives us victory in all things through His Son, Jesus Christ. We are overcomers.

What does it mean to patiently endure? I looked up both words and here is what I have come up with. To be patient means bearing provocation. Provocation is anything that incites, instigates, angers or irritates. Provocation occurs each day. People seem to be the ones who hit the deepest nerve and many will give credit to the enemy. Proverbs tells us that if we fall under pressure that our strength is too small. There is no provocation that can overtake us unless it is our reaction to give in to it. Provocation is like the giant taunting David in the midst of the battlefield. His words and verbal attack could not hurt God’s Man. He patiently endured his brothers ridicule and the Philistines banter. He won!

To be patient means bearing annoyance. I grow annoyed every day don’t you? Little things become bigger things by dwelling upon them. How many thorns in the flesh do you have? Overcoming annoyance means to learn to ignore disturbances and those pointless arguments. We must learn to focus on the One who brings peace and rest to our mind, will and emotions. Those who trust the Lord will have perfect peace. Annoyances become disturbances that distract us. Leading us from following Jesus to be driven by the fuel of emotionalism.

To be patient means bearing misfortune. Everything may not work out the way that we think it will or expect it to but that does not mean it is not working in our favor. God takes every detail of our life and works it out for our good and His Glory. When reading the Gospels, it is hard to understand sometimes the doubt and disbelief exhibited by the disciples. However, we have the whole picture. We see Jesus on the Cross. We know that He released His Spirit and soon it would be available to us. We know that He is coming back from the dead and resurrected to life. But to these men, this was real life. Depicted in real time without a higher perspective or futuristic vantage point. They say Jesus persecuted. They witnessed the violent beatings and torture of the Man they called Messiah. They heard the nails being driven into His Hands and Feet. They experienced the humiliation of the Cross and the belittling of those who watched everything they believed made a sacrifice that day. We were not. We are given the whole story beginning to end. Yet many still do not believe…it was the same then as it is now. Unmet expectation only means that it was not in Jesus Christ. He will fulfill every desire of our heart if we are patient in misfortune.

Patience is bearing delays, deferment or postponement in life. It means taking a seat right there and being still when God says, “Wait.” I don’t like to wait. In fact, over time I can see all the ways the Lord has offered me opportunities to learn to wait. A little here and a little more there. Over time, I have become much more patient. From my early childhood to young adulthood, my grandmother probably told me once a day – you must be patient. The church told me no matter what to never pray for patience for the process is too hard. Knowing all this, the Word of God tells me that I must by all means endure the process that produces patience to receive God’s Blessing. Proverbs says a hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life. I wonder if God proverbially calls life a tree so that we will come to realize growing faith is a slow process involving many seasons. We will wait. Those who wait in the Lord are promised not just the strength to do so but in their humble state to be lifted up at just the right time. I know you are tired of waiting – I feel your pain. I also know the joy and life that comes when the dream or desire is finally fulfilled. It is always worth the wait.

To be patient is to bear hardship. Life is hard. Bad things happen to good people. Sin is the rampant. Love has grown cold. Worldly expectation cannot count on fulfillment because the heart is fickle. Difficulties are certain. Oppression will come. Suffering is inevitable. Feeling any better yet?

Of course, the final thing and probably the one most understood is pain. Human beings experience pain from birth. It is a common thread. We know how to support each other through painful processes including physical infirmities, emotional breakdowns and mental suffering. Most people have some form of compassion. Pain is part of life because of sin. It was introduced by the first humans who chose their way over God’s Plan. They picked the lie over the Truth and so here we are now. Your sin does not necessarily produce the pain in your life because of anything you do or do not do. It is just a prevailing factor of human depravity. If a virus or germ goes undetected by our immune system, it becomes an infection. If our body doesn’t come against it fighting it, it will lead to death. Sin is a factor in our DNA. God’s Word, His Will and His Way are given to us and we are guided by His Spirit to avoid it. However, we are still subject to the invasion of our life due to the sin that is already here. God’s Grace given in Jesus Christ has broken the power of sin and death over our life. Though there is pain, there is the promise that He will relieve our pain, wipe our tears, and heal us forever.

All of those bearings in life will inevitably happen in your lifetime, but the thing that makes the difference between going through them or to do so patiently is this: to do so with fortitude and calm without complaint, anger or the like. I have endured many things in life. However, by definition there are not many of them which I have done so successfully. I have quit and I have definitely complained. I have been angry. Pitched a fit. Walked away. How about you? God uses these natural situations and everyday occurs us to teach us endurance. To endure means to bear without resistance, to hold out against, to sustain without impairment. It is to tolerate and put up with it. Those who learn to do so are promised God’s Blessing in their life now and later.

Maybe you are thinking as you read this – you have outlined my life, trials, tests and temptation in great detail – are you really trying to make me feel better about it? “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know when your faith is tested, your endurance has a change to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing!” God has a purpose in this process called life. It is not easy. It requires patient endurance that is only possible by faith and confident hope. That is not easy either – faith is evidence of unseen things that cannot be experienced in the natural. It is to explore possibility in the impossible. It to live a life that is illogical compared to our flesh and human nature. It takes time to produce such a change in the heart and mind. Trouble is when the pressure and pain that produces endurance hit us – it is our desire and temptation to escape. Temptation is the personal desire to give up, give in, or go another way when faced with obstacles and oppression the force the God in us to be expelled from us. The pressure of death to life is overwhelming. New life takes time. Like a tree planted by the riverbank going through many seasons, but the promise is that we will prosper in all of them. A tree must withstand every season because it is planted with deep roots in the ground. What about you? Are you planted in a firm foundation of faith? Are you patiently enduring the change of each season? Are you struggling just to hang on? Does the end of your rope appear to be a disappearing thread?

I Peter 2:19-21 (NLT) For God is pleased when, conscious of his will, you patiently endure unjust treatment. Of course, you get no credit for being patient if you are beaten for doing wrong. But if you suffer for doing good and endure it patiently, God is pleased with you. For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps.

I used to perceive God only as futuristic. This was my way of avoiding the things I did not understand or could not reconcile to the Love of God and found contradictory to His Character. There will be things in my heart and mind that I struggle with. Certain outcomes that do not meet my expectation. Are you patiently enduring today or just struggling to get by? I want to encourage you today. If we decide to apply faith and confidence to our struggles each day, it will produce peace and joy as God begins to complete the work that He began in us. Do not be discouraged. The disciples struggled to believe in all things with Jesus right there with them. God is pleased when we patiently endure. He did not say that we were perfect, He is perfect. It is His Perfection that blesses us as He makes good out of every detail of our life. We must only try wholehearted to seek Him and we will find Him. Patient endurance is holding on to our faith without wavering from our faith. He knows life is hard. He knows we are tempted. He knows we are only human. He is working every detail for our good. His Blessing is not our success or failure to overcome the obstacles presented in each day but our simple obedience called patient endurance.

Mark 6:47-50 (NLT)  Late that night, the disciples were in their boat in the middle of the lake, and Jesus was alone on land. He saw that they were in serious trouble, rowing hard and struggling against the wind and waves. About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. He intended to go past them, but when they saw him walking on the water, they cried out in terror, thinking he was a ghost. They were all terrified when they saw him. But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage! I am here!” 

When the disciples were caught in a storm in the pitch black darkness right in the middle of the lake, Jesus was walking across the lake. We often think it is to them, but in the Gospel of Mark it tells us that Jesus was going to pass them by on His Way to the other side. It was a test to measure their faith. Their faith ran out before they made it to the other side. They cried out to the Lord in fear and terror. So He came to them… Jesus will do the exact same thing for you. Yes this may be a test. This may be the opportunity God has designed to grow you in faith and confidence. If you are in need of strength or courage, cry out to Jesus today. He did not tell you that you must do it alone. He is our example. The Lord is our every present help. We are not called to be the strong ones but to be yoked with Jesus so He can be our strength. Don’t go it alone. He is our Lord both now and later.

Habakkuk 2:2-3 (NLT) Then the Lord said to me, “Write my answer plainly on tablets, so that a runner can carry the correct message to others. This vision is for a future time. It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled. If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed.

 

 

What Are You Afraid Of?

what-are-you-afraid-of

I John 4:18 (AMP) There is no fear in love [dread does not exist]. But perfect (complete, full-grown) love drives out fear, because fear involves [the expectation of divine] punishment, so the one who is afraid [of God’s judgment] is not perfected in love [has not grown into a sufficient understanding of God’s love].

What are you afraid of? What is the thing causes fear to well up inside of you? Are you anxious? Many people operate in fear without even knowing it. Some have grown so comfortable in its existence that they are held captive by it unknowingly. There is no fear in love. Maybe you have heard the Christian cliché – “FEAR – False evidence appearing real.” While there is truth in this statement, tell the person who is feeling afraid all you want that it is false but to them it is very real. God’s Will for our life is to become fearless. He did not give us the spirit of fear and works in us to deliver us from all fear. Can you say that today? God, I want to be fearless.

According to 2 Timothy 1:7, God did not give us the spirit of fear. The spirit of fear is characterized as timid and cowardice. Instead, we have been given a spirit of power, love, sound judgment and personal discipline. This is the Truth that must be adopted and accepted as our way of life to drive out every fearful spirit that attempts to take the place of Christ in our life. That’s right. Fear takes up God-Space in us because we have been given the Mind of Jesus Christ. (I Corinthians 2:16) We are to be guided by His Thoughts and Purpose for us now that sin has no hold on us. However, it takes time to rewire our thinking and expose the lie that has held us in bondage so long.

