Total Access

Total Access

Hebrews 4:15-16 (MSG) Now that we know what we have—Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God—let’s not let it slip through our fingers. We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.

My key ring has many keys on it. My car key is obvious with the controls to the lock and alarm system. I use it to open the doors and turn the ignition. There is a key to the front door of our house and one to the new office building. I am pretty sure that there is also one to the old office. I think another is to my mother-in-law’s house and there may even be one to my parent’s home as well. There are a number of silver and gold keys that I have no idea what they go to but I am afraid to take off the key chain just in case I figure out what they might go to. Our pastor has tried to give me a key to the church. I know where a key is hidden for a friend’s place. Keys represent access. They are a responsibility. The keys in my purse represent places that I am allowed to enter. When I left my last job, I returned a heavy ring of keys to all the buildings on campus. I no longer have access as an employee. The keys in our hand may change with transitions in life but there is another set of keys that are eternally in our hand for our use.

Matthew 16:19 (MSG) “And that’s not all. You will have complete and free access to God’s kingdom, keys to open any and every door: no more barriers between heaven and earth, earth and heaven. A yes on earth is yes in heaven. A no on earth is no in heaven.”

Peter made a simple declaration. “You’re the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.” Jesus asked the disciples to tell Him who they thought He was. Who am I to you? Not the others, or the crowd, or the religious leaders. It was a personal question that would lead to a revelation so powerful that it changed everything for Peter. He stepped into his destiny by simply stating who Jesus was to him that day. He would be the rock on which the new church was built. Do you believe today that Jesus is the Christ, Messiah, Son of the Living God who gave up His Life for your sins so you have decided to love Him, trust Him and believe in Him? Is He your Savior? Are you striving to make King Jesus the Lord of your life? Well according to the Word of God, you and I now have “complete and free access to God’s Kingdom.” But that’s not all…we have been given “keys to open any and every door without barriers between heaven and earth or vice versa. A yes on earth is a yes in heaven and a no on earth is a no in heaven. Power and authority belong to us on the key ring pressed into our hand with the simple statement – You are Jesus. You are the Christ. Messiah. Son of the Living God. You belong to me Jesus.

There are two forms of the word “access”. Access comes in the form of a noun and verb. Access is the ability, right or permission to approach, enter, speak with or use. We are given access to God the Father, His Presence, His Spirit, His Kingdom, His Power, His Resources, His Wisdom, His Favor and His Glory just to name a few benefits. God is totally accessible to us through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. Access as a verb means TO make contact with or gain access to; to be able to reach, approach or enter. There are many believes today who have access but do not take the opportunity TO access God and all that goes with knowing the Father and becoming His Child.

My children are beginning to exit the nest. Three are adults who are out adulting. One is a senior in high school who is beginning to see the scenery outside the protection and provision of her parents so she is stretching her wings preparing to fly. We have but one baby left who has a few more years before her time will come. No matter how old they get – my kids will always have access to my home. They can raid my refrigerator. Use what they need. Stay as long as they want to. They are my children. I love them. I always have and always will. God loves us even more than we love our own kids. He calls us His Children and provides us access. We must be willing TO access His Presence.

Ephesians 2:16-18 (MSG) Christ brought us together through his death on the cross. The Cross got us to embrace, and that was the end of the hostility. Christ came and preached peace to you outsiders and peace to us insiders. He treated us as equals, and so made us equals. Through him we both share the same Spirit and have equal access to the Father.

We have “equal access” to the Father. God doesn’t have favorites. There are just some who are willing to access and others who are not bold enough to do so. I love how this translation describes the Cross as a place of embrace. It was where the Father grabs the prodigal child covers us in His Robe called Righteousness and puts the ring on our finger showing all that I am His Child. It is also where we gain equal access. Christ came to hand us the keys to the Kingdom. To offer every blessing and benefit hidden in the Presence of God for His Children.