“After the earthquake, [there was] a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire, [there was] the sound of a gentle blowing. When Elijah heard the sound, he wrapped his face in his mantle (cloak) and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. And behold, a voice came to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (I Kings 19:12-13) Don’t beat yourself up, friend! Even strong Christians, steadfast believers and mighty men and women of God are tricked into the captivity of fear along the way. It is a carefully laid snare by the enemy to trap us. (Proverbs 29:25) When faced with fear or anxiety, the only weapon of use that we have is the Truth. The Word of God is the weapon that separates the Truth of God’s Love from the lie of the enemy called fear.

2 Corinthians 10:3-6 (AMP) For though we walk in the flesh [as mortal men], we are not carrying on our [spiritual] warfare according to the flesh and using the weapons of man. The weapons of our warfare are not physical [weapons of flesh and blood]. Our weapons are divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying sophisticated arguments and every exalted and proud thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought and purpose captive to the obedience of Christ, being ready to punish every act of disobedience, when your own obedience [as a church] is complete.

Jesus called out satan for the liar that he is. In John 8:44, he says, “he was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks what is natural to him, for he is a liar and the father of lies and half-truths.” Jesus is essentially saying, “Liar, liar pants on fire.” Sorry, I couldn’t resist. We must develop a weapon useful and effective in combating the fiery darts that come at us every single day. The enemy take not take you out of the game. He cannot snatch anyone who is solidly fixed in God’s Hand or Plan. Distractions, diversions, delays and detours are often created simply because we do not know the Truth and it has not set us free yet.

John 8:31-32 (AMP) So Jesus was saying to the Jews who had believed Him, “If you abide in My word [continually obeying My teachings and living in accordance with them, then] you are truly My disciples. And you will know the truth [regarding salvation], and the truth will set you free [from the penalty of sin].” 

Truth will set you free from believing the lie and living in fear. There is nothing that can ever separate us from God’s Love. God’s Love has a different definition than worldly lust called love. God wants you for you. He created you to be a masterpiece. It doesn’t matter how you see you or others see you – God’s sees His Purpose and Plan for your life and it’s a good one. If only for a moment the Light of His Love could make its way to every dark doubt and deception seeded in us by the enemy’s lies.

What is love? God gives a clear definition of genuine love looks like. Love endures with patience and serenity, love is kind and thoughtful, and is not jealous or envious; love does not brag and is not proud or arrogant. It is not rude; it is not self-seeking, it is not provoked [nor overly sensitive and easily angered]; it does not take into account a wrong endured. It does not rejoice at injustice, but rejoices with the truth [when right and truth prevail]. Love bears all things [regardless of what comes], believes all things [looking for the best in each one], hopes all things [remaining steadfast during difficult times], endures all things [without weakening]. Love never fails [it never fades nor ends].”(I Corinthians 13:4-8) What if God’s People chose to really know God’s Love? What might happen? You cannot give what you do not have. You cannot explain what you do not understand. You cannot live by faith if you do not know God’s Love. Faith is our assurance, title deed and confirmation that the things hoped for are divinely guaranteed. Faith sees the supernatural as factual and spiritual reality above worldly influence. Faith is our confidence in God’s Love that is relaying by a life of confidence and trust that allows us to expect God’s Goodness in all things.

When our son was diagnosed with cancer, I realized my greatest fear in that moment. I am not a fearful person. I tend to forget to lock the door or even shut the garage door at night. I don’t live carelessly either. I don’t think that I am necessarily courageous either. I just don’t struggle a whole with fear or anxiety. However, I faced fear head-on when our son was sick. It was not in the initial diagnosis. God said to trust Him so I did. It was a habit. I had experienced great results giving God my burdens. However, by the third diagnosis, when doctors became concerned that they were running out of treatment options and possibly time. I was introduced to the realm of hope. The reality of hope is that there is no physical foothold to stand on other than a firm foundation of faith which is great in theory. My son’s life was on the line. It was not a game any longer but a matter of life and death. I did not have any power or control over the situation. I did not have the ability to save his life or exchange mine for his. All I could do was pray, trust and believe that no matter what the outcome that God is good and His Love secure. Fear must give way to faith in our life to live in confident trust. We live in confident hope. Hope is not for today but our confidence in forever.

Psalm 23:1-5 (AMP) The Lord is my Shepherd [to feed, to guide and to shield me], I shall not want. He lets me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still and quiet waters. He refreshes and restores my soul (life); He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Even though I walk through the [sunless] valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort and console me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You have anointed and refreshed my head with oil; My cup overflows.

God’s Will for your life is to be brave and courageous. Not in our natural ability, personal power, or strength of self – but in confident trust. God is good. No matter what you are going through in life, He is with us. Ready to guide us and lead us with His Rod and Staff. Wisdom and truth are His Offering. We accept by discipline and obedience. He guides, shields and protects those who follow Him. He prepares us for the dark valleys, famines and droughts ahead of time. Paths of righteousness are not easy. There will be sunless slopes. There will be battles or where else could he prepare tables before our enemies. The difference is faith and confident hope that trusts God’s Love, Grace, Mercy and Goodness every day even on the days that are tough and scary. We rely on the reserve of God in our heart. His Word will dispel the lie of the enemy every single time. The best way to expose the lie holding you captive in fear today is to get in God’s Word and His Presence to find the Truth. The Light of His Love is in His Word. It is the very weapon available to fight for your faith and claim back your mind, will and emotions to be subject to faith and confident hope. You will be fearless when you face your fear and kill it with Truth.

Hebrews 4:15-16 (AMP)  For we do not have a High Priest who is unable to sympathize and understand our weaknesses and temptations, but One who has been tempted [knowing exactly how it feels to be human] in every respect as we are, yet without [committing any] sin. Therefore let us [with privilege] approach the throne of grace [that is, the throne of God’s gracious favor] with confidence and without fear, so that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find [His amazing] grace to help in time of need [an appropriate blessing, coming just at the right moment].

Jesus does not condemn us for our fears but offers opportunities for us to come to Him and receive mercy, grace and help when we are struggling. We are fighting for faith. It is important to keep our eyes fixed on the prize and not focused on fear. Fear cannot produce failure unless we give into it. We must fight fear with faith in God every single day. We must root it out of the fertility of our heard and sow good seeds of God’s Word in its place. We must take captive EVERY SINGLE THOUGHT that is contrary to faith and confidence. Fear and anxiety cannot be welcome, entertained or accepted. It is important to face fear head on in our everyday life to be successful when the true test comes along. I want to be found faith-full not fear-full. We must aim and pursue righteousness in all things so that the lie of the enemy is revealed and truth begins to prevail in our life. We find Truth in His Word and His Presence. Worship is confidence in God. To live a life of worship lives in the Truth of Who God is and His Promises no matter what life looks like right now – it shows our Trust in Who Christ is and not reliant on what He is doing right now.

Psalm 27:1-4 (AMP) The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The Lord is the refuge and fortress of my life—whom shall I dread? When the wicked came against me to eat up my flesh, my adversaries and my enemies, they stumbled and fell. Though an army encamp against me, my heart will not fear; though war arise against me, Even in this I am confident. One thing I have asked of the Lord, and that I will seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord [in His presence] all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty [the delightful loveliness and majestic grandeur] of the Lord and to meditate in His temple.

God’s Plan for my son was to go into remission. He is alive today. God rid his body of cancer and he will graduate from college this year. The reality is that all my children will die one day. It is the partial truth. The whole truth is that my kids love the Lord. They have asked Him to be their Savior. They will be with Jesus the moment after they take their last breath. Our faith is worthless if it cannot take us past this life. Fear is the enemies plot to destroy our faith by continually pressing thoughts, ideas and images in our head of tragedy and trauma. He wants us to believe that there is an end to life. I am alive in Jesus Christ. I have a future that extends past today, tomorrow and my funeral. It is to my advantage to be with the Lord forever. What am I afraid of? Exactly. Fear is absolutely false evidence appearing real but to many it is the reality that prevails in their heart. I rebuke fear, anxiety, worry and stress in the Mighty Name of Jesus. I ask the Holy Spirit to shed the bright Light of God’s Love in each heart today to expose that which God has not given us but has been allowed to live their too long. God give us courage and confidence as we surrender our fears to You today! Give us faith to overcome every obstacle to live fearlessly in Your Love!

Proverbs 1:33 (AMP) “But whoever listens to me (Wisdom) will live securely and in confident trust and will be at ease, without fear or dread of evil.”

The Warrior

knight wearing armor and holding two-handed sword

Joel 3:9-11 (NLT) Say to the nations far and wide: “Get ready for war! Call out your best warriors. Let all your fighting men advance for the attack. Hammer your plowshares into swords and your pruning hooks into spears. Train even your weaklings to be warriors. Come quickly, all you nations everywhere. Gather together in the valley.” And now, O Lord, call out your warriors!

“God doesn’t give the hardest battles to His Toughest Soldiers, He creates the toughest soldiers through life’s hardest battles.” I believe this is absolutely true. Soldiers are developed in training, but warriors are produced in battle. This is contrary to the popular quote, “God gives His Hardest Battles to His Strongest Soldiers.” Forget this idea. Erase it from your brain. This is simply not true. Close but not quite. God has placed eternity in every human heart. It is our purpose in life to secure the Kingdom and arrive at our destination. It will be a fight to the finish to hang on to our faith and secure confident hope. The enemy is real. He is waging war on God’s Elect from the moment the first breath is taken. To believe that my strength is my own puts me at a great disadvantage. The potential within me is a tiny seed called faith. The one who hates me wants to take it from me and destroy it thereby killing me.