Have you ever been to a shopping club before? The kind of establishment where you must have a membership to take advantage of low prices and great bargains. If you are a guest, you can look but cannot buy anything. You can see what is available but cannot take advantage of it until you become a member. There are a few days a year when they open their store to the public who can come make purchases without a membership in order to attract new members. But if you are a card carrying member, you are free to make your selections, purchase them and take them home. It is all according to your level of access. There are some people who approach the Presence of God as outsiders. Just want to take a look around but not make the commitment to become a member and have what they desire. There are others who come to church every once in a while, slide some spare change in the offering plate, try to be a good person, volunteer and experience blessings here and there but still do not come into the full abundance offered. But then there are those bold folks who dare to believe they have equal access and step into His Presence boldly and confidently. They have faith in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and believe. Through Christ, they come boldly and receive bountifully more than can be thought, asked or imagined. (Ephesians 3:20) I want that kind of access. Full membership in the Kingdom of God is living by faith and in Christ. As demonstrated by Peter, it is not doing all the right things, making all the best choices or never messing up – it is in the personal relationship with Jesus. That’s really all that is needed to have all God has promised.

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

By faith in Jesus Christ, we have open access to God’s Grace and Glory. We can stand tall and shout His Praise with confidence. Faith is the access point into all God has for us. Our potential, purpose and prosperity is all right there in the Presence of God waiting for us to come boldly and receive it. There is nothing for me to do open that door – Jesus holds it open for me. Jesus made the way for me to live in the Kingdom with our Father, God. He did it all. All I must do is enter in to gain access to everything I need, want and desire by the Father’s Design. My inheritance is in that place. In Revelation 3, it tells me that Jesus is “opening doors no one can lock and locking doors no one can open.” It goes on to offer encouragement for those who have been struggling and striving. “I see what you’ve done. Now see what I’ve done. I’ve opened a door before you that no one can slam shut. You don’t have much strength, I know that; you used what you had to keep my Word. You didn’t deny me when times were rough.” When the doors in our life seem too heavy or are hopelessly locked, it is easy to become discouraged. Doubt that access to God is open to us. But the Lord reminds us here that He opens and locks the doors in our life. He also acknowledges our human capacity and understands our weaknesses. Therefore, He does it. He is doing it. He is working out all the details of our life for our good and His Glory. He will open the right door when it is ready. During those long seasons of waiting before a locked door, remember that we always have open access to His Presence. In fact, I am beginning to think that the waiting is an intermission to get just a little closer, do a little deeper and embrace the Lord in such a way.

Ephesians 3:11-13 (MSG) All this is proceeding along lines planned all along by God and then executed in Christ Jesus. When we trust in him, we’re free to say whatever needs to be said, bold to go wherever we need to go. So don’t let my present trouble on your behalf get you down. Be proud!

Ephesians 3:11-12 (ESV)  This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him.

Boldness is without hesitation or fearfulness. It is daring courage. To be forward and forthcoming. Bold people live beyond the usual limits of conventional thought or action. They do what most people only imagine. Boldness is the product of confidence. Confidence in Christ produces boldness that changes our right to access into the act of accessing the Kingdom and all God planned and prepared for us as His Children. We can come boldly because of Christ, but most be confident in the person of Christ to gain access. God’s Whole Purpose in sending His Son is to become accessible to us. He desired us. He wants to be close to us. He wants to live where He is all of the time. He misses us when we stray. Welcomes us when we return. God’s Word tells us who He is, who we are, and builds our confidence with knowledge. The Holy Spirit takes these tidbits of truth and weaves them into wisdom. Wisdom becomes confident in the hope we have in Jesus and becomes bold. So when the enemy offers a lie, it can be recognized and refused. When the details of our life do not add up, we do not need to be discouraged but encouraged to come boldly before God and say, “What’s up?” God planned the pathway called access and has given us the boldness to enter in. The Holy Spirit ripped the veil in the temple from top to bottom opening a doorway no one can shut. His Grace is enough to give us fearless, confident and bold access to the Father expecting and believing every detail of His Word to be the reality of faith in my life.

Hebrews 4:16 (NLT) So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.