I do not mean to discourage anyone by these words but rather to encourage you. Those who feel like weaklings and failures of faith are usually the mightiest of all God’s Warriors. My strength comes from the Lord. The Power within me is Jesus Christ. His Spirit has been given me along with the potential to overcome. This great power is manifested in my utter weakness and humility before the Lord. He is the Warrior. (Exodus 15:3) His Name is Yahweh. Psalm 144:1-2 tells us that God trains our hands for war. He gives our fingers skill for the battle. He is also our loving ally and fortress who is the tower of safety, as well as our rescuer. He is my shield who makes the nations submit to me. There is really not much room for me in this picture except through submission and surrender to the Lord in the heat of the battle and midst of war.

2 Timothy 2:4-7 (NLT) Soldiers don’t get tied up in the affairs of civilian life, for then they cannot please the officer who enlisted them. And athletes cannot win the prize unless they follow the rules. And hardworking farmers should be the first to enjoy the fruit of their labor. Think about what I am saying. The Lord will help you understand all these things.

“Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you.” It is important to know what exactly the fight is all about. The enemy is the author of confusion. Many battles in the Old Testament ended abruptly when the enemy camp was thrown into a state of confusion. A military unit is only as strong as the commitment of each soldier to the mission or objection. Each man’s heart set on the same thing. They become so focused on the goal that the danger surrounding them blurs in the mindset of victory. Athletes are known for the same spirit. The battle faced each day is for faith. Will I hold tight to my faith in the Mighty Warrior enough to trust Him in the face of all opposition? Will I overcome in my weakness submitted to His Grace? The only thing worth fighting for on a daily basis is faith. This is the act of endurance that allows us to reach the end of this life and receive victorious redemption through Jesus Christ. “I fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.”

“Soldiers don’t get tied up in the affairs of civilian life.” This is probably our biggest distraction. We get caught up in pointless pursuits rather than purposeful practice. We are not fighting against flesh and blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world. We wage war on the unseen world, against the mighty powers in this dark world and against evil spirits in heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12) Know your enemy today. It is not the people in life who oppose you but the enemy who uses whatever means necessary to secure your defeat.

John 16:33 (NLT) I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

Jesus Christ overcame the world. “It is finished” meant it was finished. The battle over the war won for us. Now, we fight to believe it. To believe that the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ secured a place for us in His Kingdom so now we are Sons and Daughters of God. The family of unity formed by the Body of Christ binds us as God’s Army ready to fight until death for our faith. Do you believe? Jesus gave us His Spirit to help our unbelief. He knows the battles we face, the struggles of life, the heartache involved and exactly what is needed to overcome. He offers it to us in the form of His Spirit who trains us for the war of life.

John 14:16-18 (NLT) And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you. No, I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you.

Jesus promised to send down His Spirit to us. When He said, “It is finished” with His Last Breath on earth – He did just that releasing His Spirit to all mankind. Now we have an Advocate who teaches us and trains those who are willing to become mighty warriors of the Lord. Not every soldier is a warrior. In 2 Samuel 24, there was a census that noted over a million capable warriors, yet in 2 Samuel 23, only 37 make the list of the mighty men. The Presence of the Holy Spirit within us empowers us to be good soldiers and fight for our faith. It is the total development of that soldier through successful engagements that make mighty warriors. We all have such potential but only few will answer the call to grow from simple soldiers to mighty warriors.

In Joel 3, warriors are called forth. Let’s go back a chapter to Joel 2. Who do we find? The outpouring of the Holy Spirit on all people. Jesus has given us His Spirit with the intent of intensifying our faith, growing our confidence in God that becomes courage. The Spirit becomes our sword in the heat of battle. His Word our weapon. Faith is the shield that keeps us safe when the enemy attacks with all his fiery darts, lies and betrayal. It keeps us focused from distractions and busyness. We all have the potential to become mighty warriors but must be willing to fight for our faith to become one.

Judges 6:11-13 (NLT) Then the angel of the Lord came and sat beneath the great tree at Ophrah, which belonged to Joash of the clan of Abiezer. Gideon son of Joash was threshing wheat at the bottom of a winepress to hide the grain from the Midianites. The angel of the Lord appeared to him and said, “Mighty hero, the Lord is with you!” “Sir,” Gideon replied, “if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? And where are all the miracles our ancestors told us about? Didn’t they say, ‘The Lord brought us up out of Egypt’? But now the Lord has abandoned us and handed us over to the Midianites.”

The Lord found Gideon hiding in a wine press threshing wheat so the enemy would not take it. He greeted Gideon, “Mighty hero, the Lord is with you?” I imagine Gideon probably sarcastically chuckled a bit like Sarah’s laugh at the thought of pregnancy at 99. My current condition will never limit God’s Potential in my life unless I abandon faith. Faith makes every impossibility potential in my life. Gideon was ripe for productivity. He was about to advance from soldier to warrior even though he did not see it, feel like it, or even believe it. God called Gideon who He created Him to be not who He was.

Too often our circumstances and current condition are the thermometer of our faith rather than basing our life outcomes on the Word of God by faith. No soldier enters a battle or athlete a competition intent on losing. Faith is the mindset that in complete submission to Jesus Christ that we overcome every single time that leads us to victory. Doubt means I believe losing is an option. It implies that the Power of Christ within me is not enough. Confident hope produces courage that no matter what happens my victory is secure in the Lord both now and forever. It is not prideful, boastful or cocky just plain good old confidence that Christ is enough.

Gideon was a man. He was human. He asked the angel of the Lord to paraphrase, if I am so “mighty” why am I hiding in a winepress cowering in fear? Why is this happening to me if I have the Favor of God?” Why is life so hard? This life is temporary. The Kingdom is eternal. The Kingdom is taken by force. You must fight for your faith every day in order to enter the Kingdom. Your faith and confident hope becomes the light that leads other to victory. No solider becomes a warrior without acts of engagement and forays on the battlefield. To become a warrior means you must fight the war…and win. Why is this so important? “Thousands upon thousands are waiting in the valley of decision. There the day of the Lord will soon arrive.”

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.

When sharing the wonderful testimony of our son’s victory over cancer thanks be to God, many people say, “I don’t know how you did it” or “I couldn’t have made it through like you”. I immediately stop them. When the cancer diagnosis came it wasn’t the result of a questionnaire given us the choice to opt out of the battle. No it was satan’s best attempt to kill our son and the potential within him. With four relapses, each one threw away every bit of my self-confidence. The thought that I had the power to protect and save my own children destroyed my confidence as a mother. There was little of me left by the time – we entered the realm called hope. But it was there when God’s Grace finally became enough for me that I discovered I am not the strong one at all. My faith is the strength of my life. Faith in Jesus Christ that allows Him to take over when I cannot take another step, breathe another breath, do another thing or hold all the pieces of my broken heart. It is in that very moment that I discover Jesus is all that I need. It is through these times that soldiers become warriors not the other way around. I thought I was strong and self-sufficient along with being faithful. Total surrender to the Power of God is claimed in our absolute weakness apart from Him. This is the potential of the warrior hidden within. When against all odds, our response to the war cry of the enemy is that Christ is enough to overcome and claim victory. To fight for our faith above all other things. To advance the Kingdom at all costs. To care less about our life and more about eternal life.

Nothing can separate you from the Love of God today. He is our overwhelming victory. To engage this life in Christ will create a victorious lifestyle that makes you a warrior rather than just a well-trained soldier. These are the ones who thwart the enemy at every turn. The ones who race out to face the giant. The ones who against all odds persevere not by might, not by power, but by the Spirit of the Living God within them. Are you a soldier or a warrior today? You can choose to advance anything you want to by faith. The Lord is calling His Warriors as He readies His Return. Will you answer the call?

Isaiah 13:2-3 (NLT) “Raise a signal flag on a bare hilltop. Call up an army against Babylon. Wave your hand to encourage them as they march into the palaces of the high and mighty. I, the Lord, have dedicated these soldiers for this task. Yes, I have called mighty warriors to express my anger, and they will rejoice when I am exalted.”

 

Time to Take the Land

time-to-take-the-land

Joshua 1:6-9 (NLT) “Be strong and courageous, for you are the one who will lead these people to possess all the land I swore to their ancestors I would give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do. Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

What is going to make 2017 any different than 2016? Was 2016 just like 2015? What makes this the time? What if it’s not? Oh, but what if it is. The more my heart and mind stir that this is the year of God’s Favor and that it is time for revival – the more I am aware of the steps leading up to this moment. When God says, “Now!” Will I be ready to go? Have I properly prepared? Will I be lost in the moment? Or will it He speak to me the moment after I have given up, given in or decided to walk away? I can only imagine how Joshua felt in that moment when God spoke to him. Moses was dead. He was named leader of a stiff-necked, rebellious people always pursuing other things and new gods. “I promise you what I have promised Moses…” But Moses was dead. Did the dream die with him? No the promise never dies even if the people who see the vision or have the dream of revelation do. God’s Word must come to pass. It cannot return to Him void. “Wherever you set foot, you will be on land I have given you…” Is it too good to be true? Can I really let my guard down? “No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live. For I will be with you as I was with Moses, I will not fail you or abandon you…” God is speaking to my heart today. The time is close. It is coming. I have been lining you up for this moment. It is time to press in and take the land…obtain the promise…fulfill potential… do you believe?

In Joshua 1:6-9, the Lord encourages Joshua. He tells him three times to “be strong and courageous”. I believe in these three verses lie the secret to success and encouragement needed to step into the Promise of God for each one of us individually and corporately as a Body. This Christmas, it seems that the songs I loved the most spoke of Immanuel or God with us. I find comfort, peace and solace in those words. They have been proven in my life by test, trial and fire. I know that if God is with me – I will not fail. However, I cannot see Him or touch Him as I would like to. I cannot rely on “feeling” Him because human emotions are unreliable. I strive to hear Him but some days the Voice of God is drowned out by the lie of the enemy and other distractions along the way. I want to taste and see that He is good but my circumstances cause me to experience the bad things and forget all His Goodness. The only thing that will see me through to the end of this journey called hope is faith. I must believe that God is with me. He has gone before me. I have a promise worth having enough to be strong and courageous. I must believe.

“Be strong and courageous, for you are the one who will lead these people to possess all the land I swore to their ancestors I would give them.”

Isaiah 55:10-11 (NLT) “The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry. It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it.”

Has God given you a dream, vision or Promise too good to be true? Does it defy human logic? It is something that is beyond your natural strength or ability? Does it seem impossible? Awesome! It is definitely God. The promise that the Lord gives us are “yes” and “amen” in Jesus Christ. The only thing standing between me and what God has predestined for my life is His Timing and my faith (or lack thereof). I wait and persevere. I must submit my life as a living sacrifice so that the Lord can remove those hindrances that keep me from completion and fulfillment. If God said it – we must believe it.

When our son was diagnosed with cancer in October 2011, I burst into the Presence of God demanding some answers. You think I am kidding? No, I was a Christian. A born-again believer of many years. I knew enough of His Word to know that this disease did not line up with what I read or believed so in complete devastation and desperation – I went straight to the source. After yelling, screaming, crying and pleading in a hospital bathroom with an unknown stranger guarding the door, I heard His Voice. It was quiet. It was confident. He was persistent. He asked just one question, “Do you trust me?” I said, “Of course, I do.” Well, in my own “Peter” moment, the Lord asked me again, “Yes Lord, I do!” He said to me, “Your son will live and not die to declare my good works.” Boom! Promise delivered. I would struggle to hold that promise tight until this very day. Our son fought cancer for three long tedious years before entering remission two years ago. Against all odds and overcoming the impossible, he is alive and soon to graduate college. Yet, to this day, I must recall the promise over and over.

Holding on to God’s Promise is not for the weak. It drains you of every ounce of personal strength and causes one’s emotions to run amuck. The enemy takes our weakness and tries to turn it against us so that we accept defeat and give up the glory of God coming to us. Have you given up? I gave up on a lot of things over the course of the last fifty years. When it came to the life or death of our son, it was not an option. Giving up and giving in would not do. I believe that it is with such purpose and drive that God’s People receive those precious and perfect promises. It is never because the Lord gave up on us or gave in to the lie of the enemy. He overcame to hand us the Keys to the Kingdom. What are we doing with them? Are they jingling in our pocket? Or are they opening the doors to freedom and the gifts God has for His People?

God’s Word will accomplish what He sets it out to do. Will I be ready to receive it? Will I be there when it arrives? Will I allow the enemy to steal it from me? Not this year, I am determined to dig up, dust off and see God deliver all that He has promised me. I must do my part. I must believe recall those promises and recite them in my life. His Word is not only my title deed claimed by faith, but according to Hebrews 4:12 it is my provider and protector. It cuts away those things holding me back and removes the lie of the enemy. A lie can no longer remain in light of truth. With this in mind, be strong and courageous! God’s Word for your life, His Promise is true and valid even when it is buried by time, trial and temptation.

“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do. Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.”

Proverbs 3:1-6 (NLT) My child, never forget the things I have taught you. Store my commands in your heart. If you do this, you will live many years, and your life will be satisfying. Never let loyalty and kindness leave you! Tie them around your neck as a reminder. Write them deep within your heart. Then you will find favor with both God and people, and you will earn a good reputation. Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.

Notice that the second time, the Lord told Joshua to “be strong and VERY courageous.” Trusting and believing God at His Word is not for the timid or weak. To step out of logic and walk by faith is not socially acceptable. It earns labels of “crazy” and “fool”. You cannot know the Way of God or discern the Will of God without the Word of God. It is the seed that His Spirit uses to produce a harvest in our heart. Each day we must sow His Word in us to strengthen our faith in God and His Promises.

Trusting God for “a” promise requires trusting Him wholeheartedly. Jeremiah 29:11 is unattainable if one does not seek the Lord “wholeheartedly” (Jeremiah 29:13) Straddling the fence and wading in the gray areas of life is not for those who desire the Promise of God for their life. It is a life of true repentance, go for broke generosity, unconditional love, and extravagant grace that His Promise is revealed to us. Many will call on the Name of the Lord to be saved. Some will call Him Lord. But is that enough for you today? I want to be strong and very courageous. I want to jump out of the boat even if it means getting wet sometimes or nearly drowning in my own doubt and disbelief. I want to know Him as Savior. I want to make Him my Lord. I want every promise God has for my life enough to give Him this life to have it.

In December 2007, I began praying for the coming year. What could I give the Lord? We were preparing to fast but food was no longer enough. I needed to give something more. The Lord impressed it upon me to begin getting up thirty minutes early each day to study His Word. I began to blog about my quiet time as an accountability partner. For years, I attempted a morning quiet time and failed miserably – I am not a morning person. I thought it would be my “offering” to the Lord. It was something that “I” was doing for Him. The reality is that those first few years sowed seed in my heart to carry me through the darkest days of my life. I wasn’t really doing anything for Him, the Lord was doing something in me. This has been my experience time and time again.

Every “little thing” that I submit, surrender or sacrifice to the Lord is used for my good and His Glory. When I read His Word, study it, meditate on it and believe it – the seed produces a harvest in my heart for the future. It may be the very thing that sustains me through great temptation and trial. It makes all the difference in the test. It is the only thing that always produces good in our life. We cannot live without it. We cannot be confident in anything else and succeed.

“This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Romans 5:1-5 (NLT) Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory. We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

Are you afraid? Have you become discouraged? Have you wandered from your walk with the Lord? Be strengthened today. It is a known fact according to His Word that when we are weak, His Strength is manifested in our life. We cannot reach Jesus until realizing that it can no longer be accomplished by self. You haven’t failed unless you refuse to get up. You may have fallen but He will lift you up. Your heart may be broken. This is when Jesus is the closest. When no one can do for you what the Lord can do is when we come to Him in complete humility. This hope will not lead to disappointment. You must hold it with all that you are. God is with you! He goes before you and falls in behind you. He is with you every step of the way. He prepared the path before you. Dead dreams can be resurrected. Lost vision can be restored. Your “time away” did not hinder the process of God – it was part of His Plan and Preparation. The Promise God made you belongs to you. It is titled and deeded to you obtained by faith alone. His Grace is enough to overcome every obstacle and boundary between you and God’s Glory for you. God has done His Part and Jesus, too! The rest, my friend, is up to me and you.

Hebrews 10:23-25 (NLT) Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.

In preparation for the New Year, I am examining my life from God’s Point of View. Before I attempt to “do” one more thing for Him, I am asking the Lord to reveal to me the things He has been trying to do that I have given up on. To reveal every lie that I have given into. This is not about “new things” but dead dreams that need resurrection life. Words spoken to me and over me that have not come to pass but are not impossible by faith. I want God’s Will, His Word and His Way to completely overtake my life. It will require strength that can only come from the Lord. It will require courage that is born of complete confidence and trust in my Lord.

We need each other. The people took the land together. You are not an island. We are part of a Kingdom. It operates best together. God loves harmony, unity and wholeness that represents fully the embodiment of His Son, Jesus. We must get it together church. Apart from doctrine, religiosity and mission statements to open wide our hearts to every man, woman and child. There is strength in unity. Strength and power needed to take the land and build His Kingdom. We must encourage, build up and fortify one another to be confident and courageous. We must decrease and let Christ increase in our lives. I must decrease, He must increase in me. It is time to take the land!

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

What Are We Fighting For?

What Are We Fighting For

I John 5:3-5 (NIV) In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.

What is the “good fight” of faith anyway? Is there such a thing as a “good fight”? Fighting makes me most uncomfortable. I don’t like to fight. I don’t like to be around others who are fighting. I hate disagreements and discord. There is common ground to live on who is the foundation for life. His Name is Jesus Christ. So why so much division? Why all the discord? Why don’t churches worship together in one accord? Where is the harmony? Where is the unity? Where is the model of the first church into today’s modern congregations? If our common ground truly is Jesus Christ is the Son of God, who came to this world, died on the Cross, went in the tomb robbing death and the grave, only to emerge three days later with victory in His Hand which He delivered straight to us, then I am wondering what are we fighting for?

Faith. We are fighting to believe not really for what we believe. If you think about it, we have victory in Jesus Christ. If we believe that completely, there is no reason to engage in another argument, fight another doctrine, or lash out at any naysayers. We win. Game over. We are victorious overcomers just like the Word of God says. That is, if we believe the Bible is true and valid for our life. To have the victory means handing our life over to the Champion. One will never genuinely surrender their life to Christ if they do not fully believe Him capable to complete it. So how do I know that I am fighting for the right thing? How do I have confidence that makes me courageous no matter what the condition or circumstances around me?

Courage comes from confidence. Are you confident in the Lord today? Doubt, worry, stress, fear are all evidence that confidence is lacking in the life that we live. These qualities of disbelief should engage us in pursuing Jesus more and more. His Grace is enough for me. It is strength assumed in my every weakness and trust me I am weak. When I cannot do it any longer, I come to Christ. It really should be the other way around and I am working on it day by day. But in the clear and present danger of trials, tests and temptations, I must learn to have confident hope that will stand in the face of opposition, pressure and adversity because Jesus overcame the world. I wasn’t there. I didn’t see it. I just have to believe it. I must apply this one belief to every aspect of my life.