When was the last time you took advantage of your total access with God? Have you been in His Presence lately? Have you entered the doors that He has opened? Oh wow…that’s a tricky question. See God offers us opportunities every day. He has given us the Keys to His Kingdom. Faith is required to access all that belongs to us in Jesus Christ. It means when the Lord opens the door – we must walk through it. Walking by faith and not by sight having bold confidence in God’s Word, Will and Way enough to come boldly. It is my experience that the doors God opens are not always the ones I expected and seldom lead to where I thought we were going…it is always way better than I can think, ask or imagine. But in the transition on the threshold – I find that sometimes I hesitate. Not today…today I will come boldly.

Ephesians 3:12 (NLT) Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence.

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Through It All Again

Through It All Again

Isaiah 43:1-3 (ESV) But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.

“Through it all.” What a great old song? “I’ve learned to trust in Jesus. I’ve learned to trust in God. Through it all. Through it all. I’ve learned to depend upon His Word.” No truer words have ever been spoken about someone. This is my song. This is about me. I wish I could testify that this is enough to keep me from wanting to throw in the towel and give up some days but it’s not. One might think that after many battles a seasoned warrior does not hesitate for a moment before engaging, everyone has to step over fear. Trusting Jesus. Believing that salvation is real and His Grace enough takes many trials and tests to gain strength and validity in life. To fully comprehend the unconditional and boundless Love of God that knows no limits is an act of constant surrender. Depending on God’s Word can be a lonely proposition. Psalm 77 talks about God’s Steadfast Love and His Promises. His Graciousness and Compassion. His abiding faithfulness and the many deeds that He has done for us. But it also does not hesitate to mention that often His Footsteps are unseen. (Verse 19)

Through it all. We are called to walk through it all. Keep moving. Do not turn back but go through. In Psalm 23, the promise of God’s Love, Protection and Provision under the careful eyes of the Good Shepherd are still not without challenges. The table prepared for us has an audience. There will be low spots. Dark places and even valleys to go through. The promise is that He goes with us – before us, beside us and even behind us. God goes before us and prepares the way for us. He fights our battles and obtains victory for us. Strength and courage are not in our ability to fight but that Jesus overcame the world – ahead of time. The promise is secure not in my own faithfulness but in the Lord’s Faithfulness. I have blessed assurance in my future by faith. In Matthew 11, Jesus offers to walk beside you and be yoked with you in life. To help carry ever burden, relieve pressure, eliminate stress and keep us upright in the tough times of life. Finally, as if all that is not good enough or more than enough, the Lord constantly pursues us and falls in behind us with His Unfailing Love and Goodness just waiting to overtake us with His Blessings. With all these precious promises made simply out of love for us, there are still days when the struggle is real. It all may seem pointless. The next step too hard. The flesh cries out. The mind plays tricks. What do I do when I don’t’ want to keep going? What do I do when I have had enough?

But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.

Psalm 139 is the passage where I find myself in the Lord. The place where it is clear that I am not a random act of conception and cellular reproduction but a planned creation by God who gave me a purpose and plan. I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I am not insignificant. My life has purpose beyond what I feel or reason. It is planned and executed by the Lord with a future and hope. The Lord who created you, who formed you is telling you (and me) today to “fear not, for I HAVE redeemed you! I have called you by name, you are mine.” Why is it important to find yourself in God’s Word? Faith is illogical outside of knowing God’s Word, Will and Way. His Ways are higher and so are His Thoughts. If I do not take the time to gain knowledge and mull over them for understanding, where will wisdom come from? The Holy Spirit takes God’s Word and works into my psyche changing my thoughts renewing my mindset and positioning me to see my life through His Perception and not worldly speculation.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.

The last week or so it has rained quite a bit. Off and on but consistently hot and humid. We needed the rain even though it is inconvenient. Rain comes as dew in the early morning like a fine mist. Other times, it may be a light shower on a sunny day. Then there are the sudden downpours that come out of nowhere and drench us. Some storms come accompanied by wind, thunder and lightning. Even hurricanes are just mighty storms wrapped in ferocity. All of them produce rain. We need the rain to water the earth, but who really wants to inconvenienced and uncomfortable in the process. It never seems to downpour on days when I have nothing to do but curl up on the couch with a furry animal, junk food and a book, but those times when my schedule is full, errands endless and work is calling. Maybe that is the whole point of going through things…to overcome complacency and become completely confident in the Lord. We need Him. We want Him. But when He comes in like a flood, suddenly it is uncomfortable, inconvenient and change is required to let His Love, Faithfulness, Goodness and Graciousness to sink in the hard ground around us and make it into our ready and waiting heart. I must go through it even though I don’t want to. I must endure the storms of life to have the harvest it produces. Even on those days, it is messy, uncomfortable and inconvenient because I cannot maintain my current state and be who God called and designed me to be. I must be renewed. I must be restored. I must be revived. I must be transformed. To grow in God I must position my life in obedience in order to increase.