I Timothy 6:12 (NIV) Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

My faith has the potential to produce eternal life. My faith in Jesus Christ allows me to exchange my sin through repentance and accept His Grace which gives me right standing with God again. Too often, people make more out of this than what it really is. We have a variety of churches worshipping God in a plethora of ways, but what matters – the only thing that matters – is our faith in Jesus Christ for salvation and the remission of sin. Sin is the cancer inside of that eats away at our soul. Jesus puts that “cancer” in remission which is called righteousness. Righteousness can only be achieved as long as sin is in remission. We must fight the good fight of faith in order to remain in such a state with God through His Son, Jesus. When we fight for lesser things, it tears away at our confident hope that faith in Jesus Christ gives us victory.

I did not have to fight my way to the Cross. I did not have to demand anything from the Lord, but only ask and He saved me. He has handed me the Keys to His Kingdom but my flesh wants to earn what is freely given. It cannot stand the thought of indebtedness so chooses religion as a vehicle to self-righteousness. When David approached the battlefield where he would become a giant killer. It was not because David had any form of self-confidence. Yes, he had achieved small victories along the way protecting the sheep. David did not come with armor, a shield or even a sword that day. He came with a strong heart passionate to be one with the Lord. When the giant dared cast insults about the Lord, David responded from his heart not his head. Courage and confidence in Jesus Christ is a heart matter not a thought in one’s head.

I Samuel 17:46-48 (NIV) This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.” As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him.

We live life each day with responsibilities and duties that are diverse. We have families, homes, jobs and churches that fill our life with a flurry of activity. Confident hope that leads to firm faith is developed in our daily activities dedicated to Christ. David developed his faith in God and confidence sitting on hillsides watching after sheep. His brothers considered him to be weak and wimpy yet all the while the Lord was conditioning his heart. The intent of heart determines if the confession of our life is bold and courageous confidence in Christ or if it is an arrogant, prideful, self-righteous boast. We must know the difference. It is not what you think. David ran quickly toward the battle that day to meet the giant with courageous confidence in Jesus Christ but for the majority of his days before that – David sat still.

Exodus 14:13-14 (NIV) Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

“Be still, and know that I am God…” (Psalm 46:10) To be still in God is to be consistent and committed in all circumstances and conditions. It is to ignore the wind, waves and storms of life to keep our eyes on Jesus. What is your response to adversity? When things go wrong who do you run to? True confidence in Christ keeps our feet planted firmly in the Word of God, His Promise written on our heart is sealed with His Spirit, and we stand firm through trial, temptations and trouble. This can be really tough in this world of opposition in which we live.

To be still in the Lord is to be confident. It means that when trouble comes those with confident hope and steadfast faith will wait for the Lord to respond rather than reacting in the natural. We can stand still knowing that He perfects that which concerns us. He is our Helper. Constant companion who promises to never leave us or forsake us. David would go on to become a mighty warrior. You, my friend, are a mighty warrior. This is not a feat of human strength or even a mastery of mind over matter. Nope. You are a mighty warrior because God gave you the victory. Jesus is your Champion. The Champion who is alive in us. Greater is He that is in me (us) than he that is in the world. This is my confidence. This is the anchor of hope that keeps my confidence in Christ strong!

Proverbs 2:30-31 (NIV) There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the Lord. The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but victory rests with the Lord.

“God, give me grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, courage to change the things which should be changed, and the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other. Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time, accepting hardship as a pathway to peace, taking, as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it, trusting that You will make all things right, if I surrender to Your will, so that I may be reasonably happy in this life, and supremely happy with You forever in the next. Amen.” (Reinhold Niebuhr)

I must apologize to Mr. Niebuhr because I used to loathe the Serenity Prayer. Truly, detest it. In my heart I felt that it was just giving up and giving in to this world and night fighting for faith at all.

What I have discovered is that the greatest test of our faith is one’s ability to be still and accept the Will of God completely. Until I was faced with a life or death matter beyond any personal control at all, I couldn’t understand grace to accept the Will of God. I couldn’t understand or comprehend a faith in God that says have your Way, Lord even if it kills me. Life must be lived in adversity. The testing of our faith will always be refinement as unpleasant as it is. True freedom in Christ is the full acceptance of God’s Grace that allows us to stand still watching and waiting on the Lord with full confidence that His Plan is always better and worth waiting for … even if it kills us. That’s the whole point. I am crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. (Galatians 2:20)

Philippians 1:20-21(NIV) I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.

Perhaps I have mellowed with age or maybe if I am lucky, I have matured with wisdom but I have decided that my life is worth nothing if I do not live for the Lord. He is my purpose. He is my passion. He is my portion. He is my promise. I had to come to a point where I decided for myself, “Forsaking all others God, I choose you!” It is not a battle easily won because it is not against flesh and blood. I am fighting for what I believe each day. This is not to make you believe, but to make sure that my confidence is well-placed in Jesus Christ. The tug-o-war match between Jesus and my flesh must establish Christ as the Champion.

I love to read about King Jehoshaphat. He was great leader who loved the Lord. I Chronicles 20 tells of his plight when the Moabites and Ammonites along with others came to wage war against him. He went straight to the Lord. He gathered all the people of Judah together and prayed to the Lord, when finished they remained there until God responded. The Lord told him – “Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army (what you can see). For the battle is not yours (or mine either) but God’s.” Your battle today is to maintain faith in Jesus all other battles are already won in Jesus Name. You just have to believe it enough to do what God says and wait until He comes. While standing “still”, the enemy advanced on them. They were oblivious because their eyes were not on the enemy but on the Lord. They began to sing and praise. While they did, the Lord causes the enemy to turn on themselves and kill each other. Every single one was dead by the time Jehoshaphat and the people made it to the battle ground. All they were left to do was accumulate the plunder. God won the victory and rewarded the people for their faith.

How many times do we rush into to fight battles and enter skirmishes that the Lord never intended us to engage in? How many times has His Word been be still and we charged off on our own? Rebellion is rebellion. It doesn’t matter how good our intentions are if they are contrary to God’s Word, Will or Way for our life. What are you fighting for today? If it is faith, then you must learn to be bold, confident and consistent in standing still to wait on the Lord. We must guard our heart above all things. (Proverbs 4:23) To live for Christ and die is gain. Can you say that today? Live or die I do it for Jesus. Has God given you a promise today that just seems impossible? Stand on that promise. Be still and know that He is God who does not ever lie or change His Mind. If He said it – the Lord meant it. Be still. Fight the Good Fight of Faith but remaining steadfast in the Lord.

Psalm 24:7-10 (NIV) Lift up your heads, you gates; be lifted up, you ancient doors that the King of glory may come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, you gates; lift them up, you ancient doors that the King of glory may come in. Who is he, this King of glory? The Lord Almighty—he is the King of glory.

Bird’s Eye View

Birds Eye View

Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV) “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

At the closing table signing papers for our new house, the previous owners told us about the hummingbirds. They had left a hook on the front porch for a feeder in the place that theirs had been and told us that if we replaced it the hummingbirds would come. I have never had a bird feeder in my yard before or hung nectar for hummingbirds. Funny that of all the things they could have shared about life in this house it would be about the little fluttering creatures. On a supply run, I decided to buy a feeder and some red nectar and give it a go. Sure enough not one but three hummingbirds drained it quickly. The feeder is hung outside the windows to the study so in the early morning sunlight or late as the sun finally sets, they are there flittering around it. In the flowerbed just outside is a two-prong hook, it is also for bird feeders. I think I will try my hand at some feeders for the other winged friends in our yard. Don’t laugh at me for my enthusiasm. This is a different life for me. God has brought me to a place that I have never been before and a lifestyle I didn’t even know would be appealing – His Ways are higher than my ways.

“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Adjusting to my taste of country living has made me reevaluate some things in my life. God has a plan for us. Sometimes it seems unclear and elusive. In fact, most of the times that is the case. What if we looked at life from a bird’s eye view? What if rather than focusing on what we see right in front of us, we were able to fly over our current condition to see the bigger picture from the heights of the heavens? Birds have that unique ability. They can fly. If danger approaches, they can fly away quickly. If the storm rolls in, they can rise above it or use the wind to lift them higher. The birds clearly have the advantage it seems. Looking through God’s Word, I find several examples given to us by a fine feathered friends to remind us that we serve a God who has ways and thoughts higher than our own. We cannot see all that the Lord is doing so like these creatures who depend on the Lord for everything – we must learn to do the same.

Matthew 6:25-27 (NIV) “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

If I forget to refill the nectar in the feeder, the hummingbirds will still be just fine. The Lord provides the nectar they need in flowers. They do not need me. I enjoy caring for them and watching them come near. “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet the Father feeds them.” Did you know that no matter how hard you work, toil and labor that God is our provider? He gives us the ability to go to work and earn income but it is not according to the hours we put in or one’s ascent up the corporate ladder that determines our prosperity. No, it is God’s Blessing and Favor that gives us the good things that we enjoy. If I stress and worry my life away, I have wasted precious time. It does not impact God’s Faithfulness in the slightest. God supplies our needs. Birds do not worry, stress or fret over food – they trust the Lord.

Before moving on, I would like to point out that birds also understand sacrifice. They were called by God as a sufficient sacrifice in the Book of Leviticus. In Genesis 8, birds were part of the covenant sacrifice bringing together God and Abram (who would become Abraham). Then the word of the Lord came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son who is your own flesh and blood will be your heir.” He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness. He also said to him, “I am the Lord, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to take possession of it.” But Abram said, “Sovereign Lord, how can I know that I will gain possession of it?” So the Lord said to him, “Bring me a heifer, a goat and a ram, each three years old, along with a dove and a young pigeon.” (Genesis 15:4-9) We must sacrifice our life for Jesus Christ. We must give up our way to follow His Way… the only way. You cannot head in two directions at the same time. One way must be conceded. I am crucified with Christ now I live.

Matthew 13:31-32 (NIV) He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.”

Birds know that their provision rests is found in the Presence of God. By faith, they continually look for what they need with complete confidence that the Lord will supply. I am quite certain that our winged friends are not plagued by emotions and feelings that distract and detour them along the way. We must stop relying on what we feel and experience becoming completely dependent on the Lord and taking Him at His Word.

Matthew 10:28-30 (NIV) Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.

God is our protector. We have no reason to fear. If a sparrow cannot fall to the ground outside the Father’s care, how much more important are you to the Lord? He knows the number of hairs on our head and dares the enemy to touch just one of them. I rebuke fear from your life in the Name of Jesus. In order to maintain one’s courage, we must believe that God is our protector and continually seek His Refuge.

My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young—a place near your altar, Lord Almighty, my King and my God. Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you.” (Psalm 84:2-4) The sparrow and her friend, the swallow, choose to make their nest in the Presence of God. They have decided that He is everything they need and desire so they live right there with the Lord. Too many times we live double lives – one way in church and another in life. Wondering why we do not live up to God’s Glorious Standard by settling for substitutions and compromises. We must learn to wait on the Lord living in His Presence while “He perfects that which concerns you (us).” Psalm 138:8.

I Kings 17:3-6 (NIV) “Leave here, turn eastward and hide in the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan. You will drink from the brook, and I have directed the ravens to supply you with food there.” So he did what the Lord had told him. He went to the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan, and stayed there. The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook.”

Ravens represent those who choose to obey the Lord. When God wanted his prophet to be fed, He instructed the ravens to do so and they did. What do I do when God instructs me to do something? Is obedience my immediate reaction or an afterthought? Do I miss opportunities to take God at His Word? Am I even listening at all?

Matthew 3:16-17 (NIV) As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

The dove represents the Holy Spirit. The Mind of Christ given to us by the Father to help us in our weakness and to give us understanding of God’s Ways. The Spirit of God descended “like a dove” on Jesus after He was baptized. We are given the Holy Spirit when we accept Jesus as our personal Savior and Lord. He is our partner in life who guides and instructs. The dove made an appearance in Genesis 8 when Noah released the dove over and over again to find the place God had sent them. To know it was time to open the arc and make their home in that place. We should use the Holy Spirit as our guide as well. He is in us. He is active. The Spirit of the Living God is essential in explaining God’s Word to us, revealing His Secrets and giving us complete understanding that can be turned to wisdom.

Isaiah 40:30-31 (NIV) Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Everyone loves the eagle. He reveals God’s Renewal and Restoration to us. His Promise to renew our strength when we grow weary and restore our hope when all seems lost. It says that those who hope in the Lord will “soar on wings like eagles.” Are you able to rise above your circumstances today? Have the burdens of life weighted you down? In Job 39, we find the ostrich which is a flightless bird. She is referred to as a bird who God “did not endow with wisdom or give her a share of good sense.” I don’t want to be like an ostrich who buries her head in the sand when trouble comes. I want to be like an eagle who soars above this finite view of life to see things as God sees them. I want to know His Ways that are higher than my ways. I want confidence in the Lord’s Provision and Protection living in His Presence all the days of my life. It requires a new perspective and not one that is based on the ground. I must take a bird’s eye view of life to live as they do.

Psalm 103:1-5 (NIV) Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits—who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

Come Boldly

come boldly

Hebrews 4:15-16 (NIV)

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

 

The New Living Translation of this verse says, “So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God.” Come boldly. Boldness is born of confidence. It is to have full assurance of our entitlement that creates an inner drive to claim that which belongs to us. It is a sense of ownership. Such confidence knows no shame as it works toward acquisition. Oh that the church would become bold again. Oh that the men and women of God that fills each sanctuary big or small would come to the Lord with boldness to receive the inheritance that He has designated just for them. Each personal pursuit need not seek after another for in the Lord’s Portion there is always more than enough. He does more than we can even think to ask for, yet we do not ask. Greater is He that is in us then he who is in the world – yet the church cowers in a corner a victim to politics, people and personal agendas. Lord, why are your people so weak and shallow? Why don’t we have more than enough and live in abundance as You desire? Have we lost confidence in You? Did we have it to begin with? Faith is weak and flesh overpowering.

 

The Lord is my portion. He is my lot in life. He makes me secure. (Psalm 15:5-6) He supplies all my needs. (Philippians 4:19) God pushes us to completion for He does not understand compromise. (James 1:4-5) God desires to give us eternal pleasure not fleeting happiness or fuzzy feelings. (Psalm 16:11) He has given everything and every season a proper place in my life that will produce the eternity in my heart as a reality for me. (Ecclesiastes 3) The Lord has given me everything I need by His Divine power to life a godly life and see Heaven come to the earth. (2Peter 1:3) So why is my life less than perfect? Why all the pain? What is my problem? Am I ashamed? Perhaps, it is not a matter of heaven touching earth. Heaven is pressing its windows and doors waiting for release. Could it be that I do not have enough confidence or faith to come boldly before the Lord? Does sin separate me from satisfaction leaving me struggling in substitutions? Does my faith allow the Lord to release all these wonderful things in my life or has fear rejected them? Lord, I want to come boldly. Please show me the way.

 

Lamentations 3:22-26 (NIV)

The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!” The Lord is good to those who depend on him, to those who search for him. So it is good to wait quietly for salvation from the Lord.

 

I have had an epiphany. It came in the midst of the greatest trial of my life. Praying for my son in his hospital room with more than ten infusion pumps beeping as the contents rushed through his veins. Medication, nutrition, and poison all at once into his frail body. As I continued to ask the Lord to save our boy, I felt it as though a cold, hard rock dropped in my heart falling to my stomach. He will die… one day. We all are dying slowing as we live our life. It is God’s Mercy so that we do not have continue to live in dilapidated and deteriorating conditions as our flesh is wasting away. We have blessed release. I do not believe a person who sees Jesus and steps into Eternity to be with Him every thinks twice about coming back. All of this life fades in comparison to His Beauty in that moment for all time. Heaven touches earth but does not change the earth but prepares us for His Kingdom. The Presence of God comes to people not places. This life is preparing us for the moment that we meet Him face-to-face. I want to know that Jesus knows me and invites me into forever with Him.

 

During our son’s illness, my life was completely reprioritized in about 30 seconds. Everything fell off me in that moment and all I knew was that I would fight for his life. Period. End of story. I would find out just what it meant to stand on the Word of God and wait on Him to make it come to pass. But in the meantime, I would learn so much more about God’s Plan for us as people. Your trial may not be the illness of your child. It may be a battle against your flesh. Struggle with depression, anxiety or fear. It could be that you just don’t know what to believe. These are the laments or complaints of life. There is a book called Lamentations. It is there that we find this verse.

 

When we have a need that becomes desperate, we turn to the Lord. When it is just too much for us, we ask the Lord for help. This is not the standard operating procedure that yields God’s Abundance in our life. The Lord is our portion. He makes our part the whole. We are part of the Body of Christ. It is Jesus that connects us to the whole. Do we feel as though it is possible to be completely connected to Christ? If so, we would come boldly. Each morning the Lord supplies us with His Mercy. Why? His Unfailing Love and Compassion for us know that we may slip and fall or even fail miserably so He provides for us ahead of time what we need to keep going. Our relationship does not make Jesus part of our life, but when He becomes our portion than we become part of the whole Body of Christ and Kingdom of Heaven. It is a working connection that completes us not because we have anything to give but He gives us everything.

 

Matthew 15:22-28 (NIV)

A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.” Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said. He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.” “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.

 

Is Jesus copping an attitude… no, not really. The Lord was making a valid point. The woman was a Gentile. She was not a Jew. So his point that day was valid in the natural, but not Jesus’ point of view in the supernatural. He was speaking to us even way back then. The woman came to Jesus and called Him, “O Lord, Son of David.” She recognized that He was the Messiah. She identified with Jesus who He was and what He came to do. Jesus did not acknowledge her, not a word. So the disciples responded to his apparent disregard for her and tried to send her away. Now as a mom who has experienced an agonizing and life-threatening situation with our son, I totally get her next move. I have had to do it, too.

 

“Lord, help me!” See what just happened, her knowledge of who Jesus was became faith the moment it became personal. She called him, “Lord”. She accepted Jesus as her Savior and Lord the moment that she came boldly before Him. She didn’t care what He did next as long as He did something because she believed in Jesus. She trusted him. She would eat the very crumbs beneath His Table if need be, she came boldly for her portion. What did Jesus do? How did He respond to such boldness and confidence? “Dear woman, your faith is great. Your request is granted.” Her daughter was instantly healed.

 

Could Jesus have done it the instance she arrived? Of course. His Unconditional Love would not let her settle for just a healing but rendered salvation the moment she believed. What are you willing to settle for? We settle all the time. Tolerating sin. Accepting substitutions. Considering compromise. Why? We do not have faith. Knowing who Jesus is. Understanding what He can do. It is not enough. When we finally decide that He can AND will do it for us, Jesus becomes our more than our Savior – He becomes our Lord. Now we ignore sin, push past substitutions and will not entertain compromise. We are Children of the King. We don’t settle for crumbs but go straight for the table with confident boldness that our God will do what He says. Or do we…

 

Psalm 138:3 (NIV) When I called, you answered me; you greatly emboldened me.