While this verse is encouraging, it does not aid my cause. I want to walk away. Avoid this difficult time just throw my hands up and say, “I quit.” Yet something inside me says, “Wait!” I have something I am doing. It will be all that I promised. You must go through it. God’s Word for your life today and mine is that you must “go through it.” When I do not have a clear perspective of what the Lord is doing and His Footsteps are unseen, I find that I begin to dig in the Word deeper. Call out for more understanding or even a fleece. God, I have to know you are right here with me. I need you to remind me that I heard you correctly. I want to follow you, but geez this one is tough. All of these things running through my head and circling my thoughts.

I looked up the word “through” desperate to find a loophole or escape. Maybe there is another meaning that I missed and provides an open door. I really want a shortcut to the good part. I would love something to make the harvest grow faster and victory come sooner. Through means in one end, side or surface and out the other. It means to move past and go beyond. It is during the whole period. Through is to have reached the end. Isn’t that the same as endurance? To endure means going through without stopping, leaving or turning back. I must go through it to endure it. Ugh…I must go through some things to reach the other side. To have the future and hope that God has promised. It is unavoidable. It is inevitable. It is my pathway to every promise.

Song of Solomon 8:6-7 (ESV) Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm, for love is strong as death, jealousy is fierce as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, the very flame of the Lord. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it. If a man offered for love all the wealth of his house, he would be utterly despised.

The passionate, all-consuming Love of God is pursuing us. Pushing us to keep going and moving through the deep waters, raging storms, darkest night, and lowest valley to get to the other side. These are the times when our strength fails. When our mind cannot comprehend how in the world there is anything good to come of our situation. It is during these times that the Lord seems silent, unmoving, and nowhere to be found. Do you trust me? That really is what this is all about. Do I truly believe what I am calling faith?

I am currently refinishing an antique table. It is an amazing piece with intricate carvings and uniqueness. In transport, one of the legs broke off so I had to repair it. Wood glue and a strong clamp for a couple days would do the trick. I carefully removed the clamp and gently moved the table a bit to see if it would hold. This table will be a conference table in its new life. I put it through a number of rigorous tests to be sure that the leg would hold up under pressure. The last thing I want it to do is collapse during an important meeting or when everyone’s lunch arrives. I wonder if this is part of what I am going through…the Lord testing the bond of my heart to Him. To make sure that it will stand tests of time, waiting, uncertainly, lacking clarity, and an end. I must make it to the end of this journey called life with my faith in Him. I must hold tightly to the substance of what I hope for so I can access eternity. It doesn’t matter if I do anything else “for” God – I must love Him wholeheartedly.

Jeremiah 29:11-13 (ESV)  For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.

I cannot have what I hope for absent of faith. Faith is not something I do though it will produce certain works in our life. The faith that I hold tightly to along with the hope that anchors my soul is the fact that God loves me. Jesus died for me. I accept His Grace fully and decide to seek Him wholeheartedly. The effort in my relationship with Jesus that means the most is my love for Him accepting His Love for me a fully consummated and full-blown relationship. If Jesus is on the other side of what I am going through, then I must go through it. Through it all – learning to trust Him and depend on His Word.

I Kings 19:11-13 (ESV) And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper. And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

I believe I am having one of those “what am I doing here moments?” Elijah had an amazing victory yet the malicious and threatening words of one woman put him on the run. What did it for you? Elijah was hiding in a cave when the Lord came to him and asked, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” Elijah lodged his complaint. The Lord then told him, “Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” Of course, Elijah obeyed. It was there that the Lord passed by Him in all of His Glory. God cannot move apart from His Glory. It surrounds Him. As He went by, what happened? A great and strong wind tore the mountain apart. Rocks rolled into an avalanche. The wind was followed by an earthquake. The earthquake gave way to fire. Finally, after all of that, the Lord had his full attention again. He asked Elijah again, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” Elijah recited all that he had “done” for God again. God didn’t even stop for a moment but went on to tell him what was next. God hears us but will not indulge us. He has a plan far greater than our whining and complaining will ever cause Him to stop trying to make a reality in our life. The Lord has purpose for prosperity in us that will not allow us to stay in hiding but prods and pokes us to go on. Oh how I just want to run into hiding. Elijah was looking to relieve the pressure. He wanted to stop pushing. He didn’t want to fight anymore. He was tired of being brave. He had lost his confidence and courage. God had other plans that did not involve stopping, quitting or giving up.

There will always be a Jezebel. Opposition is inevitable. Enemies will present themselves. Obstacles will rise up. Oppression will threaten to take you captive. You are a precious to God. He treasures you. His Love for you stronger than death. His Jealousy more fierce than the deepest grave. It is all-consuming fiery passion that will not relent until He has won your whole heart. Rising waters cannot quench and there is not a flood that can drown it. The enemy will offer you opportunities to escape the potential of growing in understanding and full acceptance of His Love but those who choose to endure until the end and go through it all – will have their heart’s desire. His Name is Jesus. He offers a rich and satisfying life. An existence that lacks nothing and is fully confident in His Love. It is found on the other side of through it all.

Psalm 136:1 (ESV) Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.

Through It All

Keep Walking

Exodus 14:13-16 (ESV) And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” The Lord said to Moses, “Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward. Lift up your staff, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the people of Israel may go through the sea on dry ground.”

Most churches have used the anthem “No Longer Slaves” in the worship set as it has grown in popularity. The bridge of the song belted out “You split the sea so I could walk right through it… My fears were drowned in perfect love…You rescued me, so I can stand and sing…I am a Child of God. Such an empowering message, which makes the one praising and worshiping God in that corporate moment feel strong and immovable. Right? At least I do. It reminds me of all the times God has brought me through tough even tragic situations. The times that I thought I couldn’t find my next breath much less my next step. Church ends and life begins again.

How do I carry that mentality from church into real life? The feeling of strength and power when all hell is breaking loose in my life. How do I maintain confident trust in the Lord when the walls of water around me grow tumultuous? How do I hold an anchor that I cannot see or feel the weight of? I don’t know about you but I think walking on water seems preferable to “drowning” in perfect love. You know having the faith to walk with Jesus above the wind and waves. Need I remind you, Peter jumped out of the boat by faith but found that his heart was not ready for the journey so he immediately sank…let’s read about it.

Matthew 14:27-31 (ESV) But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” 

Different scenario same God. While the Egyptians pursed the Israelites, there didn’t seem to be a real choice in the faith matter. Either walk through the Red Sea or die on the beach, not favorable but definitely with great reward. The boat was being beaten by the winds and waves. The disciples were afraid. Jesus came to them walking on the water. He did not split the sea or calm the storm yet but when Peter asked to come to him. Ever hear the song, “Oceans”…ever sang it out loud. We ask the Lord to challenge us, take us deeper, move us closer to Him, allow us to live in His Presence but when the opportunity comes – our flesh fails. Faith is clearly too small to keep us buoyant. The Lord faithfully, loving and always reaches down to catch us. It took a whole lot of faith to walk between two walls of suspended water but the people had no choice it was move or die. Peter had a choice. Intrigued by Jesus, he thought he was ready to walk with the Lord. When his feet hit the water, I believe that Peter thought Jesus would impart some super power to him and he would magically stay on top of the water. Not the case then and not the case now.