 

Studying the story of the Canaanite woman, a commentary referred to this passage. “You greatly ‘embolden’ me.” The word “embolden” means to make bolder, more earnest, hearten and encourage. Why would the Lord make the woman continue to beg? That is not what occurred in this story at all. He moved her from the crumbs to the table. He moved her from possible to impossible. He moved her from complacently to complete satisfaction. When Jesus stops becoming a novel idea and the Lord of our life every outcome changes as He works every detail of our life for good according to His Will. See she could have continued to forage and fight for the scraps with the dogs, but when Jesus went from being Lord to becoming her Lord everything changed in her life beginning with the thorn in her flesh that brought weakness to be filled by His Grace.

 

We do not cry out when things go well, but in great distress. We do not petition God in the good times but run to Him when things go badly. In our lack, we seek for Him to meet our need but all along God desires to complete us until we are lacking no good thing. He is attempting to produce an abundance of the fruit of His Spirit so it will overflow from us in to life around us especially other people. If we could only get past our doubt that He is our Lord, we could sit at the feast He prepared before our enemies. Our cups would run over with the blessings of God. Yes, friend, there would be a great revival.

 

The Lord allows us to wait to draw us closer to Him thereby releasing our inheritance and more of our portion that is mandated by God included in His Plan and Purpose for us. It belongs to us. It is waiting on us. Our petition becomes more earnest the more desperate that we become. While we seek Him for a singular segment, Christ desires to give us double portions. When we become confident in who Christ is, make Him our Lord and live for Him only, we will have a completely satisfied life that allows us to seek out others rather than seeking Him for ourselves. Revival comes when His Spirit overflows from us and the four walls of building and captivates a community. How can we boldly share a Savior and Lord who we have not accepted fully for ourselves?

 

Isaiah 61:7 (NIV)

Instead of your shame you will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace you will rejoice in your inheritance. And so you will inherit a double portion in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours.

 

The Spirit of the Lord is upon us. Jesus gave us His Spirit. We revel in the first three versus of this chapter, but we must move on to the rest. We are to be rebuilders. We must become restorers. We are to renew those lives devastated by generations of sin and coated in shame. How do we do that if we cannot accept it for ourselves first? Our lives should be marked by shameless pursuits of Christ. Coming to His Throne boldly with every facet of our earthly existence that does not line up with His Word while we devote our life to faithful obedience because He is our Lord. It has become personal. It evokes passion. Do you believe? Do you have faith in Jesus as Lord of your life and everything in it? This is how we accept His Portion. He give those who choose to live by faith, hope and love in every season good or bad, feast or famine continually pressing and pushing for the life He promised, the blessings that He gives and fulfillment He offers. No, I don’t deserve it. Jesus gave it to me. I only need to accept Him. When I fully believe that He is my Savior and Lord all these things are added to my life. I can live shamelessly. I do not know disgrace but rejoice in inheritance. I will inherit the double portion when I believe in Christ alone and everlasting joy is mine just knowing Him more. I must come boldly. Obedience is a sign of confidence. We must be bold. Jesus is calling. He is inviting us closer. He is creating an atmosphere for His People to experience revival again. It begins when we decide to come boldly.

 

Matthew 7:7 (NIV)

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”

 

Psalm 73:25-26 (NIV)

Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Trust Fall

Trust Fall

I John 4:17-19 (NKJV)

Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the Day of Judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him because He first loved us.

 

There is no fear in love. There is fear in life. Everyone experiences different levels according to experience and exposure. Born and raised in the city and suburbs, I am a bit leery of walking outside beyond where the light stretches. I am not interested in meeting with any other living creature or anything that goes bump in the night. We love Him because He first loved us is good but is it enough to conquer our fears in life. It can be.

 

Through many experiences in life, I thought that I was a brave person. Childhood troubles, adult traumas and life experience afforded many opportunities to grow in this area. However, nothing would ever prepare me for the fear faced when our child was diagnosed with cancer. It seemed that my whole life came crashing down around me in a single moment with just one sentence. I couldn’t breathe anymore. I couldn’t feel anything. The world still moving around me stood still in my mind. When everyone was finally settled, I retreated to a dirty restroom to dissolve before my Lord. It was the moment that I realized I didn’t have enough strength to go on. Completely overtaken by emotion, weakness and despair, I crashed boldly into the Throne Room of my God and demanded immediate attention. As I have shared many times, He met me right there. He did not change the circumstances. He did not settle the situation. He did not provide a way out just a way through it. In that room, God gave me His Word. “Your son will live and not die.” The rest of the journey would be based on just seven words.

 

People say all the time, “I don’t know how you did it, I couldn’t.” Yes you can. When faced with life’s troubles, trials and tragedies, there is no place to opt out. As we signed countless forms for insurance, consents and releases to begin treatment, nowhere could I find a box allowing us to pass on this opportunity. God does not cause the problems in our life but simply offers us solutions. Sin started this mess. It will continue to wreak havoc until Jesus comes again. The promise that we have is that we can know “that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His Purpose.” The Lord perfects that which concerns us. (Psalm 138:8) Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. (John 14:6) If only we believed enough to hang on to these promises until the end, we would see time and time again that we have nothing to fear and everything to gain when we live courageously in His Love. There is no fear in love. Perfect love casts out all fear. We are to be courageous today.

 

Psalm 23:4-6 (NKJV)

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your Rod and Your Staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

 

Before you decide you cannot relate because you have never experienced anything like this before, don’t do that. Do not invalidate your journey in life as we are all headed in the same direction. There is but one destination for everyone. We can only choose to enter through Jesus Christ to avoid judgment and hell one day. His Grace is sufficient for us. But in that same verse, it reminds us that His Power works best in our weakness. Life will make you weak. The prevailing sin and darkness in the world will wear you down. The more your passion in pursing Jesus Christ the more powerful the attacks against your life. The battle is real. Your soul counts to God and is the target of the enemy. Each engagement escalates. When you do not give up and gain a victory, the next one will be just a little bit (or a lot tougher). You are God’s Masterpiece. You are His Treasure. The enemy seeks to steal, kill and destroy that which is precious to God. We must never lose sight of our value and worth to the Kingdom and the plight against us at the enemy’s hands.

 

Though you have not faced a burden too big for you to bear, do not let down your guard. This is not a call to fear but a directive to live strong and courageous every single day. It says that perfect love drives away fear from our life. David said, “I will fear no evil.” Why? “You are with me.” It doesn’t say that there will be no battles but that in the midst of opposition that God prepares a table for us. He anoints us with His Power as a product of His Love. Our cup runs over. We have everything we need to win. We just have to remain obedient. Where in the world did that come from? Well, it says the Lord is my Shepherd. It goes on to say that “Your Rod and Your Staff, they comfort me.” The rod is representative of discipline. God’s Word guides us through life from victory to victory. It is the Truth that dictates the outcomes for those who choose to live in it and obey it. The staff could be representative of many things but I think it is His Spirit. The staff is that which the shepherd uses to guide and direct his sheep. Pull them out of the messes they fall into. Point the way. The Holy Spirit teaches us everything we need to know about living a godly life and securing our place in forever. Jesus told the woman at the well that there was coming a day when people would worship the Lord in Spirit and Truth. Well, today is that day.

 

Psalm 56:10-13 (NKJV)

In God (I will praise His Word), in the Lord (I will praise His Word), In God I have put my trust; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? Vows made to You are binding upon me, O God; I will render praises to You, for You have delivered my soul from death. Have You not kept my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of the living?

 

I will praise His Word. When everything falls apart, we must cling to God’s Word for us. When the storm comes upon us, the waters rise, or the wind becomes a tornado, it is very difficult to seek shelter if you do not know where it is. Everyone needs an emergency plan. God has given us His Word. He has given us light for the darkness ahead of time. Courage is a heart condition. It is built on a foundation of faith in something whether natural strength, ability or Jesus Christ. We must decide before tragedy strikes or trouble comes where to place our faith and trust. We have a house. When a thunderstorm comes, I continue to live in the shelter of my house unaffected by the weather all around me. I trust that my house will keep me safe in a storm. What about the Refuge of my life? Do I have confidence that God is with me? Am I certain that He will never leave me or forsake me? Do I know without any doubt that His Love will keep me in all things from falling? We don’t wait until the storm is upon us to seek shelter and supplies. We clear the grocery store of all the nonperishables, water and batteries that we can find. We head for home locking the doors and closing the windows. When it does come, we can watch from the safety of our home living on the supplies fully stocked. This is how our life in Jesus must be to respond courageously when trouble comes. It will come. No one is exempt. The Lord did promise that He could stop the assaults in our life but that in each one we could be more than conquerors for this world He did overcome.

 

2 Timothy 1:6-7 (NKJV)

Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

 

Our faith must be in Christ alone. Our confidence in the hope that is forever. We cannot build a successful life on the things of this world or the outcomes it promises. This world is dying. The Gift of God is eternal life. His Spirit inside of us is His Guarantee that it is coming. But ultimately the Greatest that we have been given is God’s Love. That is the very subject of our hope and faith in the Lord is that His Love provides enough grace and mercy to get from here to eternity. We can only take Him at His Word for now. This must be enough. It must be the credibility of our life.

 

When our son was diagnosed, his cancer was advanced and spreading. The doctor indicated that they would do the best they could and “try” to save him. Well friend, that was not good enough for me. This world is not my home. I had given my life and family into God’s Hands long before this. The circumstance we were facing did not line up to what I had read and had been told about the Lord. So we discussed it, and sure enough what the doctor had to say was not what God had planned. We must stir up the Gift of God in us. We must have faith in His Love, Compassion, Goodness, Kindness, Grace and Mercy. It is the very thing that keeps us when the world discards us to fate. God did not give us the spirit of fear and it is high time that God’s People stopped accepting everything the enemy hands them as truth and consequence. God did not give you the spirit of fear but rather the Holy Spirit that leads to all truth. God’s desire is to see all of His People saved, healed and delivered. We must believe that is true enough to be courageous in our confident hope and His Faithful Love.