Our super power is faith. But just like every other super hero, it takes time to cultivate our power into something tangible, useful and, yes, even powerful. For a new driver, putting the right foot on the accelerator and pushing it down hard the first time seems exhilarating and easy at first. The powerful force of the engine engaging as sweaty hands clutch the steering wheel while our entire body is catapulted forward makes us think maybe there is more to this than I thought. At least, I hope so. Faith is powerful but it comes in raw form. It is dispensed in our heart as a small measure and left up to us if it will remain a seed or be harvested into a mighty force. However, my power is not in myself. It is not part of my being. It is the Christ in me. In order to find the power invested in me by my Creator and see it manifest in my life – there will be pressure applied to my life to force it out.

Whether external (as the Israelites experienced) or internal (as Peter experienced) – faith is the power that God desires to express from our life. What if that thing that is pressing, pushing or bearing down upon you is not to overtake you but rather to move you to something better? What if He is moving you from a mundane life to supernatural existence? Could it be that you have somehow settled for less than enough when the Lord has more than enough instore for you? Or maybe just maybe there is more than you can think, ask or imagine that stinking thinking has stopped you from dreaming and doing? The Lord will never leave you in Egypt. He won’t let you drown in fear and doubt. He has already given you every spiritual blessing now you just have to go after it, reach out to take hold of it or move to where the promise is!

Romans 12:3 (ESV) For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.

Each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned means that you already have been apportioned the faith you need to be triumphant and victorious in every situation. It is in you. It came with Christ. Now what are you going to do with it? What did the Lord say to Moses when he came to them relaying the fear of the people in the midst of their complaining? He said, “Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward. Lift up your staff, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the people of Israel may go through the sea on dry ground.” God has given you faith and power. Jesus has given you the grace to make it through. All that is left to do is what He tells us to. We must go through it. Peter asked. Jesus answered. Sure, come to me. The disciple who followed Jesus, heard Him teach the Word, saw Him perform mighty miracles, and was overwhelmed by all the followers. He definitely knew the Lord but his faith was still too small to make it a few feet on top of the water. The cry of the living sacrifice is give me faith to give more of me. I believe the Lord is telling us that He already gave it to us now it is time to do something with it.

2 Corinthians 5:6-9 (ESV) So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.

For we (are to) walk by faith and not by sight. I have added that “are to” because if it were that easy our churches would like fearlessly in a state of ongoing revival. Flesh would not weigh us down but faith create a light so bright it would illuminate the world with God’s Love. Without faith it is impossible to please God. (Hebrews 11:6) The only way to know what measure of faith evident in our life is through testing. When I make a cake, I measure the ingredients to ensure it will be delicious. Any good recipe has a process, it takes time, and one must go through all the steps using the proper ingredients. Our life in Christ is the same.

We are free to choose the amount of faith cultivated in our life but the measure is the same. It starts small but has the potential to turn into something big. The Lord is our courage. He is our strength. He promises victory to those who trust Him, follow Him, and stay with Him. I cannot do that where I am now but must keep walking no matter how relentless the enemy or overwhelming the storm. Eyes on Jesus not my circumstances. Faith entrusted and invested in Him not the evidence of my life. He is faithful. He knows it’s going to take some time – that’s why the Lord blesses endurance with salvation and life. He knows that I will mess up, my flesh will fail but Jesus promises that His Grace is enough for me and will work even better in my humble weakness.

I don’t know what you are going through today. I only know my own struggles and battles but I know this. God is good. He is faithful. He will help me if I trust Him. He will give me courage. He will be my strength. He is constant and unfailing. The Lord always responds to my cries. He has never left me or forsaken me even when I have given up myself. See the Lord gave you and I faith because He has something bigger and better for us. If only, we will keep moving, breathing and existing in Him until we have it. This is what we hope must for and truly believe. Do you feel pressure? Do you feel pushed to make a move? Seek the Lord today. Call on His Name. Ask Him for direction. Offer your heart and mind to Him for careful inspection. Let Him weed out those thoughts that have you all tangled up. Sometimes just seeing things from God’s Perspective or tying His Promise to your problem will lift your head up to see that help has arrive. His Name is Jesus. He overcame the world…let Him overtake your heart. He will walk through it with you!

Psalm 3:3-4 (ESV) But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head. I cried aloud to the Lord, and he answered me from his holy hill. Selah

Live Courageously

Live Courageously

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In Christ

In Christ

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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.