 

Deuteronomy 31:6 (NKJV)

Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.”

 

A friendly reminder today – God has not left you. He has not forgotten about you. He is with you. God loves you. Jesus has provided every bit of His Power to you when He imparted you with His Spirit – the Holy Spirit. You do not have to be afraid about anything you are facing no matter how great and overwhelming down to the small and insignificant. The Lord is working on your behalf. When the enemy offers us fear, we must be ready to reject it and fall back into God’s Love. The trust falls in life are hard. However, the confidence found in each successful pass is worth it. God is filling you with faith and confident hope. Courage is a heart condition. It will never be manifested until one’s heart and mind are made up that God truly loves them, Jesus really did die for them, and the Holy Spirit with all God’s Power is in them. This is how we overcome by the Blood of the Lamb and the Word of our testimony. We will never be successful overcomers until we are able to take God at His Word. Jesus was the Word wrapped in flesh. Be strong. Be of good courage. God is with you today right where you are in whatever you are going thorough. Why not just turn around and fall into His Waiting Arms?

 

Still Waiting – A Devotion

Still Waiting

Psalm 62:1-5 (NLT)

Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him.  He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken. My victory and honor come from God alone. He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me. O my people, trust in him at all times. Pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge. 

 

I still hate to wait. I am a very impatient person. Over the last three years of my life, I have had to wait a lot. More than I ever thought possible without me losing it completely. Doctor’s appointments and endless consultations for our son have made waiting inevitable. Those are just the day-to-day waits meshed together with the line at the grocery store, slow teller at the bank, and the traffic just to get home every day. It is not uncommon for an outburst of hysterical laughter to blurt out when I encounter yet another delay in my timeline. I have come to expect it. There is a fine line between waiting on God and standing in a rut. Waiting on God requires expectancy. It is an act of faith and trust in the Lord that keeps us bound to His Presence in complete confidence that He will deliver just as He promised. If I let go of my hope and expectation that God will finish the good work begun in my life, than I am in a religious rut of saying all the right things, doing what everyone thinks I should and becoming weary in my well doing. For those of you (including myself) who are still waiting, God is sending out His Word to us to today. Like the receptionist, who tells us, “You’re the next one on the list!” The Holy Spirit whispers to our spirit and soul, “You are not alone. He’s coming. You are next!”

“Let all that I am wait quietly before God for my hope is in Him.” Our faith in God is bound by confident hope that He will do exactly what He says that He will do. God intends to do more than we can think to ask for. (Ephesians 3:20) His Way is perfect. He tells us that He will perfect that which concerns us. (Psalm 138:8) I must decide do I want God’s Perfect Plan or my comfort zone. God also says that He will make goodness come from every detail of our life. (Romans 8:28) He promises to complete the “good” work that He has begun in each of us. (Philippians 1:6) Why all the scripture references? The Word of God is my guarantee that I can have what He promised. If I hold tight to the Word of God, wrap it up in my faith, make it my confident hope, AND wait expectantly – I will have it in the land of the living.

Psalm 27:13-14 (NLT)

Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living. Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.

Why me? Why now? Why wait? Sometimes when the wait is extending in frustration, I get the inclination to leave. I was waiting with my oldest doctor at a walk-in clinic. She had a sinus infection and needed an antibiotic. It was nothing life threatening. I have been in that situation countless times over the last few years. They were busy that day and we were a walk-in so we were being worked in. As people came in after us but were seen before us, I watched my daughter become more agitated by the minute. She fidgeted and fussed in the chair. She was sick and tired of being sick which also applied to her wait. I offered to take her to another center down the road in an effort to be seen more quickly. Finally, I asked the nurse how much longer as we wavered between waiting and leaving. She smiled and said, “You’re next!” Within minutes, they called her name and about fifteen minutes later we were on our way. Now, I knew that they would see my daughter. I was confident that they had exactly what she needed. Leaving would have only prolonged the process… The only way that we will have all that God has promised is to wait expectantly and patiently until He completes the work that He has begun. Are you confident of God’s Love for you today? That is really what it all comes down to. How sure are you that God is for you? How much do you believe that He is working every detail for your good? If you believe that you will see God’s Goodness now in this lifetime, you will wait patiently for Him. It will take bravery because the world will work hard to convince you that God is not real, He is not for you, and waiting is dumb. It will take courage as the enemy wages war on you in this vulnerable position of personal weakness totally reliant on God’s Strength and Power. Yet, those who decide to wait patiently on the Lord will see His Goodness by His Grace.

Luke 15:25-29 (NLT)

“Meanwhile, the older son was in the fields working. When he returned home, he heard music and dancing in the house, and he asked one of the servants what was going on. ‘Your brother is back,’ he was told, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf. We are celebrating because of his safe return.’ “The older brother was angry and wouldn’t go in. His father came out and begged him, but he replied, ‘All these years I’ve slaved for you and never once refused to do a single thing you told me to. And in all that time you never gave me even one young goat for a feast with my friends.

Theodore Roosevelt said, “Comparison is the thief of joy!” Comparison to anyone other than Jesus Christ lowers our standard of living. Comparison kills faith leaving room for doubt. When the brother returned home, the one who remained with his father was mad. He was hurt. The hardworking and dedicated older son began comparing himself to his younger foolish brother. Red flag, red alert, danger Will Robinson! I am guilty of this and you are too, if willing to admit it. We see the “good” things happening to other people and begin asking the Lord, “Why not me? Why not now? What have I done wrong?” We become envious and jealous not really knowing what is going on behind the scenes. I have had this conversation many times with young Christian woman who look at my family now assuming that it has always been this way. They don’t think someone like me can relate to someone like them. I am not ashamed of my past because God is perfecting it. He is making good on every detail (even my mistakes) and its working in my life. When the younger son returned home, the older brother refused to join the celebration complaining that although he had remained faithful and committed to his father – there was no celebration in his honor. His father reminds the angry son, “His father said to him, ‘Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours. We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!’” (Luke 15:31-32) The Father is whispering to us today, “My child, you have always stayed by me and everything I have is yours…” There is no need to become jealous of what God is doing right now in other people’s lives. Do not compare your life as a believer to anyone else’s life. By remaining faithful to God and waiting expectantly, EVERYTHING that He has is yours in the Name of Jesus! We have all been the prodigal but by the Grace of God that flows in the Blood of His Son Jesus Christ we become His Son and Inheritor again! It will be worth the wait. You aren’t missing out but in full preparation to receive all that God has for you with the wisdom to turn it into prosperity rather than squandering it in the world!

Psalm 38:14-15 (NLT)

I choose to hear nothing, and I make no reply. For I am waiting for you, O Lord. You must answer for me, O Lord my God.

I do not recall ever pausing to reflect on these verses but today in the silence of waiting on the Lord they make total sense. I have long since stopped running around telling everyone what the Lord is telling me. In Habakkuk 2:3-4 it says, “Then the Lord said to me, “Write my answer plainly on tablets, so that a runner can carry the correct message to others. This vision is for a future time. It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled. If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed.” The Lord told the prophet “write my answer plainly on tablets”. He did not tell the man to go share it with the world just yet. He did not instruct him to seek the counsel of men. Write it down. I keep a journal. I strongly encourage every believer to keep one. Psalm 38 says, “I choose to hear nothing.” God said it so that seals it. “I make no reply.” Stop telling everyone your business. Do not expect that to embrace everything God is doing in your life and strongly support it. I have one example for you – Joseph! I am waiting on You, O Lord. You must answer me. When God gives you a vision, dream, idea or Word – write it down first. Pray about it. Talk to the Lord about it. When the time is run – He will tell you to run with it. You run the risk of disappointment, delays and detours when you decide to seek the counsel of man because it is an act of doubt and disbelief. It opens the door to distraction. Put a lid on it. Zip it. Wait on the Lord!

Psalm 5:2-3 (NLT)

Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God, for I pray to no one but you. Listen to my voice in the morning, Lord. Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly.

 

I am still waiting because God is teaching me to patiently and expectantly wait on Him to act rather than racing off trying to do it myself all the time. Is that you today? Perhaps, that is why you are still waiting, too. Or maybe God is just not finished lining up everything perfectly. You may be willing to settle for less than His Best, but that is not the kind of Gift Giver our Father is. Each morning – every day – we must learn to make it a habit to bring our requests to the Lord and leave them there remaining in His Presence as we wait for Him to do what His Word says. I have waited impatiently and it is very unpleasant at times. But when I give it to the Lord and choose to wait expectantly and strive to remain patient, I find that He fills me with a peace that passes all understanding and even in the most critical of times there is joy even laughter. Trust in God promotes a lifestyle of joy and peace rather than stress and anxiety but the only way to discover it is wait and see. I pray to no one but you! How many other people do you lay out your dreams, visions, plans and even problems to before taking them to Jesus? Yeah, me too. I am learning the simplicity of giving them all to Jesus and waiting. It is a process. No one wakes up with the gift of patience. They are a hard lesson learned. Especially for all those hard-headed, strong-willed, flesh-driven believers like me. Thank you God that your grace is sufficient for me. It helps me in my weakness. I will be a lifelong learner when it comes to patience. I am still waiting for many of His Promises to come to pass but I will wait expectantly. I will wait patiently (or at least do my best to try). I will settle for nothing less than God’s Best even if I must wait for it (and wait for it some more). God is good. His Promises worth having and according to His Word when I wait in His Presence everything He has belongs to me! I’ll take it even if I have to keep waiting for it!

Psalm 37:7 (NLT)

Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act. Don’t worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes.